Sunday, August 29, 2010

Parshat Nitzavim-Vayalech: The Redemption of Love

Our sages say that the First Temple was destroyed due to murder, incest and idolatry; that the Second Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred; and that the Third Temple will be built when we all love each other.

We are truly redeemed when we care for each other as it is commanded to us.

You shall love your neighbor as yourself, [for] I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:18)

We say that the entire creation is a manifestation of God's love and constantly sustained by Him. We also say that being an emanation of God and sustained by Him, creation consequently is an expression of Him. Therefore we have to perceive and understand creation, ourselves included, as a manifestation of God's love.

This is what we are and nothing less. We just have to assimilate this truth in all levels of consciousness, because love is who we are and love is what we manifest when we are fully aware of it.

“You are all standing (nitzavim) this day before the Lord, your God (…)” (Deuteronomy 29:9)

This is emphasized in all aspects of the chosen people, “every man of Israel”.

Our sages teach that Israel has a multifaceted identity that virtually encompasses every potential quality, and they understand this diversity not as qualities that make us different from each other (rich, poor, artist, shepherd, wise, ignorant, foreigner, woodcutter, water drawer, etc., etc.) and as caretakers for each other.

“All Israel are guarantors for each other." (Talmud, Shavuot 39a)

Just by the fact that we are children of the same Father who commands us to love each other. Redemption is the invitation to love each other because when we care for each other we are indeed redeemed.

Thus we understand that creation is an utterance of God's love and such as we relate to the Creator, His creation and to each other with love.

We do that in the unity evoked when we all stand today before our Father to embrace His covenant (Deuteronomy 29:11)

This redemption is fully understood in relation to our exile in the darkness of ego’s materialistic illusions.

“Because you know how we dwelt in the land of Egypt, and how we passed among the nations through which you passed.” (29:15)

We have to bear in mind that love’s ways and attributes do not dwell with ego's fantasies and illusions. Again we are reminded that we live by the choices we make (29:18-19) and their consequences.

“Because they went and served other deities, prostrating themselves to them, deities which they had not known, and which He had not apportioned to them.” (29:25) 

We can learn from this verse that what we truly know is our Father’s love for us, as our Creator who sustains us because that is our truth.

What we don’t really know is the darkness of ego’s illusions, the “deities” that love does not offer because they are not part in our connection with God. What we don’t know is God’s business.

“The hidden things belong to the Lord, our God, but the revealed things apply to us and to our children forever; that we must fulfill all the words of this Torah.” (29:28)

In our darkest hour we know that we can return to our Creator, to our essence, because He is always here and present as the very air we breathe.

“(..) and you will return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul, and you will listen to His voice (…), then the Lord your God will bring back your exiles, and He will have compassion upon you. He will once again gather you from all the nations.” (30:2)

Love, as a material manifestation of God's love, is our redemption because love is our true identity, and we need His truth to disperse all darkness, the foreskin that does not allow us to see the truth.

“(...) the Lord, your God, will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you may love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, for the sake of your life.” (30:6)

Yes, it is for the sake of our life because God's love creates life and sustains life with all His blessings (30:9).

In the darkness of materialistic illusions we perish, but in the blessings of divine love we live.

“I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. You shall choose life, so that you and your offspring will live; to love the Lord your God, to listen to His voice, and to cleave to Him. Because that is your life and the length of your days (…)” (30:19-20)

And the Creator is our life.

“In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His compassion He redeemed them; and He bore them, and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:9)

These words can come only from the greatest love of all, God’s love, the one that can redeem us from the darkness we have created for ourselves in the world. And He is still waiting for us to return to Him.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Parshat Ki Tavo: Living in the Promised Land

Ki Tavo is one of the most profound portions in the Torah because it illustrates the meaning of our connection with the Creator. In ki teitze we exit the land to fight our wars. In ki tavo, after those wars, we come to the land.

“And it will be, when you come (ki tavo) into the land the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance (…)” (Deuteronomy 26:1)

This portion clearly emphasizes the land as the anchor place of our relation with God's love. It is in this land, the conquered Promised Land, where our existence, our identity as the chosen people, is fulfilled.

In this land we celebrate our 
unity with our God and the reason for this unity.

“Then, you shall rejoice with all the good that the Lord your God has granted you and your household (…)” (26:5-9, 11)

All this happens when we live in the land that represents life free from the negative trends in consciousness derived from the illusions and fantasies of the material world.

In this awareness we offer the first fruits of the land to our Creator, for everything we are and do in His ways and attributes reaffirm His will and our oneness with Him. In this awareness love as the material manifestation of God's love is own cause and effect, and there is nothing else.

What is the practical purpose of being and doing love’s ways and attributes? To create a place for the Creator to dwell among us permanently, and we do that by taking care of each other, by being responsible to each other as the oneness we are in His love.

“(…) you shall give to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, so that they can eat to satiety in your cities.” (26:12)

We understand this commandment in two ways. In its literal meaning by sharing our individual abundance with those less fortunate; and by filling lesser aspects of consciousness that are also part of our life. This is referred to as the permanent awareness of the Creator and our connection to Him, and the weaknesses we need to strengthen in order to make our lives vibrant and significant in every way.

We have to fulfill this Commandment every day simply because it is about love.

“This day the Lord, your God, is commanding you to fulfill these statutes and ordinances; and you will observe and fulfill them with all your heart and with all your soul.” (26:16)

The portion continues with our highest awareness of God's love warning us about the consequences of separating ourselves from Him as the “curses”, starting with the cause of the all of them: idolatry (27:15), which we refer here as ego’s fantasies and illusions. These keep us apart from God’s ways and attributes as the ethical principles to safeguard our individual and collective well being.

All the curses listed are some of the improper ways in which we relate to our fellow man (27:16-20, 22-26). 

The Levites also mention the blessings inherent to God's love when we choose His ways (28:1-13), and again they warn us against idolatry.

“And you shall not turn right or left from all of the words I am commanding you this day, to follow other deities to worship them.” (28:14)

Thus we realize that there are no other true ways except love’s ways, and we need to be aware of this truth. All it takes is to be constantly aware of God's love as our Creator, our life source, essence and true identity.

The remaining curses as we said before are not mentioned as explicit curses but as direct consequences of our separation from God's ways and attributes as His will for us to be, to have, and to manifest.

Our sages also understand them not only as curses but prophecies that have been fulfilled over more than two thousand years (28:15-69).

The parshah ends with a positive note.

“And you shall observe the words of this covenant and fulfill them, in order that you will succeed in all that you do.” (29:8)

Let’s be aware that the covenant with the Creator is our own success, which is also the awareness of His ways and attributes. Hence living in His will is the reason for us to be in this world. As we have said in this blog, the light is partially revealed in the Creation, and this light is God's love.

We are in the world to reveal His presence where and when He is concealed. When we do it, we become aware that He permeates all His Creation.

“(…) the entire earth if full of His Glory.” (Isaiah 6:3)

This includes every level of our individual consciousness as the haftarah for this week confirms it.

“(...) and the Lord shall be to you an everlasting light, and your God your glory.” (60:19)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Parshat Ki Teitzei: The Ethics of God's Love

“When you go out (ki teitzei) to battle against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands.” (Deuteronomy 21:10)

This verse makes us reflect on the fact that in order to claim and possess the promised land we have to defeat our enemies. If they threaten to destroy us, we must subjugate them in order to make them cooperate in the tasks that await us once we occupy the Land. As we can see, there are enemies we must eradicate completely and enemies that we must subdue and redirect them to serve our mission and purpose in life.

Our sages say that a wild ox can either build or destroy a field, and the difference between the two is a yoke. The wild ox typically represents ego, the field is life and the world, and the yoke is Torah’s commandments which we call here the ways and attributes of God’s love. But we have a multidimensional consciousness that encompasses something more than just ego.

Intellect, mind, emotions, passions, and instincts also need to be directed and guided under the yoke of love. Here we call them the empty vessels waiting to be filled with the ways and attributes of God’s love, which are love’s own ethics.

This means that when we confront the world and its material illusions, we have to do it through love’s ways and attributes because through them we are connected to God’s love, the source that created us and sustains us.

In this context God delivers our enemies into our hands. The entire Torah and Hebrew scriptures that define Judaism are all about ethics, because ethics reflects the ways and attributes of our Creator. Our sages say that God overlooks our sins against Him but not the sins against our fellow man, by quoting:

“If you sin, how have you affected Him? If your transgressions multiply, what do you do to Him? If you are righteous, what do you give Him? What can He possibly receive from your hand?” (Job 35:6-7)

In the material world we fulfill His will by the ways we relate with each other and the whole Creation.

In this portion we read many commandments related to how we approach our enemies and our fellow man.

“You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep driven away, and hide yourself from them; you shall surely bring them back onto your brother.” (Deuteronomy 22:1-2)

This clearly refers not only to protect our brother’s material possessions but also our responsibility to make him aware of the consequences of his uncaring attitude by letting his desires and emotions go out of control.

“You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together. You shall not wear a mingled stuff, wool and linen together.” (22:10-11)

We must not mix ego and humbleness, simply because they don’t mix.

As we said earlier, there are particular traits and qualities that comprise our consciousness, and our duty is to fill them all with love’s ways and attributes as the only means to make them work in harmony.

Good and positive thoughts are the best guides to our emotions; and joy, excitement and happiness are the best motivation to do good deeds through speech and action. In anything we conceive, think, feel, speak and act we must only use the right seeds (thoughts), the right animals (traits), and the right garments (attitudes).

The ethics of love means not mixing with anything different from its ways and attributes. In this sense there is no chance to give in to ego’s fantasies and illusions.

“You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.” (23:7)

“(...) because the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you, and to give up your enemies before you; therefore shall your camp be Holy that He sees no unseemly thing in you, and turn away from you.” (23:15)

Let’s be aware that it is us who turn away from God with our wrong choices, because He never abandons us. We are also reminded about the effects of negative talk.

“Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam, by the way as you came forth out of Egypt.” (24:9)

The portion ends with more ethical teachings.

“You shall not have in your house diverse measures, a great and a small. A perfect and just weight shall you have; a perfect and just measure shall you have; that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God gives you.” (25:14-15)

Love doesn’t allow double standards because love is its perfect and just measure, the essence that sustains us and prolongs our days in the life what God gives us. Love is the true measure of all things because God’s love creates and sustains all things. This is the ethics of love.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Parshat Shoftim: Approaching Justice as Love

Justice is the main subject in Shoftim (Judges). Our Sages say: “By three things is the world sustained: justice, truth and peace.” (Pirkei Avot 1:18), as it is written, “Truth, and a judgment of peace, you should administer at your [city] gates.” (Zachariah 8:16); and in this statement we must understand the context of shoftim.

Judgment is the application of justice, and justice is the righteous thing to do. Hence by doing the right thing we indeed do justice. Although the word may suggest “law”, its meaning is related to make truth prevail as the foundation for peace.

“You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show favoritism, and you shall not take a bribe, for bribery blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the wise.” (Deuteronomy 16:19)

Doing what is right is acting with and for the truth, which is encompassed by love’s ways and attributes that oppose ego’s agenda of manipulation (perversion of justice), self-interest (favoritism), and corruption by pursuing materialistic fantasies and illusions (bribes) at any cost (losing the truth and trust in love).

The portion continues addressing idolatry as the separation from our Creator’s ways and attributes. Idolatry as the masks ego wants us to wear for every aspect of our lives.

“If a matter eludes you in judgment, between blood and blood, between judgment and judgment, or between lesion and lesion, words of dispute in your cities, then you shall rise and go up to the place the Lord, your God, chooses.” (17:8)

Mystic sages comment on this verse saying that our “cities” represent the aspects of consciousness that we have to watch over in order to maintain their harmonious balance and expression. They also say that the gates of these cities are seven in the head (ears, eyes, nostrils and mouth) and two in the lower part of the body. All these must be guided with justice, meaning in love’s ways and attributes.

In sum we have to conduct every aspect, dimension and expression of our consciousness in the direction of love's ways. As we have mentioned in previous commentaries, our higher awareness of the Creator (represented by the high priest) is the best “judge”.

“And you shall come to the Levitic kohanim and to the judge who will be in those days, and you shall inquire, and they will tell you the words of judgment. And you shall do according to the word they tell you, from the place the Lord will choose, and you shall observe to do according to all they instruct you.” (17:9-10)

The awareness of love as our permanent bond and connection with the Creator is the best judgment we can have to deal with the illusions of the material world. When love conducts every aspect of our lives, truth is served and peace prevails individually and collectively.

The portion mentions divination, soothsaying, and other kinds of incantations as the lowest means to pursue control over the forces of nature and to transgress love’s ways and attributes (18:10-12, 14) and “Be wholehearted with the Lord your God.” (18:13).

If love is our sustenance as the material manifestation of God's love, why should we pursue the mirages of ego’s fantasies and illusions? Still, the choices are only ours and also their consequences.

The text continues with a reiteration of the cities of refuge (19:2-21) where the Levites are responsible for bringing back to God’s ways and attributes those who have transgressed against their fellow man.

Our sages teach that every man, for the primordial fact that he is the image and likeness of the Creator, is not evil. Any crime that he may commit is the result of ignorance, therefore he must be educated with the teachings of the Torah. This is one of the main principles of Judaism. The cities of refuge are places designated directly from our Creator to rehabilitate those who fall into the negative trends of human consciousness.

This is one of the most precious commandments given to us, and we must comprehend it as part of the divine essence that created everything and sustains everything.

God's love is about learning to be and do His ways and attributes, and the cities of refuge were established for that purpose. When we are not able to live harmonically among our brethren, and transgress against them, we need to be helped in order to redeem ourselves.

This help is available by those who can guide us back to who we really are: the image and likeness of God's love. The Torah calls them Levites and we also call them the highest level of our consciousness, the sublime awareness that we are always connected to our Creator, the existential knowledge that we are His creatures. 

In this awareness we can return to our true identity and be able to amend, restore, or rectify our transgressions against ourselves and others.

“You shall not have pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (19:21)

Our sages emphasize that this is not about revenge or retaliation but to restore, give back or compensate for the damage caused by our negative actions.

The parshah ends with the following verse.

“And you shall abolish the [shedding of] innocent blood from among you, for you shall do what is proper in the eyes of the Lord.” (21:09)

This invites us to reflect on the value of life in order to protect it and to sanctify it according to love’s ways and attributes.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Parshat Re'eh: Choosing the Blessing

The name of this week’s portion is Re’eh, usually translated as “see”. We have said many times that our sages teach us that to see is to know, and knowledge is what we need in our search for God's love.

“See (re'eh), I set before you this day a blessing and a curse.” (Deuteronomy 11:26)

Thus we become aware of the choices we make, for we choose based on what we know. The wisdom of the Torah reminds us that in life we have to make choices every moment, either with or without previous knowledge. We learn from experience, by trial and error, true and false, right and wrong. We humans are empiricists by nature because we learn from the choices we make, and that is how we achieve knowledge and wisdom.

When we conceive and experience God's love we become aware that the best choices we make are those related to His ways and attributes, which are the blessing. That’s the whole point of the entire Hebrew Scriptures, and it is also the point of Re’eh.

We have to choose being and doing love’s ways and attributes in order to cleave always to God's love, thus we have complete awareness of our oneness with Him. The curse is the consequence of our choice to live in the illusions and fantasies of the material world. Choosing the blessing implies eradicating completely what separates us from our Creator.

“You shall utterly destroy from all the places where the nations, that you shall possess, worshiped their gods, upon the lofty mountains and upon the hills, and under every lush tree.” (12:2)

This means we have to clear all levels of consciousness from negative traits and expressions. It is the war we have to wage in order to conquer the promised land and settle in it.

“Because you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be His own treasure out of all peoples that are upon the face of the earth.” (14:2)

Once we achieve this awareness we become the blessing of God's love, and all this starts when we make the choice between the blessing and the curse.

The portion continues with Moses reminding us not to eat unclean animals, which also represent the lower aspects of consciousness. We must not bring into us anything that is not positive, uplifting, constructive or enhancing.

Our mystic sages say that all things in creation contain sparks of divinity because all emanates from the Creator, and our duty is to reveal those sparks by sanctifying them. This process occurs when we bless the foods before and after eating them. We also do this when we use anything around us, including stones, as means to sanctify God’s Name.

In their wisdom our sages teach that everything in creation exists for the only purpose of glorifying God’s Name.

When we reveal love concealed in the darkness of egotism and selfishness we realize that love is endlessly abundant, as the light that does not diminish after being shared with others. Hence our most rejoicing moment is when we share the abundance of love with those waiting to also reveal its goodness in their lives.

“If there be among you a needy man, one of your brethren, within any of your gates, in your land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your needy brother; but you shall surely open your hand to him, and shall surely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he wanted.” (15:7-8)

Love is our greatest need and our greatest fulfillment. Everything we are and have come from the Creator and belong to Him as the Psalmist reminds us.

“For everything comes from You, and from Your own hand we give to You." (I Chronicles 29:14)

The portion ends with the following verse.

“Every man shall bring as much as he can afford, according to the blessing of the Lord your God, which He has given you.” (Deuteronomy 16:17)

Our sages ask…

“Who is rich? One who is satisfied [happy] with his lot.” (Pirkei Avot 4:1)

Some say the “lot” is not necessarily what we are or have but our individual relationship with the Creator, for by this depends who we are and what we have.

The more we are aware of His love, the more we are connected to Him. The more we love, the more we reveal His glory in this world. Hence we give according to the blessing He has given us, and the greatest blessing is His love.

From the Book's Foreword

Let's reexamine our ancestral memory, intellect, feelings, emotions and passions. Let's wake them up to our true Essence. Let us engage in the delightful awareness of Love as the Essence of G-d. The way this book is written is to reaffirm and reiterate its purpose, so it presents its message and content in a recurrent way. This is exactly its purpose, to restate the same Truth originally proclaimed by our Holy Scriptures, Prophets and Sages. Our purpose is to firmly enthrone G-d's Love in all dimensions of our consciousness, and by doing it we will fulfill His Promise that He may dwell with us on Earth forever. Let's discover together the hidden message of our ancient Scriptures and Sages. In that journey, let's realize Love as our Divine Essence, what we call in this book the revealed Light of Redemption in the Messianic era.