Sunday, September 26, 2010

Parshat Bereshit: Let there be Light!

"In the beginning [bereshit]" (Genesis 1:1) invites us to wonder about what motivated God to make His Creation. What would have been His "reasons"? Why the Master of the universe wanted to create everything that exists? When we ask these questions we certainly are in awe looking at the stars, the sunset, and all around us. We realize that goodness is the purpose, because "God saw all that He had made, and behold it was very good" (1:31).

Let's be aware that this goodness is always good, in the present tense. Our sages say that the purpose of creation was for the sake of man so that he can recognize the goodness of God in it. In this sense we realize that creation is indeed an act of God's love, therefore the cause and reason of creation is love and its purpose is love.

This is why we say here in this blog that love is the cause and the effect. We are here because of God's love, and if everything is created and sustained by Him, this awareness is the foundation of our identity as God's creatures. We are born and cared for since we open our eyes for the first time, and this love that keeps us alive is the true essence that we have to recognize as the one and only real connection with our Creator.

How do we recognize Him? How do we get to know Him? There is a clear distinction between what He calls light, "and God saw that the Light was good" (1:3) and darkness. Mystic sages teach that the first day of God's Creation was "day One" (1:5) because all contained in Creation is one with Him, for it emanates from Him and sustained by Him.

This does not mean or imply a definition or conception of the Creator because He is beyond comprehension. But we humans are able to understand that, although He is not His creation, as its creator He controls it and directs it. Hence we understand oneness as the encompassing divine will in His creation.

After day one, the next five days are the times in which creation was set in order (what contemporary agnostics call "intelligent design"), preceding the creation of man. This order starts with the separation of light and darkness, which our mystic sages call the revealed and concealed aspects of the oneness we just mentioned.

We learn from the Torah that the light is good, and our sages conclude that it is hidden for the wicked and is the reward for the righteous. This makes sense in the ethical context of Judaism. From this we learn that for those who pursue goodness, light is their reward.

Then what is the light that we should pursue it? Our Creator says that it is good, "and God separated between the light and the darkness" (1:3). Darkness is where the Creator conceals the light in order for us to have free will. We deduct from this that everything is illuminated, but a part of it is hidden as darkness so we can tell one from the other.

This is the divinely set scenario for us in the Garden of Eden where Adam in his wisdom chose to embrace the light as his natural state and reality.

Living in the light, as the fully revealed God's love in His creation, means living in God's ways and attributes in total harmony with the Him, as we realize that love is destined to be the cause and the effect of every thought, emotion, feeling, passion and instinct.

Love is the great motivator who leads us to reveal God's love where and when He is concealed. The purpose of love is love as the purpose of light is to enlighten. What could be able to question such purpose and break the harmony of man as the creature destined to live for the cause and the effect of love?

The answer is a change of approach as a change of reality. What kind of change could challenge the harmony of living in love's ways and attributes? The kind of change that only free will can validate as real. But how can we consider real something different from the light, love and truth that created us and sustain us every moment? This happens when we consider real the darkness and the illusions that come from it.

That was the choice made by Eve after being seduced by the serpent, and the choice made by Adam when he ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The scenario also changed, and ever since we have to discern between good and evil. This is entire purpose of the Torah and the ethics of Judaism.

The purpose of God's creation is "Let there be Light!", and it is also our individual and collective mission "to be the Light for the nations", and enlighten others.

Mystic sages explain that the serpent in the Garden of Eden and Pharaoh of Egypt both represent ego, which tells us that we can become gods and that there is no greater god than us.

How can we become gods? When love is not present, this task becomes not only harder but a curse that empowers the most negative traits and emotions, such as envy and jealousy.

"(…) and Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him." (4:8)

Cain and Abel used to make offerings to the Master of the universe. The offerings to God that come from the negative aspects of consciousness are not acceptable to Him simply because He does not dwell with anything different from His ways and attributes.

When the offerings come from the highest levels of every aspect of consciousness, meaning from our complete awareness of God's love, we become one with Him. That is one of the main differences between Judaism and other religions that condone evil and destructive behavior based on the belief that evil is forgivable and redeemable.

In Judaism evil is understood only as a reference that allows our free will to choose goodness as a commanded obligation.

Bereshit is clearly divided in four sections which are God's creation, the sin in the Garden of Eden, the story of Abel and Cain, and the rise of idolatry before the Flood.

Ego's rule after the episode of the tree of knowledge of good and evil corrupted humankind down to the point that the Creator was completely ignored and rejected as the one who sustains everything. Bereshit is the most complex of all portions of the Torah because God and His creation are beyond human comprehension.

We just have to pay attention to the key words and principles presented in the narrative of the Torah such as heavens and earth, light, darkness, Shabbat, man and woman, paradise, sin, guilt, abandonment, jealousy, murder, repentance, and idolatry.

Heavens and earth are clearly two levels of consciousness. The one that connects us with the Creator, and the one that connects us with the material world. The upper waters and the lower waters represent the spiritual thoughts and material thoughts which we must harmonize always letting heavens as the higher thoughts (our connection to God) lead our material existence.

Light is God's love that pervades all His creation, and our mission is to be and reveal the light concealed in the darkness. This means that from an eventual negative situation we must do the best in our reach to turn it into a positive one.

We have to be aware that completion implies satisfaction and fulfillment, which carry a deserved reward, the Shabbat, "Last in deed, but first in thought." (Lecha Dodi).

Man and woman are not separate entities spiritually because they were created originally as one. The separation as complementary physical bodies means that both are meant to be together and united.

"(...) and they shall become one flesh." (2:24)

This concept really implies unity because unity is the purpose and nature of God's creation.

Paradise is from where we came and it is where we must return, and we do it by returning to love as the material manifestation of God's love, and as our true essence and identity. As some people say "sin is its own punishment", let's be aware that sin is also our choice.

We learn by experience, by trial and error, true or false, etc., and we should know better after so many centuries living in darkness. Instead of blaming others and resent about the overwhelming negativity we have to bear every day in the world, we must start individually to redirect our lives in love's ways and attributes.

Instead of feeling that we have been "abandoned" by our Creator, let's think about how far we have separated ourselves from Him. If we have feelings of lack and coveting takes over, let's return to love as our one and only wealth. Let's be happy with our lot which is precisely our relationship with God's love.

When we are attuned with love as our essence and identity, we are aware of being God's image and likeness, and murder is unthinkable because it means denying God's essence in others.

If we transgress against God's love and our fellow man, we still can return to Him after we compensate those who we may have harmed. And finally, the more we are aware of God's love as our Creator and our essence, the more we are able to discern between love's ways and attributes and ego's fantasies and illusions, which are the idols that separate us from love.

Let's create a new beginning with the good light that love is. Let's create each day with this love, and live here and now in the paradise that love is.

This is what was meant to be and still is. We "create" our own reality based on the illusions and fantasies of the material world, either be glamour, prestige, control, power, pride, lust, fame, etc. Whatever "ego trip" one engages into, that will be his/her reality, kingdom or domain, where negative thoughts and emotions replace love's ways and attributes.

We ended up "expelled" from paradise but it was really us who kicked ourselves out, after choosing ego's fantasies by following the serpent's words. How can we return to paradise? We return when we choose back to live in love's ways and attributes.

This is how we redeem ourselves, and how we atone for our negative choices and decisions. In this process of discerning between light and darkness, truth and illusion, we have to get acquainted with all our levels of consciousness.

We were created as a unity. "(...) male and female He created them" (1:27, 5:2)

Hence we have to know what both are in all levels which encompass intellect, mind, thoughts, emotions, feelings, senses, passions and instincts. When we allow love to fill and guide all these dimensions, we will be in harmony with our Creator and His love.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Parshat V'Zot HaBrachah: The Legacy of God's Love

And this is the blessing (v'zot habrachah) with which Moses, the man of God, blessed the children of Israel before his death.” (Deuteronomy 33:1)

The man of God, who represents our awareness of the Divine Presence in all dimensions of Creation, is the best one to lead us into that awareness. Moses represents the highest level that our intellect can reach regarding the knowledge of the Creator, the one that has everything about Him quite clear in our consciousness, the one that knows the best of the best.

This is the clarity we need in order to fulfill our destiny, and this clarity is the full awareness of love as our true identity. Love as material manifestation of God's love.

“Indeed, You showed love for peoples; all his holy ones [of Israel] are in Your hand, for they let themselves be centered at Your feet, bearing Your utterances.” (33:3)

We are holy when we are in His hands, in humbleness, being and manifesting love’s ways and attributes.

“The Torah that Moses commanded us is a legacy for the congregation of Jacob.” (33:4)

This is the legacy that makes us who we are, our identity as the chosen people. This is our identity as Jews. Choosing differently is not our legacy and this is why we are warned so many times in the Torah against the nations’ idolatry, against believing and following the illusions and fantasies of the material world.

This legacy is also about will and determination to fulfill Israel’s destiny, as Moses stated in his blessing to the tribe of Judah, the one that encompasses all Jews in present times.

“O Lord, hearken to Judah's voice and bring him to his people; may his hands do battle for him, and may You be a help against his adversaries.” (33:7)

Willingness and determination are our attachment to God and when we walk in His ways and manifest His attributes, what could be against? This blessing is about the commitment we make when we individually and collectively embrace the Torah’s legacy.

Moses’ blessing for the Levites reaffirms their role as the higher awareness of our connection to the Creator, hence their guidance of all levels of consciousness from the Temple, the place where we are permanently connected to our Father.

“They shall teach Your ordinances to Jacob, and Your Torah to Israel; they shall place incense before You, and burnt offerings upon Your altar.” (33:10)

The complete awareness of God's ways and attributes in all aspects of consciousness is also the fulfillment of our destiny as His children. 

This highest level was undoubtedly achieved by Joseph, therefore the sweetest blessing is bestowed in him and his descendants, the ones who choose to follow his steps.

“His land shall be blessed by the Lord, with the sweetness of the heavens with dew, and with the deep that lies below, (…) and with the sweetness of the land and its fullness, and through the contentment of the One who dwells in the thorn bush. May it come upon Joseph's head and upon the crown of the one separated from his brothers.” (33:13-16)

It is indeed the sweetest blessing of all, the blessing of love bestowed to the purest vessel for love: humbleness. Moses mentions here the bush from where he had to take off his shoes, and it is through the contentment of Love that we face our Creator because in joy is our acknowledgement of His love that created us.

“And to Zebulon he said: "Rejoice, Zebulon, in your departure, and Issachar, in your tents.” (33:18)

Rashi remarks that while Zebulon trades in the seas Issachar learns Torah in the tents, and they help each other. Moses’ blessing to both tribes highlights the cooperation that must prevail among all Israel.

Each tribe is blessed with particular traits and qualities that complement each other in the unity that we must have as one people and one nation. This cooperation is to care for each other, and our diversity must be the foundation of our unity. This is one aspect of the Torah’s legacy that makes us different from the rest of the nations which represent the lower aspects of consciousness and ego’s fantasies: pride, selfishness, egotism, envy, lust, indolence and other negative traits.

Let’s keep in mind that the blessings received by each tribe are the blessings for all Israel because in the blessing of each we are all blessed.

“Jeshurun, there is none like God; He who rides the heavens is at your assistance, and with His majesty, [He rides] the heavens.” (33:26)

The One who created us is also the One who sustains us because His glory covers all creation, hence there is none like Him. The last book the Torah ends reminding us again that it is Moses, our highest awareness of the Divine Presence in all creation, who guards us from falling into the illusions and fantasies that we create for no reason.

Mystic sages say that those are the fantasies represented by the cult of Baal Peor.

“And He buried him [Moses] in the valley, in the land of Moab, opposite Beit Peor” (34:6)

Thus Moses will always remind us not to fall in unnecessary fantasies. It is in the highest level of our intellect that we make a clear difference between ego’s fantasies and illusions, and love’s ways and attributes. Still the choice is only ours.

“And there was no other prophet who arose in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, as manifested by all the signs and wonders, which the Lord had sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and all his servants, and to all his land, and all the strong hand, and all the great awe, which Moses performed before the eyes of all Israel.” (34:10-12)

This is the privilege of the humble ones like him: “Now this man Moses was exceedingly humble, more so than any person on the face of the Earth.” (Numbers 12:3), the empty vessel eager to be filled by our Father and be able to see Him and perform His miracles so the rest of our levels of consciousness (all Israel) can see it and learn from Moses, our teacher.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Succot

These three major festivities take place within the same month when we celebrate the Jewish New Year. This fact shows that there are significant connections between them, and their common denominator is the Unity and Oneness we experience with our Creator in each one of them. In Rosh Hashana we are proclaiming Him as our King and our Father. Our Sages call it the Judgment Day in which we recognize that there is nothing besides Him. That is why we read that day the akedah, the binding of Isaac.

Mystic Sages say that Sarah, Abraham and Isaac were very aware that Creation comes from God and belongs to Him, including our lives. There is nothing we can claim as our possession simply because we don’t own anything except the materialistic illusions that make us believe otherwise. Our forefathers knew better and this is why they were so close to the Creator.

They set the example for their descendants until this complete awareness was given to us with the Ten Commandments in a day that our Sages teach is Yom Kippur. In our current new year this day will be as it was the first time, on a Shabbat. Again we solemnly celebrate our Oneness with the Creator in an occasion when He atone for our inadequacies, and redirects us to return to our true identity. 

We read the book of Jonah to plea for our return to Him after asking Him for forgiveness. If a Pagan nation can be forgiven for their repentance, why not the Chosen People? The Prophet Jonah learned in his troubled journey that it is all about trusting God and not the material illusions coming from the shade of a gourd (kikaion): “You had pity on the gourd for which you have not labored, neither made it grow, which came up in a night, and perished in a night.” (Jonah 4:10). These are the material fantasies and illusions we trust more than the One who created them. Our Sages explain that Jonah was angry because a Pagan nation was willing to return to God’s ways, and not His own people.

The Love of God created us and sustains us all the time as He did in His cloud of Glory when He delivered our ancestors from bondage in Egypt. He commands us to remember His permanent protection to us by living during seven days in succot. In all Jewish holidays we remind ourselves that the Love of our Creator is always with us. We were chosen to be His children and His people, then we must choose back to be His children and His people. And we can only be aware of this when we choose His ways and attributes. Only in full awareness of the Love that created all we will be able to dwell in His Presence in these memorable holidays.

May the new year bring us the highest awareness of God’s Love in every dimension of our existence. Shana tova u’metukah!

Parshat Haazinu: Listening to God's Love

This week’s portion, Haazinu (listen in), contains some of the last words that Moses our teacher delivered to the people of Israel the day of his death.

“The deeds of the Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just; a faithful God, without injustice He is righteous and upright.” (Deuteronomy 32:4)

Once again the greatest prophet that Israel ever had reiterates some of the keystone attributes of our Creator, the ways of His love for us; and continues.

“Destruction is not His; it is His children's defect, you crooked and twisted generation.” (32:5)

Rashi also reaffirms that God's love never carries destruction, saying that “Destruction is theirs, not His!” This is essentially important to assimilate because as we have said many times, the choice is ours when we face the blessings of God’s love and the curses of ego’s materialistic fantasies and illusions.

We have said that all creation, including us, is an emanation of God’s love and Moses reminds us of this.

“Is He not your father, your master? He has made you and established you.” (32:6)

We were chosen to receive the Torah and the privilege to bear the awareness of His ways and attributes.

“Because the Lord's portion is His people Jacob, the lot of His inheritance. (…) He encompassed them and bestowed understanding upon them.” (32:9-10)

In this awareness we know that He does not cohabit with anything different than His ways and attributes.

“The Lord guided them alone, and there was no alien deity with Him.” (32:12)

In His delightful ways He guides us (32:13-14) until we choose to experience the darkness of materialism.

“They sacrificed to demons, which have no power, deities they did not know, new things that only recently came, which your forefathers did not fear. You forgot the Rock Who bore you; you forgot the God Who delivered you.” (32:17-18)

When we give in to the illusions and fantasies of the material world, the delusional approach to the vanities of pride, envy, indolence, lust and negative feelings of lack, we indeed separate from love as our essence and true identity that sustains us.

“They have provoked My jealousy with a non god, provoked My anger with their vanities. Thus, I will provoke their jealousy with a non people; provoke their anger with a foolish nation.” (32:21)

Love is our only redeemer when we choose to return to God's love, and these are the final words of the portion.

“Because He will avenge the blood of His servants, inflict revenge upon His adversaries, and appease His land [and] His people.” (32:43)

The haftarah complements this week’s Torah reading with King David’s thoughts.

“The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God who is my rock, in Him I take refuge; my shield, and my horn of Redemption, my high tower, and my refuge; my savior, You saved me from violence. Praised, I cry, is the Lord, and I am saved from my enemies.” (2 Samuel 1:2-4)

When we are as aware as the psalmist of our true identity and connection with the Creator, we live in the delights of 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.