Sunday, November 28, 2010

Parshat Mikeitz: The Rule of Love over Ego's Domains

“And it came to pass at the end (mikeitz) of two years, and Pharaoh was dreaming (...)” (Genesis 41:1).

We have mentioned that mystic Sages equate the snake in the Garden of Eden, Pharaoh (his domains) and Egypt to ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions; and that our final Redemption comes when we cry out to God's love to take us to His promised land where we are finally free from both ego's rule and the affliction of the Canaanite “nations”.

Pharaoh's dreams can be fruitful, productive and nurturing (“the seven good cows and the seven good ears of grain”) as well as barren, destructive and poisoning (“the seven meager and ugly cows and the seven empty ears of grain”), which means that if we don't direct ego in positive ways, its negative desires ultimately consume any potential good that we may have acquired for our well being. In this sense, the goodness of
love is peace.

This is the lesson the Creator teaches to the ruler who wants to submit human consciousness to his materialistic desires, and the lesson is delivered by Joseph as the epitome of
love's ways and attributes: “And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying: 'It is not I, God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace'.” (41:16), for peace is the way and also the final destination.

God's answer is not to appease ego's fears but to teach that peace remains when we submit our desires in every level of consciousness to love's rule: “And Joseph said to Pharaoh: 'The dream of Pharaoh is one, what God is doing He has told Pharaoh'.” (41:25).

Joseph's ordeals during his twelve years in captivity were the darkness from where he emerged as the ruler over ego's desires, the perfect vessel for Love's ways and attributes which are the material manifestation of God's Spirit: “And Pharaoh said to his servants: 'Can we find one as this one, a man in whom the Spirit of God
is'?” (41:38), because God's love is the ruler in His Creation:

And Pharaoh said to Joseph: 'Since God has let you know all this, there is none as understanding and wise as you'.” (41:39), “You shall be over my house, and according to your word shall all my people be ruled; only in the throne will I be greater than you'.” (41:40).

Yet Pharaoh doesn't give up is destructive egotism recalled by the Prophet: “Speak and say, 'Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against you, Pharaoh king of Egypt, the great monster that lies in the midst of his rivers, that has said, 'My Nile is mine, and I myself have made it'.” (Ezekiel 29:3).
Also as a reminder that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” (Proverbs 16:18).

Joseph's victory over ego's rule is the harvest of
love when we look for the light concealed in darkness: “And the name of the second [son] he called Ephraim, 'because God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction'.” (Genesis 41:52). Joseph (love) rules over Pharaoh's (ego's) dominions, through Love's ways and becomes the source of sustenance and nurturing for the material aspects of life: “And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: 'Go to Joseph, what he says to you, do'.” (41:55).

When we allow
love to guide all aspects, levels and dimensions of consciousness, we indeed clear all negative traits and qualities such as jealousy, envy, pride, lust and every feeling of lack; thus we satiate our hunger for true life. Love is the guide of the traits that encompass our consciousness, the “brothers” that not always recognize it as their protector and Redeemer: “And Joseph knew his brothers, but they knew him not.” (42:8)

Love is the teacher that guides us to live in God's ways and attributes. This is the dynamic process of making positive, uplifting and constructive decisions every minute, every hour, and every day of our lives.

Love as the master that leads us in its ways toward Redemption from the darkness of ego's illusions. The individual and collective awareness of this reality, the true reality, is the place that God wants us to create for Him in this world. Our individual and collective mission is to unite every aspect of our consciousness into the harmony of love, to embrace our “brothers” as Joseph did after he led them into the truth that love is. Thus all of them are redeemed from negative illusions such as jealousy, envy, anger, pride, and cruelty:

And they drank, and were merry with him.” (43:34). This is the legacy of living in Love's ways and attributes.

haftarah for this portion begins with the verse: “And Solomon awoke, and behold [it was] a dream. And he came to Jerusalem, and stood before the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings, and offered peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.” (I Kings 3:15).

This reminds us that when we elevate our entire consciousness to God's love, the oneness we experience with Him becomes a celebration of harmony shared by our intellect, mind, emotions, feelings, passions, and instincts. The feast for all these as our servants in our mission to make prevail God's ways and attributes in the material world.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Parshat Vayeishev: Love as the Chosen One to Lead

The previous parshah ends with an entire chapter mentioning the “generations” or numerous descendants (negatives traits and lower passions represented by Esau, Edom, Seir) of Esau as a reminder of the numerous obstacles, perils and dangers that we have to conquer in order to possess and settle the Promised Land (the settling in the higher levels of consciousness and positive traits).

And Jacob settled (vayeishev) in the land of his father's sojourning, in the land of Canaan. (Genesis 37:1). Vayeishev starts with the “generations” of Jacob, not as numerous descendants but with one Joseph , in sharp contrast with Esau's: “These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers, (...) and Joseph brought evil report of them unto their father.” (37:2).

Our Sages again debate why only Joseph is mentioned, and we can understand it in the context of his spiritual prevalence. Among his brothers he represents the highest awareness of the Creator. Also Moses, Aaron the high priest with his descendants, and the Levites also embody this connection. Their mission is to spiritually guide and lead the rest of the Tribes of Israel that represent the remaining levels of consciousness. This is why Joseph felt compelled to “report” their behavior to his father Israel, whose endeavor is to raise the family and ultimately the people that would be chosen to proclaim the Oneness of the Creator among the nations.

Joseph was the chosen son to endure and overcome the harshness of negative traits and lower emotions and passions inflicted on him by the jealousy and hatred of his brothers, and by ego's gross materialism represented by Egypt and Pharaoh: “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.” (37:3-4).

Among his brothers Joseph is the epitome of Love's ways and attributes because our awareness of Love is what enables us to overcome the darkness of the lower aspects of our consciousness. In this sense Jacob (Israel) shares the same identity of Joseph as the transmuting fire that lights up darkness: “And the House of Jacob shall be fire, the House of Joseph shall be flame, and the House of Esau straw.” (Obadiah 1:18).

Mystic Sages teach that Joseph represents the foundation (HaYesod) that precedes the culmination of Creation (the sixth day of Creation), the foundation that supports the complete revelation of the Creator in the Seventh Day when His sovereignty (Malchut) is fully manifest. This is why the Shabbat is so sacred to Israel because in it we are united with the Creator (“Torah, Shabbat, Israel and God are One”).

As we mentioned countless times, God's Love is the foundation and sustenance of His Creation, as it is proclaimed: “The world is built on loving kindness. In the Heavens You established Your faithfulness.” (Psalms 89:3). Love is the highest trait and quality of human consciousness, hence we have to care for Love and foster Love in all levels and dimensions of consciousness, as “Israel loved Joseph more than all his children”. Hence Love must lead and guide all aspects of life as the vessels to be filled with its ways and attributes.

This fundamental principle is reminded to Israel as a Divine blessing and Commandment when Isaac blessed Jacob in parshat Toldot: “Nations shall serve you and kingdoms shall bow down to you; you shall be a master over your brothers, and your mother's sons shall bow down to you.” (Genesis 27:29). It is reaffirmed to Joseph in his dream as the heir of this blessing: “Behold, we were binding sheaves in the midst of the field; and behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and behold, your sheaves encircled [it] and prostrated themselves to my sheaf.” (37:7).

And he said to him: 'Go now, see whether it is well with your brothers, and well with the flock; and bring me back word'.” (37:14). Jacob commands Joseph not just to look after the well being of his brothers but also after the possessions of their father, and Joseph obeyed only to find betrayal and potential death.

This is the fate of Israel as the Light for the nations, the fate of Love before the darkness of negative illusions in the material world; but Love always prevails because Love transcends all illusions:

“The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and whatever he [Joseph] did the Lord made prosper in his hand.” (39:2-3), “The Lord was with Joseph, and He gave him loving kindness, and He gave him grace in the eyes of the warden of the prison.”, “The warden of the prison did not inspect anything [that was] in his [Joseph's] hand, because the Lord was with him, and whatever he did the Lord made prosper.” (39:21, 23).

We have to trust God's Love because He is the Creator who sustains us and nothing else. When we forget this as Joseph did once, we also remain in the prison of ego's illusions that never stop keeping us away from the awareness of Love's ways and attributes; the illusions that will never redeem us from our ordeals. Love indeed sustains our illusions but they never sustain Love.

The end of this parshah illustrates this reality: “But remember me when things go well with you, and please do me a favor and mention me to Pharaoh, and you will get me out of this house.”, “but the chief cup bearer did not remember Joseph, and he forgot him.” (40: 14, 23).

King David reminds us many times to trust only our Father: “Fortunate is the man who places his trust in God, and does not turn to the arrogant (ego's fantasies and illusions).”, “O Lord of multitudes, happy is the man that trusts in You.” (Psalms 40:5, 84:13).

Jacob and Joseph represent Love as the fire and flame that transmute envy, jealousy, anger, pride, selfishness, and negative expressions of human consciousness, all derived from ego's feelings of lack. These are all illusions, the “straw” of the House of Esau. It is through Love, the Truth that Joseph and Jacob are, that we overcome darkness; as it is fire the catalyst to transform a lower, unaccomplished state into a higher and accomplished being.

Love is the forging, building and lifting fire, the flame that elevates us to our Creator. Being and manifesting Love as our Essence and true identity are the catalyst to become One with God's Love.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Parshat Vayishlach: Our Redeemers from Darkness

The day arrives in which the two brothers meet after 20 years, and the opposite forces both represent are again face to face: And Jacob sent (vayishlach) messengers before him to Esau his brother to the land of Seir, the field of Edom.” (Genesis 32:4).

It is evident that the man of peace who Jacob is chooses peace with his brother at any cost in order to avoid bloodshed. At this point there is a lot of debate among our Sages with the obvious questions. If Jacob has the reiterated blessing and protection from God's Love, why does he apparently doubt them? Why not colliding with his nemesis and destroy him once and for all, considering that Jacob has God's reaffirmed protection?

These questions must be directed to ourselves, not with the purpose of justifying Jacob's decision in this case but to understand the complexities of living in the realm of darkness with the mission to bring Light to it, and making sure to reveal the Light concealed in darkness. This is the disjunctive that Adam, Noah, and others could not resolve and failed in their endeavors.

Entering in the realm of ego's illusions is similar to penetrating a dark labyrinth with no light, and illusions are the only available references to deal with such mirage. In practical terms, it is like being trapped in desires that demand immediate satisfaction, and it seems to be no way to escape from them except by appeasing them with what they demand.

Jacob knows that goats, camels, donkeys and cattle, which represent our lower emotions and passions, are the main demands of ego's desires: “and took of that which he had with him a present for Esau his brother: two hundred she-goats and twenty he-goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, thirty milk camels and their colts, forty kine and ten bulls, twenty she-asses and ten foals. (32:14-16).

What if Esau's desires are from a different nature? What if in his innermost thoughts and feelings Esau yearns for his own redemption? After all, the prophecy is quite clear: “And redeemers will come up on the mount of Zion to judge [do justice to] the mount of Esau, and the kingdom [sovereignty] shall be the Lord's.” (Obadiah 1:21).

The Torah's account of events gives us the answers when we read that Jacob calls his brother “my master” and presents himself as his “servant”. Our Sages debate these definitions and conclude that Jacob would be punished for bowing to one who desecrates the Name of God with his contemptuous wickedness. Sages say that the eight times that Jacob called Esau "my master" represent eight kingdoms that later would subjugate the Land of Israel and the Israelites.

From this episode we learn that we must confront negativity in every way as the only resort to make Love prevail always. Jacob's attitude towards Esau is even more ironic after defeating the angel (of Esau) in a nightlong wrestling (Genesis 32:25-30). Jacob (Israel) proved in his long fight with the angel his total awareness and commitment to remove the barriers of darkness that don't allow the complete revelation of the Divine Presence in the material world.

As we have said many times, this is the mission of Israel: to create a place for God to dwell in this world, and that place is Love that created us and Love we must reveal by removing the negative aspects of human consciousness. These are the traits represented by Esau and his descendants, the “nations” that Israel must conquer and subdue in order to settle in the Promised Land.

This conquest and its wars are waged when Israel is in complete unity with the Creator through the unity of Love, because God's ways and attributes are the means to clear ego's negative illusions. Loving actions and good deeds are “redeemers that come up on the mount of Zion to do justice to the mount of Esau”, in order to fully proclaim the sovereignty of God in all dimensions of His Creation.

When we embrace God's ways and attributes as the only rulers and guides of all the levels, traits, aspects and facets (as the “nations”) of our consciousness, we fulfill His will as it is written: "Because the Kingdom is the Lord's, and He rules over the nations." (Psalms 22:28).

God's Love is waiting for us to claim His ways our true redeemers: “And when they cried to You in the time of their distress, You heard from Heaven, and according to Your great compassion You gave them redeemers who delivered them from the hand of their oppressors.” (Nehemiah 9:27), and when we realize this we will be completely aware that “The whole Earth is filled with His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).

In this sense Jacob knows that he is not ready to confront Esau because he needs more time to elevate his character in order to become the Truth that he and his heirs represent: Love and Light to create a place in this world as the will of the Creator of all. Hence Jacob tells Esau: “(…) and I will move [at] my own slow pace, according to the pace of the work that is before me and according to the pace of the children [Jacob's descendants], until I come to my master, to Seir.” (Genesis 33:14), in order to fulfill the prophecy (Obadiah 1:21) as a Commandment.

In this context we can understand why Jacob called Esau his “master” because ultimately it is Israel's mission to redeem the “nations” (Esau and his descendants), so they all can recognize and praise God's Love as the true sovereign of His Creation: “That Your way may be known upon Earth, Your Redemption among all nations.” (Psalms 67:3).

Israel's confrontation with the perils and dangers of darkness continues in the parshah: “Jacob's two sons, Shimon and Levi, Dinah's brothers, each took his sword, and they came upon the city with confidence, and they slew every male.”, “Jacob's sons came upon the slain and plundered the city that had defiled their sister.” (Genesis 34:25, 27).

This time Israel's sons reacted with the radical approach their father didn't have with Esau. Even when dealing with idolaters who are slaves of their lower passions, the danger to become like them is always present: “Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him: 'Put away the strange gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments'.” (35:2).

Other sad events mentioned in this portion are the deaths of Rachel and Isaac.

The portion ends mentioning the generations of the descendants of Esau as a reminder that they represent not only the obstacles to fulfill Israel's mission but the chastisers always ready to strike when we dismiss Love's ways and attributes, and rather choose to follow ego's fantasies and illusions. If Jacob's decisions were indeed difficult in his times, it is also difficult for us to make the right choices now.

In every moment we have to make choices, and the main lesson the Torah teaches is to make them not only for our own individual benefit and convenience, but taking into consideration the collective benefit and well being of all concerned. That is one of the main attributes of Love, and also is one of its ways.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Parshat Vayeitzei: Love as the Place of God in the World

And Jacob went out (vayeitzei) from Beer Sheba, and he went to Haran.” (Genesis 28:10) Our Sages say that Jacob dwelt in the tents of Eber for 14 years before going to Haran. During that time he immersed in Torah study far from the material illusions of the world represented by Haran (lit. “wrath”) and by Laban, his uncle and future father in law.

In this time of study Jacob prepared himself to “descend” into the domains of his uncle whom mystic Sages consider as the Deceiver himself. We know that in the realm of illusions everything is deceiving for the fact that all is an illusion derived from materialism. In this context the mission of Israel (Jacob) is to clear the darkness of illusions with the Light of the Torah.

Jacob is indeed ready to execute the birthright as the priesthood despised by his brother Esau. It begins by establishing the permanent connection with the Creator in His place (the Temple of Jerusalem) which represents our highest level of awareness of God: “And he arrived (lit. reached) at the place, (…) and he lodged in that place.” (28:11) and “(…) behold! A ladder set up on the Earth, and the top of it reached to Heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” (28:12).

This is the connection that makes us aware of our Unity with the Creator, and the angels as the messengers of God’s ways and attributes that fulfill His will when we allow ourselves to be the vessels of His blessings: “(…) the Land upon which you are lying, to you I will give it, and to your seed.” (28:13).

The place where we connect with Him is also the Promised Land as the material manifestation of His blessings, the goodness we can be and do in this world because His Love is not only for us but for all His Creation: “and through you shall be blessed all the families of the Earth and through your seed.” (28:14), a true partnership with God in His Creation: “I am with you, and I will guard you wherever you go, and I will restore you to this Land, because I will not forsake you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” (28:15).

This partnership is bound to the Promised Land as the place that we share with our Creator: “And he called the name of that place Bet-El (House of God).” (28:19), where we all yearn to live, and it can happen as long as we live in the awareness of God’s Love. In this sense we understand what our Sages teach when they say that “God is the place of the world, but the world is not His place”: His Love is “the place” that pervades His Creation and sustains it.

We have mentioned many times in this blog that everything emanates from the Creator and is sustained by Him. The entire Creation is a manifestation of His Love, hence we are made of His Love in order to be Love. Thus we exist and belong to Him, and we must “return” to Him as part of the dynamics of a Divine Plan that we yet can’t comprehend, neither His Essence. In this dynamics we understand the meaning of tithing back to Him: “and everything that You give me, I will surely tithe to You.” (28:22).

Our Sages teach that the tithes to the Temple are the means to elevate our souls to God by doing what He considers sacred in our lives (this is how we “sacrifice” for Him), and after the destruction of the Temple our tithes are what we give to those in need. In sum, we are in this world to give from what God’s Love has given us and continues giving us in every breath we take. This is how we rectify the world (tikkun olam) through this Commandment: “and you shall love your neighbor as yourself, [because] I am the Lord.” (Leviticus 19:18) because everything is about God’s Love.

At this point in the parshah we realize that Jacob’s continuous dwelling in the House of God, His place and His Promised Land, is not only God’s promise and will but also His Commandment. Before a permanent settling Jacob first had to face the perils of the illusions of the material world, and clear his way to raise a family amid the darkness of the negative aspects of consciousness where his future wives grew up. As we said earlier, this is Israel’s mission as the Chosen People: to reveal, proclaim and manifest God’s ways and attributes Love as His Presence amid the darkness of gross materialism.

Jacob recognized the Light concealed in the darkness and knew how to reveal it: “when Jacob saw Rachel, the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, that Jacob went near and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother.” (Genesis 29:10).

Three times Laban’s name is mentioned in relation to his sister Rebecca, Jacob’s mother. We can infer from this repetition that as Rebecca was redeemed from the darkness of her brother’s household, Laban’s daughters also would be redeemed by Jacob’s diligent labor dwelling in Laban’s domains.

Mystic Sages comment on the complexities of the interaction between Light and darkness because is not an easy matter to deal with ego’s materialistic fantasies in a world where illusions are the references related to life. Love as the Truth is concealed behind the darkness of ego’s feelings of lack in all levels of consciousness, including mind, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts. When these are under the rule of ego’s negative desires and not under Love’s ways and attributes, life and the world can become the hell that already is for many people.

Jacob had to confront the jealousy and rivalry of his wives, the greed and wickedness of his father in law, and the negative emotions that we must redirect into the paths of Love. Children came into this state of affairs, and Jacob’s endeavor became more difficult and challenging to make his offspring the adequate vessels for God’s promised blessings. This is not a quest for “perfection” but a road to turn our individual and collective circumstances into a dwelling place for the Love that made us and the Love that we are.

From the passages of Jacob’s relationship with Laban we learn that the deceit of material illusions fades before the Truth that Love is: “(…) ‘I see your father's countenance [Laban’s], that it is not toward me as before time; but the God of my father has been with me.” (31:5) and as Leah and Rachel said to Jacob: “(…) all the wealth that God separated from our father is ours and our children's. So now, all that God said to you, do.” (31:16).

The portion ends confirming that God's Love dwells with us when we dwell in His ways and attributes, His Promised Land: “And Jacob went on his way, and the angels of God met him. And Jacob said when he saw them: 'This is God's camp.' And he called the name of that place Mahanaim.” (32:1-2).

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.