Sunday, December 26, 2010

Parshat Vaeira: The Regency of Love in Life

Our Sages teach that all the Divine Names mentioned in the Torah represent a particular attribute with which the Creator relates to His Creation: “I appeared (lit. was seen) to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as the Almighty God, but My Name YHWH I did not become known to them.” (Exodus 6:3).

Regarding YHWH, they indicate that it is related to abundant loving kindness and compassion. Hence we can understand it as Divine Love that sustains, relieves and redeems us from the bondage of negative trends in human consciousness, triggered by ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions.

As we have said often, the essential message in this blog -- God's Love -- is to conceive (from our human consciousness) the Creator through His Love, and relate to Him also through Love. The message is quite simple. If Creation is an emanation of God’s Love, therefore the Essence of Creation is also His Love. Such as we must conceive God's Love and relate to it.

It is also written that we humans were created at His image and likeness, thus we must understand our human identity as and emanation of His Love and relate to our Creator through Love as our common bond with Him.

This is the context in which we have to understand “And I will take you to Me as a people, and I will be a God to you, and you will know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of Egypt.” (6:7).

God’s Love summons us as our Redeemer simply because He is our Creator. He is the only One we have to know in order to understand who we are in His Divine Plan.

“Moses spoke thus to the children of Israel, but they did not hearken to Moses because of shortness of breath and because of hard labor.” (6:9)

When we achieve higher consciousness, and realize the message presented above, we become the Moses of our own awareness. Thus our purpose is to gather every aspect of consciousness (the children of Israel) and convey this message to them. This task is extremely difficult when these aspects are subjugated to the negativity of ego’s materialistic demands (“shortness of breath” and “hard labor”).

“(…) the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: ‘I am the Lord. Speak to Pharaoh everything that I speak to you’. But Moses said before the Lord: ‘Behold, I am of closed lips; so how will Pharaoh hearken to me’?” (6:29-30)

Here we see the dynamics of the Divine Plan when we have to fulfill the will of the Creator. He is the One that rules His Creation, and He shows the way to walk before His Love as the true sovereign of all dimensions of consciousness, ego included.

It is essential to realize that the task to harmonize our consciousness starts with directing our ego, because it is the most powerful force in human life. As we mentioned in our previous commentary on 
parshat Shemot, Pharaoh (ego) does not recognize any other power besides him. Hence the whole process of the Exodus from Egypt is about teaching Pharaoh who is the real God in our life.

When we realize God’s Love as our Essence and identity, He is the One who speaks to us and to our ego when we cry out to be released from darkness and return to Light. But sometimes even if we are aware of God’s Love in our lives we don’t fully believe that He can subjugate and direct our basic human driving force. Indeed ego is a powerful ruler hard to be dominated, even by Love.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘See! I have made you a lord over Pharaoh; and Aaron, your brother, will be your speaker’.” (7:1)

In this verse the appearance of Aaron as the complementary quality to fully embrace God's Love is clearly indicated. Our awareness of God (represented by Moses, our teacher) is indeed the natural ruler over ego, and it is our constant connection with the Creator (represented by Aaron, the High Priest) that executes this action (see commentaries on the book of Leviticus in this blog).

We have said before that Moses and Aaron represent two aspects of the highest awareness of God’s Love in our consciousness. We also learned that in Jacob’s final blessings to his children three dimensions of Israel’s identity were defined.

Joseph became the Birthright, Levi the Priesthood, and Judah the Kingship. Joseph encompasses Israel’s inheritance and legacy which are God’s Love in humankind manifest through Israel. Levi represents the spiritual connection with God’s Love as the highest awareness of Him in our consciousness. Judah represents the material manifestation of God’s Love in the physical world.

The portion continues with seven of the ten plagues that afflicted the land of Egypt in the process of making God’s Love the One and only Ruler over Creation, and the portion ends with ego’s obstinacy to give in to Love’s ways and attributes as the true conductors of life:

“And Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased; so he [Pharaoh] continued to sin, and he strengthened his heart, he and his servants. And Pharaoh's heart was hardened, and he did not let the children of Israel go out, as the Lord had spoken through the hand of Moses.” (9:34-35)

Once again we are reminded of the power of ego in our consciousness and the struggle that we face to subdue it to Love as the key to redeem ourselves from the bondage of materialism in this world.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Parshat Shemot: The Awareness of God's Love

“And these are the names (shemot) of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt (…)” (Exodus 1:1).

Our Sages teach that one counts and names each thing that is precious to him, and Israel is indeed as precious as a son to his father, as it is written: “So said the Lord, 'My firstborn son is Israel'.” (4:22).

The Hebrew scriptures tell us about the Love of God for Israel and all His Creation, but have we considered our Love for Him? We don't pretend to define with a human consciousness our Creator, but to approach with our human traits His Love that creates and sustains us, and all His Creation. If Creation certainly emanates from God's Love, we conceive and understand Love as the means to relate and communicate with Him.

We frequently mention the thirteen attributes of God's compassion (34:6-7) as specific references for us to relate to our Creator through human consciousness. Ultimately it is our individual choice to conceive Him, and approach Him either as a loving and compassionate Creator or else. Common sense plainly demonstrates the former. Every chapter of the Torah and every assessment of our Sages illustrate and reiterate this truth. The book of Exodus is clearly the living proof of God's Love for Israel.

Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying: 'Every son that is born you shall cast into the River'.” (1:22).

Our mystic Sages explain that every male child born both from Israelites and Egyptians were subject to this decree, and point out that the River (Nile) represents the materialistic lifestyle derived from ego's negative desires and fantasies.

Pharaoh (the egocentric approach to material life) wanted every trait and aspect of human consciousness submerged (put to death) into the waters of materialism, and becoming virtually dead to the upper waters of higher consciousness represented by Love's ways and attributes. From this passage we learn that without a rest from the the material world (a time and place called the Shabbat), life is meaningless. Without our awareness of the Creator, everything seems meaningless.

In this crucial moment of human development, a key trait of consciousness needs to be born in order to guide its remaining aspects. This is what we refer as the highest awareness of the Creator in our consciousness, the awareness of His goodness, as we conceive it in our limited human understanding. This awareness is represented by Moses: “And she [Moses' mother] saw him that he was good.” (2:2).

This is also the awareness of Love that reaches out to all Creation, and particularly to our brethren:

“He [Moses] went out to his brothers, and looked on their suffering” (2:11).

This ordeal is not only the result of living under the duress of gross materialism but the division and separation we suffer in our exile from God's Love.

Division, strife, quarreling, violence and hatred are illusions that trap us in the darkness of the absence of Love.

“And Moses feared, and said: 'Indeed, the thing is known'.” (2:14).

Our Sages say that Moses saw that gossiping and tale bearing were obstacles for the children of Israel's redemption from slavery, and he concluded that those were the “known causes of their bondage.

“(…) the king of Egypt died, and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry ascended to God by reason of the bondage.” (2:23).

Mystic Sages explain that Pharaoh was dead to the awareness of God and His eternal rule over His Creation. In the darkness of this spiritual death our cry certainly reaches up to Him.

Rashi complements this fact when he questions why God appeared to Moses in a thorn bush and not in a different tree. He answers that it was in order to illustrate and demonstrate that, “In all their distress He too was distressed, and the Angel of His Presence saved them. In His Love and compassion He redeemed them, He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.” (Isaiah 63:9).

God's Love is certainly the fire that is never consumed: “The bush burned with fire, but the bush was not consumed.” (Exodus 3:2).

“And Moses said to God: 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?' And He said: 'I will be with you, and this is your sign [humility] that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Egypt (after their attachment to lower consciousness), they shall serve God upon this mountain (the highest awareness of God, also the Temple of Jerusalem)'.” (3:11-12).

God'd Love redeems us from the darkness of ego's materialism and the negative trends in consciousness:

“This is My Name forever, and this is how I should be mentioned in every generation.” (3:15).

The One that was, is, and will be forever.

“And God said to Aaron: 'Go to the wilderness to meet Moses'. And he went, and met him in the mount of God, and kissed him.” (4:27).

The mount of God is our highest awareness of His Love, where both loving kindness (Aaron) and righteousness (Moses) kiss, as recalled by King David:

“Loving kindness and Truth are met together; Justice and Peace have kissed.” (Psalms 85:11).

Truth and justice are inherent to each other (Moses), and so too Love and Peace (Aaron).

“And Pharaoh said: 'Who is the Lord that I should hearken to His voice to let Israel go'? I know not the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go'.” (5:2).

Ego pretends to direct our existence as a separate, independent entity in order to control all aspects of consciousness (the children of Israel). In this illusory separation, ego disregards Love as the all-encompassing and integrating force in Creation.

Ego creates its own individual “separated” reality based on desires derived from negative thoughts and misconceptions rooted in a sense of lack.

This lack is the result of the illusory absence of Love in any of the aspects and dimensions of intellect, mind, emotions, feelings, passions, and instincts. Lack of food and the essential resources to fulfill our basic material needs (body needs related to instincts), lack of an object for our desires and carnal urges (passions), lack of recognition and fulfillment of our feelings and emotions in our relationship with our surroundings, lack of interest and concern based on lack of knowledge in our mind and intellect, all these lacks are triggers for ego's frustration and consequent engagement in negative behavior and actions that darken and enslave our awareness in the lowest levels of existence.

In this predicament, ego does not know or recognize anything different than its own image, including rejecting Love as the redeemer from its lack, either be real or illusory.

The portion ends with this verse:

“And the Lord said to Moses: 'Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, because by a strong hand shall he let them go, and by a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land'.” (6:1).

God's Love creates and sustains everything, and also transforms our consciousness in order for us to recognize Him as our Creator.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Parshat Vayechi: Recognizing and Embracing God's Love

The last four portions of the book of Genesis are the most emotional of the Torah. The story of Joseph and his brothers makes us shed tears, indeed the same tears we shed when we yearn for God’s Love as our sole Redeemer.

Joseph is the keystone that maintains the unity of Israel in their coming down to Egypt and their consequent slavery under Pharaoh’s rule. Joseph reaffirms his prophecy of God's deliverance: “God will surely remember you.” (Genesis 50:24).

Our Father surely remembers us not only in times of affliction and ordeals, or as a fact in the future, because He always remembers us. The time of our individual and collective Redemption depends on our own initiative, by choosing the blessings and not the curses that we face every day in life.

How long is going to take us to recognize Joseph, our brother who represents Love’s ways and attributes? What does it take to choose Love over ego’s negative and ephemeral fantasies and illusions that cause us pain, suffering, disillusionment, separation, isolation, sadness, depression and everything that causes affliction in life?

The story also reminds us that Love is the subject in the relationship of Joseph and his brothers, and Love is also the object of our relationship with the Creator. Israel’s connection and unity with God are based on His Love. Also through Love that we relate to our Father in the return to our true home with Him. We said many times that we acquire knowledge through trial and error, true and false, right and wrong; and through this experiential process we learn to discern good from evil.

In this predicament we must integrate goodness into our consciousness and discard the negativity derived from falsehood and evil. This is the fundamental message the Torah teaches us in its words. Our Sages explain that God’s Love is the cause of Creation, and we have to embrace and experience Love in order to know our Father.

In this final portion of the book of Genesis Jacob blesses all his children with words full of symbolic meanings that are not easy to understand. This difficulty is explained by several reasons, being the most complex the divine context of these blessings we can’t fully grasp, for Jacob’s words for his sons were uttered by divine inspiration.

Our Sages teach that some of the blessings are related to the near future of Israel as a nation and the conquest of its enemies. The symbolic meanings of the Tribes (lion, snake, wolf, ox, gazelle, gate, ship, etc.) represent not only human traits, skills or qualities, but also deeper dimensions and potentialities of Israel in his connection with the Creator. Hence Israel’s mission is to know and to be aware of his relationship with Him through Torah study and good deeds, as the dynamic process of learning His ways and attributes.

Let’s take a look of parts of these blessings. “Shimon and Levi are brothers” (49:5). Our Sages quote Jacob saying to them: “You were brothers to Dinah, but you were not brothers to Joseph” (
Midrash Rabbah). They ran to defend their sister’s honor (after she was raped in Shechem) because it was also their family’s honor. But they did not comprehend that acknowledging Joseph’s spiritual prevalence and leadership in the family was also a way of defending their honor and paying respect to their father’s will. “Instruments of violence are their weapons” (49:5). Our Sages also explain that these are not Israel’s instruments to fulfill his mission commanded by the Creator. These are Esau's, as his father Isaac said to him: “And by your sword shall you live” (27:40).

The negative potential aspects of our consciousness -- represented by Esau and the Canaanite nations -- are the instruments of violence and affliction to us and our fellow man. Israel is destined to conquer them and subjugate them. This means that all aspects and dimensions of consciousness must be subservient to Love’s ways and attributes. “Cursed be their anger” (49:7).

In anger our vision is lost. Our Sages teach that living in anger is equated to idol worship, because it is like living in one of ego’s illusions (as well as pride, envy, lust, greed, indolence, etc.) instead of living in the truth of God’s ways. Hence anger must be cursed and vanished from our consciousness.

Let’s see now a part of Jacob’s blessing for Joseph: “(…) from the God of your father, and He will help you, and with the Almighty, and He will bless you [with] the blessings of the Heavens above, the blessings of the deep, lying below, the blessings of father and mother.” (49:25). God’s Love is indeed in every dimension of life and in every aspect of consciousness, never separated from us.

At the end of this portion again Joseph is not recognized by his brothers: “And when Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘What if Joseph will hate us, and will pay us back the evil which we did to him’?” (50:15), “And Joseph wept when they spoke to him” (50:17), “And Joseph said to them: ‘Fear not; for am I in the place of God’?” (50:19).

God is the place of the goodness of Love, the place that we have to know, to recognizeto embrace and to cherish. Love is the place that also yearns for us to be with Him, weeping sometimes loudly and sometimes quietly.

The haftarah for the last portion of the Torah makes a parallel between Jacob’s final blessings and David’s blessing to Solomon, before he died: “That the Lord may continue His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your children take heed to their way, to walk before Me in Truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail you’, said He, ‘a man on the throne of Israel’.” (I Kings 2:4). This is Love’s promise and Love’s manifestation when we cleave to God's Love.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Parshat Vayigash: Being Aware of Love as the Ruler

The traits of consciousness (represented by Judah and his brothers) recognize the power of Love (represented by Joseph as the highest human awareness of God's Love) as these recognize the power of ego (represented by Pharaoh), and appeal to Love to bestow its kindness and blessings: “And Judah approached (vayigash) him [Joseph] and said, 'Please my lord, let now your servant speak something to my lord's ears, and let not your wrath be kindled against your servant, because you are like Pharaoh.” (Genesis 44:18).

They know quite well that wrath and other negative qualities are the result of Love's absence in our lives. God's Love is the only Truth, and it is through truth that we cleave to Him. In this episode of the Torah's narrative it is essential to make the truth prevail in order to clear negative thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts.

Joseph, as the epitome of Love's ways and attributes, can't allow his brothers to continue bearing cruelty, jealousy and envy in their hearts. He has to make sure that they are totally cleared from the dominion of ego's negative illusions. Then it is Judah who proves to Joseph that he is willing to give his own life for the sake of his youngest brother, as well as for his other brothers for the sake of the unity of Israel:

“And now, when I come to your servant, my father, and the boy (Benjamin) is not with us [because] his soul (my father's) is attached to his (Benjamin's) soul (…)”, “Because, how will I go up to my father if the boy is not with me? Let me not see the misery that will befall my father (Israel)!” (43:30, 34).

This ultimate proof of love among their brothers is indeed the unity that the children of Israel need to forge permanently in order to be able to embrace God's Love. The louder voice of this bond can be heard as the ruler of all, including ego's domains: 
“And he [Joseph] wept out loud, so the Egyptians heard, and the house of Pharaoh heard.” (45:2).

But now do not be sad, and let it not trouble you that you sold me here, for it was to preserve life that God sent me before you.”, “And God sent me before you to make for you a remnant in the land, and to preserve life for you for a great deliverance.” (45:5, 7). Joseph's love is already free from negative traits because God's Love, the Spirit of God, is with him. This is Love that creates, sustains and preserves life, that also delivers us from ego's materialistic desires when we cry out loud to the Creator.

This is the great deliverance, the Exodus from Egypt foreseen by Joseph and told to his brothers. Again, Love reaffirms its prevalence over all aspects and dimensions of consciousness, including ego: “And now, you did not send me here, but God; and He made me a father to Pharaoh, a lord over all his household, and a ruler over all the land of Egypt.” (45:8).

Though we believe in our Creator and His Love as our sustenance and Redemption, we fear the gross materialism of darkness and the mirages, fantasies and illusions in which we are trapped when Love is absent in our consciousness. Consequently, we have to trust God's Love in addition to being faithful to Him. It is indeed easier to have faith in the Creator than to trust Him.

We believe that He is our sole Provider, and even though we are fully aware of His constant sustenance for us, we still trust more the power of money than Divine Providence. Our fear of lacking the material resources to ease our basic needs is more powerful than our trust in His deliverance:

“And He said, 'I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid of going down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again, and Joseph will place his hand on your eyes'.” (46:3-4) because Love opens our eyes to God's ways and attributes.

And Jacob said to Pharaoh: 'The days of the years of my sojourning are one hundred thirty years. The days of the years of my life have been few and miserable, and they have not reached the days of the years of the lives of my forefathers in the days of their sojourning.” (47:9).

This is the predicament of Israel's spiritual mission in terms of his relation to the material world: a life of struggle with the limitations of physicality, the rigors and perils of nature, and the material difficulties that we face and must overcome in order to secure our survival and well being as individuals and as a Nation.

This predicament is the limiting “few” in our lifespan, while the “miserable” (lit. “evil”) refers to the negative traits and aspects of human consciousness that we have to confront and battle every moment. These are ego's fantasies, negative illusions and lower desires that challenge our free will in every decision we make.

Although there is a feeling of sadness and pessimism in Jacob's answer to Pharaoh, it is so when we have to confront ego's illusions for the sake of revealing the Truth, the Light, God's Love concealed in the darkness of those illusions.

And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt in the land of Goshen, and they acquired property in it, and they were prolific and multiplied greatly.” (47:27). The Divine prophecy is fulfilled and Israel develops and expands the horizon of his consciousness taking advantage of the positive potential that ego can reach amid the perils and dangers of losing his true identity as the Chosen People.

In parshat Mikeitz we learned that ego has two sides and two faces as part of the duality we face in the material world in order to exercise our free will. Also, as we have mentioned before, all in Creation is filled with God's Love, which is also concealed in what we perceive as dark or negative. Ultimately God's Love will be fully revealed and it's up to us to fulfill this ultimate reality.

We can do it if we choose to see the Light that is concealed in darkness by having a positive attitude toward life, and embracing Love as the Truth that can ease the negative thoughts, emotions, feelings and passions in which we seem to be trapped. Pain, suffering, anger, sadness, depression and the lower expressions of consciousness can only be redeemed by allowing Love to lead every aspect of our life.

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.