Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Sanctuary, Israel, Zion and Jerusalem

In the last portions of the book of Exodus the main subject is the Sanctuary (Tabernacle) followed by the High Priest and the offerings. We focused on the Sanctuary as the time and space in our consciousness where and when we are permanently connected with the Creator through the constant awareness of His Love, represented by the High Priest. We have to emphasize that the Sanctuary is always standing in this awareness regardless its physical destruction. We pray daily to G-d's Love to rebuild Jerusalem and its Temple, and this prayer is also part of our Grace after meals in which we thank His Love for the continuous sustenance of His creatures. In this context Jerusalem is as important as its Temple because the undivided capital of Israel also represents a time and a space where all levels of our consciousness are united under the Creator's will. However, it is our choice to return to Jerusalem and reunite with Him.

Those of us who recognize G-d's Love for all His Creation and follow His word can understand the certainty of our choice, and by bearing His word in our minds and our hearts we make the choice. The words of G-d's Love are our way to return to Jerusalem, to Zion, and its Temple. Let's close the book of Exodus and start the book of Leviticus with the invitation from our Creator to return to His Love in the words dictated to our Prophet Isaiah:

"These I will bring to My Holy Mount and give them joy in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations." (Isaiah 56:7). "All nations" represent all potential negative traits in consciousness that are eventually redeemed under the direction of Love's attributes if we make the choice to make it so: "In the last days the Mount of the Lord's Temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the Mount of the Lord, to the house of the G-d of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths'. The law (the Torah) will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." (2:2-3), "Nations will come to your Light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn." (60:3) because it is in the consciousness of Jerusalem that we are united in G-d's Love and in this unity there is no conflict, separation or division. This means that every single trait and quality of consciousness, lower and higher, can coexist in harmony under Love's ways:

"They will neither harm nor destroy on all My Holy Mount, because the Earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." (11:9), "'The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, but dust will be the serpent's food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all My Holy Mount', says the Lord." (65:25) and in this awareness we partake of the delights of G-d's Love: "On this Mount the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine, the best of meats and the finest of wines." (25:6). In our choice to be and manifest Love's ways and attributes we experience the Creator's Essence: "Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem." (4:3), "They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you will be called Sought After, the City (Jerusalem) No Longer Deserted." (62:12), "Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you." (12:16).

"O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, he will answer you." (30:19) because G-d's Love is always present in all His Creation and we just need to be aware of this truth: "And the ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away." (35:10, 51:11), "Your sun will never set again, and your moon will wane no more; the Lord will be your everlasting Light, and your days of sorrow will end." (60:20), "The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing." (51:3).

"Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her." (66:10), "But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy." (65:18), "I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in My people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more." (65:19) because it is in this awareness that we make the choice: "Listen to Me, My people; hear Me, My Nation: The law will go out from Me; My justice will become a Light to the nations." (51:4) and let's never forget that Divine Love is the Light that guides us to His Oneness, always present and available to us: "Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear." (65:24).

We are not perfect as long as we have the free choice that the Creator gave us in His unconditional Love. He surely hopes that we choose His Love instead of the darkness of the illusions of the material world: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the man of iniquity his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have compassion upon him, and to our G-d, because He will abundantly pardon. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the Heavens are higher than the Earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." (55:7-9) because "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." (63:9).

G-d's Love created us and we are made from Him. He is always here and now sustaining us and waiting for us to return to His Love, our true identity. But the choice is only ours and when we make the choice of Truth we will experience what King David says: "Fortunate those who dwell in Your House, they are ever praising You. Forever." (Psalms 84:5).

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei: The Sanctuary of God's Love

Our highest awareness of the Creator, represented by Moses, is what empowers us to unite (assemble) the multidimensional consciousness represented by the children of Israel: “And Moses assembled (vayakhelall the congregation of the children of Israel, and said to them: 'These are the words which the Lord has commanded, that you should do them. Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Shabbat of solemn rest to the Lord; whoever does any work therein shall be put to death'.” (Exodus 35:1-2).

This multidimensional awareness encompasses not just every aspect, trait and level of our consciousness but also the individual reality of every Jew, either he be poor, rich, ignorant, wise, weak, strong, etc. When these multiple dimensions are all gathered into the common purpose of creating a dwelling place in this world for the Divine Presence, the first Commandment is to understand this unity in the context of the Shabbat.

The difference between the Shabbat and the rest of the days is emphasized in this portion of the Torah, in the same way that the labors related to the building of the Sanctuary (Tabernacle) are those we do not perform during the Day of Rest. Our Sages explain this distinction not as a separation between the material and the spiritual worlds but as a connection between both. After all, nothing is separated in the Oneness of the Creator and His Creation. In our material reality work shall be done in order not just to make a living and survive but also to pursue individual and collective happiness in our endeavors. At this point we have to define the kind of “work” the Creator commands us to do. God's Commandments are the work we do as His ways and attributes.

We have said that our work in this material world is to reveal God's Love, and we do it by being and manifesting His ways and attributes. That is our work and we do it by choosing between living in ego's fantasies and illusions, and living in the truth of Love. We make this choice every moment in our daily life. Therefore “working” in anything we have to is about being and doing who we really are: God's image and likeness.

This identity is nothing less than God's Love because we emanate from His Love, and we must reveal Love and experience Love as our common bond with Him. In this sense the daily labors to build the Sanctuary are the same endeavors to build the permanent connection with the Creator in our daily life. Hence, building the Sanctuary to achieve this connection is also working in Love's ways and attributes in order to be connected with Him in our physical reality.

The Shabbat is not another day because its Essence transcends time and space: in it the Creator is beyond His Creation and His creating. We have mentioned many times that our Sages say that “the Creator, the Torah, the Shabbat, and Israel, are One”, and this is how we understand life in this world, in our Oneness with the Creator. Without this awareness we live only in the material aspect of the world, and the consequence of this is a life without the Presence of the Creator. This is what the Torah means when it says that the absence of His Presence is tantamount to death. Therefore it is not about imposing the death penalty against those who do not observe the Shabbat, because death is the consequence of not living in it. Does it make sense to live in the material world without the Presence of its Creator in our lives?

Vayakhel continues with the reiteration of the detailed construction of the Sanctuary as indicated in the previous portions. This time the extremely abundant donations from all the children of Israel for the construction are something to celebrate. When we are fully aware of our endeavors to build our permanent connection with God's Love, our hearts urge us to give as much as we can: “And they spoke to Moses, saying: 'The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make'. (…) Because the labors they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.” (36:5, 7). From these verses we learn that we as individuals have the potential to use all our talents, traits, skills and qualities and direct them in Love's ways in order to reveal God's Love in the world.

This portion is usually joined by the last portion of Exodus, Pekudei, which starts with the verse: “These are the accounts (pekudei) of the Tabernacle, even the Tabernacle of the Testimony, as they were rendered according to the commandment of Moses, through the service of the Levites, by the hand of Itamar, the son of Aaron the priest.” (38:21) The description of the Sanctuary continues, and the details end with the crown of the High Priest: “And they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it a writing, like the engravings of a signet: 'Holy to the Lord'. And they tied to it a thread of blue, to fasten it upon the cap above; as the Lord commanded Moses.” (39: 30-31) and this crown symbolizes the sacredness of our permanent connection with the Creator.

And they brought the Tabernacle to Moses (…) And Moses saw all the work and, behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it. And Moses blessed them.” (39: 33, 43) Again Moses is reaffirmed as the highest awareness of the Creator to be in charge of guiding and elevating ALL aspects, levels, dimensions, traits, qualities, and potential expressions of our consciousness in order to be constantly connected to God's ways and attributes. This is Moses' blessing to the children of Israel. When we are ALL united individually and collectively in Love as our common bond with God's Love, He joins us to be One with Him: “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the Glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.” (40:34) and in this awareness the Divine Presence will always be with us: “Because the cloud of the Lord was upon the Tabernacle by day, and there was fire therein by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” (40: 38)

The book of Exodus begins with our bondage in the lowest materialism and through the power of God's Love we were redeemed with His miracles. In our awareness of God's Love, He embraces us always. In this awareness, represented by the Sanctuary, He fulfills His promise: “And they shall make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst (lit. in them).” (25:8, 29:45-46, Leviticus 26:11, Numbers 5:3, I Kings 6:13)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Parshat Ki Tisa: Between Ego's Fantasies and Love's Truth

When you count the head [the total sum] of the children of Israel according to their numbers, let each one give to the Lord an atonement for his soul when they are counted; then there will be no plague among them when they are counted.” (Exodus 30:12)

Our Sages teach that this new census is related to events that occurred in this portion of the Torah regarding the final instructions of the assembly of the Sanctuary, the sin of the golden calf, and the Divine attributes of compassion.

This particular census involves the individual contribution of half shekel of silver by every adult for the
construction of the Sanctuary. This has two objectives: to be aware that we as individuals are incomplete (halves) because our wholeness is achieved in our unity with the Creator. Hence we have to offer our individual being (the half we are) for the foundation of what symbolizes our unity with God: the Sanctuary as the highest awareness of Him.

“The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than the half shekel, when they give the offering of the Lord to make atonement for your souls.” (30:15)

It is pointed out that we offer the wholeness of our being that is no more and no less of who we are. This includes the traits and qualities that make us individually unique. This is the wholeness we elevate to the Creator in order to be atoned (transformed) by His Love.

This process takes place when we embrace God's ways and attributes in the material world. After the final instructions for the construction of the Sanctuary and its anointing, there is a repeated reminder.

(…) 'You shall keep My Shabbats! Because it is a sign between Me and you for your generations, to know that I, the Lord, make you holy. Thus shall the children of Israel observe the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath throughout their generations as an everlasting Covenant'.” (31:13-17)

This reminder not only warns us about the preeminence of the Shabbat as the absence of the labors related to the building of the Sanctuary, but to teach us that in it we are one with the Creator and this makes us holy.

After this preamble the narrative continues with the rebellion of the basic emotions, passions and instincts, led by ego against the highest awareness of the Creator in our consciousness (represented by Moses and Aaron). All the miracles performed for the liberation from the bondage to ego's illusions were forgotten and replaced by those illusions.

“They have quickly turned away from the path that I have commanded them; they have made themselves a molten calf! And they have prostrated themselves before it, slaughtered sacrifices to it, and said: 'These are your gods, O Israel, who have brought you up from the land of Egypt'.” (32:8)

The power of ego granted by the Creator is meant to serve Him, but this depends on our free will: either to follow our materialistic desires or
love's ways and attributes. In this situation our higher awareness of His presence is responsible to lead every aspect of consciousness in His direction.

“Moses said to Aaron: 'What did this people do to you that you brought a grave sin upon them?' Aaron replied: 'Let not my lord's anger grow hot! You know the people, that they are disposed toward evil'.” (32:21-22)

Although the battle between true and false, right and wrong, is waged every moment, love always prevails when we choose God's ways and attributes.

In the permanent awareness of
love we redeem ourselves from the ordeals imposed by ego's materialistic agenda. Once we integrate all levels of consciousness into God's Love and follow His ways, redemption follows. This unity is achieved in the awareness of His attributes.

“And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed: 'The Lord, the Lord, benevolent God, compassionate and gracious, patient, and abundant in loving kindness and truth; preserving loving kindness to the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and rebellion and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation'.” (34:6-7)

These thirteen attributes of Divine compassion are inherent to the love of the Creator for His creation. Once more we are reminded that only in the unity with God's love our consciousness is cleared from its potentially negative expressions represented by the Canaanite nations.

“Keep carefully what I am commanding you today: Lo! I will drive out from before you the Amorites and the Canaanites, the Hittites and the Perizites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. Beware lest you form a covenant with the inhabitant[s] of the land into which you are coming, lest it become a snare in your midst. But you shall demolish their altars, shatter their monuments, and cut down their sacred trees. For you shall not prostrate yourself before another god, because the Lord, whose Name is “the Exclusive One”, is an exclusive jealous God.” (34:11-14)

There must not be place for ego's fantasies and illusions.

“You shall not make molten gods for yourself.” (34:17)

With this we reaffirm that love does not cohabit with anything different from its ways and attributes. The following verses (18-26) contain Commandments previously mentioned as essential in the covenant of Israel and the Creator.

“The Lord said to Moses: 'Inscribe these words for yourself, for according to these words I have formed a Covenant with you and with Israel'.” (34:27)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Parshat Tetzaveh: The Permanent Awareness of Our Connection to the Creator

The first Commandment in this portion is intended as a permanent ongoing and continuous action, and it encompasses the duties of our constant connection with God.

“And you shall command (tetzaveh) the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually. (…) an everlasting statute for their generations, from the children of Israel.” (Exodus 27:20-21)

It is a practical moment-to-moment dynamics of being and manifesting Love's ways and attributes in every expression of our life. This Commandment involves taking the best that we may “extract” from ourselves as the essential goodness represented by the “pure olive oil”. This is the quality that comes from our material nature, although it transcends the material world.

It is the kind of goodness free from ego's fantasies and illusions represented by the ephemeral, finite and limited shape of material life. It is the goodness that remains after we toil to survive in this world, the “oil” to light every aspect of life in what we are and what we do. And this goodness is nothing but Love the Creator commands His people to be and manifest continually as an everlasting decree.

It is meaningful that these verses are the preamble to introduce the one who is the permanent servant of the Creator of all.

“You shall make holy garments for your brother Aaron, for honor and glory. (…) to consecrate him, that he serve Me. (…) holy garments to serve Me.” (28:2-4)

Aaron the High Priest represents the permanent connection with God's Love. From this connection depends the honor and glory with which we consecrate ourselves, and the means to serve the Creator.

All aspects, levels, and dimensions of our consciousness in their refined state are the qualities to clothe this connection.

“They shall take the gold, the blue, purple, and crimson wool, and the linen (…)” (28:5)

This awareness is about our permanent bond with God.

“(…) Aaron shall carry their names [of the children of Israel] before the Lord upon his two shoulders as a remembrance.” (28:12, 29-30)

This process culminates with the elevation of our entire consciousness pursuing our unity with the Creator. This ascent includes redirecting ego (the ram) to the service of God.

“(...) and you shall make the entire ram go up in smoke upon the Altar. It is a burnt offering made to the Lord, it is a spirit of satisfaction, a fire offering for the Lord.” (29:18, 25; 29:41)

Once more we are reminded to do this in an ongoing, continuous basis.

“For seven days you shall perform atonement upon the Altar and sanctify it. Henceforth, the Altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the Altar shall be holy.” (29:37)

In this awareness of God's Love what we think, feel, say and do become consecrated in Love's ways and attributes.

Let's recall that we are made out of God's Love, and for the sake of His Love for us and His Creation. The central presence of the High Priest as the axis of our consciousness is the means to return to the Creator. In this awareness, Love infuses spirituality in our life and in the material world, creating a place for our Creator to dwell among us.

Our Sages summons us to be and manifest this permanent connection to God.

“Be of the disciples of Aaron, a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, one who loves the creatures and draws them close to Torah.” (Pirkei Avot 1:12)

Hence the awareness of Love leads us to peace, and through Love we come to the Divine Presence (in the Sanctuary) in order to dwell in His ways.

“There I will arrange meetings with the children of Israel, and it will be sanctified by My glory. I will sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar (…) I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel and I will be their God. They will know that I, the Lord, am their God who brought them out of the land of Egypt in order that I may dwell in their midst; I am the Lord, their God.” (Exodus 29:43-46)

God's glory is God's Love. When we dwell in His Love, He also dwells in us. At this point of our awareness of Oneness with the Creator, we fully recognize that He is our God. Love redeems us from the slavery of the attachments to ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions.

Love, as the material manifestation of God's Love becomes the most sacred awareness in our consciousness. In this awareness we rebuild Jerusalem and its Temple as the necessary steps to invite the Messianic consciousness in every aspect of our individual and collective identity, as the vehicle to our final Redemption.

The portion ends mentioning again the lighting of the lamps in the Sanctuary, this time in conjunction with the burning of spices to reaffirm our permanent connection with God's Love.

“And when Aaron kindles the lights in the evening, he shall make it go up in smoke, continual incense before the Lord for [all] your generations” (30:8)

This verse precedes the final ones referring to Yom Kippur as the day of the holy convocations in which we are collectively united to Him, because “it is the most holy to the Lord.” (30:10).

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.