Sunday, December 30, 2012

Shemot: Naming our Bond with the Creator

In our previous commentary about this portion (Shemot: “Our True Identity as Redemption” of January 8, 2012 in this blog) we elaborated thoroughly on the meaning of our Jewish identity, starting with our names.

“And these are the names of the sons of Israel, who came into Egypt with Jacob (...)” (Exodus 1:1)

These names identify who we are. That's the idea for having a name.

It is also about integrating its meanings into every level of consciousness. Therefore, as Jews, the Jewish identity is our name. Being a Jew defines the references to relate to myself, to others and my surroundings; and primordially to my Creator.

God is the axis, the center, the source that shapes our identity by the mere fact that we emanate from Him. By this fundamental principle we define who we really are. This is the highest approach to our identity.

The second book of the Torah delineates the Jewish identity based on our relationship with God as individuals and as a nation. We became Jews in the book of Exodus, beginning with the names that made us the people that God knows and counts for the destiny He wants us to share with Him.

Our sages refer to the Jewish exile in Egypt as the prerequisite to assimilate the meanings of real freedom in order to fulfill a real life. In this sense, exile is the darkness we experience in order to fully experience the light.

We often say that evil and negativity exist not as choices but only as references for us to choose good and positive things in life. Exile doesn't necessarily means evil or negative, but a situation that makes us value and yearn the place where we really belong.

Throughout our Jewish history, very few have truly yearned to return to such place. Our oral tradition tells us that only 20% of the Jewish population left Egypt during the Exodus. Even fewer returned to Israel from the Babylonian exile, and most of the original Hebrews assimilated to other nations.

In this context, the Jewish identity suggests us that it is all a matter of choice regarding who we want to be, what we want to have, what we want to do, and where we want to live.

All these are referred in the book of Shemot (Names) as the starting point of our identity. Thus, exile is what makes us aware of who we truly are. Either we embrace what a life in exile offers us (good or bad) as ours, or we pursue the place where we originally belong. The choice is ours.

We said that our exile in Egypt was a necessary negative experience in order to appreciate the value of the Jewish identity as the permanent connection with God. As long as we claim our bond with Him, we indeed realize our identity. Exile makes us aware of where our home is.

The same occurs when we visit a land with different customs, language and beliefs, which push hard enough to make us aware of ours. We interact with them from our views and principles, because we are different. Exile works in the same way. It can become alienating to the point that we may lose our primordial identity.

We are compelled to either assimilate the conditions of exile, or to escape from them and return where we belong. This is the way it happens with negative thoughts, emotions and feelings derived from ego's fantasies and illusions. Once we are trapped in them, we are compelled to look for the way out. We cry out loud to be redeemed from our exile in darkness, and we know that love is the way out.

These verses comprise the identity we are referring to.

“And God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God saw the children of Israel, and God took cognizance of them.” (2:24-25)

This identity is about our connection with the Creator, and recognizing our bond with Him.

As we remember God and call out for Him, He answers because He also recognizes that we belong to Him. Our exile ends when we return to Him as The Place from where we came (The Place, HaMakom, is one of God's names in Judaism).

This happens when there is a covenant, an agreement to live by ways and attributes we share with the one who gives us life to make it significant.

What makes life meaningful is precisely the identity God gives us, starting with our forefathers.

“And He said, 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'.” (3:6)

This identity is also the beginning to know our Creator as eternal as He is.

“God said to Moses, 'I will be what I will be', and He said, 'So shall you say to the children of Israel, “I will be” has sent me to you'. (…) this is My Name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.” (3:14-15)

Our bond with God has been, is and will always be. This timeless covenant is fundamental to assimilate our Jewish identity beyond time and space.

Our life in the material world does not circumscribe or limit our relationship with God. After all, our transit in this physical level is bound to time and space as an exile from the boundlessness of God's love. His Love makes us transcend all boundaries, limitations and constraints (the meaning in Hebrew of Egypt is “constraints”) of fantasies and illusions derived from ego's negative desires, represented by the Pharaoh.

“And I know that the king of Egypt will not give you leave to go, except by a mighty hand.” (3:19)

When our love reaches out to God's love, He liberates us from captivity under the negative aspects of consciousness (complementing on this, see in this blog our commentary on Parshat Shemot: “The Awareness of God's Love” of December 19, 2010).

We need Moses as our highest knowledge of God and His love in order to ignite the fire that burns the illusions that make us believe and feel separated from Him.

Moses is also aware that the highest knowledge of God is not always the means to liberate ourselves from our own darkness.

“And he [Moses] said: 'Oh Lord, send I pray You, by the hand of him whom You will send'.” (4:13)

Our sages explain that in this verse Moses was referring to king Messiah, through whom the final redemption will be revealed. This means that, besides having the utmost awareness of God's love, we also must be willing to manifest this awareness through our own love. We achieve this by being and doing love's ways and attributes in all aspects and dimensions of life.

King Messiah is the one who leads all levels of consciousness in love's ways and attributes as ethical principles to live in this world.

This is what the messianic consciousness is about. Total and complete redemption from the negative and unnecessary illusions of the material world. A consciousness in which the only human interest is the knowledge of the Creator and His love.

“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Vayechi: The Blessings of Israel's Identity

The last portion of the first book of the Torah ends with the death of Joseph, after narrating the burial of Jacob by his entire family, which follows the blessings for his children including Joseph's sons.

Jacob last blessings encompass traits and qualities that shape Israel's identity. As we mentioned in our previous commentaries on this portion in this 
blog, these blessings are given in the spirit of unity and togetherness of Israel as a family and as a nation.

“(...) 'Gather yourselves together',” “Assemble yourselves, and hear, you sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.” (Genesis 49:1-2)

In this context we can understand Jacob's words shaping Israel's identity.

Identity comprises a wide range of facets, levels and dimensions which are diverse, though part of the same unity. Our most formidable challenge in life is to integrate them all as a harmonic functional unit. Jacob blesses his children with precious talents and potentials he presents as branches of the same tree.

Besides being extensions as expressions of consciousness, they are also contained within each other. Blessings are manifest as long as we pursue their meaning and purpose.

We need the cunning of Dan to protect the goodness of Joseph, and safeguard Issachar's Torah wisdom. We need Judah's leadership towards love's redemption in order to guide Zebulun's journeys in the sea, and empower Naphtali's eloquence to proclaim Benjamin's eagerness to defend justice, righteousness and freedom.

We need Joseph's transforming love to make successful Judah's rectifying regency, in order to defeat ego's negative trends such as anger and violence.

Blessings are also guidelines that correct the course of ego's fantasies and illusions, as well as negative traits and trends in consciousness. In this sense, Jacob's condemnation of Simeon and Levi's weapons of violence are actually his blessing for them. He cursed their anger and violence for their own sake.

Our choice to reject the negative trends in consciousness is a blessing, for we choose goodness over evil. Likewise, we are blessed when we are reminded to respect the rights of others in order for them to respect ours, as it occurred with Jacob's address to Reuben.

Jacob's final words to his sons contain ethical values as directions to enhance and empower the positive potentials in our consciousness. Indeed life is the vessel where God's blessings are bestowed, and every level of consciousness is expected to experience them, and manifest them in our immediate surroundings.

We truly experience God's blessings when we integrate all aspects of life towards the goodness of the blessings. The premise for this is to discern, think, feel, sense, speak and act in love's ways and attributes in order to realize that God's love is the blessing.

We can't expect to be happy, fulfilled and complete if love is absent in our life. Love makes the difference between what is real and transcending, and temporary illusion.

In this sense love transcends time and space as the essence that gives us life, and sustains our identity beyond life. Love is what we are and have before we are born and after we die. Love is what keeps us alive here and beyond. In this awareness we realize that love is what we have beyond the material world.

Once we said -- equalizing Torah study to an act of love -- that one who loves every day is assured a place in the World to Come, because the ways of the world are love's. In a deeper meaning and in practical terms, as long as we love every day, love's ways become our ways that also will be ours in the after life. Hence love is the only thing that remains with us in our transition when leaving the material world.

The more we love each day, the more we shall keep loving in our after life's days. This is about recognizing and embracing love as our essence and true identity here in the material world and beyond. Thus we understand the transcendence of love. Some compare love's transcendence to soul's transcendence because both exist beyond the limits of time and space.

The lesson at this point is to make ourselves aware every moment that love is our true identity here and beyond.

This is the underlying foundation of all blessings, including Jacob's for his sons. All we are and can be with the blessings we are, we manifest as long as we infuse them with love's ways and attributes, which are the means to manifest God's ways, as He teaches us in His Torah.

King David reminds us this in his last words when he blessed his son and heir, Solomon.

“(...) that the Lord may establish 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, [as if He were] a man on the throne of Israel.” (I Kings 2:4)

This is the way we find our essence and true identity. We must understand that love is the way through which we find ourselves, and it is also the means to find our Creator. For His love is the truth in which we walk with our own love.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Vayigash: Love as the Messianic Consciousness

Love overcomes and transforms negative expressions in human consciousness. This sounds axiomatic considering that love is its own cause and effect, which implies that love's ways and attributes are the means to reveal love when and where it is concealed.

This echoes the principle that love is present in the entire Creation as the material manifestation of God's love. Hence, love is the primordial principle that directs all aspects of life, by which we express our true identity.

We suppose to be, have and do what defines our essence and identity, that which gives meaning and transcendence to our existence. Anything different than love's ways and attributes denies who we really are. In this context we understand Joseph's prevalence among his brothers, as his dreams predicted.

We must emphasize once again that ethics, righteousness, justice and fairness are inherent to love's ways and attributes. These principles are the means through which love rectifies, transforms and straighten out the outcome of negative beliefs, ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions.

In this sense, love is not a passive, permissive, condoning, forgiving and forgetting negative and demeaning approaches to life. Love is active, correcting, rectifying, awakening and guiding towards positive, enhancing and dignifying ways to honor life.

True love implies and demands purity, integrity and truth as the means to manifest what is right, fair, just and consequently good in order to make love's ways and attributes prevail in all dimensions of consciousness. As we said, love is to be met through what is inherent to it. See in this blog our commentary on Vayigash: “Living in God's Will” of December 25, 2011.

This is also Joseph's approach prior to finally “reveal” himself to his brothers. He must make sure that all negative traits and tendencies in consciousness are completely rectified before manifesting all the goodness that love is, as the commanding principle in God's creation.

We execute this principle when our free will is consonant with our discernment. This means that once we free our discernment from negative references, our judgment acts according to righteousness, fairness and justice as love's ways to rectify and transform anything that antagonizes them.

This directing and guiding judgment is also represented by Judah, and this fundamental quality enables him to become the redeeming principle manifest as the Messianic consciousness. This the main reason why Judah is the inheritor of Israel's royalty, not Joseph.

We have said that Joseph represents love as the material manifestation of God's love in His creation, and also the ruling principle that characterizes Israel's identity and mission to be the light for the nations. This is why Israel is the chosen one to reveal the divine presence that is God's love in the material world.

In this context, Joseph is Israel as the psalmist reminds us.

“Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel, You who lead Joseph like a flock; You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth. (…) With Your mighty arm You redeemed Your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Forever.” (Psalms 80:2, 77:16)

Hence, Joseph as the inheritor of Jacob's birthright also symbolizes Israel as the chosen to reveal God's love in the world. Joseph as love doesn't need to prove anything, except being who he is and what he represents as Israel's identity.

We Jews are Israel as the extension of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph as ruling and guiding principles; and Judah is the executor of those principles as love's ways and attributes.

Judah represents our discernment and judgment cleared from anything that denies or opposes love's principles as the sovereign and regent in all aspects of life. Through our good judgment we clear and transform that which separates us from love as the goodness that redeems and sustains life in our transit on Earth.

This ability to discern and rectify directs us towards our individual and collective redemption.

Judah rectified when Tamar was summoned to explain her pregnancy, and he also rectified when he confronted Joseph over his intentions regarding Benjamin. These conviction and determination made Judah chosen to reign among the tribes of Israel, and also empowered him to bear the Messianic consciousness.

Thus we as Jews are destined to manifest our individual and collective redemption by rectifying and transforming the negative aspects of consciousness through the redeeming power of love's ways and attributes.

Thus we understand that Joseph represents love, and Judah our ability to remove ego's negative desires, fantasies and illusions in order to embrace love as our common bond with God's love.

Through Judah we enthrone love as the destined king and regent over all aspects of life. This means that we integrate the Messianic consciousness in our life through our discernment and judgment free from ego's false beliefs and feelings of lack.

The separation of Joseph's brothers from him was the result of their envy, jealousy and hatred under the belief and feeling that they lacked Joseph's qualities that made him more loved by their father.

The questions to be asked then were, what makes us apparently less loved by our father? What is that which makes Joseph allegedly better than us? What makes us believe that we are going to lose something because of someone else?

The answer then and now is that, as long as love's ways and attributes remain in every level of my consciousness, as I am aware that God's love is with me constantly, nothing and nobody could be against. In this permanent awareness, I am love as the material manifestation of God's love, from where I come. And nothing else. As long as I abide by God's will, I remain who I am truly.

The prophet also reminds us that in Israel's unity depends our redemption.

“Say to them, 'So says the Lord God: “Behold I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim and the tribes of Israel his companions, and I will place them with him with the stick of Judah, and I will make them into one stick, and they shall become one in My hand”'.” (Ezekiel 37:21)

“And they shall no longer defile themselves with their idols [ego's fantasies and illusions], with their detestable things [negative thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts], or with all their transgressions, and I will save them from all their habitations [negative beliefs and ideas] in which they have sinned, and I will purify them, and they shall be to Me as a people, and I will be to them as a God.” (37:23)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mikeitz: Rectifying toward God's Love

We have said that consciousness has the potentials to transform what we perceive, believe, feel and do. Hence, these potentials are bound to free will. We are able to transform as long as we are able to make that choice. Then, first we must know what prevents us to do the right thing, and make an inventory of what gives us freedom and what keeps us in captivity. Thus we become aware that ego's fantasies and illusions are our prisons, and Love's ways and attributes our real freedom.

This is a preamble to understand what represents Joseph in one hand, and those who sold him on the other. As long as we live in the illusion of envy, jealousy, hatred, anger, and negative thoughts, emotions and feelings, we can't live in peace or express ourselves peacefully. Such illusion leads us to cruelty and destruction as the masters of estrangement from Love's ways and attributes. Hence ego's illusions don't allow us to recognize Love, yet Love always recognizes illusions in order to transform them into positive situations and attributes: “Now Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him.” (Genesis 42:8).

We can't recognize Love when ego's negative illusions are the choices we make. We have the tendency to make mistakes all the time when we don't discern, think, feel or act according to Love. Transgressions as errors are the result of living in something that is not true or real. Therefore we must make the inventory we mentioned above in order to identify our illusions. We do it through Love because Love always shows the way out. Love knows best. In this context we also must understand our confusions, doubts, uncertainties, and also dreams: “(...) then Pharaoh awoke, and behold, a dream. Now it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; so he sent and called all the necromancers of Egypt and all its sages, and Pharaoh related to them his dream, but no one interpreted them for Pharaoh.” (41:7-8).

We can't understand or interpret the illusions in which we live, including our dreams, especially if our life is bound to them. We can't appeal to more illusions derived from wrong conceptions or beliefs (Egypt's sages and necromancers). As we said, Love knows the way out and the means to make life meaningful, useful, productive, constructive, sustaining and fulfilling.

Joseph demonstrated that he deserved the birthright to lead his brothers in God's ways and attributes. Likewise, let's recognize Love as the firstborn among all levels and dimensions of consciousness, as the destined ruler that guides and directs all aspects of life in the material world. Love is the catalyst to transform, redeem and elevate all we are toward God's Love. We have said that every character and situation presented in the Torah represent traits and potential qualities in our consciousness. We all have what Joseph and his brothers are, and it is our duty to awaken and manifest their positive potentials.

There is a potential goodness and righteousness within us that lead us to Love's ways and attributes. Likewise, there is also potential wickedness that makes us fall in the darkness of negative beliefs, thoughts, feelings, emotions, passions and instincts. These are all here and now to remind us that God endowed us with free will to choose what is right and good for us individually and collectively. Joseph chose goodness and righteousness to transform negativity and potential destruction into their opposites. We expanded on this matter in our commentaries about parshat Mikeitz: “The Rule of Love over Ego's Domains” of November 28, 2010 and Mikeitz: “The Creator is with Us” of December 18, 2011.

This is Joseph's legacy as the primordial extension of his father Israel. This explains why the Torah refers to Jacob's generations as Joseph, because all the descendants of Jacob possess Joseph's qualities. Joseph is what Jacob and the Torah want every Jew to be. Joseph is also Israel as our Jewish identity. This does not mean that we despise or reject the rest of Jacob's sons. As we said, the twelve Tribes of Israel represent specific creative potentials in our consciousness destined to reveal the Divine Presence in the material world.

We do it as we manifest Love in every aspect of life as the material manifestation of God's Love: “I rejoiced in those saying to me, 'To the House of the Lord we go.' Our feet have been standing in your gates, Jerusalem Jerusalem, the built one, a city that is joined to itself together. To which the Tribes go up, the Tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the Name of the Lord.” (Psalms 122:1-4).

These verses define the oneness and indivisibility of Jerusalem as our consciousness of Love that connects with God's Love. In this sense, the Tribes of Israel are also united to ascend to the awareness aimed to recognize God as our Creator and sustenance. Hence, we express our gratitude to His Love. We do this when all the potential goodness in every aspect of consciousness is directed and harmonized by Love as the leading power in life.

Joseph's brothers ultimately rectified their envy, jealousy, hatred and cruelty through Love's ways as Joseph's ways to unify the Tribes of Israel toward the common purpose of sanctifying God's Name. This is the context of Jerusalem, “the built one, a city that is joined itself together” as the culmination of the Tribes going up to God. In other words, there is no Jerusalem without Israel. Thus we understand the eternal and indivisible character of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The portion ends with the emotional encounter of Joseph with his younger brother. Benjamin represents special qualities because he wasn't born when his brothers bowed to Esau, and didn't participate in the sale of Joseph. Our Sages tell that because of these reasons, in addition to remaining next to his father Israel in his old age, Benjamin was rewarded with the land where the Temple of Jerusalem would be built.

“And he lifted his eyes and saw Benjamin, his brother the son of his mother, and he said, 'Is this your little brother, whom you told me about?' And he said, 'May God favor you, my son'.” (Genesis 43:29) because we are favored by God's Love when we do not bow to negativity, avoid trading Love's goodness for ego's material illusions, and dwell with the commanding power of Love.

Our reward is Jerusalem as our permanent connection with God's Love. In this awareness we rejoice when all aspects and dimensions of consciousness are united through Love, which summons us to come up to Jerusalem... Jerusalem!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vayeishev: The Birthright of Love

The essential messages we have remarked in our previous commentaries on Vayeishev encompass Joseph as the head of Jacob's generations, as it is suggested in the Torah.

These are the generations of Jacob: Joseph was seventeen years old, being a shepherd, he was with his brothers with the flocks (...)” (Genesis 37:2)

We read that Joseph was a shepherd and he was with his brothers.

We see that there is a signal of leadership by being a shepherd with his brothers, by looking after them, as it actually happened in his future life.

“So he [Israel] said to him, 'Go now and see to your brothers' welfare and the welfare of the flocks, and bring me back word'.(37:14)

This leadership is also underscored by his father.

“And Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was a son of his old age; and he made him a fine woolen coat.(37:3)

In this context we must inquire about the reasons of Israel's preference for Joseph. The answer is fully given by Joseph's life throughout the Torah's narrative. Joseph's life is the answer, and in particular the way he related to his brothers from beginning to end.

We have said that the children of Israel represent traits and qualities in our consciousness with the utmost potential to reveal God's presence in the material world. By His presence we refer to the ways and attributes with which He reveals to us and His creation.

These ways and attributes are specific qualities derived from His love, because all emanates from His love that also sustains all that He has created. In this sense, we all are destined to reveal God's love in all aspects of life, through all levels of consciousness.

This also means that we do it through our highest potentials represented by the children of Israel. The potential for goodness exists in everyone's consciousness, meaning that the twelve Hebrew tribes integrate the goodness we are and can manifest in the material world. And there is a leading, guiding and directing one among them, and that is love.

Love is the true firstborn because it not only is the natural and primordial conductor of all aspects of life, but also what redeems us from the illusions that divert us from the destiny we referred above. Joseph became the firstborn because he manifest love's ways and attributes as the material manifestation of God's love.

“For Judah prevailed over [from] his brothers, and the prince [the Messianic consciousness] comes from him, but the birthright is Joseph's.” (I Chronicles 5:2)

This explains Joseph's dreams in which his brothers bowed to him. Indeed they bowed before Joseph after they came down to Egypt to buy food. In a deeper meaning they bowed in reverence and devotion to love as our essence and true identity. Love is the true sustenance we pursue either in the good times or amid the darkest moments we may encounter. (See in this blog our commentary on Vayeishev: “Israel as the Firstborn” of November 12, 2011).

Love is our right to be born, the bearer of the birthright as the direction we must give to all dimensions of consciousness. Love is the cause and the effect that makes life meaningful, and we must conceive it as the motivation and also the outcome of such motivation.

All we discern, think, feel, sense, speak and do must be inspired, motivated and induced by love's ways and attributes simply because love is what we are and have in order to exist in the world.

Countless times we have emphasized that we can't survive without love, and we have to be aware of this truth permanently. We all pursue love because life is not complete or fulfilled without love. This is why we also look for God as the source from where all came to exist. In the highest level of consciousness we know that we belong to the One who created us and sustains us. We reach out to God's love because we know that His love is our essence and true identity.

We understand Joseph as the extension of his father Israel, as the one most loved by him. Joseph's full awareness of love led him to thrive amid the darkest situations he lived through. Indeed there is darkness in the realm of negative thoughts, emotions, feelings and passions as ego's fantasies and illusions that pretend to deny love's prevalence and regency.

“(...) so they hated him, and they could not speak with him peacefully.” (Genesis 37:4)

This is the result of the rejection of love as our true identity, and there is no peace when love is absent.

The situation gets worse in our consciousness when we allow hatred, envy and cruelty to take over our discernment, thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts. Once they rule we can fall deep in the worst predicament where destruction and death prevail.

“(...) and they continued to hate him.” (37:5)

“So his brothers envied him.” (37:11)

“(...) they plotted against him to put him to death.” (37:18)

“So now, let us kill him.” (37:20)

Negative traits and trends not only reject love's qualities but pretend to deny their regency and dominion over all levels and dimensions of consciousness, by making appear as real “dispossessing” love of its attributes.

“Now it came to pass when Joseph came to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his shirt, of the fine woolen coat which was upon him.” (37:23)

This only can happen in the negativity of ego's fantasies and illusions. We can't dispossess or strip love of its qualities and attributes, because love is the source of life, in contrast to ego and its illusions.

Certainly we can sale our essence and identity, even trade it for the mirages built by ego's materialistic desires, but we can't kill love because it is part of us and we are part of it.

“'Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, but our hand shall not be upon him, for he is our brother, our flesh'. And his brothers hearkened.” (37:27)

We learn from our negative thoughts, speech and actions, as we also learn from our separation from love as our essence and identity. Choosing hatred, envy, jealousy, cruelty, greed, coveting, indolence, indifference, and other negative states of consciousness engenders also negative outcomes and consequences.

These are the famines that make life barren and sterile, from which we cry out loud to be redeemed. The famines that only love eases. Let's be aware time and again that our negative choices bear their own punishments. God does not punish us for transgressions against our own well being. Transgressions provide their punishments because they carry their negative outcomes.

The Prophet reminds us in the haftarah for Vayeishev, that when we separate from the goodness of who we are by rejecting and abandon love, we also separate from God's love.

“(...) says the Lord (…) and you commanded the prophets saying, 'Do not prophesy.' Behold, I will oppress your dwelling place, as a wagon full of sheaves is oppressed. And escape shall be lost to the swift, and the strong shall not gain strength, nor shall the mighty man deliver himself.” (Amos 2:11-14)

When love is rejected, God's love is also denied. In our separation, the illusions with which we replaced love don't deliver us from the darkness they impose on us.

“And he who holds the bow shall not stand, and he who is swift of foot shall not escape, neither the rider of the horse shall not deliver himself. Even the bravest among the mighty shall flee naked on that day, says the Lord.” (2:15)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Vayishlach: Confronting and Defeating our Enemies

Consciousness experiences division as we engage in negative thoughts, emotions and feelings that lead us to negative actions.

“Jacob became very frightened and was distressed; so he divided the people who were with him and the flocks and the cattle and the camels into two camps.” (Genesis 32:8)

We have remarked this situation in our previous commentaries on this portion of the Torah (see in this blog Parshat Vayislach: “Love and Light as Redeemers from Darkness” of November 14, 2010 and Vayishlach: “The Prevalence of Love” of December 4, 2011). This time we emphasize on the consequences of fracturing consciousness by disregarding our permanent connection with the Creator.

The lesson from our father Jacob's distress are twofold. On one side, we must be humble enough to recognize that we are not perfect and negative illusions of the material world can overwhelm us. On the other hand, there are situations that we just can't handle when fear and doubt undermine our wisdom, understanding and knowledge of who we are, including our connection and/or relationship with God. The realm of negative illusions is indeed overwhelming because we actually live in them.

What can we consider “real” in life when most of what we live and experience every day are illusions? Things change as we change our perception and approach to them. This is already part of an illusion as we face the material reality from different levels of consciousness with different approaches. In this sense we have to make a detailed inventory of what we consider true and false.

At this point we discern on right and wrong, useful and useless, positive and negative, etc. and start making the choices that determine what is truly real for us. Real as true, right, positive, constructive and uplifting such as joy, kindness, truth and plenitude, all these in abundance. A place and time in consciousness where there is no lack whatsoever, in which love rules as the material manifestation of God's love.

Let's reflect again on Jacob's situation before meeting his brother Esau. He received God's promise to protect him, met with God's angels in his way, and prevailed over the angel of Esau in a nightlong struggle. Why was he afraid of his brother? We reiterate that the answer is related to entering in the realm of the lower aspects of consciousness, represented by Esau. Approaching Esau implies to come down to situations and circumstances we rather fear. In this context “to fear” means to avoid. Jacob wanted to avoid meeting Esau but he couldn't.

This happens to us when we want to settle in the highest realms of consciousness. At some point we must meet our lower emotions, feelings, passions and instincts not to descend to them and get trapped by them, but to elevate them and transform them into positive expressions of life.

We can't get into Jacob's thoughts at that time, but we can put on his shoes in similar situations we live every day. Some of us rather avoid engaging with negative people or bad situations that we are aware we can't change into a positive outcome. We rather back off and if possible keep away from them, but that is not the way because our mission as Jews is to be the light for the nations. This means to be the redeemers amid the darkness that threatens to end the goodness that life is.

We have to meet Esau, we must confront our enemies and defeat them once and for all. We can't afford to dwell and cohabit with what undermines our principles as love's ways and attributes. As we said earlier, we are aware that these enemies can be overwhelming, but if God's Love sustains our love, what could be against? As we are fully aware of this, we don't have to fear or avoid that which denies and harms the goodness of who we are.

We must ask ourselves in honesty and truth if we are ready to confront and subdue the negative traits that have the potential to destroy Love's ways and attributes. Should we rather appease them by feeding them with ox, ships, goats, donkeys and camels as Jacob did with Esau? Or should we confront them with angels as the ways of good deeds and actions that all aspects of consciousness must manifest in life?

Our approach to what Esau represents is either to redirect his approach towards a positive end, or to vanish him as the mortal enemy who wants to destroy us. Let's be aware that our enemies dwell both within our consciousness and, as a consequence of this, also outside in the world.

In our current times we are again confronted by Esau's threat to kill us. Israel is surrounded by Islamic fundamentalist terrorists that want to destroy us because Israel's values represent the opposite to their principles. History repeats itself time and again against us, and we don't need to sacrifice more Jewish lives to appease our enemies.

Millions have already being sacrificed throughout history, and the lessons are fully learned: Never again! If our enemies want to destroy us, we are ready to destroy them before they strike. God is on our side, we have His blessings since He blessed our forefathers. Now we have to make God's blessings manifest by unequivocally being and doing who we are as the people of His covenant. We are the good guys, we know this, and the whole world also knows it.  

The moment is now and the place is where we are to confront the negative aspects of consciousness that pursue our destruction. It's either them, or our permanent awareness of God's love as our essence and true identity. It is about who we really are, or the negative illusions in which our enemies live.

Let's be fully aware that we are ready now to confront and defeat our enemies both within ourselves and in the world.

“Shall I not in that day, says the Lord, destroy wise men from Edom and discernment from the mountain of Esau? And your mighty men shall be dismayed, O dwellers of the south land, in order that every man be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter. Because of the violence of your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever.” (Obadiah 1:8-10)

“And the house of Jacob shall be fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau shall become stubble, and they shall ignite them and consume them, and the house of Esau shall have no survivors, for the Lord has spoken.” (1:18)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Vayeitzei: Living in the House of God

The Torah continues indicating with new situations and circumstances that, in order to connect with our Creator, we must integrate our consciousness.

“And he [Jacob] arrived at the place and lodged there because the sun had set, and he took of the stones of the place and placed them at [lit. of] his head, and he lay down in that place.” (Genesis 28:11)

Our Jewish oral tradition and sages refer to the stones with different meanings, ranging from protecting Jacob from the wild animals around to symbolizing his children, and also to mark the place where the Temple of Jerusalem was going to be built. In a deeper meaning, they also represent the material aspects of life that we gather together in order to serve God.

The literal meaning of placing the stones of his head leads to understand that they too correspond to traits, qualities and characteristics inherent to discernment, thought, emotions, feelings, passion and instinct.

In this context, we have to gather them together in order to introduce ourselves as a unified functioning consciousness before God. In this wholesomeness and completeness we conduct ourselves toward fulfilling the destiny that God offers us in the material world.

This is the place where we either stand or lay down in our consciousness. In this sense, these stones are also the potentially positive and building qualities represented by the Jewish tribes, with which the children of Israel build the Temple of Jerusalem as the permanent connecting time and space with God.

(...) the land upon which you are lying to you I will give it, and to your seed.” (29:13)

The land as the awareness of our permanent bond with God.

“And behold, I am with you, and I will guard you wherever you go (...)” (29:15)

Certainly we must make this awareness permanent as real as it is.

Most of the time we live unaware that God is the reason and meaning of all that exists, for we are captive under to the illusions as dreams that separate us from our essence and true identity.

“And Jacob awakened from his sleep, and he said, 'Indeed, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know [it]'.” (29:16)

Jacob's words want to remind us that we have to know who we are and our purpose in this world. In order to achieve this permanent awareness we have to unify all aspects, levels and dimensions of consciousness. These are the “stones” that are “at” or “of” our head that we gather (“take”) at the “place” where we unite with God. In this process we turn these stones into a single one.

“(...) and he took the stone that he had placed at his head, and he set it up as a monument, and he poured oil on top of it.” (29:18)

The Torah clearly tells us that the stones became one after Jacob's dream.

The lesson is repeated again to teach us that, in order to come to God's house as the permanent bond with Him, we have to unify and harmonize our consciousness. We do it through love as the material manifestation of God's love, for the purpose of love's ways and attributes as the means to fulfill God's will.

“And he named the place Bet-El, but Luz was originally the name of the city.” (29:19)

Interestingly, luz means light in Spanish and indeed there is true light in the house of God! Our father Jacob called it by the real meaning of light as the place where the Creator dwells.

The Torah refers to it as “the name of the city”. As we have pointed out in this blog, our mystic sages teach that cities symbolize principles, values and fundamentals in which consciousness directs its expression. Hence light/love as the awareness of God's love within us is the keystone/cornerstone that unites all aspects and dimensions of consciousness, where we “pour oil” as knowledge to light up our conscious connection with God.

We build our entire existence on this permanent awareness where we establish and recognize our eternal bond with God.

“And Jacob uttered a vow, saying, 'If God will be with me, and He will guard me on this way, upon which I am going, and He will give me bread to eat and a garment to wear; and if I return in peace to my father's house, and the Lord will be my God.” (29:20-21)

In this bond we realize that God is our shield against the illusion of ego's insatiable belief and feeling of lack.

Love always satiates our hunger and thirst of its ways and attributes because love is the true sustenance of all aspects of consciousness. Love generates the bread to eat and the garment to wear. Thus we return to our true identity, the essence from which we are born, “my father's house”.

In this functioning united and harmonized consciousness the Lord is my God, the reason, the meaning and the purpose of life.

This is the unified consciousness that becomes one stone where we are completely aware that all comes from God and is sustained by His love. Here we truly know that all we are, have and do belong to God, therefore we “give” it back to Him. This is a timeless and eternal space when and where we live in God's place.

This is the fundamental stone on which the structure of our life is built upon. This is the temple where we fully experience love as our common bond with God's love.

“Then this stone, which I have placed as a monument, shall be a house of God, and everything that You give me, I will surely tithe [back] to You'.” (29:22)

This awareness is “the ladder” that connects our love with God's love. We said before about this portion of the Torah (see in our blog our commentary on Vayeitzei: “The House of God's love” of November 27, 2011) that the angels who descend and ascend through this ladder represent the blessings of God's love for us as the angels that descend, and our good deeds motivated by God's ways and attributes (God's love manifest in the material world) are the angels that ascend back to Him.

This is indeed the dynamics of our relationship with Him. God loves us in order to make us aware that His love is our essence and true identity, so we manifest who we really are as loving creatures. As we realize this truth, we begin to fulfill our purpose in life as His will.

Our father Jacob teaches us that we go out (vayeitzei) from the awareness of who we are as creatures of God's love into the world where we encounter material fantasies and illusions that darken the real meaning and purpose of life.

As long as we have a clear and unquestionable awareness of love's ways as the light that dissipates the darkness of ego's separatist agenda, we have nothing to doubt, disbelieve or fear, because we know that God's love sustains our love.

Again, let's bear always in mind, heart and soul that as long as we discern, think, feel, sense, speak and act in, with and for love's sake we are not only being who we really are but also fulfilling God's ways and attributes as His will in His creation. Let's be love to transform that which is different from its attributes, that which separates from what we truly are.

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.