Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tetzaveh: Living our Connection with God's Love

The Sanctuary and the High Priest relate to each other not as complements but as parts of the same unity, as body and consciousness comprise human life. Our Sages compare the Sanctuary as the material aspect of life and the High Priest as the spiritual. Both as a unity because nothing is separated when we approach life as God's emanation. It seems paradoxical that two apparently different qualities can be part of a unity, because in our fragmented consciousness we conceive everything separate in order to assimilate every part as elements of the same thing. The more we separate and divide something, the more we seem to understand it. This happens when we want to “know” something or somebody: we want every detail as pieces of an image that also we want according to our understanding or preconditioned idea.

We experience this when we watch a movie in which we suppose to know every character in order to anticipate or predict the outcome of the plot. There's nothing unusual about this, because it is part of the way culture shapes our minds. We even have this same approach with the Creator but it doesn't work as the way to relate to Him. In this sense this is a materialistic approach hard to change, though we must if we want to know God's ways and attributes.

In this knowledge we are able to realize who we really are. We must know our true Essence and identity when we learn to know God's Love as our Creator. The Torah tells us how because it defines our identity as Jews based on the our relationship with God.

We have said that Aaron or the High Priest represents the highest awareness of our connection with the Creator. We know that He is undefinable, and the only way to relate to Him is through His ways and attributes as indicated in His Torah. These attributes reflect His Love for His Creation in general and for Israel in particular, because we have a special relationship with Him as also stated in the Torah. We must relate to Him with all dimensions of our life, “with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might [all you are and have]”, and these are parts of a unity called life.

The heart encompasses our vital drives (ego, thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts), the soul comprises intellect and discernment about our Essence and identity which emanate from God's Love, and our might is all we acquire, achieve and possess in life which include knowledge and skills that lead us to “being”, “doing” and “having”. In the harmonic unity of these dimensions we approach who we are in our relationship with God.

No matter how mundane or materialistic they may sound, the idea is to “elevate” them in His ways and through His attributes. The High Priest, as our true vital force, is the Jewish higher consciousness with which we achieve this, and the Sanctuary as the time and space in which all dimensions of consciousness are united. This is part of our Jewish identity because it comes to us as a direct positive Commandment: “And you shall command (tetzaveh) the children of Israel (...)” (Exodus 27:20), and the one who commands the children of Israel (all aspects, qualities and dimensions of consciousness) is Moses (the highest knowledge of the Creator and His Love). Only through the knowledge of God's Love we connect with Him. Let's be mindful that in Hebrew the semantic root of “commandment” and “to command” also means “connection” and “to connect”. Thus we understand that by fulfilling God's Commandments we connect with Him.

The High Priest, as the highest awareness of our connection with the Creator, is the one who loves every aspect and dimension of consciousness enough to elevate them with his Love united to God's Love permanently: “(…) so that they [the names of the Tribes of Israel] will be over Aaron's heart when he comes before the Lord, and Aaron will carry the judgment of the children of Israel over his heart before the Lord at all times.” (28:30). We referred before to the High Priest (see in this blog our commentary “Parshat Tetzaveh: The Permanent Awareness of our Connection to God's Love” of February 6, 2011) as the most sublime loving approach to life and our circumstances, and as the exact opposite of ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions.

In this sense we realize that Love is the natural conductor of all aspects of consciousness, ego included. In this awareness our Love is the means to embrace God's Love: “It shall be upon Aaron's forehead, and Aaron shall bear the iniquity of the holy things that the children of Israel sanctify, for all their holy gifts. It shall be upon his forehead constantly to make them favorable before the Lord.” (28:36-38). In the mindful awareness of our own Love (Aaron's forehead) we sanctify life and all that is related to it as holy gifts that God created for us.

When we constantly consecrate our material reality to His ways and attributes, He also embraces us with His Love and this how we make the world favorable before Him. In this way we realize what is our relation and connection with Him: “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.” (29:46). In this way we know that Love is our common bond with Him.

We have to get acquainted with Love as our true Essence and identity, and we do it by awakening the High Priest in our consciousness as the ways and means to infuse Love into our life and immediate reality. Love as the teacher, the guide and the conductor in what we believe, think, feel, speak and act. This is our true Redemption from the bondage in the land of ego's fantasies and illusions. If we don't know how to regain awareness of Love as our Essence and identity, the Torah instructs us how because it defines for us who we truly are.

Let's not be shallow and settle for less with materialistic fantasies and illusions from which we become the nothingness they are. Love is our Creator's legacy and inheritance for us and all His Creation, because everything that is comes from His Love. We come from His Love, and we also are His Love for us to discover, celebrate, enjoy and share with each other. Let's know the Creator through our Love as our common bond with Him.

Love as Freedom

Does it take six million lives to sensitize human consciousness? What else does it take to live in real freedom? Indeed, we equate sensibility to freedom and we must paraphrase it as, what does it take to be sensitive enough to experience true freedom. The God of the Jews is the One of freedom as defined in the First Commandment of the Decalogue: “I am the Lord your God who took you out of the house of bondage in Egypt”, and reaffirmed in other passages of the Torah as the One “Who lift you up from the land of Egypt”, which means that His freedom for us implies an elevation from one stage or place to another. In this sense, Egypt and the Promised Land represent a lower level and a higher level, respectively. We have mentioned before in this blog that Egypt is the epitome to abject bondage to the negative aspects of consciousness, as it also occurs with the Canaanite nations as specific traits that we must overcome in order to gain moral and ethical principles as preconditions for the kind of freedom that the Creator wants for Israel (see in this blog our commentary “Conquering the 'nations' with Love” on June 26, 2010).

The answer to our questions above is the same for our quest for true freedom, and it is Love. It takes Love to sensitize human consciousness, and all the opposites of Love are the abject slavery in whose name the worse crimes are committed. In this context, evil and its derivatives are the negative expressions opposite to Love. In terms of ethics, the Torah defines “negative” as the kind of actions what deny or obstructs the connection with our God. Evil as the approach that curses life and rejects life's blessings. At the same time the Torah defines “positive” the actions that elevate us to our God by doing them. These actions are the cause and effect of our sensitivity in order to live in real freedom. Goodness as the epitome of positivity is the way to pursue such freedom. In this sense, we can't be free if we think, feel and act under anything that denies or rejects Love's ways and attributes. It takes the greatest Love of all, God's Love, to live truly in freedom and this is the kind of Love that we must experience and embrace as our true Essence and identity, because this Essence is our real freedom.

We have already learned by experience that we can't live without Love, because it is the material reflection of God's Love as the Essence that created us and sustains us. We don't need to believe in God in order to know what Love is. Agnostics and atheists know this, as well as people in the most isolated communities that we consider “primitive”. They and us agree on Love's ways and attributes as the goodness that we must embrace and pursue individually and collectively in order to live in freedom. On the other hand, we who believe in the Creator, recognize His Love as the Source of everything which include Love's ways and attributes.

Freedom is built in loving kindness because this is the foundation of the world: “The world is built on loving kindness” (Psalms 89:3) because it is an emanation of God's loving kindness as one of His attributes: “[I am] The Lord, the Lord, the God of compassion, and [the God of] grace, abundant in loving kindness (...)” (Exodus 34:6) and these are attributes from which we were created that define our Essence and identity. In these attributes we find our true freedom, and not in their opposites. Our Sages say that “those who study Torah every day secure a life in the World to Come, because the ways of the world are its [the Torah's] ways”, and in practical terms this means that those who love every day build the World to Come, because the ways of the world are Love's ways. They also speak of peace as the result of Torah study, “All your children will be students of the Lord ['s Torah], and great will be the peace of your children [as builders of peace]” because peace is the result and also a foundation to build the world according to His ways. Peace, as one of Love's ways and attributes, is also the cause and effect of living in freedom.

At this point we already know what to do regarding the content in the vessels of our thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts. We have said that they are dimensions of consciousness waiting to be filled with the choices we make between curses and blessings, positive and negative, true and false. Some say that the evil in the world is enough, then we should ask how much Love is enough to erase so much evil. How much does it take to Love enough? How many more ruthless and despotic rulers in the world? How much more fundamentalist religious oppression? How much more humiliation to human dignity? Were not enough already six million Jewish lives to learn how much does it take? We must return to our God who brought us up from the land of Egypt by walking in His ways, and emulating His attributes as our freedom from the bondage of the lower aspects of consciousness under the rule of ego's fantasies and illusions. God's Love is always present and pervades all His Creation, and it is our choice to return to Him as our true Essence, and to His Love as our true identity. Love is our way out from negative illusions because Love is our true freedom.

We must say that one of the main opposites of Love is fear, and some say that fear is the opposite of freedom. They certainly claim that as long as we live in fear we live in bondage. We have to see this predicament in our current times, and ask ourselves individually what are the issues that determine our bondage, starting with our ego's fantasies and illusions. What is that we believe we are and have, or what we are not and lack that restricts our freedom? What is beyond our simple, basic needs that shape who we are, what we want to be, or what limits who we want to be? Also let's ask what is that we are afraid of, that which cuts down our freedom. And even more important, what do we think or believe that is freedom? Again, the answer to all these questions sooner or later refers to Love as our true freedom. Are we afraid of Love even if we know that it is our Essence and identity? Let's reiterate again that Love is the cause and the effect, and when we are fully aware of this principle, we are truly free.

We as Jews and our history are the living proof that God exists, and we have existed, still exist and will exist regardless the hatred of others against us, regardless their rejection of us and their desire to destroy us. We love in spite of the world and its illusions, and we will continue loving because Love is our permanent connection with the Creator. This is our greatest freedom. He brought us up from slavery to be truly free in His Love, and that is living in His ways and attributes. We remember every day our Exodus from Egypt in order to acknowledge that all exists out of His Love, and we honor the Shabbat as a testimony of this. The Jewish tradition, defined as our identity, has been and will be the proof that God exists. We are not faithful to it as our legacy from God if we don't recognize Him nor proclaim Him, because when we don't express our true identity we simply deny His existence. This means that if we do not love, we deny the Creator. We are free when in complete free will we love the way He wants us to, and do it in His ways and attributes as our identity.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Terumah: The Sanctuary as the Connection with God's Love

The Torah, Israel, the Promised Land, and the Temple of Jerusalem are the essential elements to reveal God's presence in the material world. They are parts of the same entity we call consciousness, and they are also the means to achieve its purpose.

The Torah is God's master plan, the Promised Land the material and spiritual space to implement the plan, and the Temple of Jerusalem our highest knowledge and awareness of God's love as the level to connect with Him. In this Unity we fulfill our mission to reveal and proclaim His kingdom over all His creation.

With Torah study we learn to know the Creator through His ways and attributes, which we as Israel are entitled to emulate. As our divine legacy and inheritance, the Torah defines our identity as Jews. We are Jews because the Torah tells us what we are. We have spent hundreds of generations immersed in Torah study just to define for us and future generations, who we are.

The result of this long journey is the volumes compiled by the oral Torah [the Talmud]. Ironically, after so many centuries and lifetimes devoted to such monumental task, we still debate what defines the Jewish identity. This indicates that one of the major challenges and endeavors we have to engage into in the dawn of the Messianic era is to discover and embrace who we truly are, based on the definition that the Creator gave us in His Torah.

As long as we don't realize our Jewish identity we will never know our purpose in the material world. Knowing or ignoring this identity has determined our fate as individuals and as a nation. If we are willing to learn from our history, the expected obvious and “logical” conclusion would be to embrace our real identity, though it seems that our common predicament is to rebel against who we are.

We rather assimilate to other “cultures” or lifestyles. The main criticism to non observant Jews is their lack of interest in knowing their Jewish identity. If they, out of individual desire, would inquire about it probably would leave behind what doesn't define who they are.

It's interesting to note that in these times thousands of people from all over the world are embracing Judaism as their material and spiritual identity. This fulfills the prophecies about “the gathering of the exiles” as the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, for whom we pray three times a day when we stand before our Father and King.

The land of Israel is the geographic space in the material world chosen by the Creator for His people, to fulfill their destiny according to His will. The Torah describes this land both as a physical and spiritual place to exercise our identity, because this identity encompasses material and spiritual qualities.

Judaism conceives life and the physical world as part of a unity from which nothing is separated, because our destiny is to make both the spiritual and material as the combined means to reveal God as the Creator of all. This comprises all levels and dimensions of consciousness that must be conducted and guided by God's will.

This is what we call here God's love as the cause and effect of what we conceive and experience as love in our human comprehension. The more we discover, experience, learn and share love, the more we know God's love.

In this sense, the land of Israel encompasses all manifest and potential facets of human consciousness under the awareness of God's love. We have mountains, valleys, deserts, beaches, sea, lakes, hills and plains that represent thoughts and ideals, imagination, insight, expression, sensitivity, austerity, and character traits that expand or limit the way we conceive life, the world, and how we interact with our fellow man.

Hence we are gifted with a land that enlarges the human potential in every dimension of intellect, thought, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts. This land, as a special quality in consciousness, endows us to fulfill God's will. In other words, as long as we do not dwell in it (meaning not living consciousness in its full potential), we are not able to fully manifest God's ways and attributes in the material world.

The Sanctuary, as the Tabernacle and the Temple of Jerusalem, is also the anchoring physical and spiritual place in which our consciousness reaches the full awareness of the Jewish identity. By realizing God's love as the essence of who we are, through the awareness of His ways and attributes, we ascend to Jerusalem (the highest awareness of God's love).

Thus we will be able to enter the most sacred place in consciousness which is our connection with God. We pray daily for the reconstruction of Jerusalem, and this process we do only with the help of God's love. This is how we understand terumah as the elevation process through which we offer our life to God's will.

The offerings we elevate in the Temple are all facets, aspects, traits, qualities and dimensions of consciousness under the guidance of love as the material manifestation of God's love. See our commentary on Parshat Terumah: “Elevating Life to God's Love” in this blog on January 30, 2011 for more details.

Only love meets love, and nothing else. Thus we understand that our offerings must be unblemished and whole, meaning that in them there is nothing but love.

“(…) and have them take for Me an offering [lit. uplifting] from every person whose heart inspires him to generosity (…)” (Exodus 25:2)

When love inspires us and fills us, generosity follows and our love meets God's love.

“And they shall make Me a sanctuary and I will dwell among [in] them” (25:8)

The Torah is the means to establish this Sanctuary.

“And you shall place into the ark the testimony, which I will give you.” (25:16)

Our sages debate on the allegorical meanings of every part and utensil of the Tabernacle and compare it to the human body, and all that God created in the seven days of His creation. These comparisons teach us that the Sanctuary encompasses all the elements of the material and spiritual Creation.

As an allegory of the human body, it means that all the body contains must be consecrated to its Creator. Hence we proclaim what king David's stated.

“Happy are those who dwell in Your house, they are ever praising you.” (Psalms 84:4)

After all, we are God's creatures, and our destiny is to know Him and unite with Him. That's the legacy of the Torah, Israel, the Promised Land, and the Temple of Jerusalem.

“Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion. For He has strengthened the bars of your gates; He has blessed your children within you. He makes peace in your borders, and fills you with the finest of the wheat.” (147:12-14)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mishpatim: Torah's Laws as God's Love

The Giving of the Torah is the most important event in Jewish history as well as in world history. The Torah is the identity and constitution of the Jews because we can't exist without it, and at the same time it contains God's master plan for His Creation. This plan is partially revealed to us as the code of ethics through which we manifest and make tangible God's Love. In this sense, the Torah contains the ethical and moral ground rules and guide lines for humankind, aimed to fulfill the Torah's main message for all: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself, [because] I am the Lord.”

The ground rules and guide lines of the Torah comprise what it calls Commandments, laws, statutes and decrees, because we need to learn how to walk in God's ways by emulating His attributes as emanations of His Love from where all comes to existence. Our Sages refer to statutes as the rules aimed to direct and conduct ourselves as individuals, and to laws (mishpatim) as the rules to relate with each other. We have to understand both as part of the same ethical foundation that God's Love wants for us in order to manifest Love as our common Essence with Him.

We also have to be aware that every rule in the Torah must be learned because the purpose of human life is an educational experience, based on an empirical approach to the material world.

This means that we learn by trial and error, right and wrong, useful and useless, productive and destructive, positive and negative. We learn in this way from Nature as the “intelligent design” some name it in modern times. Our ancestors learned through this process and so do we. Animals also follow through this same pattern, and part of our learning comes from the way they behave and approach their environment. The main lesson we learn from animals is that they seem to understand Love as the Essence that gives life and protects life.

The Creator gave us human discernment to go beyond the obvious “basics” of Love (not as obvious to many). Through Torah's educational rules and guide lines (let's never forget that Torah means Instruction) we prepare our consciousness to assimilate God's Love by being and manifesting Love as our Essence and identity.

Our Sages explain that the first law presented in the Torah after it was given to Israel is related to how we treat a Hebrew slave, and they refer to his bondage not only as servitude but as an educational process. They say that such slaves were men who committed transgressions such as manslaughter and robbery. Hence they had to sale themselves in order to pay for the damages that they could not compensate with money or material possessions.

In this context, bondage in the Land of Israel was part of Torah's laws, not only as punishment rules but as educational and correcting guide lines for those who knew less and acted out of ignorance. In this same context we must understand the Cities of Refuge and the Levites as the places and persons that teach the children of Israel the ways and means of the Torah.

Let's use an analogy to learn further the rules of the Torah. It is like learning how to drive a car or vehicle. Most countries refer to driving not as a right but as a “privilege”, because they consider that a privilege implies not only responsibilities but obligations. Once we are on the driving seat the rest of the people do not expect less from us, and we are compelled to drive carefully and comply with the universal driving laws and rules. There is a Spanish proverb, “there is no sane man on a horse” because it is presumed that a man behaves different on a horse by the fact that he is not by himself but with something that demands his attention and control. Hence we learn how to drive by also learning the driving rules. The key words here are “privilege”, “how”, “responsibility” and “obligation”.

As Jews we have the privilege to be the people of the Torah, which entitle us to learn God's ways and attributes as His Love for us and His Creation, which are how we fulfill His will. This is our main responsibility in order to know who we are and our purpose in life, and we come to know this by learning it.

Our learning and knowing lead us to respond to the material world, and the ways we respond make us responsible. As a comprising and encompassing process, in this awareness Torah's Commandments, statutes and decrees as ground rules and guide lines, are our ways and means to fulfill our obligations as Jews. In this sense we are naturally compelled and not forced to exercise our true Essence and identity.

There is an old saying, “to whom a lot is given, a lot is expected” and we are aware that the Torah is our Essence and identity as Jews. We know the Torah is God's Love for Israel in particular, and for the world in general. This means that we are the embodiment of God's instruction as the messengers and the message for human consciousness as a whole. There is no Love without its ways and attributes, as there is no God's Love without His Torah. We also know this by experience because we are taught and instructed Love since the moment we are born.

We learn that Love is the Essence of all the Torah's Commandments, rules, statutes and decrees, because they all are also Love's ways and means. Let's always be aware and mindful that all we are, have and do, are meant to be the cause and effect of Love. Likewise, God's Love is the cause and effect of His Creation: “And you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your food and your drink, and I [God] will remove [every] illness from your midst.” (Exodus 23:25).

The Final Redemption in Judaism (II)

In the first part of this commentary (Jan 22, 2012 in this blog) we referred to allegorical and concrete definitions of the Final Redemption according to our Prophets and Sages. This time we focus on the dynamics of Redemption in our consciousness. The first question to ask ourselves is, "Am I ready for Redemption?" and maybe before doing it, we may consider other issues prior to "readiness", such as what is the true meaning of it and if we really want to be redeemed. Many of us are comfortable with the material illusions that they chose to live in, and have no interest in changing anything because they are simply happy with their lot, whatever it is. We are referring here to those who are fed up with such illusions, and in their souls, hearts and minds they cry out to live in, with, by and for the Truth we call God's Love, His ways, and His attributes as He wants from us in His Torah. These are the premises to end once and for all our long exile in the darkness of ego's material fantasies and illusions.

We simply can't desire or cry out for true freedom if we have one foot on our illusions and another trying to step in what we imagine as the Messianic era or the Garden of Eden, lost when we chose to live in the material fantasies forged by ego's dream to become another god. This is what we mean when we say that Love doesn't dwell with anything different from its ways and attributes. Let's take an imaginary trip to Messianic times as our Prophets announced for "the end of times", particularly as suggested by Maimonides (Mishneh Torah, Laws of the Kings 12:5):

"In that Era there will be neither famine nor war, neither envy nor   competition, for good things will flow in abundance and all the delights will be as freely available as dust. The occupation of the entire world will be solely the knowledge of God. The Jews will therefore be great Sages and know the hidden matters, and will attain an understanding of their Creator to the full extent of human potential; as it is written, 'For the world will be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the ocean bed' (Isaiah 11:9)"

Basically a world where there will not be "evil inclination" or evil (as the reference that it is) in order to differentiate positive from negative, because goodness will be the only reference. This sounds like free will would be wiped out from consciousness, and this may not sound as "good news" for those who think that freedom is inherently founded on free will, hence the privilege to choose from "good" and "evil". In other words, if we come into this reality redeemed from evil and negativity, we may "miss" them and approach it as a passive, uneventful and ultimately boring reality. This approach is what we have to reconsider in order to fully understand what the Messianic era really means. As we mentioned in the first part of this commentary, we are talking about a complete change of consciousness in which there will not be any trace of the way we currently approach life and the material world. In conclusion, if we still believe that we need dualities, ambiguities, contradictions, and confrontations to feel "free" with a satisfied free will, we are not ready for Redemption as Judaism presents it.

We currently approach life and the material world based on ego's desires and illusions which confront, oppose and even fight anything that is different from them, in particular Love's ways and attributes that invite all of us individually and collectively to unite and harmonize our consciousness, in order to live individual and collective peace. Let's imagine it in a different way. How about eliminating the "good inclination" and goodness as a reference to choose between positive and negative? Imagine the world only with people totally engaged in evil with each other, in a competition to see who is worse than the other in a reality where all is about pain, suffering, destruction, disease, violence and their derivates. Nothing good whatsoever, to the point that there can't be desperation or any other reference to put an end to such predicament, what some may call "hell".

Which "reality" would we prefer? This may sound purely "black" and "white", but actually that is what in our current consciousness we have in order to make the "white" choice, while discarding the "gray" as the way that some "new agers" propose to end all contradictions and ambiguities. As we have said before, "gray" is the forced way to make Love cohabit with its opposites. In the name of the "gray", nations justify the current status quo that is destroying the world. They appease the radical Islamic fundamentalists with the failed motto of "live and let live", and allowing mass murder, oppression and exploitation as part of cultural "differences" and human "diversity". This is the way we allow genocide, corruption, despotism, and totalitarianism.

The questions remain. Are you really fed up with the fantasies and illusions of ego's materialistic approach to life, and truly prepared to embrace Love's ways and attributes as our true Redeemer from the long standing status quo? Are we ready to enter the Messianic era leaving behind what we don't need any more, that actually we never really needed and was there for us only as a reference to choose Love over ego's mirages? Are you ready to engage into the realm of new heights called the knowledge of the Creator, and experience what that really means, which your understanding can't assimilate now? 

The starting point to enter Paradise while living in the material world begins when we individually adopt Love's ways and attributes as our true references to make a place for the Creator to live in and among us, as it was meant to be from the beginning of times. Those times when we made the choice to become a little god who wants to control all at the expense of his own Essence, his own Love. God's Love is our Creator, and such as His Love is our Essence, cause and effect. Once we recognize this, we will be in our way back to Him, and leave behind the illusions that we have created in detriment of our true identity. This is what we have yearned for so many centuries amid the darkness of exile in fantasies and illusions we don't want or desire anymore.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Yitro: Understanding God's Love

We frequently say that our Sages equate hearing to understanding and seeing to knowing, in order to teach us two levels of perception. Hence, we assimilate the material world through our senses and knowledge through our understanding. In this context, “Yitro heard...”, “and Yitro came…” (Exodus 18:1, 5) are two complementary stages that give sense to the fact that thought precedes action.

Yitro is a precondition for the revelation of the Divine Presence in the material world (as it happened in Sinai), and they mention several reasons that we will consider later. He personifies the process that the children of Israel have to engage in our relationship with the Creator, because by hearing about Him and understanding His ways and attributes we come to Him. This means we don't need or have to see Him and know Him before we embrace Him.

Understanding is the first stage to assimilate knowledge, and in this sense our mystic Sages define the process starting with intellect as the ability to acquire wisdom, followed by discernment as understanding which leads us to knowledge as a bonding experience.

This is a universal process pertaining human consciousness, which we also apply in our endeavors to know the Creator. Israel was chosen to experience Him through every sense and level of consciousness during the plagues in Egypt and the split of the Red Sea. All these in order to tell their descendants about the events that changed forever our relation with the Creator. Hence, we first have to hear about their experience with Him, so we may come to Him as Yitro did.

This is why our Sages consider Yitro as the epitome of the convert who comes to Judaism as the true way to return to God. By true we refer to the discerning process that precedes the knowledge of Him. In this process we Jews are all converts to the Torah as we were in Sinai, because we have to individually pursue this knowledge by first understanding its revealed and hidden messages by God.

Our oral tradition tells us that Yitro renounced idolatry by the time Moses came to Median fleeing from Egypt. As a former high priest of idol worship he knew the ways and means of the forces of nature, considered lesser gods by Pagan peoples. This knowledge made him an unequivocal example for other idolaters who want to abandon their cults and serve the will of the Creator.

We must understand idolatry as something rather concrete than abstract. Both the Written Torah and the Oral Torah refer to idol worship not as a delusional cult but as something real, because it is based on the belief that the forces of nature have power over life, as it indeed is.

The distinction that the Torah makes very clear is that those forces are commanded by the Creator. They serve His will as it was magnificently proven with the Exodus from Egypt, and the miracles that followed. This Exodus had the two-fold purpose of freeing Israel from bondage and oppression, and to make the entire world aware of God's ownership and control of His Creation.

Many of us think that sorcery, necromancy, divination, voodoo and other magic practices belong to the realm of fantasy and exist only in the minds of superstitious people, and that is a mistake. The Torah commands us Jews to reject such beliefs and practices not because they are not “real” but because we owe ourselves to the Creator who chose us to be above and beyond the laws of nature, the lesser gods that serve His will.

This is what has made us different, and still makes us distinct from other nations: our belief in One and only God, and our relationship also exclusive with Him. Our Sages tell us that Yitro practiced and experienced all kinds of worship to the forces of nature, and coming to Sinai to recognize the sovereignty of the Creator was one of the conditions for Israel to receive the Torah.

In our times, primitive idolatry joins modern idolatry as ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions named addiction to fashion trends, “pop” and “light” culture, drugs, vanity, and enslaving lifestyles bound to consumer's society. Such idols seem to be harder to abandon than slavery in Egypt.

Ego, as the modern Pharaoh, appears as the absolute and unbeatable ruler of all levels of consciousness. Becoming the contemporary Yitro seems to be near to impossible as long as we don't understand God's Love, and come to His ways and attributes as the redeeming forces that are the true rulers of our consciousness.

Our total freedom begins when we hear and understand the voice of God's Love as our true Essence and identity. When we do it, our own Love puts in motion the connection with its source, which is God's Love.

“And the Lord came down on Mount Sinai... and the Lord called to Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.” (19:20)

God comes down to call our understanding of His Love, for us to come up to the highest level of our consciousness to meet Him. This level becomes our knowledge of His ways and attributes.

Yitro represents our awareness that no matter how “real” ego's fantasies and illusions may be in what we believe, think or feel with what we possess or are addicted to, they are temporary vanity and futility that sooner or later will either change or end, if they don't destroy us beforehand.

We have to be experienced practitioners of materialistic fantasies and illusions up to the point to become as experts as high priests of idolatry. Only in full awareness of their futility we can understand that only Love works wonders and miracles capable to bring us back to the knowledge of God's Love as our One and only Creator and true Source of Life.

Let's awaken to our discernment as understanding of God's Love to embrace Him as our Creator, Redeemer, and true freedom.

Love and Life as Cause and Effect

Let's summarize some of the principles that we present in "God as Love" as inherent to the soul of Judaism.

1- God's Love is the cause and effect of His Creation, and in our finite and limited understanding we are able to conceive the Creator through what we perceive as His Creation. What we make out from the Creation is our creation and not His. This is important to remark because many people "blame" God for the choices and actions that we make and do instead of taking full responsibility for the consequences of our deeds. We have learned long time ago that we, as most of animal species, are designed to live by caring for each other as the premise to survive in the material world, and we also know that this "caring" is nothing but Love. This is the real and tangible Truth, not for those who know it but deny it, reject it, and even fight against it. How is this possible? Why some of us can deny something as evident and obvious as Love, our true Essence and identity? 

We probably must ask the question in a different way. Why some selectively acknowledge and experience Love in certain aspects of their lives --with family, close friends, beliefs or ideologies-- and not in other circumstances? Like the people who are kind with some and cruel with others who don't represent a threat or danger for them, as it happened with Germans and Jews in the first half of the XX century. What is the root of this irrational selective hatred? Is it ideology? Is it mental illness? Is it possible to submit Love to ideology? Should we call insane those who "love" their families while hating others irrationally? These people hate at the expense of Love in the same way that some kill at the expense of life. We need to be alive in order to kill, as we need to have Love in order to be able to hate because Love is the Essence that sustains life, as the material manifestation of God's Love in His Creation.

2- Love does not cohabit with anything different from its ways and attributes. In this sense we define Judaism as "the ethics of Love", because the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, both as one, contain the ways to completely fulfill the cornerstone of Judaism: "Love your neighbor as [you love] yourself, [because] I am the Lord." (Leviticus 19:18) and there are ways and attributes to love our fellow human beings that we learn from God by our awareness of His Love in His Creation. It is fundamental to know and experience God's Love in order conceive and approach our Love in the material world. We love because of God's Love, and we do it emulating the way He loves us and His entire Creation. This explains that the goodness we pursue for ourselves individually must be the same goodness that we pursue for others. This includes the Talmudic warning that we must not do to others what we consider unpleasant to us, which implies a direct contradiction to doing good for our sake and simultaneously doing something unpleasant to others, as it happened by Germans against Jews and others during the Nazi regime.

3- Love is the awareness of our connection and relationship with God. The more we are aware and mindful of God's Love in His Creation, the more we know Him and the more we love Him. The more we think, feel and act in Love's ways and attributes, the more we are connected to God. The term "Commandment" in Hebrew literally means "connection", and our Sages explain that we fulfill God's Will (His Commandments) as the means to be connected to Him. This makes perfect sense because by our good actions we manifest our closeness to Him. In this context, doing the opposite is to separate from Him, and this is what we mean when we say that Love does not cohabit with anything different from its ways and attributes. The Creator is always with us, regardless what we may believe, think, feel or do, because we are creatures emanated from Him; and it is us who make the choice to "separate" from Him.

3- Love, as the material manifestation of God's Love, is our true Essence and identity. In this awareness and realization, Love is also the ways and means to redeem our consciousness from the negative approach to life and its negative results that we see in the world. The Creator endowed us with free will for us to experience real and total freedom, and in this knowledge we are entitled to make positive choices in order to harvest positive effects. God is not responsible for our actions, we are. If we know what Love is, then we also know our true freedom and Redemption. Let's be mindful that it is up to us, individually and collectively, to redeem ourselves and fix the damage we have caused with a negative approach to life and the world. This is our responsibility and not God's. In this sense, it is our duty to manifest the Messianic era and the Redemption that our Prophets announced.

Maimonides and other Jewish Sages share the same view about "the end of times". As we often say, we were responsible for the destruction of the First and Second Temples of Jerusalem, and it is also up to us to build the Third Temple as a final and perpetual place in our Land as well as in our consciousness. In the same way that we have allowed negative thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts in our consciousness, we are perfectly capable to direct them in a positive direction and purpose, which are Love's ways and attributes as cause and effect of goodness. Ego, along with all aspects of consciousness, is a driving force that also must be directed in Love's ways and attributes.

4- Love is inherent to life, and life is inherent to Love. This principle is derived in a deeper way from the first mentioned above. In the same way that God's Love conceived us, we are materially conceived by, through and for Love as our Essence and identity. We know that life is the purpose of Creation. In Jewish liturgy we recite every morning "You [God] are the life of all worlds" and in our consciousness of being alive we must say "the world was created for me", as our Sages teach us. We must approach life as we approach Love, as Essential as simple, because there is nothing complex about Love. We care for each other just because this is part of how we love. Love defines itself by its ways and attributes which all are about goodness.

Our Sages relate simplicity to humbleness and complexity to haughtiness, and we can conclude that the simpler we are the easier we approach life. The less we have to worry about what we believe, feel or possess, the easier we live. People too attached to their complexities in every level of consciousness find more difficulty to adapt to simpler conditions or environments. Humbleness and simplicity are the vessels for God's blessings which are His Love. Love flows easier with simplicity, and usually is either rejected or conditioned by complexities, which are mostly derived by ego's materialistic fantasies and illusions.

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.