Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Flattened Time

I reconcile the Biblical account of creation with scientific findings by employing the Kabbalistic teaching that the world was not yet physical until Adam & Eve ate from the fruit. Therefore, the six days of creation also did not not happen in physical time, but rather in a multidimensional spiritual time. When the fruit was eaten this spiritual time, with all it's past history, became physical.

The first couple's native reality became a many less dimensional reality and what was held in a mere few days now needed billions of years to contain. the loss of dimensionality meant that each unit of time had to contain much less. It' like a ball of dough placed on a flat kitchen table. So long as it remains a three dimensional ball, it only takes up a relatively small space on the two dimensional kitchen table. However, if the dough is flattened down, it now takes up considerably more space on the flat kitchen table. Less use of the third dimension, height, means more use of the other two dimensions, length and width, to compensate.

So too with time, as it relates to the Biblical creation story. The removal of one or more of the dimensions of time, after eating the fruit, meant that more was flattened into the remaining dimensions of time - past, present and future, This made the history of our framework of time appear much longer than the framework inhabited by Adam & Eve in the pristine Garden.


Thursday, January 23, 2014


While walking to Synagogue this past Shabbat morning, a friend asked me, "What spiritual lesson do you see in snow?"
I responded that there are two basic views of creation taught by two different schools of Jewish mystical thought. The Ramak taught that creation was an act of divine engagement. The Ari z"l taught that creation was an act of divine withdrawal. Speaking from the Ari z"l's perspective, the Creator made the creation by progressively withdrawing his light.
The default state was His Infinite Light. He withdrew some of this light and a high spiritual realm was exposed. He withdrew some more of this light and a lower spiritual realm was exposed. He withdrew even more light and exposed an even lower spiritual. This process kept continuing until an utterly physical realm was finally exposed - yes, the one that's our address.
The creation of ice is just a continuation of this process. Even within the range of human perception there are entities of varying spiritual levels. Water has less limitations than ice. Hence, it's more spiritual than ice. When light (i.e. heat energy) is removed from water, it solidifies into ice.
My friend added, "Now I know why on holy occasions we wish each other l'chaim (to life) over an alcoholic beverage. Alcohol doesn't freeze. It symbolizes staying spiritual."
Then we arrived at Synagogue and I didn't have a chance to explore with him what makes snow itself spiritually unique, as distinct from just ice. Today, while contemplating the snow all around me I began thinking about the numerical value for the Hebrew word for snow, which is "sheleg". In ancient times, Jewish people used the Hebrew alphabet as numbers. There was no separate letter and number system, like in the western world today. The letters were numbers and numbers were letters. This meant that every combination of letters, i.e. every word, was also a number made by adding together the value of the letters. It happens to be that that "sheleg", snow, equals 333. In Jewish mystical thought, three is the number of compassionate balance. It symbolizes the third party which brings together the polarized extremes into a single harmonious entity - the peacemaker. Three threes, as in 333, symbolizes a very thorough compassionate balance - through and through.
So how does snow demonstrate compassionate balance? Straight forward thinking could reason that once the temperature descends to the freezing point, watery rain should simply morph into ice pellets - as water turns into ice. However, usually this is not the case. The Creator realizes that ice pellets can be too dangerous. So He reshapes the precipitation into something much softer, something more likely to land with a velvety touch rather than with an impact. He reshapes the precipitation into snow. Probably, part of the magic of snow's softness is that the flakes contains a lot of empty space.
This teaches us that if we want to teach a higher spiritual ideal to people who aren't yet holding there, don't try to bring down the teaching in the form accepted by the saintly sages. This kind of approach will mostly hurt the audience. It's like showering ice pellets on them. Rather, reconstitute the teachings in a more palatable form, partly by leaving a lot of empty space for processing, so it descends softly - just like snow.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Abraham’s Work

I am under the impression that despite the fact that much of the human population claims to be monotheistic, the work of Abraham in spreading the notion that there is only One God is far from over.

Think about it. If we really had the “Oneness of God” notion right, we'd be able to solve a host of major world problems that plague humanity daily. The fact that humanity still finds such problems insurmountable is a clear indication that we are barely scratching at the surface of our full monotheistic potential.

Will Take Root, One Day

Tonight my little boy told me that he wanted to watch a superman/batman film. So we found one on YouTube. After sitting an hour watching and basking in his glee, I told him, "I don't know if you'll believe this, but, your Daddy enjoys studying Torah much much more than the film you just enjoyed."

I realized that I could not gracefully avoid engaging him where he's at. He's a child and enjoys what children enjoy. But I hope that I have at least planted seeds for something of unspeakable greater significance to one day take root within him, one day...

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Untitled - a free association


There’s level in the spiritual cosmos where cognition and perception are one, where they converge. Likewise, there’s a level where emotional feelings and perceptions are one. It’s actually part of the same system which allows earthings to anatomically continuous with their surrounding physical environment. So what the environment feels, the bodies will feel.

The realm of “Briyah” or “Creation” is primarily a realm of intellect, a universe of mind. It might not contain intellect as earthly humans know it, but at least earthling intellect is an apt parable for it, i.e. a very dimmed sample of it. Since souls on this level are mainly made from divine thought and mainly perceive thought forms, their inner cognitions and outer perceptions are almost seamlessly continuous. Relatively speaking, there’s little or no distinction between their inner and outer environments. Since the function of perception is to bring in signals from the outer environment and on the level of “Briyah” everything perceived is intellectual, the soul’s thoughts are continuous with her perceptions.

Souls in “Briyah” are points of identity enclothed in bodies made from intellectual material. From the perspective of their core identities, on the core level, they are “portions of God above”. From the perspective of their bodies, built from intellectual material, they are “creations” - entities brought about “something from nothing” (though not literally so). The intellectual bodies, called “souls”, are built by clarifying and refining spiritual material which fell into “Briyah” during the “shattering of the vessels”.

The realm of “Yetzirah” of “Formation” is an emotional realm. Again, like “Briyah” is not really intellect as earthings access it, so too “Yetzirah” is not really emotions as humans access it on the earthly level. It’s far richer and fuller than anything earthly humans can dream of. However, the human emotional experience is a very dull taste of the emotional intensity of “Yetzirah” - an impoverished, yet apt parable for it.

There’s a withdrawal of intellectual intensity to reveal the soul’s potential for emotional feelings. Yet, the soul is left with an afterglow of intellectual light, followed by a reintroduction of a bit of the original withdrawn light, as the soul garners a new garment built of emotional material on her descent from the upper Garden of Eden to the lower one - the realm of “Yetzirah”.

Again, when reality is viewed from this level, there are only emotional feelings. The souls and angels in this realm are emotional. The soul garbed in emotional material is called “ruach”, i.e. spirit. As reality viewed with eyes of flesh appears physical, the same reality when view with eyes of “ruach” appears emotional.

This should not be a surprise, as truthfully there’s only Oneness. Hence, whatever is seen depends on what eyes it’s seen with. The eyes of the “neshomah”, i.e. soul, sees an intellectual reality, while the eyes of “ruach” sees an emotional reality. It goes without saying, that eyes of flesh see a physical reality.

It’s all the same reality, the Creator’s Oneness, seen with different eyes. By picking up their own unique set of signals, each of the eyes fragment reality differently. Each artificially slices the whole. The slicing is “artificial” because the whole remains whole. The Creator does not feel sliced by the selective perceptions of the various beings which inhabit the vast expanse of His creation.

In “Yetzirah”, emotions are experienced by the soul directly. There’s little or no buffer between the inner and outer flows of emotions. On this level, the soul is a point of identity double garbed - first, garbed by an intellectual body, a “neshoma”, and then garbed by an emotional body, a “ruach”. Just like the “neshoma” is created from reconstituted intellectual material that fell into “Briyah” during the shattering of the vessels, so too, the “ruach” is is formed from reconstituted emotional material that fell into “Yetzirah” during this event.

The “ruach” directly interacts with the outer emotional environment of “Yetzirah”. Here, there’s no difference between perceptions and emotional feelings, as emotions are what is perceived. However since cognition the “ruach” inherited from a higher realm, there’s a buffer between thinking and perception - as the “ruach” does not perceive thoughts, only feelings. So thought is something which occurs in the inner recesses of the “ruach” and to become communicated requires an emotional expression. The intellectual content needs to be communicated by being clothed in emotional signals in to reach another “ruach” or angel in that realm. Otherwise, the thought remains within the thinker.

The same pattern repeats as the soul descends into the spiritual realm closely associated with the physical realm. The physical realm is actually the lowest part of the realm of “Assiyah” or “Doing”. The higher part of “Assiyah” is known as the “spiritual realm of Assiyah”. What kind of material is this realm built from?

It seems likely to me that the “spiritual realm of Assiyah” is comprised of biological material. Commonly, the word “biological” is reserved by science to describe organism that demonstrate certain characteristics of life and have at least one cell. However, I am not using the word in that sense. I am referring to something that science does not yet quantify - the life force that works through organisms. That’s the material I believe that the “spiritual realm of Assiyah” is built from. That’s why the soul on this level is called “nefesh” or biological soul.

In fact, all biological organisms are enlivened by what is called “nefesh”. “Nefesh” also connotes will, as in the conversation between Abraham and the Hittites, “If it be in your “nefesh”, i.e. your will, ...” See Rashi’s commentary there. I guess the two notions of vital force and will fuse because only what’s alive bears a will, a sense of direction at the highest core of self - regardless, of whether it derives from nature or nurture.

As is probably the case in “Briyah” and “Yetzirah” too, but less so, there gathers around a “ruach” descending from “Yetzirah” the more refined “nefesh” material to form a body on two levels. The more refined or the refined becomes a “divine nefesh”. The less refined material becomes an “animal nefesh”, layered around the “divine nefesh”. The “animal nefesh” is really just material which hasn’t yet been fully refined. It’s still somewhat rough and unfinished. Over the course of earthly life, more of what’s unrefined can become refined, enlarging the territory of the “divine nefesh”. This indicates that both levels are potentially continuous with each other - which is by both together are simply referred to as “nefesh” and in most cases the technical divisions between these two levels are glossed over (except when relevant, like in “Tanya”).

To the “nefesh” the universe appears like an entity comprised of biological life force. The “nefesh” perceives and interacts with this material directly. Being that the “nefesh” is built from the same material as it’s environment, it’s directly affected by the flows of it’s environment. While the “nefesh’s” thoughts and feelings, traces from upper realms, are not directly touched by the outside environment, the point of biological life force, which is the “nefesh” is directly touched and affected.

Following the universe experienced as bio-forces, comes the material world, the world where chemistry and physics prevail. Here the material of the world refine and refine until it is capable of housing a “nefesh” by forming a body, which express her many potentials.

Since the earthly realm provides material which creates the body, everything the body perceives is physical. There’s little or no buffer between the anatomical environment of the body and the physical surrounding environment. That’s why clean air and healthy food have a positive impact on the body.

However, the outer environment does not directly touch what the human soul brings as traces from previous levels, like intellect, emotion and bio-force. While these traces are affected by the environments on their own native levels, they enter the earthly realm incapable of direct contact with the new environment.

So it comes out that what is considered a “soul” by a lower level is considered a “body” by an upper level. For example, a “ruach” would be considered a soul for “nefesh”, but a body to “neshoma”. This means that ultimately there are only a series of bodies bringing down, level by level, a core identity from the highest reaches to the lowliest earthly.

This concept can explain other possible dynamics as well. Like for example, passing away seems to be a situation where the physical body drops off the chain of bodies connecting a core identity with the earth plane. At this stage the “nefesh” becomes the next lowest level and the person finds himself or herself in the spiritual “Assiyah”, in an environment filled with bio-life/bio-light. Since there’s a closeness to the physical realm and much of this realm is biologically alive, there still can be some connection. From hence probably come most of the true stories about contact with those who passed on. This can also explain why most cultural depictions of the afterlife seem to most clearly resemble a “nefesh-life” perspective. In these depictions the soul is an entity which experience higher thoughts and feelings, but not divine thought and/or feeling itself.

All this makes me wonder what’s the model for describing souls as ascending levels in the spiritual realms themselves. Examples of this might be on the anniversary of someone passing on when the soul ascends to a higher level of paradise or souls ascending from the lower Garden of Eden to the higher one every Sabbath. Is the model that the lowest level of the chain drops off, exposing what was previously a clothed layer, or does the entire chain purify and ascend intact? Then of course the next question is what is a descent? Is it a densifying of the intact chain or is it a resurrection, where the chain picks up a link left behind upon ascending?

The Scriptural tradition provides models for both possibilities. On the one hand, there are most people, who leave their bodies behind to await resurrection. On the other hand, there are figures like Elijah and Enoch who ascended with an earthly body converting into spiritual material. I once heard in a class on Jewish mystical thought that Moses’ earthly body ascended intact to “Yetzirah” and then separated from the rest of the soul chain. This makes sense because he already ascended alive to “Yetzirah” to receive the Torah. That’s why the Talmud teaches that he was surrounded by angels, beings that primarily inhabit “Yetzirah”. Since he ascended once alive, earthly body intact, why not again? Since he’s not interred in this realm, this is part of why nobody knows where he’s buried.  
This is what I call “thinking outside boxes”. I’ve seen a few students of Kabbalah represent levels as “boxes” and never seem delve into the nature of the levels they describe or how they change based on the dynamics of their interactions. I really don’t relate well to moving around boxes on paper without understanding what these boxes mean in more than name only. To me that kind of treatment of the subject material is not called, “knowing a topic”.


Saturday, January 4, 2014


We are now in the month of Shevat which is symbolized by the zodiac sign Aquarius. The Jewish version of the sign is just a "bucket" and named "delee" - the Hebrew word for "bucket". I have seen in the Ben Ish Chai and B'nei Yissachar that "delee" is the zodiac sign of the Jewish people. The B'nei Yissachar elaborates that this is because Judaism is about creating vessels to hold the light - just like a bucket is a vessel to hold water.

Shevat is known for containing the holiday of Rosh Hashana or New Year for trees, especially fruit bearing trees. There is a classic dispute between the two ancient sages Shammai and Hillel. Shammai held that the New Year for trees is on the 1st of the month, when the moon is just born. Hillel held that the New Year is on the 15th of the months, when the moon is full.

This reflects a difference in their general approaches. Shammai's approach was to focus on the potential. Hillel's was to focus on the practical. So when building a vessel to receive divine blessings, there could be a lot lost in the transition between potential and practical. When there's a lot lost, then Shammai and Hillel are at odds as to what to celebrate - the potential or the actual. However, let's pray that when we build our vessels to receive blessings, we actualize our full potentials. Then Shammai and Hillel is agree on what to celebrate - for the actual matches the potential. Then the full sap will be present in all the fruits of our labors.

This ties into this week's Torah portion, as the Jews get ready to leave Egypt. Every drop of potential to build them into vessels to receive the Torah was given to them - even if it seemingly delayed the exodus. Only when the time was right, they were ripe fruits for the Sinai revelation.

Friday, January 3, 2014

You Choose

There's a Jewish mystical teaching that everyone has a special Mitzvah, one that uniquely connects the person Above. While we are supposed to keep them all, this special Mitzvah is supposed to receive an extra level of care and dedication, as it serves as a person's unique spiritual channel.

For about 25 years, I thought that this special Mitzvah is something that is supposed to be related to the person by a trusted saintly guide or in a personal spiritual revelation. In tonight's Chassidus class, Rabbi David N. Krasnjansky burst my bubble.

He told me that it's a lot like naming your child. You choose the name and the Creator works it out that it was the right name for his/her soul. Similarly, you choose that special Mitzvah, practice it to the point of self sacrifice, and the Creator will work it out that somehow it will in fact be your own special Mitzvah. Don't wait around for a spiritual revelation or for a trusted spiritual guide to come along.

An Inspired Prayer on Beingness

29 Teves 5774, Jan 1, 14’, 7:13 AM, Home, Wednesday.

Dearest Sweet Beloved Divine Parent,

Thank You for this opportunity to commune with You in the early morning. Thank You for the special opportunity to relax. I’m in a state where I just seek to be. This is what my heart desires. There aren’t deeper thoughts coursing through in this moment.

Being itself is a very special state of consciousness. It’s a hint of what’s pre-creation, of what’s pre-verbal. It’s a hint of what was before You spoke the words of creation. It’s a hint of earlier states. It’s a hint of You.

Here I sit in purer beingness. Here I sit in purer happiness. Here I sit thinking less about my needs and wants. Here I sit thinking less altogether. Here I sit immersed in the state that all the thinking is supposed to lead to, yet without thinking.

What does one do with such a state? Into what does one channel it? It’s clearly not designed to grant a state of satisfaction ahead of achievement, making one lazy in mind, heart and body. What it feels like to me is that it’s an opportunity to accept what comes my way as part of a journey - the unraveling of a thread of a journey. It’s an opportunity to approach it from a very different angle than I had, even yesterday. It’s an opportunity to see each event from the vantage point of beingness and as a vessel into which I can shine the light of my beingness. Suddenly, the feelings of rush, urgency and nervousness dissipate into the nothing they were to begin with. In it’s place is the satisfaction of the richness of life, yes simply life, and the happiness with how it simply continues forward in time.

In this special feeling, even as we journey, we are at home. It’s not that we take our homes with us on our journeys. Nor is it that we journey while at home. It’s more like there’s no distinction between the two. The journey through events is our home of beingness and our home of beingness is the journey through the events. It’s not that the two blur into each other or are morphed at a fuzzy border. It’s that they two are seamlessly the same at their core of truth. To relate to life from that place, is to be at inner and outer peace. It’s to allow oneself to truly breathe. This is the true fearlessness, true freedom from “fallen fears” - leaving a reserve in the human heart to be inspired and awed by the cosmic majesty that You project.

Thank You for this prayer in the early morning, in an earlier state of being.

Love & Kisses ...