Wednesday, April 30, 2014

For Gloria!

In Jewish tradition when a man and a woman are under the wedding canopy, one of the blessings recited ends with the words, “...all was created for His glory.” I wondered for a long time, “What does this mean, since when does the Holy One need glory?” Recently, while studying Rabbi Luzzatto’s “Knowing Heart”, I came to understand what this means. If you understand this story you will too.

You know, when a man loves a woman, he craves contact with every level of her interior. Lurking in her psyche, unexplained parts of himself await. Only by entering her heartscape can he make contact with these lost treasures of own self. Similarly, parts of her self lurk within him. Together, they identity blend. Each becomes a fuller self, more alive. “Self seams” fade into a oneness.

What happens, when people are emotionally broken and aren’t able to hold themselves together, how do they love? I have heard of a woman, named Gloria. She was so abused in her childhood that she would block any man who tried to enter the energy field of her heart. Every attempt at entry brought her back to searing memories of pain. She barbed and blocked the men who tried. She inflicted them with but a tiny taste of her pain, as they backed off in terror.

Jack was different. He wasn’t any braver than the others. He simply saw deeper into her. He saw her shining potential to love, if only her were made whole again. If only her heart could be mended and the pieces resewn. Jack knew there were pieces of his own heart in her’s and to abandon her was to abandon himself. He set out to make her pleasure his life’s mission. Everything he did was just for her sake.

Jack built Gloria a mansion, lined with servants. The finest chefs prepared her meals. Though Jack trusted that time would eventually heal Gloria’s wounds, he didn’t want her to suffer even an iota longer than necessary. So he enlisted a team of psychologists under Dr. Aaronson’s supervision to mend Gloria’s psyche and put her broken pieces back together. At first she resisted the therapy. Consciously, she was under the delusion that she was “just fine”. Subconsciously, she knew the truth, “this is going to be a lot of challenging toil”. She mused, “Jack might work hard to bring me all these gifts, but, they don’t compare to how hard I’ll have to work to emotionally heal. As Jack efforts, he struggles with an outside world. Yet, I struggle with an inner one! Now which struggle bears a higher pain potential?”

At first Gloria began to work with the Aaronson therapists slowly. As scary as her childhood demons looked, when seen in a therapeutic lens, they proved to be less than paper thin. Slight successes gently encouraged Gloria that it’s possible to survive a peeling away of even more long cherished misconceptions, revealing fresh aspects of her true self. Every therapeutic poke along her inner territory initially produced pain. Yet, she learned that if handled right, pain can be the first step towards healing. So she healed, healed and ...

Every level of healing rewarded her twofold. Firstly, she felt that much better. Secondly, she now possessed fresh territory cleared out from barbs and blockages. Here, was a new “home” to invite her man in to rejoice. Here, she could pay him back for his kindness by delivering up to him a newly freed piece of his own lost self. Here, was an welcoming space for Jack to deposit a corresponding piece of her own lost self, he bore. Slowly, she became his “conquered territory”. Bit by bit, she was being opened up by the forces of his love and kindness. Until, he was totally allowed to pleasure her in an ultimate identity blend - each the paradise of the other.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Face to Face

(A translation of a teaching adapted from Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto by Rabbi Shalom Ulman in the book Divine Knowledge.)

The topic of the cosmic amputation: The cosmic female is the root of the souls she births. That’s why her entire life situation brings about parallels within them. Just as when the cosmic female is back to back with her cosmic male, her entire vitality is drawn from him, so with these souls [as they too partake of her cosmic patterns of development]. In this sense, they resemble all creatures; who function by Divine coercion, having nothing of their own, besides what they receive from their higher root. This scenario is the situation of these souls before descending into the earthly realm to inhabit bodies. Though these souls are bound to their Creator and freely delight in His light, they have no free choice. Hence, they can’t lift their heads to face their Creator, for they are like one who has eaten from the alms of a benefactor.

However, the Master wanted that humans perform spiritual work because such work is mainly an expression of free choice - something not determined by the hands of Heaven. Therefore, He sent the cosmic female a fresh flow of spiritual abundance, a flow totally independent from her cosmic male. This cosmic flow was accomplished via the cosmic mother by extracting herself from the cosmic male and entering the cosmic female. Thus, building her up without involving the cosmic male. As a result of the cosmic female’s newly enhanced state, earthbound souls now possess free choice.  Free choice is a force which frees them from dependency on a fixed higher illumination, which all other creatures depend on to direct their deeds.  
It comes out that the power of free choice accompanies a soul from the moment she descends to enclothe herself in a body. At that time, she draws from the power which the cosmic mother gave to her cosmic daughter during the cosmic amputation. Just as in the higher realms, this power prepares the cosmic female to turn face to face with her cosmic male, so with souls [as they too partake of this cosmic pattern]. A soul grants a person the ability to detach from the natural forces, who use the body to coerce the soul (in the mystery of backside) and return face to face with her Creator; so all her deeds will be intended to please her true Former and not her fantasy former.  

Truthfully, returning the soul face to face with her Creator is a daily, lifelong task. The power of free choice requires a person to detach from the evil forces which control the body, i.e. the mystery of the backside (mentioned above), and to carry out his deeds only with the intention to please his Former.

Still, this process is only complete upon death. Since then, when a saintly person ascends his soul, she detaches from the last vestiges of evil which had controlled her via the body to ascend and bond with the Divine Presence, in the mystery of face. Approaching her, the Holy One, leaves aside all His involvements, the mystery of backside, and turns to her in the mystery of face to benefit her according to her deeds.

~ Divine Knowledge, P. 138

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Redemption Sized Olive


Last night, I watched a couple of videos on Youtube of Israeli Rabbis expressing their views on the size of the average olive in ancient times. The significance of this discussion is that this that an “olive size” from Temple times is the minimal measure of matzah a Jew is required to be eat at the “seder”, the Passover meal. The reason why they were clarifying their views on this size is because by tradition many Jews eat a huge amount of matzah, claiming that the ancient olives were likely much larger than contemporary olives. In my opinion the Rabbis done a good job of taking issue with this tradition by making some very valid points:

1) There are still ancient olive trees around producing olives. So we have living examples of the size of olives produced by ancient trees.

2) Rehydrated dried olives found at archaeological sites yield a full fleshed olive matching the size of contemporary olives.   

3) The question of what’s an olive size, first arose in medieval times and was only raised by Rabbis who didn’t live around olive trees. Hence, they needed a means of cautious estimation, as they had no living example to go by.

Ever since my youth, I myself was always suspect of the “olive sizes” used by my family for matzah. Yet, I still enjoyed that a larger size lent prominence and dignity to the Divine commandment. It also made the commandment more engaging, as I couldn’t simply be over with it in a few quick nibbles. I had to chew longer on it’s meaning.

Often a collective act for the “sake of heaven” is the result of souls being in tune with a certain spiritual dynamic which their minds, hearts and bodies are unconsciously playing out in the earthly realm. I am not going to claim to know the dynamic behind why collectively many at the Passover meal eat a huge amount of matzah; quite possibly, a lot more than is actually required. However, some small taste what might be behind it dawned on me this morning.

The the 11th Chapter of Tractate Sanhedrin, the Talmud relates that in the messianic era, the fruits will be a lot larger than their current size. I never imagined that this event necessarily had to be a miraculous occurrence.  Foreseeable advances in genetic engineering and farming technology could easily bring this on. Already, strawberries are three times the size they were in my childhood.

During the messianic era it will likely be of particular importance to grow the olive much larger, as only the very first squeeze of it’s oil is valid for the Temple’s menorah. A larger sized olive will likely yield much more oil on that first squeeze than a smaller one would. So the “olive size” of the messianic future will likely to be much larger than the olives of today or yesterday.

So it could be that on the night we celebrate our redemption from Egypt and pray for the world’s future redemption, many Jews eat an “olive size” of matzah which resembles the size of a messianic era olive. This devotional act serves both as a prayer for and a demonstration of our readiness for the upcoming redemption.

May it happen swiftly and sweetly in our days. Amen!     

Happy Passover !

Saturday, April 5, 2014

A Paean to the Creator of Spring

In my heart harbors a book full of paean to the Creator of Spring. What a season of the year! O’ what a season of our lives!
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...Incline thy ear in intimate attention as the book reads herself. Maybe, you’ll catch her story. Maybe, even the luminous story within her story.
In early spring, a flower fell in love with a sweet song bird. He wooed her and she opened herself to him as he brushed her with the pollen from a distant male of her own species. In the misty dew of early mornings, her lover was her delight. He sung for her, as he watched her metamorphosis into a fruit.
At first she was small, green and hard. Her color and appearance blended in with the surrounding leaves. As she baked in the heat of the summer sun, her size enlarged. By late summer, beautiful streaks of color grew in, gradually replacing her green. Now she stood out from among her leafy companions. Her lover bird found another of his own species, nested in a higher branch.
Yet, the growing fruit wasn’t alone, as her lover’s song echoed from a higher perch. Also, as she looked about, she noticed more and more color streaked companions peering from among the leafy greens. As their colors expanded and deepened, so did their companionship.
Then autumn transformed the colors of the leaves to match the fruits. Now fruits and leaves shared color companionship once more. But, this wasn’t to last. Soon windy gusts howled down the leaves, exposing brightly colored fruits in full view. Our fruit was no exception. Naked, she felt vulnerable.
The temperature was dropping and food scarce. Along came a salivating beast. With a swift swipe, he separated our fruit from her life source. She cried longingly as she fell. Thud!  She hit the ground in front of him and entered his domain.
He nibbled off her tasty flesh, leaving her core for dead on cold soil. Soon the winter gales buried her in a snowy grave. Silent and dormant, here she spent winter - a mere skeleton of the beauty she was.
In time, the temperature slowly warmed. The sun spent more and more time each day in her vicinity. Her burial site melted away, softening the soil underneath. Clearly, she was no longer a fruit, her familiar life form. Yet to her utter surprise, life began to stir within her, transforming her in an unfamiliar direction. She didn’t know who or what she was.
Newly alive, she sent out two sprouts reaching out in opposite directions: one sprout bore into the soil to gather food and another tenderer one reached up to greet the rising sun.  As her sprouts grew and grew into the growing warmth of spring, she realized that she was becoming the very kind of tree which had sheltered and nurtured her just one cycle ago.
Now, her heart burst into songs of praise to the Creator over her transformation, as she longingly looked forward to the fruits she was destined to birth and nurture into the fullness of life.