Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Music of Words

Poetry flows through my veins,
It is the way words do song.
Human voices sing melodies,
Words offer song in poetry.

The Infinite Light parted,
Exposed a finite clearing.
Here, the letters first danced,
Uniting, forging potent words;
Brightened vessels bearing souls,
Lights in concrete expression.

High energy can't be dry n' pale,
It can't escape the lyrical.
So prophets let loose in poetry,
Moses and Isaiah spoke prose.
They spoke the music of words,
As the Creator Himself had.

The whole world is His poem,
Just find your own within His.

              ~ O ~

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A Little Miracle for a Little Boy

My nine year old son is enjoying a Lubavitch sleep away camp in the Catskill Mountains – a resort area in a very country setting. No doubt besides sports, refreshments, games, trips and daily Torah study, he’s also taught about the great spiritual accomplishment and deeds of the Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson o.b.m., the movement’s latest Grand Rabbi. Though he passed away some twenty years ago, his spiritual influence on Jewish life all over is very much alive and well.
On visiting day, the other week, I took him off campgrounds. We picked up his sister, my eleven year old daughter, from her sleep away camp down a winding country road. Then we enjoyed a family outing in a small town which sports a row of kosher restaurants and general Jewish shopping. After I dined them on lavish ice cream sundaes, I took them to a Judaica bookstore and allowed each child to select a book.
My daughter didn’t particularly love the selection, largely because she’s a fast reader and didn’t want to end up with anything whose reading pleasure wouldn’t linger. However, despite her concerns, she settled on a book pretty easily.
My son’s selection effort was more dramatic. He insisted that he wanted a book about the Rabbi Schneerson. The only problem was that all such books in stock were well above his reading level. So he came up with a secondary option, a comic book. He picked one up from a selection styled after graphic novel, but, designed to convey timeless Torah lessons or poignant moments in Jewish history. We brought his book to the counter. Right before I purchased it I noticed its subtitle, “How the Lubavitcher Rebbe Saved the Jews of Soviet Union from Destruction”.
A smile lit up my face. I turned to my son and exclaimed, “What an unexpected miracle! You wanted a book about the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Look how the Creator cherished your desire. He brought you to the kind of book you sought, one tailor made just for you.”

The Talmud teaches,” Those who seek holiness are aided from Above.”

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Future Male/Female Dynamic

Traditionally speaking, Kabbalah teaches that male means giving and female means receiving. The Lubavitcher Rebbe explained that while giver/receiver are sufficient as descriptions of male/female roles before the Messiah arrives, during the messianic era these traditional roles will change and the giver/receiver paradigm won't hold - neither cosmically nor personally.

As a whole, the messianic era will be characterized by greater equality on every level, including gender. Since giver and receiver are unequal roles, they are out of character with a messianic era. Obviously, male/female will continue to exist, but along different lines. For a while I wondered what could a messianic era male/female relationship look like.

My thoughts took me back to the way Rabbi Bachya Ibn Pequda explained the Creator's Oneness. Obviously, anything about the Creator cannot be described directly. The closest one can get to a description of the Creator is to describe what He's not, rather than what He is. The old term for this kind of description is “negative theology”. In common contemporary parlance it’s called, "process of elimination".

What Rabbi Bachya explained the Creator’s Oneness by explaining that He’s not multiple. He eliminated multiplicity by explaining that any oneness humans can conceive of is composed of parts. Even the smallest seemingly indivisible item at the very least has a beginning, middle and end - i.e. it can be conceptually segmented. Even such subtle segmentation does not apply to the Creator - as His Oneness must be absolutely real and a oneness composed of parts is not ultimately real.   

From Oneness, Rabbi Bachya explains the Creator’s Infinity in a way which ends up eliminating limitation. He explains that since the Creator’s Oneness is absolutely seamless, He has no beginning, middle or end. A Being with no beginning, middle or end has no limits and by definition is Infinite (which also literally means “not finite” - an eliminative description). So the Creator is at once Seamlessly One and Absolutely Infinity. In Him, Oneness and Infinity are the same. It’s our minds which divide them into two concepts.

It occurred to me that the Creator's Infinity and Oneness is the very earliest possible root for any version of duality echoing throughout the vast and varied levels of His creation. Since what's male in creation tends towards outer growth and expansion, maleness is an echo of Infinity. Since what's female in creation tends towards inner growth and building inner space, femininity is echo of Oneness.

Therefore it seems to me that in the messianic era, a couple's union will be one merging the forces of inner and outer growth into a singular whole. It would stand to reason that as we draw closer to this era, more and more couples will bask in the light of this new paradigm.

This does not mean that women will be confined to the home and men only venture into the wider world. That’s actually part of the pre-messianic inequality. What it means is really equal access for both genders to move about in both domains - inner and outer. However, when a females venture into the outer domain, they will bring with them a sensitivity and understanding which comes from being denizens of life’s inner domains. This can be compared to an immigrant who opens to restaurant to bring her native culinary traditions to her adopted country; thereby, enriching her new locale with something uniquely special.

Similarly, when males venture into the inner domain, they bring with them the long range focus and vision which comes from being native to life’s outer domain. This can be compared to a psychologist/life coach who ventures into a client’s feelings, yearnings and dreams in order to shape them into long range life goals and accomplishments.  

Of course, long term exposure builds life experience which works on one’s overall skill sets. So over time, females can feel comfortably at home venturing into the outer world and males venturing into the inner world. In any event, since gender tends to be a range and people are vastly varied, very often archetypal generalizations don’t neatly fit individuals - an amazing reminder of each individual’s special uniqueness. Our Creator shaped us from a place beyond books and cookie cutter academic styled definitions.
(This is a brief synopsis of the main points of an essay I wrote a few years ago called "Future Couple". The full length version is available on my blog.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dream/Think Moshiach

Tonight is the 9th of Av and it's time for me to go to sleep. I wish everyone "Moshiach dreams", as today uniquely contains the light of Moshiach. The true secret of darkness is the afterglow which remained after the Creator cleared away His Infinite Light to make a space for creation. Compared to the Infinite Light the lingering afterglow was very very dark and indeed the source for all subsequent darkness in creation - whether spiritual, psychological or physical.

However, the afterglow had a unique strength. It was the aspect of the Infinite Light which resisted the effort to be cleared away. It was a survivor, proving that it was literally the strongest aspect of the Infinite Light. Based on this understanding, darkness comes from the most intense light. How can that be?

Truthfully, there's no such a thing as being outside the light. Darkness is created by light suppressing itself. Light in a state of deep suppression becomes darkness. Know, that only a very strong light can affect self suppression. A weak light is doesn't have enough strength for such a feat.

This is why specifically on the darkest day of the year, there lurks the highest light, the light of Moshiach himself. So have Moshiach dreams tonight and Moshiach thoughts tomorrow my friends.