Sunday, April 25, 2010

Parshat Emor: Life for Life

God's love creates and sustains life, and anything that threatens life (including death) shall be separated from it. This is the successive and reiterated message in the Torah, reaffirmed many times in the beginning of Emor.

"There shall none defile himself for the dead among his people." (Leviticus 21:1)

This refers to the high priest that represents our higher consciousness and continuous connection with God, as we have pointed out before.

"He shall not defile himself, being a chief man among his people, to profane himself." (21:4)

The high priest's function is highlighted as the love bearer permanently close to God's love. In this sense he is both the messenger and the message: love as the material manifestation of God's love from which we are sustained every moment, and we have to hold holy.

"You shall sanctify him therefore, because he offers the bread of your God; he shall be holy unto you, because I the Lord who sanctify you, am holy." (21:8)

The people of Israel is divinely commanded to consecrate the high priest. They represent the positive traits and qualities that must honor and exalt the higher consciousness of connection with God, by being and doing His ways and attributes always.

This awareness dwells in the highest level of our consciousness which is the tabernacle or temple where we are permanently connected to Him, and should never abandon.

"(…) neither shall he go out of the sanctuary, nor desecrate the sanctuary of his God; because the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is upon him, I am the Lord." (21:12)

The instructions regarding the high priest's consecration to the service of God continues in the next chapter. Both Aaron and the children of Israel are commanded to bring sacrifices by offering unblemished animals to be burned upon the altar of the tabernacle.

As we have mentioned, these offerings represent untainted thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts that we use to honor our Creator's will, ways and attributes in everything we do. Therefore we can't offer negative, egotistic, selfish or greedy thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts to serve God because He rejects what is opposed to His ways and attributes.

Let's remind ourselves that being His image and likeness means being and manifesting love's ways and attributes as the material manifestation of God's love, the divine essence from which everything comes to exist. Negative traits only attract their like, and are always separated from the attributes of love which nurture all creation.

"He may eat the bread of his God, both of the most holy, and of the holy." (21:22)

In the following chapter (23) the people of Israel are addressed with the consecration of the Shabbat and holidays, as designed times to reaffirm our continuous connection to the Creator. In chapter 24 Israel is also reminded about the commandment of lighting a lamp to burn permanently in the sanctuary (24:2), the earthly fire that must be constantly burning and united to the divine fire that transforms and elevates our lives to God. This continuity is emphasized.

"(…) from evening to morning before the Lord continually." (24:3-4, 8)

The transgression of desecrating the
name of God, which also means to curse Him, makes us separate from Him and from the unity with His people. In this separation we die after our hearts are turned into stones, and these are the stones that cause our death. The choice to live ego's illusions instead of living love's attributes is the curse and the sin, and we bear their punishments.

"Whoever curses his God will bear his sin." (24:15)

The unity of the people of Israel with the Creator is remarked again at the end of this parshah, and murdering life carries the death of the perpetrator. As we mentioned in our commentary on Kedoshim, death is not the consequence of vengeance or retaliation for transgressions committed against God's will. We have said that the death penalty and other punishments mentioned in the Torah and the Hebrew scriptures are the result of disrespecting, dishonoring and destroying human life.

Transgressions against life are direct sins against God's love, and the transgressors must replace "life with life". The lesson here is that all the negative actions and transgressions one commits are also committed against himself, and the only way to repair or correct a destructive or negative action is to repair the damage caused, to restore what was stolen or destroyed, or to compensate for what is not possible to repair or restore.

Our sages explain in the Talmud that this is the true meaning of "breach for breach, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; as he has maimed a man, so shall it be rendered to him." (24:20). This principle is addressed for everyone.

"You shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, and for the home-born, because I am the Lord your God." (24:22)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Parshat Kedoshim: Holy Means Different

Kedoshim (holy ones) begins with an encompassing commandment to the people of Israel.

"You shall be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy." (Leviticus 19:2)

Most of our sages remark that the fundamental message of Torah is stated in this chapter of Leviticus. The entire Torah is about being holy in order to be close to our Creator, and that means to be different.

The root of the Hebrew word kadosh, usually translated as holy, means "separated" or "set apart". In a practical context implies being different. Hence holiness is by definition a separate state, a world apart; that which makes us different. And how this difference can be more real than the "rest"? Living in truth is the answer, which is living in love's ways instead of ego's fantasies and illusions.

The portion continues restating the Ten Commandments, and emphasizing some of the ways we have to relate to our fellow human beings. These are guidelines aimed to love, care, protect and cherish them.

The Talmud (Yevamot 20a) points out that we also have to sanctify life, and act with holiness in what is permissible to us. It is not enough to refrain from what is forbidden, but also to be moderate with the pleasures material life offers, as it is suggested by Maimonides and Nachmanides when they speak about the meaning of being holy.

As part of the Ten Commandments, God warns us against falling into ego’s materialistic desires.

"Do not turn to idols, nor make for yourselves molten gods," (19:4)

Rashi explains the order of this sentence saying that the "idols" at first are like fantasies when we desire them, and later we end up turning them into "gods" as we make them our main purpose in life. In the Ten Commandments there is also a reminder to avoid negative or evil speech.

"You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people, you shall not stand by your fellow's blood." (19:16)

We must not be indifferent or unconcerned about our fellow man's pain, misery or disgrace.

"You shall not stand by your fellow's blood." (19:17)

This includes our responsibility to guide him into God’s ways and attributes.

"Rebuke, rebuke your fellow." (Ibid.)

We must question him when his beliefs, thoughts, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts take a negative trend.

With this preamble the Torah introduces its fundamental principle.

"You shall not take vengeance nor bear any grudge against any of your people; and you shall love your fellow as yourself, [because] I am the Lord." (19:18)

When we love our fellow man and God's creation, we love the Creator. This means to be aware of the oneness we are part of. We love everything and everyone because they, as well as we, are made of the same love we all are. There is no separation in this love.

Love, as the material manifestation of God's love, unites everything because all comes from Him and it is sustained by Him.

"You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your cattle gender with a diverse kind; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed; neither shall there come upon you a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together." (19:19)

Why does this verse come after the Torah’s cornerstone "love your neighbor as yourself"?

In a deeper meaning, it tells us that love does not mix with anything different than its ways and attributes. Love is what must lead every aspect and dimension of our consciousness.

Interestingly, the portion continues with the laws on agriculture and the ways we have to treat the land, the trees and their produce.

"When you shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food." (19:23)

The land also represents our life and all levels of consciousness with which we relate to ourselves, to our fellow man, and to the entire creation.

We have to let our consciousness mature long enough to be able to fully experience and manifest love as our true essence and identity. Thus we share all we create and produce with those who don't have. By doing this we elevate others with our love.

"You shall rise before the white-haired, and honor the face of the old man." (19:32)

We have to honor wisdom and understanding (which also represent our father and mother), and consequently we have to also honor knowledge, experienced learning, and the valuable counsel and advice from which we can benefit.

We have to honor the acquired wisdom from our own experiences by engaging our consciousness with it. We must not disregard anything we learn, thus every day we apply our knowledge. Love is the greatest knowledge and teacher of all, and sustains the truth in everything we learn. As we mentioned in this blog, from love emanates all wisdom.

The next chapter of the portion lists the consequences of living in idolatry, and with customs that reject the holiness the Creator wants us to honor in order to be always close to Him.

The Torah mentions several kinds of "punishments", which should not be perceived as forms of retaliation or retribution but simply as the consequences of choosing what denies love's ways and attributes.

Those consequences range from turning our hearts into stones (becoming dense as stones by our attachment to a materialistic lifestyle), expelling ourselves from the people and the land that represent oneness with God. Hence "dying" as the result of not living anymore in the true life God offers us when we walk in His ways.

"You shall therefore keep all My statutes, and all My ordinances and do them, that the Land where I bring you to dwell in vomit you not out. And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation which I am casting out before you; because they did all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. But I have said unto you: 'You shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a Land flowing with milk and honey.' I am the Lord your God, who have set you apart from the peoples.” (20:22-24)

Separation from the illusions derived from darkness is clearly commanded in the last sentence, and continues commanding us to separate between clean and unclean, darkness and light.

"And you shall be holy to Me because I, the Lord, am holy, and have set you apart from the peoples, for you to be Mine." (20:26)

In the haftarah we read along with this portion, the prophet (Ezekiel 22:1-6) warns that the Promised Land does not allow or condone impurity, and that we will be expelled from it if we tamper our consciousness with anything other than the holiness the Creator wants from us.

Again we are reminded that God's love does not cohabit with anything different than His ways and attributes. Mystic sages teach that when we live in the darkness of exile we learn to search for the light with which we return to our holy land, which also represent the highest awareness or our connection with God.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Parshat Acharei: Being as different as it takes

The quest for sacredness as the permanent connection with the Creator continues in Acharei signaling to the day in which we are united with Him after we cleanse our consciousness from negative patterns. This is the premise for an atonement directed to fulfill that unity.

"For on this day shall atonement be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins shall you be clean before the Lord." (Leviticus 16:30)

Maimonides teaches that "on Yom Kippur, the day itself atones as it is written: 'For on this day shall atone for you'." (Mishneh Torah, Laws of Return 1:3), and he clearly refers to the particular time when that action takes place.

We have learned already that the revelation of the Torah in Sinai occurs the same day when we commemorate Yom Kippur, making us aware that this is the time in which we are one with our Creator. It also reminds us that before we received the Torah we engaged in a cleansing and purification period of seven weeks to separate our consciousness from its materialistic patterns and attachments in order to become the vessel for God's ways and attributes.

The Creator asks us to be holy because He is holy and with this we learn that He does not cohabit with anything different from His ways and attributes. All our offerings (traits, thoughts, emotions, desires, passions and instincts) are directed to do what is sacred and holy to honor and celebrate our oneness with Him; and these offerings should not be presented to anything else.

"And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto the satyrs, after whom they go astray. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations." (Leviticus 17:7)

This means a permanent, constant and continuous connection with God. The parshah then refers to the divine prohibition for Israel not to eat the blood of any living creature.

"Because the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life." (17:11)

In our commentary on Metzorah we said that water also represents life and the renewal of life. Thus the Torah remarks to cleanse ourselves with living waters in order to remove impurities derived from transgressions against God's ways and our fellow man. In a deeper meaning, God's love sustains life and blood represents both life and what sustains it. Hence the action of eating blood defiles our own life and consciousness.

In this sense blood represents a divine essence whose purpose is to consecrate life and not to desecrate or diminish it with lower impulses or negative desires. Life is to be elevated, enhanced and consecrated to what it is by essence: Love as the material manifestation of God's love.

That is our purpose in life and in this world: to reveal God's love as the sustaining essence of life.

With this we learn that we must not abuse, misuse, damage or destroy life and its source, God's love. With living waters we cleanse our transgressions against life, including eating blood.

"(…) he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the evening; then shall he be clean. But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh, then he shall bear his iniquity." (17:15-16)

In this context the unwillingness to return to God’s ways and attributes keeps us separated from Him. The cleansing process continues in this parshah emphasizing what the Creator wants from us in order to be permanently connected with Him. He wants us to be different from the "nations" and their ways.

Our sages explain that the people of Israel inherit the Promised Land in order to be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests, where the priesthood is the constant awareness of our connection to God. Becoming such nation requires leaving behind the ways of Egypt and the Canaanite nations that represent lower and negative thoughts, emotions, passions and instincts.

"And God told Moses: 'speak to the children of Israel and tell them: I am the Lord your God! After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein you dwelt, shall you not do; and after the doings of the land of Canaan, where I bring you, shall you not do; neither shall you walk in their statutes. My ordinances shall you do, and My statutes shall you keep, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God. You shall therefore keep My statutes, and My ordinances, which if a man do, he shall live by them: I am the Lord'." (18:1-5)

The constant awareness the Torah demands from us is what makes us different from the rest of the nations and gives us our true identity as the chosen people. This means being aware of God's love as the cause and effect of all Creation, and also aware that our mission is to reveal this eternal truth.

We are destined to reveal love concealed in the darkness of the illusions of the material world. We fulfill this destiny when we follow God's ways and attributes, and live by them, "which if a man does, he shall live by them".

Our sages point out "to live by them" suggesting not to die by them. One of the meanings of this is to be aware that we live by and for life’s sacredness. This sacredness consists in doing the Creator's ways and attributes, and not what denigrates the holiness of life's.

The parshah enumerates what the other Canaanite nations did related to sexual relations that are prohibited for the children of Israel, in order to be close to the Creator.

"(...) because all these abominations have the men of the land done, that were before you, and the land is defiled; that the land does not vomit you out also, when you defile it, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. Therefore, shall you keep My charge, that you not do any of these abominable customs, which were done before you, and that you defile not yourselves therein: I am the Lord your God." (18:27-28, 30)

Being different from the "nations" is the destiny that our God wants for Israel. As we have said, the difference lies in being always aware of God's love in all levels of consciousness, and living according to His commandments, and His ways and attributes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Love in the words of Rav Kook

Commentary by Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865–1935) divided in 12 parts

1 The heart must be full of Love for all Creation.

2 Love for all Creation is the first premise, followed by Love for humankind, and then Love for the People of Israel. In the Love for the People of Israel all Loves are encompassed, because Jews are destined to make all things as perfect as they originally are. These three Loves are manifested in effective ways directed to the well being and enhancement of those who are aware of Love and attached to it. But the greatest Love of all is the Love of G-d, because it is the highest realization and the utmost rejoicing happiness of man when his heart is full of this Love.

3 Our effective Love for everything where we see the Light of G-d is the result of our sweet Love of Him, a compelling Love that we can’t refrain from, as we love His goodness connected to the Torah and His Commandments. This compels us to love the goodness for all by doing what is righteous and fair, from which all existence depends on. With this goodness our heart pursues perfection, because it is the will of G-d in its majesty and splendor. G-d’s will is greater than this manifested goodness, because it sustains the essence of every living being, and this is something that our mind can’t grasp. Consequently, we are compelled to fully love every creature, because the Light of G-d and His grace are shinning in all Creation: “The Loving Kindness of the Lord fills the Earth.”
(Psalms 33:5).

4 The sacred fire of Divine Love is always burning in the heart of man. This sacred fire illuminates life, keeps the warmth of the soul, and the endless delights that emanate from it can’t be comprehended or measured. How is conceivable that man be so evil against himself and throw himself into the darkness, falling down to small-minded interests, forgetting what emanates true life and sustains everything that makes life significant. This small-mindedness doesn’t allow him to partake in life, and without Light to shine on him he goes in this world carrying the heavy burden of his material survival. This is against the way life is and against the way of all Creation. The delight of Divine Love, a gift from Heaven, exists to break all limitations to allow life to walk in the path of this delight, and be able to enjoy its might and magnificence: “No eye has seen what the Lord shall do for those who hope for Him” (Isaiah 64:3).

5 Love for humankind must be full in our hearts and souls for all peoples and all nations, directed by the desire to pursue their material and spiritual progress, and hatred must be directed only against wickedness and the nastiness in the world. In order for us to be elevated when we recite “Praise the Lord, invoke His Name, declare His works among the nations” (I Chronicles 16:8) in the morning prayer, we have to experience
a profound interior Love to procure for all the nations their material well being and their happiness. With this disposition the Jewish people will experience the presence of the Messiah. When we see in our Jewish tradition references to hatred, they all are against wickedness, the evil that has broken the cohesiveness of many nations in current times, as well as in ancient times when the world lived in an inferior moral level. We have to be aware that life, in its natural Light and sacredness, never loses its Divine image that empowers every person and every nation according to their level, and this connection to sacredness will elevate all of them. With this vision of life we are devoted to make the advancement in the world prevail, as well as the elevation of justice combined with strength and splendor; all for the perfection of all Creation, starting with man and the surroundings where he lives. This is the core of the Jewish vision, and with the grace of G-d we practice this vision both materially and spiritually.

6 The awareness of Love in every righteous individual embraces all creatures, encompassing all peoples and languages, including those like the evil Amalek whose names are commanded to be erased according to Biblical account “from under the Heavens” (Exodus 17:14). However, these evil ones can be elevated to the source of goodness that is above the Heavens, in the Greatest Love, through “cleansing”. In order to be able to achieve this elevated type of unification, one needs to have a great strength and a great purity.

7 When obstacles confront our Love, either from nature or from Torah’s teachings, our Love is submitted to refinement in order to be elevated to the essence of Divine Love, the One that created all life and sustains life all the time.

8 Our Love for all peoples, although it is all encompassing including the wicked ones, does not relent our hatred for wickedness; and actually strengthens it, because we love the wicked not according to their wickedness, but for the goodness in them. And it is our Love telling us that we can find Love in everything. The hatred for the wicked becomes implacable and absolute when it derives from the goodness that compels us to love him.

9 It is considered proper to hate a wicked person because of his wickedness,
but because he is endowed with a Divine image we are entitled to love him. We also must be aware that this Divine image is far more real than the lower traits that come from him because of his circumstances. This is why the Talmud (Pesachim 49b) says that it is allowed to attack a rude person on his back but not on his front, referring the “back” as his past, and the “front” as his life that shines with Divine Light.

10 It requires a great effort to expand our love for people to a level that pervades life fully and completely. We can do this discarding the shallow
vision acquired by the superficial study of the Torah and conventional morality, which give the impression or suggest that this kind of love is ambiguous. The greatest love for people is for the sake of people as individuals. This love has to embrace every individual regardless of differences in religion, race or environment. It is important to understand the ways of different nations and peoples in order to love them accordingly with the proper actions. Only a person who is rich in love for other nations and for each individual is able to love his own nation spiritually and materially in its most sublime dimension. The obtuseness that leads to perceive as ugly and impure anything from a particular nation or different from the Jewish people is an aspect of the horrible darkness that weakens all efforts to reach up the spiritual level that every sensitive soul hopes for.

11 It is essential to possess a self-discipline regarding the love of people, particularly the love for those who are the most honorable, the sages, the artists, the poets, the leaders of the communities. We need to recognize the Light of the good in what is best in other people, because
this Light is expanded to the world through them, even if they are aware or not of the significance of this mission.

12 Who is able to restrict the Light of the Greatest Love of G-d that beats on the hearts of the righteous that remain, the faithful of holiness who are righteous of heart? This Light beats like a breeze charged with delightful scents, and also roars like the waves of the sea. The soul is stirred by the sublime delight, and the Love of this supreme delight elevates all ethical and spiritual willingness of our consciousness, and with this every soul is sanctified, because the one who is the most separated from the Light of the holy souls of the heroes of G-d is also elevated. The whole Torah, the ethical teachings, the Commandments, the good actions and the learning are there to clear the obstacles in order to allow the expansion of this universal Love, and spread it to all dimensions of life. The fruits emanated from the roots of this highest sacred Love encompass the good and righteous traits of everything in general and particular, individually and collectively, up until we ascend to the level where the world is judged “with righteousness, and the peoples with fairness.” (Psalms 98:9).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Parshat Metzora: Dwelling in Higher Consciousness

In this portion the word kohen (priest) is mentioned 35 times, 32 in chapter 14, and 3 times in chapter 15. Likewise, the phrase “before God” appears 10 times in chapter 14, and 3 times in chapter 15.

Why these words and phrases are repeated in the context of the narrative? We know that when words and phrases are repeated in the Hebrew Scriptures is to remark, highlight and emphasize the message in which they are mentioned. In this case the message is also pointed out in the previous portion Tazria, and expanded with details related to removing “leprosy” from the one who sins by what our sages consider slander and negative judgments against his/her fellow man. The Kli Yakar in particular refers to negative speech, arrogance and stinginess. These last two seem to be the roots of the former.

The high priest, who symbolizes our permanent connection with the Creator, is the one that guides us in the process to bring us back to the awareness of His love. He teaches us to “sacrifice” the negative traits that cause “leprosy”, which threat the spiritual and material well being we achieve when we follow God’s ways and attributes.

“And the high priest who cleanses him shall set the man that is to be cleansed, and with them, before the Lord, at the door of the tent of meeting.” (Leviticus 14:11)

The phrase “and with them” refers to the animal sacrifices to be offered at the entrance of the Tabernacle, meaning that we have to remove negative thoughts and speech from our mind and heart in order to enter in our higher consciousness of God's love. As we have said, we need to remove (cleanse) all aspects of our consciousness in order to turn them into the vessels and chariots of the will of our Creator.

When we speak about our spiritual and material well being, our house (our dwellings) is included. The portion mentions the risks of propagating leprosy in its walls. In the worse circumstances the high priest orders to destroy the whole house and to build it again. The message to keep clean all the aspects of our consciousness "before God" is not only loud and clear in the Torah, but it also encompasses every aspect of our material life.

The repeated presence of our higher consciousness (the high priest mentioned 35 times) as our guide is to reiterate the warning that we must be always cleaved to God's love, and be permanently before Him. Our sages elaborate on the hidden meanings of the text, indicating that the “houses” that the Israelites were about to occupy from the Canaanite peoples, after conquering the Promised Land, are the negative traits we must turn into qualities directed to the service of God.

The midrash tells about the gold hidden by the Amorites in the walls of their houses that was later found when the Israelites turned them down because they were contaminated with leprosy. The hidden message is that when we clear our levels of consciousness from negative traits we find the gold, the light concealed in their darkness.

The next chapter of the portion continues with cleansing instructions regarding the woman’s menstrual period. In this sense, the cleansing involves water as life against death (represented by the blood tainted by the unfertilized ovule).

The temporary separation of man and wife ordered in the Torah teaches us that the closeness and intimacy of both may only be when life and its potentiality for creating new life are present. After all, life is the purpose of all Creation which emanates from God's love that also sustains it and nurtures it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Parshat Tazria: Speak Love

This portion continues to list Commandments related to maintaining the cleanliness and holiness highlighted in  SheminiTazria is translated as “conceives”, but literally means “shall seed”.

“A woman who shall conceive and give birth (…)” (Leviticus 12:2)

In the context of cleanliness, the following words refer to the care that a woman must have to maintain her purity after giving birth. This reflects how essential cleanliness is related to the act of conception in the woman’s womb.

Our Sages tell us (Talmud, Niddah 31a) that in conception, man and woman provide certain physiological traits for the fetus and God gives him/her the spirit and the breath, physical beauty, eyesight, hearing, speech, ability to walk, understanding and discernment which He takes back to Him after death.

From this we learn that God’s gifts to human life are primordially related to our ability to follow His ways and attributes. God’s spirit and breath are written together, because as emanations from God's Love both keep us alive every second. As we mentioned, life is a gift from God's Love and it is constantly sustained and nurtured by Him.

Physical beauty, as relative as it is (“in the eye of the beholder”), is the reflection of the Love we bear and manifest in all our levels of consciousness, including speech and actions. Also our sight and hearing are channels through which we connect our awareness of God's Love. Thus what we see and hear are “filtered” by Love’s ways and attributes. Likewise speech is one of the vessels of Love as well as every deed and action we do.

All these Divine gifts are preceded by our understanding and discerning Love’s ways and attributes. Our Sages remind us that these gifts are taken back by God after we die, therefore we have to use them in our lives in this world in order to honor His ways and attributes.

After mentioning conception, the text refers to the Covenant between God and Israel.

“On the eight day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.” (Leviticus 12:3)

Our Sages remark in extensive commentaries this transcendental bond between the Creator and us, which is our constant awareness of His Love in our consciousness by cutting off what is unnecessary in our lives. After this the portion refers to a skin condition that according to our Sages is the consequence of evil talk.

“When a man shall have in the skin of his flesh a rising, or a scab, or a bright spot, and it become in the skin of his flesh the plague of leprosy, then he shall be brought unto Aaron the priest (…). (13:2)

When we hear evil or negative talk, ego is the one who speaks. Ego’s expressions in every form, either thought, speech, emotion, feeling or action, make us separate ourselves from the Oneness of God and His Creation. This separation “shows up” in what the verse calls “leprosy”, and the consequence of this is separation from the community. In order to recover from this condition the person affected by it has to consult with the High Priest, the one who is in constant connection with God. Aaron represents our higher consciousness always aware of Love as our true Essence and identity.

When we judge or criticize negatively we separate from our true Essence and identity. This separation becomes our punishment. The sin becomes its own punishment, and our Sages also insist that negative talk is potentially fatal because it kills the character of the speaker, the listener, and the one who is spoken about.

Let’s be aware that maintaining a permanent consciousness of Love as our Essence and identity is the only cure against all evils, pains and miseries, including negative talk.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Parshat Shemini: Being Holy as God's Love

After the first sacrifices were offered in the altar of the Mishkan [Tabernacle], Moses and Aaron “blessed the people, and the Glory of God appeared [was seen] to [on] all the people.” (Leviticus 9:23).

The Hebrew verb translated as “appeared” means originally “shall see” or “seen”, which is the term used in the Mishnah for the three pilgrimages to Jerusalem (Pesach, Shavuot and Succot) to “see” God. The Hebrew preposition in the text is not “to” but usually translated as “over” or “on”, hence the verse must be understood as saying that after we elevate our lower nature (symbolized by the animals burned [transformed] by God's fire in the altar) to serve the Creator and fulfill His will, we will see His Glory, His Majesty on us, in our consciousness.

“Through them that are close to Me, I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.” (10:4)

This closeness is our permanent awareness that Love is guiding all aspects of our consciousness. For this we have to “put difference between the holy and the mundane, and between the unclean and the clean.” (10:10)

We know that we are vessels that are sustained and nurtured by God's Love. And we are not one single vessel, but many vessels because we have a multidimensional consciousness that encompasses intellect, mind, emotions, feelings, passions and instincts. These are the vessels that we must fill with God's Commandments.

“(...) whatsoever vessel it be, wherewith any work is done, it must be put into water, and it shall be unclean until the evening; then shall it be clean.” (11:32)

In Judaism the four elements that sustain life have extensive functions and meanings. Water and fire have cleansing attributes among other qualities and purposes. In the text water is the means to cleanse ourselves as the earthly vessels we are.

Our Sages refer to the Torah as the living water that purifies us from the dirt of materialism and the illusions of darkness. Water also represents humility, because it always bows to earth by gravity. It means not just the action of cleansing but also making anew, and clearing the space to allow our bodies to be filled again with God's Love in order to do Divine Service.

In order to keep our lives (all levels of consciousness) clean, the Creator commands us not to eat certain animals due to their predatory or inferior nature. Therefore we not only sacrifice the negative traits and behavior represented by certain animals, but we also must avoid the consumption of those that reflect the lowest qualities that we don't want into our consciousness.

“You shall not make yourselves detestable with any swarming thing that swarms, neither shall you make yourselves unclean with them, that you should be defiled thereby.” (10:43)

“Because I am the Lord your God, sanctify yourselves therefore, and you be holy because I am Holy; neither shall you defile yourselves with any manner of swarming thing that moves upon the earth.” (10:44)

Holiness is remarked again.

“Because I am the Lord that brought you up out of the land of Egypt, to be your God; you shall therefore be holy, for I am Holy.” (10:45)

The parshah ends reiterating the same principle.

“(...) to put difference between the unclean and the clean, and between the living thing that may be eaten and the living thing that may not be eaten.” (10:47)

Here God's Love reminds us several things.

First, God is our Creator that delivers us up from the bondage of the negative illusions of the material world (Egypt). He commands us to be aware that His holiness is our holiness, His Love our Love.

If we want to be aware of that we have to make a difference between those beliefs, thoughts, emotions, passions and actions that keep us close to Him; and those traits that separate us from Him, represented by the cruel and predatory qualities of the unclean animals listed in the Torah.

In every moment we must choose between embracing God’s ways and attributes, and the illusions of 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.