Sunday, May 29, 2011

Parshat Naso: Living the Blessings of God's Love

This portion continues with the count of the remaining branches of the Tribe of Levi.

"Take a census (lit. raise [naso] the heads) of the sons of Gershon, of them too, following their fathers' houses, according to their families." (Numbers 4:2)

They are also counted according to their particular qualities regarding the service in the Sanctuary, which represents the highest awareness of our connection with the Creator.

The qualities of all the Levites encompass our highest thoughts, feelings, emotions, and passions in the service of the most tangible manifestation of the Creator in His Creation: His Love. In the full awareness of Love we can direct and guide every single expression of our consciousness in His ways and attributes in order to accomplish the mission that He commands us: to make this world a place for Him to dwell in us.

That place is where His Presence is concealed under the negative expressions of the lower aspects of our consciousness that we must conquer and redirect in Love's ways. From our Sages we learn on this.

"Rav Huna in the name of Rav Ami said: 'why do they call the Holy One blessed be God "the Place"? Because He is the place of the world and the world is not His place'.

R. Jose b. Halafta said: 'We do not know whether God is the place of the world or whether the world is God's place, but from the verse 'Behold, there is a place with Me (Exodus 33: 21) it follows that God is the place of God's world, but God's world is not God's place.

Rabbi Yitzchak said: It is written 'The eternal God is a home' (Deuteronomy 33:27). We would not know whether God is the home of His world or whether His world is His home; but based on the verse 'God, You have been our home' (Psalms 90:1) it follows that God is the home of His world, and His world is not His home." (Bereshit Rabba 68:9).

This home -- His Love -- is The Place that is concealed in our consciousness and we must discover it, reveal it, and be aware of it while we live in this world. In this awareness we can understand His blessings to Israel through the priests of the tribe of Levi.

"(...) 'May the Lord bless you and watch over you. May the Lord cause His countenance to shine to you and favor you. May the Lord raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.' They (the priests) shall bestow My Name upon the children of Israel, so that I will bless them." (Numbers 5:24-27)

Let's understand these blessings as the place where we regain our true Essence and identity. Blessing bestows goodness, and being blessed by the goodness that God's Love is how we realize that His Love is our life, consequently Love guards us constantly as long as we are alive.

Once we are fully conscious of this Truth we are able to receive His Light, so we can become this Light and consequently fill our surroundings with it.

In the process of expanding His Light around us, His goodness also blesses our environment dissolving darkness and negativity, and reflects the Light back to us clearing our way thus favoring our deeds and endeavors in everything we are and do.

In this dynamics His Light elevates us in our connection with His Love, our Place in this world and in this Oneness we are totally complete, therefore in peace.

These blessings are effectively bestowed only through the highest awareness of our connection to God's Love, represented by the priests of the Tribe of Levi whose mission is to guide the People of Israel under the Torah that rests in the Ark of the Tabernacle.

In the narrative of this parshah the priestly blessings are juxtaposed to other Commandments against transgressions that separate us from the Oneness with the Creator.

"Command the children of Israel to banish from the camp all those afflicted with tzaraat with a male [seminal] discharge, and all those unclean through [contact with] the dead. Both male and female you shall banish, you shall send them outside the camp, and [so] they not defile their camps in which I dwell among [in] them." (5:2).

As we have mentioned frequently (see our commentary on parshah Metzorah in this blog), darkness represents death as the opposite of Light representing Love as the Essence of life. With the choice to "live" in the darkness and lifelessness of ego's materialistic illusions we reject Love as the true sustenance of life.

What we must banish from our lives and expel from the camp of Love is everything that separates us from who we truly are before our Creator.

The connection with the Creator is our marriage with His Love, the source of our life. Loyalty and faithfulness to His ways and attributes are essential to the completeness and wholeness we yearn for while we live in the world, and in this context we must understand this passage.

"Tell the children of Israel: When a man or woman commits any of the sins against man to act treacherously against God, and that person is [found] guilty." (5:6)

"Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: Should any man's wife go astray and deal treacherously with him (…)." (5:12)

Here we realize that and our own personal relationships as husband and wife must reflect the same allegiance and commitment to our permanent connection with the One who gives life and sustains life.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Parshat Bamidbar: Uniting our Consciousness in God's Love

The first portion of the book of Numbers (lit. in the desert) starts with the third census of the Jewish people after the Exodus from Egypt.

"The Lord spoke to Moses in the desert (bemidbar) Sinai, in the Tent of Meeting (…)" (Numbers 1:1)

In this new census the Levites are counted separately from the rest of the Tribes.

"Bring forth the tribe of Levi and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may serve him. They shall keep his charge and the charge of the entire community before the tent of meeting, to perform the service of the tabernacle. They shall take charge of all the vessels of the tent of Meeting and the charge of the children of Israel, to perform the service of the tabernacle." (3:6-8)

"(...) and you shall take the Levites for Me, I am the Lord" (3:41, 45)

As we mentioned in previous commentaries, the Levites represent the highest knowledge of God, and also the highest awareness of our connection with Him through His love. The fact that they are counted apart does not mean separation from the rest of the tribes, but a definition of what they represent in their particular mission as part of the people of Israel.

We read in this portion that the tribes are counted "by families following their fathers' houses; a head count of every male according to the number of their names.

"(…) you shall count them by their legions, you and Aaron." (1:2-3)

This task is done specifically by Moses and Aaron who represent our highest knowledge of the Creator and the highest awareness of our connection to Him. This knowledge and awareness are the means to realize our true essence and identity that make us part of Him, and enable us to be led in His ways and attributes.

In this sense the Levites are the spiritual leaders and teachers of the Israelites, with their respective individual qualities. We mentioned many times that each tribe represents particular traits that must be directed and guided by the trait (Levi) that better knows the greatest love of all, God's love.

We were created as multidimensional beings that encompass great diversity to face an also diverse and complex material reality, for which we are divinely commanded to deal and act according to the challenges that the world has for us.

In this context all the tribes need each other for the common goal of making this world the best we can in order to turn it into a dwelling place for its Creator. This is the dynamics of His creation, and that is why we are here.

We have problems to solve, situations to fix, troubles to correct, and natural phenomena to make us aware that we must care for each other when natural disasters appear. Our differences and diversity indeed enrich us and invite us to make our journey in the world more interesting and pleasant. Thus we turn them into reasons to enjoy and be happy and not the opposite. In order to achieve our mission we must clear our consciousness of all fantasies and illusions derived from ego's materialistic agenda.

We are in a world full of diverse people with their own principles, values and culture, including ideologies, beliefs and particular approaches to divinity. These beliefs clash when a person tries to impose his/hers on others, and that is the critical point in which we must reflect on.

We must find the true meaning and value of what we believe, and why that eventually may generate confrontation with other people's beliefs. This makes us question what it supposes to be the truth and what is not, regardless of how relative or subjective that truth may be.

The Torah brings us to this reflection at some point and gives us the answer in the ways the Creator gives us, in contrast to the ways of the "nations" referred as the ways of idolatry. These are what we call love's ways and attributes represented by God's commandments, in contrast to ego's fantasies and illusions as the idols followed by the lower aspects of consciousness. Love is the truth that transcends all beliefs, values, principles and ideologies. 

In the haftarah for this portion, the prophet repeatedly warns us about the consequences of being subservient to ego's materialistic desires.

"Because their mother (our consciousness) played the harlot; she who conceived them (ego's fantasies and illusions) behaved shamefully, because she said 'I will go after my lovers (ego's fantasies and illusions), those who give my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drinks.' (The self-absorbed conviction that ego is the real provider instead of love). Therefore behold, I will close off your way with thorns, and I make a fence against her, and she shall not find her paths (when we despise Love and let ego rule the result is harshness and self-isolation as a consequence of separation from love's ways). And she shall pursue her lovers and not overtake them, and she shall seek them and not find them; and she shall say 'I will go and return to my first Husband, for it was better for me then than now.' (Once we get tired and fed up with our own materialistic fantasies eventually we return to Love's ways). But she did not know that I gave her the corn, the wine, and the oil, and I gave her much silver and gold, but they made it for Baal (our consciousness pretends to ignore that God's love is our sole sustainer and provider, and we devote the love that nurtures our life to feed ego's fantasies and illusions). Therefore, I will return and take My corn in its time and My wine in its appointed season, and I will separate My wool and My flax, to cover her nakedness." (Hosea 2:7-11)

God's love always sustains us and always waits for our consciousness to return to Him and fill all its levels, aspects and dimensions with His ways and attributes.

Let's listen to the Levites that represent our highest thoughts, feelings, emotions and awareness of God's love in our consciousness, and let them lead all dimensions of our life in His ways and attributes.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Parshat Bechukotai: Following God's Ways

The fact that this portion starts with the conditional if makes us reflect about who is putting conditions in our relation with the Creator.

"If you follow My statutes (bechukotai), and observe My commandments, and perform them" (Leviticus 26:3)

Semantically we can conclude that God conditions His love to us but in reality we, with the free will He gave us, are who act under the conditions of doing what is right or not.

If we fully assimilate that God's love for His creation is truly unconditional because He lets us choose the conditions, then we can understand that He gives us the choice to either follow our material individualistic desires or His ways and attributes.

Love is the choice for being as abundant as His rains, the produce of His land, the fruit of His tree; and these also are our threshing, our vintage, and our food to eat to satiety. Love is our security and our peace in God's love, because love is our land in which nothing frightens us.

Our Creator gives us the strength to remove the wild beasts, the enemies and their swords before us, because our covenant with Him increases us and makes us fruitful, as it is written in this portion (26:4-9).

Love renews and revives our lives when we let God dwell in our midst, because when we embrace Him and walk with Him, He never rejects us (26:10-11).

"I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people." (26:12)

God's love liberates us from the slavery of lower thoughts, emotions, passions, desires and instincts.

"(...) and I broke the pegs of your yoke and led you upright." (26:13)

God's love is the sole nurturer and sustains all His creation. We must realize this truth since the very moment when we were born. In this awareness we must realize that we exist for the sake of love. Hence love is the choice we must be compelled to make every moment of our lives, instead of ego's illusion that being self-centered is the drive that gives sense to life in the material world.

God's love pervades and transcends all creation, in contrast to the ephemeral nature of human illusions. Ego's illusions deny the ways and attributes of love and, when we choose them as the idols they are, we become the victims of their outcome. The words of the Torah regarding this choice are loud and clear, not as a curse but as a direct result of the choices we make.

It sounds that God's love is "against" us when we do not choose His ways, but let's be aware that our choices have consequences. We don't have to label them necessarily as love's "punishments", but as the direct result of our actions.

We certainly know that love does not punish because transgressions contain their own punishment. The moment we abandon love, anything different than love await us (26:14-43). Therefore we can't blame it on God's love because is unconditional as He is.

"(…) despite all this, while they are in the land of their enemies, I will not despise them nor will I reject them to annihilate them; thereby breaking My covenant that is with them, because I am the Lord their God." (26:44)

Yes, because God is our creator and sustenance.

After these divine warnings of the consequences of separating our lives from God's love, there are more commandments to make us aware that our peace and plenitude in the material reality depend on our total commitment to our oneness with Him, as our offering to Him.

"However, anything that a man devotes to the Lord from any of his property whether a person, an animal, or part of his inherited field shall not be sold, nor shall it be redeemed, [because] all devoted things are holy of hollies to the Lord." (27:28)

In this sense, every personal trait, quality, talent and acquired knowledge as an individual possession must be devoted to God's ways and attributes, and not sold o given to anything different simply because they are gifts from the Creator and therefore sacred to Him.

Love, as a material manifestation of God's love, is our true essence and identity, and when we choose love all fantasies disappear, as the prophet reminds us in the haftarah that accompanies this parshah.

"O Lord, who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the Earth to say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods?" (Jeremiah 16:19-20)

God's love is our power and strength because love is our life, and love tells ego's fantasies and illusions (the "nations") the lies and emptiness they are, in contrast to the truth that love is.

We create our own fantasies and we who turn them into gods, and it is only up to us to return to love's ways to free us again from them.

"Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My name is the Lord." (16:21)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Parshat Behar: The Place of God's Love

"And the Lord spoke to Moses in mount (behar) Sinai (…)" (Leviticus 25:1)

This is the place from where the word of the Creator to Israel is mentioned, even though Sinai has been evident since the Israelites left Egypt. Let's reflect on the significance of this particular space where Moses, our highest awareness of the Creator, is in direct contact with Him.

Indeed there is a high place in our consciousness far above the material aspects of life. It is a place from where we can perceive, conceive, understand, and set the way to function and relate to all dimensions of life in this world. Sinai is the mount that later becomes the moving Tabernacle and the Temple of Jerusalem as the places where the Divine Presence embraces Israel.

It is the place where we leave behind materialistic illusions in order to be fully aware of God's love in our material and spiritual life.

It is in the mount, the highest level of our consciousness, that we embrace God's love as our true essence and identity, and from where we exercise this identity. In this awareness we understand our presence in the Promised Land and the meaning of the Shabbat, both for us and for our land.

"(…) When you come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a Shabbat to the Lord." (25:2)

In this context the land, the people and the Creator are meant to be united through the Shabbat.

"And the Shabbat-produce of the land shall be food for you: for you, and for your servant and for your maid, and for your hired servant and for the settler by your side that sojourn with you; and for your cattle, and for the beasts that are in your land, shall all the increase thereof be for food." (25:6-7)

This food comes from the Shabbat.

The Shabbat along with the Torah are the most complex divine gifts to Israel, and we must know them and experience them as much as we can because they are the arms that embrace us with the love of God.

Let's inquire why the Shabbat is being so zealously protected with more than 39 fences, and take a look of what truly is behind those walls that our sages order us to guard. Is it really a time and a space that we protect every week, or something that transcends the limits of our thought which we must learn to conceive as part of who we are.

The Shabbat and the Torah as the divine sustenance that keeps us truly alive in God's love, opposite to living in the death that ego's fantasies and illusions represent in the reality of this material world.

The Shabbat-produce that feeds every aspect and dimension of our consciousness represented by our knowledge, skills, talents and abilities, the "servants", "maids" and "settlers" along with the traits and qualities represented by the cattle and the beasts of our land, as the expressions of the awareness of God's love in our life.

It is the produce of this love in who we are and what we do that makes us fructify and be plentiful as long as we trust the Creator as the truly sole sustenance of all that exists.

In this awareness we materialize God's love by following His ways.

"And you shall not wrong one another, but you shall revere your God; because I am the Lord your God. Therefore you shall do My statutes, and keep My ordinances and do them; and you shall dwell in the land in safety." (25:17-18)

This safety is only provided by our trust in His love. After all we are His guests in His Creation.

"(…) because the land is Mine, because you are strangers and settlers with Me." (25:23)

The following commandments (25:24-54) are all related to how we manifest love as our common bond with each other, by caring for each other, respecting each other, helping each other, and protecting each other.

"And if your brother be waxen poor, and his means fail with you; then you shall uphold him: as a stranger and a settler shall he live with you." (25:35)

God's love is asking our love to follow His ways.

"(...) because to Me the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God." (25:55)

The portion ends with the reiterated commandment to avoid materialistic fantasies and illusions as the idols that separate us from our true identity and permanent connection to God.

"You shall not make idols for yourselves, nor shall you set up a statue or a monument for yourselves. And in your land you shall not place a pavement stone on which to prostrate yourselves, for I am the Lord, your God." (26:1)

This time the commandment is related to our land as the awareness of our oneness with God's love, where our Shabat and our Sanctuary are included.

"You shall keep My Shabbats and revere My Sanctuary. I am the Lord." (26:2)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Parshat Emor: Life as the Total Offering to God's Love

The distinction between life and death is underscored again in this portion of the Torah.

"And the Lord said to Moses: Say (emor) to the priests, the sons of Aaron, and say to them: Let none of you defile himself for a dead person among his people." (Leviticus 21:1)

Hence life is the imperative priority for the highest awareness of our connection with God. In this sense life encompasses all the positive attributes and goodness inherent to love as the common essence we share with our Creator and what makes us part of Him.

Love is the covenant, the divine precondition with which we have to handle life and approach the material world. The essence of life is the love with which the Creator made us, and the way to protect life by itself and also in our individual and collective environment. In contrast to life, death represents the opposite of love's ways and attributes.

Again holiness is highlighted as the ways of love, as the means to consecrate life in the material world.

"They [the priests] shall be holy to their God, and they shall not desecrate their God's name, because they offer up the fire offerings of the Lord, the food offering of their God, so they shall be holy." (21:6)

In this context God's name encompasses the holiness of the ways and means to consecrate life.

The highest awareness of our connection with God (represented by the priest) is what elevates our individual human traits and qualities, the food offerings of the Lord, and this awareness is the holiness that attaches us to Him.

"You shall sanctify him [the priest], because he offers up the food offering of your God; he shall be holy to you, because I, the Lord who sanctifies you, am Holy." (21:8)

God's love makes us holy.

"(…) because the crown of his God's anointing oil is upon him. I am the Lord. (21:11-12)

Our mystic sages teach that, in the context of the Hebrew scriptures, oil represents knowledge and awareness of the Creator as the previous stage of enlightenment represented by the burning oil in the lamps of the Tabernacle. 

The verses that emphasize the holiness of our highest awareness of the Creator are juxtaposed to the obvious rejection of any trait or quality separated from its exclusive purpose to be in love's ways and attributes.

"Speak to Aaron, saying: 'Any man among your offspring throughout their generations who has a defect, shall not come near to offer up his God's food'." (21:17)

Hence we have to be whole and complete in our consciousness when we approach our Creator.

In that wholeness and integrity, as the sum of all aspects of consciousness, there are no defects because nothing is missing or inadequate when we consciously lead all dimensions of our life to Him. If we are "blind" with our unwillingness to face the truth, "crippled" to discern right from wrong, "dwarfed" in our approach to tell true from false; we will never be able to embrace God's love because love does not cohabit with anything different from His ways and attributes.

"[An animal that has] blindness, or [a] broken [bone] or [a] split [eyelid or lip], or warts, or dry lesions or weeping sores you shall not offer up these to the Lord, nor shall you place [any] of these as a fire offering upon the altar to the Lord." (22:22)

Therefore we have to offer our perception, honesty, devotion, tenderness, and sensitivity as a whole in their full intention and commitment to become the vessels for God's love, and not in their partial or limited expressions.

This also means that we have to go beyond our physical and physiological limitations, and commit our talents, potentialities and abilities to follow love's ways and attributes because that is the way to consecrate our Creator.

"You shall not desecrate My holy name. I shall be sanctified amid [in] the children of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you." (22:32)

The portion continues with a whole chapter (23) dedicated to the Jewish high holidays.

"Speak to the children of Israel and say to them: The Lord's appointed [holy days] that you shall designate as holy occasions (…)" (23:2)

These in order to periodically renew our closeness to Him, and between them it is reminded again.

"When you reap the harvest of your Land, you shall not completely remove the corner of your field during your harvesting, and you shall not gather up the gleanings of your harvest. You shall leave these for the poor person and for the stranger. I am the Lord, your God." (23:22)

This is referred to our sacred and commanded duty to share the fruits of our individual awareness and connection with God's love with those who are not as close to Him.

We are truly holy when our love touches and elevates others in our quest to create a better world for all. It is our collective mission to create a space for God's love to dwell in the world.

This mission is accomplished when we all keep the light of love lit permanently in who we are and what we do.

"Command the children of Israel, and they shall take to you pure olive oil, crushed for lighting, to kindle the lamps continually." (24:2-4)

Emor ends reiterating our exclusion of all that oppose God's ways, expel it from the camp of our awareness of love, and send it to the nothingness of death from where it came. Death is the field of ego's fantasies and illusions, and love is the field of life when we live it in God's ways and attributes, as He wants us to.

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.