Monday, September 26, 2016

The Song of Songs: The Love Story of God and Israel (VI)

Sustain me with grape cakes, feed me with apples, for I am sick with love.” (2:5)

God's creation comes out of His love, and it is sustained by His love. In such awareness, Israel recognizes this fundamental principle, hence God's chosen constantly asks for His love as the source of her existence and sustenance.

The allegory of grape cakes and apples represents spiritual and material sustenance, for both are needed by Israel to fulfill its mission in the world. Israel asks God for these, out of her love for Him.

These are requests motivated by a profound and intense love. It's like she says, “Because I yearn deeply (passionately) for Your love, I ask You to love me by giving me the proper sustenance I need to be who You want me to love You (by doing what You want me to do in the material world)”.

His left hand is under my head, and His right one embraces me.” (2:6)

This is one of the most beautiful verses in the Song of Songs. Beautiful as loving! Indeed it summarizes the relationship between God and Israel in all its dimensions!

In Jewish tradition, God's right arm represents loving kindness, and the left one His power to give order to loving kindness. Order, direction, and purpose as truth, for in God's goodness there is an order and a purpose aimed to make loving kindness prevail as the sustaining source of God's creation.

Order and purpose as God's truth are established in His Torah for Israel and the nations, and Israel leading in this order and purpose. In this context, God's left hand is the Torah that supports Israel's cognitive abilities, for the Torah is the foundation for Israel's reason to exist. It defines Israel's essence and identity in the material world. Thus we understand that God's left hand is under Israel's head.

The Torah is the material expression of God's will as His plan for His creation. We are alive by this will that is like the air we breathe. We learn about the spirit of God's will through Torah study, and will be able to fully grasp His ways and attributes as the spirit that sustains all that is. All that exists contains an essence with a purpose, even if our understanding does not fully assimilate this.

This essence include our own individual actions and creations, as part of the universal principle of cause and effect, set by the creating expression of God that contains ethical and moral imperatives by the fact that all actions have consequences.

Thus we are aware of the potentials to build and destroy, and adopt the moral imperative to create goodness to nurture life for the sake of goodness. Our works speak for what we are, and if done with the goodness of love's ways and attributes, we can rejoice for emulating God's ways and attributes.

We see God's right hand as His infinite loving kindness that embraces Israel with eternal love, for she is His chosen to fully reveal His loving kindness and truth in the world.

There are an unequivocal ethical content and a purpose in this verse, for love is not simply an emotion or passion between two lovers. The kind of love we see in this embracing image goes further beyond, because there is a purpose, an order and a destiny to be fulfilled, that follow God's will for the world. These are about making goodness reign, rule and prevail in all aspects, facets and dimensions of life.

God's regency is His will realized in the material world as we live it. Regency is the revealed will of God's goodness in His creation. Hence it is the reigning and ruling principle in His creation, as a “fact doing” that implies the establishment of a functioning order for a concrete decreed purpose or end.

In this sense, regency is a line or style of making things happen or being done, instead of a set of circumstances ruled by a “king”.

Regency as kinship contains and encompass ways and means that themselves are the purpose and the goal to be achieved. The revelation of the kingdom of God means that all He wants to be and to happen in the material world will be manifest in full.

This is the entire principle behind Israel's final redemption and the Messianic era, as announced by God through the prophets in our Jewish tradition. Regency integrates all potential expressions of goodness as the ways and means with which humankind will conduct in every aspect and dimension of life.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Song of Songs: The Love Story of God and Israel (V)

“As a rose among the thorns, so is My beloved among the daughters!” (2:2)

Here the daughters represent the nations as negative traits and trends in consciousness, that are thorns against our purpose and mission in life to express and make prevail positive traits and actions among humankind. We can realize a connection between flower and beauty, thorns and pain.

Our good actions reflect beauty (flower) as completion and plenitude. Negative traits and actions reflect pain (thorns) as separation and lack of goodness. Israel is referred here as the goodness that is loved by God.

“Like an apple [tree] among the trees of the forest, so is my Beloved among the sons. In His shade I delighted and sat down. And His fruit [is] sweet to my palate.” (2:3)

Israel responds to God comparing His love to a fruit tree among fruitless trees. This means that only from God's love the world and all His creation receive their sustenance.

We can't be sustained from which there's no power to give life or be able to sustain it. Fruitless trees are also compared to idols with no life or means of sustenance.

“Among the sons” can be understood in two ways. God's creations that can be considered sons (sun, moon, stars, earth, wind, rain, etc.), and the sons as the trees that don't bear fruit.

“And His fruit sweet to my palate”, for everything coming from God is sweet. Even the darkness that is bitter in our eyes and palate conceals the sweetness of its hidden light that also comes from His love.

“And I shall give you the treasures of darkness, and the hidden riches of sealed places, that you shall know that I am the Lord, who call you by your name, yea, the God of Israel.” (Isaiah 45:3)

We can also understand the fruit tree as the Torah, for God, Israel, the Sabbath and the Torah are one.

“He has brought me to the house of wine, and His banner upon me is love.” (Song of Songs 2:4)

The house of wine is an allegory for the Temple of Jerusalem, and the Torah's delights and pleasures are compared to wine. Thus we realize that being brought by God to His house is engaging in the delights and pleasures coming from His ways and attributes as the material expressions of His love.

Wine is also the result of a transformation process that culminates in the delight and pleasure for the ones who drink it. Likewise, through God's ways and attributes we transform our consciousness by separating ourselves from the negative traits and trends of ego's fantasies and illusions. The latter are the idols that have no life, do not give life, and do not sustain life.

One of the first steps towards this transformation process is humbleness, which is one of the many lessons learned by Israel her slavery in Egypt. Oppression teaches us to be humble after being forced to live in the worst imaginable conditions. Matzah was one of the prerequisites to leave Egypt, and our sages teach that it represents humility.

This must be a motivation to be and do goodness in opposition to the negative expressions derived from arrogance. The latter creates separation and divisiveness, while humbleness invites closeness and unity.

In this sense humbleness keeps us united with traits and qualities that integrate and harmonize all aspects and dimensions of consciousness, as the starting point to get us closer to each other for the greater purpose inherent to goodness.

We honor goodness when we avoid negativity. Avoiding negative reactions and situations keep us in the goodness we essentially are, as our true identity from which we came and from which we are sustained every moment.

As we become fully aware of God's hand in His entire creation, we assimilate that “His banner over me is love”. God's love is the cause, and love is also the purpose and ultimate effect in His creation, all included.

In the context of God's relationship with Israel, her coming to His house is to receive the transcending and infinite quality of His love. This encompasses the redeeming divine promise to Israel, with the kind of love that transcends time and space to enter in divine realities beyond human comprehension. Here referred to the Messianic era.

We recall God's “banner” in the blessing of the gathering of the exiles, and the last of the three priestly blessings in the central Jewish daily prayers. In them we realize that God's banner is actually God's love.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Song of Songs: The Love Story of God and Israel (IV)

A bundle of myrrh is My beloved to Me, lodging between My breasts. A cluster of henna is My beloved to Me, in the vineyards of Ein Gedi!(1:13-14)

God responds in delight by again calling Israel His beloved as the offering itself that touches and kisses His heart (“between My breasts”). Israel's love ascending like a bundle of burnt myrrh, and kissing God's love. Myrrh, nard, henna and other spices burnt in the Temple represent traits and qualities in human consciousness directed by love's ways and attributes for the sake of God's ways and attributes.

Ein Gedi is presented here as a sacred place from where fine flowers and herbs provided sublime perfumes and fragrances, as well as a special soil for fruits, grapes and wines.

Lo, You are fair, my Beloved. Lo, You are beautiful, Your eyes are [like] doves! Lo, You are beautiful, my Beloved. Yea, pleasant. Yea, our couch is fresh. The beams of our house are [like] cedars, our rafters are [like] cypresses.(1:15-17)

Beauty is the reflection of goodness. God's ways, attributes, and actions of goodness are indeed beautiful. Likewise, Israel's goodness is her beauty in the “eyes” (knowledge) of God. Hence she's His beloved. The beauty Israel praises in God's love also refers to His loving kindness, power, holiness and majesty, among His other exalted attributes that are certainly beautiful and faithful to His creation.

Dove's eyes gaze for her mate, and our sages highlight this metaphor as eyes of loyalty. This verse evokes the mutual loyalty and fidelity between those who share the same principles and values for the sake of their goodness. These constitute a common bond that is the foundation of the relationship between God and Israel.

The realization of this bond takes place in the Temple of Jerusalem's inner chamber, the “fresh couch” shared by the two spiritual lovers. Always flourishing and vigorous, always lively and vital, and strong as its foundation made of cedar (strength) and cypress (righteousness), standing strong, uplifted and high.

These two kind of trees represent traits and qualities of righteousness, rectitude and strength, as necessary foundations for our connection with the Creator. The Temple is sustained by these foundations. Our sages say that they also represent the wise and righteous among Israel, whose guidance is fundamental for the unity, harmony and peace among the people.

Our sages also say that when Israel agrees on a single plan (a harmonically unified and unifying expression of goodness as the purpose of God's creation, including our world) down to earth, God's great name is praised on high, as it is said, “And He shall be King in Yeshurun (Israel).” When is that? “when the heads of the nation [have] united the tribes of Israel.” (Deuteronomy 33:5).

This unity is achieved when the diverse qualities of Israel's goodness (the twelve tribes) live together in harmony, accepting each other, lifting and enhancing each other toward the higher purpose of serving God's plan.

This higher purpose is manifest as each tribe expresses its qualities in righteousness (one of the synonyms of yeshurun) to make goodness prevail, for goodness is inherently righteous. Thus God reigns in Israel's righteousness. The heads of the tribes represent the commanding and leading vital force of each quality, as the ability to encompass and integrate the creative potentials of their expressions.

As our sages pointed out, Israel's diversity must agree on a common purpose and destiny, which is God's plan for the material world. This common agreement is what invites God to dwell among (in) us. Together with Him, Israel fulfills her destiny to be God's partner in His plan. God's dwelling in us is the realized connection represented by Jerusalem and its Temple, as king David reminds us.

(...) Jerusalem, Jerusalem, built as city [in which Israel is] assembled together. For there the tribes went up, the tribes of God; as a testimony for Israel to thank the name of God.” (Psalms 122:2-4)

I am a rose of the sharon [a large, sandy field], a lily [lit. a rose bud] of the valleys!” (Song of Songs 2:1)

The metaphors invite diverse interpretations. If the translations suggest two kinds of flowers, these may imply two traits or qualities. A sandy field (sharon) and a valley are also different landscapes. In a simple meaning, we may say that Israel has a two-fold quality. She can dwell in diverse places and circumstances, and say, “I am a rose as well as a lily, I dwell in a sandy field as well as in a valley. Still, I am a flower. I don't lose my essential identity as a flower.” These qualities are not necessarily opposite but complementary.

Likewise, they also mean that Israel has her spiritual identity as a rose, and her material expression as a lily. Both beautiful and delicate as the goodness of love's ways and attributes. No matter where she dwells, her beauty remains in the appearance she shows.

The verse is a statement of identity. Israel poetically introduces herself as a flower with the meanings this implies.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Song of Songs: The Love Story of God and Israel (III)

To My joyous one (lit. mare) in chariots of Pharaoh, I have compared you, My beloved.” (1:9)

Mare, a female horse, represents a particular sensual trend as a driving passionate (bodily urgency to express and emotion), fully vibrant and moving force, motivated by love's ways and attributes.

In this context God's love calls Israel's love as a feminine ruling principle for the material world. Thus we understand God addressing Israel as His feminine companion whose loving expression in human consciousness corresponds to the material manifestation of God's love.

This is the ruling principle in God's material creation, known in Jewish mysticism as malchut (kinship), the reigning and sovereign divine rule. Hence Israel's love is God's love manifest in the world.

This mare as the vital driving force charged with fertile, life creating energy, pulls Pharaoh's chariot. The latter represents ego's choice of direction or purpose in life.

This verse makes us aware of the creative and constructive power of love God infused in Israel to become the chosen people to make the world ruled by the goodness of love's ways and attributes.

Rashi says that the expression “I have compared (you)” actually means “I have demonstrated”, in reference to confirming Israel as God's beloved and the chosen to fully reveal His love in the material world.

“Beautiful have been your cheeks with garlands, your neck with chains. Garlands of gold we do make for you, with studs of silver!” (1:10-11)

The face is the most identifying image of the human body, for it reflects one's identity. Israel's countenance is adorned with jewels as admirable traits and means to convey God's ways and attributes, and fulfill her mission in the world.

God bestowed in Israel additional qualities that enhance and highlight her character and expression. The neck holds the head, and God also blesses Israel by beautifying the foundation (neck) and principles (chains) that support her spiritual and material identity.

These verses also refer to the Temple of Jerusalem as an essential part of Israel's identity, for it represents her permanent bond and connection with the Creator.

The second verse in first person plural speaks about Israel's future after God's promised final redemption for her. All the expressions of goodness He has stored for the Messianic era speak to Israel as the inheritor of such goodness. God speaks in plural, for He is the source of goodness, and He joins His blessings to grant them to Israel.

While the King [is] reclined [by His table], my nard has given its fragrance.” (1:12)

After God beautifies and recognizes Israel as a truthful servant and messenger of His glory and will, she responds by elevating to Him in sacred offering the fruits of the goodness He has bestowed on her. Israel's offerings in the Temple of Jerusalem are full of the same goodness God commanded her to manifest in the world.

Israel gives testimony of her service for humankind before the Creator “reclined” by the ark of the covenant in the inner chamber of the Temple. There He “smells” the fragrance of her nard, that was considered one of the ingredients for the incense at the Temple. The burnt nard's petals represent the emotional and passionate intensity of Israel's love for God.

In the offerings Israel elevates to God in the Temple, there are several expressions of her love for Him. These include the ones to express regret for sins and transgressions, and the ones to express thanksgiving and peace as encompassing qualities to celebrate Israel's bond with God.

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.