Jewish Transcendence Meditations
Keeping in line with the series I started before the High Holy Days, this week I’d like to talk about MMM itself, what it is and why I do it.
I want to explore it, this consciousness I call MMM, which stands for Mystical Musical Meditations. This, I think, is a new artform, genre, type of teaching and experiential meditation. It’s a type of full self-expression that naturally evolved in my own life, through various presentations with individuals and with groups internationally.
It’s basically an expression of Allness. I sit there with a guitar and play, using up to 15 poems per week as a springboard to get across my weekly theme. It’s using everything that I know. It’s channeling a higher consciousness and allowing G-d to come through.
The MMM is based on mystical, Kabbalistic Jewish teachings, following a consistent theme and usually connected to the weekly Torah portion. But instead of an intellectual approach, it provides an experiential approach to learning. My MMM is my experience of these topics.
To present my unique “take” on a topic, I get myself into a sacred space and I recite poetry to give voice to the topic. I use music because music automatically elevates words. Words, poems, prose, teachings are elevated to a level that the soul can internalize and download more easily. Sometimes I speak in a spontaneous way, like hip hop or rap, and that’s how I’m able to get across a more authentic message.
The thoughts in my mind, my heart and my soul can be received in a fun, effortless way. I am also as much a part of the audience as everyone else present.
If G-d allows me to be a conduit for it, I want these expressions to be Messianic in consciousness, something expressing the energy of King David in those times when his harp would wake him up at midnight, the nights when he created the Psalms. They were composed with Ruach Ha Kodesh, The Holy Spirit. I want to partake of that same King David energy, too.
And I want to partake of a wider intelligence than most of us normally use to express ourselves. We are only using a small percentage of our emotional, creative and intellectual intelligence.
I want the mitzvoth and the Torah teachings to be about consciousness, not just something we understand with the left brain, but something we feel with the heart, and embrace with our right brain and our whole body and soul.
What jazz does to music I want MMM to do to Torah. Jazz takes a message and expresses it in free form, spontaneous art. Whatever comes out just comes out in different rhythms and dialogue.
I want each MMM to awaken exactly what each person listening needs to hear. This can only happen if I go deep into myself and partake within myself whatever a person needs to hear.
I want the music to turn into poetry and the poetry into music, where the words are stripped away into pure energy, on a level where both the higher and the lower self are touched. The fun-loving side of me, the Dennis the Menace within me, and all my memories… I want the MMM to purge whatever is going on in my life at the time.
But I want it to be a selfless giving as well, in a way that can really change people. I want each MMM to be part of the ultimate expression of who I am, giving voice to the greater part of each of us that needs to be expressed. It’s the essential part of ourselves, all of us.
G-d willing, I’m hoping to raise crops of other MMM people who share their own wisdom in their own groups, wherever they are located.
I’d like to make some MMM musical albums, outside of the traditional music industry, that represent the convergence of everything I do with other people, with myself and with G-d. I want to change consciousness with the whole project.
The MMM theme for the week of Parsha Eikev is connection. Here’s a list of the things I want to share in my connection-themed MMM:
- The whole concept of connection or connecting, in Kabbalistic literature, is the juxtaposition of two Sephirotic aspects, one of which is always the source of all activation, movement and vitality. Everything is either a connection or a disconnection. Connections in Kabbalah are called “chasadim,” and disconnections are referred to as “gevurot.”
These are the universal activators of life, opposite of each other. Chasadim connect, and they are associated with water, and gevurot disconnect, and they are associated with fire. Many more parallel aspects exist, but I won’t deal with them right now.
- Another source of connection is the unification of the broken vessels of the world. Right now, we are in a 45-day period of time, from Tisha B’Av until the 25th of Elul, the day commemorating the creation of the world. Forty-five is the Kabbalistic code name for Tikkun, or rectification.
Connecting, then, is rectifying. And disconnecting is breaking, which is the opposite of rectifying.
- A Messianic consciousness source for connecting can be seen by understanding that a human being is a microcosm, created in the image of G-d. A microcosm is a brilliant mechanism of connection, and interconnection. Man as a microcosm, or a small world, is connected with the past, the present and the future. We are connected with all people in the world, all consciousnesses of the world, and with all aspects of life, if we know how to press the right buttons to connect.
- A Garden of Eden source for connecting comes from the Fall from the Garden. While the Fall created disconnection and duality, such as light and dark, life and death, anything and it’s opposite. The connecting aspect, the way we get back into the Garden, is by getting into the oneness. This is what will happen when we get into the Messianic period.
- A Cycle of Life source for connecting comes from time, which does not exist in a vacuum, but in brilliant interconnections. For example, the weekdays are connected with the Sabbath, which is connected with the next weekdays. Rosh Hashana, the New Year, is connected to the whole year, in fact there’s an intimate connection. Our lives are connected to the post life; it’s all going to be reflected in that way. Our present life is connected to our past life and our future life as well.
These are Cycle of Life connections. The more we connect them, the more we can tap into the healing potential of making connections, which is what it’s all about.
- A Bashert source for connecting is available in our relationships. Bashert means “meant for each other,” and it comes from historical connections we’ve had with each other, root soul connections. When we discover those connections and actualize them, then we can live in a win-win relationship, or a bliss-bliss relationship where we are completely receptive to each other.
You could say we complete each other, we are each other’s soulmate or soul sibling, and we turn the “me” into a “we.” That’s the greater possibility for connecting in relationships.
- A Me/Myself source for connecting is often called, “finding your calling.” We find our calling in life with what we most resonate with when we’re “in the zone.” Or, we find the most difficult thing in our lives and endeavor to take care of it. We can project how we will take care of it by finding our inner voice and by going down a path towards actualizing ourselves. That’s what we call, “connecting to myself.”
- A Faith in G-d source for connecting is when we have faith and trust in G-d, and when we see G-d’s hand at work 24/7, in everything we do in life. It’s available by connecting our will to G-d’s will, with our entire heart and soul and might.
Here are some little snippets of some things we know Passover is really all about.
The obvious, underlying theme is getting out of Egypt. And we all need to ask ourselves, “what do I need to do in order to get out of my own Egypt?” We say it every day because we need to do it every day. But Passover is the annual celebration and rectification of all that, so here are some of the different directions we can take in trying to connect.
First, we have to connect to the historical story of getting out of Egypt, to understand our own, personal story, and to emulate the way G-d handled the situation. We’re trying to emulate G-d’s way of getting the Israelites out of Eqypt. We study the Creator’s plan to see what elements we see in our own challenge:
We understand how important freedom is, and that we are a people who represent the importance, the centrality to life, that human beings are free. From the Egypt story, we learn that we are free to serve G-d, and anything short of that, being subservient to another human being, is substandard living. That’s one thing we’re learning from Passover – to be free to be a servant to G-d.
It’s almost like an oxymoron… We are free to serve, but we’re serving G-d. So. that’s an ultimate kind of freedom.
One of the tickets to getting out of Egypt, maybe the most important one, is emunah, it’s belief. It’s embracing the fact that G-d’s running the show, and it’s all for the best, and everything’s going to work out. The more we embrace that, the more miracles come to us.
The beginning of the process is primal screaming, not even words, but wordless grunts and groans and screams that are coming from the deepest, gutsy place where words are coming from. That’s how our slave ancestors started their process.
The goal of the process, in the end, is geulah, it’s redemption. It’s to get out of exile and everything that exile represents on an actual, an international and a personal level. Getting out of exile is the ultimate act of being free. Exile is being out of sync with myself and disconnected with my reality, and freedom is being connected with my essence, with who I am. I’m in sync with myself, with all the different parts of myself, with my heart and mind, with trusting the process, and with bonding where I am now with where I am allowing myself to grow. It’s being in a state of Da’at consciousness.
It’s “speaking myself out,” with poetry, with prayer, with prose, with Torah, with conversation, and with anything and everything in the higher realm of what speaking is meant to do to get myself out of exile. All these things are getting out of exile, which is the status quo throughout history for our people, and we’re constantly working to get out, to get beyond it.
The Pesach model we’re using to get out of Egypt is a model which displays a huge leap of consciousness that received on that first night and day of the first Passover. And then it left us, it was “easy come, easy go,” and we have to work through a whole, 49-day Omer period to get it back incrementally. Since we’re working on it, and it’s not just a freebie gift, we acquire it. The ultimate goal of the whole thing is to go to mount Sinai. It’s to get the Torah. It’s to have direct interface with G-d, as an entire people. That’s what this whole thing is preparing for.
Part of getting out of Egypt for us is knowing how to be born. We were born as a people then, and we’re born as individuals when we work to get ourselves out of Egypt now. Being born is a very important process, because everything else comes after the birth, after the beginning.
We were born out of Egypt in an “above time” fashion, and we have to birth ourselves in all new beginnings, in an “above time” and “above space” way.
Part of getting out of Egypt is knowing that G-d is running the show. All ten plagues in Egypt were displaying full-on promise that G-d is running every detail and aspect of reality. He sort of came out from, “behind the curtain,” to show us that, as a one-time event in history, to let us know that he’s really running the show on all levels of reality, higher, middle and lower.
Coming out of Egypt is being a servant of G-d, but it’s also being a witness, one who testifies that G-d is found in this aspect of life, where G-d is normally not found. Part of coming out of Egypt is expanded consciousness, which is where we will live in Messianic times, when we will live mindfully and consciousness-fully, that’s the place we’re going to. That’s what gets us out of Egypt, that’s what gets us out of a slave mentality.
Passover, in Hebrew, is Pesach, which means. “mouth speaks,” and we’re supposed to do that. The ultimate, human expression of G-dliness is through the mouth. And the more we attach ourselves to G-d by speaking out the Haggadah on the night of Pesach, and any Holy speaking, the more we speak our way into consciousness and out of Egypt, out of the narrow straights of our lives.
We’re mean to understand, from this whole Egyptian saga, that everything is a miracle. Those were “open miracles,” but we understand from the 10 Plagues and the Red Sea, and all that magnificent stuff, that the hidden stuff is also miraculous. Breathing is a miracle, and things coming together and going my way… we need to pay attention to them. It’s all miraculous. There are no rules, no hard-and-fast, status quo rules of nature, when you start looking at the world through the glasses of miracles.
All of these things point to getting out of Egypt and all of things things are going to fortify us, hopefully, for the rest of our year.
This is about Parsha Terumah. I found a common denominator (as I’m always searching for one that reflects personal growth opportunities) in Parsha Terumah, and it’s called The Lion In Me. In other words, My Inner Strengths. I found ways to reveal hidden, inner strengths inside of me and inside of everyone.
First of all, Parsha Terumah is my father’s yartzeit. And my father’s name was Yaakov Aryeh, which is Jacob the Lion, and I found my father in me, which is the lion in me. That’s sort of an esthetic, poetic part of the Parsha for me, but also a very real part of it, too.
Also, this is the beginning of the month of Adar, which brings Purim, and Purim is all about inner strength. We are usually not aware of our inner strength and Adar is a month of G-d hiding himself from us, so we find ourselves discovering and reviewing our inner strengths. That’s a big part of the mysterious month of Adar, which looks like the opposite but shows us that out of nowhere the good guy wins the battle in the end. This is also part of the Lion In Me.
As of this week, we have finished the last of the Shovavim period, which is a period of rectification of the spilled seed of Adam, a theme found in all the parshas of that period. We are rectifying and thereby reconnecting with our souls, and discovering inner strengths in that way. We are going to start the harvest of the six-week period we’re finishing up right now, and next week as well.
In Parsha Terumah, G-d talks about the Holy Temple in a very interesting way. He says, “I am going to dwell in them,” not “in it.” That means us, his people. The Holy Temple is inside of us, and those strengths need to be discovered inside ourselves. Once we have this perspective, it opens up a whole new way of seeing life.
So, everything that’s brought in this parsha reveals the inner, Holy Temple parts of us. For example, Betzalel, the one who physically created the Temple, had the ability to see the entire universe. He could see the creative ones and zeros of the universe-creation system, just as someone might see the creation of a computer system. He could see the roots of it all in a micro-cosmic way. We have access to this perspective, too, if we choose to plug into it.
In the Temple we have the Cherubim, standing on the Holy Ark, which is the Torah part of ourselves. The Cherubim represent the prophesy, and the place between them, as they face each other, is the place where all prophesy and all wisdom came from. It’s a very inter-included, transcendent place of inner strength inside of ourselves. It’s the focal point for the interface, from which all aspects of our world interface with the higher world.
That’s an incredible strength to rediscover inside of ourselves.
And we have the menorah, the candelabra made of pure gold, holding the burning candle stick which serves as a seat for the soul. The wick holds up the soul. It helps us find our soul and lights it up for us so we can feel it.
And we have the middle bar which holds together the whole construction of the sanctuary, the Temple, which extends from one end to the other. This parallels our will, our ratzon, which extends from the highest aspect of ourselves all the way down to the lowest. When we discover and reveal that ratzon, then nothing stands in our way.
We have an all-encompassing healing going on, which happens in the court surrounding the Tabernacle and in the Tabernacle itself, in the hangings and all they represented. The courtyard represents the body, which encompasses and surrounds the inner organs, as well as the all-encompassing, surrounding entities. So, we have the ability to rediscover and reveal the body/soul connection, and the body’s physicality inside ourselves.
There are also many more levels of inner strength that we can access and explore within ourselves.
The theme of Parsha Yitro, as I see it, is transcendence of Torah, and the power of receiving Torah. It happened in and around the receiving of Torah, which is in Parsha Yitro.
Yitro is the name of Moses’ converted father-in-law, who had tasted every aspect, every flavor of every religion in the world before he came to realize and accept upon himself Judaism as the one, true religion. In doing so, he made a great sanctification of G-d’s name in his life.
He was also a man of vision and insight into people. So he was the one, maybe the only one qualified to successfully give advice to his son-in-law, Moses, the greatest scholar and prophet of all time. He was able to tell Moses that he needed to allocate the various responsibilities of helping and guiding the people to many others, along with himself. This shows, retroactively, that he was able to go down to the essence of every person, and to see who they were and what their essence was, because Moses’s soul was an over-soul. He was able to see the essence of everybody inside of himself, and thereby he’d know exactly what to tell them.
Another transcendent aspect that comes through in this Parsha is that Moses was able to see other people’s essence and greatness, not only by identifying it inside his own self, but also, as the Zohar goes to great lengths to explain, to see how each person’s body reveals deep secrets about that person. That includes lines on the face, the distance of eyes, ears, nose and mouth from each other, the color of the eyes, the entire arrangement of the face. These are things we may feel intuitively, but the Zohar goes into great detail about knowing the essence of a person, based on his or her physical make-up. It reveals what the spiritual personality is all about. It’s another transcendence, inside-information resource about humans.
The whole of Parsha Yitro is leading toward coming to the mountain, which is probably the most transcendent experience mankind has ever had. Even before they got to the mountain, their openness to accept whatever G-d offers them, sight unseen, puts them at the level of Adam before the sin. It earns them the level of transcending sickness, aging and death because they were living on the level of accepting unseen whatever it was that G-d would bring out for them. They lifted themselves up to angelic reality, where they would not age, become sick or die.
Another transcendent point was that all the Ten Commandments were given in one word. In one word, they got the entire Torah, which is a very hard thing to understand. Their experience, as they received the Torah, were also very, very extraordinary. They were actually able to see the audio and to hear the visual. They rose themselves up to a place beyond space and time and normal understanding.
Another extraordinary point is that Torah was downloaded into each person who accepted it at that time. The Zohar talks about how the Torah and the Israelites and G-d are all one. When you get to the level where you connect to one of them, you connect to the other two as well. Torah, G-d and the Neshama, the soul… that’s the level the Israelites achieved at Mt. Sinai as well.
One extraordinary thing is how we hear a story. Parsha Yitro begins with the words that Yitro (Jethro) heard. You could have a thousand people, and 999 of them hear something one way, but that one, rare person hears it in the proper way, and that completely changes the reality of how we understand. So, we learn from that how to hear. Yitro heard from the cosmic happenings, what was happening to the Israelites, and understood, “I have to come. If that’s what’s happening to them, then they are my people.”
Within the Ten Commandments the Israelites received there are 620 letters, which equals the numerical value of the Sephira Keter, which shows they are G-d’s will. All of the letters of the Ten Commandments are hints to the entire Torah as well. Another hint is that 620 is 613 mitzvoth plus another seven mitzvoth from the rabbis. So, it’s Keter, and it’s all the mitzvoth and the entire Torah just waiting to be expounded upon.
Parsha Yitro also talks about the idea of Torah itself being the culmination of the Israelites’ entire experience in Egypt, coming out of Egypt, and in preparing themselves to get to Mt. Sinai. The Torah they received is the ultimate, transcendent aspect of life. It showed them G-d’s will in any particular situation, but Torah, in itself, is a type of a cure-all. Connecting to Torah lifts a person above any negative effects in nature and any other way.
My teachers have told me, and they got this from our Sages… if anything is bothering you, just turn up the volume of Torah. Turn up the intensity, and turn up the quantity of Torah you’re learning. You’ll find healing in that.
So, it’s an interface with G-d, the fact we learn it now and that they received in the past it as well.
This week is Parsha Bo, which is famous for being the Parsha of the Redemption, the Exodus from Egypt.
My exploration of the details of Parsha Bo go out on a limb a little bit, to at least explore the possibility that everything about the Redemption Parsha is about ways for us to get ourselves free. It’s about becoming free people and getting ourselves out of slavery.
The coming out of Egypt story, like all the Torah, is not only an historical account in some museum, collecting dust, but it’s the Torah of Life. It’s telling us how to come out of our own, personal, private exiles and private Egypts. So, the exploration into this week’s Parsha can elicit a lot of information about how to get ourselves free. It’s very important.
Here are some facts, some ideas on getting ourselves free that come from Parsha Bo:
- This whole concept of coming out of Egypt is not a once-a-year holiday concept that we attend to, like other holidays; it’s not a once-a-year vaccination of sorts. This something we have to do on a daily basis. We are meant to remember coming out of Egypt twice a day when we say the Shema Israel, morning and evening. That’s a commandment of the Torah, a part of the human spirit bringing itself up, up and out of the Egyptian choke-hold situation that we have in our lives. It’s a universal thing going on.
- The idea of the transformation, what happened with the Egyptian slaves, is that they went from a small, constricted consciousness to expanded consciousness. A big part of getting out of Eqypt was getting out of their small-mindedness, and that’s definitely a recipe for expanded consciousness as well.
- Another thing is that they went from wordless speaking to speaking with great articulation. And it was the same with Moses, who mirrored the Israelites that way. As he told G-d, he had blemishes in his speech. But, Moses became the greatest articulator of all time because he received and articulated Torah. So, part of getting out of Egypt is being able to “speak ourselves out,” and in doing so, speak ourselves into consciousness.
- Another way we can get ourselves out of Egypt is to emulate the way the Israelites were born as a nation. They were born in an extraordinary way. They were born having to leave immediately, without having time. Time was not a factor. The indulgence of time wouldn’t have allowed them to come out of Egypt. But, since they got out of there so fast that the dough didn’t have time to rise (which is why we eat matzah on Passover) shows us that if we want to begin a new redemption process in your life, we need to start out in an extraordinary way. In other words – transcend time.
- Another Redemption process is Emunah, it’s simply believing in G-d. They were coming from a nation enslaved, and the ones who made it out did so because they believed. They simply chose to believe in G-d. And that choosing to believe, or “downloading of G-dness” into their Divine Providential reality is what got them out of Egypt. When we make G-d our partner, our guide, and the one helping us get out, we get out.
- Another thing that got them out was miracles. They got out of Egypt with open miracles. We get out of our situations not only with open miracles, but with hidden miracles as well. The story of the open miracles gives rise to the realization that everything is a miracle. If G-d is running the show, then even nature is miraculous. The mindset that everything is in the hands of G-d, even the natural, hidden stuff, is going to get us out of Egypt as well.
- The fact that they got out as fast as they did – with electricity, zerizut in Hebrew, means not to be indulgent at all, just to move very fast when the time is right. That is certainly a way of getting out of Egypt as well.
- The Israelites got out of Egypt, and we get out of Egypt by initiating the process with a wordless sigh or scream, any kind of non-verbal, primal cry to G-d. G-d hears it and starts the process of freeing us. We have to know this, and we have to be emotional and primal about it. When we are truly primal and helpless, crying, “I need you, G-d! I need you to pull me out!” and truly believe G-d is listening and will do it, then you leap out of there because you know G-d’s going to do it right away. You get out of your Egypt that way.
- When the Israelites got out, it was so miraculous that they went and reclaimed their property, that which had been claimed long ago by their Egyptian masters. Those masters willingly gave back their property, and the Israelites found favor, chein in Hebrew, with them, too. They found chein in the eyes of the Egyptians. They were enamored by them. Here’s a people, and you’re destroying their whole world, but they are stilled enamored by you. Part of the exile process is learning that you don’t have to be afraid of people. If you’re doing G-d’s will and you’re getting yourself free in the right way, not only will people not oppose you, but people will find favor with what you’re doing.
- Another thing that comes out in the Parsha is the subject of Rosh Chodesh. The month they got out of Egypt was the Rosh of all Rosh Chodeshes, the head or beginning of all new months. This represents our ability to renew ourselves. A big part of getting out of our own Egypt is being ready and willing to say, “what was, was, and now I’m going to renew my life.” That’s another representation of getting out of Egypt as well.
This week is Parsha Vayera, and I see a very definite common thread running through many aspects of this Parsha. The thread is about G-d, basically revealing G-d in places where G-d is normally not found. That’s what this Parsha discusses over and over in different ways.
So, here are a few examples that reveal G-d, taken from Parsha Vayera:
- Moses’ slave generation had a revelation of G-d which was ultimately a higher revelation than the Patriarchs and Matriarchs had. The Israelites as slaves had an open miracle revelation from G-d, which transcended nature and natural restrictions. For example, the expression of the plagues and parting of the Red Sea… The Patriarchs saw miracles, but not on that revealed level. So, there was a higher level of revealing G-d in Moses’ generation.
- We learn from the plagues (next week’s Parsha) that G-d was in total control of everything. Those ten plagues came to show that every aspect of Divine Providence, every aspect of nature, every aspect of G-d running the show was put into play, which you’ll see when you study and analyze those ten plagues, where G-d is revealed in all aspects of nature and Providence.
- The Egyptians were the core and center of one of the most powerful purveyors of magic in the world. And when magic is matched up against G-d’s miraculous intervention, magic always comes up short. So, it’s G-d’s revelation vs magic, and G-d’s revelation wins the day, as always.
- We see that just as the Israelites were taught the lessons as slaves, the more they realized that everything is dependent on G-d, we need to do the same kind of thing to realize our dependence on G-d. The more we see that everything is dependent on G-d, the more G-d takes control of all the different aspects of our lives.
- We need to know that what happened in Egypt and at the Red Sea actually happened all over the world. We’re talking about global G-d knowledge. When the Red Sea parted, all the waters of the world parted because G-d was out to basically show the world, “I am running the show,” to show the Egyptians and to show the whole world.
- G-d showed us that all His Divine Providence, everything He showed us has an address. It’s customized, it’s personalized for each of us. What’s coming to you from G-d has nothing to do with anything else, so there’s no reason for jealousy or doubt… “Why did he get it and I didn’t? Why shouldn’t I get it?” No. Whatever is yours has your name and address on it; that’s a factor in G-d’s revelation.
- The other idea here is about this teaching – Belief in G-d is not only on the level of something you think about, that’s just one level. But a deeper level, a more internalized level is something that your heart feels, not just something your mind thinks. And something even deeper is when you have body belief in G-d, which means you don’t have to think or feel it to believe it. You’re naturally programmed and your feet take you to G-d-based situations without even having to think about it, it’s automatic.
This is a few contemplations, some highlights of Joseph’s initial years in Egypt, after being sold into slavery by his brothers. It represents some of what we learn about who Joseph is and the standards to which he was held in Parsha Miketz.
First of all, Joseph was called the Master of Dreams, and being a dreamer has everything to do with how truthful you are. We have a tradition that says the truer a person is, the way he sees things is not delusional, but is rather penetrating into reality. The more real truthful and real a person is, the more their dreams are on the level of prophecy. They reveal hidden reality, the unseen, which tells us who we are and what we are and what life is, not only in the future but right now as well.
Joseph was on that highest of highest levels, and therefore any encounter he has with a dream, whether interpreting the dreams of others or sharing his own dreams with his brothers and not getting a favorable response, is coming from a person of truth. Joseh’s Sephira of Yesod… one of the translations of that is truth.
He was a truthful person, and therefore he was able to be the channeler of dreams, which earned him the right to be the second in command of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world at the time, and to feed the world as well. Joseph was able to penetrate the falseness of reality into the truth of reality. That’s where those dreams came from, and he was able to have them and to interpret them as well.
Although, we have to say that his dreams happened because he said, “It’s not me… I’m not the one interpreting the dreams, it’s G-d.” So, because of his submissiveness and ability to work with dreams, Joseph was elevated to the highest level. He allowed the enacting, empowering and enabling to come about, not by his own power, but by G-d’s. That’s what placed Joseph on the highest level of dream interpretation and earned him the position of second-in-command in Eqypt and the one who saved the world from famine.
This is also because of who Joseph was and the Sephira he represented (Yesod). Joseph was the foundation of wellbeing and abundance in the world. He was the “feeder” of the entire world, including not only his own brothers but all the tribes of Israel. He fed them and he was also the unifier, regardless of the fallout between him and his brothers. Ultimately, he was able to bring them into a kind of unity because of who he is and the essence of what Yesod is.
Beyond that, he, like all of his brothers and all of our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, was G-d’s right-hand army to fix up the world… Tikkun Olam, bringing the world to its rectification of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden.
Joseph was especially important because he was the culmination. Yaakov understood that when Joseph was born in Laban’s house it would be time to face the world, to face Esav, because, as the Midrash says, “Jacob was the fire and Joseph was the flame,” and Esav is the straw that gets burned by the two of them together. Joseph is the culmination, and therefore he is able to go into the world and bring that holiness into the world, the whole purpose of creation into the world.
We also learn from Joseph’s life that he was held to the highest standards, like all our Patriarchs and Matriarchs. He was not meant to chase after his own wellbeing at all. So, when the ten years of his prison sentence came to an end and it was time for him to leave, Joseph should not have had to ask for favors from Pharoh’s ministers who were also in prison with him, the chef and the minister of drink. He asked them to put in a good word for him with Pharoh, and G-d did not look favorably on Joseph asking those guys for their help. Joseph should have trusted, as he did with the dreams, that everything is dependent upon G-d, and nobody else.
This is what we need to learn for ourselves as well: if we don’t need to make that extra effort, beyond what we really need, then don’t do it. Let G-d take care of what’s going on, and all the rest of it.
Ultimately, Joseph was the one who led the whole world at the time. People looked at him in awe, even though he hid his beauty, for the most part. Even his own brothers didn’t recognize him physically. He had a beard, and then he didn’t have a beard… They didn’t recognize him because he was the paradigm tsaddik, the paradigm righteous person. The way Joseph did it was to hide his righteousness from everybody, including his brothers. He talked to them about it, but he hid it from them as well.
When Joseph finally did reveal himself, his brothers were stunned. Not only did they see how all the pieces fit together, but they saw how a Yesod person was able to show how all the moving parts fit together. They were also able to see that all the things Joseph hid about himself became revealed, and then they were unable to speak. They were stunned.
So, these are just a few of the many areas of Joseph’s life that we should study and emulate as much as possible.
There’s no way I could complete the topic of the soul last week, so now I’ll talk a bit more about what the soul is, but also what it feels like, experientially.
Let’s start with some definitive understanding:
- One of our sources tells us that our soul is part of the Divine, above. That may be a quote from Job, I’ll have to check that out. But the idea is this – our soul is Divine, although this seems like a contradiction in terms because the Divine is infinite, and there’s no such thing as a “part” of the infinite. I don’t have an answer about how to deal with that discrepancy, but our souls are partly inside of us and partly outside of us, making us part Divine and part human.
Our soul is a part of the Divine, so that gives us a big hint as to what our soul is all about. Its natural home is in the Divine realm. Everything that we can do to connect with the Divine will connect with our soul.
- The soul can be measured and expressed according to different criteria:
- According to soul-type teachings, the esoteric, Kabbalistic teachings. The more it grasps those, the higher the level of soul.
- The soul can be expressed and rectified by the way that we express holy words, such as prayers, studies and devotions. That expression is an expression of our soul.
- The soul can be identified and realized by taking note of the smoothness level of different aspects of our life, relationships, events we go through, our personal drives, words of Torah and mitzvoth that we express. To the extent that they are smooth, the soul being expressed is rectified.
- The soul can be measured by the clarity of way we can view the four letters of the Divine Name in our mind’s eye. That’s a meditation of the Arizal, and there’s an entire analysis that can be done by picturing the four letters of the Divine Name, the Yud and the Hei and the Vav and the Hei. According to the brightness, clarity, size, animation, aliveness, etc., that’s a reflection of the level of a person’s soul, determined by what they see.
- The soul can be identified and perfected according to the drives and the values we naturally have. That’s a mirror reflection of what our soul is.
- The soul can be measured and perfected by the level of concrete or abstract articulation. The more abstract and multi-meaning concepts we give expression to in our lives, usually the higher kind of soul we have.
- The soul can be measured by the degree of G-dliness that invades our lives, and if we’re driven all the time towards it our soul is at a higher level.
- The soul can be measured by the degree of self-actualization. The more we do what we’re here for in this world, the more we are soul-ing, to turn that word soul into a verb.
- The soul can be measured and realized to the extent that we can relate to others, or that we have others inside ourselves. The greatest example of that is Moses, who had everybody inside himself, and could relate to and counsel everybody, not only in his own time, but for all generations to come as well.
- The soul can be measured according to the level that we prepare our post-life in this life. If we’re truly concerned, if we’re truly “soul people,” we will be prepared for what’s coming afterwards. The soul can be measured and realized by the way and to the extent that we are primarily motivated in all our life choices, to return to the infinite, to return to G-d. Our soul is part of G-d, so to the extent we make our connection to G-d real and important in this life, that’s what we will experience.
- The soul can be realized also, to the extent that we feel, inside ourselves, a feeling for the highest levels, to the extent that we experience what is our “summons” in life. To the extent that we experience what it is that we are here to do to make it better for the rest of the world, and what we’re driven to do to manifest our own purpose in life, and to the extent we experience our complete immersion in the here and now, and to the extent we express our unique, individuated selves, and to the extent that we are living in a state of amazement of all that is Divine in the world, that is the level to which we can realize our souls.
Also, I believe that it’s when we’re able to feel deeply, to be a healthy, deep-feeling person, that’s when we become a powerful soul person. We see and feel a strong desire to have nothing to do with what’s going on now, a strong yearning for something that’s not going on now, but for an ability to do the extraordinary instead. It’s a desire to do things which are completely out of our range, but yet we do them effortlessly.
These are soul expressions, soul experiences and some of the soul drives we need to know understand our own soul.
I’m going to continue with Arizal meditations, but I’m going into a new area. It’s a study of the root souls of the premiere leaders of our nation, from the Arizal’s point of view. I’m using a special book, called Root Souls, it’s in Hebrew of course, for most of my ideas, but also from a few other works as well.
Moshe Rabeinu is the logical first choice as a leader, so I’ll start with him.
Here are some interesting points about the root soul of Moses:
- Moses was the root of all the Jewish people. He was an all-containing person, meaning everything and everybody was basically inside of him. He was connected to everybody because he was an all-containing soul. All the people in the nation of Israel at the time of Moses, and all of us forevermore are all rooted in his soul. We’ve all received, and we continue to receive through him. That is a very significant aspect of who Moses is.
- Moses was a person who experienced and who knows all of Torah, which includes the oral Torah, the written Torah and all discussions about Torah in the past, present and future, until the end of time. His access to all of Torah, for all time, has incredible ramifications for us all. We all have our own personal relationship with Moses as a result.
- Moses made a decision, as the leader of the Jewish people, to bring the mixed multitude along with the Jewish people coming out of Eqypt. This group of people was far greater in number than the number of Israelites leaving Eqypt. His decision to include others was controversial, and in fact the presence of other people became the proverbial “thorn in the side” of our nation, at the time of the Exodus and still today.
- Moses was born circumcised, and aligned with the side of goodness, from birth. He was born after only 7 months in the womb, because he needed less time in gestation to become prepared to come out into the world. And he was born 120 years after the beginning of the Egyptian exile. Since the entire period of the exile was 210 years, Moses was 80 years old when he led the Jewish people out of Egypt.
The first 120 years correlates to the 120 years Adam was separated from his wife and had spilled his seed. The Israelites, therefore, were rectifying Adam’s losses during those years, and Moses was called as a leader after the rectification.
- Moses was the leader of his generation, not only in his own time. G-d declared, because he brought out mixed multitudes along with the Jewish people, and those others became the thorn in the side of the Jewish people in every generation, Moses would come back in every generation, too. He would reincarnate to take care of the mixed multitude, and by his very presence in our times, in a supernatural way, he dwells among us so we can be connected.
- Moses was, at the same time, the greatest of prophets and the greatest of scholars, and yet he was also the most humble of all human beings. This point needs deep study, in and of itself, meaning coming to understand a soul which is so humble it allows a person to receive everything, all of the prophetic insight and all of Torah.
- Moses, it is taught, was the reincarnation of Adam’s sons, Hevel (Abel) and Shet (Seth). Those names are represented in his own name, Moshe, with the Shin and the Hey, That source of his soul was a connection to the relationship between Cain and Abel, which played out in Moses’ life as his relationship with Jethro, a reincarnation of Cain. This spiritual reality is an example of the tikkun, the rectification needed at the time.
- Moses was able to see much more clearly than any other prophet before him, with his connections and his prophetic powers. He was able to see with an untarnished perspective, and to speak with G-d as a friend speaks with a friend. Other prophets saw through a mirror, so to speak, and their prophetic messages need interpretation because they don’t have the direct connection we have.
- Moses was born and he died on the 7th of Adar, at the age of 120 years old. This is an indication of the span of his years and also of the uniqueness and righteousness of that particular day on the calendar.
- Moses was considered to be an angel of G-d, certainly a man of G-d, and our Sages teach us that he was able to fast from food and water for 40 days and 40 nights, which is much more like G-d and it is like a human. He was definitely a man, but his face shown with a light so bright that other people couldn’t look at his face at all. In fact, Moses had to wear a mask to conceal that energy.
Our Sages tell us that Moses was very, very tall, 10 meters tall. So, he was a tall and a strong man, and generally beyond the level of normal people. But we’re told that if we’re able to find where he is and to pray for him, the Messianic era would arrive immediately. We don’t know exactly where Moses’ grave is located, and maybe it’s because the time isn’t right for us to know. It’s still a mystery…
- Moses was completely selfless and self-sacrificing as regards the wellbeing of his nation of people. He was willing to give up his own name, his own life for the sake of the nation. Sefirotically, Moses represents the sphere of Netzach of Eternity, of transcendence, of overcoming everything in an eternal way.
- Moses was the leader, and the one to whom people looked for guidance, and for everything, while at the same time he was very humble. We have to keep this dichotomy in mind in order to try and emulate Moshe in our own lives, to experience who he was and who he is now. We need to be able to look at Moses and see his all-inclusiveness, and then bring it into our lives, too.
We need to see and know the people outsides ourselves, and yet experience them inside ourselves. Like Moses, we need to feel the responsibility of all our people, and step up to that responsibility.
We have to be able to feel we have access to a lot more wisdom and G-dliness than we can even imagine, or certainly take credit for. We have to experience humility, even when we are great, or perhaps, as a result of being great. We have to see ourselves as humble people even as we feel the responsibilities.
- Moses represented the Sefira of Daat, of Knowing, and we have to try to find that inside ourselves as well.