This is part seven of the Restoring the Jewish Glory series. I call this one, The Light At The End of The Tunnel People, or maybe The Tunnel-lighters. Here’s the concept – We are known as people who, no matter where you throw us, we’re going to come out ok, one way or another. We may be hurt, killed, tossed-around, wounded, but as a people we are going to survive. We’re going to come through. We’re going to find the light at the end of the tunnel.
We learned that truth from our 210 years in Egypt, which was only a model of our final exile. Our Sages say that just as we came out of Egypt, we will come out of the final exile and experience a redemption.
King David talks about it when he says that for every bit of suffering and torture we experience, we will have recompense for all of it. And, deep in our souls we know that everyone who is part of Israel has a part in the World To Come.
It may take a long time to get to the place to earn it, but there is the light at the end of the tunnel. As King David says in a verse that is universal, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil because you are with me, G-d.” Even in that valley of death, Gehennom, or wherever it happens to be, G-d is will us and He will pull us through.
We have a subconscious task or destiny which includes us, but it also includes G-d, who is in the exile along with us, so to speak. He’s in there with us, and He’s going to come out of the exile with us, too. That’s true in a larger sense, but also in a day-to-day sense in our personal lives.
Whenever we are hurting, we know that G-d is hurting, too. When we focus on that idea, we know it’s not just about my pain, but also about G-d’s pain, because G-d is suffering what I’m suffering. We know that G-d is eventually going to get out, and we’ll be there with Him.
We are in a period right now called The Three Weeks of The Narrow Straits, which is the same time period when the greatest cataclysms have occurred throughout history. Underneath that reality, we have a subconscious realization that these darkest of days hold the highest of lights. They hold the ability to get out of the darkness entirely, by bringing the Messianic Light directly into that place and time.
We are a nation of holy skeptics, which means we are more skeptical than gullible. We won’t buy into something immediately because we won’t settle for second-best. We know that there’s perfection waiting for us and we’re better than that. That’s why we’re skeptical in a holy way. It comes from the knowledge that there is holiness awaiting us, ultimately.
As a people, we know that the deeper we are found inside this tunnel, the deeper the darkness around us, every small step we take to extricate ourselves is equal to gigantic leaps and bounds in easier times. We are not afraid of where we are, because we know there is a pay-off, a compensation for it eventually.
We know that when we get the end of this exile, when we get to the redemption, we’ll be shown, just as the brothers of Joseph were shown, why everything had to happen as it did. When he said, “I am Joseph,” they could see how it all happened, how it came together like puzzle pieces and began to make sense.
G-d is going to tell us, “I am G-d,” and all the hidden puzzle pieces will come together for us, and we’ll see it was all preparation to get out of the tunnel. It will all come together and it will all make sense. We’re going to see it clearly, retroactively.
We are the children of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. For an example, Jacob is called, “the holy Jacob,” because he planted inside us this survival skill. We have the ability to go into the deepest, darkest, most deceptive places and come out shining. After 20 years Jacob came out of the house of his father-in-law, Lavan, the most deceptive man in the world, and he came out shining, he came out whole.
He came out holy, which is when a person goes into an anti-holy place and comes out having maintained his own holiness and having planted holiness in that anti-holy place. That’s the ultimate light at the end of the tunnel. It’s where you lit up the whole tunnel
Napoleon, during these same three weeks, 100 years ago, saw a bunch of Jews sitting on the ground and mourning the loss of the Holy Temple. He actually came into Israel, sometime in the 1800s, and he saw this happening. He asked someone, “How long ago did the event they are mourning happen?” And he got the answer, “About 1800 years ago.” Napoleon was astonished, saying, “1800 years ago? If that’s true and they are still not satisfied, but they still have hope, then I guarantee this people will have its Temple again one day.“
Those grieving Jews understood there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how long that tunnel is. And that’s our legacy, too. We are the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel people. And no matter what situations we are tossed into, we live our lives with the knowledge that there’s going to be a light at the end.
This will be number six in our series, Restoring The Jewish Glory. My subject is this – our legacy in history is as “raisers of Holy Sparks,” because that’s what we are as a people.
As a background understanding, what does it mean to “raise up Holy Sparks”?
Kabbalah explains that there was a breakdown, a cosmic breakage of reality, which means there was too much Light, and not enough vessel to receive that Light. So, the vessels of reality were shattered. And now we have a scattered collection of vessels, each with a little bit of Light. This is what we call “sparks,’ hidden inside of reality.
This shattering process happened over and over, during the fall of Adam and cataclysms, holocausts and other situations, personal and collective. But, that’s the basic process. And it means that reality is sort of set up in a way that’s not fixed. Instead, it’s all in a broken condition.
That’s why we need somebody who knows how to fix up, or automatically, organically knows how to find the Divine hiding inside the secular, of what seems to be “non-Divine.” The purpose is to raise up the hidden sparks by identifying the Divine and raising up reality to a Divine level, which is where it was originally.
We have this legacy, as a people, to trace it back on a collective level. When Adam fell from the Garden of Eden when he ingested the knowledge of Good and Evil he mixed good souls and bad souls, good energy and bad energy, into all of reality.
You can look into Adam, into the map of the world, like a map of the world showing population density, both now and throughout history, and you can say, “The fall out of the arms or the legs is in North and South America, for example…” Or the fall out of this is in this part of Europe or this part of Asia perhaps.
With the right glasses you can see the fall out of Adam, with an admixture of good and bad, and how it ended up in all these different nations. And our legacy, we who are the Jewish sparks-raisers, is exile. We are exiled throughout history, to the right time and the right place, according to what our personalities are like and the need of the particular country in need of raising sparks at that time.
So, American Jews are thrown out into the exile of America and European Jews into the exile of Europe, all of us in the right place at the right time. We sent out by force into exile, to raise up those sparks that are the most in sync with who we are in our time in history. That’s the cosmic picture, and that’s who we are – cosmic, historical sparks-raisers.
We do it by just being Jews, basically. We don’t have to go anywhere and do hocus-pocus and abracadabra just to raise sparks. We don’t know how to do that because there is no such thing. We accomplish that by simply being ourselves, by being who we should be, if we are choosing to be who we should be. If we are holding to our tradition and we’re connected to G-d and to Torah and to Judaism then we’re going to raise the sparks. And we’re going to bring the potential converts who are not necessarily in their place back to their place, because we happen to be there to arouse them and awaken them.
This is what we do. It’s our historical legacy, our job. Our mission lasts until Moshiach comes and all the sparks will be raised up. That’s the cosmic, the big picture of what we do as sparks-raisers.
The technique or technical “how-to” of it is that every day every person experiences lack. We all lack things, and when we encounter our lack, whether it’s through learning, or relationships, eating, sleeping, walking, talking or anything else we may do, we discover what is driving us. We find out what we want and what we need, and we know we’re resonating with those particular things because they are sparks. When we engage these things we resonate with, the things we lack, and when we do it in a holy and proper way we raise up those sparks.
That’s how we do it. You might way that we are human vacuum cleaners, pulling up the dust and the dirt from all over the place and making everything clean again. We are sent into the world for this purpose, exactly this purpose.
The super-stars of this process were our forefathers. They came with their “days, “ as they said at the end of their life story. Every single day they raised up sparks, and in every encounter in lie they were raising up sparks. Our Patriarchs are Matriarchs are showing us the way, how to do that.
There is nothing that is perchance, or coincidental. We are placed in certain situations individually as well as nationally, because G-d has providentially put us there to raise up that which has fallen. This reality fills us up as well.
Back to the collective idea… As long as we’re in a country of exile and as long as we still have work to do, we’re going to be in that country. Usually, we may find ourselves as leaders in our country. The politicians, the scientists, academicians and financiers are the people who are making that country work.
Once the sparks are all lifted up, the non-Jews will kick us out of the country, in either a nice way or another way, not so nice. Basically, there’s nothing more for us to accomplish over there because the sparks are all lifted up. That’s what’s happening in our time, right now. We are experiencing this incredible influx of exiles from all over the world, because there is no more restoration of sparks needed where they had been living.
We’re in the middle of the influx here in Israel right now. We’re watching the miracle unfold every single day of our lives!
So, that’s our legacy. That’s what we do on an individual and collective basis from the various places of exile where we’ve been sent, and depending on our personalities, who we are.
If you bring all of that into this particular 3-week period we are in right now, called The Narrow Straights, where an uncanny collection of cataclysms have happened to us throughout time, sparks-raiser Jews need to remember, “the higher they climb, the harder they fall.” In other words, the harder and darker things may appear, the greater is the Light underneath.
The Messianic Lights are right beneath this period of time right now. The biggest, the greatest sparks in the dimension of time, not just space, are found right now. This is when and where we really have to shine. We really have to chase after the sparks, as the verse in Jeremiah says, “All those who chase after her will catch her in the Narrow Straights.” It’s referring to our trials during this time of the year. But it also means that everyone who chases after G-d during this period will find G-d.
If you chase after those sparks you couldn’t find the rest of the year, you will find them now. The danger and the opportunity is incredibly great right now. But, that’s our legacy as sparks-raisers.
What I’m going to talk about now is The Ladder, bridging heaven to earth.
“… And a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached up to heaven.” Genesis 28:12
Based on this quote you can find a lot of different interpretations of what “the ladder” means. With regard to our topic, it’s a description of our people returning to our glory as “ladder people,” or people who bridge the spiritual with the physical, people who bridge heaven to earth.
The glory of the Jewish people is restored by virtue of the fact that we have a special connection between our souls (heaven) and our bodies (earth). The way that we bridge those two is the message we have to give to the world.
So, I want to explore three small but significant dimensions in that bridging of the spiritual with the physical.
The first dimension is how we bridge the infinite to the finite. Here are a few examples of Soul Bridges:
- Bridging the creation process, which established the fact that G-d is hidden, and his presence is constricted. This gives us greater and greater revelation in all aspects of life.
- Bridging normal, daily actions we perform (mitzvoth) to the Divine Will. This brings the infinite into the finite as well.
- Bridging a mystical outlook, one that defines thought as having a connection to the infinite, because our souls are plugged-into our thoughts. Our thoughts are connected to our source.
- Bridging our will to G-d’s will, which is infinitizing our will, basically.
- Bridging all processes and all structures to a template called the Ten Sephirot. This means we categorize all processes and structures in terms of a Divine-based model.
- Bridging that which is broken to an infinite rectification, an infinite-based tikkun. That’s our job, our Tikkun Olam.
- Bridging our core desires to the main, core desire of all core desires, which is to return to Hashem, to return to the infinite womb, so to speak.
- Bridging the time after the fall from the Garden of Eden, back to the pre-fall period. This puts us in a pristine state of being where we can go back to the Garden, to the infinite value of what the Garden really is, which is not the tree of knowledge, but the tree of life.
The second dimension is more about expansion. We need to understand that what characterizes spirituality in mystical Judaism is the ability to see things that are partial as being part of something whole. Here are a few examples:
- We can look at things that may grow old, or tiring or boring and we can bridge them to a type of experience which never grows old. It is our legacy to bridge this way.
- We can bridge a narrow mindset to an ever-expanding mindset of ideas. That’s another type of bridging something partial to something whole.
- We can bridge many seemingly unconnected ideas into a whole unit, where each idea is inter-included with every other idea. This is another type of bridging of body and soul we are obliged to accomplish in this world, too.
- We can take a situation of constriction and tap into it to harness expansion. That’s another type of bridging.
- We can take something about which we are unclear and with which we have a lot of doubt and we can experience the power of no choice, which is a transcendent power. That’s another way we can bridge.
- We can walk through life in a haphazard way and we can figure out what our mission and calling in life may be. That expands our possibilities as well.
- We can take any situation of not knowing and we can get answers, just by asking G-d. That is another type of expansion of knowledge.
- We can take a situation of partialness, whatever it might be, and take that partialness to join all the puzzle pieces together, into a situation of wholeness. That’s another example.
- We can take our own actions in the world, when we’re motivated in a general way, and become motivated with laser-like precision with what we have to contribute. That’s how we can personally expand the world.
- We can take a situation of restricted consciousness and expand it through our connection. That is something we can all do.
Finally, the third and last dimension is about going back to the mystery, going back into the “not knowing,” or the Ayin, which is where miracles can happen. We can bridge ourselves to totally transform reality. Here are a few examples:
- Knowing there is nothing in this world but G-d. If we can reframe all the causes and effects from being natural to being supernatural, where there is nothing else but G-d, that’s when we are bridging ourselves to the mystery and changing the reality.
- Knowing we can change our ratzon, our will, to G-d’s will, what G-d wants, when we can make those connect, that’s when we step into the miraculous as well.
- Knowing we can take our faculties, our senses, and fuse them with G-d’s senses… “G-d is seeing through me, hearing through me, etc.” that’s when we take it up to a miraculous level as well.
- Knowing we can take our power of free choice and say, “I have no choice but to do what G-d does,” that’s when we become sort of human angels.
- Knowing we can take our incapacity, our vulnerability, our helplessness, and we say, “I cannot do this, but G-d CAN do this through me…” that’s when we take our lack straight into the miraculous.
- Knowing we can do things that are invisible to the world, in doing so, we bring blessing to those things. Blessing is where the eye does not rest.
- Knowing we can do things not because it’s good for us or it’s not good for us, but from a place of equanimity, that’s when we step into the miracle.
- Knowing we can use our senses in another way besides directly, physically, such as seeing, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling, which is when we can plug into the deeper spiritual senses, and that’s when we tap into the miraculous and bridge that which is physical to that which is spiritual.
I’m calling this post The Healing of The Chosen Nation, and beginning with two quotes:
כִּי-קָרוֹב אֵלֶיךָ הַדָּבָר, מְאֹד: בְּפִיךָ וּבִלְבָבְךָ, לַעֲשֹׂתוֹ.
But the word is very close to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, so that you may do it. Dvarim 30:14
I will take you from among the nations and gather you out of all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle on you clean water… I will give you a new heart, and I will place in you a new spirit; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and will give you a heart of flesh… I will put my spirit within you… and you will be my people, and I will be your G-d. Ezekiel 36:24-29
What comes up here is that G-d is going to heal us, because in order to be the chosen people we need healing. Part of the healing we need is the healing of believing in ourselves.
We have a very strong destiny and task at hand. It may even be too strong… It’s cosmic and world-changing task we have to live up to, and we have no choice about it. We have to live up to it, one way or another.
We are on a threshold of history right now, so we need to look inside ourselves to see if we’re up to the task. Part of preparing for it, for being up to our assigned task, is to be healed by G-d and to be ready for it.
There are three types of healing I want to talk about, and the first one is Being Beloved, which means feeling how much Hashem loves us. We have to feel that we are something special. We have to feel that we deserve to be something special. We have to feel like we know what our specialness is all about.
And even if we don’t know, we believe that it will be revealed to us, and that it’s real. We have spent so much of our history trying to be more American than Americans, and more British than the Brits, rather than being more Jewish. We don’t seem to understand how we can be completely Jewish.
We’re like a neglected child that never got the basic foundations needed to build up healthy self-esteem. So, that’s the first thing, feeling the love of who we are, inside and outside.
THE HEALING MEDITATION
Experience yourself as being a proud member of the most special family\nation that has ever existed… experience yourself as being very beloved in the eyes of Hashem now, in your own eyes and ultimately in the eyes of the world… Feel Hashem’s deep, deep love for you—so deep that we are referred-to as His daughter, his sister, his mother, so deep that He reveals Himself to you in all situations –even when we are stuck in the deepest lows… feel the presence of the guardian Angels that Hashem sends to watch over us—every step that we take. Be aware that the whole world was created solely for your sake… know that we are compared to a dove, that though they may fly away—they always come back to their mate—so too, that describes us with Hashem and Hashem with us… we are refereed-to as his Holy ones, his Chosen ones, his Priestly ones, his lights to the world, his righteous ones … in light of all of this love, realize that the when we are targets of hate, it comes from jealousy, and the love and high esteem with which we are regarded from Above will serve as the springboards of our recuperation and our incumbent reclaiming of the unique global standing which is our birthright.
The second type of healing is this – Healing Our Character.
There are several points to make on this:
We have a hard time believing in ourselves. We are not aware of our strengths, and we are brain-washed into believing vicious lies about being lustful money-grabbers.
We are divisive, and have a very difficult time uniting under one leader or one banner.
We are great actors and imitators of other peoples, in the many exiles into which we have been cast. We think we don’t have our own character in depth, so we reach out to grab the cultures and belief systems of other peoples, other cultures and faiths that have, ironically, received their traditions from our own.
THE HEALING MEDITATION
Experience yourself as being a proud member of the most special family\nation that has ever existed.
Know that we are the nation that has done more than all others to give the world values and a conscience (derived from our Holy Torah). Know that you are part of a nation that bears both sides of a paradox and comes through shining. Know that you are part of a people of deep and rich character, and despite this character and greatness, the more that we have, the more that we make ourselves small, usually attributing it all to Hashem
Experience your unique trait of being a holy skeptic, knowing that there is always something bigger and better than what is being offered. Know that you have an inherent brilliance both intellectually and emotionally. Know that we are compared to olive oil and therefore don’t mix with other nations, but rather rise to the top. Know that though we are compared with the sands of the sea, and when we fall, we fall all the way, but at the same time we are compared to the stars in the sky, and we rise, we rise all the way to the top.
Experience being similar to the palm tree—a tree that is useful in all of its aspects—so too are we. Experience being like the lily of the field which blooms despite being burnt by the sun. Know that when all is said and done, the nations of the world will seek to imitate and emulate us and not vice versa.
And finally, the third type of healing is Being Intimately Connected To G-d.
Here’s the challenge we have with this healing – we are a broken people, broken by thousands of years of being tossed around, in exiles and sufferings, and we have a hard time seeing the full picture, the inter-connectedness of it all. A broken people has a hard time believing that G-d is the leader, the healer, the guide and THE ANSWER.
A broken nation, thinking it has nothing of its own, nothing valuable, clutches at straws. We embrace cults and worship idols, fake ideologies and power positions and obsessions and schemes. We tend to go after everything, except that which exists in our own backyard.
THE HEALING MEDITATION
Experience yourself as being a proud member of the most special family\nation that has ever existed. Know that you are a monotheist—you gave this idea to the world, you have inborn faith—you are a believer, the child of believers… you are a Y-E-H-U-D-I, a person whose essence is G-dliness.
You are a part of a people who bridge Heaven to Earth in every detailed aspect of life. You are a person who is constantly seeking to unify everything and to see everything brought to perfection, rooted in our people’s drive towards an ideal, globally-unified messianic vision. You are an inheritor of Tefilla and Torah –a constant dialogue to and from Hashem.
You are a witness to the world of Hashem’s existence, your deepest will is at one with Hashem’s will. You are a soul that is a part of Hashem, and therefore beyond space and time and all other limitations. You are G-d’s mouthpiece to the world when you are connected to Hashem, you are indestructible and impervious to all harm. You are an inheritor of eternity and infinity, and the great liberation that these grant to you. You are one with Hashem and one with the Torah, so step up and shake off the dust of the apparent exile that you are dwelling in, and that dwells inside of you. Lift up your hands to the Heavens and reclaim your glorious heritage!
I’m going to look at the question – What makes Jews special people?
First, I’ll read a verse, from which I’m going to draw some special, Biblical attributes attributed to the Jewish people.
‘’And now, if you will hearken to my voice and keep my covenant, you will be to me a special people of all the nations, for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; these are the words that you shall say to the children of Israel.‘’ [Exodus 19:5-6]
Here are the topics I’ve derived from Exodus 19: 5-6:
- Am Segula. This Hebrew phrase is important. It describes a person who is chosen and special, but not necessarily understood. The qualities of being chosen and special are beyond our comprehension.
So, this Am Segula, this special nation of the Jewish people is unique because we have an inherent, spiritual capability within each of us. We have a hidden power of survival, self-sacrifice, healing, invincibility and durability inside us. We are a nation with the ability to embrace paradox, to embrace two contradictory arguments and bring them into a whole.
We are a nation with a very special destiny, a glorious destiny. And we have a super-consciousness which is also unique. Though we may not consciously know something, super-consciously, we do know certain things.
Here’s a meditation about being part of a unique and special nation:
Experience the feeling of being part of a nation that is unique and special… Get in touch with the feeling that your destiny is unique and special—something you may not comprehend , but something you just know… Get in touch with the power of Segula—the power of being able to walk through doors and accomplish things, not necessarily because you deserve it, but rather because you are special… feel the responsibility of having a special destiny … feel the responsibility for the entire world somehow on your shoulders… feel how the world was created just for you, and therefore you need to see to it that all goes well and smooth in the world, that all that you hear and see about your people and about the world is a personal calling for you to pray and act and do what you can to help out the situation… be humble in your role and in your destiny knowing that it’s all a gift and a beckoning from the One Above…
These are the elements of being a Holy Nation:
- We are connected to G-d. We are called Yehudi, which is the Hebrew word for Judah, or Judean. It’s one of the tribes of Israel, the central and ruling tribe of Israel. The name of the tribe spells the four-letter name of G-d. So, we’re all about being G-d-connected, all the time.
- We’re all about having our will connected to G-d’s will. If you dig down into the will of a Jewish person you’ll find a will that’s connected to G-d’s. We want to do G-d’s will. Sometimes there are a lot of layers blocking it from our awareness, but if you dig down deep enough you’ll actually find them and even put them to the test.
- Down deep, we know it’s not about us, it’s about G-d. It’s about our deepest ratzon, our will, to do what G-d wants us to do.
Here’s a meditation about being a Holy Nation:
Experience the feeling of being part of a nation that is unique, special and different from all other nations… Experience being a member of a nation that is referred to as the The Holy Nation… Experience underneath all the confusion and other forms of spiritual blockage, your primal motivation to be connected with Hashem… Experience that all that you really will is actually Hashem’s Will… Experience the certainty that all that you engage in, and every effort that you make to control and influence your fate in life is actually Hashem working through you and activating you in order to carry out whatever he wants to carry out –through you.
And finally, we are a kingdom of priests. What does that mean?
- It means to testify and to be witnesses to the fact that G-d is running the world. One of the verses in prophecy mentions that G-d calls his witnesses, testifying of his presence in the world.
- It means we are servants, like priests are service-oriented people. We are here to serve G-d, and like a priest, to serve other people as well.
- It means we are teachers, because priests are people who teach. They teach by example, but they also teach G-d’s will in the world.
Here’s a meditation about being a nation of priests:
Experience the feeling of being part of a nation of priests… feel the awesome responsibility of being the one who gives testimony to the world that G-d exists—that there is in fact nothing more important than G-d—that there is essentially nothing else but G-d… fill yourself up with this role and with the responsibility that it carries to enable others to be connected to G-d, to know G-d, to follow G-d’s ways and will, to reveal G-d where He is normally not found, to teach others how to do all this, how to live this… feel the pleasure and awe in opening up this reality for one other person and for more than one person, and for all of humanity… Feel the awe of the responsibility of your actions—feel that you don’t only represent yourself, but you represent G-d to all whom you encounter—and how being a representative of G-d lifts you up to act in a higher and more serious and passionate manner…
Last week I gave an introduction to this series – Restoring the Glory of the Jewish People. It’s touching on the idea of us being the chosen people, but also to the reality of stepping up into our legacy.
Today let’s start with this – The Jewish people are the ones who testify that G-d is in the world. One prophecy says, “You are my witnesses.” I’d like to point out that besides being witnesses verbally, and talking about G-d, it’s our extraordinary connection to G-d and our living in an above-nature way that serve as our testimony.
Our extraordinary, above-nature living in the world, as a people, involves a number of things:
- It involves our will being connected to G-d’s will.
- Our ideal perception is that there’s nothing else in the world except G-d.
- Our ideal testimony is that where G-d is normally not found, we are witnesses revealing Him to be found.
- We are a people connected so deeply with G-d that, as the Zohar teaches, G-d and Israel and Torah are one, which means we can connect with our souls to G-d and to Torah in any combination, and find each other in that interconnection.
- We are a people whose souls are described in the book of Job as being “a part of G-d above,” which is a hard concept to understand, meaning partializing G-d, but that’s what the words say and we have a very deep understanding of our souls based on that idea.
- We are a people who are promised that G-d will be with us in the exile, and G-d will return with us from the exile. Most of our history involves exile, almost all of it. And we are always connected up with G-d in an extraordinary way, wherever we are.
- We are a people who are very beloved. Our Sages teach us, if a person knew how much G-d loves us, we would be roaring like a lion all day long.
- We are a people who are beloved, and there are parts of Holy script referring to us as His daughter, His sister and His mother, describing the love of G-d that is shared with us.
- We are taught that Heaven and Earth were created for us, that’s how much love sustains our faith and who we are.
- We are taught that God mirrors the Jewish people doing mizvot in many different ways, and one of the ways is that He wears tefillin, just as we do. Our tefillin speaks of our love for G-d, the verse in the Shema, and His tefillin speaks of His love for us, “Who is like my people Israel?” Even on the level of ritual, G-d is expressing His deep love for us.
- We are connected to G-d in an extraordinary way with regard to our character.
- We are considered to be above the stars, and more numerous than the stars and the sand.
- We are considered to be a nation which dwells alone.
- We are considered to be a nation which, when we ascend, we ascend to the highest heights, and when we fall, we fall lower than anyone else.
- We are compared to various fruits, such as the date palm. Every part of the date palm is has a particular use.
- We are compared to the apple, which has a bud that comes out before the fruit appears. And as a people we said, “We will DO before we said we will listen,” which is parallel to the apple.
- We’re compared to olive oil because it does not mix well with water, and we do not mix well with the nations. The best of the olive oil only comes out when you crush it, and we do our best as a people when we are crushed. That’s when we really shine.
- One of our character traits is holy skepticism. When others may jump up and buy into whatever is being sold to them, the Jewish people don’t necessarily buy into everything.
- We are a people with a tendency to unite the disunited things, the divided things in this life.
- We are a people who, when pushed to say what we really want, will declare we want G-d and His will. Sometimes we have to be pushed to say it and to genuinely desiring it.
Based on these things, here are a couple of meditations based on the above-nature of the Jewish people:
Experience being Beloved by the Master of the Universe… Feel the love and how nothing can stand in the way of this love… Feel the warm glow that encompasses you , knowing that whatever you do, wherever you go, whatever you say—-you are beloved with an unconditional love—with an eternal love—a love that will never be taken away—and even when you fall and do that which seems to be bad and wrong, when all is said and done—it’ll be retrospectively clear that you really intended it to be done for the sake of your Beloved –Hashem…
Experience your unique character as a member of the Jewish people… Awaken your inborn humbleness and your natural uniqueness… experience your faithfulness… appreciate that you know deep down inside that you know of a higher and better way… take great and profound pleasure in the fact that these traits and many more are an inheritance that were experienced by your parents and theirs all the way back to the Patriarchs and Matriarchs…
Experience how you are at one with Hashem, and how He is the source of all that is good in your life … experience how he is the deepest will in your own will… experience that the deepest motivation inside of you is to reunite with Hashem in His infinite womb… experience how you are truly a child of Hashem … experience how no matter where you go and what you do, that Hashem is right there if you call…. experience that you are empowered to the extent that you connect with Hashem… experience how you are at one with Hashem on the deepest level… experience an inner drive to reveal Hashem’s presence in the world –especially where it’s not felt…
I’m starting a new series now, on the untapped essence of the Jewish people. It won’t be comparing Jewish people to non-Jewish people, as that would be politically incorrect, to say the least.
Instead, this is an exploration, and I’ll be tapping into what our destiny is all about, using some sources I’ve put together in the past and expanding on them. My intention is to reveal some things I didn’t see or know before.
In that spirit, I’m calling this series, “Restore The Jewish Glory.” And this will be a little introduction to it:
First, a quote from Ezekiel 36:24-29, “I will take you from among the nations and gather you out of all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle on you clean water. I will give you a new heart and I will place in you a new spirit. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and will give you a heart of flesh. I will put my spirit within you. You will be my people and I will be your G-d.”
Second, a quote from the writings of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook, “Our truth is strong enough, but it is so overpowering and we are still unable to explain it in a clear language. In our inwardness, we understand our ideas and in the course of time our speech will also emerge from its hard exile in which it is confined. Only a people that has finished what it has started can descend from the stage of history, when its vision has already been fully disclosed to the world. Out of the inner depths, the Jewish people will yet sound the same call that was issued by the rock, from which it was hewn.”
The whole motivation of this my new exploration here is this – our historical destiny as a people is at hand. We are a nation of priests, we are a chosen people, we are a light unto the nations, and we are living in a period of time where the great majority of our people don’t buy into these times. They don’t begin to see, understand or know its own greatness and glory. Most of us cannot see that there’s anything special or unique that distinguishes us from other people in world outlooks, not at all.
So, the question is how to approach a subject that is so broad, so sensitive and yet so crucial. How can we hope to do justice to, perhaps, the most important question that exists for our people, and maybe for the whole world? And the answer is, we cannot do justice. It’s clearly beyond our capacity. But G-d can do it through us.
In that spirit then, we march forward, drawing specific topics from the following categories, and maybe we can find our way on this journey and map out some kind of path. Maybe we can develop some types of meditations by taking these ideas, one by one, and exploring what they’re all about.
These platitudes that we are meant to step up into, for the sake of our own destiny and the sake of all mankind present some challenges. Here’s a list of the challenges, the things we must work with:
- What does it mean to be a light to the nations?
- What does it mean to have a heart of flesh?
- What does it mean to be a chosen people?
- What does it mean to be a kingdom of priests?
- What does it mean to be a testifier of G-d for the whole world?
- What does it mean to be a teacher to the whole world?
- How does the land of Israel figure in to all of this?
- How does Moshiach figure in to all this?
- How does our people, the great majority of which are not observant, but very spirited (I would say)… How do they figure into all of this process?
- What is the timing involved in all this, stepping up into our destiny?
Those are a few of the questions, and obviously there are more. But let’s deal with at least one of them now.
We are a light unto the nations. What does this whole idea mean? If we were to do a Light Unto The Nations Meditation, what would it look like?
I think it would sound like this – Allow yourself to step into the future. See yourself as a proud member of a people who understand both the glory and the responsibility of being a chosen nation, a nation of global light-conveyers.
Experience the love inside of yourself that you are very inspired to share with all of humanity.
Experience yourself filled-up with light, a light that stretches from one end of the world to the other, a light that’s overflowing, a light that’s experienced as wisdom and G-dliness and love and transcendence and healing. It’s a light you’re driven to share with everyone, a light that’s received by one and all, directly and consciously, but also indirectly and subconsciously.
This is what I think the meditation would be about, and it’s not just a meditation, but a type of foresight or vision of what this state would be like. Because being a light to the nations is being someone who, when the world is in the dark, lights up a torch, a light or a beam to light up the path.
How does a person, no less than a nation, do that for the rest of the world? What comes to my mind is that person would need a universal language. We would need to have the ability to talk to anyone about all these things, and as a teacher we must know a language the students will understand, a translation of our destiny, which is Torah, into a universal kind of language of some type. That’s the first thing.
In order to be a superior kind of light, we would need to teach so that a person can come away from our teachings with absolute clarity, to know where to go, what to do, what to say and how to say it, who to be with and why to do it. They would know the answers to what baffles us all, in our private lives and in our national destiny.
That’s the challenge, and being a light unto the nations is probably much more than that.
In the sixth and last chapter of Pirkei Avot, the Saying of Our Fathers, here’s the first saying that spoke to me:
It says that a person who learns Torah lishma, will have amazing, amazing things happen to them, and will also have amazing influences on the world.
So, what does it mean that a person learns Torah lishma? Here is one way to explain it – A person learns Torah, while keeping in mind the purpose G-d had for giving people the Torah. And that purpose is to make the world a better place, and to be an extension of G-dliness, of bringing G-dliness into the world.
When that’s how the Torah is learned, then amazing things happen to the person who is learning.
First of all, he or she becomes the purpose for which Creation was created, and also a beloved friend of G-d. The person is considered to be upright and humble, righteous and royal, a leader and a person who deserves to have secrets revealed to them. The person becomes an overflowing wellspring, raised up above other people, all creatures.
They have this incredible power because they got their purposes right. They understand that Torah was given to make the highest, divine impact in the world. When you learn with that kind of spirit, it’s going to change you and it’s going to change the world, and everybody you come into contact with.
The second one is this – our Sages say that every day a divine voice goes out from Sinai, and it says, “Oy!” to the people who disregard Torah. So, we can wonder, “if this voice comes out every day, why can’t we hear it? And what does it mean to hear it?”
The Holy Baal Shem Tov, founder of the Chassidic movement, whose yartzeit is the day after Shavuos, said we DO hear it, every one of us. We’d have to be prophets to hear it, but for us, it’s part of our natural thoughts. G-d is planting it in our natural, organic thinking process, and it’s basically G-d telling us to get it together as the Torah internalizes itself into our thoughts, and tells us what needs to be done to fix up ourselves and the world. So, that’s what’s happening here.
The third one is this – the path of Torah is what most people would call deprivation. For example, you sit on the ground, you eat salt and water and you’re detached from the things of this world. When we do that, we free ourselves up. It’s not that Judaism teaches asceticism, per se.
We’re not talking about going up a mountain and sitting in a yoga position, separating ourselves from the world. To a certain extent we do separate, and it’s good… but here we’re talking about bringing Torah into your life in the most perfect way. When you live with equanimity, when you live with detachment, when you’re not crazy about eating and sleeping and pleasure, and all the rest of the worldly stuff, then your mind and your spirit are free to receive Torah in this way.
There are 48 ways listed here, ways to acquire Torah. Some of my favorites from this list are:
- Be a listener. When somebody is teaching you or talking to you, don’t think about what you have to say back, or what you think about the situation. Simply listen completely to what they have to say.
- Articulate clearly what you want to say. It’s an art to be able to say exactly what you want to say.
- Assist scholars in their study. Our Sages say that the greatest lessons they learn were so not so much the receiving of Torah information from a person, but rather, observing how that person lives and learning from watching them as they live their day-to-day life. It can be a great educational experience.
- Debate with others. In yeshivas there is great deliberation and students talk things out. Yeshivas are breeding grounds for questions and answers. People are always saying, “This doesn’t make sense…” and it’s encouraged. The more questions, the better. We learn from one of the greatest Sages of modern times, the Holy Arizal, Rabbi Issac Luria, who would walk into an everyday study hall with one purpose – to eliminate any doubts at all about everything he had learned that day. He became a warrior of doubts. That’s who he was, that’s what he did, that’s what yeshiva is. You’ve got questions? Ask them and ask them until things become completely clear.
- Learn in order to teach. If you learn just to learn, that’s one level. But if you learn in order to teach, you’ll learn it twice as well.
The next saying is this – if a person is offered a choice between a comfortable, wealthy life where there is no other Torah being actively learned in that place, or a life that involves struggle and poverty, but one which offers a huge amount, a renaissance of Torah, then the choice should be clear. The Sages suggest exiling yourself to a place where there are other people for whom Torah is primary, and there’s talk and deliberation for your growth.
If you don’t, and you go to far-out places that are just “out there,” and they are just comfortable, you may forget all your Torah because you’re not living it, and it may be difficult to be in that comfortable atmosphere for long.
The next one is this – what we can take with us in the World-to-Come, the post life, is not riches or honor or things of this world, but the currency we take with us is our good deeds and our Torah. When a person knows that, they approach Torah differently.
And finally, here’s the way the Sayings of The Fathers concludes by quoting a Sage who said that Hashem wanted to purify and refine the Jewish people, and therefore he gave them a whole lot of mitzvoth. 613 is just the number to start with, there are actually far more than that. Hashem gave them a lot of Torah and a lot of mitzvoth, because the more we have, the more purified we become.
The Jewish people in their raw state, without Torah, are some of the most brazen people in the world. The Talmud lists the most brazen of animals, the most brazen of plants, the most brazen of people, who are the Jewish people who don’t have Torah.
G-d loves us, and he gave us this huge amount of Torah and mitzvoth just to purify and refine us, and it’s why we have so many observances going on, and so many things to do. It’s to mitigate the rough edges on the corners of who we are as a people.
Here are the sayings from Chapter 5 of Pirkei Avot, the Sayings of Our Fathers, that resonate with me:
The first one concerns what wisdom looks like, in its proper form. It advises never to interrupt someone who is speaking, whether you agree with what they are saying or not. Even if you have an opinion, and agree or disagree, let them finish, let them say what they will.
A wise person understands that even though you may be able to predict what they’re going to say, you want to give them a full expression. That will also give you a little bit of time to contemplate. Especially when you’re listening to someone who’s wisdom is greater than your own, don’t pipe up every few seconds. If you have a question, then ask it. But first, hear what they have to say, and give them respect.
Also, don’t reply instantly. Take a minute and think about what they are saying. I think we can identify many issues in our personal lives, historical lives and Biblical stories which came about because people replied too hastily and don’t think about the consequences of their words.
When a wise person doesn’t know something they say, “I don’t know,” or, “I have not heard.” They need to get used to saying those things when necessary, because it is another way of the wise.
A person should have the humility to admit the truth. If you messed up and said something wrong, something bad have the decency to admit it. Be connected to truth, not ego. That’s the first thing I want to share.
The second thing I want to share is just a few words, but it conveys a very powerful message about giving, and there are givers, takers and people in the middle.
The giver is a person who says, “What is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours.” That means, I’m interested in giving, so if I have something, I want to share it with you. But if you have something, you don’t need to share it with me. I don’t need your gifts. I want you to keep it.
The taker, on the other opposite side, is probably someone who is very selfish. That person says, “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine.” It’s sort of like the Mafia… “I got my own thing, and what you’ve got, I’m going to take that, too.” So, obviously that is not the good way.
The person in the middle says, “What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours.” That can be ok, or it can be corrupt, because rather than trying to be a giver and focusing on others, the person is essentially saying, “You do your thing, I’ll do my thing and it will be ok as long as you don’t hurt each other.” This is not really the best philosophy in the world. We have a better one, which is to give, and to help other people have what they are missing.
My next saying is this – A person who is hard to anger and easy to pacify is called a Hasid, or Chasid. This person is calm because he does things beyond the letter of the law, beyond what’s expected of him. Although they are justified in feeling anger when they or their loved ones have been hurt unjustly, nevertheless, because they love G-d and want to live beyond the letter of the law, the world and the people of the world, they are always going to look for an empowering factor in their interaction with another person instead of getting angry.
Even when a Chasid gets angry, for whatever reason, they are easy to pacify, because their natural place is to be a Chasid, a person who is a giver.
The next saying is this – Love that is dependent on some external factor has a catch, which is that when that external factor goes away, the love goes away. The love that is not dependent on anything will last forever. It will make it through thick and thin. This is a huge lesson, because it’s very hard to love people altruistically. People normally love because there are benefits involved. It may be good for them, or they might just love to love, the feeling of it, the attention of it. But to really love in that way does not depend on the way that person acts towards you. That love will conquer all, and it will last forever.
A similar, but somewhat different statement our Sages make is this – an argument that is not for G-d’s sake will not stand the test of time. The two sides will both dissipate.
But an argument in which both sides are doing it for G-d, and even if one side is ruled to be pertinent in a certain time and place, and the other side is not, both sides are called by our Sages, “the words of the living G-d,” and they will have pertinence always, in all ways. That’s an important truth about an altruistic, non-dependent way of seeing both sides of the picture.
Here’s the next one – A person who is a meritor of the multitudes, in other words, what they do with their life is in order to lift up many, many people, and it’s not just a personal, selfish intention, that person is going to be protected from sin and from failure in their lifetime. It’s sort of measure-for-measure, because they are helping a lot of people so they should be helped as well.
G-d is saying to that person, so to speak, “You’re doing it for my kid? Then I will do it for you, and I will keep you from stumbling also.” Let’s say that person does fall into sin, and they would have to go into purgatory or some other horrible post-life situation, but one of their students or a person they’ve helped in this world has made it to the Garden of Eden… how does that look? The teacher is downstairs and the student is upstairs. That situation might provide a ticket for the teacher to get out, meaning he would be protected.
Here’s the next one – One of our Sages, a righteous convert named Ben Bagbag, said, “Turn it around and turn it around because everything is in it,” referring to Torah. This means that when you go deep, deep inside of Torah you find that G-d looked at Torah and created the world. Which means everything in the world is contained in Torah, but you have to know how to fish it out and how to identify all of reality, including its source inside of Torah.
To do that, you have to turn it around and turn it around. Probably the reason a convert picked up on that truth more than someone who was not a convert is because they’ve been there. They have been on the other side and they’ve seen what reality is all about. When they came into Torah they started to feel, “wow, this is a book which is basically a guide to all of reality.” That’s the kind of person who can make a statement like this one, and keep it as a mantra for his life.
Another convert said something very profound, too. He said, “According to the sorrow or the suffering will be the reward.” In this world, in the next world or wherever. There is a justice system implanted in life, so if a person is hurt, they will be compensated in one way or another. If they suffered trying to make good things happen they will be rewarded. That’s a deep insight also, as to the Divine running the world.
These thoughts are from the fourth chapter of Pirkei Avos, Sayings of the Fathers:
The first one is a question. Our Sages ask, “Who is the wise person, the rich person, the honored person and the hero person?”
The wise person is one who is willing to learn from anybody.
The rich person is not the one who has a lot of money, but one who is satisfied with whatever they have.
The honored person is not the one who chases after honor, but one who runs away from honor, and seeks after other people to honor them.
The hero person is the one who doesn’t dominate or control others, but is able to control himself, his yetzer hara.
One of the clear messages here is this – most things in life that you chase after will run away from you. But if you spend your time and energy helping others, those things will chase after you, and they will find you. The things which people are running toward throughout their lives – wisdom, wealth, honor and glory – we are being taught to grant them to others or run away from them entirely.
The next idea is this – a good deed, a mitzvah, perpetuates another good deed. And a sin, an aveirah, or a bad deed, perpetuates another sin. I think the lesson here is that momentum is a reality in our lives. Whatever we plug into the airspace of our lives is going to perpetuate more of the same thing, specifically when it comes to going with or going against G-d’s will.
The next teaching is this – don’t despise anyone, because every person has their time. This is a good lesson because we have to understand that G-d sees into the heart of a person, but we don’t see into that place. And G-d also has a time frame for who gets what, whenever they are supposed to get it. So, even if you see somebody you can’t stand, know that G-d has a plan for that person, and they are going to have their hour, or their minute of glory. Like the old David Bowie song said, “We all can be heros… Everybody has their day to be a hero.” That’s part of it
The next saying is this – when we learn Torah, we should learn in order to teach. Or, even better, we should learn Torah to DO. When we learn Torah, we will be able to do and to teach, and much more also.
Here is a lesson in the power of purpose, of intention. Your learning, or anything else in life, for that matter, is not about gaining something you didn’t have before, but it’s about giving it over to others, or making an impression in the world. It cycles into something beyond yourself, and in doing so it has more power. Same thing with making money, making friends, anything. If you let yourself focus not only on the thing itself, but on the effects it can accomplish, you’ll get the thing itself and its effects as well.
The Sages say, “Be a tail among lions, rather than being a head among foxes.” The idea here is that it’s better to hang out with people who are better than you are, and to learn from them, and not be the center and the focus of attention, rather than hang out with people who are lower than you are. It’s not that you are in danger with those people, but you’re not going to be growing. You’re not going to be stretching yourself beyond your limit, your comfort zone, unless your whole purpose is to help out in places nobody else can serve. That’s the difference.
The next saying is this – our lifetime should be a lifetime of preparation for the world to come. When we understand life as, “this is not the end of the line, but only preparation for a world of truth, eternity and divinity,” then we approach this life in a much different way. We’ll be detached from this life, from this world, and we’ll be able to focus more on what’s most important.
The next one is this – our Sages say it’s better to spend one hour in this world improving ourselves, doing teshuva and good deeds, than to spend the entire creation in the next world. On the other hand, it’s better to spend one hour of spiritual bliss in the next world, than the entire direction of this world.
This idea is clear… this world is designed to be the place of self-improvement, of growth. We have a soul, which is completely the opposite of our body, and it has to live with all the obstructions of the body. When we do good things here in this world, the value of it in eternal currency is much more than when we don’t have a body in the future world.
Whereas, the truth and the bliss of the future world is beyond us here and we can’t compare life in this world with it at all, with its different currency.
The next saying is, as I would call it in big, red letters – TACT. It says, don’t try to pacify someone when they are angry, and don’t try to comfort someone when their judgment lies in front of them. When a person is in their moment of humiliation, don’t look at them. Simply look away. All these things are teaching us tact, to really put ourselves in the other person’s place and to leave them alone, to just be silent and wait. There will be a time, later, when we can pacify and comfort them, and raise them up. But not right in the moment. Silence is a very wise thing to give in this kind of situation.
The next thing is this – that wisdom which we learn in our youth is compared to brand, new ink on brand, new paper. Whereas the wisdom learned later in life is like very faded ink on very faded paper. This idea is teaching us that a person has a clean slate when they are new, when they are young. And what they learn goes straight in and stays there for a lifetime.
The Sages say, “Exile yourselves to a place of Torah.” This idea means this – even if you have to exile yourself, even if you’re in a place that’s not so comfortable but there’s a lot better Torah over there, then go there. Once again, if you’re trying to influence people and you’re the only one who can do it, meaning you’re the only one for the job, then that’s a different story.
But, if possible, try to be in a place where there is a lot of Torah being learned, because it will have its influence on you.
And finally, the last one for today is this – “When you respect Torah, people respect you. That’s pretty self-explanatory.