This title will be released on October 2011. The Inquisitorâs Apprentice Book 2, Manuscript available December 2011. & The Inquisitorâs Apprentice Book 3, Manuscript available December 2012
This book is admirably well plotted, really tight and compelling. The pace is brisk, but well detailed too--and characters are nicely developed. Just generally well written.
I am in LOVE with the setting and the premise. The idea of magic-as-replaced-by-machines, of capitalists as the villains behind the end of "old world" magic. It's brilliant. The way all of these historical characters and institutions (Edison, Houdini, the IWW, Morgan Library, etc) are incorporated and "magicalized" is smart, and never feels arbitrary. And the author appears to have done her research! Reading, I really did feel submerged in the building of the subways, the dingy tenements, Coney Island sideshows, etc.
The biggest issue for me, as I read, was this nagging sense that there was an incongruity to the use of Judaism (and maybe other identities too) as the cultural/religious basis for magic. In the book, some rabbis are understood to be Kabbalists, though mysticism is illegal. As are basic conjuring, spells, hexes, etc. This is INTERESTING. Especially as faith/magic are then replaced by the industrial/capitalistic world. Interesting.
And as a Jewish reader, I liked references to dybbuks. I liked that Yiddish was tossed around.
But there's something off, maybe-- because all the while there was still the "real" Jewish world in the background. Hester Street is the same, and people are running around, trying to get to market before Shabbos. Rabbis are davening in storefront shuls. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly bothered me about this duality of Jewish lives, but something did. Some sense that the author never made clear how these two worlds coexisted. The "magic" world isn't, as it is in Harry Potter, a secret. That would have made more sense to me, Instead, the mothers dashing off to market to make Shabbos before sundown KNOW about the magic world. But it isn't incorporated into their faith or practice, and it doesn't seem to make them question their faith.
I know this may seem like nitpicking, and I certainly wouldn't want this idea to keep a kid from reading and loving this book (which they will). But I wondered how the author understood the theology (not the cultural trappings, but the actual beliefs) of an orthodox Jewish world that happens to be full of magic. Jewish mysticism isn't something most Jews practice (and it wasn't on the LES at the turn of the 20th century either). I couldn't help thinking that if the average frum housewife had experience with magic and mysticism, it might have changed her life.
Also, some points of order bugged me. In the opening scene of the book, much is made about the mother needing to get to market in time for Shabbat, but then she's still out wandering around after sundown. Why she's bothered to rush from work to the market, to buy a whole herring, if she doesn't plan to go home and make dinner in time-- I'm not clear on it. I have a hard time believing that her Rabbi Brother-in-law who lives with her wouldn't be upset about this infraction. But this is minor. It just happened to be on page 3, so set off alarms of Judaism as gimmick. Though other lines, like the one about the MC "memorizing" his bar mitzvah Torah portion, also made me wonder.
I'm also a little confused about when exactly the book is set-- can't be earlier than 1913 because Roosevelt has gone to DC, but the "Pentacle" shirtwaist factory is still in business. The author has used an unusual mix of historical figures/institutions (Edison, Houdini, etc) but then a bunch of people have been reimagined (Astor has become "Astral" and the Morgan Library is the "Morgaunt." Triangle is Pentacle, etc.) I understand that this is a "parallel" world, but I'm not sure why things have to be inconsistant this way. I'm not sure what purpose it served.
Now, I've spent way too much time picking the book apart. In truth, it's a wildly fun read, but in attempting the hybrid/historical/religious novel, Moriarty kind of opened herself up for questions.
And as I'm sure she well knows, Jews tend to ask questions!
---- source: http://laurelsnyder.com/?p=1111
visit the official website http://www.inquisitorsapprentice.com
âCaci se vor scula hristosi mincinosi si proroci mincinosi; vor face semne mari si minuni, pana acolo incat sa insele, daca va fi cu putinta, chiar si pe cei alesi.â
Incep azi un sir de articole, care sper sa deschida ochii cu adevarat celor ce considera despre sine ca s-au trezit deja. Multi dintre noi avem impresia ca daca am dezvaluit o conspiratie, sau ni s-a parut ca am vazut cu coada ochiului ceva, auzim voci, sau pur si simplu suntem martorii unor fenomene pe care nu le putem explica, cel putin nu in cadrul stiintelor conventionale, consideram ca ne-am trezit spiritual si am devenit foarte speciali, asa peste noapte, iar pe masura ce studiem in stanga si drepata fel si fel de stiinte care mai de care mai paranormale si adoptam diverse religii exotice, asa ca sa fim in trend, incepem cu timpul sa fim chiar foarte convinsi ca ne-am trezit.
DAR OARE NE-AM TREZIT ???
Stiu ca in urma articolelor ce urmeaza a le publica, cei mai multi dintre cei ce se considera cu ochii mintii deschisi ma vor blama, probabil peste 95%, eu totusi nu voi replica si alimenta diverse polemici. In articolele mele pur si simplu voi face niste afirmatii, rezultate in urma unor conexiuni logice. E punctul meu de vedere personal si exista foarte mari sanse sa ma insel. De aceea nu ma voi bate pentru ceea ce afirm. Ceea ce voi scrie e datat si ramane marturie. Timpul va decide daca am gresit sau nu.
Marturisesc ca nu am descoperit absolut nimic nou, iar informatia din articolele ce urmeaza a le publica, a fost culeasa dea lungul timpului, din diverse surse de informare pe care le-am avut la indemana in masura posibilitatilor din momentul respectiv. Exact asa cum fragmentele dintr-un puzzle sunt asezate pe masa, pentru ca in final sa rezulte un tablou, o imagine, la fel am incercat sa conectez informatiile din diverse domenii pentru a obtine in final o imagine a realitatii. Numai ca spre deosebire de tabloul rezultat din jocul de puzzle, tabloul realitatii obtinut din informatie, are o trasatura diferita si anume faptul ca realitatea sau imaginea realitatii se schimba in permanenta si niciodata nu e 100% clara.
Toata stima pentru cei mai sus amintiti âcei ce s-au trezitâ, in general, fiind oameni in mare parte desavarsiti sau cel putin oameni ce incearca pe cat posibil sa mearga pe calea desavarsirii. Multi dintre cei âcu ochii mintii deschisiâ au avut parte de un eveniment neplacut, o rascruce, o cumpana in viata, de pe urma careia au ajuns la concluzia ca exista ceva mai mult si mai important decat teluricul. Atunci a inceput cu adevarat cautarea caii, care de cele mai multe ori s-a indreptat spre taramul spiritualitatii. Pana aici totul e ok. Problema apare in momentul cand facem alegerea. De ce spun asta? Pentru cei cazuti in frunte cu liderul lor, ALESII sunt premiul cel mare, sunt miza cea cu greutate, ultima reduta de cucerit. Din acest motiv, suntem predispusi sa cadem in CAPCANA SPIRITUALA sau capcana inselarii, gandita strategic de cei cazuti in frunte cu liderul lor cel viclean, cel cu multe nume, care si-a invartosat inima si s-a mandrit, si-a intors fata de la Adevar, devenind ucigas, inselator, chinuitor si distrugator de om. Distrugator al creatiei Divine, maxim subestimat de om care e pacalit in permanenta de prezumtia inexistentei celui cazut, cel viclean gandeste, planifica pervers si construieste de mii de ani masinaria insclavirii fiintei umane, aducand omul in stadiu de parodie la adresa creatiei initiale.
Stiti cu totii sau cel putin daca ati ajuns pe aceasta pagina in mare majoritate, cunoasteti povestea, legenda sau istoria, intalnita in cartile sfinte, in apocrife, in manuscrisele vechi desecoperite de-a lungul timpului, referitoare la marele eveniment, marele razboi ce a avut loc in ceruri, de pe urma caruia un numar insemnat de rasvratiti au fost aruncati pe pamant in frunte cu liderul lor. De aici a inceput toata tragedia noastra.
In continuare, redau un fragment din textul apocrif âCartea lui Enohâ, text de pe urma caruia ne vom lumina cat de cat in ceea ce priveste originea cunoasterii ezoterice, a religiilor exotice foarte la moda in occident (miscarile New Age) si traditiile din Asia unde se presupune ca au cazut cei razvratiti. Dupa caderea lor, au inceput sa âinfectezeâ specia umana cu cunostintele lor stricatoare de desavarsire umana si inlantuitoare in teluric:
â1. Azayel i-a mai invatat pe oameni sa faca sabii, cutite, scuturi, platose, oglinzi; el le-a aratat cum sa faca bratari si podoabe, cum sa foloseasca vopsele, arta de a-si inegri sprancenele, de a folosi pietrle pretioase si tot soiul de spoieli, astfel incat oamenii s-au stricat. 2. Nelegiuirea s-a intins; depravarea s-a inmultit, creaturile incalcau orice ordin si distrugeau tot ce le iesea in cale. 3. Amazarak i-a invatat to felul de vrajitorii, de farmece si insusirile radacinilor. 4. Armers i-a invatat arta de a dezlega vrajitoriile. 5. Barkayal i-a invatat arta de a urmarii stelele. 6. Akibeel i-a invatat semnele. 7. Tamiel i-a invatat astronomia. 8. Si Asaradel i-a invatat miscarile lunii. 9. Si oamenii, pe punctul de a pieri, au murmurat si glasurile lor s-au ridicat pana la cer.â
Eu cred ca ne putem da seama destul de usor din acest fragment cam care sunt originile cunostintelor ezoterice, ale magiei, astrologiei, vrajitoriei, nu in ultimul rand arta razboiului si rolul acestuia (vezi originile artelor martiale) etc, din fericire nefiind un text singular, informatia confirmandu-se intr-o forma sau alta in surse multiple (vezi Geneza in Biblie, etc.). Nu vreau sa ma adancesc prea mult in acest subiect, deoarece nu sunt in masura sa o fac, dar in schimb as putea sa va fac cunoscute in acest articol si in urmatoarele cateva, unele formatiuni ce au aparut in lanuri in ultimii 30 de ani, formatiuni a caror simbolistica incepe, incet incet, sa dea de banuit si sa dezvaluie partea de care sunt de fapt, autorii acestor pictograme din lanuri.
Am oferit pe blogul meu pana acum informatii suficiente din care sa deducem clar ca originea cercurilor din lanuri nu e de natura umana iar tehnologia de realizare e una necunoscuta oficial. Nu vreau sa mai dezbat acest subiect legat de autori. Eu cred ca e evidenta originea si nu are sens sa mai pierd timpul cu un subiect arhicunoscut si lamurit pentru marea majoritate. Insusi faptul ca acest fenomen real a fost pus pe seama unor farsori denota ca elitele si cei ce-i dirijeaza lucreaza cu psihologie inversa. Efectul a fost cu mult mai potentat. La fel cu evenimentul Roosevelt din 1947, au dezmintit stirea ca ar fi fost o nava extraterestra(intraterestra) spunand ca defapt a fost un balon meteo, minciuna care a potentat efectul mediatic asupra fenomenului OZN.
Faptul ca nu suntem singuri in univers, e un alt subiect care atat pentru mine cat si pentru foarte multi a fost clar de foarte mult timp. Vad recent in presa tot felul de afirmatii fara absolut nici un suport stiintific, culmea, din partea unor oameni de stiinta, cum ar fi: âIn univers exista aproximativ 400 de civilizatiiâ. Ma umfla rasul. Poi atunci vin si eu, un nimeni, fara nici o pregatire si afirm: In univers exista o infinitate de civilizatii, cu conditia ca universul sa fie infinit. Un lucru vreau sa-l subliniez insa: fenomenul extraterestru e un subiect foarte sensibil, foarte delicat, deoarece face parte din CAPCANA SPIRITUALA. Cei cazuti pozeaza si intentioneaza sa ni se prezinte curand, in postura unei civilizatii extraterestre care ne vrea binele si vor sa ne ofere ajutorul, sa ne salveze de la distrugerea finala inspre care tot ei au avut grja sa ne dirijeze, sugerandu-ne un lider care sa ne conduca pe toti, adica scopul final al societatilor secrete.
Probabil ati observat in ultima vreme, in mass media, in filmele de la Hollywood, inclusiv in desenele animate si programele pentru cei mici, in declaratiile tot mai dese ale unor lideri politici sau religiosi, cum ni se insufla subtil fenomenul extraterestru. Pe buna dreptate unii autori romani si nu numai (Cristian Negureanu, Tony Victor Moldovan, etc), au numit aceste fiinte, care noua ne sunt prezentate ca fiind extraterestrii, âINTRATERESTRIIâ, deoarece aceste fiinte sunt aici decand lumea.
Pasionat si indragostit fiind inca din frageda copilarie de fenomenul OZN, am fost foarte entuziasmat cand am pasit pentru prima data in viata, intr-o formatiune din lanuri. Studiind mai atent fenomenul, am ajuns sa trag o serie de concluzii in primul rand dezamagitoare si apoi suparatoare, dandu-mi seama ca nu tot OZN-ul ce zboara e de partea buna a lucrurilor. Probabil veti afirma faptul ca, gandesc foarte primar si ca as fi paranoic, deoarece o civilizatie mult avansata nu ar avea motive sa ne transforme in scalvi. Vreau sa ma fac foarte clar inteles: in articol fac referire si afirm ca acesti âextraterestriiâ care ne vor fi noua prezentati de catre elita iluminata, nu sunt altceva decat intraterestrii, intraterestrii ce sunt cel putin la fel de terestrii ca si noi, deoarece impart cu noi de mii de ani aceasta frumoasa planeta albastra, bagandu-si coada in destinele noastre. Adica nu pot sa numesc nicidecum ceva ce salasuieste pe aceasta planeta ca fiind extraterestru, pentru ca as denatura semnificatia cuvantului.
Cei mai multi dintre voi veti fii foarte dezmagiti citind aceste randuri, cel putin la fel ca mine de dezmagiti, cand mi-am dat seama âdin ce parte bate vantulâ. Asa cum am mentionat si in prezentarea blogului, e important sa nu ne atasam de o informatie orbeste, mai ales pentru ca ne convine, sa nu ne aruncam in necunoscut fara ca in prealabil sa trecem informatia prin filtrul logic personal. Ma uit cu stupoare de exemplu, la cei ce comunica prin channeling(vezi Bashar), cu cata usurinta afirma ca mesajele primite sunt de la o civilizatie extraterestra care ne doreste binele. O fi asa, dar un lucru e cert: ca fiiinta umana nu ai cum sa verifici nici originea si nici intentia celor ce comunica cu tine de pe alte frecvente. Masuratorile radiestezice sau alte modalitati de genul, sunt iarasi influentate de cei de pe frecventele paralele. Nu ai o modalitate sigura si clara de verificare. Ar trebuii sa fim mai putin naivi, sa nu ne oferim atat de usor si sa incetam o data pentru totdeauna sa mai consideram ca fiind real sau realitate doar ceea ce ne convine.
Ar trebuii sa incetam sa mai fim la fel de naivi ca si atunci cand mergem voiosi la vot cu speranta ca prin votul nostru vom schimba ceva. De altfel, ca venii vorba de vot, un lucru e cert: acolo alegi ceva din ceea ce ti se ofera si sa nu crezi ca cel pe care-l alegi, iti va reprezenta vreodata opinia. La fel si cu acesti âextraterestriiâ cu care elitele ne vor face cunostinta spre sfarsitul anului probabil sau poate chiar pe 21 Decembrie 2012, data care nu e nicidecum sfarsitul Calendarului Mayas. Si ca veni vorba, data de final a Calendarului Mayas, este exact 28 Octombrie 2011(conform lucrarii lui Carl Johan Calleman â Calendarul Mayas si Transformarea Constiintei). Sa fim seriosi, chiar credeti ca de data aceasta elitele vor fi de treaba si nu ne vor mai insela? Au inselarea in sange, au un lider exemplu, nu mai fiti naivi. Cu riscul de a ma repeta, afirm faptul ca, pe cei mai multi, vrajmasul ii va ademenii in Capcana Spirituala, fiind cea mai cumplita inselare, inselare ce-i vizeaza in special pe cei alesi.
Aveti foarte mare grija la acesti termeni cu care intram zilnic in contact, cum ar fi, constiinta, energia noua, mesaje benefice, energiile benefice ce ne inconjoara, Shambala, Agharta, atentie mare la tot ce ne este prezentat ca fiind luciferic de stralucitor si benefic, la flacarile violet si de tot felul de culori ale lui Saint Germain sau stiu eu mai care, la simbolurile care va inconjoara etc, deoarece nu aveti cum sa verificati in ce va bagati. Sunteti exact ca si un copil de 7 ani pus sa piloteze un Boeing 747, mai exact puteti sa va asteptati la orice.
Am observat de asemenea in ultima vreme, tot felul de solutii si sugestii de a unii fel si fel de religii intre ele, ca ideologie, ca filosofie, ca orice vreti voi, il plimba pe Hristos prin Tibet pe la scoli de shaolini, il transforma in yoghin, mediteaza, il egaleaza cu Buda, Madonna propovaduieste Kabbalah, John Travolta, Tom Cruise etc, sunt membrii in biserica scientologica, ma rog e la moda. Mare atentie, e ultima carte jucata de catre cei cazuti, e o carte grea, e asul din maneca: SPIRITUALITATEA.
Elita, pregateste cu pasi repezi inscaunarea imparatului luciferic, in timp ce noua ni se reduc incet incet din libertati si ni se distrage atentia de la ceea ce se intampla defapt prin fel si fel de modalitati. M-am saturat de previziunile false care inunda presa de pe intreg mapamondul, dar si mass-media romaneasca. Cutremurul din toamna lui 2010 care a uitat sa mai aiva loc (reclama mascata cum ca asigurarile de locuinte sunt benefice, dar in acelasi timp si neconstitutionale prin obligativitatea lor), inceputul celui de al treilea razboi mondial care era prevazut de ceva babaciune ratacita(Vanga, Dumnezeu sa o ierte), sa inceapa prin 11 Noiembrie 2010, cea mai grea iarna din ultima mie de ani prevazuta de servicul meteo polonez (polonezii or fii ceva specialisti meteo de renume mondial doar ca nu am aflat inca asta), iesirea din criza la inceputul lui 2011(prevazuta de tot felul de analisti economici care se bat cu caramida in piept ca au absolvit stiu eu ce univesitati de stiinte economice de renume mondial, unde au tocit, ca de intelesâ¦ mai greu), etc.
A fi treaz nu insemna nicidecum a interpreta realitatea asa cum iti convine, ci inseamna sa stii sa te feresti si sa eviti pe cat posibil latsurile ce ti se astern si pregatesc la tot pasul, cum ar fi otravirea alimentelor, poluarea intentionata, show-uri TV, politica, hartuirea psihica prin tot felul de aparate birocratice, stresul creat de nesiguranta locului de munca si a zilei de maine, blocajul evolutiei pe toate planurile, in special cel material prin inventarea de noi impozite si cresterea celor anterioare de la un an la altul, si nu in utlimul rand marea inselare, Capcana Spirituala, care suna ceva de genul: toate religiile in una singura. Si daca nu esti de acord, insemana ca nu acorzi liberatate de alegere, nu esti democratic etc. In ziua de astazi nu ai cum sa nu fii democratic. Democratia e ceva bun. De exemplu cu ajutorul democratiei poti invada o tara sa ii iei petrolul si alte resurse si in schimb, le oferi libertatea sa moara de foame.
Nu judec pe nimeni si nimic, nu sunt in masura sa o fac, doar observ, constat si fac conexiuni logice. Cred ca asta e voie si se incadreaza in principiile democratiei.
Am intercalat in umila mea asertiune, cateva fotografii cu pictograme din lanuri ce au o simbolistica preponderent masonica in majoritatea lor, sau puteti sa o mai numiti si oculta, magica, satanica, vrajitoreasca, iluminata, initiatica, luciferica sau cum vreti voi sa o mai numiti, toate adjectivele laudate de Salvatorul nostru, si pentru a caror practicanti, a promis o petrecere de neuitat, echivalenta cu extinctia.
In urmatoarele articole, voi lua pe rand cateva pictograme mai reprezentative si am sa le descriu ca insemnatate, lasandu-va pe voi in final sa verificati informatiile si sa trageti singuri concluzii vis-a-vis de buna credinta a autorilor lor. Va rog pe aceasta cale, oricat ati fi de dezamagiti, suparti, revoltati si asa mai departe, sa nu imi adresati mesaje obscene, deoarece le voi sterge.
In rest puteti sa va exprimati opinia in mod liber, promit sa nu cenzurez nimic din ceea ce eventual ar putea sa ma ofenseze, desi nu cred ca e cazul sa ma mai poata ofensa ceva sau cineva, repet, pastrand totusi decenta in exprimare.
author: Philip S. Berg
average rating: 4.02
book published: 2002
read at: 2017/05/12
date added: 2017/05/12
review: The book itself is well written, but I think that the Zohar and I are just not gonna be friends. Everything in here seems devoted to wringing meaning from a text that's just plain not there -- or worse, that is opposite to its plain meaning -- for no reason except to justify a belief that the Torah MUST contain the secrets of the universe. A Mormon like me sees the entire exercise as "looking beyond the mark" (Jacob 4:14) and "wresting" the scriptures (Alma 13:20).
Two articles in Hadassah's current online magazine feature Jewish Art Salon members. In The Paper ManipulatorAndy Arnovitz describes how she works with paper in unexpected ways, and about the way the differences between Jewish Law and contemporary society played a role in her work. Read here.
Sarah Zell Young relies on ancient Jewish text to create her provocative performance art. Straddling Two Words describes how in one of her performance pieces, she drank 72 glasses of water, with each glass containing one of the 72 kabbalistic names of God. Read here.
In the midst of a deep spiritual crises, the “golden calf” episode, the Creator revealed to Moses the “Thirteen Attributes of Compassion” (Exodus 34:6,7). Since then, invoking these “Thirteen Attributes” at opportune times have brought about the Creator’s unconditional forgiveness. The “Date Palm of Deborah” is short book written by the renown Kabbalist Rabbi Moshe […]
In previous posts, I discussed the murky historical origins of counting the omer and Shavuot. I also discussed how this is reflected in textual ambiguities and confusion. In this post, I would like to examine how people have come to create meaning for this ritual. This historical gloss---wholly apart from any underlying original meaning of the ritual---is in fact what most of us who count the omer experience when we count the omer.
Various midrashim (and later the Zohar) state that the Jews had descended to the 49th level of impurity in Egypt. Another midrash (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 3:11 and Song of Songs Rabbah 2:5, included in Bialek's Sefer HaAggadah, p. 78, no. 25) states that the Jews could have received the Torah on the day they left Egypt, but they were physically weak and needed a few months to recover. In both cases, they needed spiritual or physical healing, and this took place during the time between Passover and Shavuot, or during the omer-counting season.
This idea gave rise to the kabalistic tradition of assigning the seven lower sefirot (or emanations of God) to each of the seven weeks and days, giving 49 combinations. The details of this idea are pretty well known and covered in many places on the web. Aish HaTorah has a good explanation. The basic idea is that just as the ancient Jews spiritually improved themselves from the degradations of slavery to the holiness of a people ready to receive a direct revelation from God, we too can improve ourselves during the omer-counting period.
This is actually quite a useful activity. I have had some great conversations with my kids about real examples of the omer count of the day (one of which---pertaining to a baseball game---I recounted here). And I have had some more serious adult discussions and introspections about the different sefirot.
But there is an important aspect of all this that should not be overlooked: it has nothing to do with the original understanding of counting of the omer. No early text mentions the sefirot or anything similar. These are all later creations that were linked to the counting of the omer, and because of their cleverness, wisdom, and utility have become widely accepted.
There are many other examples of this. For example, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has a thoughtful discussion of how the omer counting reflects two different ideas of time: cyclical time and linear time. (Joni Mitchell picked up on the same theme, more or less, as I discussed here.) Like most of Rabbi Sacks' commentary, this one is really insightful. But it is an analysis that is prompted by the omer counting rather than solidly contained within the omer counting.
One final example. Pirke Avot is a volume of the mishnah with collection of wisdom sayings. Pirke Avot 6:6 states that "Torah is acquired through 48 things" and then lists 48 character traits, such as "study, attentiveness, orderly speech, an understanding heart" etc. Rabbi Noach Weinberg, the Rosh Yeshiva of Aish HaTorah, picked up on this idea and linked it to the counting of the omer. He called it the "48 Ways to Wisdom" and this set of teachings is one of the central study units of Aish HaTorah. Each of R. Weinberg's "ways to wisdom" is a contemporary version of the methods of acquiring Torah from Pirke Avot 6:6. These can be studied, one at a time, during the omer counting period. The webpage with all the information is here.
R. Weinberg developed a smart and useful set of wisdom ideas, and this is and well worth studying. But a few aspects of this stand out for our purposes here.
The first one is the discrepancy in the numbers. There are 49 days of omer counting but only 48 methods of acquiring Torah. R. Weinberg neatly solves this problem with "Organization" as the 49th way: review what you have learned, memorize it, keep it in a logical order, etc. And there is a 50th one of the 48 ways as well: "gratitude" on Shavuot itself.
But a more interesting issue is the differences between Pirke Avot's 48 ways and R. Weinberg's 48 ways. Many of these are the the same, and R. Weinberg simply elaborates on Pirke Avot. For example, the first method of acquiring Torah is "study" (or "talmud"), and R. Weinberg's first way to wisdom is "being aware every minute," which is a form of studying life itself.
But in several instances, R. Weinberg reverses the plain meaning of Pirke Avot. For example, the 14th way of acquiring Torah in Pirke Avot 6:6 is "a minimum of business activity." This method of acquiring Torah is followed by five other "minimizations": a minimum of preoccupation with worldly matters, a minimum of indulgence in worldly pleasure, a minimum of sleep, a minimum of conversation, and a minimum of laughter. These six collectively paint a stark image of a Torah scholar: minimal involvement in worldly affairs and pleasures, and instead long hours studying Torah. This is how great Torah scholars become great Torah scholars, but this is not a message that will sit well with Aish HaTorah's key target audience: non-Orthodox Jews who are thinking of becoming Orthodox. Americans are not into austerity.
Rabbi Weinberg deftly handles this problem. For example, he recasts the first method "minimizing business activity" as "Apply Business Accumen To Living." He starts off by noting briefly that we need to work to earn a living, but we should not overdo it and should also work to acquire wisdom. After this initial nod to the original text, he then notes that we can use some of the tools of business to do so. The rest of the article is a elaboration of these tools: operate efficiently, commit to goals, etc.
I certainly do not have a problem with any of R. Weinberg's teachings here. They seem wise to me, and in many ways fit more comfortably with my worldview than the original Pirke Avot teachings. I am not a hedonist, but I am not ascetic either. I simply note here that several of R. Weinberg's ideas are not quite the same as the original teachings in Pirke Avot, and do not have any inherent connection with counting the omer.
This is not a criticism. R. Weinberg and R. Sacks and the kabbalists did what Jews have always done, and in fact have done it better than most Jews. They created new ideas full of wisdom and insight and linked them to existing ideas or ritual---here, the counting of the omer.
The meaning or importance of counting the omer does not lie in its original context. Best that I can figure, that original context was a way of setting a late-spring wheat offering relative to the date of an earlier early-spring barley offering. That does not carry much significance for me, a lawyer living in Los Angeles in the 21st Century. The importance lies in the layers of meaning that subsequent generations have added to this earlier ritual: the bridge between freedom from slavery celebrated at Passover and the holiness required for the giving of the Torah celebrated at Shavuot, personal growth and spiritual improvement and wisdom, and God and godliness refracted through 49 separate paired combinations of seven aspects of God and godliness, and themes of historical and cyclical time.
At the beginning of this series, I noted that many Jews have problems with relevance and authenticity. I think counting the omer shows a way around this problem.
Counting the omer seems to be inherently irrelevant: counting to 49 one day at a time. The best argument for its inherent irrelevance is that no one other than Jews does this. But the relevance of a mitzvah like this comes from the inherent importance of the ideas and themes created over time and associated with this mitzvah.
The authenticity of the ritual comes both from its relevance and its long historical tradition. People do not passively receive and understand a tradition; they also help create it. The great thinkers that have come before us have developed some pretty great ideas, and those ideas have become part of Judaism, regardless of whether they were there initially. (We also have had some terrible ideas that have been discarded along the way in the gale of creative destruction.) These all are an authentic part of Judaism.
Here is my humble addition to counting the omer. I told my kids that if we counted all 49 days without missing one, we could go out for ice cream after Shavuot. My older son stopped counting somewhere in the 30s, but I finished last night and my younger son (whose bedtime is before it is completely dark) finished this morning. We did it.
So in addition to relevance and authenticity, counting the omer---properly construed---also involves ice cream.
In re-reading the last two posts, I realized that I never explained my basic point. Here it is.
The (simplistic) Orthodox world view is that God wrote the Torah and commanded the commandments. Our job is simply to decode the text, follow the oral law, and do the mitzvot. We might have some discretion in borderline or ambiguous cases, and there may be some complexity in the particulars of tough cases. But for the most part, the general approach is all very straightforward.
But that is not the way it actually works in practice, or the way is has worked in history. The act of not only figuring out exactly what a mitzvah entails but figuring out how it is meaningful and important involves a lot of judgment and discretion, and often a lot of creativity. We have several thousand years of people creating these idea, acts, interpretations, and discussions, and then reacting to others. It is a rich tradition.
Authenticity involves learning about this tradition, then doing mitzvot (or even sometimes changing mitzvot) in light of this tradition. That type of authenticity is equally available to Orthodox Jews and non-Orthodox Jews.
Relevancy involves an evaluation of mitzvot or texts in light of that tradition. This requires some flexibility and even playfulness with the texts, the mitzvot themselves, and even the ideas behind the texts. This is not some wacky left-wing New Age idea --- it is exactly the approach taken by the Talmud, the midrash, the kabbalists, and even contemporary Orthodox rabbis.
So far, I have claimed a lot more than I have proven. But rather than discussing all this in very general terms, I thought I would discuss it in light of a particular mitzvah, counting the omer. So stay tuned ....
In Isis Unveiled H.P.B. brings up numerous evidences to demonstrate that one and the same esoteric truths were expressed in identical symbols and allegories in countries scattered widely over the face of the globe, between which there had been traced no historical affiliations. Jewish Kabala and the Bible repeat the âmythsâ of ancient Babylonia (âAncient Fragmentsâ Â by Cory documents some of them).The same ideas are found repeated in Oriental and Chaldean allegories, and in the oldest manuscripts and traditions of Siam and Ceylon.
H.P.B. speaks of an acquaintance, a Pali scholar, a native of Ceylon, who possessed a palm-leaf, which has been givenÂ time-proof durability, by an unknown chemical process, and an enormous half-sized Conch (split in two), On the leaf was seen a giant of Ceylonian antiquity and fame, blind, and pulling down, with an outstretched arm, which are embracing the four central pillars of a pagoda, crushing armed enemies by the falling Pagoda. His hair is long, reaching out to the ground. The name of the blind giant was called âSomona, the Little,â in contradistinction to Somona-Kadmon, the Siamese saviour. The Pali legend corresponds with the biblical legend of Samson.
The shell bore on its pearly surface a very artistic pictorial engraving in two panels. In the first panel was the Hindu god Siva, with all his attributes, sacrificing his son. The victim was laid on the funeral pile, and the father (Siva) shown as hovering in air above the pile with an uplifted weapon ready to strike. Sivaâs face turned is turned toward a jungle in which a rhinoceros has deeply buried its horn in a huge tree and is unable to extricate itself. In the adjoining panel was depicted the same rhinoceros on the pile, and the weapon plunged in its side, and intended victim, Sivaâs son, is free, and helping the god to kindle the fire upon the sacrificial altar. This was reminiscent of the biblical story of Abrahamâs sacrifice of Isaac in obedience to the command of his god. (Gen.22 / 1-19)
In the Greek myth (Sanchoniathon) Saturn is depicted as sacrificing his only begotten son as a sacrifice to his father, Ouranos, circumcised himself and forced all his household to do the same. Abraham is held by Mohometan Arabs as Saturn in the Kaaba., and Abraham and Israel were names of Saturn. Thus the biblical legend of Abraham sacrificing his son is traced to older mythologies, and finally to India, the original of which is to be found in the Mahabharata. Jewish Pentateuch is certainly much later than Brahminical and Buddhist traditions, as the Pentateuch was complied by Ezra after the Babylonian captivity and revised by the Rabbi.
Spread of translated Sanscrit original myths from Nepal and India to far East and the West
Â Researchers have discovered enough evidence that Sanscrit originals of Nepal were translated by Buddhist missionaries into nearly every Asiatic language. Pali manuscripts were translated into Siamese. Hence the phenomenon of the same religious legends and myths circulating in all these countries. This accounts for the presence of the oldest Ceylonic traditions in the Chaldean Kabbala and the Jewish Bible.
Akkadians are the Nomadic Aryan tribe who emigrated to the West
Â Rawlison traces Akkadian origin to Armenia, but not beyond. H.P.B. says, based on her knowledge of the records of the Adept Fraternity, the tribe might well have come to Armenia from beyond the Indus in the direction of the Caspian seaâa part which was also India, once upon a timeâfrom thence to Euxine. Or they might have come originally from Ceylon by the same way. The wandering of this nomadic tribe can be judged by comparative study of myths and traditions of countries of these geographical tracts. Abraham himself might have been one of these Pali shphards who emigrated to the West.
Biblical allegories, of the Book of Genesis, is entirely due to the Akkadian and the Pali shephards.
Â If language is advanced as reason for discounting the claim of the identity of the two traditionsâthe Biblical and the Brahminicalâthere are other substantial evidences which make good the claim, that the Biblical allegories are entirely due to these nomadic tribes of India. The tribes are called by Ethnologists Akkadians. Ak-Ad is of the same class as As-Am, Ha-Va, or Ed-En. In Assyria, Ak is creator, and Ad-ad is AD the father. In Aramean Ad also means One, and Ad-Ad, the Only One. In the Kabala, Ad-am is the only begotten, the first emanation of the unseen Creator. Adon was the âLordâ god of Syria and the consort of Adar-gat or Aster-ât,â the Syrian goddess who was Venus, Isis, Istar, or Mylitta etc., and each of these was the âmother of all things.ââMagna Mater.
Genesis I, II and III are the mutilated copies of Cosmogonies of other nations, and Genesis IV and V are accounts of actual historical events, though not correctly interpreted by biblical scholars
Â They are taken word for word from the secret Book of Numbers, of the great Oriental Kabala. H.P.B. informs us that in an old Brahminical manuscript called âProphesies,â as well as in the Southern MSS, in the legend of Krishna, the latter gives nearly word for word the first two chapters of Genesis. Krishna recounts the âfirst manâ whom he calls Adima, in Sanscrit meaning the First Man, and first woman is called Heva, that which completes life. The great Orientalist, Louis Jacolliot (âLa Bible dans Iânde) Christna existed, and his legend was written over 3000 years B.C.
From the birth of Enoch begins the genealogy of the so-called Turanian, Aryan and Semetic families, if such they be correctly. Every woman is an euhemerized land or city, and every man and patriarch a race, a branch, or a sub-division of a race. The wives of Lamech gives the key to the riddle. Ad-ah bare Iabal was the father of such as dwell in tents, and of such as have cattle. This is allusion to the nomadic Aryan tribes. His brother was Jubal, the father of all such as handle the harp and the organ. Zillah bare Tubal-Cain, an instructor of every artificer in brass and iron, etc. Every word has significance. But it is not a âRevelation.â It is just a compilation of the most historical facts, though history is perplexed on this point.
Â From Euxine to Kashmir and beyond is to be found the cradle of mankind. Biblical Garden of Eden was a college of Magi and Astrologers, the Aleim
Â Adah in Hebrew is womanâs name and Eden the designation of a country. They are closely related to each other but hardly to Adam and Akkad. Swedenborg, the Seer, advised seekers to search for the LOST WORD among the Hierophants of Tartary, China, and Thibet. It is there and only there, though we may find it inscribed on the monuments of the oldest Egyptian dynasties. The Lost Word is the Universal Esoteric Wisdom which forms the common ground-work from which have sprung all the great religious scriptures of the world : the four Vedas, the Books of Hermes, the Chaldean Book of Numbers, the Nazarene Codex, the Book of the Tenaim, the Sepher Jezira, the Book of Wisdom of Schlomah (Solomon), the secret treatise on Mukta and Baddha attributed by Buddhist Kabalists to Sage Kapila, the founder of the Sankhya system; the Brahamanas, the Stan-gyor of the Thibetans. All these volumes have the same ground-work, teach the same secret doctrine, which when thoroughly eliminated will prove to be the Ultima Thule of true philosophy, and disclose what is this LOST WORD.
The subject of discussion in the next blog will be, if the Lost Word is to be found underlying these ancient works, why have not the great Orientalists, Egyptologists, Biblical scholars have not discerned it. It is because they see only the dead letter and miss the spirit that gives life.
Laura Quinney: Ok, so it's November
27th, in New Haven. We're at Harold's house,
and my name is Laura Quinney. This is an interview with
Harold Bloom about his latest book Jesus and
Yahweh. Tell me what the epigraph was to have
Harold Bloom: Well there was
originally a double epigraph. One is still there
because it explains the subtitle, The Names
Divine, and that is the second of the two
quatrains of the concluding "To the Accuser who is the
God of this World" of the final version of Blake's
little emblem book "For the Sexes: The Gates of
Paradise," that is to say:
Though thou art Worshipd by the Names Divine
Of Jesus and Jehovah thou art still
The Son of Morn in weary Nights decline
The lost Travellers Dream under the Hill—
but originally I had wanted to have with it a very
great sentence, spoken by an actual governor of Texas
back I think in the early 1930s who rejoiced in the
name of Ma Ferguson. And when this lady was inaugurated
as governor of Texas, she announced that so long as she
was governor, no state-supported school, from junior
high up through the University of Texas at Austin would
be allowed to teach any foreign language whatsoever,
and her reason for this she expressed in one very great
sentence: "If English was good enough for Jesus then I
suppose it should be good enough for us."
LQ: [Laughs.] Thank you. I wanted
to ask you in particular about what it means to be a
LQ: In your book, in the opening
paragraphs on "The Jewish Sages on God," you write:
"The God of the Gnostics is called the Stranger or
Alien God, and has exiled himself from our cosmos,
perhaps forever. I do not regard Yahweh in
that way" [p. 193, Quinney's emphasis]. And yet you
describe yourself as a Gnostic.
HB: Well, I am partly relying upon
my great mentor Gerhard or Gershom Scholem, who in many
conversations with me, primarily in Jerusalem, but also
in Boston, New York City, and here at this table in New
Haven, would frequently say to me that the great
disaster of Kabbalah was its Neoplatonic scheme or myth
of emanation—the sephirot—and that he
greatly preferred what he called the Gnostic kabbalah
of the early Merkavah mystics, which he thought had
been renewed by Moses Cordovero, who was the teacher of
Isaac Luria, and then by Isaac Luria in which Ein Soph,
the Kabbalistic name of the infinite one, or
Yahweh—whose name you're not supposed to use, but
I am now—Ein Soph creates the universe by
contracting and withdrawing inside himself, or as I
say, going back to the original Hebrew of the Zimzum,
which means to sharply draw in or take in your
breath—it is that act which at once creates and
ruins worlds, according to Cordovero and Luria, and
those who came after them. But Gnosticism: Scholem was
convinced and Moshe Idel, to whom I am much closer in
every way—he is a close personal
friend—Moshe Idel on this agrees with Scholem
though frequently they don't: Idel says that
fundamentally he thinks that what someone like Hans
Jonas and other scholars after him have called
Gnosticism is actually a kind of parody or echo of a
kind of archaic Judaism which we don't have any more,
though you can find curious versions of it in the
different books of Enoch and other apocryphal
literature. Even when I was a little boy, the Talmudic
rabbi who fascinated me was the one denounced by all
the others in the Pirke Abboth or Sayings of the
Fathers, the rabbi Elisha Ben Abuyah, whom the others
called Akah, meaning the stranger or the alien, and who
is reported to have ascended into heaven in a mystical
trance and there beheld not one God but two gods,
sitting on thrones facing each other, one being Yahweh,
and the other being Metatron, the angel of the divine
presence who simply was the transmogrified human being
Enoch after he is carried off by Yahweh to the heavens
without the necessity of first dying. There are all
kinds of complex traditions, some of them going back a
long, long way, even though we have no texts of what
could be called an original Jewish Gnosis. As I
understand Gnosticism,—and it seems to me in this
I am highly consonant with my hero Ralph Waldo Emerson,
as I am with Valentinus of Alexandria or Basilides of
Alexandria, or with Luria or Cordovero, let alone that
splendid fellow Nathan of Gaza, who wrote the treatise
on the dragons and was the spokesperson or prophet for
the false Messiah Sabbatai Zevi,—Gnosticism
essentially comes down to a few convictions. One is
that the best and oldest part of every one of us, even
if we don't have immediate access to it, or easy access
to it, is part and parcel of God. (I want a very small
sliver, dear.) Another is that the creation and the
fall are not two separate events, but one and the same
event with all of the unfortunate (that's fine dear)
the unfortunate pragmatic (thank you
dear)—pragmatic consequences of this (mmm . . .
it's full of liquor; mmm, it's yummy . . . ).
LQ: [To the tape recorder.] A
whisky cake is being consumed.
HB: Willie, come and have some
whisky cake. A very Yahwistic whisky cake.
Daniel Flesch: Is this yours,
William Flesch: Shhh . . .
HB: I suppose the remaining basic
conviction of Gnosticism is that there is, besides the
divinity to which it is so hard to have access, it is
very deep in the rock of the self. There is also an
exiled component of the true God, who is not Yahweh but
presumably the Anthropos, the original man/God of the
hermeticists. Except, who knows? Akiba—Akiba who
was after all the normative rabbi, the founder of what
we call normative Judaism in the second century of the
common era, Akiba specifically said that his favorite
name for God was ish, which is man.
So—in any case I suppose the final tenet of
Gnosticism is that there is an exiled component of the
Godhead, but it's not in this world, which is governed
by the archons and governed by Blake's Nobodaddy as it
were, and that far off beyond our solar system, in the
cosmological outer spaces there is the—aren't you
going to give Willy some of that?
WF: I had some.
HB: Well put it back in there: you
don't want it to go to waste.
WF: But I might want more.
JB: Stop talking in the
HB: Pussycat? Oh, I'm sorry.
LQ: It's ok, it's ok. It can be
edited. Or not.
HB: It doesn't matter.
LQ: But your Yahweh is not Blake's
HB: No. No no no no no. He
is—he was for me the surprise of my book. As I
say at one point he usurped this book. Indeed he wasn't
supposed to be there at all in the first place.
Originally the title of the book was Jesus and
Christ, since I regard the two of them as totally
separate figures, but I found that as I got into it, it
didn't make any sense to me unless I really talked
about Yahweh, and I think the really original part of
the book is the second half, on Yahweh, which actually
goes so far as to apply Lurianic Kabbalah to the whole
question of the origin of Yahweh. You will remember
that in Kierkegaard Nebuchadnezzar, after he had been
changed back from a beast in the field to a man, says
of Yahweh, "Nobody knows who his father was,
or who taught him the secret of his strength" [quoted
from Quidam in Stages on Life's Way] and I
speculate in a perfectly Kabbalistic way, I say—I
speculate that a perfectly—aren't you going to
LQ: Yes I'm going to try it.
HB: In a perfectly, I think,
Kabbalistic way that Yahweh may have come into
existence by this act of Zimzum, this act of
contraction or withdrawal, which means that he
diminished himself in order to get started. Which I
find fascinatingly parallel to Walt Whitman, in which I
again follow Scholem: who used to say in conversations
with me, that in a secular world somehow Whitman by
some miracle without knowing anything about Kabbalah
had in effect reinvented his own Kabbalah, and I think
that is true. Whitman throughout Song of
Myself and elsewhere is always saying that he is
expanding, that he is getting to contain more and more
multitudes, that his sense of self is steadily
increasing. But in fact he too is always contracting
and withdrawing. He is endlessly elusive and evasive,
and the worlds that he creates and ruins also seem to
come from some process of self-withdrawal.
LQ: This may lead to my next
question, which is something that puzzles me about the
book. And that is that in some sense I was not sure why
you think of the Yahweh of the Hebrew Bible as a true
description of a Deity, rather than as a . . . ?
HB: Well, there are
Yahwehs—just as I say there are seven versions at
least of Jesus or Jesus Christ, or Jesus and Jesus
Christ, in the Greek New Testament, there are
innumerable versions of God in Tanakh, the Hebrew
Bible, but the one who interests me and always has and
always will, is the original one, the first Straha,
traditionally called J or the Yahwist, probably written
as early as the reign of Solomon, 3,000 years ago, in
which most certainly he is as I say a stern imp, up to
a lot of mischief, something of a trickster
God—human all too human: he's always walking
around on the ground; he isn't flying up in the
air—he's walking around on the ground in order to
make personal, you know, sort of on the job inspections
of how things are going. He closes the door of the
ark—of Noah's ark with his own hands; he even
more memorably buries Moses in an unmarked grave, with
his own hands; he is very fond of picnics; thus at
Mamre he sits beneath the terapim trees because he
always likes to be in the shade rather than the sun,
thus he walks we are told in Eden in the cool of the
day, at Mamre, with two of the Elohim who are his
angels he sits beneath the terapim trees, and he has a
sumptuous rather full-scale luncheon prepared by
Sarah—roast veal and whey and freshly baked
sort-of cakes. And how is one to put it—he on
Sinai, on the side of Sinai, he sits there and shares a
meal with 73 elders of Israel. They stare at him and he
stares at them and that's it. He doesn't say a word and
they don't say a word, but there he is. And according
to Kabbalistic tradition, from the Merkavah thing on,
he's enormous, he is I say the King Kong of deities, he
is of enormous size.
LQ: What leads you to think of this
God as more than an exceptional fiction?
HB: Well, his metaphysical density,
his ferocious and vivid personality, his intensely
human traits—I gather you're not going to eat
that so I'm going to put it back in there—
LQ: One more bite.
HB: Go ahead, go ahead. He is . . .
he is a . . . the reason why I keep invoking
Shakespearean characters like King Lear, who is I think
Shakespeare's version of Yahweh, or Hamlet, who has a
very complex relation I think to Mark's Jesus, is that
Yahweh, Mark's Jesus, Hamlet, King Lear, Falstaff,
Cleopatra, Iago—they are all more real than you
are, whoever you are, and yes, they are fictions, but
if they're fictions, what are we? Since they are
livelier than we are, exceed us in energy and in
dynamism, as Yahweh does also. It seems to me
that—I mean he may just be not at all an
attractive version of what Mr. Stevens wanted to call
the supreme fiction, but he is . . . he's quite a
fiction, he's very persuasive and as I keep saying in
the book I wish he would go away. I don't like him. I
don't feel anybody can like him. His famous definition
when Moses asks him his name—his famous
self-definition is ehyeh asher ehyeh, translated by
William Tyndale as "I am that I am" and that's kept in
the Authorized Version of the English Bible. The Hebrew
"ehyeh asher ehyeh" actually means "I will be, I will
be;" "I will be that I will be," or to make it
into better English "I will be present wherever and
whenever I choose to be present," but I say throughout
the book that also means "And I will be absent wherever
and whenever I choose to be absent." And he is very
distinguished by his absences, it seems to me. But if
he is just a literary character—well first of all
I don't recognize any distinction between literary and
human characters; I mean I'm notorious for that, and
why not be notorious for that—it seems to me that
the sacred Bloomstaff, as I call him, is at least as
real as old Bloom—Sir John Falstaff, of course.
But not even kidding, I mean what can you say about the
Yahweh of the J writer? He is endlessly memorable, he
is endlessly unreliable. [Pause.] But he gets inside
you. I repeat I would like him to go away, but he
doesn't seem to go away.
LQ: Why doesn't he go away?
HB: Well, because I'm pretty sure
he is our equivalent—I mean, our equivalent for
him now is what our Uncle Siggy Freud called "reality
testing" and the Reality Principle. Freud says that
reality testing means that you have to "make friends
with the necessity of dying."
LQ: So he's the name of everything
that opposes our will.
HB: Yeah, he is . . . [Pause.] I
think I remark somewhere in the book, with a certain
amiable—I wouldn't say irony, but a kind
of zest, that God had breathing trouble and this
trouble created the world. And I think I remark
something like, "Try to hold in your breath for as long
as possible, and then just before you can't stand it
any more, try to think something into creation, try to
will or think something, and see what happens." Which
always makes me think of Kafka's very grand remark to
Max Brod, where he says, "We are one of God's thoughts
when he was having a bad day." It seems to me he has
mostly bad days. But since I don't think there's any
distinction whatsoever between sacred and secular
texts, there's only great writing and bad writing (or
good writing in between I suppose or fair writing) then
it's natural to speak of—in fact, remember what
Blake says; he says religion is just choosing forms of
worship from poetic tales, and then he adds—this
is The Marriage of Heaven and Hell —
"Thus men forgot that all Deities reside in the human
breast." But that doesn't mean that they don't reside
there. And of course, this is now a very tricky
business, because I'm not sure anybody—you're not
supposed to believe in Yahweh anyway if you are a
normative Jew, you're supposed to have Emunah, you are
supposed to trust in the covenant with him, but he's
never kept the Covenant himself, and I get awfully
weary of the Hebrew prophets who are always denouncing
the people of Israel for violating their covenant with
Yahweh when Yahweh hadn't kept his for a moment, and
always seems to be hard at work destroying his chosen
people. He seems to resent sometimes, precisely because
he had such trouble bringing them into existence I
suppose and they are after all according to that story
the original people that he brought into
LQ: The title of Frank Kermode's
review is "Angry at God." Do you think anger is the
HB: "Angry at God" is not what Sir
Frank says. That's on the front cover of The New
York Review of Books. If you look inside, Sir
Frank's review is "Arguing with God," and I think
that's what this book is, and an old Jewish tradition
is an argument with God.
LQ: What adjective would you use to
describe your feelings about . . .
LQ: . . . God?
HB: I don't like him. I repeat I
wish he would go away. But somehow he doesn't. I don't
think I have any nostalgia for him. I wouldn't dream of
praying to him, but then I'm an Emersonian, and Emerson
in "Self-Reliance" says quite wonderfully, "As men's
prayers are a disease of the will, so are their creeds
a disease of the intellect." Now Christianity has
creeds; Judaism doesn't. Islam has creeds; Judaism
doesn't. There are now one and a half billion so-called
Christians in the world and one and a half billion
so-called Moslems in the world—those who have
submitted: which is what it means, Islam means
"submission." There are perhaps fourteen million Jews
still left, so obviously it's a thousand to one. The
fight got settled a long time ago, but on the other
hand there are even more Hindus. Nobody knows how many
people there are in India—they don't practice
birth control there, unlike the Chinese who so
rigorously try to keep their population from getting
completely out of hand; there may well be more Indians
now than there are Chinese—in any case, if you
add up all the Indians, excluding the Pakistanis or the
Moslem Kashmiris, if you add up all the Hindus and
other modes of religion in India which are not Moslem
or Christian, and you add in all the Taoists,
Buddhists, and Confuciusts, not only of China but of
the rest of Asia, and the Buddhists and Shintoists of
Japan, there are more non . . . what are we to call
them? Ultimately at the moment it seems to me that with
great crusader Bush leading us there is a kind of
religious war being fought between the Moslem world and
the Christian world, just as there is obviously a
religious war being fought between the state of Israel
and the Moslem world, which is why Israel is sitting on
top of that vast mound of atomic and hydrogen bombs in
Dimona, but in the long run I suppose the religious
future may well lie with the East.
LQ: Um hm. Would you think the word
"disappointed" would be a fair characterization? Would
you say that you are disappointed . . .
HB: . . .with Yahweh?
HB: No. I wouldn't have dreamed of
trusting him in the first place. So what is there to be
disappointed with? He is, he's bad news, he has always
been bad news. No, I'm not disappointed; I find him
very fascinating, very interesting. As I say, he's even
more interesting than King Lear, and to some extent at
least—well, Mark's Jesus and Hamlet run almost
neck and neck in interest. Each of them has incredible
mood swings, as Sir Frank points out, following me in
that part of his review. No I'm... [Pause.] Look, I've
been teaching how to read for 51 years now. I've been
writing and publishing criticism for 51 years. It seems
to me that what I've written in this book is really
just an extension of the book The Anxiety of Influence, which in
its first form was written back in the summer of 1967
when I was 37, and actually contained a rather savage
chapter on the Gospel of John, which I detached and
later published separately, and now in revised form
have put it into this book, so it's a pretty direct
line from one to the other. I was rather amused,
though, to see my old student Jonathan Rosen, in the
review that appeared in today's Sunday Times Book
Review, saying that: Well after all what
difference does it make that Wallace Stevens strongly
misread Shelley in order to produce characteristic
Stevens, what matters is religious truth, and, you
know, it is the truth or falsehood in regard to one
another of, say, Christianity and Judaism or of Islam
that matters. That may be Jonathan Rosen, but that
isn't me, and that isn't in the book that he's
reviewing. Not that I'm ungrateful for his review,
which you know certainly shows a warm heart, and
reminds me of a wonderful pun I once—quoting from
the Hebrew—of an almost Lewis Carrollian or
Joyceyan dimension, that I threw into an outrageous
public lecture here on the relation between the
so-called two covenants or two testaments. I also liked
the joke, which I'd seen before but hadn't seen for a
long time. It's an old Yiddish remark, that the
Christians stole our watch 2,000 years ago, and are
still telling us what time it is. I like that. It's
almost as good as my favorite Yiddish proverb, as I
translate it: "Sleep faster, we need the pillows."
LQ: [Laughs.] I'm still fascinated
by the question of your relation to Yahweh, as you can
HB: Well, it seems to me no more or
no less vital or of concern to you as my close friend
or to me, as my relation to King Lear. I would have
great difficulty in saying what my relation to King
Lear is. I agree with Charles Lamb: you shouldn't even
go and see somebody try and act the part, because it's
unactable. What can you do with a figure who actually
stares up at the sky and cries out, "You heavens, you
should take my side because you too are old." That's so
marvelous and I can't imagine an actor enunciate it.
And I've never seen a Lear that worked. I think that
trying to play Lear would be rather like having a drama
in which somebody played Yahweh. Inconceivable.
LQ: You do use one phrase here
which struck me very much. I was fascinated by it. I'm
not sure I can imagine you using it about Lear. You
speak of your "waning skepticism" about Yahweh.
HB: Well, I have waning skepticism
about Lear also. I mean the difference is that I get
fonder and fonder of Lear, irascible old creature as he
is. Waning skepticism.
LQ: Yes, that's interesting. It's a
good surprising phrase. You expect the reverse.
HB: I drag it in at the end of the
book because I got very bored by Sam Harris. You know
pragmatically there's no difference between Sam Harris
urging an end to faith; I would say fine, Judaism isn't
faith anyway. That's Pauline Pistis, the substance of
things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. No,
the only question is whether you trust Yahweh or you
don't, and obviously you shouldn't and can't and
couldn't and won't, because he's bad news, as I keep
saying. He's as good an explanation for why everything
goes wrong all the time as we could want. And he's had
a terrible effect upon the world. Because in a somewhat
altered and perhaps even more aggressive form, he is
the Allah, which is a variant in Arabic on Elohim, of
the Koran, of the Recitation, and he utterly disappears
in Christianity, where God the father is just kind of
an unfortunate, weak imitation of Yahweh. [Pause.]
Surely it comes back to Leibniz, doesn't it? Which is
then picked up by the horrible Heidegger. Why should
anything be, anyway, rather than not be? Since Yahweh
puns on ehyeh, which is the ancient Hebrew verb for
being. I don't know. In the end I suppose if I have to
vote and go with any one, I go with Hamlet, who is a
nihilist as I read him. I think Shakespeare's
ultimately is nihilistic, not Christian, not even
Hermetist, just nihilistic, but I don't know that
pragmatically there's any difference between Yahwism
and nihilism. You know: is this a difference that makes
a difference? to invoke William James's, you know,
quite Emersonian definition of American pragmatism. It
doesn't seem to me that it is a difference that makes a
LQ: I see. So the phrase "waning
skepticism" doesn't mean "increasing faith"?
HB: No, there's no faith to be had
anyway. Certainly, the only issue is whether or not you
trust him. I don't trust him. He's not worthy of trust.
He is very bad . He is . . . .
LQ: You speak often of the
Holocaust as—I take it that that for you is
HB: Oh sure. Oh sure, I mean
Yeshua, if he was crucified, was one of hundreds of
thousands of Jews who were being crucified by the
Romans in those days. And the biggest single holocaust
of Jews took place after Rabbi Akiba proclaimed Simon
bar Kosba, Simon bar Kochba or son of the star and said
he was the Messiah, ben Joseph, that is to say, not the
Messiah ben David but the Messiah ben Joseph, the
warrior who comes first. And that led all of the Jews
in the world into a terrific rebellion against Hadrian,
and millions of Jews were eventually slaughtered and
Akiba tortured to death at the age of 95; Bar Kochba
went down heroically, taking legions of Romans with
him. At one point in the book I have a sentence that
Jeanne, my wife, reading it, said "Harold, it shouldn't
be there; it will get you into trouble." But I'm glad
it's there, because you know the great phrase about
Yahweh in the Psalms and elsewhere is that Yahweh is a
man of war, and I think his most memorable single
appearance, and I talk about it, in the Bible, in
Tanakh, is in the Book of Joshua, where at one point
Joshua—you know it is after the death of Moses
and Joshua is in command of the Israelites and they
conquered Canaan, and before a crucial battle near
Jericho he notices an armed warrior. He doesn't
recognize him, and he boldly goes up to him, and he
says, "Are you one of us or one of them." And the
fellow replies, "The ground upon which you stand is
holy. Take off your sandals." At which Joshua takes off
his sandals and abases himself because he recognizes
that it is Yahweh a man of war come to fight in the
battle of Jericho, which he does, as he also fights,
you know, with the tribes that came to the battle in
the first Hebrew poem that we have, the song of Deborah
and Barak in Judges 5. So I have this sentence in the
book: "If Yahweh is a man of war, then Allah is a
suicide bomber." I think they are all bad news, Judaism
and Christianity and Islam. But I wanted to make clear
in the book that there is no such thing as a
Judeo-Christian tradition. That is absolutely
ridiculous. And fascinatingly enough there are two
things that I've said throughout my life when I've
addressed Jewish audiences, say at the Jewish
Theological Seminary or such places, and they always
get furious at me. But they're both true. One is that
nowhere in the whole of the Tanakh does it say that a
whole people can make themselves holy through study of
texts. That's a purely Platonic idea, and comes out of
Plato's Laws. That simply shows how thoroughly
Platonized the rabbis of the second century were. The
other one, which I say in this book and it has already
given some offense, is that in fact not only is
Judaism, which is a product of the second century of
the common era—and it's worked out by people like
you know Akiba and his friends and opponents like
Ishmael and Tarphon and the others, is a younger
religion than Christianity is. Christianity in some
form exists in the first century of the common era.
What we now call Judaism comes along in the second
century of the common era. Christianity is actually the
older religion, though it infuriates Jews when you say
that to them.
LQ: I wanted to go back to your
comment . . .
HB: I think my book is good clean
LQ: Well I thoroughly enjoyed it. I
wanted to go back to your comment. . .
HB: But I don't think it's
HB: Because I think the
category—you know any time you want to say that
some text is more sacred than another then you've made
a political statement, and I don't like political
statements. It is utterly insane that by vote of the
United States Congress, the Church of Scientology has a
tax exempt status. That means that Dianetics,
by L. Ron Hubbard, which I challenge anybody to try to
read, is a sacred text, by vote of Congress. And of
course what it is is very ninth rate science fiction.
Though it now has distinguished believers like, I
believe, Tom Cruise and—isn't John Travolta also
LQ: To go back to your comment
about Yahwism and nihilism: What is—I don't know
how to put this question exactly—but what
is—why do you describe yourself as a Gnostic
rather than an atheist or an agnostic?
HB: Ah, that's what my wife always
wants to know. She regards herself as an atheist.
[Pause.] I don't think I am.
HB: Bad wife.
LQ: Sorry, what did you say,
JB: I regard him as an atheist.
LQ: I see. That was "I regard him
as an atheist."
HB: No, no I'm not an atheist. It's
no fun being an atheist.
JB: True! But what alternative is
HB: Well, the alternative is to
entertain all of these fictions. Remembering what Uncle
Wallace taught us, which is that the final belief he
says is to believe in a fiction, with the nicer aspects
of belief, that knowing that what you believe in is not
true. It's just imaginatively much more interesting to
be a Gnostic rather than an agnostic, to be fascinated
by Yahweh rather than indifferent to him. Walt Whitman
liked to say that the United States are in themselves
the greatest poem. Alas they're not, but it's a nice
idea. Yahweh is a great poem. [Pause.] I don't think
Jesus Christ is a great poem. [Pause.] I never quite
make up my mind about Allah, though I'm fascinated by
the fact that the Koran is the only book I've ever read
in which every single phrase is spoken by God himself.
It is the voice of Allah that you hear from the
beginning to the end, supposedly by mediation of the
angel Gabriel, being dictated to Mohammed, who however
doesn't write it down because supposedly he's an
illiterate, which baffles me, because he's a successful
merchant, and how could you have been a successful
merchant if you were illiterate, and couldn't read or
write? But supposedly he memorizes it and then he
dictates it—a very suspicious process of course,
but then no more suspicious than the formation of
Tanakh or the Greek New Testament. I don't say it in
this book, because I had said it in the book just
before, called Where Shall Wisdom be Found, in
the chapter there that reprints with a few
modifications a commentary that I'd written on the
Gnostic or quasi-Gnostic Gospel of Thomas,—I ask
every New Testament theologian I've known in this life
the same question; I've asked the great Pelikan this
question, at which he had just shrugged his shoulders
and walked off smiling amiably: How is it that we don't
have an Aramaic Gospel? Why is there no Nazarene
Gospel? Even though we know that no one who wrote
anything that is now in the New Testament had ever seen
the historical Jesus, had ever heard him say a word,
nevertheless, for any of this to make even an iota of
sense, that person did not go around speaking
Koiné, speaking demotic Greek. He went around
speaking Aramaic. Aramaic and demotic Greek are totally
different languages. The nuances of thought, expression
and spirituality of one are not readily translatable
into the other. How could you believe that you were
hearing the ipsa verba, the actual words of
the incarnate God, and not write them down and preserve
them? And what makes me even more suspicious is, you
will notice, as though they throw it in to show the
authenticity of this inauthentic schmaltz, all through
the Gospels suddenly you're thrown a phrase or two in
Aramaic, including, you know, the last words spoken
from the Cross. Why? And where's the rest of it?
LQ: You say in the book when you
come to the question of why Christianity has been
appealing, I believe you say, it's the promise of the
HB: Well, even more simply now
though: I was on Charlie Rose some weeks ago, and
Charlie, I suppose playing straight man—a hard
role for Charlie to play—said: To what do you
attribute the fact that you've just spoken of, Harold,
that there are a billion and a half Moslems in the
world and a billion and a half Christians and only
fourteen million Jews, how do you explain the enormous
appeal of these religions? I said: Well on the one
hand, in both Islam and Christianity, you're getting a
great deal in exchange for very little. All you have to
do in Christianity is say, "I accept that Jesus of
Nazareth was also Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the
anointed one or Messiah," and as a result you have life
eternal. And all you have to do in Islam, as they say,
which is what it means, is submit just to the statement
that Mohammed, who is certainly not divine and doesn't
pretend to be divine is nevertheless the seal of the
prophets, the final kind of a prophet and all you have
to do is submit to the will of Allah, and in return you
get Paradise. And of course there's also the fact, as I
said on Charlie Rose, that Christianity triumphed not
just because of that but because Constantine the Great
looked over what was available to him, including
Mithraism and so on, and said, "The right way to hold
the Empire together, the right state religion is
Christianity." So he swung the sword of Constantine,
and out went all the heretical versions of Christianity
also, including the Gnostics and we got the Church, the
Roman Catholic Church indeed. And then Mohammed, as the
Koran makes clear, and all the texts after
it—Mohammed is definitely a man of war and kept
defeating the Arabian Jews and he defeated the various
Arabian pagans, and after his death his Califs went on
and on and on magnificently (ah yes, beautiful wife)
magnificently went on conquering. So both Islam and
Christianity triumphed by the sword, and of course then
started engaging with one another—in the
Crusades, in Spain, in North Africa, and at the moment,
whether we like it or not, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and
God knows where next.
LQ: I take it that you find the
Hebrew Bible not only aesthetically deeper than the New
Testament, but also that you find it—how shall I
say it—spiritually deeper?
HB: The only thing in the New
Testament that seems to me spiritually valuable is the
general epistle of James, undoubtedly written by a
disciple of James, that is to say Jacob the brother of
Jesus, by tradition anyway the brother. And that is
precisely what Martin Luther wanted thrown out of the
Bible—he called it an "epistle of
straw"—because it said specifically that faith is
not enough, that only works matter, and it ferociously,
like the prophet Amos and the first Isaiah, cries out
against those who oppress the poor. I'm not sure how
much spirituality really interests me in the Gospel of
Mark. The Gospel of Mark—and a couple of early
reviewers, in places like Kirkus and (what's
that other one?) Publisher's Weekly, got very
angry with me about this—and they both picked
this up and a couple of reviewers I've seen
since—where I say that in many ways the author of
the Gospel of Mark reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe, in
that he writes very very badly on a sentence by
sentence basis, and yet he's got a spooky kind of
universalizing imagination. You know, he dreams
universal nightmares, and it's very hard to get them
out of your head.
LQ: Like Dreiser, or Mary Shelley.
Both bad writers on the sentence level.
HB: Yeah. Oh yeah. Dreiser is
endlessly fascinating in that regard. Sister
Carrie breaks my heart, and An American
Tragedy hurts so much I hate rereading it. But on
a sentence by sentence basis they're impossibly drab
and dreadful. And it's quite true,
Frankenstein and The Last Man, as
prose are very badly written, but they work, they work.
And the Gospel of Mark I think is very badly written,
by an amateur writer, evidently a Jew in Rome, writing
at about the time, you know, word is reaching him that
the temple is being destroyed and the city is being
burned, and—it is very compelling. And then of
course I hate the Gospel of John because as I say
candidly in the book it hates me so I hate it. It keeps
saying that the Jews are all the children of Satan. Now
that's very interesting, in the whole of the Hebrew
Bible, except for one brief, rather muted reference, I
think in the prophet Zachariah, who's late, the only
place where Satan enters is not as a fellow named
Satan, a personage named Satan, but as the ha-Satana,
the accuser, the prosecuting attorney, at the beginning
of the Book of Job. But in the Greek New Testament, the
only character who matters besides Jesus Christ is
Satan, who is onstage almost non-stop. It's a
Satan-haunted piece of work.
LQ: Oh, speaking of being haunted,
there's a beautiful passage at the end of the book,
where you say "I very much want to dismiss Yahweh as
the ancient Gnostics did, finding in him a mere
demiurge who had botched the creation . . . . But I
wake up these days, sometime between midnight and two
A.M., because of nightmares [of] Yahweh" (p. 236).
HB: Oh, yeah.
LQ: And so . . .
HB: He frequently looks like Uncle
Siggy, in a three piece Edwardian suit, with a
beautifully groomed beard and hair, and flashing a
cigar at me. But Uncle Siggy—If asked what Yahweh
looks like, I wouldn't think of Blake's Nobodaddy, I
would think of Uncle Siggy.
LQ: Ah. It's a figure of
LQ: But . . .
HB: Uncle Siggy is obviously a
kinder and more humane personage than Yahweh.
LQ: I think I understand...
HB: All this is just confirming my
wife's view that I am an atheist. But I'm not, I'm not.
[Laughs.] How uninteresting it is to be an atheist. I
mean, you can't make literature out of that.
LQ: Are you being diplomatic when
you say that? Do you think atheism is possible?
LQ: Well, I thought when I read the
book: I've always described myself as an atheist, but
maybe it's dishonest, maybe I should say I'm a Gnostic.
I'm angry with God. Perhaps that's Gnosticism.
HB: Yeah, I think if you argue with
God, or you're angry at God, if you have a grudge
against him, then that's much more fun than just saying
he's not there at all.
LQ: Do you think genuine
indifference is possible?
HB: Well, remember we live in the
United States of America, under the reign of W. the
Great, who is on record as saying that Jesus Christ is
his favorite philosopher, and is sitting there in Camp
David at this moment, telling his intimates that he's
on a mission from God to install democracy in Iraq, and
will not cease, you know, till he either leaves office
or has done it. And I believe him, I think he is that
crazy. He is an authentic crusader, unlike his Papa,
who knew when to come home. And this is Jesus Christ
CEO, you know this is the American Jesus of the
Christian right. It's very interesting. There is no
Yahweh in the United States. I mean God the Father is
just about gone. There is of course the BVM, or as I
like to call her, thinking of her manifestation in the
Houston Astrodome, visiting the refugees there, the
BBB, the Blessed Barbara Bush. That's our deity, or one
of our deities. My wife is particularly fond of the
Blessed Barbara Bush. I guess I like her too. She is
very good value. It's fascinating that we have an
American Jesus, and he's always been an American, not a
Jew at all, but the Christian right has now so
compromised him, that when Hispanics come pouring into
this country from south of the border or the Caribbean
or further down, like so many African-Americans and
like so many increasingly poor whites in the South or
even in the Midwest, they're turning to Pentecostalism,
which is the fastest growing religious movement in the
United States, which has nothing to do with Jesus
really, or Jesus Christ. It's all about the Holy
Spirit, which is pouring down upon them and they're all
shouting and jumping with him. I'm not so sure that in
the end this will not be a Pentecostal nation. In which
case it's true pre-Scripture will turn out to have been
The Crying of Lot 49.
LQ: Where does the idea of the Holy
Spirit come from?
HB: Ah. On the basis of almost no
New Testament evidence—a dove or
two—Christian theology manufactured, needing a
third person for the trinity, along with God the
father, to finish Yahweh and Jesus Christ the
theological God—they needed another entity, so
they gave us the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. But he
never really took root in European or Middle-Eastern
Christianity, or in East European and Russian
Christianity. It's here in the United States that
Pentecostalism really took off, and it's burgeoning,
you know, every day. The largest single Pentecostal
unit is the Assemblies of God, and they just sort of
surge on in number all the time. There are independent
Pentecostal groups all over the country. I've got some
former students in Atlanta, who shall be
nameless—charming people—who are literary
critics, teachers of literature by profession, and they
are ferocious Pentecostalists. They—I attended
one such service in Atlanta, and there they were all
whooping it up and shouting when the Spirit hits them
indeed and crying out in strange tongues and defying
the laws of gravity, and it's all wonderful stuff. I'm
not being ironic. So it was his mother.
LQ: The kids are getting restless,
so just one more question.
HB: I know you must go home,
because it's going to be 10:30 before you get those
pussycats in bed.
LQ: Ok, one last question then. To
come back to this passage about wanting to dismiss
Yahweh . . .
HB: Yes. Who wouldn't want to
LQ: . . . and being haunted. Now
the question is, why do you think you're—what is
it that—why are you haunted, what keeps bringing
HB: I read the Hebrew Bible. I
brood about it. It's a very strong text. Whether you
read it in the original, or you read William Tyndale
and Miles Coverdale, who between them write about
eighty-five to ninety percent of what you find in the
authorized version, and who are, with Shakespeare and
Chaucer the four great writers of the English language
as far as I can tell. Tyndale writes prose, Coverdale
does Psalms and battle hymns and so on. Both terrific
writers. And as I say, with Shakespeare and Chaucer,
the most powerful writers.
LQ: But you read the texts because
you're already haunted.
HB; Well, Laura, you reread
King Lear and Hamlet because you are
already haunted, and then you get more haunted by
reading them. They are infinite. They go on forever, in
the same way the war song of Deborah and Barak or the
great chant in the Second Isaiah about the suffering
servant, palpably meant to be the people of Israel,
which becomes however in the Christian interpretation
the suffering Christ—
LQ: Yes. I just wondered if you
wanted to pinpoint what it is—what it
HB: Remember you have to get your
HB: But go on—one last
LQ; One last thing—just if
you wanted to pinpoint a little what it is that
prevents you from dismissing Yahweh.
HB: [Pause.] I think it's an
LQ: I see.
HB: But you know, how do we know
what an aesthetic matter is? Its dimensions are
interview was conducted on November 27, 2005 after dinner.
Present are Harold Bloom, Laura Quinney, Jeanne Bloom,
Daniel Bloom, William Flesch, Daniel Flesch (9), and Julian
Flesch (5). The interview was transcribed by William
Died 26th Adar Rishon, 5697/1897 Grafskoy, (now Prolotarsky), Ukraine
Son of Rabbi Shlomo-Zalman Halevi (1798-1853) and Yokhved Komisaruk.
Great-Great-grandson of the Vilna Gaon.
Husband of Khaya-Sarah Levin (1834-1873)
The fact that Pinkhas was born in Rassein was established by the discovery of a history of where Pinkhas appears in the category of notables who were born in Rassein but lived elsewhere. This source also identifies his maternal grandfather and his father Shlomo Zalman. Indeed had it not been for the discovery of this book  , the family's connection with Rassein might never have been known and the family's earlier history never uncovered, as oral tradition told of the family's origin as Kovno (Kaunas). This referred to the province of Kovno in which the city Rassein was located.
A brief biography appears in the history of Rassein  :
"The rabbi, the great luminary, our teacher the Rabbi PINKHAS KOMISAR from the city of Rassein, who was Av Din and Shokhet in Grafskoy, a Jewish colony in the Government of Yekaterinoslav, died in the year 5657, (1897) 27th Adar, aged 67. Son of our outstanding teacher Rabbi Shlomo Zalman from the city of Rassein who died in the year 1848. Reb Shlomo Zalman was the son-in-law of the great Rabbi, the Kabbalist, our teacher Rabbi Menakhem Mendel from Rassein who was Shokhet in the Holy Community Girtegola and afterwards left the labour of Shekhita and sat learning in our city in the Great Beit Midrash 20 years until his last day and died in 5596 (1836). His honourable resting place is in the old cemetery."
There are several errors in this information. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman did not die in 1848 but in 1853 in Grafskoy. The error may have been made by the author of "Ir Rassein" who found no further reference to Shlomo Zalman in Rassein after 1848, by which time he had emigrated from the city.
Rabbi Pinkhas obtained his rabbinic learning initially in Lithuania and from his father. He was also trained as a Shokhet. Following the death of his father in 1853, the religious leadership of the colonies was thrust upon him at a young age. Despite the promised exemption from military services, when the Crimean War broke out in 1854 Rabbi Pinkhas was conscripted  . He served in the supply corps and thereby was able to care for the dietary needs of the Jewish troops by obtaining live cattle for Shekhita. Even in the confusion of battle Rabbi Pinkhas sought out Jewish troops for prayer and dedicated himself to comfort the wounded and bury the dead.
Upon his release from the army Rabbi Pinkhas took up farming his share of the family allotment together with his brothers. He toiled in the fields by day and studied and taught by night. Only when his sons were old enough to take over was he free to act as full time Rabbi.
Grafskoy 1890 census Komisaruk family  1. Family #15 2. Head of Household Komisaruk Pinkhas Zelmanowich. The elder has additionally two sons, who are not living in the colony; one daughter is married; one of sons has three boys. 3. Housing Goverment provided house covered with thatch (bad state). Near it built a new house with two rooms also covered with thatch (Good state). Stable also covered with thatch 4. Equipment two ploughs, one and two furrow. One mangle. One harrow. Two Britchka (carts). 5. Animals five horses Three cows. One calf. 6.. Land holding: Except 1/3* of land [10 desyatins of father's 30], also rents 17 desyatins. 2/3 of land owned by older brothers. 7. Farmed by Himself 8.. Quality of farming. Good
Whilst following the Lithuanian system of interpretation of religious law, Rabbi Pinkhas always took into account the needs of his people, seeking to ease any economic burden on poor families. If a poor woman brought a chicken to him to check whether it was Kosher, if there was only a small doubt, he would allow it. If the person was wealthy, he would decide on the strict side of the law and ban the chicken  .
Aside from rabbinic duties Rabbi Pinkhas was also a Mohel. The Mariupol synagogue records list three circumcisions performed by Pinkhas in 1885 and one in 1894.
During the pogroms of the 1880's Rabbi Pinkhas was renowned for his selfless dedication to helping the suffering. Whenever news arrived of a pogrom he rode off to tend the wounded and conduct funerals for the victims. During his army service he had learnt the rudiments of medical care and acted as a "Feldsher" (medical orderly) since qualified doctors rarely were available to tend the Jews. Rabbi Pinkhas was a Feldsher so during one Yom Kippur he interrupted services in the synagogue in order to give medical aid to a sick woman  .
Grafskoy Synagogue in ruins 2010 
Having lost his wife in childbirth he remarried twice since tradition required the Rabbi of a community to be married. Rabbi Pinkhas met an untimely death contracting pneumonia after falling into his well whilst trying to draw water to feed the animals.
Well in Grafskoy 1999 
This was indicative of his concern for others since, although no longer involved in farming, he decided to save the family the trouble of rising early in the cold winter and took upon himself the task.
His funeral was long remembered by people who came from the colony regions. Thousands attended, including sixteen Rabbis from the district who had come to pay homage to this renowned scholar and devoted leader. Stories of Rabbi Pinkhas' activities were related by the following generations and this author remembers listening to his grandparents relate the tales of their beloved grandfather.
Rabbi Pinkhas' obituary appeared in the Hebrew newspaper Hamelitz:
"GRAFSKOY: (a Jewish colony in the Government of Yekaterinoslav). - the 27th day of Adar Rishon was for us a day of mourning and grief because on it departed to his eternal life in the sixty seventh year of his life, the great Rabbi, Av Din of this place, our Rabbi Pinkhas Komisarov who officiated to the glory of our colony in the position of rabbi and Shokhet and examiner more than thirty years. Great honour was shown him upon his death, all the Rabbis of the surrounding colonies gathered and came to pay him their respects and to eulogize him according to the law. He was great in Torah and Fear of Heaven, and in peace and honesty led his brethren the farmers. Peace be to his dust and may his soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting life. Kalman Bruser."
(The author of this obituary, Kalman Bruser, was a son of David Moshe Bruser whose family also originated in Rassein and settled in Grafskoy.)
Whilst Rabbi Pinkhas left no written record of his scholarship, several books which belonged to him were saved from destruction during the revolution, and these bear his signature. A treasured memento of him is in daily use by this author: his Tefilin which were inherited by his grandson Shlomo Zalman Komesaroff (Kaye) of Melbourne and in turn by this author.
Pinkhas's grandson Mordekhai (Mottel/Mark), a son of Rabbi Zalman Komisaruk of Vasilkovka, mentions his grandfather in his memoirs  :
"The first of our ancestors who I remember was my father's father, the grandfather Pinkhas, by him there were three other brothers, of whom I only knew the great-uncle Velvel. Other brother, that means my great-uncles with the names Yaakov and Zalman, I did not see. One of them was in Kovno, and the grandfather Pinkhas and the great-uncle Velvel lived in a Jewish colony in Yekaterinoslav Government, Mariupol district. The colony was called Grafskoye, or No. 7 (all 17 colonies which were situated in Yekaterinoslav Government had a number). The grandfather Pinkhas was a Shokhet and a Rabbi, and his sons, that means my uncles, father's brothers, worked the earth like peasants and the great-uncle Velvel with his sons Berel and Meir also initially worked the land, only later did Berel opened a small store, and Meir was living by the work of the land. When I was 6 years old I remember that they brought to grandfather Pinkhas a painted tree with branches, the tree began with the great-grandfather who was called Mendel. From there it went to his sons Pinkhas, Velvel, Yaakov and Zalman. Only in my memory remains only the grandfather Pinkhas with his four sons Shlomo Zalman (this was my father) with his brothers Mendel, Simkha and Meir. What I am writing about is only the roots which came out from the grandfather Pinkhas with his brother Velvel. (On the tree were only male people)."
There are several errors, namely that Pinkhas's father was not Mendel, but Zalman and Pinkhas had another brother who lived in Grafskoy, Leibl.
"We came to colony Grafskoy, there did the grandfather Pinkhas live, the grandfather Pinkhas I remember that he always used to go around with a black scarf tied to his cheek, I don't know the reason. He was an angry Jew. The parents went away to the village Vasilkovka, Pavlograd district, and I remained living in the colony learning from the Gemorah Melamed. I used to âeat kestâ by uncle Simkha, and the brother by the uncle Mendel. The grandfather Pinkhas used every Shabbat to hear us, and never was he satisfied. He used to say it was a waste of the fees paid for our lessons. Later I wanted to travel home and I remember that Uncle Mendel harnessed his horse and a droshky and on Sukkot we came home"
Mottel's impressions of his grandfather Pinkhas are in sharp contrast to others of his cousins, particularly Mendel's son Zalman and Meir's daughter Khana-Reizel (later married and lived in Melbourne, Australia. They spoke of their grandfather Pinkhas with great affection. Mottel's attitude was perhaps a forerunner of his later revolt against traditional Shtetl education to the exclusion of any secular study. Indeed he was representative of many of his generation who yearned to be part of the open secular Russian society, restricted as it was in many ways to Jews.
Rokhel Luban (daughter of Avrom Hillel and Dina Namakshtansky) wrote about her maternal grandfather in her memoirs:
"Grandfather Rabbi Pinkhas didn't live very long. It was a cold winter. Grandfather did not want to wake the children so they could give food and water to the horses and cows. He got up and dressed warmly. In the barn he gave them all food. But they wanted to drink. He took the bucket with a rope out to the well to draw water. It was very slippery; it was a heavy frost and in the evening when they had drawn water from the well, some spilt out. As it was a very cold night, it froze and became very slippery. It was impossible to stand properly as Grandfather lowered the bucket and filled it with water. When he pulled up the bucket, it pulled him over into the well. He began shouting for help. They couldn't find a rope. Everyone was so confused that they couldn't think clearly. In the same house with Grandfather lived Grandfather's brother (# Velvel) and he had a shop for farmers' supplies. But there was no rope. Grandfather called from the well:" You stand in the middle of the ocean and you ask for a drop of water. When they pulled him out of the well they quickly brought a doctor. But he was too chilled and they could not save him. Seventeen rabbis from the surroundings came to the funeral. All the children from the places where they lived, together with many householders, came to pay their respects for the father. For my mother it was the worst. When she was born and lost her mother, Grandfather used to sit all night with the Gemorrah in his hand (# studying), swinging the cradle. My mother knew how to `Pasken' all the `Sheylahs' (# make decisions of religious law)."
Rabbi Pinkhas' signature in a book 1884
Rabbi Pinkhas' signature Grafskoy mayor election 1861
----------------------- 1."Lekorot Ir Rassein Urabbaneiha" M.arkowitz, Warsaw 1913 2. ibid 3. Peter Kaye (Komesaroff), Melbourne, Australia. 4. "Jewish Agricultural Colonies in Ekaterinoslav Province in 1890", L. Uleinikov [Binshtok], St Petersburg, 1891. http://www.shtetlinks.jewishgen.org/Colonies_of_Ukraine/Surveys_of_colonies_uleynikov.html 5. Clara Berchansky as related by her mother Rokhel Luban (nee Namakshtansky). Petah Tikvah, Israel 6. William Kaye (Komesaroff, son of Zalman), Melbourne, Australia. 7. Orlinsky, Ukraine album http://www.panoramio.com/user/3366156 8. Mel Comisarow, Vancouver, Canade, while visting the colonies. 9. Literal translation from Russian and Yiddish. Memoirs provided by Joseph Komissarouk, USA.
The Dimantshtein family originated in Polotsk, Belarus and moved to various towns in Latvia: Rekekne (Rezhitza), Daugavpils (Dinaburg/Dvinsk), Riga, Karsava (Korsovka), Ludza (Lutzin). The family were Leviim.
The family were Chabad Chassidim in Latvia. They were quite prosperous trading in flax, timber and fish. One branch of the family set up a fishery in Aberdeen, Scotland. Some changed the name to Diamond.The earliest generation which has been traced in archival records was Zev Wulf Halevy Dimantshtein, born about 1770 In Polotsk and died before 1839. His children were Greinen, Eliyahu and Moshe.
Eliyahu was born about 1800 and died before 1885. His children were David, Avraham, Shmuel and Zev-Wulf.
Documents in Latvian archives including the 1889 list of Jews who lived in the rural areas of Lutzin district: David Dimantshtein, born in 1823 in Polotsk, moved to Korsovka in 1872 from Rezhitza. He must have moved at an earlier date from Polotsk to Rezhitza. He is described in this list as a merchant. According to family tradition he and his wife operated an inn on the outskirts of Korsovka. The circumstances which led to his burial in Lutzin rather than Korsovka are not known. The birthdates and birthplaces of his children are estimated. Information about some of his family taken from a family drawn up in England in 1948 by Norman Nygate.
Tombstone of David, son of Eliyahu Halevy Dimantshtein, Ludza 1901. (Photographed by Aleksanders Feigmanis, Riga).
Vulf, (son of Elyash) was born in 1839 Polotsk, and moved to Korsovka in 1878.Vulf 's children: Abram, Elye, Treina, Dveira, Liba, Itka, Musya. All born between 1869-1885.
Davidâs wife was Keila-Tsirel. Her parentage is not known but Genetic testing revealed matches with several families such that she may have been related to families in the Vitebsk region such as Popkovitch, Leviyan (Gamerov), and others. Keila Tsirel was a short woman who had very definite views about bringing up her family. She wanted her daughter Rivka to know how to milk a cow so she had the maid Marfa teach Rivka. David and Keila-Tsirel were wealthy farmers and publicans, operating an inn on the outskirts of Korsovka. Once an inspector paid a visit to the inn and while sampling the food found an insect in a bun. Anxious to save her parents from prosecution, Rivka ate the bun quickly claiming that the insect was only a raisin.
The family developed widespread trading enterprises supplying the markets in the capital Riga with timber and flax for which trade they held a license. They also marketed herring on a large scale caught in the lakes near Lutzin. These business enterprises took several sons to live in Riga, in particular Tsvi-Hersh and from there expanded the trade to England in the late 1870âs which led to several members of the family settling there from 1880.
David and Keila-Tsirel's children were:
1) Zissa (c.1844-1932) married Pesakh Gordin and lived in Berzpils.
2) Yehudah Leib c.1848 - 1917 Korsovka.
3) Tsvi Hersh 1850 -1930 Riga.
4) Rivka (Rashka/Rebecca) 1851 or 1856-1834 married Mordekhai Zev Vulf (Max) Bull 1853-1931 London (see separate article).
5) Reuven c.1852, died 1934 London.
6) Zev Vulf 1856-1920 Korsovka.
7) Getzel c.1857-1890 Korsovka.
8) Moshe (Marks) 1860 - 1942 London.
9) Yeshaya c.1860 - 1933 London.
10) Zalman (Solomon) 1865 -1937 New York.
11) Meir, b.1865 never married, Riga.
12) Barukh . Identity unclear. According to Patricia Levitsky's history of the family, Barukh was a brother of her grandmother Rivka Bull. But Llyoyd Nygate's family tree does not include Barukh. He may have been a brother-in-law to Rivka's husband Max Bull, the husband of his sister.
1) Zissa and Pesakh Gordin lived in Berzpils and lost many of their family in the Holocaust. Their son Yaakov-Zev-Wulf settled in Korsovka where he was killed by the Nazis together with his children Raisa, Zalman and Mikhail. The surviving children Liuba Kalinkov, Gitta Tsiplevitch and Pesakh-Eliyahu settled in Israel. Zissaâs sons Mendel and Dan also perished in Berzpils. Mendelâs son Aba Gordin survived and lived in Korsovka. He possessed a Sefer Torah and took upon himself to organize religious servives for the small community that survived the Holocaust
2) Yehudah-Leibâs son Moshe-Eliyahu operated the family trade from Riga, settling in Lodon in the 1920âs where he opened a wooden barrel factory importing timber from Riga. He married his cousin Sonya, daughter of his uncle Getzel Dimantshtein.
3) Tzvi- Hersh left his hometown Korsovka and moved to Riga to engage in business. He became wealthy and started the Dimantshtein export business to England of herring, timber and flax. With the expansion of this business a number of his relatives immigrated to England. Tzviâ son Bernard travelled to Aberdeen, Scotland to conduct his father's business and opened a fish processing plant and a factory to produce barrels from the timber his father exported from Riga. The barrels were sent back to Riga, filled with herring, and exported back to Scotland. Bernard changed his surname to Diamond.
4) Rivka â see separate article âMordekhai-Zev (Max) Bullâ. Mordekhai-Zev and Rivka Bull, 50th Wedding Anniversary, London 1922.
5) Reuven According to Maurice Bull's memoirs Reuven was very tall, over six feet, and had a large spade beard. He was a very excitable man who once reacted violently to an anti-Semitic remark made in the street. He was a furrier and settled in England in 1897.
Reuvenâs son Yehudah-Leib was killed in the Arab riots of 1929 while working in the Diskin orphanage in Jerusalem.
Details of his death appear in âYizkor Am Yisrael et Kedushei Tarpatâ (Berzin and Weiss, Jerusalem 1930). Literal translation from Hebrew:
âYehudah-Leib Dimantshtein of blessed memory was born in 1880 in Russia to his father Reb Reuven Halevy. Yehudah-Leib was educated on the knees of Torah and Chabad Chassidism. However, when he was still young, at the age of seventeen, and desirous of expanding and completing his knowledge of religious learning, his studies were stopped. Because of his bad material situation his father was obliged to emigrate with his family to London. Here Yehudah-Leib bore the yoke together with his father of supporting the family. He worked initially at simple physical labour, afterwards learnt a trade and lived by it for many years. At the same time he `strove in the dust at the feet of the wiseâ, learnt with the Gaon Moshe-Avigdor Chaikin. In his spare time he also laboured for the community, involved in the needs of various societies and institutions. All those years since arriving in London his mind was occupied with his aspiration to settle in Eretz Yisrael. But the obstacles he encountered were too great for him.
At last Yehudah-Leib overcame all the obstacles and emigrated to Eretz Yisrael in 1922. Upon arriving in the country Yehudah-Leib managed to find work in Jerusalem. He was one of the happy of the world, the sparks of his soul reached a single perfection. He lived by the labour of his hands in Jerusalem, approaching starvation from his meager bread, praying daily with the community of Chabad, set aside hours for Torah.
But his work did not leave him much time. Long periods of want arrived. In the years of depression in the country, 1926-1927, economic deprivation reached the house of Yehudah-Leib, reached its limits. Lacking everything, his father in his letters demanded that he return to London and they would make a living together. âYour son should not go down together with you [to the grave] â was Yehudah-Leibâs answer. In the end he went to work at the Diskin Orphanage. He carried out his work faithfully and diligently. While he was attending the orphans of the institution he was obliged to add to them his son, aged four, who was orphaned from his mother who died at the beginning of 5689  in a car accident.
On Friday 17th of Av, during an attack by Arabs on the Rabbi Diskin Orphanage in the suburb Givat Shaul, Yehudah-Leib was severely wounded. Four days he lay struggling with the suffering of death. He passed away on Monday 20th Av.â
Yehudah-Leibâs first wife died in London and he remarried in Jerusalem Minna Moseieff of an old Hebron family related to the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Their only son Avraham was born in 1925. In 1977 attempts were made to trace this son and an elderly official of the Diskin Orphanage related that there was tension between Yehudah-Leib and Minna. She demanded a divorce which Yehudah-Leib refused. During a visit to Jerusalem by the Lubavitcher Rebbe Yosef-Yitskhak Shneerson, attempts were made to persuade Yehudah-Leib to give the divorce. The Rebbe summoned him to the Amdursky Hotel and commanded him to grant the divorce. But Yehudah-Leib refused. The situation reached a tragic end with the death of Minna in a car accident on the 17th of Shevat 5689 . Both Minna and Yehudah-Leib are buried in the Chabad section of the cemetery on the Mount of Olives. The orphan son, Avraham grew up and lived with his family in Beersheva under the Hebrew form of his surname âYahalomiâ.
6) Zev Wulf (also known as Velvel), born 1856, died 1920 in Korsovka. Operated a farm on the outskirts of Korsovka, perhaps the property which belonged to his father David. This was located near the Jewish cemetery near âNaudas Kalnsâ the infamous site of the massacre of the Jews in 1941.
Eliyahu (died in Kokand in 1942), Pessia, David , Haifa Yekhezkel or Khatzkel, Kfar Blum. Gershon (killed in the Holocaust) Seeka (killed while serving in the Latvian army).
Zev Wulfâs son Shmuel Escaped with his wife across the Latvian/Russian border when the Germans invaded Latvia. Perished from the rigours of life in exile in Siberia. Family of Shmuel Dimantshetin, Korsovka c. 1934
Shmuelâs son Eizik survived the Riga Ghetto and was deported to Stuthoff concentration camp.
Eizik Dimantshtein, Israel 1987.
The few survivors were evacuated to Sweden and liberated en route when the war ended May 8, 1945. Eizik lived for several years in Sweden and then immigrated to Israel where he worked as an engineer. He provided considerable material about his family. The following are excerpts (translated from Hebrew and Yiddish) of an interview in 1987 by Chaim Freedman, published in "The Pen and The Blade".
âMy grandfather Velvel was married first to Gitta and then to Minna by whom he had four sons. We are Leviim and Chassidim. In our township there were two or three synagogues for the Chassidim and two or three for the Misnagdim. My grandfather and grandmother lived not far from the cemetery and all the time one had to pass their house. In our township on Simkhat Torah the Chassidim would open the large oven and take out the Tsimmes and walk from house to house. It was a jolly time. That was the way with the Chassidim. The Misnagdim did not act that way. In our town was a secondary school where you could matriculate. Then I served for two and a half years in the Latvian army. Due to the anti-bourgeois feeling in Korsovka after the Soviet takeover in 1940 I went to Riga to work. There my sisters and brother were studying at the university. On the first day of the occupation Zhenia and Gitta were rounded up with large numbers of women, herded to the central prison and killed. Volinka was taken with men to the forest and killed. I was saved since the place where I was living was not included in the roundup.
I was actually in Riga when the war started as were two uncles Getzel and Eliyahu, sisters Zhenia, Gitta and brother Volinka (Zev-Wulf). In Korsovka remained my father Shmuel and Avraham. My father was engaged in the forest trade, timber, produce and flax. He would buy from the peasants and ship to Riga. They called it a âHandler In Valdâ. Flax was a rich and honorable trade in Latvia. One needed a government license.
My parents lived in Korsovka with my sister Rivka and they fled as soon as the war started. Those who remained in Korsovka were rounded up and killed. I think Avraham was one of those killed. My father died in Kokand in 1943 of typhus. My mother with Rivka returned to Riga after the war.
I worked in the Riga Ghetto in a factory. When I asked a gentile Latvian from Korsovka about the fate of the Jews there he told me âAll the Jews in Korsovka were shot like dogs.â I heard afterwards that they rounded them up in a side street, took all of them, once they had prepared pits in the forest, it was not far from where grandfather had lived, called Naudas Kalns, the âHill of Silverâ and killed them all.
In Riga there were 40,000 Jews, In the Ghetto there were 30,000 until they killed 25,000. 5,000 remained in the âSmall Ghettoâ and I was amongst them. We worked in the railway freight station. Wagons would arrive. I was supposed to be specialist as I was one of the 600 Jews who were called craftsmen and so they looked after us. We worked there until the Russians approached Riga and then the Germans evacuated us. They came at night and put us in a store and told everyone to undress. In the middle sat one at a table and they called us by the numbers which everyone bore and he had to present himself, that is to run naked with hands in the air and to turn around. Then he would say right or left. They wanted to take the healthiest men who had no blemish on their bodies. That was why we had to turn around. To the right was life; to the left was the world to come.
So they evacuated us to Stutthof near Danzig. They acted relatively better to us because we were specialists and went to work where the railway passed by. Then I saw the crematorium. A German walked with a piece of white chalk in his pocket. In the summer there was no work. They walked around the yards, the German looking around. Whoever didnât walk well he drew an âXâ with chalk on their back. These were sent to the crematorium. We worked for about a half or three quarters of a year. Then the Russians once again approached and they evacuated us. Then I saw the destruction that they had wrought. Mountains and mountains of bodies. That was then the evacuation. Again the Russians approached Danzig and bombed Stutthof and the Germans didnât want to leave us. I was sick with typhus. That was on the 25th of April. We felt that at any moment the whole business would be over. As is known the war ended May 8th. I had a temperature of 41Â°. I was in the clinic. There was an epidemic. To my good fortune and that of another Jew (his name was Shmuel and he settled in Australia) we were the first to catch typhus. To my good fortune, what do I mean? They took us to the clinic. Later the Goyim also got sick and then they didnât take Jews any more to the clinic. All the Jews who had typhus were put in a barrack and it was burned down. I remember that I was on the third floor. Some officers wanted to run away. One said âWe are leaving them here.â We thought âThank G-dâ. I had no more strength. But in the morning came an announcement: they are taking us with them.
We were a few kilometers from the Baltic Sea. There was no port and ships could not approach. People who were sick and could not manage the four kilometers were told: âDonât worry â stay here and we will take you.â I, after four years in concentration camps, knew about their favours. I went down with difficulty and walked. Those who remained were all shot. Between 27-29th April we embarked on a motor less ship which was towed. What is meant by âembarkedâ ?. The ship was 100-150 metres from the shore. They placed a narrow bridge of boards. Sick people had to make it. They fell and they killed them. I succeeded; I had been as strong as an ox. I got inside. There we sailed until May 8th. They wanted to take us because if we werenât with them they would be sent to the front. They wanted to take us to a Baltic port, but everywhere were either the English or the Americans. Until May 8th we sailed on the sea and then the war ended. It is possible to write thousands of pages on the Hell which was there. If there is a Hell then it is a Paradise compared to the Hell which was there. They put in four times the number of people for whom there was space. One on top of the other. Whoever had strength lay on those who hadnât. At night shouts of Hell were heard from the people who were dying. In the morning the SS came and lowered a rope from above for those who had died to be tied and hauled up top. They slit their stomachs with a knife so that the bodies wouldnât be washed up, and threw them overboard. On May 8th the German team shouted: âthe war is over and you can come outâ and they fled.
On the 12th of May we reached port in Sweden. There were journalists who photographed us. The wounds will never heal. Twenty to twenty five years came the dreams at night. One cannot forget.â
Zevâs son Eliyahuâs daughter Luba Teitelbaum (Netanya, Israel) described the Nazi invasion of Riga in July 1941. When the Germans invaded the Russians left quickly. Her husband had worked for them and so was given a pass for his family. The Germans occupied half of Riga while the other side of the river Dvina was still held by the Russians so that those who had influence could escape. Liuba and her family travelled by Gorky and then to Kokand in Uzkekistan. Her parents also got passes and joined them. Her younger brother Shmuel was in hospital in the German part of the city and he was killed. Her sister Zeldaâs little boy was in kindergarten in the occupied zone. He was trapped and killed there. In Korsovka relations with the Latvians had been reasonable. But as soon as the Germans invaded the Latvians started a pogrom. The daughter of the rabbi had escaped on foot, but having forgotten something returned and was killed in the street. One German resident Pankiewitz had married a Jewish girl. He saved his wife and her family in a secret chamber he had built in his house. He hid other Jews there including, it is thought, Marita the daughter of Getzel Dimantshtein. But she left and was presumed to be killed. Liubaâs father Eliyahu died of illness and deprivation in Kokand in 1942. Her mother and sisters returned to Riga after the war where her mother died in 1947. Liuba and Zelda settled in Israel. Her uncle Getzel died of disease in the Russian exile together with his son Pavel. Her uncle Avraham before the war travelled to London but returned to Korsovka where he was killed. Likewise her half-uncle Gershon was killed. Her half-uncle Seeka was killed serving in the Latvian army.
Liuba also recalled stories of the period before the Revolution. There were three incidents in Korsovka. On one occasion Russian soldiers from one of the warring sides burst into her uncle Shmuel Dimantshteinâs house. Liuba nd Eizik were terrified and sneaked through the crowd in the living room to the kitchen where they escaped to Christian neighbours. Shmuelâs house was looted and many valuables stolen. On another occasion her father Eliyahu and family took shelter with Christian neighbours who disguised them in peasant clothes. Russian marauders came and demanded to be told which shops in town had liquor and tobacco. They didnât recognize Eliyahu as a Jew and asked him âAre there any Zhids ?â He replied that there werenât. Liuba recalls seeing a Jew shot in the street. In 1920 Eliyahu and Getzel and their families moved to Riga. After the Second World War Liuba returned to Korsovka for a visit. She found most Jewish houses destroyed except for those of her father and her uncle Shmuel. Also the Jewish cemetery was intact.
The Jewish cemetery of Korsovka was photographed for Chaim Freedman by researcher Aleksandrs Feigmanis of Riga. About 300 photographs are held by Chaim Freedman.
7) Getzel âs son Shmuel (Sam Diamond) settled in London were he was in business. He married his cousin Devorah (Dora) daughter of his uncle Reuven Dimantshtein.
8) Moshe (Marks) Held a government contract to supply black bearskin hats to the British army during the Boel War. He was a wealthy furrier who lived in large house in Hackney Downs. According to the 1891 London Census, he immigrated to London about 1880, thereby being the first of the Dimantshtein family to leave Latvia.
9) Shaya Arrived in England about 1900. made a living as a tallyman (draper). He was a member of the Jewish Socialist Bund in Russia and an ardent Zionist in England. He wrote a ballad in memory of the victims of the Kishinev pogrom in 1903. Shaya was an active Shadkhan (matchmaker) in London. On one occasion he believed that his grandniece Betty Sagon was possessed of a Dybuk (evil spirit) so he carried out a Kabbalistic ceremony of excorsism. Shaya had a tenor voice and acted as a Khazan on the festivals. He played the violin at family celebrations. At one family wedding (possibly Dora Bull's) he danced the Russian Kazatchka and died of a heart attack at the age of seventy three. After his death his widow went to South Africa to join their only daughter.
Other Dimantshteins included the Shokhet Khaim Dimantshtein and his son Nakhum who perished in the Holocaust in Rezekne. Shneur-Zalman Dimantshtein was a butcher in Korsovka, Several of his children survived the Holocaust by fleeing to Rostov. A grandson David settled in Israel in 1972. The Soviet Komissar Shimon Dimantshtein was born in Sebezh but it is not know if he was related.
Dimantshteins in London 1905; possibly Reuven and Shaya.
Basically, Kabbalah is the study of the inner secrets of the Torah, which comprise the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew bible, and which happen to comprise the Old Testament of the Bible. Devout Jews and Christians alike believe those five books to be the direct word of God. Adherents to Kabbalah subscribe to the belief that God revealed secrets, including all those about creation and the true nature of the Godhead, to Adam, who is construed to be the first of God's Earth's human expressions.
The bible is rife with mystical experience â the miracles leading to the exodus, for example; the burning bush and the encounter with God on Mount Sinai. Jewish orthodox belief holds that Moses also accepted the Torah on Mount Sinai by divine inspiration, in addition to the Ten Commandments. This places a great mystical importance on the Old Testament to the occasional class of believers so inclined.
Kabbalists seek to understand the hidden meaning of the words of the Torah in the attempt to gain a closer understanding of that which Jewish orthodoxy believes cannot ever truly be understood â the very nature of God, and to perhaps derive some knowledge of the secrets behind the working of miracles, which are perceived as magic.
The revelation of the Pentateuch and the witness of those miracles by the ancients have imbued an almost irreconcilable curiosity in those who yearn to know more about occult things. This thirst for knowledge has persisted, ever since those times when Egypt was under the rule of the pharaoh Ramesses II, and when he acknowledged the great power of the slavesâ God who worked those miracles through Moses. Ramesses released them from their bondage as a result. Since then Kabbalah, in its original intent, which is to find out if it is possible for one of God's creations to do that at will, has become a legitimate area of study by rabbinical scholars. Those of whom who are devoted to it study the Torah for up to three hours a day.
It is probable that the entire history of the evolution of sorcery and witchcraft to the levels where they exist today in all their various manifestations have their origins in the witness of, and wondering about, all divine miracles. And about the mystery of creation, which Kabbalists have attempted to rationalize, and about which they have come to develop theory and hypotheses.
Out of their study of Kabbalah has come their limited knowledge of God â limited because God cannot be understood by human beings because we are too deficient in our capacities compared to him; that he encompasses the universe but that the universe does not encompass him; that creation is a manifestation, extension if you will, of his divine presence and that all matter and spirit are one with him. Curiously enough for their being a part of the same religion, some believe that matter did not exist before God - and yet others believe that matter did exist before God.
Over the centuries, it seems that the study of Kabbalah has seen as many interpretations by scholarly rabbis as there have been scholarly rabbis.
The Jewish Diaspora tended toward a decentralization of the rabbinical college, and this precluded their ever developing an integrated school of thought. As a result, many rabbinical scholars developed original interpretations and ideas concerning the Torahâs hidden secrets. In fact, over 2,000 years ago the hermetical scholar Ben Sira even warned against delving into esotericism, saying, âYou shall have no business with secret thingsâ.
It is thought that Kabbalah, as a field unto itself, actually has its beginnings during the middle ages and the Rennaisance. Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534â1572) is considered to be the most influential of the Kabbalist teachers, founder of an important school of mysticism whose understanding of the way of things linked manâs deeds to the secret processes of creation. He taught that through deed, the original order of the cosmos might be restored and that then the way of reality would unfold into the climactic coming of the Messiah. He taught mostly through oratory but his philosophy was expounded in numerous works by his disciple Hayim Vital.
The death of Rabbi Isaac Luria and his disciples left a void which a charismatic and controversial Kabbalah scholar by the name of Sabbatai Zevi (1626-1676) filled - to satisfy the public need for greater spiritual insight, a need made all the more profound by the chaos left by the pogroms of the Ukrainian Cossacks who massacred Jews and Roman Catholics alike, during the years 1648 to 1654. The Jewish masses were convinced that their âJewish Messiahâ had come. Zevi's meditations included mystical chants and incantations.
To the disillusionment of most Jews, Zevi became an apostate to Judaism. He converted to Islam to avoid execution by the Ottoman Sultan for plotting to conquer the world and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. The Sabbatinian movement retained some followers in Turkey, who concluded that his conversion was but a clever ploy to inspire Islamic followers into the way of the Jewish faith. There are Sabbatinian sects today.
The âFrankistsâ were followers of the pseudo-mystic Jacob Frank (1726-1791), a Kabbalist who eventually became an apostate to Judaism when he converted to Catholicism.
There are sects of Judaic Orthodoxy which maintain that idolatry is sinful, and yet the red string bracelet of Tamarâs first born twin (Genesis 38:28), placed there innocently so that the first named could be re-identified, has become a talisman to dilettantes. The thought among the more occult Kabbalists is that the red string bracelet wards off the evil eye. Apparently, Rachel's tomb was encircled by her devotees with a red string, and bracelets subsequently cut from it. Therein lies the tradition. Talismans are really just small idols.
Between the extremes of divine dignification and its antithesis, however that may be described, lies the gamut of all things pertaining to the supernatural, including superstition. The study of the Torah will continue, because the messages that can be read into them are virtually infinite in number, and they must be realized.
Underlying the real purpose of scriptural study is the establishment of a specialized adaptation to inspired epiphenies so that they manifest into the deeds from which civilization is ultimately hewn, insomuch as curiosity gives rise to invention.
It is acknowledged amongst all religions that there is much more to reality than meet the senses, and that we exist in but a narrow sliver of the entire spectrum of it, insomuch as we can see but a narrow detectable sliver of the range of frequencies that comprise the entire optical spectrum. That is the lure to which real students of Kabbalah are drawn.
Die dieswÃ¶chige Thoraparasha ist nur so gespickt mit wichtigen Ereignissen und es ist kaum mÃ¶glich, auf alles im Detail einzugehen. Das berÃ¼hmtes und am meisten diskutierte Ereignis ist jedoch immer wieder "Yaakov's Leiter - Jacob's Ladder oder im Original - Sulam Yaakov".
Am Ende der vorherigen Thoralesung sandte Yitzchak seinen Sohn Yaakov zu seiner Familie nach Padan (Syrien), um eine passende Ehefrau zu finden. Daheim waren sie nur von den gÃ¶tzendienenden Kanaanitern umgeben und Yitzchak dachte nicht daran, einen von ihnen mit seinem Sohn zu verheiraten. Auch Esav sah sehr wohl, dass sein Vater nichts mit den Kanaanitern zu tun haben wollte und um ihn nicht zu verÃ¤rgern, ging er zu Ishmael und heiratete eine von dessen TÃ¶chtern (Raschi).
Die aktuelle Thoralesung beginnt mit dem Fortgang Yaakovs aus Beer Sheva. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt war Yaakov schon 63 Jahre alt. Das Alter dÃ¼rfte bei ihm eine geringere Rolle gespielt haben, denn heisst es doch im Talmud Traktat Bava Metziah 84, dass Yaakov die absolute SchÃ¶nheit von Adam besaÃ.
In der Thora heisst es, dass Yaakov Beer Sheva verliess und nach Haran (Syrien) ging. Schon allein dieser erste Satz der Lesung verursacht unzÃ¤hlige unterschiedliche Kommentare und Meinungen. Zuerst einmal heisst es "Vayetze - Er verliess Beer Sheva" und kurz darauf heisst es "er ging nach Haran".
Bedeutet der Satz, dass Yaakov sofort nach Haran ging und sich dort befand als er sich zum Schlafen hinlegte oder befand er sich mitten auf dem Weg ? Die bekanntesten und weitverbreitetesten Meinungen lauten, dass Yaakov Beer Sheva verliess, dann irgendwann der Abend einbrach und er sich zur Rast entschloÃ. Und das nicht an irgendeinem Platz, sondern genau auf dem heutigen Tempelberg Har HaBait. Schon zur damaligen Zeit besaÃ der Tempelberg eine einmalige Bedeutung, denn von seinem Staub wurde der erste Mensch Adam erschaffen und spÃ¤ter opferte an der gleichen Stelle Avraham seinen Sohn Yitzchak. Viele Kommentare lassen verlauten, dass sich auf dem Tempelberg das "Tor zum Himmel" befindet. Der berÃ¼hmte Kommentator Raschi sagt, dass sich der himmlische Tempel genau Ã¼ber dem irdischen befindet.
In der Chassidut sowohl als auch der Kabbalah gibt es das Konzept, dass alles Irdische seinen spirituellen Gegenpart in der "Oberen spirituellen Welt" hat. Das obere GegenstÃ¼ck hÃ¤lt durch seine Anwesenheit das untere am Leben. Juden warten auf den Meschiach und die Erbauung des Dritten Tempels und wie der Rambam (Maimonides) kommentierte, steht der Dritte Tempel spirituell schon im Himmel parat und braucht nur noch herunterzukommen.
WÃ¤hrend Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch noch eine sehr rationale Meinung vertritt, sehen chassidische Kommentatoren den Wegzug Yaakovs aus seiner Heimatstadt Beer Sheva als einen Ãbergang zu viel hÃ¶heren Leveln im Leben.Laut Rabbi Hirsch bedeutet der Auszug die LoslÃ¶sung Yaakovs von der elterlichen FÃ¼rsorge und den Beginn seines eigenen unabhÃ¤ngigen Lebens. Der chassidische Rabbiner, Rabbi Elimelech von Lejansk, schreibt jedoch in seinem Buch "Noam Elimelech", dass Yaakovs Leben in Beer Sheva ein Level war und er durch seinen Fortzug zu einem hÃ¶heren Level aufsteigt. Genau das sollte auch unser Ziel im Leben sein. Niemals sollen wir meinen, auf einer Stelle verweilen zu mÃ¼ssen und stattdessen sollten wir stÃ¤ndig nach mehr Perfektion streben. Schon die kleinste Anstrengung allein bringt uns dem Ziel nÃ¤her.
Yaakov war unterwegs und plÃ¶tzlich wurde es Abend und die Sonne ging unter. Er betete sein Abendgebet (Maariv), sammelte einige Steine ein und legte sich schlafen. Und abermals sieht die Chassidut (Chassidismus) in diesen Worten versteckte Metaphern. Rabbi Naftali Zvi Horowitz von Ropschitz sieht die "Nacht" als eine Metapher fÃ¼r die kommende Diaspora (Galut) Yaakovs. Das "Licht G - ttes" wird in der Diaspora schwÃ¤cher und von daher muÃ sich jeder Jude G - tt noch mehr zuwenden. Sprich, durch Gebet und heutzutage auch durch ein Leben nach der Thora.
Yaakov sammelt Steine und legt sie unter seinen Kopf. Hierbei ist wieder einmal auf das hebrÃ¤ische Original zu achten, denn als er sammelt, heisst es Steine und als er erwacht heisst es "der Stein unter seinem Kopf ". Wie ist aus den vielen Steinen plÃ¶tzlich nur ein einziger Stein geworden, fragt die Gemara im Talmud Traktat Chullin 91b.
Die Midrash Rabbah sowie der Kli Yakar geben uns den Hinweis, dass es sich um 12 Steine handelte. Die genaue Anzahl von 12 stellt symbolisch die Anzahl der 12 israelitischen StÃ¤mme dar, die von Yaakov abstammen werden.Die Gemara lehrt, dass in der Nacht alle 12 Steine zu einem zusammenschmolzen. ZwÃ¶lf verschiedene StÃ¤mme machen ein Ganzes aus; nÃ¤mlich das jÃ¼dische Volk.
Und dann folgt der so berÃ¼hmte Traum Yaakovs. Eine Leiter kommt vom Himmel herab. An ihrem oberen Ende steht G - tt und auf der Leite selbst steigen Engel auf, nur um danach wieder herunterzusteigen. An dieser Stelle bitte darauf achten, dass sie Engel zuerst aufsteigen und danach heruntersteigen.
Zu diesem Traum gibt es unendlich viele Kommentare und ich beschrÃ¤nke mich darauf, einige der wichtigsten Meinungen wiedergeben. Der Ramban (Nachmanides), z.B., schreibt, dass der Aufstieg eine Zukunftsvision der kommenden Tempel ist. Vom Tempelberg steigen alle Gebete hinauf in den Himmel. Genauso geschah es mit dem Rauch der Opferungen beider Tempel. Allgemein heisst es, dass die Gebete der Diaspora erst nach Israel kommen, dann nach Jerusalem und dann zum Tempelberg, von dem aus sie aufsteigen. Wohingegen wir in Jerusalem eine Direktleitung zu G - tt haben, da unsere Gebete keine Umwege gehen mÃ¼ssen. Schon allein aus dem Grund ist es wichtig, in Israel zu leben, um einmal einen kleinen zionistischen Einwurf zu starten.
Das kabbalistische Buch Zohar sowie die Mehrheit der Kommentatoren sehen in den auf - und niedersteigenden Engeln den Auf - bzw. Abstieg des jÃ¼dischen Volkes sowie der anderen VÃ¶lker. ErfÃ¼llt das jÃ¼dische Volk G - ttes Gebote nicht, beweist die Geschichte, dass wir jedesmal bestraft wurden, indem die anderen VÃ¶lker Ã¼ber uns herrschten. Halten wir uns jedoch an G - ttes Willen, dann stehen wir Ã¼ber den anderen VÃ¶lkern wie, z.B., zur Zeit KÃ¶nig Davids oder KÃ¶nig Salomons.
Die Chassidut andererseits sieht den Auf - u. Abstieg als den Versuch des Menschen, zu hÃ¶heren Leveln im Leben aufzusteigen. Einen weiteren interessanten Aspekt vermittelt der Seher von Lublin, Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak Horowitz. Er betrachtet den Abstieg als unsere materielle Welt und den Aufstieg als die kÃ¼nftige spirituelle Seelenwelt (Olam HaBah).
In der Thora heisst es, dass G - tt am oberen Ende der Leiter im Himmel stand. Solche SÃ¤tze sind natÃ¼rlich immer eine Metapher und nicht wÃ¶rtlich zu nehmen, da G - tt weder Form noch Gestalt besitzt.Der Rambam (Maimonides) schrieb dazu gleich einen Kommentar in sein Buch "The Guide of the Perplexed - Der FÃ¼hrer der UnschlÃ¼ssigen" (1:15). Die Engel seien an dieser Stelle eine Metapher fÃ¼r die zukÃ¼nftigen jÃ¼dischen Propheten und G - ttes "Position" am Ende der Leiter drÃ¼ckt Seine immerwÃ¤hrende Anwesenheit aus. Eine der wichtigsten Verhaltensmuster in dieser Parasha ist das Verhalten Yaakovs in der Diaspora in Haran. Auch nach all den Jahren assimilierte sich Yaakov keinesfalls. Niemals nahm er an den Schandtaten seines Schwiegervaters Lavan teil oder entfernte sich von G - tt. Da uns die Thora immer etwas lehren will, tut sie dies hier, indem sie auch uns aufzeigt, wie wir in der Diaspora leben sollten. Leider ist der Mut Yaakovs im Laufe der Jahrtausende bzw. Jahrhunderte so ziemlich verloren gegangen und immer mehr Juden meinen, sie mÃ¼ssen genauso sein, wie die anderen VÃ¶lker auch.
Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch nennt einen zusÃ¤tzlichen wichtigen Punkt. Bevor sich Yaakov nach Haran aufmacht, betet er zu G - tt, dass dieser ihn mit Nahrung versorge. Dieses Verhalten zeigt uns einmal mehr, dass nichts im Leben selbstverstÃ¤ndlich ist. G - tt ist fÃ¼r alles verantwortlich und der einzige, der uns alle WÃ¼nsche erfÃ¼llen kann. Und schon allein aus dem Grund sollen wir zu Ihm beten und nicht allein auf unsere StÃ¤rken vertrauen. Die nÃ¤mlich sind keineswegs unendlich und noch dazu begrenzt. Schabbat Schalom
Heute abend und morgen (Donnerstag) feiern wir "schon wieder" den Beginn eines neuen jÃ¼dischen Monat. Der Monat KISLEV.
Ein neuer Monat stellt jedesmal aufs Neue auch fÃ¼r uns persÃ¶nlich einen Neubeginn in unserem Leben dar, was uns gleichzeitig immer wieder motiviert, alles besser machen zu wollen.
Fast am Ende des Kislev beginnt das Chanukkah - Fest und in Jerusalem essen wir schon seit jetzt die traditionellen Sufganiot (Krapfen, Berliner), welche uns bewuÃt machen, dass Chanukkah vor der TÃ¼r steht. Suganiot mit allen erdenklichen FÃ¼llungen; von der einfachen Marmelade Ã¼ber die Karamelcreme bis hin zum EierlikÃ¶r. Alles ist zu haben.
Die traditionellen Chanukkah - Sufganiot (Krapfen)
Photo: Miriam Woelke
Kislev ist der Monat der "Sicherheit" und des "Vertrauens in G â tt". Die kÃ¤mpfenden Chashmonaim (HasmonÃ¤er) gegen die griechische Besatzung gaben niemals ihr G â ttvertrauen auf und besiegten so den gÃ¶tzenanbetenden Feind. Gleichzeitig ist Kislev aber auch der Monat des "Schlafes", welcher von Kabbalisten als passives G â ttvertrauen bezeichnet wird. G â tt wird immer Ã¼ber Israel wachen.
Aus dem kabbalistischen Buch "Sefer Yetzira â The Book of Creation" geht hervor, dass jeder jÃ¼dische Monat einen bestimmten Buchstaben, einer Farbe, einem israelitischen Stamm, einem menschlichen Sinn sowie eines Organes symbolisiert.
Das chassidische Buch "Bnei Yissachar" verfÃ¼gt Ã¼ber eine Reihe genialer Insights zum Kislev. Hier eines davon:
Laut Kabbalisten und Chassidim handelt es sich bei dem Licht an Chanukkah um jenes Licht, welches das erste von G â tt geschaffene Licht nach der Welterschaffung (Or HaGanuz) symbolisiert. Dieses Or HaGanuz wurde nach Beendigung des Erschaffungsprozesses von G â tt verborgen und bis heute kÃ¶nnen wir es nur anhand des Thorastudiums zum Scheinen bringen. An Chanukkah jedoch ist es offensichtlich.
Freuen wir uns auf den neuen Monat Kislev und das baldige Chanukkah â Fest. Der Abend des 8. Dezember ist der erste Tag des Chanukkah - Festes.
Die Farbe des Kislev ist blau â violet. Der Buchstabe ist das SAMECH ×¡ . Die Form des Samech ist ein Kreis, der fÃ¼r die AllgegenwÃ¤rtigkeit G â ttes steht. Das Sternzeichen des Kislev ist der SchÃ¼tze. Der israelitische Stamm ist Benjamin. Der menschliche Sinn ist der Schlaf. Wenn jemand das absolute G â ttvertrauen besitzt, dann hat er positive ZukunftstrÃ¤ume, was sich gleichzeitig auch an seiner positiven Lebenseinstellung im Alltag zeigt. Das menschliche Organ ist der Bauch, der ebenso eine Verbindung zum Schlaf darstellt.
Chodesh Tov â Einen guten, gesunden und erfolgreichen Monat KISLEV an alle Leser !
Das Video nahm ich nahe dem Grab des berÃ¼hmten mittelalterlichen Kabbalisten, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria (Kurzname: ARI) auf. Rabbi Luria (1534 -1572) lebte insgesamt nur ein Jahr in Zfat bevor er starb, doch in der kurzen Zeit wurde er zum Nachfolger des berÃ¼hmten Kabbalisten, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, ausersehen. Rabbi Cordovero, der, u.a., einen grandiosen Kommentar zum kabbalistischen Buch ZOHAR verfasst (den Kommentar OR YAKAR), verstarb nur wenige Tage, nachdem sich Rabbi Luria in Zfat niedergelassen hatte.
AuÃerdem im Video: Die Umgebung des antiken Friedhofs von Zfat mit den gegenÃ¼berliegenden Bergen von Meron, wo der talmudische Rabbiner Schimon bar Yochai beerdigt liegt.
Ferner sehen wir die MetalltribÃ¼nen um das Grab des ARI, welche es den Cohanim (Tempelpriestern und Nachkommen Aharons) ermÃ¶glichen, den Friedhof zu besuchen. Laut der jÃ¼dischen Halacha ist es Cohanim untersagt, mit Unreinheiten in BerÃ¼hrung zu kommen und Tote sind darin mitenthalten. Um jedoch den Cohanim den Besuch eines Friedhofes zu ermÃ¶glichen, finden wir vielerseits derlei Metallgestelle auf jÃ¼d. FriedhÃ¶fen. Somit betreten die Cohanim nicht den Boden des Friedhofs und werden nicht unrein. Teilweise dienen die Metallpfade auch als Wegetrennung von Mann und Frau. Dies allerdings nur bei grossen Besucherandrang. Als ich Ende Oktober dieses Video aufnahm, konnte ich mich auf dem Friedhof durchaus frei bewegen.
Leider werden aufgrund der Metallgestelle andere GrÃ¤ber verdeckt, was mich persÃ¶nlich etwas stÃ¶rt.
Also sing. illuminato (-ËÉËtÉÊ); †plur. -oes.
Plural of L. illÅ«minÄtus, It. -ato ‘enlightened’, used in fig. sense.]
A name assumed by or applied to various societies or sects because of their claim to special enlightenment in religious, or (later) intellectual, matters.
a.a Applied to a sect of Spanish heretics which existed in the 16th c. under the name Alumbrados or ‘enlightened’; subsequently, to a similar but obscure sect of Familists which arose in France in Louis XIII's reign.
1599 Sandys Europæ Spec. (1632) 166 An other pestilent Sect there was not long since of the Illuminati in Aragon. 1652 R. Boreman Countr. Catech. ii. 5 The Illuminatoes of the times, the Anabaptists. 1686 tr. Bouhours' St. Ignatius ii. 77 The Inquisitorsâ¥were induced to believe, thatâ¥the Personâ¥might either be an Illuminato or a Lutheran. 1749 G. Lavington Enthus. Methodists & Papists (1754) I. ii. 114 The Alumbrado's or Illuminati of Spain.
b.b Used to render Ger. Illuminaten, the name of a celebrated secret society, founded at Ingolstadt in Bavaria, in 1776, by Professor Adam Weishaupt, holding deistic and republican principles, and having an organization akin to freemasonry; hence applied to other thinkers regarded as atheistic or free-thinking, e.g. the French Encyclopædists.
1797 J. Robison (title) Proofs of a Conspiracy against all the Religions and Governments of Europe, carried on in the secret meetings of Freemasons, Illuminati, and Reading Societies. 1798 Washington Lett. Writ. 1893 XIV. 119 The doctrines of the Illuminati and principles of Jacobinism. 1802 Kett Elem. Gen. Knowl. 71 (Jod.) The Freethinkers of England, the Philosophists of France, and the Illuminati of Germany.
c.c gen. Persons affecting or claiming to possess special knowledge or enlightenment on any subject: often used satirically.
1816 T. L. Peacock Headlong Hall i, The conversation among these illuminati soon became animated. 1846 H. Rogers Ess. I. iv. 157 What was dark to himself was happily quite clear to these illuminati [the alchemists]. 1850 Marg. Fuller Life without & Life within (1860) 41 Wilhelm is deemed worthy of admission to the society of the Illuminati, that is, those who have pierced the secret of life, and know what it is to be and to do. aâ1878 Sir G. Scott Recollect. iii. (1879) 111 All thanks and honourâ¥to the older Pugin, however much our illuminati may sneer. 1887 Contemp. Rev. Apr. 592 An illuminato like Katkoff may write as if Russia was invincible; practical men know better.
1911 Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Edition (Pre-Censorship for mass distribution)
At first (1774) he aimed at an arrangement with the Freemasons. Closer inquiry, however, destroyed his high estimate of this organization, and he resolved to found a new society which, surrounded with the greatest possible secrecy, would enable him most effectually to realize his aims and could at all times be precisely adapted to the needs of the age and local conditions.
See also: "As Weishaupt lived under the tyranny of a despot and priests, he knew that caution was necessary even in spreading information, and the principles of pure morality. This has given an air of mystery to his views, was the foundation of his banishment.... If Weishaupt had written here, where no secrecy is necessary in our endeavors to render men wise and virtuous, he would not have thought of any secret machinery for that purpose."- Thomas Jefferson
Creation of Mormonism: "Mormonism is designed to appear to be a religion, but it is instead a secret society at its core. In fact, since its inception, it had a structure and goals similar to the Bavarian Illuminati. Its mysticism and religious doctrine read just as if lifted from Masonic texts and Kabbalistic writings. It was created after the Morgan Affair of 1826 when the Freemason sect was nationally under attack and virtually came to an end. Mormonism was a means of continuation by another name, but with clever modern occult doctrines of communism and plural wives added in the mix. "
(Book) Jack Herer “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” (See Links Below)
It’s like public schooling puts blindfolds on us, and the elite are so confident that everyone is blinded by the school system; that they’re now walking around nakedly exhibiting their greed and malign for the public… and it’s time we called them out, and show everyone how to un-blindfold themselves.
“Collegia could function as guilds, social clubs, or furerary societies; in practice, in ancient Rome, they sometimes became organized bodies of local businessmen and even criminals, who ran the mercantile/criminal activies in a given urban region, or rione.”
Use the donation buttons at the bottom of these notes, or on the sidebar of this site, or the sidebar of Tragedy and Hope dot com, for “The Ultimate History Lesson: A Weekend with John Taylor Gatto” multi-DVD interview project, currently in post-production. With over 5 hours of interview footage, this is a collection of education which is invaluable.
If you donate $50 or more towards the completion of this project, you will receive the entire DVD set; as our way of saying Thanks!
Your invitation to the Tragedy and Hope online critical thinking community
President of Yale University, President of the Carnegie Corporation, Instrumental in creating the Rockefeller funded Yale Institute of Human Relations with Robert Maynard Hutchins and Milton Winternitz, Creator of the Yale Institute of Human Relations Advisory Committee, John B. Watson obtained his Ph.D. under the supervision of Angell in 1903 at the University of Chicago, Angell was "pivotal figure in the development of the functionalist school of thought", Earned one of his Masters Degree's under John Dewey, who he later selected for the Human Relations Advisory Board among many other noteworthy characters.
"On this basis, which was originally financial and goes back to George Peabody, there grew up in the twentieth century a power structure between London and New York which penetrated deeply into university life, the press, and the practice of foreign policy. In England the center was the Round Table Group, while in the United States it was J P Morgan and Company or its local branches in Boston, Philadelphia and Cleveland. Some rather incidental examples of the operations of this structure are very revealing, just because they are incidental. For example, it set up in Princeton a reasonable copy of the Round Table Group's chief Oxford headquarters, All Souls College. This copy, called the Institute for Advanced Study, and best known, perhaps, as the refuge of Einstein, Oppenheimer, John von Neumann, and George F. Kennan, was organized by Abraham Flexner of the Carnegie Foundation and Rockefeller's General Education Board after he had experienced the delights of All Souls while serving as Rhodes Memorial Lecturer at Oxford. The plans were largely drawn by Tom Jones, one of the Round Table's most active intriguers and foundation administrators." - Prof. Carroll Quigley, (Tragedy and Hope, Pg.953) (See connection: Institute of Advanced Study + Cybernetics)
Slimane Douih, who comes from the area of the Moroccan Sahara, made the point that while much of the discussion centres around the common belief that majority of North Africa's population is believed to be Amazigh in origin, but, due to Arabisation most ethnic Amazigh identify as Arabised Amazigh. Douih challenged this by pointing out that much of the rock art and cave paintings point to a very strong African element. He made the point that while much of Amazigh culture and history is now recognised, that the African component is totally ignored. He also pointed out that his study of the Saharan Hassani language is not an Arabic language but rather linked to Amazigh. Likewise social customs and dance, show a particularly strong African rather than Arabic influence.
After a coffee break and much discussion, came a presentation by Michael Willis (Oxford University) on the topic; Enemies Allies or Competitors? Islamist-Amazigh Movement Relations in Morocco and Algeria. Willis started by saying that following the arrival of the Arabs in the 7th century, there has been a strong belief that Morocco and Algeria are Arab cultures. He pointed out that Islamists and Amazigh view each other as a threat. From the Islamist perspective pluralism is a threat to Islam and that, at root, the movement is post-colonial secularism.
On the other hand, the Amazigh movement sees a different kind of colonialism; saying that Arabisation, in the form of dress, customs and language, is being promoted by various Arab countries outside the Maghreb.
Willis says, that while there is antagonism between the two groups, there have been moves to build bridges. Much of this has come from the state who have a desire to use the Amazigh movement as a bulwark against Islamism. In the process, he claims, many Amazigh activists have been coopted by state institutions. During the recent tensions in the Riff region there was a coming together of the Islamists and Amazigh, though, as Willis points out, the Hirak movement is a social one rather that simply Amazigh or Islamist.
Long time Amazigh Activist Meryam Demnati
Speaking with The View From Fez, Meryam Demnati agreed and pointed out that it was a common problem with the mass media who see things in simplistic terms.
One irony Willis highlighted, was that when Morocco's Islamist PJD party came to power it was presented with the task of implementing the Amazigh policies enshrined in the new constitution - policies that they had been fighting against.
The conference winds up tomorrow after another full day of discussion. It is very much worth attending.
International Festival of Amazigh Culture in Fez July 14-16
Douzi, Senhaji and Tiskat sing love and brotherhood
From 14 to 16 July, the city of Fez will host the thirteenth edition of the International Festival of Culture Amazigh under the theme "Amazighity and cultural diversity confronting extremism". Numerous Moroccan and European artists will take part in this edition, including Abdelhafid Douzi, the star of classical Amazigh song Hadda Ouakki, Moroccan singer Ibtissam Tiskat, SaÃ¯d Senhaji, AÃ¯cha Tachinouite, Hassan El Berkanai, Italian artist Laura Conti, in addition to the star of Flamenco dance Monica Arrabal and other musical and artistic activities.
The forum will provide an opportunity for experts, researchers and civil society actors to discuss current issues related to peace, dialogue and cultural diversity and its role in addressing all forms of extremism, and in the consolidation of democracy, coexistence, tolerance and the culture of solidarity.
At the same time, the festival will organize workshops on storytelling, painting, as well as poetry readings and art exhibitions, and book and carpet exhibits.
During the opening ceremony of the festival, which will take place on Friday 14 July afternoon, a vibrant tribute will be paid to Mr. Mohamed Kabbaj Founding President of the Fez-Sais Association and the Spirit of Fez Foundation, and a tribute will be paid to the thinker Ahmed El Khamlichi, director of Dar Al Hadith Al Hassania, and to the eminent Belgian-Moroccan writer Issa AÃ¯t Belize, in recognition of their many praiseworthy contributions to social and cultural development of Morocco. In the evening in Bab Makina, three concerts will be held, including that of Aicha Tachinouite, the Catalan group Monica Arrabal and Said Senhaji.
Many writers, thinkers, and researchers will participate in this great cultural event, namely Jean-Marie Simon, France, Saad Eddine Ibrahim of Egypt, Alfonso de Toro of Germany, Roberto Tonini of Italy, Hubert Haddad of France, Nizar Abdelkader (Lebanon), Michael Willis (Great Britain), Johan Goud (Netherlands), Ahmed Assid, Abdelkader Benali, Mohammed Taifi, Mohammed Nedali (Morocco) and many more!
All in all, this thirteenth edition of the Fez Festival of Amazigh culture will be rich and varied, and a good opportunity for all the young people and the inhabitants of the Fes-Meknes region, to enjoy the highlights of the Festival: debates and music concerts in the heart of the medina of Fez, an imperial and marvellous historical city.
Programme of the Forum
Amazighity and Cultural Diversity Confronting Extremisms
Friday, July 14
17:00: Arrival of participants
17:30:Opening of the Forum and the Festival
19:00 Tribute to the Honourable: Mohammed Kabbaj, Ahmed El Khamlichi, and
Issa Ait Belize
18: 30 Keynote 1: Â«The Weaving of languages" (in French)
Hubert Haddad (Writer)
19:20 Reception and a Tour of Expositions
Saturday, July 15
9:00 â 9:30
Keynote 2: Criticism of Extreme Reason
Maati Kabbal (Institute of The Arab World, Paris)
Moderator: Fatima Sadiqi
9 :30 â 10 :30
First Session: Insights on Some Apects of the Amazigh Culture in North Africa
Moderator: Issa AÃ¯t Belize
Jilali Saib (Mohamed V University, Rabat)
Meryam Demnati (Amazigh Observatory of Rights and Freedoms, Rabat)
Today we will review the Kabbalah Manifestation Secrets by Solomon Shane. For your convenience, we will divide this post into the following section:
Section 1 â An overview of the different modules of the course.
Section 2 â explanations about the main pros and cons.
Section 3 â [...]
On Rosh Hashanah Lâilanot, the New Year of the Trees, the trees and the Tree of Life are judged for another year of fertility or notâjust like human beings are judged on Rosh Hashanah.
I think I understand praise and gratitude pretty wellâthey rise up in me towards the universe in its many particulars. I donât really think that there is Anyone in Particular Who needs my hodaot (thanksgivings), but it feels helpful and appropriate to cultivate that sensibility and to express it. If nothing else, I benefit from a grateful spirit.
Iâm less theologically clear about bakashot (requests, petitions). Without a sense of To Whom, it seems funny to be asking for things.
But petition seems to be at the heart of Tu bâShevat. On Rosh Hashanah Lâilanot, the New Year of the Trees, the trees and the Tree of Life are judged for another year of fertility or notâjust like human beings are judged on Rosh Hashanah. The Pri Etz Hadar teaches that we bless and imbibe fruits with the intention that this gesture somehow weights the scale to the good for the natural world, which is, of course, all of us.
I live in the redwood forest of the northern California coast, where 96% of the ancient trees have already been cut down, and much of the more recent forest as well; consequently, our rivers are silted up, our local coho salmon are on the endangered list, and weâve lost all the local mill jobs that sustained our human economy. Itâs still incredibly beautiful here, and herons and seals and very big trees are part of every day of our lives. So, around here, we feel both love for the earth and heartbreak at its injuries pretty keenly.
Because of all this, Tu bâShevat is our Jewish communityâs favorite holiday. For many years now weâve done a beautiful, deep seder on Tu bâShevat, more or less in accord with the Pri Etz Hadar, ascendingâwith fruit, wine and blessingâfrom the material plane of assiyah through the âblueprintâ of yetizirah to beriah, where the Divine conceives the idea of a world. In the world of beriahâat that liminal placeâit is our custom to pause, open the ark (which we have filled with branches and quince blossoms) and to pray for the continuation of the natural world. This always seems like the central moment of the seder. (The fourth world is called atzilut, and we incline our souls in that direction towards the end of the seder.)
The continuation of the natural world! (That is the bakashah of all bakashot, is it not?) What greater petition could we possibly make? Every year I think about how we might genuinely communicate the longing from the heart of our community for a renewed Tree of Life.
Weâve done various gestures of request before our open ark: naming particular beloved landscapes; keening and lamenting; reciting kabbalistic tikkunim, like those of R. Hayim of Baghdad (from Trees, Earth and Torah, edited by Ari Elon, Naomi Mara Hyman and Arthur Waskowâthe gold mine for beautiful ideas and texts about Tu bâShevat!) Weâve also explored pretty deeply how you eat a grapefruit as a prayer...
But I always feel like Iâm faking it just a little bit right here. I have a little bit of discomfort turning to the ark and saying, however elegantly, âPlease save our world for another year.â Not that itâs wrong or anythingâI just donât quite understand what Iâm doing.
Actually, in writing this I think Iâve answered my own question: bakashot, just like hodaot, are expressions of love and honor. On Tu bâShevat, we feel our love and our hurt for our beloved landscapes, and we offer up our heartâs expression, just as we might offer gratitude in another context. The modality matters, but itâs secondary. Praying for our wounded earth is an expression of loveâhurt love, worried love, but love, nonetheless. Ahavat olam, indeed...
Margaret has been the rabbi of the Mendocino Coast Jewish Community since 1989.
When I was preserving his site, I saw that the links to his tapes were broken. I had let a domain lapse. Then the other day I came across them in an archive, and put them in a safe place in a folder on scripting.com. I figure if any of my sites survive over time, it's this one.
You rock Josh!!!! I look back on my summer and I think about the impact that you had on me just by being in camp. I look back and I think about your amazing kabbalos shabbos, your participation in our crazy shabbos zemirot and I say "wow" what an awesome guy. Josh, you are a someone who wasn't afraid to be himself when many others might have felt uncomfortable to do so; and you know what, everyone loved you for it. Keep on rockin'!!
I love books. I have a bit of an addiction to books at this point. I'm constantly devouring them. So I had this idea to make a list of 10 books that have really had a deep impact on me - books that have radically changed my perspective. I did this, but then I wanted to write about why these books are in my list. So I'm going to list them here in chronological order of when I read them, because I don't want to even attempt to try to order these by importance or how deep of an impact they had or anything like that. And I'm going to cheat a bit - I'm going to list my 10 most influential books, but you'll see me mention a few others that are related in there.
Twice in my life I have gone through what St. John of the Cross calls a "Dark Night of the Soul". The second time, I felt that the faith I had grown up with had been exposed to me. The god I had believed in had been unmasked and this god was Moloch. I felt I needed to question everything - but I was terrified. After my first dark night, I had left the church for a number of years and had been very lonely. After coming back, I had experienced some healing. I didn't realize at the time of this second dark night that I still had a long ways to go towards healing - but I knew at this point that I needed to question, and I was scared that I was going to lose so much. Then the pastor of my church at the time preached a series of sermons inspired by this book during the Christmas season - and I was absolutely certain of one thing and one thing alone: I loved Jesus and wanted to follow him to the best of my ability. This book made Jesus human for the first time in my life - I had really grown up with a docetic view of Jesus, and this book brought Jesus back down to earth for me in a way that I could relate, and in a way that made me want to follow Jesus, not just "believe in" him (in the sense of claiming ideas about him). One of my favorite chapters in the book - which said something I especially needed to hear at this time - was a chapter where Ortberg explores the impact of the fact that when Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:5 ("love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength"), Jesus changed the phrase "all your strength" to "all your mind" (note that in some places, both phrases appear - but the idea is that "all your mind" wasn't in the original command). So Ortberg explores how the track of history seems to have changed after Jesus - prior to Jesus, the common practice of a conquering nation was to wipe out all the literature of the conquered. But after Jesus this seems to have changed - Christian monks actually felt it was their duty to preserve the literature of what might be considered "rivals". So Ortberg writes:
To love God with all my mind means following truth ruthlessly wherever it leads. It means cherishing truth whether it comes from the Bible or from science or from an atheist. It means anti-intellectualism is anti-Christian.
This was exactly what I needed to hear at this point, and it freed me to pursue truth in a way I'd never done before. That perspective changed my life forever.
After committing to "loving God with all my mind" as Ortberg describes above, I decided I was going to explore perspectives I was unfamiliar with, and ask questions I hadn't asked before. I wasn't exactly sure how to go about doing that, though. I really kind of stumbled onto Brian McClaren by accident - I had this thought that went something like this: the pastor of the local Vineyard likes N.T. Wright, and reformed presbyterians (PCA - where I was raised) don't (mostly because John Piper is their big hero, and Wright demolished all his arguments regarding justification - but they wouldn't put it that way). So I thought I should find out more about this Wright guy, and I was googling him and stumbled on this interview where Brian McClaren was mentioned. From there, I ended up reading some of his stuff on Huffington Post that was promoting what was his latest book at the time ("Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?"), and I felt this peace and love just radiating out of the words of those articles. So I looked up some of his books, and found that this seemed to be the one of his that everyone was talking about. And it was immensely helpful to me - McClaren gently led me to ask questions I hadn't dared to ask before. Some of those questions really scared me - but I had determined not to let fear keep me from asking questions, so I decided to ask them anyways. It was hard for a while - I really didn't know how to reconcile some things. But I was determined to keep exploring. So while I wouldn't say that this book is full of all kinds of detailed, scholarly information, and it didn't answer many questions - it will always be one of my favorite books because it led me to the questions I needed to ask and changed my life forever.
One of the questions Brian McClaren led me to ask that just would not go away was the question of how to understand hell. That question obsessed me for a while - I've probably read more about hell (and the related subjects of Satan, demons, and heaven) than any other subject. And while I'd list other books as more scholarly references on the subject of hell (one of my favorites would be the very thorough "Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hope, Hell, and the New Jerusalem" by Brad Jersak - which blew away my expectations), this book is the first hell book that really impacted me as a friend pointed me to it when I was right in the midst of wrestling with this issue. This book simply and thoughtfully explains the concepts of sin, hell, and the love of God in a way that really helped me to heal and to trust. Changing my views on hell was a very important step in my faith, and I believe it's a very important question for the Church to discuss at this stage if it wants to remain relevant. Salvation is not about holding a golden ticket into heaven, or fire insurance. Salvation is about living life to the fullest.
The central theme of this book explores the idea that a common view of the Christian God is really just another form of idol - the idea that God is meant to be the object of our desires and gives us satisfaction, as if God were some sort of cosmic genie, and we cannot be whole without obtaining Him as if God were another possession to have. But Rollins contends that, rather, Christianity is meant to challenge and demolish the whole system of idolatrous desire - of seeking wholeness through obtaining our idols. Wrapped up in this is the concept that we avoid all doubt by creating idolatrous concepts of God that we refuse to challenge - but that real faith is not hiding from out doubts but facing them without fear. This book was a moment of enlightenment for me, and has been for many other Christians who have struggled with doubt or unknowingly avoided it. I feel this should be considered a modern theological classic and a must read for every Christian
After latching onto the Augustinian idea that "all truth is God's truth" as Ortberg had led me to do with "Who Is This Man?", I had decided to explore what Buddhism was really all about because I had a friend who was Buddhist (I have written about this here and here). So I started asking him about Buddhism without any pressure - I just wanted to understand him better. Strangely enough, what he was saying really resonated with me, and actually led me to think about some Biblical teachings in ways I never had before. As I expressed excitement about this, he eventually lent me this book by ThÃch Nháº¥t Háº¡nh. And it might sound strange, but I would say that I never really understood the Holy Spirit until I read this book. Just as a note, I wanted to say that if you want to explore a more scholarly view on the intersections between Buddhism and Christianity by a Christian scholar, I would recommend Paul Knitter's book "Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian". But I have to list this book as it was my introduction to Buddha, which strangely led me to think of Jesus and the Holy Spirit in new and powerful ways.
I was terrified to read this book (I kind of laugh about that now). Before reading it, I had caught the N.T. Wright bug - I had read a few of his books, including my favorite, "Surprised by Hope", which led me to think of heaven and salvation in new and powerful ways ("Kingdom Theology", as some theologians would say). And somewhere along the lines I became aware that there were people who challenged the perspective of my hero, Wright. Since I had decided to question everything and let the chips fall where they may, I decided I needed to find out what these challengers had to say and what their defense might be. But I was scared to do this - what if I found their ideas convincing and lost the hope I'd found? Nevertheless, I felt I had to do this and face my fear - and I found out about the existence of this book. Well, surely Wright will demolish all of Borg's arguments, eh? Surprisingly, I found out two things that I didn't expect to find:
Borg was more convincing to me than Wright, and
there was nothing to be afraid of. I actually found peace through Borg's challenges in a way that I really didn't expect.
This book has probably impacted me more than any other - it is very probably my favorite book. I quote it more than any other book. My profile signature on this forum comes from this book. I had a good friend of mine - an avid reader - give me a copy of this book, and when he did he told me that while reading it he felt as if he'd never read another book before this one. I could understand his sentiment. When I read this book, I was reminded of the Tolkien picture of the elvish lembas wafer - one bite was enough to sustain a traveler for a day. Each paragraph in this book is so rich and wondrous, and it would often take me a few days to get through a single chapter of this book - not because it was difficult to read, but because it was so wonderful and thought-provoking that I felt I shouldn't rush through.
I fell in love with psychology because of this book, and it has helped me immensely in the area of challenging my own biases. This book simply explains psychology in a way that anyone can understand, and that is super fun. If you haven't read this book, by all means pick up a copy!
This is the second book of Walter Wink's "Powers Trilogy" (with "Naming the Powers" and "Engaging the Powers" being the first and third) - and I think that series should be required reading for every theology student. I was absolutely enthralled with the perspective Wink brought to the table regarding spiritual warfare, and it had a huge impact on my own thinking.
Before reading this book, I had both become fascinated with Christian Mysticism, and had decided that if I really wanted to understand Jesus I needed to start trying to understand Judaism (because Jesus was, quite obviously, a Jew!). I don't remember how I stumbled on this book, but it seemed the perfect starting point for me because it was a Jewish mystical view! I found this deeply impactful - Rabbi Cooper challenged me to think of God in a very powerful way that captured my imagination: God as the Ground of all Being. God as Being means that God is the force behind creation itself - not creation in a static sense, but creation as a continual growth. There is a Jewish story that says that every blade of grass has an angel standing above it whispering "grow!" Rabbi Cooper challenged me to think of God as Be-ing itself which continually calls all things to grow. I've been fascinated by both Mysticism and Judaism since, and have focused much of my reading on those subjects (hence, my series "Judaism and the Mystical Christ").
Well that's my list - there are plenty of other books I wish I could have snuck in here, but these are the ones that I stuck with. What are yours?
----------------------------------------------------- Body of Christ The mystical view of the Unity of God - where we are all emanations of God - may sound like nonsense, and it may sound like heresy. The history of the church has certainly had its fair share of mystics who were accused of heresy for their views.
For example, Meister Eckhart was accused of heresy, defended himself to the satisfaction of his immediate superiors, but was then put under the inquisition by the archbishop. He was tried for heresy by Pope John XXII, but never received a verdict. Of course, in this period of history, the church was extremely trigger happy.
Teresa of Ãvila was also put under the process of inquisition for her mystical views, but had the process dropped in 1579. One of my favorite stories involves her inquisition - the priests of the inquisition accused her of not believing in hell (something I am familiar with), and the story goes that after responding "oh, I believe there is a hell", she supposedly whispered to a nun nearby: "...it's just that no one is there!"
The view of God that I have attempted to present here is not a heresy. It has popped up over and over again throughout history - as Richard Rohr points out:
Both the Dominican Thomas Aquinas and the Franciscan Duns Scotus said Deus est ens, God is being itself.
Unfortunately, at the Council of Chalcedon (AD 451), this viewâthe single, unified nature of Christâwas rejected for the âorthodoxâ belief, held to this day by most Christian denominations, that emphasizes two distinct natures in Jesus instead of one new synthesis. Sometimes what seems like orthodoxy is, in fact, a well-hidden heresy!
In our modern world, it has become more and more obvious that human violence is a serious problem. And it seems that religion - every religion - has played a part in violence: if not producing it, then at least in justifying and sustaining it. The question we must ask is: why do we act violently? Of course, people do not often ponder this question deeply enough - we simply justify our violence as being self-defense. But this does nothing to answer the question of the source of violence - do we never stop to think if their violence is also seen as self-defense? And does it really help to stop the cycle of violence if we simply justify our violence in this way? Violence occurs because we separate people into categories - we justify anything that falls under the labels "we", "us", and "our". But of course the violence that falls under the labels of "them" and "their" is despicable and wrong. When we do this, we have dehumanized a subset of people who are seen as different - people who have been put in the category of other. This is the sort of logic which enables violence - and this is why so much popular religion only contributes to violence. Our people are beloved by God, but they are not.
But if we recognize that all people are not only beloved, but share in the very Being of God, such violence becomes, in our minds, what is actually is in reality: completely irrational. The mystical view teaches us that God has created you outside of Godâs self so that God might reconcile you with Godâs self and bring you into Unity (see Col. 1:16-17, 19-20; Eph. 4:1-6).
In the beginning, that which Is [the unmanifest God] is all there was, and there was nothing else. Yet All That Is could not know itself - because All That Is is all there was, and there was nothing else. And so, All That Is. . .was not. This is the great Is/ Not Is to which mystics have referred from the beginning of time. Now All That Is knew it was all there was - but this was not enough, for it could only know its utter magnificence conceptually, not experientially. Yet the experience of itself is that for which it longed, for it wanted to know what it felt like to be so magnificent. Still, this was impossible, because the very term âmagnificentâ is a relative term. All That Is could not know what it felt like to be magnificent unless that which is not showed up. And so All That Is divided Itself - becoming, in one glorious moment, that which is this and that which is that. For the first time, this and that existed, quite apart from each other. From the No-Thing thus sprang the Everything - a spiritual event entirely consistent, incidentally, with what your scientists call the Big Bang Theory. In rendering the universe as a divided version of itself, God produced, from pure energy, all that now exists - both seen and unseen. In other words, not only was the physical universe thus created, but the metaphysical universe as well. My divine purpose in dividing Me was to create sufficient parts of Me that I could know Myself experientially. This is what your religions mean when they say that you were created in the âimage and likeness of God.â We are composed of the same stuff. My purpose in creating you, My spiritual offspring, was for Me to know Myself as God. I have no way to do that save through you. Under the plan, you as pure spirit would enter the physical universe just created. This is because physicality is the only way to know experientially what you know conceptually. It is, in fact, the reason I created the physical cosmos to begin with... This is my plan for you. This is my ideal: that I should become realized through you. That thus, concept is turned into experience, that I might know my Self experientially. Now I will explain to you the ultimate mystery; your exact and true relationship to me. YOU ARE MY BODY.
[...]you cannot experience yourself as what you are until you encounter what you are not. This is the purpose of. . .all physical life.
In a sense, you have to first ânot beâ in order to be. Of course, there is no way for you to not be who and what you are. . .So you did the next best thing. You caused yourself to forget Who You Really Are.
Upon entering the physical universe, you relinquish your remembrance of yourself. This allows you to choose to be Who You Are, rather than simply wake up in the castle, so to speak.
You are, have always been, and will always be, a divine part of the divine whole...
False Self / True Self The concept of remembering the divine nature is a powerful tool - not only for healing us, but for understanding sin. We need to learn to see sin not as a flat and unquestionable list of do's and don'ts, but rather as that which causes harm. And then, when we sin, or when another sins, rather than filling them with shame and guilt, we can say to them: "remember who you are."
So much religion is based on the idea that, in order to keep people from doing harm, we must shame them. But more and more, research is showing us that, while this may prevent evil for a time, in the end it backfires (for more on this, I suggest shame researcher and expert Brene Brown's "Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead"). In my life, I have discovered that encouragement is far more powerful than shame. There was a period in my life where I had come face to face with just how badly I'd screwed things up - how foolish and stupid I'd been, and how I could possibly lose everything that mattered because of this. I was incredibly discouraged, and felt worthless. And I went to an old friend of mine during this time. My friend believed "prophetic prayer", or "listening prayer" - something I'm still a bit skeptical about myself (I hope to explain this further in the second "book"). But what he did that day had an incredibly profound effect on me that I will never forget - he shared with me that he had been praying for me, and that he thought that God wanted me to know that God had gifted me in leadership, and that big things were in store for me. In the following weeks, I started attending a church class that my friend co-taught. After a short talk, the class would break up into groups and discuss, and one night, my friend said to me "you know, Geoff, you really do have leadership gifts. When you talk during discussion, you show knowledge and experience, and people listen." My friend's encouragement did much more to change me and cause the kind of repentance I talked about in the first chapter than shame ever could. And that is why I feel we should not focus on shame, but should rather show people how sin is harmful, and then remind them of the good they have inside.
A famous saying from the rabbinic tradition is that a person sins out of foolishness: If we only recognized the consequences of our actions and thoughts, we would not sin!
She goes on to write:
The Jewish mystics add another twist to this perspective. They say that our misunderstanding, based in our âforgettingâ of our divine origin, is actually necessary so that Godâs purpose in creating the earth can be accomplished. If we truly remembered accurately and clearly why we are here, we would not have free choice. We would be like angels who simply perform, without doubt or ambivalence, the duties assigned to them. But if we are truly to manifest godliness, we cannot be programmed into our assignments, because one of the characteristics of being made in the divine image is the ability to create freely. Thus, paradoxically, by obscuring our origins, God was able to give us free choice - to choose whether or not to manifest as loving, creative images of the Divine. This is simply the nature of earthly existence according to Kabbalah, and many other forms of mysticism agree. We volunteered for earthly service, but part of the package is that we cannot remember doing so. That is what makes life such a challenge.
Every one of us is shadowed by an illusory person: a false self.
This is the person that I want myself to be but who cannot exist, because Godâbecause Truth, Light - knows nothing about him. And to be unknown to God is altogether too much privacy.
My false and private self is the one who wants to exist outside the reach of Godâs will and Godâs love - outside of reality and outside of life. And such a self cannot help but be an illusion.
We are not very good at recognizing illusions, least of all the ones we cherish most about ourselves - the ones we are born and raised with and which feed the roots of sin. For most of the people in the world, there is no greater subjective reality than this false self of theirs, which cannot exist. A life devoted to maintaining and expanding this false self, this shadow, is what is called a life of sin.
All sin starts from the assumption that my false self, the self that exists only in my own egocentric desires, is the fundamental reality of life around which everything else in the universe is ordered.
When we build our house on the False Self, we are building on sand (see Mt. 7:24-27) - the sand of the illusion that we are separate individuals who must compete for survival. But we must build it upon the rock of the True Self and recognize that we are all connected, and that our survival depends upon each other and upon nurturing Creation. This is the interconnectedness that results from love - and God is love.
Love - in the agape sense that is used in I Cor. 13 and when Godâs essence is identified as love in I John 4:8 and 16 - is a selfless giving. It is a self-emptying act - a kenosis - without fear or concern for oneâs own being, for "perfect love casts out fear" (see I John 4:18). And this is the pattern on which nature is built.
We see the circle of love, the law of life, in everything God creates. In every breath we demonstrate giving: we give away carbon dioxide to the plants, and the plants give back oxygen to us. Imagine if you were to decide, âI donât want to be a part of the circle of giving. If my body makes carbon dioxide, itâs mine; I have the right to it. You canât have it.â The only way to do that is to stop breathing - to die. If we hoard the product of our breathing, maybe by putting a bag over our heads, the carbon dioxide becomes the poisoning agent that kills us. In all life we see this circle of giving, which is the law of love.
He goes on to ask his readers to consider how this circle of life is also demonstrated in the way electricity works - when you flip a switch to the "on" position, you are closing a loop through which electricity can flow, and when you flip it back to the "off" position, you are creating a separation in that loop - breaking the circle. We can even see this "circle of life" pattern in economies - for an economy to be healthy, money has to flow. Take money out of circulation, and the economy dies - which is what happened in the Great Depression when many people made a run on the banks and took their money out of circulation.
Dr. Jennings goes on to write:
Everything God creates gives freely in other-centered circles. I donât think itâs a coincidence that when the prophet Ezekiel looked into heaven in a vision, what he saw symbolizing the foundation of Godâs government was a wheel within a wheel, a rotation within a rotation, a moving circle within a moving circle (Ezek 10:1-10).
Dr. Jennings also notes how recent brain research by Dr. Newberg at the University of Pennsylvania has demonstrated how various forms of religious contemplation actually change the brain itself - and writes:
Not only does other-centered love increase when we worship a God of love, but sharp thinking and memory improve as well. In other words, worshiping a God of love actually stimulates the brain to heal and grow.
I believe that recognizing that our True Self is love is strengthened by such findings.
When we begin to see that all are made in the image of God, and that God is love, we can understand why Merton writes:
To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love.
Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.
If, therefore, I do anything or think anything of say anything or know anything that is not purely for the love of God, it cannot give me peace, or rest, or fulfillment, or joy.
In many cultures, there is an idea that when a person dies, they are presented with a trial where the deeds of their life are put onto a scale, and their eternal destination is determined by the measurement of this scale. There is a wonderful Jewish story about this - according to the story, one good deed can outweigh a thousand evil deeds. God adds an extra measure of love and mercy in order to balance the scales. We can also think of how God has given us ways in this life to call forth the positive and diminish the negative - we can balance the scales with love.
Remember who you are. You are the incarnation of Love itself. You are the image of God. ----------------------------------------------------- Note: The blog will take a break until I have made enough progress on "Book II" to begin posting one part at a time without catching up to myself. In "Book II", I will attempt to make connections with the Jewish mystical view and the New Testament - particularly the Gospel accounts.
Separation and Emanation In "The God Theory", Bernard Haisch spends some time writing about the theory that he worked on with Alfonso Rueda regarding zero-point energy (sometimes called the zero-point field - this article delves into how this connects with the science I summarized in the last post). Long before Haisch came onto the scene, Einstein postulated the possibility of a unified field - the idea that all energy is connected in a universal field of energy. Haisch's work develops on this, because his work with Rueda involved coming up with various proofs that even in a vacuum, there are trace amounts of energy - light, in his theory - that actually may cause inertia.
The fact that the zero-point field is the lowest energy state makes it unobservable. We can only perceive it, as we perceive many things, by way of contrast. Your eye works by letting light fall on an otherwise-dark retina. But if your eye were filled with light, there would be no darkness to afford the contrast.
To put it quite simply, there is no such thing as total darkness in Haisch's theory, and thus, he may have found proof that Einstein's idea of all energy being connected in a unified field is correct.
Haisch uses light as an analogy for Creation, which I find fascinating in light of some Kabbalistic teachings I will be developing in this post. Haisch suggests that God is white light, and asks his readers to think about how the act of "creating" other spectrums of light is an act of subtraction, rather than "ex nihilo". To "create" red light, white light must either pass through a filter (which only allows the red spectrum to pass through - thus "subtracting" all the other spectrums), or it must be separated through a prizm. So, Haisch suggests, we are all like the individual spectrums of that white light (indeed, the entire universe is). Furthermore, to extend the analogy of light, we are like emanations of light from the Light that is God. This is interesting when you note that Genesis 1 speaks of God âseparatingâ things from each other in each act of creation (i.e. - God "separated the light from the darkness" in Gen. 1:4). It is made even more interesting when you note how often the Bible compares God to parts of creation - God is compared to an eagle hovering over its young (Deut. 32:11), a mother bear "robbed of her cubs" and a lion (Hos. 13:8), a mother hen gathering the nation of Israel under her wings (Mt. 23:37 and Lk. 13:34), and even inanimate objects like a rock or fortress or shield (Ps. 18:2, 28:7, 78:35). You may have noticed that some of those were female images - interestingly enough, Deuteronomy combines this motherly image with the "rock" concept when it refers to God as "the Rock that bore you" (Deut. 32:18). We'll deal with more feminine imagery in a moment. What Haisch describes in his book and what I described in the last post - the idea that we share in God's self as being emanations of God's self - is not alien to mystical language at all. As the anonymous mystical work, "The Cloud of Unknowing", puts it - God, in the mystical view, is "a nature found within all creatures but not restricted to them; outside all creatures, but not excluded from them." While Carl Sagan writes in "Cosmos" that "we are made of starstuff", the mystical view is that we are made of Godstuff.
In Kabbalistic thought, the process of creation involves what is referred to as tzimtzum. This word literally means "contraction" - and the idea is that before creation began, the white light of God filled the entire universe in such a way that the only thing that existed was God. Then, in order to create, God contracted his infinite light (recall here that Ein Sof means "infinite") and created a space, or vacuum. God then emanated his creative light into that space - this would be referred to in Christian language as incarnation. Thus, paradoxically, the entire universe is both God and not God at the same time.
The Indian Jesuit priest, psychotherapist, and mystic Anthony de Mello wrote a piece in "One Minute Wisdom" that beautifully illustrates and clarifies this principle further:
"How does one seek union with God?"
"The harder you seek, the more distance you create between Him and you."
"So what does one do about the distance?"
"Understand that it isn't there."
"Does that mean that God and I are one?"
"Not one. Not two."
"How is that possible?"
"The sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and his song â not one. Not two."
Within this form of thought, God must be thought of as both immanent (present and contained within the known universe) and transcendent (beyond what is known and present - this involves mystery and the idea that God cannot be contained within any of our thoughts). It is very important not to lose sight of either of these forms of thinking about God - when we focus too heavily on immanence, we begin to speak of God far too casually, and God begins to sound more like us (we make God in our image, and thus we worship an idol). But if we focus to heavily on transcendence, God becomes distant - like an absent father - and our faith becomes empty and meaningless. Within the paradox of mysticism, however, all things are a part of the infinite and unknowable Absolute - and this means that God is immanently transcendent. Thus, while we understand that, as influential Jewish scholar Gershom Scholem writes in his book "Kabbalah", "no religious knowledge of God, even of the most exalted kind, can be gained except through contemplation of the relationship of God to creation", we continually remind ourselves that "God in Himself, the absolute Essence, lies beyond any speculative or even ecstatic comprehension." Or to put it another way, all of our language about God is incomplete and inadequate to express the mystery of Ein Sof.
God as Mother Before I move on to the Tree of Life, I need to cover the issue of gender language and God. In Western patriarchal society, we have far too casually used the words "He", "His", and "Him" exclusively to speak of God. But as I've already mentioned in this post - the Bible quite often uses feminine language to speak of God. Our patriarchal society has hidden this from us and effectively whitewashed this powerful sign of the radical equality of mystical thought. We need to go back to this language in order to remind ourselves that it is not merely men who are made in the image of God - as Gen. 1:27 says, "God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (emphasis mine) Daniel C. Matt's translation of the Zohar comments on this verse:
From here we learn: Any image that does not embrace male and female is not a high and true imageâ¦. Come and see: The Blessed Holy One does not place His abode in any place where male and female are not found together. Blessings are found only in a place where male and female are found, as it is written: He blessed them and called their name Adam on the day they were created. It is not written: He blessed him and called his name Adam. A human being is only called Adam when male and female are as one.
To this effect, I would like to point out more of the feminine side of God. I am not saying God is female - nor would I say that God is male. God is both and neither. Male and female were created out of God's image, and thus are both parts of God, but God is more than either.
When famed actor Leonard Nimoy passed away in February of 2015, the feminine side of God briefly went viral through a video where Nimoy explains that Jewish origin of Spock's greeting. As you can see in the video below, Nimoy explains that the famous hand gesture Spock uses for a greeting originates from a Jewish ceremony where the feminine presence of God - the Shekhinah - passes through, and all present are expected to close their eyes out of reverence.
But we've already seen feminine imagery for God in the Bible. To add to this, Isaiah repeatedly refers to God in terms of motherhood (Isa. 42:14, 49:15, 66:13), and the Psalms also use feminine imagery for God (e.g. Ps. 123:2-3, 131:2).
The contextual use of this name seems to support such a theory, as most often it is used in close conjunction with fertility language. For example, Genesis 17:1-6 uses this name, and God then declares that She will "make you [Abraham] exceedingly fruitful." Genesis 28:3 also uses this theme, and says: "May El Shaddai bless you and make you fruitful and numerous." The theme is continued in Gen. 35:11, where El Shaddai commands Jacob to "be fruitful and multiply." Additional occurrences of this usage with the theme of fertility include Gen. 48:3-4, Gen. 49:25 (which notably states that God will bless the sons of Jacob with "blessings of the breast and of the womb"), and Ruth 1:20-21 (where Naomi declares that El Shaddai has deprived her of fertility). Additionally, as Amy Jill-Levine and Douglas McKnight point out in "The Meaning of the Bible":
[T]he Spirit is grammatically feminine in Hebrew and Aramaic, although grammatically neuter in Greek.
I also find it quite interesting that the Hebrew word racham - which can mean "compassion" or "womb" - is used quite often to speak of God's compassion or mercy (see here). Jesus uses a Greek translation of this word in Luke 6:36, when he commands his followers to "be compassionate/merciful, just as your Father is compassionate/merciful." One wonders, given the etymology, if perhaps he might have used "Mother" here, were it not for the patriarchal society he was in. Rodger Kamenetz notes in "The Jew in the Lotus":
Before reading the Torah, Jews pray to âAv Harakhamim,â the âMerciful Father.â The root of rakhamim, or mercy, is rekhem - womb. Av Harakhamim could be translated, our Wombly Father, our Motherly Father.
This word for "compassion" is highly suggestive - it suggests that God's love is like the unconditional love a mother has for the baby in her womb. She nurtures this life with her own life, and carries it with her wherever she goes. She feels its every hiccup and twitch with great excitement. Even the English form of this word helps us to understand this, as it literally means "to feel with" - we are called by Jesus to feel with others, and to nurture them with a womb-like love. It is this type of love that Paul speaks of in I Cor. 9:19-22, where he declares that he has "made [himself] a slave to all", become as one under the law for those living under the law, become as one outside the law for those outside the law, become weak for those who are weak, and has "become all things to all people." Paul is speaking of the power of empathy.
Paul is not saying here that he has become wishy-washy - only living according to standards when they are convenient. Rather, he is talking about seeing through the eyes of the other - understanding their point of view, and then speaking with their language. Paul tried to understand the mindset of those he evangelized - he could have lazily demanded that they come to him and learn everything they could about his culture, but instead he tried to understand their culture, and translate the truth of Jesus into their cultural language. To truly win someone over with the self-emptying love of Christ, we need to enter into the doubts of others and understand why they doubt, and then gently prod them towards the hope we have.
The Tree of Life We've spoken so far about the concept of creation through emanation. Before I go on, I should note that Kabbalah builds off of what may be an unfamiliar concept to Christians - the concept that the pattern of creation followed the pattern of Torah like a blueprint - the Genesis Rabbah states:
The Torah was to God, when He created the world, what the plan is to an architect when he erects a building.
In the Kabbalistic tradition, there is a concept that the number 10 represents the Tree of Life, which they often refer to as the Tree of Sephirot. Sephirot literally means "emanations", and in the Kabbalistic conception is thought of as vessels into which divine light is poured. Do you recall the oil lamp analogy from the section on the Image of God? Kabbalah has built a very interesting theological concept around the 10 emanations - or 10 manifestations - of God which are diagrammed as the Tree of Life, and thought of as a model for understanding what the "Image of God" is at a mataphysical level. In other words, the Kabbalistic model of the Tree of Life can be thought of as a way to ponder consciousness itself. Additionally, the model may be thought of as a way to contemplate how one may enter into deeper consciousness.
To understand these emanations, we must understand that they merely understand them as symbols or names - and names are just words that point to something. In other words, they have a healthy understanding for the idea that we must not become too attached to the word, or we will not see the greater truth of what it is pointing to.
Click to embiggen
The diagram of the Tree of Life is often laid out overtop of the human body with the crown above the head (as in the picture above), representing the expanded consciousness of the Divine nature which we are all growing towards (note here the similarity to the Hindu concept of chakra, and the way this is diagrammed). It should also be noted that the diagram is often laid over an upside down tree with the roots in heaven and the fruits below.
As an interesting side note - this Tree is produced through a pattern of drawing a circle, and then using various points on the original circle as center points for more circles with the same diameter:
Going back to the original diagram - the top triad of sephirah (singular for sephirot - and the top triad being composed of the circles marked 1, 2, and 3) is called the supernal triad (celestial, or heavenly). The middle triad - the circles marked 4, 5, and 6 - is called the moral triad. The the triad at the bottom - the circles marked 7, 8, and 9 - is called the action triad. I will begin at the top of the diagram and explain the meaning of each sephirah:
Keter - Crown The top sephirah - keter - is the divine spark, will, or soul. It hovers just above the personâs head, representing a higher energy (above consciousness), and was often depicted within paintings as a halo. The physical crown made with gold and jewels was supposed to signify that a kingâs power came from a higher power - whether they deserved it or not! The mystics would often speak of how every organism - even a blade of grass - has an angel hovering over it saying "Grow! Grow!", and this is a good description of the function of keter, as it represents a divine will urging us towards greater life. As Christians talk of how God speaks to us with a still, small voice, it should be no trick to connect this idea with the idea of keter. The divine name given to Moses - âI will be what I will beâ - speaks of the kind of will that keter represents, as Christians believe that Godâs divine will is the source of all. And just as - whether or not you are Christian - you must believe that all mankind ultimately came from one biological source, the Jewish Mystics believe that all that is spiritual came from one Divine source as well. This is why they speak of our souls as a spark of the Divine.
From a strictly secular viewpoint, before one has a thought, there is a societal pattern through which one has been shaped which governs our thinking. Science has proven that even the structures of our languages themselves cause people to think in different ways. But as all too often societal thinking patterns restrict our thinking, spiritual mystics seek to free the mind to thinking outside of them in order to discover higher truths. On this note, consider how the English word "contemplation" is literally con-template - bringing a new template within yourself that helps us to challenge the other templates we have internalized. To enter into the sphere of keter - no easy task - is to completely empty oneself of all false internal templates in order to experience pure Being. This is a very difficlt task, but has reportedly been experienced after long periods of meditation.
Chokmah - Wisdom Chokmah is the first emanation of light; spark of inspiration; seed of thought. Jewish mystics take very seriously the fact that Prov. 8:22-31 says that Wisdom was the first of the creations - the first emanation after the Divine will. This is why it is placed just below keter.
This sephirah is associated with creativity. This is the realm in which revelation occurs and we get flashes of insight.
Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan comments on the famous rabbinic saying, âWho is wise? He who learns from every manâ (Avot 4.1):âIt is on the level of Wisdom that all men are one.â
Here we see the Jewish wisdom inviting us to see that a soul is not limited to being an individual essence, but is truly connected to all other souls, and could experience this more fully if it would just open itself up to this level of existence. Even if we deny this, it is true - because the only reason anyone knows anything or behaves the way they do is because of the people throughout their lives whom they have come into contact with and whom have influenced them. We would not even exist if it were not for other people.
Wisdom is knowledge deepened by love. It is found in the experience of the sacred and the inner heart. It brings to light the depths of things in a way that both reveals and veils the divine mystery. The wise person thinks with the heart.
Binah - Understanding Binah is nourishing the spark into a flame; nourishing the seed into an organism. Binah is associated with templates or patterns of reason. This is where wisdom becomes form. Jewish mystics will often use feminine pronouns here, as in biology the father brings forth the seed (chokmah) and the mother nourishes that seed until it takes form (binah). Here once more we see the radical equality of Jewish mysticism, as chokmah and binah are referred to as man and woman, father and mother - as early Kabbalist Moses Cordovero wrote in "Or Neâerav". Note the emphasis on love from Psalm 49:3, which indicates that understanding comes not from the intellect, but from the heart - the place where love resides. This reminds me once more of the picture of Gen. 1:2, where the spirit of God (which is love - see I John 4:8, 16) hovers over the waters of chaos to form understanding. The book of Revelation ends with "the sea was no more" (21:1) - as the sea is the symbol of chaos, this is an indication that the writer of Revelation believes that in the end, understanding will fill the cosmos, and there will be no more chaos. Often the first three sephirot are drawn with another diagram where each is inside of the other, to illustrate how there is no separation between them, but rather, they each flow into the others.
In between the top triad and the middle triad is drawn another sephirah - da'at - which is often drawn right on or above the head, as you can see in the big diagram above, or the one below (you will note that the version below seems to have flipped the right and left sides):
Da'at - Knowledge Da'at is unifying and connecting knowledge. Note that this is the same term used when the Bible speaks of a man "knowing" his wife - knowledge is not supposed to be thought of as the Westerners commonly see it, where we have completely externalized that which we know. But rather, the Eastern view makes this into an intimate sort of knowledge where we are connected with that which we know, and see it as a part of ourselves. With knowledge comes the awareness of our limits - knowing implies the limitation and finitude of the knower, the known, and the act of knowing itself. This recognition is necessary in order to achieve the connectedness that is so different between Eastern "knowing" and Western "knowing".
The difference between Eastern "knowing" and Western "knowing" can be illustrated through the history of the "University". The very word "University" hints at the interconnectedness of knowledge, and one of the first "Universities" was the 12th century School of Chartres - in this school, various forms of knowledge were taught in connection to others. In "The Sacred Cosmos", Peter Ellard writes about the methods of this school:
Liberal arts are used as a way for humanity to understand the cosmos, both on the local and universal level, and it is through the knowledge obtained in the process that one is led to knowledge of God.
This form of study was rooted in the understanding of the word "Cosmos" itself - this term was originally coined by Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras and Plato to describe the logic, order, structure, and interrelatedness of the universe. In their minds, all-that-is exists in a harmonious whole - and thus all knowledge must be harmonized as well.
But in modern universities, we segment off specialities, and students within these specialized forms of knowledge find it very hard to understand each other (sometimes even to respect each other - as scientists will often look down on philosophers and theologians will scoff at both). In this way, knowledge has been broken off into chunks that are not seen as related, but are in fact often seen as in conflict with each other.
Our universities have become fragmented silos of specialties where no two people speak the same language on any given day. Students are encouraged to succeed in their studies, not to contemplate truth, as if success is the goal of study. If contemporary education is failing the cosmos, it is because we have lost the integral relationship between living and loving. Unless we change the way we think, we will not change the way we act. Our mechanized world of mechanized systems with mechanized humans can no longer continue. We are fragmenting fast.
What our modern system of education effectively does is to encourage people to impose the assumptions of their biased views upon the world, rather than allowing new observations to raise questions, and living within the tension of those questions as one moves closer to the whole-ness of true knowledge, which is to enter into the Being of life. Coupled with Capitalism, society has turned this system of education into a marketplace for bias - pick your brand of bias and our market has a product for you!
To return to the contemplation of da'at - note also that Jewish mystics often speak of this sephirah - and all that is below it - as being another level from the other three at the top. They use the analogy of how in the Creation story, God separated the waters below from the waters above by a thin line we translate in English as the "firmament". Consider how Christians and Jews alike often speak of "piercing the veil". So the separation between da'at and understanding is a very thin veil we sometimes pierce. This is why da'at is drawn faintly in the diagram above, symbolizing the veil itself. Note also how this circle is drawn as a much smaller circle, and the lines between the sephirot are drawn to connect all the outer sephirot with tifuret. Daâat, and the sephirot below, are connected to finite experience, while the three levels above are connected to that which is infinite. In other words, what is above da'at is considered limitless, but what is below is actually referred to as midot, which literally means "measures", signifying that what is below has limits (these sephirah actually limit each other, too, as will be demonstrated).
Da'at is also associated with study and meditation - as this is viewed as the way to continue expansion into the realm of Spirit. Below this, there are "opposites" - but while this can be a useful way of thinking, we must learn to stop seeing things in this way, and see how they balance each other out. We must see how generosity and restraint balance each other out for healthy living, for example. The way the diagram is laid out shows how what is in the center connects the "opposites" and acts as a unifying force. The levels below may also be seen as dominant personality traits of people - as Moses Cordovero wrote in "Or Neâerav":
The Righteous are capable of becoming a vehicle for the sefirot, through the mystery of the emanation of their souls, their actions in this world, and their inclination toward one side and toward one of the sefirot.
Chesed - Mercy, Kindness, Lovingkindness Chesed is expansiveness through lovingkindness, divine grace, and universal support. Chesed is also associated with divine love through empathy and support.
Geburah/gevurah - Restraint Geburah is discipline, limitation, and strength of character.There is an old story that illustrates restraint well - in the story, a sage came to a master and asked to be accepted into the masterâs society. The master asked if he had achieved equanimity - the sage asked what he meant, and the master replied: "If one man is praising you and another is insulting you, are the two equal in your eyes or not?" The point is that we must learn to see how those who "insult" us are teachers! (See 2 Sam. 16:10-13) We often speak of darkness as being the force which resists the light of God - and this can be very useful language. You will find me doing the same as this series progresses. However, we ought to caution ourselves and realize that without darkness, light has no meaning!
These two sephirot - chesed and geburah - are referred to by many names, but the important idea is to see how they balance each other out. We can think of them as expanding and contracting, or even unifying and separating forces - and thus these sephirot are actually foundational to life itself! I often write about how we need unity, but it is important to note that without separation life would not exist! Cells must separate for life to expand. A baby must be separated from her motherâs womb for new life to occur. And this is how we defeat the dualism that is so prevalent in Western thought. And this leads straight to the connecting sephirah: Tifuret- Beauty / Vision / Higher Splendor Tifuret is the harmonic balance of tendencies - the "bolt" that unites and binds all of the sephirot below the veil. Note how this sephirah is laid overtop of the heart on a human torso - all the upper sephirot flow into tifuret, and all the lower sephirotemanate into this level as well. Binah understanding resides in the right side of the head as well as the right side of the heart - we can use this concept to meditate on how many forms of Christianity have become unbalanced by making religion entirely about beliefs, rather than action within the world. The heart is seen as being above the emotions, but the emotions flow into it - so it can be seen as "passion", but not in an emotional sense. Rather, it is a balanced sense of passion that is aware of higher purpose - it is being "centered".
Note how quite often our questions arise out of a deep sense that there is a higher purpose. We intuitively know when things are wrong, because beauty is absent when things become unbalanced.
Because we have lost sight of the importance of beauty in our Western culture, dominion has been the model of thought. But this is now coming into question - in a short time span, thousands of species have gone extinct and still thousands more are threatened by the effects of the chemicals we spew into the atmosphere, and the concrete we pour over earth where life once grew. No matter how unbalanced the distribution of wealth becomes, those in power tell us to have faith in the System - but weâve forgotten how nature gives us models, and in the human body, when a cell gobbles up all the resources and grows in ways that crowds out the other cells, it is called cancer. Beauty has been sidelined, and as a result we have reached a place where total extinction is now a real danger. To solve these problems, we must elevate beauty as a priority of existence over the cold, rational model of capitalism which elevates efficiency and profitability as the highest priority.
Why is balance so much a part of the concept of beauty in this model? Consider how, in the very beginning of the universe, the conditions necessary to one day give rise to life were present, because the expansiveness of the Big Bang was met by the balancing force of the restraint of gravity - which was necessary for galaxies to form from the dust! If the expanding force of the Big Bang was not balanced by the restraint of gravity, life would not have occurred. Likewise, resistance is necessary for growth. Too much expansion in our life is cancer (both literally and figuratively). Expansion can be so fulfilling that we seek it out like a drug, and then it becomes ego-inducing - but restraint is the balancing force that holds our ego back and tempers our pride with humility.
There are two extremes, O bhikkhus, which the man who has given up the world ought not to follow-the habitual practice, on the one hand, of self-indulgence which is unworthy, vain and fit only for the worldly-minded and the habitual practice, on the other hand, of self-mortification, which is painful, useless and unprofitable.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, there is a legend in Judaism that says that before Eve was split from Adamâs side, Adam contained both male and female, and in this state he was a towering being who stood so tall that he was able to see the ends of the earth. The interpretation, as it relates to the Tree of Life, is that the balance between expansion and restraint causes vision. This can be seen metaphorically as a call to restore the balance between expansion and restraint in order to create beauty, and if we restore this vision - this higher purpose - we can heal the world.
As in the diagram of the Tree of Life, when the two forces of expansion and restraint, darkness and light, compassion and discipline, order and chaos meet each other, the sephirot at the middle of the two is born: the sephirot of beauty (tifuret).
One way to think of this is to understand how love encompasses both sides of this duality, and thus the distinction between "love" and "lovingkindness" - because sometimes, to love someone means we hold back and allow them to be. Sometimes we must allow the child to do things for herself - that she might learn how to walk on her own without the parent holding her hands. Sometimes, we must allow someone who is angry with us to be apart from us in order that healing might occur. Sometimes we must allow people to do things which we consider mistakes, because obsessively restraining them only makes them want to get out from under our control all the more. And so both sides of this level of the Tree are encompassed in love. Love recognizes that there are healthy boundaries, and when we do this, those boundaries do not harden to become walls of separation but are thin veils which may be pierced just as the veil which may be pierced by da'at reaching into the heavenly realms.
Through love, we can even see how both order and chaos are necessary. Since the discovery of Quantum Mechanics - which we delved into earlier in this series - it has been noted that without a little chaos, life might not have been possible. If everything were completely predictable, there would not be life. Because we are stuck within linear time, we donât often see how the experiences we call "bad" can ultimately have very good results. For instance, the nation of Israel developed a compassionate model of community because of their time in slavery. Often, the grief of losing a beloved family member drives people to make changes in society in order to prevent the conditions from which their tragedy occurred in the first place. This is why the Bible speaks of the process of purification through the analogy of the refinerâs fire (see Mal. 3:3, Heb. 12:29, I Pet. 1:7 for a few examples). We can also think of the middle and upper levels of the Tree as the Revealed and the Concealed. If God revealed all of His glory, we would not be able to contain this knowledge. Some say that we would be incinerated. So God lovingly conceals much of Him-Her-It-self, and gives us more as we grow. This is why it has been said that "Lord" (usually translated from Elohim) and "God" (from YHVH or Adoni, which is a replacement for YHVH) can be seen as the personal (immanent) and impersonal (transcendent) sides of God.Tamar Frankiel writes on this (from "Kabbalah"):
Lord is the personal aspect of God that intervenes in history and our lives, while God is God as manifest in nature and law, balancing everything in cosmic justice. Y-H-V-H is Expansiveness, God is Restraint.
The next level of the Tree of Sephirot has to do with actualization - or practice - and once again there is a balance between two sephirot, with a third sephirot in between representing that balance. Tifuret-Beauty functions here as another split between vertical levels - from Tifuret-Beauty upwards, humans interact with God as He is made manifest in the world, and from Tifuret-Beauty downwards, humans interact with the world in order to manifest Godâs presence more actively into the world. In other words, the areas below Tifuret-Beauty are the ways in which humans act as Godâs ambassadors and strive to direct the world towards the manifestation of Godâs Kingdom in this role. The two sides of the next level also run parallel to Chesed-Expansiveness and Gevurah-Restraint, so it is important to note the similarities.
Netzach - Perseverance / Victory Netzach is energetic initiative and stamina. It is drive. Netzach-Perseverance can be viewed positively, as the drive to achieve greater tasks/goals, and imitates Divine Expansiveness. Netzach can drive us to achieve amazing things in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. We see Netzach in the natural drive of plants to emerge everywhere (even amongst the cracks of the rocks), in the animals which have adapted to the frigid climate of the arctic regions, the ingenuity of the bees in designing and constructing hives, and many other ways.
Netzach-Perseverance can also be viewed negatively as the drive to survive, or unrestrained desire (which is called lust in religious language). This is because Netzach without the balance of Hod-Surrender causes us to become more instinctive (like an animal) than human. The extreme negative of Netzach - where it becomes completely unbalanced because of an extreme lack of its counterpart - is called Domination (as in the Domination System I have written so much about).
So Netzachcan become very negative, but it is important to note how this is merely a perversion of the good due to an imbalance. Hod - Surrender / Submission /Splendour Hod is accepting; yielding - note here the similarity to humility. Hod-Surrender is learning to say "let it be". This is an area that Western forms of Christianity seem to be sadly lacking, and I believe it has much to do with our chauvinistic form of Christianity. If we learned to treasure the model of Mary saying "let it be to me according to your word", as a model for Christian life (this is something the Catholics seem to understand much better), perhaps we can find more balance.
Hod-Surrender imitates Divine Restraint (geburah), and is the inclination to yield to another or withdraw from conflict. It is also our ability to rely or depend on others in order to work together as a community towards greater goals which no one person could achieve on his or her own. We see this in nature as well, as there is a symbiosis between the animals and plant kingdoms - animals breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide while plants do the opposite, and plants rely on the pollination of bees while rewarding the bee kingdom with the materials to manufacture honey. This symbiosis is only made possible by surrender.
We can think of this also in terms of sacrifice - love often demands that we make sacrifices for the greater good in order that others may survive. But this means that we must surrender our ego - our instinctive drive to survive and assert ourselves. Hod-Surrender is the level at which we are able to understand the needs and feelings of other creatures in order to balance out our own visions and reshape them in ways that will contribute to life outside of our own.
Hod-Surrender also has a negative side as well, however. When surrender is not balanced, it manifests through negative feelings of fear, shame, and victimization. Think of the phrase "fight or flight" - when the two sephirot of Hod-Surrender and Netzach-Perseverance become imbalanced, we will often shift back and forth between the negative sides of the two and will either act out by attacking others (fight - the negative form of netzach) or hiding in unhealthy forms of withdrawal (flight - the negative form of hod). But when these two levels work together in harmony, humans can create beautiful things - families become clans, which become tribes, which become societies, which become civilizations. Life becomes more than merely finding sustenance and people rise to the next level of the Tree by creating art, music, story, poetry, and dance in order to enhance lifeâs joys. When there is a balance between netzach and hod, we also are able to find ways to create technologies, and this enables us to do even more. All of this is only possible when perseverance and surrender create cooperative and collaborative relationships connecting life to life.
We must constantly be looking to create greater connections, however, or the smaller groups we form may be harming other groups through ignorance or carelessness. We have seen this pattern time and time again - as humans have gone from one stage to the next in our societies, there are those who become marginalized. We must seek the ways in which our organizational structures cause people to be left by the wayside, and seek to reduce this and care for those we have harmed - whether this came through ignorance or not. When the energies ofperseverance and surrenderar
This would probably qualify as "pseudo-science", but it's kinda neat.
There have been many interpretations of the phrase in Genesis 1:26: "Let us make humankind in our image." To understand this phrase, the first thing we ought to do is consider how it would have sounded in the ancient context.
In the ancient world, rulers and kings would quite often construct statues of themselves - images of the king - that they would leave in the areas that were far from the king's own home. This was a subtle way of reinforcing their own authority - sort of reminding their citizens that they are keeping an eye on this area (even if it it through messengers). It was also a way to make sure that if the king ever visited, he would be recognized. Additionally, it was quite common for rulers to claim to bear the image of their god. For example, in Egypt, the Pharaoh was considered to be the sole person to bear the image of their god - and was considered to be an incarnation of the sun god Ra. Thus, every citizen was inherently inferior to Pharaoh.
So in light of this, it seems that the Hebrew concept of the image of God - where all of mankind is made in God's image - is politically subversive.
There is a beautiful Hasidic teaching, that before every human being comes a retinue of angels, announcing, âMake way for an image of the Holy One, Blessed be He.â How rarely do we listen for those angels when we encounter another human being. How rarely do we see in another human beingâs eyes an image of everything we hold most dear.
This saying parallels the way Jesus asks us to find the image of God in the humble when he tells the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. This reminds me of the scene in "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back" where Luke Skywalker meets Yoda for the first time. When they meet, Luke merely believes that he has met a strange and eccentric (possibly crazy) little creature. He never even stops to think that this short, shriveled, odd little thing could be a great Jedi Master. In the same way, we miss the image of God when we only expect to find it in those who are beautiful by human standards - the Bible asks us to see the image of God in every man and woman and child, especially within the humble, the overlooked, the marginalized.
Note also that the language of Genesis 1:26 hints at a mystical view when God says "let us make man in our image" - how can God be one (as the famous opening words of the shema state in Deut. 6:4), but pluralistic? Biology itself teases at the answer - each cell in our bodies is designated a different task, and we have different types of cells, and yet each cell contains a set of chromosomes that is identical to the set possessed by every other cell in the body. Paul teases at such a mystical view when he refers to us as the body of Christ (see I Cor. 12:27, Rom. 12:5).
Jews refer to Deut. 6:4 - "Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!" - as the Shema (the first word is shema), and it is a central prayer in their practice. But one very interesting fact about this prayer is missed by English speakers - the original Hebrew uses both the names "Adonai" (translated "Lord", above) and "Elohim" (translated "God", above). Elohim is, technically, plural - and thus a literal translation might read "the Lord our gods, the Lord is One." It is also interesting to note here that the word "Elohim" is rendered "sons of the Most High" in Psalm 82:6:
I said, "You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High."
Rabbi Cooper renders an interesting translation of the Shema in "God Is a Verb":
Shema Yisrael, Adonoy Elohaynu, Adonoy Ehad (Hear, O Israel, the Lord is Our God, the Lord is One) . The way I explain the meaning of this prayer is as follows: Listen closely (Shema), that part within each of us that yearns to go directly to God (Israel-Yashar El), the transcendent, unknowable source of sources (Adonoy) and the God that we are able to relate to in Its immanence in everything we experience around us (Elohaynu), both the transcendent (Adonoy) and the immanent, are actually, paradoxically, one and the same (Ehad).
I've seen a number of modern Jewish mystics use a powerful metaphor to help understand how every human being bears the image of God. They use the analogy of a hologram to express this. When a piece of film containing a normal photograph is cut in half, you will have two halves of an image. But when a piece of film that a holograph was recorded on is cut in half, you have the same image on both halves - just slightly out of focus (see Holography vs. Photography). One way Kabbalists have put this is that we are the "thousand mirrors of God." The analogy can be extended further when we consider Jesus' saying in Mt. 18:20: "where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them." If each person is like a part of the holographic film separated from the rest, then all of God is contained in each person just like the entire image of the hologram is contained within each part of the film - though the image will be out of focus. But by drawing together in the Unity of Love, we bring the image back into focus.
In conjunction with this concept, it is interesting to consider the mystical version of the "Golden Rule" that is found in the Gospel of Thomas:
Love your friends like your own soul, protect them like the pupil of your eye.
This version connects love with sight - implying that without such love, we cannot see clearly. There is a connection here to Matthew 6:22-23 - in his commentary on Matthew, William Barclayâs translation renders this:
The light of the body is the eye. So then, if your eye is generous, the whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is grudging, your whole body will be in the dark. If, then, the light which is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
The word that is often translated in this verse as "sound" ("if your eye is sound") - haplous - can also mean "generous", and since the opposite word used here - poneros - is quite often used in the Bible to speak of being grudging, Barclay argues that this verse is telling us that the key to seeing clearly is generosity.
An interesting parallel can be found in an old Hasidic tale, where a Rabbi asks his students how to determine the hour of dawn - the hour when night ends and day begins. Various answers are offered, and finally the Rabbi declares that the way to determine this is "when you can look into the face of another human being and you have enough light in you to recognize your brother or your sister. Until then it is night and darkness is still with us." We are to even see the image of God in our enemies - note that this is not a concept introduced for the first time by Jesus when he commanded enemy love (Mt. 5:43-48). It is interesting to note here that when Jacob (then Israel - literally "wrestles with God") goes to reconcile with his brother Esau, Gen. 33:3 says that he prostrated himself 7 times. The word used here is "shachah", which is used not just to speak of an act of prostration before a monarch, but before God as well. And after their reconciliation, Israel says to Esau in verse 10: "truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God." Could this be hinting to the greater truth of finding the image of God in our enemy? Some will say "what about sin" - the Augustinian view that has (unfortunately) become popular in the West teaches that when man sinned, man lost the original state he was in. Augustine's view led to Calvinism's teaching on Total Depravity, where we are identified by our sin. But the Jewish view of sin and the Image of God is a bit more similar to the Orthodox view. A popular analogy compares human beings to an oil lamp, and the Image of God is like a spark from the flame of God that lights the lamp inside. Sin, in this image, is like the dust that collects on the glass of the lamp - it does not remove the flame, does not corrupt it, but merely dims the light that comes from this flame. The dust can be cleaned, and the light will shine clearly once again.
It is as if we had a magnificent portrait of the King, caked over with cobwebs and mud and dust. The filth itself may be worthless and offensive, but the portrait remains extremely valuable. Intentional destruction of this portrait would offend the King Himself. So we must not destroy the painting . . . we must clean it off and restore it.
This is how God views every human being. Each one was created in His Image, and therefore each human is of infinite value. A man does not become worthless, regardless of his guilt. A woman does not become worthless, no matter what she has done.
The concept of being "made in the image of God" takes on new meaning through Evolution - as Julian Huxley said:
We are nothing else than evolution become conscious of itself.
This is similar to the way the Kabbalists will speak of the Universe as God unfolding Him-Her-It-Self.
This is why God gives Moses the vague reply to a request for a name (Ex. 3:14): "I am" - this implies pure consciousness. "I am" does not quite capture the mystery of the original language - though some translations say "I will be what I will be". The original language implies all tenses - "is", "was", and "will be" - thus, God is "is-ness", or the essense of Being itself. In "The Gift of the Jews", Thomas Cahill writes:
YHWH is an archaic form of the verb to be; and when all the commentaries are taken into account, there remain but three outstanding possibilities of interpretation, none of them mutually exclusive. First, I am who am: this is the interpretation of the Septuagint, the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, which because of its age and its links to the ancients bears great authority. It was this translation that Thomas Aquinas used in the thirteenth century to build his theology of God as the only being whose essence is Existence, all other beings being contingent on God, who is Being (or Is-ness) itself. A more precise translation of this idea could be: âI am he who causes (things) to beâ - that is, âI am the Creator.â Second, I am who I am - in other words, âNone of your businessâ or âYou cannot control me by invoking my name (and therefore my essence) as if I were one of your household gods.â Third, I will be-there with you: this is Foxâs translation, following Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, which emphasizes Godâs continuing presence in his creation, his being-there with us.
In the view of God as "Is-ness", God is in the process of manifesting within the world, and much is still concealed from us. Our task is not to do anything that will magically change us, but rather to reveal the image of God which was already within - though not fully manifest, just as a piece of a hologram contains the entire image, though out of focus. By expanding our consciousness through connecting with the rest of Creation which also contains pieces of the hologram, we can reveal the image of God more fully. This is why St. Gregory of Nyssa writes in "On the Creation of Man":
It is not in a part of [human] nature that the image is found, but nature in its totality is the image of God.
Indeed, Gregory states in this work that:
It is the whole of nature, extending from the beginning to the end, that constitutes the one image of God.
Gregory's reasoning is stated elsewhere regarding the statement that man was made "in the image of God":
[T]his is the same as to say that He made human nature participant in all good; for if the Deity is the fullness of good, and this is His image, then the image finds its resemblance to the Archetype in being filled with all good.
The idea of nature as image of God is corroborated in mystical Judaism, as we've seen already. One of the early Kabbalists, Moses Cordovero, writes in "Shi'ur Qomah":
The essence of divinity is found in every single thing - nothing but it exists. Since it causes every thing to be, no thing can live by anything else. It enlivens them; its existence exists in each existent.
In another of his writings - Elimah Rabbati - he writes:
Before anything emanated, there was only Ein Sof. Ein Sof was all that existed. Similarly after it brought into being all that exists, there is nothing but it. You cannot find anything that exists apart from it . . . God is everything that exists, though everything that exists is not God. It is present in everything, and everything comes into being from it. Nothing is devoid of its divinity. Everything is within it; it is within everything and outside of everything. There is nothing but it.
So you might be thinking, at this point, something along the lines of: "well, all this sounds wonderful, but it's a bit out there. And I don't see how any of this can be practically merged with our current understanding of science."
I'd like to attempt to address this by introducing just how weird science has gotten. It seems that the popular understanding is stuck in an outdated form of scientific thinking that might be termed "Newtonian Physics" - after Isaac Newton. Please understand here that I'm not knocking on Newton: he was a brilliant man. It's just that the way of thinking - the paradigm - that he was under is outdated. We have new information now that challenges the Newtonian paradigm. I will delve into this a bit in the next post.
There is a very interesting interpretation within the tradition of Kabbalah for the phrase in Gen. 3:15: "he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel." The reasoning goes: "head" and "heel" are words that sometimes represent the beginning of an era (the head) and the end of an era (the heel). Thus, this verse would represent how those who grasp at preserving their un-expanded consciousness (from the old era) are like the serpent striking out at the new era - but they will be crushed by the inevitability of the movement of time.
This view also plays in nicely with another interesting interpretation of Genesis 1:1 - the original language would not have had capital letters or punctuation, and so we must guess at where these would occur. Also, the grammar for Hebrew and English are a bit different, and so Genesis 1:1 in the original language would have read more like âIn the beginning created God (Elohim) the heavens and the earth.â Furthermore, the language is a bit more ambiguous than we realize, and so "in the beginning" could have also been "with the beginning" or "with a beginning" - Rashi ( who may have written the the most famous Jewish Torah commentaries ever) translates the phrase as "in a beginning." Rodger Kamenetz writes about this translation in "The Jew in the Lotus: A Poet's Rediscovery of Jewish Identity in Buddhist India":
â[I]n a beginningâ suggests that the biblical account of creation is not intended as a rigid recitation of Godâs plan, the way fundamentalists often argue, but something looser, more creative. âIn a beginningâ could mean something like, âone way of telling the story.â This teaching liberated me from my own unconscious fundamentalism, my own rigidity about the Torah. It suggests that there is much more freedom to be found in its language than Iâd thought, if only I would take another look.
Neil Gaiman has written one of the most popular graphic novel series in history - The Sandman. It is a brilliant piece of modern mythology, full of powerful and provocative metaphor. He begins the second volume of the series with this introduction:
In the beginning...
But of course we never see the beginning. We come in the middle, after the lights have gone down, and try to make sense of the story so far. Whisper to our neighbours âWho's he? Who's she? Have they met each other before?â We get by.
Even if we were to insist that Genesis marks the beginning - doesn't Christianity believe that there was something before this beginning? (At the least, God existed before.)
The title of an earthly king precedes his name, for instance, Emperor Augustus, etc. Not so was the will of the King of kings; He is only known as God after creating heaven and earth. Thus it is not said ×××× ××¨×× (God created), but ××××× ××¨×. 'In the beginning created God heavens and earth'; He is not mentioned as God before He created.
Keeping in mind that there was no punctuation in the original language, we know that we must make a choice as to where to put the punctuation. One provocative interpretation of Genesis 1:1offers that perhaps the verse should read:
With the Beginning, created Elohim, the heavens and the earth.
The idea of this interpretation is that "Elohim", being a human concept of God, is a step of removal from the real thing. And thus "Elohim" is not God, but is an aspect of the infinite God, and thus the true God is Beginning itself - not in the finite noun sense as in a point in time, but as in the continual process of Beginning (hence, Rabbi Cooper's fascinating book title: "God Is a Verb"). God is the continual Creative process that constantly causes growth, and Creation is continually emanating from God. This turns the "eternity" of God into a divine paradox of radical temporality - God is not a perfect state that exists in eternal changelessness, but rather God is the unchanging nature of the continually changing Beginning. God is the force that brings continual change through the growth of Beginning.
This interpretation of Genesis 1:1 gains more plausibility when we also take into account the fact that "Elohim" is a plural word - literally "gods". The word "Elohim" is the same word used in the command from Ex. 20:3:
You shall have no other gods before me.
C.S. Lewis backs this view of a dynamic God of Beginning - in Mere Christianity, he writes:
In Christianity, God is not a static thing - not even a person - but a dynamic, pulsating activity, a life, almost a kind of drama. Almost, if you will not think me irreverent, a kind of dance.
While the views of Young Earth Creationists say that God created once and only once and then stopped, never to create again, and man has no part to play in this process - Evolution says that God is constantly, continually exercising God's creative powers and that God incorporates us into this process. "Let there be..." is the language repeatedly used in Genesis 1 - an invitation to participate. I feel that Ilia Delio captures this sentiment in this quote from her book "The Unbearable Wholeness of Being: God, Evolution, and the Power of Love":
[E]volution kindles the dawn of postmodernity because it marks the break from a closed, static world of law and order to an open world of change and play. ...Evolution tells us that nature is not a closed, causal system of events but a complex series of fluid, dynamic, interlocking, and communicative relationships.
[Kabbalah] says that creation is not something that happened at some point in time; creation is happening at all times. It is happening right now.
In this view, God is the Source of all life, and continually emanates the energy that causes Creation. In some versions of this belief, if God were to stop for even one moment, all of Creation would cease to be (as in a lightbulb and the light it emanates).
Note how Genesis 1 records the end of each of the first six days, but not of the seventh. This may imply that the 7th day is still ongoing, and that seems to be affirmed in the New Testament, as Hebrews 4:1-11 speaks of the Sabbath as God's ongoing state of rest into which the righteous are welcomed to join. If we are to accept this, we must understand that this concept changes the way we think of perfection - if God is Beginning, then perfection itself is the act of perfecting, and thus the idea that there is a finite point which can be defined as perfection is absurd.
This concept of God is not all that different from the Hindu concept of Brahman (to grow, to expand) - in the Hindu religion, ultimate Reality is described as Brahman, and Guru Nanak described it as âEk Omkar, Sat Naamâ (which is translated as âOne Reality, eternally Trueâ).
God is the newest thing there is, the youngest thing there is. God is the beginning and if we are united to God we become new again.
JÃ¼rgen Moltmann begins his masterpiece on Christian Eschatology, "The Coming of God", with the phrase: "In the end is the beginning." Note here that Revelation 21:5 does not present us with an end, but a beginning - "See, I am making all things new." This is not an end, but a continuing process. You might say the end represented in Revelation is a re-beginning. Moltmann writes:
Wherever life is perceived and lived in community and fellowship with Christ, a new beginning is discovered hidden in every end. What it is I do not know, but I have confidence that the new beginning will find me and raise me up.
Entering into God's coming future makes possible a new human becoming: 'Arise, become light, for your light is coming, and the glory of the Lord is rising upon you' (Isa. 60.1). The proclamation of the near - the coming - the arriving kingdom of God makes human conversion to this future possible. 'Be converted, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand' (Matt. 4.17). This unity between the divine coming and human conversion is 'fulfilled time' (Mark 1.15). The First Epistle of John also links human becoming with the divine coming: 'It does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is' (I John 3.2). The writer is talking about the Christ of the parousia. The eschatology of the coming God calls to life the history of new human becoming, which is a becoming without any passing away, a becoming into lasting being in the coming presence of God.
Much of popular Christianity has completely misinterpreted the "second coming" of Christ - seeing it as something they wait for in their La-Z-Boy (and when Jesus comes, he'll fix the mess we've made without our having to lift a finger). But the word Paul always uses when speaking of Christ's coming is parousia - and in the Roman world, this word was used to describe the arrival of Caesar to a city, where the leaders would organize a parade to meet the Caesar a few miles down the road and escort him into town. We see this concept echoed in quotes like the above, where we are meant to join in to God's Beginning and partner with God in the act of new creation. As Ernst Bloch wrote in "The Spirit of Utopia":
Only the wicked exist through their God; but the righteous - God exists through them.
This kind of unity with God is only possible through the self-emptying act of kenosis - the life of unconditional love. In Philippians 2:6-11, Paul uses this word when he states that though Jesus was in very nature God, he emptied himself. The word "kenosis", when used in a theological context, involves self-renunciation - a transcendence of ego. Paul states that it is because of this kenosis that God exalted Jesus - because Jesus was humble he was made great. Greg Boyd illustrates this concept with the following quote from "The Myth of a Christian Nation":
In the words of Barbara Rossing and John Yoder, borrowing an image from the book of Revelation, the contrast between the âpower overâ kingdom of the world and the âpower underâ kingdom of God is âLion powerâ versus âLamb power.â The kingdom of God advances by people lovingly placing themselves under others, in service to others, at cost to themselves. This âcoming underâ doesnât mean that followers of Jesus conform to other peopleâs wishes, but it does mean that we always interact with others with their best interests in mind.
Following the example of Christ, and in stark contrast to the modus operandi of the world, we are to do ânothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than [our]selves.â We are to âlook not to [our] own interests, but to the interests of othersâ (Phil. 2:3â4). We are to ânot seek [our] own advantage, but that of the otherâ (1 Cor. 10:24, cf. 10:33). Following Jesusâ example, we are to find honor in washing peopleâs feet (John 13:14â15)âthat is, in serving them in any way we can.
Similar to the concept of kenosis, the Hebrew root of Kabbalah is "to receive" and the word is translated "tradition" - thus it is a receiving tradition, and not forced.
Love is a consciousness of belonging to another, of being part of a whole. To love is to be on the way toward integral wholeness, to live with an openness of mind and heart, to encounter the other - not as stranger - but as another part of oneself. When we enter into the heart of love, that integral wholeness of love that is God, we enter into the field of relatedness and come to see that we are wholes within wholes. This is the consciousness we need today, an integral wholeness of love that is open to new life; a being-at-home in love that can evolve.
I am eternity when, from time free, I join myself in God with God in me.
Likewise, Moltmann writes:
If, one day, that which in hidden form drives us forward emerges, what will come into being is eternity, i.e., 'absolute time', time which does not pass away, life without death, the unveiled face in God.
Kabbalah holds that the known reality of our world is a partial manifestation of a much bigger reality (infinite, really) which we call God - they often use the term Ein Sof to talk about God. Ein Sof literally means âthere is no endâ, and so it is a way of talking about the infinite nature of God. Rabbi David Aaron writes in "The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine within You":
The infinite is that which goes on and on in space. However, God created space and is therefore not bound to the laws and limitation of space.
Rabbi Aaron goes on to describe how God is "spaceless" - both beyond space and within space simultaneously - and "timeless" - both beyond time and within every moment of time simultaneously. As an anonymous philosopher wrote: "God is a circle whose centre is everywhere, whose circumference is nowhere."
When we speak of God as "One", Rabbi Aaron explains, we must be careful to realize that this is not the same as when one is a limitation that is the opposite of many. In the case of when we use "One" to describe God, this speaks of Godâs nonduality, which is free of the confines of one or many. He writes:
Nonduality is free to be beyond the many and within the many. Therefore, God is beyond you, me, and everyone else in this world, and yet also within us.
Later on he explains the "Oneness" of God like so:
[T]he oneness of God does not mean that He is only one as opposed to two or three. The oneness of God is an all-encompassing unity that includes multiplicity while remaining one.
The mystical view of Judaism teaches that "I am" is a way of the Divine - which is outside of person-hood as we understand it - expressing itself through the metaphor of person-hood in order accommodate our understanding. That which is outside of categorization entered into a category we could understand in order that we might be able to reach greater heights of understanding.
It would be a great victory for Christian apologetics if the words âGodâ and âexistenceâ were very definitely separated except in the paradox of God becoming manifest under the conditions of existence. . . . God does not exist. He is being-itself beyond essence and existence. To argue that God exists is to deny him.
Tillich goes on later to defend this statement with the following logic:
The being of God cannot be understood as the existence of a being alongside others or above others. If God is a being, he is subject to the categories of finitude, especially to space and substance.
God is not created being and created being is not God, but God is one with created / cosmic being and created / cosmic being is one with God.
Later she writes:
The divine is never alone or by itself because it has no âselfâ; it is the Whole of the Whole. The divine mystery is the ultimate AM of everything.
God is not supernatural being residing "out there" - God is rather the supranatural Ground of Being, while at the same time existence is not a category in which God fits into. God is not a thing, nor is God nothing - rather God is no-thing while being the center of everything. The love of God is expressed within every being, and yet no being can contain this love and so it spills over into transcendence, which is expressed through the new creation of evolutional Beginning. God is thus simultaneously in the present and in the future as the fullness of love - in other words, as Ilia Delio puts it: "God is the One who is and who is coming to be."
Breaking the Shackles of Literalism I grew up believing not only that the earth was 10,000 years old and was created ex nihilo in an instant from the spoken word of God, but also that the creation accounts of Genesis supported this view. Not only that, but that this was the only way to read the Genesis accounts. I quite deliberately say accounts here, because there are two separate accounts between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, and if you pay attention to their differences, you'll note that some of these differences really don't mesh well. I've told people recently that - surprisingly enough - changing my mind about evolution and accepting it as scientifically proven actually didn't happen for me until I'd changed my mind on a lot of far more controversial subjects - and afterwards, it seemed kind of silly to me that it took so long for me to accept Evolution. Evolution hasn't been controversial for a large majority of Christianity for many years - the "Big Bang Theory" was actually thought up by a Catholic priest named Georges LemaÃ®tre, after all. The fact that there is so much angst that accepting evolution will result in atheism is a demonstration of the cultish naivete and propagandistic fear that is so much a part of the culture of fundamentalism.
The ancient three-tiered universe of the Bible
Not only does a so-called "literalist" reading of Genesis demonstrate an almost willful ignorance of science (note how often Ken Ham - whose name was on a "textbook" used for my own schooling - completely ignored points brought up by Bill Nye in the "Ham on Nye Debate"), but it also demonstrates an ignorance of what the Biblical accounts actually imply if we take them as scientific cosmological models. If we really wanted to take the Bible literally and build a cosmological model off of what it says, we'd go back to believing in a three-tiered universe. Fundamentalism glosses right over Genesis 1:6-7, where God is said to have used a dome to separate "the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome." This dome is also spoken of as "the firmament" in Ps. 19:1, and Ps. 104:2-3 speaks not only of God "stretch[ing] out the heavens like a tent", but also speaks of the beams holding up the earth in the waters, which were also referred to in the Bible as the "foundation of the earth" (see Job 38:4-6, Prov. 8:29, Jer. 31:37) - as seen in the image on the right. We see here an image of the earth as a flat plane with the heavens as a tent pitched above (see also Ps. 19:4-6, Ps. 104:2). Isaiah 40:22 not only repeats this image, but also speaks of the earth as a flat circle (see also Prov. 8:27-29, Job 26:10-11 noting in the latter the "pillars of heaven").
Creationists have attempted to make sense of this "firmament" by claiming that it was a thick watery haze in the atmosphere - but the problem with this is that not only does the Hebrew word for "firmament" (raqia) literally mean "that which has been beaten out (it comes from the root verb raqa, which means to beat or spread out a solid material of some sort), but Job 37:18 uses the root word raqa to describe this "firmament" in more detail:
Can you, like him, spread out/beat out (raqa) the skies,hard as a molten mirror?
The firmament is not the same as the heavens of the first day. It is the crystal stretched forth over the heads of the Hayyot, from which the heavens derive their light, as the earth derives its light from the sun. This firmament saves the earth from being engulfed by the waters of the heavens; it forms the partition between the waters above and the waters below.
In the ancient Biblical cosmology the earth was immovable - three times the Bible says that "the world is firmly established; it shall never be moved" (I Chr. 16:30, Ps. 93:1, Ps. 96:10). This is, after all, the only way it would have been possible for the sun to have stopped in Joshua 10:13. To claim that the ancient writers meant this poetically is to gloss over the battle that Galileo Galilei underwent when he was accused of heresy for his heliocentrism, forced to recant, and put under house arrest for the rest of his life. Also recall once more the literalism of Martin Luther regarding this last passage when he stated:
People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. This foolâ¦wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.
One might also ask - if it is alright to take some of this as metaphorical (such as the flat earth, the heavens as a dome holding out the waters above, the earth being immovable), why can't we take all of it as metaphorical and accept Evolution as true? (Answer: because Ken Ham's career depends on it.) The temptation, once one moves past this resistance to science and reason, is to "throw out" the Genesis accounts as if they were no good any more. But I want to suggest that these accounts are about a lot more than cosmology - this much has been suggested by many others before me (both recent and ancient), including Peter Enns in "The Evolution of Adam, What the Bible Does and Doesn't Say about Human Origins":
The Old Testament is not a treatise on Israelâs history for the sake of history, but a document of self-definition and spiritual encouragement: âDo not forget where we have been. Do not forget who we are - the people of God.â
The creation stories are to be understood within this larger framework, as part of a larger theologically driven collection of writings that answers ancient questions of self-definition, not contemporary ones of scientific interest. ...Christians today misread Genesis when they try to engage it, even minimally, in the scientific arena. Rather, they must follow the trajectory of the postexilic Israelites and ask their own questions of self-definition as the people of God: In view of who and where we are, what do these ancient texts say to us about being the people of God today?
Moving Beyond Literalism At this point, I'd like to examine some of the various diverse ways Jews and Christians have interpreted the Genesis accounts throughout History. I do not intend to endorse every interpretation here - though I find all of these to be interesting. But seeing the freedom to interpret applied throughout history can have the effect of freeing us today from the shackles of literalism.
Chaos and the Spirit of God Hovering
The various ways Rabbis and Christians have interpreted the Genesis accounts over the centuries are both creative and diverse, and after being exposed to some of them, I feel that the literalism of Ken Ham and other "Young Earth Creationists" is really selling the beautiful metaphors within these passages short, and leaving them devoid of meaning.
In "The Lost World of Genesis One", Dr. John H. Walton does an exhaustive study of the language of the creation accounts. One of the main conclusions of his excellent book is that the beginning state of Genesis 1 (according to this passage) was not nonexistence (as so-called "literalists" like Ken Ham believe), but is a state of being without function. One of the main reasons (among many other reasons he provides) that he makes this conclusion is the original language behind the phrase "formless and void" in verse 2. The original wording was "tohu wa-bohu" - with "tohu" being translated "formless" and "bohu" being translated "void". The difficulty with the latter term - "bohu" - is that it only ever appears next to "tohu". But "tohu" appears many other times throughout the Old Testament, and if we take these usages into account, a better translation of this word is "without function", or "unproductive" - as linguist David Tsumura translates this term.
A few examples here will suffice - Deut. 32:10 uses the term "tohu" to describe a wilderness, and since a wilderness obviously exists and thus cannot be described very adequately without confusion as "formless", the translation often involves describing the wilderness as a "waste". "Tohu" also appears in I Sam. 12:21, where idols are described as useless. Job 12:21 has an appearance of "tohu" translated as "waste" as well. Isaiah 24:10 uses "tohu" to describe a city as desolate in some translations (such as the NIV) and chaotic in other translations (such as NRSV and NASB). So the words we translate as "formless and void" - Walton argues - have more to do with futility and being without function than with matter and a state of non-existence.
Additionally, we might note that the passage - in the original language - does not have a definite article before "deep", and thus almost uses it like a name (thus: "darkness was over the surface of Deep"). This playfully alludes to the ancient myths of the personified sea that is so often represented by a god of chaos - such as the Mesopotamian goddess of chaos and the ocean, Tiamat. In the Mesopotamian creation myth, the heavens and earth are formed when the storm god Marduk splits her body in two - a clear parallel to the splitting of the water in the Genesis creation story (see Gen. 1:6: "Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters."). Note also that the Jewish temple had a bronze sea - yam is the Hebrew word for "bronze", and in the Ugaritic Baal story, Yam was the god of chaos. Understanding that the sea represents chaos can clarify Rev. 21:1 for us - without understanding that the sea is a symbol for chaos, it might not make sense that in the New Earth, there is no longer any sea.
The sea represented chaos in ancient mythology.
So this language - "tohu wa-bohu" - is talking about a state of chaos and confusion. In this state of chaos and confusion, the ruach of God - a word meaning "breath" or "wind" which also doubled in the Hebrew language as "spirit" - hovers over, and brings peace. This pattern of chaotic waters, spirit of God hovering, and then peace is a motif that is repeated throughout the Bible. For example, in Matthew 14:22-33, the disciples are caught in a terrible and chaotic storm at sea, and Jesus walks on the water - hovering over it - to bring peace. A mystical understanding of this motif could involve an allegory of the state of consciousness we are in before unconditional love creates unity in our lives. And when unconditional love enters our lives, it frees us to enter into Being and Creation - as in the story of Genesis.
Note also that splitting the waters of chaos in an action of creation is also a repeated motif. This motif came to signal not just new creation but also to show that the one who initiated this act was a prophet with whom the Spirit of the Lord rested. One of the first repetitions of this motif is when the nation of Israel emerges from the split waters of the Red Sea. Bernard Batto writes that yam sÃ»p (translated "Red Sea") "literally means the sea of end / extinction", and thus the "Dead Sea" may be more accurate. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero stands before the "waters of death" and the "Isle of the Blessed" is supposed to be beyond these waters. In the Sumero-Babylonian texts, there is a similar myth regarding Ishtar - when she arrives at the gates of Hades, she demands that the keeper of the waters open the gate. Thus, the crossing of the "Dead Sea" signifies a death and resurrection. In the mythology of the Egyptians, transcending death and entering afterlife is limited to the Pharaoh - hence, the Hebrews' Exodus story where the Israelites transcend death and Pharaoh does notfunctions as a politically subversive retelling of this mythical theme (lending further credence to this idea is the fact that there is an Egyptian story where enemies of Ra were destroyed in a marshy sea of reeds and covered by red water - so the Hebrew writer was probably reversing Egypt's myths against them). There is a deeply spiritual truth present in this sign - out of the most chaotic and painful times (even out of death itself), spiritual formation seems to occur when one presses through to the other side and emerges as a new creation.
Employing the Jewish symbology of parting waters, it also signifies that they thought of Moses as a prophet on whom the Spirit of God rested - and this sign of split waters is repeated whenever a new prophet emerges. It first reappears when Joshua - Moses' successor - splits the Jordan river (Josh. 3). Elijah also splits the Jordan before he ascends to heaven and leaves Elisha to be the next prophet. But before Elijah ascends, Elisha asks for a "double portion" of the Spirit. Elijah says that if Elisha sees him ascending, he will have it - this does not have to be read as a literal sight, but could be meant in a spiritual, second-sight sense. Elisha sees, and then the presence of the Spirit is confirmed when he also splits the Jordan (see 2 Kings 2). The motif is made complete when the Gospel of Mark has the heavens themselves split apart at the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river (Mk. 1:9-10 - read: the waters above the dome split, as this is how ancient minds would have worked) - it is as if Mark is saying that the Spirit was with Jesus in such a powerful way that the splitting of the Jordan was not a big enough sign.
It is interesting to note, in conjunction with this discussion of the symbology of parting the sea, that the Exodus Rabba says:
Through their faith the Israelites on the Red Sea became possessed of the Holy Spirit.
Thus, it is well understood that this parting of the waters and crossing through is a sign of one being filled with the Spirit.
In Dr. Walton's book, he draws many more connections to the mythology of other cultures that the Genesis 1 account seems to draw from quite often (see this comparison between Genesis 1 and the Babylonian "Enuma Elish" account, for example), and in the end Walton concludes that this account is meant to be a cosmic temple inauguration text. You see, almost every ancient creation mythology from this period seems to end in the people of the god building a temple for this god to dwell in. So, with all the parallels to these myths in Genesis 1, one must ask: where is the temple? It is creation itself - and is this not a theme that is expanded upon in the New Testament when we are told that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit? (e.g. I Cor. 6:19-20)
I feel it is important to note that symbolic interpretations of Genesis 1 are not alien to Christianity, either. Augustine wrote a book attacking literalistic interpretations of this passage, and spoke of the embarrassment Christianity faces when a literalistic Christian gives non-Christians the impression that all Christians think this way:
Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking non-sense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.
Throughout his mini-book, he asks questions such as:
How did God say, "Let there be light?" Was this in time or in the eternity of His Word? If this was spoken in time, it was certainly subject to change. How then could we conceive of God saying it except by means of a creature? For He Himself is unchangeable. Now if it was by means of a creature that God said, "Let there be light," how is light the first creature, if there was already a creature through which God spoke these words?
Later on he asks:
What is the light itself which was created? Is it something spiritual or material? If it is spiritual, it may be the first work of creation, now made perfect by this utterance, and previously called heaven in the words, âIn the beginning God created heaven and earth.â In this supposition, we must understand that when God said, âLet there be light,â and light was made, the creature, called by its Creator to Himself, underwent a conversion and illumination.
Origen of Alexandria also took an allegorical approach to this passage, and wrote in "De Principiis IV":
For who that has understanding will suppose that the first, and second, and third day, and the evening and the morning, existed without a sun, and moon, and stars? And that the first day was, as it were, also without a sky? And who is so foolish as to suppose that God, after the manner of a husbandman, planted a paradise in Eden, towards the east, and placed in it a tree of life, visible and palpable, so that one tasting of the fruit by the bodily teeth obtained life? And again, that one was a partaker of good and evil by masticating what was taken from the tree? And if God is said to walk in the paradise in the evening, and Adam to hide himself under a tree, I do not suppose that anyone doubts that these things figuratively indicate certain mysteries, the history having taken place in appearance, and not literally.
By adding vowels to the consonantal text, the Masoretes limited the meanings of words. Without the vowels, the text opened up numerous possible meanings, especially puns, although for the most part those who were literate were able to determine meaning from context. Already in the Garden of Eden story the pun is present, thus questioning what sort of paradise it is. The snake is described as arum, a Hebrew term usually translated âcraftyâ (Gen. 3:1). The human couple are described as arumim (plural), translated ânakedâ (3:7, 10, 11). The consonants are the same. The connection between the snake and the people is thus a visual and aural one, and it is fully lost in the English translation.
The Eden story contains a number of other puns in which words having the same root meaning serve different functions. Genesis 2:7 reads, âThen YHWH God formed man from the dust of the ground.â Missing in this dry and dusty description is a glorious Hebrew pun. The term for âmanâ in Hebrew is adam (hence the name Adam), and the term for âgroundâ is adamah, or arable soil. The better translation would be âformed a human from the dust of the humus,â or, depending on oneâs opinion of Adam, who is standing next to his wife when she has that conversation with the serpent, âformed a clod from the dust of the clods.â
Once again, as in the Genesis 1account, if we miss the parallels between the Genesis 2 account and the parallel accounts of its surrounding cultures, we can miss some powerful statements. There is a paradox present in the way the 2nd creation story is told that is most often missed, quite unfortunately. This paradox is only seen when we compare this story to the stories of the surrounding cultures which influenced this tale - in some of the stories, the final act of the godâs creation is this godâs masterpiece, and is thus the ruler of the rest of creation. In other stories, for one being to have come from another indicates ruler-ship, in that the original being is superior. The story of Genesis 2 combines both images, thus indicating that Eve is superior to Adam who is superior to Eve...or in other words, they are effectively equals. This view of Adam and Eve being equals is masked by the mistranslation of the Hebrew tzela as "rib", when a better translation would be "side" (think "side of beef" - I find it interesting to note in conjunction with this that human females have "xx" chromosomes, while males have "xy" chromosomes). Once more I go to Levine and Knight who write in "The Meaning of the Bible":
The Hebrew term tzela is better translated âsideâ; in its forty-nine other biblical appearances âsideâ is the preferred translation.
Adam and Eve joined at the spine
There was actually a popular view where Adam and Eve - before being split - were basically Siamese twins, joined at the back. The stories of this being speak of the first human being so great in stature that Adam Ha-Rishon (ha-rishon is literally "the first") reached from the earth to the heavens and stood with one foot on each end of the earth, being able to see with immeasurable knowledge. The Midrash Rabbah speaks of God separating this being at the spine - and this is offered as an explanation for the bumps on our backs:
When the Holy One created Adam [Ha-Rishon], it was androgynous. God created Adam Ha-Rishon double faced, and split him/her so there were two backs, one on this side and one on the other.
According to this mythology, when man ate the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve became greatly reduced in size. The meaning this interpretation is playing at is this: when male and female live together in perfect unity (which is not possible in the hierarchy of patriarchy), mankind is capable of incredible feats. But the separation that occurs when we enter into dualistic thought patterns and begin to create hierarchies severely limits our capabilities (more on this interpretation here). Levine and Knight write (in "The Meaning of the Bible") of the equality that the language of "helper partner" (Gen. 2:18) communicates:
To reduce the role of the âhelper partnerâ to a baby machine ignores the role of human companionship, devalues infertile women, and denies the claim that women as well as men are in the divine image and likeness. With a sheep or a goat, poodle or pig, a person can still be âaloneâ; most people require another person to love and to be loved by, who challenges and inspires, to transcend the solitary life.
Rabbi Eliezer wondered what kind of work man had to do in the garden? It was commonly believed, in his time, that the vegetation in the Garden grew by themselves (toil is a result of the curse). So Rabbi Eliezer - playing off of the wording of Deut. 20:19 (which could be translated "man is a tree of the field") - supposes that Man himself is the tree which must be tended, and "the garden" refers to Eve, because Song of Solomon 4:12 says "an enclosed garden is my sister, my bride". Rabbi Eliezer also writes:
The Tree of Life signifies only the Torah; for it says in Proverbs (3:18), 'She is a tree of life to those that hold her, and happy are those that hold her tightly.'
Another interpretation offers that because Eveâs very name means "life", and the serpent represents a fracturing force, physical life would not have even been possible if the serpent had not tempted Eve, as life would have remained unified within one life-force. This interpretation offers that the phrase "you will be like God" (Gen. 3:5) refers to Eve creating life. And this points to the forbidden fruit representing sexuality, as Adam also ate the fruit and became like God (creating life). This is an interpretation that is also stated in the Zohar - the foundational work of the mystical form of Judaism known as Kabbalah. When you realize that there are two creation stories in Genesis, and that the command within the first is to "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 1:28) you might realize that this prudish medieval view of sexuality doesn't quite make sense - however, it is interesting within the context of examining the many diverse ways these passages have been interpreted. As Levine and Knight point out (in "The Meaning of the Bible") regarding the "curses" of Gen. 3:
Genesis 3:16 is not, however, as we note in our chapter on Creation, a pronouncement of the way things need to be. It, rather, is the way things were and, in many settings, still are. The wifeâs subjugation to the husband was not Godâs original intention. The pronouncement concerning the woman is not a curseâ the term is not usedâ but an etiology. To insist, as some literalists do, that a woman in labor should not receive analgesics because to do so is to deny the role given her in Genesis is to misread the text. Just as farmers have always sought ways to help the land yield its crops, despite the fact that the ground is âcursedâ (3:17), so too humanity should find the means to ease women from the burden of the âsecond shift.â [...] The comments to the woman end with a sexual notice: âYour desire shall be for your husband [...]â [...] The etiology can be regarded as a continuation of Genesis 1: not only should humans be fruitful and multiply; they should enjoy the process. Bluntly put, ancient Israelite women did not have to lie back and think of Torah.
One question that is raised from a careful reading of the second creation account is this: God clearly states that if Man eats of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, "in the day that you eat of it you shall die" (Gen. 2:17) - so why didn't Adam and Eve die the day they ate the fruit? Kabbalists offer that the Garden of Eden represents non-physical reality, and thus this statement from God represents the inevitability of death which results when physical life is created. Rabbi Cooper explains in "God Is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism":
God asks of Adam and Eve, "Where are you!" This is not a question. It is rhetorical: "Look at where you are! You are in bodies, you are physical beings. I told you this would be the result. Now you will surely die." Then what happens? God gives Adam and Eve clothing made of skin. That is to say, now they have a sense of separation. This was the "punishment" of discriminating thought. Things became separate; they see themselves as separate beings. Prior to the serpent, the sense of nakedness did not exist. It only comes when one has an identity, a sense of individuality.
Adam as Israel One of the problems of reconciling the story of Adam and Eve with evolution is the fact that, as biologist Dennis Venema of Trinity Western University (an Evangelical University) said in August of 2011, "there is no way we can be traced back to a single couple." There is simply too much variations in our genes to have come from one human couple.
This may be discouraging, because there is beauty in the idea that all human beings came from the same parents. As the Talmud puts it (Sanh. viii. 4-9):
Why was only a single specimen of man created first? To teach us that he who destroys a single soul destroys a whole world and that he who saves a single soul saves a whole world; furthermore, in order that no race or class may claim a nobler ancestry, saying, 'Our father was born first'; and, finally, to give testimony to the greatness of the Lord, who caused the wonderful diversity of mankind to emanate from one type. And why was Adam created last of all beings? To teach him humility; for if he be overbearing, let him remember that the little fly preceded him in the order of creation.
I do not believe that accepting evolution means we have to disregard this idea. However, we are left with the problem of interpreting the character of Adam.
Peter Enns points out that there is a parallel structure between the story of Israel as a nation and the story of Adam. Enns outlines Israel's story in this way:
Israel is âcreatedâ by God at the exodus through a cosmic battle (gods are defeated and the Red Sea is âdividedâ);
The Israelites are given Canaan to inhabit, a lush land flowing with milk and honey;
They remain in the land as long as they obey the Mosaic law;
They persist in a pattern of disobedience and are exiled to Babylon.
And for Adam, Enns provides this outline:
Adam is created in Genesis 2 after the taming of chaos in Genesis 1;
Adam is placed in a lush garden;
Law (not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) is given as a stipulation for remaining in the garden;
Adam and Eve disobey and are exiled.
One way of looking at this parallel and its meaning is to see Adam as the "proto-Israel" - as Enns puts it:
Maybe Israelâs history happened first, and the Adam story was written to reflect that history. In other words, the Adam story is really an Israel story placed in primeval time. It is not a story of human origins but of Israelâs origins.
There is an interesting parallel between this view and a statement from the Genesis Rabbah where it notes five appearances of the word "light" in the creation story, and declares that each statement is meant to represent a book of the Pentateuch - thus, it states:
'God said let there be light' refers to the book of Genesis, which enlightens us as to how creation was carried out. The words 'And there was light' bear reference to the book of Exodus, which contains the history of the transition of Israel from darkness to light.
Another way of looking at Adam is to see him as the archetypal everyman - a mythic story that presents a pattern that every human being seems to live out in some way in their life. Levine and Knight expand on this idea in "The Meaning of the Bible":
Thus, far from being fictional, these myths are true in a fundamental, essential manner. The question is not: Did Adam and Eve really exist? Rather, it is: How are we like Adam, and in what ways does Eve represent us? What in their story explains us to ourselves in a way that a story set in our own real time cannot do as effectively? Focusing on a literal interpretation of these stories, as if there were a real Adam and Eve or Noahâs flood really covered the earth, diverts us from plumbing the depths of the meanings the narratives convey. The originators of myths remain elusive; what is significant is not that the texts stem from some identifiable author, but that they articulate âtruthsâ about reality as experienced by that culture.
In one of my earlier posts in this series, I retold the story of Rabbi Eliezer and the argument he had with the other Rabbis over interpretation of Torah. This story should illustrate for us how the interpretation of the scriptures was not something that was simple and could not be questioned, but was up for discussion. I feel that this illustrates an important point - that there is a big difference between consolidating control and excluding the "outsiders", and diversifying authority and finding ways to include. When we consolidate authority into the hands of the few, they almost always become "too big to fail" - we end up seeking to protect the powerful at all costs while ignoring the pain of the "little guy" (who is truly the lifeblood of the society in the first place). In turn, this authority then morphs into "too important to be questioned". Over and over in my blog I have talked about the importance of interpreting the law through the lens of love - if we understand that "love is the fulfillment of the law" (see Rom. 13:10 and Gal. 5:14), then we should be able to recognize that a rigid "one size fits all" interpretation of the law does not accomplish the law's purpose. Even the the Hebrew word for commandment - mitzvah - is related to a root word that means "connection" (see this related link from torah.org). And thus, at their heart, commandments should be about connecting us with others.
But the point of the story of Rabbi Eliezer was that the law was given at Mt. Sinai so that Man could implement it, goes the reasoning. And thus Man takes part in the Creative act.
If any of my readers find that last line to be shocking, perhaps they should consider Jesus' words in Matthew 18:18-20:
Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
This passage shows us that not only are we allowed to make interpretations, but we ought to be democratic in the way we interpret the law - I do not feel it is coincidence that Jesus ends his teaching on "binding and loosing" by talking about being gathered in groups of at least two or three.
Jesus is bringing the permission to interpret the law out of the Synagogue and putting this into the hands of the people - but when he does this, is he saying we no longer need to consider our interpretive methods? No! Heâs doing this because the "Orthodox" leaders of his time, the Pharisees and Saducees, have become so rigid that they are no longer accomplishing the law's purpose, and that's why Jesus says "itâs up to you now."
One of the problems in our modern era, however, is that too many people fall for overly simplistic ways of understanding the Bible, that in the end are hopelessly self-contradictory. We don't respect Jewish tradition for the nuance it holds within. So I'd like to take a look at the Jewish method of interpretation.
But before I do, I need to help my readers to understand that when the original Hebrew that the "Old Testament" is written in is translated, so much is lost in translation.
The Many Meanings of a Word In "God Is a Verb", Rabbi David Cooper illustrates very well the difficulty of translating the Hebrew language of the Bible:
The five books of Moses were originally written in Hebrew, without vowels, as are all Torah scrolls written today. The Hebrew language is constructed in a way that vowel substitutions can dramatically change the meaning of a word. It is like seeing the letters PN as a word, which could be pin, pan, pane, pain, pen, peon, pine, or pun. Usually we can derive the meaning of a word in the Written Torah through the context in which it is used, but some sentences could leave us wondering. For example, imagine reading a sentence that says, "If you know how to properly work with a PN, you will qualify for a million-dollar reward."
Understanding the meaning of the sentence could become even more challenging if the letters P and N were codes symbolizing other letters. For example, the letter P resembles and sounds like the letter B. The letter N looks like the letter Z turned on its side. Thus PN could be a code for bin, ban, bun, or buzz. This is what Kabbalists do because they always look beyond the obvious. Everything is viewed as a metaphor for hidden wisdom teachings. For a Jewish mystic, a million-dollar reward is of little value compared to the experience of decoding a message from God.
In the quote above, Rabbi Cooper mentions the way that Kabbalists interpret the scriptures - we're going to be talking a bit about Kabbalah later on in this series - for now, it is enough to understand that Kabbalah is a mystical tradition of Judaism.
To bring it back to the multiple meanings of words, however - I think it's important to understand that even in English, we have the same difficulty. Look up almost any word in the dictionary, and you will find more than one definition - we choose which one is best based on the context in which the word is used. Kevin Miller had a wonderful illustration for how this works that he wrote about on his blog. To summarize, Kevin says that in his film class, he would have half of his students look at a stream of random letters and the other half would look at a stream of random numbers. Then he would show all of the students the following picture:
Kevin would ask his students what this symbol represented, and the half of the class that was "primed" with letters would say it was a "B", while the other half would say it was the number "13". Kevin would explain how "priming" changes the way the students interpret the symbol, and then he would show them this:
I explain that, like priming, context also plays a huge role in how we assign meaning to objects and experiences, usually without us being aware of it.
Kevin would then show the class this:
This picture reveals that in actuality, the symbol is both a "B" and the number "13" at the same time.
But Kevin doesn't stop there - he then turns the symbol over on its side, and then another 90 degrees, and then another - and this reveals that actually, the symbol is nothing but a line with a wavy line next to it. We decide to give the lines meaning.
When we understand that the original Hebrew language of the Jewish Scriptures is a subtle, playful language that hints at multiple valid interpretations, we ought to approach the Bible as a conversation starter rather than a judge's gavel. This is a very good way of illustrating how Pardes works.
This is a very good introduction to PRDS - an anagram (also the Hebrew word for "garden") often used for remembering the Jewish exegetical method. In "God Is a Verb", Rabbi David Cooper explains PRDS like so:
The Torah is studied on four different levels, known by the acronym P-R-D-S. A pardes is an orchard or garden. In Hebrew it is spelled with the consonants peh, resh, dalet, and samekh. In the context of studying Torah, the peh represents p'shat, which means the simple or literal interpretation. Resh represents remez, which means the interpretation of what is being hinted at in the text: the metaphors, allegories, and parables. Dalet represents drosh, which is an examination of the text by bringing in additional material. Finally, samekh represents the sod of the material, the secret, hidden meanings that offer insights into the structure of the universe.
Pâshat (simple)âThe plain, simple sense of the text, what modern interpreters call grammatical-historical exegesis. Remez (hint)âPeculiar features of the text are regarded as hinting at a deeper truth than that conveyed by its plain sense. Drash or midrash (search)âCreativity is used to search the text in relation to the rest of the Bible, other literature or life in order to develop an allegorical or homiletical application of the text. This involves eisegesisâreading oneâs own thoughts into a textâas well as exegesis, which is extracting from a text its actual meaning. Sod (secret)âOne operates on the numerical values of the Hebrew letters; for example, two words whose letters add up to the same amount would be good candidates for revealing a secret through âbisociation of ideas.â
My first reaction to this is this: when we see the way modern "fundamentalists" interpret the Bible, not only do they stop at "P" (and insist that if you even so much as try any of the other methods, you've committed the unforgivable sin), but when we understand the principle of the multiple meanings of Hebrew words that I laid out in the last section, then we should see how they don't even do "literal interpretation" right. For that matter, Westerners should realize with humility that none of us do. But on the plus side, we should also recognize - and this could be the key to ending the adversity that all too often surround theological debates - that we are allowed to interpret the Bible creatively in order to make it relevant to our time. However, we should make greater efforts towards understanding how this is done. Towards that end, I would like to explore further the last two methods of PRDS - especially midrash, as I feel that this is a particularly important method to understand.
Before we get into midrash, however, it might be useful to see how the New Testament writers quite often take very creative interpretive approaches to the "Old Testament" (I put this in quotes because lately I am coming to prefer the title "The Hebrew Bible" to this terminology).
(Mis)Quoting the Bible? In Matthew chapter 2, the author has Joseph being warned in a dream to flee Bethlehem and go to Egypt to escape Herod's murderous plot. It says that they remained in Egypt until the death of Herod, and the author notes that "This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, 'Out of Egypt I have called my son.'" (Mt. 2:15) This is a quote from Hosea - but if you examine the passage, you see it has nothing to do with Jesus. Hosea 11:1-2 says:
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols.
It's quite obvious that the passage has to do with the nation of Israel - not an individual. And yet the author of Matthew creatively uses this verse, saying it is fulfilled in Jesus. In Matthew 27:9, the author states that Judas' betrayal of Jesus for 30 pieces of silver was a fulfillment of a prophecy from Jeremiah, and then he provides a quote. First off, this is a mistake on the author's part - there is no such passage in Jeremiah. The closest thing to what Matthew is quoting is from Zechariah 11:12, but if you compare the two passages you'll note that it is not a quote, nor does the context of the passage in Zechariah resemble the scene in Matthew at all. This is some creative reworking on the part of the gospel of Matthew. In Ephesians 4:8, Paul uses the following quote:
When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.
You ascended the high mount, leading captives in your train and receiving gifts from people, even from those who rebel against the Lord Godâs abiding there.
Note how Paul changes the Psalm - instead of leading captives, God makes captivity itself a captive. Instead of receiving gifts, God gives gifts. This is clearly a creative reworking, and does not line up well with the Fundamentalist attitude of "the Bible said it, I believe it, that settles it."
In Romans 15, for example, Paul quotes several scriptural passages to illustrate how Gentiles âmay glorify God for his mercyâ because of the gospel (verse 9). Highly significant is what Paul omits from these passages:
For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of Godâs truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: âI destroyed my foes. They cried for help, but there was no one to save themâ to the LORD, but he did not answer ... He is the God who avenges me, who puts the Gentiles under meâ¦ Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.â [quoting Psalm 18: 41â 49] Again, it says, âRejoice, O Gentiles, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.â [Deuteronomy 32:43]
Paul has removed the references to violence against Gentiles, and re-contextualized these passages to instead declare Godâs mercy in Christ for Gentiles. This constitutes a major redefinition of how salvation is conceived: Instead of salvation meaning God âdeliveringâ the ancient Israelites from the hands of their enemies through military victory (as described in Psalm 18, which Paul is quoting from), Paul now understands salvation to mean the restoration of all people in Christ, including those same âenemyâ Gentiles.
One final example before I move on to explain the Jewish interpretive method that justifies these creative reworkings. In Galatians 3:13, Paul writes:
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for usâfor it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree."
What Paul quotes here is slightly different, however - it comes from Deuteronomy 21:23, and actually reads: "anyone hung on a tree is under Godâs curse." [emphasis mine] Paul removes the idea that the curse comes from God, because in his logic, Jesus makes it necessary to challenge this idea. The idea that we can do this (removing concepts from the Hebrew Scriptures because Jesus necessitates it) does not mesh very well with the concept of inerrancy, however. But as you may already know, I don't have a problem challenging inerrancy (see here, here, and here). But let's look at the concept of midrash, because I think it will help to illuminate the reasoning behind the way the New Testament writers so often creatively rework the Scriptures.
Midrash (plural: midrashim) is both a collection of exegetical commentaries and a method of interpretation. Through these commentaries, we find that midrash is method of interpretation that goes beyond the literal interpretation by searching through both the scriptures themselves and outside sources, and filling the gaps (reading between the lines) of what is only hinted at. Quite often, midrash seeks to interpret the Scriptures in light of current events - much like a Christocentric and cruciform method of interpretation would do. Midrash is defined in The Jewish Encyclopedia as "the attempt to penetrate into the spirit of the text, to examine the text from all sides, to derive interpretations not immediately obvious, to illumine the future by appealing to the past." Bishop John Shelby Spong writes in "Resurrection":
[Midrash] is both a collection of the interpretations of sacred Scripture and a method for the continued expansion of the sacred Scripture. It comes in three forms: Halakah, Haggadah, and Pesiqta. Halakah is an interpretation of the law - the sacred Torah. Haggadah is the interpretation of a story or an event by relating it to another story or event in sacred history. Pesiqta is a whole sermon or an exhortation written midrashically to capture themes of the past to enable them to be perceived as operative in the present. The sermons of Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts, as well as the long speech of Stephen, are examples in the New Testament of Pesiqta.
Midrash is the Jewish way of saying that everything to be venerated in the present must somehow be connected with a sacred moment in the past. It is the ability to rework an ancient theme in a new context. It is the affirmation of a timeless truth found in the faith journey of a people so that this truth can be experienced afresh in every generation. It is the recognition that the truth of God is not bound within the limits of time but that its eternal echoes can be and are heard anew in every generation. It is the means whereby the experience of the present can be affirmed and asserted as true inside the symbols of yesterday.
When we look at the way New Testament writers quote (or misquote?) the Hebrew Scriptures, I think that it is obvious that midrash was a, if not the favored method of interpretation.
One of the things we must realize about the Scriptures - and something that becomes quite obvious when you study midrash - is that the Jews were (and very much still are) storytellers. When you realize this, it seems like it should have been obvious - Jesus constantly tells stories (parables, they are called in the New Testament) to illustrate truths. Well, Jesus didn't invent this way of doing things - Jews did it all the time (and still do). But we like to pretend that everything in the Bible was literal, factual, historical truth. However, the more you study the historical context of the Bible, the more you realize that the Jewish attitude was more similar to the Native American who said: "Now I donât know if it happened this way or not, but I know this story is true." Jews told stories to illustrate truth - there were many parables before Jesus, and that's something that many Christians need to be aware of so that we can stop being scandalized by so many things. One of the reasons Darren Aronofsky's 2014 movie, "Noah", was so controversial in Evangelical circles is, quite simply, ignorance. They are completely unaware that Aronovsky actually did his homework and incorporated much of the Jewish midrashim surrounding the myth of Noah. One Jewish blogger wrote up a response showing that the movie was completely uncontroversial - and was responded to quite favorably - in Jewish circles. Seeing Biblical truth as story will help us to stop cherry picking, I believe. Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her introduction to Joseph Campbell's "The Hero With a Thousand Faces", puts it well when she writes:
When stories are shortened to "bytes," all the most profound symbolic language and themes - and thereby the deeper meanings and nourishments - are left out. The too-short or superficial story colludes in supporting a mad culture that insists that human beings remaining frazzled, ever on the run - rather than inviting them, by the telling of a compelling story at some length, to slow down, to know that it is alright to sit down now, that it is good to take rest, and to listen with one's inner hearing to something that is energizing, engaging, instructive, and nourishing in one way or another.
One famous midrash (an âinvestigationâ or âstudyâ) offers the following interpretation of Exodus 15. When the Egyptian chariots, in pursuit of the fleeing Israelite slaves, become caught in the mire of the Reed Sea, the charioteers drowned. âThe prophet Miriam, Aaronâs sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: âSing to YHWH, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the seaââ (15: 20â 21). The midrash says that the angels took up the song, but God did not join the celebration. Searching, the angels found God weeping. When they inquired, God responded, âMy creatures are drowning in the sea and you want to sing praises?â (Babylonian Talmud Megilla 10b).
As the series progresses, I will try to demonstrate how the Gospels employ the midrashic method. But for now, let's move on to explore the final letter of PRDS - sod, for secret. Hebrew Numerology The final letter of the PRDS exegetical method represents a method of interpretation that would seem very foreign to many (most?) Christians - it involves looking for a "secret" meaning in the text by adding up the numerical values of letters in order to find another word with the same numerical value that could be a substitute in the text. This is called gematria.
With early language, there was no distinction between letters and numerals - rather, each letter of the Hebrew alphabet doubled as a number value. So gematria involves adding up the values of the letters of a word.
The Hebrew word for âoneâ is ehad, and the word for âloveâ is ahavah. In mystical numerology (gematriyya), each Hebrew letter has a numerical value. The gematriyya of ehad is the sum of its individual letters: 1 (alef) + 8 (het) + 4 (dalet) = 13. The gematriyya of ahavah is 1 (alef) + 5 (heh) + 2 (bet) + 5 (heh) = 13. Oneness and love are equivalent. Together ehad and ahavah add up to 26. This is the same numerical value assigned to the holiest divine name: YHVH, the sum of whose letters (10 + 5 + 6 + 5) also equals 26. God is oneness and love.
A slightly more well known (in Christian circles) example of using gematria to interpret Scripture would be the reference in Revelation to the "number of the Beast" - 666 (which is recorded in some manuscripts as 616). Scholars have picked up on the fact that the numerical values of the Hebrew spelling for Nero - Neron Caesar - add up to 666, while the Roman numeral values of the Greek spelling of the same name add up to 616. Allegorical Interpretation in Early Christianity The interpretive method of PRDS is not very different from the way the early church fathers would use allegorical interpretive methods. The early church father Origen of Alexandria recommended that the Bible be interpreted on three different levels - the flesh, the soul, and the spirit. He said that many of the events recorded in the Bible are impossible in the fleshly sense, and many of the laws are impossible to keep. So to get to the real meaning of these passages, he believed that they must be translated allegorically. Similarly, in the middle ages, theologians defined four levels of allegorical interpretation:
Literal interpretation of the stories as history
Anagogical interpretation, which involves spiritual interpretation, or interpreting the passage as pointing to heaven/hell/the last judgement
Typological interpretation, which involves making connections between the Old and New Testaments and draws allegorical connections between Jesus' life and the Old Testament
Tropological interpretation, which involves looking for the morals of the stories
This method especially resembles PRDS.
It is important to understand just how widespread allegorical interpretation was in the early church - the literalistic interpretation of the Bible is a very new thing that happened as a reaction to the Enlightenment. As an example, Augustine saw a direct contradiction between Jesus telling us to love our enemies (see Mt. 5:43-48) and Psalm 138:8-9 praising God for dashing the Babylonian babies against rocks. Since Jesus is supposed to be the visible image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), Augustine concluded that this passage in the Psalms was symbolic - the babies represented the vices of empire (represented by Babylon) being dashed against the rocks.
In St. Gregory of Nyssa's "Life of Moses", he takes an allegorical approach to the story of God killing the Pharaoh's son for the Pharaoh's sin:
The Egyptian [Pharaoh] is unjust, and instead of him, his punishment falls upon his newborn child, who on account of his infant age is unable to discern what is good and what is not good â¦ If such a one now pays the penalty of his fatherâs evil, where is justice? Where is piety? Where is holiness? Where is Ezekiel, who cries â¦ âThe son should not suffer for the sin of the father?â How can history so contradict reason?
Gregory concluded that the passage must be taken as an allegory about destroying temptations.
On my view one must apply something of the same sort of explanation to, say, the atrocities (and treacheries) of Joshua. I see the grave danger we run by doing so; but the dangers of believing in a God whom we cannot but regard as evil, and then, in mere terrified flattery calling Him âgoodâ and worshiping Him, is still greater danger. The ultimate question is whether the doctrine of the goodness of God or that of the inerrancy of Scriptures is to prevail when they conflict. I think the doctrine of the goodness of God is the more certain of the two. Indeed, only that doctrine renders this worship of Him obligatory or even permissible.
To this some will reply âah, but we are fallen and donât recognize good when we see it.â But God Himself does not say that we are as fallen as all that. He constantly, in Scripture, appeals to our conscience: âWhy do ye not of yourselves judge what is right?â â âWhat fault hath my people found in me?â And so on. Socratesâ answer to Euthyphro is used in Christian form by Hooker. Things are not good because God commands them; God commands certain things because he sees them to be good. (In other words, the Divine Will is the obedient servant to the Divine Reason.) The opposite view (Ockhamâs, Paleyâs) leads to an absurdity. If âgoodâ means âwhat God willsâ then to say âGod is goodâ can mean only âGod wills what he wills.â Which is equally true of you or me or Judas or Satan.
When Jerome read I Kings 1:1-14, in which a very old and decripit David is warmed by having a young and beautiful maiden brought to his bed, Jerome concluded that this story could not be historical. After all, David had many wives - what need would he have of yet another young maiden? And this would be immoral, after all. So Jerome believed that the young maiden represented lady Wisdom (see Proverbs 4:5-9). In his old age, David was âwarmedâ by Wisdom.
Nor was Luther a literalist. Consider his interpretation of the story of Adam and Eve in Eden. In Genesis 3:8 we read that after Adam and Eve had eaten the forbidden fruit, they heard the sound of God walking in the garden and were afraid. Luther commented that God obviously never walked in any garden. Something else is meant. Adam and Eve heard the sound of the wind and nature, which formerly had seemed benign, but now, because of their fallen state, had become something they were afraid of.â
The divine meaning of the Scriptures has to be gleaned from the letter of it and beyond the letter, through contemplation guided by the Spirit. In the Fathers we do not find any fundamentalism, but Scripture opened by the Spirit to its very heart, namely the mystery of the Trinity, the source of love, and Christ's victory over death and hell, the triumph of love.
If you try to reduce the divine meaning to the purely external signification of the words, the Word will have no reason to come down to you. It will return to its secret dwelling, which is contemplation that is worthy of it. For it has wings, this divine meaning, given to it by the Holy Spirit who is its guide ... But to be unwilling ever to rise above the letter, never to give up feeding on the literal sense, is the mark of a life of falsehood. Origen Commentary on Proverbs, 2.3 (PG 17, 2.2.1-4)
Origen, whose Brilliant thought fertilized all Christian spirituality, especially, but not only, in the East, compares Scripture to an almond. He himself is an inspired interpreter of Scripture, and if his thought has had to be corrected on other points, it remains fully and directly nourishing in this field. The bitter rind is the letter that kills and that has to be rejected. The protecting shell is the ethical teaching, that, as a necessary part of the process of going into greater depth, requires a course of careful purification. Then the spiritual kernel is reached, which is all that matters, which feeds the soul on the mysteries of divine wisdom.
Some Concluding Thoughts Using PRDS to its fullest is about looking beyond appearances and going beneath the surface of the text to find deep meaning - and not stopping there, but extending this out into the world and thus becoming part of Creating. By connecting Biblical interpretation with real life, we become more fully present, and thus we enter into the "commonwealth of God", as Brian McLaren sometimes refers to Jesus' oft used phrase: "the kingdom of God".
I believe that methods of interpretation such as PRDS are vital to coming to a mystical faith. You have to understand that the very word - mystical - hints at the fact that it must be searched for in order to be understood. The word, "mystical", comes from the Greek root "mu" - which means "silent" or "mute" - and the greek adjective "mystikos" referred to secrets - especially secrets which should only be revealed to the initiated. Over time, it began to refer to things which cannot be revealed through language - as the Tao Te Ching says:
Those who know, do not speak. Those who speak, do not know.
It is important to understand that this is not the "secret" of elitism, but the "secret" that is only made known to those who work for it - some things cannot be known lazily.
To make an analogy, the "secret" of mysticism is similar in ways to Quantum Physics. Niels Bohr once said about Quantum Physics:
Anyone who says that they can contemplate quantum mechanics without becoming dizzy has not understood the concept in the least.
Yet, despite the often counter-intuitive nature of Quantum Physics, it is probably the most successful branch of science, if you consider that it has been the most contested and yet has survived countless attempts to disprove its conclusions.
One of my frustrations is that everybody recognizes that it takes about five years to get your head into thinking about relativity theory and quantum mechanics. It's just such a different world. But everybody assumes that the religious world is accessible to everyone. Now, I profoundly disagree with that.
I would personally content that, paradoxically, mysticism is accessible to everyone...if they are willing to work at it. But to access the mystical, one must be willing to challenge their preconceived notions. As philosopher John D. Caputo writes in "The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps":
Meister Eckhart famously said, I pray God to rid me of God. That is one of the most famous prayers ever made, one of the most radical, and also one of the greatest contributions to the poetics of âperhapsâ and a theology of trouble, which in turn visited upon Meister Eckhart himself quite a great deal of trouble. The court theologians viewed this disturbing saying with Inquisitorial alarm. But this was the peculiar piety of a master of impious sayings. He was earnestly praying, asking the God who can never be mastered and domesticated, the one we can never see coming, to rid us of the God whom we think we have in our sights, under our control. I pray the God whose coming is always the coming of the stranger to rid me of the God who serves to keep guard over the circle of the same. I pray the God who exposes me to trouble to rid me of the God who keeps me safe, who functions as a guarantor of tranquility and order. I pray the groundless ground of the âperhapsâ to rid me of the rock-solid ground of the certain and foreseeable (which is what âprovidenceâ literally means).
"Judaism and the Mystical Christ" is a blog series (that should really be a book) I have been working on for over a year. This post will serve as the table of contents for the series, as well as providing an "About" section below, describing the project, how I came to write it, and a Bibliography of sorts.
You will note that I have divided the posts up in, what I think is a good outline. You will also note that I have divided the project up into two "Books" - at the time of the original publishing of this post, the first "Book" will have been completed, but the second will be ongoing. I will probably not release anything from the second "Book" until I am far enough into writing it that I can be confident that publishing at a regular pace will not result in overtaking myself.
I will keep this table of contents up to date as I publish more sections.
Table of Contents -----------------------------------------------------
About the Project I have put more work into this project than anything else I've written on here, and while I am very proud of it, in many ways I feel like it is just so inadequate. There is so more more I could have written about, so much I had to summarize, and there are parts I really struggled to write. I'd like to explain here how the project happened, and what I'm trying to do here.
In the last few years, I have become a high volume reader, consuming over a hundred books a year. About a year ago, I happened to be reading, simultaneously, two books that seemed to almost be talking to each other - it was a profound and moving experience for me, especially considering the fact that the two books were coming from separate traditions. Those two books were: "God Is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism", by Rabbi David Cooper, and "The Fourth Gospel: Tales of a Jewish Mystic", by Bishop John Shelby Spong. I found so many parallels between the mystical view of Judaism that Rabbi Cooper wrote about so beautifully and poetically, and the mysticism that Bishop Spong pointed out within the Gospel of John so magnificently. My imagination had been captured. As I read the two books, I had been taking notes - and when I was finished, I decided that for a larger blog project, I wanted to work the notes I had taken on these two books in with a few other things. The first thing I wanted to do was to try to combine these mystical views with the amazing scientific discoveries of Quantum Physics. Prior to reading the aforementioned books, I had read a mind-bending book entitled: "The Self-Aware Universe", by theoretical quantum physicist Amit Goswami. Every chapter of this book was like finding out I lived in the Matrix - it was truly mind blowing. Goswami combines quantum physics (which he explains very well for a layman like myself, even though it is truly complex stuff that was difficult to grasp) with a masterful knowledge of philosophy and mysticism (he comes from a Hindu background, but seems quite knowledgeable on the mystics of other traditions). And he even writes about the science and benefits of meditation. So I decided that I need to read up in three areas for this project: science (specifically searching for books that outlined the intersection between science and religion), Judaism, and mysticism (both Jewish and Christian).
I would like to note here that I found writing about the science of Quantum Physics to be the hardest part of this project. I did not want to over explain - I wanted to keep my explanation at a level that any layman could understand. At the same time, I wanted to be very careful, because I recognize that I am largely ignorant in this area and am merely going off of the word of experts that I have only half-understood. So my explanations felt, to me, like I was leaving out too much - like I was over-summarizing. And I felt very inadequate. But perhaps my readers will find them helpful, and my fears and feelings of inadequacy will be misplaced.
The following list of books I read in preparation for this project will serve as a bibliography of sorts (minus the books I've already mentioned). I will break this list up into categories of Judaism, Mystical Christianity (and other Christian and Mysticism resources), and Science. Note that I am sure this is not a "proper" bibliography - I may miss a book or two that I used somewhere in the series, and might list a few that I read but did not use (but which helped me conceptualize for this project, nonetheless).
Before I even go into the Bibliography, I must mention one name not listed: Thomas Merton. I can't even list a book by him, because he has so influenced my thought that he just seeps through. I have a document with pages and pages of quotes by him. He was my first introduction to mysticism, and may have influenced me more than any other author.
And one final note on the "Book" format of the table of contents above - if you happen to be reading this and have connections in the publishing industry, and if you like my writing and think any publishers would too, please do let me know. I would love to publish a book, but I do not want to self-publish. I simply do not know where to start when it comes to looking for a publisher. Bibliography Judaism "The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine within You" - Rabbi David Aaron
I just finished reading a book called "The Jew in the Lotus", which is the true story of a group of Jews - coming from Orthodox, Reformed, and secular, as well as JUBU (Jewish-Buddhist) traditions - who go to visit the Dalai Lama, as told by Jewish poet Rodger Kamenetz. The Dalai Lama was interested in learning how Judaism survived in exile for so many centuries, considering that Tibetan Buddhism was now in a similar position after their own holocaust and exile at the hands of the Chinese. It is so interesting to see how, throughout the story, the various Jewish figures in the story learn more about their own tradition through the experience - not only because they are now seeing Judaism through each others' eyes, but through Tibetan Buddhist eyes as well. The author, a secular Jew, comes out of the experience with a deep appreciation for the mystical side of Judaism - which he had never known anything about. And it is incredible to see how accurately he pinpoints a diagnosis of the problems with his own religion - he spends much of the book questioning why so many Jews were leaving their faith for Buddhism in the 60's and 70's, and why Judaism has not survived well in America.
One of the more interesting points in the book for me involved the discussion - prior to meeting the Dalai Lama - of what to call him. The conventional way to address the Dalai Lama is "His Holiness". And while some of the members of the group were fine with this, others were uncomfortable with this form of address - they were concerned with "being halakhically correct" (conforming to Jewish law).
The group asks Karma Gelek, the Secretary of Cultural and Religious Affairs, what he thought, and he admitted that there were other titles for the Dalai Lama, but said "if you could say His Holiness, that would be the usual way."
It wasnât so much words as their historical resonances. How could Karma Gelek ever understand how Jews felt about âHis Holiness,â or the association Jews would make immediately with the pope and from there to the long history of persecution, proselytization, inquisition, and martyrdom? How to explain the peculiar tang of a title like kap gun once it got translated to âsaving leaderâ? When Zalman heard it, he immediately asked, âAre there other forms, not weighted with salvation?â To a Jew living in a Christian world, this was a perfectly understandable reference, but in the ears of a Buddhist monk, Zalmanâs question must have sounded puzzling.
However, Karma Gelek did notice the various reactions and retreated on the âHis Holinessâ front, observing quietly, âIf you would say rinpoche, nothingâs wrong.â (Rinpoche, which means precious one, is a general honorific for tulkus.)
But it was too late. Now Zalman Schachter was hot on the case, taking up Bluâs cause as his ownâdriven too by his curiosity and loving to explain Jews, Judaism, and himself to Karma Gelek, âWe would like to say a word in honorâitâs not that we donât want to honorâitâs like saying we understand, we honor you as a source of teaching and blessing for your adherents. Could we say, great teacher?â
By now, Karma Gelek had become totally flexible. âYes, yes,â he said, barely audibly.
But Lieberman and Sautman objected. âThatâs too low.â
So Zalman raised the ante, âHow about illustrious teacher?â
Unfortunately, âillustrious teacherâ was not a traditional Tibetan phrase. âJewel of wisdomâ was offered by Michael Sautman, but finally Karma Gelek ended the discussion when he observed that all such names were very formal and that âHis Holiness usually doesnât like formal things.â
I took a walk with Yitz Greenberg after the meeting with Karma Gelek broke. We walked for a while in silence. Something about the whole focus on this tiny point bothered me. It reminded me very strongly of what I didnât much like about religious Judaism, an obsessive, niggling quality. Or as a young woman learning about Jewish culture had told me once, to her, Judaism is an old man saying no. With Jews so divided into factions, and some of the factions so self-preoccupied and self-obsessed with tiny points of practice and law, how could we reach out to other groups?
I knew that in some ways that same intensity about language was also what I relished and delighted in, in both Jewish religion and the Jewish mind. It had delighted me that morning with Mosheâs and Zalmanâs midrash. But when the guidance system failed, Jewish verbal intensity seemed to nosedive, spiraling down into smaller and smaller circles.
I loved getting this little glimpse into the paradox of Kamentz' struggle, because in so many ways it mirrors my own. I love exploring the sacred language of the Bible, and discussing the finer points of language and meaning - but this can so often devolve into obsessive and petty arguments that either seem to have absolutely no relevence to life, or seem to ignore how certain points of view are causing real damage to people (the LGBT issue is a perfect example).
But what's so fascinating about the story is that as it proceeds, the dialogue with the Dalai Lama ends up helping this diverse group of Jews to learn more about their own religion. Through seeing their religion through the Dalai Lama's eyes, as well as learning about Buddhism, they end up learning more about the beauty of their own tradition then they ever imagined.
Kamenetz writes about how one of the Rabbis - Rabbi Yitz Greenberg - processed this phenomena:
âAll religions,â he said, ânot just Judaism, are now being placed in a new situation. At first I thought the culture was forcing us. But Iâve come to believe this pluralism is Godâs will. Can you learn to propagate your religion without using stereotypes and negative images of the other? If we canât, all religions will go down the tubes - and good riddance - because weâre a source of hatred and demolition of other people.â
One thing Yitz had done was demolish my own prejudices about Orthodoxy, at least his brand of it. His Judaism was not an old man saying no, but rather an extremely intelligent and very real engagement with contemporary life.
Other, more fundamentalist Jews, as well as Christians and Muslims, resist pluralism as yet another seduction of contemporary life to be shunned. They view themselves as pious keepers of the faith in a world of sinful secularists.
By contrast, Rabbi Greenberg was finding true piety in dialogue. He told me that afternoon at Thekchen Choeling, âDialogue is an opportunity to learn the uniqueness and power of the other and then see if I can now reframe my own religion to respect that power, to stop using negative reasons why Iâm Jewish. It leaves me no choice but to be a Jew for positive reasons.â Pluralism challenges Jews to discard old stereotypes about themselves and about others.
Later on, Kamenetz says that "[h]is experience was that dialogue with other religions could be deeply clarifying of his own." (This is an experience I share.)
It is so fascinating to me that the generous spirit of the Dalai Lama - who invited these Jews to come share their "secret" with the Tibetans - is what opened them up to looking at their own religion with fresh eyes - as if seeing it for the first time.
After their visit, Kamenetz undertook a quest to give "exit interviews" to Jews who had left the faith for Buddhism. The insights he gains from this are invaluable in many ways. He found that many of them were frustrated with the rigid adherence to tradition that was so irrelevant to their current context. Kamenetz writes of how, after the Holocaust, Orthodox Jews became very suspicious of outside culture and in many ways contributed to a protective withdrawal from the world. They pushed for a very strict, legalistic form of Judaism that claimed to be the only true form of Judaism (sound familiar, Christians?). Kamenetz relays a fascinating illustration from one of the Rabbis, Zalman Schachter:
âWeâre invested in a tradition so we have a continuity. The best people to invest in tradition are conservative. But the best people to spend it are those willing to take a risk.
âOur treasures - what a fantastic bank account we have grown. The past and the tradition have a vote but canât have a veto, because we are in unprecedented conditions. Now thereâs an understanding emerging that we are an organic part of all species, that religions are the organs of humanity.â
Later, he writes:
Jewish Buddhists felt that the bank account of Judaism had been empty for them when they came to make a withdrawal, whereas they had found real spiritual wealth in Buddhism.
When Kamenetz conducted his "exit interviews", one of the things he found was that most often, they'd never even heard of the teachings of Kabbalah (a mystical tradition of Judaism), which interestingly enough seemed to be the area that the Dalai Lama was most interested in. Kamenetz speaks of mysticism being a "back door" that was kept secret in Judaism, having been viewed negatively by the status quo of Judaism. There was a scorn towards Kabbalah because it rejected a literalistic and legalistic attitude towards their scriptures and as a result was seen as very eccentric (hmm, that sounds so familiar to me...). Meanwhile for Buddhism, mysticism was their front entrance. Kamenetz writes of the result for these Jews who had left their background for Buddhism:
With their own esoteric teachings inaccessible, most JUBUs grew up with a Judaism heavy on ethnic pride, obsessive about preserving itself, about maintaining Jewish identity at all costs. And Jewish pride, Jewish chauvinism, Jewish particularism - the idea that we are special, a chosen people - seems to contradict the very universalistic prophetic messages Judaism also teaches. Perhaps they wouldnât put it this way, but if examined closely, it appears that some JUBUs left Judaism because of their Jewish ideals.
On the other side of this problem, Kamenetz sees that "the Reform Jewish strategy pretty much succeeded in assimilating Jews into American life. When JUBUs spoke against Jewish particularism, one could feel that Reform Judaism had succeeded all too well. An ethical ideal of universal justice, freed from the particulars of ritual, left many Jews free to leave the fold. We could be secular, or Buddhist, and still feel connected to these universal values." In one particular exit interview, Thubten Chodron said, regarding "the Old Testament God", that she "didnât like his personality. He was vengeful, he had qualities I wouldnât want to develop, that my parents taught me were wrong. Harming others because they harm the people that you like. Smiting others because they criticize you or worship somebody else. When youâre a kid on the playground, because somebody plays with somebody else, that doesnât give you the reason to jump in and assault. This kind of jealous, vengeful God - I canât worship that. I canât see that as holy, I donât want to become like that.â
I tried to suggest that âpeople evolve different conceptions of Godâ and wondered if âthe God and Judaism you rejected is one most Jews would reject also, if it isnât a very unsophisticated childâs view of Judaism. As we mature, we realize that concepts of God as father, king, or ruler are baby steps toward some greater understanding.â
Chodron answered, âThen they should teach that to people. If there are wider notions of God, thatâs what they should teach to the children - not that God is up there watching you and you be good or youâll get punished.â
Kamenetz diagnoses the problems of his own religion with an ingenious precision, and his diagnosis sounds so similar to the problems I see in Christianity today:
I began to suspect that Jewish identity, as it has evolved in the West today, could be a real barrier to encountering the depths of Judaism. In other words, being Jewish could keep you from being a Jew.
But after talking to Pemo, Chodron, and Alex Berzin, I was also convinced there was a more fundamental problem: a defensive attitude. Young Jews growing up in America are intellectually curious and they demand a more open-minded approach to spirituality. The questions about God that Chodron had asked should have been answered - I gathered that instead they were ignored or suppressed.
The challenge that the Dalai Lama offered these visiting Jews was to make Judaism more beneficial instead of asking Jews to hold on to tradition out of guilt. Kamenetz writes:
One of the members of the party - Professor Nathan Katz - stated the lesson the Dalai Lama had taught them in terms of communicating the beauty the Jewish traditions had to offer, rather than teaching their people to be on guard all the time - "If you have nothing to offer them, thereâs no sense holding on to them. And if you have something to offer them, thereâs no reason for them to leave."
In today's religious climate in the West - with millions of the younger generation leaving the church (this has been dubbed the "rise of the nones" - I've written about this here and here, and see this recent article from the Pew Research Center), and with the pluralism that cannot be hid from in the face of the internet age - Christianity could learn much from this story. I highly recommend this book to anyone of any religious background - it is about finding yourself through open and generous dialogue, and that is an important lesson to learn.
Setiap orang selalu memiliki sebuah permintaan begitu juga dengan para selebriti di dunia ini mereka juga memiliki permintaan namun jika permintaan yang diminta itu terkesan aneh pasti semua orang akan terheran heran. Berikut ini 10 Permintaan Aneh Para Selebriti Dunia. Mau tahu permintaan semacam apa itu simak berikut ini.
1. Barbra Streisand
Diva yang satu ini meminta kelopak bunga mawar di tolietnya. Bahkan mungkin dia sendiri tidak dapat membedakan wangi bunga mawar dan wangi toilet itu sendiri.
Pelantun lagu âsingle ladiesâ yang satu ini meminta hanya produk Pepsi, cereal, cairan pensteril toilet, kamar bersuhu 78 derajat Fahrenheit, dan tidak adanya permen, coklat, dan juga cemilan di ruang gantinya
3. Britney Spears
Harus menyediakan line telepon khusus yang hanya dapat digunakan untuk menelpon. Mungkin di hari ulang tahunnya, fans Britney dapat patungan untuk memberikannya hadiah telepon genggam
4. Celine Dion
Hanya kamar bersuhu tepat 23 derajat Celsius dengan semangkuk penuh keripik kentang tanpa tekstur dengan rasa tertentu dan dilengkapi saus tomat.
Ia hanya mengharapkan sebotol Cristal, Dom Perignon, Hennessy Cognac, Veuve Clicquot dan sebuah mobil Maybach anti peluru untuk keselamatan dirinya.
6. Jennifer Lopez
Dirinya meminta bunga, sofa, lilin dan juga tirai berwarna putih. Dan tentunya ditambah Skittles untuk memberi warna barang-barang lainnya.
Pada acara MuchMusic Awards di Toronto tahun lalu, Ke$ha meminta glitter, hotdog dan buku âthe origin of speciesâ. Tampaknya ada yang mempersiapkan diri untuk ujian Biologi.
25 botol air Kabbalah dan juga penutup toilet baru itulah yang diminta oleh Madonna pada setiap shownya.
9. Mariah Carey
Apakah hanya cukup Cristal champagne and âbendy strawsâ untuk diva yang satu ini? Tentu tidak, ibu dari 2 anak ini juga meminta anak kelinci dan kucing, lilin aromaterapi wangi vanilla, dan juga tanaman yang berdaun berukuran 8 inci.
Dirinya meminta adanya dokter yang siap memberikan asupan vitamin B-12 bagi tubuhnya dan semua makanannya harus ditutupi dengan plastik bening, tentunya Prince bukanlah seseorang yang biasa-biasa saja.
Mysticism of the Early Prophets Kabbalah is the mystical path of Judaism. Elizabeth Clare Prophet reviews the Tree of Life and the Kabbalah showing how, like the early Jewish prophets, you can have a direct relationship with God.
Pope Francis never stops babbling in the context of Christian themes he seeks to confuse. At Auschwitz on July 27, 2016, Pope Francis was uncharacteristically silent. There's a theological, dispensational reason for this drawn from Francis' religion, Haredi Judaism.
Question: They say that a Kabbalist doesnât think about himself at all. What does not thinking about yourself mean? Answer: A Kabbalist thinks about himself more than everyone else because he associates himself with the whole world. By relating to himself as an inseparable part of creation, he thinks about all of humanity; he has […]
Question: Can a Kabbalah convention change anything in our world? Does it have an impact on the world? Answer: A convention undoubtedly has a positive impact on the world. After all, we exist in this world and the upper Light is conveyed through us to our world as well.  From the Kabbalah Lesson in […]
New Life #864 â Our Approach To Life: Being A Super Hero Dr. Michael Laitman in conversation with Oren Levi and Tal Mandelbaum ben Moshe Summary Why are we attracted to super heroes characters? Who is a true super hero and what are the hidden forces in each of us? The wisdom of Kabbalah enables […]
Question: Kabbalah says that the purpose of our life is to discover a higher force. Once I reveal it, I will receive the ability to control my life and get rid of all anxieties. This sounds very appealing, so why do people shun Kabbalah? Why do they prefer religion, which promises a reward only after […]
It's not exactly a newsflash that secret society symbolism lies at the very heart of David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks mythos. In case the storyline of clashing lodges went over anyone's head, Frost's Secret History of Twin Peaks makes damn sure you get the drift as it hammers a vision of white-lodge Freemasons struggling against black-lodge Illuminati into your head. Secret History even includes a mock version of Meriwether Lewis' Masonic apron and drives home the link between the owl icon and the Illuminati.
Throw in UFOs, Jack Parsons, Aleister Crowley, Bohemian Grove and pretty much every other bullet point you can conjure from the catalog of high weirdness and conspiracy culture and you're off to the races.
I don't know about Frost, but it goes without saying that Lynch has some experience in the Masonic orbit. How so?, you may be asking. Well, read on:
David Lynch was born Jan. 20, 1946, in Missoula, Mont.His father, Donald, was a research scientist for the U.S. Forest Service. The job meant the Lynch familyâs home address was constantly changing â Idaho, Washington state, North Carolina and Virginia.
Through it all, two things stayed constant: Scouting and camping. Whenever the family traveled with Donald Lynch for his job, they avoided hotels and motels. They camped.âI grew up like that,â Lynch says. âThe Boy Scouts was pretty much a continuation of that.â Lynch was a Cub Scout and then a Boy Scout. He attended summer camp at Camp Tapawingo near Payette Lake, Idaho.
He was a member of the Order of the Arrow.
The Boy Scouts is a Masonic-founded organization, but the Order of the Arrow (OA) is something else entirely. It's even more Masonic than Freemasonry. It makes the Masoniest Freemason who ever Masoned look like a piker. My wife and I watched an OA ceremony when we visited my son at Boy Scout camp and I felt like I earned an Entered Apprentice degree just watching the damn thing. Wiki tells us:
The traditions and rituals of Freemasonry contributed more to the basic structure of the OA ritual than any other organization.
In fact, there appears to be no known fraternal organization more faithful in form to Freemasonry than OA.
Familiar terms such as "lodge" and "obligation" were borrowed from Masonic practice, as were most of the ceremonial structures and ritual formulae. Even the early national meeting was called a "Grand Lodge," a Masonic reference.
I don't know if Lynch is still active in a fraternal organization (though my guess is that he is) but I'd imagine it's something a little edgier than the Masons, maybe a Rosicrucian or Martinist order. But even so there's Masonic symbolism all over his work, as well as Rosicrucian and Alchemical symbolism. And some other little tidbits we should look into....
I've been studying Twin Peaks and its would-be spinoff Mulholland Dr recently and it's all so in-your-face I'm a little surprised no one's paid it any mind. Now, there's no shortage of occult symbolism studies of Twin Peaks et al but not so much when it comes to Masonry and its cousins. Given how explicit it all is in Secret History this seems like semiotic neglect.
Red- the color of the Scottish Rite (and according to some, the Illuminati) is all over Lynch's work. It seems to signify sex, magic and sex magick. And there's that checkerboard floor you all learned about in Symbolism 101. But notice Audrey here is wearing tartan, another arrow pointing to Scotland, the Scottish Rite and the Illuminati (who had their own "Scottish" degrees).
As we'll see Lynch is a bit ambivalent about red and tartan so it leads one to wonder if there's a red-blue divide in the secret society world as well.
Red is the predominant color in One Eyed Jack's, the casino and brothel across the Canadian border that Benjamin Horne runs and the ostensible earthly incarnation of the Black Lodge. Note also the use of Venetian masks, which we saw in Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut.
The scene of the right there has Horne unwittingly seducing his own daughter at Jack's, which parallels the incest between the demon-possessed Leland Palmer and his daughter Laura.
Note that the Black Lodge features two famous statues of Venus, the De Medici and the De Milo. The sex magick symbols are overwhelming in Twin Peaks.
Speaking of which, in the new series we see the all-important ram's head in Horne's office. We'll be delving into all of that in the near-future.
In case you think the floor thing is a stretch, note the tile pattern of the Red Room, which is either adjacent to or actually part of the Black Lodge, depending on which obsessive you ask. Here the host for the demon Mike (Philip Gerard) stands on the inverted chevrons, which signify a Master Mason. And the color scheme corresponds to the Scottish Rite, as mentioned before.
Speaking of which we have the red bandana, identified with Evil Coop and the Cowboy, the preternaturally-terrifying bad guy from Mulholland Dr. Note the tartan on the Cowboy's coat, which seems to exist solely to drive home the Scottish Rite (or perhaps the Scottish degrees, in the case of the Illuminati) connection. Note also the actor who plays the Cowboy is one of the founders of American Cinematheque, whose symbol is the Eye of Horus.
Moving on, we later see the figurehead of the White Lodge, Major Garland Briggs (garlands again), in what very much resembles the Worshipful Master's seat seen in a typical Masonic lodge.
We see the same type of chair facing the madam's desk at Jack's, particularly during this scene after Jerry Horne dresses said madam (named Blackie, of course) down.
This is the Room Above the Convenience store, which has obscured windows like a Masonic lodge. Bob and the Man from Another World sit at a green formica table which may or may not be a reference to the Emerald Tablets of Hermeticism.
In the outtakes from Fire Walk with Me we are told that these entities are demons of the air who travel through electrical wires. They feed on human pain and sorrow (Garmonbozia), symbolized by creamed corn for some damn reason or other.
Does the Black Lodge really represent the Illuminati?
Hmm, I'll have to get back to you on that one.
Fire Walk with Me centers on the owl signet ring, which seems to protect the wearer from demonic possession. Which is both good and not-so-good since Bob tends to murder the people he can't inhabit.
And of course the owl signet ring is essentially identical to a Masonic signet ring. Which makes sense since Gerard is a traveling salesman and cryptic conversations about traveling (as in "Are you traveling to the temple?") are a Masonic recognition trope.
The owl sigil itself also resembles an inverted and simplified "winged kneph," the symbol of the Memphis and Mizraim Order. Just in case it wasn't Masonic enough already.
And no one should be surprised to learn that there's a Masonic Lodge two doors down from the real-life Twin Peaks diner and it's actually over a storefront. We'll be looking at another lodge over a store in the near future that ties directly into the Peaks mytharc.
Neither should anyone be surprised that the facade of the Palmer home resembles the Second Degree Tracing Board, with the arch, vault and columns as well as solar symbol over the door and the planting urns standing in for our old pals Boaz and Jachin.
That same tracing board features a waterfall, as do both opening credits for Twin Peaks. The new credits have the waterfall fading into the curtains and floor of the Red Room, just in case you missed the connection.
Yeah, that's an obelisk.
Of course we also have the Bookhouse Boys secret society, a handy stand-in for badass Masonic posses from the past like the Regulators (which Freemason Billy "the Kid" Bonney belonged to) and the Montana Vigilantes. Their recognition sign is an index finger pointing at an eye.
The Bookhouse Boys logo is of a cedar tree and a sword, strongly (and significantly) resembling both the Lebanese flag and the Eagle Scout forestry patch. Lebanon is of particular interest to Masonic and Templar orders, as longtime Secret Sun readers know well.
The Boys meet in a pub, just like the old-time Masons of Colonial America. Just in case there's any confusion as to who the "Boys" are actually supposed to represent, we see archaic-looking tools on the wall of their meeting room, telling us these are "Craftsmen".
Speaking of Craftsmen, the Renault brothers make a handy stand-in for the "Ruffians" or the "Three Unworthy Craftsmen" who murdered Hiram Abiff, Phoenician architect of the Temple of Solomon (from present-day Lebanon). Their first names- Jean, Jacques and Bernard - all correspond to figures from Masonic history, namely the Baptist, DeMolay and the Saint who founded the Knights Templar.
The Renault surname seems to have Masonic significance as well, if Renault Autos logos are any indication. Note the conjoined chevrons. the yellow-black color scheme correlating to the Masonic beehive. Lynch seems to be deeply ambivalent about French Freemasons, at least according to the symbols.
We have another stand-in for the Ruffians in the Woodsmen in the new series. Since the Black Lodge is all about inversion here the Ruffians resurrect the Evil Dale Cooper after he is shot.
Speaking of the Woodsmen, a Twin Peaks blogger discovered that the lights of the convenience store in the epochal eighth episode match the stars of the Aries sigil (that horned god again) when you invert it.
Then there's the "Evolution of the Arm" from the Red Room/Black Lodge, which everyone thinks looks like a tree with a brain but Lynch protests is just a head. I'm sure there's absolutely no connection to the FBI agent who made headlines across the nation when he disappeared in the wilderness (a la Dale Cooper) and just happened to be from Braintree.
No connection at all.
As many fans realize, the concept of the White and Black Lodge comes from Dion Fortune, who was initiated into the occult by the Irish Freemason Theodore Moriarty and was active in the Co-Masonic movement (as well as the Golden Dawn). So even more Freemasonry, just in case there weren't enough already.
And that circle there looks not unlike a blue rose, wouldn't you say?
Gordon Cole refers to cases involving ultraterrestrials as "Blue Rose Cases", as we saw in this ritualistic dance by Lil(ith) in Fire Walk with Me.
Apparently the blue rose is an Alchemical symbol. Leonora Carrington, occultist, witch and Surrealist, featured it in her paintings (note figure with Eye in Triangle on left). Carrington was married to occultist and Surrealist master Max Ernst, so she probably knew what she was doing here.
Speaking of eyes in triangles, we see them all over the office of Mr. Roque, the mysterious string-puller in Mulholland Dr who seems to operate in a branch office of the Red Room.
One of his underlings is seen sitting in front of this rather unsubtle stand-in for the Royal Arch of Freemasonry (which is also lower degree of the Scottish Rite).
And we see the arch again in the Club Silencio in what looks like a Blue Lodge setting, corresponding here to the mysterious Blue-Haired Lady who ends the film with...
...this universal admonition. Suffice it to say Mulholland Dr is about a hell of a lot more than the wish-dream of a failed actress/spurned lover.
A lot more.
Even so, do note the pink triangle pointing at "Camilla Rhodes," whom we later learn is the new side-dish for the real Camilla Rhodes.
There's been a lot of discussion about the atomic explosion on Gordon Cole's office wall, especially after Episode 8. But note a similar image on the wall of the Bang-Bang, as we see in this scene with this Renault whomever, wearing red and black tartan.
Now getting back to the Twin Peaks would-be spinoff Mulholland Dr remember that the amnesiac Camilla renames herself Rita after the poster of Rita Hayworth in the movie Gilda.
What's the connection, you might ask?
Well, Gilda also gave us the name of the atomic bomb dropped on Bikini Atoll during Operation Crossroads. We saw in Episode Eight that Lynch and Frost may believe the explosion at Trinity Site unleashed the Demons of the Air on our dimension. Were they really thinking of Crossroads, given that it was named after the traditional venue for summoning demons? Knowing Lynch it's even money.
Which brings us to the next topic- the real-life Search for the Zone website. It includes coordinates that correspond to this location....
...Lookout Mountain Road in Spearfish, South Dakota. I hope there are some bells and whistles going off here because Lookout Mountain is also the name of a location in Laurel Canyon...
...where the military kept a secret movie studio that filmed all those atomic war simulations that traumatized two generations of American schoolchildren. Obviously not a coincidence.
Club Silencio seems to represent the Kabbalist sorcery of Hollywood, personified in the "Magician" who wears another Masonic-looking signet ring and reels off a catalog of hand signals before vanishing in a puff of smoke. Note again the red and the black...
...which we see in the red carpet and black tie of the Ausurs, held every year in the shadow of the Babylon Gate, with its
Milla Jovovich is a 37 year old actress and model born in the former Soviet Ukraine. Her father, Bogic Jovivic is a Serbian pediatrician and her mother, Galina Jovovich is a former Russian actress. Her paternal great-grandfather was a flag-bearer for the VasojeviÄi clan and an officer in the guard of King Nicholas I of Montenegro; Milla was named after his wife Milica. Her paternal grandfather was also connected to the military, read more at wikipedia. At age five, Millaâs family left the Soviet Union for London then moving to America and finally settling in Los Angeles. Millaâs parents soon divorced after arriving in America. Millaâs mother struggled to find acting work in the US, so she and Bogic resorted to providing housekeeping services for Hollywood elite director Brian De Palma (and other Hollywood homes) to get by. âEven then, Milla showed a knack for attracting the attention of powerful lensmen; she appears in some of De Palma's old home movies, frolicking in the pool.â
In the past Milla has candidly described her mother as "pushy". In a sense, Galina lived out her own ambitions vicariously through her daughter. She enrolled Milla in her first drama class when she was 9. Milla shot her first horror scene when she was 10, in a movie that was never completed: She played a little girl molested both by her father and the devil. In the absence of a special-effects budget, her mother improvised as the Antichrist. "My mom was Satan, which is true in a lot of respects," she says. Then: "But I love her anyway." Source
Millaâs father was arrested and sentenced to 20 years for participating in health-insurance fraud. âThis was no run-of-the-mill fraud - it was reportedly the biggest in American history, involving more than $1 billion in claims. Bogich pleaded guilty to 7 fraud-related counts and was sentenced to 20 years in prisonâ¦ "I don't want to spill my sob story to the world." "A lot of my history is based on survival," she says. "I mean, it's sort of the Russian way of thinking."" At age 12 she had already been taken out of school to focus on modelling, but began auditioning at age 9 and was handled by child modelling agency, âPrima Modelling Agencyâ. Illuminist photographer Richard Avedon noticed her at age 11 (he took the Nastassja Kinski snake photo I've posted several times; photographed Marilyn Monroe, George Bush Snr etc) and she was then included in his "The most unforgettable women in the world wear REVLON" advertising campaign pictured above (he was the head of marketing at Revlon at the time). The models not looking particularly happy to say the least. Calling an 11 year old girl an "unforgettable woman" seems inappropriate to me, and has clear sexual maturity connotations that should not be associated with an 11 year old girl. Never mind dolling her up to be used as an object to sell cosmetic product. The reference to forgetting may also be euphemistic of programming (being dissociative/amnesia/highly "forgetful"); but if that is reading too much into it then their 'dead', expressionless, tranced looking faces is perhaps indicative of programming. The magazine wanted to remove Milla when they found out she was only 11 years old but Avedon threatened to prevent them from using any of his photographs in the future so they caved to the Illuminist tool.
A photograph of "elite" photographer Richard Avedon, covering his right eye in what I am sure is an entirely coincidental pose...
A couple of other modelling photos from 1986 of Milla aged 11.
Milla's first magazine cover was in 1987, still 11 years old the magazine called 'Lei' featuring Milla looking relatively tranced on the cover with the pink words 'E LOLITA' .
Jovovich's Lolita status in the fashion/media world is shown by her other photo shoots from this early period (1987-1990) below.
Note above possibly intentional use of one eye covering.
Wearing a Hells Angels top at 11/12
Above Milla appears to be wearing magickal pentacles in this shoot from 1990 (14).
What do you think the double meaning behind this 'Seventeen' magazine cover is? [Clues: "Sexual abuse", dehumanization, black/white, pink etc]
Confirming her status as one of the media's 'Lolitas'. In 1990 (she is 14 here) she was featured in a French Vogue spread with a David Lynch favourite, Harry Dean Stanton (who appeared in her 'The Gentleman Who Fell' video further down the page) playing a Humbert type figure and Milla, obviously as the elite's favourite Lolita archetype.
In 1988, following her unfinished Satanic ritual abuse film she had a small part in the highly sexual 'Two Moon Junction' (pictured below in the film), note the poster's symbolism with the vesica pisces and intertwining roses (the stems only pass through the O letters; most of this is esoteric sexual symbolism).
She then made a Disney Channel film in âThe Night Train to Kathmanduâ which has the central theme of Eastern Mysticism, which is an important aspect of the occult and Theosophist's in particular. Her life is quite similar Brooke Shields (click for post), Milla was known in the media and within the fashion industry as the new Brooke Shields or the "Slavic Brooke Shields". She appeared as the underage female sex-object in The Blue Lagoon's sequel Return to the Blue Lagoon. These films are just mild titillation, bordering on soft-core underage pornography (she was fourteen at the time of filming) and is indicative of the perverse predators that make up Hollywood's establishment some of whom had their houses cleaned by the Jovovichâs (which is no doubt how she became introduced to the Hollywood/fashion world). It is no coincidence that she plays a Lily in her first official film for Disney (Kathmandu), and then in Blue Lagoon she also plays a Lily, 'Lilli'. I have covered the name Lily (Lillith + symbolic flower, flower of death etc; MK associations with a victim being like a flower coming into bloom, deflowering etc) in older posts. Brain Krause, who was 22 at the time played the male counterpart, has been in some interesting roles. She also appeared in a Married with Children episode where she played a foreign exchange student and underage lolita.
Below from a magazine piece titled "The Most Sexy Lolitas of the Moment" to emphasise her as a Lolita (the below US flag shots were also in the set).
Below comes from Rolling Stone magazine 1990 (so at the oldest 14).
She also did an advertising shoot with Monarch slave Michael Jackson when he was under a great deal of Monarch mind control. Milla Jovovich and Michael Jackson have the same initials, M. J. Probably coincidence, but a synchronicity nonetheless.
Here is a clip from one of her earlier films 'Dazed and Confused' with Milla singing about aliens then Rory Cochrane saying (paraphrased): "This country was founded by people who were into aliens man, George Washington man, he was in a cult and the cult was into aliens man." Which isn't actually far off the truth at all (referring to the Masonic cult many of the 'founding fathers' were members of). She had a brief marriage to actor Shawn Andrews from this film, which was annulled by Millaâs mother two months later.
Above is a video of Milla performing the song from her sporadic musical career, it appears she is performing in an altered state based on the look in her eyes and flashing the horns signal, 0:42 (she clearly intentionally flashes the hand signal just after the line "Oh look it's flashing").
Her music career has produced only one official album, entitled 'The Divine Comedy' giving it immediate occult resonance as it is named after Dante's 'Divine Comedy', which influenced occult societies and helped popularise the association of Lucifer as Satan. The cover (designed by Russian artist Alexis Steele) reminds me of depictions of Lilith or Eve, note the serpent coiling between her legs as she reaches up to the light/Heaven from her place in Hell (note the fallen angel/Lucifer in the red hooded robe to the left of the image). I'm sure someone more familiar with the Divine Comedy could identify the specific scene depicted; whatever the scene, it is undeniably occult themed.
The covers for her apparently unauthorized release 'The Peopletree Sessions' also feature occult symbolism with Milla's eye covered by a pentagram and even more occult below with the pentagram's interior lines included. This occult pentagram is the logo for the record label that Milla signed for in 1988 when she was around 13, SBK Records (wiki) which was part of EMI.
One song of note is 'Secret Society' with it's lyrics: "1,2,3,4 (x3) [tempo count, hypnotic/trance induction, hence the "I can't remember"] what was that? um..I can't remember hahahaha
let you alone let you alone all the crazy people let you alone all the crazy people secret society secret society..."
She has more recently collaborated with Puscifer (Pussy/Lucifer), from the 'Tool' (lots of occultism in their work) lead singer Maynard James Keenan (from his interviews he seems like a fairly aware guy). Above image is cropped from Puscifer's official site, note the spiral, all seeing eye [like a stone arch also], checkerboard floor, spiral serpent etc (+ more symbolism on the site, like the intro page star).
She sang in Puscifer's 'REV 22:20' ('He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.'; the song may reference the antichrist which synchs up with her earliest non-released film role further up):
Don't be aroused by my confession, Unless you don't give a good goddamn about redemption I know Christ is coming But so am I You would too if the sexy devil caught your eye She'll suck you dry But still you'll cry to get back in her bosom To do it again She'll make you weep But the more you'll cry to be back in her bosom And do it again
Jesus has risen to no surprise Even he would martyr his momma to ride to hell between those thighs Pressure is building at the base of my spine If I've got to sin to see you again Then I'm gonna lie lie lie She'll make you cry Please suck me dry
She has produced two music videos for the same song (one in colour, one in black and white), 'The Gentleman Who Fell'; while there is nothing particularly overt about this first video, it has quite dark undertones.
First of all dissociation is shown (this is a speculative interpretation) as a sleeping Mila goes 'out of body' and spins round, transforming into a little girl (Milla as a child/child alter/memory fragment) who also spins (showing it's herself) and then dances with an older man playing the violin, presumably supposed to represent her father, as an adult Milla looks in on the scene looking sad.
Milla is shown in the traumatised pose of sitting in the corner in the fetal position. Milla symbolically turns on the light (+ some symbolic lines are sung i.e. 'blinded by the light'), her character (in a hallway/rooms internal structure) looks into another doorway (symbolising access to another part of the mind where these types of dissociated memories or splits, are housed) and sees another suggestive scene.
It appears to be the little girl (again Milla as a child) wearing black/white (there is some duality symbolism in the video) in a room with two men, a creepy looking old guy who I think is a David Lynch favourite Harry Dean Stanton (see further down the page where he randomly does a Vogue shoot with Milla playing the part of 'Lolita' and Harry as Humbert) and a younger guy, note the little girl is in a fixed/frozen position (hands clasped together, frozen in fear) between the two men.
Flower petals are dropped and other symbolic imagery flashed (the light bulbs swinging, dead leaves blowing in the wind [symbolising transformation; change in the seasons] and such); the tempo picks up and Milla, wearing black has a white veil wrapped around her by the two men. This also happens to the little girl (symbolic Milla as a child, because it symbolises childhood dissociation), effectively mummifying and cocooning them which is extremely symbolic.
A few shots of her mouth gagged with masking tape are shown (which she symbolically removes near the end). This is cocoon symbolism is confirmed as when the 'veil is lifted'/the cocoon broken apart we are shown an image of Milla with wings at the end. This video is all about programming; the transformation of the little girl into the beautiful butterfly (whatever the desired product of the programming) inside a 'cocoon'.
The second, black and white version of this song has symbolic themes in it as she hallucinates seeing herself sitting at a table, a cat eating bugs, a few all seeing eyes, disorientation, tarantula (related to spider tortures), death waiting in her bedroom with a mirror over his face, Milla appears to be trying to go through a mirror and a few other relevant scenes.
Milla's other ventures include a now-defunct fashion line 'Jovovich-Hawk' with Carmen Hawk, a former model (they met when they were both young models) whose modeling photos from the 90's I can find none of. The above shot is a common MPD symbolic photograph with each half of their respective faces blocking out the other's half face (split mind, note Milla's black feather mask too), similar to this cosmetics ad featured in Deeper Insights Illuminati Formula and below is fairly self explanatory (Carmen giving the horned one hand signal in front of a horned beast.
After her small part in âDazed and Confusedâ, Millaâs next notable film production was Luc Bessonâs âThe Fifth Elementâ in which she played Leeloo (similar to the Lily character names from her previous roles). The film has various occult concepts in play (spoiler warning), Milla plays the personification of the âFifth Elementâ (or âquintessenceâ) which is considered to be the Spirit (or aether) on the Pentagram (the other elements points being the earth, air, fire and water; just as they are in the film). Note in the filmâs posters Millaâs face is symbolically half covered in shadow.
The four elements combine after Bruce Willis proclaims his love for her allowing the Fifth Element (spirit/aether) to combine the four elements (fire, water, earth, wind; red, blue, green, yellow respectively) thus releasing her âDivine Lightâ and destroying the âGreat Evilâ. The âDivine Lightâ being white, these colours match up accurately with the classical elements used by occultists and in Freemasonry). For more occult symbolism in the film check out this analysis on YouTube, usual sun symbolism seen in Bessonâs films (I picked up on this symbolism also in his film Leon).
Quickly cobbled this one together because I'm being so damn slow with other posts with more writing in them (this kind of post seem to flow pretty fast so wanted to get one out after some minor 'distractions' and general burnout). I thought this new shoot and video from Interview Magazine with Megan Fox was interesting enough to post quickly (in the interview some brief mentioning of them being puppets/tools for the Hollywood machine), doesn't need much elaboration featuring the kind of mannequin programming (this mannequin was apparently created specifically in her likeness by the way) showing her in a frozen (mannequin/statue-like) possible trance state on the bed with it and other scenes (I think this post has some more detail on mannequins, which is a basic kind of hypnotic 'freeze' command anyway). Note her and the mannequin in a duality checkerboard floor corridor which she drags the mannequin down to kill it. The final scene involves her symbolically killing herself (possibly killing an alter or something) via the mannequin by strangling and gagging it with her hand. This all goes along with the narrative they have created for her in the media with quotes from her saying that she has "mental problems" and her tattoos and such that may point to her potentially being Monarch programmed. [Edit: Fixed video]
The music going along with the video was clearly chosen for its MK/mind control lyrics, the track titled 'Master's Hands' by French actress/singer Charlotte Gainsbourg (the woman from Antichrist, with themes of trauma/dissociation/hypnosis/explicit sex etc), i.e."Pull my strings and cut my rope, Rattle my frame and shatter my ghost, And if I can't get back in line, They're gonna break me down...".
The shoot is the work of Illuminist/celebrity/fashion photographer Craig McDean, who has photographed many others (see this link for some of his portfolio), some have featured in this blog like the above Rachel Weisz (+ husband and child) shot. One from a typically dualistic shoot of kabbalistic (former?) slave Madonna below.
Below is another one by him of the MK half of the Olsen Twins, Mary-Kate in an Interview Magazine shoot. Just to make things more relevant to the post, Megan's first film role, after being strictly raised in Oak Ridge, Tennesse (lots of military stuff/history going on there, always a clue, the National Laboratory is listed in Deeper Insights Illuminati Formula as being involved in mind control/genetic Monarch research) by strict Catholic parents and the usual training for performance from age 5 and modeling by age 13, was in an MK and Ashley movie 'Holiday in the Sun' at age 16 (still from it below, in her stereotypical early role).
To round off this short post (I have already covered Jennifer's Body briefly in older posts + other stuff to do with her like the tattoos, see link near start; her new tattoo by the way 'Those who danced were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.' seems to come from some relatively unheard of poet Angela Monet, as someone interestingly noted in the comments the direct quote can be found in David Icke's 'Tales from the Time Loop' from years back) her more recent films have been relatively occult themed like 'Jennifer's Body' which I have only recently watched. She enters some kind of dissociative state while watching a band in her small town of 'Devil's Kettle' where a fire breaks out and is taken by the band in their van in this 'out of it' state, and is then sacrificed in a Satanic ritual by them wanting to make it big (an exaggeration of what bands have to do to make it big in reality, for the most part sell out to the music corporate/Illuminist overlords) and she becomes possessed by a succubus demon because she was not a virgin, and her friend Amanda Seyfried kills her (not worth covering in detail in my opinion, don't want to make this post longer than it has to be).
Butterfly motifs (also a symbol of female sexuality and transformation which I have mentioned in the past) and obviously plenty of occult themes are prevalent throughout. Some of the flashbacks to Megan and Amanda's character childhoods have more Monarch symbolism (Amanda's character, who as an adult always wears butterfly earrings and such, is covered in more butterfly print; she will probably pop up in some future post and will post some of her symbolic shoots etc) with barbie dolls, some twinning programming suggestions (at one point one sucks the other's blood or something) and other things also.
Her most current film is Jonah Hex, which is a loosely occult themed Western comic-book adaptation where she plays a prostitute Lilah who has spent her life in a brothel, a typical role. Perhaps more pertinent to Monarchs is her role alongside Mickey Rourke and Bill Murray in 'Passion Play' which she plays a "caged circus freak with wings", which is "a magical-realist drama in which Foxâs character sprouts wings at puberty and is drafted into a traveling circus" (from Interview piece). Below is a leaked camera phone photo from the set of Passion Play trapped in her glass box/cage, the exposed photo apparently embarrassed and infuriated her in a similar way to her character on display in the actual film is supposed to feel.
Anyway, future posts are forthcoming but I am still going at a leisurely pace (though I put this one together in like 1 hour today so I'm not exactly consistent), the Charlotte Lewis/Golden Child post is so delayed that it doesn't seem relevant anymore but will put it up soon anyway (there is some interesting stuff in it).
Edit [June 2011]: No one will probably see this as this post is like a year old (if anyone does, I do plan on posting again later this year by the way) but here is a photo from late April 2011 of Megan with her current husband (slave/handler?) Brian Austin Green donning an Illuminati T-shirt going for a pizza at Lucifers.
Quick post, I came across this photo of Christina Aguilera (click for her previous posts/photos) in a Luciferian black magick scene, with a ritual pentagram drawn on the ground and each point/element has a black candle on it. The scene, at the very least resonates with themes of Satanic ritual abuse.
On the other doll (symbolically under her foot/trampled on) note the position of the knife on it's stomach, all very symbolic of ritual abuse (and showing literally how they are used in MK, as the child is emotionally attached to the doll, giving it a personality and whatnot, so it can be used in multiple ways to emotionally traumatize the victim to create splits/personalities). What is that bloody thing above, it looks like a skinned goat head or something? There also appears to be an animal skull (below Minnie Witch photo), possibly a goat though half is cut off. A practicing occultist reader could probably describe the purpose of the jars and whatnot. Included a loosely related image of Christina at Disneyland with a Minnie Mouse Witch (+ sunflowers).
Note the red and black coloured clothing (black/red/white common colour scheme used by occultists such as the Nazi establishment, the red associated with the occult obsession with pure genes/bloodline, black evil/darkness, white light for duality). Click one of the above images where you can see that one of Christina's Hebrew tattoos is on show, it is unlikely that she wasn't posed specifically and ritualistically to reveal the Hebrew letters 'Yud' (Y) and 'Bet' (B) to add a bit of Kabbalah magick to the shoot's (metaphorical) cauldron.
These Hebrew letters are described in the press as representing her husband, currently her long-term handler, Jewish music executive Jordan Bratman's initials, with Spanish words surrounding it reading "I love you always" (a permanent declaration of eternal devotion to the handler). Apparently Roman Catholic raised, she was married in a Jewish ceremony and their son Max Liron Bratman has been circumcised, the bris ceremony was decorated with inflatable penises/phalli (as if the traumatic genital mutilation [however you choose to rationalize it, that's what it is] ritual ceremony wasn't messed up enough).
Note Jordan's Mickey Mouse skull/death t-shirt with Christina, one of the products of Walt Disney Company's cult (in terms of who runs it) of death and perversion. Christina has even been branded with a Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse ears tattoo, in a fitting location (for Disney) below her bikini line (cannot find any pictures, info from Vanishing Tattoo).
The title of this post is a play on words for the 'Luciferian Christ' (Christina/Christian obviously meaning 'Follower of Christ' which is pretty ironic [it is how they think, their sense of humor I feel]), in the same set (taken by Judson Baker in 2005 for Blender magazine, whose split word motif I have noted before, see the magazine cover further down) Christina is photographed with motifs associated with Jesus Christ namely crucifixes. Note all the 'light' symbolism wearing white, with a silver crucifix (and a ruby crucifix necklace). Same again below with the sun/light coming from behind the clouds behind her head (like Jesus, the light/sun of God, he is often portrayed with the sun behind his head).
A bit of Baphomet posing (as above so below) below with the "Holy Spirit" dove (on the 'as above', fitting with the symbolic pose).
Continuing the set below, as the dualistic opposite of the above, dark themes as opposed to light. Speaking of duality, her next album was, at one point going to be called 'Light and Darkness' but seems to have changed to 'Bionic' (more associated with mind control as it suggests dehumanization, body parts replaced or augmented with tech, turning to a cyborg/robot MK theme), there has been speculation that this video is part of viral advertising for it but am reluctant to embed it until it is confirmed one way or the other. Note the skull necklace, blood red/scarlet outfit and the sun's light attempting to break through the dark storm clouds gathering behind her. The red ribbon coiled round her wrist reminds me and is probably symbolic of the Kabbalistic Tefillin.
Note the black crusader/templar-like cross (and the ironic statements about her being different from other "fake" artists like Britney whose system does not appear to be as structurally sound [so to speak] as Christina's system). Citizen K photo shoot from last year, who to me looks quite a bit like Kabbalistic prima-Monarch witch Madonna in this set (note black/white symbolism above and the mannequins).
A symbolic photo below from one of her earlier shoots below which I thought was poignant enough to finish with. Update on my current posting situation, I've been feeling increasingly unsure of what to post on (there is no shortage of subjects to choose from though, which is part of the problem), I spent a long time on one then decided to start a Mariah Carey post, so that should be up in the next few days and return to the one I was working on.
Whilst I take my time with other posts (apologiez for the delay and I realize there are other things people would rather I post on too, I will try to get to them), here's another fashion photography post for you to chew on for the time being. Kicking things off with some recent shoots from the ever illuminating photographer Antonella Arismendi (check her blog to see her interests and the context for the symbolic/mystical photography). The first set is called 'Black Celebration', hence the Baphomet (ram/goat skull, the bull skull [I think it is] I usually regard as a Baphomet invocation but could be Moloch) and black themes ('celebration of evil', also some black/white duality [the guy's trousers + other clothing, the girl's black lipstick, light hair/dark hair etc], mirror duality in the video and a few other things in the set).
Next up is 'Gnosis' (spiritual enlightenment/knowledge; non-ignorant Freemasons, Hermetics, Theosophists etc are practicing brands of Gnosticism), the esoteric symbolism covering the male model representing the 'gnosis'; the spiritual knowledge/enlightenment contained in the gnostic who has attained it. As well as all the usual "Illuminati" symbolism (eye in pyramid, hand of Fatima/Hamsa), their infamous phrase is also (among others) painted on him 'Novus Ordo Seclorum' (New Order of the Ages, the Masonic/Illuminism symbolic seal on the dollar bill with the motto celebrating the new "enlightened/illuminated" Masonic Order that took control of America). The model wears a symbolic mask (black with silver chains + silver pyramid shapes between the eyes) and does various symbolic poses.
2012 is another interest of the photographer which you can see written on the model above, as well as the ancient Sumerian Gods (or the alien creators and slave-masters of humanity, set to return in 2012... or not) the Anunnaki. Obviously there is a lot more there but most is hard to make out (some Kabbalah numerology and whatnot).
Various ritualistic poses are used which most will be familiar with, like the Illuminism symbolic triangle below.
Note the accurate depiction of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, which has been covered in previous posts (also in Antonella's previous shoots there are more Kabbalistic themes in terms of spiritual enlightenment/transcendence, like the Merkabah). Note the symbolic positioning of the central pillar over the spine, the middle pillar representing balance/order in the dualistic universe and our earthly reality (the sephirot Tiferet [mercy, glory, beauty; associated with the spine] is positioned in the middle of the tree, just below and in between Din [overpowering/judgement] and Hesed [kindness/compassion] which are considered opposites that Tiferet links/balances, Hesed being male, Din female). So this probably has a meditative enlightenment meaning also (based on her Merkabah shoot also), hence the symbolic reverse prayer pose (try and do that, impossible!).
Note more masks, with added bunny ears (/horns) giving a Nazi style salute below. Note the crucifix, you can just about make some Hebrew and Hindu Sanskrit (enlightenment, om meditation).
'Age of Aquarius' is the last set I'm covering of Antonella's work here, note all the light worship/Illuminism, including the white pyramids (symbolizing light, the Gnostic trinity, illuminated pyramids). Set in a church for added significance, I think the message being that the Age of Pisces is coming to an end (the Christian establishment love their vesica pisces shaped stuff like in architecture [among other symbolic archways and whatnot], the "Jesus Fish" and such) replaced by the Age of Aquarius in which (from what I understand) the archaic dogmatic religions of the Piscean age make way for more enlightened belief systems and people see what is actually going on in the world. The photographer Antonella Arismendi regards 2012 as being the beginning of the Age of Aquarius (she links to a playlist on the right of the page accompanying the set), though astrology, 2012 and things of that nature are not things I would like to go into they are interesting.
That analysis was quite non-conspiratorial so to bring things back to the higher end of the fashion industry where the work is less overt but more suggestive and hidden (rather than the 'in your face' esoteric themes which pervade Antonella's work), Victoria's Secret recently had a spread in GQ magazine with a Baphomet goat skull (note the American flag boots by the skull) + usual suggestiveness with the model (Lindsay Ellingson) holding the 'gun' (phallus) up to her mouth (I think some people think I have some massive problem with the stuff and the people I write about, that I'm some prude who will not listen, watch or enjoy something just because it has suggestive, occult or MK themes which couldn't be further from the truth).
More of the usual suggestiveness with one of those big (perhaps to make her appear small, like a child?) 'lollipops'.
Victoria's Secret models are 'The Most Dangerous Game'. But in all seriousness (should probably cut out the dark MK humor), usual dehumanization (antlers, on knees) and phallic symbolism (shotgun, hunting/killing/dominating the animal). Sex-kitten programming below and showing the theme of the shoot, they will often use recent popular movies (Where the Wild Things Are which itself contains numerous MK dehumanization and dissociation references) as a means to use themes of dehumanization and the like. Note the crawling and drinking milk through a phallic straw which is all obviously suggestive and relevant to kitten alter programming.
The most recent Victoria's Secret fashion show was full of it's usual dehumanization themes, starting with the sexy robots (seen in the background of above pic) that start the show off with the Black Eyed Peas (here is a good video detailing these themes). Note the giant 'V' shaped catwalk (for Victoria obviously but is clearly also used suggestively), each model walks to the bottom of the V.
It seems obvious and common sense that Alessandra Ambrosio (AA 11, Aless/Alice, Ambrosio like ambrosia, food of the gods) was instructed to hold her arms up in such a way, matching the top two corners of the (incomplete missing the bottom corner completed by the bottom half of her body, but clearly suggestive of an) inverted pentagram (a blazing star also, the pink/red fabric symbolizing fire/flames, all very Luciferian). "AmbrÃ³sio was just eight years old when she decided that she wanted to be a model, after seeing a picture of top covergirl Karen Mulder in a magazine: "I wanted to be like her", she recalls." Showing the influence these models have over the young, a pretty messed up cycle (this may just be an intentional Monarch slave nod from her handlers though), Alessandra had cosmetic surgery at age 11 to have her ears pinned back resulting in complications.You will recall Karen Mulder, one of the first Victoria's Secret 'Angels' came out in 2001 revealing that she and other supermodels were essentially "elite" sex slaves used by "Elite Model Management" executives and other members of the global elite (click for detailed analysis).
'Operation Miranda' is still in play it seems (should I cut out the dark humor?), they couldn't resist sticking a butterfly (+ a dragonfly) on MK Miranda Kerr, some of the angel/butterfly wings costumes were based on clock mechanism (symbolizing their lost time and internal mechanism/system). One of the parts (a jungle themed part) of the show culminated in a myriad of butterflies being shown projected onto the background.
In 2007 their VS fashion show displayed mind control symbolism with the black/white hypnotic spiral background domineering over the dissociative models (+ the strobe lighting must affect them) who are always far more lively in VS shows than others (they are told exactly how to act though before going on the catwalk). All seeing eyes are shown blinking on the screen as the hypnotic spiral fades out (it comes back later distorted). It looks to be based on Walt Disney's buddy Salvador Dali's surrealist art, I posted the picture of Adriana Lima from this show in a post a while back.
I recorded the above 'Agent Provocateur' (please click to see their obviously conscious use of occult symbolism such as this 'Season of the Witch', included better quality image below and their 'New World Order' etc) event off the TV a while back, with my crappy digital camera so the quality is not good but you can make out what is going on (I looked for pictures and video of it online but found virtually none). Essentially it is a theatrical/ritualistic fashion lingerie show with the models playing various parts (there's a nymph/green fairy or something near the start, a hood wearing witch type figure) in 2009 in Vienna, Austria. I think it may have been themed after A Midsummer Night's Dream (it's pagan/ritualistic themes are very popular for these types of things, reminding me of Playboy's Midsummer Night's Dream masquerade), though the model dressed as a bird kept in a human-size bird cage trapped by a dominatrix style guardian doesn't exactly fit with that. Anyway, a male Pan/Dionysus (or Puck) makes an appearance near the end and seems to get the bride (who decadently feeds him) to applause from the audience (the performers line up in a pyramid shape also) bringing this Dionysian ritual to a close.
To finish off this post, tool of the "elite" blue bloods, British fashion designer Alexander McQueen (again click for more relevant info on the occult in fashion, McQueen pictured above with Prince Charles who presented him with a 'Designer of the Year' award in 2001, but that is more about saying "you're one of us now, welcome to the club" than for any genuine achievement) teamed up with British photographer Nick Knight (some of his stuff is also in that linked McQueen post) for a campaign producing this photo with model Raquel Zimmermann practically suffocated by the snakes on and coiled around her (camouflaged by a multiple snake print body suit/second skin as if she herself had become a snake). Serpent photoshoots are always good for some psycho-sexual and esoteric symbolism, note McQueen's hooves-like shoes (reptile/snake print) she is wearing (seen in Lady GaGa's 'Bad Romance', by the way it's worth checking out Luciferian Mannequin Lily Donaldson post for newcomers, which has some of McQueens designs).
His most recent show from Milan fashion week is just as dark with Skull and Bones as the primary focus, called 'An Bailitheoir CnÃ¡mh' meaning 'The Bone Collector' in Gaelic. With piles of skulls and bones (like in an old catacombs) as the main motif (it's not really worth watching it all so haven't embedded, watch here).
To finish, here is a shoot from Vogue Paris February 2010 which I am posting as it features some of McQueen's designs such as the owl dress below (hopefully most will understand the significance/symbolism of the owl). Reptiles and death are in fashion at the moment it seems... I wonder why! The model is Anja Rubik, shot by photography duo Claudia Knoepfel and Stefan Indlekofer. I'll look to pick up the pace with posts (suggestions/tips are always welcome, though I need some way of organizing them all so I don't lose track of good ones in mail clutter).
Nicolas Cage, of the Coppola Hollywood "elite" clan has appeared in countless films as extremely symbolic roles (National Treasure movies, Knowing, Wicker Man etc) but this is not an extended post on those (I may yet get to them) roles. Nicolas Cage's latest comic book adaptation is 'Kick-Ass' and I feel is pushing it a bit in terms of what they can get away with when using young children in films (not that they haven't done much worse), watch these two trailers to see what I am talking about.
The child playing Mindy Macready with her "super hero" alter-ego Hit Girl, is Chloe Moretz and was only 11 years old at the time of filming. The alter name 'Hit Girl' works on two levels, obviously it references a Hit Man (reminds me of Leon a little); but I feel it is also referencing child abuse, as in literally a hit girl, a girl who has been hit (and I think the films themes of childhood violence, sexually violent language from children ["c*nt"], extra-long 'silencer' [+ other suggestive themes/imagery], a child retreating/dissociating into a fantasy world where they are a super hero, purple/mask etc).
She often attends film premieres, these are the kinds of sexualized poses Hollywood has their kid stars constantly doing, baited on by the paparazzi ("blow us a kiss doll" etc). "Peace" Predatory photographers in action. At the '500 Days of Summer' premiere in the occult Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood.
The protagonist is Kick-Ass played by Aaron Johnson, pictured below with the wife of depressed (his attempt at smiling always looks painful) idiot PM Gordon Brown, whose purpose is to appear ridiculous and allow the elite's man David Cameron to become Prime Minister in the forthcoming election, Sarah Brown at a premiere of the film where he played John Lennon in 'Nowhere Boy' directed by his now fiance, the much older (23 years, he is 19 at present) Sam Taylor-Wood.
Cage plays in 'Kick-Ass', Damon Macready (Mindy's father) with his superhero alter-ego... "Big Daddy".
The opening image of this post comes from 'A Night of the Butterfly' Chrysalis charity event in 2003, note the masked Monarchs (why choose monarch butterflies specifically? Note the duality symbolism in the black outfits/bowler hats and white wigs/belts [they have a lot of banks as supporters, it's sponsors are the kinds of people; banks, movie studios, etc, who use Monarch slaves, hence this little annual celebratory celebrity bash]). Chrysalis is a generic charity that helps the disadvantaged, chrysalis meaning the butterfly pupa in a cocoon (transformation/metamorphosis). Evil hides in the light, the most evil people on the planet have probably given the most to charity. Charities like this allow their corporate sponsors like Disney etc to appear less evil while taking advantage of the easily manipulated, disadvantaged people the charity helps, which I'm sure it has as most people working in it will be genuinely helping the homeless. But this cataloging of people like the homeless is useful for potential Monarch programming (as they would know who to target; i.e. who would be missed, does this heroin addict have children we can exploit after they OD etc). Cage is also pictured with the Monarchs and Brett Ratner (from a well-off Zionist family, he recently directed Natalie Portman's New York, I Love You movie).
Nicolas Cage greeting intentionally humorous puppet George W Bush at the U.S. Capitol in 2001, note Scientology enslaved Lisa Marie Presley's head in the bottom right, they were married for a short period. He's also been married to Patricia Arquette and is currently in a long term marriage with Alice Kim Cage (Nicolas' middle name is also Kim by the way), they named their son Kal-El after Superman (taking the whole comic book freak thing a little too far... but more probably to do with the Hebrew meaning of the name "Voice of God" as he is into the occult).
Monarch Miley (with her usual programmed/fixed smile) between Cage and Hollywood bigwig Jerry Bruckheimer (who was a member of "America's first Jewish Fraternity" Zeta Beta Tau, other notables include Jack Warner and a Disney President, US Senators and the like) at some Disney event (remember those Masonic propaganda pieces, the National Treasure movies were Disney products, like Miley Cyrus).
While not Disney (Warner etc are all in on it of course), in the allegorical kids film 'The Ant Bully' he voiced the Wizard/Sorcerer Zoc (Oz), note on his character's promo poster "The Mix Master".
The film contains a few pertinent references including an eye in the pyramid subliminal (like the one in the above poster below the title, with the eye at the top and the lines symbolizing light coming from it), and below (props to the Freemasonry in movies site) is Lucas' (remember Lucas means light) grandmother who is obsessed with conspiracy theories, for no apparent reason (other than her interest in CT) the filmmakers decided to reveal a Masonic compass and square on her chair when