It’s time everyone understood what Judaism is really all about.
Judaism … is about love.
If you’re against Judaism, you’re against love.
If you want to harm Judaism, you want to harm love.
If you’re afraid of Jews, you’re afraid of being loved.
Many years ago Jews were given a task:
To discover the deepest love that’s within every soul, and then to share this love with the whole world.
But the world didn’t want to know about this love.
They tried to remove it from their countries.
They were afraid of this love.
They were afraid of being loved.
We found this love in our own hearts and wanted to share it with the world.
We wanted to reveal the love that can be found in every single person on earth, to encourage compassion toward all of life.
I ask the world: Are you really afraid of the love we have to offer?
A beautiful love is already waiting for you within your own soul.
In this week’s parsha, Va’eira, Moses begins to hear God’s voice and learns that God wants him to speak to Pharaoh. He’s beginning to be trained and guided in what he needs to do to save the Children of Israel from slavery.
We’re all experiencing training as we go through life, even if it feels, sometimes, like we’re getting nowhere. Ultimately, we need to become partners in the creative process of life. This means that we have to first learn how to live in a way that every act we make, every conversation we have, is one of love, creating balance and harmony on the planet. This can help us to experience the loving presence of the higher consciousness of God, so that we can begin to express this love in the world with our words and our deeds. Then we can begin to experience the joy that comes with giving love.
This is what will bring us into relationship, and eventually partnership with God. We can become partners in the creative process, which is an intention to keep the world in harmony, improving it whenever and wherever possible. When we’re ready to release our feelings of separateness, and diminish the need to be right all the time, we can find that there’s an overall loving guidance that can arise from within our own essence. The universe is really constantly designing every element of life. God knows who we are and what we need, and is giving us the honor of being able to receive it and transform it into love for all of life.
Please join us in The Listening Room this Shabbat to discuss teachings from Rav Kook, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Rabbi Pinson, and others, on this understanding. Then we’ll follow with a short, silent meditation on the Shema.
Although the latest news is leading us to believe otherwise, this world is made for love. Love is the center of all things. It’s the essence of every moment of happiness. Everyone needs love. From the moment we are born, it’s only the nourishment of love that makes us feel complete. If we think that love is outside of our self, we might notice a lack of love in our life, but when we discover that we each carry an abundance of love deep within our own soul, we can experience our delightful connection to this love every day.
In Leviticus 19:18, “You shall love your fellow as yourself,” we learn that we have to first find love within our own self before we can love others. When we come to realize that every person on earth is an instrument of love, we’ll be ready to reach into our heart to experience it. This is the reason for meditation; it can open a portal to reveal how close we are to this love.
Please join us in The Listening Room this Shabbat to discuss teachings from Rabbi Nachman, Rav Kook, and Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, on this understanding. Then we’ll follow with a short, silent meditation on the Shema.
Happy Chanukah! Let’s discover how to spread more light in the world! Let’s look at what holds us back from doing this. Are we ready to open up our minds to the deeper questions about light and love?
What causes us to avoid thinking too deeply about our existence? What stands in the way of having an enlightening connection with the universal consciousness? Why do people resist spending time in contemplation and meditation? Well, the physical demands of our existence usually take precedence over any other concerns we might have. People often think that physical survival is separate from our deeper understanding of our souls. But there’s another way to view this that can give us relief in our physical challenges.
When we begin to understand that our physical existence is only here through the design of the universe, which created the planet and therefore created us, we can find a way to experience life from a different perspective. When we realize that we are each part of the creative universe, which is the one that brought us into life, we can study and learn more about the activities of the universe until we become more aware of how much influence it has over us.
While we think we are separate from the universe, we are vulnerable to any random activity that might happen to us. However, once we recognize our intimate connection with the universe, because of the fact that we live within it, we can come into a closer relationship with all that the universe does, and so come into harmony with its activities. In this way, we can learn how to ‘ride the wave’ of life, and live within the flow of the universal energy.
Most of us think that when we reach adulthood there’s nothing more to discover. We are so grown up that we have nowhere else to go but to maintain what we already know.
But life is more like a spiral, which draws us onward and upward, sometimes in ways we could never have foreseen. New discoveries and new challenges can lead us into situations that we couldn’t have imagined beforehand.
Right now, the economic challenges, the violence in the world, diseases we didn’t even know existed, have all become more real in ways no one could have predicted.
But as Rabbi Simon Jacobson explained a while back, the kabbalists describe this process as similar to the circular staircase. When we start to go up, we believe that we are going in the right direction. As we continue our climb, we come to a point where it feels like we have made no progress, because we find ourselves facing back to the way we came. However, the teaching reminds us to keep climbing toward our goal. As we continue we will eventually discover that we are facing the right way once again, and can successfully complete the mission we set out to accomplish.
What could the great 12th century sage Maimonides possibly teach us about life in the present day that would help us to overcome the violence we’re seeing now in so many places in the Middle East?
It’s his explanation about being careful to realize that nothing happening in the world is “by chance” or coincidental. He says that when we take seriously the teaching that everything on earth is in Oneness—within the one all-inclusive consciousness of the universe—we can come into the realm of this Oneness, and gradually cause our many difficulties to come into peaceful harmony.
In his book, Guide for the Perplexed, in the section on Divine Commandments, Maimonides explains a quote from the Torah:
“We must understand the passage, ‘If ye walk with me by chance’ (Vayikra/Leviticus 26:21); i.e. if I bring troubles upon you for punishment, and you consider them mere accidents, I will again send you some of these accidents as you call them, but of a more serious and troublesome character. This is expressed in the words: ‘If ye walk with me by chance, then I will walk with you also in the fury of chance’ (Vayikra/Leviticus 26:27-28). For the belief of the people that their troubles are mere accidents causes them to continue in their evil principles and their wrong actions, and prevents them from abandoning their evil ways.”
What Maimonides is asking us to realize is that NOTHING IS BY CHANCE! We’re not just physical human creatures who exist simply to survive. We’re conscious beings, and our consciousness is actually part of the consciousness of the universe. Maimonides is saying that we have to raise our understanding of who we really are, and what we really have within us that can strengthen us to overcome and survive any challenges we face.
Of course, such an understanding cannot come overnight. It has to be learned and practiced over and over again until it can be recognized in our daily lives. By studying with knowledgeable teachers, it can gradually become more apparent that there’s more to life than we can simply see with our eyes. Prayers and serious meditation can support this approach until we start to become amazed at this brilliant design of consciousness.
We’ve come to a time in the world when many more of us can take advantage of this enlightening process. While we keep it under wraps and don’t talk about it, we’re missing out on the wonder of life on this planet. Let’s take a lesson from Maimonides and begin to notice when things fall into place in ways we couldn’t have foreseen; then we’ll be able to realize that these coincidences don’t happen just by chance!
Supportive guidebooks by Myra Estelle: Awakening Love: A Spiritual Quest Into Judaism, and The Way The World Works: A Journey Toward Inner Peace.
Even though this recent war in Israel has been fought on a physical level, when we look at it from another, higher perspective, it can become easier to see that we are also being challenged on a spiritual level. When we understand from the Torah that our world is actually functioning on these two different levels at the same time, we can expand our ability to overcome such challenges.
On the physical level, we obviously have to protect ourselves from physical harm. And on the spiritual level, when we are ready to recognize the need for our alignment with the creative process of the universe—the oneness we call God—we will be able to notice a new, clearer view of life that can carry us through adversity in ways that might seem miraculous.
It’s up to each of us to discover this spiritual wisdom for ourselves, because the Kabbalah teaches that the way we see ourselves affects the way we will experience life. The solution is right inside each one of us. The source of our strength can be found within, whenever we take the time to listen to our own inner truth. The more we want the world to heal, the more commitment we need to make to this inner healing. The most amazingly real and effective peace process begins from a place within our own soul.
Please join us in The Listening Room as we discuss these teachings from our sages, and then we’ll follow with a short, silent meditation on the Shema.
Date: Saturday, August 30th
Time: 5.45 pm
I’ve been noticing a lot of complaints about Judaism lately, and it appears that there are many people who don’t seem to understand what Judaism stands for. Please take a moment here to see if any of this short explanation relates to anything that you stand for.
Judaism is really about a covenant. It’s an agreement—a binding commitment that goes much deeper than any signature on a contract. Our ancestors, the ancestors of the people who are presently part of the Jewish community, made an agreement with the universe that we would follow certain guidelines, to ensure that we would be able to live in peace with each other. These guidelines, which have since been taken on by many other societies, can be found in the Hebrew Bible, the Christian Bible, and also in the Koran.
This covenant requires a commitment to show respect for the greater wisdom of the universe, and also for all that this universe has created. When we acknowledge the oneness of the entire universe, we’ll be able to appreciate that all of life on earth is interconnected through the unified energy on our planet. When we set aside one day, every week, as a Sabbath—a rest day—then we can reflect on this understanding.
Our way of living has to be such that we must honor our parents, and agree not to commit murder, commit adultery, steal, lie, or even feel jealous of our neighbor’s possessions.
When we live in this respectful way, Judaism teaches us that we can create a peaceful community. When we live in this respectful way, we can each experience the love and protection it will provide. When we act with compassion for the needs of others, and gratitude for what has already been given to us, we create the foundation to bless all of life, including our own.
Does this relate to anything you stand for?
When we look at the vast magnificence of the universe extending toward infinity, it’s obvious that it is beyond the capacity of any human being to completely understand all of its brilliantly creative aspects, but what we can do is stretch our own awareness every day, in a way that allows us to comprehend a little more each time about the way the world works.
Our sages have told us that when we take the time to learn something new each day, we are drawing ourselves closer to the greater height of wisdom that’s within what is sometimes called the ‘heavenly realm.’
This is our true work here on earth—to grow in our recognition of the brilliant design that is our planet; to realize and be thankful that this magnificent life support system we’ve been given is for us to enjoy.
And everything that happens is to advance that goal, even if it doesn’t look like it at certain times. Everything that happens is to remind us that we’re not just human creatures struggling to survive, but awesomely designed forms of consciousness, who are required—actually required—to acknowledge and enjoy this natural habitat we’ve been given. This is the reason why we’re asked to say words of gratitude every day, even though we can’t physically see who has set this planet, and our lives, in motion.
As Isaiah explains in the Haftorah this week, when we turn our thoughts and our love to God, we will be redeemed with justice and righteousness. We will become the miracle that we seek.
As our thoughts and our prayers are with the citizens of Israel and their magnificent defense forces, we’ll discuss teachings this Shabbat from the Torah, Rav Kook, and other rabbis, that can help us to discover how to bring about the miracles. We’ll follow this with a short, silent meditation on the Shema.
Date: Saturday, August 2nd
Time: 6.25 pm. (Before Mincha)