Monday, October 19, 2015

As the guilt associated with my mother's death recedes, the great problem that has haunted me since the late 80's reappears:  My failure to engage life on its terms.
The Tora addresses this problem in its first four chapters.*
In Genesis 1 it says that we were created in Elohim's image and likeness.  The commentators disagree on what this means, but the Tora itself tells us its meaning:  "Let us make Adam in our likeness and image and they will have dominion [over all the animals and over all the earth].  And Elohim  created the Adam in His image-- in the image of Elohim He created him-- male and female He created them... be fruitful and multiply and subdue the earth and have dominion over all the animals." (Gn 1:26-28)
I quote all this only to show that the image and likeness of Elohim is all about creating-- with sex being the biological manifestation of creativity and 'subduing' and dominion being the technological manifestation of it. (loving being the emotional manifestation and morality the spiritual manifestation)
We see from this that according to the Tora, the creative impulse is the 'meat' of life-- the very image and likeness of God!  But 'meat' needs spice for flavor (i.e. direction), so the purpose of Tora is to provide that 'spice'.  In the words of a midrash in the Talmud (Kid.30b): "I've created the 'bad inclination' (yetser hara), and I've created Tora as its spice (tavlin).
In Genesis 3 Eve is told that her desire (teshuka) will be for her husband, but he can rule (MShL) over 'it'" ('it' being a feminine noun referring to either Eve, desire, or both).  In the very next story (ch. 4) Cain is told by YHWH that "Sin crouches at the door and to you is its desire (teshuka), but you can rule (MShL) over it." ('sin' being man's inability control desire)
What does it mean that a woman's desire will be for her husband, and her [husband] can rule over 'it' and Cain being told that sin desires him and he can rule over it?
A midrash (Br. Rab.20:7) says that "There are four primal teshhukas/'desires' in the world: Eve for Adam; the yetser hara's desire for Cain; the desire that rain has for land; and the desire God has for the Jewish people."
In Judaism, the 'bad inclination' is not really 'bad', it is just something that needs to be 'ruled' (MShL).
Thus Eve (i.e. 'woman' in general) and the yetser hara** desire to share the life force (Eve/Chava means 'life') with Adam (i.e. 'man' or 'mankind' depending on the context); but can Adam take this 'gift' of energy and direct it properly?***

Another way of saying this is that Elohim starts things off with a 'bang' (the 'Six days of Creation') and YHWH helps me pick up the pieces (the 'Seventh Day')

* I thank Rabbi David Fohrman for his explanation of the first two stories in the Tora and their accompanying midrashes

** the yetser hara ('yetser' literally means to form or create) is the 'main dish'-- the sum total of all our desires, passions, and ambitions, but without direction, hence the 'bad'/hara designation (bad/RA literally means shaky/unsettled, whereas good/TOV literally means sunk-in/settled)

*** Since 'tora' literally means guidance and instruction, it encompasses any teaching that properly directs the raw creative drive.  From Moses putting a bronze snake on a pole in the desert in order to heal anyone who looked at it from the snake-bites brought on by their despair to modern psychology which seeks to equalize the pressure between the conscious (Adam) and the unconscious (Eve / yetser hara), both techniques seek to 'straighten' a 'crooked' relation to the life force on the 'pole' of tora (proper instruction/direction)


The 'apophatic' (knowledge obtained through negation) formulations below are the spiritual foundation of everything I've written in this blog.

God cannot create create something other than Himself.

God cannot hide from Himself the fact that He is God.

The former destroys 'Western' Dualism; the latter destroys 'Eastern' Non-Dualism.

Since the two 'axioms' cancel each other out, I am free from both both 'East' and 'West'.

What this does is to clear a space [between 'East' and 'West' with Israel located at the center-- the mean point where meaning is] that allows the ruach haKodesh (the 'wind' from the Temple / 'Center' / the mean / Israel) to move out to the rest of the earth. ("Let there be light... a light to the nations.")


Steven Ernest Lindlbauer said...

Assuming there IS a God... which is open to debate.

LAGoff said...

I watched you video on Kabbalah many moons ago.
I was impressed by your comment on 'Da'at' (you said: "Ooo, scary", as the camera swooped across).
I was much influenced by that 'ooo' and swoop of yours and would like to have heard more, as this seems to be the crux for gooey ooey scaredy cat fairies like me.

I day-dreamed in response to that something like: "Not all at once (i.e. 'Love! Love!! Love!!!'), but one [mitsva] at a time" (Boring! Boring!! Boring!!!).


LAGoff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lenny Goff said...

* this is metaphysical speculation. The Tora only legislates the ceremonial and the ethical, not the metaphysical ("It is not in heaven"- Dt 30:12). Note that Tanakh is silent about an afterlife. "The hidden things belong to God; the revealed things (the mitsvot) belong to us to do" (Dt 29:28). "Choose life... to reside ON THE LAND" (Dt 30:19,20). In other words, we are not to follow the 'goyim', who are so concerned with the disposition of their souls in an afterlife (i.e. choosing 'death'-- remember, we came out of Egypt, the most soul and afterlife obsessed nation the world has ever known). A relationship with God through the mitsvot, HERE, "ON THE EARTH", is enough for us. L'chayim!

Lenny Goff said...

In other words, it's a continuation of Genesis 1:2's wind of God that blows over the surface of chaos in order to bring order (let there be light)

Lenny Goff said...

On Dealing With the 'Hard' Jewish Laws:

"Observing [the rituals] has to be rooted in each individual Jews' ABILITY rather than in her WILL. Only that Jew who is capable of hearing the divine voice of revelation speaking and commanding through a particular law or practice could relate to such a law or practice as an integral, meaningful part of his Jewish life rather than as an obsolete ritual demanding rigid, rote obedience." (Franz Rosenzweig)

On the Hard Questions We Ask About God and the Tora:

"God purposely conceals His true purpose. In fact, He must occasionally mislead man. If everything were clear, men would be automatons, and those least free, most timid and fearful, would be the most "pious". But evidently God wants only the free to be His. He must make it difficult, nay impossible to understand His actions, so as to give man the opportunity truly to believe.... So there remains nothing for God but to tempt man, even to deceive him."* (Franz Rosenzweig)

* yes, the Tora is historical fiction; and yes, it must be this way