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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Of Bondage and Deliverance

The Bible stories concerning the relationship of God's people with Egypt have been subject to much ridicule. Higher critics regarded such stories as the account of Joseph who became second in command in all of Egypt, and the exodus, as belonging to the realms of mythology. The stones of archaeology were silent witnesses to the dramas of the past, and it was only after 1799, when the Rosetta Stone was discovered, that the ancient records could be deciphered. It took Jean Francois Champollion twenty years to decipher the ancient hieroglyphics from the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone was unique in that three languages were inscribed upon it, telling the same story. The languages were Demotic Egyptian, Greek, and Hieroglyphics. The science of archaeology is thus a fledgling science, and most of its treasures have only been subject to scrutiny in the last century. Today it is possible to not only read hieroglyphics, but also the ancient cuneiform writings. Astoundingly, the ancient relics have succeeded in silencing many of the Biblical critics. The harmony between Scripture and archaeological findings has shed new light upon these ancient records.

Concerning the story of Joseph, it is known that the Semitic Hyksos overthrew the Egyptian dynasties from the year 1780 BC to 1545 BC, a period of just over a quarter of a century. During this time, it would have been possible for a Semite to reach the position of prestige occupied by Joseph. In recent times, frescoes have been found in Egyptian tombs depicting fat and thin cows, and inscriptions have been found referring to seven lean and seven opulent years, making this Biblical story more than just a myth. One of the most exciting stories in Scripture, however, concerns that of the Exodus.

According to the Biblical chronology, Moses was born in 1530 BC, during the reign of Tutmoses I, who ruled from 1532 to 1508 BC. Tutmoses I was the third pharaoh of the eighteenth dynasty, the first being Amoses (the moon is born) 1570 to 1553 BC, followed by Amenhotep (Ammun is pleased) 1553 to 1532 BC, who was the father of Tutmoses I. This is the pharaoh who issued the decree that all the sons born to the Israelites were to be thrown into the river, but that girls were permitted to live. (Exodus 1:22) Aaron, the brother of Moses was born in 1533 BC prior to the reign of Tutmoses I, and he had thus escaped the vicious decree. According to Biblical chronology, Moses fled Egypt forty years after his birth in 1490 BC (Remember, we have to calculate backwards, as we are dealing with the time before Christ). Exodus 2:15 tells us about pharaoh's reaction:

"When pharaoh heard of this [the killing of an Egyptian], he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from pharaoh, and went to live in Midian."

It was here in Midian of Sinai that the Lord revealed Himself to Moses. Two pharaohs reigned simultaneously during the exile of Moses. Tutmoses I, who issued the decree to kill the new-born sons of the Israelites, was the father of Hatshepsut, the princess who is the most likely candidate for having found Moses in the Nile. It is probable that Moses grew up as a foster child in the house of pharaoh. Tutmoses I had no sons, and upon his death, in 1508 BC, Moses could have become pharaoh, but he declined. Acts 7:20 tells us:

"Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was powerful in speech and action."

In Hebrews 11:24, we are told that:

"Moses by faith, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of pharaoh's daughter."

After Moses' refusal, Tutmoses II (the husband of Hatshepsut) became pharaoh, but he only ruled from 1508 to 1504 BC, a period of just four years. Again, Moses could have become pharaoh, but again he refused. Hatshepsut herself became the next pharaoh. Her mortuary temple is at Deir el Bahri, and she ruled Egypt from 1504 to 1482 BC - a total of 22 years. Hatshepsut was not the only pharaoh to be enthroned at that time, but the illegitimate son of her husband became co-regent together with her. He was Tutmoses III, who was favoured by the Egyptian priesthood.

The story of Hatshepsut is a sad story. In 1488, six years prior to her death, all official records of Hatshepsut ceased. Her royal wall paintings on the walls of her mortuary temple at Deir el Bahri were defaced, and her statues were destroyed. To this day, only a few small busts that had been thrown away have been found. Such drastic action was only taken if pharaohs were disloyal to Egyptian deities. It is probable that Hatshepsut adopted the Hebrew religion in 1488, when Egyptian documentation about her ceased. Moses at this time was already in exile, having fled before the wrath of Tutmoses III, who enjoyed the support of the Egyptian priesthood.

Moses heard about the death of Hatshepsut while he was in exile, and her death is recorded in his writings. In Exodus 2:23, it states: "During that long period, the king of Egypt died...". The sole ruler in Egypt was now Tutmoses III, and with Hatshepsut out of the way, and the protection she probably afforded the Israelites no longer available, Tutmoses suppressed them in the most cruel fashion.

"...the Israelites groaned in their slavery, and cried out, and their cry for help because of slavery went up to God... God heard their groanings... God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them." Exodus 2:23-25

The return of Moses and his fear for pharaoh is now clearer, particularly since the same pharaoh that induced him to flee was now the sole regent in Egypt.

Tutmoses III is one of the greatest pharaohs of Egyptian history. He was known as the Napoleon of Egypt. He ruled until 1450 BC, which according to the chronology in 1 Kings 6:1 is the year of the exodus. According to the Biblical story, the exodus took place on the seventeenth of March, 1450 BC. The precise dates of the passover and the exodus are recorded in the Scriptures. The Bible tells us that the pharaoh then ruling (Tutmoses III) followed the Israelites through the Red Sea, and that he was killed in the process. Breasted, the famous Egyptologist, studied the biography of Tutmoses III written by Amenemhab who wrote:

"Lo, the king completed his lifetime of many years, splendid in valour, in might and triumph: from year 1 to 54."

1504 to 1450, a reign of 54 years, brings us precisely to the date of the Exodus. Amenemhab mentions the month and the day of his death:

"The last day of the third month of the second season... He mounted to heaven, he joined the sun: the divine limbs mingled with him who begot him."

According to Breasted, this translates to the seventeenth of March, 1450 BC. A mummy of Tutmoses III in the Cairo museum was analysed by two Egyptologists, Harris and Weeks, in 1973 and found to be a mummy of a young man, whereas Tutmoses III must have been an old man in his eighties. Egyptians had a way of disguising their embarrassments. This pharaoh was probably never recovered from the Red Sea, and to hide this fact from posterity, a fake mummy was put in his place. To support this argument, there is more circumstantial evidence from the eighteenth dynasty. Tutmoses III co-reigned with his son, Amenhotep II (after the death of Hatshepsut), and Amenhotep II was not in Egypt at the time of the exodus, but in Syro-Palestine with the bulk of the Egyptian army suppressing an uprising. According to Egyptian writings, he returned in June 1450 BC, when he apparently defaced many Egyptian monuments. This act needs an explanation. The Bible tells us that all the first-born in Egypt died in the last plague. On returning to Egypt, he would have found not only the Israelites gone, but he would have also found his father dead, and his first-born son killed in the plague. One can now understand the emotion felt by Amenhotep that caused such a violent outburst.

The next pharaoh to rule was Tutmoses IV, who was the second born son of Amenhotep II. According to succession rights, the first-born should have become pharaoh, but he died. To explain this apparent anomaly, there is an inscription on the Stela between the legs of the Sphinx, which tells the story of how the second-born son became pharaoh in the place of the first-born. Apparently, Tutmoses IV was resting between the legs of the Sphinx when he heard a voice telling him to clear the sand from between the legs, and the Sphinx would see to it that he, rather than the first-born, would be pharaoh. An unlikely story, and another demonstration of attempts to cloud the issue, so that the embarrassment should not be made public to the descendants.

Monotheistic worship did not die with the death of Hatshepsut. During the Amarna Period of the eighteenth dynasty, monotheism again surfaced in Egypt. The pharaoh after Tutmoses IV was Amenhotep III. This son of Tutmoses IV was still an idolater, but during the reign of his son (Amenhotep IV), the religion of Egypt shifted from the worship of Amun to that of Aten. Atenism was the worship of the one Creator God. The symbol of the sun and its rays was used to described Aten's care for mankind. The sun was not worshipped in Atenism, but served merely as a symbol. There is good evidence that Atenism has its basis in the Hebrew religion. The history of the exodus must have left its mark upon the Egyptian people, and many adhered to the God of the Hebrews, rather than to the Egyptian deities. The essence of the Egyptian religion was that of sun worship, but numerous gods played secondary roles in their belief system. Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten, symbolizing the change from Amun worship to Aten worship. ("Amenhotep" means "Amun is pleased"). Further evidence of Akhenaten's break with the old religion, is that he shifted his capital from Luxor to a new capital Akhetaten. In a song written by Akhenaten to his god, there are seventeen verses which correspond with Psalm 104.

Under his influence, Egyptian culture experienced a period of realism. In statues of pharaohs and their families, pharaohs were no longer depicted as larger than life, but statues of Akhenaten and his family portray him with all his defects, and his wife and children are portrayed in a loving bonding relationship with the pharaoh. His wife was the famous Nefertiti which means 'maiden of joy'. They had six daughters of which one was engaged to a young man by the name of Tutankaten. The daughter's name was Ankensenpaaten. Note that the names end in 'aten', portraying their mode of worship. Upon the death of Akhenaten, Tutankaten was to become the next pharaoh. However, his change of name to Tutankamun indicates that his pharaohship was subject to the change of his religion. The greatest archaeological finds concern this pharaoh, and tell the story of a splendid reign of short duration. The question one might ask is whether it was worth giving up the truth for the sake of earthly glory. The defacing of the statues associated with the reign of Akhenaten again demonstrates the hatred and rivalry between idolatry and the worship of the Creator God.

This article was excerpted from the book The Genesis Conflict by Dr. Walter J. Veith. Order a copy at the source link here



Egypt was the place where the Israelites were held in physical captivity before they were physically liberated by their deliverer. The entire world today is in a spiritual Egypt, a captivity by the "god of this world," Ha-Satan. Both physical Egypt and spiritual Egypt involve a Deliverer.


Search Amplified Bible: Egypt





The Joy of the Lord is my Strength

I hope to have a post for you in a few hours. Till then, here is some JOY.





It is torment for any enemy of God to be ushered into the presence of God.






Hebrew
Yit'gadal v'yit'kadash sh'mei raba (Cong: Amein).
May His great Name grow exalted and sanctified (`Cong: Amen.)
Hebrew
b'al'ma di v'ra khir'utei
in the world that He created as He willed.
Hebrew
v'yam'likh mal'khutei b'chayeikhon uv'yomeikhon
May He give reign to His kingship in your lifetimes and in your days,
Hebrew
uv'chayei d'khol beit yis'ra'eil
and in the lifetimes of the entire Family of Israel,
Hebrew
ba'agala uviz'man kariv v'im'ru:
swiftly and soon. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein. Y'hei sh'mei raba m'varakh l'alam ul'al'mei al'maya
(Amen. May His great Name be blessed forever and ever.)
Hebrew
Yit'barakh v'yish'tabach v'yit'pa'ar v'yit'romam v'yit'nasei
Blessed, praised, glorified, exalted, extolled,
Hebrew
v'yit'hadar v'yit'aleh v'yit'halal sh'mei d'kud'sha
mighty, upraised, and lauded be the Name of the Holy One
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
B'rikh hu.
Blessed is He.
Hebrew
l'eila min kol bir'khata v'shirara
beyond any blessing and song,
Hebrew
toosh'b'chatah v'nechematah, da'ameeran b'al'mah, v'eemru:
praise and consolation that are uttered in the world. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein
Amen
Hebrew
Y'hei sh'lama raba min sh'maya
May there be abundant peace from Heaven
Hebrew
v'chayim aleinu v'al kol yis'ra'eil v'im'ru
and life upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein
Amen
Hebrew
Oseh shalom bim'romav hu ya'aseh shalom
He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace,
Hebrew
aleinu v'al kol Yis'ra'eil v'im'ru
upon us and upon all Israel. Now say:
(Mourners and Congregation:)
Hebrew
Amein
Amen

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Exodus - From physical to spiritual Egypt



And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord,
choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,
whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River,
or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell;
but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
~ Joshua 24:15

Exodus - From physical to spiritual


A talk with kabbalist Rav Michael Laitman, PhD

People in this world are all ordinary people. But to one Persian named Abram (and later Abraham), the Creator revealed Himself , and it is that revelation that made him special. He became a “Yehudi” (Jewish), from the word “Yechudi” (single-unique), that is he and the Creator became one. Who then is this Abraham? He is a man who was endowed with a spiritual spark, a sensation of the Creator. But other than that he was an ordinary person.

There is no sanctity to any organ in our body. Thus it matters not if a dysfunctional heart is replaced with a human heart or a pig’s heart. Our organs are just as material as any animal’s. They are not sacred, not connected with the Creator.

There is no difference between a Jew and a Gentile, other than that spark of the Creator found in the Jew. That means that if that spark exists in a person's heart , that person is named Jewish. If it vanishes, the Jew again becomes a Gentile. The latter, however, is an impossible situation, because sanctity always increases and never decreases. It is a spiritual law, by which everything is brought closer to the Creator.

The exodus to the spiritual world is a slow process. At first, a man is captive of the desires of this world. Gradually, man realizes the aimlessness of his physical existence, that if there isn’t that spark, man is just one of the mill..

The Haggadah writes: “At first, our fathers worshiped alien gods”. Worshiping an alien god (heathenism) is a state possible only after one has made contact with the Creator, has become aware of the opposition between his attributes and the Creator’s and has chosen to act against the Creator’s will. Thus, heathenism is already a certain degree of awareness, of ability to operate beyond one’s birth nature.

Indeed our fathers worshiped alien gods, but then the Creator revealed Himself to them, and the light that came with it was accepted as an order to migrate from Mesopotamia to the Land of Israel. Thus we see that in this world too, one moves from place to place, following one’s inner will, following one’s heart.

Kabbalists write that we can live in the Land of Israel, provided we match its spiritual level. Ohterwise we’ll be exiled from here just like before. The Creator has brought our bodies back, but it remains our duty to make the inner return to the spiritual state called the Land of Israel, to be worthy of its land, that is all we need!

Abraham the Patriarch is a testimony to that. Once he became a Jew, God told him: “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, to the land that I will show thee”. And Abraham moved (inwardly) to the Land of Israel: he began to develop spiritual vessels, vessels of bestowal.

But to achieve unity with the Creator, it takes more than the ability to give (to bestow in order to bestow), it takes the ability to receive in order to bestow, through vessels of reception, corrected by the aim to bestow to the Creator. But where will one take these vessels, these desires? When one is in the Land of Israel and wants to bestow to the Creator, one finds he has nothing to give Him, one becomes hungry, hungry for bestowal.

Then one exiles to Egypt. But why, what for? Because giving up our desires to receive goes against our very human nature. Indeed none can comprehend it. No other method, but the Kabbalah, uses it because this act opposes human nature. All other methods stem from our innate nature and aim at making our life comfortable, pleasant, all but the Kabbalah which was granted to Abraham along with the sublime revelation of the Creator.

Is there really that much work in Egypt?

From above, man is confused, hungered (both physically and spiritually). material goals take precedence, so that one may realize how superior spirit is to matter. One is given spiritual delight in material acts. But the true taste of material pleasure remains only for the wise (those who aspire to wisdom, who ascend to the spirit so as to live true desires), for it is them who must confront the greatest pleasures.

When one progresses in one’s studies, one sees oneself as more and more corrupt. Ever worse desires are awakened in him. Precisely that is the exile to Egypt, when one who aspires to climb up the ladder to the spirit falls under the rule of the will to receive.

That’s why it is said that Josef’s brothers visited him in Egypt in hiding. The exile to Egypt occurs when one loses one’s vessels of bestowal , when they fall under the rule of the vessels of reception. This state lasts quite a while during one’s progression in spirituality.

When one begins to study, one is in high spirits, carefree. But after a few months things change. Spirituality is not as tempting as it was, material disturbances appear and one feels that he will never see the gates of Heaven open.

Why does this happen?

Because the vessels of reception must be developed , a screen (masach) has to be attained and spread across the desires of Egypt. True, one has one’s vessels of bestowal, but they’re concealed . When the labor in Egypt begins, one longs for spirituality, but the more one longs for it, the more one finds it’s unattainable.

The time of “slavery in Egypt” lasts as long as one senses that he is really a slave, until a new king rises, one who hasn’t known Josef. One feels his inner Pharaoh’s rule over him, leading him against the Creator.

But if the will to receive allows me to enjoy, what’s wrong with that? How is its rule harmful to me?

If I want something more than the satisfaction of desires, for instance, if I want to contact the Creator, but I realize that material pleasures drive away from Him, I begin to perceive them as an obstacle, as something evil that goes against me.

Then, a battle starts within me. I begin to wonder whether ‘I’ is the one who wants to cling to the Creator, or is the ‘I’ the one who seeks material delight? Who then is my ‘I’?

A war breaks out between both desires: on the one hand Moses and Aaron and on the other, Pharaoh. One cannot tell who overcomes whom, because Pharaoh’s magicians perform the same miracles as the Creator. Therefore, the escape from nature’s rule is only possible after the Creator strikes ten times ( the 10 plagues of Egypt).

For my neutral ‘I’ to sense where the light stems from , it needs to feel the ten strikes - just how the Pharaoh inside me is opposite to the Creator - so that I may detach from it, that I may reach a state where Pharaoh himself will say: Go! You’ve brought me enough pain !

The ten strikes show man that Pharaoh’s rule is a hateful thing, intolerable.Then man himself wants to escape from it . Wants, but can’t! Therefore, for the escape from Pharaoh to succeed , certain external conditions are required . There must be haste, concealment and the darkness of the night.

Only than can man collect his desires of bestowal ,separate them from his own will to receive and hide from it. The escape takes place at night, when the spiritual light is out.It takes faith above reason, going against his own judgment to escape his nature.

It says: “If you’ve labored and found, then believe". That means that one has put in enough labor for the Creator to be revealed , but is unaware that this labor is sufficient to exit this world and enter the upper world. The exit from our nature is a sudden event.

Man has no control over this process, he simply runs! He walks on land, between the walls of the Red Sea, the barrier, and enters… into a desert. So what has he gained by it? Man enters Egypt with a spark of the Creator, with a longing for the spirit and exits it with empty vessels of reception - the sensation of a desert.

It is said that Israel left with "jewels of silver and jewels of gold and garments". That means that man has now corrupt desires to receive and he must now begin to work with them and mend them. For as long as these vessels belong to Egypt, they will only give him the sensation of darkness, of a desert. But when he mends them and uses them correctly, he’ll receive through them the upper light.

Thus man enters the desert. He is not yet in the Land of Israel. Now he needs the light in order to distinguish how much each attribute is worthy of use for his progression in the spiritual world. The reception of this light is called “the reception of the Torah”.

A person exiting this world into the spiritual one, begins to work in three lines. A left, a right and a middle line. We must realize, that we are not the ones doing work, it’s the Creator’s, it is God’s work. We must accept His work on us! Everything has been created in its perfect state, but the creature can only assess perfection from its opposite. That’s why man must experience all the imperfect states. Man’s work is a process of self-awareness; awareness of the work the Creator is doing on him.

There is a world and within it there is a soul. The contact with the Creator is composed of three parts: Olam (a world), Shanah (a year), Neshama (a soul). Shanah is the extent of contact between Olam and Neshama. The word Olam stems from the word He’elem (concealment). That means that Olam is the extent of the concealment of the Creator.

Is it possible to attain spiritual results by performing physical acts?

Everything man does is because he wants to. The rock too, which has no movement, wants to maintain its shape. The plant wants to grow. It longs for the light and grows toward it.

Man’s will is always expressed by a certain act.. That is why each movement any animal performs is exactly the movement it must perform.

Although each will is expressed in the outer , man is not always aware of his desires. From outside, one cannot understand the purpose of another’s acts. That is why the science that studies intentions is called “The Wisdom of the Hidden” - for no one knows what’s in your heart, often not even yourself . But as always, the outer form indicates the inner will.

We are not yet in spiritual worlds and can’t join other souls to our screen. So in the meantime, out work is mainly on the level of this world, in spreading the wisdom of Kabbalah. This act is a totally spiritual one. Through it, one helps others join this path - through physical acts; one aids the spreading of spirituality in this world.

Translator: C. Ratz
Editor: C. Marce




"The Miracle Woman" Barbara Stanwyck, Directed by Frank Capra 1931





Saviour Machine
~ David Bowie


President joe once had a dream
The world held his hand, gave their pledge
So he told them his scheme for a saviour machine

They called it the prayer, its answer was law
Its logic stopped war, gave them food
How they adored till it cried in its boredom

please dont believe in me, please disagree with me
Life is too easy, a plague seems quite feasible now
Or maybe a war, or I may kill you all

Dont let me stay, dont let me stay
My logic says burn so send me away
Your minds are too green, I despise all Ive seen
You cant stake your lives on a saviour machine

I need you flying, and Ill show that dying
Is living beyond reason, sacred dimension of time
I perceive every sign, I can steal every mind

Dont let me stay, dont let me stay
My logic says burn so send me away
Your minds are too green, I despise all Ive seen
You cant stake your lives on a saviour machine



But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism,
he said to them,
You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee and escape from the wrath and indignation
[of God against disobedience]
that is coming?
~ Matthew 3:7




Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you travel over sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes one [a proselyte], you make him doubly as much a child of hell (Gehenna) as you are.
~Matthew 23:15

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Intimate Estrangement



Shalom fellow infidels!

I apologize, my health precludes me from posting the last 48 hours or so.

Chew on this till the swelling in my hands goes down.

L'CHAIM!

The Intimate Estrangement

When the pagans entered the Holy Temple, they saw the keruvim cleaving to each other. They took them out to the streets and said: “These Jews... is this what they occupy themselves with?!” With this, they debased [the Jewish people], as it is written:All who had honored her have despised her, for they have seen her nakedness.”[i]

Talmud, Yoma 54b

The prophets compare the bond between G-d and Israel to the marriage relationship between man and wife. The prophet Jeremiah describes G-d recalling the Exodus as “the kindness of your youth, your bridal love, your following Me into the desert, into a land that was not sown.”[ii] King Solomon refers to the covenant at Mount Sinai as “the day of His betrothal,”[iii] for the Torah, which outlines our duties as G-d’s people and His eternal commitment to us, is the marriage contract (ketubah) between ourselves and G-d.[iv]

When we violated the commandments of the Torah, the prophets admonished us as a wayward wife who has betrayed her husband; the resultant galut—the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and our banishment into exile—is referred to as a period of estrangement and “separation” in the marriage; the messianic redemption is the promise of a restoration of the relationship to its original state and the forging of a renewed, even deeper bond of love between the bride Israel and her Supernal Groom.

In the innermost chamber of the Holy Temple, the “Holy of Holies,” stood a golden ark, containing the “Tablets of Testimony” on which G-d had inscribed the Ten Commandments, and the original Torah scroll written by Moses. Topping the Ark were the keruvim, two winged figures, one male and one female, hammered out of a block of pure gold. The keruvim represented the relationship between G-d and His people: the Talmud tells us that when the people of Israel rebelled against the will of the Almighty, the keruvim would turn away from each other; when Israel was faithful to her G-d, they would face each other;[v] times in which the love and goodwill between G-d and His bride were at their peak were reflected in the keruvim’s embrace “as a man cleaves to his wife.”[vi]

The Talmud relates that when the enemies of Israel invaded the Temple, they entered into the Holy of Holies—a place so sacred that entry into it was permitted only to a single individual, the High Priest, and only on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. There they saw the keruvim embracing each other. They dragged them out of the Temple and into the streets, perverting and vulgarizing their sacred significance.[vii]

The Paradox

In our prayers we remind ourselves that “Because of our sins, we were exiled from our land... and we are no longer able to ascend and show ourselves and bow before You... in Your chosen home, in the great and holy house upon which Your Name is called.”[viii]

For 830 years,[ix] G-d dwelled in a physical edifice on a Jerusalem mountaintop, granting us a tactual experience of His presence in our lives. But we proved unworthy of such closeness and intimacy with the Divine presence. The Holy Temple was taken from us, and we were cast into galut—a state of existence in which the Divine face is hidden and G-d’s love and concern for us is concealed—so that the void in our lives should impel us to repent our ways and repair the damage to our marriage inflicted by our misdeeds.

But if galut is a time of estrangement between G-d and Israel, why were the keruvim embracing each other at the time of the Temple’s destruction? Wouldn’t the destruction of the Holy Temple mark a nadir in our relationship with the Almighty? What greater paradox can there be: the Divine Groom is destroying His marital home, allowing His nuptial chamber to be violated and His bride to be carried off by strangers, while the barometer of their marriage indicates the ultimate in intimacy and union!

Three and Seven

Every Shabbat, following the reading of the weekly Torah portion, a weekly selection from the Prophets, called the haftarah, is read in the synagogue. Usually, the content of the haftarah corresponds to the week’s Torah reading. However, there are weeks when the haftarah instead reflects events connected with the time of the year. Such is the case during the last ten weeks of the year, when ten special haftarot—called the “Three of Rebuke” and the “Seven of Consolation”—are read.

The “Three of Rebuke” are read in conjunction with the “Three Weeks” from Tammuz 17 to Av 9, during which we remember and mourn the destruction of the Temple and the onset of our galut.

On the 17th of Tammuz in the year 3829 from creation (69 ce), the walls of Jerusalem were breached by the besieging armies of Rome. After three weeks of fighting, during which the Romans advanced with great difficulty through the city, they succeeded in breaking into the Temple; on Av 9 they set it aflame.[x] These two days are observed as fast days, and the three weeks between them (referred to by the prophet as “between the strictures”[xi]) as a time of mourning. In this period, the haftarah readings consist of selections from the Prophets in which the prophet rebukes Israel for her crimes and iniquities and her betrayal of her covenant with G-d.[xii]

The “Three of Rebuke” are followed by “Seven of Consolation.” For seven weeks, beginning with the Shabbat after the Ninth of Av (Tishah B’Av), the haftarah readings consist of prophecies describing G-d’s consolation of His people and the rehabilitation of their relationship.[xiii] Thus we reexperience each year the process of rebuke and condolence, destruction and rebuilding, estrangement and reunion.

But why, specifically, a ten-week process? And what is the significance of its division into three phases of withdrawal and seven degrees of reconciliation? Chassidic sage Rabbi Hillel of Paritch explains that the “Three of Rebuke” and the “Seven of Consolation” correspond to the ten attributes of the soul, which are likewise divided into sets of three and seven: the soul of man possesses three basic intellectual faculties (conceptualization, comprehension, and application), and seven basic emotional drives (love, awe, harmony, ambition, devotion, bonding, and receptiveness). For it is the interrelation between mind and heart that enables us to understand the true nature of the “estrangement” of galut.

Mind and Heart

The mind, by nature and necessity, is aloof and detached. To apprehend a concept it must assume an objective distance, divesting itself of all involvement with or affinity to its subject and adopting a reserved, even callous disinterest toward the studied entity. Only then can its analysis and comprehension be exact and complete.

The heart, on the other hand, is involved, attached, gloriously subjective. The heart relates to the object of its affections, bridging distances, surmounting the barriers between self and other.

Yet true and enduring attachments are born only out of understanding. Feelings which are based on nothing more than impulse or instantaneous attraction are ultimately as shallow as they are impassioned, as transient as they are intense. It is those emotions that are conceived in the womb of the mind which possess depth and continuity; it is the love that is founded upon an understanding and appreciation of the beloved that can transcend the fluctuations of feeling, the letdowns, the lethargy, and the many other pitfalls of time and change.

So the seemingly cold and distant mind is, in truth, the source and essence of any meaningful relationship. The detachment associated with rational examination actually lies at the heart of our emotive capacity to bond with others.

G-d’s “Mind”

“From my own flesh, I perceive G-d,” says the verse.[xv] Man is a metaphor of the Divine: by examining our own physiological and psychological makeup, we learn much about the Divine reality and the manner in which G-d chooses to relate to His creations.

Thus the mind-heart paradox—the manner in which mental detachment is the essence and foundation of true emotional attachment—provides us with a model for the paradox of galut.

G-d’s relationship with us also includes both “intellectual” and “emotional”’ elements. At times, we sense what appear to be signs of detachment and disinvolvement on His part. G-d seems to have shifted the focus of His attention from our lives, abandoning us to the whims of “chance” and “fate.” Our existence seems bereft of all direction and purpose. G-d is “distancing” Himself from us, our lives apparently no longer worthy of His concern.

In truth, however, this Divine “objectivity” carries the seeds of greater connection. It is a disengagement for the sake of a more enduring relationship, a withdrawal to create an even more meaningful closeness. Ostensibly, galut is a breakdown, a diminution of the bond between ourselves and G-d; in truth, it is the essence of a deeper identification with and commitment to each other.

G-d’s hiding His face from us in galut is an act of love. Despite our painful incomprehension, it serves to deepen our attachment to Him. In the “Three of Rebuke,” we experience abandonment, alienation and distance; but these give birth to the “Seven of Consolation.” Bereft of the outward expressions of our relationship with G-d, we are impelled to uncover its essence, the quintessential bond which transcends all physical and spiritual distance. Thus, it is only through the experience of galut that the deepest dimensions of our marriage are realized. Externally, the Three Weeks are a period of detachment and estrangement; in essence, they are the height of attachment and connection.[xvi]

Thus the pagans armies entering the Holy of Holies found the keruvim in intimate embrace. Without, Israel was being vanquished and exiled, and the Holy Temple set ablaze. Externally the marriage was crumbling, the husband alienated and the wayward wife banished to a foreign land. But within the Holy of Holies—within the chamber which housed the essence of their marriage—the bond between G-d and His people was at the height of closeness and unity.[xvii]


[i]. Lamentations 1:8.

[ii]. Jeremiah 2:2.

[iii]. Song of Songs 3:11; see Talmud, Taanit 26b.

[iv]. See Rashi, Exodus 34:1.

[v]. Talmud, Bava Batra 99a.

[vi]. Ibid., Yoma 54a.

[vii]. Talmud and Rashi, ibid.

(The Ark of Testimony, with the keruvim atop its cover, were hidden in an underground chamber in the Holy Temple 22 years before the destruction of the First Temple, where they remain to this day. Thus, neither the Babylonians nor the Romans would have found the Ark in the Holy of Holies. The Talmud explains that the keruvim that were dragged out into the streets were not the keruvim from on top of the Ark, but reliefs which decorated the walls of the Holy of Holies and which likewise acted as a “barometer” of the state of marriage between G-d and Israel.)

[viii]. Mussaf prayer for the festivals.

[ix]. The First Temple stood 410 years, the Second, 420.

[x]. The 9th of Av is also the date of the First Temple’s destruction, by the Babylonians, in the year 3339 (423 bce).

[xi]. Lamentations 1:3.

[xii]. The “Three of Rebuke” are: Jeremiah 1:2-2:3; ibid. 2:4-2:28 and 3:4; and Isaiah 1:1-27.

[xiii]. The “Seven of Consolation” are: Isaiah 40:1-26; 49:14-51:3; 54:11-55:5; 51:12-52:12; 54:1-10; 60:1-22; and 61:10-63:9.

[xv]. Job 19:26; cf. Genesis 1:27: “And G-d created man in His image.”

[xvi]. Chassidic teaching also offers another analogy for the paradox of galut, this one from within the world of intellect itself:

A teacher is in the midst of communicating a concept to his disciple. Suddenly, he has a flash of inspiration: a new, infinitely deeper and more profound concept has erupted in his mind—a concept which he immediately senses to be of great value for his disciple. Practically in mid-sentence, he falls silent; his eyes, which have been focused upon the attentive disciple, close; the disciple’s questions and remarks are repelled with a brusque motion of his hand. The teacher’s every iota of mental power is now concentrated on the task of absorbing and retaining the still nebulous concept hovering at the periphery of his mind.

The disciple is devastated. Why has his beloved master turned from him? Why has he shut him out so abruptly? Things go from bad to worse. At first he was brushed aside—now he is being completely ignored. At first his master closed his eyes—now he has turned his back on him entirely.

The teacher senses the anguish of his pupil. If he cared less for him, he would reassure him with a word or two. But he knows that the slightest diversion at this critical time would impair his efforts to fully capture his newly conceived idea before the flash of enlightenment recedes. He is loath to relinquish even a single nuance of the concept which will so enrich his disciple. So despite the manner in which it is received by the pupil, the teacher’s act of “rejection” is, in truth, an act of love—an act which is not only fully in keeping with the nature of their relationship but which serves to deepen and enhance it. On the surface, they are cut off one from the other; in essence, they have never been closer to each other.

This analogy also explains why galut increases in severity the closer we move toward our rapprochement with G-d. If the function of galut were only to serve as a punishment for sin, then its intensity ought to lessen as time goes by and we atone for our transgressions. Historically, the very opposite is true—the nearer we reach Redemption, the darker the concealment of galut grows. A case in point is our first galut, our 210-year sojourn in Egypt. For their first generation in Egypt, our forefathers flourished; for the next century or so their situation deteriorated; but the outright slavery and cruel tortures associated with this galut came only in its final 86 years, and the most difficult and trying period came in the final year of the Egyptian exile, after Moses had already prophesied its end. The same is true of our present exile: the spiritual state of our lives—the most basic factor of galut—has known a steady decline from the day of the Temple’s destruction more than 1900 years ago. In its earlier generations, an era populated by the great sages of the Talmud, our relationship with the Almighty, though obscured by the concealment of galut, was still a deeply felt reality in many people’s lives. As the generations progress, we find an increasing coarsening and materialization of life, leading to the almost total blackout of spirituality and sensitivity to the Divine which characterizes our present-day existence. This, despite the fact that each successive generation has brought us closer to the ultimate Redemption.

But this pattern reflects the process of the metaphorical teacher’s “abandonment” of his disciple: the deeper he delves into the concept, the more he must retreat into himself, distancing himself even further from the distraught pupil; yet each successive retreat represents a greater regard for his disciple and a greater commitment to his role as teacher.

[xvii]. Based on the Rebbe’s talks, Tammuz 28, 5716 (July 7, 1956); Av 4, 5749 (August 5, 1989), (Likkutei Sichot, vol. II, pp. 359-363; Sefer HaSichot 5749, pp. 609-611; ibid., p. 614, note 45).


SOURCE LINK






Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Three Weeks




The story is told that Napoleon was walking through the streets of Paris one Tisha B'Av.

As his entourage passed a synagogue he heard wailing and crying coming from within; he sent an aid to inquire as to what had happened. The aid returned and told Napoleon that the Jews were in mourning over the loss of their Temple. Napoleon was indignant! "Why wasn't I informed? When did this happen? Which Temple?" The aid responded, "They lost their Temple in Jerusalem on this date 1700 years ago." Napoleon stood in silence and then said, "Certainly a people which has mourned the loss of their Temple for so long will survive to see it rebuilt!"



If we know our history and understand it, then we can put our life in perspective. We can understand ourselves, our people, our goals, our values. We will know the direction of our lives, what we want to accomplish with our lives and what we are willing to bear in order to fulfill our destiny. Friedrich Nietzsche put it well, "If you have a 'why' to live for, you can bear with any 'how'."



We are now entering the Three Weeks, the time between the 17th of Tammuz (Tuesday, July 3) and the 9th of Av (starting Monday night, July 23rd).



This is a period when many tragedies happened to the Jewish people.
Why do we mourn the loss of the Temple after so many years?
What did and does it mean to us?

The Temple was a central focal point of the Jewish people. Three times a year - Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot - the Jews living in the Land of Israel came to worship and celebrate at the Temple. It offered us the ultimate opportunity to come close to the Almighty, to elevate ourselves spiritually. It represented the purpose of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel - to be a holy people united with the Almighty in our own land ... a Jewish state.



That is what we seek to regain and that is why we mourn and remember the loss of what we once had.



[SNIP]




In Jewish cosmology, the Three Weeks are considered to be such an inauspicious time period that one is not allowed to get married. From the 1st of Av (July 16th), one is even advised to push off court cases until after the 10th of Av (after July 25th). We refrain from hair-cutting, purchasing or wearing new clothing, listening to music and pleasure trips. It is a time for self-reflection and improvement.



On the 17th of Tammuz, five calamitous events occurred in our history:


Moshe broke the first Tablets of the Ten Commandments when he descended from Mt. Sinai and saw the worshipping of the Golden Calf.




The Daily Sacrificial Offerings ceased in the First Temple due to lack of sheep.




The walls of Jerusalem were breached during the siege of the Second Temple.



Apustumus-the-Wicked burned a Sefer Torah.




An idol was placed in the Sanctuary of the Second Temple.



The 17th of Tamumz is a fast day. The fast begins approximately an hour before sunrise and continuing until about an hour after sunset. The purpose of the fast is to awaken our hearts to repentance through recalling our forefathers' misdeeds which led to tragedies and our repetition of those mistakes. The fasting is a preparation for repentance - to break the body's dominance over a person's spiritual side. One should engage in self-examination and undertake to correct mistakes in his relationship with God, his fellow man and with himself.




It is interesting to note that Saddam Hussein was a student of Jewish history. He named the nuclear reactor (from which he planned to create a bomb to drop on Israel) - you guessed it, Tammuz 17! (Want the source? Two Minutes Over Baghdad by Amos Perlmutter.)


[SNIP]



SOURCE LINK









Psalm 91




HE WHO dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty
[Whose power no foe can withstand].




I will say of the Lord, He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust!




For [then] He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.




[Then] He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings shall you trust and find refuge; His truth and His faithfulness are a shield and a buckler.




You shall not be afraid of the terror of the night, nor of the arrow (the evil plots and slanders of the wicked) that flies by day,




Nor of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor of the destruction and sudden death that surprise and lay waste at noonday.




A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.




Only a spectator shall you be [yourself inaccessible in the secret place of the Most High as you witness the reward of the wicked.




Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place




There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent.




For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service].




They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone.




You shall tread upon the lion and adder; the young lion and the serpent shall you trample underfoot.


Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].




He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.




With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.



AMEN




SEE HERE for a very interesting related word,
"THE SEASON OF THE BASILISK"



The Astronaut










You are an astronaut, far beyond the earth on a very long journey. Let’s say you get fed up with the constant barrage of instructions coming in on your radio from home base. So you shut it off. With no regrets. And you relax, enjoying the awesome scenery out the window. And time flies by…




But eventually, you realize you have no clue where you are. Or how to get back to where you want to be. And you remember that you had a mission, but you can’t quite get straight exactly what it was. You panic.



Finally, you remember the radio. You reactivate it. You hold the hand piece and call, “Home base? Astronaut calling home base! Answer me!!”




A faint reply is heard. It is the sweetest sound you’ve ever come by. Now you can get back on course.



Mankind, too, was given a mission.



(A thought from a student of the Rebbe, Dr. Velvl Greene --a thought the Rebbe much appreciated.))






A Daily Dose of Wisdom from the Rebbe
-words and condensation by Tzvi Freeman
Tammuz 8, 5767 * June 24, 2007






"King Without A Crown"


[Chorus:]
What's this feeling?
My love will rip a hole in the ceiling
Givin' myself to you from the essence of my being
Sing to my G-d all these songs of love and healing
Want Moshiach now so it's time we start revealing



You're all that I have and you're all that I need
Each and every day I pray to get to know you please
I want to be close to you, yes I'm so hungry
You're like water for my soul when it gets thirsty
Without you there's no me
You're the air that I breathe
Sometimes the world is dark and I just can't see
With these, demons surround all around to bring me down to negativity
But I believe, yes I believe, I said I believe
I'll stand on my own two feet
Won't be brought down on one knee
Fight with all of my might and get these demons to flee
Hashem's rays fire blaze burn bright and I believe
Hashem's rays fire blaze burn bright and I believe
Out of darkness comes light, twilight unto the heights
Crown Heights burnin' up all through till twilight
Said, thank you to my G-d, now I finally got it right
And I'll fight with all of my heart, and all a' my soul, and all a' my might




[Chorus]



[Bridge:]
Me no want no sinsemilla.
That would only bring me down
Burn away my brain no way my brain is to compound
Torah food for my brain let it rain till I drown
Thunder!
Let the blessings come down



Strip away the layers and reveal your soul
Got to give yourself up and then you become whole
You're a slave to yourself and you don't even know
You want to live the fast life but your brain moves slow
If you're trying to stay high then you're bound to stay low
You want G-d but you can't deflate your ego
If you're already there then there's nowhere to go
If you're cup's already full then its bound to overflow
If you're drowning in the water's and you can't stay afloat
Ask Hashem for mercy and he'll throw you a rope
You're looking for help from G-d you say he couldn't be found
Searching up to the sky and looking beneath the ground
Like a King without his Crown
Yes, you keep fallin' down
You really want to live but can't get rid of your frown
Tried to reach unto the heights and wound bound down on the ground
Given up your pride and the you heard a sound
Out of night comes day and out of day comes light
Nullified to the One like sunlight in a ray,
Makin' room for his love and a fire gone blaze



[Chorus]



Reelin' him in
Where ya been
Where ya been
Where ya been for so long
It's hard to stay strong been livin' in galus (exile) for 2000 years strong
Where ya been for so long
Been livin in this exhile for too long