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Introduction to Certainty by Marc Gafni

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by Dr. Marc Gafni from the version of his book Certainty, which is already published in Hebrew and which will be re-released as part of his two-volume series entitled Integral Religion.

Introduction:

“Through my flesh I vision God.”

(c) 2009, photo used courtesy of Pixomar.

(c) 2009, photo used courtesy of Pixomar.

This quote from Job will be the guiding principle of this work. For the mystical reader of the Bible, to ‘vision God’ is to understand Being…for God and Being are one.  Kabbalists read this verse with a pronounced emphasis on the word ‘my.’ My flesh means not only my physical form, but the body of my life experience. The verse is thus taken to mean — I access the epic of Being through the drama of the psyche. And I can only access psyche through my psyche, i.e. my story.

Authentic philosophy in the modern context cannot be divorced from the person of the philosopher.  Gone are the days when we bow to the idol of objectivity.  Radical truth is to be found, albeit paradoxically, in radical subjectivity.  The story of the idea, and the story of the writer are one.  It is for that reason that in this book of serious reflection, I will interpolate personal stories.  The goal is not to sell more books (although that would be nice); the goal is to write philosophy which is ‘true.’

My wife, who is a poetess, taught me that the greatest universal poetry emerges from the artist’s deep grappling with their personal universe, their own tradition.  In that spirit, I want to deepen our understanding of these ideas from the context of my own reality and invite you, if we are from different traditions, to make the translation into your own story.  For while the topics of the book are universal, I myself can only touch them in a way that is true through the prism of my people’s tale, the epic of the Bible.

In the internal self-reference of the tradition, the intimate and personal act of interpreting the Bible is called the ‘creation of a new Torah’[1]. This takes places through the meeting of two expressions of divinity–my holy subjectivity and the objectivity of the sacred text.  Through the act of study, the creative encounter with text, we reintegrate these two expressions of God. This is by its very nature a highly intimate, private, and intensely personal encounter. Whilst I share my glimmerings from the sacred text, they remain no more than my subjective interpretations. It is for the reader to see how these reflections resonate in his/her heart and ‘flesh’ and to continue to study.

 


[1] ‘Torah’ means both the five books of Moses in a restrictive sense and also all of the scripture and interpretation that have been attached to it through the ages. Thus, the book of Genesis is part of Torah, and this book is part ‘the Torah.’ But the philosophy I present in this book, based on my life, of the richness of Jewish textual tradition may be thought of as Torah as well.

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