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Integral Judaism and the Evolution of Tears

The following essay is the first of ten essays in a book called Integral Kabbalah and the Evolution of Tears.

Copyright 2005 Marc Gafni.

It touches on the Hebrew vision of Enlightenment, Evolutionary Kabbalah and Integral Judaism and Kabbalah. For that reason it appears in all of these sections of our website.

The first draft of this book was completed in the very late evenings and very early mornings of 2005 during an intense and overly demanding teaching and communal schedule.

At the time there were the salaries of ten people whom I had personally committed to paying which weighed on me every day.

My International board chair with whom I had started our Israeli movement had not fulfilled his obligation to raise the funds beyond his own pledge. I had fulfilled my commitment to build a National movement and to teach day and night at every opportunity.

The result of this asymmetry, after the first year or so, was a National movement without funding. The result of that was that I had barely a moment to catch my breath and certainly no time at all for a personal life:)

Being an intensely relational person by nature this was very painful for me.

My feeling however was that the mission we had taken upon ourselves, to help birth to a second tier Evolutionary Hebrew Wisdom Consciousness, was so holy and so necessary that all personal sacrifices were more then worthwhile.

A measure of heroism and a measure of hubris. It is sometimes hard to distinguish the two even in ourselves.

Even as I worked long hours daily and never took even an afternoon off, I delighted at the time in an inner circle of friends, some on staff, some loosely involved with our rather Bohemian structure.

I felt alive, rarely privileged, humble, filled with audacity, passion and hope for the future.

As it turned out the vessel that I build in Israel to contain this revolution was for many reasons not sustainable. I have suffered greatly from it’s shattering. Many of my students have suffered the loss as well. Who knows how much was lost both of what was and what was waiting to be born. Who knows how many lives missed crucial opportunities, because the movement closed. This is my greatest life regret. And yet I am filled with hope, love, and belief in our ability to grow, evolve, forgive and rebuild.

I have learned much, both about my own nature and the nature of others from this ordeal.

The book is dedicated – with a shattered heart yet aflame with hope and meaning – to Neta.

It was written in the late evenings of Jan, Feb. Marc and April 2006 at her home by the little table we set up in her bedroom.

I had thought to marry Neta.

Although much has happened since then, I have chosen not to change the dedication.

I offer this book on the Evolution of Tears to her.

For the moments that were beautiful.

The first version of this book came to the world when I was about 30 years old some 16 years ago. Since then it has unfolded stage by stage but the core of it was clear to me at that time.

A very small section of the book was published in an Essay in Tikkun Magazine. Other sections were taught in various contexts in Israel and the United States, particularly at the Elay Hayyim retreat center at the time under the direction of Arthur Kurzweil.

The vision of the book was to lay the seeds for an evolutionary Judaism which received reverentially the structures, resonances and obligations of the old revelations even as we poured into these old flasks new wine which might intoxicate and raise higher a generation thirsty for nectar of Nectar of God.

The new wine was the new revelation of evolving spirit that brought together in an Integral fashion the great wisdom of the ages, the cutting edge understandings of reality as revealed in modern and post modern thinking, all resting in the matrix of rigorous mind and open heart flowing with compassion and love.

The chapter before you is an early version {thus the incomplete footnotes and notes to myself and others along the way} of the first chapter of this book.

It lays out the first glimmerings of a vision of what Integrally Informed Evolutionary Kabbalah might look like.

I hope to publish this book in full length {525 pages} in the near future.

Please feel free like with all the material on this website to share your comments, insights, and understandings of this material. I am sure your wisdom will evolve this torah ever deeper and ever higher.

Thank You.


Reclaiming Rosh Hashanah:
Integral Judaism:

This is a book about Torah. More specifically this is a book written for anyone who is interested understanding the deep levels of meaning of an ancient Jewish Spiritual practice called Rosh Hashanah. In this book I invite you my reader – who are both my friend, student and teacher, to engage with me on a sacred journey to the center of your soul. In this preface I will introduce three sacred methodologies or frameworks, which will helps us in the course of this sacred quest. They are the “four meaning of Torah”, the “three faces of God” and the “three levels of consciousness.:

Methodology One:
Four Meanings of Torah:

Torah is a word, which holds four distinct meanings. Four which are one. Very often groups within Judaism choose one or two of these meanings and reject the others. Integral Judaism invites us to understand that all four meaning are co-valid. The divine intention in our generation has deployed different individuals and communities in way that that allows them to focus with particular intensity on one or more of the meanings. Ultimately however all four meanings will be integrated in all peoples. That is the vision of messianic consciousness.

Three out of the four meanings have been virtually lost in most of our popular contemporary engagement with Torah. First, Torah means teaching or instructions. The Hebrew phrase, Torat Hayyim, usually explained as a torah of life, is better translated as “Instructions for Living.”

The core sensibility of Buddhist thought was humorously summed up once as “don’t just do something, sit there.” This was correctly contrasted with the core sensibility of Torah which is clearly that of Mitzvah. Mitzvah means commandment. Or said better it means that there is something to be done; there is something that needs to be done now and can only be done by you. Don’t just sit there, do something. That which needs to be done is the commandment of the hour.

Therefore the torah invites us to a path with instructions on how to become alive. The goal of torah is to instruct us on what needs to be done. The instructions include, prayer, meditation, symbolic ritual, ceremony, spiritual laws of the universe and ethical instructions. But most of all wrote Shimon Bar Yochai, source of the Zohar, the great book of Hebrew mysticism; the Torah is instructions for love. In his words in the Idra Rabba section of the Zohar; BeChavivuta Talya Milta – “It all depends on love.”

Torah is the Bakhti Yoga of the heart. It is instructions on becoming and being a great lover in every dimension of your life.

Second, Torah means search.

The biblical narrative in the book of Numbers tells of the twelve men, one from each tribe sent by Moses, “LaTur”, to spy out the land. The word “Tur” derived from the same root as Torah, means to search. The modern English derivative is Tourist. Our modern incarnation of the Tur, the search, is all too often the accidental tourist who has learned to travel the highways of the world without ever being on the path. We need to return the pilgrimage to travel and the seeker to the tourist. In terms of the meanings of Torah however, suffice it say that Torah embraces not only the certainty and clarity of the Instructions but also the openness and uncertainty of the Search. Torah is the search for love and the beloved.

Now let me give at least one example of how people adopt meaning of torah and ignore the second. Much of the classical Orthodox community views Torah primarily as Instructions. Sometimes the goal of the instructions – to become a lover – is sadly lost but that is another conversation. The law itself is seen as the primary manifestation of Torah’s instruction. And that is well and good up to a point. The problem is that instructions for living are supposed to keep us safe. We tell a child “follow the instructions” and you will be safe, protected. What happens however when we follow the instructions and are not protected. For example; what happens when huge communities of Jews are gassed to death in a holocaust. Clearly the instructions did not keep them safe. There are really only two possible responses if one entertains only the meaning of “instructions” for Torah. First is to claim that the people were not following the instructions. That is to say the Jews suffered because they violated the Torah in some shape or form.

With some notable exceptions this is the classic response of Orthodoxy. The second possibility is to say the instructions do not work and to abandon them. This has been the implicit response of much of secular Jewry. If however I understand that Torah also means Latur; the search, then I open the space for uncertainty and questioning- not as an oppositional force to Torah but as part of Torah’s deepest meaning. At the same time much of the sophisticated Jewish intellectual world; the kind that marks the halls of the academy embrace the second meaning which is all about enquiry and questioning but reject both the first meaning, and as we shall see, the third meaning as well.

The third meaning of Torah derives from the biblical Hebrew world Yoreh with which it shares etymology. Yoreh describes the aiming and shooting of an arrow. The Yoreh dimension of Torah is about taking proper aim; anyone who has ever engaged archery knows that taking aim is really about seeking deep alignment. Zen and the art of archery. Yoreh as Torah is the seeking of deep alignment with the all that is. This is what one seeks to achieve through Torah. Torah in this meaning describes an inner state of being. It is the inner alignment in which I am love; in which I realize that love, the lover and the beloved are one. And that I am —all of that.

This meaning has been adopted as the essential meaning by most of what passes for spiritual Judaism. The problem is that most of the teachers and consumers of this form of Judaism have abandoned the first two meanings. There is no sense of the law; there is no sense of obligation; that is there is no sense of Torah as instructions. Moreover there is often a kind of New Age dogmatism in these communities which paradoxically prevents, like all dogmas, genuine inquiry, search or questioning.

The fourth meaning of Torah is light or enlightenment.

The torah is an enlightenment teaching of a specific nature and aim. Its goal is clear. The deepest possible enlightenment for the greatest number of people. The greatest depth for the greatest span. The torah teaches the democratization of enlightenment.

It seeks not educate the elite, the priests, but rather invites the masses to enlightenment. “You shall be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. Priesthood – Enlightenment is a genuine possibility for the masses and not merely for the elite. This meaning is also a manifestation of love.

Enlightenment experience is demarcated by the certain knowledge that love is the ground of all being upon which all else depends. The core quality of the priest according to the Zohar is the ability to give others the blessings of love.

Part of our conscious intention in this and future works on Integral Judaism is to reclaim Torah as an enlightenment teaching. This meaning of Torah has been forgotten by both the academic, Orthodox and liberal communities at once. The extent that this idea has been lost was captured for me once again when I was recently skimming Rodger Kamanetz popular Jewish book, The Jew and the Lotus. In it he states in a kind of matter of fact way, that both the word and the concept of enlightenment have no place in Judaism.


To say that is an egregious error would be to major in understatement. Not only is “enlightenment teaching” a core meaning of the word Torah; Moreover it is also a core meaning of the word Zohar, the name of the most important Hebrew mystical text which has been accepted as authoritative by every branch of classical Judaism.

In the writing of my teacher Mordechai Lainer of Izbica and his primary student Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin, enlightenment and its achievement is major topic of discussion.

The latter work is studied today as a core text by Orthodox institutions of every ilk and stripe all over the world.

All four dimensions of torah; Instructions for living – The search – Correct Inner Alignment – Enlightened teaching and the democratization of enlightenment will find expression throughout our meditations in this work. At times we will be re-reading the instructions of a specific Mitzvah and giving it new meaning and resonance. At other times we will be seekers struggling to extract meaning from an often brutal and pained world. Still at other times we will share core enlightenment teachings of Hebrew wisdom. Integrated engagement with these three meanings of the torah are all in the way of realizing it’s fourth meaning, our essential alignment with the divine cosmos through it’s expression in our inner being and external reality. In the end however all four meanings are really about different ways of loving.

In this meditation we will seek to unfold the Torah of love that is the unique path of “Rosh Hashanah; the Dance of Tears.”

On the Defacing of God:

The second sacred methodology which we will unfold in this work, I have called together with close friend and brother, integral philosopher Ken Wilber, “the three faces of God.”

Our core understanding is that in order to realize the basic goal of Hebrew spirit, to stand “Before God”, what biblical narrative terms, “Lifnei Hahsem”, one must incorporate in some real way, the three faces of God.

Lifnei in Hebrew means not only in “front of” or “before” God; Lifnei also means face or perspective. In the language of the Talmud “Just as their faces are different so there opinions are different.”

This is understood to mean that the infinite uniqueness of every face is but an external expression of the infinite ontological value and meaning of every human being.

“Face” in the nomenclature of the ancient masters is often virtually synonymous with perspective. The well-known phrase of the ancient masters, “there are seventy faces to Torah” indicates that there are seventy co-valid perspectives on every issue of spirit. Every face is a perspective. Human adequacy and dignity derives from the biblical affirmation that every human being holds a unique and infinitely valuable perspective. This is the implicit premise of my book Soul Prints.

To be Lifnei Hashem, “before God” means therefore to incorporate the different faces of God. This includes as many individual perspectives as possible. The closer one gets to aperspectival thinking the closer one comes to transcending the personal for the transpersonal. Incorporating perspectives as a form of standing before God also refers to the three core universal perspectives which we have termed the three faces of God. God in the first person; God in the second person and God in the third person. These are three distinct perspectives of spirit on all of reality. For Moredechai Lainer of Izbica it is the holding of all three perspectives in an integrated internal experience which produces what he calls He’arah; enlightenment.

The Three Faces:

God in the first person is the experience of God flowing through you. God flows through you not by your denial of your unique perspective, or what Carlos Castendada and many teachers influenced by him referred to as your “personal his-tory.”

Rather your unique perspective is precisely the place in which you the human being meet and embraces the divine. Thus God in the first person according to the Hebrew wisdom masters is realized not through generalized meditation which effaces one’s unique perspective as is usually thought to be the case. Rather it is accomplished by what Lainer of Izbica calls Berur; literally clarification or purification. Berur is a mystical technique which can take many forms including many forms of meditation. The core of it is however is that through Berur you merge with your radically unique perspective. This is your unique face. It is only through the embrace of one’s unique perspective that one human being is able to transcend his narrow human perspective to embrace a divine perspective.

The paradox of Kabbalah- in contrast to the no —self of Terevandan Bhuddism for example, is that it is through your unique face that you embrace your original face. Or said differently it is not merely that the personal precedes the transpersonal. Rather the personal itself is the very gateway to the transpersonal. Of course the divine perspective naturally includes all perspectives. It thus transcends and includes one’s own unique perspective.

This move from a sacred but limited personal perspective to an all embracing transpersonal perspective is what Schneur Zalman of Liadi called the move from “our side” to “his side”. Like most post Lurianic Hebrew mystics he viewed this movement as the basic goal of all spiritual work.

This first path is what is usually referred to as the path of enlightenment, in which the individual actually seeks to attain a state or permanent stage of mystical illumination. This spiritual path was on of the demarcating characteristics of the great mystical revival in Safed in the 16th century. It is for this reason writes scholar of mysticism Elliot Wolfson “that in contrast to the general trend in Jewish mysticism.”

to avoid writing first person accounts of mystical experience” we find an abundance of such first person testimonies in the Safed period.

In the God in the first person practice one experiences a level of ontic identity with some dimension of the divine. For example according to the school of Izbica the experience of God in the first person is through the realization of the ontic identity of wills between man and god.

Man actually has a first person experience of the divine will animating and ultimately merging with his own will in complete identity. Practices such as meditation which lead to the realization of some form of supreme identity with the God head are aimed at revealing God in the first person. Scholars like Moshe Idel tend to call certain forms of these God in the first person experiences, Unio Mystica or extreme Devekut experiences. Idel however was careful to note in later essays, that after the moment of Unio Mystica the initiate returned, revitalized and empowered – to their own unique individuality.

It is Lainer of Izbica however who crystallized most clearly the great paradox of Hebrew mysticism; on the hand the non-dual experience must affirm and not efface the unique individual even as personal uniqueness is the path to the non dual one.

God in the second person is what Kabbalah scholar Gershom Scholem called Communion.

This is the core experience of the human being who is not merged with the divine but rather stands in relation to God. This is the essence of Hebrew biblical consciousness and according to Scholem defines Hebrew mystical consciousness as well. God in second person is all about relationship. Whether the relationship is that of a servant to his master or a lover and his beloved or a relationship between partners or even friends, they are all “relating” to God. All of the above models of relationship find expression in Hebrew wisdom teachings. All are forms of God in the second person. The most powerful form of God in the second person is almost certainly the prayer experience. It is told that when Hassidic master Levi Yitzchak of Beridchev used to pray he would begin the standard form liturgical form of blessing. “Boruch Ata Adonai,” “Blessed are you God,” and then break out of the mold of blessing crying out in sheer joy, …YOU YOU…YOU…YOU! He would lose himself in these words repeatedly shouting in ecstasy, YOU…YOU…YOU!!! This is the rapture of God in the second person. For Levi Yitzchak the blessing is a kind of Buddhist pointing out instruction. It points however not to sunyatta or emptiness but to God in the second person. Nachman of Bratzlav taught the spiritual practice of Hitbodedut. In one form this meant walking alone in the forest “talking to God as you would to your friend.”

In god in the second person we meet God and bow. In god in the second person we meet god and partner. In God in the second person we meet god and love. The key however is the encounter. It is the encounter with God in history and in the lived reality of every human being that is the essence of the God in the second person experience.

God in the third person is all of the talk which describes and maps the divine reality of the world. God in the third person could be the physical sciences, social sciences, systems theory, Buddhist Dharma or Jewish Law or metaphysics. {Of course the various sciences, system theories and the like are unconscious face of God; they only become conscious faces of God when they recognize not only the surface but the interior depth dimension of reality.} All third person maps of reality are God in the third person. Third person perspectives offer detailed maps of reality, whether through the tools of sociology, complexity theory, psychological theory, the sciences, or certain forms of theology and philosophy.

Now here is the key point. In order to attain a significant level of enlightenment one must engage all three faces of god as one. It is in the integration of the three faces that one attains depth and wisdom.

This is of course very different then usual understandings of enlightenment which locate it in a first person God experience in which individuality is effaced and the separate self is absorbed into the one. Although absorption is a key feature of God in the first person in Hebrew mysticism, it is only a stage in a larger God face process which itself is but one of the three major faces of God.

Each face of God has its own natural strength and it’s own unique shadow. It is only through the integration of all three that one attains the depth beyond the surface. It is only then that one can stand face to face with God or attain what the Kabbalists call Partzuf Shalem; the full face of God.

The contemporary world of spirit however can be most appropriately mapped as a struggle between the three faces. Each face attempts to dominate or colonize the other two. Each face claims that truth is accessible only – or at least primarily – through the perspective of its eyes. Both individuals and social systems find themselves tugged between the three faces. Often a person or a community abandons one face in order to embrace a different face which they feel is truer. In doing so they feel compelled to reject their previous experience. But they feel incomplete and dissatisfied and are often unsure why. Often they wind up reverting to the face they initially rejected but in doing so they usually abandon the new face they had engaged. The implicit message of contemporary culture, as we shall see below, is that one must choose between the three. This is a tragedy because the lack of any one of the three leaves on with a gaping hole of need, ethics desire and illumination.

Ashram, Synagogue and Academy; God in first second and third persons:

Speaking in general terms we might say that ashrams new age seminars and spiritual retreat centers such as Esalen, Omega. Hollyhock and Spirit Rock place an enormous emphasis on God in the first person. The chief activity of the Ashram is usually meditation, with additional tracks in various forms of movement, psychodrama and the like. All are God in the first person practices. In meditation the realization of the supreme identity between the human being and the god is the goal. It is to know that “I am God” to which the novice aspires. The first person experience is also a primary domain of the many schools of kabbalah who seeks unio mystica with the divine employing a vast array of spiritual technologies. Likewise in the contemporary Jewish Renewal movement there is an enormous prejudice in favor of God in the first person engagement.

>The synagogue and the church are the primary proponents of God in the second person. Their primary activity is prayer which involves the human being talking to God. Their secondary activity is the fostering of a “we” space which is called community. Here, in the well-known nomenclature of Martin Buber, man meets the infinite divine in his fellow and his neighbor. Or in Levinas’ reformulation of Buber, man meets God in the face of the other.

The academy is the primary home of God in the third person. The academy is dedicated to objective third person descriptions of all facets of reality. The social science and the hard sciences as well as moral philosophy and metaphysics are all ostensibly objective third person descriptions of reality. God in the third person.

The problem is that each of the above views itself as somewhat of a monopoly on authenticity and genuine spirit. Synagogues are very suspicious of ecstasy, ashrams and kabbalah because they are rooted in God in the first person experience. A recent example is the new Catholics pope’s scathing dismissal of Buddhism. He confuses the God in the first person emphasis and it’s non-theistic character with atheism. Not recognizing the more familiar God in second person experience in the Buddhist system has made the pope of fierce spiritual opponent of Buddhism. This kind of dismissal of God in the first person, in terms dripping with invective of all sorts, is dominant in Jewish intellectual and social circles as well. For many religious philosophers including Eliezer Berkovitz of Modern Orthodoxy, Joseph Soloveitchk the pre-eminent philosopher and Talmudist of a central stream in 20th century Orthodoxy, Yaacov Reines of the Religious Zionist movement, most leading Wissenchaft scholars, virtually all the founders of the Reform movement, Gershon Scholem the major voice of contemporary Kabbalah scholarship, the preeminent Jewish historian Salo Baron, and many others- God in the second person is the fundamental Jewish spiritual moment. Berkovitz for example, in two essays which are representative of his thought, “Crisis and Faith” and the “Philosophy of Encounter” scathingly critiques the aspiration of unio mystica as being a fundamental violation of Jewish Theology.

He lumps drug-induced experiences of LSD and mystical experiences in the same category dismissing both of them as violation of the core Jewish ethos of “encounter” – God in the second person. To get a sense of the complete rejection of by one face of god of the another face- particularly the absolute rejection of God in first person by the God in second person folks there is indeed no better citation then that of Eliezer Berkovitz. He writes:

“It is important to distinguish between our interpretation of the prophetic encounter as the basic religious experience and the way of the mystic. The encounter should not be confused with mystical communion. The mystic’s goal is the surrender of personal existence. His desire to merge with the one, to pour himself into God, to be drawn into the all. The Mystic finds his fulfillment in the extinction of his dignity through being consumed by the absolute. For him individuality is a burden and a shame. Only the one or the all is real, and every form of separateness from it is an unworthy shadow existence. In the encounter on the other hand, the original separateness is affirmed; if fact it is granted its highest dignity by being sustained by God. The encounter may occur because the individual personality is safeguarded. When there is encounter there is fellowship and fellowship is the very opposite of the mystical surrender of man’s identity in an act of communion. Judaism is not a non-mystical religion.

Judaism is essentially non-mystical because it is a religion. The mystical communion is the end of all relationship, and therefore, the end of all religion. Judaism is essentially non-mystical because according to it, God addresses himself to man, and he awaits man’s response to the address…Man searches and God allows himself to be found. In the mystical union however there are no words and no law, no search and no recognition, because there is no separateness. Judaism does not admit the idea that man may rise “beyond good and evil” by drowning himself in the Godhead…

{The mystic’s} worship of the absolute demands the denial of his own separateness from it; thus we are led to the Spinozistic amor dei; since nothing exists apart from the infinite, man’s love for God is “the very love of God in which God loves himself.”

One is inclined to agree with those who see in this the monstrous example of absolute self-love. The truth is of course that where there is no separateness there is no love either. When there is no encounter there can be no care and concern.” The mystic endeavors to overcome all separateness; the pantheist denies it from the very beginning. Judaism on the other hand, through its concept of the encounter, affirms the reality as well as the worth of individual existence. Judaism is not only non-mystical; it is also essentially anti-pantheistic.”

A similar prejudice appears in Gershon Scholems work. Much of Scholem’s work on Devekut was paradoxically to affirm that Unio Mystica was either absent or rare in Jewish mystical sources. According to Scholem the mystic was engaged in communion and not unio-mystica with the divine. In effect Scholem was saying that even in mysticism God in the second person, what he called communion, is the primary experience. Contemporary Kabbalah scholar Moshe Idel has spend a good part of his career taking issue this central assertion of Scholem. He has shown decisively that God in the first person, through many and varied forms of unio mystica, is a demarcating feature of Devekut for the Hebrew mystic. Two passages — not from esoteric sources but each from a mainstream Hassidic master will serve to illustrate the point. The first from Schneur Zalman of Liadi the founding master of the Habad dynasty.

“And we see that when man cleaves to God it is extremely delightful for him, and very sweet, so much so that he will swallow it into his heart…as the bodily throat swallows; and this is true devekut – cleaving, as he becomes one with the substance with God into whom he was swallowed, without being separate {from him} and consisted as a distinct entity at all. This is the meaning of the verse “And you shall cleave to him” Mamash-literally.”

A second passage from Levi Isac of Berdichev raise the possibility that this can be a permanent state of being and not merely a temporary state experience.
” There is a tzadik who {cleaves to the nought} and nevertheless returns afterwards to his essence. But Moses our master blessed be his memory was annihilated all the time since he was constantly contemplating the grandeur of the creator blessed be he and he did not return to his essence at all..since as it is well known…Moses our master was constantly cleavening to Ayin- nothingness, and from this aspect he was annihilated.”

It is these type of texts which clearly affirm Idel’s position that God in the first person in the sense of total identification and absorption in the God head is an important goal of the Hebrew mystic. This scholarly argument has probably been one of the most important discussions in Kabbalah scholarship in recent years. I have shown elsewhere that Idel and Scholem’s positions are not as far apart as they might seems and that they are actually referring to different stages.

Of the mystical experience. Be that as it may the choice on each of their parts to emphasize a different moment in the mystical experience is driven not by text but by person religious and moral inclination.

The energy around this conversation is of course bound up with a deeper argument. What is the essence or at least the ultimate in the religious experience, God in the first person or God in the second person? That is the question. Idel emerges in his personal biography from the ground of eastern European Romanian folks mysticism which was all about God in the first person experiences. By contrast Scholem emerges from the central European model which preferred God in the third person, but at most could tolerate small doses of God in the second person. Unio Mystica, God in the first person, was regarded by Scholem, his student Joseph Weiss and most of the others who followed them as rooted in a kind of religious quietism or even fatalism. This was for them the great weakness of the God in the first person model. This was too much of a violation of both Biblical and Talmudic personalism and the Zionist and western ethics of activism and autonomy which imbued their own values. Since they were explicitly looking to Jewish mysticism as a potential source for the revival of the Jewish spirit, God in the first person kinds of quietism were re-read by them into more palatable second person experiences which never negated the separate existence of the individual.

In doing so Scholem explicitly states his intention to distinguish Hebrew Mysticism from the dominant currents in general mysticism which talked much more in terms of union then communion. The primary difference is that in communion the unique individual is not effaced while in the union the unique individual is annihilated. Writes Scholem, Devekut or “communion” with God is not “union” in the sense of the Mystical Union between God and Man and of which many mystics speak.”

Here Scholem is describing Kabbalah in general and Hassidism in particular primarily through the prism of the Baal Shem’s teaching even as he himself recognized that more extreme formulations are present in the teaching of the Baal Shem’s student the Great Maggid.

In a parallel passage Scholem writes, “It is only in extremely rare cases that ecstasy signifies actual union with God in which human individuality abandons itself to the rapture of complete submersion in the divine stream. Even in this ecstatic frame of mind the Jewish mystic almost invariably retains a sense of distance between the creator and his creature.”

Scholem, in these texts and in many other places in his corpus has a clear agenda; he is make important orienting generalizations which serve to distinguish Hebrew mysticism from it’s non – Jewish counterparts and in doing so make it more congruent with what Scholem felt to be the essentially personal gestalt of Hebrew wisdom. His particular agenda here is the retaining of the personal, individual moment as primary in Hebrew thought – evidence by its centrality even at the height of mystical ecstasy, in marked contrast to other mystical systems which do highlight “the abandonment of individuality to rapture.

“Even when Scholem talks about mystical passages which use the terminology of union he struggles to blur the clear God in first person sense of the term “…Yichud which means unification, the realization of union…he breaks down the barriers and brings about unification by making into an organic whole what seemed separated and isolated. He does not become God but he becomes “united” with him by the process in which the core of his being is bound up with the core of all being.”

Scholem’s insistence on retaining God in the second person as the primary model of Hebrew wisdom by blurring the significance of God in the first person texts becomes even more evident in his description of the writings of the Great Maggid. The Maggid’s writings about with passages which seem to reflect strong pantheistic and unio-mystica orientations.

“Man finds himself by losing himself in God, and by giving up his identity he discovers it on a higher plane. Here as in many other saying of Rabbi Baer, devekut is said to lead not only to communion but to ahdut, union. But – this union is not at all the pantheistic obliteration of the self within the divine mind which he likes to call the naught, but pierces through this state on to the re-discovery of man’s spiritual identity. He finds himself because he has found God. …and the radical terms should not blind us to the eminently Jewish and personalistic which they still cover. After having gone through devekut man is still man- nay he has in truth, only then started to be man, and it is only logical that only then will he be called upon to fulfill his destiny in the society of men.” In this passage however we already sense a more sophisticated position in Scholem which recognizes god in the first and second person as different levels of consciousness. However what is clear from Scholem is that first person rapture is a stage on the way to second person address and fellowship. This is of course the opposite of what one might expect from readings in non-Jewish mysticism, where second person is but a stage on the way to the deeper and higher first person experience.

Joseph Solovetichik intellectual enterprise as well implicitly adopts Scholem’s position on Union Mystica. In his work Days of Remembrance he writes explicitly without mentioning Scholem. “Judaism rejects Unio mystica.”

Moreover Solovetichiks more well known classic essay Halachic Man is in large part a rejection of the God in the first person posture so prominent in mysticism in general and Habad Hassidism in particular. Soloveitchik’s description of homo religious is a classic description of the quietist mystical typology. In response to this God in the first person archetype he writes, “Halachic man is as a far removed from Homo religious as east is from west.”

Similarly Martin Buber who began his career in Jewish thought with an embrace of the intense mystical experience as being characteristic of true religion- God in the first person- eventually rejected his initial position and affirmed what he famously called I-thou, as the demarcating Jewish religious experience.

For the most part their readings of God in the first person in quietist terms of passivity and resignation were accurate for certain schools of Hebrew mysticism.

However as I have shown elsewhere and noted above, there is a whole other way to read God in the first person experiences. In this second way championed by Mordechai Lainer of Izbica and adopted from him by Abraham Kuk, God in the first person is not emasculating but radically empowering of the individual who realizes his core identity with the divine spirit or will.

This is critical because it allows for an integral embrace of all three faces of God by circumventing the major critique of first person God paths, as we saw for example in Berkovitz and Scholem, namely that they are emasculating of personhood and unique individuality. For this reason I will devote the next paragraphs to showing why this critique is not necessarily valid.

In a forthcoming three volume academic work, I discuss the roots of this empowerment in what I have termed the “non dual humanism.” Non-dual humanism which yields a God in the first person religious typology far different then the quietist via passive variety, ascribed to God in the first person understandings by proponents of the personalistic God in the second person orientation of Judaic consciousness. To get a deeper sense of this empowered religious type who emerges from a first person God non-dual God experience let me cite from my academic work on the subject.

“The following is a list of the core characteristics of the realized man according to Hassidic master Mordechai Lainer’s teaching. They point out the highly humanistic undertone of Lainer’s non-dualism:

1. Affirming and honoring of the unique individuality of every person,

2. Engendering of human freedom and empowerment.

3. Affirms the necessity, ontological impact and dignity of human activism.

4. Affirms the ontic identity between the human and divine name as the empowering realization of enlightenment

5. Affirming of the ontological dignity of human desire and viewing it as an important normative guide.

6. Affirming the ontological dignity and authority of the human capacity to employ trans-rational faculties, “Lemaalaha MiDaato,” in apprehending the unmediated will of God.

7. Affirms the centrality of will and the ultimate ontic identity between the will of God and the will of the awakened person, who has achieved post Berur consciousness.

8. Views not only the Tzaddik but the every person, Berur awakened state, as a source of ultimate moral and legal authority. We have termed this the “democratization of enlightenment.”

What is remarkable about Lainer’s thought is not that all of these features are present. Indeed many of them could be easily identified in many writers on secular humanism.

What is unique is that all of these flow directly not from a secular perspective but from a radical non-dualism which affirms that all is God. The idea that the human being substantively participates in divinity is the conceptual matrix which radically empowers and frees the human being. Just like the core humanistic principles that find expression in Lainer are not unique to him, this idea of substantive identity between God and Man is not unique to Lainer. Indeed it has a venerable if little noticed history in the tradition Hebrew thought and mysticism which informs Lainer’s work. Indeed Lainer and Abraham Kuk who was highly influenced by him, may represent, the latest stage in the great Jewish Rabbinic and Mystical tradition of apotheosis. This non-dual tradition which affirms the possibility of human transformation and ontic identity with some manifestation of the divine lies in the conceptual foreground of all of Lainer’s thought. This tradition gives birth to many offspring including the ontic identification between God Torah and Israel, the blurring and even identification between the name of God and then name of man, the tradition of the Tzadik who sometimes seen as a semi divine and even divine figure and the tradition of the erotic merging of the human being and the Shechina. All of these traditions find echo and are expanded in Lainer’s non-dual humanism.

What is unique about Lainer is neither his humanism nor his acosmism. His uniqueness lies in his unique combination of the two —what we have termed acosmic or non-dual humanism.

All of the core characteristics of non-dual humanism are manifested according to Lainer by the Judah Archetype.

Before discussing the Judah characteristics it is important to note that for Lainer, living in the way of the Judah archetype is not an option; for those who are called to this life it is an absolute obligation which if ignored calls down divine curse.

Judah is contrasted with Joseph, and sometimes with Levi. While Joseph and Levi are characterized by Yiraah, fear or awe, the Judah archetype is characterized by love. Judah represents for Lainer the religious typology who has realized his first person ontic identity with the will of God.

He consciously participates in divinity, realizing that his name and the name of God are one. His non-dual consciousness is realized through a process of Berur in which he further understands that there is no such thing as human action independent of God. Rather, he knows and experiences every action he takes as being fully animated by divine will. This non-dual realization is radically empowering for him. Judah manifests and is virtually identified with the quality of Tekufot; the personal power and sacred audacity which is a direct result of realizing one’s divine core. He feels himself called by his inner divine voice, his own personal revelation, to expand, what Lainer terms Hitpashtut, beyond the narrow boundaries foisted upon him by external structures. Therefore in Lainer’s language he can naturally be Mechaven Ratzon Hashem, “intend” the will of God.” Judah affirms the dignity of his Teshuka, moreover, he allows himself to be guided by his Teshuka once it has undergone a process of Berur.

Judah, writes Lainer, time and again, is connected to the awareness of Ein Lo Gevul. “He has no boundary”. He is identified with Ratzon Hashem even Lemaalah Medaato, beyond his conscious will. He has realized no boundary consciousness. His prayer, repentance, torah and desire all derive from this consciousness of Ein Gevul.

This consciousness has normative implications. It moves him —even when he is misunderstood by his own community — to occasionally break the law in order to respond to an order of revelation which is more immediate and personal then the original revelation of Sinai mediated through Moses.

His path to “no boundary” consciousness is unique. More then merely participating in the general divine will, he incarnates the unique divine will. Paradoxically it is it is through boundary, particularly through his own radically individual nature, what Lainer refers to by the Hebrew calls Perat, that he is able to transcend the Kelalim, the general principles of law, and access Peratei Dvirei Torah, the unmediated revelation of the divine addresses specifically to him, refracted through the prism of his unique soul. His unique soul expressed in his unique will reveals and manifests his ontic identity with the divine will. He has undergone a process of Berur which allowed him to identify his unique soul print {chelek} and soul root {Shoresh}, his unique manifestation of the divine light, the root of his soul. He is particularly connected to his unique Mitzvah for which he must even be willing to give up his life. For the very essence of his Chaim is his uniqueness; therefore to live without would be to not live. In short Judah is the personification of non-dual humanism. Judah is a classic expression of the God in the first person consciousness.

Lainer has enormous influence on the greatest modern Jewish mystics Abraham Kuk.

When R. Kuk insists in his writing that “I is I am the lord you God” and sets that up a major religious model then he is arguing for God in the first person. In that very same paragraph he teaches that in the realization of I is I am the Lord your God one claims his essential power; what R Kuk calls “one’s essential I.” When his books are burned by those who carefully read them, {not just by communities who opposed his Zionism,} part of the principled opposition to his teaching is the danger of setting God in the first person as a religious ideal.

And not entirely without reason. The great weakness of God in the first person is that it is a great place for the ego to hide. I have known well highly sophisticated spiritual egos who found wonderful refuge and great solace in the God in the first person experiences. Often the eros and power of their god in first person experiences makes those experiences the focus of their spiritual quest and sadly allows them to override elemental dictates of ethos. This is the danger of God in the first person being the exclusive or even primary face of God. While both Lainer and Kuk were cognizant of the danger and offered sophisticated treatments of the ethical and spiritual work needed to be done to avoid it; the trap still remains a major shadow in all God in the First Person paths.

Shifting perspectives however, we must note that Ashram disciples, Kabbalah seekers, and Spiritual retreat center consumers…all God in first person advocates have little use for synagogues. And not entirely without reason. They feel unable to connect to the God in the second person conversation. They find the experience of the synagogue to be disembodied, alienating and not trustworthy. In the words of many; “I do not feel alive in the synagogue.” It is more then even that however. They feel that the externalized voice of god to often overrides their own deepest moral intuitions. Moreover they feel that such a division between man and god is a product of the limited perception of duality and contributes to a world build on divisions and boundaries. False divisions and boundaries they correctly point out are the source of most human suffering. The highly unsophisticated and misguided dismissal of theism that is rampant in both popular and learned Buddhist texts is symptomatic of this tendency.

However on the other side of the divide a Synagogue Rabbi asking me in a recent dialogue why I bothered teaching spiritual retreat centers said about them; “there is no sense of commitment or conversation with God, it is just another way for the me generation to coddle itself.”

Shifting perspectives once more we note that the obvious; the academic world, God in the third person has little use for, or trust in, either the synagogue or the Ashram. The academy rejects their methods as being “subjective” preferring the method of third person engagement which it considers to be far more “objective.” And not entirely without reason. However the Ashram and Synagogue are equally distrustful of the academy viewing it as a place where spirit has been killed, stored in formaldehyde and mounted for intellectual study devoid of all life, commitment, ethos or eros.

A final example of the great clash of perspectives which underlies some significant part of the Jewish culture wars. There were and are fierce arguments in Jewish thought over the nature of prayer. The simple and direct understanding of prayer is that it is the archetypal expression of the God in the second person relationship. Indeed some Hassidic masters together with the likes of the great Orthodox Talmudist and mystic Joseph Solovetichik, insist that prayer is linked to man’s acute “crisis of need awareness.” For them it is this sense of man as creature which translates into the prayer of entreaty, which is the core framework within which man may approach God.

Some Hassidic masters however, especially in the school of the Maggid of Mezerich, insisted that prayer was about the human being collapsing the Ani – the separate human self – into the Ayin, the infinite pool of divine nothingness. Human prayer of “mere entreaty” was considered to be of vastly inferior quality to mystical prayer of union with the divine. Writes the Maggid of Mezeritch.

“A person should not pray for his own needs rather he should only pray for the needs of he Shekina.”

Of course what the Maggie goes on to teach is that a primary goal of prayer itself is absorption into the Shekinah.

Here again there is a felt need to choose between god in the first person and god in the second person.

Of course within every Jewish movement one can find occasional lone voices crying for the integration of at least two, and sometimes although rarely, even all three faces of God. However usually the faces of God and the camps which champion but one face, are in deep conflict with each other.

They are virtually always critical of each other and virtually never work together. As we have already noted, individuals in their personal journeys and communities in their development, often go through different stages in their unfolding. Each stage unconsciously prefers one face of God over the others. The different stages are usually viewed as inconsistent and contradictory causing great confusion of identity and direction. A closer look at these stages of development, both in individuals and communities however, shows that they are often roughly organized around a preference one or two of the faces of God or the others.

Integral Judaism makes a simple but powerful point. In order to engage the full face of God, to be before God, lifnei Hashem, one must engage and integrate the three main faces of God. In our understanding this is the underlying core of Kabbalistic Yichudim which are engaged in unifying, what were literally called, the different “faces of God.”

Failure to fully engage any one of these three faces leaves the person without some critical tool necessary for spiritual growth or for what Hassidism, based on a rich earlier tradition, called enlightenment. Not only however does it prevent spiritual growth; the absolutizing of one face of God over the others is a form of idolatry. This was called by the Kabbalists the “cutting of the shoots” and involves separating the Shechina, God’s lower face, from Zeir Anpin, God’s higher faces. Indeed the biblical text itself frames idolatry as “You shall have no other God Al Panai;” literally “on my face”, which we read to mean choosing of one face of God as the only face. In the explicit language of the Zohar cited by Tzadok HaCohen of Lublin, there are three essential expressions of the divine. Each plays an integral role in spiritual life. They are called I —You and He, each representing a different Sefira. While application of these three divine persons to the various sefirot is not fully consistent with our usage of the three faces of God as I have presented them, the core intuition is the same.

Lifnei Hahsem:

We return now to the point of departure in this conversation.

The goal of Hebrew consciousness is to be Lifnei Hashem, before God. Simply read; Before God; God in the second person. And yet the very phrase itself holds God in the first person hidden in its linguistic wonder. Remember that the word Lifnei, translated as before means also “face” and “inside”. In this reading Lifeni Hashem actually means to be not merely before God in a spatial sense, I am here and God is there, God in the second person; rather it is an invitation to God in the first person. Lifenei Hashem, to be before God, may be read to mean, to be “on the inside of God’s face.” To be before God, a second person encounter gives way to God in the first person, the person merges with the divine face.

Deeper still, to be Lifnei Hashem, before the face of God, all the faces of God must be present. If one is missing any one of the three major perspectives then one is missing something essential in the quest for enlightenment, living before God. We need to meet the divine in first second and third person. While we have devoted much of our discussion to first and second persons, Third person is equally critical because it gives us a reality map which allows us to understand where we are and to where must go, in order to realize our enlightenment. This is the world of the sciences which describe reality in third person, be they the hard sciences of biology and physics or the soft sciences of sociology, psychology of theology. For the religiously sensitive scientist of he Albert Einstein variety, it is God in the third person who moves him to ecstasy and praise. “How great and magnificent are your works o God, how infinitely deep is the are the thoughts of God”, or “The heavens tell of the wonder of God” are the psalmists expression of God in the third person. Moreover all of the critical intuition of developmental thought, levels of consciousness, social policy and more emerge only from God in third person paths. And yet the passionate pursuit of God in the third person, as necessary and even intoxicating and illuminating as it can be, is ultimately insufficient. It leaves us lonely.

Loneliness and Fellowship

And this divinely invested loneliness is often the impetus to glimpse another face of God. God in the second person is critical because it invites us to actual relationship with the divine. It is this relationship which both redeems us from loneliness and invites us to surrender before that which is radically other and beyond our limited capacities. Both of these goods are not available through God in the third person. A the same time God in the second person often becomes a kind of primitive relationship with a cosmic vending machine God before whom we are ultimately emasculated and always doomed to failure. It is then that God in first person redeems us and invites us to full pleasure and power as we realize in deep spiritual practice our ultimate identity with the divine. And yet again as we have already noted, first person by itself without recourse to second person becomes a subtle hiding place of ego and narcissism. So we return to the passionate relationship, dialogue and surrender of God in the second Person. Yet God in the second person does not allow us to access the sacred dharma of spirit, science, psychology, or the social sciences all of which are indispensable for our illumination. One cannot do shadow work merely by sitting on the meditation mat. One cannot heal either physical or mental illness, merely with the wonders of modern medicine or merely though prayer. And so we seek again God in the third person, the God of the Dharmas. And so we continue like the angels in Jacob’s dream; ascending and descending on the ladder of divinity, firmly grounded and yet reaching the heavens. It is only when we vision all three faces of God that we become Israel – Sar El. Literally translated as Those who “vision god”. Those who vision God in all of his three faces are called Israel. All who are called Israel come to rest before the infinity of divine wonder, face to face with the divine, on the inside of God’s face.

In the course of our meditation we will shift to and fro between these three faces of God. At times we will seek to unpack the psychological truth of a ritual or narrative. In this we will be giving third person analysis of other people’s first person experiences. God in the third person. Still at other times we will show sacred technologies which seek to realize God in the first person. Or I will share occasionally my own God in the first person experience as a way of seeking a deeper understanding of some truth or wisdom.

At other times we will unpack the unique technologies of Hebrew wisdom for accessing God in the second person. We will show how the wisdom masters envisioned the transition from God in the second person to God in the first person.

All through our narration we will weave several distinct strands. First we will be having a conversation. Thus I will rarely say in a sentence “in one’s experience” but will prefer to say “in your experience.” God in the second person. Second, we will introduce a series biblical archetypes. We will engage them in third person through analysis of their patterns and motivations. At the same time we invite the reader to access the energy of the archetype in their own first person experience. God in the first person. And engage the archetype in conversation. Invite the archetype —as is the Kabbalist custom – to serve as your guide and protector in your own journeys through life. God in the second person. Third, we will introduce maps of reality such as levels of consciousness, developmental stages or the three faces of God. All of these maps are God in the third person. Fourth, we will be discussing the path of tears throughout of conversation. Here again we will sometimes talk about tears in the third person. What is the physiological biological and psychological nature of tears? More often however, we will talk in third person about the first and second person experience of tears both of key biblical archetypes as well as ourselves.

Fifth, we will adduce and analyze sacred texts that will help us attain our spiritual goals. The text itself as we have already noted is a third person object, a second person interlocutor and a first person revelation that flows seamlessly between the interpreter and the text. We are of course well aware that the academy is built on purely third person analysis of text and that the introduction of the other faces of God invalidates thought as being “non academic;” the ultimate pejorative of the scholar. However Moshe Idel has already ventured to suggest that despite the problematics inherent in such a path- which if Idel did not assert he would lose all standing n the academy- there is some truth in the suggestion that scholars need to be also be mystics in order to understand the texts they study. Realizing the unlikely nature of such a reality Idel writes that at the very least it is highly important the scholar should at least have some contact with genuine mystics. In our terms Idel is saying that there needs to be second person conversation between the God in the first person and God in the third person camps. Sadly neither suggestion of Idel has been heeded by the academy and this leads to all forms of shallowness and misunderstanding. A text must be approached through the eyes of more then just one face of God. Depth and wisdom are not available when we deface God in reading a text.

We need to offer the community a new kind of writing that uses the best tools of the academy, merged together with mystical writing from the heart, psychological insight and guidance, spiritual direction, and honest self-revelation when appropriate. The three faces of God.

All of five of these approaches together will offer the reader an integrated presentation of the three faces of God. It is in the integration and deployment of all three faces that we seek our enlightenment.

It is our humble suggestion that only be accessing and integrating all three perspectives. All three faces of God that can we access a deeper wisdom and enlightenment that that which we have realized at the start of our travels together.

A Word about Sacred Text and the Faces of God:

The manifestation of Torah in this world is through the word. The Torah is the discretion of infinity in a word. The torah according to the Kabbalists, {whose tradition I have received and attempt to teach in the world} is a living organism held in the vessel of a text. The text is alive with the voice of God. The voice of God spoke to human consciousness at Sinai the mountain of revelation. Infinity contracting itself in infinite love and compassion to embrace the human being with the divine word, what we call Torah. In biblical consciousness the voice of God speaks not in the emptiness of what the Buddhists called Sunyatta or the cabbalists called Ayin, but in the fullness of divine speech. Perhaps the most important mantras in the entire Hebrew Canon of sacred scripture, the Hebrew Koans par excellence, are the seemingly banal phrases, “God spoke to Moses “and “Moses spoke to God” .There is a conversation going on. This is not the God in the first person of ‘I am’ meditations so beloved of the mystics- this is God in the second person; I – thou, in all of its glory. The Hebrew word for Messiah is Moshiach whose core meaning is conversation.

Messianic consciousness is attained when the divine human conversation becomes natural and accessible to all beings.

But there is a secret here. A secret hidden in the nature of the conversation. Sacred text does not merely record a conversation that was – a conversation which issues commands demanding our obedience – rather sacred text is the vessel which records a conversation that is ongoing. Revelation- the divine human conversation – never stopped. God’s voice in the biblical mantra, is “the great voice that does not cease” to speak.

God did not give the torah in the past rather god is in this very moment the “Noten HaTorah”- the present giver of the Torah. This according to Isaiah HaLevi Horowitz is why the blessing we recited on studying torah describing god as giving Torah in the eternal present tense and not in the historical past tense.

God spoke to Moses and Moses spoke to God and they continue to speak to each other up to now and in this very moment. For the Kabbalist this means that God speaks to me here and now even as I speak to God here and now. In the language of the Zohar, “Moses lives in every generation.” Moreover the Hassidic masters taught, “Moses lives in every one of us.” Thus we are invited, even compelled by our innermost Moses nature, to continue the dialogue. For the ancient Talmudic sages of the mystical school as well as later Kabbalists, this God in the second person dialogue expressed in the ongoing revelation of the god voice, often blurred into God in the first person identity with the God head and the Torah. CITE PIECE FROM AVODAT HAKODESH IBN GABBAI FROM DOC AV* This is also the inner and hidden meaning of the Zoharic Mantra, God Israel and Torah are one.

God Israel and Torah; the divine, the text and the interpreter are one. For most Kabbalists this means that the sacred text can only be understood via hermeneutics. The interpreter’s substantive identity with the text he interprets is precisely the source of authority – divine authority – for the interpretation. The sacred text is the Torah. It’s participates in divinity. The sacred autobiography of the interpreter is what is referred to in this Kabbalistic adage of Israel. Israel participates in divinity. God is co- identical with both Torah and Israel. Thus sacred text is not weakened by its need to be filtered through the prism of the interpreter. Rather is only through this process that the real meanings of sacred text are revealed.

One Kabbalist, Mordechai Lainer of Izbica took this one radical step farther. In his reading there are times when the sacred autobiography not only interprets but even overrides sacred text. If the individual accesses the unmediated will of God and understands that will to be in contradiction to the normative Hebrew law, then it is to the divine will revealed in the prism of Israel to which one is obligated. When there is a contradiction between the divine will refracted in the prism of Torah vs. the divine will refracted in the prism of Israel, the prism of Israel must triumph.

Torah Israel and God are but different faces of the same one. The realization of this identity happens through love. In this case the interpreters love of God and Torah. The Torah’s love of Israel and God. And God’s love of Torah and Israel. This ontology of identity between the interpreter Israel, the text —Torah, and the first author of the text – God expresses itself in the unique and highly dramatic nature of the authentic engagement with sacred text. By deploying intellectual, meditative and mystical.

Faculties, the lover of divine text moves to unpack the fresh invitation of the divine voice. The divine voice speaks presently to the individual and the community in the eternal now. It is however more then even that. In this ongoing conversation the interpreter/lover of the text does not merely uncover the original divine intention. She does not merely reveal that which was ostensibly latent in the text from the time of its inception and only now ready to reveal itself. Rather the interpreter/lover of text actually participates as a primary catalyst not only in interpreting, but in actually evolving the divine voice.

Said simply the hermeneutic act is a catalyst for – and actually participates in – what is no less then the evolution of God. When the divine lover of text reads and interprets from their own deepest divine center, the divine voice in the texts evolves, expressing truths that the original voice which wrote the text “did not know and could not have dreamed”. This is a pivotal deep structure of Isaac Luria’ kabbalistic thought whose essence was perhaps best captured by Nikos Katzanakis when he said, “We are the Saviors of God.” Said slightly different we are co-creators with the divine responsible for the evolving divine spirit.

God’s redemption; the evolution of God – depends on us.

In these last sentences we have implicitly moved from the I-thou – God in the second person to God in first person. Teaches the Zohar based on a creative reading of a locus classicus in the Talmud describing revelation, “The Shechina speaks through the voice of Moses” and as we have noted, for the Zohar, we are all – at least in potential – Moses.

Here we have moved from the relational God in the second person, the God we meet in the ritual formula “Blessed are YOU God,” as well as in the ongoing biblical conversation, to “I AM,” to God in the first person. It is here that the ontic identity between the human and divine voice is revealed in the act of sacred hermeneutic.

Sacred hermeneutic is ultimately an erotic act according to the mystics in which the God in the interpreter meets the God and the text and realizes that they are one.

It is this erotic merger with the divine in the act of interpreting sacred text which has been the central realization of my own personal path to the divine. In this meeting between infinite and finite, the meetings blurs into a merger, a unio-mystica, achieved through the meditative ecstatic intellectual act of sacred study. Thus when engage text we meet both third descriptions of reality, a second person encounter with the Noten Hatorah, the torah given in the eternal now by the eternal divine thou, as well as the merger of the mystic with the word of God in which the voice of God speaks through the mystics Torah in the realization that “I am God.”

Idolatries of Face

And yet we have seen the biblical mantra itself demands that we honor the many faces of the divine. “You shall not have other Gods against my face,” teaches the second of the Ten Commandments; {*locate source reading on this; J} this is read by us to mean “Do not make a false God by the deification of only one of my faces.” To be fully in the divine presence, to avoid the idolatry of but one face.

We need to encompass the many faces of the divine. It is only thus that we stand before God – Lifnei Hahsem.

In an ancient Talmudic discussion, there is a discussion on how to read a sacred text. The Talmud establishes the hermeneutic principle. “There are seventy faces to torah;” that is to say the fullness of the divine voice which inheres in the sacred text cannot be heard without hearing from different perspectives – through the prism of the many faces of the divine. All seventy faces however, are but permutations of three major perspectives – the first second and third person perspectives. In the text we meet god in the first second and third person.

A word about Sacred Ritual:

It in light of all of the above, we understand that every generation needs to re-encounter its rites of passage. Every text and every ritual needs to be reread in order to understand it in light of the unique spiritual, psychological and social contexts of the generation. Even Torah is subject to what post modern thinkers have called the Myth of the Given. This myth assumes that the ritual or text eternally exists- with a specific right interpretation- and it remains for us merely to reveal the objective interpretation of the text. This kind of approach is the subtext of fundamentalism. It insures the petrifaction of the divine voice. A deeper understanding -as we have unpacked in the previous paragraphs- understands that the interpreter is actually part of the text itself. God Israel and Torah are one. That means that the vessel of the interpreter is one key factor in uncovering the meanings latent in the ritual or text. Importantly, the interpreter is identified as Israel. Israel speaks not merely of an individual monad but of an individual within a social and cultural context. The text cannot be read without it’s con- text. All text is refracted through the cultural, moral, psychological prism of the interpreter. The interpreter himself is rooted in context within context within context. This in no way undermines the power, authenticity and binding nature of the revelation. Nor does it make everything subjective.

The given in the torah which is not subject to constant re-interpretation is the core constructs of Mitzvah. For example there is a sacred methodology called Shofar. The Shofar is blown on Rosh Hashanah. The shofar seeks to connect the human being and the divine. All these are givens. There is a Talmudic tradition based on objective principles of legal and spiritual hermeneutic which established the precise way Shofar is to be blown. How many blasts, their length and melody have been pretty well set down by the spiritual legal tradition of the Talmud. At a certain point these laws regarding the objective requirements for the fulfillment of Mitzvah were accepted and sanctified by the community of Israel. These minimal constructs are even today accepted as givens by virtually all sectors of the community engaged by the eternal covenant of Israel. However how to interpret the intent of the ritual is a different matter entirely. This interpretation is re- engaged in every generation through the prism of its unfolding divine wisdom. Divine wisdom is both beyond and fully embedded in the psychological moral social and spiritual contexts of the generation. On the one hand it a product of those very contexts. Those contexts themselves however are engaged and evaluated based on the collective spiritual wisdom of the community. This wisdom itself is the product of a continuing process of divine revelation over the generations, which form the matrix of communal heart and mind. This deep commitment to an evolving divine wisdom to which the people are dedicated and faithful is the core of the covenant. The promise of the covenant is the commitment to the voice of God that allows one to transcend the superficialities of a particular generation and engage higher truths. This for example is the nature of biblical consciousness, which defies and ultimately revolutionizes the pagan cultural, moral and social context into which it is born. Abraham, the first Hebrew is called the ultimate iconoclast. Icon clast. He shatters the idols of his contexts. He responds to a divine call, which demands that he go on a journey to his inner self; The original Hebrew read Lech Lecha; simply understood it means, “You shall surely go”. Reread by the Zohar in accordance with its literal meaning in Hebrew it is read as Lech —Go–Lecha- to yourself. This going to yourself is accomplished by leaving your “land, your birthplace and the house of your father, and go to the land which I will show you”. Abraham responds in the reading of the Zohar to an inner divine voice which is available to every man — which allows him to break out of his cultural perspective and evolve his consciousness beyond the limitation of his contexts; “of his land, his birthplace and his father’s house.”

And in the great paradox of revelation — even that voice is heard by Abraham through the prism of all of the contexts that he his told to leave. As the divine voice evolves through the prism of evolving consciousness and culture Abraham will be able to interpret the divine call with more and more clarity. At the same time there is an immutable divine voice in him and beyond him that calls him to transcend his narrow cultural and psychological categories of interpretation embracing a higher realization of self and higher ethical vision. That voice is a given. Its interpretation cannot fall out of certain parameters. However within those parameters everything is filtered through his cultural prisms.

A great example of the limitations of culture and the ability to transcend them might well be the status of woman in Jewish sources. If one examines the status of woman in the ancient agrarian world; a world in which brute physical strength was essential for the success of the farming community, one sees a clear and unmistakable elevation of the male over the female. This cultural context is virtually unavoidable even for the most evolved and enlightened beings. If one examines for example the saying of Buda on women it becomes painfully clear that he did not escape his cultural context. In Jewish sources one find, based on the sacred text, a paradoxical mix of incredibly evolved proto- feminist sentiments combined with more average expressions of the cultural context. The given however is textual datum of biblical consciousness is the men and women are both equal expressions of the divine image. “God created man in his image, male and female he created them” The Talmud establishes a legal principle of absolute equality between men and women. “Man is equal to woman in every regard.”

In the book of Genesis women play a pivotal role. The Matriarchs often hear and interpret divine revelation more clearly and wisely then the men. At the same time there are host of Talmudic statements about women, which are as Orthodox theologian Eliezer Berkovitz has already pointed out, the products of the social and cultural context, which produced them.

A second example makes the same point. When exploring the relationship of particularism vs. worldcentric universalism in Jewish sources one is again struck by paradox. There are very strong strains both in biblical and Rabbinic thought of a clear universal worldcentric consciousness, which moves well beyond the cultural context of both the biblical and Rabbinic period. Every human being is created equally in the image of God. Every human being is possessed of infinite adequacy worth and dignity is a core biblical and rabbinic motif. At the same times there are other sadly chauvinistic ethnocentric moments in both biblical and rabbinic and later Kabbalistic thought, which are unmistakable and reflect the larger cultural context. These are other moments where the light of revelation is interpreted through the prism of a narrow chauvinistic ethnocentric consciousness. And in this same text there are manifold moments when the clear call of higher consciousness shatters the ethnocentric context and the text reaches for worldcentric universal consciousness. It is the job of the master in every generation to distinguish between these movements and participate in the evolution of the voice of God.

Ongoing Revelation:

Jewish sources, particularly sacred texts and rites, need to be constantly re-engaged in order to uncover the latent and newly emergent meanings, which they hold for the generation. Spiritual atrophy set in when sacred rites and text becomes dutiful routines and petrified scripture.

Often in this process of re-examination we unpack meanings, which once pointed out are obviously inherent to the text but were overlooked by previous generations. They didn’t have the eyes to see these layering of meaning perhaps because their souls could sing without them. Or they could not see discern these layers of meaning because spirit had not evolved sufficiently to grasp them.

Yet we, standing on the shoulders of their collective intelligence, reach for the fruit that our spirits demand. Remember that text and ritual for the Kabbalists is not a dead recording of ancient words and deeds but living pulsating and evolving organisms. The issue is not relevance but resonance. Every epoch syncopates to its own unique music and is stirred by its peculiar rhythms.

R. Kook – twentieth century philosopher mystic, teaches that every generation is part of the unfolding revelation of divinity. Each generation, picking up from where the last one left off, moves closer to understanding the full depth and divinity of sacred rites and passages. In this sense the “covenant between me and the children of Israel” is not only between God and the people – but also “between” the children of Israel…and their children…and their children – a covenant between generations. Israel means for me, borrowing a reading from my teacher Mordehcai Lainer of Izbica, based on a close and creative reading of the original Hebrew, Yashar El, the direct apprehension of the divine. The communities of Israel are those who receive tradition reverentially and yet seek their own unmediated experience of divinity as the lodestone of their spiritual and ethical journey. In this covenant each generation promises its forbearers to continue the journey of unfolding divinity though the prism of our questing souls.

Re-Reading Rosh Hashanah:

In our reading of Rosh Hashana over the years, it has seemed to us that the classical understanding of Rosh Hashanah as a day of judgment, true and important as it may be, misses something central about the holiday. It is worth recalling the observation of medieval scholar and mystics Nachman dies that nowhere in the biblical text is Rosh Hashanah identified as a day of judgment.

In the meditation of this Neo Hassidic tract we would like to suggest a fundamental paradigm in our understanding of Rosh Hashanah. This shift will be rooted not in fanciful conjecture but in a close reading of the Rosh Hashanah texts themselves.

However all of this in no way means that we reject the notion of Rosh Hashanah being a day of judgment as in some sense wrong. Of course Rosh Hashanah is a day of judgment. This expresses our relationship to God as a divine other, God as second person – as we have seen a critical face of the divine. This is the core of the Hebrew belief in ethical monotheism. Ethical monotheism is the direct knowledge, through intense spiritual practice and the gifts of translucent illumination that there is one God; one God who includes all of reality, who is all of reality. This God, who is ultimately empty of all that is not real, is the ultimate fullness and reality of all. This god is not at all impersonal. This God is personal. But not in the primitive Santa Claus sense where God is a cosmic vending machine for our every desire. Rather this God is personal plus not personal minus. God is far more then Personal but in no sense less the personal. God is Ayin and Sunyatta and God knows your name. The primary demand of this face of God is ethical behavior for which we are held accountable and judged in love. The time-honored virtues of compassion, charity, loyalty, honesty, discipline, joy, self sacrifice and ethical action are the code of allegiance to this God. This is the face of the divine, which we glimpse, in Biblical and Prophetic consciousness. This is the Rosh Hashanah of Judgment. However this is not the end of the story. The Rosh Hashanah of judgment over actions deepens into a Rosh Hashanah of growth and transformation where we are called to reveal and evolve our highest spiritual and emotional selves. This is the realization of our very divinity.

The Path of Tears:

In the vision of Rosh Hashanah, which we will unpack from hidden strains of texts in the classical sources themselves, God is as concerned with the evolution of our tears as he is with the rightness of our actions. Indeed the former shapes the latter. At this level of Rosh Hashanah consciousness, we seek to learn the language of our tears. Tears emerge as the major currency of evolution in the deepening and transformation sought on Rosh Hashanah. At this level of consciousness the human being is called not only to right action derived from obedience to the divine will but to right action that emerges from the depth of one’s new realized divine center. And this divine center is realized when one becomes a Master of Tears. These two levels of understanding Rosh Hashanah are not in discord. Rather they dance and deepen into each other in an ascending melody of realization.

Levels of Consciousness: The Third Sacred Methodology.

What we are teaching here is that Rosh Hashanah can and needs to be understood differently on different levels of consciousness. We approach every text, holy day and ritual on three distinct levels of consciousness levels that we have unpacked from the teaching of the Baal Shem Tov, Israel Master of the Good name. Although the Baal Shem does not use terminology like levels of consciousness my reading of this construct into his thought is correct, reflecting the deep intention of his teaching. Each level, to borrow an idea from Hegel, and precise nomenclature from Ken Wilber, transcends and includes the previous level. That is to say each level takes the core truth of the previous level, internalizes it and then moves beyond it to a deeper level of consciousness.

One can easily map out these levels of consciousness by tracing the key liturgical mantra as well as the key ritual of Rosh Hashanah. The mantra is one word; HaMelech, literally translated as the King. At each one of these levels of consciousness the term HaMelech, The King, which is the central mantra of the Rosh Hashanah liturgy assumes a different meaning. Similarly the core ritual of Shofar blowing means something very different at every level of consciousness. Usually different interpretations of a ritual or liturgical phrase are understood to be in conflict with each other. They are described in classic study as being in “Machloket” the oft-used word in Talmudic study for conflicting opinions, which seem to be mutually exclusive. Integral Judaism however does not read these opinion as being either mutually exclusive or in an essential conflict. Instead integral understanding views them as reflecting different levels of consciousness.

The first of the Baal Shem’s levels of consciousness is termed in Hebrew Hachan’ah, generally translated as submission. These levels of consciousness apply to all arenas of human endeavor and consciousness. Therefore to get a general sense of now these levels work we will first apply them to stages in loving and only then to Rosh Hashanah. The first level of Hachna’ah is the level of falling in love. At this level each side is in complete submission to the other. “Honey. What movie would you like to see? One asks the other. The response; “honey, whatever movie you want is great with me; as long as we are together.” This level of consciousness, which paradoxically appears to be highly personal and relational, is actually highly impersonal. It is about this level of consciousness that poet William Blake wrote, “Love is blind.” One falls in love not so much with the other as with the experience of love itself. Or with the sweet seduction of breaking out of one’s own loneliness. However this level does not offer genuine union with other; rather it offers fusion in which both parties are not in relationship with each other – rather they have both given themselves up on the paradoxically impersonal altar of their love. When this level of Hachan’ah is applied to Rosh Hashanah it is similarly impersonal. At this level one comes before God the king and creator as a subject and submits in total surrender to the will of the King who seeks nothing but the enlightenment and good of his subjects. At this level the subject does not dare to speak to the king in second person- rather he relates to the King in third person as the great inaccessible but all knowing cosmic force of law dharma, healing and transformation before whom he is called to surrender. This is the King, the far way and inaccessible great emperor before whom we submit. One did not have a second person relationship with the Holy Roman Emperor. The king in this image incarnates all of reality before whom one bows and pays homage. At this level the shofar expresses trumpets calls us to loyalty and alignment to the Kosmic King before whom all of creation bows. CITE TEXT FOR THIS SHOFAR IDEA. FROM SHOFAROT IN MUSAF? AV

This is an essential note in the Rosh Hashanah symphony without which the entire composition would lose its transformative texture and sound. And yet one note does not a compelling symphony make. God in the third person. Hachn’ah —submission; the first level of Rosh Hashanah consciousness is essential but insufficient. One of the great weaknesses of third person fealty is that genuine surrender without second person relationship, in the end does not hold.

Homo Yearnius

The human being is a being of yearning. Homo Yearnius. The three primary longings of the human being are for the Good, for Liberation and for Relationship. While this holy trinity was often given different names, some version of these fundamental three longings shows up all over what philosopher Leibniz called the Perennial philosophy, the great truths about reality shared by all the great wisdom transitions over the ages. Indeed the perennial philosophy is the history of human yearning, which is the history of humanity itself. The Third person encounter with God gives context and guidance for all of these. Understandings of reality derived from many fields of knowledge which in-form the great quests for freedom, relationship and goodness, are the stuff of God in the third person. The third person relationship naturally unfolds in the fullness of time to the theologies, the sciences and the various moral and social philosophies and psychologies. All of these are holy. All have a place. All are gazes and glances from the face of God. And yet third person God by itself is ultimately unable to significantly sate any of these three great longings. The Third person god, who is inaccessible to personal embrace or dialogue, ultimately devolves, becoming de-personalized distant and alienating. The commanding other in the third person cannot hold the attention let alone the personal loyalty of his subjects. Third person glimpse of the divine face are insufficient to redeem the human being from his loneliness, to liberate him, or to foster ethos and compassion as the guiding principles of a life. So man’s consciousness driven by his yearning for the good, for freedom and for relationship is moved to ascend and deepen to second person God talk.

The second level of consciousness, termed by the Baal Shem, Havdalah, literally translates as separation or distinction. This level is partially captured by the sense of the relatively modern psycho-spiritual term, individuation. Continuing our application of these levels of consciousness to loving, havdalah is the stage when the two individuals fall out of love. If initially the response to “Honey do you what movie do you want to see” was, “anything you want as long as I am with you” – now the response is; “see the movie by yourself” – “I am going somewhere else,” or “I have work to do at home” etc.

In the second stage the individual breaks the spell of fusion and stands once again as a separated and individuated beings. This is often a painful shock, which creates great stress and trauma for the relationship often actually causing its dissolution. Once however this is recognized as a natural and healthy evolution of the consciousness of loving it can be engaged in an entirely different way. It is at level two where the individuals are invited to do the work and earn the free grace they received from level one, falling in love. Applied to Rosh Hashanah this second level of consciousness, Havdalah means that the individual moves from object to subject and stands before God as a significant other. In a mirror like movement God then emerges from deus absconditus to deus revalutus; the hidden god becomes the revealed God.

God remains at level two the great other before whom we ultimately must surrender, but this time the surrender is of an entirely different nature. There is relationship and dialogue. There is prayerful ecstasy as the lover yearns for his beloved and finds moments of translucent realization with the beloved, sometimes in the fullness of the yearning itself. Coupled with the Eros of prayer there is dialogic partnership in receiving and unfolding the divine law. God speaks to man even as man speaks to God. Together they unfold the law of ethics and holiness, which is the Halacho, literally the Tao of Jewish tradition. Halacho literally translated as law actually means the way.

It is to the bar of this ethical and holy law that man is called before in judgment on Rosh Hashanah. One stands before the king of the world in accountability and judgment. But not as an impersonal object rather as a fully engaged and related subject. In this dialogue, in the presence of God as a second person, the human being is fulfilled. The god who was the distant Melech Haolam, King of the world becomes a significant other, even a lover. Yes I stand in judgment before God on Rosh Hashanah but what ecstasy and joy when I realize that the person chosen to judge me, the king, is my best friend. In the imagery of one-twelfth century master, referred to in the tradition by the acronym of his name as Rashbam, this is the essence of the shofar, the ram’s horn experience. The sound of the sacred ritual of Shofar, the ram’s horn blown as the centerpiece of the Rosh Hashanah symphony is described in the biblical and prophetic verse as Teruah.

Yom Teruah Yihyeh Lachem.” “A day of Teruah it shall be for you.” In the description of the prophet, “Adon-nay Elohav Imo U-T-ruat Melech Bo.” “Your God is with you, the Teruah of the King is within you.” Teruah is usually translated as a shout, a crying out or a declaration. It is both a crying out for compassion and a declaration of divine kingship. Rashbam however, sensitive to the hidden folds and mystical dance of the Hebrew, finds in Teruah a different root, both in language and in being. Teruah says Rashbam comes from the Hebrew root of Rea or Reut, friend or friendship.

In the Rashbam’s gorgeous reading, the person called before God in judgment hears in the shofar a secret code. Know whispers the code, that Ado-nai Eloh-av Imo, your god is with you…Uteruat Melech bo…And the king, who is your very best and most intimate friend, it is he who will judge you; it is before him that you surrender. God in second person. As we see clearly both ritual of shofar and the liturgical mantra of HaMelech, shift dramatically in the consciousness of second person.

For the masters of the Kabbalah, The text of the meditation recited before receiving pleasure from the manifest world or before a ritual action captures the dance between first and second person. Boruch ATAH Ado-nai Elo-henu Melech Ha-Olam…”Source of all blessings are YOU god King of the World.” The mantra of blessings, which brings the human being Lifeni Hashem, before God, into the presence, moves between God who is described in third person as Melech HaOlam, King of the world, and Boruch Atah- Blessed are You, a direct unmediated second person relationship. This is the experience of God in second person who becomes visible in the room through the simple pointing out instruction of the blessing, Boruch Atah! This is much like a person who greets a long lost beloved for who one has yearned for their whole lives, who suddenly appears, with the words repeated again and again, Is it You Is It You, It’s you It’s you. Oh my God it’s You!! It is in this sense that we suggested above that Jacob is deemed ready to being the spiritual adventure of the Hebrew nation when his name his changed to Israel. Israel, Yisrael in Hebrew means – Yashar El – “direct to God”…a direct unmediated relationship in the second person with the divine.

The point is clear and powerful; the King, the Melech Olam, is indeed Atah, You, God in second person. The King has moved from the impersonal third person Emperor to the approachable King who is the Rea; Teruat Melech Bo, the King who is your friend. God in second person. This is the ethical yet infinitely loving God of Biblical consciousness before whom we stand in judgment on Rosh Hashanah. Havdalah; separation, individuation, This is the second level of Rosh Hashanah consciousness.

And yet God as second person does not yet quench the yearning of the human being for goodness and Liberation, nor does it by itself, solve his loneliness or his perpetual crisis of meaning and identity. If Kant and modernity taught us anything it was that ethics which emerge only as a response to another, no matter whom or what that other might be, ultimately do not hold. All ethical collapse results from a failure of Eros. By Eros I mean interiority, the experience of being on the inside, fullness of presence, participating in the yearning force of being, and wholeness, the felt reality of the interconnectivity of the all with the all coursing through one’s own being.

Interiority, Presence, Yearning and Wholeness are the four faces of Eros. When life is de-eroticized then the human being becomes lost in the void. He then seeks all forms of Pseudo Eros to fill his very real erotic needs. He gets lost in a – void – dance, dancing around the void in order to dull the pain of the shallow emptiness that is pseudo erotic quests can never fill. It is his desperate need for pseudo erotic fulfillment in all of its forms that caused all ethical breakdown.

The human being “in relationship” with God can go very far but like all relationships it is still insufficient to fully solve the core crisis of meaning and identity in one’s individual existence. There was a time when getting married was itself the goal. Redemption was achieved when one entered into some form of committed relationship. The connection of love was thought sufficient to fill up and lend meaning to a life. Today we know both intuitively and based on much empirical data, that while that might have once been true, it is no longer. Today we know that if one seeks redemption from the relationship itself, then it is doomed to failure. One must first be able to walk through the void oneself, before on can walk through it together in a lifetime of commitment with a significant other. The crisis of meaning must be first engaged and addressed internally before it can be healed in relationship. The crisis of my own identity cannot be salved by linking my identity in relationship to an other, no matter how great and noble that other might be. The only true resolution of the human identity crisis is the realization of your identity with the divine. It is only this Eros that frees he human being for the pathetic grasping for all forms of Pseudo Eros. It is in the realization of my own highest self that I am redeemed and at the same time paradoxically opened to genuine connection. This is precisely the move from God in the second person to God in the first person.

The third level of consciousness mapped by the Baal Shem Tov is termed Hamtaka, literally translated as sweetness. This is the level of non-duality. This is the place of Eros. God in the first person. This is the place that of ultimate realization. Not only am I in conversation with the divine, not only are we in relationship, but on a deeper plane of reality, I AM. I realize my ultimate identity with the ground of all being, with the divine, with God. Let me say it again; the only true solution to your identity crisis is to realize your identity with God.

On Rosh Hashanah, as we will unfold, a major path towards the attainment of this non-dual realization is by becoming a master of tears. In learning the language of your own tears, you are introduced to the realization of your own highest divinity. This book is about the nature of this Rosh Hashanah practice of tears as the path to enlightenment.

Hidden in the esoteric teachings of the Kabbalah, emerging from this third level of Hamtaka consciousness is the radical and liberating third understanding of Melech – of King. In this reading, with deep origins in the Zohar, Luria, Cordevero and early Hassidic masters but which comes to full formulation in the secret Torah of my teacher, Mordechai Lainer of Izbica, the King is no less then the human being himself who has realized his ontic identity with God. The Zohar already expresses this radical teaching of sweetness when it comments on the verse “The Song of Songs of Songs which is Solomon’s” – “Solomon is the King of whom we say that Peace belongs to him.” This is the Kabbalistic parlance for saying that the author of the songs of songs, the great love song of the Kosmos, is not the mortal king Solomon, but the ultimate King; God.

After teaching these texts to my students for some ten years in Jerusalem, somehow I still felt that their full secret still eluded me. To try and reveal the secret which my heart and sacred auto-biography drove me to seek to know, I spend two year virtually locked away in the Bodleian Library of Oxford University for 15 to 16 hours a day virtually lost in a careful yet intoxicated scholarly grail quest, searching for the key to this tradition and these texts. What revealed itself, which I wrote up in a 1400 pages academic work of text reading is roughly the following: It is not that Solomon the mortal did not write the texts; indeed he did; however Solomon achieved what Lainer calls He’arah, literally translated as enlightenment. He became in Lainer’s language “liberated”; he realized his own ontic identity with the Godhead. He realized, write Lainer, that he was the king! The radical and passionate love of the Song of Songs flowed from Solomon’s realization of his Kingship, which was revealed in him love compassion and wisdom. Solomon realizes his supreme identity with the Godhead. In Mordechai Lainer’s enlightenment teachings, this secret is the very essence of the fabled Wisdom of Solomon. Lainer further makes the clear claim that he is the inheritor of the Wisdom of Solomon tradition. The King, who is called referred to by Lainer by the code names of Judah, David and Solomon, is the one who is so deeply realized that ” all of his words {even those said unconsciously and without intention} are the words of the living God.”

It is in this stage of consciousness that human interpretation of law can overwhelm the divine reading of the law. It is just such a moment that is captured in the Talmud when R. Joshua overrides the interpretation of the law offered by the divine voice with the dramatic declaration “It is not in heaven;” the divine law is given over to man to interpret and elucidate and God has no right to override the human interpretation of the divine voice. This is the first glimmering of the principle of non-duality embedded in the core texts of the Talmud itself.

What is critical to understand here is that the human self-understanding as King stems from the insight, fruit of all serious spiritual practice, that all of reality is included in the divine. Once one realizes that all is the Godhead then one may draw one of two conclusions. First one might say, well if all is God then I must immediately nullify and surrender to God. And that is good. However one might also say – if all is God, then I am God as well. And that is much better. For the first realization produces what Jewish Christian and Eastern mystics have called Via Passiva. A passivism, even a kind of resignation which results from the realization that human action is but illusion and the only will which is real is the will of God The second far deeper realization understands that if the human being is part of God then he is ultimately liberated. All of his actions count infinitely. He becomes the language of God. God’s adjectives, nouns, verbs, even God’s dangling modifiers. His identification with the divine is not emasculating at all. On the contrary it is radically librating and empowering. His realization that there is nothing in the cosmos independent of God, the realization that is formally termed acosmism, yields not a tepid quietism but rather, what I we have termed above, an audacious and impassioned “Non Dual Humanism.”

He moves beyond choice in the narrow dualist sense and all of his actions flow from his highest and most authentic self. Non-Dual humanism, the realization the human being is the King is for Lainer a radical call to human activism, joy and responsibility.

It is however even more then that. Implicit in Lainer’s teaching is a core Torah of Luria’s, which is, becomes fully explicit in R. Kuk. This is the teaching of what Kuk calls “the evolution of enlightenment.”

Luria core idea, drawing on extensive earlier sources both midrashic and Kabbalistic, is that the human being participates in the healing and evolution of God. This is what is called in Luria’s thought Tikkun. The fixing, healing and evolving of God and world who are one. The entire Lurianic system of spiritual practice and intention is aimed very explicitly to the “evolving of the divine structure.”

Every human being as part of the very essence of his or her humanity has a singular and irreplaceable contribution to make to the evolution of God. This is what we have called the Soul Print. This is the third level of consciousness. In this level when say HaMelech on Rosh Hashanah we are implicit recognizing that only in the human being affirming his own kingship does God become King. Soul print means that only when the human being evolves does God evolve. Only when the human beings dies to his separate ego self and steps into his higher authentic self in claiming his soul print does God evolves and become King. This is the implication of the text in Zechariah “On that day…God will be King;” God is not yet King. God waits for us to realize our own liberation through which God is freed. It is for this reason that according to Lainer the human being who has attained enlightened consciousness that can make a decision that contradicts the specific dictate of Torah. For in his enlightened state the human being is merged with the divine will. The divine will of today has significantly evolved since the divine will expressed itself in the codified law. Thus the evolved divine will has authority which overrides the old expression of the divine will codified in the formal texts and laws.

Lainer in one very explicit passage talks about levels of consciousness in relation to Rosh Hashanah. In this complex but powerful passage both his understanding of Kingship and the ritual of shofar from the perspective of the third level of consciousness, that of Hamtaka is clearly stated. Lainer talks of two levels of consciousness. Shabbat and Mikdash consciousness. Shabbat is in his system parallels the Baal Shem’s level of Havdalah. At this level man stands in relation to God and realizes that all of his actions are nullified before God. Man has no ability to act independently of God. This says Lainer is the explanation for the law that when Rosh Hashanah falls on sabot one does not blow the shofar. Shafer is engaged as a human action of Mitzvah in fulfillment of the divine will. All human action however, including spiritual action is overwhelmed by Shabbat consciousness, which proclaims the impotence of any and all human action. All effect from human action, which is conceived as emerging from a human being who stands independent from God, is recognized on Shabbat as being an illusion. However Lainer implicitly affirms a higher level, that of Mikdash consciousness. This is the level of unity consciousness; the level beyond boundaries where the human and divine identities merge. At this level according to Lainer the human being is HaMelelch- the King. All of Lainer’s images for this third level of consciousness, Judah, Solomon and David are image of Kingship. This level is manifested according to Lainer in the reality of the temple in Jerusalem. Temple consciousness in Lainer system parallels Hamataka in the Baal Shem’s levels of consciousness. At this level one blows the shofar even on Shabbat. For at this level one realizes that there is no human action independent of God. Enlightened human action is the action of God. We are God’s hands, legs eyes ears and hands in the Kosmos.

For the mystic on the third level of consciousness, that of Hamtaka, sweetness, HaMelech, the king is none other then the fully realized and enlightened human being. According to Lainer this is the intent of the Zohar when it describes the human spiritual path as the movement from Meriru to Metiku, the bitter, which is the world of duality, time and suffering, to sweetness, the ever present spacious world of non duality, timelessness and redemption.

This perhaps lies the heart of an oral tradition from Lainer’s master, Menachem Mendel of Kutzk, that one must not wish a person on Rosh Hashanah, merely a Shanah Tovah, a good year; rather one must wish another Shanah Tovah U-Metukah, a good and sweet year. For the goal of Rosh Hashanah is not less then transformation of the bitter to the sweet, the movement from separation and suffering to liberation, fullness, Eros, and compassion as it wells from the ultimate realization of the human being’s participation in the divine. This is the move from God in the second person to God in the first person. It is in this sense that together with the Hassidic masters we read Rosh Hashanah as “Rosh HaShinuy”; Shinuy means change or transformation. Rosh means the beginning of or the entry point. Rosh Hashinuy is thus “the portal of transformation.

Apotheosis. Man transformed into God. The realization of the great secret. Man and God are one. There fore we must take responsibility for the evolution of God, which is the healing of the world.

The Language of Tears:

One path for the realization of our divinity over the course of a lifetime lies hidden in the language of tears. Life is the evolution of tears. In the evolution of tears our divinity is realized. It is this secret of tears which is the dramatic veiled motif of Rosh Hashanah. It is to the lifting of the veil, the evolution of tears and the realization of our divinity that this meditation is dedicated.

Notes to myself:

{ADD God is King – Shofar to arouse that Pnimiyut HaBeriiay which is the the realization that we are part of God — we blow Shofar in Mikdash just as God does work on Shabbat – because there is not other rashut – that is to say all of our actions when we are clear – are God’s actions- acosmic humanism – which means that we are the King – Judah Solomon David – this is the level of Shofar on Rosh Hashanah the realization that we are the King – timelessness in Wilber move in Eden – but this does not undermine God is the King and we are in relationship Personal plus not personal minus – read below and see if we want to re-write.

Add also in footnote discussion with Reb A —Ari notion of Rosh Hashanah is that all is recreated – see Chochmat Shlomo–see Netivot Shalom – all is reconstituted – and my judgment is am I playing my role in creation in which case I also will be reconstituted.

Hamelech letter of Malca…Bakeseh – dark place – womb Nukva – in tefillah on rosh Hashanah we are participating in building Partzuf HaNukva – that is Shechina Judah moment – that is reclaiming our own story – in the sense of acosmic humanism – add this in to a footnote here – on rosh Hashanah the world reverts to Hayom Harat Olam to the beginning of the conception and we rebuild Partzuf Nukva}.

-Marc Gafni


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