by Marc Gafni
Falstaff to Prince Hal: “I wish to God thou and I knew where a commodity of good names were to be bought.”
-Henry IV 1:2:82
“You can sign your name in butter or you can sign your name in marble,” say the sages. The choice is yours. (Certainly, we all are drawn to the statue’s solidity, all moved to some extent to spell our names out in stone. It is a desire for fixity, eternity, identity.) What the sages mean to say of course is that we should take ourselves seriously and sign in marble. But the truth is, we need to sign our names in butter as well. There is no one moment when we sign our names and it becomes permanent – etched in unchanging letters for all eternity. Rather, we all go through several names in our lives. Sometimes we need to let our etchings in the sand get washed away by the waves… let loose our old fixities. Take the opportunity to sign again, perhaps something different, better. We can go through many names in a lifetime.
I certainly have, and I hope I am not unduly projecting my experience on the rest of the world. Everyone I have asked has stories about the different names which they have been called in the course of their lives.
Name is an important soul print hint.
Each name from the beginning to the end of our lives unfolds a different dimension of our soul print. One of the ways to do soul print work is to collect these names. “As** his name so he is, write the myth masters. Names are soul print revelations.
(ADD hiroshima mon amour)*
It is in this sense that we understand the classic relationship between the prostitute and her client. Although they may be deeply connected to their soul prints in other areas of their lives this particular meeting is for neither side a soul print encounter. Hence the client is called a ‘John’ and the prostitute’s name is Candy, Lola or any other name but her own.
Indeed, for biblical myth the problem with prostitution is not a moral problem. No evil of any kind is being committed as long as all the sides are in agreement as to the terms of contract. Prostitution is rather a disappointment of the deepest kind (disappoints us)*. When contact between two people is physical, intimate, as well as emotionally estranged it is sad – a lost opportunity for the sacred. Our goal for every meeting – especially one as revealing and vulnerable as a sexual meeting – is that it be a soul print encounter. When a meeting is deep and real, say the Kabbalists, the name of God is sanctified.
One of the strangest, and in retrospect most comical, twists in my public teaching career was an early interview I did with an Israel magazine. It was with a Cosmopolitan type of magazine and I, being new to Israel, expected it to be a bit more highbrow of a publication than it was.
The very first question the reporter asked was, “Honored Teacher” – which is the perfunctory way of addressing Rabbis in Israel – “What do you think of Tel Baruch?” She asked the question in a way which implied that everyone knew about Tel Baruch. I being a new immigrant, was eager to show that I was part of the country and in the know, but couldn’t quite recall the name…Somehow thought that it was some sort of a religious seminary. So I asked, innocently, who the spiritual director was, thinking that might jog my memory. With a grin, the interviewer filled me in that Tel Baruch was not a religious seminary, it was the Red the Red Light district of Tel Aviv. (in response to her grin I decided to)* When I realized that, I decided to turn the tables and answer the apparently sarcastic question seriously. So I said, mustering all my gravitas, “Tel Baruch doesn’t present an ethical problem in the western moral sense – What it does present is a challenge to holiness.”
I proceeded with great dignity to expound the difference between ethics and holiness. “As long as there is a mutually agreed upon contract then there is not a moral problem in the usual meaning of the term. However to relate to a person without using your real name – where there is no soul print exchange – is essentially sad, and closes the sexual window to holiness.” The reporter was excitedly taking notes – I naively thought she got the important distinction between western ethics and holiness and would print that in her interview. Little did I know. One Friday morning there is a knock on my door. One of my congregates bursts in flailing a magazine in his hands and agitatedly exclaims, “Did you see the paper?” He presented to me the headline, “Spiritual leader Gafni says no moral problem in going to hooker.”
You can imagine the hell that broke loose in the Public arena…all of which ultimately resulted in the magazine printing a full-page apology for quoting out of context. It took about a year for all of the *excitement to die down and I still get an occasional phone call asking, “Did you really say that…?”
When I look back at it all I laugh and seriously reflect at the same time. On the one hand I was right. All the moral crusaders who get all riled up about sexual vice never really spoke to me – seemed a good use of energy for me*??? The truth is that none of us is consistently holy in sexuality and as long as there is nothing unethical going on then I would rather protest poverty, abuse, child rights or a host of other issues closer to my heart. And yet I also think that I was wrong.
In the last eight, nine years since this all happened I have begun to develop the very soul print philosophy that (fills the pages of this book.) *I am sharing part of with you in this book. One of the keys to soul print philosophy is that everyone has a face and a name. Nameless and faceless people are the ultimate violation of soul print thinking. And the more I think about it the more I have come to understand that soul print thinking is essential to ethics. (it is not that morality and holiness are separate…it is not that a soul print violation such as prostitution is not about morals…etc fix *) You see if I relate to a person without a name – **denuding them of their soul print then I cannot help but see them as an object. The second a person is an object without a name, without soul print, then the danger of ethically violating their rights and dignity is clear and present.
In the final analysis I don’t think that soul print thinking allows for a split between ethics and holiness. Of course practically the distinction remains. Ethics which violate a formal contract between parties need to be legislated and enforced. Soul Print thinking cannot and should not ever be legislated. It must always come from the free consciousness of every individual. That is the precious distinction between (separation of…)* Spirituality and State upon which American democracy is founded. Reclaiming soul print is not the government’s job – it is rather the right and privilege of every citizen.
(all this America stuff seems strange* – what’re you talking about here…morals and spirituality…seems too complicated an issue to be dealing with – it was hard to follow and not really so engaging – but the story is great and the point about names for sure)
The Zohar teaches that idol worship which in one passage is defined as “worship through the stranger…*******(not to honor the secrets of my soul”) is to “tell a lie with the name of God.” The name of God referred to by the authors of the Zohar is no less than your name, your soul print.
In God we trust is to believe that I have a soul print and that it is beautiful. Not to honor that soul print is to take God’s name in vain.
In a literary sense the names we are called and the names we call our selves do indeed ‘call’ us. At the very least they are hints which help uncover our calling…(like spades for digging…a tool with which to reveal our tale*) Now, (of course)* there are no hard and fast rules about how to read names or how to understand the soul print hints they offer. Every individual has to figure this out for herself. What I can do is offer some important guidelines from my own experience with names and, no less important, share some of the beautiful wisdom about names found in Biblical myth.
The third century Babylonian myth masters say it like this: “There are three names in a person’s life. The name his mother and father called him, the name his friends call him, and the name he owns himself.” The choice of words here is important. We are called by names – that is to say names are the chorus of our calling.
First there are the names on our birth certificates usually given to us by our parents. Then there are all sorts of names given to us by our community. These may start with the affectionate or not so affectionate baby names we are called by our parents. They include the nicknames given by brothers, sisters, extended family or friends. Included in this category (isn’t this the second category?*) are also the cruel and jeering names of childhood that sometimes leave scars for life. Finally there are the names that we choose for ourselves, sometimes leaving behind an old name and choosing a new one which better reflects who we have become as life unfolded.
The first name is given to me by Mum and Dad.
I myself was born with the name Mordechai Winiarz. Mordechai means the rebel and Winiarz is the polish word for winemaker. I guess that makes me a drunk revolutionary of sorts. (word games afforded by names can be fun and revealing…as we’ve said and seen time and time again in this book, word games are more than just games. Connections between name and essence or even between words and other words, is significant – they sign-if-I-cant…they’re the things able to easily identify, to sign, often writing the deepest revelations of self out in the simplest of lines*…revelations I can’t get to on my own.) (remember to have some early on section about the importance of words in Hebrew, significance of connection etc*)
Seriously though, (on a less symbolic level…you can get practical, sociological with names)* there are two ways to collect the names your parents gave you. One is to go backwards and re-collect your family story. That is the path of memory which we talked about a few chapters ago.*** To find out who I was named after and to learn about their lives is a fascinating and rewarding soul print expedition. My friend Arthur Kurzweill wrote a wonderful and practical book about how to actually go back and do the detective work to find out what you can about your namesake. It can be a challenging and enormously enjoyable process.
Moreover it can provide important soul print hints.
Very often we can see themes in our namesake’s life which repeat themselves in our own lives. Perhaps he had wanted to do something which I now have an opportunity to do. Or she was challenged in a way which reminds me of some of my life challenges, or he stood for certain ideas which are now in question in my life. This does not mean that we make life decisions based on the biography of our namesakes. It gives our ancestry a vote, not a veto, over our life choices and directions. Not to benefit from this vote however would make us poorer indeed, depriving us of potentially important soul print guides.
Then there are the names we were ‘called’ by our parents which are etched on our memory even though they do not appear on any official documents.
The names they called us…in joy and ecstasy, in anger or depression. Contrary to voices *(said last chpt*) like psychologist Alice Miller and others who view these names as almost deterministically defining our lives, I want to emphatically affirm that these names do not form our soul print. Not only do Mum and Dad not have the right to determine your soul print – they do not have the ability or power to shape or permanently mis-shape your soul print. However Mum and Dad are definite soul print hints. The family you are born into is not your destiny, it is a hint about your destiny.
Destiny may be to fulfill the family dream or to rebel. Destiny may be to receive the warmth and love, the water and light, needed to nurture soul print perception, or conversely, to not receive that nourishment and to be forced to seek it ourselves in other soul print places.
Sometimes the soul print hint is hidden not in the name we were called but in the story or stories that accompanied it. If your parent always used to angrily or affectionately call you a little runt it may well be that there is no hint about your destiny in the word runt. If however whenever they used this term they repeated the same frustrated or joyous story from their lives – it may well be that in the story is an important soul print hint.
We all remember certain stories which at times of joy and satisfaction and unfortunately quite often at times of anger, which our parents used to tell us. The stories we heard most often accompanying either the affectionate or the pejorative names often contain soul print information.
I grew up with a mother (a great lady) who lived through unspeakable horror in the Holocaust. Whenever she would get very angry there were set names she would call me always accompanied by the exact same story – A story that became for me a crucial soul print hint. Not a pretty story. A story that formed my earliest memories – vivid images of the baby who was ripped apart in front of her by Nazi SS soldiers.
As the years went by this baby gradually began to assume more and more significance in my life.
The story of the baby is one of the three major stories I received from my mother which takes place in her youth. She was what is called a hidden child. Her father was a partisan fighting the Nazis. Her mother, disguised as a Polish Christian, worked as a seamstress at the central Gestapo Head Quarters.
According to her memory she actually saw Hitler on one of his overnight visits to head quarters.
My mother was hidden, disguised as a young Catholic girl with a beautiful and holy Christian family—may blessings fall on their heads for all the generations. One day she saw a neighbor steal something from her adoptive family. She told her adoptive mother and it resulted in some sort of discipline against the neighbor. She hissed at my mother some days later “Zhid,” – the rough equivalent of Kike, Jew – “I know who you are and I’ll know how to take care of you.” Not long afterwards the Gestapo came and massacred many people in the neighborhood which had hidden my mother. The way my mother saw it they had come looking for her. She watched the massacre hidden in a treetop. Directly beneath her, two Gestapo men found a baby and laughing…ripped him apart…I can hear my mother saying it…”like a wishbone.” When the Gestapo left, my mother climbed down the tree and buried the two halves of the baby.
It was the story that defined the first thirteen years of my life. I must have heard it a thousand times.
The image of that baby virtually disappeared from my consciousness from thirteen, when I left home, until I was thirty-one. At thirty-one I made the very difficult decision to get divorced from the mother of my two sons – a decent and wonderful woman with whom I had little in common – as well as to take a temporary leave of absence from the clergy and think about life for a while. I took a senior strategic position in a high tech firm and began flying around the world doing deals – the best place for a temporarily retired clergy man to relax and think. Business was a ton of fun and successful and I thank my employer and good friend Marc Belzberg for a great three year life experience.
During that thinking time three things happened.
First, the image of the baby returned to my consciousness.
Second – I became enormously angry about evil in the world and could no longer accept the pat explanations offered by much of the religious community. The rage against evil went hand and hand with a new understanding of uncertainty and the role it plays in our lives. I wrote a major theology** book on Spirituality and Uncertainty (coming soon to a book store near you). The inability to accept the classic explanations of dogma changed – in a fundamental way – my own understanding of my soul print work, reshaping my calling in the world.
Three – I developed the idea of soul prints as it is presented in this book. Now to say I developed the idea is really a misstatement. Somehow the ideas just came together out of the deepest places of my experience. In retrospect I realize that every one I had a close meeting with in the years between the divorce and my remarriage to Chaya – my wife, best friend and partner – had a critical piece of my story. All of them gave me a piece of what I needed to write this book.
It was soul print time – when all the gates were open.
Whether it was Prof. Chalamish or Prof. Tamar Ross who reconnected me to critical ideas in modern Hebrew mysticism – to Chana who sadly taught me the dangers of piety without integrity, to Kimberly and Shlomo who taught me about faith and audacity – to the teachers of love, deceit and betrayal, to my study partner and good friend Ohad who reminded me of Luria and to my holy brothers Even Lidar and Gedalya who reminded me that the body is holy and loyalty an ultimate value and to those who taught me that good people can do evil in the name of God–and finally to my study partner and friend for a time, Ruchi who opened up inner worlds and told me in a passing comment that my life was bound up with that of the baby in my mothers story – to all I am in debt.
We need to be sensitive to soul print time – which, like soul print moments, are unique spaces when we are somehow more connected than usual.
Write your own paragraph about your life. Pick a time which felt like soul print time. Than list the soul print guides you met along the way.
From the time when the baby’s image returned to my mind I feel like I entered soul print time. My life changed. My initial life direction and teaching tilted – initially imperceptibly, and ultimately radically. I am still a teacher. I am blessed with many students who together with my family are the most important people in my life. I am still a Rabbi and an academic scholar…however the I who is all of these things is not the same I as before. My being and therefore my teaching has transformed. Instead of teaching Talmudic dialectics which I was in love with for years I teach about laughter, tears and soul print. Instead of being the head of the establishment I am more of a strangely successful wandering preacher who develops books, television shows and scholarship that the establishment often fears, but which rings true with the people. Where as twenty years ago I was sure of my entire life’s trajectory today I am deeply unsure about where I will be next year. My understandings of God, religion, my place in the world, all changed. All the while the image of the baby remained with me – in retrospect- guiding me or at least accompanying me on my journey.
(the flow is funny here…maybe bring it back to hints and then say you just had a hint experience*)
Finally I was writing not long ago about the names we receive from our parents, the names we are called by parents, soul print hints as well as my own story of the baby. And I said to myself as I wrote – “One day I will speak to that baby” – and then, in a flash, all the hints of all the years came streaming together into one soul-piercing sentence…I am that baby. *(A re-incarnation of that baby. (More on re-incarnation and soul print below)
A moment of certainty of self and story! A moment of realization and resolution! A moment of completion, exclamation! But a moment nonetheless…and moments, by their nature, pass. For one moment later I was already trying to analyze and verify the statement. Was this true? If so, then how? If how, then why? In the end its veracity is an impossible chimeron* to chase.
The truth of that statement is a creature not bound by fact. Its truth is a circle dance of sensations. Each hint coming together to hold hands and make a chain of meaning to swirl round the center of my soul. And the chain could not be broken by proofs or disproofs, by analysis or intellect. It just was! It was true in that I had experienced it as true.
This is the nature of a soul print hint. It is a hint, a scent of something there…though not the full mass of the thing itself. It is a sign of something more.
Now what do I mean when I say it is a hint? I mean that I may not be that baby. It is the kind of information that is not available with full certainty and is not important to pursue. Enough that in that flash of insight the role of this baby in my life became much clearer to me. I understood more deeply than I had before that I was living my story. I was able to let go in a new way of old attachments to paths and teachings not my own. I realized more deeply that the whole fragile string of things…my teachings about holy anger in response to evil, my rejection of old dogma, my choosing of a maverick philosopher role over an establishment role, were all the right choices, were all along the thread of my story.
What do I mean when I say that I may be the re-incarnation of that baby?
Let me try and unpack this fascinating and important idea step by step together with you.
First – the premise which I laid out in the beginning of our discussion is that the story of the baby which I heard so many times was a soul print hint.
Second – at the time when the image of the baby returned to my consciousness it seemed to be a guiding force in much of the positive transformation I was experiencing in my life. The baby taught me that my role was not to be a transmitter but a challenger of dogma. The image* helped me develop a theology of holy rage even while I retained a passionate commitment to God as I understand her-him-it.
All this of course does not lead to reincarnation. Indeed it is not really that terribly important whether I am actually that baby re-incarnated or whether that baby through my mother became a central image in relation to which I was able to unfold more and more of my soul print.
However the idea that I might actually be the reincarnation of that baby kept coming up in the strangest ways in my life. I am going to discuss it with you for two reasons. First it will give me a chance to explain the position of the biblical myth masters on re-incarnation. Second re-incarnation is an important idea to keep in my* mind in identifying and gathering soul print hints.
First Rachel, a close friend, understood me almost exclusively in terms of that baby. She would always say much to my annoyance that the splitting of the baby was the source of the splits in my life. She is a teacher who teaches that all is love and harmony in the world and as a colleague and friend I radically objected to her claims. *The evidence I brought for a more complex world than Rachel described was the split baby in my mother’s story.
Second, about two years ago a friend in Jerusalem, Mica walked up to me and said. “I just had a sort of intuition that you were a holocaust baby.”
Now what Mica was referring to is reincarnation. There is a large extant literature about people who died early, particularly in tragedy, being reincarnated to complete their lives in the next generation. There is significant documentation including a recent Book. Beyond the Ashes which points towards many cases of reincarnation from the holocaust.
All of this makes no sense without a little bit of a digression on reincarnation itself and how its understanding can be helpful in understanding soul print hints.
Reincarnation standing on one foot
Reincarnation is an idea that is alluded to in Biblical myth and pervades the Kabbalah. It is a dominant idea in parts of Christianity and Islam and is a major tenet of Buddhism and Hinduism. As the reader may be aware there are literally mounds of documented evidence from all parts of the globe of people in regressed hypnotic states being able to describe specific events, people, geographies from other parts of the world that they had absolutely no access to in their conscious life times. The reader should also know that the evidence has been collected by men and women of science with unimpeachable credentials.
But beyond the background…let us look for a brief moment at the understanding of reincarnation as it unfolds in the teachings of the Biblical myth masters.
For Luria, as well as for the later masters influenced by his school, reincarnation is a highly personal affair. The essence of the idea is that “It’s not over when it’s over.” This life is part of a much larger and more complex tapestry of generations in which we participate. Reincarnation takes place when the soul has not yet completed its Tikkun—Lurianic nomenclature for ‘soul fixing’ – in this world.
The core of the Kabalistic understanding lies in the relationship between what the Kabbalists call Soul Roots and Soul Sparks. Soul Roots are the family of souls which I am from. Every root is made up of many sparks. These sparks are the many different people who participate together over the generations in the fixing of their common soul root. This of course creates a hidden partnership between people who are related to the same soul root. People I feel an intuitive affinity for, the teachers I seek out and the students who are drawn to me, the lovers I choose, and the friendships I forge, are usually related to the same soul root family. That is all those people are soul sparks from the same soul root.
Parents and children may derive from the same soul root, teaches Luria, but very often do not.****** This is of course one of the building blocks of the Kabbalistic idea that parents need to provide soul print frameworks for to realize their own soul prints without ever presuming that they – the parents – can make the children’s soul print decision.
(or if they do show up as parents in this life time, they may have been your children in the last, or your lover, or your nemesis.*) (the combinations of relationships can be quite complex…a dance of different roles in each revolution.) (my wife who is incredibly close to her parents recalls one night when she was home from college. She and her parents were sitting in the family room talking, as they were wont to do. Somehow the talk turned to this idea of soul roots and reincarnating in different relationships with the common souls around you. There was a moment of great depth and beauty when they all realized that they had possibly, if not probably, been together in some lifetime before…who knows when or where. They could have known each other for thousands of years and they could continue knowing each other for thousands more, continuously dancing through lifetime after lifetime in each other’s arms. Suddenly the fear of parting, the fear of death, became a little less terrifying, to think that they would all see each other again. By this point they were all dabbing at their eyes…a soul print moment left her magic on the family room…)
Beyond the specific issue of Parents and children however a stunning vision of the world unfolds here. According to the Lurianic Kabbalists every person forms an energy field. In that field are the hidden partners with whom I need to do my soul print work. My soul print work is the individual emotional, psychological and spiritual growth that my soul needs to do this time around. That work on my soul spark is my contribution to the fixing of the larger soul family from which I stem. The non-biological that most of us gather around us is our soul family.
In modernity, we have seen that the loosening of the biological family has caused the “family by choice” – our friends who we collect and who collect us in life – to become psychologically far more important than it ever was. Mystically this is good news. For in all likelihood the people we gather around us are indeed our soul family. This is the hidden sense of the word ‘soul mate’. I do not have as modernity suggests only one soul mate – I have many of what we will call here ‘soul print partners’. I say partners and not brothers or sisters in order to highlight a critical dimension of this idea. All of the people in my soul print field are necessary for me to do the specific work that for which I have been born into the world. Just as soul prints unfold, so too do our soul print families. New soul print partners come into our lives while others leave or recede into the background.
This critical soul print idea can be summed up in one sentence. Everyone we meet – a real meeting – carries a part of our story just as we carry a part of their story. Real meetings are soul print exchanges.
The Baal Shem’s definition of consciousness is, ‘to be drawn to the people and places that are related to my fixing in the world’.
In mystical language this set of ideas is crystallized in the following original source:
“If a man walks irregularly with God then God walks with him irregularly and does not prepare for him….that which contains sparks of his own soul root so that he may perform their Tikkun (fixing).”
In effect this master, Ephraim of Sudokov, teaches that the natural reward of consciousness is that we draw towards us those we need as Soul Print Partners.
To sum up this part of our exploration let’s look at one more original source which I have actually amalgamated from several texts to give a more complete sense of the power of the Kabbalistic understanding. The authors are all biblical myth masters living in Europe in the latter half of the 18th century.
All of a person’s life, his friends, partners, spouse, his business, house, clothing…all come to him so that he may lift up his own sparks…as is known from the writings of Luria…And this is the secret of the verse, “In all your ways be intimate with divinity”…to unite and raise up the sparks of his own soul…which are the sparks of God.
This text states metaphysically a powerful existential idea. Everyone I interact with in my life in a serious way is part of my story. Therefore they all contain important soul print hints about my unique path in living.
Fascinatingly you may have noticed in this text that clothing, houses and the like are also seen to possess soul sparks. A physical object, a house, a business, a tree or a particular location can contain soul sparks which are part of my story. Moreover every physical object receives the emotional energy that was impressed upon it by the person or people with which it came into contact. A ring, piece of jewelry or family heirloom in this understanding are of more that just sentimental value. They are channels which can potentially connect me the person or people who initially invested their energy in the object. In effect a person leaves their soul print on the objects with which they come into contact. The more intense the interaction the more distinguished the soul print.
(c wrote somewhere about antiques…about the scene in ‘sixth sense’)***(what speaks to you)
To explain why this is true would take us to far afield for this book – so I will limit myself to the following. One of the essential results of quantum physics and relativity is to blur the normal distinctions between animate and inanimate objects. Research points to the scientific validation of the old Kabbalistic idea that the basic building block of the universe is energy coded information which expresses itself both animatedly and inanimately**. If this is true than I really must read my life like a piece of great literature where all the images, props and objects are deliberately chosen by the author to shed light on the major characters. In the novel of my life I am the major character.
Just to make this reincarnation idea more real let me share with you one tale of the mystical master the Baal Shem – before I return to my own story. (mention that he changed his name too, from parents name to baal**) (you’ve written about his role before*) Israel son of Eliezer and Chanah was called the Baal Shem Tov, the Master of a Good Name, in part because he was able to effect what the mystics called the ‘fixing of a person’s name’. The fixing of the name would often be done by the Baal Shem revealing to the person the nature of their unique calling in this world. More often than not this would be based on his knowledge of their past incarnations.
One day the Baal Shem stops in a small village market. He sees an old woman. With one hand she begged from the crowd, with the other she clutched a young boy whose face shown with light.
As the Baal Shem approached, the woman looked up at him with imploring eyes. “Please, Master, *ease my sorrows, make me happy, take my son into your house, raise him as your own. Please, give me this one joy.” The Baal Shem (saw the woman’s pain that she couldn’t care for the child, and he also saw the great light that radiated from the child…and agreed and took the boy as his own.
When the boy reached 18 all the matchmakers came knocking on the Baal Shem’s door, trying to make matches with the most sought-after daughters of the town. For everyone had heard that the young man was a great scholar and a wonderful soul. But for some strange reason the Ball Shem refused every one of their offers, respectable as they may have been.
The Baal Shem had an offer of his own to make.
He set out for the outskirts of the town, to where a poor onion-peddler lived with his daughter. Now the daughter was a plain but peaceful girl who planted the onions that her father sold in town. Imagine their surprise when the Baal Shem appeared, seeking out the daughter as a match for his son. With great joy the match was made and the wedding promptly arranged.
Come the wedding night, the townspeople came by the hordes to see who this onion-sellers daughter was that she should merit such a husband. All were surprised by her plain appearance and simple ways. Finally someone asked – ‘Why did the Baal Shem chose this girl from all the rest?’ Hearing this, the Master, his face aglow with delight, threw back a l’chaim and called out:
Gather around! I would like to tell you a story of souls. There was once a Master** who was really a prince. Or perhaps he was a prince who was really a teacher***. He was born a prince, son of a King who taught him to pursue the wisdom of the world. And so that is what the prince did, he traveled, gathering wisdom and returning to the palace only to set out again on his adventures. Along the way he met a *Rabbi, and was so taken by his wisdom that he stayed, and learned, finally converting and becoming a great teacher himself. Since conversion was against the law of the land he masked his true identity and never returned to the palace again. (mention that he changed his name??*
One day an Archbishop came to town. The Rabbi/Prince happened to be in the market place as the Archbishop’s entourage passed by. And sure enough the Archbishop noticed a strangely familiar face in the crowd. Looking closer he realized it was the long lost son of the King, who was supposedly killed in his travels. Astounded, the Archbishop ordered that the Rabbi/Prince be brought to his chamber.
As the Prince sat before the Archbishop he could not help but tell the truth of his tale. When he finished the Archbishop responded, “You know that if you go back to your father you would have to convert or be killed. But I would like to make you an offer. You do not know it, but my grandparents were Moranno Jews, forced into conversion many years ago. I grew up a devout Christian and have achieved a great status in her ranks. But a part of me would like to stay here with you. Since I cannot do that I would like to leave a part of me with you. That is, I will not reveal you if and only if you promise to marry my daughter.” The Prince, considering his options, agreed to the plan.
Years went by of harmony between the couple, and the Rabbi/Prince became a great Kabbalist. He often made soul ascensions to heaven’s heights. Finally, one night he arrived at the gates of Eden themselves and was just about to enter when an angel came to block his way, explaining, “You may hold the keys to heaven…but two things still obstruct your path. You brought your father great grief, and you were forced into marrying someone you did not choose. You must pass through the portal of death and birth again. And return to life to correct these things.”
But just as he was about to pass into his death he remembered his love for his wife. Quickly, he devised a plan. Descending back into the world he came to his wife, “I have an offer for you.” And with this he told her of his ascent and his obstacles and how he would like to pass on to the next life to perfect himself. But he did not want to leave her behind. So they decided to die together, promising in the next life to return to again be husband and wife.
And so it was he fulfilled his past faults. He chose his wife even before he came to this world. And he was born into the womb of a poor Jewish woman, who was made happy by his life. Just so, the Archbishop’s daughter was born to the onion-seller. We are all witness to the awesome coming together of two destined souls, who came to this world to restore and heal the hurts of their far past. So rejoice, rejoice, as you behold such a miracle as this!!!”
When we get meet our soul mate* married we think we met for the first time. The Kabbalah teaches that this is almost never the case. The great existential idea in Gilgul is that we are not strangers to each other. Especially not to the person we marry. We have work to do together in this world. We are connected in the deepest places. That is why when we meet our soul partners we feel like we have known each other for ever. The work may be mysterious, it may be revealed. It doesn’t matter. What is important is that the consciousness that we are soul print partners with great fixings to do changes our whole relationship. It becomes infinitely deeper, grander and more meaningful.
A cautionary note
Returning to our flow one more practical note is in order. It was deemed completely unnecessary by the Kabbalists to do past life regression. Although they describe in detail techniques, including regression, to find out about past lives, it was for the most part not considered a valuable expenditure of soul print energy. For a simple reason – growth is an exciting but demanding process. That is true whether we are bodybuilding or spiritual journeying. The importance of reincarnation is that it opens our perspective, giving us glimpses into the wider reaches of our story. We do not need more than glimpses….we do not need more than hints.**
Further, the core of biblical myth thinking focuses our attention on the business at hand in this world. This is why biblical myth hints offer glimpses – but never discusses explicitly anything to do with after life, incarnations or other dimensions. Too often occult preoccupation is an escape from the very real and exciting work of this world.
Remember we began our discussion by citing the ancient source for the three names of a person. The second name – that which our parents call us and the stories associated with those callings are not our soul print but part of the conditions necessary for achieving soul print. We remember the stories we received from parents in order to comb them for soul print hints.
**This is the nature of a soul print hint. It is a hint, a scent of something there…though not the full mass of the thing itself. It is a sign of something more.
Now what do I mean when I say it is a hint? I mean that I may not be that baby. It is the kind of information that is not available with full certainty and is not important to pursue. Enough that in that flash of insight the role of this baby in my life became much clearer to me. I understood more deeply than I had before that I was living my story. I have been able to let go in a new way of old attachments to paths and teachings not my own. I realize that my teachings about holy anger in response to evil, my rejection of old dogma- my choosing of a maverick philosopher role over an establishment role were the right choices.
Deeper still I realize that they were really not choices at all. When I deeply embrace soul print philosophy I understand that every place I have been is where I needed to be. The only path I could’ve possibly walked is the path of my pathos – the path of my pathology.
The physical world is but a reflection of the spiritual world. That means that every great idea of the spirit has a physical paradigm.
The idea that every place I have been I needed to be – even if my life does not appear to be the proverbial shortest distance formed by a straight line between two points – is in fact a central and elegant postulate in physics.
I learned this principle from my good friend, Scientist Victor Mizachi, in response to a wonderful conversation we shared about Soul Prints.
I am excerpting from a longer letter from Victor – Even if you don’t get all the details the general point will be clear.
(should we include mark kirschbaums section and this in email format** cute)
Emily I know we have to cut this down -I am to close to cut – what do you think?
One of the persistent ideas about this universe is that it has order. There are fundamental rules that govern the behavior of the universe. Physics is about discovering and stating these rules. It is said that Physics does not answer the question “why”, but only the “what”. However, human nature being what it is one cannot help but ask “why”. It may be said that there is a sense in which Physics answers “why”, and that is by restating a “what” in other simpler terms that are more “self-evident.”
Amongst the many basic and powerful rules that have been discovered and put to good use over the years one can include Newton’s Laws of Motion, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, etc. But here I would like to give as a specific example a much simpler rule that shows some of the great beauty in the Universe. I wish to discuss the path that a ray of light takes as it traverses from one medium (such as water) to another (such as air). So, for example, sun light traveling from beneath the surface of a still pond to the human eye in the air above the pond will generally bend as it crosses the surface of the pond. And so a fish below the surface will generally not be where it appears to the eye to be. (just as it will not appear absolutely straight, but more blurry and bent*)
Now there are mathematical equations that can be used to precisely describe the path that this ray of light will take even if the medium is far more complex than air or water, (but instead has a continuous variation in its optical properties.)* One example would be a glass whose composition varies in a complex manner. Yet all of these cases can be just as accurately described by stating a stunningly simple principle. The path that the light ray will take is the quickest path that it could have taken, of all the infinite possible paths in the vicinity of the true path!
Stated another way, all other paths in the vicinity of the path actually taken by the ray of light would have taken longer to reach the final destination. Note that other paths may be shorter (indeed, a straight line is the shortest) but they are slower because light travels faster in air than in water. And so the quickest path will have the light traveling a greater distance in the air so as to reduce the distance traveled in the water. This is known as Fermat’s principal, and was discovered by Fermat in the 16th century.
This simply stated truth, that light will take the quickest path, is an example of the order found within our universe. This rule is pretty** precisely because it is so simple, and yet it is by no means obvious that the universe should have been so constructed. And so to the question “Why did the light follow the path that it did” one might plausibly answer “because it is the quickest”. Unfortunately this does not answer the question “Why does the universe work this way”, and it doesn’t even answer the slightly more obvious question “How does the light know which path is the quickest, and therefore which one to take.” It is true that this result can be proven by appealing to some basic equations of Physics. But this is just another way of saying that it is a consequence of the way the universe works.
Interestingly, there is a formalism of advanced physics that was developed by the great 20th century physicist Richard Feynman, which suggests that the light actually tries every possible path, but that all but the quickest path cancel each other out.
Now you may remember that soul print is patterned after light. We identified the biblical myth word Sapir as referring to what we called soul print light. We further pointed out that soul print, like light – Sapir, has both a wave and a particle dimension. We identified wave with Sippur – the story function of soul print and particle with Mispar, the calling dimension of soul print.
What we have just done is added an important dimension to the structural parallel between Soul Print and Light. That is, that just as light always takes the most efficient path to arrive at its destination, so does our soul print always takes the most efficient path to arrive at it’s destination. The destination of soul print of course in no less than the full flowering of the human being.
If everywhere we have been we absolutely needed to be for the *betterment flowering of soul print then it would appear that our path is predetermined.
What, you may well ask, happened to free choice? Isn’t free will a key tenet of both biblical myth and her daughter – democracy? The answer of course is a resounding Yes!
Free will is an absolutely essential idea. However it is not quite as simple as we once thought it was. I am going to avoid the temptation for a long scholarly discourse on free will. Let’s get right to the point.
In soul print understanding I have total free will about everything which will happen tomorrow. In the realm of the future the choices are fully mine. I am what I create myself to be. Every moment is a responsibility, a joy and a challenge. I bear full moral and spiritual responsibility for my choices. I am the Captain of my fate, master of my destiny…that is, in everything that has to do with tomorrow.
In terms of yesterday however – what was, was meant to be. It could not have been any different. Every pathology was a road sign on my path. Every significant conversation, relationship and meeting that took place is fully part of my story. So I can stop beating myself up for yesterday and begin to look at tomorrow. Yes I take responsibility for yesterday inasmuch as the wisdom harvested from yesterday will determine what seeds I will plan for tomorrow. At some point however I must let yesterday be gone with the wind. For it was as it needed to be and could have been no different.
Yes, I may well be that baby. Yes, all my decisions of yesterday are my responsibility even as they could not have been any different than they were. Most importantly I am guided by new insight and a deeper sense of being at home in my story as I begin to author tomorrow’s chapters.
Up till now we have talked about the first name – the names given to us by our Parents at Birth, the second Names that our parents may have called us in their anger or joy and the stories associated with those names (what’s the diff. Between categories here??*). I have tried to make this more real for you by sharing with you the soul prints hints implicit in the stories my parents told me. This took us off on a wild journey of reincarnation and back again. Now let’s go to the second name in our lives in a different form — the nicknames people call us.
These names are not the full expression of our soul print but definitely affect our soul print quest in a real way. Let me focus on two names in my life. Both were given to me by Angels. The first was an angel of destruction. The second a healing angel of kindness. Now when I use the word angel I am referring to a unique and wonderful biblical myth idea. In the language of biblical myth the word for Angel is Mal’ach – (sort of hard to pronounce in English where we don’t have the guttural ch sound). The word Malach has two meanings. The first is heavenly angel. The second is human messenger.
The point is clear and powerful. We are all potential angels. We all need to be angels for each other. We are all messengers. Often however we are messengers who have forgotten our message.
Angels are really important in soul print work. Some times they remind us that we are beautiful. Other times they help us through a hard time. Sometimes they are bad angels who treat us poorly even cruelly but who have, no less than the good angels, a soul print message to contribution to make to our development.
As you read the story – don’t read about me – replace it with your own angel story.
Let me start with the good Angel and the name he called me.
Baseball Bats and the Good Angel*
Grade school wasn’t the easiest time for me. First, in our house, when pants tore they were patched up. Makes economic sense, right? But it didn’t make social sense. You try to go to a Jewish private school in the upscale neighborhoods of Bexley Ohio with patches on your pants and see what happens…And then there’s the issue of lunch boxes. In our house lunch boxes were considered a waste of money. After all, paper bags did the trick just fine. However, when every kid in class has a lunch box then the paper bag kid becomes the butt of ridicule. And speaking of ridicule, for ridicule goes hand in hand with me little league baseball. Every single kid in my grade school class went to little league, except for me. I laugh at it today but it wasn’t so funny when I was an 11 or 12 year old at school picnics. You see at school picnics you have to play baseball, it was an official protocol of the picnic – you must play baseball.
Thus, when school picnics came, I panicked.
There were generally two parts to the baseball ritual. Part 1 was the pain of being the last kid picked for a team, and any of my readers who has gotten picked last will recognize this torture. And the second part is the game itself. Though the game actually had some redeeming value. There was always the outfield – and I stood as far outfield as possible. And it was there that I learned how to pray. The prayer went roughly like this, “G-d, please, please don’t send the ball in my direction. And if you do then I need a miracle – God, just let it come to my mitt.” I will tell you that the Red Sea seldom split in the early 1970’s on the outfield of the Bexley Ohio baseball diamond.
And it was these childhood rituals of insecurity that resulted in the greatest theft of my life – the baseball card heist of 1973. I had developed a habit of borrowing baseball cards from the local store. The money to pay for them wasn’t available and baseball cards were the currency of popularity in my 7th grade class. You don’t need an advanced degree in psychology to understand the symbolism of baseball cards. Somehow owning the best baseball cards allowed me to transform the symbol of my insecurity, baseball, into an expression of personal power.
The more accurate word for borrowing is, of course, stealing.
G-d however was good to me. When I was 13 I met an angel. Remember in Hebrew the word angel, ‘malach’, means a human messenger as well as a divine angel, for indeed they are one the same. His name was Pinkie Bak. He was 29 years old and the principal of the boarding school that I attended in New York. Since there was no dormitory, I lived in his house. Now Pinkie Bak did four crucial things for me. Four presents from an angel. The first: When I arrived at his house he took one look at my wardrobe and said succinctly, “This won’t do.” He took me shopping and voila, a new wardrobe…the fixing of the patches. Secondly: Since my allowance was insufficient he consistently slipped me extra money to be able to buy the same lunch the other kids were eating…thus the fixing of the paper bags. Thirdly there were the protocols of the picnic. For sure enough, the year opened with that dreaded event and all of her entourage of ridicule, and believe me it was no picnic. I played possibly my worst game of baseball ever. It was bad.
Now to believe the story I’m about to tell you, which is indeed true, you need one more bit of information. The tragic picnic was on a Wednesday. Pinkie said nothing about my poor baseball performance. But the following Sunday morning at 7 am he knocked on my door, said “Get up you’re coming with me.” I said, “Where are we going?” thinking that he must be taking me to prayer services at synagogue. He said, “Today well skip services, we’ll pray ourselves…outside.” We drove out to Rockland County Park and when I asked what we were doing Pinkie very seriously responded, “You’ll see.” We got to the park and Pinkie proceeded to pull out of the car baseball bats, hardballs, softballs and two mitts. He said to me, “Take a bat. You’re up.” For the next 6 hours we stood in the park as he pitched balls, teaching me how to swing. And in the closing minutes of the 6th hour, for the first time, instead of holding my wrists straight when swinging the bat, I let my wrist loosely bend and BAM…hit the ball above Pinkie’s head.
This went on for several more Sundays until the next school picnic. Imagine the scene – the bases are loaded and its the bottom of the 9th. Pinkie, who was coaching our team suddenly said, “Mordechai’s up.” This was met with howls of protest from the team, but I took the bat. Sure enough, strike one. Pinkie got very quiet. Next, a foul ball and strike two. Somehow, he seemed to get even quieter. And then, in that silence, something happened. With the third pitch, I swung the bat and was met with that magnificent sound of the magical connection of wood and leather that sends a ball sailing over the fence! As I walked into home plate, embraced by all my teammates, Pinkie stood on the side and I could detect a barely perceptible smile. And that was enough. Baseball cards never left the shelf again.
Pinkie taught me that I was valuable, that I mattered and I was loved by one of God’s angels himself. It was nice to hit the ball and to know that I could do it, but the magic of it is that the home run wasn’t really what it was about. The magic was that Pinkie chose me to go to bat at that time knowing full well that I was still far from a proficient baseball player, knowing full well that I could easily strike out. Pinkie was telling me two things. One – at that moment, in the heat of the excitement of the game (and he loved baseball) what he was thinking about was me. And two – somehow I knew, although he never said it, that it would have been OK even if I had struck out.
The fourth present Pinkie gave me was Carlos – a new Name. Pinkie called me Carlos after Carlos Gambino the Mafia Don. Now at first blush – and second blush for that matter – Carlos Gambino’s ethics were more than slightly different than those being taught at the religious high school which Pinkie headed. Why Carlos? – I think Pinkie was saying to me in his own way that I needed to plug in to my shadow energy. That it was important to stand up and fight sometimes, -to refuse to suffer affronts to our honor which cross a certain line. Pinkie empowered me with that name. Not a classical religious school teaching but exactly the one this thirteen year old needed to hear.
All of the ‘information’ I absorbed in high school was secondary, for in my personal story Pinkie had given me the gift of self, my core certainty of being.
The second Angel appeared in my life before Pinkie. Two years earlier to be precise, when I was about 11. His name was Sadowsky and he was one of the popular kids in the class. For reasons outlined above I most definitely was not. It seemed to me then that his prime job was to torment me. Other than the times of grace when we played football and I was the wide receiver and he quarterbacked, he instigated an enormous amount of verbal cruelty directed against yours truly.
Now I have to say that this was definitely not fun. As a matter of fact it was excruciatingly painful. When you are 11 your whole world is your class. So being the butt of jokes is the rough approximate of Dante’s inferno. And young kids can be very cruel. The particular name I was called at Sadowsky’s instigation was “Winfag”. I don’t think there was any rhyme or reason to it – it just was the name that stuck. One day some jeer was thrown my way that was just too much. I do no remember what it was, however, I exploded. And lo and behold I knocked Stavsky down and pinned him firmly on the rocks of the gravel playground. All the kids gathered around and it seemed like a moment of vindication. And with near perfect timing Sadowsky screamed, “He farted”. It was not true but with his lie Sadowsky won the day and reclaimed his lash of ridicule.
I learned one thing that day which never left me. The world is often unfair. Or to quote a friends mother, “Expecting the world to be fair because you are good is like expecting a bull not to gore you because you are a vegetarian.” Paradoxically the knowledge that we sometimes lose even if were right – at least in the short haul – was something I needed to know early on. More than once in my story it gave me the courage and perspicacity to not give up. To return, to fight and win another day. It was a message vital to my soul print story, a message brought to me by a bad angel.
The third name in the language of the ancient source with which we began our discussion is “the name one owns by one’s self.”
The word own here is crucial. (this discussed in unique path**kanah)) In biblical Hebrew, Kanah ‘Own’ derives etymologically from the same root as ‘Jealous’. To be jealous means that I want to own something that does not belong to me – that is not part of my story. Deeper still jealousy implies that I have not owned my story, my name. Therefore I seek to fill my emptiness with the story, with the name of another. Ownership in regard to self is a soul print word.
Listen to our favorite mystical master Lainer of Ishbitz’s comment on the third name.
The third “name indicates the root of life which every soul possesses…which is acquired by healing the core Chisaron (pathology, shadow) which is the destiny of his birth”. The third name is the name that I claim during my life though the work I do on the world. The third name is my soul print.
What Lainer of Ishbitz is saying is that I only claim my true name by working through my particular shadow pathology and integrating its root into my personae.
Again shadow pathology is the path to soul print. To get a sense of what this could mean we need to refer back to biblical myth.
We return to one of the key Biblical myth Levado stories of our narrative – the story of Jacob. **Jacob the third Patriarch of the people. Now you may recall from part one that Jacob is the classical name-change story in Biblical myth.
He begins as Jacob and winds up as Israel. In our terms his soul print name would be his latter name- the name he owned through his struggle. Indeed the very name Israel means he who struggles with God. Israel is the name that emerges for all of us out of our soul print struggles.
If we can understand how he made the transition, how he acquired a new name we may well understand something new and crucially important about accessing our soul print.
First let’s review the plot for a moment. Jacob is born to Rebecca and Isaac. He is born with a twin older brother Esav. When they come of age Jacob disguises himself as Esav in order to steal the blessing which his father had intended for Esav. In this very basic reading, the first understanding which commends itself is that Jacob is trying to steal Esav’s soul print instead of finding his own. Blessing is taken to be a symbol for soul print. We know after all that Isaac has another blessing for Jacob as well. We know that because after Jacob stole the first blessing Isaac still has one left over for Esav. The point then is not that Jacob wants to be blessed, but that he wants Esav’s blessing.
A good soul print reading as far as it goes.
Now however we want to probe the story even more creatively in order to reveal the hidden soul print understanding folded into the depths of the plot.
Otto Rank, probably Sigmund’s Freud’s top student who ultimately broke with him, has already written about the image of the double, the twin. Twins are, in a literary sense, two sides of a whole. Each one needs what the other has. Esav and Jacob then need to be viewed as one complex whole. Harmony and Balance – the challenge of all complex wholes – will come from the kind of intense *self-recognition necessary in order to give every part of the whole its due. If one part of the whole remains mute and unrecognized, eventually it will rear its head demanding its due. By that time it is sometimes too late.
This is a whole new dimension of soul print. In this understanding soul print is achieved when balance is achieved. Every soul is made up of conflicting energies and forces. The Yin and the Yang, the masculine and feminine, what the kabbalists called the linear vs. the cyclical forces, active and passive, thrusting and receiving, sensitive and audacious and the list goes on. To strike precisely the right balance between these centripetal forces is to achieve soul print orbit.
Jacob has two forces at work in his soul. An Esav component and a Jacob component. Both are necessary for him to achieve soul print. Will he be able to strike the right balance between them will be the great soul print question of his life.
Two of the great stories in modern literature revolve around this very theme. Robert Louis Stevenson had a dream one night which his wife encouraged him to record and expand into a short novel. The result – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In my reading, it is a story about a man who is all about public pretense and approval. Huge parts of his authentic life are denied. The denied self with all the primal energy of unlived life is pressed into the shadows, where it festers, awaiting its opportunity to rise. Eventually its day does come and ultimately Mr. Hyde takes over and destroys Dr. Jekyll.
The fact that it became an almost instant best seller all over the world speaks of the deep resonant cord it touches in all of us.
The second work, written much earlier by Goethe, is the story of the pact between a certain Dr. Faustus and Mephistopheles – the devil incarnate. Again it is a story of the unlived life of a middle-aged academic. Realizing that his life is not a life, he contemplates suicide. But he is held back at the last moment after hearing some beautiful music. The music is the beginning of the process of reclaiming his unlived life, that which had become shadow energy. The shadow – represented by Mephistopheles – the devil – bursts out of control. In Goethe’s version of the legend the story ends with Faust escaping the clutches of the evil incarnate and reaching some sort of integration. In Christopher Marlowe’s version of the same story Faust loses and is damned.
With this as backdrop let’s go back to the Biblical myth of Jacob and Esav- incidentally also an International best seller. Let’s try to re-figure the whole thing. Jacob and Esav – twin brothers who form a complex whole – both need what the other has to give. The key to success will be – Can Jacob access what Esav has to offer without losing his core ‘Jacob’ identity and without violating Esav’s boundaries?
Soul Print then is not only about answering my call and living my story – i.e. the wave and particle function of soul print. Soul Print is also about striking the right balance between the different forces in my soul. Soul print is about the harmonious coexistence and ultimately integration of my Jacob and Esav soul parts.
What do these parts represent and how do we move to integration? Here I think a careful but creative reading of the biblical myth both identifies their nature and suggests four stages in achieving soul print balance in the relationship between the Jacob/Esav soul parts.
The first meeting between Jacob and Esav, both as archetypes in a soul and *as people, takes place while still in mother’s womb. Rebecca feels torn about. She is aware of a great struggle taking place within her and she is afraid. She goes to the Oracle who calms her. “Each child will have a place,” says the Oracle, “but one will have to be dominant and the other subservient”. The myth, however, as was always the case with oracles, was spoken in riddle deliberately…using unclear words to describe the brothers. All we know is that one will dominate the other, but not which one it will be. In my reading this is intentional – the point being that in forming an identity each must take from the other without losing the dominance of their own core identity. This idea will become even more clear in a moment or two.
Before proceeding however it is critical to note the obvious – **(just as we have been asserting throughout*) in Biblical myth soul print issues are not dependent on early childhood. The existence of unique soul characteristics is already manifest in the womb before birth. The lives of Jacob and Esav, like all of us, is their attempt to realize the soul print of their birth.
The second meeting between Jacob and Esav takes place at birth. Here already we get a sense of what each represents. Esav is hairy and red – both traits which represent primal energy. Jacob is apparently smooth and fair. Jacob is civilized and far more restrained. This reading is confirmed by their respective descriptions as they grow older. Esav is a “hunter and man of the field” while Jacob is “refined and dwelled in tents”.
Esav then represents vitality and the rawness of all that is primal in Man. He is a man of the field, at one with the natural and the physical, and perhaps even slightly out of control. Jacob is more academic, learned; he dwells inside in the tent. He is civilized and perhaps a little repressed.
Another, complementary way of seeing the difference pointed out by a number of ancient and modern biblical myth readers, including Isaac Luria is to see Esav as the primal masculine and Jacob as the deep feminine.
Tent dwellers in Biblical myth are, for the most part, women.
When men dwell in tents the Kabbalists understand that to mean that they are connected to the deep feminine within the male. By contrast, the man’s *typical * natural place is where Esav dwells – in the field.
Jacob and Esav need each other.
A person needs a subtle balance between primal energy and refinement in order to flourish. Emerging out of the Kabbalistic and Platonic idea that all people are a fine mix of male and female energies one could further say that growth in life depends largely on striking an appropriate balance between male and female in the soul. The nuances of the balance are an important part of what distinguishes soul prints from each other.
In the words of one Kabalistic mediation, “He who makes shalom above may he make shalom within us”. Shalom meaning peace derives from the biblical myth word Shalem meaning whole and understood by the Cabalists as harmony. The mystics then understand the meditation to say—”Divinity, point of shalom – of perfect balance between the deep masculine and feminine – help us find the Shalom balance in our souls between our deep masculine and feminine”. A soul print meditation which is an integral part of Biblical myth practice.*
Success then, to repeat our earlier formulation, which I hope is now clearer, hinges on Esav and Jacob sharing energies without giving up on their essential identities.
Perhaps the clearest example of a Jacob/Esav moment in our lives which captures this dynamic is the bride and groom under the wedding canopy. Marriage is a crossroads of names. It is soul print time. The entire contemporary debate over who takes which name from whom- is about what the balance between the male and female will be within the relationship. In Kabbalistic sources however, beginning with the Zohar, the wedding is also a pivoting point in the marriage of the masculine and feminine within both the bride and the groom. Jacob and Esav **in each of them need to strike the right balance in order to live together creatively and joyously.
In the old days of one ring ceremonies this was expressed in a subtle and lovely way. The Groom would give the bride a ring. Giving, which is a thrusting forward sort of movement, is in all traditions a masculine property, while receiving is a feminine property. Note carefully that I did not say male and female, because we are not talking about man and woman, rather we refer to the masculine and feminine within every man and woman. So the core relationship of masculine and feminine is set up with the dynamic of male thrusting giving and female receiving. However if you look more closely you realize that there is a reverse dynamic going on as well.
(insert from chayim aherim article)*
After all, what the groom gives is a ring, which is received by the bride on her finger. Now the ring is clearly a feminine sexual image while the finger is obviously a masculine sexual image. What this means is that the groom commits to developing and sharing his deep feminine while the bride commits to sharing and developing her deep masculine.
The weeding moment is thus understood by the kabbalists to be one of the places where Esav and Jacob kiss and embrace.
The third meeting takes place when the brothers are older. Jacob is in the tent cooking while Esav has been out all day hunting. The first thing we notice is confirmation of our intuitions. Jacob is in the tent – a feminine moment. He is cooking, a feminine symbol of civilization which receives raw meat energy and gradually channels it into edible and tasteful nourishment – not all that dissimilar from the feminine receiving of the male thrust and transforming it slowly patiently into a beautiful baby.
And yet when we look again we see that Jacob is cooking red soup and Esav, famished from a day’s hunt, is ravenous for some of Jacob’s soup. What a fabulously subtle expression of the basic plot! Esav has come to the tent. The outside man has come inside to Jacob. He has hunted all day but he understands that the hunt is insufficient to nourish him. Esav knows that he needs Jacob’s soup. He needs the feminine tent. He has come for help. He is trying to access Jacob energy.
Jacob is making red soup. The word red is repeated twice in the script for emphasis – “Red Red” soup it is called. To emphasize what? – All of the Esav connotations of the word red. Red is Esav’s birth symbol, he is the red man. And why is Jacob cooking red soup? Clearly he is trying to access Esav energy.
This is a potential soul print balancing point for Esav and Jacob energies. A moment of opportunity…The problem is that Jacob did not go to the field. Unlike Esav who leaves his masculine medium the field and comes to Jacobs tent- Jacob remains in his feminine medium – the tent. If he had gone to the field – the Esav energy after all is in the field – then it would indicate a genuine quest for integration. Jacob however does not want to leave the tent. He is not willing to touch his brother in His authentic place. Furthermore, he wants more than to integrate Esav energy – he wants nothing less than Esav’s birthright…he wants what belongs to Esav. In his jealously he wants to own that which is not his.
Jacob says, I will give you some of this soup in exchange for your birthright.
When Esav comes looking for him needing nourishment, Jacob is disdainful and manipulative. He doesn’t hear Esav’s cry for harmony and integration. Rather than give Esav healthy tent energy he gives him Red soup – that is primal Esav energy in the twisted form of manipulation.
Esav unfortunately falls right into the Jacob trap and agrees to sell his birthright for a bowl of soup.
Of course it doesn’t work. Jacob winds up without Esav Energy. The sale, as later narrative indicates, is considered null and void. And Esav, instead of receiving loving tent energy, gets a bowl of red soup – his own energy turned in on him – in his face.
When we attempt to attain someone else’s identity through manipulation it never does work. It does however reveal one insight – that is, the manipulator, Jacob is obviously not comfortable with his own identity. He is lacking soul print – or he would not be trying to become Esav.
The fourth meeting takes place sometime later when Isaac calls in Esav to give him the blessing of the first-born. He tells Esav to go to the field and hunt him food, after which he will receive the blessing of the father. Jacob however steps in, disguises himself as Esav and steals the blessing. Isaac blesses Jacob thinking that it his first-born son, Esav. Now it is true that Jacob was pushed into the deception by his mother Rebecca. Generally however we only allow ourselves to be pushed into things we want to do.
Jacob does not go to the field prior to the blessing – as Isaac had in fact commanded Esav to do. Jacob is still not ready for true soul print balance or integration. This time however Jacob goes a step further than before. He actually wears Esav’s clothing – hairy primal masculine clothing.
However the disguise is just that – a disguise. Jacob has not made any attempt to honestly integrate Esav energy. On an authentic level his Esav side remains fully unlived. As we saw in the last chapter, unlived life – unrealized soul print pushed into the shadows – always bursts out with a vengeance. In Jacob’s case it bursts out in theft, deception and manipulation. All three are clear pathological shadow expressions. Jacob feels himself clever and wise. Like all of us he has rationalized his pathologies through ideology or family. ‘It was important for the future of the people that I get the blessing and not Esav,’ he says with great conviction. On other days when he is feeling less pious he says, ‘My mother made me do it. I couldn’t get her voice out of my head.’
Jacob is not yet able to tell the story of his pathology and follow it back to his soul print. He does not know how to genuinely integrate Esav energy. Yet he is unable to own his Jacob side either. When Isaac asks the disguised Jacob, “Who are you my son?” he is telling him I see through your disguise. ‘Tell me you are Jacob, own your name and receive the blessing that is yours.’ Jacob however is unable to own his name and he answers “I am Esav”. Jacob gets a blessing that is not his. He has violated his soul print. In his failure to achieve soul print balance he actually slides down the slippery slope to an identity fully not his own.
The meaning goes even deeper however. In biblical myth Hebrew the word Jacob means both crooked and blocked. Jacob’s crookedness is a symbol for shadow. His crookedness blocks him from his own light. At this stage he is completely unaware of his crookedness. That is the symbolism of his not owning his name. He does not own his deep need for Esav energy, which is why it keeps coming up in shadow ways – manipulation, lying and deception.
He of course does not view it that way. If you would tell Jacob at this point that he was a manipulator, liar or deceiver he would look at you with a genuine unknowing look in his eyes. He has convinced himself that he is absolutely right. Every man is a genius when it comes to self-deception. Jacob will only be able to receive his own soul print if he first owns his unlived Esav self which he has pushed into the darkness where it has become shadow energy.
**(look for later version of this elsewhere???)
My friend Michael does a most wonderful reenactment of a scene he saw on a London stage. Imagine, at center stage stands an Englishman, well starched, formally dressed, on his pinched nose rests a pair of fragile spectacles, on his head a proper hat. He is expounding upon the importance of refinement and culture. As he speaks he starts to absentmindedly tug at his collar. “Yes, the refinement of character” – tug, tug – “fostered by a curriculum of the arts will civilize the basic instincts.” He stops, interrupting himself, “I do say it’s a bit stuffy in here, isn’t it?” – Loosening his bowtie he continues, “…the curriculum will civilize the basic instincts that plague our youth.” – Cough, Cough – “Indeed, we must soften and socialize…” he says twitching a bit, “these more passionate, urges” – twitch, twitch – “Urges which debase” – scratching himself – “and corrupt,” he says with a trace of a snarl He begins to harangue, “…revealing all of their Festering – Hidden – Wicked – Wild desires…” and with each word he unbuttons his shirt, ripping off his glasses, his hat, his jacket. “…those stirrings and desires of the most primal…” – scratching, snorting – “most, monstrous” – snarling – “animalistic sorts”. Now bare breasted, with twitching limbs, “Uprooting their primal” – drooling, hissing, “vile, vicious” unbuttoning his pants…”desirous, delicious” – grunting, growling – “Passions!!!” – his pants drop…and he is standing in full monty, buck naked, upon the stage, snarling, pulling his hair, beating his chest. He lets loose a primal yell, a howl, from the depths of his bowels, “Arrrgggghhhhh!!!!!!” and leaps from the stage and out the door…as if escaping back into the wild jungles from which he came.
This social satire all too keenly picks up on the need to integrate our primal urges into our personage.
Owning his soul print and finding his own blessing, I need to point out, is not just a lovely spiritual growth exercise for Jacob. He must go on a Hero’s journey in search of soul print – or die.
This is a heavy statement but true on two levels.
First in the most real and direct way- Esav wants to kill him for stealing the blessing.
Deeper still however, the artificially integrated Esav in us will always kill us.
To inject the blessing of another into our soul stream will kill us morally and spiritually just as sure as the injection of the wrong blood type can kill a person physically.
This is the end of act four – the fourth meeting between Esav and Jacob.
If the story will end well there will have to be an act 5 – another meeting between Jacob and Esav. This cannot happen without Jacob first finding his soul print.
Jacob leaves the land of his birth and family and travels eastward to ancient near eastern capital of Padan Aram. The hero’s journey has begun. Biblical myth in this story says to us two very important things about the how the hero’s journey plays itself out in our lives.
First, it is dangerous.
Jacob is leaving the Land. To leave the Land in Biblical myth is to leave the story. The underlying drama of the entire biblical myth story is getting to the Land, to the place of promise. Moreover Jacob is not just leaving, he is traveling eastward. As we have already pointed out, every single figure who travels east in the Genesis myth disappears from the story. They become minor supporting actors with no independent role to play in the central drama. It is classic dramatic irony** – when the audience knows something about the character which they don’t know…the careful reader knows that when it says Jacob is leaving the land to go east he is in mortal soul print danger.
Second, it begins with a fall.
It is more than worth noting that the hero’s journey does not begin with any great or noble intent on the part of the hero. Jacob does not even know that he is setting out on a hero’s journey. From his perspective he is fleeing the wrath of Esav who, for good reason, seeks to kill him. He has stolen Esav’s blessing.
The dramatic tip-off that he has fallen comes in another form as well. He is leaving the land. In Genesis to leave the land is to fall- to be written out of your own story.
This is a key idea in biblical myth. To understand that we just need to see how the book starts. Biblical myth, as we noted earlier, begins with the story of a fall.
Adam and Eve, the first mythical heroes fall and get thrown out of paradise. Now let me ask you my reader the question that the Kabbalah asks about this story! Couldn’t God get it straight? Couldn’t S/He, over a few billion years of guided evolution, develop a non-defective model? The answer of course is that the model is not defective. We WANT biblical myth to begin with a fall in order to share the idea that the hero journey of all of our lives begin with falls. There is no one in the world who does not fall. Life is about how I get up. To fall is fate. Human greatness comes from our ability to transform fate into destiny. The fate of the fall becomes the drive towards destiny. (is this repetitive?)
How do we find our way back home to soul print when, like Hansel and Gretel, we have wandered far and been seduced by Ginger bread houses. When the crumbs we had strewn on our way, which we thought to follow back home, have long since been eaten by birds *of prey?
We need to see what soul print hints Jacob is able to discern along the way to make him realize that he is in the wrong story, with the wrong blessing. What soul print hints will move Jacob to understand that if he does not return to the land and re-encounter Esav – if he does not integrate his wild primal energy and his deep masculine side into his personae – then he is lost?
There are two very subtle soul print hints within the Biblical myth. I would ask the reader however to read the next section with ***an eye to your life. As we unpack the soul print hints the Jacob /Esav drama see how they resonate with you.
The Patterns on the Wall
The first is where we/he wind(s) up when we/he run(s) away.
Jacob flees from the house of his father and brother to the house of Laban. He is running from his father and his brother. He has lied to his father and deceived his brother, who now wants to kill him for stealing what he believes ‘belongs’ to him.
Jacob finds a surrogate father in his Uncle Laban who treats him almost like a son. Laban also has sons who ostensibly should be his brothers. However there is no mention made in the text of the sons of Laban or their relationship with Jacob. That is until…until seemingly out of nowhere the Sons of Laban appear. They are introduced as new characters with only one line. “Jacob heard the words of the children of Laban speaking amongst themselves saying – ‘Jacob has taken all that is our father’s’.” And then the verse that follows it says – “He saw that Laban’s face towards him was not like yesterday or the day before.” Almost immediately after these lines Jacob understands that he must go home…confront his past…make peace with Esav…and try to integrate his own Esav energy.
What made him suddenly understand? What is the soul print hint that suddenly makes itself so obvious. He realizes that he ran away…right back to his own house!
In his house his father favored his brother over him. Now the same was true about Laban his surrogate father. In Laban’s house he comes to realized that he has been used by Laban; that Laban favors his brothers (Laban’s natural born sons) over himself.
In his house his brother accused him of stealing the blessing of his father. The same happens with his surrogate brothers – they also accuse him of stealing the blessings of their father. Jacob has tried to run away from Jacob. Jacob we saw earlier means crooked – a symbol for shadow. Jacob lacks integrity – his shadow – his unlived Esav has not been integrated. So he runs from his shadow. He denies that his name is Jacob. However when we run from our shadow it always follows closely on our heels.
When we run away from our shadow it follows us. We always wind up in the same situation from which we ran. The Zen Master Chuang Tse says it like this:
Once there was a man
who wanted to get rid of his shadow
In order to do so he began to run
The faster he ran
The faster it ran
He thought he was running too slowly
So he ran faster…and faster…and faster
And then dropped dead
He did not understand
That had he only stood still
In his shadow
His shadow would have
The first soul print hint is thus the realization of pattern. I have run away – into the very same situation- from which I fled. Maybe I need to wake up and stand still in my shadow.
Add blake quote about crooked path***
Eavesdropping on Heaven
The second soul print, like the first, is hidden in the story and can be seen only by a discerning eye. It is more than that however. It can only be seen by the discerning eye for which the hint was intended.
One nineteenth century mystic, Tzadok the Priest, makes a radical point. Though he says it in a different context it is a point which explains well the Biblical myth idea of a soul print hint. In order to explain the mystical idea of a heavenly voice he writes as follows:
“God makes his voice heard through heavenly voices. And what is a heavenly voice? When people are engaged in a conversation and a third person overhears the conversation and through it understands something of his own life. Even though the first two people are completely unawares…this is a heavenly voice.”
This is exactly how biblical myth understands soul print hints.
They are intended for the person in question and, like the intimate whisper or wink of the lover, they can be heard only by the intended.
The second soul print hint is gorgeous in its subtly and follows precisely this pattern.
Laban has two daughters, Leah and Rachel. Leah is the oldest and Rachel is the youngest. They are referred to in the text by the Hebrew words Gedolah and Ketanah, meaning respectively older and younger. Jacob falls in love with the younger daughter, Rachel, and wins her hand in marriage from Laban. On the night of the wedding Laban deceives Jacob and behind the heavy veils hides Leah, Laban’s oldest daughter.
On the morrow when Jacob realizes he has been deceived, he is understandably outraged and confronts Laban. Laban answers him with the following reply, “It is not done so in our country to give the second born before the first born.”
Now, be psychologists and literary readers with me for a moment.
What is wrong with that sentence?
The first thing would seems to be the phrase “in our place”. If Laban’s defense is that it is immoral to give the second born before the first-born he should say “It is not done.” To add the phrase “in our place” is to make it into a local custom and no more!
Second you may have noticed a word switch. Laban no longer refers to Leah and Rachel as he did before with the appellations “Older” and “Younger;” he now refers to them respectively as the first born and the second born. Why the switch?
Now you may think these are just nuance questions, details, unimportant! Soul prints however- are in the details. It is only by paying attention to the little things that we hear the still small voice of soul print.
In order to understand the hint, we must as always notice the patterns and parallel structures. Jacob deceives his father by confusing identities. He disguises himself as Esav and steals the blessing. Laban, Jacob’s surrogate father, deceives Jacob by confusing identities. He dresses Leah as Rachel and she receives Jacob’s marriage blessing instead of Rachel.
And lest we think that the irony of this was lost on Jacob, the text tells us what He hears Laban saying. Laban always uses the words older and younger to describe his daughters as earlier texts clearly indicate. On this morning by coincidence Laban uses different words – virtual synonyms, the first-born and the second born. Jacob however heard him differently. The text is recording how Jacob heard even if it is not precisely what Laban meant. “In our place” he hears Laban say – “unlike what you did in your place” we don’t replace the first born with the second born. This is of course what Jacob did in his place- in his father’s home. He replaced the first born with the second born. Anyone else listening to the conversation would not have heard it this way. Only Jacob, to whom the hint is addressed, understands its full import. Jacob recognized the hint- his rationalizations for taking the blessings suddenly seem hollow – he sees himself for the first time as a deceiver. Furthermore, he now feels the pain that such deception can cause the one who has been duped. Jacob begins to ‘own’ his pathology.
Let’s listen to the thoughts and feelings which began to run through his mind. ‘I deceived. I took the blessing of another. I wanted to live Esav’s story. I left the land – my story – to come to the house of Laban. I tried to become the son of Laban and make his sons my brothers. But it has not worked. They – like Esav – accuse me of stealing the blessing of their father. I almost got lost again in LABAN’S world. Why do I keep trying to be what I am not? What am I looking for…for myself. Well, who am I? I am Jacob, son of Isaac and Rebecca. I am deeply spiritual. That is good. I am a man of the tents – that is also good. Yes I need to access my Esav side. But I do not need to be Esav…’
He begins the process – prodded by soul hints which only he can hear – of reclaiming his soul print by balancing and integrating the disparate forces of his being.
When I was thirty-one I finished the long first chapter of my life. I was able in that time to do many wonderful things. Particularly in the field of teaching and good deeds **I had done well. I was blessed to be counted as the teacher of many wonderful people. I was privileged to have been a transformative and creative force for many people in multiple settings. I had many friends and a few dedicated enemies. And I divorced for a second time. I wasn’t thrown out or anything. I got up and left…a second time.
(you already said all this*)
When I realized that the same overwhelming loneliness and pain I felt at 19 and at 24 was still with me at thirty one I realized for the first time that I had done some things wrong. I spent an enormous amount of time over the following few years trying to follow my own unique pathology back to a discovery of my path. I Knew I was a good person. I Knew I cared and loved and I knew I was honest. I had no idea what drove me so hard. Why I worked day and night. Why I almost automatically rejected authority whether it be in the context of a board, a religious establishment or an individual employer. I did not know what in me moved me in and out of relationships during the time I was single. It took me years to reclaim my childhood. Even longer to claim my anger at evil as holy anger and my rejection of arbitrary authority as part of my soul print work in the world.
One day Dr. Daniel Tropper- the head of a major organization in Israel – said to me “You know Gafni…if you hadn’t been through all that you have, you never would have the ability or the audacity to do your television show.” I realized in one of those Epiphany moments that he was right…but in a much larger way than he even knew. It became very clear to me that everywhere I’ve been I needed to be. That there were no arbitrary stops. That I had a unique story and that the one thing I could do in the world was live it to the hilt.
It was at that time that my inner life began to deepen immeasurably. I began to consciously live my story. The pattern of my soul print, line by line, began becoming clearer. I understood that I had been critical in so many other people’s stories – yet I had never looked to see how they were important in my story. I had been a transforming agent in many lives but I had not allowed myself to be transformed. Soul print encounters are based on soul print exchanges. I had perhaps given soul print gifts but had never allowed myself to be received and perhaps never fully received a partner. I needed to be open in a real way…to let someone into my holy of holies and trust them to know that it was sacred and fragile ground.
Around that time I met my wife Chaya to whom this book is dedicated. She is a woman of God in the most pure and powerful way that I have ever witnessed. She has been able to transform me in so many ways…anew every morning. She has received me and it is my daily prayer that I am able to receive her. It is these thoughts that run in the back of mind as I unpack together with you the biblical myth of Jacob reclaiming soul print.
The soul print glimmerings have done their work. Jacob is returning to the Land – to Esav. We hear that Esav is coming to meet Jacob with 400 men. Jacob assumes their intentions are hostile. Now, however, we meet a different Jacob. This is a Jacob who has changed. He does not intend to fight Esav. He wants Esav to understand that he has made a mistake. He wants to give Esav – as an act of love – the pot of soup that he asked for so long ago. He wants to embrace Esav and in that embrace reach for the integration that he yearned for but did not know he yearned for so many years ago.
The night before he is to meet Esav one of the most stunning scenes in Biblical myth unfolds. He is accosted by a mysterious stranger when he finds himself alone and lonely on the bank of the river Yabok. His name in Hebrew is Yacov. The name of the river – clearly a play on his name – is a soul print hint. A hint to tell him, and us the readers, that this is a critical fjord in the flow of his life.
This is the first Levado story which we saw in the beginning of our journey. Jacob is Levado – alone, lonely. It is night. He must wrestle through his loneliness to his singularity. He wrestles with the stranger till dawn. Neither can best the other. The mystics say that the stranger was the Angel of Esav. Nachman Krochmal biblical myth reader, writing 200 years ago, says that the stranger was the energy of Esav. Jacob wrestles in the night – with his long disowned Esav side. He struggles with the unlived life that has become shadow energy. He struggles out in the open, in the field – Esav’s place – by the bank of the river. It is muddy, wet, dangerous and primal. Jacob and the stranger wrestle through the night.
The River Yabok: An observer watching from a distance reports the scene which he witnessed from afar – he said that he saw two figures making primal and passionate love on the muddy banks of the River Yabok.
The name of the River Yabok plays not only with Yacov but also with Avak.
The biblical myth word for struggle is Avak. It means both struggle and embrace. Two virtually identical activities when watching from a distance.
To struggle is to embrace.
Jacob has left his tent. He is struggling and loving in the mud. His feminine and deep masculine are merging. He is indeed wrestling, merging and making love to himself all at the same time. Remember the words of the mystical master in the last chapter. “Never underestimate the power of your mud.”
It is more than a silent wrestling match which takes place on that night however. There is the internal monologue of Jacob reaching for the balance and integration of his soul print. It is expressed in the myth text as a dialogue between Jacob and the stranger; “Bless me,” he says to the stranger when the dawn breaks and neither Jacob nor the stranger are victor or vanquished.
Blessing, of course, is what Jacob has been after all this time. The angel responds- “What is your name?” The scene is familiar to us. It is a precise replay of the scene twenty years earlier when Jacob steals the Esav blessing from his father Isaac. “What is your name?” asked Isaac before blessing his son. At that point Jacob could not own his name-his Jacob ness – his crookedness – his shadow. “I am Esav” he responded.
Five chapters later in the biblical myth narrative, twenty years later in his life- Jacob, struggling with his Esav energy, again asks for a blessing. Again the voice comes back “What is your name?” This time Jacob gets it right. I am Jacob – I am crooked he says.
William Blake knowingly wrote, “Improvement makes strait roads, but the crooked roads without improvement, are roads of Genius.”**********
He owns his name and he owns his shadow. The voice responds – “From now on your name will be Israel for you have struggled with God and lived.” The word Israel in biblical myth Hebrew means straight. Jacob who was crooked has owned his crookedness. In the very process of owning he becomes straight. It is about this process and playing off this story, that the prophet says – in description of a new age of consciousness – “And the crooked shall become straight.”
The story ends by saying that Jacob saw God face to face that night. He saw God in his own face that night. The very next day Jacob and Esav meet. It is their fifth meeting. “Esav ran to greet him, embraced him, fell on his neck and kissed him” Jacob and Esav have come together. Jacob has achieved soul print reflected in the “the name which he acquired” – his soul print name – Israel. (the actual embrace with Esav occurs, they throw arms around each other, kiss, and merge…just like their time in the womb, struggling and embracing, the brothers try to balance and harmonize*…some commentators say that he bit him, not kissed him…)*
This is the story of the third name – the name that we acquire. Some of the most important soul print hints are the names that we take on.
Exercise Make it real in your life
I took on the name Gafni. Technically I chose the name many years ago because it is a Hebrew translation of my English (polish??*) name Winyarz – meaning wine maker. Gafni means my vine. Close enough. Many years later however a close friend who I love very much gave me a passage from the late 8th century mystic Schnuer Zalman of Liadi. There he discusses the meaning of the Hebrew word blessing. Blessing – Bracha in Hebrew which has been the subject of much of our discussion in the previous pages. He locates a little known Hebrew etymology which relates the word blessing – Bracha – to Havracha – which is Hebrew for planting Gafni – that is the vine. Why are the words related?
Schnuer Zalman explains:
“Just as one must place the shoot in the darkness of the ground in order to plant the vine (havracha) so to must one go deep into their own darkness in order to receive their own blessing.”
Changing names is virtually always a soul print hint. The new name itself may contain the hint. It could be in the story leading up to the taking of the new name or in some other hidden meanings discernible only by you. Names are always soul print stuff.
Sometimes Soul Print Hints are not enough- We need Soul Print Guides. They are the people we meet along the way who remind of us what is important.
Soul Print Guides come in many shapes, sizes and colors.
They may be teachers, men and women of religion, or (pursuers of philosophy)* philosphers. Just as often however they come disguised in more hidden garb. They may be taxi drivers, addicts, or wrinkled old people long relegated to the Nursing home. Sometimes they come with a specific message. Other times they share a more general reminder that we are running too fast and not stopping often enough to make sure that we are going in the right direction.
(Emily I will fill these two stories in)
Two soul print guide stories:
1) The Cab Driver
2) And the Dancing Master
note to myself:
(—sefat emet vayikra – no man that does not have his moment perek – idea in that moment he is an angel – dersah in midrash on verse about angels – proof text of sefat emet each of these guides in that moment is an angel—angel hour moment—sefat emet and midrash wrestle with who are these human angels-MAYBE EARLIER IN CHAPTER WHERE WE FIRST MENTION ANGELS