Friday, May 12, 2006

Bahir 135

There is a lot going on in this next passage. The veils are many but still the light is revealed even more so.

Bahir 135. Rabbi Yochanan said: What is the meaning of the verse (Exodus 17:11), "And it was when Moses would raise his hands, Israel would prevail, and when he would lower his hands, Amalek would prevail."? This teaches us that the whole world endures because of the Lifting of Hands. Why? Because the name of the power given to Jacob is Israel. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were each given a particular Power. The counterpart of the attribute in which each one walked was given to him. Abraham did deeds of kindness. He prepared food for everyone in his area and for all wayfarers. He acted kindly and went out to greet them, as it is written (Genesis 18:2), "and he ran to greet them." Not only that, but (Genesis 18:2) , "He bowed to the earth." This was a complete act of kindness. God therefore granted him the same measure and gave him the attribute of Kindness (Chesed). It is thus written (Micah 7:20) , "You give truth to Jacob, Kindness to Abraham, as You swore to our fathers from days of yore." What is the meaning of "from days of yore"? This teaches us that if Abraham did not do deeds of kindness, then he would not have been worthy of the attribute of Truth. Jacob would then not have been worthy of the attribute of Truth. In the merit through which Abraham was worthy of the attribute of Kindness, Isaac became worthy of the attribute of Terror. It is thus written (Genesis 31:53), "And Jacob swore by the Terror of his father Isaac." Does anyone then swear in this manner, mentioning his belief in the Terror of his father? But up until that time, Jacob had not been given any power. He therefore swore by the power that was given to his father. It is for this reason that it is written, "And Jacob swore by the Terror of his father Isaac." What is it? It is Chaos. It emanates from evil and astounds people. And what is that ? It is that regarding which it is written (I Kings 18:38), "And fire came down and it consumed the burnt offering, and the stones, and the earth, and it evaporated the water that was in the trench." It is also written (Deuteronomy 4:24), "The Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God."

Commentary: The first part refers to the raising or lifting up of the hands. This tells us that in the battles of our life the outcome is only assured when we consciously make the effort to seek Hashem. If we don't or we 'lower our hands' then we will experience Amalek or chaos in our experiences. The world endures, our world endures with all the wonders and blessings of Hashem because of the intention that we are demonstrating through our prayers, the doing of Mitzvoth and the study of Torah. The act of lifting up our hands means that we are choosing to speak words of kindness and to fill our thoughts with the unity of Torah. We find meanings wending their way into our consciousness and are better able to understand each moment that preciously comes our way. Each of us is given an attribute from the holiness of Hashem which resides in our divine soul as the Yud or divine spark of holiness. When we share our good with others or study in such a way as to unify the understandings we have within our being and through acts of goodness with others we unveil the holiness if only for a moment to correct this world and make our lives and the life of the world purer and more holy. Abraham did this through his special quality of kindness. His kindness filled the world and overflowed through his acts and through the corresponding return of Hashem's blessings. For Abraham life became an arena for his kindness leading to his love and embodiment of Truth. What he was giving was returned to him a hundredfold. Isaac we are told above had the power of terror. His was the power of Chaos that emanates from Evil and astounds people. Why would this be a merit? In order to break the hold of Chaos upon a person's mind and life they must first become aware of it. Isaac was able to embody this awareness of chaos so that other's would suddenly turn away from a life of chaotic thinking and action. They would be astounded by the sudden knowledge imparted to them by Isaac. The knowledge or merit of Chaos allows us to dissolve our reactive tendencies and to offer them up to be consumed by this particular understanding. What is consumed is only that which has been shown to be false. Terror can be shown to another as to what the dire consequences of their actions might bring them. When you realize that your actions may affect you adversely then you are motivated to turn your life around.
Jacob too has the foreknowledge of the future that Isaac exhibits and is able to also come to embody Truth as his forebear Abraham did. It is the Truth of recognizing the presence of the holy in our lives. It is the truth of reaching up when chaos threatens our peaceful existence. It is the Truth of placing in heaven that which we choose as good and right for our life experiences.


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