Thursday, December 15, 2011

From the Maggid of Mezritch

I'm in Boulder now, going to massage school and studying Jewish texts with my father.

Today we looked at a short teaching from an 18th century rabbi called the Maggid of Mezritch, which Abba (my father) has asked me to summarize and post here:

Every chapter of the Torah contains the whole Torah, and the Torah contains every plane of existence, even though only the most superficial details are visible. There are endless worlds hidden behind this one, and the Torah contains them all. One day, when the redemption has come and we could bear to see it, the Torah will be revealed to us as it truly is, divested of the 'clothing' of lower worlds.
The great sages are able to lift themselves out of the material world, and out of each successive world after that, one at a time, to see the Torah in purer and purer form. In each world, as the sage divests himself of himself, the illusory self, he expands to see the Torah more and more as it truly is.
The commandments of the Torah are the material manifestation of the hidden worlds, and each commandment is so rich as to contain all of the hidden worlds within it. (Abba likes to talk about holography and fractals here.) If our eyes were truly open, we could see the light of these infinite worlds shining in each commandment, and in some future day it will be so. If we saw the Torah as it truly is, unfiltered, today, we wouldn't be able to bear it. The great sages, who find themselves higher worlds, see the commandments according to the level of their own attainment, free from the measurements and details that bind the commandments to lower worlds.
Our liberation into higher worlds is the reversal of God's process of creation. As God grew further and further from his own pure nature, he contracted and dressed himself in the limits and illusions of lower worlds. So, too, the Torah descended from pure, unadorned holiness into the details and measurements that allow material service to an immaterial God.
We get excited about a teaching like this, Abba and I, because it speaks to the transformation of commandments over time, the deeper nature of service to God. He and I aren't concerned, so much, with the innumerable details of orthodox ritual observance, but a modern mystical Judaism can orient us at divesting from the lowest parts of our nature and enacting the commandments in a holier form. (Ideally. Unfortunately, I'm still good and committed to my lowest material self, and it's far to easy to hear this as an excuse for lazy behavior. But that's a question for another day.)

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