The opening verses of the Torah portion of bechukotai, (Leviticus 26:3 – 27:34) reminded me of the ideas of American physicist David Bohm (1917-1992). An innovative thinker, Bohm did not limit himself to physics and went further than many in trying to grapple with the implications of quantum physics on our understanding of mind and brain. He also engaged in famous conversations with J.D. Krishnamurti, one of the most significant spiritual teachers of the 20th century, and developed a system of “dialogue,” a way for people to conduct a conversation which takes the insights he has gained into the nature of mind and consciousness into account. (more…)
This week’s Torah portion, behar (Leviticus 25:1-55, 26:1), discusses many items of social justice, including the issue of slavery. Slaves were an integral part of the economy in those days. While the Torah does not abolish slavery, it seeks to secure the right of slaves by law (Israelite slaves, that is; slaves of non-Israelite descent receive a much harsher treatment, unfortunately):
If your kinsman under you continues in straits and must give himself over to you, to not subject him to the treatment of a slave. He shall remain with you as a hired or bound laborer; he shall serve with you only until the Jubilee year. Then he and his children with him shall be free of your authority; he shall go back to his family and return to his ancestral holding. For they are my slaves, whom I freed from the land of Egypt, and may not give themselves over into slavery…. For it is to me that the Israelites are slaves: they are my slaves, whom I freed from the land of Egypt, I Y-H-V-H your God. (Leviticus 25:39-42, 55)
Y-H-V-H spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the whole Israelite community, and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, Y-H-V-H your God, am Holy. (Leviticus 19:1-2)
The Hebrew word kadosh (קדוש), meaning holy, means different, other, set apart. As such, it is an attribute of God, as the one who is completely set apart from creation, the transcendental reality. (more…)
As practically all of the book of Leviticus, this week’s Torah portion, acharey mot (Leviticus Ch. 16-18), lists numerous rules regarding how Aharon, the chief priest, is to conduct himself while he is in the Tent of the Meeting (another name for the Tabernacle).
For the Hassidic rabbis, these are just codes for how one should conduct oneself during prayer. The “Tent of the Meeting” is not a physical place for them; it is the deeper realms of one’s consciousness. Entering the Tent of the Meeting (ohel mo’ed) is entering that place within oneself, where one meets one’s Maker.