Do we really need to rebuild the Temple?

Let us ask a terrifying question. It is a terrifying question to many Jews, because

it goes to the very heart of the system of beliefs that constituted “Judaism”, as it was framed by the Blessed Rabbis of Memory.

 

Now, this is not to deny the gift of these Rabbis, nor is it, at all, to disparage the astonishing spiritual legacy they gave us, without which– and of which we cannot have doubt– the Jewish People would not have survived; we would have been absorbed into the currents of history, dissolved, indiscriminately, into “diaspora” of the world genome.

 

For so many millennia, Jews have held out for the rebuilding of the Temple,

and the reinstitution of animal sacrifice. This is ostensibly because many of the biblical mitzvot concern sacrifice and the Temple cult, and cannot be fulfilled unless the Temple is rebuilt. So, if the Temple is not rebuilt, and the mitzvot are not accomplished, there cannot be salvation, either for Israel or the entire world.

This is how the thinking goes.

 

This is the biblical “program” developed by the ancient Rabbis. The performance of the mitzvot led to salvation in the world to come. But, the performance of all the mitzvot could not take place until the Temple was rebuilt, animal sacrifice became revivified, and then, Israel could continue its history, and its role as a leader, in universal history.

 

This “program”, obviously, required us to return to Israel from our Diaspora, or, we could not rebuild the Temple. It was a brilliant, and defiant, insistence, that the insult of the Romans- (and earlier, the Babylonians)— would be thwarted, and rectified, and that the Jewish “moment” in our history, would be picked up upon and continued.

 

Alas, however, in the 2000+ years since the Roman invasion, times did change quite a bit. Christian culture evolved, and expressed what was essentially a Jewish Universal message, in the form of a “Roman-derived” and later Enlightenment culture, called Western Civilization. In this era, there were dramatic advances in philosophy and science, as well as human political rights, and, overall, an enormous convergence with essential Jewish beliefs. Jews participated in this movement, and in fact, the movement would have been unthinkable without Jews.

 

During this time, we considerably advanced beyond the sacrificial stage of needing to sanctify our dominion over the beasts, under God. Now, in our current age, we need to sanctify our dominion over matter itself– and correctly tame our instincts to self-sacrifice in nuclear annihilation.

 

Now the problem is, Western thought, although foundationally Jewish, is still alien. Many Muslims, who experienced similar Crusades as we, also feel the imposition of Western (i.e. foreign) thinking upon us. On some level, we were both “raped” into accepting it, and there is a part of us both, that refuses, out of self-respect and legitimate defiance, to fully “buy into” modernism.

 

So— it is perfectly understandable, why many of our Orthodox brethren insist, and keep insisting, to rebuild the Temple, and that they would refuse to accept the effect of alien cultures upon us. But, I do remind many here:  Even the names of the months, as “Av”, are Babylonians. The purity of purity which we imagine we are, is not quite so pure if you look deeper.

 

For Universal Judaism, Tisha b’Av, is a remembrance of both the ancient Temples, because it is a remembrance of the Critical and Sacred Idea of Sovereignty. Each nation, like a collective individual, has its right to exist, to be itself, to have its own uniqueness under God.  The sanctification of Sovereignty, which is no less than the notion of “free will” on the order of nations, is a sacred idea which we, during this sacred holiday, will explain and expound upon.

 

However, sovereignty does not require, defiantly, that we need to go back to a more primitive early stage of development, when torching the fat of kidneys

was the way to provide a “pleasing odour” to God.

 

All contemporary Jews need to strongly re-look at their reverence for the rebuilding of the Temple. Some may choose to keep this longing, as part of their cultural and emotional inheritance. But, I think, it is time to basically set it aside, and move forward into a different kind of future.

 

This does not mean we need to ignore, or desecrate the Temple Mount, nor

relinquish the meaning of the Kotel, let alone merely permit it as a Muslim shrine, since they are the dominant occupants there. No one’s memory and spiritual activities needs to be violated.

 

But, do we literally, factually, in real-three-dimensional time need to rebuild the Temple and start animal sacrifice again? Can we please remove some of the extreme biblicism that was part of the rabbis’ “program” to preserve us?

Sure, this Torah was back then, our “constitution”, and it still is— of sorts.

But today, this Torah is the inspiration for our constitution, as well as some other inspired ideas which we brought in from Greek, Ottoman and British legal insights as well. Israel today is a different Israel. Shouldn’t it be?

 

What is important– and it is a critical aspect of Sovereignty– is that every nation should Reign in Truth!  And while Truth can be expressed through a scripture, and can be expressed by Illumined Rabbis of ages past and present, Truth cannot be contained by either one.

 

The fixity, and unrelenting desire to rebuild the Temple, is something that need no longer be a fixed-doctrine in today’s Judaism. It is time for it to be gently released, and go the way of killing someone for breaking the Sabbath.

 

Yes, this means retaining and reconceptualizing “Judaism”, in a way that retains the Essence of the great rabbinic “program”. Yes, this means CHANGE!!!

 

As my great teacher, Professor Ellis Rivkin, often said, “It is because Judaism changed that we survived. If we hadn’t changed, we would have died.”

 

Temples are built. Temples die. All things mortal change. The Temple, however

revered, is mortal. Change changes change.

 

Blessings to everyone; may we pray for the Sovereignty of Israel, as we

approach Tisha B’Av.

 

R’ms.

Revelation or Exaggeration

Shavuot, once a harvest festival, now represents the so-called

giving of the Torah. In synagogues all over the world, there is great  joy and excitement, with Torah study going on all through the night, into the dawn– re-enacting the biblical tale of the Jews waiting at Mt. Sinai for the Torah to be revealed.

Such poetry is, of course, part of the Jewish experience, and I’m never one to shun the beauty of legends, even if factually untrue. The “rational” inheritance in modern branches of Judaism, such as classic Reform which is my formal legacy, sometimes did get a little overboard, stripping away sentiment, the heart-view of an event, and the mysteries of human interpretation, which become legends–. even legends treated, over time, as fact. 

Now, if you’ve been following our little blog, you will know that I am not Orthodox. I am observant in the literal meaning of the world: I look. I observe. I see how Life works. I study it. I study myself. Over time, it is actually possible– and prolonged meditation can help– to actually begin to discern “How God Works for Good”, i.e. to have an experience of God.

This is the result of being truly observant. One learns the laws from Life!

Indeed, one can have a personal revelation, and begin to fathom, personally, some of the spiritual experiences that are underneath the recorded Torah. This is possible! The proof of this assertion is only in the under-taking of this.

However, this kind of personal revelation, which is very real, and which can dawn upon anyone who chooses to be diligent enough to pursue it, is not the kind of “bells and whistle”, or rather “lightning striking” revelation of the legend of Sinai.

I am not, at all, a believer in the facticity of this event. To believe this event, use it as a justification for the transmission of authority, eventually to the rabbis, sets up “religion”. And, while it may seem a contradiction, I am not a religious rabbi. Religion, to me, is a secondary phenomena! Life is first.

The true revelation of Life, the ability to actually raise one’s consciousness, as if on a mount top, and begin to glean the deep, astronishing order of how Life works, the intricate workings of middah kneged middah (measure for measure, sowing or reaping, karma, if you prefer), IS Sinai. And because such an experience may be had, one need not, in principle doubt that there might be prophet, such as a Moses, who could possibly have gleaned this knowledge and promulgated.

The legend about revelation may be exaggeration, but, it has a basis in spiritual experience, in spiritual FACT.

The story of the receiving of the Torah on Sinai, may not be fact, as we record it, but, this does not mean it is empty of TRUTH.. It is unfortunate, that the distinction between Truth and Fact, is all too readily blurred.

There is Truth in fiction, sometimes, in fact, more than in fact! Because embedded in the hearts of writers, including redactors of the Torah, is a spiritual power– of human insight and meaning– which, released from the prison of fact, can take flight, and sometimes fancy, and transfigure the mere event into a living symbol, something worthy of veneration, such as a Shavuot “all nighter”, even if it is “rationally” not rational.

This brings me to the point I want to make.

It is extremely sad that many liberal religionists wish to strip away all the beauty and poetry, and attempt to reduce Judaism simply to what is knowable, quantifiable as if that is what so-called “science” is.

But— that is NOT science. Science too has inspiration. Science too can have sudden “AHA’S”.

It is the opening up the depth and breadth of the human being that is the foundation of both religion and science.

Universal Judaism teaches a scientific spirituality. It is taught systematically. It is taught by putting Life first– because we know THAT is REAL (and if we don’t believe it to be real, what is the point!)— and then traditional teachings second. But, that being done, the traditional teachings are looked at for the meaning, the insight, and the tool that they can be for the transfiguration of the baser elements of the human nature, into more exalted natures: To raise us from the dust of the desert, to the top of a mountain!

If Moses can have a halo— if that is truly possible— then, WE can have a halo, or halos do not exist, unless we are not human, or Moses isn’t one too. The test of the truth of religion, no less than the test of truth in any scientific experiment is repeatability of experience— the ability to repeat a spiritual experience recorded, systematically, and consensually (meaning multiple people, multiple viewpoints in agreement).

For practitioners of Universal Judaism, Shavuot is a Yom Kabbalat, a day ofenlightenment, a Yom Chochmat, a day of Wisdom. It celebrates the human

facility to study the mechanisms of life, and clean general principles, be they some scientific “law”, like E=MC2 or some kind of a moral “law”, like Thou Shalt  Not Murder.

So, in this sense, it is very fitting that Shavuot began as a harvest festival.

But, in a more abstract, more rarified, way– the harvest is now KNOWLEDGE.

It can take quite a lot of toiling in the field-of-mind, to bring back a harvest of knowledge. But, it is upon knowledge that any ESSENTAL Judaism must be 

based. Not mere reverential knowledge from the past, but, Living Knowledge.

Please do not seek religion. SEEK KNOWLEDGE which is the foundation

of any religion worth its truth-claims.. If they don’t have knowledge, don’t go

there!

Blessings to everyone,

R’ms.

Circumcision: Who needs it?

Many Jews who are not aware of their own spiritual heritage, often assume that that the debate over the necessity of circumcision, is really just a Christian or modern (derived from Christianity) infection of Jewish thought.

It is not.

Deuteronomy, very much following the thinking process of Jeremiah,

is very quick to caution people that the mere clipping of the end of a penis does not, necessarily, produce God-blessed behavior, and that what is required, and is indeed more ESSENTIAL, is a “circumcision of the heart”.

This internal discussion within Judaism was picked up in a Pauline dialectic,

where– given the imminent return of Jesus, and therefore, the fact that the physical body was going to be transformed and ascend– (and the earthly penis was no longer going to be an issue let alone earthly food, like shrimp or scungilli– Paul did not follow Peter’s exhortation that circumcision be required for converts to the Nazarene. Paul, permitting these converts to follow merely the Noachide laws, did not require circumicision, but, just the bare Pharisaic requirements for a righteous Gentile.

This internal discussion remains with us today. It IS an internal discussion.

These days, we have Jews who are uncircumcised— such as many who came from Russia where it had become forbidden. There are many Jews who are circumcised in hospitals, where there is no ritual associated with it, although they can quickly gain admission to a liberal synagogue, even if the mother was not Jewish. There are Jews who are perfectly, halachically, kosher in their circumcision, and are, nonetheless, thieving scoundrels.

And these days– because, as I’ve written about many times, in this era of neo-naturalism (because of the Roman destructiveness that had not been purged by Western Civilization, because they did not know Jewish Law)— there is a movement to consider circumcision to be a primitive and destructive artifact,

a violation to the integrity and natural-sexuality, of a person. There is a new advocacy for a so-called Brit Shalom, a non-surgical covenantalization.

The Universal Judaism position is that, obviously, FORMAL circumcision is obviously, not a criterion of spiritual knowledge. Circumcision, in and of itself, cannot be considered the sine qua non of the Jew. For that matter, what makes so-called Brit Shalom adherents inherently more spiritually-advanced? I would say that FORMAL ritual of any kind does not, in and of itself, produce a spiritually-conscious individual!!

So, for me, what is required for an actual, authentic, circumcision– and I am not

opposed to the ritual, nor to more creative, non-surgical rituals, either– is a

CONSCIOUSNESS that is AWARE of the ACTUAL PLACE that circumcision serves in the economy of spiritual development. There can be lighter circumcisions needed for “thoughts”. There can be deeper circumcisions needed for “bodies”. There can be variations, BUT ALWAYS WITH A PURPOSE . . . if the awareness is there OF the purpose.

It is very curious, that in my counseling of both men, and women, I have noticed a tremendous need for CIRCUMCISION. By this I mean, that the linkage between God, and Individuality, and Force-of-Will, and Direction in one’s life, in relationship to others, and World History and Creation– does not go ALL THE WAY DOWN, to inhabit the genitals. What Kabbalists call “yesod”.

Such a cursory “metaphysic”, is necessary if the very meaning of COVENANT, in a reproductive (not necessarily “religious) sense, is going to take place. There must be a kind of “download” of the very purpose of Universal History, into the very tissues, and cell structures, so that they can genetically propagate.

(I cannot go into the genetics of this right now.)

In counseling people, I have noticed that circumcised people who have not achieved this spiritually, need to reconnect their circumcision to its purpose.

I have also noticed that uncircumcised people can readily achieve this purpose spiritually. And yes, “people”!!!!— circumcision, in a spiritual sense, is achievable by both males and females– and these days, is more critical than ever, because women are not stay-at-home, and are actually in the so-called “world of men”, i.e. actively engaged in building society, outside of birthing and family life. They cannot be absolved of societally-transformative “mitzvot” now!

Circumicision is a spiritual-alignment, and this spiritual alignment can take place in thought and HEART (as Jeremiah and Deuternomy require), but, there is absolutely no reason at all, why it should not also be concretized in the male, in the physical act, for those who are drawn to this particular surgical ritual.

(Or, perhaps not, too!)

After all, what IS circumcision? What IS it? It is the removal of a flap of skin, so that the head of the penis becomes slightly de-sensitized. The male of the species (who was, until this era, more engaged in societal and conceptual achievements), is not as sensitive (i.e. controlled) by earthly nature, so that a higher nature, can more readily dawn. We trim the lower head, so the upper head can open up. Certainly, in a more primitive era (and if you’re a male, you know you’re still rather primitive, in regard to the power of nature and sex over your thinking process), this was not a primitivism, but a SPIRITUAL INSIGHT.

The emergence of new awareness, so radically different than mere naturalism, that it required a ritual-memory in the flesh, to ANCHOR IT.

(Just as tefillin anchors Torah-Rabbinism on the skin of an arm!)

All this is terribly metaphysically complex, and I apologize greatly, because it needs to be unpacked in a better forum. However, the point that I am making is that I believe the Universal Judaism position should not be a divisive, destructive, either-or position, where “modern” fights “tradition”. Nor, do I believe that there is any need to exterminate mitzvot of religious-devotional kind, in favor of merely mitzvot of ethical kind, which is, essentially, what the Reform movement tried to do. In the process, we lost our own cultural uniqueness!

And the issue over circumcision is not mere “meaning” and “symbolism”, which is the common intellectual escape-root for holding onto vestiges from the past.

This is sentimentalizing. It is lovely, but, it is not essential.

The essential issue is SPIRITUAL-PHYSIOLOGICAL, BIOLOGICAL. The place of circumcision in GOD’S CREATION, for the Jewish Purpose of UNVIERSAL HISTORY.

What ARE these rituals? Circumcision? Tefillin? What do they ACCOMPLISH.

for the organism?

In Universal Judaism, it is my hope that we will seek a REASON that grants us the actual ability to DISCERN the PURPOSE (not just the allegorical meaning and sentimentalisms) of previously-inspired rituals.

It is my hope that we open up the consciousness so that rabbis and lay people alike, can UNVEIL the TRUE GIFTS of these ancient insights, and not just put them on a grid, “modern” or “traditionalist”, as if these two things are actually contradictory in reality (except in our divided minds and hearts).

Universal Judaism needs a Higher Rational than the Rational of the previous era of so-called “reform”. This was a blessed re-universalism of the Jewish people, to help them leave the ghetto and enter “modern” life. But, it exemplified a modern reason, and like all modern reasons, it has its smallness.. There are REAL FLAWS in modernism, philosophically. And modern religions are also flawed.

It’s time we evolve our contemporary-thinking, otherwise, our entrenched modernist liberalism becomes a vestigial remnant of the past, which, eventual

forces us to question it, too. Just as we do circumicision. I AM QUESTIONING OUR MODERNISM HERE! It is inadequate to the task of the our people!

Rituals ARE NOT GOD. Rituals, while recorded in scripture, ARE NOT EDICTS

from above, ETERNAL!!!

They are human concretized ACTS of awareness, that SERVE REAL LIFE

PURPOSE. They are purposeful-creativities!

If we cannot discern the real life purpose behind it— then the rabbinic recommendation of circumcision or not-circumcision is simply FORMALISM.. That has its place too, after all, we all owe a debt to our more Orthodox brethren for preserving ritual, even if it made no sense. Otherwise, we would have lost valuable pieces of ourselves. However, they owe a debt to us, otherwise we’d all be stuck in a ghetto, isolated from the world.

Circumcision has continued VALUE. But, the value requires TRUE KNOWLEDGE of God and Creation, not just of religion teachings past.

Again, and again, I say this: Universal Judaism puts Life first, and all human understandings, including science and ritual, second. We do not turn our

understandings into gods, which we worship.

We lap them off, like a foreskin, and allow the light in.

Blessings to all.

Rabbi Shevack

LIBERATION FROM RELIGION

I am not an Orthodox rabbi. For that, I do not apologize. I would delight in being an Orthodox rabbi, if I believed it was true to be Orthodox. Yet, I do not have the slightest difficulty with those who are Orthodox, and do not, as many other Reform rabbis have done in the past, deride their primitivisms. 

I am not Orthodox because I do not believe that the Five Books of Moses, the Pentateuch (Chumash) or THE Torah, was “given to Moses at Mt. Sinai”, together with the “oral law”, i.e. all the interpretation.

This for me is really a religious-political statement, following the Roman invasion. It says, in essence, “We, the rabbis, following our Teacher Moses, receive from him, not just the written law, but also his teachings on its interpretation, by which we receive our authority.”

This is a very brilliant, inspired way of defining a continuity of power, when, after the Roman invasion, the authority, of the priesthood and the Temple, had been decimated, and a new authority, needed to not just arise, but, be legitimized (i.e. made legal!)

So, at Passover, I am not a believer that our liberation from Egypt means that

we received the “Torah” and, in essence, the “Talmud”. This is a religious authority statement. I don’t believe it’s true.

Nor do I, as many believe, that Moses came down the mountain “merely” with the Eser Dibrot, what we, due to a goodly amount of Christian imperialism popularized, we call the Ten “commandments”.

What DID Moses come down with? The canon? Or, the sudden revelation of the Ten Commandments— as if they have absolutely no history to them at all?

No one knows. And anyone who asserts they know, asserts a doctrine– a teaching believed so: an article of faith. They do not know. They believe.

What I would, as a Universal Judaism rabbi like to address is FREEDOM, which

is the theme of the Exodus. And whether or not the Exodus actually took place,

whether or not the story is true, is IRRELEVANT for my purposes here. Whether the story is true or false, it nonetheless contains a Truth which is so very powerful, that even I– humbly un-orthodox (LOL) as I am– revere, and for which I am so very grateful, no less than my Orthodox brethren, for the great gift of the Torah.

Freedom” in a sense, might be considered a synonym for the “God”. Freedom, by definition, must be Unlimited, Unrestricted, Unbounded. But, this definition is not good enough, because if these are the sole criteria, then Freedom would be identical to Chaos. Certainly the two are related: one does not express Freedom to an extreme without producing Chaos. But, Freedom and Chaos are not opposed in nature.

Besides, these days we know that Chaos doesn’t just happen. There is a very subtle ORDER to Chaos. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

So, to the above definition, we must qualify: Freedom or God is Unlimited, Unrestricted, Unbounded, EXCEPT BY ITS OWN NATURE. “Freedom” or I believe “God” is limited, restricted, and bounded by the rules of its own Nature, Divine Nature, perhaps.

God acts a CERTAIN WAY. Not every fanciful way, we can think up.

This means that God cannot do everything! The fantasy God doesn’t exist.

God can only do what it is ACTUALLY POSSIBLE for God to be ABLE to do.

No differently than it is possible for a Giraffe to be an impressionist.

If God is Self-restrained in God’s Nature of Freedom– then, how on earth, can we possibly imagine human beings expressing freedom with no self-restraint?

Is there anything in existence that acts without any effect upon itself, which is a kind of modifier or restraint or qualifier to their freedom?

Good luck searching for it. You will not find it. The only place you will find anything that has no effect upon itself, is some kind of a Fantasy God, who

can do all things”, meaning, “whatever I imagine, God can do it, and more, no matter what it is, even if it violates God’s Own Nature.”

In this sense, I and my Orthodox brethren, might be in agreement, though our foundation for the agreement might be different; theirs more scriptural and traditional and only veiled philosophical— mine more philosophical and veiled scriptural and traditional. It really is a difference in emphasis, not substance!

You see if the God of the Exodus released us in Freedom, this freedom is not an

anything goes, because God Itself cannot express Its Freedom as anything goes. So, there is a Freedom FROM Egypt (a false order), and a Freedom TO

Something Else (a correct order). There must be an Exodus, and there must be a promulgation (a teaching) of some kind of rules for correct freedom.

It is therefore, understandable, that the CHEIRUT the Freedom of the Exodus, was followed by the CHARUT, the “engraving” of the tablets, in a GENERAL Universal, Spiritual Sense. To say the rules of the tablets, or by extension the scripture and its interpretation ARE the “Torah”, I think is quite the overstatement of authority.

Universal Judaism teaches that the foundation of the Torah, in all its varieties–

biblical and interpretive and philosophical, for all denominations, is a very real

Natural Law of Life– “How Life Works for GOOD” (and “Good” as I’ve said many times, is contracted to the word “God”, and thereby personified.)

The True foundation of Interpretation is Life-based: not a scriptural-based, or authoritative-based interpretation. And I think “Life”, in general, is another synonym for “God’.

So, this Passover, may I suggest that you celebrate your Exodus from the INSANITY of religions, that make themselves the Totality of the Laws of Existence, and do not properly place their clerical authority under Divinity.

(The REAL One—the ONLY REALITY, Reality Itself!)

Celebrate your freedom from the insanity of Orthodoxy. And celebrate your freedom from the insanity of liberals.

But, please, celebrate your freedom with the utmost respect. Or, you might miss the great value of any ignorance these two Jewish perspectives have.

In each viewpoint is an ignorance. If we consider the Laws of Life to be the foundation of the Torah, then, where is the UNIQUE JEWISH viewpoint? IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH to just be a spiritual-secular-philosophical generalist, no matter how “modern”.

On the other hand, if we consider the Laws of Torah to be the foundation of human Life, then, flexibility will always be viewed as an essential threat, and this is what results in the Obsessive-Compulsive disorder, that has contaminated so much traditionalism.

Freedom requires us to admit that there is, truly, a great commonality

between all the various denominations of Judaism: human ignorance.

We are all, humbly, in our precious and incomplete viewpoints, matzoh: very easily cracked and broken.

Blessings of Freedom to All.

May we Restore the True Light of Hebrew Teachings to all the world,

Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and secular Western . . . They all are views.

They themselves are not the Reality they describe.

May we know that Reality: It is That which liberated us, and is still trying to!!!

R’ Michael Shevack

PURIM- THE FARCE IS ALL OF US

The holiday of Purim, I find rather curious.

 

First, there is little historical data that it was actually based upon a true story; it appears more legendary, though based upon historical personages.

 

Second, it teaches the complete opposite from standard Jewish teachings. Indeed, it’s OK, for a Jewish woman to marry a non-Jewish man!!!! (LOL!) Provided, as in the case of Esther, you’re marrying a king, and it can save your people. (MORE LOL!) You’d be amazed at how this curious anomaly in the story is never ever noticed!!!!

 

Third, because although people spend a lot of time reading the Megillah, they actually don’t READ the Megillah.

 

The story of Esther is one of the most cogent, most brilliant, descriptions about the relationship between politics and sexuality, ever written. If the conquest of Europe was accomplished by Napoleon for his Josephine, if the conquest of Canaan was facilitated by Abraham and his Sarah— the perversions and tumult of history is made up of husbands being psychologically castrated by their wives, whether Vashti or Zeresh (Haman’s wife), which they then, overcompensate for— causing governmental instability, violence and war, all in the name of proving their egos inviolate.

 

If one takes a close look at the story of Esther, one will see the sexual dynamic behind history. Sex and history?  Of course.  The breeding of peoples into a single lineage, such as the Hebrew people, is bio-political!  Yes, bio-political.  Because of the contamination of Christian thinking, we tend to think of history as a movement of ideas or thoughts—proclaimed “in faith”— in the name or the ideal of Jesus.  And yet, politics is biological, and the True “Jesus”, includes his body, or his “incarnation” as a Christian might say. (He is a Jew!)

 

As the rabbis of Blessed Memory said (and I paraphrase): The outcome of our world depends upon the right relationship of man and woman.

 

When Vashti spurns the King, the king spurns Vashti. His sovereignty– his Power Under God is weakened by his sexual idolatry to his wife. He attempts (like any contemporary man after a divorce who wants a hot red car, and a babe) to repair it with Esther, but, the container is broken. Ahaseurus cannot rebuild the power of his sovereignty, because it has been broken by the fragility of his male ego.

 

The fragility of a male ego is the source of Haman’s downfall, when not only will Jews not kneel to him— not only does his greatest enemy become honored by his King— but his own wife degrades his weak attempt to maintain his power. We now know that Hitler began his assault, after asking a nice Jewish girl out for a date, and she refused.

 

The whole story of Purim is about how men attempt to dominate women, but women (through men’s desires) actually dominate men, and because of that, the SOVEREIGNTY of human governments, under God, is not established. It is established under the fragility of lust.

 

This is why, foundationally, the value of circumcision, when it is in its correct spiritual-place, is inviolate. It is a simple fleshly-reminder, that your penis belongs to God first, Creation second, your wife third, and your kids fourth. It declares your male ego UNDER GOD, and places your power under the Lord of Creation, thus declaring— whether it a small empire you wish to build, or a whole nation, or a little business to scratch out a living—that you are Providentially Protected, by your relationship to a Power greater than all powers (including your wife.)

 

There is no greater Power than THE Power. But, tell that to our bodies, which are tugged to sexual union, far more passionately than we cling to the YOKE of God, as the rabbis describe it.

 

To place the power of our lusts and our greeds— the yetzer ha-ra– our “tendency to do evil”— sub-ordinate (ordered beneath) God— is the purpose of circumcision, and the solution to all political mayhem caused by excessively testosterone-driven egotists.

 

Surprise? No. That’s why after the Tower of Babel, Abraham was raised up— so that a nation would serve God, not its own power.

 

Read the story of Esther very, very carefully. And, if you dare, look at your own love life, your own marriages. Can you see the idolatry, where your conscience and your ego is driven by the other person (and your need for them bodily)?  Can you rectify your relationships, and establish your personal sovereignty-under-God?

 

Purim demands that we remind ourselves of the ludicrous costumes we wear with each other every day, the ego’s dress– which distort the intimacies, and which create a human comedy of our sexual desires— and the tragedy of a profane history, to the utter destruction of all GOOD (God) and all Peoples of Good (such as Israel).

 

It’s very important to not just enjoy the frivolity of Purim, but

to end the personal farce in our lives.

 

It is so terrible, that alcohol is needed as a lubricant, if not a medication. No wonder it is a part of the holiday tradition.

 

Please— read the Megillah CAREFULLY. It is a masterpiece of mysticism!!!  It will teach you more about Kabbalah than, I think, any scripture there is!!

 

Blessings to everyone.

 

R’m

 

Reflecting on Elohim

 I have been, lately, quite amazed by the sheer genius of the Torah.

You know, it is often a philosophical concept that God is somehow Pure Being, indivisible, a “simple substance”. Even such mystical luminaries

as the late Aryeh Kaplan, touted this idea. It is part and parcel of much ofGreek philosophy, which certainly fused with the Hebrew One God, as philosophy became embedded in theology. Not an easy marriage, I think.

But, like Alfred Whitehead, I have been quite annoyed with this, no matter how devoted and bonafide this “Pure Being” has become. To my mind, it lacks purity.

Something never seemed right to me. For instance, if God supposedly creates a universe— meaning all together–– or more provincially, our particular universe, then, if God is a simple, substance, indivisible, then, how can there be observable SCALE in our universe?

If there’s no scale in God, then, in anything that results from God, one would expect no scale to exist at all, no differentiations of various magnitudes.

Sadly, Jewish religious philosophy has tended to identify Yahweh (with apologies to my Orthodox brethren, for using the word: consider me incapable of pronouncing it correctly)— with Being, since the word comes from the Hebrew root HVH.

Yahweh becomes identified with some kind of philosophical being— some Deity-of-Abstraction totally beyond us, which then requires some kind of magical intermediation, either through a semi-divine Messiah, or a semi-divine Kabbalah-of-Sephiroth.

But, all this, I think has gone far, far from the simplicity— and the simple genius of Torah.

One cannot fail to notice that the first sentence of Genesis, literally, i.e. “how it is written”, uses the term elohim. Originally a plural word, meaning “gods”, this became a singular-collective name— taking the singular verb barah, not baru.

The gods were acting as a single-entity, a God Constituted of gods, a Power constituted of powers.

From this— it is no mystery how dimensionality and scale were brought into existence. Since there are dimensions— elim within Elohim— since there are

scales within the Unity, many gods within Brahman so-to-speak, we witness acreation, whether it is a multi-universe universe, or, a singular universe with

solar systems— where such dimensions and scales exist.

You see, there is no mystery when the One God is not a philosophical abstraction but an ACTUAL ENTITY— with a real-nature! A real nature!

A real God?

Now— certainly, measuring that real Nature by our standards, might be quite difficult. There are incommensurables! Euclid proved that quite some time ago.

Our measuring rods, our rulers, cannot fully measure THE Ruler! But, this hardly means that that God has no self-dimensions.

The principle of non-idolatry, which is at the core of Hebrew thinking, through all its many phases, should never be interpreted that God is divorced from everything else, and has no connection to everything else, and is Exclusive beyond Inclusive of everything else. Who needs a God who is disconnected, and then,blames us for not being obedient? It makes no sense.

Non-idolatry” means the incongruity of human knowledge of this world, with the Nature That created our world. It is, on a basic emotional level, humility.

I do not know you fully, Lord. But, I am here because you are, in your fullness, of which I am a part, and without which, I would not be.” This is the very fact

of existence, which is the foundation of TRUE faith— not the fictional (believe it, even if it is absurd, out of duty!) so-called “faith” of all too many religions, tinged with cultism as they often are.

The over-philosophizing of Judaism is very dangerous. But, equally dangerous is the philosophy that has been embedded into our mathematics and sciences.

Such viewpoints create “mathematical artifacts” that make it seem that there is a “singularity”-barrier— that separates before and after in the universe,

and therefore, from a Genesis-structural viewpoint, prevents us from knowing God in any fashion. Stephen Hawking, has already shown, that this notion

Is questionable, and that there need not be a destruction into some primordial Black-hole! 

I urge everyone here to take a good look at the Torah  again. Take a good look at the distinction between Elohim— a God of Creation, for Everything and Everyone— and Yhwh— a particularization of Elohim, for the task of human history, through the Hebrews.

Despite what biblical critiques might say— I highly doubt this is merely due to some archeological distinction between Elohists and Yahwists— which found

its way into the layers of our Holy Book. I think it is purposeful, very, very purposeful, in a way that philosophy, mathematics and our sciences, has yet

to fully fathom or embrace: a distinction between ontos—- originating being— and telos— evolving being.

Blessed is Elohim— God of all Existence, Existence Itself! A God of

Dimensions beyond our dimensions, not knowable fully by us, but knowable through us— i.e. the very foundation of revelation!!

Wishing everyone out there, Jew or non-Jew, a delightful Greco-Roman Secular New Year. It is very much a holiday of “material” renewal— and may

we all prosper in the year to come.

By the way— do reach out and let me know there’s a heartbeat out there.

Sometimes I think I’m just talking to myself. Would love to get the blog

COOKING!!! Please spread the AUJ website around.

Blessings.

R’Michael Shevack

L’Shanah Tovah! Rosh Hashanah 5777

Rosh Hashonah 5777

I sit here, at 3:03PM, on the East Coast of North America, asked not  to not forget a Rosh Hashonah message. OY!

I’m quite tired. Usually, I don’t do any work after 3:30, so this gives me an actual

26 minutes (leaving me a minute leeway), to dash off something before I shut down for a Big and Extended Shabbat.

Rosh Hashonah is a curious holiday, to me, because it is not the actual New Years date, in the Bible, which comes in the month of Nisan, springtime.

It makes far more intuitive, and certainly, more natural sense— to have one’s New Year, i.e. NEWNESS, beginning when seedlings begin to poke their little faces up from the ground, and new, new, new . . . . begins to sprout up.

And yet, Rosh Hashonah, the Jewish (not Hebrew) holiday, was fixed at the sound of the Shofar, mentioned in Leviticus.

It was actually turned, curiously, into the New Year not of natural renewal, but the renewal of human civilization.

After all, it is only upon the harvest of the previous year, that can one actually reflect, and change the directionality of the next year. You see, we human beings are not merely natural creatures, but super-natural creatures. (You will know that, if you’ve been reading some of the Universal Judaism publications on the website.) We can consciously reflect upon ourselves, and consciously choose to renew. We need not do that only seasonally, but every day of the year. And indeed, it is incumbent upon us as Jews to do so every day, if not every moment of the year, and all years.

Nonetheless, the “harvest” of human activities, super-natural that they in part are, is a different renewal, requiring a different state of consciousness than the merely natural.

So, the 29th of Elul through the 2nd of Tevet, makes very good sense. It is the harvest of human activities, and also with nature together, i.e. defining not merely the natural, but the covenantal natural, in which human activity and Divine Activity through nature on earth, are conjoined, in harmony, i.e. GOODNESS.

This is therefore, the time of year, that we begin to reflect upon ourselves, but in Universal Judaism, we concentrate on the GOODNESS of what we have created.

I find it rather disturbing that Rosh Hashonah has been twisted to be preparatory for self-affliction, and for purging, which is Yom Kippur’s specialty. But, Rosh Hashonah, I think, should be a holiday of examining our achievements, the goodness we have created, so we can ever-remind ourselves of the enormous blessings that are ours.

In this sense, we are reminded by the Rabbis, that this is considered the Day of Creation, marking the Creativity of the Creator! Indeed, can we, as human being be creative, if there is no Creativity to begin with, built-into the design of this world, if not all worlds?

So, this year, as I approach my cut-off point, insistent, of course, that I do not wear myself down, before Shabbat, let us all take stock on Rosh Hashonah not of our impending-repentant sins, but of our great, great, accomplishments. Look at them with delight. Look at them with awe, that you— yes you— were designed with the spiritual capacity to actually make such accomplishments ACTUAL.

Amazing. Truly. A free-willed creature!!! Amazing. You are.

Me too.

We all are.

Blessings to all. It would be good to hear from you!!

And although it is highly doubtful that God is up in heaven writing you down in a book, for good or bad, a bit too much like Santa—- nonetheless . . .

May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for a good and worthy Life, this year!

R’ Shevack

NEW PRIMER: WHAT UNIVERSAL JUDAISM IS REALLY ABOUT

I just got  back from a Human Rights Summit at the United Nations, and it has made me think that it is most unfortunate, truly, horribly unfortunate, that Jews had become associated with a narrow, tribalistic and provincial view, and that the true world-girdling, universality of our message is only now— now that Western civilization is somewhat purified of its Romanism—- spreading.

What we see in this world is a viewpoint— a universal viewpoint— which originated with the Hebrew perspective, and best framed, abstractly-reified in the second chapter of Genesis. This is the essential message of Christ for a Christian. However, in this era, it is now planetary, ecologically-respectful, which is the core of the Hebrew Bible, sadly forgotten by Western civilization, except for a few of its broad legal inspirations, such as the Eser Dibrot, or Ten “commandments”.

So— please look at the world through a different lens, a Hebrew lens, and you will see that the great movement that began with our rag tag group of wanderers, continues, and continues.

Universal Judaism is a perspectival bridge to a whole new world for Jews, Christians, Muslims, and our secular world which has taken-to-heart, the prophetic historical goal of world unification and harmony on earth.

Here is a small primer, somewhat drawn from the previously posted book. It is simpler, and easier to read, but will give you the gist of our viewpoint.

Blessings to all. As we approach the High Holidays it is good to establish, once again, the critical importance of the Hebrew viewpoint, and why it must continue in the world, and be expressed cleanly— detached from excessive politics and religionism. Our world depends on it.

Blessings to All.

R’ Michael Shevack

Universal Judaism, a Primer

Life is Holy! Celebrate. That is what Universal Judaism
Is about. It is about appreciating and celebrating
the Divine Gift which is Life. It is about taking this great gift which each of us has, and learning how to use it: To create good. To experience good. And the word “God” is just a contraction of the word “Good”.

Universal Judaism is about mastering the universal, prophetic spirituality that is at the living core of Judaism. It is this that was transmitted to Christianity, Islam, and indeed, today’s global secular culture, which was based on Hebrew ethics and is vision of Universal History.

Universal Judaism is about re-creating our world: without the insanity of false ideologies, without wooden, idolatrous, destructive religion of the past, which distorts Spiritual Truth and divides humankind.

An Idea Whose Time has come

Universal Judaism is different. First, we require no birth rituals or any other requirements to belong. It is completely open to any good person, regardless of religious birth or background, regardless whether they are so-called “believers”, humanists, agnostics or atheists.

The fact is, these days, the vast majority of people are not religious at all.

“Just believing”, “Just having faith”, if it does not pass the test of being rational, reasonable, contemporary, meaningful and true, is no longer acceptable. People are simply more educated and more exposed. They do not trust authority blindly. Besides, to do so would be dangerous, the cause of religious extremism, cultism, if not terrorism.

In Universal Judaism, we’ve replaced “just obeying the law”, “tradition for tradition’s sake” with a different approach: an intelligent, spiritual life-methodology. This empowers every person, no matter what age or background, to prove for themselves– by personal and shared
spiritual experience– the Truth behind those ancient insights described by the words “covenant”, “God”, “chosen”, “history”. (There are other non-religious ways to describe them, too.)

Through Universal Judaism you can actually begin to own living, spiritual, knowledge. You will learn simple principles that allow you to re-frame ancient scripture as a contemporary spiritual document. So, you will be able to apply this time-tested knowledge and improve the quality of your life and relationships today.

Universal Judaism will give you the tools to create Good in your life. This is the spiritual experience that has been called “God”.

It is this you will want your children to know! It is this that will enable them to intelligently identify with their heritage. It is this everyone– Jew, non-Jew, anyone human– needs to know! It is human knowledge: To transform ourselves. To transform our world.

In today’s era which is 1) secular 2) scientific 3) spiritual and 4) individualistic, we believe this is the only way to keep the Hebrew World View strong and vibrant, continuously meaningful, if not Eternal.

The Universal Judaism Perspective

1. Universal Judaism is Secular

 The word “secular” arose as a necessity, because of the theological belief that God existed “out of time”, so we were, in a way, walled off from God. “Secular” meant existing in a mortal time frame, corralled by our calendar.

Universal Judaism does not hold that God is outside of time nor disconnected from us. For this reason, we believe we do not need any supernatural mediators or religions to connect us. We simply need to nurture a simple relationship with God, a natural relationship.

Indeed, we hold that God is Nature, that is, with a capital “N”. Certainly, God is not the earth, the birds and the bees. God is not a mere planet, nor the sun, nor any galaxy. These are different natures, with a small “n”. But God is THE Nature. God is The Nature of all natures. Any and all natures are included with-in this One Nature or God.

Another way to say this is God is the Ultimate or Divine Nature.
It is the Reality that includes all realities. The Existence that includes all existences. The Being that includes all beings.

One might say God is The Universe, in the original meaning of this word, “The All Together”. However, these days, we suspect there may be many universes, of which ours is just one. And universes may be born, and may die. So, however popular, we should be a little cautious with this term.

God or Nature is actually bigger than “The Universe”. Universal Judaism holds that God or Nature or The All Together (The Total Universe) is actually Living. Nature or God is Life, with a capital “L”. The Nature of God is Life Itself! And from Life comes new universes, new realities, and new existences. From Life comes new life, all things living, animate and seemingly inanimate.

 

 Yes! From Life Divine comes the most astonishing and inexplicable miracle of Life: Newness. Out of Itself, Life births the unprecedented. Out of Itself, Life births the previously unseen and unheard of. From Nature arises the new and the next nature; nothing ever repeating itself, the exact same way.

Therefore, The One Nature, Divine Nature, is Creative. Out of Itself, more of Itself is created. And this “more” is truly more: New! A new creation! So, if one were to describe The Creative Nature through the literary device of personification (as the Bible does), you might call it The Creator.

This is why Nature, as Universal Judaism understands It, can truly be called Elohim, the Hebrew name translated “God” in the first sentence of The Book of Genesis.

In the beginning, God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.

Elohim, in fact, is plural term (originally meaning “gods”) which takes a singular verb (barah meaning “creates”). Thus, It is The God of all gods, The Nature of all natures, The Life of all living, through which any and all new natures come into Existence. Personifying this, one might call it Adonai, the ancient Hebrew word for Lord, the word used for “Elohim” in traditional prayer. There are many possible descriptors, including, in this age, excellent scientific and mathematical ones.

Summing this up with the words of the Prophet Jeremiah (10:10), Universal Judaism believes in The Living God, Elohim Chayyim– a Singular, Living Being, with many living dimensions– aspects, realities, existences, natures, “gods”, creations, universes, worlds– birthed from with-in, and birthed out-of, Its Nature. This includes, of course, our own world!

Search no more! God is right here in secular life; you don’t have to be religious to find God. But, then again, God is also right here in correct religious life, too. God can be found in all of life, because God is All Life.

Think about it. The Living God is Life. And we, miraculously, are alive! That’s cause to celebrate

 

2. Universal Judaism is Scientific

Because Universal Judaism holds that God is LIving Nature, and all living natures are part and parcel of It, it is obvious that Universal Judaism is scientific.

When we are learning about the nature of anything in this world, or any other world, we are learning about a “piece”, so-to-speak, of God.

There is no gap between religion and science in Universal Judaism at all. That’s because there’s no gap between God and Life. Indeed, they are one and the same!

Since God is Living Nature, from which more of Itself arises, from which new aspects of Itself are created, this means that Nature or God evolves. Indeed, The Living God could be said to be ˆEvolution”, or the “Force” of Evolution.

Everything we discover in nature– on the earth, within the range of our senses, unaided, or aided through technology– are different evolutionary-views of The Living God. Even veiled, deep within the subatomic recesses of so-called inanimate “matter”, is a life-force, a “spirit”, “quantum fluctuations”, mirroring on its own scale, the Living Nature of God.

 

Science, no less than religions past, seeks some Theory of Everything. “God” is one possible theory. There may be others, scientific, philosophical or religious. But, no matter what the theory, no matter how it is flavored, any theory has to have a correspondence to Reality. It must describe “How Life actually is”, or, the theory has no truth to it.

No theory is ever 100% Truth. No theory is ever “Perfect”. Every theory is simply a narrow human understanding, a description within certain boundaries, like the ancient story of Moses looking through a cleft in the Rock.(Exodus 33:22) To mistake any theory as 100% true or flawless or perfect, is a contemporary form of idolatry: mistaking our understanding of God as God.

After all, if God is continuously creating, eternally evolving, could we ever know All completely? No!

But, we can embark on an adventure.

3. Universal Judaism is Spiritual

Because God is Living Nature, the One Nature, Unlimited Nature, Divine Nature– Existence, Reality, Being, Life Itself– God is Unique, Totally Unique, unlike any other nature we may study or know.

That’s why Universal Judaism would say God is Holy, from the Hebrew, kodesh, meaning “set apart”, or “distinguished from anything else.”

For this same reason, we may describe God as Awesome, from the Hebrew word yirah, which, sadly, can also mean fear. Perhaps in the past, more primitive people lived in fear of the Holiness of Almighty Nature, but now, we know too much to live in fear. So, we live in wonder and respect, together: awe.

Universal Judaism opens up the spiritual experience of the Holy to every person. This is the Mystery of all mysteries, which gives  meaning and depth to human life. This is the Mystery of all mysteries, which, once discerned, can transform the every day into a vibrant, active Living Participation with God’s Nature.

Though a properly guided spiritual methodology, easy to learn and practice, Universal Judaism opens up the spiritual dimension of life. God’s Uniqueness or Holiness is not worshipped as some kind of power we must placate. Nor, is It expressed through self-punishment, humiliation, self-afflicting debasement, let alone guilt and shame.

The Holiness of God is expressed through Celebrating Life: Life is Holy! Celebrate.

Universal Judaism’s spirituality is joyful. Universal Judaism’s spirituality is purposeful, advancing spiritual development, while enhancing All Life and Creation.

Universal Judaism’s spirituality is about each and every human being learning– through both personal and shared experience– that they are “made in the Image and Likeness of God”. (Genesis 1:27)

4. Universal Judaism is Individualistic

The word Image is translated from the Hebrew word tzelem, meaning reflecting. To be made in the Image of God means to reflect, through our human nature, God’s Nature. When we express, in our own human way, the Intelligence, the Feeling, the Creativity, the Uniqueness of Nature, directed for the purpose of achieving Good, that’s what it means to be “made in God’s Image”.

The word Likeness is translated from the Hebrew word demut, meaning “cut off”, meaning separated into a unique nature, having a unique, particular self. To be made in the Likeness of God, is to express   your individuality. Just as Nature expresses Its Singular Nature, so do you, as an individual.

Evolving and expressing your individuality in a way that is becomes increasingly reflective of God, forms the essential Derech Adonai– The Way of God– that Universal Judaism teaches. When one enters on this path, one soon begins to understand, intuitively, personally, “How Life Works for good”.

One soon begins to discern the “boundaries” that are built into Life, which must be observed if one wishes to create good in one’s Life. One begins to understand that there is a design or organizational structure to the way Nature operates; there is an Intelligence behind what we see. Nature, as we witness it on earth, has an intelligent order to it. The word “order” is a very instructive pun in the English for the biblical word “commandment”.

Only by living in harmony with Nature’s Order, or, said in more religious language, obeying “God’s commandment”, can we experience good in our earthly lives, i.e. have an experience of God.

When we do, in addition to our objective, scientific view that God is Nature, an “Impersonal” or “Trans-personal” God– we can also have the thrilling experience a Personal God, where God seems to relate to us individually: One to one, seemingly Person to person.

God is, of course, not a mere “person”. Yet, God can be experienced as acting personally, through each of us as an individual, to the degree that we have developed spiritually. That’s why your individuality is sacred! Your individual is an altar, so-to-speak, to God!

In this age of democracy, virtually the entire world has come to acknowledge that every individual has rights that are endowed by the Creator. This is a restatement, in the philosophical language of the Enlightenment, of the basic relationship described in the second chapter of Genesis: God creates the individual, directly; there is a One to one relationship.

Now, no one knows what a “right” actually is; it seems to be a kind of a legal fiction, a secular substitute for God-relating concepts like “spirit” or “soul”. And, of course, no one knows, as a proven fact, that “God” actually created Adam (Hebrew for one humankind) directly. Nonetheless, both views serve in the same way: to highlight the sacredness of individual conscience and freedom. These “come from God”, so they are beyond the control of mortal governments, whether religious or secular. Individual spirituality and freedom is vouchsafed!

This is truly a wonderful age of individuality. The ancient truth of the Hebrew perspective, which sanctifies individuality, has, finally, become the universal norm. This is the age of Universal Judaism.

Come as you are. Bring your individuality and thirst for Truth!

Truth, Beyond Good and Evil

As already discussed, when we open up our sacred individuality, we can discern the boundaries, organization, structure, and living “order” to How Life Works for Good– or, in biblical language,
God’s “Commandment”.

As we have this experience, we learn from Life “what works for good” and “what works for bad”. We discover, that if we live in alignment to God’s Order, that we tend to experience good as a consequence; we experience being “blessed”, having an experience of Good or God– “God’s Blessing”.

We also discover, that if we live in un-alignment to God’s Order, that we tend to experience bad; we experience being “cursed”, having an experience of less good, bad– “God’s punishment”, as it has been ignorantly and dangerously called.

This is the basic natural, spiritual insight, common to many cultures, of sowing and reaping, karma, cause and effect, what the Rabbis of Blessed Memory called middah kneged middah, measure for measure.

Every single problem we have, personally, or collectively in our society is the consequence of sowing and reaping, causing and effecting, through the mis-use of our creativity. For example: We create an automobile that pollutes the air. This causes us to get asthma and cancer. We get sick. “God punishes us” with “less good”.

Overtime though, we gain the spiritual insight that even so-called “negative” experiences, because they are the consequence of previous unaligned actions, can also be seen for good. In hindsight, negative experiences can be seen as “lessons”, instructing us on how to re-align our behavior to the Order of Nature.

For example: After getting sick from pollution, we “repent”, and re- design the automobile, so it is eco-friendly. Then, we receive “mercy” from God or Nature; the illness lessens. “The sin”– or unalignment to Nature’s Order or God’s Command on earth– has been “forgiven”. Out of such an experience emerges the human understanding of morality, which we embody in our laws, religious or secular.

Out of such experiences also emerges the religious concept of “God as Father”, a Parental (Personal) God, who punishes us, like a parent punishes a child, “for their/our good”.

Warning: Just because we can have an experience of a Personal God seeming to “teach us” through our pain and suffering, does not mean that God sits up on high, intending to make us suffer, designing our suffering in advance, like a cruel despot. Nor, should such a false god ever be used to justify a whole roster of insane laws, that have little to do with God’s Power, but more to do with human power and manipulation.

This false god is the reason so many secular, scientific, spiritual, individuals living today, rightfully shun false religion.

Universal Judaism believes it’s time to clean up this ungodly mess. A Healthy Experience of Covenant

Originally, covenant or, in Hebrew, brit, was a kind of “mutual non- aggression” pact between two kings or between a king and his vassals. Each would pledge their cooperation, so that good– not war and destruction– would emerge from the relationship. This concept was then attributed to a mutual-alignment between God and us, a covenant.

At the foundation of covenant, is the spiritual experience of “How Life Works for Good”, which we’ve already spoken about. Depending on whether we align or mis-align ourselves to “God’s Commandment”, the Order of Nature, we experience “God’s Blessing“ or “God’s Curse” on earth, more good or less good. (Deuteronomy 30ff) Aligning our actions to Nature’s Order, we live in harmony with Nature, and nature on earth responds with rain, bountiful crops, and goodness for all. (Deuteronomy 11:4-17) Thus, a covenant between God and us forms, generating a relationship between Creator and co-creator.

This basic spiritual experience of covenant is common to many different religions and cultures, though different words are used to describe it. However, the Hebrew People take this fundamental natural experience to a different level. Mysteriously aware of the Oneness of Nature, even beyond the nature of the earth, the Hebrews perceived themselves as an instrument of Unity and Peace, heralding it not just for their own nation, but also for everyone– all the nations of the world. The Hebrew vision was a World Vision. In theological language, this is called history.

What we commonly call “history”, is not just the memorization of past dates and disjointed events. History, in the spiritual sense, is the forward, progressive, evolution of human civilization, towards Peace, Justice and The Good, so that all cultures and societies become “made in the Image and Likeness of God”.

Through history, in the spiritual sense, all cultures and societies and nations progressively come to recognize “God”: The One, The All, The Supreme Existence, Reality, Being, Unity Itself. Out of this mutual- awakening, comes Peace, Justice, Righteousness, and all the great prophetic virtues, for all humankind.

So, one could say that covenant, when lived out historically, is the spiritual path of all humankind, together: universal history.
This great spiritual purpose was passed down from the Hebrews to their heirs, Israelites, Jews, and from there to Christians, Muslims, and in fact our entire global secular world, inspired by this prophetic ideal.

Today, we are not restricted to nature on earth. Indeed, we can now travel to the moon, planets and the universe beyond. Today, we are not restricted to mere natural elements, but can actually manufacture elements that Nature, “The Creator”, never “imagined”. This is the great gift of free will in today’s scientific, technological era, with expanded human dominion. (Genesis 1:26)

Nevertheless, the fundamental dynamic of covenant remains unchanged. Human beings must learn how to align themselves with The God of Creation, and work together through history. Once this right relationship if forged, good follows. Not just for one small people or nation, but, true to the Hebrew Vision, our entire species.

Welcome to the adventure of being human.

The Adventure of Universal Judaism

Such a grand vision begins with the thoughts, the feelings, and the actions of each and every individual. Are you ready for this adventure?

Universal Judaism teaches secular, scientifically-minded, contemporary people, how to ignite the spiritual experience of covenant, so it actually can become a living, breathing, personal experience, not a mere formal “belonging” to some synagogue or religious institution. Are you ready to go beyond “religion as usual”?

Universal Judaism teaches one how to engage the spiritual process of living in conscious alignment to “How Life Works for Good”. This alignment will begin with you, personally, but will radiate to others– family, community, nation, world– all others. This spiritual alignment radiates also to future generations, All Life and Creation. And most importantly, it will continuously radiate– growing, expanding, evolving, continuously reflecting The Nature of The Living God in whose Image and Likeness– as spiritual experience reveals and “proves” to us– we are!

As one embarks on the covenantal path, one begins to notice something marvelous, often described by the word “Providence”, “Grace”, hasgacha in Hebrew, “synchronicity” in more secular spiritual language. Regardless how you describe it, it is the experience of increased Coordination, Unity, Focus, and Universal Purposefulness. Indeed, one increasingly experiences– emotionally, intellectually, physically, such an alignment. And it feels good!

Improving our Alignment to God’s Nature, we begin to experience Life as Being One, Adonai Echad. We truly begin feel like a “Chosen Person”, or, in participation with like-minded others, a Chosen People.

Once one has the taste of such a spiritual experience, it is not at all hard to imagine that there is, truly, a solid, real-life, foundation to the religious concepts of “covenant” or “chosenness”. These terms cease to be the divisive, destructive, dangerous and silly “we’re loved by God more than you”; “we’re saved; you’re damned”.

Through Universal Judaism, covenant becomes revealed for what it really is: A powerful relationship with a Personal God, lived out through an expansive, Universal Historical Vision, with others. One can then readily identify with the Living Purpose of the Jewish People, because one is actually experiencing it prophetically, as a living God- experience in your very own personal life.

And perhaps even more wondrously, by culturing this huge spiritual experience of covenant, one can actually begin to appreciate, fully, the legends, events, and stories that are framed in scripture. After all, scripture is essentially just a recording of human spiritual experience.

Once this experience opens up for us personally, we can understand scripture clearly, lucidly, without all the confusions, misinterpretations and past propaganda.

The Bible, the Torah
This is a unique difference between Universal Judaism and other approaches:

We teach from spiritual experience first, and then footnote scripture and other literature.

It is absolutely amazing! Once one begins to personally experience a Derech Adonai, a Way of God, scripture begins to suddenly make sense. It is no longer shrouded in mystery, lost in conflicting interpretations, or soiled by political bias. It becomes, in a sense, a Living Book: Your life is reflected in it, and it reflects your life, and Life Itself.

When one begins to see that these spiritual teachings, recorded in these ancient texts, can help us produce greater happiness, greater relationship harmony, and greater monetary success, a new found respect for scripture takes place, but without the “scriptural idolatry” that is so contaminating so many religions.

Let us be perfectly clear here: Universal Judaism does not believe that the Bible was factually a “Revelation from God.” We do not believe that the Torah– The Five Books of Moses, Pentateuch in Greek or Chumash In Hebrew (from the Greek word penta, or the Hebrew word “chamesh” for “five”), was a revelation from God to Moses.

We do not take the Bible or the Torah literally, in the sense of it being perfect, infallible or pure fact. We take it literally, as a glorious example of spiritual literature.

We believe, and research proves it, that the Torah was a consolidation of texts that was put together after the Babylonian Exile (586 B.C.E.) It was to serve as a constitution for Israel. It became identified with the historical purpose of the “revelation” of the legendary “Moses”, but, it was not that same, exact revelation, nor is the scriptural Moses that exact, same Moses. To think otherwise, is religious sentimentality. It is spiritually valuable, beautiful, instructive. But, it is not fact.

The story behind the origin of Torah is far too complicated to narrate here, and there are many missing gaps in it. But, over time, the Torah became the scriptural basis for the authority of the early Rabbis who framed up “Judaism”. Under a state of military occupation by Rome, with the dispersion of Jews all of the world, they drew upon the Torah to create a kind of “portable government” to sustain the Jews. Like a seed, their hopes were that the winds of history would blow the Torah and its people, back upon their native soil; then, this seed would crack open, plant itself, and generate a new, living, flourishing culture and Godly government.

Although Universal Judaism does not accept the traditional belief that the “Torah was given to Moses at Mt. Sinai”, nor that the “Oral Law”, Rabbinic interpretation, has the full-weight of Moses’ authority– nonetheless, we consider the Torah and the Bible, to be precious, beyond-worthy of continued study and contemplation.

Why should one throw out the spiritual experiences of generations past, simply because one does not agree with the religious doctrines that have been inherited? Why should one throw out precious, irreplaceable knowledge, because these scriptures were interpreted superstitiously, not in a secular, scientific, spiritual Truth-based perspective?

The Torah, the Bible, and indeed, the enormous library of Jewish thinking, remains an invaluable recording of human spiritual understanding and awareness. Drawing upon this knowledge, we do not have to repeat the same mistakes as our ancestors; we can build upon this knowledge, learn from past mistakes, and not repeat them.

This can speed up our spiritual and our historical evolution as people, to continue our 4000 year old covenant, but, reconfigured for today’s post-modern world.

A Holy Community
The principles of “chosenness” and “covenant” are hardly own able by the Jewish People alone. After all, these are spiritual phenomena.

 The “mechanics” of how they operate are built into the design of Life, so-to-speak; they are not “religious”. They are just “How Life Works for Good”, in a universal, spiritual, historical context, as exemplified through the Jewish People.

Much essential knowledge about “chosenness” and “covenant” has been transmitted through the various denominations of Judaism. Others have learned this through sister-religions, such as Christianity or Islam. Still, others, open to the adventure of spiritual life in a free, democratic society, have discovered the Natural, Universal laws of Life on their own, outside formalized religious-structure, described in different, even non-religious ways.

Today, it is not religion, but science that has become the dominant force of knowledge in this world. Science is not “faith based”; it is fact based. Today, people are not so quick to accept, without question, doctrines and teachings from the past, let alone religious prejudice or propaganda. This has left a terrible gap in the hearts of people, who wish to spiritually identify with the Hebrew Vision, but intellectually and emotionally cannot go there.

This is a challenging historical event. It has never happened before, on the same scale, with so many different kinds of peoples, religions and cultures been involved. Because of this, Universal Judaism feels there must be a leap, a far-reaching leap, every bit as daring as the early Rabbis, who framed “Judaism” in the first century.

So, Universal Judaism has opened our doors to everyone– regardless of birth or religious background. We require no genealogies, birth rituals, formal education or pedigree.

This does not mean we are “everything goes”, and that we have placed the truths of everyone in a giant “Cuisinart”, blending it up into some “universal soup”. This kind of synchretism is dangerous, and disrespectful to our sacred individualities.

Nor, does this mean that we refuse the meaning and beauty of our unique, Jewish heritage and ancestral gifts, in order to “fit in” be more “universal”. Hardly! Such an approach was tried, and failed.

Quite the contrary, Universal Judaism is totally open to all the gifts of our tradition and past, all the great blessings and achievements of synagogue and community life. We are also open to the Truths expressed by other faiths, and of current theories of science, provided these do not endanger the sacredness and uniqueness of the Hebrew historical task and identity.

However, for us, any and all knowledge, past and present, has just got to make sense! It’s got to be reconfigured so it is authentically- contemporary: secular, spiritual, scientific and individualistic. “Modern” should not mean some cheap “watered-down” version of more traditionalist religions, nor some mere sentimentalism “to make the grandparents happy”, a mere “bar mitzvah machine”.

Our synagogue– a Greek word that means gathering place– will be designed differently for that reason. We will not be predominantly worship based, nor will we be based upon on the entire cycle of Jewish holidays. Our synagogues will emphasize living, spiritual education, and its intelligent, purposeful application to enhance the goodness– the experience of God– in everyday life.

It is this that creates a Holy Community, a community devoted to living the experience of the Holy: The Unique God. The Holy One. Adonai Echad, as scripture describes it, in the Shema Yisrael. (Deuternomy 6:4)

Living Whole

Universal Judaism education is designed to unify our sense of selves. Today, the vast majority of good and noble governments draw heavily upon the Hebrew tradition for their ethics and morality. Practically- speaking there is no austere separation between “Jew” and “non-Jew” in terms of essential ethics and law.

Moreover, today, the State of Israel has joined the nations of the world, to a great extent, as an equal. We are no longer living exiled into a diaspora. The Great vision of the Rabbis, when they “invented” their portable tabernacle, “Judaism”, is fulfilling itself, in the flesh.

There is no longer any reason for Jews to live half in the Jewish world, and half in the non-Jewish world anymore. Today, it is possible for a Jew to be fully Jewish, and fully participate in the World, without loss of our uniqueness or essential humanity.

There is no reason for us to forfeit our uniqueness, in order to be part of the world. Quite the contrary! Our differences are badly needed!

Sadly, there continue to be many real, and critical differences between Jewish and non-Jewish viewpoints. Many of our teachings were terribly misinterpreted, and mangled by different theological and philosophical perspectives, as well as unkempt political motivations.

This has resulted in many of the problems of our Westernized culture and economy. An example of this is our current ecological devastations, which is the result not of the Jewish view of universalism, but the Roman Imperial view. This, and many other abuses, need to be corrected and healed with a healthy Universal Judaism perspective.

The Truth of Jewish teachings needs to be known and taught openly, to everyone!

As a Light Unto the Nations (Isaiah 42:6 ), Universal Judaism considers it our unique task to “set the record straight”, and teach a True understanding of Our God, Nature Itself, for today.

As the root of Christianity, Islam, and the entire global, secular culture, all of which were inspired by the Hebrew prophets, we believe this is our critical contribution to World peace, justice and mutual- understanding. We can help achieve this, only by remaining ourselves!

That’s why in Universal Judaism synagogues, circumcision, kasher, the bar mitzvah and many other customs, are still honored, explored and evolved, for today’s way of Life. However, these are re-framed, reconfigured, and expressed anew– to highlight their timeless truth, scientific wisdom, and critical Universal importance.

Because this is a different era, we will often teach these customs differently, in a way that makes more intellectual and spiritual, scientific sense. But, the essence of these customs remains unshakably authentic. (For more information, go to www.universaljudaism.org, publications.)

The world has changed! After so many centuries of repression and persecution, we finally have the opportunity to release the beauty and the fragrance of our great Jewish legacy to the entire world– to everyone– without apologies!

Finally, there is an approach to Jewish education that retains the best, and the most noble of Hebrew spiritual understandings, without getting trapped in the “same ole’ same ole”.

The Holiness of our Hebrew Perspective– 4000 years old and counting– now continues through our Universal approach– now shared, with complete openness to Jews, Christians, Muslims and our entire secular global world.

 Questions: The Beginning of Answers

What do you want personally? What do you want for your family? What do you want for your nation? What do you want for all nations? What do you want for All Life and Creation?
What will be your legacy? What will your footprint look like?
How do you wish to approach your Life? What shall its purpose be?

Shall you live for yourself alone? Or, shall you just live for your immediate family or friends? Or, shall you live for that Greater Family– that family of Humankind– which includes your own?

Do you wish to live joyfully? Happily?

Do you wish to have success? How do you measure this success?

Do you wish to own, for yourself, the amazing spiritual gifts of the Hebrew people? Do you wish to discover the gifts that created the world’s most astonishing contribution to the arts, sciences, government, economics etc. to all the world’s culture– far disproportionate to the less than 1% of the world population that we have been?

What do you want for your children, should you choose to have any? Would you like them to have self-esteem? To know they are “chosen”, in the right, humble meaning of that word? To know that they can, freely direct their lives and their creativity to achieve?

No one can take away your freedom to choose. Whether it arises from “rights endowed by the Creator”, or because God breathed His Breath into the dust, to form Adam– your freedom is Sacred, born of Something Beyond.

Truly, your freedom is the spiritual sign that you indeed have individuality. And this individuality is not born of merely earthly nature, but of a Higher Nature. You are not just natural creature, like a bird, a bee or a beast. You are also Super-natural, literally meaning Beyond Nature. You are Made in the Image and Likeness of God.

So, ask the right questions. Choose how you would like to live.

Universal Judaism is here for you to consider.

Life is Holy! Celebrate.

The Association for Universal Judaism

Rabbi Michael Shevack, founder

contact@universaljudaism.org

www.universaljudaism.org

 

NEW PUBLICATION Re-igniting The Hebrew Spirit for Everyone in Today’s World

Hi everyone.

 

Thanks for being there while I worked through some of the chapters on the Universal Judaism book.  It’s been titled, finally, Universal Judaism. Re-igniting

The Hebrew Spirit for Everyone in Today’s World.

 

I’ve posted it in the publications section of our website.NEW

http://www.universaljudaism.org/publications.html

 

Please feel free to print it out. (By the way, if you do like it, please remember we are a 501c, and you can get a hefty tax write-off, if you want to help.)

 

Now, I must tell you, I’m not so certain that this fits the bill of what I had in mind.

I had originally intended on creating a very simple primer. But I found in the course of writing this, that I had to work out many of the theological and historical and scientific problems which have been plaguing Jewish thought over the centuries, and clarify the differences. Sadly, these problems got passed into Christianity, and Islam, and into our Western culture.

 

I also felt compelled, as if by a force unseen, to help integrate some of the

differences of viewpoint in so-called Jewish denominations, as well as reach out to Christianity and Islam, sister viewpoints.

 

The result is quite a different book than I expected. It may be easily readable for some. For others, it might be difficult. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that I have

nailed some of the terrible problems that are making Judaism and spiritual-development in general problematic:  Excess Biblicism, scriptural idolatry, false authority systems, ignorant philosophies with excessive revelationism, excessive obsession-compulsion and excessive fixed ideationalism.

 

Please read it therefore for the content, not for the fact that this is a “book”. I’ve

come to the conclusion in this age of sound-bytes, that it would be best for me to deconstruct the book, into multiple pamphlets, in order to teach in a more succinct, more easily communicable form.

 

This all aside, what is critically different about Universal Judaism, unlike other

perspectives, is that we do not consider God to be “there” and Creation to be “here”. We’ve discussed this before in other blogs. This leads to an insane disconnection between God and us, and then, one needs massive “revelations” such as an exaggerated “Torah” or “Jesus”–  something to bridge the gap.

 

The Torah might be considered, as the early rabbis did, as The Blueprint of Creation, an actual “map” that God had in His mind, before He created the world. Obviously, this is pre-posterous, i.e. putting the pre before the post. And the same  problem exists in the translations of the first chapter of John, in Christian scripture, where it seems that Jesus was there before Creation, i.e. before the earth, Jesus was already there.

 

In Universal Judaism, God is ALL. God is All Nature. Nature Itself. Divine

Nature, The Ultimate Nature. God is the Universe– meaning “The All Together”– The Universe containing any number of worlds and universes, known and unknown to us. God is the Totality. All Life. Life Itself. The Living God, to use the

Phrase of the Prophet Jeremiah (10:10)

 

We may use the word God or, as did Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza, we may also

say Nature (with a capital “N”) of which the earth is a nature, as is mars or the sun (with a lower case “n”). This Nature is living, i.e. it creates or evolves, continuously expanding and growing. That’s why we create and evolve!

 

This Nature is Creative!  It possesses the capacity to create “newness”. Because of this, WE can be creative. Indeed, every plant and animal is, to some extent, creative, or evolution could not take place. But, human beings can concentrate that creativity, and make “something” new–  as does God or Nature, That can create a new universe or world, never before existing.

 

The approach in Universal Judaism is not unlike the kind of “field theory” thinking by James Clerk Maxwell or Albert Einstein. We build into a “God concept” the qualities necessary for explaining anything that comes afterwards, so it is a more complete model. We do not need miracles that are beyond the laws of nature. The only miracles that exist occur according to the laws of nature, only that Nature is beyond our visible world and our narrow perspective.

 

And the astonishing thing is, that the more we work with this model, the more we

notice that all the fundamental teachings of classic Judaism, and the Bible, just seem to pop out with amazing clarity.  All the laws of the Bible, become viewed not as austere commandments, but as aspects of the order of nature in which we live. When we live harmoniously with nature, we live in covenant upon the earth, obeying God’s order or command, both synonyms in English.

 

It is obvious in this model, that if we worship anything in nature other than the Totality of Nature AS God, then, we are an idolater. It is obvious that we will only receive a limited view of God, a limited power of nature, than the Entirety.

 

It is obvious too, that Nature has many natures included within it. It is a Nature of natures. It is a Life composed of all living. It is Elohim, a Singular God, which is a plural word. A Nature of many dimensions. A Reality of many realities. THE Existence of all existences.

 

The Universal Judaism view, ironically, turns out to be more authentic, than the

traditional viewpoint. But, warning:  One thing is lost.  Excessive authoritarianism and moral control.

 

Oh yes, one thing is lost:  The disconnection between science and religion, between philosophy and biology, between so-called secular teachings and spiritual teachings.

 

God is restored to being ONE!!!!  Religious authority is put in its place!

 

This model allows one to open up fully to the human spiritual experience of Oneness, of Unity, of Adonai Echad, the One Lord, our human personal, historical view of Totality!

 

Please read Universal Judaism, and let me know your thoughts. Again, I will probably break it down into little pamphlets in the future, but at least I’m satisfying some of the requests for more detailed knowledge.

 

Now that I’ve finished it, I’m going back, having adequately digested the complexity of the issues, and am writing the small, easy-to-read, simple primer, I had originally intended. I’ll post that too, once it’s done.

 

Thanks for your interest in a Hebrew perspective that MAKES SENSE: Universal Judaism.

 

It’s time for us all to take a leap!!!!  Towards a better way to be Jews, Christians,

Muslims. A better way to be secular!!

 

The laws of God are built into Life!!!  They are not, first and foremost, religious.

Be who you are. Believer or not believer. It doesn’t change Reality or Nature.

 

Blessings to all.

 

R’ Michael Shevack

CHAPTER 3 – A SUPERNATURAL ANIMAL

Hi everyone. Continuing with this course in the religious philosophy of
Universal Judaism, here is chapter three of the primer I’m working on.

Religion, in general, especially Hebrew-brand religions, make absolutely no
sense at all, unless you begin to understand what is it about the human animal which is
different form other animals. Indeed, if you understand this– the burden of technology– independent,
material creativity, not bound to the cycles of nature of earth– only then, can you understand the meaning
of the story of the Garden of Eden, let alone, the value of any so-called “religious laws”.

Our ability to have individual-creativity– free will– free because it is loosed from the natural, unlike virtually
all animals– defines not just a natural creature, but a super-natural creature, literally meaning “beyond nature”.

Only an animal that has this ability would be forced to invent a God, in order to explain itself, because only this
animal could conceive of their power coming from a force which is higher than the mere earthly natural.

It is a sad thing that religions have forgotten the origin of their own worth, and rendered themselves, worthless!
Please read this important chapter, and please start up a conversation on our blog. We will have social media
up and running shortly.

Thank you and Bless you.

R’ Michael Shevack

Universal Judaism

Re-igniting the Hebrew Spirit for Everyone in Today’s World

by Michael Shevack

Chapter Three A Supernatural Animal

Now, the capacity to evolve exists in all creatures, as the theory of evolution makes cogent. However, in no other species is the capacity to evolve so pronounced as in the human being.

While all other species grow and evolve with the challenges of their earthly (environmental) experiences– a fact which is at the cornerstone of Darwin’s theory of natural selection– no other creature equals our ability to grow consciously. That’s because no other creatures is as conscious. No other creature is as conceptual.

We human beings have the extraordinary ability to conceptualize Reality, to form a workable picture, an understanding, an abstract model of the world we are experiencing. That’s why, except for some relatively minor efforts on the part of chimpanzees and some birds, we are the only major tool makers in the animal kingdom.

To create a tool means one must be able to look at raw nature, take it in hand, and re-shape it according to an idea, a concept. We have to look at a stick, imagine it in our mind, re-shape it according to our imagination, alter it for our needs, and use it, often differently, than intended by nature: a stick now becomes an awl to pry insects out of a log, or, with a few modifications, an arrow to shoot some prey or enemy.

Whereas most creatures might be called natural, bound to the earthly nature from which their bodies emerged, living in synch with the cycles of nature and the seasons of the year, we human beings, while natural, are also super-natural: beyond nature. We have evolved to be able to go beyond earthly nature to access a much Wider Nature. Our bodies tend to be earthbound, but our minds launch skyward.

Whereas other creatures tend to be stuck in their particular environmental niches, an ancient observation which the Bible records (Genesis 1:24), human beings are not so stuck. Through our extraordinary conceptual abilities, we have found ways to explore the sky, the seas, underground, and now, way, way “above”– the moon, the planets, the sun, galaxies upon galaxies, and universes upon universes, that are part of Nature.

It is no mere evolutionary artifact– but, in fact, a living symbol, a sign of our unique conceptual status– that in the entire animal kingdom, we are the only near perpendicular animal. From feet to head, from head to all above, we form a near perpendicular connection between earth and the heavens. In a way, we are a living transversal connecting two parallel realms. So, we human beings are not just in a taxonomic class of our own, but also in a spiritual class of our own. Our body is a living sign of our spiritual nature; our spiritual nature is expressed through the physical form of body, inseparably so.(27)

To explain this, the Bible describes God breathing Its Spirit into the dust to create a living soul (Genesis 2:7). Others have offered up the explanation that a soul is some piece or spark of God that we possess, something mere natural animals do not have and which accounts for our conceptual, supernatural or rational abilities. Regardless whether it’s “spirit” or “soul”, these are– like “God”– just working theories. They’re useful explanatory tools, but as yet unproven. Better models may arise as human beings evolve.(28)

From a contemporary scientific viewpoint, no one knows exactly how the human being became so remarkable, how we can be earth born, yet not earth bound. But, with all respect to Darwin, it is highly unlikely that we could ever evolve beyond the earth if only earthly forces were at work.

Human evolution must be cosmic or our evolution

makes no sense.

Although we are at a fairly rudimentary stage of development, the human being is, as the second chapter of Genesis describes, a cosmic being. That’s why theories like “God” or “soul” are somewhat unavoidable for us if we wish to account for our existence. They are placeholders-in-thought to build upon.

After all, only human beings can vault the heavens and come back with knowledge beyond the earth. Only we can travel to the moon, and beyond. Only we can reveal unseen universes in so-called theoretical equations. Only we can take a God’s Eye View of Life, conceptualize it, and understand its mechanics. Only we can fathom, abstractly, the governing principles or laws of the universe, and apply them personally. And, yes, only we can understand, abstractly, the spiritual laws for How Life Works for Good and govern ourselves, consciously, by them.(29)

That’s because we are not just conceptual, supernatural, cosmic; we are also something else, something beyond special: individuals.

We are individuals! You, me, everyone! We are an astonishing evolutionary advance! Individuals have the ability to re-engineer Creation for our individual needs and desires. We have individual creativity, our very own, uniquely so. We can actually take our universe personally, generating new ideas never before thought of, and materially-express them just for our pleasure alone! It’s a kind of Divine self-centeredness.

Indeed, just as God brings new possible existences into Its Existence from an Existing Existence, we humans also bring new possible existences into our existence from an existing existence within that Existence. God is Creative and we individualize That in our own way. This is why the Bible defines us as being Made in the Image and Likeness of God. We reflect the Nature of God (as the Hebrew word tzelem, translated Image, means); we are separate, cut off, as the Hebrew word demut, translated likeness, means. We are separated into individuality, an individual being from The Divine Being.!(30)

Life is Holy. Celebrate your Individuality.

Individuality allows us to consciously focus and concentrate the aspects and qualities that exist in nature. Bringing them under our dominion (Genesis 1:26), we can master these and direct them for our individual benefit. For example, animals exist in nature. But the supernatural animal can focus our intelligence upon them, conceptualize them within our minds, and therefore domesticate them, farming them, at will, for our needs, rather than relying upon them to just appear haphazardly in the wild.(31)

Another, more subtle, example: Flight exists in nature. But, through the power of our conceptual, supernatural, cosmic individuality, we can understand, abstractly, the laws that are involved in flight and re-produce this natural phenomenon whenever we want. This is how we invent jet planes or rocket ships. We find a quality within nature, focus and concentrate upon it, abstract it, and direct it for our individuals needs. This is how we individuals accomplish all our technologies: farming, house-building, manufacturing new products, even controversial technologies like abortion and genetic engineering. We, as individuals, comprehend them into existence– comprehend, in the dual sense of encompass and understand.

Our individuality allows us to comprehend the fixed and often restrictive laws of nature and neutralize them, so we are not imprisoned by them. While a block of iron will sink in water and will not levitate off the ground, human beings can study the laws of flotation, shape the metal accordingly, so that the upward force of buoyancy neutralizes the downward force of gravity. The result? Metal ceases to sink, but floats. In water. In air. A fixed law of nature has now been neutralized for human needs.

The result? Freedom. There is nothing more precious to human life than Freedom. Nothing more precious to Universal Judaism. Freedom is at the very core identity of the Hebrew people, in our Exodus from enslavement in Egypt. Freedom is the very gift of contemporary democracy that we all now enjoy, thanks to Enlightenment philosophy that re-discovered ancient Hebrew principles that had been forgotten or ignored. Freedom is what it means to feel human!

Life is Holy. Celebrate your Freedom.

We supernatural animals have a far greater range of freedom than all other animals. We supernatural animals have a far greater freedom of options available to us. One such option is that we can conceptually, abstractly, comprehend all the options available to us, and consider them, weigh them, contemplate on their possible projected effects, before we act. We have that amazing ability, the hallmark of human freedom: choice.

Life is Holy. Celebrate your Choice.

Conceptual, supernatural, cosmic, individuality is what grants us, as religious philosophers call it, free will, so, we can consciously, will-fully, choose how we shall direct our lives and talents. How else could we be individuals?

Should we achieve this? Should we achieve that? Should we do something hurtful or even lethal to someone? Or, should we refrain, and bring more good into Good? Upon our ability to consciously choose is founded the science that religions call morality.

Now you may not believe that the Biblical story of the Garden of Eden was factually true. You may not believe that there was a real Adam and Eve and that there was an evil serpent, seducing them to eat the forbidden fruit.

But, can you deny that we human beings have an intelligent faculty within us, that continuously tempts us to explore, to be curious, to go beyond natural limitations and boundaries, to taste the fruit– i.e. experience the consequences– of our individuality?

You may not believe there was an actual Tree of Knowledge in the midst of the Garden (Genesis 2:9) But, can you deny our ability to explore, discover, focus, and concentrate the knowledge which is central to how our world was created, formulating human expressions of this as scientific laws? Can you deny our ability to ingest, digest, catabolize, metabolize and assimilate knowledge, and ironically, in this age of personal computers, process the information through bytes of our Apple.

In spite of its primitive, Near Eastern imagery and mythic vestiges, this Biblical story, fiction though it is, nonetheless expresses a Real Truth about our human condition. We all still live somewhat disconnected from earthly nature (The Garden) because we are consciously, individualistically, creative beyond nature.

Although the unfortunate phrase as been grossly misused, causing unnecessary

pain, guilt and suffering, falsely indicting our very birth as something poisoned

and evil– in truth, we all do live in a kind of original sin. We all do live

somewhat separated from our earthly animal nature because of our skyward,

conceptual, supernatural, cosmic individual nature, i.e. human.

You are human. You are special. You evolved to be a conceptual, supernatural, cosmic, individual animal. A soul? Nice theory. Made in the Image and Likeness of God? Another nice theory.

Such religious theories aside: are you ready to own the fact?

Warning: Do not read further, unless you are. It could be dangerous!

Chapter Three: Footnotes

27. The spiritual is seen in the physical, the physical expresses the spiritual.

Yet we tend, because of a lot of foreign thought-contamination, to consider spiritual as conflicting with the physical, as if these are polar opposites that are irreconcilable. This is not Hebrew thought. This tends to be Gnostic thinking which infiltrated Hebrew thought, probably from Babylonia and definitely from Greek thinking. Gnostics believed that materiality was an obstruction to spirituality. For Christians, the incarnation of Jesus is a healing of the seeming opposition of spirit and flesh, and is a re-statement of the Hebrew view, in a slightly different form. We will discuss this later more later on.

28. There is so much confusion out there about what is a “soul” or what is a

“spirit”. It is compounded by the fact that we translate a lot of ancient

religious texts into foreign languages. So, we might translate the Hindu

atman as soul, and prana as breath or spirit. But, it doesn’t necessarily

mean that we mean the words “soul” and “spirit” the same way.

29. As with footnote 27 above, who is to say whether so-called spiritual laws

of Creation are not physical laws, and physical laws are not spiritual laws.

This is a lot of Gnostic contamination, where we view physicality as

something apart from spirituality, because we, personally, experience

physicality and its death as some kind of finality. Is it? Universal Judaism is about developing a Unity Consciousness beyond these arbitrary oppositions.

30. In Darwin’s theory, natural selection depends upon the individual organism. It is the individual organism that is the unit by which the environment stimulates the transmission of “positive” traits, those that

facilitate survival. Thus, unlike in the Bible, where it seems as if there

is no individuality in any animal other than the human being– a case which is tremendously overstated– it is undeniable that there is

individuality in the animal kingdom. The difference is conscious individuality, which only the human being has to the same degree.

This is an important qualification for today’s era.

31. In the Bible, God parades all the animals in front of Adam, and Adam promptly demonstrates his ability to name the animals, i.e. conceptualize them, marking them through the use of a symbol-word. Thus, he demonstrates conceptual power– comprehensive power– over them, which is necessary for domestication. All power over the any force of nature is achieved the same way.

(copyright 2016 Michael Shevack all rights reserved)