How far does one push a fad? Or, “What’s Greek to me?”

It is Chanukah. And while there are many legends associated with it, including

the most popular, and most believed-fact, that there was some kind of magical eight day

supply of oil for the Temple (There was not, according to the account in Maccabees, which

the rabbis did not include in our canon, because it was a bit too Greek), there is

I think, a FACT far more inspiring.

 

Greek custom had become “all the rage” in Judea, especially amongst the upper echelon

priests. All things Greek meant, truly, “cosmopolitan” in the original meaning of the word.

We were part of the world-cult of Greek culture, with its fashion, its budding philosophies,

and its delights— including the gymnasium, with its naked wrestling.

 

Greek culture became so biologized—or at least it was attempted so— that in order to wrestle

in the gymnasium, and not be glaringly Hebrew, because of that absence of a foreskin, a

little piece (pun intended) of cosmetic surgery was invented called an epispasm, which, quite

painfully, reconstructed the circumcised penis so that it appeared uncircumcised to the Greek eye.

 

These days, there are many foreign fads and foreign cults which are invading the world-consciousness.

Jews, who are now open to the world, with far less prejudice than any of our ancestors, are now

bombarded with this World Cult. The many potent and powerful and real Truths in the world culture,

are assimilating themselves into Jewish thinking— just as they have throughout the centuries when we imbibed Arabic, Christian, and other cultures. Indeed, our original Hebrew written characters,

paleo-Hebrew, is indistinguishable from Phoenician.

 

But, there are many true violations of the Hebrew consciousness. One of them, is that the

Cult of Humankind is not the same as the covenant, nor is it the same as the One God.

Now each, in a sense, is a “unity”, a unified humanity, a unity-of-humanity-with-God. But, our One God, is not merely the Redeemer of Israel and the world, but, more importantly, more foundationally,

more critically, THE CREATOR: The Creator is beyond the Cult. Beyond the covenant, in and of itself.

 

That which HAS PRIORITY (in the dual sense of importance, and possibly succession, depending on your view of “the big bang”) over any scale identifiable by our senses and mind. THAT is GOD- And even

if you do not believe in God (and I’m not certain what a “belief” is)—minimally, such a “placeholder”

for Something Beyond Us, must be held, logically and rationally, or we forfeit humility.

 

Now epispasm, per se, is not fundamentally different than wearing clothing that is “gentle inspired”,

and Jews are quite prominent in the clothing industry. It is no different than wearing a Turban if you

are one of the prominent Jewish advisors living in Moslem territories in the 9th century.

 

But— the question is, what is the value of the UNIQUE CULTURE which is Hebrew or Jewish?. Is there a

language it speaks which is different, even defiant when necessary, over the mainstream culture, and which is sacred:. an instrument by which knowledge of the One God is communicated, so that it

be known by cultures over the world, a Cosmic Entity beyond the cosmopolitan, truly beyond any

known universe, and culture which defines it for human beings, concretely!

 

The retention of the foreskin, when properly linked in devotion to THIS God, so that it becomes

an identity, through which the devotion of men to this God is anchored in the flesh, in their very manhood, — becomes a magnificent cultural language which communicates the unique enduring value of the Jew.

 

Now, you may know from other articles I’ve written, and from the “brand” of Universal Judaism,

that we do not REQUIRE circumcision. After all, so may circumcisions are just mere artifacts, and

have lost their devotional aspect or significance. To me, to allow the MERE rituals to be the SINE QUA NON of the Jew, so that we lose people, and potential new adherents (Yes, I’m not afraid of being open to converts), is an overstatement of meaning, at best. The circumcision, per se, is not the covenant.

 

So, as contemporary Jews, wearing our contemporary clothing, screaming with ecstasy at Hockey,

Basketball or Cricket games— we must ask the question: What is the LIMIT TO OUR FADS?

WHAT IS THE LIMIT TO THE CULTURAL AFFECTATIONS WE BORROW FROM OUR SURROUNDING

CULTURE?

 

Universal Judaism adheres to the following perspective:

 

When there is a direct violation to the living purpose of the Jewish people by the ignoring of

a cultural ritual such as circumcision, or, because the cultural ritual, becoming lost in its significance, has become itself a violation to the living purpose of the Jewish people— we must ACT.

 

We must act like the Maccabees to overthrow the pig blood on our Temple Altar— not because it is

a pig. We must, like the Maccabees, reinstate circumcision, not because circumcision per se,

is an absolute-edict by our ancestral God.

 

We must act– whether by retaining circumicision or by finding other mechanisms– to restore the

TRUE PATH of the Jew.

 

I myself was recently called upon by a Russian Jewish family to provide a non-surgical circumcision.

The parents, though totally devoted Judaism, were not happy with the idea of “desecrating” the

baby’s body. Ironically, half their family, because of Soviet persecution, were uncircumcisized.

So, I created a BRIT SHABBAT, and used the other “sine qua non” of the Jew, that the rabbis

conceived of— and indeed, there is a debate which is more “Jewish”, circumicision or Shabbat.

 

I did not make the foreskin the criterion of the Jew, because then, I might lose the Jew,

and perhaps later on, a child who retains their foreskin. I acted with an eye for the future, not

short-sightedly, though not without significant criticism from many.

 

Any act, whether circumicizing, epismasm-ing, or uncircumcizing, can be SACRAMENTALIZED.

It is the consciousness of the Jew that needs to be built.

 

The ideal is of course that the ritual act and the purity of its meaning, should be bio-ontologized

AS the ritual that has properly distinguished us. But, that ideal is not necessary, and there are other

approaches that are sufficient to help build-up our people from the devastating effect of the World

Cult. In our era, it is not so much Greek, as Greco-Roman-Secular-Capitalist-Modern.

 

This Chanukah look at your life. Where have you taken the fads too far? When have you body pierced,

not for mere adornment, but as a desecration of the Holy Vessel, you were given? When have

you dressed merely to manipulate, sexually, another person, to satisfy your desires, without any

cognizance of their living souls, their sacredness as creations of God, Nature or “the universe”.

 

Look at your fads with the eye of Maccabee. ACT!

 

Light one candle, towards the reclaiming of your Jewish self.

 

Blessings and Light to everyone this Chanukah 5778.

 

Blessings and light.

Yom Kippur and The end of religion

I proclaim the end of religion on the Days of Awe. Is this apostasy?

Have I betrayed the Jewish People? Have I denied our history, our faith, our people by proclaiming the end of religion?

What kind of rabbi am I, to do such a thing? To disparage the countless generations of Jews who donned their tallit, and wore their equivalent of sneakers to Temple on the High Holidays?

A different one!

Did not God create, as Tractate Sanhedrin said, every human being to be unique?  So please forgive me, as I proclaim uniquely my view. Whether you agree or not, whether I am “the rabbi” and you “the congregant” or not, is irrelevant, and implies no coercion of you on my part.

I proclaim the end of religion; the end of religion is the ultimate repentance of the Jewish people, if not all humankind.

Let’s start simply:   Let us suppose I teach you a rule “thou shalt repent of one’s sins”. Now let me reinforce that rule, based upon the Edict of the Divine Being, Blessed Be His Holy Name. Now, let me declare that repenting of my sins is to be blessed, i.e. that one is rewarded by God for it. Now, let me declare its converse, that the non-repenting of my sins, is cursed by God, and I will be punished.

If I BELIEVE the above to be true— and one day, break the ritual of repentance—- and inwardly feel I am doing something wrongful–then, as not a few (Jewish?) psychoanalysts point out– a wrong thing may happen to me, a subconscious self-adjustment: I may sprain an ankle, or get a cold, to correct my own violation of my own inner belief, punishing myself, and believing it was “God”.

But, if I don’t believe the above to be true— and one day, I break

the law requiring repentance, then, I might discover that I have a perfectly glorious day, with no problems, and in fact, the law to repent, when broken, had no effect upon me whatsoever. In fact, I may hit the lottery that day. Then, religion has ended for me. I am no longer a puppet of God through religion’s requirements; God is no longer a tool of a religious elite establishment.

Then, I am left with God. I am naked before Him. Not the God of religion. The God of Life, Who IS, Life.

Does religionism bring one closer to God? NO!  It brings one closer to religion. It brings it closer to the authority system that framed the particular religion we call “Judaism”. It is, when unkempt and overly-authoritative, dangerous. It needs to be repented of.

This harkens to what the brilliant philosopher Emmanuel Kant declared, when he asserted that the “categorical imperative”— acting as if your actions determined the destiny of a world— was deontological, that it had no relationship to cause and effect, and that it was to be done out of a sense of duty, religious or otherwise.

If indeed, there is no intrinsic reward or punishment, let us say to an act of repentance, then, such an act is a duty; one does it for a reason beyond receiving God’s blessings or curse. This was Kant’s position. Moral imperatives are duty— “mere” duty?

Consider the truly critical law, like “thou shalt not steal”.

Is the confession of such a sin, and the vacating of no longer stealing, just a religious duty, and has no intrinsic reward? A mere duty? Obviously, it is not. If one has been stealing, and ceases (repents) to steal, and commits to that within one’s community, the world is quite improved by one’s resolve.

I don’t believe obedience to a moral imperative is merely deontological. I believe it is more ontological:  built into the cause and effect design of “How Life Works for Good”.

 

All this is why, it is critical to separate “religious law”, such as a law that requires repentance, from true “spiritual law”, which is the very act of repentance itself. Do you see?  Religion teaches the reward for the behavior of performing the religious law, whereas true spirituality teaches the reward which comes from the actual behavior mandated by the law.  Do you see the emphasis difference?

This is the cultic problem that the early Reformers understood, very intelligently, when they elevated the ethical as being universal law, and depreciated the ritual, as being formal, particularist, and not being binding.

They were not wrong; they were right. But, they were excessive.

Remove the Rabbinic cult of God’s reward or punishment in the olam ha ba, the world to come, for the performance of a mitzvah-–the Divinely-meted punishment for not performing the “duty”, and one still has something of tremendous value:

The reward for repentance of theft is an improved Life, i.e. blessings of good, i.e. “God”, to both you personally, and the entire society in which you participate. What’s left is something REAL! Beyond the excesses of authoritative religion! Not beholding to it, either. Obviously this is so— which is why non-religious secular societies affirm the value of “ceasing (repenting) to steal”. Even dislocated from the religious “God”, it has value under the REAL GOD, the God of Reality:  “How Life Works for Good”, as we in Universal Judaism, proclaim. It has value even to the self-professed atheist! Belief has nothing to do with it!  Religious doctrine does not define it. It is ontological:  built into the structure of Reality, on our human scale.

 

If you don’t remove the cultic reward of heaven and earth, what you have is the worst aspect of religion, pure obsessive-compulsive disorder. You are told what to do. You believe it. You do it. You become enslaved by it. You lose your freedom. You punish yourself when you attempt to regain it. And a vicious cycle— like Lady MacBeth washing her hands— continues.

 

One loses God, because one has become so identified God with religion, that the loss of religion is the loss of God.

 

This Yom Kippur I proclaim the end of religion— AS WE KNOW IT!

I proclaim a Judaism which has not removed the value of repentance, for its positive cause and effect— ontological— to REAL human Life.

I proclaim the de-ontological DUTY of teaching that positive effect— by encouraging each and every person to repent of sloppy habits, to grow and to change. And here TRUE religion has value, but, it is not, ever its own value.

The punitive, dangerous psychologically-defective guilt-god, I do not proclaim. I repent of this god.

I fast from this god. A complete fast!  It is not a fast of affliction. It is a fast FROM affliction, which is what a TRUE fast should be.

 

May each and every one of you have a light fast, if you still choose to do so.

Blessings and happiness for the New Year, and for your long, long Life ahead.

R’ Shevack

“White People”

Are White People Superior?

 

As I sit in my armchair, completely amazed by the fact that the Nazi Swastika, and all its values, are still being seriously considered as human truth— and as I hear grown adults shouting “Jews cannot replace us”—- I must reflect a bit on the Swastika.

 

First let me say, all the shenanigans in Charlottesville, have indeed convinced me that White People are absolutely superior— when it comes to making fools of themselves.

 

Also, I’m not worried about Jews replacing so-called “White people”. After all, at a mere 1% most of the population, there are not enough of us go around. I’m more concerned about the fact that there are a lot more non-Jews around, and in fact, we can more easily be replaced. This is commonly called “assimilation”. So, “Gentiles cannot replace us”, I think is a legitimate chant, however equally-undignified, and bigoted, it might sound.

 

So, back to the Swastika. And the claim of the superiority of White People.

 

I’d like to reflect upon the Indian/Vedic legend of there being, at one time– in the oldest religious culture on Earth–  a race of blond haired, and blue-eyed, Aryans. Yes, that’s where Hitler got it from, with a little help from Madame Blavatsky, and all the theosophists and occultists from the 19th century.

 

That’s also where Hitler got the Swastika, however, his Swastika went clockwise, not counter-clockwise.

 

Now, these things are very significant, and the place of the Hebrews on the religious historical continuum is critical here. It is, no doubt, why we continue to attract “Aryan” issues, as if we are a “FIRE WALL” against them.

 

The Vedic (pre Hindu) culture was very much naturalist. Nature was considered to be God. Since form follows spiritual, it would be perfectly understandable, if not predictive, that the height of natural evolution on the earth, might APPEAR to be, the blond and the blue-eyed. After all, the hair would mirror the sun. The blue would mirror the sky.  The heavens would appear to be concentrated in the blond-blue-eyed human, as opposed to the darker-toned, who would be more earthly.

 

This is, of course, if “sky” is heaven, and “earth” is ground”. It’s a bit of a primitive notion.

 

But, cobble this with the fact that Western Civilization was often

white— it might easily have seemed to poor Adolph, that the natural TELOS to which human civilization is tending, which is the re-integration of ego-mind and nature (i.e. the Garden of Eden, healed), would therefore tend to the Teutonic/Nordic— as the actual healing of the world, if not, conceptually, “Christ”. Darker people would be subhuman relative to the “Aryan”.

 

And of course, since Hitler’s vision was not merely naturalist, but also historical, which he inherited from his Christian-Jewish roots, it made perfectly logical sense to reverse the counter-clock wise motion of the Swastika, and make it conscious, not unconscious, historical, not merely naturalist.

 

This is a lot of strange mythic “truth”, if you can call it that— for no one has ever actually SEEN an Aryan, or met one. It is almost as though there was a vision of the “hosts” concretized as “gods”, from which all the other varieties of mere mortals descended in a “fall from Grace”. It’s like Adam was blonde and blue eyed, and everyone else was a fallen-shade darker.

 

The important thing— indeed the critical thing is this:

 

The Hebrew viewpoint stands as the BASTION against this kind of racist naturalist-mythology. First, we do not worship the hosts. We are forbidden to. The sun and the moon are not gods and goddesses, but are simply luminaries placed there. Genesis demotes them.

 

Secondly, we do not worship earthly nature as the singular expression of Divinity on earth. Our culture is not merely naturalist.

 

Our culture is also materialist, ego-based, and historical. This does not deny the value of the natural: indeed, we retain our Shabbat. We have our solar calendar INTEGRATED with a lunar calendar, both male and female aspects.  Hebrew culture simply requires that the natural, although a creation of God, must give way to human nature and our free will and dominion, radah, in Hebrew.

 

In short, we are not sub-ordinated to nature, nature is sub-ordinated to us.

 

Now, in this era, when the popular culture is calling for a “return to Nature”, with a depreciation of material industry, and all the “male” advancements of civilization— so called “tree hugger” mentality— that there might be an attempt to bolster (however ignorantly and violently) the Western-white-egoist force, against the excessive “hippie” naturalist element is understandable.

 

That the Jew would get messed up in this is understandable, since in the Pauline dialectic, Jews are identified with “the body”, i.e. nature.

 

But, we are not “of the body”. This is a lie!!! Our covenant goes way beyond the body.

 

The fact is, all these ideations are borderline psychotic, and yet, there is a certain measure of a larger truth that these ideations represent.

 

The fact is, human civilization longs to have its full play of ego, so as not to be merely restricted to the natural, like birds and bees. But, the fact is also, human civilization also must have the full support of nature on earth, or, we will destroy the air, the water, and the food supplies that keep our physical body fit and healthy.

 

The fact is also, that it is not the mere “naturalist criteria” of “sunlight” and “sky”, that measures the illumined man. We Jews

maintain that there is a SOUL, from a God that may include but is not merely earthly nature.

 

The SOUL of a black person or a white person, doesn’t have a pigmentation. The SOUL is not the SOL (i.e. the Sun).

 

What we are dealing with in this Nazi resurgence is a dangerous confusion of earthly naturalist criteria with spiritual imagination, and a terrible mixture of this with Western arrogance and economic militarism— once again— tied back to the dangerous myth of Christianity, that the Jew is the enemy (or primitive remnant) of Christendom, i.e. all civilization.

 

Yes, indeed, White People are superior. At being dangerous fools.

 

Let me be frank and cut to the point: If this movement strengthens— I hope we will take a lesson from history.

 

Take up arms, and in the name of God, wipe out

these “inferior souls.” (LOL!!!)

 

Blessings to all.

Rms.

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

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