April 18, 2014
The movie Noah created a widespread buzz about the Bible story. Here is Kabbalah’s take on the Noah story:
1. The Story of Noah in a Nutshell
In a nutshell, the Bible story of Noah speaks of sinful people and the Creator, who brings a flood on the world. “Noah was a righteous man, perfect in his generations” (Genesis, 6:9). This is why he was the one chosen to survive the flood.
But he did not survive alone. Rather, he was commanded to build an ark and move into it along with his kin, and pairs of all the animals, and to remain in the ark for forty days and forty nights until the flood stopped.
The Creator made a covenant with Noah and his family that the flood would never return. As a token of the covenant, He placed the rainbow in the sky. More » [Source: Dr. Michael Laitman, Noah Parsha - Weekly Torah Portion.]
2. What Is the Meaning of the Story of Noah in the Bible?
“Noah was in his generations a man righteous and whole-hearted; Noah walked with God.”
So begins the chapter on Noah, immediately confusing the reader with what appears to be a straightforward story about our world.
However, it confuses only those who aren’t yet ready to read the Bible differently, still finding the simple historical narrative about a person named Noah satisfactory.
Ask yourself, “Where am I in this story of Noah?” Or better yet, “What is the meaning of my inner Noah?” You must seek only one approach to the contents of this book: “Everything I read here is about me.” Noah, the righteous, his wife, kids, and all the animals, the ark and the Tower of Babel all exist within me. They are forces, desires that govern my inner and outer worlds. All I have to do is get to them and sense them, and the gates to all the secrets will open for me. More » [Source: Semion Vinokur. What Is the Meaning of the Story of Noah in the Bible?]
3. What Is the Meaning of Noah’s Ark & the Flood in the Bible?
Mayim (“water” in Hebrew) is the flood that will drown your spiritual embryo if you heed the body’s questions, destroying all that you’ve worked so hard to assemble within.
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The Middle Ages through the Prism of Kabbalah
The Middle Ages is a very peculiar period in history. views on when it began and when it ended seem to range from 2nd-5th century to 15th-18th century respectively, depending on the researcher’s field of expertise. Some mark the fall of the Western Roman Empire as its beginning and the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire as its end. others see the beginning of the Middle Ages as the time when Emperor Constantine the Great summoned the first Council of Nicaea, in 325 CE, and its end as the time when Martin Luther was excommunicated (1521) and the ProtestantChurch was established.
Kabbalah does not define any age as being in “the middle,” but it does consider the period between the writing of The Book of Zohar and the writing of The Tree of Life as a distinct period in the evolution of humanity. In a sense, the term, “The Dark Ages,” would be more suitable to describe this period in history, since this is roughly the period during which Kabbalists concealed their knowledge and made it a secret teaching, known to only a few.
Within this period, we will relate more to the processes that occurred between the writing of these books than to specific events. This should make it easier to see how desires, which on the human level appear more as ambitions, steer the processes that form the history of humanity.
The Cure for Humanities Ills
In Kabbalah, the period between the writing of The Book of Zohar and writing of The Tree of Life has a crucial role. Without it, the purpose of creation would not be achieved. To reiterate in a word, the purpose of creation is for every person to know the Creator and become like it. Abraham’s group was the first to achieve that. Yet, Abraham’s goal was not only for his group to achieve it, but for every person in the world. Moses helped Abraham’s cause by expanding the attainment of the group into the attainment of an entire nation.
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Let us examine the sub-surface processes that unfolded between the writing of The Book of Zohar (also called The Zohar for short) in the 2nd century C.E. and the writing of the Tree of Life in the 16th century. These dates (very) roughly parallel the period between the Roman conquest of Judea and the onset of the Renaissance, or what we now call “the Middle Ages.” The goal is not to focus on particular events, but to provide a “bird’s-eye” view of history, showing how processes correspond to the evolution of desires. In the case of the time frame just mentioned, it is probably best to begin with the Roman conquest and the ruin of the SecondTemple.
How Unfounded Hatred Destroyed the Unity of Israel
The defeat of the Jewish revolt against the Romans (66-73 CE) caused the ruin of the SecondTemple and the dispersion of Judea. (The first Temple was built by King Solomon in the 10th century BCE, and was ruined by the Babylonians in 586 BCE.) This dispersion signified something far more important than the conquest of one nation by another. It reflected the extent of the Israeli nation’s spiritual decline. The Hebrew word Yehudi (Jew) derives from the word Yechudi (“united,” or “unique”), referring to the state of the Israeli nation of the time: perceiving (and adhering to) the unique force of bestowal that governs life.
Yet, the desire to receive is an ever-evolving force and requires constant adaptation. Constant effort is required to harness the newly emerging desires to work in unison—with the intention to bestow, and adhering to the law of yielding self-interest in favor of the interest of the host system. And because the desires evolve, the means to harness them must evolve accordingly.
Unlike animals, humans must constantly realize their place in Nature and choose to be constructive parts of it. However, if we act to the contrary, the negative outcome will not be immediately evident. This leaves us room to maneuver and to calculate.
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Know the Law of Giving Like Abraham
When desires evolve in Nature, they create increasingly complex structures. Each new level rises to a higher degree of desire to receive when creatures of the current level join to form an aggregate of collaborators. By so doing, the creatures of the current (and presently highest) level create a system to which they can yield their self-interests, which provides them with sustainability and adherence to Nature’s law of giving. When this happens in humans, we, too, start from the smallest structure—a single person—and work our way toward increasingly complex societies. The only difference is that we must create these social structures that adhere to the law of giving by ourselves.
Abraham’s family was actually the first group to create that system, and then harness its members into a system whose parts were united by dedication to their host system. As Maimonides narrates, this initial system grew into a group. Yet, only in Egypt—when their number sufficed—did the system grow into a nation. When Moses brought Israel out of Egypt, the family of 70 that had gone into Egypt now consisted of several millions (there are many views on precisely how many came out of Egypt, but the common figures are between 2 and 6 million men, women, and children, excluding the mixed multitude).
Who Else Wants to Conquer Hatred?
Clearly, Moses’ job was far more challenging than Abraham’s. He could not gather the entire nation in his tent, as did Abraham with his family and few disciples, and teach them the laws of life. Instead, he gave them what we refer to as the Five Books of Moses, known in Hebrew as the Torah, which means both “Law” (of bestowal) and “Light.” In his books, Moses provided depictions of all the states that one experiences on the way to becoming like the Creator.
The first part of the way to emulating the Creator was to exit Egypt, venture into the Sinai Wilderness, and stand at the foot of Mount Sinai. According to ancient sources, the name, “Sinai,” comes from the Hebrew word, Sinaa (hatred). In other words, Moses gathered the people at the foot of Mount Sinai—the mountain of hatred.
To interpret the mountain-of-hatred allegory, Moses’ teachings showed the people how hateful they were towards each other, how remote they were from the law of bestowal. To reconnect with the law of bestowal, or the Creator, they united, as described by 11th century commentator and Kabbalist, Rashi, “As one man in one heart.”
Baal HaSulam elaborates on this process in his essay, “The Arvut (Mutual Guarantee),” where he explains that in return for their pledge to care for each other, Moses’ people were given the Torah. They attained the law of bestowal and obtained the light, the altruistic nature of the Creator. In Baal HaSulam’s words, “once the whole nation unanimously agreed and said, ‘We shall do and we shall hear,’ …only then did they become worthy of receiving the Torah, and not before.”
The First Mass Discovery of the Creator
Now we can see how important Moses’ mission was, and why free choice is a prerequisite to accomplishing it. The leaders of Abraham’s group were all family and were naturally united. But Moses had to unite a nation. To achieve that, the entire nation had to agree on a path. By making a free choice to unite, despite the evident egoism (allegorically described as “standing at the foot of Mount Sinai”), a nation was admitted into the law of giving. This was the first time in humanity’s history that people en masse attained the quality of the Creator, and from this point forward, choosing unity in the face of growing egoism will be the only way to achieve the Creator.
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Next entries »
Bread – Pleasure we feel in Egypt (i.e. in the ego).
Bread of affliction – Before we exit Egypt (the ego), we don’t understand how we can reach bestowal and love, nor what the big deal is with such an attainment. Such attainment becomes flavorless, dry and insipid.
Egypt – The ego.
Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey – our egoistic desires envision all kinds of pleasures.
Egyptian bondage – Being ruled by the ego.
Exiting Egypt in haste – Spirituality looks so unattractive and repulsive that exiting into it must be rushed due to the aggressive, external force pulling from egoism. I, myself, am unable to step out of this marvelous world as it seems to me in my egoistic desire.
Land – Desire.
Matzot (unleavened bread) – An inner readiness to exit Egypt (the ego). One prepares oneself to live for the sake of love and bestowal, and to receive only what is necessary to revive oneself (i.e. this poor bread, i.e. necessary pleasures for one’s sustenance) in order to be able to love and bestow.
Moses – the point in the heart, desire for spirituality, in the person.
Moses’ demand to Pharaoh: “Let my people go! I want to leave!” – A prayer where after much effort to attain the quality of love and bestowal, one cries out to the egoistic inclination within oneself: “Stop controlling all the inclinations in me with this constant intention to get personal gain all the time! I want to be able to love and give with a pure desire!”
Pharaoh – Our stubborn “evil inclination” that holds us hostage and doesn’t let us rise above our jealousy, hatred, lust and ambition.
Pharaoh’s response to Moses’ demand “Let my people go!”: “What do you lack, Moses? You grew up in my arms. Stay the Egyptian prince. Be a prince! Why are you making a revolution here? For the sake of love for the neighbor? You’ve gone crazy!” – The ego’s response to the spiritual demand of being freed from the ego in order to love and give purely: “The point in the heart emerged as an egoistic desire among all the self-aimed desires you’ve had since you were born. You’ve always managed to get along, find pleasures and make your way in life through all these egoistic desires, and there’s nothing for you if you love another as yourself. What would you get from that?”
To learn more about how Kabbalah describes holidays and many other concepts at their root level, before they dress into the material world, it is recommended to take the Free Kabbalah Course. The reason is that many of the concepts and terms we have heard a lot about in our upbringing have completely different definitions in Kabbalah, and it takes a while to process them properly. Therefore, if you’re interested in this topic, then we recommend taking the free course and start learning about the world around you and inside you anew. Click the banner below to sign up for the free course …