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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy." 
--  Lev. 19:2

Thus far, we have encountered two of three levels of Kabbalistic growth.  The first was the balance of self-respect and respect for others.  This is embodied in the principle, "you shall respect your neighbor as you respect yourself".  This led to the discovery that we are all connected.  Recognition of this connectedness leads to the responsible individual.  The only way that a person becomes self-empowered is to accept responsibility for his/her actions.

That recognition of connection took us to the next level.  That is, we can only achieve our freedom and empowerment within a just society.  A just society requires the balance of strict judgment and compassion.  The principle that creates a just society is "measure for measure".  This produces a community that is focused on the well-being and security of every member.

These two steps are necessary but not sufficient.  They provide the process, but they do not provide the purpose.  The validity of any process is determined by the outcomes it produces.

This can be illustrated with a parable of a baseball game.  It is the ninth inning.  The winning home run has just turned third base.  The third baseman catches the ball, chases the runner and brings him down with a superb flying tackle.  The crowd boos.  The winning run goes to the opposition.  The third baseman is fined and is fired from the team.  The lesson is that you have to know what game you are playing.  If it were football, he would have been a hero.

In the "game" of life, you have to know what game you are playing.  Who wrote the rules?  What are the expected outcomes?  In both a metaphysical and a scientific context, these are determined by something beyond us.  You may call that something God or nature.  The essential issue is it is beyond us.  We must observe the "game" in order to know what game we are playing.

The third metaphysical level is knowledge.  This brings us back to the observer of the Anthropic Principle of science, and to Maimonides metaphysical principle that the perfection of humanity is the acquisition of knowledge of God.  Many metaphysicians claim that complete knowledge of God is beyond human comprehension.  However, Maimonides and others assert that knowledge of God can be acquired by the study of God's creation.  This is the nexus of science and theology.

Knowledge is achieved through the balance of reason and revelation.  In science, new knowledge begins with the "flash" of revelation that comes from the discovery of unexpected phenomena in creation.  Then reason is applied to order and describe the data.  Finally, the description is tested to confirm that it correctly corresponds to the observed phenomena.  This process is duplicated in metaphysics.  In this case, it provides the connection between humanity, and God and God's creation.  This is embodied in "You shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy."  This is the purpose of the responsible individual and the just society.

What does it mean to be holy?  The Hebrew root means to be separated.  In Genesis, God created by a series of separations.  The final separation was that between God and humans.  This separation was necessary so that humans could become observers and acquire knowledge of God.  However, the separation can never be complete.  If the observer and observed were totally separated, there would be no connection between the two.  The acquisition of knowledge would be impossible.

This process of self, society and knowledge of God is cyclic.  Responsible people create a just society.  A just society provides the proper environment to acquire knowledge of God's creation.  That knowledge supports a just society, which, in turn, contributes to the growth of responsible people.  It is analogous to "Jacob's Ladder" (Gen. 28:12), with angels (messengers) ascending and descending. Except, this time we are the messengers.

These concepts of balance, connection, self, society and knowledge of God's creation are all contained within the Kabbalistic model of the Sefirot.  The metaphysical study of the Sefirot requires the same effort as the scientific study of Cosmology.  However, it is not necessary to know all of the details in order to appreciate the results of either.  The five basic concepts cited here will give us the basic tools for appreciating that application of Kabbalah's influence on our daily reality.


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