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Parashat Ki Tetze 5783 — 08/26/2023

Parashat Ki Tetze 5783 — 08/26/2023

Beginning with Bereishit 5781 (17 October 2020) we embarked on a new format. We will be considering Rambam’s (Maimonides’) great philosophical work Moreh Nevukim (Guide for the Perplexed) in the light of the knowledge of Vedic Science as expounded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The individual essays will therefore not necessarily have anything to do with the weekly Torah portion, although certainly there will be plenty of references to the Torah, the rest of the Bible, and to the Rabbinic literature. For Bereishit we described the project. The next four parshiyyot, Noach through Chayei Sarah, laid out a foundational understanding of Vedic Science, to the degree I am capable of doing so. Beginning with Toledot we started examining Moreh Nevukim.

Devarim 21:10 – 25:18

Rambam now goes on to discuss the way Gd communicates with us, and we with Him:

Accordingly, as our minds are likewise guided to the belief that Gd, may He be exalted, apprehends and that notions are communicated from Him to the prophets in order that they should communicate them to us, He is described to us as hearing and seeing; the meaning thereof being that He apprehends and knows the visible and audible things. He is also described to us as speaking, the meaning thereof being that notions are communicated from Him, may He be exalted, to the prophets. This is the meaning of prophecy. Later on this shall be made extremely clear.

Rambam is here, I believe, reiterating the points that he has been making in discussing all the anthropomorphic terms that are applied to Gd by Scripture. For example, Gd conveys knowledge to Moses, therefore we say that Gd speaks, despite the fact that Gd has no body, nor speech organs, and (in Numbers 7:89) Gd is described as “speaking to Himself, and Moses was just listening in.” In the same way, Gd knows everything about the universe, so we speak of Him as having eyes and ears (“from your mouth to Gd’s Ears”) when of course Gd has no parts at all, the way we do, because Gd is non-corporeal. Gd’s knowledge is, eternally, and doesn’t have to be gained by interaction with objects outside of Gd, because there are no objects outside of Gd. The danger of such representations, of course, is that we begin to perceive Gd as some kind of giant or glorified human being, with lots of interacting parts. It is this misunderstanding that the Guide is meant to correct.

Rambam continues by considering other aspects of Gd’s:

Again, as we have no intellectual cognition of our bringing somebody other than us to existence except through a direct act, He is described as active. Similarly, in view of the fact that the multitude apprehend no living thing that is not endowed with a soul, He is also described to us as having a soul. And though the term “soul” is an equivocal one, as has been made clear, the meaning is that He is living. Since with regard to us the apprehension can be made that all these acts are only performed by means of bodily organs, all these organs are figuratively ascribed to Him: those by means of which local motion takes place – I mean the feet and their soles; those by means of which hearing, seeing, and smelling come about – that is, the ear, the eye, and the nose; those by means of which speech and the matter of speech are produced – that is, the mouth, the tongue, and the voice; finally, those by means of which he among us who acts carries out his actions – those organs are the hands, the fingers, the palm, and the arm.

First, consider Gd’s capacity to act. With our limited perception and comprehension, we see in the objective world a wide variety of objects that each have internal structure and which can interact with one another. This we call the world of action, which the Kabbalists call Asiyah / “Making.” When we have an intention to do something, like type at the keyboard and hope that what appears on the screen makes sense, my action is in the world of Asiyah.

Of course, when I type I don’t just type a random string of letters or words (you can continue reading after you finish guffawing) – there are thoughts behind the words, and the words are structured in a way to convey that thought. This structuring comes from a deeper level of action, called in Kabbalah the world of Yetzirah / “Formation.” This is a deeper level of action, more mental than physical, where physical forms are imagined and then steps are taken to project the imagined forms into the world of Asiyah.

As you have surely noticed over the weeks, almost everything I present in these pages comes pretty directly either from Maharishi or from our Rabbis down the ages. I take the ideas and form them into these weekly blogs. On some occasions, however, I get a flash of inspiration and come up with a new idea (or at least one that I’ve never seen). This is something different than taking ideas and concepts and putting them together in novel ways (that would be a Yetzirah function) – it is the creation of something new. Now only Gd can create out of nothing, and certainly any new ideas I might come up with are based on my previous knowledge, nevertheless, there is a level of newness and creativity that is deeper than the level of formation. The Kabbalists call this the world of Beri’ah / “Creation,” from the root B-R-A which is exclusively used for creation out of nothing by Gd. Creation of something new is obviously coming from a deeper level of thought and feeling than simply arranging and rearranging existing ideas.

The Kabbalists identify a fourth “world,” the world of Atzilut / “Closeness.” This is not very clearly defined, as we might expect, because it is dealing directly with Gd’s infinite aspect. We might say that it is the finest sprouting of creation from the infinite – that level of creation that is “closest” to Gd. Perhaps we can say that it is the undifferentiated hum of the infinite vibrating within itself – it is unbounded, but infinitely dynamic, a seething sea of infinite creativity.

These “four worlds” exist from our point of view. Really though, they are simply different levels of viewing creation. They interpenetrate one another, just as the molecular level of description interpenetrates the atomic and subatomic levels, and they all interpenetrate the surface, macroscopic level. We are just looking at the phenomena at different scales of size and mass and energy. You don’t have to go anywhere to get from the molecular to the atomic level, you just have to peer more closely into it. Nature is unified; it is only our vision that divides it into “layers.”

I believe that the Kabbalistic model of the four worlds can be viewed as a way of explaining how Gd acts in the world. I’ve given examples from ordinary human activity, but if we start from Gd’s perspective, with the world of Atzilut, we see an unbroken, unbounded, unmanifest reality becoming more and more concrete by stages. But just like the example from physics, all the Kabbalistic “worlds” interpenetrate on another. There really is only one reality, and if we want we can see it from Gd’s perspective, where Gd is all that there is (ayn od milvado \ There is nothing but Gd / All this is That), or we can look at it from any one of a number of human perspectives, where phenomena are more or less concrete.

From Gd’s perspective, the question of how Gd acts in the world doesn’t even get started, because there is only Gd, and no action. Gd is not composed of parts, so there are no parts to interact. All of the objects and interactions and forms and phenomena we see are Gd’s internal, virtual dynamics of which we are actually a part. But Gd does not change in any way.

From our perspective, we do see Gd interacting with the world. We generally start with the surface values and proceed through subtler and subtler values (at least this is the way science progresses) on the intellectual level, but we can also meditate and experience thought from gross to subtle to transcendental level, similar to the way we outlined above. As we move from Cosmic Consciousness to Unity Consciousness, a similar process plays out on the level of perception. At the end, the question of Gd’s action also doesn’t arise, because we now perceive that unmanifest Pure Consciousness is the only reality and everything in creation is Pure Consciousness vibrating within itself.

So it is only for us ordinary folks, with limited perception and a finite mind, who have to answer the question of how a transcendent Gd can interact with a finite world. In this case we can revert to our model of subtler to grosser levels of structure. If our awareness is confined to the gross however, all the subtle intermediaries are out of view, and the interaction remains a mystery and we have to ascribe human-like attributes to Gd. The Guide for the Perplexed was written to help us out of this delusion.


Commentary by Steve Sufian

Parashat Ki Teitzei (when you go out)

The parshah continues: “to battle against thy enemies and the Lrd shall deliver them into thy hands…”

This is a reminder that, literally, in battle, victory goes to those whom Gd supports; symbolically, that in any area of life, to be successful we need to align ourself with Gd’s will. Battle is never really battle: it is Wholeness restoring a part to its reality as a vibration of Wholeness.

This parshah gives at least 74 mitzvot, ways to align with Gd’s Will, out of the 613 given in Torah ( and some unifying themes on the material level are kindness, integrity and purity—all themes which we can strive to live in our lives today in our marriages, business relations, relations with strangers. In the Full sense the theme is always: Wholeness is always expressing itself through us, through all souls, so as to restore Full Awareness to us.

The opening illustration is in the case of the beautiful captive a soldier desires to take to wife.

The captive is to be given time to grieve and then marriage can take place. This is kindness.

If the soldier wishes to divorce the wife, then she shall be set free, not sold for money, not treated as a slave. This is kindness and integrity – she has been the wife, the relationship was entered into honestly (at least by the soldier – the woman’s rights have not been considered) and also honest relations: she not be treated as property, as a business commodity.

What does it mean symbolically? To me, “go out to battle” means, symbolically to extend Wholeness into specific details, desires, that have not yet become directed to Wholeness, absorbed in Wholeness.

A beautiful captive is a desire that is very appealing but doesn’t seem on the face of it to be aligned to our desire for Wholeness, for return to Primordial Oneness. It is a desire that needs to be given some time before we would act on it: perhaps after a while, we will see that the desire can fit into the routine things we do every day to deepen our experience of Wholeness and to spread it into areas of our life, of life in general that it has not yet reached.

I wish for all of us that we will enjoy the ability to divorce, to let go desires that are not aligned with God, to transform the ones that have possibilities into ones that actually help us align with God, (“take them to wife”) and that we will arrive at a state where we experience that everything is Wholeness; there is no going out, there are no enemies, there is no battle, there are no captives and all the world is experienced as our Self, the Self – Gd.

Baruch HaShem.