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Parashat Re’eh 5782 — 08/27/2022

Parashat Re’eh 5782 — 08/27/2022

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 11:26-16:17
Rambam now takes a short break from analyzing specific equivocal terms (terms that can be used literally of humans but must be used figuratively when speaking of Gd) to summarize what he has established so far and to introduce where he is going to go from here. There are only 11 more words/roots that Rambam will discuss from here on out, interspersed with other material. He begins by asking why we have all these equivocal terms to begin with:

You know their dictum that refers in inclusive fashion to all the kinds of interpretation connected with this subject, namely, their saying: The Torah speaketh in the language of the sons of man. The meaning of this is that everything that all men are capable of understanding and representing to themselves at first thought has been ascribed to Him as necessarily belonging to Gd, may He be exalted. Hence attributes indicating corporeality have been predicated of Him in order to indicate that He, may He be exalted, exists, inasmuch as the multitude cannot at first conceive of any existence save that of a body alone, thus that which is neither a body nor existent in a body does not exist in their opinion. In a similar way one has ascribed to Him, may He be exalted, everything that in our opinion is a perfection in order to indicate that He is perfect in every manner of perfection and that no deficiency whatever mars Him. Thus none of the things apprehended by the multitude as a deficiency or a privation are predicated of Him. Hence it is not predicated of Him that He eats, drinks, sleeps, is ill, does an injustice, or that He has any similar characteristic. On the other hand, everything that the multitude consider a perfection is predicated of Him, even if it is only a perfection in relation to ourselves – for in relation to Him, may He be exalted, all things that we consider perfections are the very extreme of deficiency. However, if people imagined that this human perfection was lacking in Him, may He be exalted, this would constitute, in their opinion, a deficiency in Him.

I’d like to explore this statement that Torah speaks in human language. The surface meaning is that sometimes the Torah uses idiomatic constructions in which small oddities are not loaded with meaning, perhaps esoteric meaning. This statement often appears at the end of a long Talmudic argument of the form:

  • From what verse does A derive principle X? From verse M.
  • What does B do with verse M? He needs it to derive principle Y.
  • From where does A derive Y? He gets it from verse N.
  • <lather, rinse, repeat>
  • Why doesn’t A say like B about verse Q? He doesn’t think <grammatical oddity> is significant because it’s just the way people talk and Torah speaks in the language of man.

The opposite of Torah speaks in the language of man is omnisignificance, the principle that every word and every letter, every grammatical quirk, contains hidden meanings that must be expounded upon and lessons derived from them. Perhaps the most extreme example of the use of omnisignificance was R. Akiva, who derived “mounds and mounds of laws from the decorative tags” that are placed on various of the letters of the Torah. The world of the Kabbalists and the Chasidic world tend to prefer omnisignificance, often deriving meanings that stray far from the simple meaning of the verse. That is what makes those interpretations so delightful, and often insightful, connecting disparate ideas in disparate parts of Torah or the Rabbinic literature to come up with stunning new perspectives.

I would like to propose another perspective on Torah that I believe is complementary to the other two, and may reconcile them. This perspective comes from Vedic Science. According to Vedic Science, the ultimate “stuff” of creation is Pure Consciousness, and it is the self-referral nature of Pure Consciousness that gives rise multiplicity out of Unity. The way this happens, schematically, is this. Because Consciousness is conscious, it must be conscious of something. Since there is nothing outside of Consciousness, all it can be conscious of is itself. Thus, Pure Consciousness assumes the role of Observer (subject) and Observed (object). Consciousness also takes the role of the process of observation – that which connects Observer and Observed.

Once this virtual duality within Consciousness has been established, an interaction is set up between the two poles of this duality. Maharishi describes it as a kind of vibration between the two poles, and since the two poles are not really separate from one another, the vibration is necessarily of infinite frequency. It is sometimes experienced as a golden glow (optical vibration) or as a hum (auditory vibration), just prior to the mind’s settling down into the transcendent.

Maharishi describes the next steps in the process of manifestation as the breakdown of the infinite frequency vibration into smaller, finite patterns of vibration, all according to specific rules and structures. The most fundamental patterns of vibration of Pure Consciousness within itself are the Veda. Since the Veda exists within Consciousness, someone who has established this Consciousness as his or her own Self, and whose perception sees everything as a continuum of Consciousness, can perceive these vibrations within their own consciousness, on a level that transcends the individual senses – thus the rishis (Seers = see-ers) of the Veda were able to express the Veda in the form of a sequence of sounds that make up human speech, in this case, Vedic Sanskrit. That is, the fundamental modes of Consciousness, vibrating within itself, are isomorphic to the phonetics, grammar, syntax and vocabulary of Sanskrit.

Next week we will continue the discussion by looking at parallels between Vedic and Jewish traditions.


Commentary by Steve Sufian

Parashat Re’eh

“Re’eh” means “See!” or “Behold!”

This is not ordinary seeing. This means “see deeply,” see into the level of life in which Gd’s commandments exist as One with Gd, not just the level at which we might hear them spoken or read them in a text. Moses speaks this word to make sure our ancestors and we see this Wholeness and experience this Wholeness as our Self so that we naturally choose to follow these commandments and are naturally Blessed rather than Cursed, as they and we would be if we are not open to the Wholeness but only to fragmented aspects of Life and therefore are unable to obey the commandments, even if we wish to.

This “See!” also resonates with the last part of the parashah, in which Moses says that three times a year (at Passover, Shavout, and Succoth,) we should appear before the Lrd – be Seen by the Lrd – in the place which He has chosen, so we may bring offerings and be Seen there. When we See! In the way Gd and Moses want us to see then when we are Seen by Gd, Gd’s Sight flows through our eyes and we see ourselves as Gd Sees us.

And what is to be seen? The blessing if we hearken to the commandments of the Lrd and the curse if we disobey them. When we hearken, we see deeply, we are naturally in tune with Gd, Gd’s Torah, Gd’s commandments and we naturally act in the Glow, Joy and Love of the Blessing.

Imagine Moses speaking with the Voice of God to our ancestors: how much the Blessing must have filled them and how unappetizing must have been the Curse.

This was a good preparation for Moses to give our ancestors as they were about to enter into Canaan, the Promised Land. It is a good level of Being that everyone – at any time and in any place – should innocently seek to experience before beginning the day, any day, every day. It is a good level of Being that everyone should innocently tune in to every moment of every day. Innocently. Innocently, meaning, “naturally, spontaneously, effortlessly.”

Gd gives everyone guidance, through Torah, through teachers, through hints, to help everyone tune in and live the Wholeness that spontaneously acts Rightly.

Temple where Gd chooses to put his Name [big mystery]

Maimonides writes: “The location of the Altar [in the Holy Temple] is very exactly defined. It is a commonly-held tradition that where David and Solomon built the Altar on the threshing floor of Arona (sic: Arauna), is the very place Abraham built an altar and bound Isaac upon it; this is where Noah built [an altar] when he came out from the Ark; this is where Cain and Abel brought their offerings; this is where Adam, the First Man, offered a korban when he was created — and it is from [the earth of] this place that he was created….” from

But why was Adam created from earth on this spot?

Gd is Everywhere: All places are Holy.

Why did Gd choose to especially emphasize the Power of His Name in a particular place, and why Jerusalem and why the Temple Mount? I’ve looked for answers on the Internet and could not find any.

Perhaps it is a “chok,” a decree of Gd’s that passes understanding. But even so, we can have the fun of attempting to understand and getting closer to Gd through our attempt.

There is Gd’s statement, “Man is made in Gd’s Image” and from this standpoint perhaps our planet is also made in Gd’s image, whatever that may mean, and Jerusalem might correspond to the heart or the brain or the navel or the womb of the physiology of our planet; the Temple Mount may correspond to the central portion of one of these.

Perhaps it is in this place that it’s especially easy for us to Hear Gd’s Name, See Gd’s Name and use His Name to call on Him to thank Him, to pray to Him, to ask for forgiveness.

Just as the Mishkan, the Ark in the Wilderness, and the Temples were places where it was easier for people to perceive His Presence, even though His Presence is everywhere, so also the physical location of the Temple likely is a place where people can most easily call on Gd, perceive Gd, communicate with Gd – to speak, to hear, to see and be Seen.

Not only to speak but to hear and to listen, to see, to Behold!

Irrespective of the details of the physical Temple in Jerusalem, we know that our body is the Temple and the soul is the Shechinah that we need to keep Holy so that Gd’s Presence is in our awareness at all times and in all places.

Just as “Man (humanity) is made in Gd’s image,” so also we are made in Jerusalem’s image, in the Temple’s Image and we can find Jerusalem within ourselves, minds, feelings, physiologies, souls. Thus we can See and Hear Gd’s Name, Gd’s Presence – Totality – and restore to ourselves and to the world the reality that One all there is within which the duality of Gd and us is experienced as the Play of One. This is Seeing! Hearing! Healing! Holiness! Fulfillment!

Re’eh also warns to beware of false prophets or any others who entice us to idolatry — this would certainly bring the curse! “Idolatry” means not just worshiping statues of deities but worshiping fragments of Wholeness. Every action we do must be oriented naturally, spontaneously, effortlessly to increase the experience of Wholeness in our life and in all lives. Otherwise, it is oriented to a splinter of reality, a fragment and it is idolatry.

On the Blessing side, Re’eh tells us of Tithing, Charity, the Sabbatical Year in which all loans are forgiven, all slaves freed. This tells us that even on the ordinary level of life, no matter what place on Earth we are, by being good human beings, Loving Gd Above all, “loving our neighbor as ourself” we can attune to Gd and enjoy the Blessing – the Blessing is in our good actions, not just the goal of them.

Similarly, Moses speaks of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals: Passover, Shavuot, Sukkoth: Go to the Temple to appear with offerings before the Lord.

This would certainly be good but we can also find Jerusalem in our heart every moment and make special offerings with our open heart every moment. Re’eh begins with See! and concludes with: Appear so that you may be seen. In every generation, especially ours today, we need to live our lives so that every moment we Behold! and every moment we Appear! with offerings, offerings to give back the Blessings we receive and restore ourselves and everyone and everything to Full Awareness: One and Only One! Omnipresent, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omni-Loving, Omni-Joyful, All-in-All—One!

Baruch HaShem!