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Parashat V’Zot haB’rachah / Sukkot 5782 — 09/25/2021

Parashat V’Zot haB’rachah / Sukkot 5782 — 09/25/2021

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 33:1-34:12
This week marks the end of the first year of our Rambam project. As I had hoped, we have more or less finished Prof. Pines’ introduction to his translation and are ready to move on to Rambam’s text itself, which, Gd willing, we will begin next week for Parashat Bereishit. This week I’d like to summarize briefly what we’ve learned so far.

Rambam’s motto was the truth is the truth, and it doesn’t matter who speaks it out. In Rambam’s time and place, the main source of truth outside of revealed truth was through philosophy, which included the study of the natural world (“natural philosophy”) that would turn into Western, objective science as we know it today. Rambam also holds that Torah, as Absolute Truth as revealed by Gd, cannot be in contradiction with the findings of philosophy, based as they are on pure reason. In the case of the physical sciences, it is not so very clear that they can be accorded the same faith, based as they are on observation, which may not be free of bias. The failure of Aristotelian celestial dynamics to reproduce accurately the motions of the stars and planets highlighted this weakness of the project of gaining objective knowledge of the truth.

Rambam, being a traditional Jew, will of course give primacy to revelation over anything human, be it deductive reason from a set of “self-evident” postulates, or inductive reasoning from observation. Revelation comes from Gd, and Gd transcends all space, time, objects, even the laws of logic – all those are human-based (that’s why we the study of these disciplines is call “humanities”!) and therefore finite. So, one question Rambam has to deal with is the question how we know anything. What can we know about the world? About ourselves? About Gd?

Rambam flourished within the tradition of Islamic Aristotelianism – the culture that preserved and developed the Greek philosophical tradition, which was then re-inherited by Europeans during the Renaissance. Many of the questions that we have mentioned also were central to the various strands of Islamic thought – the Muslim philosophers had the same basic problem in front of them, viz. to reconcile reason and science on the one hand and revealed religion on the other. Of course, in both cases there are unique features that have to be dealt with, and the nature of the revelation is different, but the basic issues remain.

The various major figures and schools of Islamic philosophy all had an influence on Rambam’s thinking, either as someone he agreed with or someone he reacted against. But in all cases, Aristotle looms in the background like the Colossus of Rhodes, and understanding his thinking is crucial to understanding Rambam. I think that the key to understanding both Aristotle and those that came after him is to recognize that we can read these texts as talking about the transcendent. This would likely imply that Aristotle had some experiences of the transcendent, and we know that in Jewish tradition there were meditative techniques that were meant to bring one to this experience. Unfortunately, these techniques were closely guarded secrets, available only to a few mystics.

What I hope we will be able to do over the next period of time is to examine Rambam’s great work in the light of Maharishi’s Vedic Science, the science of the transcendent, to see if we can de-mystify his words in the light of our own experience of the transcendent and Maharishi’s clear elucidation of that experience, based on the Vedic literature.

Truth is that which never changes. Maharishi

Chag Same’ach!


Commentary by Steve Sufian

Parashat Sukkot

Sukkot: Open to the Sky, Open to Gd, Open to Ourself.

Every aspect of Torah and our religion is a means to dissolve the boundaries that limit our experience and to expand our awareness to the Infinite, All-in-All, One without a second.

The openness of the Sukkot roof and the fragile, temporary nature of it allow us to experience the Joy of opening to that which is greater than the material world including the humanmade.

There are many ways to look at the symbolism of the Four Species which we wave: one is given by Gal Enai Institute (

  • The lulav branch symbolizes the human backbone;
  • The myrtle leaves symbolize the human eyes;
  • The willow leaves symbolize the human lips;
  • The etrog fruit symbolizes the human heart.

Together, Gal Enai points out, they symbolize that the human is created in Gd’s image — though Gd is unlimited He appears within limits and these limits symbolize the reality that though Unlimited, Gd can be perceived by the limited values: Gd can be seen, heard, tasted, touched, smelled; Gd can be understood, can be known in all Gd’s Diversity, can be experienced as the True “I” which we Are. Gd has a Heart that is compassionate and Guides us to do the mitzvot that expand our awareness and to avoid straying..

Waving the Four Species, is a way we are given to express the reality that we can move the images of Gd, ourselves and the Species, , and can move the air around us and within us, Blessings of Gd, but imperceptible until we move it, a wind blows, a mitzvah done and we feel it or see the results of the motion.

Being in the Sukkah with other members of our congregation, happy people, good people is very Joyful, awareness expanding, and the Joy deepens as the service progresses.
Sukkahs and Sukkot are wonderful gifts of HaShem to us.

Thank, you Gd!

Baruch HaShem