Pittsburgh Tree of Life Shooting

The death of eleven Jewish members of the Tree of Life Temple is a tragedy that gives many of us in the Faith pause. I think of my children and how they have had to experience antisemitism the last few years. In high school, my son was called a “dirty jew.” My daughter was told holocaust jokes.

The killing of jews happens both physically and spiritually. I am not saying that the death of the 11 members at the Tree of Life was equal to verbal abuse, but it is a type of death and a type of killing. Trying to take away the joy of a persons spiritual experience by attacking their faith is a spiritual attack on who they are as a human being.

The tree of life is at the center of our religion and our spiritual walk. It signifies the blessing of relationship with Hashem our creator. Bullets could not take that relationship away from the 11 members who have passed to the next world.

Turn “your” eyes inward

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov retold a ancient parable.

The King wanted to remodel his splendid Palace. His desire was the King’s Bedroom would be made beautiful. The King called his top two Minister’s and told them of his desire. He gave them two identical halves of the same room to decorate as a means to test which of the Minister’s could perform the best work. He promised to pay both of them for their time and according to their work. The King expected a wonderful result. The King asked that they have the project finished by the time he returned to the Kingdom. The deadline was set for sixty days.

The first minister worked diligently from the first day. He used the money and resources that the King gave him. He loved the King and wanted to give a gift worthy of the King. As he worked day in and day out, the love he felt for the King showed in his creation. The gold, white and mixture of colors created a magnificent reflection of the light. The room shone.

The second minister loved the king, but was not able to concentrate on the project. He spoiled his time by spending his money and efforts in the small town below the Kingdom.

The first minister was able to complete his project a week before the deadline and he happily awaited the return. He contemplated the sorry plight of his neighbor and offered to help the second minister. His offer was refused.

The second minister became afraid of his failure and within days of the return of the King to the Kingdom he knew that he could no longer complete the project. He sat on the broken furniture in his half of the King’s room, which had gathered dust and was drab and smelly compared to the other half of the room, which shone. He knew the King was just. He knew the King loved him, but he also felt the pain of failure in his heart. He understood that he failed the King.

A day before the scheduled return, the second minister came upon an idea. He went into the town below the Kingdom and he bought mirrors. He worked hard getting them up the hill and into the room. He tore down curtains from another part of the Castle and awaited the King.

When the King beheld the work of the first minister, he was pleased. He rewarded the man.

The second minister then pulled aside the curtain. The mirrors shone back the first minister’s room. The room was beautiful but clearly an illusion. The King stared.

There are three options for an ending among the Jewish people.

1. The King punished the Minister for his treachery.

2. The King rewarded the Minister for the work.

3. The King chose to reward the Minister in the same way that he worked. He granted him the a reward of Gold, reflected in the same mirrors. He rewarded illusion with illusion.

The historical answer when telling the story was always that he King rewarded illusion with illusion, but when the same story was told by Rebbe Nachman, he would end the tale with the second minister being richly rewarded.

The reason for this change is a matter of perspective. Rebbe Nachman saw the parable through the eyes of the King. The parable was the King’s story and was a view into the love that both minister’s had for the King. Both ministers were trying to gain his approval, but they did it in very different ways. The work was accomplished along two very separate paths. Rebbe Nachman saw the parable through “turned eyes.”

Turning the Eyes Inward

There is a a mitzvot that we should pray daily. Rebbe Nachman and the Ba’al Shem Tov both understood that prayer is central to transforming your life. As Jews, we lift our hands upward towards the L-rd. This forces our eyes upward, eye to eye.

The Sh’ma tells us to Hear and Do. The primary act of a spiritual creature is to understand the spiritual world by hearing the commands of Hashem and doing them. The problem is that this still leaves us in a place where we cannot “see” Hashem. He remains in a hidden and concealed state. A place where a screen or Massach is between us an our King.

Lifting our eyes in an act of prayer is connecting to the Maschiach. Hashem sees us as the King sees us. He looks down and see us with loving Kindness. He loves us as his own.

The intermediary relationship with Maschiach lifts us beyond the veil. We rise up through prayer to another dimension. We cross through the worlds of the Creation, through Action, Foundation and Divinity. The separateness of G-d and Spiritual man, the Massach, the line between the upper and lower world, begins to face as we cross over to seeing the world through the King’s eyes. In that place, you turn back to look at yourself in the same ways as the King looks at you. You turn your eyes inward and see yourself in the same way as the King.

Eyes Upward

Nineveh Now

I have always been fascinated with the Book of Jonah, really Jonah himself. The idea of a reluctant Prophet exemplifies an interesting relationship with G-d. I can identify with the idea that a human being can be called to something that he or she may not want to do.

While in Iraq as a Soldier, I was able to go and see Jonah’s tomb. The tomb was outside the standing walls of Ninevah. The Ninevah lions perched in protection. The Iraqi tourists mixed with us as we toured through stone complex. The tomb was on a hill that viewed Mosul, almost jungle like, with a path that went in a leisurely fashion through the streets to the Tigris River. The legend has it that this remains the path that Jonah walked from the Tigris to the hill overlooking the gates of Ninevah.

What most fascinated me was that the Tomb remained there. There was a remembrance to this day of Jonah and his walk. A belief that his body remained in Ninevah. He must have stayed with the people of Ninevah. He must have cared for them and wanted to remain with them. His reluctance must have ended when he began to love the people.

For me, the forced lesson of caring for your neighbor is one that can be life changing. Jonah was fundamentally changed by G-d, not in the belly of a fish, but on a hill overlooking Nenevah and Mosul.


Hebraic Time

In the material world, seven aspects of G-d are presented to us every day. In Judaism or Kabbalah, these faces of G-d are seen as advance forward each day, week, month, year and Jubilee.  These significant moments are a record of our meeting place. Like Jacob’s stone, the feasts are the head stone that allow us to mark the passage of time. The feasts act as an engine to transform the inner spiritual man.

There is an organic circular harmony to the rhythms of life.  The flow of light coming down to our day to day world is like the angels ascending an descending Jacob’s ladder. Science would see the energetic light waves.

Every living thing faces these wavelike cycles.  The material, worldly feasts, are Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Pesach, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Shavuot.  There is also a special day of rest and shalom, Shabbat. In a day, the spiritual human being experiences time as a dimension or creation at specific intervals during the day. If we measure time in a week, you will see the same pattern throughout the week. If you look at a year, you will see the same pattern. The feast flow in this Order from Night to Day, from Fall to Spring.

There is a spiritual and physical root to all things. There is a beginning to all things. You begin your day.  A seed starts as a shell and begins to grow. A baby is conceived. There is a Rosh Hashana of a beginning.

Everything starts with Rosh Hashana (the beginning). Growth begins from a plan. A Mitzvot that grows. Small beginnings. The seed is given conditions to grow. The spiritual human being wants to master his ascent through study and planning.

The Rosh Hashana part of our day, week, year or life is the step towards the spiritual. The step across the line from material world to a spiritual kingdom. This is the recognition that G-d is good.  The decision to have a relationship with a spiritual system of time.  The decision to be Echad.  The decision for oneness.

Yesod- Formation- The Torah of the day.

After a person steps into the spiritual kingdom of the day. The human being wakes up in the Worlds of Action. This is a bit confusing for the Soul that is awakening from the Spiritual World.

The first step is to praise G-d, pray, meditate, eat, bath, and get the body going. (Rosh Hashanah-Plan) The human being is ready to move forward with the intention to have a spiritual day with G-d.

The next step before the work of the world begins is to understand what your personal “Torah” will be for the day. This occurs on three dimensional levels.

World of Action- This is the physical mitzvot of reading scripture, listening to Kabbalah, working through the daily Zohar reading, or sharing spiritual concepts with a group. The goal is to physically orient yourself to spiritual action in a physical world.

World of Emanation (Radiance)- This is the place where we emotionally respond to the Text or the Torah. This is the binding of self, yoking self, to the Hashem. This is also a place to emotionally bond to the Rebbe, teacher or Tzaddik.

World of Creation- The mitzvot of study combined with the yoking of self emotionally to Hashem creates a heart condition which is in right relationship with the G-dly world. The creates a “structure” or “creation” in the upper worlds that has a shell of permanence. Essentially, a pattern will be created in your life which will have a lasting permanent positive change.


Act as a Personal Building Block

The Jewish concept of a positive mitzvot or G-dly act relates to physical action. From the perspective of an integrated spiritual consciousness, the mitzvot is a physical act in the physical world that reverberates into the spiritual world. A positive mitzvot has the power to be a physical action that transforms into an emanating spiritual relationship with the “other.” This creates a positive and cohesive relationship between the two spiritual objects. This creates a new pattern, a new algorithm, a new creation. This creates the foundation for spiritual transformation.


Therefore, when you look at the Hillel foundation of the Torah, the integrated relationship to a oneness world, you must “love thy neighbor as thyself” and “love G-d with all your heart and soul.” These are actions in the day to day world. The actions themselves are a type of rebellion to the world of automation. They are freeing.


The performance of the acts of “love thy neighbor as thyself” allows one to physically create a type of memory  in the world of day to day life. The memory is that I loved the other. The action itself resonates in the heart and creates a spiritual light that connects to the person that the act was performed for. In other words, the neighbor cannot help but connect to acts of love. These line of connection has a type of permanence that remains between the actor and the object of that action. The connection remains in the world of the spiritual and remains forever as a part of the character of both.


In the world of emanation, this relationship creates a new type of creature, a type of algorithm that will happen again and again. The performance of more of these “love thy neighbor acts” will begin to reverberate into the world of creation. A creation of a G-dly pattern will begin to manifest in the physical and spiritual world.

Malchut as Daily Rosh Hoshana

Stepping into a Spiritual Kingdom

In the world of action, we see Malchut as the initial awakening to the Kingdom of G-d. This is the place that we initially see Hashem as Lord (Elohim). This is the place that we see the world of action as a spiritual landscape.

Malchut is the place that you step into the world of faith. In that world, you see the material world, but can “hear” the spiritual message of the material world. The is the world of the Sh’ma. Hear and Do.

There is no requirement for the spiritual person to “speak” at this level. This is a place where the speech is not spiritual. Lashon Hara can be very ugly. Initially, we create a world that is “ugly” and “not good.” We talk ourselves into it.

Awakening to Malchut begins the process of Hearing that the world is “good.” We hear through faith that G-d is good. We “listen” in the initial place of exploring the material world as spiritual world. Our reason, our “sight” links us to the material world of action. We have to hear Torah, to G-D’s reverberating organic way of Good to begin to change.

When you arrive in Malchut, prayer and meditation begin to open the world of the spiritual. We hear the positive prayers of our mouths and we establish a relationship to the upper dimensions and the spiritual world of Assilut.

Rosh Hashana corresponds to Malchut. This is place of beginning. A Rosh or head place to start the assent from Branch to Root in the Tree of Life. This is a place to begin the Kavanah of the day. The intent to fall asleep in the arms of Binah.

We should begin everyday with a step into Malchut. This opens the first dimension of our faith. We begin to hear and do.