Monday, November 26, 2012

Ha'Shem appeared .....

Every week, a portion of the five books of Moses, known as the Torah, is read in the synagogue. The reading that I wanted to share some of my insights, and questions regarding is the portion known as פרשׁת וִיַרְא, Parashat Vayire. The part of the portion that I discuss in this piece, consists essentially of  Genesis, Chapter 18 & 19.

It is, to put it mildly, a heck of a text. It has 3 angels visiting Abraham, to tell him and Sara, both approaching their 100th year of life, that she was going to have a baby. It contains the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, with Lot's wife turning into a pillar of salt. Then we have Abraham's lying about Sara being his sister, and finally the binding of Isaac.

As much as I would have liked to have completed the whole chapter, at this stage, I am sharing just up to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorroh and Lot's ending up in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters.

Whenever I approach these texts more closely, I keep in mind the environment in which this story takes place, which, I have to admit, was probably something a lot different from that which we are accustomed to today. Ignoring the lack of “modern technology”for the moment, let us note some of the strangenesses that were spoken of from those days. Let that strangeness allow us to open our minds to the non-rational, or perhaps the supra-rational.

Using shaman methodology to investigate this story, I look at what part of it could be a journey, and what part of it could fit into my understanding of what I will refer to, as the “3D” or“consensual” reality in which we live. I do that because I take the journey to be one that will take me to a non-material realm. And the non-material realm is where the spiritual begins. For it is the realm of the ideal, of the vow, of the Brit.

“HaShem appeared to him”
וירא אליו יהוה

Approaching it from the English rendering, in which the Parasha begins with the nameless aspect of G!d, HaShem,  the one we refer to as the Name, because It has no name, being beyond the realm of naming.  Part of creation’s emergence was the need for Adam to name everything. HaShemthen is beyond this realm being the source of creation, the “One” that exists before creation. Now, this could alert us to the fact that this portion is starting in the presence of the Divine, “For HaShem appeared to him”, thus he must be in sacred space. We could say that he was visited by the Divine.

In the Hebrew, the first word is not HaShem, but is ויראVayirah. It is also the name of the chapter, and can be rendered as “It (HaShem) will be seen,” a form of looking that is the looking into the future, “You will see”, and hence “appeared”, because of the biblical future tense being rendered as the past.

I find this straddling, this con-fusion of the past and the future fascinating. It generally occurs in reference to the Divine though. It is as if She acts in the future, that is, exists as the future, as pregnant with possibilities. The “past”  is what has been actualised, been made manifest. But HaShem remains the only possible, potential, action.

In the Hebrew, HaShem is not the second word either – it is the third. Thus it intimates that first there needs to be the act of seeing, which requires also looking. In order for it to appear, he must have been looking for it, and then found, i.e. seeing, it. And this requires astillness, an ability to hear, to receive.

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