I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Devekut


The Jewish experience of God is 'devekut'which means 'cleaving to God'.This experience leads one to action - to a spiritual way of sanctity. This may lead one to the Jewish spiritual way of chasidut, 'the way of Mercifulness'- to become a Chasid 'a merciful one'. At the heart of Jewish Mysticism are the concepts or ways of Maaseh Bereshit, 'Work of Creation', and Maaseh Merkavah, 'Work of the chariot', but in order for a complete way we need Maaseh Avodah 'Work of service' which is the way of practical mercy (or acts of mercy). We have a built in desire for 'devekut', to be united and to cleave to God. We contemplate the 'image of God' engraved within us and we long and desire to unite and cleave to the Divine Man in whose image we are made.

Devekut is entering into the depths of the Divine Heart. This desire (taanug) in us for devekut is real and the Will (ratzon) of God responds to it. Rabbi Safran states: "Man's aspiration here below evoke the Will on High". God and man meet face to face in the Divine Man who is God revealed in his Attributes. We thus experience the Divine Pesence of God (the'face over the deep')and we behold the face of the Shekhinah (the 'face over the waters'of Genesis 1)which is the created presence of God in the Mother united with the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of the Messiah).

Devekut, which at its deepest is living or dwelling in the Divine Will, according to Rabbi Safran "does not entail the dematerialisation of man" or the dissolution of the soul into God. Man's will and person become as nothing before the Divinity and his will lives within God's Will. The pagan eastern mystical concept of man being absorbed into Nirvana (ceasing to exist) is alien to authentic Jewish and Catholic mysticism. The traditional Catholic understanding of Divine or Mystical Union is the same as the Jewish idea of devekut. Great harm to the soul and spirit is done when one seeks to distort Jewish or Christian mysticism into a syncretism with the pagan concept. Man's will and person remains but in total accord and union in the Divine Will as Adam was in the Garden of Eden.
Devekut does not lead to spiritual passivity or inaction but through dying to selfishness it leads us to spiritual action - avodah (service) to God and others. This experience of Living in God's Will impels us to service to God and man in the world as Living Hosts bringing the presence of God's Will to all. As Miriam (Our Lady) was the Theotokos (God bearer)so we become mini-theokotoses who bear God in our souls and we give birth to souls in the Holy Spirit. We nurture souls as icons of the Holy Spirit and Our Lady. This devekut is an experience of love, and love is always fruitful - we generate life in souls as created icons of the Father like St Joseph and Yeshua (in his humanity but uncreated icon in his divinity). Like them we generate and plant life in souls. Yeshua is the ultimate icon of God as the uncreated in his Divinity and created in his humanity.

Only God can give the grace of devekut and the grace of Dwelling in the Divine Will in a continous eternal mode. However one can share the teachings and insights deriving from these experiences of God's grace so that the soul will desire such graces. At this level we observe the mitzvot 'commandments' of God out of total love and as a way to grow in sanctity and love. One who claims mystical and spiritual life but does not grow in observance of the mizvot 'commandments and good deeds', is on a false spiritual path.The type of mitzvot and the level of observance will differ for each person depending on their state and vocation in life, and their stage of spiritual development.

In another sense the Torah is an icon of the Messiah and his Mother. The Messiah and his Mother in their turn are the living pure icons of the Torah in action. The Chumash (first five books of the Bible)begins with the Hebrew letter 'beit' and ends with the Hebrew letter 'lamed'. The two together read from right to left spells the word LB 'lev'which is heart in English. The heart of Scripture is the Heart of the Son -BN - Genesis begins with the 'beit' and the Apocalypse ends with the 'nun' of Amen.

The Life of sanctity is a following or walking in His Ways. The Talmud states: "You shall emulate His ways and his attributes of goodness." We do not just receive from the Lord but we must give of what we have been given. This devekut 'cleaving' is compared to the cleaving of a husband to his wife leading to their spiritual and sexual union. Chief Rabbi Safran states: " In its purity, loyalty and holiness, his conjugal devotion metaphorically mirrors the Devekut that binds man to God."(Wisdom of the Kabbalah). Husband and wife become one flesh but still retain their personal identities. The same is true in a deeper way with the Divine Union of the soul with God. When we experience this cleaving we imitate God in his works of mercy (chasidut) and goodness but not in his justice and judgement. We in this way become like our Creator. The one who dwells in Divine Will gives by doing good to others unselfishly in the Lord's Name, not our own name. Thus Torah and mitzvot observance will cause the soul to desire to give to others. When we are consecrated to the Holy Spirit we will act in the Spirit. Just as the union of husband and wife generates fruitful life so the Divine Union bears much fruit in good works (mitzvot).

Note: This is written as a reflection on Chief Rabbi Alexandre Safran's book "The Wisdom of Kabbalah".Chief Rabbi Safran

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