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.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Works and Faith and Rebbe Nachman: A Hebrew Catholic Insight


In Likutey Moharan 5 Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches on the concept of works and faith. He discusses this mystery in the context of prayer. The Hebrew word for work or deed or act is ma'aseh or ma'asim in the plural and the word mitzvot means commandments or good deeds. In Judaism we have the term ma'asim hamitzvot (works of the commandments) as well as ma'asim haemunah (works of faith). St James states that works without faith is dead and then refers to the Akeidah of Abraham which demonstrates the unity of works and faith.

Rebbe Nachman begins his lesson by linking prayer and action or prayerful action. "Now, each person must say: "The entire world was created for my sake" (Sanhedrin 37a). Consequently, because the world was created for my sake, I must constantly look into and consider ways of making the world better;to provide what is missing in the world and pray on its behalf."

The Rebbe then discusses the two main approaches or motivations of those who perform the mitzvot. Those who do mitzvot for the reward they receive in the future World to Come are classified with most of the prophets who saw through a dull-looking glass or mirror. Those like Moses and the Mashiach, who is the prophet like unto Moses, performs mitzvot with great joy because the mitzvah is actually participating in the acts of God himself. One does the mitzvah for its own sake and this is associated with the clear looking glass or mirror. "And this is specially when a person performs the mitzvot with such joy, that he has no desire for any reward in the World to Come. Instead his only desire is that the Holy One provide him with the opportunity to do another mitzvah as a reward for the first mitzvah. As in the saying of the Sages: The reward of a mitzvah is a mitzvah (Avot 4:2)-for he derives pleasure from the mitzvah itself." The Rebbe cryptically here refers us to the female Wisdom who is the Immaculate Mirror associated with simchah (joy) on the level of Binah as the Understanding Mother. Both Moses and the Mashiach like unto Moses, see without the veils into the divine realities. This also alludes to the prophetess Miriam who saw the parting of the Heavens at the time of the parting of the Red Sea. The sister of Moses is a type of the heavenly Miriam who is united to all those who perform mitzvot with joy.


Then the Rebbe goes on to discuss the mystery of the Shiur Komah - God's Body. This alludes to Ephesians 4:13 in reference to the Body of Mashiach being the measure of the stature [shiur komah] of the fullness of Mashiach. Ephesians 4:13: “…to equip the Tzaddikim for the ‘maaseh avodah’[the work of service or ministry] for the building up of the body of Mashiach until we all attain to the ‘echad haEmunah’[unity of faith] and of the ‘daat Ben Elohim’[knowledge of the Son of God] to ‘shelemah Adam’[complete man] , to the ‘shiur komah ha Milluim Mashiach’ [measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah] …”. Here Paul links works with faith in one unity. Rebbe Nachman says: "...the mitzvot form a complete komah [structure/ construct/ stature/ figure]. And they give life to all other komot; whether it be komat Adam or komat Olam or komat shanah. For Olam Shanah Nefesh [World-Year-Soul]receive vitality from the mitzvot, as in (Psalm 33:4), 'All His work is done with faith," and also (Psalm 119:86)'All your mitzvot are faith". Thus, the Holy One is in simple unity with the mitzvot." The Breslov Rabbis state that "...Moses himself corresponds to the entire construct of the mitzvot...Reb Noson adds that this is why the tzaddik who performs the mitzvot with great joy-thus becoming an aspect of Moshe- has the ability to bring the entire world to serve God. Through him all the constructs are rectified and all that is lacking in the world is made whole (Torat Natan #1)." Thus the Tzaddik who is the Messiah like unto Moses united with Great Joy (Our Lady)brings the whole world to God's service (maaseh avodah)by redeeming all things in him.

The Breslov Rabbis further say: " God's creation, which is "all his work", is established with faith, which is synonymous with the mitzvot, as in,"All Your mitzvot are faith". The mitzvot, as a complete construct, correspond to all the different constructs-i.e.they are the vehicle through which God provides spiritual vitality to all His creations." Rebbe Nachman continues: "Therefore, when the Holy One's works are as they should be and in proper order, the Holy One is happy with them and delights in them, as it is written (Psalm 104:31), "God rejoices in His works". Like a craftsman who makes some vessel. If the vessel is beautiful, then he delights in it. And the joy of the Holy One is clothed in the mitzvot, because they are his unity." The concept of the craftsman is linked with the concept of work and Joseph. Joseph represents the figure (komah)of the World (Olam/place/space) who is linked by the Rabbis to work. The uncreated craftsman or worker is God the Father and Joseph is the created craftsman. The concept of mitzvot and joy in the mitzvot is linked to the figure (komah)of Year (Time/ shanah)which is the Mother's Womb. The uncreated Joy is the Holy Spirit and the created Joy is Miriam. The concept of faith (emunah) is linked with the figure of the Divine Man as Nefesh (soul/ vessel/being) and Leb (Heart). The uncreated faith alludes to the divinity of the Divine Man and the created Faith to his created soul and heart as the vessels of his humanity.

The Breslovers teach that the Divine Will and God are One. The will of God and the Thought of God are one with God himself. This makes a kind of Triunity of God, Thought and Will. They also state that this also applies to the mitzvot as they "are the spiritual expression of God's Will." Thus the mitzvot are the Divine Will in act or volition. They say: "...Now, because God and His mitzvot are one, when a person performs the mitzvot with complete joy, he can even in this world, get a glimpse of this awareness. He is therefore able to enjoy a taste of the joy and reward of the World to Come...in the terminology of the kabbalah this is known as ascending to the sefirah of Binah, which corresponds to the World to Come...When a person performs the mitzvot with great joy, he ascends to the level of Binah..." Our Lady and Joseph united to her lived a perfect Torah observant lifestyle and with Great Joy they entered into God's Divine Will through performing mitzvot or acts in Him. Breslov Rabbi Yehoshuah Starrett writes in "The Inner Temple": "...The secret of this is beyond comprehension. It is the secret of God within man. It is the secret that God, to find His expression, has chosen to hide within man. The commandments are ultimately God's deepest will- the things He wants most deeply to do. But how can God "do" when he is beyond doing actions? Only by acting within mortal man..."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Athol,

Enjoyed the works of faith post. In the meantime, I think it would be a fine addition for you to post some description of how you're actively living out such a philosophy of works.

Peace in Christ,
Bob