Monday, June 23, 2014

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                                               Parashas Shelach
                                           The Ger of Everything
                                               Rabbi David Katz

Parashas Shelach is a great example [one example out of the entire Book of Bamidbar in particular] of an under appreciation of the Torah passages and stories in this Book's contents, due to a lack of Ger awareness. The build-up until now was through Creation and Genesis, something of "Creation of Ger and Jew"; followed by the Exodus and light undertones of an "Erev Rav" – mixed multitudes that included would-be Gerim. The Book of Vayikra [The Book of Priestly Service] is also very Ger, but as the Book is analogous to the buried heart, so too is its secrets, such that they include the Ger. Which takes direct issue with the Book of Bamidbar, for Devarim seals the Torah and really depends on these last Parshiot to establish precedent of deeper context. Thus up until now in Bamidbar, we have been given several clues about the deeper philosophies of newly fashioned Israel, and they are intertwined with Ger. The story becomes illuminated with the departure of Jethro as we had flashbacks of Mt. Sinai. From the spies onwards, the eager student has sufficient dots gathered to connect from a near year's-worth of learning the Torah cycle.  The Torah contains life, and by logical process - Life contains everything. But then perforce this life reality would consist of Jews and Gerim, and the Torah comes to show just as much, as the stories twist onward showing their divine irony of brotherhood.

In a World dominated by exile after exile, and the in-betweens filled with disappointment over God's plan, many are left with a mere remnant of the Torah and a sour taste. The wine has turned to putrid vinegar. Luckily we don't have to look too far to find one of the fundamental catalysts to this epidemic – which is that somehow during Israel's plight the Ger [Brotherhood] was perceived to only reflect one small aspect of its glory and grandeur, and that is the full-convert aspect of the connotation [Ger].  This exclusion [in the eyes of most] seems petty at best, to regard this as a Torah slight, and the side-effects are nearly non-existent.  Rest assured, this may be the Satan's greatest coupe of all time. With the Ger scribbled out of the Torah text lexicon, we have left only a dark shadow of what Torah is, and by definition every sense of perception and reality is radically warped. The result is a radical ethnocentric world-view of an all-Jewish plot by the Divine. With this being the case, we can now see clearly every evil against "The Name Israel" and Torah study became a dose of Harvard on steroids. The romance of Torah's kiss from the Holy of Holies remains an afterthought, only people don't even want to think that much [of it]. Welcome to exile, and rationale for the educators telling the same stories year after year like a B comic who simply fill the time slot for trite entertainment purposes.

Enter the Parshiot here. With the Torah being reduced to a "dot" from its full stature [a fully dynamic model vs. a static "set in stone" dogma] we are left with shallow waters to delve into. For this reason every generation has at best a few luminaries who truly shed new light onto the Torah revealing Hashem in our day. The rest either do the status quo without novella, or stick to a one-dimensional view of the Universe through draconian [strictly Jewish] law. Talmudic law is very important and has been the staple of Jewish survival as well as par excellance to authentic scholarship. The defect however manifests in the ability to make sense of the Torah's true meaning. The ramifications are extreme, for this produces an unlearned state of affairs where basic tenets of life's everyday reality, are hidden from the layman. Coupled with the fact that the Nations do, and always have looked to Israel for their light, and you are looking down the barrel of a massive misinformation-generating enterprise. Imagine a system that takes everything out of context, and grafts it into mythical proportions, while spreading this tumor like a Daytona 500 virus. Yes, this is Torah in exile; it has its ups and downs, but the downs are proving to ruin society; for any hope of Light is being suffocated each pending day of further exile.

Parashas Shelach for example is the source of the epitome of such a tragic state of affairs, which is the condition of the "9th of Av" – a punishment of the evil speech by Israel, and thus the source of the dismantling of the previous two Temples and countless sorrows. To add insult to injury, most don't know the story in the Torah, and of those that do, they are not preoccupied with it as to attempt to find rectification for Israel's hardships. Each year we receive a half-baked version of what happened, it generally doesn't change from cycle to cycle [i.e. no new angles], and if one were to pay attention to detail of each discourse, the holes of the account are plentiful. We are told one holey cliché: do not speak evil speech, and in particular against Israel [and of similar sacred genre]; for this is our chink in the armor. And with great rhetoric, "we must finally fix this character flaw" this before "they" chastise Moses for, "he wasn't supposed to even send the spies..." Yet, we should never lose sight that Moshiach was "born" on the 9th of Av [Jewish month of Av falls in late summer months]; a traditional thought among Ancient and current Torah intellectuals.

In a magical universe, enter the Ger.

In the End of Days in scarce literature, we are told of some of the future conditions of the Coming of the Messiah, and of the scenarios; and prophecy alludes to the Nations coming back in epic proportion. To make a long story short, this is simply the return of the Ger after nearly two thousand years of mutual groping in the dark distancing ourselves from pure Torah. We can see in our time that this is indeed what is happening, and for those close to the Ger [either Jews or Gerim themselves] we are seeing something spectacular happening in front of our sore eyes. In prophetic fashion the World is hyper accelerating in all areas.  But most importantly, the Gerim are bringing back the sacred lost sparks of the Kabbalah – a means of understanding Torah and life-reality. Life was never meant to be understood in solitude, and the Ger-Jew marriage is reminiscent of what God told Adam, "It is not good for Man to be alone." The Kabbalah even goes so far as to compare Adam and Eve to the Ger and the Jew and their unique [male – female] relationship.

With such joy and excitement to finally find arousal in faith with the Brotherhood in Ger-Jew relations, the Torah has found its return to life as well. Our Parasha is a tremendous example of this revival. For now, maybe the first time ever, God is revealing the Torah's deeper intentions; reality is literally coming towards us like a queen to her king. The Hebrew is becoming clearer and clearer with the return of the Ger, for his probing questions shake the dust off the shelves, and true scholarship has found its "Charlie Hustle" moniker once again. The Torah is no longer anonymous with the Ger around, and with the characters all in place, the shadow has disappeared and has been exchanged for a script with a star-studded original cast.

Shelach and the spies is an unfortunate display of the Torah's age old theme – brothers couldn't get along. The brothers are no longer Kain and Abel, but the Jew and the Ger. The reverberations even hit with Jethro and Moses, as they themselves are reincarnations of Kain and Abel. And still they struggle to get it right. The Torah philosophy is about Brotherhood, repair, intensity, overcoming challenges, etc. and Shelach is that in a nutshell. The story is simple: it was a case of wanting to enter the Promised Land and each side had its own agenda, "Abel got killed again" so to speak, and the Land took the abuse, much the same way after Adam and Kain's original sins. The missing piece of the pie is rather glaring at this junction in history; and that is the Ger [aspect, concept to say the least] that is today is an exact reflection of what it was then.  History is yearning to repeat itself.

Yet have no fear, for the Messiah was born out of that dreadful day, and we are promised a full repair and return to "Brothers sitting as one." The good news is,  that with each passing day we understand the Torah better and better.  And with each Ger who finds his shelter with God, we inch closer towards our eventual redemption. The Psalmist says, "The rock that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone." This verse has several meanings and connotations, but the one whose light spreads the farthest just may be the long lost Ger.  For the Ger spans our Torah cover to cover in ways that makes one wonder how they ever, even got lost. [Think about the Korach rebellion]

The Torah is not just an omission of the Ger, for there are other main players to come back such as the priesthood, the Temple, and even perhaps God Himself [from concealment].  But, the Ger gives us hope that we can finally walk a path of light and righteousness. The connections to be made with this influx of light are endless,  Thus, I can only encourage one task: when reading the Parasha, allow yourself to ask of the Ger [at any moment the issues arises in thought], and not be afraid to re-institute the People of God [as they are called in Torah; Jews are called "Children of Israel"], for the repair certainly depends on this. How great it will be indeed, to have Brothers dwelling as one, in Land, worldwide, and in the Good Time to Come!

Click for Audio Class "The Ger of Everything"


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