Deep peace
has settled within me
and around me

for I am an Israelite now;

It turns out
That the last two months have been a journey
to refine my own understanding
of what sort of Jewish person I am –

where I fit in the Jewish identity spectrum…

A Jewish person
has a Jewish mother
or grandmother

or is a convert to Judaism;

A Jewish soul
on the other hand
is anyone with a Jewish soul

whether they know it or not
whether they like it or not;
‘lost Jews’
if you like;

Yet all are Rachel’s children…

the Jewish soul
with a known Jewish maternal line
a convert
and the lost

for Rachel is the mother of all Israelites…

Including Israelis?
Even though back in the Promised Land they are?
I don’t know.

Wanting to understand
my purpose as a Jewish soul
and how I am to manifest this
as Archaela,

I remained stuck.

Clearly,
I am on the margins
of Jewishness?

A knot in my gut
required untangling.

It consisted of three elements
based on the rejection of one substantial
Messianic expectation:

The building of a physical Third Temple.

For me the Third Temple
is the temple within;
the awakening of HaShem consciousness
within every Israelite soul;

This is supported by the esoteric understanding of Torah…

So why the anxiety?
Why the discomfort?
Why the constant self-doubt?

It has come to me
that I don’t understand
PaRDeS
and that it would help me to do so.

PaRDeS
or Paradise

refers to the four levels
of exegetical interpretation
of the written Torah

I knew that
P was the literal interpretation and
S was the esoteric, the mystical

was reminded that
R is the allegorical and
D is the homiletic.

This was explained by Sara Evian
at our last Thursday afternoon WhatsApp shiur
using the example of
“Do not murder.”

Yet when I reviewed it that evening
I could only remember

that the literal means,
do not take another person’s life,
except in self-defence.

And that the esoteric
is do not treat another human being
as though they don’t exist;

Making someone feel invisible
is akin to soul-murder.

Yet try as much as I could
I failed to remember the interpretation
at the allegorical
and the homiletic levels…

As a consequence
I began to observe
where my preference lies –

that it is at the esoteric level
was no surprise.

Yet by having a preference
instead of a layered understanding

or rather
instead of having an understanding
of the layers of interpretation

may lead to corruption of the oral tradition
may lead to heresy…

I became aware
that the interpretation of biblical texts
has to be built
on the first layer:

the literal

and that I had subconsciously rejected this
for it includes an understanding
that the Messiah
is a male descendant of King David

and more discomforting still
that the Third Temple
is a physical building.

Interacting with people
for whom this might be a deeply felt desire
had made me aware
that for them the loss of the two Temples

meant the loss
of the energy portal
that makes Shalom possible;

the slaughter of unassimilated Jewish people
throughout the last two thousand years
is linked in their minds
with the loss of the Second Temple;

instead of slaughtering animals
as a sacrifice pleasing to God
Jewish people have been sacrificed instead…

And no matter how repulsive
the thought of ritual slaughter
of animals is to me
it has given me plenty of food for thought…

I have remembered too
that at some point during my initiation
into the African shamanic InZuza lineage

while working through the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius
I had a dream in which

“Jesus was the last ritual sacrifice.”

This meant that I refused to participate
in any ritual slaughter of animals
as part of my shamanic initiation process…

Now here I am
a Jewish soul
called Archaela
revisiting the truth of this insight.

Discomforted
Shaken up
I have been;

Is, Jesus was the last ritual sacrifice
how St Ignatius saw the crucifixion of Jesus?
Is that what he hoped for?

Did he hope
that the ‘ritual sacrifice’ of Jewish people
would come to an end?

What was his attitude towards the Jewish people?

Here I took a break
went to Mr. Google
and found the following
which I read;

A PDF file:
STUDIES in the Spirituality of Jesuits: St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jews by James W. Reites, S.J:

Using St. Paul’s example of the Old Testament figures of Jacob, Esau, Sarah, and Agar (Romans 9:13; Galatians 4:22-31) to show Christianity’s superiority over Judaism, Augustine added a more temporal interpretation to Paul’s doctrine: the Jews, like Esau, have lost their birthright and must now serve their young brother, Jacob.

(Jesuit purpose: “the spiritual progress of souls” in “the service of God our Lord.”)

Perhaps his ultimate reason for opposing the limpieza prejudice stems from his own practical experience with New Christians, men who could not be surpassed in their religious dedication to work for the universal good. The Society could not exclude them and remain true to its apostolic orientation…

Opposed to discrimination on the basis of race, Avila warned the Society that it could destroy itself in two ways: the first, by accepting too many candidates, and the second, by making distinctions based on lineage and blood…

This is the spirituality of the Spiritual Exercises which has to do with prudent decisions in the light of commitment to Christ…

Tracing the attitude of Ignatius of Loyola toward the Jews throughout his life, then, we have seen him move from the proud Basque at Alcala who boasted that there were no Jews in his province of Guipuzcoa, to the friend and companion of the New Christian Diego Laynez at Paris, to the humble apostle to the Jews of Rome, to the firm and shrewd leader of the new Society of Jesus, refusing to enact statutes of limpieza, and finally to the Basque who wished he had been born of Jewish blood…

In his daily existence and confrontation with problems, Ignatius enacted and epitomized the ideals of the Exercises, keeping Christ the King his paradigm, His mission to win the whole world his goal, discernment as the means to this goal, and everything else secondary to seeking God’s greater honor and glory…

It is now 14h32
and instead of writing
about forests in preparation
for Mandela Day
I decided to chew on the
historical
and theological gems
I have shared with you.

It seems my desire to choose
between continuing to share
my Jewish journey
and growing forests
has been halted;

both
are in my spiritual blueprint;

how I will manage both
remains to be seen…

(© Archaela 5781 Av 04; 2021/07/13)

Post Script:

The Peshat level
in the PaRDeS exegetical system
is not the literal interpretation,
it is the plain meaning of the text

the example Rabbi Sa’ar
used to teach this
was “an eye for an eye…”

which interpreted literally means
if someone takes out someone’s eye
then take out his eye;
this is justice

yet the plain meaning of the text is:
work out the value of the eye to the person
whose sight has been lost
and allocate a monetary value
as compensation.

This is an example of what Sara means
by compassionate righteousness;

Yet sometimes the plain meaning
is the literal meaning.

Knowing the plain meaning of Torah texts
is important for Jewish practice

for it is the foundation
on which the other
levels of interpretation
are built.

Or perhaps not

For the tree of life
is an upside-down tree;
it has its roots
in heaven

and its fruits
project downwards
to earth

low-lying
that we might pluck them?

Yet my Sephardic ancestors
are on my case again;

time to make my way to back to Sepharad
to Spanish-Portuguese Judaism
via Maimonides
the rationalist?

In the same way that I cried,
I don’t want to go to Thokoza
I don’t want to be initiated as a sangoma

So too for the last two months
or so
I have been weeping within

I don’t want to go to Maimonides
I don’t want to go where there is no Kabbalah
I don’t want to go Sepharad

And two months
it seems I was given
to dawdle

two months in which
to appease my Sephardic ancestors;
I did my best to learn new things
along these lines

twice
I listened to Chazan Benolo
chant the haftarah
which I enjoyed

I did some research
on the Portuguese siddur in particular
only to discover that after the Sabbatai Zvi ‘disaster’
it was purged of all Kabbalah…

How dry must that be?

It was thus with gratitude
that I saw that the Spanish-Portuguese synagogue of Montreal
has no email address
to speed up the process
of acquiring one…

Nonetheless,
awake to my tricks
my tribal ancestors were

so that to my chagrin
I listened to a Sephardic shiur on YouTube
in which an address for Sephardic books was shared,
Hebrewbooks.org

Looking it up
I saw that it’s not particularly user friendly
breathed a sigh of relief

and besides
I dislike buying things online…

See, the child-me said,
I tried my best.
You can see that I have.
Can’t you?

Indeed, they could,
and without being asked,
obstacles began to remove

by insights making available to me
as to how to overcome
my resistance…

It would seem that while I wait
Maimonides
I am to reacquaint myself with

It’s not as though Maimonides
I don’t appreciate at all;
I do

After all, he wrote the eight levels of giving:

8. When donations are given grudgingly.
7. When one gives less than he should, but does so cheerfully.
(G-d loves a cheerful giver?)
6. When gives directly to the poor upon being asked.
5. When one gives directly to the poor without being asked.
4. Donations when the recipient is aware of the donor’s identity, but the donor still doesn’t know the specific identity of the recipient.
3. Donations when the donor is aware to whom the charity is being given, but the recipient is unaware of the source.
2. Giving assistance in such a way that the giver and recipient are unknown to each other. Communal funds, administered by responsible people are also in this category.
1. The highest form of charity is to help sustain a person before they become impoverished by offering a substantial gift in a dignified manner, or by extending a suitable loan, or by helping them find employment or establish themselves in business so as to make it unnecessary for them to become dependent on others.

His mastery of the complex,
handed down in bite-size halacha
my consolation is

and last night I made an effort
to be more sincere in my actions:

I looked up Maimonides
on sefaria.org
chose “livelihoods” as my theme

and smiled
at the texts on my screen –
safaria.org is an Ashkenazi website –

while Sephardim
have been resting
on their intellectual superiority complex
the Ashkenazi have been working?

Amused I was to discover
that Chabad also study Maimonides;
Jewish philosophy
based on Greek philosophy

transmitted through enlightened Islam
way back
during the Golden age of Spanish Jewry.

(© Archaela 5781 Av 18; 2021/07/27)

Sources

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/eight-levels-of-charitable-giving

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pardes_(Jewish_exegesis)

Rabbi Dr David Nossel: The Upside-Down Tree of Life: Lessons for Virtuous Living Inspired by the Weekly Torah Readings.

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