Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Enclosed By the Infinitely Frail; Permeated By the Immanently Elusive--Part 3

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

But why, why would the Beloved want the Lover to close? Is love not tender, giving and sweet?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
                                                Corinthians 13:4-7

Love facilitates the successful and total expression of the Lover's being; naught but love's muse can truly inspire the full revelation of the Lover's life and talents. One truly in love is quickened, joyously accelerated in all activities, invigorated, powerful, real. He is able to do more than his contemplation ever perceived possible; wellsprings of his deepest greatness are through love allowed to gush excellently forth. Love is the soul's expansive force which impels and pushes it to touch and shape positively all of experienced reality.

Jacob said, “Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them.” But they said, “We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we shall water the sheep.”
      While he was still speaking with them, Rachel came with her father’s sheep, for she was a shepherdess. When Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother’s brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the mouth of the well and watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel...
                                                                         Genesis 29: 7-11

Even God only creates with love. Creation is not only an act motivated by divine love, it was actually carried out through the medium of His love. Love is the power and light that creates.

That is why Jewish mysticism reads the verse in Psalms 89:2

כִּי אָמַרְתִּי עוֹלָם חֶסֶד יִבָּנֶה

not just with its usual translation

I will declare that your love stands firm forever.

but also 

I will declare that the world was created with love.

As the Zohar calls love חסד יומא דאזיל עם כולא יומין , a day that accompanies all days. It was the Light that was created on the first day, and that with which all came into being all the other days. The first revelation of love, “accompanies” and radiates its light to all the other days and details of Creation, like the love in the soul arouses all the other expressions of emotive force which succeed it.

The attribute of Chesed (Love) and the spreading forth of the life-force into all the worlds and created things without end or limits so that they shall be created ex nihilo and exist...comes from the greatness of the Holy One, blessed be He, in His Glory and Essence...[and] causes life-force and existence ex nihilo to issue forth for an unlimited number of worlds and creatures, for “It is the nature of the beneficient to do good:”
Now, this manifestation of love is the praise of the Holy One, blessed be He, alone, for no other created thing can create a being out of naught and give it life. 
                                                   --Tanya, Shaar HaYicud 4

In the darkest hours, only one who knows love is strong enough to endure all.

As we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.
A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth — that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way — an honorable way — in such a position man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory."
In front of me a man stumbled and those following him fell on top of him. The guard rushed over and used his whip on them all. Thus my thoughts were interrupted for a few minutes. But soon my soul found its way back from the prisoner's existence to another world, and I resumed talk with my loved one: I asked her questions, and she answered; she questioned me in return, and I answered.
"Stop!" We had arrived at our work site. Everybody rushed into the dark hut in the hope of getting a fairly decent tool. Each prisoner got a spade or a pickaxe.
"Can't you hurry up, you pigs?" Soon we had resumed the previous day's positions in the ditch. The frozen ground cracked under the point of the pickaxes, and sparks flew. The men were silent, their brains numb.
My mind still clung to the image of my wife. A thought crossed my mind: I didn't even know if she were still alive. I knew only one thing — which I have learned well by now: Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.
I did not know whether my wife was alive, and I had no means of finding out (during all my prison life there was no outgoing or incoming mail); but at that moment it ceased to matter. There was no need for me to know; nothing could touch the strength of my love, my thoughts, and the image of my beloved. Had I known then that my wife was dead, I think that I would still have given myself, undisturbed by that knowledge, to the contemplation of her image, and that my mental conversation with her would have been just as vivid and just as satisfying. "Set me like a seal upon thy heart, love is as strong as death".

--Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning, Experiences in a Concentration Camp  

Why, then, would the Beloved ever possibly close the Lover?

or if your wish be to close me,i and
my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,

                       TO BE CONTINUED


  1. chesed is love? The gemarah explains that pasuk in tehillim in a very surprising way - Sanhedrin 58b

    1. You understand that the Gemarah is not explaining that passuk there. It is giving an example of how that passuk played itself out in the story of creation. And from that example itself--you see that chessed is love (besides the myriads of other places in chassidus that says so clearly) :

      "The essence of prayer is to extract the 288 Sparks of the broken vessels, which is the mystery of raising the "feminine waters", to malchut, in order to reunite the wife to her husband. (This refers to the Shechinah with the sefira of tiferet.) This occurs when extraneous thoughts arise in one's mind during prayer. A wise person knows how to extract the essence of these thoughts, which is the holy spark found among the impure shells.

      For instance, if a person has lustful thoughts, which come from the side of chesed, as it is written: "If a man takes [has incestuous relations with] his sister, it is a shameful thing (chesed) (Lev. 20:17), he should realize that this pleasure's whole existence derives from the one holy spark within it. [How much greater, then, is the pleasure] of clinging to its root, where it is beyond limit." --Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye

      According to most Biblical commentators, the word chesed, in Aramaic, means "shameful". The Baal Shem Tov, however, follows the Hebrew meaning of the word, which is "love", or "kindness". The underlying idea is that all desire, even the most illicit, has a root in holiness. However, as a result of the primordial Breaking of the Vessels, that emotion fell to an impure, material state. The task of man is to uplift all thoughts and emotions to their supernal root.

  2. _________ "KEEP ON MUSING " ________

    One can endeavor to amuse
    or to be A "muse"-
    we all get to choose.
    Humor is a wondrous thing-it can save the soul
    from the oft painful existence of life's ongoing toll.
    To temporarily offer
    a moments relief-
    to shake with laughter,
    rather than succumb to grief.
    AHH !!! But to BE a muse-
    thats a whole different dimension-
    creating a ripple effect
    of unlimited ascension.
    For to be a muse to others-
    must not "to thine own self be true"?
    to do justice to the gifts
    G-D favored upon me and you?
    To hold firmly to one's beliefs-
    even if contradicts the crowd,
    and not blindly obey the voice that's most loud.
    to remain steadfast and strong
    and stays the course of his call-
    such a muse is never squandered -
    for he shares his strength with us all.

    With gratitude to Rabbi Shmuel Braun