Sunday, November 18, 2007

Kabbalah & Science, Prayer (Formal & Not)

I guess you could say that I believe that all things happen(ed) in a way that we can investigate, and eventually discover the mechanics behind them. Whereas science does not always yield the correct answer, it's a worthwhile discipline. Somehow, the spiritual and physical should match up though. It makes no sense to me that the physical world represents one thing and the spiritual world another, because G-d wouldn't have to make it that way. So I just shrug my shoulders when the two don't obviously match up. I'm also comfortable with the idea that plenty of the Bible is alegory. This is what I've been taught by some orthodox rabbis anyway.

But understand that there are a wide variety of beliefs on this. There are orthodox organizations that believe and teach that the world was created in 6, 24 hours periods, but that those periods (due to time stretching) appear to be 13 billion years. (Dr. Gerald Schroeder is not without his critics but his book about this remained on the New York Times best seller's list for a year. I learned from him directly - he teaches in Jersualem.) This theory also allows for a processed beginning - not one that appeared ready made as the first poetic yet cryptic lines of Genesis tell us.

Then, there are orthodox organizations like Chabad (where you came, with whom I most affiliate myself) that believe that the 6 days of creation were 6 days and there are absolutely no caviats on it - a tree was made as a tree, a human instantly appeared as a human, etc.

I pray 3 times a day - though that's just formal prayer. Meaning there are actually 3 prayer services that you can do alone, but should do with a group. The first one takes place in the morning and it takes the longest to do. The next one is done in the afternoon (from about noon till dark), and the third you do when it's dark. Those prayers were written by the sages to elicit emotion and give us a way of asking for things we might otherwise forget to ask for, or to steer our hearts and minds in the most effective way. It's exactly like a composer writing a symphony. Beethoven constructed his symphonies by using a theme and repeating it, making variations of that theme - by creating different movements, which ultimately built to a crechendo (sp?). That's the same idea when it comes to formal prayer, praying from a text. But I pray several times a day beyond the formal stuff. Just when I'm talking to the Conductor (King David actually refered to G-d as the Conductor!)

I study a few times a week here and there. I actually started a little learning group for guys on Sunday. And I learn on the Sabbath. I try to learn a few times during the week - a little this or that. Learning is a life-long endeavor for the religious Jew. There's SO MUCH! it's insane. Really daunting if you're not prepared for how much there is to learn. But the object, unlike the school systems, is not to reach a degree or even a rabbinical certification, but it's to ... learn! To learn and to teach, so that we can live as examples to the rest of the world and teach that way of living to the next generation.

The Kabbalah is definitely more mysticism than science - but there are some freaky parallels. Another (other than the account of the beginning) is that the Kabbalah teaches that there are 11 dimentions (actually 10 and one alternate.) These are energies or eminations that the Creator made the universe out of, such as Kindness, Severity, Harmony, Judgment, etc. The eminations are much more lofty than their names make them appear. Think of them more like forces.

So are you sure your mom's mom's mom isn't Jewish? haha

What else? That all you got?! HUH? You ask quesitons like a sissy! hahaha jk

-----Original Message-----
From: Mikaila Rimbenieks
Sent: Fri, 16 Nov 2007 1:34 pm
Subject: Re: Question, Again

You're funny. No I do have a lot of questions for sure. I am so
oblivious to world religions that I think it is time I knew a little
more. So basically, if I understood you correctly, you believe in a
type of scientific creation with a spiritual interpretation. Is that
kind of it? To me, what you say makes sense. I for one believe in
science and evolution but stress the spiritual connection that the all
living things have. It is complicated. How often do you pray or study
in regards to your religion? In comparison to your childhood, do you
feel more or less fulfilled? Is Kabbalah more on on mysticism or
science? Ok, that should do it for now.
Thanks Again,
On Nov 16, 2007 8:49 AM, wrote:
> Ya gotta believe that I really like explaining it!
> I'll expect more questions after this one...
> I do study Kabbalah - it's in sort of a reduced form. Chassidic teachings
> (Chabad is a Chassidic sect of Judaism) have Kabbalah interwoven into their
> teachings. When you study the deep aspects of Kabbalah it can be a little
> nuts. The concepts are very deep and revealing. It used to be decreed that
> you can't study it until you're 40 and have a family - this is because
> learning it can make a person unstable and a family (and age) offer some
> stability. But that's not really applied today. The Kabbalah center has
> most exploited this and it's a sensetive subject within the Jewish
> community, especially orthodox. The problem is that they don't teach
> Judaism - only Kabbalah. Which on the one hand is okay, but on the other
> one could make the argument that you can't have one without the other. They
> sell water that has been blessed by a rabbi (I've never even heard of water
> blessed by a rabbi) and they sell their red strings (which most people get
> when praying at Rachel's tomb in Israel) for a mint! It's a little like
> hmmmmm. Anyway. Kabbalah is the "how" of the universe. There are three
> pillars to Judaism. To teach only one of these is pretty nonsensical from
> the orthodox Jewish perspective. The Written Law (Bible) the Oral Law
> (details of the bible) and the Kabbalah (Mystical aspects of life & the
> Bible). Kabbalah can also be thought of as the metaphysics of the universe.
> HOW things happen and happened. The analogy I like to use to describe the
> Written, Oral and Kabbalalistic traditions is this: There is a very short
> written story that "a picture frame fell off a table". that's the written
> story. The oral aspects of it are any information pertaining to the event
> that wasn't contained in the text "a picture frame fell off a table"; the
> table was a dining table made of birch, Rabbi Brooks and his wife were
> photographed in the picture, the Rabbi's son knocked it off. The Kabbalistic
> aspects of the story deal with how it happened. The the rabbi's son's elbow
> was moving at 4 miles per hour. When it struck the frame the momentum
> transfered and due to the laws of entropy and gravity it fell along an arc
> trajectory to the ground. The tension broke the glass, etc. Kabbalah talks
> about the event also in spiritual terms primarily but also talks about
> physical aspects.
> One big question is: Does the Biblical account of creation match with the
> scientific? It would seem at first that it doesn't at all. Check out this
> "modern" description of the begining.
> How the universe was formed...
> There's only one physical creation, and that creation was a tiny
> speck....From the initial concentration of this intangible substance in its
> minute location, the substance expanded, expanding the universe as it did
> so. As the expansion progressed, a change in the substance occurred. This
> initially thin, non-corporeal substance took on the tangible aspects of
> matter as we know it. From this initial act of creation, from the ethereally
> thin pseudo substance, everything that has existed, or will ever exist, was,
> is and will be formed.
> This would seem to be at odds with the biblical account of creation. But
> this is straight from Nachmanides, the Kabbalistic Torah commentator who
> lived in the 1100s! Remember, the Torah does not have the luxury of
> changing its story. If science were to have discovered that the universe
> started as a yellow and white disc (Apache), a snake-skirted lady (Aztecs),
> a big black egg carrying Pan Gu (Chinese), or a golden egg (Hindu), then the
> ancient Jewish understanding of the creation of the universe, as Nachmanides
> related would be left out of serious scientific discussion.
> Does that help - I blabbed on a bit more than the question called for!
> David
> PS
> Keep em comin! Here, I'll help you start. Copy and paste this and fill in
> the blank. "Hey, what about________?"

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