llustration by Yoseph Savan based on The Zohar . The most persecuted, humiliated and oppressed of all Jewish Prophets was Jeremiah. Not just because he was the messenger of God’s words for Israel and the nations, but because he told the truth.
by Ariel Ben Avraham
The most persecuted, humiliated and oppressed of all Jewish Prophets was Jeremiah. Not just because he was the messenger of God’s words for Israel and the nations, but because he told the truth. The irony of this is that being God’s speaker and telling the Truth are the same. We know that God reveals to us attributes that manifest His Love for His Creation: “And the Lord passed by before him [Moses], and proclaimed: ‘The Lord, the Lord, God compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness and truth (…)’.” (Exodus 34:6) Hence our Sages teach that these attributes correspond to some of the Names of God, and Truth is one of them.
It’s not easy to live with the truth, which means to live by and for it. This is the precious heritage of our Jewish identity that the Torah bestows on us. We have said that being the image and likeness of our Creator means being and manifesting His ways and attributes. We are compassionate because He is compassionate, we are kind and loving because He is abundant in loving kindness, we are graceful because He is gracious, we live in truth because He is the One and only Truth.
These are some of the reasons that Israel has been the most persecuted of all peoples on Earth. We live by and for the Truth that is God’s will for the material world and beyond. Jeremiah’s life reminds us who we are, what we live for, and what we die for. The encompassing definition of this is the goodness God wants us to live, enjoy and celebrate at all times. What and who are the enemies of this simple and yet comprising purpose? Who wants to obliterate and destroy goodness? Who can live without goodness as the expression of Love’s ways and attributes as the material manifestation of God’s Love? What can be against our Essence and true identity, with its freedom, expansion, wholeness, abundance and plenitude as gifts from God’s Love? The answers to these questions are the negative trends of human consciousness we call here ego’s fantasies and illusions. These are the idols and enemies of the Truth we are and are meant to live and manifest.
“Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you; I have appointed you a prophet unto the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)
In this sense, Jeremiah represents Israel. As the inheritors of the Torah, we are the bearers of God’s word and will for the material world. Thus we understand that when the Creator speaks to Jeremiah, He is speaking to Israel.
“Then the Lord said to me: ‘Out of the north the evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land. For, lo, I will call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, said. And they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.” (1:14-15)
In our last commentary on Ezekiel’s prophecies (on August 11, 2013 in this blog) we said the cardinal points represent traits of our consciousness, and the north symbolizes negative and destructive trends. These are also represented by our left arm, hence “the enemy comes from the north”. These are the negative qualities of ego’s fantasies and illusions, lower passions and instincts. These are the major threats against the goodness of Love’s ways and attributes that rule in the highest level of consciousness, represented by Jerusalem. Chassidic Sages refer to the “gates” of Jerusalem as the openings we have in the upper part of the body, the head. They point out at the threats as the negative seductions we perceive with our open eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Hence we have to guard ourselves from what we see, hear, smell and taste.
This means that we have to keep away from ego’s materialistic desires we actually experience through our physical senses, which come from the sinister (the left arm) north.
“Thus said the Lord: what unrighteousness have your fathers found in Me, that they are gone far from Me, and have walked after things of vanity, and became vain?” (2:5) “Has a nation changed its gods, which yet are no gods? But My people has changed its glory for that which does not benefit.” (2:11) “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.” (2:13)
The warnings and admonitions against idolatry are fundamental messages of the Torah and the Jewish Prophets, for us to reflect on ego’s fantasies and illusions as idols that enslave our free will. We lose our freedom after we get attached, obsessed and addicted to them. These are the vanities that make us vain, the gods that are not gods for which we trade Love’s ways and attributes as the sources of goodness from which we benefit. These are the living waters that emanate from God’s Love. We trade them for materialistic fantasies, the broken vessels that have no water.
“Your own wickedness shall correct you, and your backsliding shall reprove you: know therefore and see that it is an evil and a bitter thing, that you have forsaken the Lord your God, neither is My fear in you, said the Lord God of hosts.” (2:19)
Living in ego’s fantasies and illusions sooner or later makes us aware of their true nature. This becomes a learning process through which we end up forced to pursue goodness out of the pain and suffering as the aftermath of such fantasies and illusions. Negativity becomes the prosecutor and the punishment that push us back to the goodness we traded for vanity. This verse comprises what we reiterate time and again. God does not punish our transgressions, we are punished by the consequences of our separation from Him. What can be more evil and bitter than living away from the Truth and Loving kindness from which we came to exist? In this sense the bitterness of evil and wickedness is the exile we suffer far from the Promised Land of Love’s ways and attributes, that is also our Redemption.
We have said that the only purpose of evil in all its forms and expressions is to be a reference — and not an option — in order for us to choose goodness. We come from goodness and are destined to manifest it in all its forms and expressions as Love’s ways and attributes. The Messianic Consciousness is what brings us back to the Essence of who we are, God’s Love.
- Haifa, Southern Galilee, Israel
- Ariel Ben Avraham (f. Zapata) was born in Cartagena, Colombia in 1958. After studying Cultural Anthropology in Bogotá moved to Chicago in 1984 where he worked as a television writer, reporter and producer for 18 years. In the 1990′s he produced video documentaries related to art, music, history and culture such as “Latin American Trails: Guatemala” distributed by Facets.org. Most of his life he studied ancient spiritual traditions and mysticism of major religions, understanding the mystic experience as the individual means to connect with Divinity. Since 2004 he studies and writes about Jewish mysticism and spirituality mainly derived from the Chassidic tradition, and the practical philosophy of the teachings of Jewish mystic Sages. The book “God as Love” is the compilation of his last years studying and learning Jewish mysticism, and the messages of the book are part of the content, exercises and processes of a series of seminars