The Messianic Consciousness in Jewish Prophecy (XXX) Isaiah

   231 gates good (2) Illustration by Yoseph Savan based on The Zohar . by Ariel Ben Avraham .   The vision of Isaiah in Heaven is one of the transcendent messages we have in Judaism. Transcendent in many ways. It happened in a place and time where indeed there is no place and time, and this can’t be grasped by our consciousness. In this sense paradox is one of the premises of transcendence. In Judaism the impossibility of conceiving our Creator is also a paradox, because the fact that we can’t conceive Him does not imply that He does not exist.

Our Jewish conception of God transcends the limitations of human understanding. Hence our Sages teach that the Torah has seventy faces, that actually are endless because the Torah is infinite as its Creator. Yet He gave it in the language of humans as the door to know His Plan for the material world. This means that we must understand His messages within the frame of time and space, and the limitations of human consciousness.
The Prophet has the difficult task to communicate a vision and experience out of the context of human understanding. The dynamics between thought and language is as complex as consciousness itself. Since we are born we are forced to frame thought within the boundaries of language in order to be able to express something potentially indescribable into something describable. Our Sages make an analogy of this situation, comparing it to a blind person who has never seen something ever before and suddenly can see. He has no previous references to describe a starry night or a sunrise, so he begins to describe it with the shapes he used to touch in order to know them. The result of his description of what he “saw” is totally beyond comprehension for those who were not blind in his midst. In other words, our human thought and language lack the references needed to assimilate a heavenly vision or experience.
The Prophet has no choice but to describe his vision and experience in Heaven the way He does it to convey his message. In this paradox of describing what is indescribable we must try to perceive what Isaiah wants to tell us. For this he uses words and situations we can relate to, as an invitation to open our consciousness to a higher level of understanding. Once we enter greater dimensions beyond human comprehension, we must learn to live in them, to relate to them, and to communicate them.
We have said in other commentaries that the World to Come as well as the Messianic Era have different references than those we have in this current world. Our Prophets give us a glimpse, telling us that evil and negativity do not exist in those times and places, and are replaced by new references we only know when we get there. This is also a way to understand that heavenly visions or experiences belong to Heaven and make sense there, not here. We must take this as an invitation to remove the negative references we have in consciousness, and turn them positive in order to experience new dimensions and expressions of life. The result of this will be an entire new approach to what we conceive, perceive, think and feel, and its effect in what we speak and do.
“(…) I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and His train filled the Temple.” (Isaiah 6:1)
In this sentence our Sages identify two situations and two places. The Creator in Heaven and the Temple in Earth. The Prophet describes God in our human language as someone sitting on a throne not only high but also elevated. In Judaism we can understand our undefinable and indescribable Creator as One who is indeed beyond our reach in every way. High and elevated are words to illustrate this principle. This fact doesn’t imply that God does not relate to His Creation, for the rest of the sentence points this out. The edges of His mantle filled the Temple.
Mantle as well as any other garments represent two conditions. One is to cover and the other is to identify. In the sentence the Prophet is referring to a Divine attribute (a mantle) that extends down to a place, the Temple of Jerusalem. It is also the connection between the Creator and us. This attribute completely fills the Temple as the endless time and place where we are permanently connected to Him. We call this mantle His Loving kindness, for it also covers His Creation: “He loves righteousness and justice, the Earth is full of the loving kindness of the Lord.” (Psalms 33:5), “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His loving kindness endures forever.” (136:1, 100:5, I Chronicles 16:34).
“Above Him stood the seraphim; each one had six wings: with twain he covered his face and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one called unto another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole Earth is full of His glory.” (Isaiah 6:2-3)
Angels are also creatures that belong to this higher realm we call Heaven. Our Sages refer to them as messengers that perform specific tasks or missions to fulfill God’s will. These missions represent ethical and moral lessons that reflect God’s ways and attributes, with which He relates to His Creation. These messengers proclaim and reiterate the sacredness of the Creator as something that is also beyond conception. In this sense we understand that sacred means separated, as unreachable for our discernment. Yet the paradox persists, for His glory fills His Creation, which encompasses all we see and all we don’t see.
We realize in these verses that His glory is His loving kindness, of which we must be aware. If His Love fills His Creation, we are also filled by His Love; therefore we are an emanation and extension of His Love. Hence we realize the sacredness of God and His Love.
This triple proclamation must resound in all levels of consciousness, for our Essence and identity are formed and defined by God’s Love. This awareness impacts the Prophet. After hearing this proclamation, Isaiah questions his own identity. He contrasts his ways with the ways of the Essence from which God created us.
“Then said I: Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.” (6:5)
As we reach this awareness, we realize what is real and unreal, true and false, right and wrong. We make a clear distinction between ego’s fantasies and illusions, and Love’s ways and attributes. We become aware of the traps we have made to submit our consciousness to the opposite of who we truly are. Once we see and experience God’s ways and attributes, we realize that these are our Essence and identity. This is how we return to where we belong. This is the turning point when repentance becomes the realization of who we really are: How could I have been being, having and doing something I am not? This is our first step to return to the Creator.
The Prophet recognizes himself as an undone person, someone incomplete, as long as he dwells in the fantasies, illusions and mirages of the material world. He mentions the lips as the bearers of impurity. As we indicated above, thought precedes language as the expression of what we conceive, believe or feel. What we feel is the outcome of what we think or believe, hence we must be aware of what we entertain in our mind. Lips in this sense are not only what we speak but also what we do.
“Then flew unto me one of the seraphim, with a glowing stone in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar; and he touched my mouth with it, and said: Lo, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away, and your sin expiated.” (6:6-7)
Before the Divine Presence the Prophet has the privilege to be cleansed by the heavenly fire we call here God’s Love. This fire not only cleanses our negative actions but also what generates them. As long as we live in, by, from and for this fire, we live before God’s Presence. This is the fire that transforms our lives, removing the negative aspects and trends in our consciousness, heralding the beginning of the Final Redemption and the Messianic Era.
“And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said: ‘Here am I, send me’.” (6:8)
As we allow Love’s ways and attributes to lead and direct all dimensions and facets of life, and to unite and harmonize the diversity and creative potentials of human consciousness towards God’s ways and attributes, we are ready to be full partners in God’s Plan.
“And He said: ‘Go, and tell this people: you hear indeed, but understand not; and you see indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they, seeing with their eyes, and hearing with their ears, and understanding with their heart, return, and be healed’.” (6:9-10)
Here the Prophet is commanded to make us aware of our stubbornness to reject the goodness of God’s ways and attributes, and rather embrace ego’s fantasies and illusions. We rather desire power instead of Love, control over freedom, addiction over detachment, anger over joy, lack over abundance, cruelty over compassion, indifference over solidarity. These negative states of consciousness are our own punishments, from which we have no other choice but learning from them. Here God tells the Prophet that these negative traits make our hearts heavy and hard (“fat”), our understanding (the “ears”) blocked, and our knowledge (the “eyes”) useless. By coming to this dead end, sooner or later we become aware that living in a negative predicament is futile. Then we return to where we really are and belong as a healing transition.
“Then said I: ‘Lord, how long?’ And He answered: ‘Until cities be wasted without inhabitant, and houses without man, and the land become utterly waste.” (6:11)
The returning process is always up to us, but there is a point when we are fed up of living in the opposite side of Love’s ways and attributes. That side is where the wasted cities and desolated lands are located. We have said that cities, land, mountains and hills represent beliefs, ideologies, lifestyles, customs, habits and behavioral patterns. These can become desolated and wasted places, bad enough to compel ourselves to transform them into positive aspects and trends in our consciousness, and in our lives.
“And the Lord have removed men far away, and the forsaken places be many in the midst of the land.” (6:12)
Stubbornness makes us give up our free will. We lose our higher awareness to ego’s fantasies and illusions. As we put aside the awareness of our permanent connection with the Creator, we remove our consciousness far from Him to enter the many forsaken places of our negative trends and choices.
“And if there be yet a tenth in it, it shall again be eaten up; as an elm, and as an oak, whose stock remains, when they burn their leaves, so the sacred seed shall be the stock thereof’.” (6:13)
Our Sages refer to this verse as the minority of Israel that remains in spite of the wickedness in their midst. The minority that is swallowed by the enemies of goodness and real freedom in humankind, yet the few whose stock remains. Their seed will blossom and fructify in the end. This is the stock and the sacred seed that will prevail forever in the Messianic Era.
This verse may sound ambiguous, but it doesn’t. On the one hand God reminds us of our negative predicament as the cause of our destruction. On the other hand He tells us that in spite of that, our goodness will prevail. God wants us to be aware of what our stock and seed are about. We are also those who proclaim His sacredness from which He created us.
We are good because we come from the goodness of God, hence goodness will always prevail. This goodness endows us with free will to make choices of freedom, not control or captivity. We must not allow consciousness to lose our free will. Thus we realize that our freedom lies on Love’s ways and attributes, the holy stock and seed that always prevail.

 

 

My PhotoHaifa, 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