Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A Shinto Tradition

A great neshama, or soul, left this world this summer, Reb Dovid Zeller, ob"m. This is a story that he used to tell, as shared by my friend Yosef ben Shlomo Hakohen:

One summer, driving on my way to the annual conference of the Association of Humanistic Psychology, in New Orleans , I stopped in Arizona , to visit Namurati, a Japanese Shinto priest, who was also a master of acupuncture. From a nearby rest stop, I called Namurati, hoping that he would be available for a spontaneous visit. “Hello, this is David, I’m a friend of your client, Dora. I’m passing through, and am wondering if I might stop over for a short visit.”To my relief and delight, he warmly replied, “Welcome, David. Come right over.”

After introducing ourselves, he looked at me with his clear brown eyes and asked, “David, are you Jewish?” I was not orthodox at the time, but mentioned that I had lived in Israel for two years before living in India , as an ascetic monk, called a Sadhu, for a year. Namurati said that in the oral tradition of his Shinto religion, there was an interesting story about the Jews. “David, do you know what is meant by oral tradition?” he asked. I assured him I knew what oral tradition meant. And this is what he told me:

According to the Shinto oral tradition, there had been a meeting of great spiritual teachers several thousand years ago, to report on the progress of their mission: Had they succeeded in leading various peoples around the world to a spiritual awakening and evolution? Many reported of their success – from the wisdom of the Vedas in India , to the Tao, and the I Ching in China , to the Aztec civilization in South America , etc. Everyone felt quite good and was feeling their assignment was completed. But one person raised a troubling question.

“Wasn’t our mission to lead people through a material awakening and evolution, and a spiritual awakening and evolution and then to bring the two together? If it was just a spiritual process, what need is there for coming into this material world? But our task was to bring the two – material and spiritual – together.”

“You're right,” said the group’s leader. “We must first lead people through a material awakening and evolution, and then the spiritual one, and then unite them. But who amongst you will take this on?” No one wanted that responsibility. These were all enlightened people, they knew that material development could only be reached by going through possessiveness, competition, aggression, violence and war – no one wanted that on their shoulders. “No volunteers?” asked the leader. “Then I'll have to choose someone.”

“So,” said Namurati, the Shinto priest, “the ‘chosen people’ - were the Jews.”

“The tablets of the Ten Commandments became the Jews’ symbol of synthesis:

Spirit inscribed in Stone, spirit in matter.”

…I came away with a new understanding of the commandments, and a new appreciation for Judaism, as quite unique from many other religions, in insisting on living in the material world and in the spiritual world. No monasteries. No retreating from the world. Rather a day- to- day practice filled with practices to unite each material act with spiritual intention. The word mitzvah, usually translated as commandment, can also be translated to mean “to join together.” We are “en-joined” to live in such a way as to constantly join together heaven and earth, spirit and matter.

No retreat? I must correct myself. Judaism gives us a spiritual retreat once a week in the Sabbath. Six days a week, we work to bring an aspect of the spiritual into the everyday material. One day a week, we strive to bring the material into the spiritual. In between our spiritual activities of prayers, rituals and ceremonies we have the material through meals (though all cooking is completed before the Sabbath begins) – that are uplifted through inspirational learning and song.

If the Ten Commandments (En-joinments) are Spirit in Matter, then our Sabbath is Matter in Spirit. Our lives are balanced.
……………………………………………………………….

The insights that Reb David gained serve as another reminder that we are to express the Divine Unity in our own lives through fulfilling the Torah path which enables us to unify “Heaven and Earth, Spirit and Matter.” May his memory inspire all of us to deepen our commitment to this sacred path.

Shalom,
Yosef Ben Shlomo Hakohen

NEVER GIVE UP!

Loading...

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

Reb Shlomo with Reb Zusha ben Avraham Zimmerman

moshav band live at mexicali blues

Loading...

What mind is it?

"Great minds discuss ideas;
average minds discuss events;
small minds discuss people."
-Eleanor Roosevelt


ON FIXING AND HEALING...

"If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix..... If you believe that you can harm, then believe that you can heal..........." Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Hatiqwa

Loading...

Beta Israel - Ethiopian Jews - The Ingathering from Without

Loading...

Palestinians of Jewish origin - The Ingathering from Within

Loading...

Holy Wedding at Makhpela, Tomb of our Fathers in hevron - Music by Pey Dalid

Loading...

Mariane Paradise and The Gan Eden Project sings of the Unity of All Creation from Jerusalem

Loading...

A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD

Loading...

IVDU ET HASHEM B'SIMCHA- SERVE THE LORD WITH JOY DANCING AND SINGING FROM INSIDE A BOMB SHELTER

Loading...

SELICHOT LIVE AT CARLEBACH SHUL 2008

Loading...

NAZI RALLIES AND SPEECHES

Loading...

JEWISH MEN AND WOMEN GATHER TO CELEBRATE REB SHLOMO'S 14TH YAHRZEIT SINGING AT HIS GRAVE

Loading...

MOSHAV BAND - THE ONLY ONE

Loading...

Reb Zalman on Jewish Renewal

Loading...

Let There Be Peace

Loading...
"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."

- anonymous
"Perhaps the greatest force in the entire universe is compounded interest."

- Albert Einstein

the last hoshana rabba with reb shlomo and me playing together the week before he took off in '94

Loading...

bob marley - one love 6:13 (6 MINUTES 13 SECONDS) and exodus

Loading...

Tisha B'Av 5765 Katif Expulsion

Loading...

Children of Sderot - The Daily Terror and Nightmares

Loading...

Let Me Sing a New Song

Loading...

On Schlomo's magnificent 13th (Bar Mitzvah) yahrzeit in Heaven

Loading...

AMAZING INTERVIEW WITH REB SHLOMO top video only

Loading...

Larry David wants to Save the Planet

Loading...

Havdalah Ceremony on Moshav Meor Modiin in Central Israel

Loading...

Alpha blondy from cote d'ivoire sings his love of Jerusalem in Hebrew and French all over the world

Loading...
When I was young I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.- Abraham Joshua Heschel
The whole world is a very narrow bridge. And the most important thing is to not be afraid.
-Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
"The greatest thing in the world is to do somebody else a favor." - Aish Kodesh
"As you want G*d to give you a chance, give everyone else a chance to also begin again." - Shlomo Carlebach

About Me

My photo
United States
I played violin with Reb Shlomo and studied under him for over nine years at hundreds of concerts and learnings. Shlomo wanted to give me smicha before he passed. Deepest influences: My father,obm, who was a great scientist and human being, and my grandfather, obm, who was a great Torah scholar who was a musmach of the Mir Yeshiva and taught in Slobodka in Russia before WW1, and was also personal friends with the Chafetz Chaim and came to America in 1914. He knew the Talmud by heart! You could stick a pin in a word and he could tell you what word was on the other side! And my mother, Esther bat Baruch, z"l, who was a scholar of classical Hebrew and Tanach and who gave me a love for the language. And her mother, Anna (Sucher) Deutsch, who was born in Horodenka, spoke six languages, and shared her aged wisdom and eternal sweetness with me. I studied at Brandeis, Hebrew College, Pardes as well as seven years at The Metivta/ITJ earning my Advanced Semicha (yoreh yoreh)under Rav Halivni. What's truly amazing is that Shlomo and Rav Halivni each received semicha from Rav Hutner! But my deepest influences of them all are my sweetest sweetest girls who have taught me the most!