~Ariel Bar Tzadok
There is a secret to the final redemption discussed in the writings of the guardians of the secrets of the Torah. It goes something like this. In this present epoch, good and evil are confused with one another. The literature uses the metaphors of light and shell to describe them. Good is the light concealed within a hard shell which blocks the light, thus creating darkness. The only way to release the light is to crack the shell and unleashing the light trapped within. When the light shines, it will bring with it the redemption. It is considered this simple.
Now, herein lies the problem, while everyone seeks the light, almost no one has the power to break the shell that traps it. Indeed, most have no clue as to what these mystical metaphors actually mean, and what, in reality, does it mean to crack the shell. What exactly is the shell in the first place?
This is always a problem with metaphorical literature. It can be read by almost everyone, and understood by almost no one. Everyone can offer their opinions as to what metaphors actually refer to. But if all one's opinion is just talk, and there is no actual, measurable, and definitive action associated with it, then as the saying goes, "talk is cheap." If one really wants to release the light from its shell, then one has to figure out how to crack the shell with something other than nice philosophical words of "faith."
In order to identify the shells, we must first identify the light. This may be rather hard since none of us can see the actual light, due to its being entrapped in its shell. Yet, while we may not recognize the light when seeing it, we can at least acknowledge it for what it is said to be. Light is considered to be enlightening insight, information and knowledge that dawns in the mind upon the revelation and reception of Truth.
Now again, here is our quagmire. What is truth and how is it to be recognized? Ask any one group and they will tell you that the truth is easy to identify. It is what they themselves believe! Ask the next group what is truth and they will tell you, with all certainty and clarity, that the truth is what they believe. And as for the first group? The second group will tell you, with firm conviction, how what the first group believes to be true, is actually a lie, and they have all the proofs to validate their claims.
Needless, to say that group one says the exact same thing about group two. And, groups three to infinity are all the same about all others. Each group claims to have the truth, while all the other groups have the lie. Thus, human history is a record of one group fighting another group trying to save the other group from their lies in order to give them the real truth. Apparently there are so many truths, and so many lies, that one has become indistinguishable from the other. What we have here is not light fighting light, but rather shell fighting shell.
Light does not shine by ramming shells into shells. Shells are hard, they do not break on contact. The only way to break a shell is to metaphorically peel it away, or to pick away at it a little at a time, until it weakens in a certain area. Think about how a constant drip of drops of water on a stone can eventually eat through the stone, boring a hole straight through it. As it is in nature with water and rocks, so too is it with light and shells. Now, let's strip away the nice metaphors and describe practicality.
If light is truth, then the only way to expose light is to explore what is truth. Whatever it is that we hold to be our "sacred cows" must be ready to be "offered to slaughter upon the altars of discovery." In other words, if we are not willing to let go our of cherished sacred beliefs in light of greater discoveries, then we are adding thickness to shells further entrapping the light of truth and discovery.
Since the beginning of the period of the Torah Sages, they have placed emphasis on the importance of learning. The primary focus of learning was the Bible. Before any further study was to be pursued, the Bible was first to be mastered. It is terrible that this wise course have action has fallen by the wayside in Jewish circles. Today, the vast majority of religious Jews are keenly ignorant of the Bible, and its actual teachings. While many study the weekly Torah portion over and over again, very few ever go beyond this to study the books of the Prophets or the books of the Writings. Without the great and necessary insights from these sacred texts, the light within them remains concealed under layers and layers of shells.
Reading the Biblical texts is one thing. Understanding them simply and directly in another. In Judaism there is a method of Biblical interpretation called Drash. Drash is an approach takes a scriptural reference that has a clear historical context (called Pshat), and extracts it from that context and then applies the scripture in a manner of the authors choosing. Jewish authors have used this method since the days of the Second Temple. We find this method used widely throughout the period in almost all Jewish literature, including those that we later renamed as Christian.
Drash takes a verse, or section of scripture out of its literal context (Pshat) and understands it metaphorically, as it relates to a moral lesson, or as an implied prophecy about some current events. The actual historical context of the scripture (Pshat) does not have to be far too different from the metaphors being ascribed to it (Drash), but sometimes, they indeed are. When the two approaches are recognized side by side, and each appreciated for what they are, then this is all fine and good. However, when the Drash supersedes the Pshat, and often replaces it, then this is bad. This is how shells are created, and hardened.
Learning the Bible and understanding it for what it actually says, and what it does not say is the beginning of knowledge. Every group claims that they (and often, they alone) understand the Bible accurately. Well, if this is the case, then such definitive positions and beliefs should be able to withstand any and all forms of analysis and investigation. Yet, when subject to such scrutiny, groups holding such definitive and absolute positions fall back upon the argument that their positions and views are accurate according to their faith, and that they will not allow anything in the world of reality to shake their faith.
Faith is a mystery, therefore the views of others are considered dangerous intrusions, any time that such views do not agree with that of the group. Faith is the fall back point. Logic, scrutiny and investigation are frowned upon, if not outrightly banned, because the resulting discoveries of such can lead to conclusions that contradict, and thus challenge, the unmovable faith of the group. Unmovable faith is just another layer of shell that further masks the light therein.
Enlightenment can never come in the dark of the mind. The light of God's truth cannot come into a mind that has no room for it. Whether we are talking about "sacred cows" or "golden calves," both are poor substitutes for the real true Word of God. Moses and Israel learned this valuable lesson long ago at Mt. Sinai. So, while faith is good and belief is grand, Truth is the label of the "Big Boss Man."
Biblical research is not just accepting one's religious creed, and then reading the Bible in light of it, embracing all that agrees with it, and rejecting all that does not fit in. Truth in its ultimate, final form may not be discoverable. We may have to wait for a future revelation before our present state of confusion can finally be lifted for good. Yet, regardless of our present limitations, we have to try our best, with what we presently have.
Releasing light from its shells requires courage. Releasing light from its shell reveals light in the dark. This means that the revelations discovered through exploration might "blind the eye of the mind" for a short while, until we adjust to seeing the light. In other words, the initial revelation of light can hurt. Physical light can hurt the physical eye, Light of knowledge can initially "hurt" the mind. Indeed, this is a good rule for identification. If it hurts, then there must be something to it. If it does not hurt, then how much light can there be? Real revelations are a challenge to both mind and faith.
Putting all metaphors aside, releasing the light from its entrapping vessels is an arduous task that requires of us serious study and equally serious introspection. Discovering truth, hidden under layers and layers of shells, requires a lot of digging, and the harder the shells, the slower the dig. But the dig must go on! The truth is under all those layers and we must get to the bottom of them so that the entrapped light can finally be revealed.
This is the Light of creation, the Light of the First Day, said to be concealed for the righteous in the World to Come. Be this as it may, we can still access a glimpse in the here and now. We have our work cut out for us, and all our proclamations and prayers are not going to get everyone else to "see the light" as we see it. Light will hurt the eye of the mind for a while, and then one will get used to it. And with the light as guide, more light will be discovered, and more light will shine.
In the light, we will discover that a lot of what has divided us is nothing other than old broken shells. We will discover many new treasures and come to see, with the mind's eye, that which long ago was called "the secrets of the Torah," and "the hidden mystery concealed with the Word of God." It is there waiting for us to discover.
Seeing is believing. See for yourselves what no other can show you. Let us start with the premise that all our groups, every one of them, lacks some element of the light. Faith aside, let us explore and discover truth. Once discovered, this Truth will be the New Covenant prophesied long ago in the Book of Jeremiah. It is finally coming!
Copyright © 2012 by Ariel Bar Tzadok. All rights reserved.