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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Thus Spoke The Lover:

"It is forbidden to burn or to destroy by direct action any sacred texts, their commentaries, and their explanations. A person who destroys them by his direct action is given "stripes for rebelliousness.

"To what does the above apply? To sacred texts written by a Jew with a sacred intent. However, should a Jewish heretic write a Torah scroll, it and the name of God it contains must be burnt, since he does not believe in the sanctity of [God's] name and did not compose it for this purpose. Rather, he considers this to be similar to any other text. Since this is his intent, the names [of God he writes] do not become holy."

-Rambam, Mishna Torah, Yesodei ha'Torah 6:8 (trans. Eliyahu Touger)

"In order to have its desired effect, study of Torah must conform to two conditions. These are reverence for the study itself and constant rectification of one's own deeds. The only reason why Torah has any power at all is because God bound his most precious Influence to it, making it dependent on the Torah. It is for this reason that reciting it and comprehending it can transmit this Influence...

"Because of this fact, it is imperative that one should have reverence and awe when involved in Torah. What one is then doing is approaching his God and involving himself in transmitting a great light from God to himself. The individual involved in the Torah should therefore be abashed of his human lowliness and tremble before God's loftiness. He should rejoice in what he can attain, but even this should be combined with the greatest possible awe.

"It is all important that one should not behave frivolously when involved in the Torah, and not show any disrespect for its books or their words. When occupied with the Torah, one must realize before Whom he stands...

"If this condition is not met, however, then it will not result in any such Illumination, and reciting words of Torah will be no different from any other human speech. Reading it will be no different than reading a letter, no different than considering any worldly matter. Quite to the contrary, such involvement will be considered a misdeed, since this person is approaching the Holy without reverence, and behaving frivolously in the presence of his Creator and occupying himself with His holiness.

"The value of a person's study, and the level of the resulting Influence, therefore vary according to the degree of reverence and the measure of his respect and attentiveness."

R. Moshe Chayyim Luzzato, The Way of G0d, 4:2:5 (trans. R. Aryeh Kaplan)

"This is the way of Torah. She does not reveal herself except to he who loves her, who knows the Torah, whoe wise heart compels hm to constantly pass back and forth each day at the gate of her palace. She then reveals her face to him from her upper chamber, giving a hint [of her presence], after which she immediately withdraws to her place in concealment...In this way the Torah is revealed and concealed, following the one whom she loves, to around him and awaken him."

-Zohar, Mishpatim 2:99a (trans. R. Avraham Sutton)

"Imagine, for a moment, that you are the universe, But for the purpose of this thought experiment, let us imagine that you are not the disenchanted mechanistic universe of conventional modern cosmology, but rather a deep-souled, subtly mysterious cosmos of great spiritual beauty and creative intelligence. And imagine that you are being approached by two different epistemologies - two suitors, as it were, who seek to know you. To whom would you open your deepest secrets? Would you open most deeply to the suitor - the epistemology, the way of knowing - who approached you as though you have no interior dimension to speak of, no spiritual capacity or value; who thus saw you as fundamentally inferior to himself, who related to you as though your existence were valuable primarily to the extent that he could develop and exploit your resources to satisfy his various needs; and whose motivation for knowing you was ultimately driven by a desire for increased intellectual mastery, predictive certainty, and efficient control over you for his own self-enhancement?

"Or would you, the cosmos, open yourself most deeply to that suitor who viewed you as being at least as intelligent and noble, as worthy a being, as permeated with mind and soul, as imbued with moral aspiration and purpose, as endowed with spiritual depths and mystery, as he? This suitor seeks to know you not that he might better exploit you but rather to unite with you and thereby bring forth something new, a creative synthesis emerging from both of your depths. He desires to liberate that which has been hidden by the separation between knower and known. His ultimate goal of knowledge is not increased mastery, prediction, and control but rather a more richly responsive and empowered participation in a co-creative unfolding of new realities. He seeks an intellectual fulfillment that is intimately linked with imaginative vision, moral transformation, empathic understanding, aesthetic delight. His act of knowledge essentially an act of love and intelligence combined, of wonder as well as discernment, of opening to a process of mutual discovery. To who would you be more likely to reveal your deepest truths?"

-Richard Tarnas, Cosmos and Psyche, pg. 39

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