Academic Writing on Unique Self

Your Unique Self stands between popular literature and academic writing in its style and substance, bringing the heft of a weighty intellectual lineage to ethical and spiritual matters without making the work inaccessible. But for students ready for a treatment of his philosophy in a more academic style, another important resource will soon be available.

Marc Gafni has written more than a thousand pages on “Radical Kabbalah,” a new work based on his groundbreaking doctoral dissertation at Oxford University. The books are Radical Kabbalah: Unique Self and Nondual Humanism: The Great Enlightenment Teaching of Ethics and Eros from Mordechai Lainer of Izbica (Vol. 1) and Radical Kabbalah: The Wisdom of Solomon as the Matrix of the Enlightenment Teaching of Unique Self and Non Dual Humanism (Vol. 2). Look for these books imminently from Integral Publishers (2012).

The following approbations (and one letter of recommendation regarding Marc’s doctoral dissertation at Oxford, the work upon which Radical Kabbalah is based) are intended to give readers of Your Unique Self a glimpse into the nature of the contribution of the longer volumes.

Zachary Stein

Zachary Stein received a B.A. in philosophy from Hampshire College in 2004 and an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education in 2006. He is currently a student of philosophy and cognitive development pursuing a doctorate at Harvard. He is also the Senior Analyst for the Developmental Testing Service where he employs cognitive developmental models and metrics.

“It appears that the rumors of God’s death have been greatly exaggerated! There may be no better way to understand the Divine in the coming decades than what is expressed in this book, where ancient traditions are cast in a new light and brought into a new Century. You will be compelled to respect the unparalleled rigor and depth of scholarship while at the same time swooning from the beauty of the ideas. A work like this comes along once in a generation.”

Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber is the most influential figure in defining the terms of discussion on what constitutes the “Integral” perspective today. His corpus of 25 widely translated books has erected an intellectual framework for understanding the nature of converging trends in philosophy, psychology, sociology, and other disciplines. His books have often been bestsellers, and his scholarly books have been the basis for numerous academic programs, master’s and doctoral dissertations. He is a leading voice in support of World Spirituality based on Integral principles and has been one of the founding members of the Wisdom Council of the Center for World Spirituality.

“This is a great work of inspired and audacious scholarship.  Professor Moshe Idel’s letter of recommendation to Oxford University, and Professor Richard Mann’s words (comparing Marc’s work on Kabbalah to Elaine Pagels’ work on the Gnostic gospels), which introduce these volumes, speak for themselves. Similarly, the statements by Michael Zimmerman from the perspective of a chief justice of an American supreme court and by Sally Kempton, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, and Rabbi Winkler as scholars and teachers of enlightenment show something of the broad relevance of the volumes, as do the remarks by Sean Esbjorn-Hargens and Zachary Stein.

I read Dr. Gafni’s masterwork on Radical Kabbalah: Unique Self and Non Dual Humanism in its first drafts almost seven years ago. It was then over a thousand pages long, and I read it over two or three days with great excitement. I sent Marc a series delighted emails, after reading every few chapters. The breadth, depth and the sheer importance of the work moved me.  I immediately recognized it as a seminal work, identifying a critical lineage of enlightenment from the tradition of Kabbalah, which needed to be incorporated into the Integral model.

We have done this work of integration in a special issue of the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, under the leadership of Sean Esbjorn-Hargens, dedicated to this new chapter in Integral Theory, Unique Self. (JITP 6:1) This issue was guest edited by Dr. Gafni.  Marc has further elaborated on this work in his book entitled, Your Unique Self: Towards the Democratization of Enlightenment, published by Integral Publishers.

All this writing and discussion on Unique Self, including our first Integral Spiritual Experience Retreat on the same topic, was to a significant extent informed and catalyzed by Marc’s scholarly work, teaching and leadership. This is the kind of work that the Center for World Spirituality, of which I am an active member, exists to bring forth, drawing on every great tradition, pre-modern, modern and post modern. All this will inform the emergence of a genuine framework for a world spirituality based on Integral principles, which is one of the critical needs of this moment in time.”

Ken Wilber

Moshe Idel

Moshe Idel is Max Cooper Professor in Jewish Thought, Department of Jewish Thought at Hebrew University, Jerusalem, and Senior Researcher at the Shalom Hartman Institute. Idel has served as visiting Professor at UCLA, Yale, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, and the College de France. Among his publications are Kabbalah: New Perspectives (Yale UP, 1988); Absorbing Perfections: Kabbalah and Interpretation (Yale UP, 2002); and Old Worlds, New Mirror, On Jewish Mysticism and Twentieth-Century Thought (Penn UP, 2010).

Dear Prof. van Lint,

I am writing in my capacity as thesis advisor (together with Dr. Norman Solomon) to Marc Gafni.

I am pleased to be able to formally report that I found the thesis to be an excellent work of original scholarship.

Gafni demonstrates a high level of proficiency in close textual reading as well as in the proper use of previous scholarship and scholarly apparatus.

Gafni, in his thesis, challenges the accepted scholarly reading of Mordechai Lainer of Izbica’s thought.

He does this by a careful reading of the primary source material bringing a large body of texts to bear heretofore not addressed by scholarship.

He then subjects those texts to close scholarly reading in developing his persuasive reading of Lainer’s theology. He coins a new scholarly term to capture Lainer’s thought namely acosmic humanism.

He then proceeds to trace the intellectual history of Lainer’s acosmic humanism within Jewish intellectual history as well as in the final chapters locating him within the European zeitgeist of his time. He also shows the influence of this thinker on later stages of Jewish mystical thought, notably that of R. Kuk.

In doing so he makes extensive use of the previous scholarship in the field as well bringing to bear a large number of new sources which he adduces may have not been previously discussed in scholarship.

All of this together introduces an important, fascinating and original new reading of a major Jewish thinker.

Gafni’s work may well become the definitive work on this thinker, a thinker I might add who may become highly relevant in the next stages of Jewish theology and is already an important theologian in the contemporary Neo-Hassidic movement.

Sincerely,

Prof. Moshe Idel
Max Cooper Chair of Philosophy at the Hebrew University
February 3, 2005
Jerusalem

Sean Esbjörn-Hargens Ph.D.

Sean Esbjörn-Hargens, PhD, is associate professor and founding chair of the Department of Integral Theory at John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill, California. A prominent scholar-practitioner in Integral Theory, he is founding executive editor of the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice and founding director of the Integral Research Center. He has published extensively on the applications of the Integral Model in a variety of areas.

“As I wrote in my forward to the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice, 6:1, Dr. Marc Gafni has played a foundational role in emergence and development of Integral Spirituality. Marc is a lineage holder in his native tradition of Hebrew mysticism, as well as an accomplished academic scholar in the same field. He is unfolding some of the critical intellectual and spiritual scaffolding for Integral Spirituality. His formulation of ‘Second person spirituality’ was catalytic in the emergence of the “three faces of God” construct that Ken Wilber articulated in his 2006 book Integral Spirituality. Gafni is involved in an ongoing process of ecstatic teaching and scholarship. That his work is birthing new forms of evolutionary spirituality is evidenced in his emergent articulations of World Spirituality and Unique Self.

Unique Self, a term coined and a concept and realization developed by Marc over the last fifteen years, represents a truly world-centric, planet-centric and kosmocentric evolutionary mysticism. It changes the way we think about enlightenment by integrating the enlightenment traditions of the pre-modern east and modern west in a higher integral embrace.

In the book before you, Radical Kabbalah, Gafni anchors an emergent creative embodied concept, (i.e. the Unique Self ) in a living tradition of awakening.
This creates a wonderful dialectical tension between creative emergence and the karmic lineage teachings. Moreover, he challenges Orthodoxy by arguing against established interpretations of Lainer’s corpus—even as the core material was written under the supervision and approved by his doctoral supervisor Prof. Moshe Idel. This demonstrates how the development of a meta-principle of Integral Spirituality will at times have to go against convention. Marc’s engagement of Lainer’s texts is a form of what he terms “ecstatic scholarship”, (see Gabriel Cousens and Gershon Winkler’s introductions to this volume) and what Jeffrey Kriplal has termed “mystical hermeneutics”.

In mystical hermeneutics, according to Kripal, the reading of mystical texts is engaged with such devotion and transcendental openness that the very act of reading becomes an injunction of mystical practice and revelation. Such is the nature of the work before you.”

Sean Esbjörn-Hargens
Meta Integral

Richard Mann

Prof. Richard Mann, Editor, Transpersonal Series in Transpersonal and Humanistic Psychology, SUNY Press:

“This magisterial work by Dr. Marc Gafni, Radical Kabbalah: Unique Self and Non-Dual Humanism, makes a seminal contribution to a number of fields. Particularly the fields of transpersonal psychology, theology and integral studies are here offered a crucial building block as they attempt to fashion a model of consciousness that is grounded in traditional wisdom but still open to the next creative synthesis that is now emerging. I am reminded in reading Dr. Gafni’s work of the legitimate excitement that was generated by Elaine Pagels and others as they opened the parallel tradition of the Gnostic Gospels that had been expunged from the Church’s teachings. I expect Gafni’s to gradually emerge as one of the significant intellectual figures of our time and to make a significant contribution to the evolution of consciousness.”

Sally Kempton

Sally Kempton been practicing and teaching in a Hindu tradition for 30 years, twenty of them as a Swami, or Hindu monk of one of the Dasnami order of sannyasins.  She is the author of two books, The Heart of Meditation and Meditation for the Love of It, writes a column, Wisdom, for Yoga Journal, and teaches regular teleconference classes as well as retreats and workshops at conference centers like Kripalu, Esalen and Mt. Madonna.

“Marc Gafni has written a magisterial work. Like Gafni himself, it combines depth of intellect with integrity of heart, and has much to teach us both from a scholarly perspective and as a contemporary transmission of what Gafni calls Evolutionary Kabbalah, in this case wisdom of Mordechai Lainer’s Izbica school of Kaballah. In some sense this work can also be seen as Gafni’s spiritual autobiography. This is a seminal contribution to the next stage of spirit’s unfoldment.”

Sally Kempton

Michael Zimmerman

Michael Zimmerman is the former Chief Justice of Utah Supreme Court, a highly respected legal scholar and practitioner as well as a transmitted Zen teacher from the lineage of Maezumi Roshi.

It is a pleasure to write these brief prefatory remarks to “The Theology of Acosmic Humanism: Mordechai Lainer of Izbica,” By Marc Gafni. As the chair of the Board of Idra, the charitable entity that has supported the work of Dr. Marc Gafni in bringing this book to fruition, it is a pleasure to be asked to help launch this remarkable piece of scholarly and religious analysis.

As far back as I can remember I have always been drawn to the question of how we are to find moral guidance in our personal and communal lives. This question has made me a life-long student of ethics, drew me to be a lawyer and a judge, and has begun to be answered through my practice of Zen. How are we to determine what is “fair” to all concerned as we wield power daily over each other and over the world? By what standards should we judge our own conduct and that of others? Do we rely entirely on established convention, whether it is represented by secular law or by explicitly religious injunction, or do we place our trust in our personal judgment? Convention is inevitably expressed in general rules which, no matter how subtle, can produce injustice in specific application if mechanically followed. Yet reliance on one’s individual judgment, while capable of the most nuanced adaptation to events, raises the specter of action seriously biased by self-interest, by self-deception. It is between these two poles that we navigate as sensitive moral agents. Under what conditions is it appropriate for the individual to look inward, rather than to the judgment of the group, to determine what is appropriate? Can the individual develop the capacity to reliably act without crippling egoistic bias? This is a concern shared equally by, among others, moral and legal philosophers, Zen masters, and Mordechai Lainer of Izbica.

In Dr. Gafni’s fascinating exploration of the teachings and personal path of Mordechai Lainer of Izbica, there is an affirmation of the individual as a reliable moral agent, albeit an individual who has been through a mystical unity with the divine and has been purged of self-orientation. The parallels with the ethical teachings of Eihei Dogen Zenji, the founder of the Soto school of Zen, are intriguing. While Rebbe Lainer’s theism contrasts with Dogen Zenji’s non-theism, and their cultural contexts give their teachings a radically differing flavors, beneath the differences is a strikingly similar evocation of the potential for each of us to rely on our ability to make sound ethical choices in our daily lives without wooden adherence to convention. Each teaches that if we engage in the practices they advocate, we can find within us a non-dual awareness empty of self, yet simultaneously fully present to all that is manifest in each moment. From this place, reliably ethical action springs.

Being skeptical by nature and by training, it has taken me years of practice and study to embrace the view that only from this intimate interior place can we take a perspective that is fully alert to the exquisite subtlety of the constantly shifting matrix within which the individual is embedded and respond in each moment in a way that is reliably appropriate. This is the place of fine ethical judgment, and this is the place of total responsibility. The lodestone for Mordacai Lainer of Izbica, as for Dogen Zenji, is complete assurance that one’s insights are free of ego. Given the human capacity for self-deception, actually being in this place is certainly more rare than believing one is in this place. And the real world consequences of acting from this place in the face of conventional standards exposes the individual to peril, as the life of the Sage of Izbica suggests. Yet singular reliance on external sources for guidance in ethical matters is, I have come to believe, even more perilous, as the fate of the world in which Mordechai Lainer of Izbica lived bears testament.

Dr. Gafni’s provocative study of Mordacai Lainer of Izbica, and his dialogue with various of Lainer’s analysts, will leave the reader enriched, both from the scholarly discourse, and from an internal dialogue first with the Sage of Izbica, then with Dr. Gafni and the others who have written on the subject, and finally with the self, the one who is called upon to make decisions and take action.

Michael D. Zimmerman
Salt Lake City, Utah

Gershon Winkler

Rabbi Gershon Winkler is a charismatic teacher who writes about the lesser-promulgated wisdoms of Judaism and to Hebraic scriptural interpretation. He is the founder of the Walking Stick Foundation, an organization dedicated to the recovery and preservation of indigenous Hebrew spirituality. He is also an author of fourteen books on Jewish law, lore, mysticism and theology.

“I have only found one… blessed individual, a man who on his own volition, and out of his soul-deep passion for the wisdom of Torah, took it upon himself to endeavor where no one else rose to the occasion, and to expend his time and energy, even amid great personal suffering and against overwhelming obstacles, to gift us with a massive compendium of long-neglected wisdom destined to lift our eyes above the stagnating ways in which we have been seeing for far too long, so that we might see anew, and our hearts become thereby opened wider to enable the removal of the many layers of ignorance and oblivion that have obscured our vision in the fog of our lengthy exile.

This work is a true masterpiece of the sort our people have not witnessed for many centuries, shaking us out of our stupor toward reclaiming life again, reclaiming our goddess heritage and teachings, and the bond with the ancient spark of Eros of our so-called pagan ways of many of our aboriginal sisters and brothers, a bond we had begun to forge under Solomon and are destined to forge once again in the time to come. But Rabbi Gafni in his fine and original reading of Mordechai Lainer purifies the spark of its pre-personal ethical taint. In a Lurianic act of exalted scholarship and love he raises the spark of paganism and sets it in new evolved ethical context so that the passion for the goddess expresses itself not in irresponsible abandon but in the infinitely sacred details of judicial procedure and fairness.

The erotic goddess is channeled into justice and small claims court becomes the arena of the goddesses revelation. This is in Gafni’s reading the major wonder of Izbica and it is also the major goal Gafni’s own life and work. It is Gafni’s particular sensitivity and evolving passion for the ethical that reveals these strains in Izbica.

Much of this sacred work will raise brows, even more of it will challenge the way in which we have grown accustomed to think. And all of it, I pray, will finally restore us to our primal mindset, our original way of perceiving and encountering the divine in both its immanent and transcendent dances, so that the thousand songs and dances of the Pharaoh’s daughter will no longer be for us the antithesis we had presumed it was, and instead become the sacred rite of divine connection it was intended to be.

For those who will approach this challenging and daring work with trepidation or with skepticism, or worse with criticism, be forewarned that Rabbi Gafni’s work is fully supported by an enormous legion of ancient and medieval classical text sources from the earlier writings of teachers who are revered by the most traditional amongst us. He is not attempting in this book to introduce anything new to our eyes, but rather to introduce our eyes to what has been there all along, veiled from our sight by our own blindness. His work is a gift, a blessing, and most importantly a rare opportunity for all of us to reclaim the authenticity of our true selves, and to breathe the breath of Life back into our souls.”

Gabriel Cousens

Dr. Gabriel Cousens is an author and one of the world’s foremost authorities on living food nutrition, holistic lifestyle and complementary medicine. He is Founder/director of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Patagonia, Arizona, and the Culture of Life online community. He is also a psychiatrist, family therapist, Ayurvedic practitioner, homeopath, acupuncturist, medical researcher, and ecological leader.

Author’s note: Rabbi Dr. Gabriel Cousens, a holy spiritual brother of the authors was asked to read and comment on this work from the perspective of a
teacher of liberation. He did so with depth and generosity. His foreword is written in non-academic style, using the lexicon and conceptual framework often employed in the context of liberation teaching. His comments, in their unique genre, will feel alien to academic readers, and are intended for those living in the discourse of spiritual liberation. Gabriel’s comments are greatly appreciated and honored. Often Gabriel will suggest a reading of Lainer in which he feels Lainer to be saying something with which the author agrees with in principle as expressing a sacred pathway of liberation but which may not be — from a scholarly perpsective — consonant with Lainer’s reading of Liberation. The author like Gabriel moves between worlds which include both shcolarship and teaching the way of Liberation. These are distinctive roles each with its own demands of integrity. As our sages have already written; “All paths lead to the one” and “these and these and these are the words of the living God”.

In this brilliant and spiritually expansive book, Rabbi Mordechai Gafni has transcended previous interpretations of Lainer’s work through his intense study and interaction with this material, which led him to imbibe the material at the level of ruah ha-kodesh, the holy Spirit. It is Rabbi Gafni’s insights on this level—meaning the level of divine inspiration rather than prophetic revelation, which ended at the fall of the First Temple—that let us understand this work as a detailed map of the process of liberation in the Jewish path.

In a historical context, though these teachings appear to be novel, they are consistent with the pre-Temple understandings and ways of liberation and revelation. This understanding is part of an ancient Jewish continuum of liberation teachings, which became contracted and, to a great extent lost, after the fall of the second Temple, under the harsh repression of the Romans. For survival reasons, people began to focus on the law as a way of maintaining a portion of the tradition during the diaspora, while Am Israel, the Jewish people, was dispersed and under severe attack throughout generations in many of the countries where we lived.

This focus on the Torah and its law was a brilliant move by the rabbis to preserve Judaism. However, it is only with the Zohar that we begin to deduce the mystical tradition of great liberated beings such as Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Akiva. The mystical tradition was reactivated during the twelfth century by Moshe de Leon, and a number of great teachers who followed him, such as the Arizal, Moshe Haim Luzzatto, the Bal Shem Tov, Rabbi Dov Ber, Rav Elimelech, Rav Zusha, Rav Premislaner, and Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Later in the 1800’s, Mordechai Lainer of Izbica appeared. His was perhaps the most sophisticated articulation of the Jewish way of liberation since the time of the Sefer Yetzirah, attributed to Avraham.

Lainer’s revelatory work deserves to be celebrated, but it is often seen as dangerous, for a variety of reasons. First, the idea of transcending the mitzvot to become an expression of the Divine has not been a part of the collective consciousness or culture in the diaspora. We are only now recovering from the spiritual contraction that lost familiarity with the liberation teachings of the Jewish tradition. Even the great Baal Shem Tov, as a liberated being, was attacked for breaking with tradition by living in the world of deveikut, God-merging through the Shekhinah. In this merging, called herut freedom or he’arah enlightenment, the Baal Shem Tov was blazing a path far ahead of the people. The Hasidic movement created by the Baal Shem Tov was the spiritual seed of Rabbi Simha Bunim, who was the teacher of Rabbi Mordechai Joseph of Izbica.

Another aspect of resistance to Rabbi Mordechai Lainer’s work has to do with a lack of understanding of the process of liberation. Resistance to liberation exists in all traditions; it is not exclusively a Jewish trait. Liberated beings are an implicit threat to the general mundane culture. So it is normal that there would be resistance to this great work or to any powerful articulation of the Jewish way as a path to liberation, of deveikut, or herut. Moshe Haim Luzzatto, another great liberated being, was exiled from Italy for his deep teaching of liberation.

Of course, a major reason for resistance to Lainer’s work is the fact that most people have no understanding of which of the four worlds, the four levels of being, he was speaking from. The story of Rabbi Akiva taking three rabbis into Pardes expresses this difficulty. Only Rabbi Akiva left the Garden as an integrated multi-dimensional being who experienced the continuity of all four worlds, while the other three were tragically harmed by their encounter with the Divine.

Without understanding this continuity or continuum of being, even hearing teachings of liberation can be confusing or harmful. For example, one must realize that Mordechai Lainer is speaking from an enlightened place, from the world of Atzilut, the world of transcendent Love, which in the Jewish tradition often results in radical activism. Yet how can radical activism appear within the world of Atzilut, beyond time and space, where nothing ever ‘happens’? The key is that a multi-dimensional being can exist in total peace, love, and joy, while his or her actions appear to manifest as radical activism on the physical plane. When we lack clarity as to the plane on which a particular discussion is happening, confusion and resistance ensue. In short, without a context, Mordechai Lainer’s work is hard to fully appreciate.

Lainer’s work was radically new within the context of the 1800’s. In the broader historical Jewish context, however, as well as in the context of all liberation paths, we begin to see that there is nothing new here. Though not well-acknowledged, the concept of liberation has always been a part of this tradition, and it has always been democratic. But in the Middle Ages, and well into the 19th century, only scholars were regarded as capable of liberation (herut, he’arah, or deveikut). While the democratization of liberation was always present throughout history, in the context of Lainer’s times it was a radical concept.

To be a valid path to liberation, a liberation teaching must ultimately be congruent with the liberation teachings of all paths. In all traditions, aligning with the Divine includes both bitul ha-yesh and berur—the annihilation of the ego, and the recognition that our belief in the separate ego-self is a case of mistaken identity. Yet we also need to understand that the Jewish way of liberation, while not so different from the Eastern mystical traditions, offers a more individual and communal emphasis. In the book of Genesis, the entire path of creation is outlined for us. The steps of herut are somewhat the reverse of this creation process. In the context of liberation, the Torah is a masterful guidebook, not a rulebook, to herut/deveikut.

The concept of ‘God-evolving’, however, creates confusion regardless of the historical context. Lainer’s work could be misunderstood as teaching that God in the absolute sense evolves, but a full understanding of the Divine must include the Talmudic teaching of ani lo shiniti ‘I never change’. This absolute level of God is a noun. In contrast, in the evolving of God-consciousness within the human mind, God is a verb. This evolution is the expression of the Divine on the plane of ‘Asiyah that is inspired by Atzilut. This is why we see in Isaiah 55:8-9, ‘My way is not your way, and my thoughts are not your thoughts.’ We see this in Job also when God challenges Job. This message is present in a variety of ways. We exist on two separate levels, but at the same time we are ‘one’ as an expression of the Divine.

Though it appears awkward, the writer of this introduction, Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, will speak from here on in the third person. Gabriel began speaking in this manner after a revelation that occurred at the end of a twenty-one day water fast in 1995. At that time it became clear that the truth needed to be articulated in this way; this is the way of the Judah archetype. It is also the way of Rabbi Gabriel’s particular rabbinical lineage, which began with the Baal Shem Tov, and which includes both Rav Zusha and Rav Premislaner (who both spoke in the third person). Although we are not aware of it, speaking in the third person is also a part of our liberation tradition.

Gabriel’s context for writing this introduction is not academic, but arises from direct awareness. He has been acknowledged as being in herut/ he’arah/deveikut (i.e., liberation) by his two spiritual teachers. Liberation is different from the temporary inspiration of ruah ha-kodesh, or an inspired moment. Herut is a steady state of awareness, which can be experienced more or less deeply, but which never leaves. In 1983, at the end of a forty-day water fast, he was in a state of full and extended God-merging. For three days, a hashmal (or whisper) instructed him to return to his body and understand the roots of his people and learn how to support them. Over the last twenty-six years, Gabriel has searched for a way to bring this herut understanding into the stream of Jewish thought. Rabbi Mordechai Gafni’s wonderful illuminating book is an extraordinary opportunity to do this.

The beginning level of self-realization is to understand that we are not the ‘body–mind–I-am complex’. Then we live as ‘I am One with God’, which dissolves into the emptiness of the void. Through the emptiness (bitul ha-yesh) we can access the Divine light within us. In bitul ha-yesh the predominant inner experience is uncaused joy, peace, love, and the pleasure of the ecstasy of the Divine Eros. Within this continuum is the first stage of liberation. It is an ongoing process, but marks what Mordechai Lainer speaks of in his work as the merging with the Shekhinah energy, or the sacred feminine. We are one with That, because in the emptiness we are filled with That. Then the Eros of the Divine (the Shekhinah) becomes our direct inner experience at all times. One of the great insights in Rabbi Mordechai’s illumination of Mordechai Lainer’s teaching is the understanding that the uniqueness is not lost upon liberation. Hashem expressing as the unique one is is expressed as the unique self which is not disconnected from the divine, but an articulated expression of the Divine through the uniqueness of the individual body-mind-complex of the individual. The unique self, as everything else in creation is not separate from the divine. By definition  the beginning stage of liberation is knowing one’s essential oneness. The unique expression then emerges out of this and is not separate from this.

This is different from the short, time-limited revelations of ruah ha-kodesh in which Uniqueness may disappear. In yoga this steady non-causal awareness of peace, love, joy, and contentment is called sahaja samadhi, which means on-going samadhi while living in the mundane world. It seems all paths to liberation include this steady state of sahaja samadhi. It comes from swarupa, or the natural way of awakening. Liberation, herut, is an act of grace that is very natural. As we move through bitul ha-yesh and berur, our every word and action becomes a unique expression of God. Liberation is essentially erotic. Eros is not separate from God; it is the expression and experience of God in the moment to moment everyday experience.

It took Gabriel ten years to understand and experience Keter, the will of God, playing through the expression of his ‘body-mind-I-am complex’. When we reach this point, we recognize that the personality is a case of mistaken identity. We begin to experience that our name and the name of God are One. This is the key understanding of acosmic (non-dual) humanism, which Lainer discusses. He emphasizes a very sophisticated level of this, namely that each personality is a personal expression of the Divine for the evolution of consciousness on the planet. This is simultaneously awesome and humbling. Rabbi Mordechai Lainer shares a most evolved understanding of herut/he’arah. It is the Unique Self, as the expression of Divine will, the next evolving after bitul ha-yesh.

Rabbi Gafni’s brilliant interpretation of Mordechai Lainer’s liberated work is outlined in a deeply inspired, articulate, and complex manner. The groundbreaking significance of this book is that Rabbi Gafni has been able to create a new context for understanding the traditional Jewish liberation teachings. Most Jews are unaware of the depth of their own tradition. This book marks the restoration of a deep tradition. It is a tradition that has lost context. Before the 1700’s there were no Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform denominations. We were Mosaic. We are being called back to a pre-denominational understanding of our great liberated teachers: Avraham, Yitzhak, Yaakov, Moshe, Aharon, Miriam, Yehudah Hanasi, Rabbi Akiva, Honi the Circle-drawer, Aba Helkia (Honi’s grandson), Moshe Chaim Luzzatto, Hillel the Elder, Baal Shem Tov, Rav Zusha, Rav Premislaner, and others.

Rabbi Gafni, reflecting Lainer, speaks of the archetypes of Joseph and Judah, contrasting them as models for Jewish liberation. In practice and in my personal experience, there may be a continuum between the archetype of Joseph and the archetype of Judah. This is seen also in other liberation traditions. Joseph might naturally will evolve into Judah as he moves towards liberation. Along the way, Joseph focuses on the mitzvot and the ten ‘Speakings’ or commandments. He might perform austerities, such as the fasting that Moshe and the Baal Shem Tov did. The way of the archetype of Joseph is to follow the law, developing midot (character), using berur, bitul ha-yesh, austerities, charity, kedushah (holiness), before awakening to the potential beyond the law and into the Judah archetype. This does not mean disregarding the law; rather, the Judah archetype has already incorporated the law into his very being, and then goes beyond the consciousness of following the law as a separate person, to being the One, who is naturally living as the expression of the law in every moment. This is Gabriel’s experience, living as a modern observant Jew.

A second path offered by Lainer and the dominant motif in his thought in Rabbi Mordechai’s exposition, is to view Judah and Joseph as being paths available to different types of people or to people at different stages in their lives.

As another example of this seeming paradox is the great scholar and mystic Rav Kook. Rav Kook was beyond the law and yet chose to follow it, as he was free to move in any direction. As Lainer articulates so beautifully, in this state, the human being becomes the Torah. The human being is the revelation of the Divine.

As the Kabbalah makes clear, the ‘big bang’, or hitpashtut, is that moment when boundaries are transcended. And this is happening in every moment. Keter, as God’s will, is always expressing itself anew in each moment. That is the consciousness in which the Judah archetype as a liberated being lives. We must understand, as we learn in Ki Tavo, that humanity is the bikurim, the first fruits of God’s work. In every moment, the Judah archetype is living as the very first offering. In every moment, hitpashtut is happening.

Rabbi Gershon Winkler, in The Way of the Boundary Crosser, cites a teaching of Rabbi Simlai about the evolution from the 613 mitzvot into the essence of mitzvot, which is the One, in bMakot 23b-24a:

Six hundred thirteen mitzvot were given to Moses at Sinai…

Then King David came and narrowed them down to eleven. As it is written, ‘Oh God, who shall merit living in your tent? Who shall merit to dwell on your holy mountain? The One who walks the path in simplicity and performs acts of benevolence. And whose heart resonates with truthfulness. Whose speech knows no deceit and who does not wrong fellow creatures or shame those who are kin. Who despises those who are sinister and honors those who appreciate the gifts of the creator. Who keeps promises to others and will not renege even at personal hardship: who does not exact interest for money loaned, nor accept bribes at the expense of the innocent’ (Psalms 15). Then came Isaiah and narrowed it down to six, as it is written, ‘The one who walks with the deeds of benevolence and resonates with righteousness; who despises offers of profits gained from oppression; whose hands recoil at the offer of bribes; whose ears are muffled from the hearing of destructive schemes; whose eyes are shut from gazing upon evil’ (Isa. 33:15). Then came Micah and narrowed it down to three, as it is written, ‘Perform justice, love benevolence, and humble your walking with your creator’ (Micah 6:8). Then came Isaiah again and narrowed them down to two, as it is written, ‘Be ever so cautious to do justice, and do charity.’ (Isa. 56:1) Then came Amos and narrowed them down to one, as it is written, ‘Seek God and live’ (Amos 5:4). Then came Habakkuk and narrowed them down to one in another way, as it is written, ‘The just person shall live by their trust in God’ (Habak. 2:4).

Living the mitzvot based on this teaching is the outlook of the Judah archetype, who understands that the mitzvot are not a goal in themselves, but a way of living a fully human life. Moshe, as the messenger of the Judah archetype, walked up the mountain into the unknown, the essence of the mystery of God, and rejected the consciousness symbolized by the golden calf, the desire to ‘put-God-in-a-box’, which gives safety but not liberation. That is why the liberated way of Judaism rejects idol worship—because it traps people into a boxed-in relationship and limited understanding of God. Moshe’s journey takes us beyond the delusion that we can find God solely through observances. On the path of liberation, we are asked to be the one walking up the mountain into the unknown.

Liberation is beyond the mind. We cannot ‘technique’ our way to God, or eat our way to God, or think our way to God, or even meditate our way to God. We even cannot ‘berur’ our way to God, and we cannot ‘mitzvot’ our way to God. The Izhbitzer speaks about a liberated being in whom this character development has already occurred. It was not an approach for beginners. The mitzvot were meant to wake people up and develop character as part of the pre-conditions to deveikut (becoming God-merged). The Joseph archetype represents the beginning of the path. The Izbica work describes the other end of the path, and thus offers the Joseph archetype a fuller perspective of the path, so he can see the full greatness of the Judaic way to deveikut.

In this context, the Torah of Moshe is a very clear statement, ‘Make Hashem your context. Make Hashem your way of life.’ This is different than, ‘Here is a list of rules for you to follow.’ As the prophet Habakkuk said, ‘I will rejoice in God.’ This means, ‘I will make God my frame of reference.’ In the liberation process, the natural emotions of non-causal joy, peace, content- ment, love, and bliss—all part of the ongoing eros of the merging with the Divine as the Shekhinah—come to us. The Talmud makes the point that the presence of God as the Shekhinah does not enter us unless we are in the right relationship. Only when we are in the expression of God, at whatever level, does the Shekhinah begin to radiate out as the expression of the Divine through us. Here we become our Unique Self.

The Psalmist tells us that the human being is born a wild ass, and the Torah teaches us that our natural inclination is to have a Divine purpose. Our task on the planet is to transform these wild drives into the highest octave of human expression. This way we can live consciously on God’s mountain. This is what it means to merit living in the divine tent, and this is what it means to be a mensch. A mensch is a fully authentic human being who is honest with himself or herself, sensitive to others, just, loving, spiritual, and ethical in relationships. This is the result of living the mitzvot. When this happens, then through grace we become lived by love, lived by liberation, and lived by holiness. Mordechai Lainer is speaking in this context. In the Talmud it says, ‘Whether you do a lot or a little bit, what matters is that your heart is directed to the heavens.’ It is not merely our actions that establish us in God’s tent. The path of the Torah is about changing our character so that we can live on the planet in God’s tent at the highest level.

This is the teaching Mordechai Lainer was expressing, although the people of his day may not have been ready for it. He makes the point that the liberated human being is a text of revelation, an expression of the unmediated divine will. This is supported by the Baal Shem Tov in Tzava’at Harivash when he says that meditation is seven times more important than studying the Torah. He never said to cease Torah study, but, as in the case of Lainer, that is how the statement was sometimes misinterpreted by those who either could not understand his teaching or who thought people were not ready for it.

The focus is not on overriding the law of Mt. Sinai, but on becoming a fuller conscious expression of the law of Sinai. From Mordechai Lainer’s perspective, the truth is that this is what we must become for the sake of all humanity.

In short, from the point of view of the liberation process, there is no ultimate duality between the archetypes of Joseph and Judah. In the end these two archetypes will come to understand and respect each other for their perspectives because they will see that they are part of a Divine continuum. To try to begin the spiritual path at the level of the Judah archetype is like refusing to work for a living because you think you are going to win the lottery. It is a rare and unusual person who can do this. Gabriel’s spiritual teacher’s teacher, at the age of twelve, was discovered at the bottom of a pool by his uncle. He had been there for four hours and came out laughing. He was recognized at an early age as a special being who was already born liberated. Unless you are that 1 in 100,000,000 who can stay under water for four hours, it is best that you do not delude yourself. Choose to start with the basics of the Joseph archetype. It is important for spiritual aspirants not to fall into the egocentric trap of believing that they have prematurely reached a higher level of awareness and can skip the Joseph archetype on the evolutionary continuum.

A part of the resistance to the Izbica teachings is the fact that it is hard for the unawakened to appreciate the awakened. This has been true throughout all history, as is exemplified by the Cassandra story in Greek mythology. Many of the prophets were also killed. There is a natural resistance to awake or inspired people, because an awakened person reminds others of their unawake shadow, which is uncomfortable for them. It is time for us as a Jewish and world community to go beyond this, and pull aside the veil of ignorance.

In this context, berur (clarification of the real self ) and bitul ha-yesh (nullification of the illusory self ) are part of a process. Berur both precedes and follows bitul ha-yesh. It is analogous to the Eastern tradition of self-inquiry. In this process we become a witness to ourselves. The ultimate eros of the Shekhinah is the ongoing unlimited pleasurable experience of the Divine. This experience is ‘non-causal’, meaning it is unrelated to anything we do or to anything that happens to us. It is a direct inner experience, and our true natural state. The Divine pleasure we experience in this state is the motivation that powers teshukat deveikut.

Historically the divine merging is called zivug. Hanokh awoke to the un-mediated access to the Divine. He was taken up alive. ‘He walked with God, and was no more (bitul) for God took him.’ (Gen. 5:25). Hanokh’s merging with Metatron is symbolic of the merging with Shekhinah. Metatron is identified with the sefirah Binah and the energy of the Judah archetype. Each awake being is a living text, and able to share their understanding of the truth in that overall truth. This gives us a deeper appreciation of Mordechai Lainer’s work.

When the first Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE and eros was exiled, it was externally textualized in Torah study, but ultimately eros becomes internally experienced, as exemplified in the lives of the Baal Shem Tov and Moshe Haim Luzzatto, as it was before in the lives of King David, and King Solomon.

This brings us to the concept of unio mystico, where the ego-self is annihilated in the process of the Unique Self emerging. The process does not stop with the unio mystico. The Unique Self is a post-liberation integration. Gabriel personally experienced this ten years after his two spiritual teachers declared his liberation. It takes time, especially because there is very little teaching which shows the path of liberation. This is different than the ruah ha-kodesh that temporarily inspires a musician, an artist, or an inspired interpreter of Torah.

Berur generates the conditions for becoming the Unique Self. It points to the deeper truth of subtle bliss, which is the baseline, internal perspective of liberation that can blossom into wild bliss at any time. It is different than a transitory prophetic bliss, which is an amplified ecstasy for a limited time to bring in revelation.

This subtler bliss leaves one in a constant state of being lema‘alah mida‘ato, in ‘no-boundary consciousness’. We are consciously and consistently in hit- pashtut, which leads us to and establishes us in ‘olam ha-ba—direct knowledge of God. ‘Olam ha-ba is a constant awareness once we have stabilized in cherut/he’arah. Our individual name and the divine name are one. Our hands and the hand of God are one.

In this process, there is something beyond us, initiated by the Divine kiss (neshikah Elohit). This is the divine urge or teshukat deveikut. Teshukat deveikut is a driving force within us. In a certain way spiritual life really begins with the Divine kiss (neshikah Elohit). The following are excerpts from three of Rabbi Gabriel’s poems that help to clarify this experience.

‘The subtle kiss of liberation/ Has no lips,/ But you taste it in every cell;/An ecstatic wild pulsing of every DNA oscillation/… And there is nothing else worth living for/ Except to be the ecstatic naked wild dance of Yah./ Hashem’s kiss is the Cosmic Death,/ And the Cosmic Rebirth into immortality./ Once kissed you become the breath of Yah/ As the play of the world.

Once Divinely kissed we become driven by teshukat deveikut, the Divine

Urge:

‘The seed of truth eternally planted/ Within the body–mind–I-am complex/ Is awakened by your touch./ ‘The seed of cosmic fire/ Ignites the eternal divine urge/ Into a roaring flame./ ‘This one

is like a bull in heat/ Seeking to mate with the One,/ Crashing through the illusion of all barriers,/…Berur,/ Slamming this one into the emptiness of divine stillness./ A wild love-crazed moth/ Irreversibly pulled toward the divine fire.

This takes us into the subtle initial experience of liberation as that which is beyond the mind. **This is my personal experience. This experiences however does not erase Uniqueness but rather is the ground from and in which Unique Self lives and emerges. This is not reducible to conceptual academic categories but is rather, in Gabriel’s lived understanding of the actual experiences of liberation.**

One day the windy Grace of Yah/ Blew so hard/ ‘The glass table of the mind/ Turned over and shattered/ Into thousands of useless fragments/ It happened so suddenly,/…After so many years and lifetimes/ Of thinning this glass ceiling of illusion,/ So suddenly/…’The scintillating sublime Absolute/ Burst through/

Uninterrupted/…’The illusion of ‘I’ was not even there to claim it as mine./ ‘There was no place to stand/ And no one to be stand- ing./ ‘The Great Way/ Which has no gate/ Opened/ And there was no ‘me’ there to walk through.

These poems capture the process of Bittul as outlined in chassdic texts a way that gives some insight into the overall picture of what we would call the divine urge. This is the motivation activated by the divine kiss, an erotic metaphor that is key to understanding the path of King Solomon and King David and ultimately of Moshe, who walked up the mountain into the unknown. The inner eros is the direct experience of God within. King Solomon sought to activate the outer eros with his thousand wives and kingdom. While he did this in his own authentic way, in the end he taught that all was vanity, and all that has meaning is to know God. Solomon tried what is known in the Eastern tradition as the left-handed tantric path. He spiritually survived it, although perhaps only barely. Most have not. What Lainer adds to this story is that after the me disappears in the kiss of liberation, the divine essence of the human being reappears as the Unique Self. Lainer, in Rabbi Mordechai’s exposition of his teaching in other works, understands the great teaching of Mahyana Buddhism that there is no emptiness without form and no form without emptiness. An evolved understanding of this teaching teaches us that Enlightenment has a perspective  There is no emptiness without form and form is always Unique. True self in authentic liberation always gives way to the Liberation of Unique Self.

Lainer’s non-dual humanism is rooted in the human being reconnecting to this inner experience of the endless Shekhinah energy. The true root is inside our personal temple (mikdash me’at), which was externalized in the first Temple. Another way of understanding this concept is the five levels of the soul. The five levels of the soul are nefesh, ruah, neshamah, hayah (the Oversoul), and yehidah. The fifth level of yehidah is the unique soul expression of God. At that level, the dialogue ends between witness and self; there is only Hashem expressing itself as the Unique One. Hashem, literally the name is as Rabbi Mordechai points out in this volume, refers both to the name of God and the name of the human being manifesting at the liberated level of Unique Self. This liberation is the emphasis of the great Jewish path of herut/he’arah (enlightenment).

Again, context is key to understanding Mordechai Lainer’s liberated teaching of the Unique Self. Three levels of consciousness are outlined in Mordechai Lainer’s teaching. Firstly, there is the level at which most people live, in which the personality is seen as one’s true identity. There is the delusion of an ego separate from God. Everything is in the hands of heaven, except that there is fear (awe) of God.

At the second level, there is a sense that all is in the hands of heaven, that human choice is an illusion, and that even the fear is in the hands of heaven, and the personality is seen as a case of mistaken identity.

At the third level, after enlightenment, the hands of humans and the hands of heaven are one. God’s eminence is in the world. God’s hands are the hands of the righteous and human deeds are God’s actions. It is in this context that those rare Judah archetypes uphold a deeper Torah, although they may appear to temporarily violate a particular mitzvah for a higher purpose. Lainer’s work is not an invitation for the unawake, naïve egoics to use the Judah archetype to justify their ego-motivated action. For the true Judah archetypes, such as Rav Kook, the way to do such actions was extremely thoughtfully, yet spontaneously. The Joseph and Judah perspectives appear to be in contradiction only if we do not recognize the possibility that may appear as different states of consciousness along the spiritual evolutionary continuum.

In the context of Lainer, the word fear is actually better translated as awe. As it is written in Masekhet Atzilut, an ancient kabbalistic text, ‘And the one who (truly) fears heaven pursues the concealed and Ma’aseh Merkavah, the essence of wisdom and knowledge, as it is written, ‘The beginning of wisdom is fear (awe) of God (Psalm 102)…This is the meaning of ‘The secret of Hashem is for those who fear him’, and it is written, ‘The fear of Hashem is wisdom, and turning from wisdom to understanding’ ( Job 21). The fear—better translated as awe—is at this level deeper than the concept of fear based on the dualistic consciousness of separation from God and/or the degeneration into superstition that can be typical of the Joseph archetype, or the rote performance of the mitzvot. Masekhet Atzilut clearly states that without possessing the sincere quality of yirat shamayim, the fear and awe of Heaven, any and all study of Torah—the greatest mitzvah of them all—is considered null and void. Without yirat shamayim, all religious observances are hypocritical (see Sefer Baal Shem Tov Shemot 1). The implication of this is that what is expected of one who is yirat shamayim is to be actively exploring and living the secrets of the Torah through both intellectual understanding and meditative practices associated with the expansion of consciousness, also known as Ma’aseh Merkavah. The teaching of the ancients are clear—without these two levels of intellectual (Binah) and mystical-intuitive (Hokhmah) study of the secrets of the Torah, one is not considered to be in yirat shamayim. It must be an active way of life, because it is only in the consciousness of the wakeful states of the Judah archetype that one can gaze into the Torah and perceive deep intuitive secrets.

At this level of intuitive apperception, which is the world of Hokhmah (the dimension of Atzilut), there is truly the beginning of intuitive understanding of knowing the Divine. Those who have combined understanding (Binah) and wisdom (Hokhmah) and have the wisdom to hear (ta shema‘) and the inner eye to see (ta hazi) are in yirat shamayim. This is the true Torah. In other words, true yirat shamayim is not motivated by superstition, anxiety, and fears. Therefore, when Mordechai Lainer is saying the Judah archetype does not have the ‘fear’ of God, it means that Judah does not have superstition and fears, but rather lives in the wisdom, awe, and wonderment of the living Torah. In essence, that which is alive as the living Torah is what keeps us alive as spiritual beings. As it says Pirkei Avot, a Voice cries out from Sinai every day, ‘Woe to the world for the disgrace shown to the Torah.’ In this way Torah is uplifted and shines for the world.

All of God’s holy ones—those who act from love—are in the Divine hands, and God is present within them. There is an unmediated presence in all those who act from a God-merged Judah experience of love. This is the key to understanding the teaching of unmediated encounter with the Divine.

In the larger context, the apparent paradox of acosmic (non-dual) humanism disappears, because we understand that God and the liberated soul are one, and we act accordingly. The word‘Amen’ expresses this paradox through its gematria: Adonai (65), the illusion of separation between human and Elohim, and YHVH (26), as grace and unmediated presence, combine to create Amen (91). The Judah archetype teaches us that each moment is a new speaking that cannot be captured by the general purpose of the law and the mitzvot. The awakened person is naturally open to being the expression of God in every moment. As we said, this is the meaning of hitpashtut.

As part of his work, Lainer talks about healing the shadow (hisaron). Healing one’s hisaron is part of the pathway to the Divine in all traditions, but it is especially emphasized in the Jewish path of liberation. This is the way we develop our character, by addressing and healing our unique shadows. In this process of spiritual evolution, our name and the divine name become one.

Rav Kook, the great mystic and halakhah scholar, is an example of someone who may well have transcended the contradiction between the Joseph and Judah archetypes. To say there is no need for law, he explained, is not to say that we do not follow the law as a unique expression of the Divine. We walk in the world knowing all concepts are illusions, but also understanding that they keep order in the world. As we said earlier, the subtle teaching is that the Judah archetype is not against the law, but is the unbroken expression of the Divine Law.

Here we are on the cutting edge of evolution. One cannot be in the way of Judah unless one has been purified, and has already lived within the conventional ethics of the law. Only upon this foundation can we talk about having the awareness to go beyond the limited understanding of the mitzvot as an expression of the Torah. The mitzvot are our foundation. When we understand this, the paradox is resolved.

The Judah archetype is about action out of love and choicelessness. Judah is free to move in any direction with a heart connected to the will of God. We live in ‘omek (spiritual depth), which is a non-dual understanding of reality, as we walk in the dual world, between belimah—the void, and mah—the ‘real’.

Lainer points out that when one’s heart is one with the will of God, one may do whatever the heart desires. How does one know when the heart is aligned? The ego can misunderstand and use this natural truth in an unprincipled way. In the awareness of herut, there is no work; there is no striving, effort or responsibility—at least not in the limited sense of the egoic responsibility of the separate self. That is why Rav Zusha is such a great example of the Judah archetype. He taught while in the awareness that Eastern traditions call ‘crazy wisdom’, yet lived very traditionally, following both the mitzvot and also the essence of the mitzvot.

Teshukat deveikut is an act of grace activated by the Divine kiss. The Divine urge drives us. The Judah archetype is one who has realized unity with the will of God through their love of God. For the Judah archetype there is only the unique action of the Divine happening effortlessly, even under the most apparently difficult circumstances. This is the third, mikdash level of consciousness beyond shabbat-consciousness, which is linked to time.

Once we are beyond time, and we understand that from an ultimate perspective there is no transformation because all is part of the Eternal. When one is in the consciousness of the Judah archetype, yirah, berur, and mitzvot are no longer necessary, but one may choose to use them. One is simply the outflowing expression of the Divine, beyond approaches and techniques. We embody the rabbinical statement,‘Greater is serving Torah (shimushah) than learning her (limudah).’ Service is driven by teshukah. At another level of paradox, however, for the liberated there can be no service in the world because there is no other. Rather, service furthers our spiritual evolution, whether done as the Judah or Joseph archetype.

One who is not living in all four worlds as an multi-dimensional person may choose to interpret Mordechai Lainer as a radically theocentric determinist, or as affirming radical human autonomy, but his non-dual humanism truly includes both poles in all four worlds, as the Divine is expressed through people.

Similarly, Mordechai Lainer, because of his liberated context, was able to incorporate mitzido (the divine perspective) and mitzideinu (the human perspective) beautifully, because of his understanding that we are multi-dimensional beings. Rabbi Gafni’s book will be an indispensible text for those who want to get to the deep essence of Judaism in its original meaning, at its deepest level, as taught by Mordechai Lainer. This incredible book is a sophisticated discussion of enlightenment and its many levels on a par with anything found in the East, elevated by the ruah ha-kodesh and intellectual brilliance of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni. It gives us a context and a starting point from which to understand liberation in the Jewish tradition, and it establishes Judaism as a historical path of liberation with an emphasis on each liberated being as a unique expression of the Divine.

Rabbi Gabriel congratulates Rabbi Gafni for his ability to draw out the essence of the mystical teachings of Lainer in a way that goes beyond academic interpretations. Rabbi Gabriel’s feeling is that Mordechai Lainer had the direct apperception of the truth of self-realization, and that his teachings initially developed through following of the Joseph archetypal path before he evolved/woke up into the Judah archetypal path of liberation. Rabbi Gafni’s holy understanding of this great teacher is absolutely vital and compelling for our times, and it can open us up to the Divine urge. These teachings bring us back to Avraham sitting in his tent in the heat—the spiritual passion—of the day. This inspired interpretation of Lainer by Rabbi Gafni reading of Lainer offered in this volume is a pioneering work transmitting Judaism as it was originally intended—as an inspired path to full liberation.

May we all be blessed to be as passionate for the love of God as was Avraham. May we all sip of the divine wine of he’arah, of revelation and liberation. May we all live as the first fruit offering to God. AMEN

Gabriel Cousens