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Friday, August 19, 2011

Parshat Ekev: The Lessons of the Journey

In this week's parashah/portion, Ekev (Devarim/Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:26), Moses tells the people that they shall be rewarded if they obey God's commandments and punished if they disobey. He recounts how God freed them from slavery in Egypt, gave them victory over enemies in the desert, and brought them to the border of the land flowing with milk and honey.

However, God did not do this because of any virtue that the people possessed. Rather, God blessed the people because they were God's "chosen" and "special people." This in spite of the fact that they were stiff-necked and often rejected or rebelled against God and Moses during the 40 years of wandering. In fact, Moses reminds them that he actually had to plead with God not to destroy the people after they built the Golden Calf (among other times)!

The verses upon which I would like to focus are found near the end of the parashah
. As they are not contiguous, I will cite them below in the order of appearance and then provide my own poetic interpretation of these verses as instructions for each of us as individuals, as well as for humanity, as to how we can be mindful of God's presence in our lives and of the Oneness that sustains us and our world. (Note: for those not aware, YHWH, represents the Hebrew letters yod-hey-vov-hey.  This is the four-letter ineffable name of God)

Shabbat Shalom,

"And now, O Israel, what does YHWH your god, demand of you? Only this: to revere YHWH your God, to walk only in God's paths, to love God, and to serve YHWH your God with all your heart and soul, keeping YHWH's commandments and laws, which I enjoin upon you today, for your good. (Deut. 10: 12-15)

"Cut away, therefore, the thickening about your hearts and stiffen your necks no more. For YHWH your God is god supreme ..." (Deut. 10:16)

"If, then, you obey the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day, loving YHWH your God and serving God with all your heart and soul, I will grant the rain for you land in season ... You shall gather in your new grain and wine and oil ... and thus you shall eat your fill. Take care not to be lured away to serve other gods and bow to them. For YHWH's anger will flare up against you, and God will shut up the skies so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its produce; and you will soon perish from the good land that YHWH is assigning to you." (Deut.11: 13-17)

"Therefore impress these My words upon your very heart: bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, and teach them to your children - reciting them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up; and inscribe them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates - to the end that you and your children may endure, in the land that YHWH swore to your ancestors to assign to them, as long as there is a heaven over the earth... [then] YHWH will dispossess nations greater and more numerous than you. Every spot on which your foot treads shall be yours ... no person shall stand up to you ..." (Deut. 11:18-25)

the lessons of the journey

I stand     we stand
here    today
each day     each moment
in the presence of
the One

we hear God's command
to walk  to stand
to be one with    the divine
heart and soul    with God
at one
joining us together
at one
with the universe

we must love
be patient    be compassionate
walk     alone together
each footstep in oneness with the divinne

but if instead
we focus on self   ego   desire   passion
not unity  connection   compassion
we tear down what God has created
   we build up walls around our heart
keeping God  love  connection      out
keeping  self   in charge

denying the One
we acknowledge only  self
which is an illusion
we walk in circles
            we stumble on paths
strewn with pebbles
                  shards of glass  cutting  scraping
hazards created by the passions of the ego
    keeping us away  from the true path to the One
keeping us on the journey of the self
        a journey leading nowhere

separate  alone  not at one
connected only to self
the heavens dry up
     there is no nourishment    sustenance
there is only  darkness drought
solitude  bitterness  hatred envy

yet all is not lost
if we cut away  gently  surely
the walls we have built round our hearts
we find beneath
the soft sweet true light of soul
the gentle compassionate
beating of the heart
our hearts God's heart

no longer lured away
by foreign gods within  separating us
we find the true god
heart of the universe
also within  but not separate
connecting hearts and souls
within the one

the skies have now opened up
 refreshing renewing   divine rain
flows over body
through heart and soul
returning to the source of being
from whence it came

aware in the moment
we take a step
continuing on the journey
that ends and begins
with the same step

this is God's journey
not my journey
  this is our journey
 home to the soul
this is the lesson we must learn
  this is the teaching we must impart
to us    our children     our children's children
each step   each moment
sleeping   waking   walking
night  day  now
is a step
on the journey

to the compassionate heart
the constantly open soul
the love  the beauty
the oneness of the divine

know that  in each moment
the enemies within
  trying to  stop us 
keep us  where we are
sending us in the wrong direction
can be silenced   destroyed
just for the moment

that is the lesson we must learn
and relearn
with each breath
god gives  to us
and we give back
in return
every day every moment
of life

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