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Repentance

October 1, 2013

 The Random House Dictionary defines repentance as “contrition for sin or wrongdoing”, or “regret for one’s actions”.

Literally, it means, “reconnecting the five”, (based on its derivative from the Greek word “pentagonon”, meaning a five-angled structure).

Random House also defines “pentagon” as a “polygon with five angles or five sides”.

According to kabbalistic sources, while a special day such as Yom Kippur is specially earmarked for this purpose, the individual should always be striving to “return” the entire material world to the Creator.

The Hebrew word for repentance is “teshuvah” which breaks down into two fragments “Teshuv”, and “H” (=Teshuv-ha).

The bible actually uses the four Hebrew letters Y, H, W, H, to spell G-d`s name (Sometimes referred to as Y-A-H-W-E-H); a word too holy to be expressed.

The final “H” refers to the world of “action”, which is in a state of separation-disconnected from the higher worlds of “Y” “A” and “H”, which symbolize the beginning of His Holy Name.

According to Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, only the fifth, or lowest world, is physical, and the spiritual challenge begins when we re-unite this lower world of action with its higher celestial counterparts.

So does repentance limit itself to the repair of the lowest material world only, symbolized by the letter “H”, which is numerically five?

It appears, that based on his collection of Essays named “Sefer Tanya”, which the author is referring simultaneously to both of these endeavors.

Furthermore, the author of the Tanya is consistent with the Baal Shem Tov in emphasizing that this, the lowest of the worlds, is the exclusive domain for this process of elevation.

According to the view of Rashi, G-d only allowed Abram to add the letter “H” to his name, changing him to “Abraham” post-de-facto, following his own personal transformation after elevating his five “human” senses, culminating with his circumcision. (The word “bris” is the Hebrew translation of “Covenant”).

If so, when we “repent”, we correct the imbalance in the universe created by our evil actions by repairing the separation of the spiritual disconnect from the material.

After all, man’s sins are caused by the excessive descent of his consciousness from the spiritual worlds into the material where virtue and morality become temporarily obscured.

According to kabbalistic texts written by Rabbi Isaac Luria, and elaborated at length by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, repentance actually involves “cleaning” the spiritual blemishes in all of the five worlds.

Repenting hence involves traversing the five-levels of the soul, (occupying the five celestial dimensions of the universe), a process consistent with Carl Jung`s journey of discovering the true “Self”.

It is not difficult to understand how our sins blemish the lowest domain.

The lowest of the five worlds is physical, where the stage is set for humankind to choose “good” or “bad” through our actions.

The extent to which we succeed in overcoming the evil impulse and choosing virtue, in this, the lowest of the worlds, is what will define us as as good, bad, or intermediate.

However, how do we atone for our immorality in the higher worlds, worlds that are invisible to us?

According to the five-domain construct of Kaballah, thought, speech, and action constitute the three lower worlds.

It is not difficult to conjure the idea of sinning through speech and thought.

The higher worlds in this upward progression belong to “emotion”, and above that, “will’ or “intent”.

Using   this construct, we certainly are held responsible for our emotions, and intent.

Legally, killing with evil intent is viewed differently to killing inadvertently.

In a court of law, it may make the difference between a capital offence and an acquittal.

We can only second-guess the Creator in knowing what occurred in the esoteric worlds, concealed exclusively in the heart and mind of the individual.

I do not want to belabor the subject of punishment. Nevertheless, it appears conceivable that a punishment is rendered to someone who wishes evil (which is in the realm of “will”), or privately celebrates the suffering of others (which is in the realm of emotion).

This should send a note of caution to those who enable support or even derive vicarious pleasure from the misery they inflict.

Kaballah occupies itself with esoteric meaning rather than jurisprudence.

For the Masters of the Esoteric School, celebrating, or willing the misfortune of others leaves a trail of poison, as it travels upwards, through the tributaries, finally resting in its corresponding celestial wellspring, perturbing its tranquility with its recognizable bloodstain.

In fact, in a certain regard, these blemishes are deeper and more difficult to remove.

Such sins are hidden deeper within the soul, and are closer to the Creator than the sins of action.

Moreover, sins involving words or actions are more simply recognized, hence rectified.

This concept should be quite daunting for the “believer” who, at his designated moment when he is summoned to stand before his “Maker”, has to consider the mess that he has left within the five dimensions of the soul.

The Italian mystic, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto “The Ramchal”, (1707-1747), in his explanation of the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple in Jerusalem, (“Dwellings of the Supreme”), explains how the buildings, chambers, and courtyards correspond to these five spiritual dimensions of soul in the celestial spheres.

Hence, the origins of the word “repent” (a polygon with five dimensions).

The Bible gives a detailed account of the design of the Sanctuary (Exodus, Chapters 25-31).

The chief artisan was Bezalel son of Uri of the tribe of Judah.

In the introduction to the mystical text “Tikuney Zohar”, it states, “The design of the Sanctuary corresponds to the underlying scheme of creation” (page 12).

The prophet Samuel and King David also knew these secrets.

Having conquered Jerusalem, King David instructed his son Solomon to build the temple, giving him the design of the vestibules, buildings, treasures, and chambers where to place the Ark (Chronicles 28:11 and 29) containing the Tablets from Sinai.

The physical design contained within its walls the mystical remedy that would empower the service of the righteous to constellate Divine Light, illuminate all the creatures in the world, and provide them with sustenance and blessing.

Solomon began building the Temple in the year 832 B.C.E. and completed it seven years later (First Book of Kings, Chapters 6-7). After standing for four hundred and ten years, the spiritual descent of the Jewish Nation caused the Divine Presence to depart, leading to the physical destruction by the Babylonians in the year 422 B.C.E.

After seventy years, the nation repented, which lead to the return from Babylonian Exile, and the construction of the Second Temple in the year 352 B.C.E.

It then stood for 420 years until its destruction by the Romans in the year 68 of the Modern Era.

On the Day of Atonement, once a year, the High Priest would enter the Inner Chamber of the Holy of Holies, where the Ark and Tablets were located, and repent for all mankind.

Under these sublime conditions, the High Priest was able to rectify the blemishes in all five spiritual domains by drawing down a G-dly light that could penetrate the chambers, rooms, and Courtyard of the Temple.

The Priest would often die during communal repentance in the Holy of Holy’s, and had a cord attached to his robe that allowed his body to be removed, since few had the level of virtue required to withstand the power of  this emanating light.

Following the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans, the High Priests were unable to provide communal atonement, and each individual became responsible for the rectification of sin in all of the above-mentioned celestial spheres.

According to the Vilna Gaon, the “Ramchal” had the genius to apply the esoteric teachings of Isaac Luria to the format of worship, prayer and the Blessings of Righteous Individuals, even after the Temple’s destruction.

However, notwithstanding the role of the righteous in drawing down benevolence to the creation through G-d`s attribute of Mercy, it still became incumbent on the individual to provide an appropriate “vessel” to receive such blessings.

Rabbi Isaac Luria formatted prayer to navigate the penitent through a ladder of prayer comprising five levels of ascent of consciousness, corresponding to the temple polygon.

This was achieved with the first published Prayer Book of the “Nusach Ha`Ari” in 1803 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, arranging the liturgy in strict conformance with Rabbi Luria’s teachings, while meticulously following the guidelines of the Talmud and Code of Jewish Law concerning prayer.

The ultimate intent of prayer is to penetrate the celestial domains blemished by our negative deeds, emotional turpitude, and harmful intent.

To Carl Jung, “repentance” was the religious expression of the discovery of the personal “shadow” and its transformation.

I`H` I will later explore Jung’s architecture of the “Self”, and explore the role of “Shadow” and “Persona” in obstructing the ego from reaching true consciousness.

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