May G-d Rescue Us From Our Solutions

Based on my everyday experience, it makes sense that the creation of the world is incomprehensible.

What is this thing doing here? Why is it built on a system of soul and body, a painful contradiction seemingly unjustified by anything in the universe? Sure, there’s baseball and hating Michael Chabon, but no joy in this vale of tears is without its price.

Chief, in my reckoning, of all the challenges that G-d places before a soul on this earth is the challenge of doubt. Not the caricature portraying the vacillation between “blind faith” and the ability to “believe,” but the deeper doubt, the one that zigs faith and zags understanding to strike right at what I am.

The problem is that we become attached to things, and even though past pain has made us wise, we (even subconsciously) begin to define ourselves by our views, opinions, and moral judgments.

If we are souls in bodies, you see, these beliefs are bodies. They are not purely of our private selves, but rather various means by which to express those selves in a place our selves otherwise could not reach. We, you see, are like lightning or opera; our souls are not for bottling. We can want whatever we want with our entire being; we are one thing, and that one thing decides what it is. A soul wants (in a passing moment between agonies) to eat pizza, and the soul changes; that’s what it’s now about. The soul is not insecure. It is thoroughly itself, so self-inseparable that it can turn toward pizza and lose nothing.

But imagine being a Jew who believes that Judaism means the Torah is given by G-d, and then there are eighteen articles a day on the falseness of Judaism or (even worse) on how Judaism means never having to say you’re sorry and crying at Disney films.

This puts the body under a lot of stress. A soul, at its protean essence, can simply switch to a new, enlightened outlook. Nothing is stopping it. It may desire to see things today as no Rabbi on earth has evern seen it, and it can fulfill that desire. The soul is of the infinite; it can be about anything.

The only thing holding the soul back, just like a fat kid trying to finish the Presidential Fitness Test, is its body. Your stupid soul got invested in some stupid idea (about Judaism) and you can’t just drop it now for a more palatable cultural/pragmatic Yiddishkeit germane to the New Yorker subscriber’s pillow talk, no more than Eugene can get Presidential with his thighs chafing before his classmates captivated by the heaving mass of his bloated form.

But no, souls in bodies, this is the plan. Infinite dreams, sweaty underwear realities.

If it is any consolation, G-d put Himself in the same stupid bind by creating this world of lies and investing Himself in it. If He wanted, He could go fractally spiral his endless wisdom through infinite dimensions while the stupid world with its ugly continents can’t even do one pull-up. Instead, He is here, in every slimy dismissal and every Hamas missile. Him, Him Him. Why? Because.

Like I said, of all things to make no sense, it makes sense it would be this one.

That’s why the dream of Moshiach is so big and so unworldly. Everyone here, with their own ideas and preconceptions, seeks to either free the soul and deny the body or recognize the body and tame the soul. Some wish to tell us the body/thought is a lie, an artifact created by brainwashing. They all vote Democratic and think they’re G-d. Others laugh at the soul’s freedom and write it off as childish mishegas. They adopt Trumpisms into their speech unexamined and don’t even think G-d is G-d.

His plan is much stranger. The soul’s freedom and the body’s cage are one; will and intellect do not contradict. The idolator says a body, by its nature, inherently conveys a certain soul. The Jew knows that body and soul are each his native tongue. Just as the Rebbe did not fear technology or vessel but demanded they be used for holiness, Moshiach will show how the body does not contradict soul but is its pure and perfect expression; nature and miracle are both G-d, are only G-d; the gufei halachos and the nishmasa d’nishmasa are one. To lose the soul or the body is to die, but to find both without contradiction is to live forever.

In the meantime, we live in this exile with Jews who think nothing is more Jewish than criticizing Jews, who think that thousands of years of Jewish parents died to raise their children to reject “inmarriage” as a ghetto. We live in times when just about a whole country of Jews define Judaism as being a wilful soul without a constraining body; they do not see how they are as incarnated as the next gilgul, how they only clash with us because they, too, have bodies; souls love and do not clash. It is not the self of the soul we doubt, but the bodies she expresses through. Where she is of limitless potential, the body is of defined actuality. Where she can infinitely agree, the body cannot occupy another body’s space.

How long must we wait for this doubt to end, this endless self-harm of the body Judaic, this terminal and interminable disunity between self and inner other?  How long must there be tension between the need to unite with brother and sister and solid impermeable realities that separate us? How long must we tolerate?

We are told that it is all one, and we work to see it. We are told He wishes to be together with us even in our bodies. But how much of this can we take?

We cannot live much longer, having to choose between Jew and Judaism, between self and self.

G-d, rescue us from doubt. Destroy Amalek, let us not need to be free of your Torah nor of the selves we see in it. Let us experience the freedom of the body and the entrapment of the soul. Rescue us from our own solutions, and give us Yours, amen.

 

 

Originally posted on Hevria.

Slouching Towards Moshiach

If the Messiah were to ride into Jerusalem tomorrow on a white donkey, it would be a terrible disappointment. We live in the best of times and the worst of times, and this makes us busy. Some of us are busy building, and some busy tearing down. Some trowel the mortar of the status quo, while others push at revolution’s sad spoon. Each of us pushes, in our own small (or, if we want to get really destructive, big) way for “making the world a better place.”

What is “making the world a better place” beyond a repugnant cliché? For many, we refer not to the moral good per se but to the alleviation of physical (and now, increasingly, mental) suffering. It is exactly this that will distract us from Moshiach. He will offer to reveal God within the world and we will say, we are too busy fixing our own suffering and the suffering of others. He will assure us that with God’s revelation within the world suffering will burn up like a cloud shredded by the morning. We will tell him that sounds terrifying because then there will be nothing for us to do.

In short, our joy, as noted in many Science Fiction films, seems to derive from our imperfection, because a human being cannot be perfect and be human, and if the messianic age is an eternal life of goodness, then by definition is cannot be a human life, and the Messiah’s imminence begins to sound like the looming existential impotence of death, like a crushing boredom that will not let us wring free.

But Moshiach is not death because what we take for life is not life. We have chosen, in our modern pursuits, the life of the body and the life of the soul, but not the point of their interweaving that in earlier times was taken to constitute a man.

The soul and the body make a strange pair. They are opposites, spirit and material, form and matter. Yet, paradoxically, the more they are themselves, the more they are each other. In other words, the essence of the soul is close to the essence of the body, and vice versa, whereas at their superficial points of coarsest expression they are as far from each other as East and West. It is the secret of the body that it needs a soul, and the secret of the soul that it needs a body, but both must leave the house in the morning and go to work and pretend they wish the enemy’s destruction. Or something.

Look, because bringing the Moshiach is the hardest thing in the world(tm), it shouldn’t surprise us too much that our natural tendency is to sort of work around the edge of the idea, getting as close as reason dares and always circling around the center point. That’s why we cannot just apply our soul’s choice and will to make decisions that reveal G-d in the world but must be distracted by dumb garbage that involves either the body or the soul screaming at the top of their lungs but never at each other.

The body taken roughly on its own will, for its own good, reject Moshiach. Not the truth of the body, which points toward the soul, but the thing materialists think makes the whole man. These bodies are terrified of Moshiach. The time will come when they are not needed. A Messianist’s input isn’t needed on this. It’s happening already. With “smarter” AI developed all the time, machines are quite likely to continue taking away more of the body’s work. What used to take a farm full of workers now takes a man; some factories are nearly completely automated; McDonald’s has started rolling out its kiosks. What, if we are not at work, and sustaining food is so cheap, are we to do with our time? The Messianic age of delights common as dust weighs on the soul like the void.

The soul taken on its own also rejects Moshiach. It is a being of pure will; it claims that the apparent facts are irrelevant before the inner truth of a man. And this superficial soul is just as busy as the superficial body. While the body is busy at work or play, the soul fights against reality. Practical concerns are, for it, notwithstanding. Thousands of years of viewing the sexes in one way must come to a close. Money must be paid with no concern of where it comes from. Love can solve all problems because all problems are soul perspective problems; problems of those who want the wrong thing. The soul, too, is afraid of Moshiach removing its purpose. Then, there will be no beauty higher than G-d, and no need to seek out a unique story or point of view. There will be no compassionm, empathy, or love to set us apart and define us. It will be obvious to all that many of the things we love now are empty compared to the eternal Creator. What is desirable will be objective and shared. We will not desire otherwise.

If man is a body, he will be replaced by machines, and if man is a soul, he will be replaced by angels and spiritual realms.

If we do not have a purpose when Moshiach comes, what purpose do we have now?

And indeed, what applies to man applies here to the whole world alike. Why is Moshiach a time when the world becomes more itself rather than simply ceasing to be? Perhaps the “Chad Charuv” is the Messianic Devourer, come to return the world to naught, for it no longer serves any need.

But on the contrary: we and the world have purpose as a soul and a body, tied together at their cores.

The reason why man becomes more a man and the world more the world when Moshiach comes is because Judaism is a monotheism that believes G-d actually created and sustains the creation. This is more revolutionary than it first sounds. A G-d who actually creates the world in its entirety, who creates everything and is bound by nothing, therefore creates for some end. And the end is Moshiach.

What is Moshiach? Moshiach is the commandments carried out.

What are the commandments carried out? A soul in a body, fulfilling their purpose.

And because the commandments are the soul and body fulfilling their purpose, the soul and body are not merely means to an end but part of the end itself. The commandment is only performed if it is performed by a soul in a body. And so these things persist.

Soon a time will come when all of our causes and protests and well-reasoned positions and well-sculpted muscles will be unnecessary.

Soon a time will come when everything we think we live for will fade away to dust.

Why are we not terrified?

Because though ranks of infinite angels cry out to G-d with divine wisdom, souls in bodies are why they exist. The robots are coming to do our work, and our various protests will soon be pointless. But the printing press has not turned the scribe obsolete, nor has a machine been found that can tie the Tztizit with intention. Never will the Seraphim’s perfect prayer be as essential as a half-asleep Sh’ma that falls from our cracked lips.

That a soul says the Sh’ma, is necessary.

That the lips are involved, is necessary.

This is all that matters.

This is what we must live for, if we want to want Moshiach.

 

 

Originally posted on Hevria.