Topic: Consciousness | Posted:October 16, 2013
This week's portion, Vayera, is a very important one filled with many secrets. We begin with the discussion of the third day after Abraham has circumcised himself, which is the most painful day, and it says that the Creator revealed himself to Abraham in the land that was owned by one of his closest friends, Mamre.
Why is the Creator revealed to Abraham specifically when he is resting in this land?
Rashi, the kabbalist, says the commentators explain that when the Creator told Abraham in last week’s portion to circumcise himself at such an old age - which obviously raises all kind of medical and physical issues - he asked his friends, "What do you think, is it a good idea or a bad idea?" And because Mamre was the only one who said, "If this is what the Creator tells you, even though this will bring you physical pain, even though it doesn't make sense, you should still do it,” the Creator reveals himself to Abraham in the land of Mamre. And Mamre himself also received this revelation of the Creator to Abraham.
Why was it so significant that Mamre agreed that Abraham should do what the Creator asked him to do?
Mamre's teacher, spiritual guide, and best friend was Abraham. Abraham comes to Mamre and tells him, “The Creator has asked me to take this next step, which means I am going to elevate to a different level, and all the friendship and guidance that you have received from me, all the love and support you have received from me, is basically going to end.” Because after the point of his circumcision -which wasn't so much about the physical process, but about the spiritual elevation- Abraham would no longer be Mamre’s teacher or friend.
Now, let's think about it in this way. Somebody who is our teacher and best friend, somebody who we depend on all the time, comes to us and says, “I have a decision to make. One of them will bring more Light to the world, but it means that you lose your teacher, your guide, your friend, your support. Are you willing to give all that up in order for more of the Light of the Creator to be revealed in this world to somebody else?” Mamre said yes. And this is a very significant lesson.
One of the important parts of our spiritual work is to annul, or give up, our desire when it is coming up against the Creator's desire. We all have desires and needs that are being met or not being met. But, in order for true spiritual growth to occur, there has to be both a desire and actual removal of our desires in the face of the Creator's desires. This is what happened here between Abraham and Mamre. Mamre gave Abraham the permission. Mamre came to the point where it was a choice between his physical desire and his spiritual desire, and he accepted the loss of his teacher and friend if it meant that more Light will be revealed in the world through Abraham. This is a gift we receive on this Shabbat.
We also receive this gift, without going into the details, from the whole concept and process of the binding of Isaac which also takes place in this portion. Unless a constant part of our spiritual work is finding what it is we are willing to give up in order to allow more of the Light of the Creator to be revealed in this world, we are not truly revealing Light in this world. We have to ask ourselves this question: in what areas of my life am I pushing away my own desire in order to allow more of the Light of the Creator to be revealed?
To go back to Abraham and the pain he was in from his circumcision, even though his physical desire was to lie in bed because he was in such terrible pain, he pushes that away and says, “No, I am going to give to up that desire in order to allow more of the Light of the Creator to be revealed in this world.'' That is also what Mamre did when he accepted that he would lose his teacher and friend Abraham so that more Light could be revealed in this world.
In fact, the kabbalists teach that because Mamre accepted this great loss, he received greater Light directly from the Creator than he had ever received while he was studying with Abraham. He received such greater and direct Light from the Creator that the kabbalists teach that Mamre's next incarnation was as a great sage named Aba Umna, who was a healer; there is a section in the Talmud, in Ta'anit, that says that out of all the sages who lived at the time, Aba Umna would get the most direct and constant revelation of the Light of the Creator to him. Why? Because in a previous incarnation he was willing to give it all up completely in order for a lot more Light to be revealed.
On this Shabbat, we want to ask to be given the strength to nullify our desire in front of the Creator's desire. When a person begins to really live his or her life in this way, when every single day you are nullifying this level of your desire in order to allow more of the Light of the Creator to be revealed, it comes to the point that when you have a true and important desire, the Creator nullifies any judgment or negativity that is standing in front of you. That is the gift and blessing you receive from living in this way. And that is a gift we are given on this Shabbat.