The Interview With God - While a little off topic, this link is to a beautiful presentation of faith.
Wired News: Engineering God in a Petri Dish - This article caught my eye as somewhat the reverse of my discussions. Rather than trying to classify mundane activities into their Kabbalistic categories, this article classifies divinity according to scientific categorization.
An American soldier fights and dies for his country. A firefighter dies rescueing strangers. A policeman dies in the line of duty.
He gave his life for his country. The ultimate sacrifice, the ultimate gift. Chesed, giving.
A homicide bomber kills for his cause. No sacrifice, he gains honor, reaching the highest level of his (or her) society. The fact that he can no longer particpate is besides the point. Martyrdom culture. Gevurah. Strictness.
And what's the opposite of chesed, kindness or giving either on a personal or national scale? In Kabbalah, the opposite of Chesed is Gevurah, severity or strictness.
While Chesed is never judgemental, pure chesed is giving without measure, without limit, without control, without determining need, Gevurah is completely judgemental. It's following the rules without concern for impact, it's limits and controls, and penalties for breaking the rules. It's discipline.
So what's a nation of chesed? Note I didn't say a national attribute of chesed. Chesed on the national scale is a country that gives and takes are of it's people. This, of course, sounds pretty good. However, when its the prime direction or drive in a country, it leads to the overwhelming or smothering aspects of chesed.
The governmental attitude becomes "the people can't take care of themselves, the government must decide for them". Better for the government to decide more and more not just national issues but also more personal issues.
Not for command and control reasons, it's not an attempt to be dicatorial. More for the purity of reason of helping the people. This action or that is bad for people, they must not be allowed to do it. We must care for all the people and enforce common standards, so that none be allowed to fall below.
These aspects usually sound positive, and indeed are in moderation. They become negative when they prevent growth and success. When everyone is being held to a common denominator standard, when there is no risk of failure, and when there is no reward for success (the rewarding aspects of society are often prevented either because the resources are required to provide for fulfilling everyone's needs or because of fear of injuring or insulting the less successful) then there is no incentive to succeed.
It must be very hard being a president who has values and a solid belief system. President Bush, with a strong Christian belief system, has actually visted Israel and seen the land and the distances involved. It's hard for American's, who drive on average almost an hour to work and 45 minutes to go shopping, to imagine a country that's only an hour and a half drive across, to understand that the distance from the beach on the sea to the West Bank is...11 miles. But President Bush has seen it personally, and is absolutely committed to the war on terror. Yet yesterday he found himself in the position of having to equate Israel defending itself and it's innocent citizens to those attacking it.
Is the president playing good-president bad-president? Has he come down with schizophrenia?
Countries have no friends, only common interests or the lack thereof. The president is serving America's relationship interests with various Arab countries. However, it must indeed be difficult on his personal beliefs.
One particularly interesting point, notice the U.S. cultural pandering to the Arab value of honor and humiliation. They're not concerned with their dead, their freedom, their economy, but with "the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people". I'll write more about this later, relating to the mystical attributes of nations and cultures.
Teachings - Kosmic Kabbalah Art - David Friedman When I was last wandering through the mystical city of Tzfat (or Safed) in northern Israel, I came across a Kabbalistic art studio, met the artist and bought several pieces. Today, while searching for an article on the new A9 Search site relating to Kabbalah, it presented me with some of the same art images hanging on my wall. It's some interesting art, if mystical art is your thing.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, going to the site today I see that it's domain expired right after I made this post: "Expiration date: 27 Sep 2004 09:55". Hopefully he'll renew his site name and the site will return to availability.
Updated Update: Good news, the site is back online. Visit it!
Chesed (pronounced gutteral-H esed, like hesed) is the attribute of kindness. While usually used in discussion of divine interaction with the universe or in operative functions of the soul, it also applies to world politics and national or regional attitudes. Hesed, or kindness, sounds like a very positive way of being. A kind person, the kindness of a community or a nation are very positive things in this world. But unlimited kindness is overwhelming, degrading, and prevents growth. If parents never let a child struggle to dress themself, the child will never learn to be able to do so. If a person is never held accountable for their actions, they will never develop any self-limits or controls on their actions. If a person is provided generously with all their wants and needs, they will never develop the ability to support themselves or succeed in endevours. Further, they will never achieve success on their own (as they are always being given or being helped), and will never have any accomplishments.
What about a nation or national attribute of kindness?
So, Madonna and other hollywood ilk are into Kabbalah. What does one do when you see the most precious gems dragged through the mud and filth??? How is it that people think you can take the innermost wisdom of connecting to G-d and of G-d's connecting to this world, requiring the highest levels of purity and holiness, and just jump into it without bothering with the holiness part?