Wednesday, September 04, 2013

RH Greetings from Rabbi Rockower

Rosh Hashana greetings from the Chief Rabbi of Lesotho, Tajikistan and La Mancha:

I sat on the bus from Paris to Brussels reading The Last Temptation of Christ, the fascinating story by Nikos Kazantzakis that tells the story of Jesus in novel form.  Needless to say, the book was controversial. 

His book is essentially Jesus meets Nietzsche.  It centers on the young carpenter (a cross-maker at that) too scared to bear his burden, and hiding like Jonah from his task.  Only to take up the mantle, and offer departure from the way it was, and to build a Kingdom of Heaven based on brotherhood, charity and mercy.  This Jesus is not a law-giver, but rather the man who boils down all law and all truth into one principal: love.

In my own personal opinion, this is what I believe Jesus really meant.  All the dogma, and all business of the Trinity and Son of God came far after his actual life.  Jesus the prophet is a different notion entirely than Jesus the Messiah, or that of Jesus the Son of God. 

I doubt Yeshua the Jew would recognize the religion that has been formed around his name and mission.  He can thank the Church, and perhaps also another fellow named Paul.  I think he would be horrified that his message to live humbly, to clothe the poor and feed the hungry has instead turned into the Institution that is The Church, with its basilicas and cathedrals.  I am always reminded of the famous chapter in The Brothers Karamazov when Jesus and Torquemada sit in asolitary Inquisition cell.

Interestingly, the French consider a man’s thirty-third year to be a rather auspicious occasion, as that was the same year Jesus got and gave his revelation.  Many are called; few are chosen.  This thirty-third year has been pretty auspicious year for me thus far, including a few pd revelations on the beach of the River of January, and in the City of Saint Paul on the grand avenue Paulista that have shaped my path forward to my own pd endeavors..

I am a Jew, and I will always remain as such, so I will never accept Jesus as the Son of God, nor do I believe him the Messiah.  But I can rationalize Jesus the prophet who gave a new form of connection for man to embrace his fellow man, and his simplification of the litigiousness that had overtaken The Law.  My pantheistic doctrines can respect his mission as such.

By the same token, I can appreciate Mohammed as a prophet that spread the word of the One God to half of mankind.  There is no God but God, and Muhammad was definitely His prophet.  A final prophet?  Personally, I doubt it.  Why would God create an Omega? 

I could see Buddha or Gandhi as prophets, even MLK, and I am sure there will be more to come to bring a different understanding of His Will and His Law.

The fascinating thing is that I am juxtaposing The Last Temptation with Baruch Spinoza’s Ethics.  Spinoza’s treatise on the infinite nature of God, and his systematic and rational proofs to understand this infinitesimal understanding is utterly fascinating.

Whatsoever is, is in God, and without God nothing can be, or be conceived....God and all attributes of God are eternal.

It is also super dense, and has taken me two months to read 30-some pages.  Not for the breezy summer read category, but fascinating nonetheless.  And like Yeshua, Spinoza was crucified by the community (figuratively, not literally) for seeking a different way to understand the Almighty.

I have ecumenical dreams of translating Spinoza’s treatise into Arabic and Urdu, and convening a convention of Muslim and Jewish scholars to debate Spinoza’s understanding of God’s infinite nature.

I accept my own heterodoxical beliefs (because if I don’t, who else will…), but firmly believe that everyone should have their own personal interpretation of God that comes through many different sources.  God the omnipotent cannot only be found in one path, and it would diminish God to say as much.  I cannot accept that God does not love our differences, our different ways to reach Him, and our different understandings of his divinity.

As I have written before, I find God’s majesty in the rising sun, and in his glory it sets.  And I have long believed that the word of God when filtered through the mouth of man gets distorted. 

This is a long and convoluted way of welcoming Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.  Another year gone by in the life of one Paul S. Rockower- equal parts saint and sinner.  This particular lunar year-gone-by took me from Central Asia to South America to Northern Europe.  As it ends, I will spend it this year in Belgium, in Antwerp.  I am not sure what exactly I will find in terms of services, but I will find something.  And rather than honeycake, I will just have to eat some honeyed Belgian Waffles.

L’shana tova!

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