A Divine Covenant of Sacred Responsibility

When a person guards the covenant, regarding the son that the Holy One will give him, the verse states, “And G‑d caused to sprout from the ground every tree that was pleasing to the sight…” (Gen. 2:9) for he will merit [to understand] the secrets of the Torah. (Tikunei Zohar, Tikun 53)

The covenant between God and man reaffirms the great dignity having been conferred upon human existence by creation. It does not aim to redeem the creature from creature-like finitude, nor does it point to an existence not shot through by the problematics of human freedom and temporality. As it is described in Exodus and Deuteronomy, the covenant does not suggest any promise of resolution for the finite human condition. Rather, it teaches the community how to be responsible for its social and political existence even within the uncertain and possibly tragic conditions of history and even though many events are beyond human control.

At the heart of the wisdom of Kabbalah is the recognition of the world as a wasteland, together with a call to transform it into something higher, more perfect–the redemption of all, above and below. The question people ask today is: “How to redeem the world?” We have many dubious answers today and every ideology at its heart makes a claim for universal redemption, from “socialism” to “free-market capitalism,” even “consumerism” where everyone is safe in a bubble of materialism. Kabbalists teach there is a more spiritual path. One can do “good.” This not only changes the individual who performs it, but affects people nearby, eventually creating a redemptive flow that extends to the divine above and to all humanity.

Kabbalah and New Life Wisdom

…Now He appeared to him because He wished to reveal the crown of holiness [circumcision], and the Holy One wanted to produce holy seed [Isaac] from him. Although holiness does not dwell upon a person while he is uncircumcised, now that he was ninety-nine years old, and would soon produce holy offspring, G‑d wanted Abram himself to be holy, prior to producing holy offspring. (Zohar I, 95a)

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