The Jewish Rabbi and scholar, Abraham Joshua Heschel crossed the threshold of the refiner’s fire to march in solidarity with Dr. King in Selma Alabama. I, like many others, view this courageous act as perhaps one of the most salient demonstrations of universal brotherhood in the 20th century.
In the United States, there is an inexorable relationship between African Americans and the descendants of Eastern European Jewish communities. Perhaps it is due to a shared sensitivity to the other’s vulnerability to an irrational onslaught of racial hatred. Judaism is the foundation upon which both Christianity and Islam are created.
For the past fifty years within the African American communities there has been a spiritual inpouring of God-consciousness, interest in monotheism, and the spiritual awakening; a phenomenon analogous to a rapture! The Idea that some Blacks consider themselves the descendants of children of Israel once hidden, is now bursting forth with invincible vigor. Within the homogeneous Black populace, a percentage has been singularly awakened by Ha Shem. I too am the recipient of this phenomenon. I was awakened in 1980 to the truth of monotheism, Torah as the transcendent Immortal One, and the Hebrew letters as the spiritual technology of Redemption. The gift of Hebrew literacy, in my view, is the salient indicator of a soul ancient Israelite identity. Why because Zephaniah 3:9 is one of the unfulfilled messianic prophecies. The tenor of the times is tumultuous, fraught with episodes of unpredictable violence. Such times necessitate a display of Ha Shem’s light and intervention. Ha Shem is always present to balance the vitriolic discourse and pessimism advanced by darkness to exacerbate disunity. This article balances the darkness by raising the visibility of light and goodness. Amidst the darkness and contemporary tensions, the evolutionary intelligence of Ha Shem is quietly administering the gathering of souls dispersed into the galut (exile). At this critical juncture in history, a unifying, dialogical interaction is transpiring; this article highlights healing, reconciliation, and spiritual growth fostered by the ongoing, broad-based dialogue with Rabbi Abraham Shimon Weingot affectionately called, Rabbi “Avshi”. Although he admits to knowing nothing of what it means to be a Black man in America, Ha Shem nevertheless orchestrated our relationship to push back the frontier of ignorance regarding the unity of diversity. The Rabbi discourses have included the following teaching: (1). PARDES -The four levels of Torah; plain, Hint, analogy, and secret. (2) Gilgul, or Reincarnation. (3) Am Yisrael (Who is a Jew). Accordingly, Israel is not merely a physical nation, rather Am Yisrael is a single metaphysical soul. The word “ישראל” (Yisrael) is in fact an acronym for the number 600,000; the number Yehudi of souls at Mount Sinai. Am Yisrael is One- team with a mission to Tikkun Olam fix or repair the world. (4) The concept ערבות (Arvut) pertains to prayer life explained as a “co-signer”. Prayer is the spiritual dynamics of action + intention + interconnection as a bottom to top pursuit among Am Yisrael ensuring that prayers are answered. Owing to action, intention, and interconnections among the people of Israel nothing is ever lost. (5) Every Hebrew letter is every power! What does it mean? Every Hebrew single letter when combined with other letterforms a new word with a new context, meaning, and numerical equivalent. (6) Why racism, and a plethora of Black men killings in America, and specifically George Floyd’s murder. Rabbi AVSHI said that the answer is found in Rabbi Nachman’s Likutey Moharan; “everything is Ha Shem”. The finite human mind cannot grasp the infinite mind of God. Hence, humans react subjectively according to the limited perceptions of good or evil. However, Jewish mysticism Kabbalah and Tanya teach that God is One and that God is all. Emuna (faith) in divine providence is the quintessential answer to every question; nothing occurs without the will of Ha Shem.
Finally, according to tradition, the ten dispersed tribes will one day be rejoined to Am Yisrael: (1) What measures if any, should the Jewish Rabbinic hegemony implement to identify Jewish souls that incarnated in the galut (exile) as Black Americans? (2) How can a Yehudi soul be identified? (3) Is the redemption biblical mythology? Avshi answered the questions in reverse order by saying yes, redemption is real and not merely a biblical myth. However, the prophecies in Tanach when considered in light of a Kabbalah concept called PARDES, i.e., four levels of interpretation, it’s difficult to ascribe a simple answer. In response to questions #2 and #1. Avshi indicated that he had no idea. Finally, I would like to share the Rabbi’s concept of “Macomb or Place” because of its significance and pertinence to my quest. The Hebrew word Macomb was introduced by Rabbi Avshi at the outset of our dialogue as he initially defined the word, Macomb, to mean, “place”. However, throughout the course of our discourse of the years, the meaning or definition increasingly refined until it evolved away from my subjective desire for a place to an objective or spiritual place that is beneficial to the entire humanity. Ha, Shem orchestrated my friendship to delineate the specific path of my ascension. Rabbi Abraham Shimon has escorted me to the threshold of my Macomb; our dialogical interactions afforded fresh insights into the different chambers of knowledge in the house of wisdom.
In closing I will quote the words of the Poet Emily Dickinson; “The soul selects its own society and then closes the door, to her divine majority obtrude no more”.