Saturday, November 11, 2006

Language And Revelation

The following paragraph is from Dr. Asher Eder’s book The Star of David, which was published in 1987 in English in Jerusalem by Rubin Mass Ltd. The publication here is courtesy of Oren Mass.This version includes corrections and new materials that do not appear on the printed version.

The phenomenon of language is perhaps the most outstanding characteristic of human existence. To be sure, communication exists in the whole universe, on both the organic and inorganic level. Atoms, and even sub-atomic particles, "communicate", as do animals. Our communication systems - radio, television, Internet, etc. - offer technical methods of transmitting messages, music or news. These communications could be demonstrated by a line connecting point A (the sender) with point B (the receiver). While point A and Point B have to be energy fields in order to act as they do, the communication itself is not an energy field, but a simple beam, notwithstanding its intensity.
In contrast to mere communication, language represents an energy field in itself, apart from that of the two or more people who may be conversing. In fact, it is one of the most powerful fields we can create. The wise King Solomon observed: "Death and life are in the power of the tongue."(Prov.18:21; and others).
Like any other energy field, we can depict the energy field of human speech by a triangle
In a dialogue, each partner would have to be depicted by a triangle. The degree to which they find "a common language" would determine the relative positions of the triangles.
Should one partner not succeed in formulating his thoughts (or feelings) clearly, and perhaps even utter an inappropriate word, his triangle could not be drawn equilaterally, and his message would not be received as he intended it to be. Perhaps the other partner, by "screening out" the garbled sections, could "feel out" the message, but he could not be sure he was understanding it properly.
The Buddha, aware of such difficulties, refused to talk about God. He explained that as a limited human being he might not fully comprehend the unlimited Godhood, and that due to the limitations of human speech, he might not even be able to properly express what he thinks he understands, and that his listener, due to his limitations, may not even comprehend the limited message the way he, the Buddha, intended to convey it. Therefore, instead of talking about God, he concentrated on teaching the way, i.e. his Eightfold Path of virtue which, if followed, would lead to (God)-awareness and enlightenment.
This attitude of the Buddha explains on the one hand the necessity of clear thought and clear language, not only in sacred matters but even in mundane affairs; and it highlights the importance of openness and receptivity in order to receive a message well - or, to say it in the "language" of our symbol, to get the two equilateral triangles joining harmoniously to form the star.
God does not communicate with us only through His material Creation, but much more so in revelations, of which those received by Moses on Mount Sinai, and by David [as expressed in the Psalms] are among the most remarkable examples. In our prayers of thanks, adorations, supplications, etc, we approach God and enter the cycle of communication. We answer his call - the eternal question: "Man where are you?"; and the eternal Mathan Torah, the Giving of the Torah - and hope to receive personal instructions and guidance so that we can truly answer: הנני , Yes, here I am (ready to do Thy Will).
The Tanakh, besides relating Divine instructions and laws, shows us in numerous examples the blessings resulting from such intimate connections to the Lord God our Creator – e.g. of Moses; Joshua; Kings David, Joshia, Hezekiah; or on the other hand of the setbacks in cases this connection was broken – the episodes of the people’s exceeding lust for flesh (Numb. 11:32-34); of the ten despaired scouts who perturbed the spirit (Numb. 13:28 through 14:4,41-43); of King Saul who forfeited the spirit after he got anointed.
While dreams, visions, and the voice of conscience are usually felt in our hearts, Divine revelation comes from above, or from the right side above.
For that reason, Hebrew as the language of revelation is written from right to left.
Even the first character of the Hebrew Aleph-Beth, א, aleph, which symbolizes the creative power before its manifestation and which consequently has no articulate sound of its own, begins from the right side above, both in written and printed form:
א א
Influenced by the Semitic way of writing, Greek was once also written from right to left. The Greeks later started writing "as the ox ploughs": the first line from right to left, the second from left to right, the third again from right to left, and so on. From about the Fifth Century B.C.E., writing from left to right was generally accepted by all the Japhetite languages. This mode of writing was not merely due to simplification of writing techniques, as some historians suggest, but was an expression of a spiritual situation. The Semites, to whom revelation had been entrusted, wrote from right to left, while the Japhetites received revelation from the Semites, and so "went towards them" from left to right.
The Arab style of writing expresses a similar rationale. Arabic, although written from right to left like Hebrew, gives the impression of aspiring from the bottom upward, while the printed signs of Hebrew (such as the Assyrian letter types of the Tanakh) seem to come down from above:
לקח טוב נתתי לכם
Arabic is the language of Islam, which in turn became the religion foremost of the Hamite peoples. Its style of writing could indicate that in their "going upwards" they would meet the Hebrews and receive the revelation entrusted to the "People of the Book". (This idea will be dealt with in a following chapter.)
All this is indeed in perfect accord with a kind of Magna Charta laid down by Noah, which he formulated as follows:

"Blessed be the Lord God of Shem,
and Canaan shall be his servant;
God shall enlarge Japheth,
and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem..."
This going of one towards the other, from "right to left" and from "left to right" can lead to controversy and animosity if Japhet, instead of being willing to dwell in the tents of Shem and join in the service of the God of Shem, wants to have his own way, or follows the call of Nimrod, a nephew of Canaan.
Nimrod, the founder of Babel, whose name literally means "let us revolt", proclaims: "Let us build us a city and a tower whose top (lit. head) will be in heaven; and let us make ourselves a name (shem)...", i.e. without, or against Shem.
Similar, the ruling wing of Islam sees its version thereof as the only true and valid religion, and wants to do away with the “people of the Name”, Israel, and its specific call.
Indeed, this age-old ambition to "make a name" unto one's self instead of giving honor to the Name of Names is the sole cause for today's continuing "Babylonian confusion" with its inherent anti-Semitism and sequacious hostilities.
Yet, the goal of Creation is not controversy or animosity, but harmony and peace: These, however do not depend on devising clever political schemes; they rather are outcomes of untainted communications based upon the Divine Truth as outlined above, and as summed up by the Prophets. "For then will I turn to the peoples a pure [literally: purified] language that they may call upon the name of the Lord, to serve him with one consent." "And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; on that day there shall be one Lord, and his name (shem) shall be one."
Apparently, the Apostle Paul, a disciple of Rabban Gamaliel, had this vision in mind when he stressed the togetherness of the peoples with the people of Israel. The Christianized nations express this thought (though unconsciously) when they say in the Lord's prayer adopted by them: "Hallowed by thy name (shem)", thy Kingdom come…”.
Likewise, Muslims begin almost every Sura of the Koran, and every prayer, with the words: "In the name (shem) of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate." We can portray the animosities and controversies by opposing triangles, and the coming together by the interwoven triangles of our six-pointed star.

No comments: