Parshat Toldot: Unifying Consciousness

Consciousness involves different aspects, levels and dimensions that, if we are no able to integrate as a harmonized and functioning unity, we may have difficulties to face the material world. Most people can’t achieve such harmonized unity because it is not easy to conciliate mind with emotions, discernment with passion, or feelings with instincts. It becomes even more difficult when ego’s desires and illusions occupy most aspects of consciousness. Sometimes life is reduced to a field of an endless battle among the elements that comprise human consciousness.

“And the children struggled within her” (Genesis 25:22) Rashi comments on this verse saying that they were fighting over the inheritance of both Heaven and Earth. We understand this in the context of their adult life when ultimately Jacob wins the blessings that make him the inheritor of both. It seems that the fight with his brother is for all or nothing, as indeed was. The struggle of Esau and Jacob begins even before they were born, which makes us reflect on the deeper meanings the twin brothers encompass. It is evident that they oppose each other because they have different views about the material world (Earth) and the World to Come (Heaven).

We can infer from this fight about “all or nothing” that “all” implies a unity, something in its totality. Hence, Heaven and Earth are the two parts of the wholeness that the brothers were fighting for. This is an essential premise to assimilate that there is no separation in God’s Creation or in our consciousness; even if we know that different aspects, levels and dimensions are part of them. This helps us understand why, without a developed consciousness, the twins were struggling in their mother’s womb for inheriting the blessings of the entire Creation. Our awareness of unity is easier to grasp from a spiritual awareness than from a material perspective.

“And the Lord said to her, ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your innards, and one kingdom will become mightier than the other kingdom, and the elder will serve the younger’.” (25:23) Separation and opposition set the tone for two different conceptions and approaches to God’s Creation. They are not meant to compromise with each other, except for the Divine decree that one has to serve the other.

Here is the key that makes us assimilate what we indicated before. In order for one to inherit both worlds, the other consequently must serve him. In other words, we prevail in a conflict if the opposite part agrees to our views and cooperate with us. We achieve a functioning, harmonizing unity when all the parts involved are integrated in a common cause, in which all win and there are no losers.

This means that if we face a situation that is either “black” or “white”, we don’t look for the “gray” to reconcile the opposites but we engage in a discerning process to bring the goodness of “positive” into the badness of “negative”. Once we all experience “positive”, we all abandon “negative” by our individual and collective experience of what is right and wrong, true and false, etc. We have said that good and evil are references to exercise our free will, and by our experience of both we make our choices.

In this sense we discern what we call a functioning, working, harmonizing unity when we deal with the wholeness of our consciousness. We realize that every aspect of it must work in a common direction in order to experience life in the material world as a reflection of life in the World to Come. This is how we win in our struggle to inherit the blessings of both worlds.

It is indeed a struggle, a moment to moment endeavor to make prevail the positive over the negative, good over evil, useful over useless. This is the legacy Jacob embraced even before he was born, fighting all his life to make Truth prevail, and it is also the legacy for his descendants called by his prevailing name, Israel.

We have to rectify our divided awareness of the material world by unifying our divided consciousness, and this task may take many lifetimes. We are aware of this when we review our Jewish history since Abraham and Sara. So many falls in our endeavors during slavery, long exiles, endless persecutions, and tireless struggles. Jacob as Israel is destined to fulfill the Creator’s Will to make the material world a dwelling place for Him, so that He may live among (in) us. Thus we unite this world and the World to Come as the indivisible Oneness of His Creation.

In this process we must know who Esau is and who Jacob is. The Torah defines for us who is who, and the bearer of God’s blessings. Love and goodness win the struggle because hatred and evil are destined to surrender to Love and goodness, as the prevailing qualities that unify Heavens and Earth, as parts of the Creation emanated from God’s Love.

About the Author
Ariel Ben Avraham was born in Colombia (1958) from a family with Sephardic ancestry. He studied Cultural Anthropology in Bogota, and lived twenty years in Chicago working as a radio and television producer and writer. He emigrated to Israel in 2004, and for the last fourteen years has been studying the Chassidic mystic tradition, about which he writes and teaches. Based on his studies, he wrote his first book "God's Love" in 2009. He currently lives in Kochav Yaakov.
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