Besiyata diShemaya - with the help of Heaven

The House on the Mountain

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where will my help come? My help is from HaVaYaH, Maker of Heaven and Earth" (Psalms 121:1-2).


The Mountain



The Mountain / Sunrise, Morning / Life, Youth, Regeneration / Element: Water / Color: White, Silver / Mother Letter: Mem / Divine Name: EL / Attributes: The Right Column -- Wisdom (Chochmah), Kindness and Charity (Gedulah, Chessed) Victory (Netzach) / Prayer / The Priest (Cohen) / Prayer of the Day: Morning (Shacharit) / Festival: Passover (Pesach), Redemption, Freedom, overcoming the desire for wealth

Abraham was totally unique. He was a revolutionary, a rebel against a world that had fallen into worship of the planets and stars as the ultimate powers in the universe.

Abraham -- himself a master astrologer -- saw that worship of the stars was none other than a guise for man's worship of his own selfish lusts. Abraham smashed the idols -- the man-made images with which people blind themselves to the truth about this world. Rejecting the sophisticated city-culture of his time, Abraham set off on a life-long quest for the Land -- a country whose inhabitants would live a life of perfect harmony with God, among themselves and with nature.

Abraham grasped that the entire universe is a single holistic system. His life-mission was to teach all humanity this truth and explain its practical implications for our lives. Yet at the outset of his journey, Abraham was alone. He had no-one to teach or guide him since everyone else in the world was swept up by the prevailing orthodoxies. For Abraham, the only option was to do your own thing.

When a person is willing to let go of conceit and self-centeredness and observe and think about nature without any ideological or other preconceived notions, nature itself becomes man's greatest teacher about his true place in the universe.

Through observation of the external universe combined with profound introspection and contemplation, Abraham laid the foundations for the view of the world that he expressed in his Sefer Yetzira (the "Book of Creation"). This is the underlying worldview of later talmudic, midrashic, kabbalistic and other Judaic writings.

Abraham realized that man, as the recipient of God's never-ending generosity, is under an obligation to give something in return. Perceiving that the underlying principle of the entire universe is love and kindness, Abraham therefore cultivated these qualities to perfection. Not only did he emphasize the importance of showing practical kindness and charity to all (essential foundation for any truly civilized society). Abraham also taught that man's highest "kindness" is when he uses his unique human faculty of speech to thank God and pray for the welfare of the world. This in itself draws blessing into the world.

The climax of Abraham's spiritual quest was when God told him to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac on "the mountain that I will show you"-- Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount (Genesis 22, 1-19). Abraham showed himself ready and willing to sacrifice his all for God. This in itself was enough, and a heavenly voice told him not to go through with the sacrifice.

Abraham is the supreme exemplar of the willingness to sacrifice ego and self-interest for the greater good. This is the precondition for peace among men, between man and the natural environment and between man and God. The mountain symbolizes God's daunting challenge to man to climb to the greatest heights of spiritual perfection.

Mountains and other natural surroundings were and are the preferred environment in which many spiritual seekers in the Jewish tradition have sought to pursue this goal.

Links to individual segments of Part I