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Chapter Nineteen


DEVOTEE: Lord Krsna is always described as being eternally youthful, with beautiful wavy black hair. Is there a similar description of God in the Jewish scriptures?

RABBI: The Jewish scriptures describe a similar vision of God. "His head is a treasure of fine gold. His locks are hanging, black like the raven." In both Talmudic and Kabbalistic traditions, one of the interpretations is that it relates to a vision of God; "when He is visualized in battle, He is seen as a young man with black hair." [Sefer Yetzirah Ch 6.1]

DEVOTEE: The Vedas also refer to the form of the Lord. In the Srimad-Bhagavatam it is stated, "the Lord is super excellently beautiful on account of His open and merciful smile and His sidelong glance upon His devotees. His black hair is curly, and His garments, waving in the wind, appear like flying saffron pollen from lotus flowers. His glittering earrings, shining helmet, bangles, garland, ankle bells, waist belt and various other bodily ornaments combine with the conch shell, disc, club, and lotus flower to increase the natural beauty of the Kaustubha pearl on His chest." [Bhag. 2.24.47-48] Do the Jewish scriptures make any more references to the form or appearance of God?

RABBI: In the Torah, it is described that when Moses submitted his pleas to God, "Please let me have a vision of Your Glory". God replied, "I will make all My good pass before you, and reveal the Divine Name in your presence. [But still,] I will have mercy and kindness to whomever I desire. You cannot have a vision of My Presence. A man cannot have a vision of Me and still exist." [Torah, Exodus, Ki Thisa 33:18-20] In other words, God is saying that no living creature can see Him. [Torah, Note: 33:20]

DEVOTEE: Similarly, in the Vedas, the form of God is clearly described, but it is also stated that unless God reveals Himself to someone, they cannot see Him. The Brahma-samhita states that without ones eyes being anointed with pure love of God, he cannot see Lord Krsna everywhere. No one can force the Lord to reveal Himself, but simply by loving the Lord, He will reveal Himself to us as He is. According to the Vedas, even within this life, we can see the Lord if we qualify ourselves by loving God. We must simply change our consciousness from material to spiritual.

Chapter Twenty


DEVOTEE: The Vedas describe one expansion, Durgä, who is the female personification of the material energy. She appears as the wife of Lord Shiva and performs her duties in cooperation with him. Do the Jewish scriptures describe any similar female expansions of God's energy?

RABBI: The most primary male female relationship, which is possible, is that which exists between the Creator and the creation. This is the cause and effect relationship. Cause is Keter, while effect is Malkhut. [Sefer Yetzirah, Ch. 1.13]

DEVOTEE: The Vedas describe that the Lord is the supreme male personality and the material energy (Durgä) is female. The Lord impregnates all of the living entities into the material nature, giving them suitable material bodies according to their previous activities. It is said, "The total material substance, called Brahman, is the source of birth, and it is that Brahman that I impregnate, making possible the births of all living beings, O son of Bharata." [Bg 14.3]

RABBI: "It is said that Malkhut-kingship, the bride (of God), is also seen as lying with her head to the East. Therefore her womb is to the West, and it is in this womb that all seed is "mixed together." Makhut-Kingship is therefore called Aravot, which has the double connotation of 'west' and 'mixture.' [Bahir, 2.56]

DEVOTEE: The Vedas greatly emphasize the importance of chanting the Holy

Names of the Lord, especially the Hare Krsna mantra: Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna, Hare HareHare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. In this prayer, the devotee is calling out to both the Supreme Lord Krsna and Lord Rama as well as to the Lord's female pleasure expansion known as Hare, or Radha. In the Jewish tradition, is there a similar holy name or prayer that represents both the male and female aspects of the Supreme?

RABBI: It is stated, "Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear unto my cry; keep not silence at my tears" (Ps.XXXIX, 13) "Why", he asked, "is the word for "hear" in this place written shim'ah instead of the usual sh'ma? The truth is that the form sh'ma is always addressed to the male aspect of the Deity, whereas the form shim'ah is addressed to the female aspect.

DEVOTEE: The Vedas describe the ghastly form of Goddess Kalé, another name for the Goddess Durgä. There is a reference of Goddess Kalé in the Srimad-Bhagavatam in the history of the Supreme Lord's devotee, Jada Bharata, when she manifested herself to protect him. It is stated, "Intolerant of the offenses committed, the infuriated goddess Kalé flashed her eyes and displayed her fierce, curved teeth. Her reddish eyes glowed, and she displayed her fearsome features. She assumed a frightening body, as if she were prepared to destroy the entire creation. Leaping violently from the altar, she immediately decapitated all the rogues and thieves with the very sword with which they had intended to kill Jada Bharata. She then began to drink the hot blood that flowed from the necks of the beheaded rogues and thieves, as if this blood were liquor. Indeed, she drank this intoxicant with her associates, who were witches and female demons. Becoming intoxicated with this blood, they all began to sing very loudly and dance as though prepared to annihilate the entire universe. At the same time, they began to play with the heads of the rogues and thieves, tossing them about as if they were balls." [Bhag. 5.9.18] Do the Jewish scriptures describe anything like this?

RABBI: There is a description that resembles this one. It is stated, "He summoned to issue from the side of Darkness a kind of female moon, which rules over the night, and is associated with Adonai, the Lord of all the earth. In his days, the moon was magnified and reached her fullness. A thousand mountains rose before her, and she blew them away with a puff. A thousand mighty rivers flowed before her, and she swallowed them at a draught. Her nails reached out in a thousand and seventy directions and her hands in twenty-four thousand, so that nothing could escape her. Thousands of bucklers clung to her hair. From between her feet went forth a youth who stretched from one end of the world to the other with sixty clubs of fire..." [Zohar]

Chapter Twenty-one


DEVOTEE: Rabbi, most religions understand "God" as the Supreme Almighty who is second to none. Yet, virtually every religious culture in the world knows of special beings beyond the earthly realm who have control over the planets, the rain, food production, etc., and from whom human beings seek benedictions or protection. In the Jewish teachings, are there such beings mentioned and what role do they play?

RABBI: In the Jewish teachings these personalities are known as angels and many of them have particular controlling functions over the world. The Midrash teaches, "There is no blade of grass that does not have a constellation (Mazal) over it, telling it to grow." [Sefer Yetzirah 4.6] "As commentaries explain, 'God's providence works through the angels, but the angels, in turn, work through the stars and planets. As some authorities put it, the angels are, in a sense, like souls to the stars. Thus, for example, some sources speak of the stars as having intelligence, but the commentaries note that this is actually speaking of the angels that are associated with them.'" [Sefer Yetrzirah 4.6]

DEVOTEE: I am very interested in this statement from the Midrash. In Vedic philosophy, we find practically the same explanation. As we generally say, not a blade of grass moves without the will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Thus everything is moving under His will: by His will everything is being created, everything is being maintained, and everything is being annihilated. Still He is aloof from everything, as the sky is always aloof from the activities of the wind.

In the Upaniñads, it is stated, "It is out of the fear of the Supreme Lord that the wind is blowing." [Taittiréya Upaniñad 2.8.1] It is also stated, "etasya vä akñarasya praçäsane gärgi sürya-candramasau vidhåtau tiñöhata etasya vä akñarasya praçäsane gärgi dyäv-äpåthivyau vidhåtau tiñöhataù. By the supreme order, under the superintendence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Moon, the Sun, and the other great planets are moving." [Båhad-äraëyaka Upaniñad 3.8.9]

RABBI: The Sefer Yetzirah refers to two kinds of angels: those who are permanent and those who are temporary. It is said that only the permanent ones, such as Gabriel and Michael, have names. The temporary ones do not. [Sefer Yetzirah, 4.6] Do the Vedic literatures describe different kinds of demigods?

DEVOTEE: Yes. In one sense, all of the inhabitants of the higher planets of the universe are called demigods in the same way that all men, women and children on earth are called human beings. Also, it is stated that there is life on all the planets in this universe, and that each heavenly planet is inhabited by different kinds of demigods. But also, there are many specially empowered demigods who are devotees of God and who the Lord has engaged in His service to help manage the affairs of the universe. Many of them are in charge of their own planets, including the planets of our solar system.

I do not know of a special class of demigods who are permanent or eternal, but the controlling demigods, although not eternal themselves, function within various posts that exist as long as the universe exists. For example, one of the principle demigods is Lord Indra. Indra is the name of the post, but the particular demigod who occupies that post during a given period has his own personal name. Just like President of the United States is a post, but there have been many presidents throughout American history.

Chapters 16 to 18 Chapters 22 to 24