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Chapter Twenty-two


DEVOTEE: When I see the solemn Rabbis davening, it is hard to imagine that they are searching for the same ecstasy from love of God that a Hindu is trying to achieve during a bhajan or kértana.

RABBI: Our natural love for God (EL KNA) must be revived. Therefore, it is written, "And ye who ceave to the Lord your God, ye are alive today"[] R. Simeon further said: "In all things there is "drawing near" for him who understands how to accomplish the union and to worship the Lord, for when the sacrifice is offered in the manner due, all grades are brought near as one unity, and the light of Countenance is present in the world, in the Sanctuary, and the "other side is the subdued..."[Zohar]

"When the dawn brightens and he recites his prayers, and unifies the Holy Name in the manner due, he is encircled with a thread of grace; he looks into the firmament, and a light of holy knowledge rests upon him. As the man is thus adorned and shrouded with light all things tremble before him, for he is called the son of the Holy One...the Lord is nigh to all who call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth." [Zohar 57a] [Ps.CXLV, 18]

Therefore, it has been taught that a priest who knows not how to unify thus the Holy Name can not perform proper service, for on the achievement of that unity hangs both celestial and terrestrial worship. The priest must, therefore, strive to concentrate heart and mind on the attainment of this unification, so that those above and those below may be blessed. [Zohar III 57a] [2 Sam. VIII, 23]

DEVOTEE: Certainly, the Vedas also highly recommend the regular praising of the Lord's holy names. In fact, in this present age, called Kali-yuga, the chanting of God's names is the method recommended by Lord Caitanya Mahäprabhu for people in general to realize God. It is said, "harer näma harer näma harer nämaiva kevalam kalau nästy eva nästy eva nästy eva gatir anyathä "In the age of Kali, the present age of materialism and quarrel, there is no alternative, there is no alternative, there is no alternative for making positive spiritual advancement but the chanting of the holy name, the holy name, the holy name of the Lord." [Båhad Näradéya Puraëa]

While anyone can chant the holy names of the Lord, in order to receive the full benefit of the chanting, pure love for God, one must chant without offense. When we are chanting the holy names, we are praying to the Lord to be engaged in His service. Offenseless chanting therefore means that our heart is so pure that we have no other motivation for chanting the holy names than to serve the Lord. We must unify our desire with the desire of the Lord. The chanting of the Lord's holy names is both the means and the end of the process, which is to revive our dormant love for God.

RABBI: It is amazing how similar the Jewish teachings are to the Vedic version. Although Jews may not chant Krsna, the principle is the same, to perfect our lives by prayer.

DEVOTEE: Rabbi, the Vedas explain that one may experience great ecstasy by properly chanting the Lord's holy names. In the Jewish religion, does perfect chanting of the holy names (prayer) also allow one to experience spiritual ecstasy and if so, what are the symptoms of one who is experiencing such joyful ecstasy?

RABBI: People who have dedicated their lives to the service of God may at times feel unlimited joy or ecstasy while engaged in prayer. It is said, "Permute the letters back and forth, and in this manner, you will reach the first level. As a result of the activity and your concentration on the letters, your mind will become bound to them. The hairs on your head will stand on end and tremble. Your lifeblood is in your heart, and regarding this it is written, "the blood is the soul" [Deuteronomy 12:23]. It is likewise written, "The blood in the soul will atone" [Leviticus 17:11]. This blood within you will begin to vibrate because of the permutations that loosen it. Your entire body will then begin to tremble, and all your limbs will be seized with shuddering. You will experience the terror of God and will be enveloped with fear of Him. You will then feel as if an additional spirit is within you, arousing you and strengthening you, passing through your entire body and giving you leisure. It will seem as you have been anointed with perfumed oil, from head to foot. You will rejoice and have great pleasure. You will experience ecstasy and trembling--ecstasy for the soul, and trembling for the body. [Meditation and Kabbalah, Treasury of the Hidden Eden p85-86]

DEVOTEE: The stage of bhava, love of God, is manifested by eight transcendental symptoms, namely inertness, perspiration, standing of hairs on end, failing in the voice, trembling, paleness of the body, tears in the eyes, and finally trance. Sometimes, materialist devotees of the Lord imitate these symptoms. But it is easy to understand that they are pretenders because it will be found that they are still addicted to all kinds of forbidden activities like smoking, drinking, or illegitimate sex with women. [Bhag. 2:3:24 Purport]

Chapter Twenty-three


DEVOTEE: Rabbi, in the Vedas, Krsna is one name of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. In the Jewish tradition, is there a similar name?

RABBI: Yes. The name of God, which is most similar to Krsna, is El KNA. In Judaism, an example would be the name of Rabbi Nehuniah ben HaKana. The name HaKana is one of the combinations of the forty-two names of God. Its formation is almost identical with the name YHVA (Jehovah). YHVA is made up of four Hebrew letters- Yod He VA He. Yod and Va are considered to be names of God. The He represents the primal female principle who is referred to as the Shekinah, My beloved. Kana is the male principle and its root is in the name of God EL KANA.

DEVOTEE: In the Hare Krsna mantra, Hare is the vocative form of the word Hara that represents the energy of God, which is feminine. So it seems very significant that in both the Jewish and the Vedic traditions, God is not alone but is always with His female pleasure energy. The word Harä is a form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Krsna and Rama are personal forms of addressing God Himself. In this connection, Rama can refer to either Lord Balaräma or to Lord Rämacandra. The incarnation of God, Väsudeva expands from Lord Balaräma and Lord Rämacandra is an incarnation of Väsudeva.

In a conversation with a Benedictine monk in Germany in 1974, our spiritual master, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, discussed the similarity between the names Krsna and Christ. He pointed out that the Greek word Kristos means Christ or "the anointed one".

RABBI: Kana (KNA) is also the name one should meditate on during morning meditation, Mondays. The significance being that on Monday, the heavens and Earth were created. God as the Supreme Creator is the King of His creation and the name KNA refers to the Supreme King, God.

DEVOTEE: This is very interesting, because the name Kana is an intimate name for Lord Krishna in the Vedic literature.

RABBI: This is considered to be the most intimate name for God in the Old Testament. Where it is translated, "I am a jealous God, have no other gods before you", the literal Hebrew translation is, "My name is EL KNA, have no other gods before you."

The Greek word Krista is a derivation of KNA, and in English the word Christ, is the best-known example of the inner meanings of the name. The Son of God, taking His Father's name, as His last name.

On Monday, you must intertwine the associated name "KRE ShTN" as explained by Rabbi Aryeh Kapln, in Meditation and the Kabbalah.

DEVOTEE: Jesus said to glorify the holy name of God and that name is Christ or, by a different pronunciation, Krsna. The essential principle is to glorify and chant the holy names of God.

Chapter Twenty-four


DEVOTEE: Rabbi, in the Vedas, Lord Balaräma is known as the first expansion of God. In the Jewish teachings do you know of any names corresponding to this?

RABBI: This name can be found in the name of the founder of the Kabbalist movement, the Rabbi Balsham Tov. Balsham means the "master of the Holy Name." On examination of Balsham, we find the name Bal that is a shortened form of Balam, the second expansion of God's personal energy. and Sham, which means all of God's Names are one. The personality or aspect of God represented by the name Va (in YHVH) is the same as God's second expansion, Balam. Balam is also the source of binah or understanding that knowledge by which God reveals Himself and His spiritual creation.

DEVOTEE: Rabbi, can you further explain the Jewish meaning of Balam?

RABBI: This word occurs only once in scripture in the verse, "He stretches the north on Chaos, He hangs the Earth on Nothingness." [Job 26:7] According to many commentaries, the word Beli, meaning without, and mah, meaning what or anything. The word Beli-mah would then mean without anything, or nothingness. Other sources state that Belimah comes from the root Balam, meaning to bridle. Similarly, the Biblical verse, "He hangs the earth on the ineffable", would mean that the forces that uphold creation cannot be described. A leading Kabbalist, Rabbi Issac of Acco (1250-1340) points out that belimah has a numerical value of 87 whereas God's name Elohim has a value of 86. Belimah therefore represents the stage immediately following the pure essence of the Divine. [Sefer Yetzirah 1:2]

DEVOTEE: According to the Vedas, Lord Balaräma, in His expansion of Ananta Çeña, holds up all of the planets of the universe. Generally planetary positions are attributed to the laws of gravity. But it is actually all made possible by an expansion of Lord Balaräma's energy. Additionally, Lord Balaräma is known as the original guru or giver of knowledge, and Lord Brahmä (the first created person in the universe) is the original recipient of knowledge from God in the material world. Is there a similar first person in Jewish history?

RABBI: As I understand, Brahmä is said to have four heads. There is an obscure reference to a four-headed angel in the Talmud. It is said, "Angels are supposed to have no back and four faces, so always to be able to behold God."[Talmud, cf. Ezek i. 6] Also, many rabbis say that an ancient Abraham, with secondary creative power like Brahmä is being referred to when speaking of Brahmä. * Ref. Verse Abraham from Zohar

DEVOTEE: In the Bhagavad-géta, Lord Krsna states, "Of letters I am the letter A, and among compound words I am the dual compound. I am also inexhaustible time, and of creators I am Brahma."[Bg. 10.33] In the Jewish teachings, is there anywhere that God is represented by the letter A?

RABBI: According to the Kabbalist, the letter Aleph denotes Keter (crown), the highest of the Sefirot. The Kabbalists call Keter the level of Nothingness (Ayin-). It is on this level that the laws of nature cease to exist, and can therefore be altered. [Sefer Yetzirah 1.1]

DEVOTEE: Rabbi, in the First Canto of the Srimad-Bhagavatam, there is a long description of how Lord Brahmä created the planets, stars, and bodies of all living entities within this universe. Until he executed the creative process, there was no order, only chaos.

The material energy existed but was unmanifest. Can you tell me more about the original Abraham and how he may be connected with the creation?

RABBI: Yes. The original Abraham has practically the same function and the same name as Lord Brahmä. For example, in Hebrew, Abraham is pronounced A-brahma-m. Furthermore, there is a description of how the universe was in chaos until Abraham appeared. It is said, "Over the whole, there hovered Tohu (chaos) and as long as Tohu dominated, the whole world was not in being or existence. When did that key open the gates and make the world fruitful? It was when Abraham appeared." [Genesis II 4]

Chapters 19 to 21 Chapters 25 to 27