This year’s James Cameron movie, Avatar, introduced many to the wonders of 3-D, a technology providing the illusion of depth in an image. I don’t know if the current excitement about 3-D is a passing fad or whether all movies will soon be in 3-D and all computer screens will soon show 3-D images.
What I do know, however, is that three dimensional technology depends upon a remarkable neuro-optical feature God built into us. Our eyes see two different images, and yet our brains convert these two separate pictures into one. A new, more accurate and exciting picture that more closely resembles reality.
In the same way, we can merge the two separate parts of our beings, our souls and our bodies into one unified, more accurate understanding of who we really are. But many of us fail to do so. We mistakenly keep our spiritual lives and our physical lives separate. We fall into the trap of seeing heaven and earth as isolated entities.
This has consequences. Many couples assume that God is everywhere except in their bedrooms. This leads to a less than satisfying marriage. Failing to integrate spiritual and physical into a unified reality often leads to not reaching our full financial potential. We nurture a deep suspicion that time spent earning money diminishes our relationship with God. Similarly, some believe that time spent keeping their bodies healthy has nothing to do with time they spend in worship.
Ancient Jewish wisdom emphasizes that every aspect of marriage that brings joy to man and wife makes God smile. God also smiles when we serve our fellow humans in ways that bring us wealth, just as He does when we take good care of the bodies that He lends us to house our souls during our earthly journey.
Scripture’s first verse tells us that in the beginning God created heaven and earth. Both heaven and earth are unified in that single first verse because that is how the world really works.
A picture often found in illustrated Passover books and elsewhere, shows the Jewish Torah scholar as an emaciated, hollow-chested, stooped and short-sighted fellow. This is a tragic distortion. It certainly bears no resemblance to the examples set by our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and especially Jacob who were powerful, wealthy, passionate, and prayerful.
One of Jacob’s sons, Issachar, is designated as the wise Torah scholar for all time.
And of the sons of Issachar, knowers of wisdom for all time,
who would know what Israel should do…
(1 Chronicles 12:32)
Yet when Jacob blesses his twelve sons, he describes Issachar as a donkey:
Issachar is a powerful donkey
What possible connection can there be between possessing deep Torah wisdom and being a donkey?
The Hebrew word for donkey, CHaMoR, looks the same as the word, CHoMeR. CHoMeR usually refers to raw physical material for construction purposes, often translated as mortar.
When discussing the building projects of the Israelite slaves in Egypt the verse tells us:
And they embittered their lives with hard work,
with CHoMeR and with bricks
By using the same root for both words, Torah nomenclature tells us that when we see the word donkey, we are always being told of materialistic physicality.
Through Issachar we are being taught a vital lesson. He was able to achieve greater heavenly heights and earthly powers by integrating the material and physical strength of CHaMoR with spiritual insight and power– “knowing wisdom for all time.” One enhanced rather than diminished the other.
By tying every aspect of our lives simultaneously both to God and to the physical reality into which He placed us, we too can achieve the exuberance and success of a full three dimensional life. In many ways this sums up my life mission—helping people live more prosperous and fulfilling lives by applying Divine spiritual wisdom to everyday activities.