What exactly is a “spiritual text” ?

To mystical imagination, the Word of God not only creates the world we experience, but more importantly, it also mediates God’s Presence through the Torah—the cosmic blueprint of Creation. As a cosmic text, the ancients never perceived God’s Word as something static or monolithic, but rather dynamic, pulsating, communicative and transforming.

However, for a modern era such as ours, the Word has become diminished; the “word” has become one of many words, in an ocean of sound largely because of the impact that the printed and electronic world has had in our lives.  As the Zohar mentioned above says, “Woe to person who says that Torah presents mere stories and ordinary words!  . . . . Ah, but all the words of Torah are sublime words, sublime secrets! So this story of Torah is the garment of Torah. Whosoever thinks that the garment is the real Torah and not something else—may his spirit deflate! . . .”

In Late Antiquity, Philo of Alexandria and the Origen (a notable 2nd century Christian scholar)  often interpreted the stories of the Bible as allegories of the soul. Since Talmudic times and before, the ancient rabbis reflected upon the words of Scriptures and experienced them as a living reality that could shed light and insight upon any immediate problem requiring a momentous decision. Every life experience and situation found expression in the words of Scripture. Ben Bag-Bag described the Torah as a spiritual looking-glass: “Turn it over and over because everything is in it, and all of you is in it and reflect upon it and grow old and worn in it and do not leave it, for you have no better lot than that” (Avot 5:19).

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