Broken Wing
November 20, 2017

Based on Parashat Vayetze, Parashat Vayishlach, Midrash Bereshit Raba, Hekhakot and Merkavah mysticism, and biblical inter-textual creativity.  

By Rabbi Royi Shaffin

Sar-El and Satan had a great deal in common. Both were bona fide card-carrying members of the Divine Royal Court. Both were trouble makers. Both wanted humanity to fail, to let God down and played “Devil’s advocate” to prosecute humanity for any and all infractions that it may or may not be guilty of. Both were constant nay sayer. Satan had been given his role and his place. He was the tempter and the prosecuting attorney in the Divine court. 

Sar-El however was a young angel. God had other plans for him. God had determined that He had to take him out of Satan’s influence and make a different kind of angel out of him. God thought and thought of how to do this. Sar-El had chutzpah. That was for sure. He had led the angels in advising God against the creation of Adam and Eve, insisting that there was no way that humans would possibly choose their good inclination over their evil inclination. He had led the rejoicing and celebration of the angels when God saved Noah and then Lot. God was furious with this group of angels crying, “My creation is dying and you rejoice?!!!” Sar-El was hardened, without feeling, and without compassion. At one point God had considered making him the angel to harden Pharaoh’s heart.  
Then God changed his mind. There was something about this young angel, a light that shined from within him. God sent Sar-El to Jacob’s ladder. There he was climbing up a ladder that connected Heaven and Earth. As he was climbing higher and higher, flying and soaring through the sky, his pride and glory grew. Soon he said, “I am on top of the world. Mi chamoni…?Who can compare to me? God? Metatron? Gabriel?” He scoffed at the thought? As he was flying higher and higher, his wing got caught on one of the rungs of the ladder and broke. In pain, Sar-El fell from grace, from the Heavens, and from the ladder connecting Heaven and Earth. He fell and fell. He finally landed right beside Jacob, sleeping on the ground with his head upon a stone as a pillow. Sar-El knew that Jacob was a prophet, a father of God’s chosen people, but human nonetheless. Through Jacob’s dream state, Jacob could see the ladder and the angels right beside him. He could also see that one of the angels, Sar-El, had fallen and was lying on the ground beside him, clothed in a blanket of dirt.
Humiliated to be lying on the earth next a human (who, on top of everything, could actually see his disgrace) he tried to fly up, but his broken wing would not move. He cried out to God and God answered, “Do you think you are the only one who has fallen? Why do you think Jacob needs to see a ladder with angels going up and down? It represents the exiles and fallings of Israel as well as its elevations and its ultimate redemption. It also represents the empires that will dominate and subjugate my people and their ultimate downfall. Most important of all, it represents each and every human being who has ever fallen down and my commandment to that individual to get back up. Get up, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and start climbing up again.” Sar-El did as God commanded.  
He climbed with his legs, rung after rung after rung. His legs grew tired and he knew that he was climbing more slowly than any of the other angels but he kept climbing. Then he stepped and fell again. He had not noticed the broken rung on the ladder. He fell and fell only this time he was able to catch himself and grab another rung before reaching the ground. “How am I supposed to climb now?” Sar-El pleaded with God. “Help me, please.” God could sense Sar-El’s arrogance melting away. God answered, “When one path is blocked, find another. Go over it or above it or even under it. Have faith that I will be with you and you shall succeed.” Sar-El did as God instructed.  
He climbed higher and higher, his legs now fatigued and in pain, and when he reached the broken rung, he leaped up in the air, his wings flapping and even his broken wing moving a little bit. He swiftly flew over the broken rung and onto the next rung on the ladder. He climbed higher and higher until finally he reached home, the Celestial Palace. God was so happy to see him and so proud of him that he already had a new mission in mind for him. “Sar-El! Sar-El,” God called out. “Heneni (Here I am),” he said. “Lech lecha- Go for yourself to a land that I will show you near the River Yabok… and there you shall break Jacob.” “What?!!!” Sar-El could not believe what he had just heard. “Just as you felt the pain of a broken wing, so too shall you injure Jacob’s leg. Just as you felt the humiliation of a broken spirit, so too shall you bring down my arrogant prophet who tricked his brother out of the birthright and the blessing and then thought he could make his allegiance to me conditional – he thought he could bargain with me like over a game of lots. Then when he is at his knees, you shall raise him up again and you shall transform him in My Name. You shall give him a new name and he shall be a new person. His name shall no longer be Jacob, the one at the heel who undermines, but rather ISRAEL, the one intertwined with God – an emissary of God.” “Israel?” said Sar-El, “That is almost my name.” “Exactly,” God replied, “he will also be the prophet connected to Sar-El. You have been and will be his mirror image in the Heavens.” “I thought I was Esau’s angel,” argued Sar-El. “No longer. From now on your name as your destiny shall be Sar-El, the angel connected to Israel, for you have struggled and intertwined with challenges both with and without your wings and you have prevailed.”
For more from the Shepherd of Israel:

https://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Bible-Royi-Shaffin/dp/1935604139

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World War Z 
September 26, 2017

By Royi Israel Shaffin

Inspired by the films “Madagascar” and “World War Z”.  Originally published in “City Beat Magazine”.
I declare World War Z 

Z is not for zombie

It is for zebra
I declare World War Z

The war to make us realize 

that we are all zebras

To make us see our black stripes

And our white stripes

I declare World War Z

Go ahead and check your DNA

No one is just one thing

We are all zebras 

Black with white stripes

Or White with black stripes

I declare World War Z

When we shout against that person 

Who we think is so different 

Or inferior

Or an enemy

Just remember

We carry that person inside of us

That person is a stripe or two or three 

on that coat of many stripes 

that makes us who we are
I declare World War Z

A war of words

A war of ideas

A war of love vs hate

Compassion vs anger
I declare World War Z

We are all Black

We are all White

We are all Mediterranean 

We are all Iberian

We are all East Asian

We are all Jewish

We are all Arab

We are all Hispanic 

We are all Indian 

We are all Native American 

We are all Aboriginal Australian

We are all Inuit 

We are all humanity

We are more than 99% identical in every way

In the beginning God made 

one man and one woman 

So that no one could say

My ancestors were greater than yours
I declare Wold War Z

So go ahead and get that DNA test

Science doesn’t lie

And you will see

That you too are a zebra

And the next time you see

Someone who looks and acts

So different from you

You will remember that

That person is a part of you 

And you are a part of them 

Because we are all zebras

I declare World War Z

For more of Shepherd of Israel’s writings:

https://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Bible-Royi-Shaffin/dp/1935604139

Adam is Born
October 14, 2016

Rabbi Royi Shaffin

Shshshshsh

The breath flew into its nostrils and it became a living creature.

Hello?
What is this? What am I? Where am I? Hello? Is anyone there? My middle feels empty. How do I make this feeling go away? Hello? What are these green things growing out of the brown thing from which I just sprung?
Why can I see and then it gets dark and I can’t see. My body is shivering. Hello?  
And God brought animals to Adam to see what he would call them.
There are things moving around that look a little bit like me but when I speak to them, they do not respond. It is as if they do not understand anything that I am saying … Or thinking.
Maybe they have answers. Let me follow them. I’ll call this one dog, that one cow, that one lamb, that one fly, and that one snail.  
The cow is putting green things from the ground in its mouth. Maybe I should too. Ooo. That feels good. The emptiness in my middle is going away.  
That animal that I called dog. It is following me around. I’ll stop and see what happens.  
Wow. It is licking me. I feel a connection. It doesn’t talk but it is talking with its eyes and ears and tongue.
Am I the only one of my kind. Does no one understand my language, not even my new friend the dog. Am I to exist in loneliness? Hello? Who made me? Are you out there? Please answer me? Please answer me when I cry out to you. Hello….

For more of Shepherd of Israel’s writings:

https://www.amazon.com/Hollywood-Bible-Royi-Shaffin/dp/1935604139