In March,, of Kiryat Gat, Israel, gave a remarkable account of healing at the noon Wednesday testimony meeting in the Original Mother Church. In the weeks following, Rabbi Louis visited with a number of new friends at the Church and The Christian Science Publishing Society, including Clerk Nathan Talbot and Editor in Chief Mary Trammell. His spiritual journey illustrates both the universal healing embrace of Christian Science and the Church Mary Baker Eddy founded. Below are excerpts from 's interview with the Rabbi for Sentinel Radio.
Rabbi Louis, could you give us a little background on your spiritual path? What made you become a rabbi?
Well, I was born Jewish in Peoria, Illinois, and my parents gave me whatever Jewish education was available. During my college years was the time of the Vietnam War, and I was in a major university that was kind of the center of turbulence. There were great popular movements of students, of searching for the Eastern religions, and many people coming back to their own religious roots. I approached many of the different religions until I came to my own. I studied in the rabbinical seminary in New York, and then came to Israel, got married, and was ordained as a rabbi in the field of the Kabbalah Jewish metaphysics. In all the years since, I was occupied with teaching Kabbalah, and also was a professional musician.
Tell us about the Kabbalah.
The Kabbalah is a language for discussing spirituality. With music you have seven notes, and through the combination of those notes all the music is made. In discussing spiritual things, the Kabbalah provides a language. There are ten spheres. We can speak about complete materiality, partial materiality, partial spirituality, complete spirituality. In that sense the Kabbalah is perfectly attuned to divine Science, which goes to the complete spirituality in which matter is recognized as not existing.
How then did you encounter Christian Science?
Four years ago my elderly father was suffering from the final stages of terminal cancer, and I went to be with him.
He had moved to his home, he had 24-hour nursing, he was connected to tubes. I went outside to walk in the neighborhood. And there's a sign—Christian Science Reading Room. And the sign said the Reading Room was open two hours a day, and it happened that I was there at that time. I went in. I didn't know anything at the time about Christian Science as such. I did know of the existence of Christian Science from my student years. Every major airport had a Christian Science Reading Room, so I'd had an opportunity to look at the books. And I knew that there was such a thing as healing. Anyway, I sat with the lady in this Reading Room, and told her about my father. I don't remember the ideas that were expressed as such, but I went home immediately, and told my father, "You're going to recover completely."
When I visited the Reading Room, the people there, wonderful people, were not offering me any kind of intellectual ideas as such. It was the kindness, and the prayerfulness. It was the atmosphere, the gracefulness, the graciousness. Now in retrospect, it is clear to me that probably those Scientists were praying.
I love the way you put it—that you felt the atmosphere, the love, the healing, the prayer.
Every day I went back to the Reading Room, and when it was Sunday, I went to the service. On the third day, my father perked up and he wanted to eat. He hadn't eaten for three months. So we brought him yogurt and ice cream. On the fourth day he wanted to eat scrambled eggs and pancakes, and I started going back and forth to the supermarket.
By the fifth day he was getting up out of bed. He wanted to come to the kitchen to eat. With a walker and the nurse by him, he's eating in the kitchen. By the sixth day he was sitting in front of his television set in the living room. On the sixth day he decided he wanted to get his affairs back in his hand. He'd given all of his affairs to his lawyer. To do that legally he had to prove that he was now capable.
So we went to the hospital for a checkup on the seventh day. Then he walked into the bank with a walker with the applause of all of the people there. It was really a fine moment. He got his affairs back in his hands. We went home to his house and got a phone call from the hospital that he was completely healed of all of what he had suffered from. And indeed he was. He lived on happily and healthily for another year.
And that was my introduction to Christian Science. All of his doctors and all of the people that knew him came over to the house, and everybody was astounded. What I actually witnessed here was a true resurrection. This changed my life. I decided that Christian Science is truth and that I intend to find out what it is, study this, devote my life to this. And that's exactly what I've done.
How did you study it? I imagine you got into Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.
Not at first. I didn't know about Science and Health. All I knew was there was a Christian Science Reading Room and that my dad was completely recovered. I went back to Israel, and looked at the Internet. Eventually I realized Christian Science is centered in Boston.
Boston is where the headquarters of the Church is. But Christian Science a worldwide movement.
But I knew that Boston was the center, and I said that must be the place to start. So, a number of months later, I came to this very building [The Christian Science Publishing Society], and I went into The Mary Baker Eddy Library. I asked around for a Christian Science practitioner. And someone directed me to a spiritual healing center on Massachusetts Avenue, which is open to the public. It's called Solutions through Prayer.
A Christian Science practitioner is there, and anyone from the public is welcome to go in and speak to him or her. So that's what I did. And I spoke to the practitioner there, and he began prayer treatments for me. And then we were in communication with e-mail after I returned to Israel.
And by that time had you gotten into Science and Health?
I bought one from the practitioner. And he was sending me passages from Science and Health. He stayed with me in those early times as a guide.
And were there some particular passages in Science and Health that really resonated with you?
My first spiritual task was to resolve what appeared to be a dichotomy between my Jewish religious life and my deep interest in Christian Science. How did these two fit together? Certainly on an experiential level it was clear to me that they did. But I had to have some kind of platform to stand upon. So I came upon the passage that starts at the bottom of page 360 in Science and Health with a brilliant metaphysical, logical explanation of what exactly is the common denominator, the interface between Christian Science theology and Jewish theology.
Will you read the passage for us?
"... to-day, Jew and Christian can unite in doctrine and denomination on the very basis of Jesus' words and works. The Jew believes that the Messiah or Christ has not yet come; the Christian believes that Christ is God. Here Christian Science intervenes, explains these doctrinal points, cancels the disagreement, and settles the question. Christ, as the true spiritual idea, is the ideal of God now and forever, here and everywhere. The Jew who believes in the First Commandment is a monotheist; he has one omnipresent God. Thus the Jew unites with the Christian's doctrine that God is come and is present now and forever. The Christian who believes in the First Commandment is a monotheist. Thus he virtually unites with the Jew's belief in one God, and recognizes that Jesus Christ is not God, as Jesus himself declared, but is the Son of God."
So what did that mean to you?
We're looking at the three words, God, Christ, and Jesus, from three different perspectives—from the perspective of the Jew, the Christian, the Christian Scientist. The Christian will group the three in one group; God, Christ, and Jesus are indistinguishable. Jesus is God, the Christ is God, the Christ is Jesus and so on. This is unacceptable to the Jewish thought because Jesus is a man. We don't want to deify man. But Christian Science takes this list—God, Christ, and Jesus—and distinguishes between them in a completely unique way. First of all, Jesus is distinguished from God. Jesus was the man, the reflection of the Christ. The Christ in Christian Science is "the ideal of God now and forever." The Christ is God's idea of man, the perfect man. That's what the Jewish concept of the Messiah is also, the perfect man. So now we see that Christian Science, which agrees that Jesus is not God, agrees perfectly with Judaism, which says the same thing. The Jews will say, "Well, then, what is the Christ? Don't you think it's the same as Jesus?" And Christian Science says, "No. The Christ is in all of us. It's eternal. It's God's eternal thought of man."
Christ Jesus was a rabbi who kept the Jewish commandments. And now in my life, Christian Science is illuminating my Jewish metaphysical thought so that, for me personally, it's one thing. There's one God.
"I decided that Christian Science is truth and that I intend to find out what it is, study this, devote my life to this. And that's exactly what I've done."—RABBI LOUIS
What is it about Christian Science that most touches your heart?
Before I knew about Science, I had some frustrations that were disturbing me spiritually. I had a rebellious son. I responded as a stubborn father. Basically this created a situation of very serious estrangement which I suffered from enormously, and I'm sure he did too. One of the first things that I learned in Science was about love and the centralness of love in healing and in prayer.
So I made for myself a daily session, sometimes for hours, of closing myself into my room and sitting and loving my son. I didn't even know where he was. I was just sending my waves of love through spiritual space to him. After a certain amount of time, we talked on the phone, for the first time in several years. It took another month and another conversation, and then we had dinner together. We embraced each other, and it was gone. The whole estrangement was gone.
How did the family react to your study of Christian Science?
Mainly what my wife saw was how things were working out. She saw how I got it back together with my son. When that problem was resolved, she was already with me. She encouraged me to go back to America to look for a Christian Science teacher.
And did Primary class instruction in Christian Science help?
That put things on an entirely new footing. That brought clarity, an overall vision of what the entire scope of Christian Science is. Recently, I felt it necessary to discuss Christian Science openly with my children. So we had a family gathering in which all of my grown children, my six children, and my two sons-in-law and my daughter-in-law and the whole family, the wider family, were all together. They were prepared that Dad had a speech to make. I told them what I was doing, about healing. I told them that in no way does Christian Science interfere with my Jewish observance. Christian Science is universal. It illuminates anything and everything. If I'm a rabbi, I become an illuminated rabbi. If you're a businessman, you're an illuminated one.
Or if you're in some other religion, right?
Christian Science extends to all religions because it is a meta-religion. As is I think widely known, Mrs. Eddy didn't originally intend to start a religious denomination. She thought that the Christian world would accept the teachings. It didn't work out that way; the world was not yet prepared for such a thing. So she started the Christian Science Church. But Christian Science is universal. And I expressed this to my children. They understood me. So they're all behind me. My sons-in-law are rabbis. One is the head of a rabbinical seminary. My two sons are also rabbis. And they all said, "Go for it, Dad. It's just fine." It was beautiful.
So you feel there is a receptivity to Christian Science in Israel?
The only thing I have to be careful about is this point: that Jesus Christ is not God. Once that is understood, there is no problem according to Jewish law or theology. Christian Science is unique in this understanding. Israel in general is wide open to healing. I'm certain that God will bring the understanding of what healing is in Israel, and that promises to be a truly glorious thing.
What do you see as the role of Christian Science in the whole world?
Divine Science is the infinite revelation of God's thoughts in a way that any human being, any man or woman who so desires and is willing to devote the time and effort to study, can understand. We have, as Mrs. Eddy states so beautifully, the "conscious, constant capacity" for understanding God. We're all prophets of God, in the sense that all of us can hear God's Word. He speaks to us all the time. We just have to learn how to hear His language. We also have to learn how to pray. Wanting goodness, wanting infinite goodness, is prayer. God Himself will take your desire and uplift it and turn it into a prayer. That's His work.
That has strong implications for world peace—and for peace in the Middle East.
Absolutely. The Middle East has the characteristic of being the kind of microcosm of the whole world. Israel itself is a microcosm—all the religions, all the civilizations, all the cultures in the world are all packed together in a country not so much larger than the greater Boston area. But if Christian Science is understood among the Jewish people, and the Christian people, and the Arabic, the Islamic people in our area in the Middle East—then that's a good laboratory for it to be understood in the world. There's one God, one Truth, one goodness. And the Science is the Science—scientific.
And what do you see as your role as a Christian Scientist who is also a rabbi?
Certainly my immediate goal has two sides. One, to go home to Israel and to take what I've learned and live in Israel. And in a quiet way, in a simple way, in a neighborly way, look for opportunities to say a good word. The kids are really ready for it in Israel. There's a great liberality on spiritual matters, and a great searching.
And the other aspect of my interest is to speak to Christian Scientists, which is an entirely different world, because they already know the truth and the Science. I would like to speak to Christian Science youth, and to encourage them, to show them how vast and what an instrument of understanding it is for them in whatever career they would take. Mary Baker Eddy touched the point that no one, no one, has touched. I studied metaphysics for 40 years. There cannot be in my view the world peace without an understanding of Mary Baker Eddy's writings, her life—what she went through. By understanding these things, you're linking yourself to the unique expression of God's thought for our times in the most modern, the most immediate sense. I am truly dedicating my lifework to making that point clear to my own countrymen and to the rabbis I'm associated with.
And the same is true for Christian Scientists who already know this beautiful Science. They should also appreciate what they've got. Young people may not see what a great gift they have already in their hands. So I would emphasize how precious is this work of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. How precious and valuable it is for the culmination of the aspirations of all of humanity. It is a law of God. |css
FOR MORE ON THIS TOPIC
To hear Rabbi Louis speak on this topic, tune in to Sentinel Radio during the week of May 9–15, 2009. For a listing of broadcast locations and times, go to www.sentinelradio.com. To purchase a download of this radio program, #919, go to www.sentinelradio.com and click on Audio Download Store. You can also view two videos featuring Rabbi Louis, one (in both Hebrew and English) at www.spirituality.com/video/louis and the other at tmcyouth.com/media/a-jewish-rabbi/.
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