Moshe Gersht Transcript

Moshe Gersht Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. We’ve done nearly 650 of them now. If you’ve just discovered this and you’d like to check out others that we’ve done, go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, and go under the past interviews menu, where you’ll see all the previous ones organized in several different ways. Um, This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there are PayPal buttons on the site, and there’s a page of alternatives to PayPal. My guest today is Moshe Gerst. Moshe is a sought-out spiritual teacher in Jerusalem, a student of Torah, Kabbalah, and Moshe, how do you pronounce that next one? Chassidus?

Moshe: Chassidus. Just with the “h”. With the “h” in the front, yeah.

Rick: Okay, I was way off on that one. He shares ancient mystical and philosophical wisdom in a way that is practical, relatable, and enjoyable. For nearly a decade, Moshe toured the States, the U.S., as the singer and songwriter for a popular Los Angeles-based rock band. Two years after signing a record deal, he had a spiritual awakening that sent him journeying to Jerusalem. The next 14 years were spent in deep spiritual practice and in-depth study of Torah. Is it pronounced “tuh-rah” with the emphasis on the second syllable?

Moshe: I think it’s the first syllable, “toh-rah.”

Rick: “Toh-rah,” I’m sorry. Okay. Today, Moshe seamlessly connects and expresses these fundamental spiritual ideas with universal principles of psychology, spirituality, and self-development. He understands the true nature of the human mind and our collective struggles and has devoted his life to helping people align with their purpose, peace, and inner joy. In 2021, Moshe released his Wall Street Journal best-selling spiritual book titled “It’s All the Same to Me.” So, welcome, Moshe.

Moshe: Hey, Rick. Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Rick: I think we’re going to have fun.

Moshe: Yeah, me too.

Rick: Did you ever see that TV show, “To Tell the Truth”? I can’t say that I have. It was before your time, I think. It was back in the ’50s and ’60s. But the premise of it was they had these three people who would sit there, and they would all claim to have been something, a brain surgeon or something. And then they had this group of panelists who would question them and try to figure out which one of them was the real person and which one were lying. So I think you would do well on that show because I don’t think too many people would guess that you were a rock star I think in a punk rock kind of band, wasn’t it?

Moshe: Yeah, yeah, yeah, a punk rock band.

Rick: If they ever revive that show, you should go on.

Moshe: Okay, we’ll send them in.

Rick: What was the name of your band?

Moshe: It was called In Theory.

Rick: In Theory?

Moshe: Mm-hmm.

Rick: In Theory. Huh, okay. Is there any stuff on YouTube or anything still?

Moshe: Yeah, I mean, there are some music videos that were put up right before I left. I think I left in 2007, and that was kind of right in the beginning of YouTube’s popularity. So I kind of left MySpace, if you recall, MySpace as a social media platform. That was the place to be. And it was, I found out subsequently, was on its way out. And then Facebook and everything else took its place, and YouTube was also kind of in its young stage. So there’s some stuff that you can find out there, but I think you’d have to actually put In Theory and my name together to actually get any of this stuff to come.

Rick: I think I’ll try that… later on. So, this Spiritual Awakening you had, was it out of the blue, or had you been sort of getting interested in spirituality and doing some kind of practice, or what?

Moshe: You know, it wasn’t out of the blue, like overnight, but I think everyone in my band felt it was pretty quick. It was all in a matter of a handful of months. I grew up in a relatively spiritual home, so spirituality wasn’t new to me. But I was pretty dead set on being a singer-songwriter. And everyone in my, you know, my small little collective group all had the same dream and vision. We were all working together on something. And I think, you know, we spoke a little bit about it before we got on the call, was one of my band members got involved in some pretty heavy drugs, which was not something that I expected. And he stopped showing up to shows and stopped showing up to practice, and his life kind of took a turn. And it was the first time that I really had to face the reality that being in a pop-punk rock band might have some side effects to life. And I started just questioning, you know, what else was there to this reality? You know, what am I doing here? Somebody had asked me along the way, asked me how long I was going to do this for, which I think is, whenever I think of that story, I think it’s a funny thing to ask a musician, how long are you going to do this for? Especially when we had just signed the label. And he said something to the effect of until we’re successful. And he said, when’s that? I said, when’s what? He says, when’s successful? And I think in that moment, I told him to, you know, shut up and get a beer or something like that. He was ruining my my my energy. But, I, that stuck with me. I sat with that for a long time afterwards. And after a few months of really thinking about what is a successful life, and then having that happen with my bandmate, there was an evening where I had a very clear opening. There is more to life than just being on the stage. And maybe you come back to the stage later, but I had an inner calling to go explore. I didn’t have answers, but I did have questions for the first time.

Rick: Yeah, I mean, and even if you had become successful, you might have wondered, so what? I mean, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison were all successful. You know, Keith Rich, not Keith Richards. Well, yeah, him too. He’s still alive. But the other guy, the blonde guy, Brian Jones, Rolling Stones, they were all successful. They all died in their 20s. So obviously, success can kill you. I mean, if they hadn’t been rock stars, they might not have been living such hedonistic lifestyles.

Moshe: Yeah, I mean, I felt like it was a moment where I realized I had to broaden my definition of success. Success wasn’t the outcome of an idea per se, but was much deeper. There’s like a deep success that goes behind the externalities of life.

Rick: Yeah. So this dawning realization, was it primarily intellectual or kind of a dawning of understanding? Or was there some corresponding upwelling of a deep experience that accompanied it?

Moshe: Yeah, you know, it was, in the beginning, it was intellectual. But it had a crescendo, like it moved up towards an experience where for the first six weeks, I was on my way back. I visited my family who were living out of the country. And when I landed back in LA, and the day that I landed, our song had debuted on K-Rock, which was the Los Angeles rock station. And so like I got in the car and we’re all celebrating. And the next day, we had a meeting with this big booking agency, and then they were going to sign us. And things seemed to be going great. And being born and raised in a Jewish home, I felt like I had to do something to almost ground myself in some aspect of my heritage, you know, before going out into this, the wild, wild west. And I’m not exactly sure where that came from. But, you know, it felt like a calling inside of me. And so I just picked up a book that someone had left lying around in my apartment that, you know, had some spiritual ideas in it. And it spoke to me. And I wasn’t really a reader, to be honest. I mean, now, what I spend my life doing is reading and studying, involved in the world of knowledge and wisdom. But before that, I mean, I grew up on video games and playing sports and music. So that was my whole life. I didn’t see myself to be too much of an intellectual. But I was being spoken to by the ideas in these books, which was coinciding with my bandmate who was having a rough time with a drug addiction, which coincided with someone asking me about the future of the music. And so all these things were coalescing together. So there was a lot of juice happening inside of me. And then I do remember there was a moment when I was walking home one day and I saw this lovely young couple, you know, pushing a stroller. And I just thought to myself, like, I don’t know if that’s exactly what I want. But I know that if I go this way, it’s unlikely that that’s what I’m going to have. Like, I just saw it wasn’t the trajectory that I was on. I had done the research. I know that if you’re in the music business, I was going to be on the road six to 10 months out of the year if I even wanted a shot at this. And it was going to be for many years on end if you even really want to have a shot at this. So that was going to be the next five or 10 years of my life either way. And I had this kind of inner opening, almost like, and I describe it as if you were out in the dark and it’s a stormy night. And there’s a moment where there’s a lightning flash. And when the lightning flashes, the entire view, the landscape opens up. You can see everything just for that moment. And there’s this absolute clarity. And in that moment, there’s no darkness. You don’t even notice the rain. You’re just taken by the, you’re awestruck with the clarity. And it was that kind of, oh, my gosh, I know that this path I’m on, it’s now time for me to get on this off ramp or get on an on ramp, whatever. Metaphor is the right metaphor to the next destination that I was going towards. And I remember sitting in an alleyway by my apartment. I just broke down crying because I didn’t know what that meant. But I was filled with tears because I just knew that something was now over. Something else was going to begin. And on my flight out of LA, it was filled with tears and laughter. I was laughing.

Rick: (laughs) Surprised they let you on the plane.

Moshe: Right. I’m like, exactly. I looked like a crazy person on that flight because I’m like, I was so joyous because everything inside of me was reverberating. This is the best decision of your life. You have to go in this direction. And then there was all the tears of everything I was leaving behind. Best friendships and incredible team, teammates that I’ve been working with for years. And it was a lot. But when things are clear, really, really clear and obvious, they’re clear. And I got a lot of signs along the way also. Like there was, things went from clear to clear to absolute clarity. It didn’t move. There was no moments where it was like, okay, maybe not. It was just absolute. And I feel very grateful for that. I don’t even know what I did to deserve that. If I did anything to deserve such a gift, it was a gift of clarity.

Rick: Hm…That’s nice. I know that a sense of divine guidance is important to you from what I’ve read, you know, listened to in your book and all. I feel that, too. I don’t think that the universe is just sort of a dumb mechanism of some sort, but that we’re swimming in an ocean of intelligence and that intelligence does its best to sort of nudge us in certain directions if it can.

Moshe: Yeah, that’s exactly it. And it’s on us to be able to see it. I think it’s this interplay, right, because we’re also part of the oneness that is the universe. We are one with all that is. And then at the same time, in our world of duality where we experience ourselves as these separate beings and we’re little individualized pieces of that reality, it’s on us to, if we want to, to be open to seeing that and reading that and interpreting it through the way that we experience our life.

Rick: Yeah. I guess another way of putting it is we are that oneness, but we’re also this individual expression of it, like the wave in the ocean. And the concept of that is not sufficient. One could understand that intellectually, but you’ve got to live it.

Moshe: Yeah. And even that, even the words “you’ve got to live it,” I hope we want to live it.

Rick: Yeah.

Moshe: Because it’s, I mean, even if I were to make it simple, it’s so much more fun.

Rick: Absolutely.

Moshe: It’s a more fun life and a light life when you know that you’re not alone and you’re working with the universe, you’re working with a force that’s, like you said, an ocean of intelligence.

Rick: Yeah. And I also get the sense, and I bet you do too, that if you want to live it and you do your best to live it, and to you, I’m just stretching the metaphor here. But that ocean of intelligence appreciates your willingness and supports you, and you can become an agent of that, so to speak, or a tool in the hands of the divine and helping to fulfil some sort of divine purpose. And we can elaborate on what we might think about what that means, but it’s a reciprocal kind of relationship that is extremely, in fact, there’s actually a verse in the Bhagavad Gita, it puts it in terms of gods, which you can interpret however you like, but it says that if you’re really in tune with your dharma and doing this sort of deep spiritual work, then you support the gods and they support you.

Moshe: Yes, I mean, there’s actually a line in Ethics of Our Fathers, in Hebrew it’s Pirkei Avot, it’s one of the maybe most well-read pieces of Torah literature, which is all about self-development and spiritual connection. And over there, there’s a similar line that says, you know, when you make your will His will, He makes His will your will. And there’s this reciprocal nature.

Rick: Yeah, same point, really. That’s fantastic. And so, could we deduce from that that if things aren’t going well in one’s life, one hasn’t made one’s will consonant with God’s will? And as I began to think of that question, I was thinking of stories like the story of Job or others who went through all kinds of trials and tribulations and were actually just being tested and were, in fact, sort of on God’s team.

Moshe: So it’s funny, you know, when I think about the word test, the Hebrew word for test is Nesayon, which its root word is Nes. Nes means a miracle. And what is a miracle? A miracle is something that goes beyond nature, right? Something supernatural. It’s probably how we would define a miracle to anyone, you know, from wherever you’re standing, if something happens beyond your conception of what is to be normal or, you know, realistic, you would define that as some version of a miracle. And then there’s probably a variation of that from here until, you know, something extremely supernatural. So when I see the word test and I think about what a test is, a test is really an opportunity for you to rise above your nature or wherever you’re at in this moment, right? And so I like to, or I prefer to translate every time, you know, words like that show up in Torah literature as opportunity. So I don’t see test as much as test as much as they are opportunities for expansion. In that sense, there are never really times where you’re not totally in consonance with God and you’re totally out of alignment, but you are now in a place where a different set of circumstances will present themselves so that you have the opportunity to grow, the opportunity to expand.

Rick: Yeah.

Moshe: I’m not sure if I said that.

Rick: No, I think I should understand what you’re saying. And, you know, I mean, obviously when we go to school, we take tests and tests might seem like a punishment to some students, but they’re not really. They’re just sort of a way of measuring whether we’re qualified to move on to the next level of knowledge or the next level of learning or responsibility as a student. And I think that there can be a danger in people getting too big for their britches, so to speak, in the spiritual realm. And then there are all kinds of stories of people falling, crashing and burning, when they overreach their readiness for a certain spiritual role or authority. And so perhaps in that sense, tests are a valuable thing. They’re kind of a safety check, you know?

Moshe: Mm-hmm.

Rick: Feel free to comment on that.

Moshe: Yeah, no, I mean, I think the idea of a safety check is valid, without question. But I almost see it as, we’re given exactly what we need for our next step in our evolution, right? It’s even more than just, you know, let’s see if you’re okay to go to the next level. It’s, you know, if you don’t get this or you can’t get this, so then we’re going to have to bring you through another road or another route to see, you know, where else can we accentuate, you know, the talents, the gifts, the abilities, all of the innate wonder that’s been kind of placed in you and your potential as you came into this world. So now you get different opportunities in life to share that and to express that. And sometimes things in life take us in a direction where we would naturally think this is a disaster and it’s terrible and this shouldn’t be happening. And for many people, obviously not everybody, a lot of people will describe that it’s those low moments that, you know, became, you know, the windows of opportunity for experiences and relationships and other successes in their life that may never have come to manifest had they not gone through that more challenging experience. So it’s hard to judge any situation as good or bad in its own right. It’s just, there are some situations that the experience is challenging and it’s painful and pain is real. So I think we have to honor the pain of a challenge, the pain of a situation, but the judgment of it being good or bad is ultimately subjective.

Rick: Yeah, and most people I know and consider wise don’t lament or regret anything they’ve been through, even though some of it may have been extremely difficult. They see it in retrospect as having been in their best interest, you know, having been all learning opportunities, growing opportunities.

Moshe: Yeah, and I think that’s exactly what we’re saying. That is the opportunity of life. And sometimes when you are in that place where you’re so much in a non-resistant flow and you’re, you know, in a joyous anticipation or what we’d call excitement, right, about your life or about what things are going well for you and you’re kind of living in that state of gratitude. So there is a lot of resonance that, you know, to a degree, the energy that one puts out into the world is reciprocated, kind of like how we were saying before that that ocean of intelligence, the universe that God is not just listening, but is completely one with everything that we’re putting out. So the more that we kind of move into that direction, the more we see that coming back in our direction. One can maintain such a flow and to expand that.

Rick: Yeah. How do you reconcile these lofty concepts with the horrific things that happen, you know, the Holocaust or the war in Ukraine or the fact that in the Horn of Africa, as we speak, someone is dying of hunger every 48 seconds. I mean, people, a lot of people just can’t believe that there’s any sort of divine being or consciousness or anything else in light of such horror. I have debates with friends, you know, what kind of God is it that would kill babies and that kind of thing. And I go into explanations that I’ve kind of come to terms with. But what would you have to say about that?

Moshe: Well, probably the two things I would say is whenever speaking about a tragedy, which is just a part of the world that we live in, anything that we would deem as tragic. The response that I’ve learned is, one cannot answer a soul or a heart question with something from the mind, something from the head. It’s beyond a reasonable explanation. And if you try to put words to someone’s suffering, anyone’s suffering, on some level, you are diluting their suffering. You’re actually taking something away from it, which is a challenge because we’re intellectual beings by nature and we want to be able to have an answer for everything. There’s a story in the Torah and the Bible where Aaron loses his two sons and Moses goes to him for a response and it says, “And Aaron was silent.” And in that place of silence, that was his response. There’s a place where we have to go above the rational mind. There’s another story in the Talmud where Moses is having an interaction with God and he’s witnessing someone being tortured. And he says to God, “This is a spiritual person and that’s his reward?” And God says, “You have to be quiet. If you want to come up to the higher part of my thoughts, you have to go to a state of silence.” There’s some things that we can’t translate. If we try to translate. We do it for ourselves so that we can make sense out of life. But there’s also a danger in that because one might be misinterpreting. We may not be able to understand. And that’s okay. It’s part of the spiritual path is to humiliate it to say, “I don’t know.” Be like, “Okay, I’m okay with saying I don’t know.” It doesn’t take away from a cosmic truth. It’s saying, “I can’t give an answer to that.” So that would be the first thing I would respond to. How do we look at tragedy? But when we talk about more of the global phenomena like 600 people every single hour are dealing with starvation and you know, close to 2 billion people who still don’t have clean water and you think about the things that are happening in this world. For me, on a personal level, part of what moves me and continues to keep me going forward is I look back. I always look back and look to where we came from. And wherever we came from, we’re doing better. We have always been on a trajectory of positive human evolution. It’s been a good thing. If you go back 200 years, you just say, “Thank you for being alive today.” When you go back 600 years, you say, “Wow, the world is way better than it was 600 years ago.” When you go back 1,000 years, there were small comforts, peace of mind, maybe, and less distraction, which might have been advantageous back then. But the further you go back in time, the more we dealt with it. I mean, Thank God we live in a time where even to say the word slavery is like you’d be – you could be ousted for using the language, let alone the fact that this was commonplace in the world. We’re moving in a good direction, right? We’re far from there yet as a planet and as a species, but I feel like we are moving in a good direction. And so that’s what gives me hope when we think about, well, how could it be that you have – there’s supposed to be a cosmic intelligence that’s good, right?… and moving things in the right direction. Look at all the negativity that’s in the world. And I see that as, okay, well, we’re moving in the direction of goodness. And that’s kind of the purpose. But if you think about, if you’re coming from a spiritual lens, not even a religious lens, just a lens that there’s some sort of creator/creation process and we’re part of this unfolding process. So we had to start somewhere to end somewhere or to move in some direction. That’s what’s happening. So when I look back and I see where we are, it gives me hope for the future. You focus on that going forward.

Rick: Yeah. I feel that way too. And I mean, obviously, there’s the I don’t know factor, but then there’s also the sort of – you can also put some kind of intellectual gloss on it. And what I do is I think, okay, well, we have – if we’re going to have a creation, it has to have relative qualities. It can’t all just be some perfect thing from day one. If you have – there’s got to be hot and cold, fast and slow, you know, heavy and light, all kinds of different relative qualities. And same with things that are, you know, in the realm of our experience. There’s happiness and suffering. There’s pleasure and pain. And so, you know, Shakespeare, we consider him our greatest playwright. He didn’t just write comedies. He also wrote tragedies. [Laughter] >> Right.

Moshe: Contrast, contrast.

Rick: >> Yeah, yeah. And, you know, the Hindus refer to the creation as a leela, as a play. And so, it’s like how would you – you wouldn’t want to just all see the – if you were the playwright, you might get bored just writing the comedies. So, I mean, that sounds a little insensitive considering how tragic the tragedies are and how real they are to the people undergoing them. And you and I are sitting pretty in our comfortable little homes. And, meanwhile, there’s situations that if we were in them, we wouldn’t be so glib about this stuff. But, I don’t know, that’s just my way of intellectualizing the whole thing.

Moshe: >> Yeah, I know. And that, to me, makes a lot of sense. And there are many answers, you know, if you sit and you study the works in Torah and many of the, you know, the spiritual, you know, paths that one can be on. There’s quite a lot to say. But I think that’s why I would open with first we have to go into a place of silence. Only for the fact that, like you said, if it were happening to you or someone you knew, right, so you wouldn’t be so glib. You couldn’t just run with an intellectual answer. If you try to give a reason for, you know, why did the Holocaust happen to someone and you start giving them, you know, some pretty intellectual answer and then they pull out their arm and show you a tattoo of numbers and say, “Well, you know, that didn’t help me. The answer didn’t help me.” It’s like, you know, you would feel embarrassed and ashamed to try to have, you know, rationalized that pain. So we do it for us so that we can continue to move forward. And ultimately, and this is certainly the belief that I subscribe to and my experience has been is that all is in wellness, right? All is good. This is, you know, there’s a law in Jewish law that says when something good happens to you, you make a blessing. Blessed is that who is good and bestows good. And when something, when a tragedy happens, one makes a different blessing. Blessed is the one who is the judge of truth, right, the judge of an ultimate truth. But in the next line it says, “But when one says either of these blessings, they have to be with the same level of joy and peace,” which is fascinating. The idea built in is, of course, we have to see the difference between when something that we perceive as good happening and something that we don’t perceive as good happening. But the way that we experience it on the inside is that the spiritual opportunity is one can find peace wherever they are. And you can be a Nelson Mandela who goes through his experience and comes out, you know, the other side as a changed man. And obviously, you know, the pain is pain. And you can have all the blessings in the world and be a sad, anxious, and depressed human being sitting in your Beverly Hills, you know, mansion, right? It’s all the inside job is our opportunity to expand and experience.

Rick: Yeah. You’re probably well aware of Etty Hillesum , right?

Moshe: No.

Rick: Oh, she was in one of the concentration camps, and she’s written a book. Well, she’s long deceased now, but she, you know, is having a very high level of spiritual experience while in, you know, whichever concentration camp she was in. And it’s really quite profound that she was able to maintain that level of realization and understanding under those circumstances. E-T-T-Y-H-I-L-L-I-S-U-M, I believe she spelled her name.

Moshe: Yeah, on the path afterwards. It sounds like also like Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning, right? He came to such a deep level of positive philosophy from the darkest place. It’s hard to imagine someone could come to that from the darkness.

Rick: Yeah, I’ve got to read that book. You’re the second person in a few days that suggested that I brought it up, you know, that I should read it. One thing I think, based upon what you were just saying a few minutes ago, is that you could kind of, I mean, most of the world’s problems are created by people, you know, climate change and famine and the wars and everything else. If we were all sort of enlightened beings, you know, really in every respect, we wouldn’t have these things. You know, we easily can have the resources to make sure everybody’s fed and clothed and, you know, getting a good education and all this stuff. But, you know, I mean, there’s 8 billion of us, and we’re all at varying levels of development. And, you know, you can think of the human race in general as being in sort of its teenage years, where it’s doing all kinds of crazy things, many of which are quite self-destructive. And it just hasn’t matured into an adult phase, you know, where one has, where as a race, as an entire humanity, we’ve gained a high ambient degree of wisdom.

Moshe: Yeah, I mean, I agree with you. I think we might be very advanced technologically, and we’ve grown in a lot of ways in terms of our wisdom. But, I mean, you might be generous saying that we’re in our teenage years.

Rick: Right. It’s during the teen years that people get really crazy. And they’ve gained enough independence from their parents to want to do their own thing. And yet they haven’t gained the wisdom to do it safely.

Moshe: Right, right. My concern would be is that we’re in our terrible twos. Yeah, you may be right.

Rick: That might be a better metaphor.

Moshe: So, but maybe, but maybe. And I think you’re right. I think we are all in varying degrees of growth. And, you know, really are doing the best we can. I believe in the goodness of humanity. And I think if you spend time with people behind everything they’re sitting with, they came into this world with a certain package and a certain placement. And they had the parents that they had and the circumstances that they had and the, you know, genetics that they had, you know, generational traumas that they carry. I mean, we all come in here with so much package already, you know, before we even get started. It’s almost like not a fair game. But behind it all, it’s, you know, people are trying. I think people are searching for love, maybe in the wrong places, but they’re looking to connect with whatever that is, that is that good feeling of that warmth of connection, that peace and that joy where you know that everything’s okay. But we don’t necessarily, like you said, we’re kind of young in a lot of ways, and we don’t necessarily know how to do it. Maybe we think the way to do it is to become extremely wealthy or extremely famous or, you know, to get extremely powerful. And then we run after those things. And if we do that as a collective, then there are consequences. And that’s the focus.

Rick: Yeah and wealth and fame can be, can actually be a good thing. I mean, there’s some very wealthy people who do a lot of good things with their money or with their fame.

Moshe: Right. The problem is not the wealth and fame. The problem is if the whole thrust of your life is just to get to that place, and that’s what it becomes about, and your identity is the wealth or the fame and not the thing that’s behind it, right? Not the soul of who you are as you’re going through. So that’s where we find people feeling empty, because they’re identified with something that’s ephemeral and temporal and not with the eternal nature of who they are, which is one with God and absolute peace and joy. And when you do get beyond all that stuff and get really conscious and present, you experience it, you remember who you are.

Rick: Yeah. So when you say you believe in the goodness of humanity, I presume you mean that, you know, even the Nazis and the serial killers and the, you know, all the people who do nasty stuff have that same goodness of humanity deep within as the saints do. They just haven’t discovered it, but it’s there. Is that what you mean when you say goodness of humanity?

Moshe: Yeah. Yeah, I do. That’s what I mean. We might find that there are some people who have an illness, right? If there’s a mental illness which is incurable or is beyond repair, that I wouldn’t say that they’re not good, but they may never be able to express that goodness anymore. They may have lost the ability. Maybe someone’s born even without that ability. I haven’t given that enough thought to really say something conclusive, but certainly I think one can go through their life and get damaged. One can damage their psyche. That’s part of the reality of this world, which is why it’s so important to take care of ourselves and our minds and what we put into our bodies, you know, that we take care of this great apparatus that we’ve been given.

Rick: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, if we all contain the divine deep within or reflect the divine, you know, for all reflectors of that, then some people are like broken mirrors. It’s very unlikely they’re ever going to be put together again this time around in order to provide a clear reflection, but it doesn’t mean that they still aren’t in their essence that divinity. Yeah.

Moshe: Right. And that understanding allows you to love them and to forgive them in the process. And I think that’s why this assumption, you know, that I’m living with, at least to me, has been important because there are people in my life who I’ve experienced as maybe not having, at least on the surface, looks like the best intentions, right? Or it looks like they’ve, you know, they’ve gone down a path where it ends up not feeling good on the other side to other people that they’re with. And if that’s what you hold on to, you end up living with a grudge, you end up living with resentment. And the problem with grudges and resentment isn’t the fact that they’re not justified. They might be justified. The problem is that now you live with resentment, which isn’t good for you. That’s the problem. You can have a justified resentment, but now you’re living with a block and your life is affected by it.

Rick: I’m thinking of the Dalai Lama who once referred to the Chinese communists who destroyed Tibet as “my friends, the enemy.”

Moshe: Oh, very nice. Exactly.

Rick: I hope I didn’t misquote him. I think that’s what he said. And there’s one happy guy, you know, who’s been through a lot.

Moshe: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I see life as a remembering process. It’s like there’s a lot of remembering of all that’s there before we kind of walked into the veil of being human. There’s a piece of the Talmud that I think about often that says, “Before we’re born, we’re given all the clarity and truth of life, and then we’re born and it is forgotten.” And so our life becomes the opportunity of finding that truth from this perspective. And that’s the opportunity of humanity. Is, we get to come here from a place where it’s not clear and develop that and find it from within our own vantage point.

Rick: Yeah. Do you believe in… What is your take on reincarnation and the sort of the big picture trajectory of a soul’s development?

Moshe: So yeah, I mean, I was raised with the concept and every time I’ve gone deeper into it, it’s just been reaffirmed to me that a soul has a process that it’s working through, right? And that it’s not, you know, you come in, you have your time, your, you know, any, whatever, your average 70-year lifespan, and then you’re out. And then it’s on to eternal, you know…

Rick: Eternal whatever. Yeah.

Moshe: Whatever comes next. But that there’s ample opportunity to come back and to continue to expand, to grow, to experience, to dream, to do all the things that are human. And on some level, we carry with us that which we’ve done from the past. But then on another level, it’s actually quite complex and Kabbalistically, it’s an entire field of study, because there are layers to the soul. Like it’s not, we don’t see it as black and white, you know, there’s a body and a soul, but that there’s a body and then there’s five dimensions of the soul.

Rick: Oh, interesting.

Moshe: Yeah.

Rick: And I say interesting because Vedanta has the same idea. They have what they call the pancha-kosha model. Pancha means five, and kosha means sheath. So they have, it’s like a Russian dolls kind of thing where there’s grosser and subtler.

Moshe: Oh, I had no idea. But that’s exactly the type of model that we’re dealing with over here. And they’re called the ne-ra-n-kha-i, which is an acronym for Nefesh-Ruach-Neshama-Chaya-Yechida, which are the five elements of the soul. And they do work exactly like that, like the, you know, one within the other, within the other.

Rick: What are the five elements?

Moshe: I think if we were to break it down simply, the most outer layer is…

Rick: Gross body.

Moshe: Yeah, exactly. It’s that which, it’s the interface with the body itself. Above that is energy, movement, spirit. Above that is going to be soul, which translates more like the breath of God, which is what we would probably call pure consciousness, or closer to, like, individualized consciousness. And then chaya is life force. So it’s like, it’s the energy behind that. And then yechida is the absolute oneness, if that’s the pure consciousness state at the very, very top.

Rick: Interesting.

Moshe: That’s what it means. Yechida means one.

Rick: Yeah, with the pancha-kosha model, it goes gross body, mind, prana, which is breath, intellect, and then the bliss body, or anandamaya-kosha, and then beyond that, the atman, or the universal self, which ultimately is one with Brahman, or the totality. Interesting. It’s a similar model.

Moshe: Hm..Yeah, yeah, that is very similar. And you would say the same thing even over here, that you’d go the five in, and that’s your connecting piece to the ultimate, to the bliss, of, like you said, the atman and the Brahman, that one.

Rick: Yeah. Yeah, I was interviewing a woman last week, Sharon Hewitt Rawlette, and towards the end of the interview, we got talking about abortion, and she had once been an evangelical Christian. Of course, there’s a big debate about this in the U.S. right now, the Supreme Court might overturn Roe v. Wade. And I said, “Well, what do evangelical Christians think about what the soul is and when it enters the body?” And she said, “Well, to the best of my knowledge, they feel that the soul just comes into existence at the moment of conception, or some such thing, and then you never existed before that, and now you’re a human being.” And I said, “Well, obviously, if we could really sort that one out, it would have huge implications for this issue, because maybe the soul doesn’t come in until three months or six months or whatever, and whatever happens to the body, not that I’m taking a public stance on it right now, but whatever happens, nothing happens to the soul.” And there might be circumstances in which the soul would prefer not to live a life in the particular vehicle to which it was assigned. In fact, I referenced an interview I did in which a guy sort of remembers having been– having entered a womb and found the situation just so constraining, not only the confines of the womb, but the confines of physicality, that with all his might he wished to get out of the situation, and his mother had a miscarriage. Then he had–

Moshe: That sounds like Christian Sundberg.

Rick: It was, exactly.

Moshe: I’ve seen some of his work. I like what he has to say.

Rick: Anyway, I mean, I’m talking a little bit too much, but to me, a lot of these issues, these burning issues that everybody debates, it would serve to have a deeper philosophical discussion about what are the– not that it could necessarily be nailed down exactly as to really how it works, but pondering these things, I think, helps put things in perspective.

Moshe: Yeah, no, I think you’re right. It’s funny, as you were saying it, I was trying to recollect exactly where the piece is so I can look it up afterwards and send it to you, but I do recall at some point in my travels in learning Kabbalah that it does give a timeline as to when each part of those five sections enter the body. You know, there’s a time when the Nephesh comes in, and then, you know, a little bit after that, then the Ruach comes in, and then a little bit after that. It’s not all in one fell swoop, but that it is as the child develops, as the human develops, more aspects of it kind of are revealed to it or enter into it in a sense.

Rick: Yeah, I was corresponding with someone after that interview who said, you know, I know somebody who never fully came in. He’s living a life, but he just isn’t– he just isn’t here. It kind of reminded me of that Robin Williams line in “Good Morning, Vietnam” when he had to get up at six in the morning to start the radio show, and he’s walking down the hall, and he says, “I’m not even in my body.” [Laughter]

Moshe: Yeah, yeah, it’s like that.

Rick: Yeah. Go ahead.

Moshe: Yeah, no, I think you’re right. I think it would be fascinating to see what public opinion would take if we actually took a more philosophical, spiritual approach to this topic in specific, and obviously on some level to all the elements of when we’re choosing, you know, life and death, right? I’m referring not just to the topic of abortion, but also to death penalty. And any time where we’re looking at this, how do we look at– it’s big. These are big, big subjects. Euthanasia is a real thing. Why should anybody else be able to make a choice? It’s their own life, right. But then it becomes murky water because the moment you start bringing in other paths,right. so which path are you looking at, and why are we taking this path more seriously than the other path? And then it’s why look at any path at all? Throw out religion altogether and throw out anything we’ve learned. Let’s just start with where we are. These are huge, huge subjects.

Rick: Which brings up one of my favorite themes, is that I hope, and I think I’m kind of seeing the beginnings of an integration of science and spirituality in which this insight that spirituality is uniquely qualified to provide become part of the scientific worldview, and the rigor and empirical demand for evidence and verification that science can provide become part of the spiritual package such that spiritual people don’t wander off in woo-woo fantasies but actually have to sort of nail things down if they’re going to believe them. So anyway, I think, I don’t know when, 50 years, 100 years, 300 years, we might not speak of science and spirituality as different. We might see them as two legs of one conveyance.

Moshe: I mean, I kind of see them as a body and a soul. Science is the study of the physical and how it works. And now with quantum mechanics and kind of more of the new cutting-edge science, we’re actually looking at beyond just what we would five sensory experience. And the deeper you go in, you start to find that the soul of a lot of these traditions were really just pointing to that which we’re now beginning to understand from a scientific lens. I think it was the Vilna Gaon, who was a huge genius who lived in Europe in the 18th century, who said that that’s going to be one of the markings of the messianic era, which is going to be the marriage between science and spirituality. We’re going to see them together. And I think that we’re living in a time where we’re seeing that. Regardless of a messianic era, we are seeing that that’s the trend we are going in. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Rick: Yeah, and we need to because, I mean, you were saying earlier about how much better things are these days than they were 500, 1,000 years ago. Yes, we have dentists now, we have anaesthesia, we have all kinds of great stuff. But we also have nuclear weapons and we have climate change. In fact, some guy from Ireland just sent in a question, E. Kelly in Ireland, “Surely climate change is where it’s all going wrong, as in the possible end of our civilization.” And climate change is a result of science in a way. All these science-developed fossil fuels and nitrogen fertilizers and farming techniques and all kinds of things that are contributing to climate change. So, maybe the question is, how could spirituality render science and the technologies that science gives rise to totally benign and not a mixed blessing as they so often have been?

Moshe: Well, maybe it is a mixed blessing, but the bright side is the same technology that we developed to create a world that has climate change issues also developed the technology to spot that. And now hopefully course-correct to the degree that we can.

Rick: Hopefully.

Moshe: Yeah, I mean, look, and it’s also, you know, we can’t help it. And I think that’s part of our nature is we also see things as almost binary of like, “Look, we could ruin this whole thing, right? This whole earth.” And I don’t know, maybe that’s part of the plan. There’s more, right? Meaning, we’re also, if all were, which I don’t think it is, that’s not my stance on reality. I don’t think we came here to destroy the place. But, and I think we can turn things around. And I have a positive outlook on this and hopefully our scientists do as well. Otherwise, we’re in a lot of trouble because someone’s got to be looking for the answer. And, you know, you’re right. You and I are probably not working on the next way to fix climate change wherever we’re sitting. But what I can say is, even if I don’t think that the world is going to come to an end through our own devices, it doesn’t mean it can’t. And if that’s what ends up happening, so then it’s my subscription that, “Okay, I still think we did the best we could. Now we got to here.” Maybe all of this is to get to, you know, Earth 8.0. And this has just been number seven. You know, we have to remember that our capacity to truly comprehend the vastness of what life truly is, right, on all the levels, are always going to be limited. And we have to be okay with that as we continue to do the best we can to strive to hit that alignment with our higher ideals and our higher values and, you know, the joy of being alive. Because everybody wants to live a good life. Everybody does. And so we mess up. Like you said, maybe it’s teenagers or maybe it’s terrible twos. We have messed ourselves up. And we have to clean up our mess. But I believe we can. I believe in our potential to turn around and to return to that greatness. I think in a lot of ways, if we turned inward, if we actually turned to the spiritual path, which is the opportunity for the awakening that humanity can have, and our personal level, I feel like is happening. We’re living in that right now. You and I having this conversation is, you know, an aspect of, you know, the world waking up to a lot of these ideas, which you don’t have to go too far back to work out that most people weren’t even listening to this kind of material. They weren’t reading this kind of material. We’re living in a very special time. And it’s only grown more and more since 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s. And now we’re in the 21st century and it’s, you know, spirituality is ubiquitous. You can find it everywhere. And it’s a beautiful opportunity that we have. And I think that when we do turn inward, it’s going to not just have an impact on our emotional well-being and our psyche, but our ability to channel the energy we have into a better use of our resources. And that’s really what we’re talking about in this conversation, in this part of this conversation, right? Which is, are we using our resources the right way? Or are we using our resources with our science and technology in such a way where it’s actually being to our detriment?

Rick: Yeah.

Moshe: I think we can turn that around. And the only way you turn that around is if you start on the inside out. Because otherwise, it appears to be for a lot of people about a dollar sign. And if it’s about money, so then you don’t think that big picture. When you go inward, you start thinking bigger.

Rick: Yeah, that’s great. I find that whole line of thinking very inspiring. And when I think of vastness, I think of it in two ways. One is the vastness one discovers when one goes inward. And then I also am rather fond of vastness looking outward. On my Facebook header, I have a photo of the Hubble Deep Space Field. And the Hubble Deep Space Field is what they, if you look through an eight-foot long soda straw at a dark spot in the sky, that’s how much sky the Hubble, that particular picture represents. And there are 10,000 galaxies in it, in that little bit. And that’s probably not all the galaxies that you’d see there if the Hubble telescope could see everything that is there. And a galaxy is inconceivably large. I mean, even our own. Anyway, I could ramble on about that. But sometimes I actually just sit and look at a picture of a galaxy and contemplate all the lives that lived there, because it’s at least two million years in the past if I’m looking at Andromeda, and how real and compelling and intense you know, so many of those lives must have seemed to the people who were living them. And there’s a famous photo called the Pale Blue Dot, which is a picture of the Earth taken from way out beyond Saturn or someplace by Voyager 1. And Carl Sagan talked about it. He said, you know, all the battles that were fought and all the religions that existed and everything else, you know, they all took place on this little pale blue dot. So, if you kind of contemplate vastness in that way and then at the same time give great importance to a worm that’s dying on the sidewalk because it’s gotten in the sun and it needs to get back on the grass and every little tiny thing and kind of integrate those two. It’s an interesting perspective to live with.

Moshe: Yeah, I mean, first of all, I couldn’t agree with you more. And you’re probably super excited about James Webb.

Rick: Oh, yeah. Can’t wait to see what that’s going to do.

Moshe: Yeah, I mean, that’s going to be a lot of fun to see what kind of pictures we get back from there.

Rick: Yeah.

Moshe: Yeah, this idea and the vastness of space and then giving the importance to the worm, I think is such a beautiful perspective. And I think, you know, a lot of in the book that I had written, “It’s all the same to me”. There’s a piece in there where, you know, we look at ourselves vis-a-vis the worm and realize that, you know, we’re the same. Right. And on some level, obviously, you know, dimensionally, we’re higher up on many levels of scale in terms of intelligence and ability. But when you put yourself in the vastness of reality, you and a snail, you and a worm, you are, you’re best friends. There’s not there’s not very much difference between the two of you. And then when you go on the inside, that’s going out when you go in. So if life is made up all of the same stuff, right, that which makes up life makes up all of life. And we are all made of the same thing, right. So you and the worm and the star and every other planet in every galaxy where we’re all, you know, intermingled. And that’s, you know, when you go to the quantum realm, you start looking at the quantum field and how everything is truly connected and how we’re all affecting each other. I’m with you. I love the idea of looking out into space and using that as a barometer for how we experience ourselves.

Rick: There’s a verse in the Gita which talks about the enlightened person seeing the self in all beings and all beings in the self. And so, you know, you and the worm are ultimately the same person, so to speak. Our innermost self is also the worm’s innermost self. We’re just different instruments, different reflectors. And then all beings in the self, you know, the self is this all pervading, you know, Brahman, whatever you want to call it. And we’re like the ocean and we’re all little fishies swimming around in that totality. So that’s looking at it from that angle.

Moshe: Yeah. And you’ve reminded me of this idea. I mean, in Hebrew, it’s that the “olam” is in “adam gadol” and “adam” is in “olam katan,” which means the world is a big man and man is a small world. Right. And that’s this same idea that, you know, the macro is in the micro, the micro is in the macro. It’s, you know, different vantage points and points of reflection. And for me, I mean, OK, so they’re nice ideas. Right. And conceptually, they’re fun to play with in our mind. But when we if you really take it to what that means in a practical sense of how that should impact one’s experience, that’s where peace opens up, right It’s really an opportunity for great peace because then you’re not caught up in the ego, right You then get to see the personality for what it is and the dramas that we create for what they are, right And you don’t have to run away from the personal experience, but just to have that perspective and to know that all is in the one and one is in the all. And, you know, the self is in the world, the world is in the self. To have that type of perspective as you move through this world, you know, you. Your day to day starts to shift. It’s an opportunity to, to experience life over here instead of maybe over here. It’s just a drop above and a notch above makes a big difference in this world.

Rick: Yeah, that’s really good. I mean, I mean, just to emphasize the point, all this stuff we’re talking about is it’s not just sort of philosophical entertainment or something. It has real nitty gritty implications or consequences in the quality of one’s day to day life.

Moshe: Yeah. I mean, for me, when I when I sit back and I, you know, I spend a lot of my time in meditation and sometimes I’m in a meditation, which just, you know, clearing myself out and allowing, you know, there to be the space. And sometimes in that place, you know, you… you’re given certain just insight, not insight that may be any different from intellectual ideas you could have thought of on your own. But it’s almost like they have a different texture and a different color and a different feeling and emotion. It’s an energy that come with them. And very often they come back to these big ideas of wholeness and completion and unity and fundamental understandings of reality, not as ideas, but as pointers… pointers and directors. You know, move in that direction, move in the direction of this knowing because things will unlock for you. And in my personal experience, I find that they do.

Rick: Yeah. That’s interesting what you said about these insights that come during meditation. All these things we’re quoting from the Torah and the Gita and things like that. I don’t think they were coined by people who just sort of, you know, sat around, you know, pontificating and just, you know, smoking a joint and coming up with some crazy ideas. They were people who had deep spiritual insight and that knowledge sort of, they cognized that knowledge. We could say they cognized the sort of mechanics of creation within their deep experience and then gave voice to it. So, it springs from a real deep level.

Moshe: Right. And the word is only as powerful as the presence and the consciousness that spoke the word forward, which is why some, you know, two people can say the same thing. And with one person, it moves you and the other person, it just sounds like paper. And you try to figure out, well, wait a second. I just heard this from this person and didn’t move me. And I heard almost the exact same thing over there. And I’m sure it wasn’t the tone of voice. What was it? And it was the tone of like human. It’s a tuning in that when one gets to, it comes through in such a way. And if you’ve ever had that experience yourself, you know it from within. And certainly when you when you around a person who is, you know, somewhat enlightened or at least in an enlightened state when they’re giving something over and you can even sense the difference between a person who’s just giving over information or giving over something emotionally. They’re excited. And then there’s something beyond that, which is more like pure, almost pure consciousness coming through like a deeper energy. And if you’re sensitive to it, you can feel it in another. And if you’re if you yourself are going through that experience, you feel it. It’s different. And it carries, like you said, it’s like they’re a channel for some spiritual knowledge when people are giving these things over. So, you know, a thousand people can say, you know, it’s all about love. Right. And then one person can say it who’s in that love. And when they say you’re moved, you may not even have to speak their language, by the way. I’ve met a lot of people who have gone around the world and spent time with spiritual teachers. They’ll speak in a completely foreign language they know nothing about. But the person they went to see was in that place of real presence with something divine. And when you’re in the presence of that, that’s what transfers. I had a couple of teachers who for years, they did not allow themselves to be recorded right in the beginning when MP3s were like, you know, they didn’t want to be recorded. And then at some point after about seven, eight years, they switched over and said, OK, people can record our talks. And separately, when asked what was the switch and why didn’t they allow the recordings before they said, you know, if you’re putting something in a recording, it’s the main purpose of it is to convey the information. But the energy that’s transferred is somewhat dimmed. And I want people coming here for the energy transference. I want them to come for that, for the holy spark that you get when you’re in the room with, you know, however many other people are there and there’s something powerful in that. I want people to come for the experience, not just for the ideas. And then after about 10 years, they changed their minds and they both had people record. And this is a completely separate places, but had the same answers. And when asked, why did they change their minds? And now they do allow people to record. They said they felt that anyway, not enough people were coming for the spiritual experience. At least people should have the information. At least people should have the pointers. So, yeah.

Rick: Well, a lot of people sat around Ramana Maharshi and a lot of times he didn’t say anything. And sometimes he spoke and some of the people around him didn’t speak Tamil. I think that was his language. But that was kind of irrelevant because the profundity of the atmosphere around him was, you know, what they came for. And Irene and I have spent a lot of time around Amma and she speaks Malayalam. We don’t speak any Malayalam, but that never really mattered. I mean, it’s just the ambience that is created in the atmosphere in the vicinity of such a person that transforms you. Yeah, it’s like a bonfire. Like, so long as you’re close to it, you’re going to get warm. Yeah, yeah. She uses that analogy. She says, like, you can put a damp log next to a hot burning log and, you know, eventually the damp log will dry out and start burning also.

Moshe: That’s beautiful. Yeah.

Rick: Let’s get back to where we started a little bit more about you. So, you know, last time we were, you were getting on the plane and laughing and crying and flying back, I guess, to Israel or something from Los Angeles. And then you said in your notes that you spent like 14 years or something in deep spiritual practice and in-depth study of Torah. So, what was that 14 years all about? What kind of deep spiritual practice? What were you learning in the Torah? Who were your teachers? That kind of thing.

Moshe: Yeah, so when I got here, I didn’t even really know what to expect. I did get on the phone with a rabbi of an institution for higher learning before I got here. It was a Yeshiva. It’s called Mechon Yaakov. And I knew very little other than the one other person I knew who knew about places in Israel said, you know, you should get in touch with this individual. His name is Rabbi Beryl Gershenfeld. He’s very special. He’s like, he’s like the Harvard of yeshivas. And I said, I don’t know, I could barely get into like a community college. I don’t know if I can make it at the Harvard of yeshivas.

Rick: Yeshiva is like a religious school, right? A spiritual school.

Moshe: Exactly. It’s a spiritual school. It’s for higher learning and education in some form of Torah.

Rick: And Torah isn’t just the Old Testament, right? There’s all kinds of other books.

Moshe: Correct. Correct. Torah is a combination of 24 of the original written books. And then a subsequent, I could try to count, but we’re talking, I think it’s another, no, I’m not going to give it a number, but it’s many, many tens, if not hundreds of other smaller pieces that came later, which are part of the oral Torah, the oral tradition. And then in tandem with that is also like the tradition of Kabbalah, which is the mystical side of Torah, which is almost entirely oral, all based in verses of one form or another. But the vastness of its tradition was only written down. We’re probably writing it down almost 2000 years later from original transmission. So, it was given teacher to student, teacher to student, teacher to student for many, many generations before they codified it in some way. So we’re dealing with what’s ungodly, to say the least amounts of information.

Rick: So, was the Old Testament cobbled together from bits and pieces of all these other things and a lot of things just didn’t make the cut or?

Moshe: No, it’s more like the, if we really want to go into it, the first five books were direct transmission, you know, God to Moses. And that’s what you have as what’s called like the, I think that’s what they call the Pentateuch. No, that’s the whole 24. That’s the five books of Moses. It’s the first, the first five, which is in Hebrew, it’s what you would call the Chumash. And when most people refer to the Torah, if they’re referring to the source text, that’s like a source text that was followed by 19 other books, which were written with what you would call like. Some of them were prophetic and some of them were more divinely inspired, like Psalms was written with what’s called Ruach HaKodesh, which is more of a divine inspiration. Right. And I don’t remember from the 19, which side breaks down to prophecy and which is divine inspiration, but they’re all considered of a certain caliber that stays above a certain line called the written Torah. This was written and given over and then everything after that is a, it’s a combination of oral tradition, which means it was given over at the same time, which was at Sinai, but not written down. And then there’s the other half of oral tradition, which is conversations and interpretations of. So those are two different parts of the oral Torah. So if you above the line is written and on the above line, there’s three levels. There’s divine inspiration, prophecy, and then the direct transmission, God to Moses. Under the line is oral tradition from the time of Sinai, which wasn’t written down. And then oral tradition, which is conversations of Talmudic scholars on how to understand pieces in the Torah. And after that, I think that it’s just that, then it’s just our understanding of those pieces.

Rick: Okay.

Moshe: And I know that was a large breakdown, but I think if we’re looking at it from that standpoint, you have the full picture.

Rick: Well, don’t make me take an exam on that. But, so you mentioned, you know, deep spiritual practice. So presumably, well, talk about that. I mean, did all these guys who wrote all these books have some kind of deep spiritual practice that gave them the insights to write the books? And have such practices been handed down? And is that what you learned? And how does the experiential component counterbalance the intellectual component?

Moshe: Sure. Okay. So let’s, I’ll just tell you about my experience, because I think if you ask a lot of people, a lot of people have different experiences when it comes to any religion for that matter, not just Judaism. And for me, when I landed, I ended up in a place that I immediately fell in love with the intellectual side of what Torah was. That was for me, it was a lot of truth. I just, a lot of truth resonates, you know, truth isn’t something you learn. I think it’s something you recognize. And there was a lot of soul awareness for me as I was, you know, learning bits and pieces of it. And what it looked like day to day is, you know, you’d have a class, there’d be a group of us and there’d be a teacher, sometimes from a text, sometimes not from a text, giving over certain ideas. And we’re talking, that was probably seven, eight hours a day, right? Every day. It was like a full-time job of learning. With, in between, there’s prayer, you know, prayers and meditation, depending on where I was in my, you know, kind of evolution. And in the beginning, it was very basic. I mean, we’re talking, you know, there are prayer books that you read from and you learn about what the ideas, the prayer books were written 2000 years from now. Like we’d go back by 2000 years ago. So these are like ancient prayers that you’re studying and then you’re using. And then there’s a lot of just one-to-one like personal prayer between you and the divine and trying to connect to God in a way that is of your own relation. So that was my first couple of years, was kind of like entry level. And then as I then went, it’s funny, the way my journey went was I went as far in as I could. I moved into a city called Mea Shearim, which means a hundred gates, which in Jerusalem is like one of the most ultra, ultra Orthodox communities, like in the world, not just in Israel, like on planet Earth. Like it’s up there. Like it’s probably top two or three, I don’t know. And I lived there for a couple of years, which was a fascinating experience.

Rick: And did you have the long dangly sideburns and all that?

Moshe: I didn’t, but everyone around me did. Meaning like I was, yeah, it was, you know, long coats and fur hats and long, long pants.

Rick: You must have stuck out with like a sore thumb if you didn’t have those things.

Moshe: Didn’t have those things. There are a lot of us there, though. So there were a lot of young people over there trying to learn and to grow and develop. But it was the community itself was very much like that. A lot of wonderful people, you know, it was a community like any community. Some people you get along with, some people you don’t. It was nice. And the next, I would say, four or five years was almost purely intellectual. I was trying to learn as much of the ideas. Again, if we go back to where I mentioned where I was, it’s kind of like in high school, the first 20 years of my life. I didn’t read anything. I’m almost embarrassed to say the first time I finished a book cover to cover, I think I was 20 and in Israel. Like that was the first time I was ever really immersed in anything. And then I started devouring books like all day, every day that became my life. I had a thirst for knowledge. I wanted to know what these things were. I wanted to understand not just the ideas, but the underpinnings behind which they were coming from. And I had a couple of really profound teachers in the process who were experts, not just in Jewish culture or Jewish law, but in more of the spiritual side, the self-developmental side of and purpose, purpose for life. And what we’re doing here focused much more on awakening as a human being. And so even though my days were spent reading about things that you couldn’t possibly imagine why these things are important, it’s all over. Like the Talmud discusses everything under the sun from what happens when your ox hits another ox into a pit and now you have to pay for this, guys. You have to pay reparations on that. And we’re talking about like, you know, the judicious system and all sorts of cosmic Torah law. But then behind all of that, there’s an entire world, which is what got me. Like I fell in love with a system that covered not just everything on the, what we would call like more of the scientific cultural side of things, but all of the spiritual, inner psychology, the world of consciousness, morality, like unbelievable depth that was there. And it took about six years before I had some kind of, you know, inner break. I broke at some point because I think I went so far into the intellect and I stepped away from my nature, which was, I think, more energetic, emotional. As a musician and an artist, I think that’s where I naturally find myself. And I don’t, thank God, I feel blessed with a good intellect, but I don’t think I’m naturally inclined to be thinking all the time, all day long. I got to a point where I felt I might’ve gotten lost in the laws instead of found in God. And I took another turn, like in intra study to a different form of understanding. And that’s when I started going, I didn’t leave my other study habits altogether, but I did start looking into the meditative side of Torah and spirituality where, you know, what is the depth of prayer and how do we understand how everything works in a cosmic way? That led me down a path of deep meditation and Kabbalistic concepts. So you asked what that looks like practically. So, what that looked like was, you know, getting up in the morning and spending a good 30, 40 minutes a day in some version of a silent meditation or a meditation with certain Kabbalistic names and letters and things that make up, you know.

Rick: Like mantras kind of.

Moshe: Mantras.

Rick: Kabbalistic mantras, yeah.

Moshe: Exactly. You know, some versions of chanting. I looked into and then practiced, you know, whenever I could, either in the morning or the morning and the afternoon. And then if I was having a great, great day, it’s the morning, afternoon and the evening surrounding all my regular, you know, times to pray and learn with, you know, kind of extra meditative practices in that sense. Which also, you know, I found groups of people who I feel so privileged to be connected to. Like there are a lot of people who they don’t want to stay on the surface. They want to go deeper and they want to go underneath. And I met just a great community of other individuals who are on kind of that same path. And, you know, we share meditations and we shared ideas. And that’s when the learning itself became a meditative practice. I think for me, that’s when things really started to open up, which was it wasn’t I meditated and then I learned. And then you meditate and then you learn. You learn to bridge the gap. And then when you go down and you look at something in the Torah, that itself starts to become a continuation of that meditation. And a lot of beautiful things started flowing through. It was only about 10 years in, that I think I started looking at other forms of spirituality just to see what kind of language they used. I think that was my entry point to looking at other forms of psychology and psycho-spirituality and what we would call “new age”. I don’t pretend for a moment to think I have any sort of real grasp or understanding of Buddhism or Hinduism. I’ve never studied it in a deep way in Christianity or Islam for that matter. Everything that I’ve seen has been digested and somewhat diluted through some other teacher who’s gone and done the work for me, you know, maybe in a similar way that I’ve done it in Torah, you know, and kind of bring that to the surface. So many other people have gone through their direct practices and then written it into some sort of book form so people like me can go and start to see what was going on there. And what I was hit by, it was so striking, was not only was I learning all this amazing language to express these ancient ideas that I was seeing in Kabbalah and Chassidus and Talmud, but how there was so much overlap, you know, that we are so connected as a people. And when you boil things down to their most basic, simple, and what I find to be most profound ideas, we are living in an unfolding sameness. So, in practice, you know, we all are doing different things, living different lives, and you know, whether it’s religion or no religion, whether you’re an atheist or whether you’re a devout Catholic or you’re a religious Jew in Mea Shearim, it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. You’re part of this amazing thing called life, and you’re a person that’s moving through it. I hesitate to say the same, but I think when you point back, it’s just a lot of different language that covers up a human experience. And that shifted a lot for me when I started to see that, you know, more in a global way.

Rick: >> Yeah, when I listen to your book, “It’s all the same to me”, every single theme was just a nice expression of the kind of wisdom that I’ve been pondering and that I’ve been discussing with people from every tradition under the sun, and, you know, just expressed in a nice way. So I don’t know if you hadn’t delved into, you know, kind of contemporary spirituality from other traditions, I don’t know whether you would have written the same book, or maybe you would have, because maybe all these themes are there in Torah just as much as in Eckhart Tolle or, you know, Byron Katie or any of these other people.

Moshe: >> Yeah, no, and I think they are. I mean, that’s what was, like, you know, when your eyes get opened, it’s another, you know, I felt, you know, that was that whole second part after my six years in Israel was where I would call it like my second awakening. Like I really started to awaken to a whole new lens on life. It was almost like that first awakening got me in the door so that I started learning the depth of what my heritage had. And then a second awakening for its own kind of purposes and reasons led me to saying, well, and where does that fit within more of a global and cosmic way? And you see that it’s like, you know, there’s a line in the Baal Shem Tov, who’s the founder of the Hasidic movement. And, you know, he says, every person has to know, the Hebrew is, “Ein li al haaretz ela rega achas, ha rega shel achshav”, which means every person has to know you only have one moment in the world, and that’s the moment of the now. And, you know, you hear that and you say, oh, well, you know, who copied who? And the answer is no one copied anybody, right? We’re all working with the same foundations, all trying to come to the same place. And language is so important. Language, as much as it’s a prison because it traps us into certain concepts, with the right language, you can change the world, right? You really can.

Rick: I have several questions to throw at you that are kind of practical. And then another question came in from a viewer, but I’m wondering how you juggled sort of practicality with all this study. For instance, you were in this school for a long time. Did you have to pay for it? How did you pay for it? And did you begin, did you get married and begin raising a family? I hear a little baby in the background there. Did that have to wait until you finished all this study or were you juggling that at the same time as going through all this intense study?

Moshe: First, I appreciate so much your question because it’s so grounded. It’s such a good question. I think from all the podcasts that I’ve been on over these last couple of years, this is only the second time somebody asked that. And it’s a good question. And let’s start with the second one first. And the answer is unequivocally, yes, I’ve been juggling for a long time. I had to learn how to juggle at a very young age. When you’re in a band, you have to learn how to juggle. And when you’re in college, which I never went to, so I went to some study somewhere else, you learn how to juggle. You have to learn how to juggle a lot. And I married my wife in like my fifth year of my study. So the first five years, it was very bare bones. I didn’t need very much. I was on some version of a scholarship from the institutions that I was at, which I was incredibly grateful for. And I still am sending back in their direction today because I’ll be eternally grateful for what they’ve done for me. And then when I did get married, so my wife was working. And in the beginning, before you have kids, you can make it work on one salary. And we had a lot of support, both mentally, emotionally, and financially from family members who really were believing in me and my wife and our vision. And saw that we wanted to do this for the long haul. It wasn’t a hobby, but it was a life. But then the more children you have, the more you start to wake up and realize that things… The electric bill does not get paid with a mantra.

Rick: How many children do you have?

Moshe: We have four kids, thank God. So we have a newborn right now who keeps us busy. But I love them, wouldn’t trade them for anything. And I would say they were very much a part of my continue to awaken and go deeper into myself. Having kids and then that with financial strappings actually challenged me in a way that I had never had that experience before. And found that to be a good thing. Eventually, I would say it was probably in my seventh or eighth year. That’s when I started teaching. And I started, you know, I had to pull my weight to some degree. Which if my wife even heard me say that, she’d laugh and say, “I did not start to pull my weight until…” And then she’d probably go with the dot, dot, dot, you know, like until around now. My wife has been nothing but amazing, you know. And has worked extremely diligently, you know, for the last decade or so. That’s how we did it. And until most recently, until the last couple of years when we put out this book. And we’ve been doing a lot more teaching and seminars and workshops, etc. So that was the shift. And it was almost like, you know, the whole time we kind of knew this was where we were heading. It was just a matter of when I start sharing. It wasn’t about, it wasn’t the motion-girth show of like, I just want to sit and study and that’s all I want to do with my life. It was more like, I want to understand the world and the depth of life to the degree that I can. And then I want to shine that light into the world to the degree that I can. And it’s funny, it’s not so different from being a musician, being on stage and being a rock star in that sense. You know, I never thought of myself as a rock star then. I don’t think of myself as a rock star now. But I mean, the ability to get on stage and then to share an idea is not all that different than sharing a song. Especially when it’s something that’s come through you and you’ve digested it. You’ve crafted it in a certain way so that it can be palatable to people. You know, I really, I really care. I enjoy this conversation with you immensely. And I hope in this conversation there are people who are like, yeah, that was a cool conversation, man. And maybe something moves, even just a drop. The only difference is there’s no mosh pits, you know, to our conversation.

Rick: What’s that? Oh, mosh pits, mosh pits. I thought that was the Yiddish word for people where the rock star jumps into the audience. Well, it’s interesting. Before we started, you and I were talking about the fact that I had also been in a band and that I had given that up to become a meditation teacher. And it’s interesting. I didn’t regret it in the slightest. And I found that when I started teaching, it was another form of creative expression, but on a much subtler level and therefore much more gratifying. Which is not to demean all the great musicians in this world and what they do. But for me, my role, I felt like this was a good shift.

Moshe: It’s like you felt like you were home a little bit more. Yeah, yeah. Like you were grounded and this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

Rick: And it kind of refined me rather than coarsened me. You know, I would, after a night of playing, there was something really cool and integrating and all about playing, but I would feel kind of jangled afterwards. Whereas with teaching, I felt like I had kind of shifted to a deeper level of experience in the process.

Moshe: Yeah, that’s beautiful. I feel the same way. And I remember the first time I got up and spoke, you know, after leaving, it was like two years into my journey. And I was asked to speak at a small gathering of probably 30, 40 people. And specifically to share some spiritual ideas. And it’s almost like the same way that I knew it was a good concert in the band when it was just a flow. And you weren’t trying to remember or think or do, you were just complete. You were living in concert with something bigger, right? You were in alignment with your higher self and flowing. It came through and I hadn’t experienced that yet in terms of teaching. And when I shared, I felt that it wasn’t me sharing. You could kind of feel that deeper part or that higher part of whoever you are to kind of come through and choose the words and the timing and the placement of how everything comes through and almost like a calm exhilaration. And I felt the energy in the room and I felt the people there. And I remember in that moment going to one of my mentors and saying, I think I know what I’m doing next. It took a number of years before that manifested, but that was like a clarity point of, oh, this is… I almost felt like all of the time in the band was like a preparation for this next stage of like, good, you’ve learned how to be in front of a camera. You’ve learned how to be on a stage. You’re not stage fright. You’ve learned what it means to practice an idea for a long time. You’ve learned how to craft. Everything that we did there, it’s like the ability to transfer that into a spiritual dialogue and a conversation you get to have with students or with an audience. Yeah. But like you said, it was more calm and more subtle. I feel like the feeling of flow is very similar. That was like my, oh, I know moment.

Rick: Did you ever experience or do you experience even now that when you get up on a stage to teach, there’s a period of time where you’re actually starting to teach where your physiology is just kind of adjusting to the higher vibration of what you’re doing, and you can kind of feel it getting, shifting into that higher gear. And then at a certain point, it’s totally smooth, and the teaching is just flowing through without any need to adjust anymore. It’s like your physiology is on that, in that gear fully.

Moshe: Absolutely. And you know what’s unbelievable? That like, I wrote a whole piece on that today.

Rick: Just today.

Moshe: Just today. I’ve never written on that before in my life. And that you would say that now to me is like, man, that’s so beautiful. I love that. I love that. No, I love that. And I was writing about having the physiology and the body catch up to the ideas that you’re living in a line with, and especially when you’re wanting to show up and you’re wanting to teach, it’s not always there in the beginning.

Rick: Yeah, yeah. I say it because that was my experience too. It’s like at first, it’s almost like you had to keep teaching because you’re up there on the stage, but you’re kind of inside, your body’s going, oh, it’s kind of like, got to get up to this level of vibration or something. And then at a certain point, there must be some kind of analogy of a rocket ship taking off and then eventually escaping gravity and just going into a smooth orbit without all the, you know, the, the, the, whatever.

Moshe: You know, it’s funny, but the Talmud says that when a person gets up to speak, they should always start with a joke.

Rick: Good one.

Moshe: Yeah. And I think part of the reason for that is when you’re laughing and when you’re laughing with people, I think it’s like a hypersonic rocket in your metaphor. Let’s share jokes.

Rick: I’ll tell you a joke that one time I was giving a talk to a fairly large audience, maybe four or 500 people, and I was talking about Transcendental Meditation and I was teaching that. And my mother was there in the front row and some guy gets up and he says, what does this do for your sex life? And I said, well, looking at my dear mother’s face in the front row, I can only say that I’m totally unqualified to answer that question. <Laughter…>

Moshe: That’s really funny.

Rick: So what’s funny to you?

Moshe: What’s a good joke? Oh, man. You know, I am. That’s my spiritual work. I’m working on being funny. I would love that. I appreciate humor so much. That’s all I got.

Rick: How about Robin Williams? He said, with regard to like, he said, God gave man both the penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time.

Moshe: Oh, man, Robin Williams. He was special.

Rick: He was great. I laughed just thinking about it. Second time in this interview that I brought him up. Okay. Shifting gears. So you were talking about this phase. You hit a wall in terms of all this intellectual thing. And what do you do if somebody pushes your ox into a ditch? And at a certain point, you needed to shift into the more mystical nature of things. Did you have some living embodiments of that that you could learn from where they’re in your journey? Have you had some teachers who were real mystics? And, for instance, I read a book about the Baal Shem Tov back in the 70s. And he was every bit as awesome as the kinds of stories that Yogananda tells in the autobiography of a yogi, really cosmic guy. Have you encountered such? Are there such people in your circles? I mean, you are inspired by?

Moshe: I wish there was a Baal Shem Tov anywhere around here. Like on that level, that’s a that’s a very special level. But, yes, there are some really special people that I’ve met along the way. And more or less, not all, but more or less in the in the Hasidic movement, they’re all, you know, Hasidim in one form or another. Other than my direct, you know, my what we call my Rabbi, my closest mentors, Rabbi Beryl Gershenfeld, who, although he himself is not a mystic, he is. He has a profound understanding of everything on that side of the Torah table. I kind of felt like I had I got my sea legs from there. That’s where I felt like I learned how to walk in the. In the words, I could at least get the words, but until I found people who were actually living it, I had to go to different places. There was one particular I remember sitting down with him and he’s…he’s asked me not to say his name in public. So I’m not going to when I tell the story, but a particular mentor of mine who is well known in this community, very, very well-known individual. And I told him about my process and I said, you know, I kind of feel like when I was in the band, I was much more spiritual and I felt more connected and more. My intuition was working on a better scale, you know, then than now. And I explained to him everything I just told you. And he said, you know, you got a gift in that you had a minor lobotomy. I said, OK, please explain. And he said, you. Your gift was that you got to develop the intellectual side of your mind, which isn’t natural for you. And that’s a big gift because not everybody gets that. Some people do just go and, you know, I probably would have been some sort of space cadet, you know, flying up in the mountains somewhere. And he said, but you developed a certain part of your mind that allows you to be more grounded and intellectually sound when you read and learn and talk and speak. And but he said, but now you have to go back towards yourself and you have to move in the direction of your soul. And for that, he said, I would suggest moving in the direction of the Hasidic movement. So and he suggested specifically the teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, which if I don’t know if you’re familiar with Rabbi Nachman. I’ve heard the name, but I couldn’t tell you anything about him. Yeah, he he’s he’s again, I think he’s two generations after the Baal Shem Tov. But his his work is. So deep. I mean, you read you read his work and you kind of go to another dimension, even just reading it. There’s a lot of energy in his words. So that was one thing he told me to move in that direction. And then he said, and go find the living embodiment. That’s basically what he said. Go find Rabbis who who live this way and other and find a community of people who are doing this. So for me, I think one of the first people who started introducing me around was somebody named Rav Doniel Katz, who if you don’t know who he is, you should look into him. He’s an unbelievable human being. So special. I have a lot of gratitude for him. And we’ve become great friends since we first met. And he’s also a teacher. And he opened a lot of doors for me and also pointed me in the directions of, of people who had this. Just somebody named Rav Itche Meir Morgenstern, who lives here in Jerusalem and is one of these individuals. Again, what you started with the Baal Shem Tov. So it’s hard to compare anybody to someone of that caliber. But there are there are people who are here. The Amshinover Rabbi, who, you know, he is also lives in Jerusalem and is the embodiment of a person who, you know, when he when he makes a one sentence blessing, it takes him a few hours, you know, and he’s in a deep meditative state. And if you’re like if you’re anywhere in his proximity, like you’re lifted up. There have been times where when I went to spend time with these people, one particular names Rabbi Yashiv and he I would go and if I would go sit just if I was within eight feet of him, I would totally feel my consciousness like just blast up. So I went and found these people. I wish I could say I found the one that I felt like this is, you know, the end all and be all for me. I didn’t find that I found a lot of great people found a lot of inspiring people. They continue to be kind of like lights on the path. And if it is for me that, you know, there’s going to be that one out of the sky special. Okay, I want to go spend six months just sitting in front of you type of person. I’ll do it. But they haven’t shown up for me in my life yet. So I just continue to grow and learn myself.

Rick: Yeah, and I don’t think that it’s necessary that they do. I mean, if it is, then they will. But, you know, some people kind of glom on to a particular teacher and that’s it for them and others. The lady named Mirabai Starr who gave a nice talk once called “Bees in the Garden” where she was talking about how bees go from flower to flower. They get the nectar from many flowers and that that works for them. One thing I’m wondering is, you know, looking throughout history, there have been some people who have just somehow been born as saints, you know, like Ramana Maharshi just woke up or Amma. He just woke up or other people. They didn’t do a whole lot of spiritual practice or anything. And then there are others like there’s there was a guy named Valmiki who wrote the Ramayana and he was a highway robber and probably killed people and stuff. And he encountered these sages who were walking down the road and and they went through a whole dialogue which made him realize error of his ways. And then he sat in meditation for six or seven years and supposedly went so deep in meditation that an anthill built up around him, which is called Valmiki means the ant ant born sage or some such thing. But anyway, it’s probably mythological, but it’s an example that, OK, this guy had to do a bunch of spiritual practice in order to attain a saintly state. So in your circles of experience and learning, are there practices which you feel can really transform a person from, you know, not such a nice person, maybe, or just an ordinary Joe Schmo into into some can raise one’s spiritual status to enlightenment or to saintliness? Or do the saintly types that you know, do they just seem to have been gifted with that, you know, from birth and they just naturally blossomed into it without a whole lot of doing.

Moshe: So, I mean, the question is beautiful and profound. My experience is that, well, before my experience, let me just start with from from that which I’ve learned, there are soul types, you know, that come from different elements of of the within, right You know, when you go into the kind of the spiritual dimension. And so, therefore, some it makes sense that they would have an easier time accessing those places than others, right And then there’s also the the factors of life, right, where a person is born and who they’re born to and the type of experiences they’ve had. Now, putting the information aside, if you just look out into the world, I think the people that I’ve seen radical transformation from are the ones who are ready to take the most simple teaching and make it their life practice. And it’s so simple. It’s almost like that. That’s it. That’s your like your big mystical teaching. But I think what separates the adults from the children in the room are how much a person really steps into gratitude. That’s what I see. The people who have the right, like you would say, the saintliness, they’re not. It’s not about how smart they are. I mean, they might be brilliant, but that’s not what makes them unique. It’s not about even how much they do or even how much time they practice. It’s that the ones who lean in, I mean, lean all the way in to a some some version of a practice of appreciation. And if you couple that with meditation, just those two things, those two things, the person who becomes aware of their of their programming up here and then leans in with a perspective of gratitude. I see people and over these last 15 years, I’ve seen a number of people who the ones who go from, you know, the difference between zero to one and zero to 10 or how much they lean into those two practices. All the other things are wonderful and they’re great and they feel good. And there’s there’s there’s so much beauty and energy and all those things. But it’s almost like you can have a lot of moments where you’re inspired and then you fall out and then you’re inspired and then you fall out. And that happens to a lot of people and totally normal. And that’s part of the spiritual path. The people who don’t fall out are the people who are who are living in gratitude. Gratitude becomes a moment to moment practice. They’re looking, they’re looking for things to be happy about. Looking for for things to recognize good, looking for the goodness in people, the goodness in situations, the goodness in moments. And then being able to at least not go down the momentum of a negative mind pattern, you know, spiral when when they go in the other way with some version of meditation. Everything else is extra.

Rick: Do you feel that their ability to do that is something that anybody could culture the ability to do?

Moshe: Yes, I do.

Rick: So it’s not just a God given, you know, exceptional quality or something.

Moshe: I think the God given exceptional qualities exist for the people who are, let’s say, you know, there’s a story about one of the Hasidic rabbis. His name was the Sfas Emes. And somebody once came to him and said, you know, Master, Master, teach me, you know, how do you get to the top of this mountain? Right. You’re like, that’s beautiful. And he said, don’t ask me. He said, why not? He said, because it’s foolish to ask a person who was born at the top of the mountain. He said, you know, some people are born there and they’re born with all of those qualities. You know, some people have a more innate ability to look at the good. How that comes into being and why psychologically they’re able to be more spiritually aligned in that way. We could probably have a wonderful conversation about. And so I do think people have a natural proclivity to that. And those who have that are more easily accessing, you know, a spiritual dimension. But I’ve seen it. I’ve seen people who were who spent time in prison and this becomes their practice. And now they are saintly. No one’s perfect. We’re not looking at a perfection. But and if there is anybody that’s perfect, like, you know, the avatars, the individual, you know, you know, generational. Teachers, sometimes the millennial teachers, right. You know, the one in a thousand years, the one in 500 years. They’re special. And yeah, and I think they were I think they were born with that. And maybe they didn’t have to unlock it. And that’s the praise that you would give to someone is that just because you have the ability doesn’t mean it has to unfold.

Rick: Yeah, those are good points. Yeah, some people are naturally born. Everybody’s born at different levels of evolution because we all die at different levels of evolution. And then we pick it up where we left off. But there have been some teachers who were quite eloquent. But they were sitting on top of the mountain and they were really good at describing their the view they had from the top of the mountain. But it didn’t connect really well with their students like J. Krishnamurti is an example. And, you know, people spent decades with him feeling frustrated because and he was frustrated because they weren’t getting it, you know, and because they didn’t have a methodology that he could provide them to get it. So I’m sure some people around him got very inspired and perhaps some who were pretty well up the mountain themselves anyway, you know, could relate, you know, tune into what he was saying and perhaps get a boost. But it’s really I think what makes a teacher great. And there’s a there’s a metaphor for this in the Indian tradition that when the mangoes are ripe, the branches bend down so that people can pick them easily, you know. So what makes a teacher great is the ability to connect with people at whatever level they happen to be at and then provide a teaching that’s relevant and doable for them at that level.

Moshe: Yeah, and Chabad Hasidists, which I don’t know if you’re familiar with Chabad, they’re probably the most widespread Hasidic movement in the world. I think they’re in just about every city on planet Earth, everywhere. It’s amazing.

Rick: I don’t think we have any in Fairfield, Iowa.

Moshe: OK, you can you can you can find them. They’re not far from wherever you are. They’re not too far away. And they have they have a teaching similar to that, which is the the the greatness of the teacher is not how well he knows what he knows, but how young he can teach the student. So the younger the student, if you can give over the same information to a younger student, that’s how great you know, the teacher is. So the idea we can sit and talk quantum physics, but if you can’t explain the same idea to a three year old, so there’s still a it’s not a lack, but there’s something great that you get when you find someone who can speak to all the levels. Right. And all the way down. And, you know, even when you were saying that piece about Krishnamurti, you know, could be. And I was thinking about it before, even as the words were coming out of my mouth, we were talking about teachers. I don’t know if everybody’s meant to be a teacher in the same way that you and I are describing teaching. I think some people can and many people, for that matter, can be saintly in their own way and never, never share a word. And yet they are they are wonderful and beautiful teachers. I met a what sect was she from? I can’t remember. I was in Atlanta recently and just met this most wonderful woman who she was not a teacher, but she was a devout spiritual individual. I forget what sect of spirituality she was a part of. And she taught just by the way she spoke and by the way she walked. Right. And her being was was emanating, like emanating light, just her existence. Right. And, you know, I think she was just feeding her cats. Yeah. And you can you and you felt that, you know, you were in the presence of someone special. And, you know, and there’s obviously been a ton of research and science that’s been devoted to the power of, you know, meditation and group meditation and what that does, not just for the individual, but for the collective that surrounds that place. So, you know, could be someone like Krishnamurti and others, you know, even if they can’t get it down and, you know, maybe they don’t have the blessing of ripe mangoes. But they but they do have the ability to have their light shine because they they stay in that space. And so even if you’re not in the proverbial teaching space, you’re still inspiring in some way, you know, reality.

Rick: Yeah, that’s a good point. There were also are also perhaps people that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi used to refer to as babbling saints. They really are saintly and in a high state, but they just don’t have it together on any kind of intellectual level. So they they speak a lot of nonsense, but they’re actually in a good state.

Moshe: Yeah, it’s funny. I went there was somebody here in Jerusalem who is well known for being off the charts special internally. And I went to go see him and it sounded like babble. And he was speaking into a napkin. He was speaking into a napkin and he was saying all these strange things which were hard to really wrap around. And after about an hour of that, he looked up and he said something like, do you think I was even speaking to you? I was speaking to the angels, you know, you know, like you guys were just listening to the conversation. It’s like it was that was like a wild experience. So, you know, everyone’s everyone in their place.

Rick: OK, here is a question from Steve Klassen in Minnesota. And there’s some words in this I don’t understand, but you can interpret them for us. So do you think the Torah and scriptures are metaphors for meditation? That is, Moses lived 40 years in the household of esoteric Druze priest, his father-in-law, Jethro. Does that all make sense to you?

Moshe: Yeah. OK, good.

Rick: Interpret that for us.

Moshe: Sure. I mean, I think if I’m understanding, Stephen, and I guess you can correct me if I’m if I’m misunderstanding you, is that the question is. The way that scripture is written, could it not be possible that they’re written as opportunities to learn different meditations, like going and spending time in the desert? And it wasn’t just, you know, 40 years, but it was 40 days. I’m just trying to I don’t I don’t have an exact picture as to what he’s looking for in his metaphor. But the first half of the question was, is the Torah and scripture meditation opportunities? And the answer is certainly yes. And anyone in the Kabbalistic tradition will tell you the same thing, that you can take any single verse and use that as a meditation and it will take you to a certain energy that that verse carries. And in addition to that, there are many aspects of scripture where, you know, the story itself is coming to teach you a meditative process. Right. So when we talk about the sea splitting, you know, and crossing the sea, right, which is a it’s actually a story that comes up several times in twice in scripture. And again, in Talmud, the idea of crossing the sea and water in Torah literature often will reflect the idea of the physical nature, which by definition, lacks independent structure, meaning water can always take the form of whatever it is you put it in. So it’s not that it’s it has a standalone being, but rather it’s being that will mold to the situation. And the idea that you could split the water and walk through it is the opportunity to meditate on the idea that anything you are is like water, but you can split that apart to actually see something deeper, which is inside of you. And you meditate on the water that’s within you and that splitting apart and letting something deeper come through. So the story of is not just talking about a historical event, but is actually pointing you in the direction of a deeper idea and a meditative process.

Rick: OK, good. As you know, some people are very upset with Israelis because of the treatment of the Palestinians. And a question came in, which is a bit challenging, but I think you can handle it. This is from Lisa Teasley in Los Angeles. One of your old fans. Just kidding. How have you discussed with your children the recent murder of the Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the brutality suffered by her pallbearers, the world witnessed, as well as the atrocities perpetrated in general against Palestinians in Israel? How do you view all this from a spiritual, if not political perspective?

Moshe: OK, so three questions in there. There’s the last one, which is both spiritual and political. And then there’s the first question, which is how do I explain these things to my kids? Right. So piece by piece. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people do cruel things to people. That’s still where we’re at. And that breaks all the borders. And it’s an unfortunate reality. You know, we teach our kids to love. We teach our kids that murder is wrong and that when you see another human being, you have to see another human being, not an idea. Ideologies. Ideologies can lift people up and it can destroy reality. And so when you see another person for a symbol that society teaches you, you miss it. You miss what life is about. So that’s the main message we teach our children is that, you know, there’s no better or worse type of person. And there’s no one who deserves to be had violence done to them, you know, assuming that, you know, they’re not literally chasing after you. Right. So that’s just an unfortunate reality. You know, I know you’re asking me about the journalist, you know, in the same two-week span, there were, I think, 12 Israelis that were murdered by people from the PA. I mean, it’s like it was it was a hard few weeks for a lot of people. No one wins when that’s what when that’s at stake. Nobody wins. We’re all losers. We all have to do better the same way that we have to sit here and pray for the end of world hunger. And we have to pray for, you know, more love to enter the homes and the hearts of people who didn’t receive it. We have to pray for the same thing on an individual basis. So that’s the message I send my kids. It’s hard. You know, when I think about the people who have to go through pain because somebody had a bad idea. And now we have to live with that. I think that touches on when we think about now, how does that reflect in a spiritual way? I think we all want the exact same thing. I think we all want peace. I think anybody who doesn’t want peace is living in a delusion. No one should want to continue a world of separateness. That is the illusion. I think if there’s one illusion that keeps us in this cycle of madness is that we still see each other as all separate. And, you know, it’s some sort of separate theology where there’s an us and a God as separate and like we’re not automatically connected, which turns into a, you know, a separate cosmology. And then, you know, ultimately a separate pathology. It’s a problem. So, on a spiritual perspective, our job is to go inward always. And when you go inward, you stop seeing separateness. We start seeing connectedness. I wish I was smart enough to truly have a political opinion. I don’t really think in those terms. I don’t think it’s my place. If for some reason in my life it showed up to be my place, I would make it my place and I would rise to that occasion. I don’t know what me and politics have to do with one another. Most of politics today, unfortunately, have to do with people who are lying about something, which is unfortunate truth. And I just have to accept that. But I give everybody the benefit of the doubt. I look forward to a time where we can all sit at the table together, you know, where I go to get coffee every morning. You know, it’s me and, you know, it’s probably a handful of Israelis and a handful of Arabs and we’re all sitting there laughing together and we all share the same supermarkets and we all share the same, you know, coffee shops. And most people here are living in peace. That’s the truth. A lot of people who don’t know, I know this is a tangent, you know, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does come up every now and then. I invite everyone to come here and experience it. If you’ve ever spent any time in Israel, you don’t feel it the way that it’s portrayed in the news. You know, there’s a lot of really great relationships that do take place here. There’s great friendships that are here. And by and large, we all live together. There’s a lot of work ahead. And you want to talk about generational trauma? Man, this goes back to Abraham, man. Like, where, this is deep. It’s embedded. We’ve got work to do. But I’m hopeful. I’m hopeful with this just as much as I’m hopeful with climate change, just as much as I’m hopeful with world hunger and everything else we’re looking for. You know, I believe things are unfolding in a good way and they can be better. So we stay present and look forward to a better potential for sure.

Rick: Yeah, I want to do more shows, back up shows on generational trauma. I’ve interviewed Thomas Hubel a couple of times. You know him.

Moshe: Yeah, sure.

Rick: Yeah, he’s German married to an Israeli woman, and he’s really into somehow dissolving the generational trauma between Jews and Germans. And there are so many examples of this around the world. And it is like a thing. I mean, it’s a real thing that has built up in the collective psyche of different groups. And it’s like static electricity built up between two different clouds or the cloud and the ground. And it’s, you know, it theoretically can be neutralized without having to strike out as lightning. But without a lot of neutralizing taking place, we keep getting these lightning strikes, you know, that are damaging. But I think that with the development of consciousness, spiritual development, the neutralization can take place more and more. And so this collective trauma can eventually be healed. And so we won’t have to act it out in violence and other terrible things like that.

Moshe: Yeah, I would like to see if I have a dream for the future of Israel, and I do, I would like to see Israel as being a spiritual beacon where people can come to and connect to that inner side, which focuses more on the divine connection and less on religious, you know, the… As soon as you get into religion in Israel, so then that’s where a lot of these things start coming up. And that’s like, we’re totally missing the forest for the trees as a people, right? We have to find a way, if we’re going to live together in this world, we have to find a way to get beyond that and realize that there’s great opportunity. We’re living in the greatest time in history, moving in a great direction. And there is, I’m saying there are places in this country, there’s a reason why, you know, everybody feels connected to something here. There’s something special about a place, you know, you go to certain views in the world and you see the Swiss Alps and you go, wow, you know, and you see the Great Wall of China and it’s like, it’s breathtaking. And there are certain places in Israel you go to and you feel something special, there’s something beautiful and awakening that happens here. And I hope and I wish that we can come to a place where people come here and that’s what they’re looking for. And we don’t have to go beyond those borders like that. Let’s come for those awakening experiences and find that peace together.

Rick: Yeah. Again, I think it’s, there’s many things we can say about it, but one of them is just expanding one’s vision, you know, to the vastness and realizing how silly in a way these small, small boundaries are and clashes between different little boundaries, niches, you know. Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot, I mean, it just, it’s absurd when you look at it from the bigger picture.

Moshe: Yeah, we’ll get there. Yeah, we’ll get there.

Rick: Slowly but surely. Let’s see here now. A question came in, this is a good one, from Soundarya Lakshmi M. from India. What do you suggest for a person who has no purpose in life, not interested in anything, don’t know why the hell I’m alive, no desires, no passion for anything, not because they have faced failures in life, but have fulfilled all the desires and now are on a spiritual path, tired of trying out everything. How do you live?

Moshe: Well, first, I wish I knew how to pronounce your name, but hello.

Rick: Soundarya.

Moshe: Soundarya.

Rick: Soundarya Lakshmi.

Moshe: Soundarya Lakshmi. Well, nice to meet you. And thank you for your question. Before I give my own personal response. If you haven’t read Ecclesiastes, which is one of the 24 books of the Pentateuch, Ecclesiastes written by King Solomon, I would start there. Because that is how, that is the nature of the book. Yeah, the whole, the whole book is a treatise on what do I do when I feel like, you know, I’ve had everything I want to have. And I feel the world is, you know, empty and vanity, and there’s some deep insight that you may find in that place for someone who’s sitting in that place, which is, I think, more unique than it is widespread, that particular human experience. And what I would say is, I don’t know if you spend any time in meditation, but if there were a focus, I would, I would actually go into this place of asking, you know, what is it that I want? And if I, and if there’s no answer that comes, I would move forward in that and say, well, I want to want, and I’m open. I want to want, and I’m open and make that be something you return to throughout your days and stay open. I don’t know if it is the natural human condition to have no desires and no preferences, though you don’t need to be identified with them. I’m not saying to need anything. I mean, just from a place of want. The way that the question was written, it sounded more sad than it did expansive, which leads me to believe that it might be that there are wants and desires there that aren’t being seen. And maybe it’s just the desire to come closer to yourself, to love yourself. That’s how I would start this conversation. But this is the type of thing that, you know, I would sit with someone one-on-one when I meet with people and we do a one-to-one, you know, we’ll sit down for an hour or two and work on a question like this. Because I think everybody, everybody’s in their own reality. But as a general response, I would do some self-inquiry onto the truth of that statement. Is this really true? Is there truly nothing that I want to experience? And then I would go into that. And the answer is yes, there’s truly nothing I want to experience. Okay, so what are you doing here? I don’t know. Does it feel good to not know? No. What would feel good? Fill in the blank. Oh, so you would like more of that. Oh, right. And we can move down that road together. I think self-inquiry would be beneficial on that type of question.

Rick: One thing that came to my mind with her question is the 23rd Psalm, “My cup runneth over.” If your cup is really full, if you have no desires, no needs, no passion for anything, and it’s so full that it’s actually starting to spill over, then start irrigating your environment, you know.

Moshe: By doing it towards contribution.

Rick: Yeah, exactly. Start giving to others and helping others in whatever way you can. And if you have no needs or desires, then others certainly do. Maybe you can help them fulfill theirs. There’s a lady I interviewed not too long ago named Shelly Tygielski, and she’s really wonderful. She’s just such a giver, just incredibly dedicated to helping in every way she can. And she’s, you know, nearly blind. I mean, she’s blind in one eye and the other may go blind. But still, she just came back from a period of time in Poland helping Ukrainian refugees, and she’s got all these projects, helping people in various ways. And as anyone will tell you, who dedicates themselves to giving in such a way, it’s more blessed to give than to receive, in a way, because the giver actually receives more than the receiver. If you’re going to be a conduit for goodness in the world, then the divine provides you with more with which to give. So anyway, that would be my take on her question.

Moshe: Love it. Love it. Beautiful. There’s a famous piece of Torah that the word “ahava,” which means “love,” sources from the word “hav,” which means “to give.” That it’s not that you give to those you love, but you learn to love when you give. The giving itself produces the love inside of you or awakens the love inside of you. And what I found is that’s true so long as you’re not giving because you have to. As long as there’s no resentment. If you’re giving because you realize, “Okay, I’ll try it out,” like at the bare minimum. It’s not a resentment-filled giving, but then you start to see the fruits of that experience.

Rick: Yeah. Alrighty. Well, we’ve spent quite a bit of time. Maybe we should end on that note. Any final thoughts you’d like to express before we do end?

Moshe: This is a pleasure spending time with you, Rick. I really appreciate you taking this couple of hours out of your day to have this conversation.

Rick: This kind of thing is the highlight of my week. It’s not taking anything out of my day.

Moshe: I want to give you a blessing that you should live a long and full life with everything that you need to continue doing the work that you’re doing. You’re creating a platform for people to tap into the deepest aspects of themselves and of reality. I don’t know if there’s a greater work, so thank you for being you.

Rick: Oh, thank you so much. And likewise. I’ve been inspired by getting to know you over the previous week through your book and your YouTube videos. Keep doing what you’re doing, and hopefully we’ll get to meet in person one of these days.

Moshe: Okay. I’m looking forward.

Rick: All right. And thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. You can find out more about Moshe’s work through his page on my website, which I’ll provide links to his website and his book and all that stuff. And while you’re at the website, explore the menus and you’ll find some things of interest. So see you next time.