Hypostasis and our Relationship to G-d
I want to talk about the problem of poor circulation as it relates to our relationship with G-d. How many of you have been told that you have poor circulation in your legs? What are the symptoms? Let me first say before I get started that poor circulation can be the result of several medical problems. The one discussed in this message is only one of the causes. Do not assume that is you have poor circulation that the particular problem described in this message is your particular problem. Be sure and consult your health care provider concerning your individual concerns. Now back to a particular set of symptoms for the circulation problem described today. First you may notice that your legs swell in the afternoon or evening. They may ache and the pain may inhibit your ability to walk more than a few blocks. Some of the signs include dry skin or loss of hair on the lower legs, a brownish coloration on the shins, maybe some varicose veins, and if the problem is ignored, ultimately blisters that rupture into what we call venous ulcers. How does this happen? It is caused by hypostasis. This word is defined in Mosby’s Medical dictionary as “Pertaining to the accumulation of deposits of substances or congestion in a body area resulting from the lack of activity.” However, this disease is possible even if we have been active all of our lives. Sometimes it is inherited. But whatever the reason, the problem is that blood sent to the legs by the arteries from the heart pools in the lower legs instead of returning to the heart for re-oxygenation by way of the veins. This results in high pressure in the lower legs resulting in ulcers if not treated.
This condition is treated with applied counter-pressure for the most part and an increase in activity. Sometimes topical ointments or other dressings are applied to any existing wounds and then the legs are wrapped from the tops of the toes to just below the knees. The person is told to keep the legs elevated when not actively walking but to walk as much as possible. This treatment is very successful when the person follows the instruction,but it may take 3-6 months depending on the number and severity of the wounds. So, if we look at the big picture, oxygen rich blood gets to the legs and feet from the heart by way of arteries, but it doesn’t return to the source which is the heart in this case because of a problem. The problem can be very painful and frustrating, which can make people down- right difficult to live with sometimes. Now, what in the world does this have to do with our relationship to G-d you say? I thought you’d never ask.
Let’s start with Mt. Sinai where the Torah was given. This was indeed a mountaintop experience and the people really did not want to leave. After all, they were there with the very presence of G-d. They lived there for a year and finally G-d said in Deuteronomy 1:5; “ You have dwelt long enough on this mountain. Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the seacoast…”. Here we see that the people had to leave the mountaintop and filter down to the lowlands and the seacoast. They had been given Torah and Moshe was preparing them by admonishing them to stick to that which they had been taught as they went on to the land G-d had promised. If we compare this to our circulation, the oxygenated blood from the heart which is the core or mountaintop of the circulatory system sends the blood filled with life to the hills and the lowlands of our bodies to dispense the oxygen to all parts of the body.
This can be likened to the Israelites spreading a lifestyle instructed by the Torah throughout the land. As it says in Deuteronomy 4: 6 where Moshe is again admonishing the people by saying; “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the L-rd my G-d commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land that you go to possess. Therefore, be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’”As we have heard and hopefully studied as we seek to integrate Torah into our lives, that if we obey G-d’s commands and regulations, we are under the protective umbrella of Torah. But if we violate them and judge erroneously that we have a better idea about how to conduct our lives, Deuteronomy 4: 27 tells us that we will be scattered among the peoples and will be left few in number and ultimately destroyed. In other words, our lives become hypostatic. We sit at the bottom of the spiritual body and we become ineffective as G-d’s servants and detrimental to His cause.
Now let’s go back to our circulation problem for a moment. When the blood becomes hypostatic in the legs, the blood cells are scattered outside of the veins and are ultimately destroyed. They break apart, the life- giving oxygen is wasted and lost and one of the components of the cells stains the lower legs the characteristic brownish color which in most cases is an outward permanent sign of the problem. The skin is dry at first, flakes and blisters, then opens into a wound. The existing skin is destroyed and is rendered ineffective to the body as a whole. Isn’t that interesting? The same thing happens to us when we become contaminated with sin and are devoid of the Ruach HaKodesh which is our internal regulator! Our lives become dry and flaky. Our protective covering found by living Torah is stripped away and the open wound of sin is manifested. This results in both pain and an inability to function as an integrated whole person. Now the Israelites must have been acquainted with this physical problem as well because they are reminded in Deuteronomy 8:4 that for the entire forty years in the desert no one experienced swollen feet. So, they knew that G-d had to have intervened and protected them throughout that time. There were no complaints of achy legs for that matter. They didn’t even wear support stockings!
Now let’s talk a little bit about the treatment. It begins with the person recognizing they have a problem. This is a difficult first step because of our inherent pride. I cannot tell you how many people come into my office and tell me they have had ulcers for five years or more simply because they thought they could heal it themselves. Can you imagine? Remember what I said not too long ago about pride. It always separates us from some sort of relationship, either with our friends, family or even G-d. It results in disunity just as poor circulation causes a disharmonious relationship of the legs to the rest of the body and the immune system. There is plenty of research that tells us that when the immune system is down, restoration of the body and mind is extremely difficult to impossible to achieve. So, once we get past the pride issue, healing can begin. Isn’t this true with a relationship to YHVH? Pride kept the young man from following Yahshua, but the humility of Nicodemus was the beginning of a harmonious relationship with G-d.
Next, the wounds are cleaned and dressed. Purification by water. Sound familiar? Then comes the counter-pressure. Oh, sometimes this can be a bit uncomfortable at first. Similar to becoming obedient to Torah for the first time. Giving up if you will, the things that seemed natural to you before for things that are right but seem foreign to us such as observing Shabbat and tithing. Then comes the task of telling our families that we don’t celebrate Christmas anymore. Yes, the dressings that help to heal are somewhat tight and uncomfortable as they cover not only any open wounds but the entire lower legs. This can be likened to repentance. It is not enough to hear the Word of G-d. We must internalize it, graft it to our hearts and minds and make it our lifestyle that is obvious to all those around us. For individuals with poor circulation, they must choose to keep the dressings on for a week at a time. This routine may last for several months. They must make a commitment to follow through with the medical plan, which includes an attempt to increase activity, stop smoking if they do, and elevate their legs when at home. And like sin, this problem cannot be cured. It can however be controlled. If the person follows the prescribed, treatment plan, they will develop new skin over the wounds, and they will be healed. They are instructed to buy compression stockings to wear daily so that the blood will not become hypostatic but will return to the source (the heart) for re-oxygenation. They will become independent and fully functional once again and the pain will resolve. If however, they choose not to follow the plan of care, do not integrate it into their lives and act on it, the problems previously described will recur with possibly the loss of one or both legs in some cases. In the case of those who come to YHVH, hear, internalize and practice Torah, full function as a part of the body of YHVH in some capacity is the outcome. Their spiritual immune system will be strengthened with the truth of Torah even though adversities, illness and or death may come. These people know without a doubt that YHVH is the One who can cure or heal according to His perfect plan. By trusting Him we can know that even if He allows our physical demise, that the outcome will be perfect peace. This peace and trust allow those who love Him to continue to radiate His Torah in the highest level of health or the lowest valley of adversity. This stands in direct contrast to those who reject the very Source of our being and set their own rules for health and life.
For people in this category, pride has infiltrated their circulation. They ignore the source of help both physically and spiritually as pride enters their circulatory system. Like red blood cells that stick together because of malformation or contamination, pride results in hypostasis of the soul, separating it from the healthy circulating cells. As a result, they experience pain and suffering; sometimes infection, loss of function and at times even loss of limb. And may I remind you that this affects not only the individual but an entire body of believers. This equates to the hypostasis of blood in the legs affecting the entire circulatory system. So, we see that pride is actually a very selfish attribute or sin. It is inherent in our character and it must be reckoned with constantly. This can only be accomplished through actively exercising our minds through study and integration of Torah into our lives. There is no room for pride if Torah fills our hearts and minds.
In conclusion let me say that I wanted to present the analogy of a problem that occurs with the circulation in our physical bodies to our relationship with YHVH because it lends further credence to His consistency in every aspect of creation and the heavens. Nothing is haphazard and every thread is being woven into a miraculous, marvelous masterpiece. Our relationship to Him affects every thread of our spiritual and physical being. We can choose to study, learn and practice Torah and remain healthy in the ultimate sense of the word. Or we can tie our lives into knots of pride and disobedience, thereby disrupting the weaving of His tapestry until He simply “cuts” our knotted lives away altogether to remain totally separated from Him. Like the person with circulatory problems, we have a choice for a time. But waiting too long to decide can result in ultimate disaster.
Rabbi Tamah Davis-Hart