Phaedrus (Plato) speaks of “Four Kinds of Divine Madness”: Socrates begins by discussing madness. Madness given as a gift of the “god” provides us with some of the best things we have, and some of the most difficult.
There are, in fact, four kinds of divine madness:
1. From Apollo, the gift of prophecy;
2. From Dionysus, the mystic rites and relief from present hardship;
3. From the Muses, poetry;
4. From Aphrodite, love.
It is Dionysus’ gift, the madness of mystic rites, that most frightens me. History is chock full of stories of people lost in their mystic rites. Idol worship often led to uncontrolled dangerous passions. Religions spawn fiery-eyed adherents willing to plunder, rape and murder, in the name of God.
I believe that this is why the Altar was just outside the Sanctuary of the Mishkan and Temple. We tread a fine line even when we slaughter an animal as an offering. The Altar remains just outside, in order to maintain the peace and calm of the Sanctuary and protect it from the madness of mystic rites.
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