A Crown, Throne, and Footstool

by tillerofthesoil

the-praying-jew

A virtuous woman is a crown for her husband (Proverbs 12:4).

“Rabbi Avin son of Rabbi Adda said in the name of Rabbi Yitsḥaq, ‘How do we know that the blessed Holy One puts on tefillin? For it is said: YHWH has sworn by His right hand and by the arm of His strength (Isaiah 62:8). By His right hand—this is Torah, as is said: From His right hand was a fiery law for them (Deuteronomy 33:2). And by the arm of His strength—this is tefillin, as is said: YHWH will give strength unto His people (Psalms 29:11). How do we know that tefillin are a strength to Israel? For it is written: And all the peoples of the earth will see that the name of YHWH is called over you and they will fear you (Deuteronomy 28:10), and it has been taught: Rabbi Eli’ezer the Great says, ‘This refers to tefillin of the head.’ Rabbi Naḥman son of Yitsḥaq asked Rabbi Ḥiyya son of Avin, ‘These tefillin of the Master of the World—what is written in them? He replied, ‘Who is like Your people Israel, a unique nation on earth’ (1 Chronicles 17:2)” (BT Berakhot 6a).

I will take away My palm and you will see My back (Exodus 33:23). Rav Ḥana son of Bizna said in the name of Rabbi Shim’on the Devout, ‘This teaches us that the blessed Holy One showed Moses the knot of tefillin [at the back of His head]’” (BT Berakhot 7a).

He flung from the heavens to the earth the beauty of Israel (Lamentations 2:1)…. A parable: A king had a lovely diadem upon his head and a lovely mantle upon his shoulder. An evil rumor came to him and he flung the diadem from upon his head and the mantle from before him [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 75:4]” (Bahir §§32–33).

“A parable: A king had a throne. Sometimes he carried it on his arm, and sometimes on his head. ‘Why?’ they asked. ‘Because it was lovely and it was a pity to sit on it.’ They asked: ‘And where did he place it on his head?’ He replied: ‘In the open מ (mem), as is written, Truth from the earth will spring up, as justice from the heavens looks down (Psalms 85:12)’” (Bahir §37).

Your deed, in the midst of years revive it (Habakkuk 3:2). A parable: To what can this be compared? To a king had a goodly pearl, beloved of his kingdom. In his time of joy, he would embrace it and kiss it, place it on his head and would love it. Habakkuk said to him: Even though the kings are with you, this pearl is the beloved of your world. Therefore, Your deed, in the midst of years revive it. What is years? As is written, And God said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3). Light—none other than day, as is written, The great light for dominion of day and the small light for dominion of night, [and the stars] (Genesis 1:16). Years are [made up of] days, as is written, Your deed, in the midst of years revive it. In the midst of—this pearl that gives birth to years.

And [so] it is written, From the east I will bring your seed (Isaiah 43:5). The sun rises in the east yet you say that the pearl is day! [He replied,] I did not say [anything] except and it was evening and it was morning, first day (Genesis 1:5), as is written, On the day YHWH Elohim made earth and heavens (Genesis 2:4)” (Bahir §§72–73).

“’Israel are crowned with three crowns: the crown of priesthood, the crown of kingship, and the crown of Torah which is higher than both’ (M Avot 4:13). Indeed, there is a crown of priesthood, a crown of kingship, and the crown of Torah is above them both. To what may this be compared? To a king who had a lovely and fragrant vessel which he adored. Sometimes he puts it on his head—tefillin of the head. Sometimes he carried it in his hand—the knot of the tefillin of the hand. Sometimes he lends it to his son to sit with him. Sometimes it is called כִּסְאוֹ (kiso), ‘his throne,’ for he takes it in his hand as an amulet—like the appearance of כָּסָא (kasa), a cup [cf. Zohar 1:1a; Zohar 2:43a (RM)]” (Bahir §152).

“Rabbi Yishma’el said: I saw מַלְכּוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם (malko shel olam), the ruler of the world, seated on a high and exalted throne. A single troop standing from earth [reaching] until the firmament. His name is Sandalfon. At the time when He seeks—רוזיי יהוה אלהי ישראל (Rozey Adonai Elohei Yisra’el)—to swear by His tefillin and to cast an oath by His hand, He takes the tefillin from His head and He nullifies decrees from [upon] the earth” (Merkavah Rabbah, see Schäfer, Synopse zur Hekhalot–Literatur, §655).

“The entire world is suspended from His great arm like an amulet on the hand of a warrior” (Seder Rabba de-Vereshit, see Schäfer, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, §784, cf. ibid., §§727, 840).

“The diadem of His head sends forth and radiates the sun and moon, Pleiades and Orion and Mercury and Venus, constellations and stars and planets flow and emerge from His garment [with which] He is wrapped when He sits on the throne of His glory. And He sends forth a great light from between His eyes. King of miracles, king of mighty acts, king of wonders and a king of otherness is He, as is said, Holy, holy, holy, and then, YHWH of armies: [the whole earth is full of His glory] (Isaiah 6:3)” (Schäfer, Synopse zur Hekhalot-Literatur, §105).

“Levi is aroused with His finery; and this animal is aroused, diminishing Herself out of love of song. How does She diminish Herself out of love of song? She diminishes Herself little by little until She becomes a single point. Once She has diminished Herself in song, of then is written A man went from the house of Levi [Ze’eir Anpin] and took a daughter of Levi [Malkhut] (Exodus 2:1)—surely, from the left side. How does He grasp Her? He extends the left hand under Her head, out of love [cf. Song of Songs 8:3: His left hand beneath my head, His right hand holding me close].

Now, you might ask, ‘Since She is a single point, how can He grasp such a tiny point? Well, regarding what is above, the smaller something is, the more praiseworthy—this is its virtue, its sublime greatness [cf. BT Megillah 31a: ‘Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Wherever you find the might of the blessed Holy One you find His meekness’].

Immediately, the High Priest [Ḥesed of Ze’eir Anpin] is aroused and grasps and embraces Her. If She were large, She could not be grasped at all; but since She diminished Herself, becoming a single point, She is grasped and raised on high. Once She is raised and sits between these two sides, that column standing in the centre unites with Her—with loving kisses, in a single passionate bind. Then, Jacob kissed Rachel (Genesis 29:11)—with passionate kisses, cleaving to one another inseparably, until She receives Her soul blissfully, as is fitting.

When She receives Her soul of delights and wishes to attend to Her cohorts, they all gather and call Her from the holy palace: ‘Glory, Glory in the holy palace!’ Father and Mother open, saying, ‘Sanctified’ [i.e., sanctification of the new moon, see M Rosh ha-Shanah 2:7]….

Whereas She was a single point, as She descends, She expands little by little and fills out, becoming full in every direction, fittingly adorned” (Zohar 3:250b).

“When She ascends it is written of Her, The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22). When She rises up to the Head of Heads the angels ask ‘Where is the place of His glory to admire Him?’ And when She rises She becomes Keter, a crown on the head of אֹ (alef). When She descends, a point beneath [וִ (vav)]. So when She ascends She is called a crown according to the mystery of the musical intonations, and when She descends, She is called נְקוּדָה (nequdah), Point” (Zohar 1:24b, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar).

“She appears like this ·☽, like a crescent moon, with a point in the center, that point absorbing light from the Sun to illuminate the entire body.

This is the mystery of the point that inheres in part of the eye—everything exists in the point located in the center, for it absorbs all the light to illuminate the whole eye. Similarly, Moon is illuminated only from one point that abides and is concealed in the center, even though it cannot be seen in Moon.

Come and see: Every circle in the world is formed from the midst of the single point standing in its center. Consequently, the circle of the Moon is from a single point concealed within Her in the center, fashioning all. The point located in the center absorbs all light, shining upon Her body, illuminating all” (Zohar Ḥadash 5b, Sitrei Otiyyot).

“’On the heads of your new moons, [you shall present an ascent offering to YHWH] (Numbers 28:11). Now, how many heads does the moon have?’ (Zohar 3:248a)—there are two points, like so: ֶ  (segol)—the moon is the lower point. The two heads above are two points of segol over Her. First she was כֶּתֶר (keter), a crown, on two kings, like so:  ֒ (segolta). And following this was said, ‘Can two kings possibly wear one crown?’ (BT Ḥullin 60b). The blessed Holy One said, ‘Go, diminish yourself!’ (ibid.). She settled under the two kings’ feet. Like so: ֶ  (segol). What had been ֒ (segolta) became ֶ (segol)….

Consequently, ‘”Bring an atonement עָלַי (‘ali), for Me [because I diminished the moon]”‘ (BT Ḥullin 60b)—for the moon was surely כֶּתֶר (keter), a crown, ‘ali, over Me.’ Like so: ֹ  (ḥolem). And afterwards She was diminished and [came to] settle under His feet, like so: ֶ  (segol). And at the time of ‘bring an atonement for Me,’ it is said of Her, הִוא הָעֹלָה (hi ha-olah), she is the ascent (Leviticus 6:3). For She rises from [under] His feet, as is said, And the earth is My footstool (Isaiah 66:1), [that] it may be said of Her, The heavens are My throne (ibid.). And this is the mystery of [He who rules men,] צַדִּיק (Tsaddiq), the Righteous One, who rules in the fear of Elohim (2 Samuel 23:3). For He overturns Judgment for Compassion [see BT Yevamot 64a]. And the mystery of the matter, The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (Psalms 118:22)” (Zohar 3:248a, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas).