Sunday, February 27, 2011

Vayakhel – Crime and Forgiveness

Moses said to the Jews: Look! God has selected someone to build a Temple for you, and that is Betzalel, the grandson of Chur.

Chur was the person whom the Jews had killed just a few days before for protesting against the worshipping of the Golden Calf. When Aaron saw the murder, he reasoned that he too might be killed, and made a Golden Calf. Now Chur's grandson, a boy of thirteen, was called upon not to avenge, but to gain forgiveness.

That is why Moses said, “Look!” - it will be a sign for you, a remembrance, that the son of the man whom you killed will be building a Temple to bring you forgiveness. The only way for you can achieve forgiveness is if the prosecutor becomes your defender. No further progenitor of Betzalel is mentioned, to emphasize this. Gold is mentioned before silver in all descriptions of the Temple to remind the Jews about the Golden Calf, even though everywhere else silver comes before gold, “Mine is silver and mine is gold, say God.”

In the future the Jews were to worship the Golden Calf yet again, in the time of Yeravam, in the portion of Dan, and Betzalel's helper, Oholiav from the tribe of Dan, was toiling to obtain forgiveness for them before this second worship occurred, in keeping with the rule that God creates a cure before the disease

Art: Honoré Daumier - The Defender

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ki Tisa – The Three Offerings

"When you take a census of the Israelites to determine their numbers... Everyone included in the census must give a half shekel."

The word “offering” is mentioned three times, to tell us that there were in truth three different offerings. The first one went to build the Tabernacle. The second one – to buy daily sacrifices to be brought in the Tabernacle. And the third one – to make the silver sockets where the beams of the Tabernacle would stand.

Concerning the daily offerings, which atone for people's transgressions, the Sages have said, “No man in Jerusalem would remain there overnight without having his sins expiated.” To this offerings the words of the Torah “redemption for your souls” apply. The sockets atoned for the sin of the Golden Calf, and these are described as “The offering of God, atonement for your souls.” The daily offerings, connected to 20 gerah coins, represent the expansion of the letter yud (יוד - יוד ויו דלת). In turn, the sockets, “adanim” are related to the name of God “Adonai”, and are connected to a complete 100 with the expansion of the expansion, as we have learned before – to recap,


אלפ דלת נונ יוד

אלפ למד פא דלת למד תיו נונ ואו נונ יוד ואו דלת


Art: The erection of the Tabernacle from the Figures de la Bible; illustrated by Gerard Hoet

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Meditation on a Candle

The wick of the candle represents the physical world. The blue flame nearest to the wick is the first spiritual world above our physical one, of the Sefirah of Malchut – Rulership. Above it is the flame in the shape of a letter vav, or a straight vertical line. The numerical value of vav is 6, and it corresponds to the next six Sefirot, that is, Kindness, Strength, Beauty, Victory, Splendor, and Foundation. Next is the hottest white flame, which corresponds to the Sefirah of Understanding.

Then comes the light radiating from the candle, and this is the power to perceive, or Wisdom. Finally, there is the concept of the flame itself, and this corresponds to the highest Sefirah, the Crown, or Will.

All of these parts are united only through a wick. By contemplating a flame in this manner, one can bind himself to the Ten Sefirot.

The word used for the candle in the Sefer Yetzirah here is “gachelet,” or coal, and its numerical value is 441. The numerical value of the word Truth, “Emet” is the same. It is Truth that binds all opposites together. This is indicated in the word itself, for letter Aleph of Emet is the first letter of the alphabet, and letter Tav of Emet is the last letter of the alphabet. This is also the concept that the highest and the lowest meet and flow into each other. That infinite chain of transformations can also be used as a mental exercise, or meditation.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Terumah – The Secret of Tefillin

God spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the Israelites and have them bring Me an offering. Take My offering from everyone whose heart impels him to give.

“Take for me an offering...” hints to the Tefillin. There are three levels in the secret of Tefillin. The first is the Tefillin worn on the head, the second – on the arm, and the third one is the knot of the head Tefillin.

The two boxes of the Tefillin correspond to the two Temples that have already existed. Their place on the man's body is where "the kings", or the controllers are, that is, the heart and the brain. About the Tefillin the Torah said, “And the people of the world will see that the Name of God is written on you, and they will fear you,” and about the Temple the Torah said, “You should fear my holy place, the Temple.”

Corresponding to the three levels of Tefillin, the Jews brought three different offerings (Terumah). The hints to this are found in the spelling of the offerings' description, and it also helps understand the greatness of the Tefillin themselves.

Art: Carl Haag - A Jerusalemite Shepherd Winding the Phylacteries for the Hand