Archive for April, 2008

Now we see as in a mirror, likeness

Posted by Pelgrim on 15th April 2008

1 Cor 13, 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 

1 Cor 13, 12 For now we see through a glass/in a mirror, darkly [Greek: in a parable]; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 

13 And now abideth faith, hope, agape/love, these three; but the greatest of these is agape/love.

To engrave the fleshy stones of our heart, see also In thy light shall we see light:

2 Cor 3, 18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass/to behold one’s self in a mirror/to make to reflect the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. 

To not be deceived, or deceive ourselves, the true resemblance:

Jam 1, 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass/mirror:

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Let us make man in our image, after our likeness

Posted by Pelgrim on 12th April 2008

Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:

Verse of the Month - Genesis 1:26

wmlub Mdah ta Myhla arbyw

The Revised Standard Version translation for this passage is “So God created man in his own image”. As we shall see, this translation is very Western and is missing the Eastern flavour of the original text. Below is a translation, word for word, followed by a translation reflecting the Eastern meaning.

arbyw (vay-yeev-rah)
The word arb (bara) is a verb, literally meaning “to fatten” as well as “to fill”. It is often translated as “create” as in this verse as well as in Genesis 1:1 but the concept of “creating” is a western abstract and not the true meaning of arb. When the y (Y) is prefixed to the verb it identifies the subject of the verb as masculine and singular (he) and the verb tense as imperfect (will fill). The first letter prefixed to the word is the w (V) meaning “and”. When this letter is prefixed to a verb it switches the tense of the verb. In this case the perfect tense verb becomes imperfect. The word arbyw would literally be translated as “and he filled”.

Myhla (eh-lo-hiym)
The root of this word is hwla literally meaning “strength” and “power” and is usually translated as God or god (a powerful one). The My is the masculine plural suffix. The word Myhla can be translated as “gods” (quantitative plural) or as “God” (qualitative plural) in the sense of being a very powerful god. As this noun follows the verb we know that it is the subject of the verb, the “he” in the word arbyw.

ta (et)
This word preceeds a direct object of a verb telling us that the next word is “what was filled”. This word is a grammatical tool used in Biblical Hebrew and has no equivelant in English and is therefore never translated.

Mdah (ha-ah-dahm)
The first letter, h (H), is a prefix meaning “the”. The word Mda (adam) means “man” and is also the name of the first man - Adam. Because it is prefixed by the article h, we know that this word should be translated as “man” rather than Adam.

wmlub (beh-tsahl-mo)
The word Mlu (tselem, the mem is written as M when at the end of a word, and as m otherwise) is an outline or form of an original and comes from the parent root lu (tsal) meaning “shadow”. A shadow is a also representation of an original. The prefix b (B) means “in” or “with”. The suffix w (O) means “of him” or “his”.

And the Great Powerful One filled the man with a representation of himself,


Likeness, image, appereance,  demuwth, from the root damah, to be like, become like, make oneself like. Here it is prefixed by a Chaf meaning like, as.

, like/after his likeness.

Compare to Gen 5, 3 Adam [man, Adam] begat/brought forth in his own likeness (Beth prefix in/with), after his image (chaf prefix as, like)

See also likeness in Ezekiel chapter 1, 8 and 10.

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Our death is our wedding with eternity.

Posted by Pelgrim on 5th April 2008

Our death is our wedding with eternity.
What is the secret? “God is One.”
The sunlight splits when entering the windows of the house.
This multiplicity exists in the cluster of grapes;
It is not in the juice made from the grapes.
For he who is living in the Light of God,
The death of the carnal soul is a blessing.
Regarding him, say neither bad nor good,
For he is gone beyond the good and the bad.
Fix your eyes on God and do not talk about what is invisible,
So that he may place another look in your eyes.
It is in the vision of the physical eyes
That no invisible or secret thing exists.
But when the eye is turned toward the Light of God
What thing could remain hidden under such a Light?
Although all lights emanate from the Divine Light
Don’t call all these lights “the Light of God”;
It is the eternal light which is the Light of God,
The ephemeral light is an attribute of the body and the flesh.
…Oh God who gives the grace of vision!
The bird of vision is flying towards You with the wings of desire.

(Mystic Odes 833)

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Ketubbah le-Shavuot by poet Israel Majara

Posted by Pelgrim on 4th April 2008

Ketubbah le-Shavuot by poet Israel Majara (c.1550-c.1625)

the day appointed by the Lord for the revelation of the Torah to His beloved people…. The Invisible One came forth from Sinai, shone from Seit and appeared from Mount Paran unto all the kings of the earth, in the year 2448 since the creation of the world, the era by which we are accustomed to reckon in this land whose foundations were upheld by God….

The Bridegroom [God], Ruler of rulers, Prince of princes, Distinguished among the select, Whose mouth is pleasing and all of Whom is delightful, said unto the pious, lovely and virtuous maiden [the people of Israel] who won His favor above all women, who is beautiful as the moon, radiant as the sun, awesome as bannered hosts: Many days wilt thou be Mine and I will be thy Redeemer. Behold, I have sent thee golden precepts through the lawgiver Jekuthiel [Moses]. Be thou My mate according to the law of Moses and Israel, and I will honor, support, and maintain thee and be thy shelter and refuge in everlasting mercy. And I will set aside for thee, in lieu of thy virginal faithfulness, the life-giving Torah by which thou and thy children will live in health and tranquility. This bride [Israel] consented and became His spouse. Thus an eternal covenant, binding them forever, was established between them.

The Bridegroom then agreed to add to the above all future expositions of Scripture, including Sifra, Sifre, Aggadah, and Tosefta. He established the primacy of the 248 positive commandments which are incumbent upon all…. and added to them the 365 negative commandments. The dowry that this bride brought from the house of her father consists of a heart that understands, ears that hearken, and eyes that see. Thus the sum total of the contract and the dowry, with the addition of the positive and negative commandments, amounts to the following: “Revere God and observe His commandments; this applies to all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12.13). The Bridegroom, desiring to confer privileges upon His people Israel and to transmit these valuable assets to them, took upon Himself the responsibility of this marriage contract, to be paid from the best portions of His property….

All these conditions are valid and established forever and ever. The Bridegroom has given His oath to carry them out in favor of His people and to enable those that love Him to inherit substance. Thus the Lord has given His oath. The Bridegroom has followed the legal formality of symbolic delivery of this document, which is bigger than the earth and broader than the seas. Everything, then, is firm, clear, and established… I invoke heaven and earth as reliable witnesses. May the Bridegroom rejoice with the bride whom He has taken as His lot and may the bride rejoice with the Husband of her youth while uttering words of praise.

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Shavout - feast of weeks

Posted by Pelgrim on 4th April 2008

Shavuot (or Shavuos, in Ashkenazi usage; lit. “Festival of Weeks”) is a Jewish holiday that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (late May or early June). It marks the conclusion of the Counting of the Omer and the day the Torah was given to the Jewish people at Mount Sinai. It is one of the shalosh regalim, the three Biblical pilgrimage festivals.

The date of Shavuot is directly linked to that of Passover. The Torah mandates the seven-week Counting of the Omer, beginning on the second day of Passover and immediately followed by Shavuot. This counting of days and weeks is understood to express anticipation and desire for the Giving of the Torah. On Passover, the Jewish people were freed from their enslavement to Pharaoh; on Shavuot they accepted the Torah and became a nation committed to serving God.

Shavuot has many aspects and as a consequence is called by several names in the Torah. These include Festival of Weeks, Hag ha-Shavuot, Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:10); Festival of Reaping, Hag ha-Katsir, Exodus 23:16), and Day of the First Fruits, Yom ha-Bikkurim, Numbers 28:26). The Mishnah and Talmud refer to Shavuot as Atzeret (a solemn assembly), as it provides closure for the festival activities during and following the holiday of Passover. Since Shavuot occurs 50 days after Passover, Christians gave it the name Pentecost (”fiftieth day”). Wikipedia

This is considered a time for self-examination and repentance, during which one avoids exuberance. On the very first Shavuot, the Creator revealed Himself to Israel as a nation, in a mass epiphany, that briefly welded the six hundred three thousand+ souls of Israel into one united consciousness, where each soul was concerned only for the others, with no thought for itself. To stress the unity of this experience, the Torah describes Israel in the singular “VaYachan Mul HaHar” (and IT) [rather than they] camped opposite the mount. A beautiful, rabbinical expression for this inner disposition is, “K’ish Echad, U’B'lev Echad” (as one man and with one heart). In this atmosphere of awe of the Creator,
and love for others, Israel accepted the Torah (the blueprint of Creation) and the commandments therein, unconditionally (Na’asseh V’Nishma), as its eternal law. One of the most important implications of having received the Torah as an absolute obligation is that, as far as obedience is concerned, it precludes initiative. While we can struggle to understand and interpret to our hearts contents, we are not allowed to add to Torah, or detract one jot from it.

In many Sephardic congregations, prior to the Torah reading on the first day of Shavuot, a ketubbah le-Shavuot (marriage certificate for Shavuot) is read, as a symbolic betrothal of God and His people Israel. The terminology of this piyyut (medieval poem), in its various versions, strongly recalls that of the traditional prenuptial document (specifying the conditions agreed upon between the two parties; known as tena’im) or the marriage certificate given by the bridegroom to the bride at the wedding ceremony, known as ketubbah).

The hymns which compose this ketubbah le-Shavuot are based on the verses: “I will betroth you unto Me forever; I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness, and in justice, and in lovingkindness, and in compassion. And I will betroth you unto Me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord” (Hosea 2:21-22); and “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel” (Jeremiah 31:31).

Shavout - I will betroth thee forever...Some texts describe the marriage as being solemnized symbolically between the Torah (the bride) and the people of Israel (the bridegroom). God, as the bride’s father, gives as dowry the 613 commandments, the Bible, Talmud, and other sacred writings. Moses presents as dowry to his son (the people of Israel) the prayer shawl and phylacteries, the Sabbath and festivals. The contracts are witnessed by God and His servant Moses.

In other versions the “Prince of princes and the Ruler of rulers” presents the Torah to the bride as dowry and in His love He gives her the Oral Law as an added portion. The bride responds affectionately,”We shall do and we shall hearken.” The contract is dated the sixth day of the month of Sivan, in the year 2448 from the creation — according to tradition the day on which the torah was given. The Mishnah1 comments that the wedding day of King Solomon (Song of Songs 3:11) refers to the day of the giving of the Torah. The heavens and the earth witness the marriage certificate.

The most widely used text of a ketubbah le-Shavuot is that of the prolific Safed mystic and poet Israel Majara (c.1550-c.1625). Many of his piyyutim are founded in the liturgy of oriental Jews. This hymn is included in the Sephardic prayerbook for Shavuot.

1 Taanit 4:8

From: The Shavuot Anthology, ed. Philip Goodman (Jewish Publication Society of America, 1974, 1992).Translated by Solomon Feffer. 

Jewish Heritage Online Magazine - calandar

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