A Catholic Jew Pontificates

I love opinionated non-PC people. This blog is to vent my opinions on life, the universe and everything. Which is 42 which in gematria is "My Heart" (LBY) according to Rabbi Abulafia. The Divine Heart is the centre of everything.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Bricolage and a Mystical Erotic Midrashic Approach to Scripture as Incarnational Hermeneutics



Bricolage and a mystical erotic midrashic approach to Scripture as incarnational hermeneutics: Focusing on Shimon ben Yochai, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, St Lawrence of Brindisi and St John of the Cross.

In the Beginning: Bricolage Eroticism

This essay will seek to discuss the multi-layered hermeneutical approach to getting deeper meanings and understandings from the Biblical text through the gathering or collecting of insights from a diverse range of sources. Liesbeth Korthals Altes refers to Immanuel Levinas and other post-modernists using a form of “post-structuralist bricolage” in regards to her theory of ethical reading.[1] Altes takes this idea of bricolage from Jacques Derrida, a post–modernist, who in turn is drawing on Claude Levi Strauss’s use of the term intellectual bricolage in regard to mythological thought. [2] [3]In Hebrew this term of bricolage could be expressed as likutey which has the meaning of gathering and gleaning and is also often translated as collected in English. This idea of bricolage is also found in Scripture under the image of the ‘brickwork of Sapphire’ before which Moses and the elders of Israel ate a meal with God.[4] The bronze laver of the temple that reflected the sapphire-blue sky was the earthly counterpart of this brickwork (libnah) made from all the donated mirrors of the Israelite women.[5] My definition of bricolage, in regards to a mystical midrashic approach, is a drawing from many diverse and different sources to come to a unified yet multi-layered meaning that reflects or shines new light on the text. In the poetic and erotic language of Scripture this is “deep calling to deep”.[6]
 

This involves a lateral sharing of knowledge through encounter or rendezvous rather than a vertical exposition of knowledge as monologue or argument.[7] The romantic idea of a rendezvous hopefully leads to further and deeper encounters whereas the vertical argumentative approach can almost feel like a rape or a one night stand, leaving one empty afterward and not eager for any further encounters. In a sense Strauss’ concepts of the bricoleur with the Savage mind and the engineer with the modern scientific mind reflects these two approaches. The bricoleur creates a multi-layered unity in diversity that is flexible and open to authentic growth and the engineer creates a holistic and uniform totalising system that desires permanence and security as the highest goal.[8] [9] [10]
 

Some of the great Jewish and Catholic mystical writers use a form of what we can call “bricolage” in their reflections on the mystical understanding of Scripture. In this essay I will discuss brief extracts from the writings of Simeon ben Yochai, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, St John of the Cross and St Lawrence of Brindisi in the context of a Levinasian paradigm of encounter or rendezvous and enigma in regards to the interpretation of the Scriptures.[11] This approach I see as being an incarnational hermeneutic approach that would represent the more mystical and Hasidic traditions within Judaism and the incarnational focus in Christianity as found in John’s Gospel, in Eastern Christian mysticism and in the Franciscan theology.[12] This can also be described as a form of mystical eroticism.[13]


Incarnational Narratatology

I am not arguing here that the more vertical approach of the engineer and a focus on redemption doesn’t have its role and place but that it should not dominate over the incarnational approach which is primary and encompasses the redemption.[14] A reading of Scripture should not start from a redemptive paradigm in which the incarnation of the Word becoming flesh is mere preparation but from an incarnational and Eucharistic paradigm which then encompasses and imparts richer and deeper meaning to the events of redemption. The approach here is developed from the ideas of those proposing an appreciation of narrative theology rather than argumentative theology.[15] This narrative approach can allow for multi-layered meanings to a text which gives it a multi-layered voice and application. This narrative approach has been described as the vortex around which diverse disciplines circle allowing them to come into an ever closer proximity.[16] Johann Baptiste Metz perceives this narrative approach in theology as a Jewish strength and after the events of the Holocaust (Shoah) a much needed corrective to Catholic theology.[17] This spiral circle approach is especially suited to a mystical midrashic approach to hermeneutics. This reflects the teli (spiral circular axis) mentioned in the Jewish mystical book of the Bahir which is discussed in Jewish mystical thought.[18] It is linked by the Bahir to the spiral side curls (taltalim or Payot) worn by religious Jews. Many Jewish authorities see it as the imaginary spiral line or axis around which all the celestial bodies move.[19] In the Jewish tradition the term teli itself has multi-layered understandings and meanings.[20]


Jewish Bricolage

This bricolage multi-layered approach is found in Jewish mystical writings such as the Bahir, Sefer Yetzirah and Zohar.[21] While it no doubt derives from the Talmudic approaches to scriptural exegesis it is also a moving away from the method of Talmudic debate in some aspects. The discursive Talmudic approaches can for many become a very dry and legalistic practice only suited to academic elites. Rebbe Nachman in his teachings as recorded in Likutey Moharan used this drawing from many textual sources of Scripture, Talmud and Kabbalah to give a deeper multi-layered exegesis of Scripture which breathes new and creative life into Torah study. In this he draws on the teachings of the Zohar which is traditionally believed to have been compiled by the disciples of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai of the 2nd century. In an endeavour to understand the Biblical faith and text both Shimon ben Yochai in the Zohar and Rebbe Nachman of Breslov created new narrative like works that also have such layered meanings that mirror the Scriptures in allowing for a multi-layered reading.[22] This approach uses all the orthodox sources in such a way that new paths of understanding and interpretation open up to refresh and renew the tradition.[23] St John of the Cross does this also in his mystical writings through poetry and prose as does St Lawrence of Brindisi in his commentaries on Scripture.[24]
 

It may seem strange or unusual to discuss Jewish authors in regards to such a concept as incarnational hermeneutics as it would seem on the surface that this is purely Christian starting point found in the Gospel of John with the idea of the Divine Word becoming Flesh.[25] However one must not forget that the New Testament is Jewish and its writers are Jewish and offer a Jewish midrashic approach to Scripture.[26] St Lawrence of Brindisi however introduces to us, drawing on early teachings, the concept of the Incarnational Circle of Jesus, Mary and Joseph who are in concept form beyond time and space as the model and source of all Creation.[27] [28]In a hidden and mystical manner this incarnational circle is found in the text of Genesis 1. The Kabbalists connect the faces of Genesis 1 with the circle over the face of the deep in Proverbs 8:27.[29] [30]These are the four faces of Genesis 1 of the Hebrew text when one adds the Catholic mystic of the Divine Will the servant of God Luisa Piccarreta (1865-1947) to the Incarnational Circle.[31] [32] [33] In Judaism these four are the Torah (face over the deep) who becomes the Messiah, the Throne of God (the face over the waters) who becomes the Kneset Yisrael (Sabbath Queen), the Patriarchs (the face over the rakia) who is represented by the Hidden Tzaddik and the Temple (face over the earth) who is the Nukvah (female).[34] Rebbe Nachman refers to these four as the four minds that dwell in the Temple.[35]


Midrash and the Four Senses

The midrashic process in Judaism seeks to take one beyond the plain meaning of the text (peshat) in order to come to a deeper understanding of the text in a way that often has a practical spiritual application in the interior life of the believer that manifests in the exterior way of life.[36] Moshe Idel who discusses the connection between the concepts of midrash and kabbalah (mystical Judaism) notes the feminine aspect of the traditional Jewish midrashic focus.[37] It is this Jewish midrashic approach that is preserved in the Talmud as a form of explicating and interpreting the Jewish faith in Scripture (Torah and Tanakh) and in the Mishnah.[38] These deeper insights and understandings are referred to in Hebrew as bi’ur which is then linked by the Rabbis to the word be’er (well) of Miriam.[39] They teach when these feminine waters dry up or cease (the death of Miriam) then the interpretation of Torah becomes sterile, elite and rigid.[40]
 

Both Catholicism and Judaism hold to a multi-layered reading of all Scripture. They also group the spiritual reading of the text into three categories of homiletical or moral (drash), allegorical (remetz) and anagogical or mystical (sod).[41] This approach allows the text and spiritual elements to ‘descend’ into the lived experienced of the person, his life and community in a manner that is sacramental and incarnational. In Judaism this sacramental and incarnational lived experience and reality is found best expressed in the Hasidic communities whom embody the mysticism of the Zohar in action.


Zohar an Erotic Love Story

Melila Hellner-Eshed refer to this form of incarnational hermeneutics as Zoharic midrash that is “an experiential-mystical praxis”.[42]  This form of Biblical hermeneutics by the Rabbis of the Zohar reaches into the deeper and mysterious level of the text without any loss to the literal simple meaning or story of the text. In fact this process allows one to appreciate the beauty of the surface text in a new way and with new understandings.[43] Hellner-Eshed writes:

…For the zoharic kabbalists, the interpretation of Torah is “level upon level, concealed and revealed”: each concealed level that is revealed exposes yet another concealed level above or within itself, and so on to infinity…[44] [45]

The Zohar Rabbis thus get involved with this dynamic and multi-vocal process in order to unite, in ever greater unity, the human and divine as well as the masculine and feminine.[46] This is a truly incarnational form of hermeneutics as the male Divine Word took flesh or humanity in the womb of the perfectly created woman. By drawing from the Biblical story this mystical world of the Zohar itself becomes a story that has a surface meaning with further hidden depths. It is an erotic divine-human love story engaged by truly erotic men.[47] [48] Erotic love is warm, openhearted and generous.[49] This way of reading Scripture allows for a God who is not the unmoved first cause of Greek philosophy but the most moved mover of the Scriptures.[50] Not only does one perceive the erotic love (eros) of the story of the Zohar but the Bible itself is now perceived as a truly erotic epic of love - a poetry and ballet of the soul.[51]


This concept of the Word “incarnating” in the text is not just a passive receiving of the reader but an interactive and dynamic relationship and encounter with the words of the text. Levinas calls this rendezvous with the text “a wisdom older than the patent presence of a meaning in the writing. A wisdom without which the message buried deep within the enigma of the text cannot be grasped.”[52]  Thus the Zoharic Rabbis and those who use this approach are not just receivers of tradition but they interact and rendezvous with it is an erotic dance like struggle with the texts in order to be creative and innovative which lures the “mystic” into a lifestyle of sanctity that is divinised but ever more in touch with the joys of living out their humanity.[53] These mystics even perceive of their sufferings as the wounds of love.[54]


four erotic lovers

The reason I have chosen the Zohar, Rebbe Nachman, St John of the Cross and St Lawrence of Brindisi is due to the interconnection I perceive between these four mystical sources. They use this mystical midrashic approach as an incarnational hermeneutics focused on the Messiah and his mother. Yehudah Liebes a leading Israeli scholar from the Hebrew University has demonstrated clearly the Christian input to the Zohar much to the annoyance of other Jews.[55] Some medieval Jews after studying the Zohar became Christians as did the Frankists Jews of the 18th century.[56]  Yehudah Liebes has also demonstrated the connection between Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) and Jacob Frank (1726-1791) and the teachings of the Frankists.[57] Recent scholars over the last hundred years have discussed the Jewish conversos in the context of the great Carmelite mystics St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) and St John of the Cross (1542-1591) and their drawing on Jewish concepts from the Zohar as well as the teachings of Bernardino de Laredo (1482-1540) a Franciscan Jewish converso who wrote the Ascent of Mount Sion.[58] [59] [60]  St Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619) was also a Franciscan friar and so knowledgeable of Judaism and the Biblical languages of Hebrew and Aramaic that the Rabbis of his time believed he was a Jewish convert.[61] St Lawrence’s secular name was Giulio Cesare Rosso and his father may have been descended from the Jewish di Rossi family. This Jewish di Rossi family were closely connected via the Italian branch of the Dukes of Este to the Pico della Mirandola family who were Catholics who studied the Jewish Kabbalah and Zohar in order to prove the truths of the Catholic Faith.[62] [63]

Beginning with the Zohar I will explicate some mystical texts to demonstrate the nature of this mystical midrashic approach as a form of incarnational hermeneutics. This form of hermeneutics is different to those who read a text in order to spiritualise it into the universal whereas incarnational hermeneutics takes the text like John in the Apocalypse and Ezekiel in the Tanakh and eats and digests it.[64] This process which is Eucharistic allows for a taking of the universal and spiritual and particularising it in the concreteness of the human person and his life.[65] The Jewish tradition states that it is only those who are eaters of manna that can understand Torah.[66]
 

      1. Zohar Case Study: Zohar 1:1a

Chew the Text

For this first case study I have chosen the opening section of the Zohar which gives the paradigm from which to interpret the whole of the Zohar. The Zohar is the mystical commentary of the five books of Torah traditionally ascribed to Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai and his school of mystics. The opening verses of the Zohar quotes from the Song of Songs but mystically links this with the opening of the first chapter of Genesis. Ezekiel after eating the text is commanded to speak (daber) it to the Israelites.[67] The Rabbis of the Zohar open (petach) rather than say (amar) as the word petach in Hebrew and Aramaic alludes to the opening of the mouth (peh). This allows for a chewing on the text in order to come to a deeper understanding and application of the Torah.


The Opening and the Rose lover

(רבי חזקיה פתח. כשושנה בין החוחים.) rabi Hizkiah petakh ki-shoshannah beyn ha-khokhim. Rabbi Hezekiah opened, Like a rose-lily among the thorns… (Zohar 1:1a)

In reading the Zohar in the original Aramaic one needs to be aware that it usually only quotes the beginning part of a verse but the discussion is based on the whole verse.[68] Thus for the convenience of the reader Daniel Matt in his Pritzker translation quotes in English the full verse: “Like a rose among thorns, so is my beloved among the maidens”. (Song of Song 2:2).[69] Even the names of the Rabbis who lead the discussions often have a mystical connection to the mystery they are discussing. One is immediately asking oneself the question why is a Rabbi Hezekiah opening this mystical interpretation of Genesis and why is he quoting this verse from the Song of Songs? The name Hezekiah alludes to King Hezekiah and the Davidic King and Messiah and his Mother.[70] [71] The Song of Songs itself is traditionally believed to be written by Solomon a Davidic King and the beloved (dodi) bridegroom (chatan) of the Song of Songs is interpreted as the Davidic Messiah or God himself as the Divine King. The Hebrew words David and Dodi both contain two Hebrew dalets which in the Hebrew-Phoenician alphabet are written in a triangular form. The two triangular dalets thus form the shield or star of David (Magen David).[72] The Israeli rose-lily is in the form of the Magen David with six petals.[73] However there is also a rose with 13 petals to which this verse from the Song of Songs is referring. The six petal rose-lily (shoshan) is male and red whereas the thirteen petal rose (shoshannah) is female and white.[74] The quote is referring to this feminine Rose who is the Davidic Kings rayati. Matt translates rayati as ‘my beloved’.[75] However I think this is a poor choice as it could be misunderstood by the English reader as referring to the male beloved or lover (dodi), rayati means ‘my companion’ or ‘my friend’. I also think the translation of ‘my darling’ by some translators is a good choice. 


Feminine Mystery of the Well of Miriam

In English beloved could be male or female but in the Hebrew rayati is in the feminine form as is the word shoshannah for Rose. Thus the reader is beginning to understand that the Zohar is about the mystery of the Davidic Messiah King and his Mystical Bride. Like the Song of Songs the Zohar is an erotic love poem and song. The very word Zohar refers to a feminine “dark light” which the rabbis link to the ‘Well of Miriam’ hidden in Genesis 1. In the Ashurit or Aramaic alphabet the triangular letter is the mem and the two intertwined mems is the shield or star of Miriam (Magen Miriam). The human face is triangular and thus the two faces at the beginning of Genesis allude to these double mems that conceal the ‘Well of Miriam’ in the Hebrew text. The word for waters (mayim) in Hebrew also has these two mems. When one starts from final mem of the first use of the word mayim in Genesis and counts 26 (2x13) four times it spells out the name Miriam (מרים). This is why the Rabbinic tradition refers to the creation of the ‘Well of Miriam’ on the twilight between the first day and second day of creation.[76] The created light (and there was light- vayhi or) of Genesis 1:3 was hidden in this ‘Well of Miriam’.[77] Different Rabbinic traditions associate this light as the light of the Messiah as well as the light of the Mother.[78] This is the mystery of the Incarnation hidden in the text of Genesis 1 as a template for all Creation. 


The Rose Mystery

מאן שושנה, דא כנסת ישראל. בגין דאית שושנה ואית שושנה. Man shoshannah? Da kneset Yisrael. B’gin d’iyt shoshannah v’iyt shoshannah. Who is Rose? The Community (Lady) of Israel. Because there is a rose and there is a rose… (Zohar 1:1a)

The Zohar goes on to reveal that the rose or rose-lily of the Song of Songs is the Community of Israel (Kneset Yisrael) mystically perceived as a heavenly Maiden.[79] Matt in his footnotes states that this Kneset Yisrael (Community or Assembly of Israel) is also the Shekhinah.[80] The Shekhinah is the feminine dwelling Presence of God. Here it also mentions the two roses-the red and white- male and female which will unite and form the red and white Rosa Mundi (Universal Rose). Both the words Kneset and Shekhinah are feminine words in Hebrew. Nachmanides (Ramban) hints in his commentary on Torah that the first word of the Bible bereshit can be read as Bat Reshit (First Daughter) He also states that Kneset Yisrael refers to the Bride of the Song of Songs and who is also the mother, daughter and sister of the Divine King. [81] [82]The letter bet [ב] is perceived as an open womb and thus once again alludes to the mystery of the incarnation where the hidden aleph (first letter of the Hebrew alphabet) which represents the hidden Divinity who is concealed in the womb of the bet or the bat reshit (first daughter).[83] Nachmanides states that all the midrashim allude to this mystery of the Queen-Mother.[84] He refers to the verse in the Song of Songs: “Upon the crown wherewith his mother has crowned Him” in regard to her.[85] The Davidic Queen Mother (G’virah) of Judah is always crowned and enthroned beside her son the reigning anointed Davidic King.[86] [87]
 ִ

The Merciful Lady

Just as the Rose among the thorns is tinged with red and white, so is the Community (Lady) of Israel affected by the qualities of Judgment (din) and Mercy (rachami). Just as the Rose has thirteen petals, so the Community (Lady or Woman) of Israel is surrounded by the thirteen attributes of Mercy. Thus, between the first mention of the name Elohim (God) these words surround the Community (Lady) of Israel and guard her… (Zohar 1:1a)

In Exodus 34:6-7 God reveals to Moses his thirteen aspects of Divine Mercy and here the Zohar is linking the thirteen petals of a rose with the thirteen Hebrew words between the first Elohim (God) of Genesis 1:1 and the second mention of Elohim (God) in Genesis.[88] This is revealing the Lady of Israel (Kneset Yisrael) as the Lady of Mercy (Chesed). Elohim when rearranged is mi elah which means ‘Who is the Goddess?’.[89] Matt states that the mention of Elohim here alludes to Binah (Understanding Wisdom) the Divine Mother.[90] In Kabbalah these thirteen are said to be the ten sefirot (emanations or attributes) plus the three heads of the Crown (Keter).[91] Hasidic Judaism is based on these thirteen aspects of Chesed. The word Chesed (mercy or lovingkindness) and Chasid (merciful one) are linked. They see these ten attributes in the form of a Divine Man. The two arms and hands of this Divine Man are the feminine left red arm of judgment (Din or Gevurah) and the masculine right arm of merciful loving kindness (chesed) united in the torso or heart as Compassionate Mercy (rachamim or tiferet).[92]


The Erotic Hand Mystery

After this it (Elohim) is mentioned another time. And why is it mentioned again? In order to bring out the five sturdy leaves that surround the Rose. And these five represent the five gates of salvation. And this secret is written about in, "I will raise the cup of salvation"(Psalm 116:13). This is the 'cup of blessing' that is raised after the meal. The cup of blessing must rest on five fingers, and no more, just as the Rose rests on five sturdy leaves that represent the five fingers. And this Rose is the cup of blessing. From the second to the third mention of Elohim, there are five words. From this point light was created, it was concealed and enclosed within the covenant (phallus), entering the Rose and emitting into her the seed. This is a fruit tree yielding fruit whose seed is in itself ( Gen.1:12) That seed endures as the literal sign of the covenant. And just as the covenant is sown by forty-two matings from that same seed, so the engraved and holy name is sown by the forty-two letters that describe the works of Creation.[93] (Zohar 1:1a)

This section of Zohar then discusses the mystery of the five words between the second mention of Elohim (God) and the third mention of Elohim (God) in Genesis 1. These five words are merachfet (hovering) al (upon) panei (the face) ha-mayim (of the waters) ve-amar (and saying). It is here that the textual well begins with the final mem of mayim (waters) in which this mystery or secret of the covenant connected to the hidden light is concealed in this textual well or under-text of the name Miriam (מרים).[94] The word yad in Hebrew usually means hand but originally referred to the extremities of the limbs and thus referred to hands and feet. It was also used as a euphemism for the sexual organs. The left hand or foot for the female organ and the right hand or foot for the male organ.[95]


In Hebrew the word brit (covenant) is also used for the male sexual organ or phallus as a circumcision is also known as a brit or brit milah. The five leaves that surround the mystical Rose are linked to the five gates of salvation (yeshuot). These yeshuot are perceived by some as the five wounds of the Messiah (in hands, feet and side) who is also alluded to in the verse about raising the cup of salvation which is applied to the Davidic Messiah and to the Mysterious Child who is a Son of Joseph in another section of the Zohar.[96] The five fingers also allude to the Hamsa or Hand of Miriam which is seen in Judaism as a hand of protection against the evil eye and is also a Passover decoration made by the children by dipping their hand in charoset (the mixture that represents the mortar mixed with blood) and then making an imprint on a sheet of paper.[97]  In this context it represents the protecting blood of the Passover lamb. The Hebrew letter heh alludes to this hand as heh is also the number five. It often has a fish or eye in the middle of the hand representing Joseph which the Zohar links to the verse in Torah about the blessing of the sons of Joseph multiplying like fish and like fish under the water so the sons of Joseph cannot be harmed by the evil eye.[98] Zohar links this also to the Mysterious Son of Joseph (Yanuka) who raises the cup of salvation with a trembling hand.[99]
 

Erotic Biblical Euphemisms Galore

Joseph in Kabbalah is associated with the concept of Yesod (firm or erect foundation that is the pillar or phallus of the earth).[100] [101] The Hebrew word for hand yad is also used in the Bible as a euphemism for the male sexual organ.[102] [103] On the figure of the Divine Man the Yesod is associated with the male sexual organ.[104] [105] The blessing to Joseph’s sons uses the Hebrew word yigdal or gadal to say that Ephraim will exceed (yigdal) his brother.[106] This strange term is also used in the somewhat homo-erotic account of David and Jonathan kissing and weeping until David exceeds (yigdal).[107] [108] It is also used in the account of Ishmael as a boy exceeding or growing big (yigdal) and ripening (yigmal). This has been interpreted as he grew and was weaned but is more likely to refer to a boy whose sexual organ grows and he ripens in the sense that he came to puberty and could now emit seed (sperm). It is this that was celebrated by Abraham which was probably the original Bar Mitzvah or ceremony of becoming a mature seed bearing son of the covenant (brit) at the age of puberty.[109] Jacob uses this term metaphorically in his blessing to Ephraim in saying that the younger son will grow greater and have more seed (descendants) than Manasseh.[110] Judaism teaches that the strange oath of the thigh mentioned in Genesis involved the actual holding of the genitals of the Patriarch.[111] [112] The word used for thigh is seen by the Rabbis as a euphemism for the genitals.[113] [114]In the same way the Patriarchal blessing may have involved the placing of the patriarchs hand on the head of the circumcised penis rather than the head of the body.[115] It may have been that Ephraim’s sexual organ was bigger than his older brother which led to Jacob’s proclaiming his younger grandson as the one whose seed would exceed his older brother.[116] This emphasis on the seed alludes to the concept of the incarnation of the divine seed or word (milah) and our concrete humanity rooted in our sexuality which is a mirror of the Divine realities.[117] This incarnational planting of seed in Kabbalah and the Zohar also alludes to the universe as a womb or vacated space in which the seed or point of Wisdom (Hokhmah) enters the created Universe and forms the Divine Man (Adam Kadmon/ Shiur Komah/Yosher) who is the Bridegroom (chatan) of the Song of Songs.[118] [119] [120]


The Cup of Blessing

According to our text the Zoharic ‘cup of salvation’ is the ‘cup of blessing’ which alludes to the Kiddush of the Sabbath meal and the drinking of the cups of Passover. St Paul refers to the Eucharistic Cup of the Last Supper as “the cup of blessing”. The cup of blessing is in a sense the well of Miriam or the heart of the Mother as it is the feminine that receives and holds the male seed or blessing.[121] This raising or lifting of the cup is linked to the vessels of the Temple and the terumah (raised or lifted offering). The first word of the Bible bereshit is linked to this as starting with the final tav of bereshit and counting 5 times 26 is spelt out the word Terumah.[122] This maternal blessed one is called the Matronita throughout the Zohar.[123] [124] The number 42 here alludes to the words lebi (my heart) and imma (mother) which in gematria add up to 42. The last letter of the Torah is lamed and the first letter is bet and thus spells the word leb (heart) alluding to the fact that the Divine Heart is the Torah.[125]


      2. Rebbe Nachman of Breslov Case Study: Likutey Moharan 101:1

Two Lovers that Cannot be Separated

"When two lovers (mrei'im) come close to eat my flesh, my foes and enemies they stumble and fall" (Psalm 27:2) "The matter is as follows: "For with YaH, YHVH (The Lord) formed the worlds (Isaiah 26:4). This is "Bereshit created" (Genesis 1:1), since with the Torah, which is called reshit, God created and formed worlds (Bereshit Rabbah 1:1)…(Likutey Moharan 101:1)

Rebbe Nachman begins this teaching by quoting the verse from Psalm 27 in which he translates the word mrei’im as lovers or companions in accord with Song of Songs 5:1 and some other verses in the Bible rather than evildoers as it is usually translated in our Bibles.[126] The Rebbe has already discussed this previously in Likutey Moharan 36.[127] In Likutey Moharan 36:7 he refers to the lovers as Abba and Imma (Daddy and mummy) and in 36:5 he calls Abba and Imma Chokhmah (male Wisdom) and Binah (female Wisdom or Understanding).[128] He then calls them yod and heh. In 36:2 he mentions Joseph connected to the word Wisdom (chokhmah) and the verse of Psalm 111:10 “The beginning of Wisdom” (reshit khokhmah).[129] He also mentions that Binah (Understanding) as the Divine Mother is referred to in Proverbs 2:3 “If you call to understanding” (im laBinah tikra).[130] However the Rabbis sometimes read im (אם) as em (mother) as many do for Bahir 63 where it describes the Divine Mother who is also Sister and Daughter of the Divine King.[131] The Rebbe then states that this unity of male and female Wisdom (Chokhmah) and Understanding (Binah) is the revelation of Torah. Thus the yod (י) which is the Y (י) of the Divine Name is the male hand and the heh (ה) which is the second letter H (ה) of the Divine Name is the female hand that receives.[132]


First Daughter and Sovereign Queen Mother

Rebbe Nachman also translates Isaiah 26:4 in accord with Rashi and the Talmud.[133] [134]They translate tzur olamim as ‘forms or creates worlds’ rather than ‘everlasting rock’ or ‘strength forever’ or ‘Rock of Ages’. Thus the Rebbe is saying that the worlds were formed in the image and likeness of the Yod and Heh who are the Abba and Imma.[135] They are the two friends or lovers who never separate yod heh and aleph mem.[136] [137]He then states that the yod and heh are the first two words bereshit bara  of Genesis 1:1. Thus bereshit represents the bat reshit (first daughter) and the bara (creating or created) can be read as bera or son in Aramaic. Thus the Abba can represent Joseph or the Son of Joseph (God’s wisdom). Rebbe Nachman is giving the believer a clue to reading verse 3 of Psalm 27 in referring to the Imma. If one reads the im as ‘mother’ rather than ‘if’ it is linked with the Song of Songs 6:10 who the Zohar refers to as the Warrioress Matronita the protector of Israel and the Ark who is Sovereign of all the Earth.[138] [139] She is a lover who consumes the flesh of the Davidic Messiah, which causes his enemies to stumble and fall. Then verse 3 reads “Mother (im) bends down (protects) over me as an encampment, my heart (lebi) has no fear, Mother (im) will rise over me as a Warrioress, in her (b’zot) I trust.” 


Sefirotic Sapphire

Another way of reading im (אם) as aleph mem would see the aleph as representing Abbaאבא) ) and the mem as Imma  (ַאמא) and thus Psalm 27:3 could be read as meaning “Abba and Imma bend down over me as an encampment, my Heart has no fear, Abba and Imma will rise over me as Warriors (in Battle array), in this I trust.” The ‘me’ could represent the Davidic Messiah, or Israel as the Son or any believer who trusts in God. Rebbe Nachman in 101:2 calls such a believer an Adam. Idolaters are not considered to be Adams but three other words for non-Israelite men are used ish, gever and enash.[140] In Breslov teaching an Adam (אדם) is one that is a son of Adam (aleph), son of David (dalet) and a son of the Messiah (mem).[141] This is the Divine Man or Adam Kadmon that is the figure of the Sefirot. Rebbe Nachman in 101:2 refers to these Sefirot as a shining countenance that is the pavement or brickwork of Sapphire in Exodus 24:10.[142] The word Sefirot coming from mispar (to number) and connected to Sapir (Sapphire), Sippur (to tell) and Sefer (a book or scroll).[143]
 

Thus Rebbe Nachman in his teachings and tales has one level on the surface and other hidden levels which they can be read. Due to his process of gleaning from many diverse sources, his teachings can deepen one’s understanding thus allowing for deeper multi-layered meanings. This then permits others to use his insights to also come to new and creative innovations that enrich the tradition.


      3. St John of the Cross Case Study: Dark Night of the Soul Book 2 chapters 15-20

Darkness and Light

“…In darkness and secure, By the secret ladder, disguised—oh, happy chance!—
In darkness and in concealment, My house being now at rest...”[144]
(St John of the Cross)

This is the second stanza of St John of the Cross’ poem on the Dark Night. His famous books are a commentary of his poems which draw from many Scriptural passages and other sources in order to describe a spiritual way. This case study will focus on the phrase in the poem “In darkness and secure, By the secret ladder”. This section of the dark night deals with the same themes as the Zohar and Rebbe Nachman’s Likutey Moharan about “the beautiful maiden that has no eyes”.[145] This resonates with John’s teaching that “he must perforce keep his eyes closed and walk in darkness”[146]. The discussion by John in the Dark Night of the Soul on this in chapter 16 (sections 11-13) discusses the deeper meaning of this concept of “in darkness and secure”. These sections are very similar to the opening of the Jewish mystical Book of Bahir in which two Biblical verses are given that seem to contradict followed by a third that unites the two in order to explain the mystery of darkness and light in the spiritual life..[147] St John of the Cross’ discussion here is based on the beginning of the second stanza of his poem “In darkness and secure”:

“…caused by this dark contemplation, because it brings the soul nearer to God. For the nearer the soul approaches Him, the blacker is the darkness which it feels and the deeper is the obscurity… so immense is the spiritual light of God… the nearer we approach it, the more it blinds and darkens us. And this is the reason why, in Psalm xvii [Psalm 18], David says that God made darkness His hiding-place and covering, and His tabernacle around Him dark water in the clouds of the air .This dark water in the clouds of the air is dark contemplation and Divine wisdom in souls… as the tabernacle wherein He dwells… David explains in the same Psalm, saying: ‘Because of the brightness which is in His presence, passed clouds and cataracts’ that is to say, over the natural understanding, the light whereof, as Isaias says in Chapter V: darkened by the clouds… Well hidden, then, and well protected is the soul in these dark waters… the words of David refer in another Psalm, where he says: ‘Thou shalt hide them in the hiding-place of Thy face from the disturbance of men; Thou shalt protect them in Thy tabernacle from the contradiction of tongues.’ Herein we understand all kinds of protection; for to be hidden in the face of God… to be engulfed in these dark waters, which are the tabernacle of David… to be fortified with this dark contemplation… Wherefore this soul may well say that it journeys ‘in darkness and secure.”[148]


Dark Womb Theology

The language of the hiddenness, tabernacle, darkness, dark waters, dark contemplation, hidden face all allude to a Marian dimension hidden under the text of St John of the Cross. This is a language of the womb and the dark waters of the womb of the Mother. It is here we find the hidden Lady of Carmel so beloved by Carmelite tradition. Both John here and Rabbi Nehuniah ben Kana in the Bahir refer to Psalm 18:12: “God made darkness His hiding-place and covering, and His tabernacle around Him dark water in the clouds of the air.” St John of the Cross presents his spiritual and mystical theology quoting verses from Scripture and giving them a new understanding that is not obvious to many in the surface reading of the text.[149]  It is only in this Davidic tabernacle of the dark waters of Our Lady’s womb that we can advance safe and secure to climb the mystical ascent to holiness. This mystical ascent John calls the secret ladder. This alludes to Jacob’s ladder which Jacob saw at Bethel (the House of God) on the very spot where the future Ark of the Covenant would stand in the Holy of Holies of Solomon’s Temple.[150] [151]
 

Climbing the Ladder

It is interesting that the ten Sefirot of the Divine Man is also sometimes presented in the image of the spiral Jacob’s ladder. St John writes of the ten steps of this Ladder which he also calls the ladder of love.[152] Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Blessed Raymond Lull also referred to Jacob’s ladder in the regard to the ascent of the soul drawing on Jewish mysticism.[153] John speaks of the active dark night of the senses, a passive dark night of the senses, an active dark night of the Spirit and the passive dark night of the Spirit which has three levels connected to memory, intellect and will. His Ascent of Mt Carmel deals with the nights of the senses and his Dark Night of the Soul with the nights of the spirit or soul. This ascent in the power of the Holy Spirit is always linked with the hidden or disguised Lady of Carmel.[154] However this is a spiral ladder (lullim) not a straight ladder which allows for differences in the journey of the soul to perfection or holiness. John is also careful to refer to the orthodox sources of Catholic spirituality of his time where in these chapters on the secret ladder he also references St Bernard of Clairvaux and St Augustine.[155] However one can also discern the Franciscan and Converso Jewish sources behind many of his understandings which does not take away from the innovativeness and creativity of St John of the Cross but allows him to soar even higher and deeper.[156] It is important that one does not just soar higher which can lead to Gnosticism and Illuminism but that such soaring leads to going deeper into the mystery of the Messiah and his mother and virgin father Joseph in an incarnational and Eucharistic process that leads to one becoming more deeply human and free to love with true selflessness.[157]


      4. St Lawrence of Brindisi Case Study: Explanations in Genesis: Genesis 1

Back to the Beginning

“…Moses…desiring to pass down the principles of faith that mention the beginnings of Creation and the divine covenants with creatures, commenced his work in these words: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. There are only five words in the Hebrew text, yet they encompass all things and contain divine mysteries and contain divine mysteries and wonderful holy secrets. For this reason, I will comment on each word…”[158] (St Lawrence of Brindisi)

St Lawrence of Brindisi then discusses in detail the first word of the Bible Bereshit. He gives the opinions of a galaxy of Jewish and Christian commentators. Some of the sources he mentions just for this discussion of the first word are the Septuagint, Symmachus, Theodotion, Aquila, Peshitta, Jerusalem Targum, Tertullian, Origen, Hilary, Augustine, Basil, Ambrose, Rabbi ibn Ezra, Theodoret, and Rabbi Solomon ibn Gabirol.[159] He also quotes from the New Testament as well as other places in the First Testament. After discussing these opinions he states: “…If anyone considers the hidden wisdom within the opening words of Genesis, he will see that in them the entire plan of the creation of the world and of all things is open and unfolded”.[160] While he doesn’t mention the Rose directly here one can see that the image of a rose that opens and unfolds is being alluded to as taught in the Zohar.

Lawrence also tries his hand at a form of Jewish gematria by rearranging these first words in Genesis into a twelve word sentence that reveals the mysteries of the Father in the Son. In this he alludes to the Shiur Komah (the figure of the Universe as the Body of God as a huge man) which is also linked in Judaism to the Adam Kadmon (Divine Man) to which the Aramaic translation alludes by translating bereshit as bekadmin which Lawrence mentions earlier in the discussion.[161] Thus Lawrence not only demonstrates his great knowledge and understanding of all the sources but he uses this in order to create new insights that not only confirm the Christian teachings but gives support to some of the more esoteric teachings of Kabbalah.


Marian Bricolage as Incarnational hermeneutics

Using this bricolage approach St Lawrence of Brindisi came to rich theological insights about Jesus, Mary and Joseph. He stressed the Divine Maternity of Mary as the basis for Mariology better than any Catholic writer before him.[162] His Mariale has 84 sermons on the theme of Mary that he gave. His trust in her was incredible and one must remember he led Catholic troops into battle against the Turkish Muslims unarmed with only a crucifix to protect him. In 1601 he rode into battle on a horse at the head of the Catholic army of 18,000 troops against the 60,000 Turkish troops with only his crucifix and while he wore out or had shot under him five horses he survived without an injury.[163] He worked many incredible miracles witnessed by many people at the time.[164] He understood that Jesus and Mary were inseparable in God’s plan in a similar way that Rebbe Nachman saw the Abba and Imma as two who could not be separated. He saw that the roles of Messiah and his Mother were included in the one Divine Decree of the universal primacy of the Messiah. The Messiah and his Mother always act together and thus Lawrence saw the role of Mary as co-redemptrix at the foot of the Cross. He also taught the concepts of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption long before they became dogmas. Pope John XXIII in 1959, when he proclaimed him a Doctor of the Church, said that Lawrence’s Mariale contained the “most complete doctrine regarding the Mother of God”.[165] Father Blaine Burkey considered St Lawrence a giant of Josephology and refers to him as a Doctor of the Incarnation based on his five sermons about St Joseph.[166]Thus by his gleaning of insights from diverse Jewish and Christian sources St Lawrence enriched our understanding of the mysteries of Divine Revelation.


The Climax: Burn Baby Burn

Hopefully in this essay with its four case studies I have been able to demonstrate that the modern historical-critical method of reading and interpreting Scripture is not the only method. In fact there is another more mystical and midrashic approach that gathers from many places in order to enter into a deeper and richer penetration of the truths of faith and the Scriptures that is truly incarnational. The Rabbis of the Zohar, Rebbe Nachman, St John of the Cross and St Lawrence of Brindisi were all truly spiritually erotic men as described by Christopher Dawson.[167] They burnt with a blazing fire of love and a passion for intimacy for the Divine and its’ mysteries. 


This bricolic midrashic approach as incarnational hermeneutics complements very well the concept of Cardinal Newman about the development of tradition and the deposit of faith.[168] [169]  There are those that argue about the ideas of the development of doctrine and pit the Aristotelian based thought of Aquinas against that of the Platonist based thought of St Augustine.[170] However a returning to the Jewish and Hebraic methods of reading Scripture allows for this development of teachings and doctrine that is already hidden implicitly in the Scriptural text. This allows the word of God to be alive and active rather than static and traditionalist, without departing from the rock of the deposit of faith entrusted to the Church by Jesus and the Apostles. This process then allows for a real development of understanding of the human person from a Biblical and spiritual perspective and its application in practice as seen in Catholic Franciscan and Carmelite spirituality and Jewish Chasidic spirituality. 


The understanding of the Jewish and Catholic spiritual journeys as being a kind of incarnational erotic love story has been grasped by Pope John Paul II with his ‘theology of the body’ and Pope Benedict XV1 with his teachings on Eros. It is Pope Francis who is trying to apply these new and fresh insights in practical, joyful and compassionate ways while being sadly misunderstood by all sides. In a sense, in his person and teaching Pope Francis is a living icon of the truly erotic man who ‘incarnates’ the presence of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the life of the Church and the world. This erotic love is fire and flame which burns with passion in the hearts of the mystics. It burns brightest in the heart of the Mother. In language very similar to that of the Rabbis in the Zohar the ‘Gospel of Bartholomew’ creates for us a wonderful literary and incarnational icon. “Bartholomew came to her with a cheerful face and said: ‘You who are full of Grace, tabernacle of the Most High, Unblemished One…tell us how you conceived the incomprehensible…But Miriam answered: ‘Do not ask me concerning this mystery. If I begin to tell you, fire will come out of my mouth and consume the whole world.’...".[171] Let the fire burn!


 




[1] Gaye Williams Ortiz (editor) and Clara A.B. Joseph (editor), Theology and Literature: Rethinking Reader Responsibility (Palgrave Macmillan; Gordonsville VA, USA, 2006), 17.
[2] The characteristic feature of mythical thought is that it expresses itself by means of a heterogeneous repertoire which, even if extensive, is nevertheless limited. It has to use this repertoire, however, whatever the task in hand because it has nothing else at its disposal. Mythical thought is therefore a kind of intellectual ‘bricolage’…” (Claude Lévi-Strauss, The Savage Mind, 16-17).
[3] Liesbeth Korthals Altes. “A Theory of Ethical Reading” Theology and Literature: Rethinking Reader Responsibility. (Gordonsville VA, USA: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), 17.
[4] Exodus 24:10.
[5] Exodus 38:8.
[6] Psalm 42:7.
[7]Meir, Ephraim. "Judaism and Philosophy: Each Other’s Other in Levinas." Modern Judaism 30, no. 3 (2010): 351.
[8] Nasrullah Mambrol .Claude Levi Strauss’ Concept of Bricolage   on March 21, 2016 
[9] Of course Levi Strauss saw the mind of the bricoleur as inferior to the thinking of the engineer whereas with Derrida and postmodernist thinkers they have reversed this.
[10] St John of the Cross would suggest that in order to attain true security one needs to risk all and walk into the darkness of the unknowing. Today in the West we see an obsession with safety and security which leads to many bitter disappointments and fruits.
[11] Traditionally Simeon ben Yochai and his circle of mystical Rabbis are held by Orthodox Judaism to have written the Zohar which was only published by Moses de Leon.
[12] Frank J. Matera. “Christ in the Theologies of Paul and John: A Study in the Diverse Unity of New Testament Theology.” Theological Studies 67, no. 2 (2006): 237-256.
[13] I am using the term erotic in its positive sense not in its lustful sense.
[14] It is the Lamb who was slain before the foundations of the earth.
[15] Sandra Heinen (editor) and Roy Sommer (editor), Narratologia: Narratology in the Age of Cross-Disciplinary Narrative Research (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2009), 275-278.
[16] Heinen (editor) and Sommer (editor), Narratologia: Narratology in the Age of Cross-Disciplinary Narrative Research, 1.
[17] Heinen (editor) and Sommer (editor), Narratologia: Narratology in the Age of Cross-Disciplinary Narrative Research, 266.
[18] Bahir 106 in Kaplan. The Bahir Illumination: Translation, Introduction, and Commentary, 40-41.
[19] Aryeh Kaplan. The Bahir Illumination: Translation, Introduction, and Commentary (York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser,1979): 195-196
[20] Kaplan. The Bahir Illumination: Translation, Introduction, and Commentary, 195-196.
[21] Daniel Chanan Matt and Arthur Green (editors). Zohar, the Book of Enlightenment. (New Jersey: Paulist Press, 1983), 38.
[22] Rebbe Nachman and Jewish tradition describe this as the 70 faces of Torah that are like a mystical diamond. This once again is alluding to the 70 elders of Israel that ate with Moses before the Sapphire brickwork on Mt Sinai. They represent the 70 different ways one can look at any text.
[23] Melila Hellner-Eshed. A River Flows from Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar. (USA: Stanford University Press, 2009), 8.
[24]Daniel C. Matt,(translator). The Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol.1 California: Stanford University Press, 2004, 9.
[25] John 1:14
[26] Darrell Bock, Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christology. Vol. 12. (London: A&C Black, 1987), 17.
[27] Christopher Rengers and Matthew E Bunson. The 35 Doctors of the Church. Revised Edition (Charlotte, South Carolina: Tan Books, 2014), 605-607.
[28] However I had already come to this understanding before I ever encountered it in St Lawrence’s writings by using a similar methodology as Lawrence of studying the Jewish and Catholic sources.
[29] Marla Segol. Word and Image in Medieval Kabbalah. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), 134.
[30]  Proverbs 8:27 “When he established the heavens, I was there, when he drew a circle on the face of the deep”.
[31] Joseph. Iannuzzi, The Splendor of Creation. (Pennsylvania, USA: St Andrews Publications, 2004), 127-172.
[32] Joseph Leo Iannuzzi. The Gift of Living in the Divine Will in the Writings of Luisa Piccarreta: An Inquiry Into the Early Ecumenical Councils, and Into Patristic, Scholastic and Contemporary Theology. USA: Missionaries of the Holy Trinity, Incorporated, 2013.
[33] Luisa Piccarreta was an Italian Catholic mystic whose case is awaiting beatification. She mystically dwelt in the Holy House of Nazareth with the Holy family. In 1889 she was given the grace to live on earth in the Divine Will in a continuous, divine and eternal manner like Jesus, Mary and Joseph did on earth and as the saints in Heaven do rather than just follow the Divine Will as the saints of the past did. Since then this grace is available for others as well.
[34] Rev. Samuel Rapaport. Tales and Maxims from the Midrash (London: George Routledge & Sons, 1907), 42.
[35] Likutey Moharan II. 67 in Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and Moshe Mykoff (trans) Likutey Moharan Vol 8 (II Lessons 25-72), Jerusalem/NewYork: Breslov Research Institute, 2011.
[36] Irving Jacobs. The Midrashic Process: Tradition and Interpretation in Rabbinic Judaism. (UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 1-21.
[37] Moshe Idel. "Midrashic Versus Other Forms of Jewish Hermeneutics: Some Comparative Reflections." Midrashic Imagination: Jewish Exegesis, Thought and History (USA: State Univeristy of New York, 1993), 45-58.
[38] Mishnah is the oral Torah that was later written down and is the base of the Talmud.
[39] Yehudah Shupin Miriam's Well: Unravelling the Mystery Chabad.Org < https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/3916196/jewish/Miriams-Well-Unravelling-the-Mystery.htm >
[40] Zohar 183b
[41] Albert Van der Heide, "PARDES: Methodological Reflections on the Theory of the Four Senses." Journal (The) of Jewish Studies London 34, no. 2 (1983): 147-159.
[42] Hellner-Eshed. A River Flows from Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar, 189.
[43] Hellner-Eshed. A River Flows from Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar, 190.
[44] Hellner-Eshed. A River Flows from Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar, 190.
[45] See Zohar 3:73a
[46] Hellner-Eshed. A River Flows from Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar, 191.
[47] The Catholic historian Christopher Dawson refers to St Francis and St Augustine as these kind of erotic men and Pope Benedict XVI’s teaching on eros helps in understanding these ideas.
[48] Christopher Dawson. "Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind." The Chesterton Review 32, no. 3/4 (2006): 526-536.
[49] Christopher Dawson. "Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind.", 526-536. Christopher Dawson in this article champions a Catholic ethos that is creative, free, passionate and mystically erotic: "...Seen from this point of view, it is obvious that the Christian ethos is essentially antibourgeois, since it is an ethos of love. This is particularly obvious in the case of St. Francis and the mediaeval mystics, who appropriated to their use the phraseology of mediaeval erotic poetry and used the antibourgeois concepts of the chivalrous class-consciousness, such as "adel," "noble," and "gentile," in order to define the spiritual character of the true mystic..." 
[50] Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets, Vol. II; (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), 4.
[51] Hellner-Eshed. A River Flows from Eden: The Language of Mystical Experience in the Zohar, 189-203.
[52] Emmanuel Levinas, In the Time of the Nations (London, Athlone Press, 1994), 38.
[53] Chief Rabbi Alexandre Safran, Wisdom of Kabbalah (Jerusalem/New York: Feldheim Publishers, 1991), 170-1.
[54] See St John of the Cross’ Living Flame of Love.
[55] Yehuda Liebes. "Christian Influences in the Zohar." Immanuel. A Semi-Annual Bulletin of Religious Thought and Research in Israel Jérusalem 17 (1983): 43-67.
[56] Pawel Maciejko. The Mixed Multitude: Jacob Frank and the Frankist Movement, 1755-1816. (USA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2011), 1-264.
[57] Yehuda Liebes. Studies in Jewish Myth and Jewish Messianism, (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), 148.
[58] Catherine Swietlicki. Spanish Christian Cabala: The Works of Luis de León: Santa Teresa de Jesús, and San Juan de la Cruz. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1986.
[59] Jessica  A. Boon, “A Mystic in the Age of the Inquisition: Bernardino de Laredo's Converso Environment and Christological Spirituality” Medieval Encounters 12.2 (Springer, 2006), 134-35.
[60] The term conversos refers to the Jews of Spain who became Catholics due to pressure in Medieval Spain. Large numbers converted in 1391 and again in 1492. They were also called Marranoes and Anusim. They suffered greatly at the hands of the Spanish Inquisition.
[61] Andrew JG Drenas. The Standard Bearer of the Roman Church: Lawrence of Brindisi and Capuchin Missions in the Holy Roman Empire (1599-1613). (USA: The Catholic University of America Press, 2018), 1-52.
[62] Chaim Wirszubski. Pico della Mirandola's Encounter with Jewish Mysticism. (USA: Harvard University Press, 1989), 1-200.
[63] Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) is considered the father of Christian Kabbalah. He also influenced his nephew Gianfrancesco della Mirandola (1470-1533).
[64] Apocalypse 19: 9-11 and Ezekiel 3: 1.
[65] John P. Manoussakis On the Flesh of the Word: Incarnational Hermeneutics Academia < http://www.academia.edu/8971393/On_the_Flesh_of_the_Word_Incarnational_Hermeneutics_unedited_ >
[66] Midrash Tanchuma, Parshat Beshalach. See Buber, Salomon. “Midrash Tanchuma Buber” (1885) Sefaria
[67] Ezekiel 3:1
[68] For the Aramaic text see Zohar Online
[69] Daniel C Matt (translator). The Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol.1, 1.
[70] King Hezekiah in linked with the Messiah in many Jewish traditions and some even say that the Messiah was born in the days of Hezekiah. See Sefer Zerubbabel and Raphael Patai, ed. The Messiah Texts. USA: Wayne State University Press, 1988.
[71] Martha Himmelfarb. "The Mother of the Messiah in the Talmud Yerushalmi and Sefer Zerubbabel." The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture 3 (2002): 369-89.
[72] See New World Encyclopedia “Star of David”
[73] Athol BloomerThe Star of David and the ShalsheletA Catholic Jew Pontificates July 09, 2009 
 [74] Athol Bloomer. “Mystical Rose: The Zohar and Rosa MysticaA Catholic Jew Pontificates 21 Sep 2005
[75] Daniel C Matt (translator). The Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol.1,1.
[76] Ethics of the Fathers 5:6. See Goldin, Hyman E. Ethics of the Fathers: Translated and Annotated. New York: Hebrew Publishing Company, 1962.
[77] Genesis Rabbah 1:2. See Neusner, Jacob. Genesis Rabbah: the Judaic Commentary to the Book of Genesis: a New American Translation. Vol. 2. USA: Scholars Press, 1985.
[78] Benjamin Blech. The Secrets of Hebrew Words,(New Jersey: Jason Aronson, Inc., 1991), 30.
[79]  Shir haShirim Rabbah on 2:1. See Rabbi Hillel Danziger. Midrash Rabbah: Megillas Shir haShirim Vol 1 New York: Mesorah Publiations, 2014.
[80] Matt (translator). The Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol 1, 1.
[81] Rabbi C Chavel (translator), Ramban Nachmanides: Commentary on the Torah, Genesis (Brooklyn, NY: Shiloh Publishing House, 1999), 20-21.
[82] The Jewish mystical Book of the Bahir in section 63 also refers to this Bride who is the created female Wisdom as the Mother, daughter and sister of the Divine King. This is the ‘my sister, my spouse’ of the Song of Songs.
[83] Rabbi Lawrence Kushner. The Book of Letters: A Mystical Hebrew Alphabet New York: Harper and Row, 1991.
[84] Rabbi C Chavel (translator), Ramban Nachmanides: Commentary on the Torah, Genesis, 21.
[85] Song of Songs 3:11.
[86] 1 Kings. 2:19–20.
[87] Jeremiah 13:18, 20.
[88]  Babylonian Talmud. Rosh ha Shanah 17b in Abba Zvi Naiman, Yisroel Simcha Schorr and Chaim Malinowtiz. Babylonian Talmud: Rosh HaShanah Schottenstein Edition Vol 18 New York: Mesorah Publications, 1999.
[89] This is discussed in the Zohar in the context of the mystery of the two ends of the Ark of the Covenant.
[90] Matt (translator). The Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol.1, 2.
[91] Rabbi Isaac Ginsburg The Powers of the Soul to Experience God < http://www.inner.org/powers/powratzn.htm>
[92] Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Sefer Yetzirah: The Book of Creation: In Theory and Practice, (San Francisco: Weiser Books, 1997), 5-7.
[93] Matt (translator). The Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol.1, 1-2.
[94] MRYM מרים the beginning mem in mayim (waters) in verse 3 –then count 26 to the resh in vayar (and he saw) the first word of verse 4- then count 26 to the yod in Elohim (God) in verse 4- then count 26 to the mem in Elohim (God) in verse 5. The same pattern of 4x26 can be done for the name of Yeshua further down in Genesis 1.
[95] Susan Niditch, "Eroticism and Death in the Tale of Jael." Women in the Hebrew Bible: A Reader (New York: Routledge, 1999): 308.
[96] David Goldstein. Jewish Mythology. (UK: Hamlyn, 1987), 110-119.
[97] Ahmadreza Afshar , and Aziz Ahmadi. "The Hand in Art: Hamsa Hand." Journal of Hand Surgery 38, no. 4 (2013): 779-780.
[98] Menachem Wecker. What is a Hamsa? My Jewish Learning
[99] Matt and Green, eds. Zohar, the Book of Enlightenment, 174.
[100] Hanoch Ben-Pazi. "Holiness Streams toward the Future: Sexuality in Rav Kook's Thought." Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues 21 (2011): 160-178.
[101] This is also found in Egyptian mythology where the earth God called Geb is pictured as a reclining male with a huge erect phallus with Nut the Sky Goddess arching over him. However the Israelite idea has the male as the rakia (firmament of the heavens) who is the face upon or over the rakia with the erect phallus connecting or penetrating the earth who is the feminine face upon the earth who opens to the male organ which makes the earth fecund or fruitful.
[102] Kenneth Atkinson and Jodi Magness. "Josephus's Essenes and the Qumran Community." Journal of Biblical Literature 129, no. 2 (2010): 317-342.
[103] Jodi Magness. "Integrating Archaeology." Historical Biblical Archaeology and the Future: The New Pragmatism (2016): 285.
[104] Shaul Magid. From Metaphysics to Midrash: Myth, History, and the Interpretation of Scripture in Lurianic Kabbala (USA: Indiana University Press, 2008): 28.
[105] See the diagrammes below to understand the ten sefirot and the figure of the Divine Man.
[106] Genesis 48:19
[107] Uri Wernik. "Will the real homosexual in the Bible please stand up?." Theology & Sexuality 11, no. 3 (2005): 47-64.
[108] However this does not mean that David and Jonathan were homosexual or gay in the modern sense of the word. They were both married men with wives and children. Intimacy between best friends and soldiers may have been stronger and expressions of intimacy different to latter times in Judaism. David and Jonathan had a love covenant with each other which they seemed to think was a higher love than that between a husband and a wife. The writers of the Bible may have reported such intimacies but that does not mean that they approved of those intimacies.
[109] Brit in Hebrew refers to both the words covenant and penis. The Jewish circumcision ceremony is called Brit Milah. In the Ashkenazi pronunciation it is Bris.
[110] Genesis 48:19
[111] Meir Malul. "More On Pahad Yishāq (Genesis Xxxi 42, 53) and the Oath By the Thigh1." Vetus Testamentum 35, no. 2 (1985): 192-200.
[112] Sharon R Keller. "Aspects of Nudity in the Old Testament." Source: Notes in the History of Art 12, no. 2 (1993): 32-36.
[113] Smith, S. H. ""Heel" and "Thigh": The Concept of Sexuality in the Jacob-Esau Narratives." Vetus Testamentum 40, no. Fasc. 4 (1990): 464-473.
[114] Ben Zion Katz. "The Function of the Root YR-Kh in Genesis." Jewish Bible Quarterly 37, no. 3 (2009): 189.
[115] Sandra L Gravett, Karla G. Bohmbach, and Franz Volker Greifenhagen, eds. An introduction to the Hebrew Bible: A thematic approach. (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 170.
[116] Paul Ellingworth and Aloo Mojola. "Translating Euphemisms in the Bible." The Bible Translator 37, no. 1 (1986): 139-143.
[117] As explained by Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body.
[118] Mark W Elliott. The Song of Songs and Christology in the Early Church, 381-451. No. 7. (Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2000), 4.
[119] Rachel Elior. "The concept of God in hekhalot literature." DAN, J. Binah: studies in Jewish thought. Nova York: Praeger 2 (1989), 97-115.
[120] The baby boy is also called chatan at his circumcision (brit).
[121] See Bahir 1-3 in Kaplan. The Bahir Illumination: Translation, Introduction, and Commentary, 1-2.
[122] Manfred R Lehmann. "Identification of the Copper Scroll based on its technical terms." Revue de Qumrân (1964): 97-105.
[123] Arthur Green. "Shekhinah, the Virgin Mary, and the Song of Songs: reflections on a Kabbalistic symbol in its historical context." AJS Review 26, no. 1 (2002): 1-52.
[124] Raphael Patai, The Hebrew Goddess. (Detroit: Wayne State University, 1990), 108.
[125] In Likutey Moharan II: 67 Rebbe Nachman will discuss this mystery of leb (bet and lamed) ‘In the beginning…in the eyes of all Israel’ in regards to the concept of Joseph and the four minds in the Temple.
[126] Such as Job 17:5; Proverbs 18:24 and 19:4 and Jeremiah 3:1.
[127] Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and Moshe Mykoff (trans). Likutey Moharan Vol 5 (I Lessons 33-48), (Jerusalem/New York: Breslov Research Institute, 1997), 139-181.
[128] Rebbe Nachman and Mykoff (trans). Likutey Moharan Vol 5 (I Lessons 33-48), 165-173.
[129] Rebbe Nachman and Mykoff (trans). Likutey Moharan Vol 5 (I Lessons 33-48), 143-149.
[130]  Rebbe Nachman and Mykoff (trans). Likutey Moharan Vol 5 (I Lessons 33-48), 146-147.
[131] Kaplan. The Bahir Illumination: Translation, Introduction, and Commentary, 22-23, 128.
[132] The yod is shaped like a hand and the heh is the fifth letter and a hand has five fingers.
[133] Menachot 29b see in Yisroel Schorr and Chaim Malinowitz. Talmud Bavli: Menachos Tractate. Schottenstein Edition; New York: Mesorah Publications, 2002.
[134] Rashi on Genesis 2:4 in Yisrael Herczeg, Rashi: The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary Translated, Annotated and Elucidated, Sapirstein Edition, (New York: Mesorah Publications, 2007), 20-21.
[135] The worlds refer to Asiyah (the world of action), Yetzirah (the world of forms), Beriah (the world of creation) and Atzilut (the World of Nearness to God).
[136] Likutey Moharan 101:3.
[137] Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and Moshe Mykoff (trans) Likutey Moharan Vol 9 (I Lessons 73-108), (Jerusalem/New York: Breslov Research Institute, 2006),363-369.
[138] Zohar 1:2a referring to Joshua 3:11 “Behold, the Ark of the Covenant, Sovereign of the Earth”. See Matt (translator). The Zohar: Pritzker Edition Vol.1, 9. 
[139] Song of Songs 6:10 “Who is she that comes forth as the dawn rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?”
[140] Chaim Kramer in footnote 11 of Likutey Moharan 101 in Rebbe Nachman of Breslov and Moshe Mykoff (trans) Likutey Moharan Vol 9 (I Lessons 73-108), (Jerusalem/New York: Breslov Research Institute, 2006), 355.
[141] Rabbi Chaim Kramer, Mashiach: Who? What? Why? How? Where? And When?, (Jerusalem/New York: Breslov Research Institute, 1994), 26-28.
[142] This alludes to the face of the Mother as the shining countenance or face who does not have any light of her own but reflects perfectly the light of the Divinity like the moon (lebanah) does the Sun’s light. The brickwork is libnah. It is the light of the Divine Sun which is the Divine Will that is the Divine Light that she mirrors or reflects as a pure crystal or diamond or Sapphire.
[143] Chaim Kramer in footnote 26 in Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, Mykoff, Moshe (trans) Likutey Moharan Vol 9 (I Lessons 73-108), 360.
[144] E Allison Peers. The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross: Doctor of the Church. (UK: Anthony Clarke,1974), 10.
[145] Likutey Moharan 36 and other places. See Rebbe Nachman and Mykoff (trans). Likutey Moharan Vol 5 (I Lessons 33-48), 149-155.
[146] Dark Night of the Soul book 2 chapter 16 section 12. In Peers. The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross: Doctor of the Church, 421-427.
[147] Bahir 1 in Kaplan. The Bahir Illumination: Translation, Introduction, and Commentary, 1.
[148] Dark Night of the Soul  Book 2 chapter 16 sections 11-13.in Peers. The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross: Doctor of the Church, 425-427.
[149] Barnabas Mary Ahern,. "The Use of Scripture in the Spiritual Theology of St. John of the Cross." The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 14, no. 1 (1952): 6-17.
[150] Dark Night of the Soul Book 2:18,4.
[151] Jerome H Neyrey. "Jacob Traditions and the Interpretation of John 4: 10-26." The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 41, no. 3 (1979): 419-437.
[152] Dark Night of the Soul Book 2 chapters 19and 20.
[153] Moshe Idel. “The Ladder of Ascension: the Reverberations of a Medieval Motif in the Renaissance.”
In Studies in Medieval Jewish History and Literature 2 (1984) 83-93.
[154] Ascent of Mt Carmel III: 2:10  in Peers. The Complete Works of St. John of the Cross: Doctor of the Church, 216.
[155] Dark Night of the Soul Book 2 chapter 19.
[156] Michael Dodd (OCD), “John of the Cross: His Person, His Times and His Writings” Carmelite Studies VI Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 2000.
[157] St Teresa and St John of the Cross warn in their writings against the dangers of illuminism which was rampant in Spanish spirituality at the time.
[158] Craig Toth (trans) and Victor Warkulwiz (editor). St Lawrence of Brindisi on Creation and the Fall: A Verse by Verse Commentary on Genesis 1-3 (USA: Kolbe Center for Creation Studies, 2009), 3.
[159] Toth and Warkulwiz. St Lawrence of Brindisi on Creation and the Fall: A Verse by Verse Commentary on Genesis 1-3, 4-5.
[160] Toth and Warkulwiz. St Lawrence of Brindisi on Creation and the Fall: A Verse by Verse Commentary on Genesis 1-3, 6.
[161] Toth and Warkulwiz. St Lawrence of Brindisi on Creation and the Fall: A Verse by Verse Commentary on Genesis 1-3, 4,6.
[162] Rengers and Bunson. The 35 Doctors of the Church, 601.
[163] Rengers and Bunson. The 35 Doctors of the Church, 587.
[164] Rengers and Bunson. The 35 Doctors of the Church, 593-94.
[165] Rengers and Bunson. The 35 Doctors of the Church, 603-605.
[166] Rengers and Bunson. The 35 Doctors of the Church, 605-607.
[167] Dawson. "Catholicism and the Bourgeois Mind.", 526-536.
[168] C. Michael Shea. "Father Giovanni Perrone and Doctrinal Development in Rome: An Overlooked Legacy of Newman’s Essay on Development." Journal for the History of Modern Theology/Zeitschrift Für Neuere Theologiegeschichte 20, no. 1 (2013): 85-116.
[169] See Ian Ker. Newman on Vatican II. UK: Oxford University Press, 2014.
[170] Allen Brent. "Newman and Perrone: Unreconcilable Theses on Development." The Downside Review 102, no. 349 (1984): 276-289.
[171] Gospel of Bartholomew 2:4. Also called the Questions of Bartholomew. Some scholar believe the Greek text of it dates back to the fifth century and the Latin to the sixth or seventh century. It drew on Jewish mystical sources such as the Book of Enoch to explain Christian truths.


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