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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cup of Miriam

Today many Jews add a cup of water to the Passover in honour of Miriam which they associate with the Well of Miriam and add some songs and ritual words in honour of Miriam. Is this a totally new custom or a more ancient one being renewed? Many families have always included a jug of water on the passover table to mix with the wine which is the direct origin of the recent Cup of Miriam ceremonies among Ashkenazi Jews.

However there is already another cup or bowl of water on the Passover table and this is the cup or bowl of salt water. Ashkenazis refer to this water as the tears of Israel. The Sephardim however arrange their Seder plate according to the figure of the Divine Man (Adam Kadmon)in ten sefirot. The Sefardi arrange their plate with the three matzot and the six other foods on the Seder plate. The three matzot represent the sefirot (Attributes) of the Head of the Divine man- Keter [crown], Hokhmah [wisdom] and Binah [understanding]. The other six foods are arranged as the Body of the Divine Man. Some Sefardim see the seder plate itself as the tenth sefirah of Shekhinah/Malkhut however many others place the cup or bowl of salt water (sometimes lemon juice or vinegar)as a symbol of the Shekhinah[female presence] and her tears and the 10th sefirah. Thus this custom is the true rememberance of the tears and Well of Miriam. Miriam according to Rebbe Nachman is the suffering soul of the Universe."A wise person knows that all of their own suffering also causes pain to the Divine Presence, as it says in the Talmud, "When a person is in pain, what does the Shechinah say? 'My head hurts me! My arm hurts me!'"[Talmud sanhedrin 46a] Thus, if the wise person prays for the Shechinah's suffering to subside, their own suffering will abate as well. [Toldos Yaakov Yosef, Beshalach]"
Hand of Miriam

Some Sephardim also dress their daughters as Miriam for the Passover Seder. Also they place their hand in the charoset and then on a piece of paper to make a Hand of Miriam. Zohar Mishpatim reveals that this hand is the hand of the Shekhinah and connected to the number 14. "Happy is he who ascends by a precept, meaning the precept of Tefilin, containing the four chapters containing the name Yud Hay Vav Hay. Yud is the portion: "Sanctify to me" (Shemot 13:2). Hay alludes to: "And it shall be when Hashem shall bring you" (Ibid. 11). Vav, in "Hear, O Yisrael" (Devarim 6:4); and the last Hay: "And it shall come to pass, of you shall hearken" (Devarim 28:1)in thought, to connect thought with the hand. She [the Shekhinah] is composed of Deed, being the Hei of speech, being Her Binah; composed of six Sefirot, and composed of thought, being Yud-Vav- Dalet, Hay-Aleph, Vav-Aleph-Vav, Hay-Aleph - Yud-Hay-Vav-Hay, fourteen letters, equaling the numerical value of Yad (Lit. 'Hand') THE NUMBER FOURTEEN alludes to four chapters and one compartment of Tefilin, with two straps - now we have seven - two Shin's equal nine - the knot of the strap - ten - with the four chapters of the hand - which equal fourteen. So that is why the Shekhinah is called 'hand', 'the hand of Yud Hay Vav Hay'. About Her it is written: "Into Your hand I commit my spirit..." (Tehilim 31:6). The spirit is deposited with Yud Hay Vav Hay, and the Holy One, blessed be He, descends to receive it and place it by the Shekhinah. For the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Shechinah guard it. Who brought this about? He who with every precept lifted the Shekhinah to the Holy One, blessed be He."

The Zohar Mishpatim also links Elijah and the Shekhinah or Matronita of whom Miriam the sister of Moses is a type. In the passover ritual today Elijah and Miriam's role are joined to the drinking of the third cup. "[The Faithful Shepherd says]Elijah, certainly bless and sanctify and unite the Matronita, numerous hosts of the Matronita ascend with him, and hosts of the King descend to him and all with the purpose to guard him, to make known to that spirit many novel ideas, and forecasts within the dream of prophecy and many hidden matters. An example is Jacob, about whom is written, "and behold the angels of Elohim ascending and descending on it" (Bereshit 28:12). Regarding the hosts of the King and the Matronita are written: "and he called the name of that place Machanaim (lit. 'two camps')" (Bereshit 32:2). However the King and Matronita do not descend there. Elijah said: Faithful Shepherd, so it is. As a result of your efforts in every precept to unify the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Shekhinah with all the hosts above and below, so the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Shekhinah and all Her hosts above and below unify with your spirit, with every precept done. As a prince whose parents love and kiss him, they do not rely on their hosts, but choose to guard him themselves."[Zohar Mishpatim]

Eliyahu hanavi, Eliyahu hatishbi,Eliyahu, Eliyahu, Eliyahu hagiladi Bimhera veyameynu, yavo eleynu Im Mashiakh Ben David Im Mashiakh Ben David [Elijah the prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, Elijah, Elijah, Elijah the Gileadite may he soon come to us with Messiah son of David]

Miriam haNeviyah Oz v’zimrah b’yadah, Miriam tirkod itanu l’hagdil zimrat olam Miriam tirkod itanu l’taken et ha’Olam Bimhera veyameynu hi t’vi’yenu el mei ha’yeshua, el mei ha’yeshua [Miriam the prophetess, strength and song in her hand, Dance with us to increase worldly song,Dance with us to fix the world, She will soon bring us to the waters of salvation]


Neven Pesa said...


I like the Carlebach version of 'Eliyahu HaNavi' better for some reason - although this version is beautiful as well.

Where can I find the music to Miriam HaNeviah? I tried YouTube but to no avail.

(Aharon Yosef) Athol Bloomer said...

Hi Neven, it is sung to the same tune as a second verse. i have heard it sung on a site on the internet but have forgotten which now.

cheers Athol