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.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chanukah and the Hand of Miriam: A Hebrew Catholic Reflection

I have written and given talks on the significance of the Hand of Miriam also called the Chamsa (five). The Muslims call it the Hand of Fatima. The Catholics know it as Mano Ponderosa (the Big Hand). Some Catholic writers have connected the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal with Queen Esther and the Book of Esther. Queen Esther and Mordecai were from the tribe of Benjamin. Esther's name means star and her hebrew name Hadassah is the name for the 5 pointed star shaped flower known as myrtle. In the recent apparitions of Our Lady of Light in Giza Egypt one person commented that it reminded her of the shape of the Chamsa. The five may represent the 5 Marian dogmas. [click here for an article on Fatima and Queen Esther]

The Jewish festival of light Chanukah is also linked to the chamsa or hand of Miriam by the parshat Mikeitz reading. Shirat Devorah blog states: ""And Binyamin's portion was five times as large as any of them" [Mikeitz 43:34]As is well known, said R' Naftali of Ropshitz, Chanukah always falls out during the week that we read Parshas Mikeitz. This is hinted to in the Torah, as the verse states: "And Binyamin's portion was five times (chamesh yados) as large as any of them." "Chamesh yados" alludes to the five instances that we mention the word "yad" (hand) in the special Chanukah prayer Al HaNissim: You delivered the mighty into the hands of the weak, the many into the hands of the few, the impure into the hands of the pure, the wicked into the hands of the righteous, and the wanton sinners into the hands of those who occupy themselves with Your Torah."

The Parshat Mikeitz also speaks of Joseph and his dreams. Parshat Mikeitz means the Parshat 'from the end'. This alludes to the period of time known as the 'end of times'. The Zohar speaks of two periods known as the end of time. We are now in the first period of the 'end of time' before the Great Era of Peace. Mikeitz can also mean "from the thorns" alluding to the Ram caught in the thorns at the Akeidah of Isaac as well as the Rose among the thorns in the Song of Songs. The Midrash also says:"When a rose is among thorns, a north wind goes forth and bends her toward the south and a thorn pricks her, then a south wind goes forth and bends her toward the north and a thorn pricks her; yet, for all that, her core is directed upwards. The same is true with the Jewish people. Although they are oppressed and tortured from all sides by the nations, their hearts are directed towards their Father in Heaven." The mystical North Wind (Tzaphon ruach)refers to Our Lady who is snow white. It is the North wind that comes and blows on David's harp at midnight. Kabbalah associates this north wind or spirit with the ruach that hovered over the face of the Waters. It also associates her with Binah the Mother. The north wind has the five gevurot (powers) of the imma (mother/mama) and this is represented by the five wings or corners of the lungs from which ruach comes. The north wind blows on 5 of the strings of David's harp with the Song of Miriam (the song of the Redemption). She is the hidden ruach of the heart. It is said that the evil spirits roam the night but when the north wind comes at midnight they flee into a cavern in the sea. The south wind is associated with Chesed (loving kindness or charity). She is also associated with the heat or warmth of the Sun and she blows on the other 5 strings of David's harp the Song of the Future (the Song of Santification). The north wind is the Givirah (Queen Mother) of the King of Peace (Solomon)and the south wind is the Queen of Sheba- the Queen coming out of the captivity of the fallen into the kingdom of the Divine Will. They share in the wounds of love of the King and in his tikkun (reparation)for all.
Mano Ponderosa

The Baal ha Turim in discussing this Parshat Mikeitz links the ten years Joseph was in prison before the dreams with the Mikeitz of ten years of Abraham in Genesis 16:3 and the mikeitz of two years until the dream of Pharoah. The two dreamers of 'the end of 10 years' represent the two messianic figures that will rise- one a false Messiah and the other the true Messiah under the patronage of Joseph. This is in the 11th year and then after "the end of two years' [thus the 13th year]the false messiah will be destroyed and the true messiah triumphant. The baker represents the one who will abolish the true mass and replace it with the bread of demons. The cup bearer represents the one who will restore the true eucharistic cup of the Lord.

The period of thorns is also known as the time of Jacob's trouble which will end with the restoration of man to living in the Divine Will as Adam did in the 36 hours. These 36 hours are represented by the 36 lights of Hanukah and the 36 volumes of the Book of Heaven by Luisa Piccarreta. Rabbi Phincas Winston writing on Parshat mikeitz: "...Likewise was it the case with Mattisyahu and his tiny army of zealots. Surveying the developing situation around him, they sensed that a keitz, and therefore, a redemption as well, was at hand. This encouraged them, like Mordechai before them, to take a stand and fight, bringing about the Chanukah miracle we celebrate each year, with the lighting of the Menorah. For, it is the Menorah that symbolizes this very idea of how God builds into Creation what He needs for each keitz along the way. For example, long before there was even a first temple, let alone a second temple to rededicate, the Torah alludes to the miracle of Chanukah: But he got up that night and took his two wives, his two handmaids, and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Yabok. And when he took them and had them cross the stream, he sent over what was his. Ya’akov was left alone … (Bereishis 32:23-25) Rebi Elazar said: He remained for small jars. From here we learn that righteous people value their property more than their own bodies. (Chullin 91a) God said to Ya’akov, “For endangering yourself for a small container, I Myself will repay your children with a small container to the Chashmonaim!”(Midrash Tzeidah LaDerech, Maharil) Indeed, the Biblical roots of the Chanukah miracle go back even further in time, while Ya’akov Avinu was just starting his journey, not as he was finishing it: From where did Ya’akov get this jar? When he picked up the stones from under his head and returned them in the morning, he found a stone that had a jar of oil in it, and he used it to pour on the top stone. When it refilled itself, Ya’akov knew it was set aside for God. He said, “It’s not right to leave this here.” All miracles throughout Tanach occurred with this jar of oil. (Yalkut Reuveini, Vayishlach) And, apparently, even those beyond Tanach as well: What is the basis of [the holiday of] Chanukah? The rabbis taught: On the 25th day of Kislev begin the days of Chanukah, eight days during which we do not eulogize or fast. For, when the Greeks entered the Sanctuary they defiled all the oil in the Sanctuary, and when the kingdom of the House of Chashmonai proved victorious, they searched and could only find one jar of oil with the seal of the Kohen Gadol still intact,sufficient for only one day of lighting. A miracle happened to it [the oil], and they were able to light from it for eight days. (Shabbos 21b) Indeed, this is a novel way to define a keitz: an event during which the undercurrent of history rises to the top, like a geyser of water exploding through the surface of time. This is why, the number 36, which represents the revelation of the Ohr HaGanuz, the supernal Hidden Light with which God made and maintains Creation: For 36 hours the Light served … and Adam HaRishon saw with it from one end of the world to the other. (Yerushalmi, Brochos 8:5) keeps surfacing throughout history. For, every time it does, it means something to do with redemption, or the lack of it, has occurred: God called out to the man and said to him, “Aiyekah—Where are you?” (Bereishis 3:9) The word “aiyekah” is meant only as a gematria, totaling 36. (Eichah Zuta 1:1) Hence, Ya’akov Avinu was away from home for a total of 36 years, was married to a wife who died at the age of 36, and to another whose name has the gematria of 36. It is also why, after struggling with the angel for the entire night, and sustaining some bodily damage, it says: The sun shone for him—Lamed-Vav—as he passed Penuel and he was limping on his hip. (Bereishis 32:32) The word “lo” refers to the 36 candles of Chanukah. (Maharil, Avodah Zarah 3b) Each time the number 36 surfaces, it is a revelation of the undercurrent of history, a keitz, which is why Chanukah occurred in the 36th century from Creation. And, when we light our Menorahs each Chanukah, it is this that we are supposed to have in mind..."

Many of the Hamsa Hand of Miriam's have the Magen David, a Chai, an Eye or Fish on them. The Fish alludes to Joseph. The Zohar reveals that the mysterious young child who talks with the Rabbis is a son of Joseph and thus protected from the evil eye. The blessing of Jospeh in Genesis by Jacob refers to fish. Also Joshua ben Nun is descended from Joseph and Nun is fishhook in Hebrew and Nuna is fish in Aramaic. Rebbe Nachman also speaks of the sign of the fish in connection with the concept of Joseph, the Tzaddikim and Messiah son of Joseph in Likutey Moharan.

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