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.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mystery of the Shekhakim: A Hebrew Catholic Understanding

The Mystery of the Shekhakim is at the very heart of Jewish mysticism. The term shekhakim is the mystical plural [based on the similiar sounds of the words not the spelling] of shekhen and shekhinah which are the male and female forms of the word 'to dwell'(see Bahir 74 & 120). Shekhakim is often translated in the English Bibles as clouds or skies or heavens. The literal meaning of the singular of shekhakim in Aramaic is shekhak or shekhaka which can mean to grind, pound, to rub, dust, clouds, old garments or thin linen. Shekhakim is linked to the concepts of Victory (netzach) and Glory (kavod). They are also linked to the cherubim who God rides. This is the hidden mystery of the mystical reading of Deuteronomy 33:26-27 and Psalm 18:11. These Shekhakim are the Presences associated with the four cherubim of the Holy of Holies. The four Presences are enveloped by a fifth presence which unites them as one- this fifth Presence is the Holy Spirit.

The mystical midrash on the first line of Ezekiel called the 'Vision of Ezekiel' links the Mystery of the Shekhakim with the merkabah (chariot)of the cherubim. According to this midrash its mystery includes the mystical understanding of the heavenly Jerusalem, the Heavenly Temple and Sanctuary, the Heavenly Ark of the covenant,the Menorah, the Shewbread Table, the sacred utensils and decorations of the Temple focused on the mystery of the Heavenly Manna as the image of the Divine Man (Adam Kadmon) who is the Mystical Jacob/Israel. Whereas the Talmud in Chagigah 12b places this at the level of Zevul (dwelling or abode)and the Angelic grinding of the millstones that produce the Manna from Heaven for the tzaddikim at the level of Shekhakim. These two sources give a different ordering of the seven palaces (Hekhalot) or heavens. "Shekhakim is that in which millstones stand and grind manna for the righteous for it is said: “And He commanded the skies [shekhakim] above, and opened the doors of heaven; and He caused manna to rain upon them for food etc.” (Psalm 78:24)."

The term Shekhakim also is used for one of the seven heavens of Jewish Mysticism. In some sources shekhakim is associated with the fifth heaven and in others with the third heaven. The five alludes to the five presences Yeshua/Metatron; Miriam/Matronita; Joseph/Sandalphon; Luisa/Nukvah and the Holy Spirit. The three alludes to Atzilut and the Third Fiat (yehi). Some Jewish writings relate that Shekhakim is the third Heaven where the Angels grind with millstones the Manna which becomes the food of angels. It is said that the concept of the Manna was created on the second day of Genesis 1. Thus the term Shekhakim refers to the Cherubic Presences as well as to a place and to a stage in mystical meditation and contemplation. Many Catholic mystics speak about the stage of encountering mystical clouds in their meditation before they ascend to the deeper penetration of the Divine Mysteries. Are these the Clouds or wings of the Cherubic Shekhakim which the mystic then uses as a chariot (merkabah) in order to ascend or descend to the inner mysteries of the Kingdom?

The concept of God riding on the cherubim as a chariot is found in Psalm 18;11 " and He rode upon a cherub, and did fly" with Deuteronomy 33 26-27 "There is none like the God of Jeshurun, The Rider of the heavens (shamayim)is your Helper, his pride is in the Shekhakim (skies/clouds)...". Here we see how the cherubim and shekhakim are linked together by Scripture. Jewish Mysticism also links these concepts of the mystery of the Shekhakim with Proverb 8 and Genesis 1. The mystical understanding of the seven Hekhalot (palaces) and the Merkabah or Chariot mysticism also have their mystical source in the mysteries of the first chapter of Genesis regarding the four faces and the four lights. Genesis 1 read mystically alludes to deep Triune mysteries but also hidden and deep Marian, Josephian and Luisian mysteries. These seven are called in the Talmud: Vilon (the Veil), Rakia (the Firmament), Shekhakim (the skies), Zevul (the dwelling), Ma'on (the residence), Makhon (the resting Place) and Aravot (dry land). They are seven stages of meditation in the spiritual journey of the soul in the mystical realms.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan states that the word shekhakim refers usually to the Sefirot of Netzach (whose light is called Bahir) and Hod (whose light is called Zohar). Bahir is the male light and Zohar the female. Shekhakim is mystically connected to the terms shekhen, shekhinah, mishkan and Sukkah (see Bahir 74,75 and 120). Bahir 185 also speaks of the Mystery of the Shekhakim. It states: "...then, 'His pride is in the shekhakim'. What is shekhakim? We say that it is in the innermost chamber. The Targum thus renders it; 'His Word is in the Heaven of Heavens'...".

Bahir 74 and 75 links the Shekhakim with the concepts of the Tzadik (Tzedek/Joseph)and the Shekhinah (Our Lady). Bahir 75 also alludes to the Tzadaka (female Tzadik/Luisa) as well as the Tzadik who is Truth (emet) and Peace (shalom). The dwelling place of these cherubic Shekhakim is seen as the Heaven of Heavens and the Alter Rebbe signals out Shekhakim first in his description of the seven heavens as the place where heavenly Manna is ground for the Tzaddikim (righteous ones). This heavenly Manna is the bread of the Torah which is the Divine Word. The Divine Word took flesh as the Messiah and then transubstantiated himself as the Eucharistic Bread of Life. In one sense the Clouds that accompany the Divine manifestations are the clouds of flour dust (shekhakim) or bread/manna clouds that alludes to the Eucharistic Lord manifesting out of eternity into historical time and place.

The Lady of Wisdom and Understanding is discussed in Proverbs 8 and in Wisdom 7 – 9. In the original Hebrew of Proverbs 8 the language alludes to Genesis One using the terms ‘reshit’ and ‘kadmin’ used for beginning in the Hebrew and Aramaic versions. “YHVH created me as the beginning (reshit) of his way, the first of his works of old (kedem). I was set up from Eternity, from the head (rosh), from before ever (mikadmei) the earth was. When there were no depths (tahomot) I was acting; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was acting…When he established the heavens (Shamayim) I was there (sham ani). When he drew a circle over the face of the deep (panei tahom), when he established the clouds (skies/shekhakim) above, when the fountains of the deep (tahom) became strong…then I was by him as an architect (artificer/amon) and I was his daily delights (shashuim), playing daily before him; playing with the world, his earth and my delights (shashai) were with the sons of Adam…” (Proverbs 8: 22- 3).

Wisdom 7: 22 also calls the Lady of Wisdom the artificer or architect of all. This Lady Miriam in Eternity is the masterpiece of God. In time she comes later but in eternity she is first in the mind of God. “She is the radiance (zohar) of eternal Light (bahir Or), an immaculate mirror (Mariah) of God’s majestic power and an image of his goodness. Though she is only one she can do all things, all while remaining in herself she renews all things and in all generations she dwells with all holy souls making them friends and prophets of God. For God loves none but him that dwells with Wisdom, for she is more beautiful than the sun, and above all the constellations. Being compared to light, she is found before it. For after this comes night (lilah)…” (Wisdom 7:26-30).

The opening words of the Jewish mystical book “Bahir” allude secretly to these Scriptural passages about Lady Wisdom who is the circle [or circuit / round] called the face upon the waters that like a bride circles her Groom who is the face upon the deep. This process of doing the round of the Rose Bride is then associated with the word shekhakim (skies). “Rabbi Nehuniah ben HaKanah said: one verse (Job 37: 21) states, ‘And now they do not see light, it is brilliant (bahir) in the skies (shekhakim)…[round about God in terrible majesty (hod)].’ Another verse however (Psalm 18;12) states, ‘He made darkness his hiding place.’ It is also written (Psalm 97:2), ‘Cloud and gloom surround him’. This is an apparent contradiction. A third verse comes and reconciles the two. It is written (Psalm 139: 12), ‘Even darkness is not dark to you. Night shines like day – light and darkness are alike’.” (Bahir 1).

Rabbi Nehuniah is teaching that these two verses that mention shekhakim are revealing a mystery found in Genesis 1. Psalm 18:12 reveals that the shekhen or Shekinah that is Zohar is the face upon the waters which is the face of the dark light and waters called Night. The Mother who hides her son in her Immaculate heart. “He made darkness (khoshekh) his hiding place, his pavilion round about him was dark waters (mayim) and thick clouds of skies (shekhakim)[Psalm 18:12].” Once again Scripture links the concepts of the cherubim mentioned in Psalm 18:11 with the Shekhakim mentioned in verse 12 of the same Psalm.

The “Zohar” seeks to explain this concept of the mother creating a pavilion or palace to hide her son – this is the mystery connected with the name Elohim and the letter beyt. The mother in union with the Holy Spirit is created Zohar and the Holy Spirit the uncreated Zohar. The mother in union with her Son is the created Bahir and her son is the uncreated Bahir.This has a deep connection to the Mystery of the Incarnation in time and Eternity.

The light of Bahir is associated with prophecy and the light of Zohar with mystic vision and when they are united they produce Nogah the light of the righteous. Miriam saw the Bahir light at the opening of the Sea as a naked young boy and then she experienced Zohar light by her prophetic Song of Miriam. Just as Miriam ha Kedosha received the Bahir light in her womb at the Annunciation and she then experienced the zohar light in the Magnificat.

The concept of meditating or gazing on the Mystical Rose is connected with the term shasha adoration. Proverbs 8 associates this kind of deep delighting or frolicking in the Divine Will with the Lady of Wisdom. She also plays (m’sakheket) which is also connected to the word Shekhakim. She is also associated with the term kholal (performing/acting/doing) which is also connected with halel for praising and praying. She is in continuous act in the single and unique act of Creation by frockling and playing in the divine Will while doing the rounds of her beloved Bridegroom. She also does her rolling frolicking rounds in the Rose Wheel with those who also live in Divine Will among the sons of Adam. Living in Eternity they can mystically and spiritually enter with the mother into the lives and acts of every generation (l’dor v’dor) from Adam to the last man. What is true of Our Lady as one of the Shekhakim applies to the other Shekhakim.

Rabbi Eliezer Berland teaches: "...Everyone was at the giving of the Torah—Shechakim. The Megaleh Amukos (by Rav Nosson Shapira, the Rav of Krakow, p. 99) says that the giving of the Torah came from the heavenly realm called “Shechakim.” ...This is why the Megaleh Amukos asks where the giving of the Torah came from, for everyone was at the giving of the Torah—all of the souls were at the giving of the Torah. Everyone saw the giving of the Torah—everyone knew what was going on, says the Megaleh Amukos. Where did the giving of the Torah come from? The Megaleh Amukos says that Hashem imparted a mystery to Moshe in the Sinai desert; he revealed the secret of Shechakim. It was from there that Hashem revealed Himself to Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov. This is why we say, “G-d of Avraham, G-d of Yitzchak, and G-d of Yaakov,” because Avraham called himself “dust and ashes” (Bereishis 18:27), and Yitzchak’s ashes are always heaped upon the Temple’s altar [i.e. those of the sheep that was sacrificed in his place]...".This alludes to how all the souls of Israel were present at the giving of the Torah on Sinai in a mystical manner when Moses and Sinai were taken up into Eternity (Shekhakim) where they were given the heavenly food of the Torah.

Thus the Catholic Jew perceives that the God of Sinai is one of the Cherubic Shekhakim who revealed the Torah at Sinai who was also represented at the Akeidah by the sheep that was sacrificed as a sign of the Sacrifice of Golgotha and its re-presentation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharistic Lamb of God. It is in mystical union with these cherubic Shekhakim who live in Divine Will as chariots to the Divine that we can be present out of eternity at Sinai and Golgotha.

Rebbe Nachman of Brelsov in 'Likutey Moharan' (II:5,10) associates Shekhakim with the word sekhok (laughter). He sees Shekhakim as the dwelling place of the angels and alludes to the bread of joy which is also called elsewhere the bread of angels. This word for laughter(sekhok) is connected the name of Isaac (yitzhok)linking this concept with the Akeidah (Binding) of Isaac and the angelic intervention which leads to the great joy of Abraham and Isaac as part of the Divine Comedy as explained by Pope Benedict XVI (then Cardinal Ratzinger) in his book entitled "Behold the Lamb". The Breslov Rebbe then associates this bread of angels with the Passover month of Nisan and the concept of Redemption as a renewal of the Divine Will. He also comments that the Divine Will can also be renewed throughout the rest of the year by means of joy.