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Day 45: Tiferet b’Malchut

Day 45: Tiferet b’Malchut

by Maggid David Arfa

I witnessed the Holy Shabbat marriage of Tiferet and Malchut while in Jerusalem. Though, the funny thing is, it took me several months to realize it. You see, I prayed with the Judean Hills, during my year of Yeshiva study in Jerusalem. Our wonderful balconies were a great addition to our house of prayer and study, our room with a view (and a Torah). Overlooking the hills, I could indulge my favorite non-talmudic pastime- simple gazing.

You could imagine my delight in realizing that simple gazing was incorporated into our prayers for welcoming Shabbat. Like congregations everywhere, for the last verse Lecha Dodi, we turned around and faced the Judean hillside. It was then I could just gaze and gaze. And such a gaze it was! Purple hills dappled with the last rays of the setting sun which was kissing the earth. I gazed, I bowed, I smiled and I prayed.

It took over two months, to the middle of November before the question occurred. Why was the sun still kissing the earth during the last verse of Lecha Dodi? Miracle of miracles- they were timing the whole affair! Insuring that sun/earth kiss occurred exactly at the right time! Doesn’t this mythic scene make your heart want to dance and dance? Now the work of marrying my inner masculine with my inner feminine can truly begin. Tiferet (sun) b’Malchut (earth).

Reflection/Action: Did you notice I did not include exactly how long the sun kisses the earth before diving under the covers (so to speak)? I invite you to watch the sunset, find out exactly how long the sunset lasts where you live. Sing, dance, sit in silence, any way that will allow you to bring this experience with you into Lecha Dodi. Did you notice that a much bigger mystical question here is ‘Do our prayers bring the sun and earth together?’ and, ‘Are there other examples of Holy Union in our lives?’ Instead of going on and on regarding these very interesting questions, I’ll leave you with this wonderfully multi-layered poem by Patiann Rogers.

The Power of Toads by Pattiann Rogers

The oak toad and the red-spotted toad love their love

In a spring rain, calling and calling, breeding

Through a stormy evening clasped atop their mates.

Who wouldn't sing — anticipating the belly pressed hard

Against a female's spine in the steady rain

Below writhing skies, the safe moist jelly effluence

Of a final exaltation?

There might be some toads who actually believe

That the loin-shaking thunder of the banks, the evening

Filled with damp, the warm softening mud and rising

Riverlets are the facts of their own persistent

Performance. Maybe they think that when they sing

They sing more than songs, creating rain and mist

By their voices, initiating the union of water and dusk,

Females materializing on the banks shaped perfectly

By their calls.

And some toads may be convinced they have forced

The heavens to twist and moan by the continual expansion

Of their lung sacs pushing against the dusk.

And some might believe the splitting light,

The soaring grey they see above them are nothing

But a vision of the longing in their groins,

A fertile spring heaven caught in its entirety

At the pit of the gut.

And they might be right.

Who knows whether these broken heavens

Could exist tonight separate from trills and toad ringings?

Maybe the particles of this rain descending on the pond

Are nothing but the visual manifestation of whistles

And cascading love clicks in the shore grasses.

Raindrops-finding-earth and coitus could very well

Be known here as one.

We could investigate the causal relationship

Between rainstorm and love-by-pondside if we wished.

We could lie down in the grasses by the water's edge

And watch to see exactly how the heavens were moved,

Thinking hard of thunder, imagining all the courses

That slow, clean waters might take across our bodies,

Believing completely in the rolling and pressing power

Of heavens and thighs. And in the end we might be glad,

Even if all we discovered for certain was the slick, sweet

Promise of good love beneath dark skies inside warm rains.

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Rabbi Katy Z. Allen is the founder and leader of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, a congregation without walls that meets outdoors all year long. She is the co-convener and President pro-tem of the Boston-area Jewish Climate Action Network, and the founder of the One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit in Framingham, MA.
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