To Infinity and Beyond

Laura on glacier

Solomon Ibn Gabirol

A Jew raised in Muslim Spain

11th century


Known to Jews

as a literary artist

a liturgical poet

of wild imagination and skill


Known to Muslims

as a philosopher

in the Neo-Platonic tradition

able to put the subtlest metaphysical intuitions

into a single word


Solomon Ibn Gabirol

Likely the author of Adon Olam


You know Adon Olam,

The last song

of the Shabbat morning service


Adon Olam Asher Malach

B’terem kol yetzir nivra


Adon Olam Asher Malach

B’terem kol yetzir nivra


And you know its peshat

Its simple translation


Master of the World Who Ruled

Before every thing was created


Master of the World Who Ruled

Before every thing was created


But Ibn Gabirol

poet and philosopher

was not thinking peshat

was not thinking simple


He was thinking deep

Adon Olam Asher Malach



From biblical Hebrew



The matrix that holds a structure together



Eternal in time

Infinite in space




Adon Olam

The Hidden Matrix that holds reality together



Not just a preposition

But an adjective

Happy, joyous, blissful


Adon Olam Asher

If you grasp this matrix,

you feel joy

and bliss

your most sublime moments of peace


in every direction



From the word malchut


In Kabbalah

a synonym

for Shechinah

The one who dwells

The indwelling presence

Dwelling every where

In every thing


Adon Olam Asher Malach

The indwelling elusive matrix of bliss


B’terem kol yetzir nivrah




in the before

in the great before


Kol Yetzir

Everything that has form



was created


B’terem kol yetzir nivra

Before anything with physical shape

Anything with conceptual form

or boundaries

of any kind

was created


Before even a thought

of creation

Before a design

or a plan



The indwelling

elusive matrix of bliss



But “existed”

is a verb

in the past tense form

And until beings

with form

were created

There was no

past tense

There was no



an indwelling


matrix of bliss


There was no


Because infinite


“not finite”

And without finite beings

Who can measure



Oh Infinity!

A poor concept


of the short reach

of the human mind

as it tries

to grasp

the elusive


matrix of bliss



A marvelous angel

God’s first

created concept

Our very best tool

To touch

The matrix

Of bliss



a measure

a hint

The footsteps of time


Marked out

by the poet

In his rhythmic words


Adon Olam Asher Malach

B’Terem Kol Yetzir Nivra


When I,




I often ask:

Holy One,

help me

hold it all,

all my thoughts,

all my feelings,

all my fears,

all my failures

Because you,

Holy One,

already hold them

in your elusive matrix


B’yado afkid ruchi

Into this cosmic hand

I assign

my spirit


it is held

in the matrix


B’eit Ishan

When it’s time for sleep


whose bodily life

is timed

down to the minute

By hormones, neurons, and nutrients

Conforming to a circadian rhythm

Living 16 of 24 hours

at full attention



surrender my control

for 8 hours

I let

the matrix

hold me



Until I wake up

and beyond


V’im ruchi geviyati

With my soul expressed

through this time-bound form


Adonai Li

My concept

of an infinite God

keeps me company


V’lo Irah

Irah, to see

Irah, to fear


Though I will never see

the matrix


It holds me

I will not fear


Notes: This 7-minute spoken word piece was created for and performed at the Limmud Vancouver Cabaret 2016 by Laura Duhan Kaplan. It was followed by a heart-aching performance of Adon Olam, arranged in a bluesy style pioneered by James Stone Goodman and colleagues on his album “The Sefirot,” and delivered by the Vancouver, Canada band “Sulam” and guest artists (guitarist Charles Kaplan, mandolinist Martin Gotfrit, bassist Joe Markovitch, flautist Wendy Rubin, violinist Elana Brief and vocalist Laura Duhan Kaplan).

Please feel free to “share” this blog post with the “share” button. If you wish to share or use it in another context, please attribute the work to my authorship and let me know how you have used it.

Photo credit: Charles Kaplan

  1. Thank you for putting this up. It deserves wide distribution.

  2. We are in the matrix of Adon Olam. Thank you Reb Laura for guiding us into this illumination of our creation with the Creator.
    Yours in profound appreciation,
    Debbie Havusha
    And-Thank you to my beloved friend Michal for sharing this.

  3. The spoken word is also very rich when reading it quietly. Thank you for this wisdom. I will use it to teach the meaning behind the meaning of Adon Olam… Tamara

  4. Not sure how to start. I am moved and enriched. I think, for me, this reading will provide a springboard for meditation as well as beginning a different, deeper search for ways to consider the eternal. Certainly I will never sing Adon Olam in the same way again!!

  5. The idea of a matrix of bliss will remain with me for along time. Thank you R’Laura.

  6. I heard your recitation and never thought of asking for a copy so thank you for posting. I’ve never contemplated the meaning behind the words.

  7. This is stunning.

    As it happens, my hevruta partner reminded me of the meaning of adanim just yesterday, so reading this post today feels like hashgacha pratit.

    1. Together they will spark a creative insight and you will take the concept in a whole new direction!

  8. I was there, and I now know the meaning of “blown away”. I never feel as if I can thank you enough.

    1. Thank you, Shira. It was pretty amazing for me too. I felt the energy of the room was all collated in the matrix!

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