Malchut she’b’Tiferet. Presence in Beauty.
I’d like to talk about Presence. But with a few conceptual details along the way. And a little story about the Biblical character Rachel.
Sefirot, we know, are spiritual qualities. Shapes and styles of Divine expression. And of human psychology.
If the Sefirot underlie everything, then where are they in the Torah? Everywhere, says the Zohar. Because the entire Torah is an allegory for the life of the Sefirot.
But, to see that, you need a few tools. Some details of the code the Torah uses. For example, which characters represent each Sefirah.
Stories about Jacob teach us about Tiferet, beauty or balance. Why? His grandfather, Abraham, receives chesed, love and kindness. And his father, Isaac, traumatized as a youth, receives gevurah, judgment. So, Jacob has a bit of each in him. He has to find his own path of tiferet, balance and beauty.
And stories about Rachel teach us about Malchut, royalty, also known as Shechinah, maternal presence of God. Why? Because the prophet Jeremiah names her as the main mother of the Jewish people. And midrash says she pleads with God to return her children from exile.
The Torah tells us that there is a bit of Rachel inside of Jacob. Or, rather, that Jacob is touched by Rachel’s wisdom. And, somehow, he absorbs it.
Rachel is at odds with her sister. But, eventually, she lets go of the conflict. She says, “I have wrestled with my sister, with holy wrestling, and I have won.”
A few years pass.
Jacob is estranged from his brother. But his brother seeks him out. And just before they meet, Jacob wrestles with a mysterious stranger. Then the stranger says, “You have wrestled with God and humans, and you have won.”
Torah is quite clear, in its understated way. Rachel does her inner work, and makes peace with her sibling. Jacob watches her. And, as best he can, tries to do what she does. He absorbs her wisdom. And thus, heals a rift inside his heart.
Here, it’s easy to think of Rachel as Shechinah. A kind of divine mother. She has wisdom, and she is a role model. Does she know she’s Jacob’s teacher, or is she just living her best life?
It’s a heavy responsibility, to know you’re a teacher and a role model. And that others treat you as one. Especially when you’re barely holding it together yourself. Then, you’re sure they’re seeing a projection, some mother archetype. But they’re not seeing the real you.
Still, you don’t want to fail them. You want to be the wise presence they need.
Did I say “you”? I mean “me.”
Today is Day 21 of the Omer, three weeks.
New to the Omer count? Here’s a primer.