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Section 5 of “Shekhinah: The Presence” by Joseph Zitt
This is an unedited scan of the text, courtesy of Josh Ronsen
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Six words. We say them clearly distinctly our hands closing our eyes as we enunciate each letter each unwritten vowel each silence between words One letter wrong and the meaning is blasphemy One wrong vowel and the meaning is in doubt One misplaced silence and the meaning is at best obscured. Six words. We focus on the One Creator, the Unity, forgetting for the moment all manifestations all simple evidence even the solidity of his Presence. She, alone, floats above us, weightless, glowing, rejoicing, joining in our proclamation. Her love and power pour down on us like the gentle rain that does not disrupt the white-globed dandelions and she turns facing in all directions yet at all times facing east. She, too, chants clearly, showing no envy towards the One of whom she is a partner and a part a mate and an emanation showing her closeness to us and to the One at a careful distance so that we may concentrate fully on the One without distraction. She floats, her love and focus joining with ours as we chant Six words in the ancient sacred language (though like so many words they expand and lose some focus when moved away into other tongues): Hear We chant aloud as our words sail forth beyond the solid chambers of this sacred hall. We chant aloud these ancient words going back to the ages of the Holy Books to the days of Moses to the nights of Solomon back to these words which rose from the lips of believers from the lips of martyrs always making sure that they were heard by other believers and potential believers by our tormentors as a sign that their iron combs could not flay our spirits by the One as a proclamation, and, for some, as a prayer that the One might believe equally in us. Israel and most importantly, that we heard ourselves and each other proclaiming unity of the One in the One for the One proclaiming ourselves to be of the ones who chose, or were chosen by, or chose to be chosen by, the One we follow. "We will do them; we will hear them" our ancestors said of the forthcoming laws conveying trust (or perhaps extreme self-confidence) that whatever the One would command us we would promise to fulfill. "We will do them; we will hear them" in that order. The stars arranged themselves above Mount Sinai as a dotted line and, with an invisible quill made of feathers of all the doves who would give their souls in sacrifice with weightless ink comets-tail white made of blood of sacrifice and martyrdom blended with the tears of Sarah, believing Isaac was no more, of Hannah, who prayed that, like Sarah, she might someday see a son of all mothers who died, and saw others die, in pogroms, wars, and holocausts, with a giant hand formed of the will of generations its lifeline stretching from the past to the unknown its fingers spread in the secret sacred salute to which, when our priests repeated it in blessing, the Presence would come, for a moment, to rest its pulsing veins arrayed in the emulation of the brief holy name that the leather strands around our merely human hands now follow we signed the eternal covenant and met the strong hand and outstretched arm of the One and shook on it reaffirming the contract made with Noah and bonded by the rainbow made with Abraham in the field of visions where the flaming torch and smoking oven moved among the half-animals they sacrificed made with Jacob at Bethel before his favorite son was born before his wife and his father died before (emboldened by the knowledge that he would share in his fathers inheritance) he joined for one last peaceful moment with his spurned angry brother to bury their father, embracing Esau at Hebron before their sons resumed their interminable wars. "We will do them; we will hear them" and with these words our ancestors changed from a random band of refugees into a people still to have to wait to find a land still to have to pass through cycles of conquest exile wandering, and return still (their name showing that their ancestor had wrestled with messengers of the One) wrestling with their own beliefs trying to find adaptations interpretations re-creations to make the ancient words fit the changing worlds in which we must survive. The Lord Despite the insistence on clarity accuracy consistency we do not spell this word as spoken, speak this word outside of prayer (with even the substitutions we speak now) write this word in such a way that we might deduce from simple letters and from vowels how we would pronounce it if we were to dare disobey the warnings of teachers and mystics that from these four letters miracles are made. Even the way we pronounce it within prayer within readings of the holy books is a mystery. The Name of the One seems to be plural, not, as we translate the Name, "Lord" but rather, "Lords" as if showing that within One is All, as if saying that the One that commands the One that blesses the One that gives and takes away all are the One and, as we pronounce it, the Name is personal, not a simple distant object "The Lord" [NOTE FROM JOSH: remove the comma, as above?] but rather "My Lords" as if showing the connection in a single word as if saying that the One that creates the One that watches the One that rewards and disciplines all speak to us is our God and now, another name this one softer, pronounced as spelled whereas, they say, the first name denotes judgment, this name denotes mercy and the holy books use first one name, then another, showing, some say, aspects of the One visible in that part of the story showing, according to others, who wrote that part of the story and when and, perhaps, why and this name, too, is strangely plural, as is the hidden verb nestled between the names "My Lords are our Gods"? the struggle between meaning and vocabulary between statement, sense, and syntax between the words on our lips and the feelings in our hearts compels up to drive onward The Lord again, again stating the first name, the ineffable name, spoken from the depths of sacred mystery with the sounds of an unrelated word spelled, through our teachers well-intentioned indirection with the vowels of the spoken word, leading those who dared to speak them devoid of special powers, the ashes of the burnt husk of what seemed to be the name dry and bitter on their erring tongues and even these mistake were judged unsafe by our teachers who told us not to speak the holy name nor even to utter the second name, the mask that hid the Tetragrammaton, except in carefully controlled environments except when at the height of prayer instead we only say "The Name" as if, by saying the name of The Name, we name that to which we mean to refer, the One who rests under layers of onion skin inscribed by those schooled in the sacred, removed from being one with the Earth by layers of metaphor in which he is clothed by the emanations and manifestations which mediate and interfere making sure that only the purest souls, the most stubborn, pierce through the symbols and come to rest in the highest of heavens next to the throne of the One while we down here are comforted by his partner self, his Presence, sheltering us as we speak the words (the strangely plural, the misleadingly pronounced, the ineffable) that proclaim the Unity, the identity, of the name we dare not speak is One of the One At last it rests on this: that in all the confusion of names and numberings, of inscription and pronunciation of the repetitive the hidden and the oddly plural the One, who is named by every sound whose image resonates with the paths of planets and stars whose scent is carried by every breeze that drifts through memories, masking, for the moment, the mundane truth transmitted by the air, is One. And our teachers have told us to say this twice each day with the intent to make it seem that this simplest of statements the core of all we speak in prayer is a new revelation never before heard never before exposed now brought again to light for us to contemplate. and we pause, then whisper the prayer that Moses was said to have learned from the angels: "Blessed is the name of the glory of his kingdom forever." (again we say that the Blessed is blessed again we speak of the name, not the One, and of his kingdom which is everywhere the Creator is; that is-- everywhere) then speak of the places and times where we have been commanded to remember six holy words and the source of the shawl and the boxes and the straps with which we wrap and bind ourselves. And the Presence spins and lowers, weaving a bright sheer web of holiness above our leader then, gently, she brings us together after our grand statements our bold proclamations there will soon be silence with her tiny, powerful hands with her seemingly fragile fingertips that carved the words of the One with letters of fire into slabs of stone she transfers a kiss of silence to our minds our lips our hearts our hands and we all stand together we each stand alone all as one in her eyes all made equal by her touch each locked in a silent secret focus by the power of her kiss as we stand and face the east and her beauty blends with the rays of the now risen sun as we prepare ourselves for these meditations together alone in silence.
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