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Section 1 of “Shekhinah: The Presence” by Joseph Zitt
This is an unedited scan of the text, courtesy of Josh Ronsen
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HERE at the start of the day we who can tell the black thread from the blue the blue from the white the black from the white now (when consensus takes the place of agreement) stand and prepare. We who have entered this sacred room (although, indeed, any room can be sanctified by this purpose) have paused by the doorpost, touched the box of memories that waits there, silent, whether for us or for Elijah who will pass through all the portals and join the scrolls upon the doorposts of all out houses into one, have kissed our hands, as if to kiss, by indirection, the welcoming scrolls posted by the doors then entered the room, greeted by the faint rays of the new mornings sun that cast fresh, elongated shadows of the Ark, of our books of learning, of our lives. We turn to the East, to welcome the sun, and see the words (now hard to read in their contrast with sharp morning rays) inscribed here on the Ark: Know Before Whom You Stand. Each of us, for the moment, alone, reaches for the Talit bag (for some, velvet, the deep blue of the roof of the sky in the dying of the night just before the sun returns to welcome us, for the adventurous or whimsical, other fabrics, other colors, expressing other joys or memories) withdraws the thin shawl (white, with its stipes of black or blue and the fringes at its corners, each carefully prepared, each with eight threads, one twisted seven times around the other seven and tied then eight times and tied then eleven times and tied and thirteen all these numbers merging with the alphabet in permutation and computations so every sum and product can somehow praise the Holy Name) whispers the prayer inscribed on its margins, wraps it around himself over his head (enclosing the wearer; for the moment, in a womb of wool or silk in a white filtered shroud of light like the one seen by the soul, then forgotten in the instant before birth when the angels kissed it to seal away for a time, its knowledge of heaven), then lets it drift down to his shoulders, his back encased in white, the fringes resting like guardians about his thighs. And from another bag, (smaller, echoing in design the larger, as a student might deduce a principle in deriving similarities from the general to the particular) small boxes, leather, each small box containing smaller skins, cousins to the watchman scroll greeted and kissed by the door, each attached to leather straps. One at a time, With care, With blessings, we bind them to ourselves, the first sliding up the left arm to rest by the heart, then its straps, winding, as if echoing outside our bodies the blood that rushes life within our hands, seven turns down the forearm then thee time around the middle finger betrothing us to the Holy Presence forever for righteousness justice kindness mercy for the faith in the faithfulness of the patterns and around the hand its patterns forming letters of yet another version of another Holy Name, the second resting between our eyes, suspended from a loop that rests upon our heads like a crown of duty with twin descendants draping from behind over our shoulders across the shawl, then draping down our chests echoing the poise of the fringes that rest below. Thus garbed, thus prepared, we concentrate out attention, open our books to the proper pages, turn to the East to the Ark to the sun to the silent walls of Jerusalem, and, somewhat together somewhat alone each, in his separate intent, strengthened by the others gathered there, we begin in hushes close to silence to pray.