Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Jesus, the Kabbalist, drawing 10 Sephiroth in the Sand

Jesus drawing 10 Sephiroth in the Sand, a Study for the Jewish Jesus Exhibit in New York

Sephirot (Hebrew: סְפִירוֹת‎ ) are the 10 attributes/emanations in Kabbalah, through which Ein Sof (The Infinite) reveals himself and continuously creates both the physical realm and the chain of higher metaphysical realms (Seder hishtalshelus).

Alternative configurations of the sephirot are given by different schools in the historical development of Kabbalah, with each articulating different spiritual aspects. The tradition of enumerating 10 is stated in the Sefer Yetzirah, (Book of Formation) "Ten sephirot of nothingness, ten and not nine, ten and not eleven". As altogether 11 sephirot are listed across the different schemes, two (Keter and Daat) are seen as unconscious and conscious manifestations of the same principle, conserving the ten categories.

In Kabbalah the functional structure of the sephirot in channeling Divine creative life force, and revealing the unknowable Divine essence to Creation is described.

Did Jesus study Kabbalah ? Did he study and teach the mystical aspects of the Hebrew letters ?
There is a clue to be found in the early Christian writings known as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas:

VI. 1 Now a certain teacher, Zacchaeus by name, stood there and he heard in part when Jesus said these things to his father and he marvelled greatly that being a young child he spake such matters.   

2. after a few days he came near unto Joseph and said unto him: Thou hast a wise child, and he hath understanding. Come, deliver him to me that he may learn letters. And I will teach him with the letters all knowledge and that he salute all the elders and honour them as grandfathers and fathers, and love them of his own years. 

3 And he told him all the letters from Aleph even to Tav clearly, with much questioning. But Jesus looked upon Zacchaeus the teacher and saith unto him: Thou that knowest not the Aleph according to its nature, how canst thou teach others the Bet? thou hypocrite, first, if thou knowest it, teach the Aleph, and then will we believe thee concerning the Bet. Then began he to confound the mouth of the teacher concerning the first letter, and he could not prevail to answer him. 

4 And in the hearing of many the young child saith to Zacchaeus: Hear, O teacher, the ordinance of the first letter and pay heed to this, how that it hath lines, and a middle mark, which thou seest, common to both, going apart; coming together, raised up on high, dancing, of three signs, like in kind, balanced, equal in measure]: thou hast the rules of the Aleph.

VII. 1 Now when Zacchaeus the teacher heard such and so many allegories of the first letter spoken by the young child, he was perplexed at his answer and his instruction being so great, and said to them that were there: Woe is me, ....  I am confounded... 

Aleph in Jewish mysticism represents the oneness of God. The letter can been seen as being composed of an upper yud (Yodh), a lower yud, and a vav (Waw (letter)) leaning on a diagonal. The upper yud represents the hidden and ineffable aspects of God while the lower yud represents God's revelation and presence in the world. The vav ("hook") connects the two realms.

In the Aleph is hidden the mystery of the 3 in One :  The ordinance of the first letter :  it hath lines, and a middle mark, which thou seest, common to both, going apart; coming together, raised up on high, dancing, of three signs, like in kind, balanced, equal in measure: thou hast the rules of the Aleph !

Monday, 20 May 2013

Jesus as Tiferet, Beauty, The Son and the Prince of Peace

The 10 Sephiroth with Keter-Crown at top, Chokhmah-Wisdom (Father) and Binah-Understanding (Mother). Jesus is shown as Tiferet, Beauty, The Son, and the Prince of Peace.
Tiferet ("Adornment", Hebrew: תפארת [tiˈfeʔʁeθ]) alternately Tifaret, Tifereth, Tyfereth or Tiphereth, is the sixth sefira in the kabbalistic Tree of Life. It has the common association of "Spirituality", "Balance", "Integration", "Beauty", "Miracles", and "Compassion".

Jesus before his Judges - Maurycy Gottlieb, 1877

Maurycy Gottlieb, Jesus Before His Judges, ca. 1877. Gottlieb was one of the first Western figures to profess what today we’d call a hybrid identity—as both a Polish and a Jewish artist. He painted images of Jews from literature (Shylock), history (Portuguese converso Uriel d’Acosta), the Bible (himself as Ahasuerus), and daily life (Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur) before plunging into the charged subject matter of the life of Christ. In Jesus Before His Judges, illustrating the scene from Matthew, viewers can clearly see that the noble, gentle figure of Jesus is Jewish by his clothing and side curls. And they can also clearly see the Romans in the background at the right, a pointed reminder of who was responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion. “How deeply I wish to eradicate all the prejudices against my people,” wrote Gottlieb, who went on to paint another scene in the life of Jesus, Christ Preaching at Capernaum, in 1878. His work, he dreamed, could help “uproot the hatred enveloping the oppressed and tormented nation and to bring peace between the Poles and the Jews, for the history of both people is a chronicle of grief and anguish.” Collection of the Israel Museum.