NETZAH IN TIFERET
TENACITY IN HARMONY
adapted from Meta Parshyiot by Rabbi David Wolfe-Blank and Living Torah by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan
HIGHLIGHTS IN MISHPATIM
FIRST DISCERNMENT, THEN THE EXTASY
Last week, Torah delved into the Revelation at Sinai. This week, rules are shared in support of manifesting the revelation day to day. These rules include both civil and criminal laws; consequences for murder; laws governing injuries; offenses related to property damage for buildings and animals; moral and ritual offenses; concerns for the stranger and poor; warnings to judges about honesty; laws about sacred occasions; the Sabbatical year; prohibitions against idol worship; and promises of Divine aid for settling the land of Yisrael. The people accepted the laws, and the covenant was made over these laws with an alter and sacrifices.
ט וַיַּ֥עַל מֹשֶׁ֖ה וְאַֽהֲרֹ֑ן נָדָב֙ וַֽאֲבִיה֔וּא וְשִׁבְעִ֖ים מִזִּקְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל: י וַיִּרְא֕וּ אֵ֖ת אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וְתַ֣חַת רַגְלָ֗יו כְּמַֽעֲשֵׂה֙ לִבְנַ֣ת הַסַּפִּ֔יר וּכְעֶ֥צֶם הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם לָטֹֽהַר
Then Mosheh and Aharon, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders of Yisrael ascended; they saw (a vision of) Elokay YIsrael (God of Israel): under (God’s) feet there was the likeness of sapphire bricks, pure, like the essence of the heavens.
This image is similar to the vision in Ezekiel 1. In Ezekiel, the throne of glory is described as sapphire. This Torah portion describes sapphire bricks beneath God’s Feet. What is this Sapphire?
LET’S LOOK AT THE ROOT
Sapphire’s, “סַּפִּ֔יר” root is
ס פ ר
The commentary attributed to the Ariz”l on Sefer Yetzirah includes a visual interpretation of the letters of this root.
The first letter is Samekh ס, which is essentially a circle.
The following letter is a פ, which looks like a spiral bringing movement to the circle.
The final letter, ר, shows the completion of the spiral.
The pictogram of the word ספר gives an indication of spiraling movement.
Sefer Yetzirah 1:1 lists three Ciphers (codes); Sefer – book, S’far – number, and Sipur – Communication. Its brings me joy to note that the word “cipher” sounds akin to Sefer. The word in Sefer Yetzirah for ciphers is “םפרים”. Books in early days were scrolls, similar to the Torah scrolls of today which gives us a clue.
Transliterated, the letters are S, P/F, & R. In Hebrew, P and F are the same letter, פ . The sounds are differentiated with absence of presence of a dagesh, dot. The dot brings the “P” sound and no dot is “F”.
The English word “sapphire” holds hints of this root as well. The ten S’firot, emanations, share this root. S,P,R are root letters for spiral, spiritual, They bring to mind the ongoing celestial orbits that are the substructure to the spirals of life on Earth. The gravitational field of Moon and the other neighbors impact earth and can be witnessed by ocean waves, the shape of a nautilus and the way lettuce grows spiraling into life.
SEFER HAIIM, LIVING BOOK
On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Jews pray to be inscribed the Sefer Haiim, The Living Book, or SpiRaLs of Life. Everyone signs in with deeds day by day. It hints at the spiraling substructure of Earth’s space time continuum.
Fun Fact: Did you know that Sapphire come in a rainbow of colors? Then, the Sapphire brick (or throne in Ezekiel) using the rainbow model represents the source of color and diversity.
THE PEOPLE SAW
טו וַיַּ֥עַל מֹשֶׁ֖ה אֶל־הָהָ֑ר וַיְכַ֥ס הֶֽעָנָ֖ן אֶת־הָהָֽר: טז וַיִּשְׁכֹּ֤ן כְּבוֹד־יְיָ֙ עַל־הַ֣ר סִינַ֔י וַיְכַסֵּ֥הוּ הֶֽעָנָ֖ן שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִ֑ים וַיִּקְרָ֧א אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֛ה בַּיּ֥וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֖י מִתּ֥וֹךְ הֶֽעָנָֽן: יז וּמַרְאֵה֙ כְּב֣וֹד יְיָ֔ כְּאֵ֥שׁ אֹכֶ֖לֶת בְּרֹ֣אשׁ הָהָ֑ר לְעֵינֵ֖י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל: יח וַיָּבֹ֥א מֹשֶׁ֛ה בְּת֥וֹךְ הֶֽעָנָ֖ן וַיַּ֣עַל אֶל־הָהָ֑ר וַיְהִ֤י מֹשֶׁה֙ בָּהָ֔ר אַרְבָּעִ֣ים י֔וֹם וְאַרְבָּעִ֖ים לָֽיְלָה15 As soon as Mosheh reached the mountain top, the cloud covered the mountain. 16 Havayah’s Presence dwelled on Mount Sinai, hidden by cloud cover for six days, and (God) called to Mosheh on the seventh day from within the cloud. 17 Now, Havayah’s Presence appeared in the sight of the Israelites as a consuming fire on the top of the mountain. 18 Mosheh went into the cloud, and he went climbed to the mountain top, and Mosheh was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
MISHPATIM COUNTS NETZAH IN TIFERET, PERSEVERANCE WITHIN BALANCE
Tiferet (in Tiferet) completed with last week’s portion establishing the structural principles. These principles are: 1) Hesed; Love & Grace, [right side pillar] 2) G’vurah; Pause & Modulation, [left side pillar] and 3) Tiferet; Balance & Harmony [central pillar].
Water is the element akin to Hesed, it spreads, connects, nourishes, cleans, comforts, transforms, and more. It is foundational to any life as we know it. Fire separates, heats, and sets boundaries. It models G’vurah and maintaining sustainable boundaries to bring in focus to support life. Tiferet is a healthy balance between these opposites nourishing the central line [spine].
Next, the three lower S’firot (within Tiferet) – Netzah, Hod, and Yesod begin to do the important job of applying the principles of bringing the lofty ideals into something tangible. This Torah portion is the Netzah, the perseverance, of the revelation at of the previous week’s Torah portion bringing it into the details of day to life. Mishpatim brings the Revelation at Sinai into the communal “database”, as it were, and makes it a part of day to day consideration for decisions to support harmonious living in with one another and Divine Presence.