Friday, October 14, 2011

"And a river went out of Eden" - Part 4

I have chanced upon a number of very interesting reflections on the "Four Rivers" of Gan Eden. Amongst these, consider for example a unique Kabbalistic tikkun, a magical "mending rite," intended to "heal" the "breaches" within the Divine One, as depicted by Abraham Miguel Cardozo, the 17th century Shabbatean prophet and "magus." Of course, the "broken deity" is understood to be referring to the "lower aspects" of the divine in manifestation, and not to the primordial oneness of the Eternal Living Spirit beyond time, space and events.
The rectification ritual requires one to select sets of five stones respectively representing five holy sefirot and five "demonic" counterparts, or perhaps the "demonic counterparts" of the five aspects of the human "Self," the latter being the Nefesh, Ru'ach, Neshamah, Chiah and Yechidah. The ritual procedure requires practitioners to alternatively position the stones inside streams of water, remove them, replace, remove and to scatter them, and so forth, whilst simultaneously reciting prayers and selected biblical verses. Cardozo informed us "the demonic powers are called 'stumbling stone' and 'obstacle stone' [Isaiah 8:14].....[while] the holy sefirot are called 'smooth stones.'....."
Regarding Cardozo's mentioned magical "divine mending rite," he told us that "when you take up these stones, your purpose is not to separate or to distance them from the brook, to distance, that is, the Persons from the Primordial Adam. God forbid! These are our portion and our heritage; it is our task fully to mend the flaw inflicted upon them by our ancestor's sins and by our own, and it is for this purpose that you are taking them up. For it is he who has true knowledge of God who is able to do the 'Mending'." In delineating the rite in question, Cordozo instructed those indending to work this "mending" of the "disfigured deity," to recite Genesis 2:10-14 whilst standing on the banks of a brook, stream or river. He explains "the 'river' is Primordial Adam.....He perpetually 'goes forth from Eden,' this being 'Adam of the World of Emanation.' The 'garden' is that vacant space, which, according to Rabbi Isaac Luria, was left when the Infinite initially contracted Itself into Itself.....This is, in the truest sense, that 'garden,' and it is for the purpose of watering it that the river — Primordial Adam — goes forth from the primordial Eden, which is 'Adam of the World of Emanation'....."
Having completed the recitation of the mentioned verse, the practitioner was required to place "the five stones of the realms of holiness into the river's waters," which was followed by prayers and a variety of further actions. The ritual and the meanings of the "five stones" can be traced in "Abraham Miguel Cardozo: Selected Writings" by Abraham Miguel Cardozo & David Joel Halperin.
Now, regarding the division of the one Edenic river into four, Cardozo believed this to be a division of the "divine flow" commencing within the sefirah Keter (Crown), or in the partzuf (Countenance) of Arich Anpin, i.e. the "Long-suffering" or "Patient One." The "Four Rivers" are then understood to be referring to the four divisions or "faces" as explicated in the Lurianic doctrine of the "partzufim," i.e. "Father," "Mother," "Son" and "Daughter" respectively indicating the four sefirot of Chochmah (Wisdom), Binah (Understanding), Tiferet (Beauty) and Malchut (Kingdom). The "four" are also considered to be representing four "messianic figures": Messiah ben David, Messiah ben Ephraim, Moses, and the fourth, according to David Halperin, "is something of a mystery."
Being a Shabbatean, Cardozo naturally included the failed Messiah Shabbetai Tzvi in his deliberations on the four "rivers" of Eden. Hence he informed us that "the name of the first [river] is Pishon [Genesis 2:11]. This is the Sefirah Chochmah [= Father].....The name of the second river is Gichon: This is Binah [= Mother].....[whose] role is to cover and to protect.....The roots of the two Messiah's souls derive from Father and Mother. This is why the numerical value of the words 'the name of the first is Pishon,' when the number of its letters are counted in, is equivalent to the value of 'Shabbetai Tzvi'." As it is, the gematria does not quite add up so nicely, but with some additional reasoning and a bit of manipulation here and there, anything is achievable.
Notwithstanding this, it would seem Abraham Miguel Cardozo assigned himself a special "messianic" mission, one perhaps a little greater than that of Shabbetai Tzvi. Continuing the theme of the "Four Rivers" and their "messianic" affiliations, he informed us that "at Messiah ben David's coming.....the sefirah Chochmah witdrew itself.....Messiah ben David was then left 'a waterless river, all dried up' [Job 14:11].....He was unable to reveal the Divinity in any explicit fashion, and he withdrew himself to the heights. Messiah ben Ephraim, by contrast, is the Sefirah Yesod (Foundation)." In Lurianic doctrine the phrase "broad places of the river" is identified with Yesod as the sex organ of the "Son" partzuf in Tiferet (Beauty), the messianic figure of which Cardoza maintained to be deriving "from the Mother's genital, which is called 'the broad places of the river.' He is thus able to spread doctrine throughout the world, and the divine effluence along with it, to make known the faith of the Cause Above All Causes, through the Blessed Holy One and His Shechinah. This is why the numerical value of 'the broad places of the river'," with again a little push and shove here and there to forcefit the issue nicely, is equivalent to that of the name of....."Abraham Miguel Cardozo" himself!
Regarding the remaining two Edenic rivers, Cardoza informed us that the third named "Chedekel" (Tigris) refers to the partzuf of Ze'ir Anpin, the "Impatient One" whose unique locale is Tiferet (Beauty) on the sefirotic tree. This Cardozo said is corresponding to Moses whom he maintained is incorporating "the roots of both Messiahs." In conclusion, he told us that the fourth river Frat (Euphrates) "is the sefirah Malchut, which is the source of all that is produced." Regarding the latter "river," Cardoza noted that there is no special reference in the bible, which he understood to mean that Malchut (Kingdom), the associated sefirah, "takes on various names, in accord with whatever effluence this sefirah receives" from the higher sefirot, and hence there is also some ambivalence regarding the affiliated messianic personage. On the one hand it is understood to be indicating the prophet Elijah, said to be "the Man Who Brings Good News" [ha-Mevaser], but that "it remains unclear whether Elijah is really the one who will announce the Redemption." In this regard Cardozo conjectured that "it is possible also that this will be done by a woman," i.e. Mavaseret Tziyon, 'She Who Brings Good News to Zion'."
In terms of the Lurianic doctrine of the "partzufim" (divine countenances) on the sefirotic tree, the sefirah Malchut is associated with Nukva, the divine feminine or "Daughter," manifested by and through all women on earth. This is the Shechinah, the female counterpart of the Divine One, regarding whom Cardozo implored the Infinite One: "O Master of all the worlds, You who necessarily exist! O God, above whom there is no God! O Lord over all the lords, King over all the Kings! Like the soul in the body and in its clothing, You shine within the ten sefirot of the World of Emanation, the ten sefirot of the World of Creation, the ten sefirot of the World of Fashioning, the ten sefirot of the World of Making. You join together all the worlds: the Yod to the Heh, the Heh to the Vav, and the Vav to the Heh. You give life to them all, and the host of heaven prostrates itself to You before Your honoured throne. You it is who unites the Blessed Holy One and His Shechinah. In the light of the manifest faces [is] Your face. May it be Your will to bring the Shechinah near, from You, to the Blessed Holy One. For, as seen from Your perspective, there is no separation or dissociation, no banishment or distancing."
This is certainly a most beautiful and very moving prayer, which, as well as the "sacred mending" saga, you can investigate in great detail in "Abraham Miguel Cardozo: Selected Writings" by Abraham Miguel Cardozo & David Joel Halperin.
(More to follow)

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