Friday, 31 October 2014

The Loving Family, the Man and the Old Mansion

A story that addresses the opinion that says:

“I believe in God, yet not in the Church.”


 In a particular neighbourhood, in an old mansion that was seven stories high, lived a father, his son, and the son’s mother. Throughout the neighbourhood this family was highly regarded and esteemed, because of their loving nature and hospitality which welcomed all people of every race and class. One day a new man, who was relatively young and lived on his own, moved into the neighbourhood; and upon hearing about this saintly family he decided to pay them a visit. The following morning after making this resolution, the man walked to this family’s home and knocked on their door. At once they opened the door, embraced him as their own, and gave him food and drink, and all the love and attention they could give him. He remained there all day, and because it had gotten late, the man reluctantly forced himself to leave in the evening, against the pleas of the family who begged him to stay on a little longer. Upon arriving at his home a haunting silence surrounded him, and all of a sudden he felt very lonely and sad. “But there I was so loved,” he said to himself; “I must return, for these people mean so much to me and I to them.”

 The following morning he ran straight to the family’s home and there they were delighted to see him. He spent the entire day with them and together they laughed and shared food, stories, and drink. And so it happened that as night approached the man would return to his home, only to return again the following morning. This he did for many weeks, and never did the family grow tired of him and nor did he of them. For every moment they all spent together seemed like a dream of pleasantness; and constantly they grew in love for one another.

However as a month passed, the man started to notice that certain sections of the family’s home were in disrepair. The ceiling in some rooms had water damage, the walls in certain places were chipped, and some of the family’s furniture was old and tattered; and there was one particular room that was repugnant with the smell of damp carpet and excessive mould. At first the man was so rapt with the members of the family that he had not been troubled by the poor condition of sections of the house. Yet after he first began to notice, slowly he became aware of fault after fault, until such thoughts plagued his mind.

And so it was that one morning he knocked upon the door of the family’s home; yet whilst welcoming him in as they usually did, he refused the invitation, and at once all the joy left each of the faces of the family. “I cannot and will not come into your house any more” spoke the man; “for it is a rotten old place. However do not take offense, for I still want to see you, and so if you would like to find a better home I will spend time with you there.” After gathering himself together the father said to the man: “I know my family’s home is not the most luxurious or perfect of places, yet the foundation is pure marble and is solid; and day by day we renovate. This is our home and we cannot live anywhere else, we have always dwelt here and always will. So please, can you not look past the faults of our home? For we would love for you to come and dwell with us, and stay with us. You will be a son to me and the son of my spouse, and will be as the brother of my son. What do you say my child?” “I cannot and I will not, for I despise your home and disagree with it. Make me your son without having me dwell with you in this old place” replied the man. “This cannot be so” replied the father, as tears trickled down his face. “For how can you be my son when you spurn me and my family because of the tattered aspects of my home?” “But I love you! It is just your home that I hate!” shouted the man earnestly. “You do not love me, and nor do you love my son or my spouse. For you would love this home for our sake if you truly loved us. This home is one with us, and we are one with it. You reject our home, and so it is that you reject we who live here. We love you, but now we know that you never really loved us at all; you merely loved what you could get out of us. Goodbye my child, I pray you would change your mind and would come to live with us one day.” And at that the family went away, retreating into their home. Yet the father did not close the door and he never did from that day on. The man went away.

Brief Narrative Commentary

It is always best when stories are not interpreted for an individual in advance. However if done sparingly and in the right manner, such interpretations can help the reader draw greater profit from the story, especially if they are unfamiliar with a particular theological context.

The saintly family is in its primary and deeper sense an allegory of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit; whilst on another level, it can be interpreted as the Triune God as manifested in the Holy Family: Jesus, Mary and Joseph; with Mary a living mirror of the Holy Spirit, and St. Joseph a living mirror of God the Father. Whilst Jesus is in His Humanity a mirror of the Triune Godhead, yet being one in nature with the Godhead, unlike Mary and Joseph who share in Godlikeness not in nature but by grace. Perhaps also, the saintly family could be an allegory of the Triune God as operating within the Church Militant (the Church on earth). Thus from this perspective perhaps one could view the father as the office of the Papacy, the mother as the teachings of the Church and the son as the office of the ministerial (ordained) priesthood.
Simply speaking, the young man is symbolic of the person who believes in God and considers themselves to love God, and yet who rejects, renounces and/or despises the Church, believing it to be unnecessary and man-made. Such an individual often has many fair reasons for this perspective, since they look at the many wicked people that have or do belong to the Church, or they look at the wicked things many have done in the name of the Church; and therefore they conclude that the Church is evil, redundant, separate from God and obviously man-made, since how could the Church be like this if it were made by God? Yet this story seeks to challenge this perspective; affirming that the Church is Holy because of Christ (foundation), and whilst many of Her members (on earth in the Church Militant) remain sinful (tattered aspects of the home); regardless, the truth is that God (i.e. the father, mother, and son) efficaciously dwells in and works through His Church by the power of the Holy Spirit (seven gifts of the Spirit) and in the Seven Sacraments (i.e. seven stories of the mansion), in providing love and care to the members of His Church (i.e. guests).

The old mansion, house and home refers to the Catholic Church, which means, the Universal Church (see bellow for quotations). This is the Church founded by Christ Jesus when He lived on earth, and traces its origins to Peter the Apostle who was the first Pope [click here for a historical list of all the Popes]. Thus Jesus said to Peter: “That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church” (Mt 16:18). And here Jesus refers to Peter as the Rock of the Church and not exclusively Himself (although it is Christ in Peter that makes him the rock), since in another Gospel Jesus says: “Thou art Simon the son of Jona. Thou shalt be called Cephas [which means rock in Aramaic], which is interpreted Peter.” (Jn 1:42). So it is that the solid pure marble stone of the house (Church) refers to the Papacy and the Magisterium and its infallibility[1] in regards to teachings on faith and morals. For as Paul says in Ephesians, the Church is “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ep 2:20). So it is that on this foundation, the Church, no matter how many wicked people are within it or seek to destroy it, will always endure and remain faithful in dogma and doctrine to the message of the Gospel: both Written and Oral. Since it is written: “And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.” (Mt 7:25). Furthermore, Jesus says “thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18). Besides the proof of Scripture -proof for those who believe- history and the current state of the Church speaks loudly enough on this point. For what institution, unless it was sustained supernaturally, could endure and remain for over 2000 years, teaching the same message and carrying on the same spiritual Traditions, when in the earthly realm it is almost filled with the most inadequate and worst of people. No cooperation would last more than a decade in the same situation; so truly it is a mark of the Divine.

Yet primarily the foundation of solid pure marble stone is Christ Himself, and it is with, in and through Him that the Papacy and the Magisterium (Bishops in union with the Pope) form part of this foundation stone also. Thus one comes to an understanding why it is said that Christ is the Foundation stone in one place: “For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid: which is Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor 3:11); and the apostles and prophets in another place: “Built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Ep 2:20). It is thus because of Christ –the solid pure marble stone- that no matter how wicked the members of the Church are (the tattered aspects of the home), the Church remains Holy, because although filled with a mingling of saints and sinners, Christ is Holy and nothing can stain this holiness. This is why this foundation stone is referred to as pure marble stone; for Christ is Purity Itself, and His Holiness as the Immutable God cannot be marred. This foundation stone is referred to as marble stone for it was marble stone that paved the floor of the Temple of Solomon (2 Chron 3:6), and Christ is the living fulfillment of such pavement which formed the place where the men of old could meet with God; for in Christ the pure marble stone we meet with the Triune God (symbolised by the saintly family in the story) within the Church, no matter how disheveled the members of the Church may be –the ceiling, walls and rooms of the house. Since all aspects of the house draw their value from Christ the foundation stone, and not the other way around. Is not this exemplified by the fact that no matter how sinful a priest may be –even if he is in the state of mortal sin- when he performs the consecration over the bread and wine by invoking the Holy Spirit, they still become the Body and Blood of Christ (Ex opere operato).

The father in the story tells the man that when he rejects his home, he also rejects himself and his entire family, for he and his family are one with their home. Since indeed a home is what it is, not because of the building itself, but because of the union between the building and those who live there. This is analogous of how God and the Church are one, because the Church is His spiritual home, and is His adopted family by grace. Concerning the oneness of the Church with God it is written: “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church” (Eph 5:31-32). So it is that if one rejects the Church, one rejects God. We draw clarity from the Douay-Rheims translation of the final verse above: “This is a great sacrament: but I speak in Christ and in the church.” (Eph 5:32). Wherefore the union between the Church and Christ is sacramental; thus the Church is a Sacrament; and what is a sacrament? An efficacious instrument of grace and means of relating with God (CCC 772-776). So it is that through the Church, man comes to Christ, and through Christ man comes to God and thus spiritualising the language of the story: without the Home one cannot really be in union with the Trinitarian Family, He who is One God yet Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And finally, note how in the story the family did not ask the man to become perfect before coming to abide in their home, but rather they accepted him as he was, all they asked was for him to accept themselves and their home, and to look past the faults of the home for the sake of love of them. In the same manner, God does not ask man to become perfect before coming to Him and before becoming a member of the Church; rather all He asks is for us to come to Him as we are; to turn away from our old ways -our old homes- and come to dwell with Him; whilst loving our neighbour and the Church, bearing with all faults out of love for Him. And so our Triune God calls out to each soul: "Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: and forget thy people and thy father’s house. And the king shall greatly desire thy beauty; for he is the Lord thy God" (Ps 45:10-11a). Wherefore this invitation of love -to love and to be loved- fulfils the desire of each soul, a desire which many repress yet some allow to surface and be thus satisfied: "One thing I have asked of the Lord, this will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. That I may see the delight of the Lord...[and] feast and rejoice before God: and [so] be delighted with gladness. [And may come to] taste and see that the Lord is sweet" (Ps 27:4-5a, 68:3, 34:8). Since after all, "God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we wake or sleep we might live with him." and thus have life and have it to the full (1 Thes 5:9-10; Jn 10:10).

Several relevant excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

What does "catholic" mean?

830 The word "catholic" means "universal," in the sense of "according to the totality" or "in keeping with the whole." The Church is catholic in a double sense:
First, the Church is catholic because Christ is present in her. "Where there is Christ Jesus, there is the Catholic Church." In her subsists the fullness of Christ's body united with its head; this implies that she receives from him "the fullness of the means of salvation"308 which he has willed: correct and complete confession of faith, full sacramental life, and ordained ministry in apostolic succession. The Church was, in this fundamental sense, catholic on the day of Pentecost and will always be so until the day of the Parousia [Second Coming].
831 Secondly, the Church is catholic because she has been sent out by Christ on a mission to the whole of the human race:

Who belongs to the Catholic Church?

836 "All men are called to this catholic unity of the People of God. . . . And to it, in different ways, belong or are ordered: the Catholic faithful, others who believe in Christ, and finally all mankind, called by God's grace to salvation."

838 "The Church knows that she is joined in many ways to the baptized who are honored by the name of Christian, but do not profess the Catholic faith in its entirety or have not preserved unity or communion under the successor of Peter." Those "who believe in Christ and have been properly baptized are put in a certain, although imperfect, communion with the Catholic Church." With the Orthodox Churches, this communion is so profound "that it lacks little to attain the fullness that would permit a common celebration of the Lord's Eucharist."

Several relevant excerpts from Lumen Gentium:

(6). Often the Church has also been called the building of God. (34) The Lord Himself compared Himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the cornerstone. (35) On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles, (36) and from it the Church receives durability and consolidation. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God (37) in which dwells His family; the household of God in the Spirit; (38) the dwelling place of God among men; (39) and, especially, the holy temple. This Temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Holy Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem (5*). As living stones we here on earth are built into it. (40) John contemplates this holy city coming down from heaven at the renewal of the world as a bride made ready and adorned for her husband.

(8). While Christ, holy, innocent and undefiled (81) knew nothing of sin, (82) but came to expiate only the sins of the people,(83) the Church, embracing in its bosom sinners, at the same time holy and always in need of being purified, always follows the way of penance and renewal. The Church, "like a stranger in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God"(14*), announcing the cross and death of the Lord until He comes."(84) By the power of the risen Lord it is given strength that it might, in patience and in love, overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without, and that it might reveal to the world, faithfully though darkly, the mystery of its Lord until, in the end, it will be manifested in full light. 

(Italics added).

[1] Infallibility in regards to faith and morals means that the Holy Spirit will not allow the Church to deviate in her official teaching from the Truth revealed by Christ Jesus, and that an official understanding of this Truth which develops over the ages, will not err either. This does not mean that the members of the Church will deviate in practice from this official teaching however. (CCC 888-892).

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The Mystical Meaning of the Lulav and the Etrog

A Mystagogical and Speculative Theological Catholic Perspective

Drawing from the Jewish roots of the Faith

  The following draws explicitly and implicitly from such primary sources as Scripture, Catholic Tradition, Teaching and the writings of the Saints along with secondary sources such as the Jewish Oral Torah from Orthodox Jewish perspectives (and not from the malign perspective of the New Age), and the Divine Will spirituality and private revelations of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta [read more].


i.          Introduction
I.          Eucharistic Benediction & the Shaking of the Lulav & Etrog
II.        Lulav as Yesod & Etrog as Tiferet: Bride & Bridegroom
III.       Joseph, Rachel & Jacob; Jesus, Mary & Joseph
IV.       Behold Jacob, Joseph & Rachel
V.        Genesis-Jacob meets Rachel: An Archetype of Joseph and Mary
VI.       The Pillars: Malkut-Yesod-Tiferet-Keter
VII.     The Significance of 36: Lulav, Etrog and Divine Will
VIII.    The Spiritual Fecundity and Blessings of the Divine Will
IX.       Final Notations Concerning the Lulav and the Etrog

i.                   Introduction

The lulav is one of the Four Species (arba minim) used during Succoth (The Feast of Tabernacles); with the other three: the myrtle (hadas), the willow (aravah) and the etrog (citron). The lulav refers both to the lulav itself and to the myrtle (three branches bound together) and willow (two branches bound together) when all bound together. Each of the seven days of Succoth (except the Sabbath) the blessing for the arba minim takes place, and this is customarily proceeded by the waving or shaking of the lulav and the etrog in all six directions, shaking it trice in each direction: east, west, south, north, up and down. During the blessing, in one’s left hand, the stem of the etrog is to point up; and afterwards (during the waving of the arba minim) the stem is to point down.


Often the Arba minim are associated with various parts of the body of Adam-Kadmon, which is the mystical ‘blue-print of humanity’ in a sense. Which as Catholic’s we would associate with the humanity of Jesus (Yeshua) and Mary (Miriam); and even with the Mystical Body of Christ the Church. The Arba minim are also associated with the Divine Name: YHVH.

 Species                        Body Part                   Divine Name

Hadas/Myrtle              -Eyes                           -Yod
Aravah/Willow            -Lips                            -Hey
Lulav                           -Spine                          -Vav
Etrog                           -Heart                          -Hey

The six directions correspond with six of the Sephira:

East                 Tiferet-Beauty:                        Jacob
South               Chessed-Loving Kindness:     Abraham
West                Yesod-Foundation:                  Joseph
North               Gevurah-Justice:                    Isaac
Up                   Netzach-Victory:                     Moses
Down              Hod-Glory:                             Aaron

I.                  Eucharistic Benediction & the Shaking of the Lulav & Etrog

The Eucharist is the New Covenant fulfillment of the etrog, and the monstrance can be likened to the lulav. Thus Eucharistic Benediction (the blessing of the people with the Eucharist) is a fulfilment of the ritual of the shaking of the arba minim. Since the priest raises the monstrance up off the altar, then he blesses the people with the Sign of the Cross in all four directions, and then he places it back down upon the altar. Of course this does not mean that the blessing and the ritual of the arba minim has been superseded, but rather that it is a devotion which points to and cultivates an understanding of the Eucharistic Mystery especially Eucharistic Benediction.


II.               Lulav as Yesod & Etrog as Tiferet: Bride & Bridegroom

The lulav is Yesod (foundation). The etrog is tifferet (beauty). The lulav is Yesod because it is shaped like a phallus. The lulav thus represents the Shecken, the male presence of the Blessed Holy One: that is Jesus Ha-Mashiach. The etrog is tifferet because it is shaped like a heart and like a womb or torso. The etrog thus represents the Shekinah, the feminine presence of the Blessed Holy One: that is the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Virgin Mary. The lulav is held in the right hand during the blessing, because it is primarily associated with the masculine. The etrog is held in the left hand during the blessing, because it is primarily associated with the feminine.

The lulav is the bridegroom. The etrog is the bride. Thus when one waves the lulav and the etrog in the six directions, this symbolises the mystical dance between the bridegroom and the bride (on the literal level this occurs at an Orthodox Jewish wedding: Mitzvah tanz). This mystical dance is the virginal union between Yesod and tifferet which are as one, for it is written: “and they shall become one flesh” (Gen 2:24b). It is thus that the lulav and the etrog are brought together side by side when one performs the blessing and carries out the ceremonial waving. Through the blessing of the Supernal Lulav with the Supernal Etrog, which the lulav ritual symbolises; Tiferet is united with Yesod, which is to say, that the womb of one’s soul is united with the Divine in a mystical conjugal act. This interior fusion of Yesod’s purity with Tiferet’s beauty culminates in the most sublime act of Divine Intimacy, wherefore one enters into the highest state of holiness –that of living in Divine Will (Keter- the Sephira associated with Divine Will, Razon).

III.           Joseph, Rachel & Jacob; Jesus, Mary & Joseph

The name Rachel[1] has its roots in the word for womb, since Rachel (Resh-Chet-Lamed) is akin to the beginning of the word womb which is rechem (Resh-Chet-Mem).[2] The end of the name Rachel, ‘El’ is the masculine name for God (Aleph-Lamed: Strong’s 410). Thus literally Rachel can be interpreted to mean ‘Womb of God’ which can be a figurative way of saying: ‘Mother of God’. Tiferet as mentioned above is associated with womb, and likewise in turn with the etrog. However Yesod and Tiferet though distinct, are inseparable in a single union, and thus they are as one. This is reiterated by the fact that the lulav is associated with the spine, which not only represents Yesod as pillar or phallus (which are both spine shaped), but Tiferet, since Tiferet is often associated with the spine. How can this mystery be understood? Both Jacob and Rachel are associated with Tiferet, yet Rachel (primarily associated with Shekinah/Malkut) is only associated with Tiferet through Yesod which is associated with their son Joseph. This is archetypal of the Holy Family, wherefore in this particular instance Jacob is a type of St. Joseph, Rachel of Mary and Joseph of Jesus. This also bears Trinitarian allusions; with Jacob, Rachel and Joseph an icon of Joseph, Mary and Jesus; and Joseph, Mary and Jesus (in His Humanity) an icon of the Holy Trinity: Father, Spirit and Son.

For the sake of simplicity Jacob, Rachel and Joseph will be utilised as the primary motif in this paragraph, bearing in mind their representations. The outer-face of the etrog represents the bridegroom and father Jacob (Tiferet) together with Abraham (Hesed), who both form the masculine face of the heart of Tiferet (Hesed-Tiferet: Loving Kindness or Mercy fused with Beauty). Whilst the inner-face of the etrog represents the bride and mother Rachel (Shekinah) together with Isaac (Gevurah/Din), who both form the feminine face of the heart of Tiferet yet only through Joseph-Yesod (Shekinah/Malkut-Gevurah: The feminine Presence of God fused with Justice).[3] Although Jacob and Rachel united with each other many times in the martial act, it was only once their first child Joseph was born that their oneness took flesh in Joseph himself. It is thus that the lulav, Yesod and Joseph, unite the inner and outer face of the etrog, Tiferet. Through the Yesod of Joseph therefore, not only does the Tiferet of Jacob find its union with the Shekinah of Rachel, but through the Yesod of Joseph the Tiferet of Jacob and the Shekinah of Rachel find their union with the Hesed of Abraham and the Gevurah of Isaac; which is to say that through and in the offspring of Joseph (the offspring or son of the covenant) the promised seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is fulfilled.


IV.            Behold Jacob, Joseph & Rachel

Whilst it is Yesod-Joseph who unites Tiferet-Jacob with Shekinah-Rachel, it is Shekinah-Rachel who unites Tiferet and Yesod, Jacob and Joseph; since the wife and mother is the bond between father and son. In Kabbalah[4] the Sephirah of Malkut or Shekinah is primarily associated with the feminine; whilst Tiferet and Yesod are deemed to possess a balance of both the feminine and masculine. Yet when Tiferet and Yesod are associated with Shekinah, they are considered to be the male counterparts to the feminine Shekinah; and this befits the allegory of Jacob and Joseph with Rachel. This is interesting because the etrog understood as the heart is associated primarily with the Sephirah of Tiferet, and thus with Jacob. Jacob is in this sense the etrog. The lulav is shaped like a phallus and is thus Yesod; yet the lulav is generally associated with the spine-Tiferet, however this is one way of saying that Jacob is in Joseph; that the spine –the uprightness and righteousness of Abraham and Isaac that was in Jacob- is in Joseph and in his phallus, his loins. Joseph is thus in this sense the lulav. Yet what about Rachel? Let us come to that now:

Holding the etrog in his left hand the rabbi said: “Behold, Jacob.” Then holding the lulav in his right hand he said: “Behold, Joseph.” And then drawing his hands together, and gesturing with his eyes to both the etrog and the lulav he said: “Behold, Rachel.”

How can this be so? For Rachel is one in flesh with Jacob as is a wife to her husband; and because Rachel is one in flesh with Joseph as is a mother to her son. Indeed in understanding Rachel as a type of Mary, Jacob as St. Joseph and Joseph as Jesus we gain insight into a deep mystery. Now Rachel is the etrog in the sense that she is the womb of Jacob and the heart of Jacob (with womb and heart both associated with Tiferet). Whilst Rachel is the lulav in the sense that she is the mouth and eyes of Joseph (with mouth associated with the willow of the lulav and the eyes with the myrtle of the lulav). Wherefore it is written in the Zohar: “Jacob gazed upon Joseph, his soul was fulfilled as if he had seen his mother –for the beauty of Joseph resembled the beauty of Rachel.”[5] And this can be understood to mean that Joseph had the eyes and lips of Rachel, for it was the myrtle of her eyes that pierced Jacob’s heart, and the willow of her lips that overcame him (Gen 29:10-11). Furthermore, considering Rachel as an Old Testament icon of the Holy Spirit, Jacob as an icon of God the Father and Joseph as an icon of God the Son, we glean a further abundance of understanding. Perhaps it might be argued that this metaphor is a poorly insufficient allegory of the Trinity, yet although poor it is not entirely insufficient for the rest of our fictional rabbi’s metaphor is as follows:

After a brief pause, whilst his student remained puzzled, the rabbi whilst gesturing with his eyes to both the etrog and the lulav which were held together one in each hand, said: “Behold, Jacob” and then after another brief pause, with the same gesture: “Behold, Joseph.” “But together the lulav and etrog are but one, how can they be three?” “It is a mystery but what you said is Truth” replied the rabbi.

V.               Genesis-Jacob meets Rachel: An Archetype of Joseph and Mary


The following is the account from Genesis where Jacob meets Rachel; wherefore we can draw insight into Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Now when Jacob saw Rachel the daughter of Laban his mother's brother, and the sheep of Laban his mother's brother, Jacob went up and rolled the stone from the well's mouth, and watered the flock of Laban his mother's brother. Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and wept aloud. (Gen 29:10-11).

Now when Jacob saw Rachel –that is to say, when St. Joseph saw Mary- he beheld the three sparkling lights (the Glorious Trinity) in the reflection of the moon of her countenance, along with the multitude of the stars of his spiritual decedents, the Church –the sheep of Laban his mother’s brother.

Jacob went up –which is to say that by St. Joseph’s righteousness, avowal to virginity, and bold confidence in prayer with God, he removed the stone that covered the mouth of the well; that mouth below of the New Rachel’s (Mary’s) womb which was sealed in virginity and was opened figuratively to the Holy Spirit thus allowing the possibility for the waters of the New Joseph (Jesus) to enter into the world. For only through St. Joseph and his cooperation with grace and with God’s plan for the Incarnation, was it possible for the Virgin Mary to bear the upper waters of the Torah, the Word, in Her Immaculate Womb. On this matter St. Francis de Sales writes: “she belonged to him and was planted right close to him like a glorious palm tree near her own beloved palm tree, which, according to the design of divine Providence, could not and ought not produce fruit [Jesus] unless it be in his shadow and in his sight.”[6]

And watered the flock of Laban his mother’s brother –which is to say that through St. Joseph, God the Father gave to drink the waters of the Mashiach and of the Divine Will (Razon, Keter) to their –Joseph and Mary’s- future spiritual offspring –Israel the Church, especially those who come to live in Divine Will- and in advance to Mary the New Rachel. For Rachel means ewes, which is the plural of female sheep, thus indeed Rachel along with the flock must have drank from this water too, a water foreshadowing that Celestial Water to be consumed by the Supernal Rachel.

Then Jacob kissed Rachel –which is to say that then St. Joseph pronounced his Fiat in remaining married and not divorcing the Virgin Mary the New Rachel, and by this he consented to the mystery of the Incarnation; which although had already occurred, since it says: “fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her, is of the Holy Ghost.” (Mt 1:20); this mystery of the Incarnation only took place because God knew in Divine Foresight that Joseph would pronounce his Fiat. A Fiat fused with the Fiat of God the Father that Eternally Begot the Son; so that Joseph’s Fiat that was pronounced in time, through eternity became one with the Fiat of Mary, and thus these two Fiat’s together came to bear the fruit of the Incarnation of the Living Torah who is the Word. As St. John Paul II declared: “And while it is important for the Church to profess the virginal conception of Jesus, it is no less important to uphold Mary's marriage to Joseph, because juridically Joseph's fatherhood depends on it.”[7]


And wept aloud- because after Jacob beheld the comely countenance of Rachel with his very own eyes; and then having tasted with his lips the delicate and sumptuous fruits of her innocent beauty, Jacob was simply overwhelmed; for the surging’s of love had pierced his soul’s heart, and had granted to his being a glimpse and taste of she who he had always longed for, and pined for, with groans in the night. Wherefore it is written: “I loved her and sought her from my youth, and I desired to take her for my bride, and I became enamored of her beauty.” (Wis 8:2). This of course is but a dim shadow of the virginal yet most passionate love held by St. Joseph for the Blessed Virgin Mary, She who is the feminine Created Wisdom, Binah –Understanding. This foreshadowing love between Jacob and Rachel took flesh in the Patriarch Joseph, whilst the love between Jacob and Joseph was Rachel. On the other hand, the Love between St. Joseph and Mary was the Child Jesus; whilst the love between St. Joseph -icon of God the Father- and the Child Jesus, was and is the Virgin Mary –icon of the Holy Spirit.

And wept aloud- since furthermore, it is said in Oral Torah that Jacob’s kiss was a kiss of purity, and that most likely he kissed Rachel upon the forehead. Jacob by kissing Rachel’s forehead, tasted the sweetness and delight of the Divine Forehead: Divine Will –Keter; yet this sweetness was mingled with the bitterness of sorrow, for Jacob foresaw, as Rashi states, that Rachel would not be buried by his side, and that she would weep for her children; wherefore through the prophet Jeremiah the Lord says: “A voice was heard on high of lamentation, of mourning, and weeping, of Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted for them, because they are not.” (Jer 31:15). Furthermore, in beholding and kissing Rachel, Jacob received a portion of the sorrow and suffering of his future son Joseph, as well as receiving a portion of the joy of seeing Joseph in all his glory as Chancellor of Egypt; since in Rachel Jacob saw his son Joseph, and later on, in his son Joseph, he saw Rachel. This alludes to St. Joseph who by uniting his Fiat to that of Mary’s came to taste in his soul the delight of the Fruit of the Tree of Life, that Fruit of Keter made flesh in Jesus. Yet mingled with this sweetness of Divine Love was the bitterness of sorrow, the sorrow of Mary the Supernal Rachel -made one with the grieving Spirit of God who mourns that Her children live not in Divine Will- a sorrow which St. Joseph foretasted, and thus after having pronounced his Fiat, he was not only inundated with overwhelming joy but with profound sorrow. Through his Fiat he came to share not only in the sorrow of Mary, but –as they are inseparable- in the sorrow and sufferings of Jesus his adopted Son who was to be betrayed and crucified. Yet the tears of St. Joseph were also tears of joy, for whilst tasting the bitterness of his son Jesus’ future sorrow, he also tasted the future joy and glory of His Resurrection. Thus it is written: And wept aloud.

Rachel Weeps

VI.            The Pillars: Malkut-Yesod-Tiferet-Keter

Now when one brings the etrog and the lulav together, left hand and right hand, one brings together Jacob who is father and husband with Joseph who is son and heir. It is Rachel who is mother and wife that brings about this union (mystically she with Shekinah preserved Joseph’s life and led Jacob to him) between Jacob and Joseph, and in turn the generations. Wherefore it is written: “These are the generations of Jacob: Joseph…” (Gen 37:2), without the verse mentioning Jacob’s other sons, therefore Joseph and his lineage are the generations of Jacob, and all his brothers flow from him because it is written: “And Joseph caused his fathers and his brothers to live” (Gen 47:11a).[8] Thus we come to understand that it is Shekinah or Malkut that brings together Tiferet and Yesod; and through them all the other Sephira (‘generations’) are brought together, illumined and birthed. This is the significance of the bond between Malkut-Yesod-Tiferet (Rachel-Joseph-Jacob; Mary-Jesus-Joseph); which together with Keter-Divine Will form the ‘Pillars’ or ‘Central Column’ of the Sephira.[9] This is to say that it is the Virgin Mary that brings together St. Joseph and the Child Jesus, and all other souls in this triune-bond are generated and birthed into holiness, and above all, into the state of living in Divine Will (Keter).[10] It is thus that the shaking of the lulav and the etrog is symbolic of doing one’s rounds in Divine Will, performed first by the Holy Family, and as espoused through the private revelations of the Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta.

The Sephira or Sephirot (In English and presented without New Age perversions): What in Hebrew is similar to what is understood as Energeia in Eastern Orthodox theology and Divine Attributes in western Catholic theology)

 The ‘Pillars’ or ‘Central Column’ of the Sephira as mentioned above is in ascending order: Malkut-Yesod-Tiferet-Keter (Da'at is not included). These four Sephira that compose the ‘Pillars’ can be associated with the ‘Four Species’: arba minim. In the mode of this understanding the etrog can be said to represent Keter as the fruit of Divine Will; whilst Malkut-Yesod-Tiferet the three species that compose the lulav. Malkut/Shekinah is represented by the willow-aravah, since Malkut is associated with the mouth as is the two branches of the willow. Yesod is represented by the myrtle-hadas, since the myrtle is associated with the eyes and so is Yesod since it is written: “they had the foundation of this temple before their eyes” (Ezra 3:12). Tiferet in this perspective is thus represented by the lulav- palm frond, since Tiferet is associated with the spine as is the lulav. The following is two interpretations of who represents the ‘Central Column’, the spine of the Divine Will (Keter) through which all come to receive and enter into It’s activity; just as the limbs of a body receive the nervous impulse from the head through the spine. Both interpretations (few of many possible) are alternate perspectives of the single Truth.

Keter:              Triune Godhead                        or          Jesus in His Humanity (Triune Godhead)
Tiferet:             St. Joseph                                 or          Virgin Mary
Yesod:             Jesus in His Humanity              or          St. Joseph
Malkut:            Virgin Mary                             or          The Little Daughter of the Divine Will

VII.        The Significance of 36: Lulav, Etrog and Divine Will

The first letter of aravah (willow), hadas (myrtle) and lulav, which together form the lulav, leaves one with the letters: Ayin-Hey-Lamed. These letters make up the word עלה  (Ayin-Lamed-Hey) which can mean to come, ascend or mount up to God (Strong’s 5927: i.e. Song 3:6, 8:5). By forming an anagram from the first letter of these letters (i.e. Ayin =Aleph, Hey =Hey) we are left with the anagram AHL, using the letters Aleph-Hey-Lamed, which form the Hebrew word: Ahal, which means to move a tent from place to place (i.e. Gen 13:13, 18).[11] Furthermore, the gematria (absolute value: A=1, H=5, L=30) of AHL is 36, a number which is associated with Divine Will-Keter, and of the highest sanctity of living in It.[12] Since it is said in the Talmud that Adam and Eve lived in the Garden of Eden, in the Divine Will –the Supernal Light- for but thirty-six hours. The word light also appears 36 times in the Torah (first five books of the Bible).[13] And Rachel is said to have died at the young age of 36. Fusing the understandings drawn by both these anagrams (Ayin-Hey-Lamed and Aleph-Hey-Lamed) of the three species that compose the lulav, we can say that the mystery of the lulav speaks of moving the tent of ones soul from height to height in the sanctity of living in Divine Will.

 The etrog represents the Food or Fruit of Divine Will[14], the Fruit of Keter, the Fruit of the Tree of Life: that very fruit which Adam and Eve never were able to taste, for they chose instead the sensual food of the Tree of Knowledge. Whilst the sweet apple can be said to be the Fruit of the Tree of Life (the Divine Will) as it would have been experienced by man prior the Fall; the etrog represents the Fruit of the Tree of Life (the Divine Will) as it is experienced in this life of exile: bitter, fragrant and overwhelming, though very good for the health. In fact the etrog has been referred to by the Greeks of old, as the Median Apple or the Golden Apple. The Rabbi’s associate the etrog as ‘the fruit of beautiful trees’ from the following verse in regards to Succoth, the Feast of Tabernacles: “And you shall take on the first day the fruit of beautiful trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days!” (Lev 23:40). Lastly, the lamed-vovniks, literally meaning the thirty-sixers, is a concept in mystical Judaism that refers to the ‘thirty six hidden righteous ones’ which is often interpreted as 36 righteous Tzadiks who live in each generation, preserving the world from God’s Justice. However as espoused by the opinion of Br. Gilbert Joseph, what the lamed-vovniks really refers to is those who live in the Divine Will (Keter) and are present mystically in every age through eternity. Amalgamating these many varied concepts together, we come to an understanding that the blessing over the arba minim is a devotional means and symbol of invoking the Divine Will, to reign in us as it did in Adam and Eve. The shaking of the lulav and the etrog symbolises doing one’s rounds –fusing oneself with the activity of the Divine Will- in Divine Will, which takes one from glory to glory, sanctity to sanctity, or in other words as the word Ahal (equals 36) means: to move one’s tent from place to place. This is done so that one might come to taste the Supernal Etrog of permanently living in Divine Will, as a lamed-vovnik: as would have Adam and Eve if they remained faithful until past the Sabbath, yet as did St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary (and modern holy ones such as Luisa Piccarreta, St. Padre Pio etc.)  –and of course as did Jesus who is the Supernal Etrog, He the Fruit of Keter who is made available to us in the Holy Eucharist. This amalgamation, though poorly expressed, is most poignant because it relates many mysteries together, including that of the arba minim, Succoth, the Garden of Eden, the Holy Family, the lamed-vovniks, and the highest state of sanctity of living in Divine Will.

VIII.     The Spiritual Fecundity and Blessings of the Divine Will

Eve, Rachel and Mary in Her office as Mother of the Church are associated with Malkut or Shekinah. Adam, Jacob and St. Joseph as Father of the Church are associated with Tiferet. The Fruit of Divine Will (Supernal Etrog) and Jesus in His Divinity is associated with Keter; whilst Joseph the Patriarch and Jesus in His Humanity is associated with Yesod.

It is held in Jewish belief that the etrog is a source of blessing for fertility and childbirth. Indeed this bears significance when Jacob is understood to represent the etrog, he who was most fruitful and was promised to have countless descendants. Similarly as Rachel is associated with the etrog, those who suffer from barrenness or infertile, shall like her overcome this obstacle through the blessing of the etrog. This is a mystical way of saying that through Mary and Joseph who are one with Jesus the Supernal Etrog, one shall become fruitful in the spiritual life and bear many sons and daughters –that is, Divine Lives which are mystical duplications of Jesus in each and every word, thought and deed; just as Jesus is present in many Eucharistic Hosts.

The stem of the etrog faces up during the blessing, since it symbolises the heart or womb of the Daughter of Zion: the soul, Mary and the Church, receiving the blessing of the Divine Will. The stem faces down, with the pitam (brown tip) facing up, resembling a breast, during the waving of the lulav and etrog since whilst one does their rounds in Divine Will, they, or rather the Divine Will in, with and through them, is pouring out blessings of Celestial Milk upon the whole world: past, present and future; whilst feeding God with His very own bounty, as did the Virgin Mary to the Child Jesus.

The Virgin Mary Nursing the Child Jesus

IX.            Final Notations Concerning the Lulav and the Etrog
  •  The etrog symbolises the heart of Jesus the Masculine Adam Kadmon, as well as the heart of Mary the Feminine Adam Kadmon. These two hearts are one in flesh and thus cannot be separated or considered dividable. In this instance perhaps the lulav itself can represent the soul, with the three willow branches symbolising the faculties of the intellect, memory and the will; and the two myrtles, the phantasy and the imagination: all of which must be fused to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary.

  • The arba minim (Four Species) represents the Four Living Creatures or Four Hayot; mentioned in Ezikiel chapters 1 and 10; and in Revelation 4:6-8. Mystically these four can be said to refer to the Holy Family (Jesus, Mary and Joseph) and the very little one who is the daughter of the Divine Will.

  • The three branches of the myrtle can be said to symbolise the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and/or the Holy Family –the three myrtle eyes that lived in Divine Will.

  • The ‘Four Species’ consist of seven items altogether, which can be said to represent the lower seven Sephira. However in line with the main perspective offered by this short treatise, we can consider its relation in regards to the sons of Jacob. The species are four (dalet) and the number of items total seven (zayin), whilst there are but two main species (beit); added together this equals 13. The seven items represent the seven children of Leah; and the four species represent the two sons of Bilah and the two sons of Zilpah; whilst the two main species (lulav as a whole and the etrog) represent Joseph and Benjamin respectively.

[1] Often Rachel is interpreted to mean ewes, that is the plural of female sheep. Yet this is but one of many meanings. Rachel can also mean ‘Fortress of the Spirit’ since Spirit-Ruach (Resh-Vav-Chet) and Fortress-Chel (Chet-Yod-Lamed) together can form Ruch-chel which is in similitude to the pronunciation of Rachel in Hebrew: Raw-kale. Thus Rachel and her name is a significant archetype of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
[2] Rachel (Strong’s: 7353); Womb (Strong’s: 7358);
[3] Why is Isaac associated with Rachel? Because it was Isaac who sent Jacob to find a wife, and thus Isaac is responsible for the encounter between Jacob and Rachel; therefore it is the left hand of Gevurah/Justice that leads to the encounter between Shekinah and Tiferet. After all, Jacob encountered Rachel because of the justness of heeding his father Isaac’s command. However it was Abraham who caused this encounter to lead to a union made flesh in Joseph, since this bond is the fruit of the original covenant that was made with Abraham. Therefore it is the right hand of Hesed/Mercy that leads to and results in the union (Yesod-Joseph) of Rachel the Bride of Shekinah with Jacob the Bridegroom of Tiferet.
[4] Kabbalah is part of the mystical tradition of Oral Torah, and although many new age wackos twist and pervert Kabbalah in a diabolical fashion, it is when treated as it ought to be (i.e. by Orthodox Judaism), a source of profound wisdom and insight which Catholic’s such as the Doctor of the Church: St. Lawrence of Brindisi, took great advantage of, since he understood its significance and relevance.
[5] The Zohar, Vol.III., Trans & Ed., Daniel Matt, 304.
[6] Francis de Sales, Oeuvres completes, ed. Of the Vistitandines of Annecy, vol. 6, p. 354.
[7] John Paul II, Redemptoris Custos: On the Person and Mission of St. Joseph in the Life of Christ and of the Church, Apostolic Exhortation, 7.
[8] Furthermore there is the dream of Joseph: “I saw in a dream, as it were the sun, and the moon, and eleven stars were bowing themselves to me.”(Gen 37:9). The sun being Jacob a type of St. Joseph, and the moon Rachel a type of our Lady.
[9] This is one means of understanding the Holy Family in regards to the Sephira, especially in regards to the lower functioning of the Holy Family and God in Christ in the earthly realm. Otherwise Keter can be understood as Jesus, Hokhmah as St. Joseph and Binah as Mary; whilst the three heads or sparkling lights of Keter could be said to correspond to the Three Persons of the One God, and could correspond in the following manner: AIN (Nothing)-God the Son; AIN SOPH (Limitless)–God the Father; and AIN SOPH AUR (Limitless Light) –God the Holy Spirit.
[10] Of course St. Joseph generates sanctity in souls only insofar as he is the chosen instrument of God the Father to carry this work out; and Mary births souls into the sanctity of Divine Will only insofar as She is the chosen instrument of the Holy Spirit. Together Mary and Joseph form souls into living images of Jesus.
[11] Strong’s: 167.
[12] 36 is akin to the absolute value of the same words that mean: tabernacle, tent, Palace of the Sun (reminds one of St. Teresa of Avila’s innermost Mansion), dwelling place, the temple; and to be bright, to gleam and shine- just like the blessed in Paradise and like Adam and Eve in the beginning.
[13] Rokeach.
[14] Jesus saith to them: My food is to do the will of him that sent me, that I may perfect his work.” (Jn 4:34).