A Mystagogical and Speculative Theological Catholic Perspective
Drawing from the Jewish roots of the Faith
|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 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). 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. 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). 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, 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.
- 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.