Kate Farrell (author of Story Power) tells of a Jewish folktale that speaks of the wisdom of Shekhinah, the feminine aspect of the divine presence
Rabbi Izrael Luria (known as holy Ari or holy lion) was gifted with an incredible mystic power. When he looked at the forehead of a person he could see what lay in that person’s soul. He could also overhear the voices of angels. He could point to a stone in a wall and say whose soul was captured in it.
On the first day of the new year he could also foresee who will be written down in the Book of Life and who will not.
He tried to not abuse his skills, although he once made an exception. Seeing rabbi Abraham Beruchim he said: “I know that it may be the last year of your life, but it can be changed if you do what I tell you to.”
As Beruchim express willingness to follow, Ari told him to go back home, fast for three days and nights, and repent. Then he should go to the Western Wall of the former Temple of Solomon, called the Wailing Wall, and pray there to his soul’s contents. If Shekhinah (God’s presence, female aspect of God) appears before him, he should live twenty-two more years, but if she does not appear, then it means that Beruchim will have to die.
Rabi Beruchim did as he had been told, even more so, as after a three-day fast he went to Jerusalem on foot, even though he could have ridden a donkey. When he arrived at the Western Wall, he found a crowd of great many people, as it was a time between the New Year (Rosh Hashanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur).
With some trouble he found a place at the wall and started to pray fervently. He saw a woman in mourning, and when he stared into her eyes he felt sadness and grief so great that he had never felt before, as it was the pain of a mother who felt sympathy for her children in banishment.
Rabi Abraham fainted and fell on the ground and experienced a second vision of Shekhinah. This time it was a beautiful woman in a wedding gown. She embraced him and whispered in his ear: “Do not worry, Abraham, my son. My banishment shall soon come to an end, and my legacy will not be for naught, as it is said: There is hope for your future. And your children will return to their own territory.”
Beruchim regained consciousness and rose light as a feather and returned to his hometown of Safed. When holy Ari saw him, he said: “You do not have to say anything, I can see by the halo around your head that you saw Shekhinah. You shall live twenty-two more years”.
And so he did.
Written by Bella Szwarcman–Czarnota
Shtetl Routes is a member of the European Routes of Jewish Heritage (Cultural Route of the Council of Europe) www.jewisheritage.org
Project was co-financed by the European Union under the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument as part of the Programme for Cross-Border Co-operation, Poland – Belarus – Ukraine 2007–2013
Note: It is said that during the new year God makes an entry in the Book of Life or the Book of Death. In accordance with Kabbalistic doctrine, one of the authors of which was Ari, it is also said that God has a female aspect, Shekhinah.
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