Monday, July 10, 2017

Children of the Palace

B'nei heichala dichsifin l'mechezei ziv d'z'eir anpin.
Yahon hacha b'hai taka d'vei malka b'gilufin.

"The children of the palace yearn to see the splendor of the microcosmic mirror.
They are gathered here, at this table, in which the King is engraved."

These are the first two lines of a medieval Aramaic mystical poem attributed to Isaac Luria, the Holy Ari.  Bnei Heichala - The Children of the Palace, is chanted at Seudah Shlishit or Shalosh Seudos - the third Sabbath meal that begins in the late afternoon as the sun is setting or just before the sun sets and continues until the stars are visible in the sky and the beginning of Havdalah, the closing ritual of the Sabbath.  It is a way to push the boundaries of the sacred to their outermost edge.  This holy moment within the timeless is the hour of Ra'avah (Resh Alef Vav Hei) - seeing deeply into the dimensions of time and space. The Zohar hails it as not just Ra'avah but Ra'avah D'Ra'avah - a time of seeing to the depths. 

I have translated Z'eir Anpin (the Little Face) of the original Aramaic text as "the microcosmic mirror."  That is how my dear friend and Torah Chaver, Jacob Goldberg z"l, translated it.  Just as an entire room is reflected within the back of a polished silver spoon, so is the feminine nature of divinity a Microcosmic Mirror of the Real.

The image of noble children seated around a table in which the King is engraved waiting anxiously for a vision of splendor, as you might have guessed, has my name on it.

In March of this year I happened upon three solid copper West Bend serving trays from a 1795 farm house estate in New Hampshire being offered for sale. I made an offer.  My offer was accepted.  

The copper on all three had darkened significantly over time, but all are perfectly etch-able once I go in with an enthusiastic effort of elbow grease, which I have applied to platter number one.

See, then, the table in which the King is engraved:

B'nei Heichala Tray- acid-etched copper with ink oxides

14 1/2 " in diameter.  The handles extend to 16 1/8".  Wonderful original wood handles.  Oak, I believe.

The wonderful base I found at a Habitat for Humanity Restore in Alamosa.  Had been the base of a bird bath. Very heavy.  30" high.

The tray itself photographed quite well without its glass covering which protects it during use.

With the glass it is quite beautiful in person but has too much reflectivity for a  good photo.

May that day arrive when we may come together and see each other deeply.

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