The essence of the Holy of Holies: to become a lover and a seer.
To love is to become God’s verb. To love is to see with God’s eyes.
The end is rooted in the beginning, and the beginning is rooted in the end.
We return to the Temple and the cherubs. Three times a year the pilgrims come to the Temple in Jerusalem for the festivals of seeing. Now we understand more deeply. The pilgrim comes not merely to see and be seen. S/he comes to learn to be a lover. To remember what it might mean – how it might feel – to see with the eyes of God.
The model is the cherubs sexually intertwined atop the ark in the Holy of Holies. The Cherubs were not only in the Holy of Holies. They adorned the curtain, walls and vessels of most of the Temple.
Part of the spiritual work of the priest in the Temple involved erotic gazing and it’s transformation into love. The priest envisioned through both meditation and visualization the sexual merging of the divine masculine and feminine.
This spiritual practice was fraught with danger. One could get caught in the intense erotic pleasure of the sexual and not know how to translate it into loving and ethical action.
In biblical myth this is the failing of the songs of Aaron Nadab and Abihu who are described as “Zanu Einehem min HaShehina.”
Usually this is translated as “they feasted on the vision of the Shehina”; it could also be legitimately translated as “they were harlots with the Shehina.” Feasting and Harlotry share the same Hebrew root. The point is that Nadav and Avihu driven by their erotic desire to love – attempted the practice of the Cherubs and failed. Moses by contrast is described as “Taking pleasure from the rays of Shehinca.”
Here also the implication is erotic; Moses however was able to move from the sexually erotic to eros and love beyond the sexual. Nadab and Abihu remained transfixed by the sexual. They were unable to take that energy and expand it to all of life beyond the sexual.
The sexually intertwined cherubs which so defined the Temple energy clearly invite sacred sexual gazing. Yet great care is taken in order to insure that the sexual did not override the love eros and ethics that lay at the core of the Temple.
Only the priest is permitted to see them once a year during the mystery of the incense offering on the day of at-one-ment. Except!! Except for the three love festivals. On each of these three auspicious gatherings, the curtains guarding the Holy of Holies are gently opened and the people are invited to behold. Erotic Gazing!
The people are invited by the priest to gaze on he sexually intertwisted cherubs. The goal of such gazing is to experience the full wonder of eros modeled in the sexual. That experience then needs to be transmuted by the pilgrim into the motive power for loving and ethics; his re-engagement with the world after the festival. .
The word in the text: to behold – ra’ah – is to behold not just an external sight, but to behold that you are loved; and to see what it means to be a lover. The model for love, for erotic seeing, is the sexual. The intertwined cherubs transfix the people’s gaze. The sexual gaze, teach the cherubic mysteries of love, are but the model. With it, you can only see the outside.
Now look deeper – look on the inside. Become a lover.
Learn the art of erotic perception and you will see beauty and experience pleasure far beyond even your wildest dreams.
posted on marcgafni.com
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