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Textualization of Eros: Part Three: Marc Gafni

Marc Gafni » Blog - Spiritually Incorrect » Eros-Ethics-Meaning » Sacred Text/ Textual Koans/ Talmud » Textualization of Eros: Part Three: Marc Gafni

The Torah is like a beautiful woman, who is hidden in a secluded chamber of her palace and who has a secret lover, unknown to all others. For love of her he keeps passing the gate of her house, looking this way and that in search of her. She knows that her lover haunts the gate of her house. What does she do? She opens the door of her hidden chamber but a crack and for a moment reveals her face to her lover, and then hides it again immediately.

Were anyone with her lover, he would see nothing and perceive nothing. He alone sees it and he is drawn to her with his heart and soul and his whole being. He knows that for love of him she disclosed herself to him for one moment, aflame with love for him. So is it with the word of the Torah, which reveals herself only to those who love her. The Torah knows that the mystic (hakim libba, the wise of heart) haunts the gate of her house. What does she do? From within her hidden palace she discloses her face and beckons to him and returns forthwith to her place and hides. Thus the Torah reveals herself and hides; she goes out in love to her lover and arouses love in him.

…Only then, when he has gradually come to know her, does she reveal herself to him face to face and speak to him of all her hidden secrets and all her hidden ways, which have been in her heart from the beginning. Such a man is then termed perfect, a ‘master,’ that is to say, a ‘bridegroom of the Torah’ in the strictest sense, the master of the house, to whom she discloses all her secrets, concealing nothing.

The image in this text and the other sources cited above both in regard to prayer and study are clearly erotic and not sexual. That is to say, the sexual is quite literally not only a metaphor for, but as in this last image, also a model for the fully erotic. To say that the Zohar’s description is accurate is superfluous to anyone who has ever engaged a text in the serious and exciting business of holy amorous play.

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