A Poem for the Sefirot as a Wheel of Light

by Naftali Bacharach

English version by Jerome Rothenberg and Harris Lenowitz
Original Language Hebrew

(the rim)

& going 'round
the ten
sefirot
of
the ball
& orbit
of the world
of first space
. . . . . . . . .

(the spokes)

1
crown

light from light
extreme light

2
wisdom

splendor from splendor
hidden light

3
understanding

sparkle from sparkle
sparkling light

4
greatness

splendor from splendor
pure light

5
power

light from splendor
of light pure

6
beauty

sparkle from light
light shining

7
victory

light from sparkle
light refined

8
majesty

splendor from sparkle
light bright

9
foundation

sparkle from splendor
purer light
pure pure

10
kingdom

most precious precious
shining light is

-- from A Big Jewish Book: Poems and Other Visions of the Jews from Tribal Times to the Present, Edited by Jerome Rothenberg

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

This is not really a poem in the normal sense. It is actually a translation into verse form of a Kabbalistic meditation image, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life envisioned as a circle. It is a mandala of Hebrew characters drawn in the shape of a wheel with the writing forming spokes and a rim.

Picture each of the 'spoke' lines emanating from a center point -- as they represent the Sefirot emanating from God. The 'rim' line encircles them -- as the awareness of the Kabbalist moves reverently through the Sefirot, seeking to comprehend their nature, and finally following them back to the center.

This 'poem' becomes a visual as well as an intellectual meditation. When approached deeply, this wheel of light brings the emanated shafts of light (that are awareness and the manifestation of creation) back to the center of light.

most precious precious
shining light is

Whatever our spiritual tradition, may we learn to release our desperate grasp upon the outer world and allow ourselves to be drawn back to the stillpoint, the center of light.



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