“who is a rose? assembly of Israel. for there is a rose, and then there is a rose! just as a rose among thorns is colored red and white, so Assembly of Israel includes judgment and compassion. just as a rose has 13 petals, so Assembly of Israel has 13 qualities of compassion surrounding Her….”
the introduction to the book of Zohar begins thus (pritzker edition, 1:1a), and evolves universes thereafter. but this opening is particular important to the People Israel (Assembly of Israel) as it gathers itself together worldwide, always facing Jerusalem, for the prayers of the Day of Judgment (Rosh haShanah) and the Day of Compassion (Yom Kippur). the 13 petals of the rose, derived from Song of Songs 2:2, is said to map against the 13 Compassionate Attributes of G’d, themselves derived from Exodus 34:6-7, as codified in Talmud (Rosh haShanah 17b).
“haShem, haShem, G’d, showing-mercy, showing-favor, long-suffering in anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, keeping loving-kindness to the thousandth [generation], bearing iniquity, rebellion and sin, clearing”
“clearing” those who do t’shuvah, and not “clearing” those who don’t, at least in many readings. the reading we offer on the Days of Awe simply stops with clearing (13)…..and Chazal go on to tell us that “whenever Israel sins, they ought recite this, and I [G’d] will forgive”. so you tell me now: what’s in a word? how bout in 13?
talk about a lucky…no, not lucky…rather blessed number. perhaps we will talk more about words and speech tomorrow, on the birthday of Creating…..the emergence of yesh (stuff) from ayin (no-thing)…
but today, 24 Elul, the day before the traditional date of creation, 25 Elul, is considered in kabbalah to be the “Shabbat” that blesses all Creation. the ayin (nothing, not-doing, not-controlling) state of shabbat being the base out of which all the hurly burly of universese springs. the relationship between t’shuvah and a sort of shabbat pre-existing all we know, all we live, wherein we work, is important. both things partake of G’dliness, and are holy in their separation from Creation…at least in their original root existence.
each offers a taste of the world to come during the duration of the world that is, so long as WE MAKE IT SO by walkin the way of the 13 alongside the Waymaker. on 24 Elul we do t’shuvah for the month of Nisan, the month of liberation, of passing over, of becoming the Assembly of Israel.
oh, and by the way, 24 Elul is also the traditional day on which Noah sent out the dove a second time. it is from this sending that the dove returns with an olive branch. life, once again, is good.
dwell on the 13 between now and Rosh haShanah. find ways to be, just be, powerful, showing, long suffering, overflowing, keeping, bearing and clearing. how many can you fit into your t’shuvah where you find yourself now?
ketiva v’chatima tovah