oRRaz "Light and Mystery", Poème Symphonique
1 Aleph א
6 Vav ו
200 Reish ר
200 Reish ר
The earth joins battle
in its armor of darkness;
The stars hurl their javelins of light.
The moon flees and grows dim,
But now she stands on the face of the sky
Like a golden brooch on a cloak,
Her face red with the dust of battle
Like the face of a queen leading her armies.
The moon is conspiring
against the sun, her king.
She thinks he has gone traveling in the Western Sea
Unsheathing her swords of lightning
She strikes the earth’s back with her staffs of fire.
The lightning bolts dance,
Swirl their golden skirts and sway.
III. Allegro molto
There is a fragrance
like incense or myrrh.
Has Solomon sent me a poem, perfumed, wrapped to a
From the poem’s lines of black letters, greetings break
forth like the dawn,
Light amid the grey morning,
Letters ink-black as night, but words bright as the dawn,
Like a girl who hides her cheeks behind her dark hair.
IV. Poco animato
His poem is like a
tapestry woven by the hands of thought,
Framed with beauty,
Worn like a crown.
His poem is like a song of jeweled fruit,
A song, a poem for the reader to taste.
My tongue shall sing it on a glass of wine.
from: Ayin Nedivah (“Generous Eye”);
Qasida for Solomon Ibn Ghiyyat
Yehudah Halevi (1075/86 - 1141)
Trad. Joseph Davis (used by permission)
The symphony is
inspired by the work of Yehudah Halevi (1075/86 - 1141) Spanish
Jewish physician, poet and philosopher. Specifically the Ayin Nedivah
(“Generous Eye”) a Qasida For Solomon Ibn Ghiyyat; as well as the
Gematria relationship between the Hebrew letters making for “or”
(light) and “raz” (secret – mystery).
A qasida is an ancient Arabic word and form of writing poetry, often
translated as ode.
The classic form of qasida maintains a single elaborate metre
throughout the poem, and every line rhymes on the same sound.
The numerical values of Hebrew letters is well known from time
immemorial. Adding these numbers in a word or a phrase and looking for
similarities in other words is known as Gematria.
Gematria originated as an Assyro-Babylonian-Greek system of
alpha-numeric code or cipher that was later adopted into Jewish
The Hebrew words OR (light) and RAZ (secret, mystery) share the
same numerical values (207) obtained by adding the numbers
corresponding to their letters.
Light and secrecy do seem rather opposite. Light involves openness
while secrecy or mystery seems to be related with darkness or the
opposite of light.
Tzvi Freeman relates in chabad.org:
Everything begins with light, and light is the destiny of all things.
“In the beginning, G‑d created the heavens and the earth.” And what is
the first thing G‑d said? “Let there be light!”
So this is the secret of life: that each thing holds its own secret.
And this is how the story unfolds:
Through our struggle with life and with the world, we crack its shell
and get that secret out into the open. The secret of all darkness is
that it desires to become light; the secret of all conscious beings is
that they must perceive that light; the secret of all existence is to
know that it emerges out of that which stands beyond existence.
Those who know the secret reveal the light. Those who have light reveal
the secret. Until eventually that light shines, everywhere and through
Ohr ("Light" Hebrew:
אור; plural: Ohros/Ohrot "Lights" אורות) is a central Kabbalistic
term in the Jewish mystical tradition.
The analogy of physical light is used as a way of describing
metaphysical Divine emanations. Shefa ("Flow" שפע and its derivative,
Hashpoah "Influence" השפעה) is sometimes alternatively used in
Kabbalah, a term also used in Medieval Jewish philosophy to mean Divine
influence, while the Kabbalists favour Ohr because its numerical value
equals Raz ("mystery").
It is one of the two main metaphors in Kabbalah for understanding
Divinity, along with the other metaphor of the human soul-body
relationship for the Sephirot.
The metaphorical description of spiritual Divine creative-flow, using
the term for physical "light" perceived with the eye, arises from
analogous similarities. These include the intangible physicality of
light, the delight it inspires and the illumination it gives, its
apparently immediate transmission and constant connection with its
Light can be veiled ("Tzimtzum"-constrictions in Kabbalah) and
reflected ("an ascending light from the Creations" in Kabbalah). White
light divides into 7 colours, yet this plurality unites from one
source. Divine light divides into the 7 emotional Sephirot, but there
is no plurality in the Divine essence. The term Ohr in Kabbalah is
contrasted with Ma'ohr, the "luminary", and Kli, the spiritual "vessel"
for the light.