sh'viti

 

A “sh’viti,” in its spiritual use, is a visual tool for meditation on G-d and G-d’s Presence.

It is meant to focus our attention and change our thinking, not for aesthetic appreciation of the design.

At first, it might be our concentration-point — like the candle of the yogi practicing dharana (concentration) as a prelude to dhyana (meditation).

Eventually, though, it should help turn our thoughts to G-d, taking us beyond thought itself.

It “reminds us,” as it were, of G-d’s Presence. But it also reminds us that we must choose and agree to be reminded.

“…dualism is overcome by a monotheism which reaches its final conclusion, its real and infinite significance, where G-d is One, not only in His “Lordship” [Dominion; Rule; i.e. מלכות] but in His whole reality. He is the One in the absolute sense, the ‘One without a second,’ the only reality, so that everything which exists is in essence G-d.” [1]

G-d as “King” — i.e. G-d rules over all things — is the major theme of Rosh Ha-Shanah:

יי מלך ײ מלך יי ימלוך לעולם ועד
Ad-nay melech, Ad-nay malach, Ad-nay yim’loch l’olam va’ed.
G-d rules, G-d ruled, G-d will rule forever.

“This declaration of G-d’s Kingship —  past, present and future — is one of the most familiar verses in the entire [Jewish] liturgy…In combination, the three phrases acknowledge that He is One, unchanging and infinite. Thus it is an essential element of the Rosh Ha-Shanah service and should be recited aloud and fervently (Mahzor Kol Bo, c. 18th century).” [2]

“Aloud” — affirmatively, with sincerity and understanding.

“Fervently” — with overt joy.

Yet, to be more than just “words,” our attention must be on G-d when we proclaim it. On G-d. Not on the problem.

Meditation, in the simplest meaning of the word, is turning our attention to G-d.

How?

By recognizing that there is only One Power over all things.

By recognizing that everything we experience, including thoughts, expresses only the One Reality.

G-d expresses and rules all, without “all” ever being other than Him (or It, in a distinction meaningful to us, but meaningless to G-d).

“EN ODE” — There’s nothing else but G-d.

All of Kabbalah is ultimately about this.

It’s the only real kavannah underlying prayer:

“Know before Whom you stand.”

G-d is in charge of everything.

All of the Rosh Ha-Shanah liturgy is really only about this.

Let this thought pervade you now, and all the coming year.

Let looking at the Sh’viti help you remember.

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

[1] Schaya, Leo; The Universal Meaning of the Kabbalah; Nancy Pearson, trans.; Penguin Books; ©  1973 , p. 137
[2] The Complete ArtScroll Machzor; Rabbi Nosson Scherman, ed.; © 1985, p. 328-9