hidden deep within her palace

See Soulwork Toward Sunday: self-guided retreat
Proper 15 (year B), August 19, 2012
“turn in here”

Courtesan, Byzantine Floor Mosaic, 500-550 A.D.m Metropolitan Museum of Art

“Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!”
To him who is without sense she says,
“Come, eat of my bread
and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Leave simpleness, and live,
and walk in the way of insight.” Proverbs 9:4-6

While reading about Wisdom this week, and how she beckons the simple to come to her house, I thought of this parable from the Zohar. Torah reveals herself, then hides, luring her lover into deeper and higher understandings of the Divine hidden behind the text. “How good and pleasant and precious and high are words of Torah!”

A parable.
To what can this be compared?
To a lovely princess,
beautiful in every way and hidden deep within her palace.
She has one lover, unknown to anyone; he is hidden too.
Out of his love for her, this lover passes by her gate constantly,
lifting his eyes to every side.
She knows that her lover is hovering about her gate constantly.
What does she do?
She opens a little window in her hidden palace
and reveals her face to her lover,
then swiftly withdraws, concealing herself.
No one near the lover sees or reflects,
only the lover,
and his heart and his soul and everything within him
flow out to her.
And he knows that out of love for him
she revealed herself for that one moment
to awaken love in him.

So it is with a word of Torah:
She reveals herself to no one but her lover.
Torah knows that he who is wise of heart
hovers about her gate every day.
What does she do?
She reveals her face to him from the palace
and beckons him with a hint,
Then swiftly withdraws to her hiding place.
No one who is there knows or reflects;
he alone does,
and his heart and his soul and everything within him
flows out to her.
That is why Torah reveals and conceals herself.
With love she approaches her lover
to arouse love with him.

trans. Daniel Matt, Paulist Press, p.123-4

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