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Isaac Luria (Aramaic, 1534-72)

A Poem for the Small Face

sons of his palace
were shy
who witness rays from
the small face

these to be here
at this table
the king cuts
grooves from his ring in

be pleased with
this meeting
this center of powers
all wingd

to bring joy to it
is his hour of peace
without anger

draw near me
thou see my companions
be night without

those dogs
wild with chutzpah
keep out
may not enter

but send me
Ancient of Days
the jewel in his forehead

his peace
as he sees it
releases the light from
the shells

& will flow with it
into each orifice
these will conceal
under domes

will be here
in praise of the evening
a poem for
the small face


The occasion of Luria’s "Poem for the Small Face" was the Sabbath celebration by his circle of mystics in the city of Safed. It marked the final meal of the Sabbath, as the "Poem for the Shekinah," also presented here, marked its opening. In that context, the Small Face (ze’ir anpin) is the "son" within the Tetragrammaton (YHVH), the four-personed God of mystical Judaism. He is known as the "impatient one," the angry face of the reality confronting us, as the Shekinah, closer to earth, is taken to be God’s exiled female aspect.

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