Pikudei - A Crown of Holiness

"And they made the…holy crown of pure gold, and wrote upon it…HOLY TO THE LORD" Ex. 39:30

My favorite kippah, or sacred head covering, is black velvet, with a burnished gold woven headband, and Hebrew words inscribed on its metallic clasp. When I place it on my head, I feel some of the awe and power ascribed to the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest described in Exodus 39:30. "And they made the plate of of the holy crown of pure gold and wrote upon it a writing, like the engravings of a signet: Holy to the Lord."

Immersing myself in the ancient imagery connects me to the mysteries of the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest of Israel. Carolyn Myss, the well known healer, explains that all of us come into this world with contracts to express a variety of archetypes, although we may have one that is most prominent at a given time.

For me, the the archetype of the High Priest has been a prominent theme during the last quarter century of my life. It represents for me the Spiritual Transformer and Healer. When I was invited to be the head of a seminary training rabbis and cantors,* I was at first overwhelmed. No woman before had been head of such an institution. But drawing on my inner connection to Israel’s High Priest and to Divine Wisdom gave me the courage to take the challenge.

This connection is not something for a select few. Rather, it is a quality imbedded in all Jewish souls. Torah states, in Ex. 19:6, "you shall be to Me a mamlechet kohanim, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation." That is, all Jews have the potential to be spiritual transformers. Special garments help make this possible.

The ancient priests of Israel wore headpieces that bore the inscription "Kodesh l’Adonai," holy to G*d. This engraving was worn on their foreheads, in the position of the third eye. Can you imagine what it would be like to see everything as if it were holy to G*d?

In the mystical tradition of Kaballah, the head is the seat of three energy centers connected to wisdom. Chochmah represents the seat of inspiration. Binah is the place of intellectual conceptualization. Da’at is the home of balanced knowledge or wisdom. As divine energy flows into our heads it courses through the centers of Chochmah and Binah, and balances out in Da’at, the site of the tzits, the golden plate with the inscription, "Holy to G*d." Da’at, wisdom, then shines forth from this forehead center. At the same time, golden energy radiates from the crown, the nezer ha-kodesh.

When we imagine wearing this crown, we can connect with these highest sources of wisdom. This gift is available to all of us because we are "b’tzelem Elohim," in the image of G*d.

Remember the old saying, "Clothes make the man." There is more than a kernel of truth in it. When we put on something that makes us feel special, we are capable of going beyond our usual abilities.

When I feel that I am wearing a headdress of holiness, I see the world in a different light. It gives me hope; it brings me cheer. The nezer ha-kodesh is my Jewish equivalent of rose-colored glasses. When I see through G*d's light, I feel I can shine G*d’s light out into the world, and to the people and places in need.

I especially love to share this teaching with elders, and with those who are no longer mobile due to illness or age, because as long as we have consciousness, we have the power to make a difference. Indeed, it is often those who have the wisdom of maturity who can send the clearest, brightest light.

In these days filled with so much darkness, let us all reclaim our power to send light. It may only be through our combined focusing of light that we can save the world from the destructive course on which we are now riding. Through our efforts as descendants of the Kohen Gadol, we can transform the world with the light of holiness.

Ken yehi ratzon. May this come to be.

*The Academy for Jewish Religion, campuses in Riverdale,NY and Los Angeles, CA