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The Attribute of loving-kindness needs special protection

David's Star, Abraham's Shield

David's Star, Abraham's Shield

David's Star, Abraham's Shield
The Attribute of loving-kindness needs special protection

The Zohar explains why the first blessing in the Silent Prayer is "Blessed are You, shield of Abraham." It was King David who was a warrior and fought with a physical shield as well as relying on G‑d's protection, so why don't we say "Shield of David"?

Rabbi Yossi opened his discourse [explaining the special nature of Abraham] with the quote "And You G‑d are a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of my head." (Psalms 3:4) Here David is saying that even if the whole world would unite against him to wage war [he would not be afraid of defeat] because "You G‑d are a shield for me". [Thus they can't harm me.] Come and see. The text says "a shield for me" meaning that David said to G‑d, "Master of the Universe, why is it that my name is not used in concluding a blessing in the Silent Prayer in the same way as Abraham's? As it is written [that G‑d said to Abraham], "Fear not Abram, I will be your shield" (Gen. 15:1) and [from this] they say [in the first blessing of the Silent Prayer] 'Shield of Abraham'." Abraham was the archetype of kindness, which is naturally susceptible to abuse…

Abraham was the archetype of kindness, which is naturally susceptible to abuse. Since he was the example of pure kindness in a dangerous world, G‑d promised to shield him from all who would try and have power over him. King David is asking that he be included in a blessing for shielding as well, since he also brought good into the world, sincerely relied on G‑d as a shield and was protected on many occasions.

The Holy One Blessed Be He, answered David by saying, "I have already tested Abraham [with the 10 trials, as brought in the Midrash] and refined him [literally as he survived the furnace that Nimrod threw him into], and he stood complete [against his evil inclination] in every test.

Since Abraham had conquered his evil inclination, the forces generated by the Other Side can't have any sway over the blessings that descend in his merit.

King David said to Him that if this is the case then "Examine me [as well], G‑d, and test me; purify my kidneys and my heart". (Psalms 26:2)

[And so G‑d sent him a test through Bath Sheba,] and when he acted as he did, David was remembered before G‑d in relation to his request. That is why he said, "You have tested my heart", (Psalms 17:3) "You have visited me in the night; you have tested me and found me lacking; let my mouth not transgress." Certainly this sefira is my honor and the crown which I wear on my head…

David said, "I asked You to examine me G‑d and to put me through trials, and You tested my heart. I said purify my kidneys [to see if my advice was good - since they are the seat of advice], and You tested them. But you found me lacking. That is, you didn't find me worthy, as I should have been. Oh that the thing which I had asked to happen would not have escaped my mouth."

With all that [because David admitted his fault and repented, G‑d forgave him and] we do finish a blessing with the words "Shield of David" [in the blessing after the reading of the Haftorah on Shabbat]. Because of this [that King David understood that G‑d was also a true shield for the sefira of malchut], David said in the quotation above, "And You, G‑d, are a shield for me; my glory, and the one who lifts up my head", [meaning] "Certainly this sefira [malchut] is my honor and the [true] crown which I wear on my head".

Because the sefira of malchut is directly below the sefirot of yesod and tiferet in the Tree of Life diagram, all of the blessings from the higher sefirot are channeled directly to it via the middle path. This keeps those blessings safe from the grasp of external forces and guards them, as the other two channels on either side of the middle path ward them off. Note also that the color associated with the sefira of malchut is blue. Hence the Star of David on the Israeli flag, which represents his shield, is colored blue.

Zohar, pg. 82a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also know by the acronym "Rashbi," lived in the Holy Land in the 2nd century C.E. A disciple of Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi played a key role in the transmission of Torah, both as an important Talmudic sage and as author of the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. He was buried in Meron, Israel, west of Safed.
Shmuel-Simcha Treister is a lawyer from New Zealand who made aliya to Safed with his family in 1993 to study Zohar. He continues doing so to this day. He also works in the Ascent multi-media center.
The Zohar is a basic work of Kabbalah authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students (2nd century CE). English translation of annotated selections by Rabbi Moshe Miller (Morristown, N.J.: Fiftieth Gate Publications, 2000) includes a detailed introduction covering the history and basic concepts of Kabbalah. Volume 1 (36 pp.) covers the first half of the first of the original’s three volumes. It is available online from our store, KabbalaOnline Shop.
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Mark Siet San Clemente, CA February 1, 2010

King David's purification King David's purification did not begin until he repented. It was only when he experienced the consequences of his actions that he repented of their influence.

Abraham understood these consequences and therefore resisted the evil inclination out of foreknowledge. Reply

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