"Like a rose amongst the thorns ..." (Shir
Avraham Tzvi Schwartz
"Who is the
rose?" Rebbi Chizkiya asked.
"This is Knesses Yisrael,"
he answered. "For there are two roses -- one is the rose amongst the
thorns, the other is a rose without any thorns.
The people of
Yisrael exist at a number of levels. The
physical Jewish people as we see them, as we know them, are the rose
Then there is Knesses Yisrael, a spiritual entity that represents the
people in their ideal form -- the model we strive to reach. This we
the rose without any thorns.
"As the rose has red petals and white
petals," R' Chizkiya
continued, "so Knesses Yisrael has the attributes of Justice and
red of the red petals symbolizes our connection with
physical life -- similar to red wine, red eyes, red flesh, red blood.
when we enjoy ourselves in this world -- when we eat, drink, indulge in
pleasures of this world -- we draw on ourselves the attention of the
courts. "Are they taking what they're allowed to take? Are they using
they take in a proper way?" If the answer is yes, all is well. When
however, we overstep our limits, we bring on ourselves various types of
troubles, punishment and curses.
The white of the white petals represents our
appreciation for the beauty and goodness with which Hashem perfumes our
the rose has thirteen petals surrounding it,"
he added, "so Knesses Yisrael has thirteen attributes of love
it on all sides." Even the red petals are a gift of love -- for without
living up to a high standard, we cannot hope to enter Hashem's company
enjoy that eternity which is Hashem Himself.
Hashem uttered thirteen words before
mentioning His name again,
to surround and protect Knesses Yisrael." From the first time Hashem's
name appears in the Torah to the second time it is mentioned, there are
thirteen words. These words -- as with any words that are not heavenly
serve as shields. They hide us from the full power of Hashem's
allowing us to live on.
Five Hard Petals
Hashem's name appears a third time.
Why mention it a third time? This is that five hard petals may develop
the rose. The green petals at the bottom of the rose, while not as
as the soft, upper petals, form a solid base on which the rose sits.
petals are "five salvations".
Imagine a baby, weak, helpless -- unable to
feed or clean
himself -- likely to hurt himself, putting dirt and pebbles into his
falling into buckets of water. Still, the baby is secure -- for his
nearby ready to care for him in whatever way he needs. And likewise for
while Hashem keeps to the background of our lives -- He is available to
from whatever dilemma we encounter. He is our secure base and our
the "five salvations" are five gates.
Hashem's help comes through gates. Still, it is for us to open these
do we open these gates? Through the choices we make, and the actions we
We aspire towards our ideal goals, and Hashem guides us there. So,
thirteen soft petals are the attributes we strive to reach -- the ideal
qualities that lead us to eternal serenity and happiness -- it is
through the five
hard petals -- through our own efforts -- that we advance and improve
ourselves, and eventually achieve our every wish.
concept, the verse says, "The cup of
salvations I raise..." (Tehillim 116) This is the cup of blessing. A
of wine is nothing special, but when we take it in our hands and raise
merit Hashem blessings -- and the wine becomes a beautiful, holy object.
The rose sits on
five hard petals positioned around it like
fingers. Similarly, the cup of blessing needs to rest on five fingers,
do with our hands. Our fingers are our hands' tools.
However, we have five fingers and no more. We need to limit our efforts
do too much. For otherwise -- if we are too busy, too involved -- we
space for Hashem to enter our lives. We need to do what we can do, and
stop, look, and wait for Hashem's blessing. We need Hashem to transform
His beautiful rose. The rose is the cup of blessing.
From the second
appearance of Hashem's name to its third
appearance, there are five words.
From then on, we read of the light Hashem created, then concealed.
This is the light of the first day of Creation. The Divine Presence first produced a
light -- a light with which a person can see from one end of the world
another -- a light with which he too can create worlds, and worlds
worlds. But then, Hashem hid that light.
release a five-year-old child in a shopping
mall with $5000 grasped in his little fist, telling him to have fun.
Hashem does not trust us in our "lower, smaller selves" with this
first light. However, when we work on ourselves, when we advance, we
access to it to a greater degree. The light becomes more available as
is this light? Hashem included it within the covenant
He made at Sinai. The covenant, so to speak, entered the rose, and from
it, produced its seed. Thus, the rose is the "fruit-bearing tree
within it a seed." (Breishis 1) The seed lives on within the
the sign of the covenant.
Different letters of the aleph-beis make
up different names of Hashem. Similarly, different elements combine to
seed that lies within the rose. Forty-two of the basic ways in which
of the seed combine, are embedded into the covenant. They give it its
and beauty. These 42 ways parallel the holy 42-lettered name of Hashem.
Hashem is all.
Besides Him, there is nothing. What then did
He create? What was there for Him to create? He created darkness
-- a "space" where His presence is hidden. This then is the basis of
reality. Like digital technology uses the binary system to combine
digits 0 and
1, and represent with them all words, colors, sounds, etc. (e.g. The
"hello" = 0110100001100101011011000110110001101111), so Creation is
the made up of the ONEs of Hashem, and the ZEROs where His presence is
Advanced combinations of these basic elements form first "letters"
and then, in turn, "names" which then go on to create more complex
Hashem's holy names, His presence is "more"
found. We need to access the power that lies behind these names that we
live. Thus, hidden in the rose -- Knesses Yisrael -- and in its seed,
ability to create -- lays a set of combinations parallel to the
of Hashem's names.
בָּרָא אֱלֹקִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ:
וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ
וָבהוּ וְחשֶׁךְ עַל פְּנֵי תְהוֹם וְרוּחַ אֱלֹקִים ..."