The Mystical Explanation of the Star of David


Magen David
Star of David courtesy of Jenni Gottschalk © 2007
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The Mystical Secret of the Magen David

By Rami Aloni

We are all familiar with the "Jewish Star", the Magan David in Hebrew. What most are not familiar with is that it alludes to very deep concepts in mysticism.

In the mystical teachings of Judaism much thought is given to the duality involving our relation to G-d. There is the 'up' relationship meaning that we elevate ourselves through our prayer and our performance of G-d's commandments to us to get closer – 'up' – to G-d. The other aspect is the bringing 'down' relationship which means that through our actions down here on earth, we draw G-d's presence down or bring holiness into the world; this is also done when we fulfill G-d's divine will. But they are both necessary forms of divine service.

The second up/down concept is that of masculine waters and feminine waters which are spoken about in many mystical texts. Although in our day, speaking about the concepts of masculine and feminine with their specific differences may be thought of as chauvinistic, the mystical terms which were coined hundreds of years ago allude to different types of spiritual influxes.

Like water goes down (rain and dew) and up (vapors and evaporation), so too there is a constant exchange of influences. There are times when we, the Jewish people, try to initiate a contact to G-d and sometimes, just the opposite, it is G-d trying to arouse us. Like the relationship between a man and a woman, it could be the man who initiates the contact (or stimulation) with the women. In other situations it could be the woman who initiates the contact by arousing the man. In a similar manner, arousal exists in the spiritual world between man and G-d.

For a balanced relationship there must be a mutual interaction – a one sided relationship is doomed for failure. Although the initiator of the relationship may be the male or the female, with out the proper response from the other side, there can be no real relationship. This applies equally in the realm of the divine. Sometimes G-d initiates an arousal to man – meaning that G-d is 'waking up' man through an external action. Without man responding to G-d's arousal there can not be any relationship. The opposite is also true; sometimes man trying to initiate a desire for intimacy with G-d (like prayer) but he feels that the connection is cold and at other times he feels a connection. Just like the relationship between man and woman, for an intimate relationship to be made, an arousal is initiated by one partner; if the other partner does not respond, there can not be an intimate relationship.

Man and woman are often designated by their distinctive shapes. A man is distinguished by his broad shoulders and narrow hips like an upside down triangle. A woman is distinguished by her wide hips and narrowed shoulders like a triangle resting on its base. The supernal flow down to man can also be represented by an upside down triangle; it is an arrow pointing down. Flow up is likened to a triangle which is pointing up; representing mans desire for G-d's response.

The ultimate in perfect relationship between man and G-d is a union between the two aspects. Neither is it good for man to go 'up' only, meaning to exist only in the upper worlds, for it is the divine will that he do his service in the world. Yet neither is it optimum for man only to draw 'down' – only doing his service in the physical world and never elevating himself above it. The optimum is combining the two aspects. This is the union between man and G-d as manifested in the Jewish star, called the Magan David – the shield of David. Two triangle pointing in two opposite directions, one pointing up and one down and united, this represents the ultimate in life - the perfect union between the two opposites, the masculine and the feminine, the divine and the material.

This was the aspect of King David, the righteous king, who unified both aspects, both worldly and spiritual in to one being. He was a mighty warrior and a lofty psalmist. He was able to reach the highest levels in closeness to G-d and at the same time do G-d's will down in earth fighting His battles and preparing Jerusalem to house the Temple of G-d.


from the May 2007 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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