Shavuot: Ezekiel's Chariot
On Shavuot, traditionally we read the Chariot vision of Ezekiel as the Prophetic Haftarah. How does this speak to us today?
The Figure Who appears to Ezekiel has four faces: Human, Lion, Bull, and Eagle. It turns of its own volition, without seeming to be moved.
These four faces, according to Jo Milgrom, an expert in ancient Near East mythology and art, are also apparent on the Sphinx and on the Israelite version of the Sphinx, the keruvim who faced each other just outside the Holy of Holies.
The Keruvim were at the Temple in Jerusalem (which was thousands of miles and many years far away from Babylonia where Ezekiel had his vision). The Chariot moved without moving, turned without turning. Was this a metaphor for the Changing/Unchanging Infinite God, Who could appear in the new home of the Jews without "moving"?
The four faces are the principal signs of the Four Quadrants of the Zodiac: the Human (Aquarius); the Lion (Leo); the Bull (Taurus); the Eagle (higher version of Scorpio). So perhaps the Vision included the march of time through the seasons, which the Zodiac celebrates.
One way to do this reading is to read the Ezekiel aloud, from books of Tanakh that each member of the congregation owns -- preferably from the JPS prosaic translation. Discuss it. Then when everyone has "gotten it" intellectually, dim the lights at midnight and read it again -- this time from *A Big Jewish Book.* (edited by Jerome Rothenberg &; Harris Lenowitz) with a much more poetic translation. For this translation, see
Chant before and after this second reading. Try to get into a different state of mind, meditative and visionary.
Share what feelings and thoughts and images arise. Is this Torah?