In the Tabernacle in the desert and later in the Holy Temple, twelve loaves of bread symbolizing material sustenance were placed on a golden table situated on the north side. On the south side was the menorah, the seven-branched candelabra, the symbol of light and spirituality.
In Pirkei Avot we are taught that there are three essential crowns: keter malchut–the Crown of Kingship; keter Torah–the Crown of Torah andketer kehunah?the Crown of Priesthood. These three crowns form three pillars of leadership, both political and spiritual. When describing the construction of the vessels in the Tabernacle, the Torah prescribes that the table upon which the shewbread rested the Holy Ark and the golden alter should all be constructed with a golden lattice crown surrounding the top of the base. These crowns correspond to the three crowns of leadership as described in Pirkei Avot in the following manner:
|Crown of Torah||Holy ark|
|Crown of Priesthood||Golden alter|
|Crown of Kingship||Table of shewbread|
The power invested in the Crown of Torah emanates from the tablets of the law kept in the ark. This energy is then drawn to the golden alter and the Crown of Priesthood by way of the candelabra, the symbol of light and spirituality. This progression is alluded to in the words for “ark”aron, and “candelabra” menorah. Both words contain the word “candle,” ner, a source of light.
Kabbalah teaches that, unlike the two connected crowns of priesthood and Torah, symbolizing light and spirituality, the Crown of Kingship is an independent energy. The connection between kingship and the shewbread alludes to a king’s responsibility to provide society with the proper economic structure to enable the physical needs of the nation to be secured. The rectification of the physical as a prerequisite to the rectification of the spiritual is reflected in the saying of the sages: “If there is no flour there is no Torah.”
The surrounding golden crowns on three of the cardinal components of the Tabernacle reveals the very purpose of the Temple–a finite physical space where the infinite, eternal Divine Presence of G-d can “dwell”; a meeting point between G-d and man. The word in the Torah for these crowns is zer, which also means “strange.” This alludes to the surprising secret in Kabbalah that the source of vessels is higher than then source of lights. When the letters of “crown,” zer, are inverted, they form the word “secret,” raz.
In the sequel of the above teaching in Pirkei Avot we are taught that there is one more crown above the others–the Crown of a good name. TheBa’al Shem Tov, “the Master of the Good Name” and founder of the Chassidic movement, made the need to unite physical and spiritual a centerpiece of his teachings and actions. Chassidic thought comes to reveal the deepest secrets of Kabbalah and integrate them into our daily lives. It was by design that he preached initially among the so-called simple, common people. It was they who could grasp the depths of his teachings, even before the more intellectual Jewish aristocracy. It was only later that many great scholars came to understand his message.
The “Good Name” of which the Ba’al Shem Tov was “master” is the four-letter Name of G-d. According to Kabbalah, the first two letters, yud, hei, correspond to spiritual and intellectual forces. The second two letters vav, hei, correspond to the more physical aspects of emotion and action. The “Master of the Good Name” knows how to unite these letters in perfect harmony, bringing wholeness and completion to the world.