Trumah: Chapter 4

The balsam tree and the palanquin


Rabbi Shimon, Rabbi Elazar, Rabbi Aba and Rabbi Yosi are sitting one day under the pleasant shade of some trees. Rabbi Shimon opens the discussion by saying, "King Solomon made himself a palanquin from the woods of Levanon." He goes on to speak of the palanquin as 'the lower chamber,' which God called 'the Garden of Eden,' and built for Himself in order to commune with the souls of the righteous - for they are recorded there and it is there too that they are crowned. Disembodied souls, we are told, are filled with the delights of the river of the pure balsam tree. Rabbi Shimon states that the balsam tree is the upper chamber, covered and hidden, which represents Binah. 'Palanquin' is the lower chamber that has no support until it is held up by the upper chamber.

A discussion between the rabbis follows on the secret of one hundred, which is hidden in the names for 'Palanquin' and 'Balsam tree,' whose forms are comparable. Those who do not have a body in this world are suckled by the river of light that emerges from the pure balsam, while those who do have a body delight in the palanquin, which is the earthly garden. Rabbi Shimon then says that "King Solomon" means Zeir Anpin, God, with his attributes, which are the male world. The king without attributes refers to the Messiah, the female world. He concludes by saying that "The cedars of Lebanon that He planted," and of which the palanquin was built and completed, were Chesed, Gvurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod and Yesod.


This marvelously informative discussion speaks to us of the two forms of the Garden of Eden that God has made for us, the garden on earth, where we may rest and be comforted, and the higher garden that awaits us after death, where we may commune with Him. Our souls give to and take from the qualities of the garden, emitting fragrance from our good deeds and in turn absorbing the exquisite fragrance of the garden.

By our thoughtful reading, our entire world is nourished by His Light. Our life is scented with the aroma of the garden, and the fragrance of Eden now emanates throughout the world, ushering in the arrival of the Messianic age.