The text is alive with myth, magic and mystery. The most startling revelation is the radical claim of the text as to the originating place of the sexual drive. Why does this drive, personified as a lion of fire, emerge from the Temple’s Holy of Holies? Apparently this is its eternal abode. Thus, remarkably, the text is telling us that the seat and source of the sexual drive is none other than the Holy of Holies.
In fact the Holy of Holies is often depicted in the mystical sources as the marriage bed. The tablets and the ark are depicted respectively as the phallus and the vagina or the clitoris. This sexual model of eros and the virtual identity between the erotic and the holy are perhaps the most vital and provocative insights of the kabbalists. They teach it implicitly in a thousand different ways in their writings. They would rarely say it overtly for fear the message would be misunderstood, leading to a kind of sexual anarchy which would bring in its wake the collapse of family.
So the dominant impression we are left with is that while sex is good, as it is created by God, it is exceedingly dangerous and is to be handled with great caution. One gets the impression that the attendant dangers may even override the essential good. Thus, nothing as audacious as the secret of the cherubs was written about openly. And, yet, once you see it you realize it is there, subtly calling out, whispering from the folds of literally hundreds of texts.
Sex in the temple!? Sexually entwined cherubs atop the ark, and a fiery feline sexual drive living in the Holy of Holies? What are these mythic images trying to express? At first blush they seem to describe sex as a central preoccupation of the Holy of Holies, portraying the Temple as some kind of ancient Hebrew Playboy mansion. While Hebrew mysticism may wholeheartedly embrace a positive and healthy sexual ethic, one would not have thought that sex is the essence of the sacred!!
aphors and galut notes pp 34 and ninety two from SS and enchantment bed on image of Ulysses’ marriage bed-
[i] cite source in Libes from Messiah of Zohar articl
e[i] see for example passage in Idra Zuta which describes the death of Rashbi. There the tablets are phallic and the Ark is vaiginal. The Holy of Holies is the site of the sexual merger of the Go