Ladders to heaven

 

Ladders to heaven

70 cm /50 cm
aquarelle and gold paint on paper
text: description of Seven Heavens from tractate Chagiga 12a-13b

Vilon serves no purpose except that it enters in the morning and goes forth in the evening and renews every day the work of creation, for it is said: “That stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in” (Yeshaya 60:22). Rakia is that in which sun and moon, stars and constellations are set, for it is said: “And God set them in the firmament [rakia] of the heaven” (Bereshit 1:17). Shehakim is that in which millstones stand and grind manna for the righteous for it is said: “And He commanded the skies [shehakim] above, and opened the doors of heaven; and He caused manna to rain upon them for food etc.” (Tehilim 78:24). Zevul is that in which [the heavenly] Jerusalem and the Temple and the Altar are built, and Michael, the great Prince, stands and offers up thereon an offering, for it is said: “I have surely built Thee a house of habitation [zevul], a place for Thee to dwell in for ever” (I Malachim 8:13). […] Ma'on is that in which there are companies of Ministering Angels, who utter [divine] song by night, and are silent by day for the sake of Israel's glory, for it is said: “By day the Lord doth command His lovingkindness [by silencing the angels], and in the night His song is with me” (Tehilim 62:9). […]
Machon is that in which there are the stores of snow and stores of hail, and the loft of harmful dews and the loft of raindrops, the chamber of the whirlwind and storm, and the cave of vapour, and their doors are of fire, for it is said: “Hashem will open unto thee His good treasure” (Devarim 28:12). […] Aravoth is that in which there are Right and Judgment and Righteousness, the treasures of life and the treasures of peace and the treasures of blessing, the souls of the righteous and the spirits and the souls which are yet to be born, and dew wherewith the Holy One, blessed be He, will hereafter revive the dead. […] There [too] are the Ofanim and the Seriaphim, and the Holy Living Creatures, and the Ministering Angels, and the Throne of God; and the King, the Living God, high and exalted, dwells over them in Aravoth, for it is said: “Extol Him that rideth upon aravoth whose name is the Lord” (Tehilim 68:5). […] There is still another Heaven above the heads of the Living Creatures, for it is written: “And over the heads of the Living Creatures there was a likeness of a firmament, like the colour of the terrible ice” (Yechezkel 1:22). Thus far you have permission to speak, thenceforward you have not permission to speak.

(based on Soncino translation)