Shiviti

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Shiviti with Hebrew text in the form of a menorah
A reconstruction of the Menorah of the Temple created by the Temple Institute. The Hebrew text of the Shiviti follows the form of such a menorah.

Shiviti (שויתי in Hebrew, also: Shivisi, in the Ashkenazic pronunciation) are meditative representations of a candlestick used in some Jewish communities for contemplation over God's name. They are usually placed over the Amud - the podium from which the prayer service is led by the Hazzan. A decorated Parochet or Mizrach tapestry, or a special illustrated page in the Siddur with similar imagery may also serve the same function.

The Shiviti displays the Divine Name of God (the Tetragrammaton) followed by a representation of the Temple seven-branched candlelabrum, or more accurately, lamp-stand (since oil rather than wax was used) as described in Exodus 25:31.

Shiviti is the first word in the Hebrew text of Psalms 16:8 meaning “I have placed” and the next word is the Tetragrammaton aforementioned, which is writ large. The complete verse means “I have placed the Lord always before me”, and is written at the top. This item is meant to enable the worshiper, while praying, to assume an appropriate posture and frame of mind, not unlike the Eastern Mandala tradition.

The Kabbalists ingeniously observed that Psalms 67 has a sentence structure such that it may be said to figuratively represent a lamp-stand. The first verse is the title, and it stretches across the entire stand, marking out the burning lamps. Of the actual text which follows, the fourth, middle verse is the longest, and represents the middle trunk and the long supporting shaft. The first and seventh are the next longest, and represent the long outer branches. The remaining inner branches are of equal word length.

In Judaic art[edit]

In the 18-19th centuries this tradition turned into a whole branch of Judaic art [1]. Today, a number of Jewish artists produce various modern forms of Shiviti, sometimes merging the old Kabbalistic traditions with New Age and Far Eastern motifs.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]