Praise be to our Holy Mother Elohim who remembers and visits us all of our days.
One day he [Elisha visiting the barren, Shunammite woman] came there (2 Kings 4:11). What day is this? Well, as they have established: This day was the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, on which the barren of the world were remembered and on which inhabitants of the world are called to account. [Zohar 2:44b]
Approaching winter solstice, which in our lineage is Feast of the Mother and Child, the Head of the Year (parallel with mysteries of Rosh Hashanah), allows for a contemplation I've been enjoying for some months now from the Zohar of holy women who were barren, praying earnestly for a child. When it is said, Elohim remembered or Elohim visited that holy woman, she conceived and bore a child from her barrenness.
This general context in the Zohar concerns the tenth plague, the death of the firstborn of Egypt; in particular, this context zooms deeply into a mystery around the unnamed Shunammite woman giving flawless hospitality to Elisha, who saw her need and prayed for her barrenness on Rosh Hashanah. She later conceived and bore a son who would grow to become the prophet Habbakuk. Footnoted cross-references of similar miracles healing other holy women's barrenness took me to two points of midrashim (legends) in Talmud:
For a Master has said: On New Year Sarah, Rachel and Hannah were visited (Berakhot 29a).
‘On New Year Sarah, Rachel and Hannah were visited’. Whence do we know this? — R. Eliezer said: We learn it from the two occurrences of the word visiting, and the two occurrences of the word remembering. It is written concerning Rachel, And God remembered Rachel (Genesis 30:22), and it is written concerning Hannah, And the Lord remembered her (I Samuel 1:19), and there is an analogous mention of remembering in connection with New Year, as it is written, a solemn rest, a remembering of the blast of the trumpet (Lev. 23:24). The double mention of visiting [is as follows]. It is written concerning Hannah, For the Lord had visited Hannah (I Samuel 2:21), and it is written concerning Sarah, And the Lord visited Sarah (Rosh Hashanah 10b).
Here then is the mystery into which I'm inquiring. And Elohim remembered, speaks of several foundational mysteries. Elohim is a Divine name for the sefirah Binah, which is also where and how we may contemplate the dual-action of cosmic memory: the structure and stability of realities throughout time as well as what resists and tests anything new. Elohim is also an indivisible unity manifest in infinite multiplicity. In a word, Elohim is all matrices from literal to Supernal.
Lifting off the personification of Elohim remembering allows us to hear what the narrative is pointing to: When Elohim remembers and Elohim visits, something happens. Perhaps remembered is internal, potential to Elohim and visited is external, actual. What happens might be very difficult, painful, or overwhelming, such as in a tragedy. What happens might also be very elevating, joyful, or breathtaking, as in a miracle. Either outcome, or something neutral between these as in the blessing of a common day, is the consequence of every participants' thoughts, words, and deeds in the forward flow of time. Elohim remembered and Elohim visited is what happened, for Elohim is within and beyond every participant, remembered as the consciousness—the expectation—of every participant and visited as what happened in experience.
Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, and the Shunammite were all holy women who were barren, unable to conceive for reasons known only to Elohim. When we regard Elohim remembering them and visiting them, their situation changes to fecundity and birth in a mystery known only to Elohim. What I'm most enjoying about this contemplation is how memory, or "karma," can be shifted when Elohim remembers and visits. I'm also fascinated by same holy day threading these holy women's lives: Rosh Hashanah. The k'nesset—community—confesses and repents to Hashem of their sins and injustices in a continuum of ten days before Rosh Hashanah, when the High Priest enters the Holy of Holies and petitions Hashem for mercy and blessings on behalf of all the people. The devekut and kavvanah of the prayers of the people apportions the mercy in rain, crops, and children the year to come will yield.
Our own continuum mirrors this mystery in the Feast of Mother and Child. We certainly purify, reflect, and go within as we approach the gate of our rebirth in the new solar year at winter solstice. Like these holy women, we too are barren, having died and transmigrated in the Feast of St. Lazarus. We're praying that Elohim remember us in all that we've thought, said, and done in the past year, seeking to birth a child of greater faith and knowledge in the year to come. These prayers are charged in the offerings we bring to this holy feast before Tzaddik seated upon the lap of Elohim. If and when She wills, may She visit us, making manifest the inmost heart's desire of our holy soul.
Overshadow us, Holy Mother. Remember and visit us in mercy.