HaGaviyah/The Chalice (Shir-Yaakov Feinstein-Feit) (Song)

This song explores the chalice of divination that, according to Genesis, belonged to Joseph, son of Jacob, the Egyptian vizier. When the sons of Jacob left Egypt, Joseph ordered his servant to hide the chalice in the bag of the youngest son, Benjamin. He then accused the brothers of stealing the chalice and threatened to take Benjamin as a slave. Through this ruse, he forced the brothers to acknoweldge the real wrongs they had done. Only then could Joseph reveal his true identity to them.

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A chalice often represents eternal life, the womb of the Goddess, or the abundance of grace. It also represents the flow of change. In this song, Joseph's chalice of divination perhaps represents the compulsion that draws us to return to our place of brokenness in order to heal it.

In the biblical story this song quotes, Joseph drinks with his brothers, then summons them again by using the chalice. The brothers, who did not steal the chalice but nevertheless have it in their possession, must reconsider their actions, not because they stole the chalice, but because they sold their brother Joseph into slavery. Through the chalice, Joseph reveals to them their own yearning for forgiveness. In the end, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and greets them with tears: the water of the heart. Joseph represents the magician, the messenger, the wise force that pulls us to speak the truth.

The phrase "the one in whose hand the goblet was found" refers to all of us, for all of us want to have our truth discovered, even if that frightens us. All of us are drawn to serve the source of life with our true selves, no matter how long we may have been in hiding. And all of us are holding the cup of life.

According to legend, Joseph was born on the first of Tammuz (similar to the summer solstice), which is a day representing brokenness. The first of Tammuz is also a day associated with water. In rabbinic legend, when the prophet Miriam died, the well that had accompanied her through the wlderness vanished. The summer solstice was the day on which Moses struck the rock in the desert and water gushed out. Moses was exiled from the Promised Land for this act, but the people had water to drink, and the mysterious well of life was restored.

This three-part song may be an appropriate chant on the first of Tammuz or the summer solstice, to tell the story of how brokenness can return to fullness through the mystery of the chalice of life.


Vayishtu vayishkenru imo

They drank with him and became drunk

ve'et gvi'i g'viyat hakesef
tasim befi amtachat hakaton

My goblet, the silver goblet,
put it in the mouth of the sack of the youngest

hineinu avadim ladoni
gam anachnu gam asher nimtza
hagaviyah beyado

Behold, we are slaves to my lord
both us and the one in whose hand
the chalice was found

Shir-Yaakov Feinstein-Feit is a student of mysticism, midrashic musician, and web designer currently living in Jerusalem.

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