Kabbalah reveals the mystical meaning behind the Mishna.


When I am I
By Rabbi Yosef Caro; translated and edited by Moshe Miller From Maggid Meisharim, parashat Ki Tisa, Rabbi Caro's recording of the teachings he heard from his angelic mentor (see his Biography). "If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And if I am for myself, what am I" (Avot 1:14). "If I am not for myself, who will be for me" means if I do not grasp hold of the "I," namely malchut [which is called in Hebrew "ani"], who will be for me -- that is, to which of the supernal sefirot can I dedicate myself? Malchut represents the authority of G-d, and dedicating oneself to malchut means accepting upon oneself the Yoke of Heaven. If one does not accept the Yoke of Heaven, what holiness is there in emulating any of the sefirot? "And if I am for myself, what am I" means when I grasp the "I," malchut, and I take it "for myself," for the lower malchut [malchut of the lowest world, Asiya, namely, the human individual, in this case "myself,"] as it says in the verse, "Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh" [a play on words in that the Hebrew word for "bone" shares the same root as that for "myself"]1 (Gen. 2:23) - then "what [in Hebrew, Mah] am I?" [This can be read as "I am Mah,"] meaning that at that moment I join together the Name Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei expanded to the numerical value of Mah [45] with "ani" ["I"], malchut. In other words, when I take upon myself the Yoke of Heaven (malchut) and make it part of me, there is revealed upon me the Ineffable Name, whose transcendent, indefinable quality is alluded to in the word "what" -- ma'h.
____________________________________________________________________________________ Practical Kabbala Today

Keys to True Prophecy
From Rabbi Chaim Vital The prophets were able to see into the world of Atzilut, although it was completely clothed in the lights of Beriya when they saw it. Ezekiel lived after the destruction [of Solomon's Temple], and he therefore only received prophecy from Atzilut after it was clothed in Beriya, with the lights of Beriya itself clothed entirely in Yetzira. After Haggai, Zachariah and

Malachi, prophecy ended completely, and only Ruach HaKodesh remained… After this, the lights of Atzilut and Beriya were no longer revealed at all. This is the meaning of the teaching that after Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, prophecy ended completely, and only Ruach HaKodesh remained. This [Ruach HaKodesh] consists of a transmission of the lights of Yetzira itself, as well as lower levels. Attaining this level is called "Ascending to the Orchard [Pardes]." This refers to Yetzira, which is called "the Universe of [the angel] Metatron". There are given techniques through which one can open the gates of the physical world so as to enter Asiya and Yetzira. These consist of Unifications (Yechudim) and prayers pertaining to the World of Yetzira and its ten sefirot. It is these techniques that are taught in the Chapters of Hekhalot, and these practices were used by Rabbi Nehuniah, Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Ishmael, and the members of the Great Assembly. Use of techniques involving the universe of Asiya…does not bring any enlightenment… These techniques were then forgotten. Besides this, the ashes of the Red Heifer [needed to attain ritual purity] were lost in the period of the later Talmudic sages, during the generation of Abaya and Rava [who lived in the Fifth Century], as mentioned in the Talmud. After this, they no longer made use of these techniques to ascend to the Orchard. From then on, people only made use of techniques involving the universe of Asiya. Since this is the lowest of the universes, its angels have only a little good, and are mostly evil. Besides this, this is a level where good and evil are closely intertwined [and it is very difficult to separate them]. This does not bring any enlightenment, since it is impossible to perceive good alone, and one's perception is therefore a combination of good and evil, truth and falsehood. This is the significance of the Practical Kabbalah. It is forbidden to make use of it, since evil necessarily attaches itself to the good. One may actually intend to cleanse his soul, but as a result of the evil, he actually defiles it. Besides polluting his soul, he will also be punished… Even if one does gain some perception, it is truth intermingled with falsehood. This is especially true today, since the ashes of the Red Heifer no longer exist. [Since one cannot purify himself,] the uncleanliness of the kelipot attaches itself to the individual who attempts to gain enlightenment through the Practical Kabbalah. Therefore, "he who watches his soul should keep far from them". For besides polluting his soul, he will also be punished in purgatory (Gehinom). We also have a tradition that such an individual will be punished in this world. Either he or his children will become sick, will be impoverished, or will become apostates. Learn a lesson from Joseph Della Reina and Rabbi Shlomo Molcho, who made use of the Practical Kabbala and were destroyed from the world. All this is because of the above-mentioned reason. This involves a realm where there is no good devoid of evil. Besides this, it involves coercing angels with oaths against their will. These

with clear pronunciation. for you will not be speaking from yourself. the soul of this sage may then come to reside in your mouth. For a link to the Works of Rabbi Chaim Vital. For more information on the Life of Rabbi Chaim Vital. This will happen in the midst of your reciting the Mishna. Intend to bind your soul with the soul of the sage who taught this Mishna. recite one Mishna. you may feel overcome by exhaustion. 4th Section] ____________________________________________________________________________________ . the methods involving these oaths were concealed by earlier generations. As you recite. he will be speaking through you. "The spirit of G-d spoke to me. [from Shaarey Kedusha 3:6. translated from Shaarei Kedusha. He will then answer every question that comes into your thoughts to ask him. Beyond this. His soul will then clothe itself within your soul. he will begin to speak with your mouth and wish you Shalom. Your ears will hear his words. and we are not well-versed in the proper techniques. Your soul will become a chariot… Do this by intending that your mouth is a mere vessel/conduit to bring forth the letters of the words of this Mishna. click here. At a certain point in the process of reciting the words of the Mishna. Sit and shut your eyes. excerpt from "Meditation and Kabbalah"] ____________________________________________________________________________________ Concentration on a Mishna links the soul to greater ones Meditation on a Mishna From Rabbi Chaim Vital Meditate alone in a house. This is the mystery of the verse. as quickly as you can. If you are worthy. and transcend the physical as if your soul has left your body and is ascending to heaven. and that the voice that emerges through the vessel of your mouth is [filled with] the sparks of your inner soul which are emerging and reciting this Mishna. many times consecutively. Rather. click here. He will do this with and through your mouth.angels retaliate by enticing this individual. and His word was on my lips". One must therefore keep himself far from these things. without skipping one word. draw him into evil ways until his soul is destroyed. In this way. (Samuel II 23:2) [Copyright 2001 by Avraham Sutton. After this divestment/ascension. any Mishna you wish. wrapped in a prayer shawl. your soul will become a chariot within which the soul of the sage who is the master of that Mishna can manifest.

Meditating with song to G-d. corresponding to the first and last letter hei [= 5] of the Name. They ascend and descend through the six intermediate sefirot [chesed. Wheels from the Mouth From Reishit Chachma by Eliyahu da Vidas It is taught in the Tikunei Zohar that the actual sound of melodies contains an allusion to the letters of the Name of G-d [Havayah]: There are then types of 'wheels'. (Tikunei Zohar 27b) One of the ways which lead to meditative attachment is to sit in seclusion for a certain length of time every day…. yet I understand nothing. and said. O Israel. gevura. "Gird your loins like a warrior!" (Job 39:1-3) Rabbeinu Yonah (end of Gate of Awe) tells us to read every day the verse "Now. ask of you? Only that you fear G-d…" (Deut.'" (Job 42:1-6) Say these verses slowly and out loud. "deveikut"] is to sit in seclusion for a certain length of time every day and dwell on the greatness of the Creator. It would also be beneficial to read the psalms with kabbalistic meditations. and which corresponds to the ten fingers.1 One should then read Job's final answers to the Most High: "Job then responded to G-d. These ten fingers elevate the breath expressing the sound of the melody. The sounds therefore contain the complete Name. 'I knew that You can do everything. On a similar note. or 'breaths'. You should also make it a daily practice to read a few chapters from the Book of Psalms in the synagogue. tiferet. The five fingers of the left hand. your G-d. in a loud voice and with direct intention. and that nothing can impede [Your] purpose from You. what does G-d. stemming from the mouth. and they are composed of five and five. in an attempt to understand their meaning. hod. and they are like a ladder of six steps by which the breaths ascend and descend. netzach. Furthermore. Who is it that would deny [Your] counsel without knowledge? Therefore I declared. One of the ways which lead to meditative attachment [in Hebrew. yesod]. and they include all ten sefirot. as Kabbala . They are known as 'wheels' because they roll as they ascent from sefira to sefira. hinting to yud. as we have explained …. Rabbenu Tam (in Sefer Hayashar. Gate 13) suggests that once a week one should make a practice of reading G-d's answer to Job out of the whirlwind. they represent the function of tiferet of mitigating gevura. I renounce [my words] and relent. paying attention to the meaning of the words. that is. read the psalms of praise out loud. as well as the five fingers of the right hand pluck the stings of the harp to draw out the melody. during the morning prayers. whose numerical value is ten. the first letter of the Name. for [I am but] dust and ashes. It is beyond me. which correspond to the vav [= 6] of the Name. 10:12) It is good to follow their advice. but now my eye had beheld You! Therefore. They add up to ten. and you will attain deveikut. I have heard of You through hearsay.

in the name of all Israel. it also causes deveikut. forever will I thank You. "So that my soul might sing to You and not be stilled. when I study Your just laws. or the like. (Matok MiDevash vol. (Psalms 42:9) the song of the Torah only emerges during the night.for if so. As the Sages expounded on the verse "Even by night his song is with me". namely that he limited himself to the composition of song . David's exclamation that he would thank G-d forever. but rather to Torah study. my L-rd. In the same way that the sound of a song leads to deveikut. "While in His Sanctuary everyone declares 'Glory!'" (Psalms 29:9) [Translated by Simcha Benyosef] ____________________________________________________________________________________ The hand giving charity unites G-d's name Advanced Meditation for Tzedaka From the teachings of Rabbi Yitzchak Luria The mystical meaning of tzedaka and prayer is that since [because of mankind's sins] the yud-hei has been separated from the vav-hei. p. through some of the divine names mentioned in the Zohar. when did he study the Torah? It is clear that David's Torah study was part of his songs of praise and gratitude. Praising the King is equivalent to honoring Him. whether the Torah song or other type of song. whether Talmud. Misdeeds are possible only because the intellect is divorced from the emotions… . we must give tzedaka or pray in order to unify G-d's Name with His Shechinah. G-d. just as one sings in front of a king of flesh and blood in order to honor him." (Psalms 30:13) David's Torah study was part of his songs of praise…. 5. similarly." (Psalms 119:7) One of the ways in which you are required to show your love for the King is to honor Him and sing before Him in the synagogue. with fear and love.teaches.504) The main goal of these songs. as expressed in the verse "I will give thanks to You with an upright heart. Yet. the Torah is also referred to as "song". The Torah is also referred to as "song"…. Rabbi Daniel Frish explains that the song and praise of the Torah does not refer to actual songs or recital of psalms. Jewish law. as the verse says. as the verse says. is to provide a source of arousal for the Shechinah. so that his soul might sing should not be interpreted literally.

and His Shechinah. as we have explained previously. the two principal components of the intellect. "[I am doing this] in order to unify the Holy One. which descends to express the intellect and emotions of the first three letters into the lower worlds. the sefirot of chochma and bina. His extended arm manifests the vav of the name Havayah. essentially a straight line.] he will connect the yud-hei with the vav-hei. which is separated from the [final two letters. The five fingers of the hand of the giver manifest the [first] hei of the name Havayah. the name Y-ah. is termed the Shechinah. which signifies the seminal drop of insight [i. The vav-hei signifies the emotions (considered collectively) and their means of expression (thought. the first two letters of the name Havayah are a name of G-d in their own right. respectively. it remains abstract and sterile. in love and fear [of G-d]. Since the arm is visually similar to the form of the vav.] vav-hei. similar to the yud. in the name of all Israel. The one giving charity should intend to unite the [letters of the] name Havayah in the following way: By giving charity. this then allows divine beneficence to flow unrestricted. it is necessary to say. the "Divine Presence". chochma].Misdeeds are possible only because the intellect is divorced from the emotions [and their expression]. But as long as this understanding is not given the opportunity (usually through contemplation and meditation) to affect the way he feels about things. The coin is the concentrated point of divine beneficence. speech. Before performing a good deed or giving charity. The numerical value of the hei is 5. The purpose of giving charity before prayer is to unify the yud-hei which is separated from the vav-hei… As we know. The coin he gives to the poor person manifests the yud of the name Havayah. a person can understand that it is not right for him to do evil. The final hei of the name Havayah. we facilitate the union of the partzufim.e. The purpose of giving charity before prayer is to unify the [first two letters of the name Havayah] yud-hei. The yud-hei of G-d's name Havayah signify. . By renewing our connection to G-d in prayer or performing acts of loving-kindness. the smallest of the letters. Blessed Be He." [In this way. and action). Intellectually. thus healing the breach between the two halves of G-d's Name. we show that our intellect is indeed affecting our emotions and actions.

and all varieties of occultation of the divine presence result cosmologically from the collapse of the world of Tohu. we have the numerical value of pei-reish-tet. 86 + 65 + 45 + 4 = 200. When you give charity. Evil. The numerical value of the word "tzedaka" [plus the kolel] is the same as the combined numerical values of the names Elokim. Ado-nai. Elokim: alef-lamed-hei-yud-mem = 1 + 30 + 5 + 10 + 40 = 86. The meaning of this is that the names Elokim and Ado-nai [which both signify strict judgment] are sweetened by tzedaka. "perat"]. The origin of strict judgment is from the 288 Sparks [of Tohu that fell]. when the kolel [one. the individual aspects of the judgments are sweetened. malchut. It thus embodies the principle of descent. performed with the name MaH. Tzedaka: tzadik-dalet-kuf-hei = 90 + 4 + 100 + 5 = 199. When we join the [final] hei with the vav.The five fingers of the hand of the recipient manifest the final hei of the name Havayah. These [sparks] are existentially ensconced within the final hei [of the name Havayah]. The final hei. the number 45. The letter-group pei-reish-tet spells the word for "individual aspect" [in Hebrew. and 4 [for the four] letters of the name [Havayah]. this occurs by giving charity. signifying the word as a whole] is added. "perutah"] to be made up of two letter-groups: pei-reish-tet and vav-hei. is the sefira of any world that descends into the next lower world in order to bring it into being and sustain it. in which the sparks of holiness of this world became embedded in the gross materiality (relative or actual) of the subsequently created worlds." (Isaiah 32:17) Giving charity makes peace between the estranged letters of the name Havayah. "and the act of charity will be peace. This is the mystical meaning of the verse. Pei-reish-tet = 80 + 200 + 9 = 289. The mystical meaning of charity is as follows: When you give a coin. suffering. Ado-nai: alef-dalet-nun-yud = 1 + 4 + 50 + 10 = 65. consider the word for "coin" [in Hebrew. intend that thereby the kuf will become a hei… . The general number of these sparks is 288.

"His righteousness [tzedaka] endures forever" (Psalms 111:3.. tzedek [yesod] and tzedaka [malchut] unite. As we know. your poor.this refers to yesod." (Deut. We will now explain the mystical meaning of the phrase: "You shall surely open your hand to your brother. that he only ate a very little.e. open-handedly. "the land" is an appellation for malchut. as the extension of the leg of the kuf is withdrawn upward. This is the mystical meaning of the verse. MaH. [When this occurs.Generally. producing the form of the hei. in my teacher's [the Ari's] name." .] it prevents the forces of evil from latching on [and deriving sustenance this way]. My master would give charity with great joy and good-heartedness. Thus. and that when someone performs a commandment. but rather continues to shine on his forehead the whole week. 15:11) "You shall surely open your hand to your brother…" . for through tzedaka. [the union of] both [Zeir Anpin and Nukva] together. and sometimes he would not even look to see if there would be any money left for himself or not. "the nest of impurity". the letter associated with it does not disappear as fast as the letters associated with other commandments.. who recorded the teachings of the Arizal..this refers to Nukva. and that . [The letter remains on his forehead] only as long as he is performing the commandment [with which it is associated]. Specifically. tells us: The Ari would give charity with great joy…and sometimes he would not even look to see if there would be any money left for himself… As for philanthropy and generosity. Regarding buying things that are used for performing the Torah's commandments. i. the name Havayah spelled out such that its numerical value is 45. and your destitute of your land. When you give charity. 112:3. such as . the spreading of the [venom of the primordial] snake. replacing the letter shining on his forehead from the previous commandment he performed. Another aspect of tzedaka: The letter kuf alludes to Cain [as above]. as is known. My master said that every commandment is associated with one of the twenty-two letters [of the Hebrew alphabet]. 9). I heard [this latter idea] from Rabbi Eliyahu Falcon.he would dispense [funds] according to her wish. this refers to the "leg" of the kuf [as above]. "…in your land. I observed that my master [the Ari] was not particular that his own clothes be terribly fancy. Rabbi Chaim Vital. the letter associated with that commandment shines on his forehead. intend that thereby the kuf will become a hei. But if he performs the commandment of charity.with regards to his wife's expenses . afterwards it is absorbed within [him]. the lowest sefira. signifies selflessness. we see here the importance of giving tzedaka selflessly.

Chapters 3646. I saw that my master would give the merchants all they asked for the first time [they named a price]. A person who is full of all these qualities and is physically sound [is fit for prophecy].a lulav and etrog. Prophecy is not acquired in a short time or without great effort…. When he enters the Pardes [the realm of spiritual knowledge] and is drawn into these great and sublime concepts. he will become holy. Shaar HaMitzvot. Beginner Becoming a Prophet By Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon ("Maimonides"). but remove obstacles that a prophet might face were he to lack them. These characteristics do not themselves bring prophecy. subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard. Sometimes he placed his wallet before them and told them to take what they want. He told me that one should not bargain over the prices one pays to do mitzvot. Instead. It is [one] of the foundations of [our] faith that G-d communicates by prophecy with man. adapted by Eliyahu Touger 1. Instead. He must [also] possess a broad and correct perspective. who is never overcome by his natural inclinations in any regard. This is because prophecy is not acquired in a short time or without great effort. if he possesses a correct perspective to comprehend and grasp [them]. The Rambam lists as the sixth of his Thirteen Principles of Faith. [Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Likutei Torah. He will advance and separate himself from the masses who proceed in the darkness of the time. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai says the same thing in the Zohar."] ____________________________________________________________________________________ The Rambam describes the nature of prophecy. ii. Vol. (See also "Guide for the Perplexed".) Prophecy is bestowed only upon a very wise sage of a strong character. the Rambam includes in the category of heretics who have no portion in the World to Come "One who says prophecy does not exist and knowledge is not communicated from the Creator to the heart of man". bound beneath [G-d's] throne [of Glory. he overcomes his natural inclinations at all times. striving] to comprehend the holy and pure forms and gazing at the wisdom of the . with his mind. He must continue and diligently train himself not to have any thoughts whatsoever about fruitless things or the vanities and intrigues of the times. In Hilchot Teshuva 3:8. the concept of prophecy. and did not try to bargain with them. his mind should constantly be directed upward.

For example. 3. too. and the measure seen by Zechariah [were . With the exception of Moses." (Daniel 10:8) Since these prophets' level of refinement is not complete. [in its manifold manifestations] from the most elevated [spiritual] form until the navel of the earth. Immediately. their physical powers become weak. Samuel told Saul: "[The spirit of G-d will descend upon you] and you shall prophecy with them. When the spirit rests upon him. Daniel states: "My appearance was horribly changed and I retained no strength. his soul becomes intermingled with the angels…. as the prophet." (Num. dark dread fell over him. as the verse states: "I make Myself known to him in a vision." (Samuel I 10:6) 2. so. they lose control of their senses. Just as with regard to wisdom. and he will be transformed into a different person and will understand with a knowledge different from what it was previously. 15:12) Similarly. his soul becomes intermingled with the angels called "ishim". the interpretation of the imagery is imprinted upon his heart." (Gen. There are a number of levels among the prophets. and he knows its meaning.] the spirit of prophecy will immediately rest upon him. [After these preparations. their limbs tremble. and thus. Similarly. blessed be He. it is granted to him in metaphoric imagery. the ladder with the angels ascending and descending envisioned by the patriarch Jacob was an allegory for the empires and their subjugation [of his descendants]. He will rise above the level of other wise men. their minds are free to comprehend what they see. When a prophet is informed of a message in a vision. as the verse states concerning Abraham: "And a great. as stated in Law 6. one sage is greater than his colleague. When the spirit rests upon him. the creatures Ezekiel saw. appreciating His greatness from them. I speak to him in a dream. They receive prophetic visions only in a visionary dream or during the day after slumber has overtaken them. 12:6) When any of them prophecy. with regard to prophecy.Holy One. Nevertheless. there is the possibility that G-d will withhold prophecy from a person who is worthy of it. their conscious minds cannot operate in their normal fashion while they prophecy. the boiling pot and the rod from an almond tree envisioned by Jeremiah. And you will be transformed into a different person. They all. in its entirety. the scroll Ezekiel saw. one prophet is greater than another. [however share certain commonalities].

i. Others would relate only the explanation. as states: "When Moses came into the Tent of Meeting to speak to Him. Instead. joyous mood." Even though they concentrate their attention. [waiting] in a happy. with the exception of Moses." 5) Those who aspire to prophecy are called "the disciples of the prophets. Chapter 36). but only when he is happy. because prophecy cannot rest upon a person when he is sad or languid. the master of all the prophets. And see the Guide for the Perplexed (Vol. King of Israel. See II Kings. Chapter 3.as one might say. flute. G-d spoke to Moses…as a man speaks to a friend…. II. Similarly. which relates that after Yehoram. 4. Therefore." (Num. At times. "So and so aspires to greatness. but only when he is happy…. and it is possible that it will not rest upon them. they perceive only metaphoric imagery and allegories [which reflect the nature of . following the path of prophecy until they would actually prophecy .all metaphoric images]. Prophecy cannot rest upon a person when he is sad or languid.e. they must concentrate their attention [upon spiritual concepts] and seclude themselves. and lyre [before them when] they were seeking prophecy. they would relate only the imagery without explaining it. the prophet. 7:89) [Divine insight is bestowed upon] all the [other] prophets through the medium of an angel. Because their level of refinement is insufficient for them to receive the divine revelation openly. as can be seen in some of the prophecies of Ezekiel and Zechariah. 6) All the statements made above describe the path of prophecy of all the early and later prophets. some of the prophets would relate the allegory and its explanation. Moses. it is possible that the Divine Presence will rest upon them. What is the difference between Moses' prophecy and that of all the other prophets? [Divine insight is bestowed upon] all the [other] prophets in a dream or vision. it was necessary to have a minstrel play before him before he could attain prophecy. he heard the Voice speaking to him. which explains that the reason prophecy ceased shortly after the destruction of the First Temple is that the difficulties of the exile prevented our people from experiencing the genuine happiness necessary to be fit recipients of the prophetic spirit. This is what is meant by the expression I Samuel 10:5): "They were prophesying" . drum. our teacher. All the prophets do not prophecy whenever they desire. Therefore. had aroused the wrath of Elisha. All of the prophecies come in the form of metaphoric imagery and allegories. would prophecy while standing awake. our teacher. the prophets' disciples would always have a harp.

as the Torah relates: "[G-d spoke to Moses…] as a man speaks to a friend" (Ex. too.e. 9:8) He was promised this by G-d. our teacher. Moses' mental power was sufficient to comprehend the words of prophecy while he was standing in a composed state. prepared. our teacher. the needs of the body. This should be interpreted to mean that when prophecy departs from all the [other] prophets. terrified. and confounded [by the revelations they experience].' but you stand here together with Me" (Deut. to broaden his perspective and to increase his knowledge . Therefore.that particular angel]. because his [mind] was always concentrated. as the verse states: "Stand and hear what G-d will command you. The flesh of his countenance shone. [Accordingly. but through open revelation.e. He did not have to concentrate his attention to prepare himself [for prophecy]. and prophecy would rest upon him. The Torah testifies concerning him "[I speak to him…] manifestly. Therefore.e. without allegory" (Num. Therefore. 12:8). he would prophecy at all times. Moses.i.e. meaning his appreciation of prophecy would not be through metaphor. our teacher. Moses. just as a person will not be awe-struck from hearing his friend's words. our teacher. as [implied by]: "Go and tell them 'Return to your tents.i. they do not separate themselves from their wives. 12:8)." (Num. If he follows the paths of prophecy in holiness…it is a mitzvah to listen to him…. Not everyone who performs signs or wonders should be accepted as a prophet: only a person who is known to be fit for prophecy beforehand. 12:8) .[allowing him] to know more about the lofty concepts than he knew before. 7) There is the possibility that a prophet will experience prophecy for his own sake alone i.] the glory never left him forever. was different. so that the people will know that G-d has truly sent him. Rather. as the verses state: "Mouth to mouth I speak to him" (Num. so. like other people. 5:27-28). would not [respond in this manner]. but Moses. i. Moses. and ready [to appreciate spiritual truth] as the angels [are]. He bound his mind to the Eternal Rock. and . to prepare them and to inform them what they should do or to prevent them [from continuing] the evil which they are doing. All the [other] prophets cannot prophecy whenever they desire. It is also possible that he will be sent to one of the nations of the world.e. separating himself from worldly matters. 33:11) . he separated himself from women and everything of that nature forever. appreciating the matter in its fullness. All the [other] prophets are overawed. [for] he became holy like the angels. "And G-d spoke to Moses face to face" (Ex. he would perceive the matter in its fullness. they return to their "tents" . or to the inhabitants of a particular city or kingdom. Whenever he desired. If he follows the paths of prophecy in holiness. the divine spirit would envelop him. there was no metaphor. When he is sent [on such a mission]. his wisdom and his [good] deeds surpass those of all his contemporaries. 33:11) and "He gazed upon the image of G-d" (Num. [would prophecy] without the medium of an angel.i. without metaphor or allegory. he is given a sign or a wonder [to perform]. never returned to his original "tent".

since we know them to be acceptable [as witnesses]. Even though they may testify falsely. it is a mitzvah to listen to him. but G-d sees into the heart" (Samuel I 16:7). If we follow these criteria and an error does occur. as the verse states: "Listen to him" (Deut. It is possible that a person will perform a sign or wonder even though he is not a prophet rather. and "Man sees what is revealed to the eyes. the Torah gives us criteria with which to govern our decisions. Though they may not be totally foolproof." (pl. the wonder will have [another cause] behind it. [To give an example of a parallel:] We are commanded to render a [legal] judgment based on the testimony of two witnesses. The Rambam is implying that it is impossible for man ever to know the absolute truth about a situation. "intention. It is through kavana that the sefirot become properly harmonized and united. kavanot) . G-d does not hold man responsible. Chapter 7/ Published by Moznaim] ____________________________________________________________________________________ Linking one's awareness to the Divine. as explained in ch.kabbalistically formulated meditations used during prayer or while fulfilling a mitzva. and the soul of the person practicing the kavana (called a "mechaven") becomes a channel through which G-d pours out His benevolence. Therefore. applicable to our circumstances. (In the following three chapters (8-10). He becomes the abode of the Shechina . a mitzvah to listen to him. nevertheless.) [From Mishneh Torah: Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah.afterwards performs a sign or wonder and states that he was sent by G-d. our Lord. [This is because signs and wonders and even divining the future can be performed by sorcery and the like. nevertheless. Since he is a wise man of stature and fit for prophecy. This is achieved through the process of kavana. we accept [his prophecy as true]. It is. in prayer Intermediate Soul Meditation from Rabbi Moshe Cordovero Those who are proficient in kabbala are able to consciously channel G-d's blessing and beneficence into the world. 29:28). allowing the Divine efflux to flow down. Maimonides sets out the rules for determining whether a purported prophet is genuine or not. we presume that they [are telling the truth]. but what is revealed is for us and our children" (Deut. 8-10]. Considering these matters and the like. they are. 18:15). This is the nature of [the Torah's] commandment. the Torah states: "The hidden matters are for G-d.

he is a greatly privileged individual. This is indicated by the change in the vowel-points (nekudot) found underneath each of the four letters of the Name in each sefira. but rather on the atzmut (the Infinite Light) illuminating the sefirot .When the mechaven cleaves to his Creator in thought and in deed (by fulfilling the mitzvot) his soul rises up and is elevated from level to level. speech and deed. In this way a person extricates himself from lack of awareness of G-d. is indicative of the Infinite Light clothed within the sefirot. which may be compared to sleep and death. at the same time. Each sefira is distinguished from the others by the manner in which the Infinite Light is clothed within it. 10. Thus the Crown of the Shechina never departs from his head.] ____________________________________________________________________________________ . for example. from principle to principle and from cause to cause. the mechaven does not focus on the sefirot per se.his prayer is "to Him. He becomes the abode of the Shechina and the node through which G-d's blessing issues forth to the world.(Pardes Rimonim sha'ar 32. The mechaven therefore bears great responsibility towards his fellow man. not to His attributes. The Essential Name of G-d represented by the four letter Tetragrammaton Yud-Hei-Vav-Hei. When meditating."(Sifri) Proper kavana focuses upon G-d as He is when acting through the sefira of chesed. which is the mystery of Gan Eden. and he cleaves to the light of the dominant sefira. SEFIRA NEKUDAH Keter Kametz Chochma Patach Bina Tzeirei Chesed Segol Gevura Sheva Tiferet Cholam Netzach Chirik Hod Kubutz Yesod Shuruk Malchut No vowels One who is versed in kabbala knows how to act at the right time by knowing which sefira dominates at a particular time. He can then bring about the correct adjustment and harmonization of the sefirot through proper thought. 1-3) Each sefira is distinguished by the manner in which the Infinite Light is clothed within it. or through gevura. until He pours out upon him a great outflow of beneficence so that eventually this righteous person can become the seat and locus of outflow for the entire world. [Translation and commentary by Moshe Miller from Tomer Devorah chap. chaps. and binds himself to holiness and eternal life.

b) As the emotions are settled and calmed. and in no way increases the breadth or detail of understanding. One of these manuscripts (Ma'amorim Ketzarim. This is done by fixating on a point of awareness in an uninterrupted stream of consciousness for approximately half an hour. "And they will be swept away by the [cosmic] wind. (This may take weeks or months of preparation to accomplish). This process requires intense mental exertion to increase one's awareness of the open. This amazingly contemporary treatise sheds light on some of the pitfalls of passive meditation and lends insight into the distinctions between passive and active meditation. roughly 200 years old. which brings the person to the general state of "airy vision". and not to allow the mind to contract and . In this context the prophets said. passivity only reinforces the ego Beginner Active vs. p. facets and ramifications. a slight turbulence. written by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (the first Lubavitcher Rebbe) was published. jerking or nervous movements. A few simple indications may be: a) As bodily tensions are released. c) The mind is empty of thoughts and all thoughts that arise dissipate. d) There is an increase in self-awareness. 2) The second method demands detailed. followed by a few notes. as opposed to withdrawing from the intellect. many people have been misled and deluded by their own imagination and by charlatans who promote futile and vain visions for their own gain. simple and revealed meaning of the idea. Inyonim. The following is a translation and adaptation of this manuscript into English. to scrutinize and elaborate on the concept's many details. disturbance or racing may be felt in the heart. Passive Meditation By Schneur Zalman Stern Hitbonenut is the Jewish mystical discipline of active thought-meditation. Airy vision results from thought-meditation that uses the superficial powers of the intellect to divest the idea that is the focus of the meditation of any concrete definition. feelings and body sensations." As a result of this type of meditation. In 1986 a collection of Hebrew manuscripts. An uninterrupted stream of consciousness …brings the person to the general state of airy vision… There are two different methods of thought-meditation: 1) The first method entails centering and settling one's consciousness on the general sense of an idea. By thus abstracting the idea. 133) discusses passive versus active thought-meditation.Active meditation emanates G-dliness. Little deliberation is required to recognize this type of meditation. while passively withdrawing from all thoughts." and "When you will gaze upon [the idea] it will be naught. the person will come to perceive through the mind's eye the subtle spirit of the idea as an airy vision devoid of tangible meaning. the person may experience slight twitching. broad and deep comprehension. The one who meditates disengages and contracts the mind.

"The fool does not desire [true] enlightenment. this state constitutes a dualism between G-d and the individual.settle on one point alone. with the second type of meditation." but seeks feelings of ecstasy. In actuality. In contrast. through "gazing at the Glory of the King and nothing else. he returns strongly his sense of "self" being connected. the person will find the arousal exceedingly euphoric." and not because the person has cleared the mind in order to receive a revelation. however. Another distinction is that the ecstasy experienced through the first type of meditation may cause a person to feel high and mighty. and mind whatsoever. He will likely acquire a heightened sensitivity to and an increased appetite for sensual pleasures. "soars upward like an eagle and proclaims 'I am and there is no other'"]. The person is not preparing the "self" to experience a revelation. heart. The person inescapably becomes egoistic and is ultimately distant from and in direct opposition to G-dliness. Through the second method. Moreover. enlightenment comes only through channeling and emanating G-dliness (as a by-product). So it is written. rather. the person enclothes the idea in many metaphors and analogies until it is thoroughly comprehended and the truth can be perceived vividly through the mind's eye. overbearing and flippant. there is active exertion." for the mind's total preoccupation with the idea completely overshadows any sensations of the heart. concentration and channeling of all the person's powers into the mind. [or worse. The awareness achieved through active thought-meditation is very different from the consciousness reached through passive meditation. This happens because the meditative process of emptying one's mind is specifically directed toward bringing exhilaration into the "self". This intense mental exertion is so all-consuming that the person has no sensation of 'self' at all… There is no passive dissipation of the energies of the body. The fool's perpetuation of self-centeredness shuts out…Gdly enlightenment… Nor is the person enthralled by accompanying feelings of ecstasy. where the person is susceptible to imaginings. vain visions and futile delusions. Another indication that one is engaged in active thought-meditation is the yearning to grasp new insights into the idea. to discover in every nuance the implicit and specific meaning. making exhilaration and other associated sensations irrelevant. The indications for the second type of meditation are profoundly different than the indications for the first type. Enlightenment is spontaneously triggered by the Torah's G-dly wisdom. the person becomes truly humble and no longer esteems the "self" to . The person will be entirely oblivious to the "self. This intense mental exertion is so all-consuming that the person has no sensation of "self" at all. is absorbed in intense mental exertion and is devoted to the vivification of a Torah insight. but rather. To the contrary. The person inescapably becomes egoistic and is ultimately…in direct opposition to G-dliness… Regarding the ecstasy and awakening that come through the first type of meditation. the fool's perpetuation of self-centeredness shuts out even the faintest glimmer of Gdly enlightenment. and to become callous. for the conscious awareness of "self" has no prominence at all.

He is also far from desiring transient pleasures and relating to contemptible character traits. denial or loss of individuality.action. if he will go beyond the limits of the physical body and natural soul. written by Rabbi Dov Ber.. His intention remains purely to offer delight to G-d through his alignment with the Supreme Will. after a person is worthy of the secret of deveikut [bonding with G-d] one may become worthy of the secret of hishtavut [equanimity]. it is taught that one should not meditate exclusively on a single isolated metaphor. the second level of enlightenment may be attained. and considers the "self" to be veritably nothing at all. which is the enthusiasm of the natural soul (the astral body). translated and adapted by Zechariah Goldman Behold. the highest form of human pleasure. which are based in the power centers of the physical body . frivolity. Next. etc. much more explanation is needed. thought. To the contrary. As an unsought and automatic result of attaining G-dly enlightenment. will and pleasure. one may become worthy of attaining hitbodidut [meditation]. through purity of intention and increased intensity in the meditation. Yet the person is not carried away by this elation and does not give in to it. one may be imbued with Supernal Delight. centering upon G-dliness liberates the spirit. takes no credit for personal accomplishments. creativity and enthusiasm. whereas holding on to one's awareness of "self" obstructs spontaneity. By gazing with the mind's eye deep into this unified insight. COMMENTS: [Gleaned from Rabbi Hillel Paritcher's commentaries on Shar HaYichud and Kuntres HaHispaalus. like indignation. To do this.. emotion. Such a person regards any negative characteristics he finds within himself as repulsive and deplorable. the first level of enlightenment may be realized.be central. If a person is worthy of attaining equanimity. the G-dly attributes of the higher soul illuminate and permeate the attributes of the natural soul. On the third level. oppressiveness. He should broaden the viewpoint until the ideas can be seen through the mind's eye in a single glance… To gain a clearer understanding of how to practice Hitbonenut.when your soul does not feel the honor of the one who honors you Beginner Equanimity A Prerequisite to Meditation By Rabbi Chaim Vital. active thought-meditation. but rather on the complete world-view which results from the synthesis of many metaphors. the second Rebbe of Lubavitch] Lack of self-centeredness does not imply sublimation. the one meditating must dwell at length on the precise meaning of several ideas until the kernel of each idea crystallizes in his understanding. For example. ____________________________________________________________________________________ . namely the awakening of the G-dly attributes of the higher soul. After a person is . Then he should broaden the viewpoint until the ideas can be seen through the mind's eye in a single glance as one unified insight.

are they equal in your eyes? In explanation of the secret of equanimity. When a person always makes his will as that of a pauper. For I feel pleasure and satisfaction from the person who honors me. "Blessed are you my son to G-d. deveikut (bonding)..it takes precedence to all prayers of the world." The Master replied. For it is the attachment of a person's consciousness to G-d that enables a person to ignore the honor or the insults… [Gates of Holiness. But I do not take revenge nor bear a grudge. which is a prerequisite to meditation. So go and surrender your heart even more." And equanimity comes by attaching one's consciousness to G-d. explain your words. i.e. a person should make himself "poor". Rabbi Avner told me the following: A rabbi once came to one of the meditative Kabbalists and requested of him to be accepted as an initiate. his prayer ascends and will be received ." The Master said to the rabbi.worthy of reaching the level of meditation. When a person always makes his will as that of a pauper. when praying.are they equal in your eyes or not?" The rabbi said to the Master. This is because he is broken-hearted. (Psalms 34:19) Thus. and then one may become worthy of prophecy…. until you have attained equanimity.one of them honors you and the second insults you . go in peace. for your intention is a good one. and it is written. until your soul does not feel the honor of the one who honors you and the embarrassment of the one who insults you. The Master said to him. Of two persons . However. "If there are two persons . Then you will be able to meditate. "G-d is near to the broken-hearted". For until such time that you have attained equanimity. Second Gate section 5] ____________________________________________________________________________________ No matter what state you are in.one of them honors you and the second insults you . desire to be one with G-d Beginner Pray Like a Pauper From the teachings of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov The Zohar (III:195a) states that one's will is to be like that of a pauper. tell me whether you have attained equanimity or not?" The rabbi said to him. "No my master. "My son. Thus consider yourself like a pauper and always speak with soft and beseeching words like a pauper. 4th chapter. his prayer ascends… Which is the most excellent of all [prayers]? It is the prayer of the poor . your consciousness is not ready to be connected to the supernal realm. one may become worthy of Divine inspiration. a true surrendering. and pain from the one who insults me. "Master.

to wage battle against the yetzer hara.. Scorn the desire to the point of it becoming hated and despised by you. Our sages said of this. Ed. also ibid. thinking only of your continuous love for Her that She may be connected to you. (Cf. Note that the term "subdues" accords with the Baal Shem Tov's interpretation of "Who is strong? He who conquers [and subdues] his [evil] impulse": (Avot 4:1) the yetzer hara is not to be destroyed but conquered.e. rejoice exceedingly for meriting to subdue your passion for the sake of the Creator's glory. as explained below.) Do not be depressed at all from not having mundane desires. Immanuel Schochet from "Tzava'at Harivash. The yetzer hara is not to be destroyed but conquered… See Berachot 5a: "Man should always incite the yetzer tov (good impulse in man) against the yetzer hara (evil impulse in man) [i. Incite the yetzer tov against the yetzer hara and your desire. as it is written "Tremble (incite) and sin not (or: and you will not sin) (Psalms 4:5). "When will I merit that the light of the Shechinah abide with me?" When beset by mundane desires. to utilize it for matters of holiness. [Translated and annotated by J. On the contrary. Even more: In any one concept of Torah you can find the entire world.favorably before the Holy King. you subdue the kelipot very much. Everything that exists can be found in the Torah. Rashi]. Say constantly in your mind. p. and scorn it. . "rejoicing in the suffering".e. Shenei Luchot Habrit. remove them from your mind. and thus you will subdue them.36b. to harness its energy for good. Bet David (cur. helps subdue the personal yetzer hara and the power of evil (that is concentrated in worldly pleasures) in general. Your thought should always be secluded with the Shechinah. as it is said in the Zohar (I:100b): "'A pure heart' (Psalms 24:4) is the one that will not let his will and heart be drawn after the Sitra Achara. (Shabbat 88b) When you are not drawn after your desire. may He be blessed. even in thought. i. To do so. P. Sections 7-9 (Kehot Publication Society)] ____________________________________________________________________________________ 13 thoughts to meditate upon Beginner Blueprint of the Universe By Tzvi Freeman #285 Torah is the blueprint by which the world was designed.. The Testament of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov". 16b.

there was earth and there was heaven. The soul of the Torah . and . the boundaries of heaven and earth were broken and Man was empowered to fuse the two: To raise the earthly into the realm of the spirit. The biblical account says they saw the thunder. you have transformed the material into spiritual. and even the earnings which you tithe for good causes. So the same essential Torah is reflected within each person who studies it. Isaac dug wells.. the boundaries of heaven & earth were broken and Man was em. And the same with flour used for matzah for Passover night. an aid in achieving enlightenment. The spiritual became their reality. and to bring heaven down to earth. They saw that which is normally heard. with a mystical side as well. the coarse material of which the world is made could not be elevated. in a teacup. Then see the very same moon reflected in a pond. There is the body of Torah. you were obliged to abandon the other. It could be used as a medium. in a single drop of water. #290 People think the Torah is all about laws and customs and quaint stories. Torah without its inner meaning is a body without a soul. an intellectual fancy. from a small child to a great sage. When you take a piece of leather and write upon it a Torah scroll.#288 Go out on a clear night and see the moon reflected in the water of a lake. #289 Before the experience at Mount Sinai. If you wanted one. and branches used to cover a succah. Before the experience of Mount Sinai.powered to fuse the two. and they heard that which is normally seen. #291 There are not two Torahs. At Mount Sinai.came first. Ours is to transform the material darkness into light. All that changed at Mount Sinai. The experience of our people at Mount Sinai was a mystical one.. but it itself could not be enlightened. Our forefather’'s task was to enlighten the souls of men.its mystical experience . But neither the sticks nor the wells became imbued with G-dliness. and the earthly became an ethereal inference. one for mystics and one for legalists. At Mount Sinai. And so you may do in every aspect of your life. Jacob used sticks for meditation.

To be creative in Torah you must lock out the self.one that may seem to conflict with and negate all you previously learned. But in learning Torah. ""Why must I study and learn? Is not the truth already within me?"" The truth is locked within you. so he could go on to learn the Torah of the Land of Israel. First you must absorb and live with one simple truth. But you can only reach that peak once you realize you are still in the valley. It is all one. those thoughts you . #296 You may ask. and in each the other can be found. there is always another peak above. It is awakened and liberated by the truth that comes from without. #292 In a simple commentary written for a five year old. #297 Studying Torah is not like studying any other subject. #295 Rabbi Zera fasted 100 fasts to forget all he had learned in Babylonia. No matter how high a summit you may reach. emerges a higher truth --the inner light behind all you had learned before. #294 Sometimes the Torah will tell you one thing. In another subject your mind fuses itself with information and knowledge about a thing. great secrets of the Torah can be found. deep in slumber. Learning is not the mere acquisition of knowledge and more knowledge. Then. from that confusion.there is the soul of Torah. Neither can contradict the other. Then later you must find another truth -. later contradict itself. Learning is a process of making quantum leaps beyond the subjective self. and then later reveal a third concept that settles the contradiction. With Torah. But only once you understand the simple commentary as the five year old does #293 To involve your entire self you must be creative in Torah. you don't get all the answers at once.

Then go on to study of Torah that deals with worldly matters. They are the same words that Moses heard and inscribed on stone and on . Schneerson Upon every person's soul there are words written and words engraved. they are also engraved in a holy fire within the depths of the Soul of All Things. And when the soul is in turmoil. Begin with learning that inspires. Those words engraved upon your soul. You must take what you hear from a state of understanding to a state of realization and vision. Therefore. Then it has become yours. but you are still poor until they have become part of you. those words are there. perhaps to be replaced by other words. Rabbi M. they may fade and fall away. with meditation and prayer. The words engraved are of the soul itself--just as engravings are no more than the form of the stone. Learning is a process of making quantum leaps beyond the subjective self. those engravings need only be cleaned and uncovered. But they can never be torn away. #299 You can live in a palace filled with treasures and still be poor. It must start with vision and only then gradually immerse into the world. When the soul finds quietude.contemplate . So too with poverty of the mind: You may have all the knowledge and brilliant ideas in the world. M. It must move you until you are no longer the same self and your day is no longer the same day. #298 When you hear a concept of Torah. full of light with which to illuminate it. #300 The order of your day is crucial. And then you may plunge ahead into the darkness. The words that are written are not of the essence of the person--they come to the soul from the outside. To be wealthy you must own the things you have. you must meditate upon it.He is there within them and you are one with Him at that time. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Inner Engravings Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe. or soiled by experience.

so we won't mess it up. When you are immersed in Torah. Grasp both and you have G-d Himself. even while pondering the question. entertained by His own thoughts. Torah is not about getting to the truth. and you allow it entry to touch your soul. The thoughts imply a background. M. And we? Our souls are the self with whom He speaks. 122. On the inside is depth without end. Rabbi M. Rabbi M. Youthful Wisdom Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe. Schneerson . Torah and the World Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Talking to Himself By Tzvi Freeman Torah is the interface between the Infinite and creation. M. those are the thoughts themselves. There can be no opponents to the purpose of creation -. which is the world. to say that anything in the world could be an opposition to carrying out its Creator's will is an absurdity. even while struggling to make sense of it all. you may hear those words resonating inside. The truth is. you are at truth already.parchment. He talks with Himself. Torah is about being truth. it speaks the language of humankind. when you immerse in the Torah and the words of its sages. But the Torah. On the outside. And at times. and the world was designed as the venue to carry them out. the instructions came first. Therefore. Schneerson People think that G-d first made a world and then gave us instructions to follow. Grasp either end and you have nothing.only meaningful challenges.

Instead. Grasp straight for the soul—or even the body—and you will come up with nothing. the soul of the soul: G-d Himself within His Torah. And. examine those words and those stories. all those from whom we learn wisdom—they are not guardians of the past. the guidance within them is its body. M. It was never in fashion to begin with. And within that soul breathes a deeper. so these words and stories can lead you to the G-dliness that dwells within the Torah. There is no such thing as wisdom of the past. Wisdom preceded the world and wisdom is its destiny. the sages. within that guidance breathes a soul that gives life to whoever follows it. wisdom becomes younger. As fine clothes and jewelry can bring out the beauty of the one who wears them. With each passing moment. They are not graspable. They are messengers of the future. The truth can never be old-fashioned. Grasp the clothes alone and you have an empty shell. turn them again and again. as we come closer to the time when it is born and breathes the air of day. Our ancient mothers and fathers. as with a body.Wisdom lives in the future. Schneerson The words and the stories of Torah are but its clothing. Rabbi M. . transcendental soul. and from there it speaks to us. Grab the Clothing Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe. they are G-dly wisdom and you are a created being.

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