Experiencing G-d in Jewish Mystical Tradition

(Source)

Note: The following article is an excerpt from the book Eye to the Infinite and has been published with the author’s approval.

 

Image and soul

Man was created to relate with G-d. This potential is realized through embracing Torah. More than a revelation from G-d, Torah is a revelation of G-d[1] written as a manual for man created in the same image.[2] It thus addresses all of man’s capabilities, latent abilities and modes of expression, including the natural human phenomenon of meditative thinking. All are part of the Divine image. All must be allowed expression to realize the wholeness of his divine potential.

Without the Torah’s guidelines, man’s path may be obfuscated by the shadows of good inten­tions whilst the true Divine Will eludes him. When we study G-d’s word, meditate on and fulfill His precepts, we embrace a soul-identity unified with G-d’s Will (a level called Yechi­doh; see p. 65). Through the Torah, the Shechinoh reveals itself to the person’s soul (accord­ing to his soul-root and level of deveiquth) because the person lives the Divine image.[3] By adhering to G-d’s Word, cleaving to Its Spirit with purity, the Divine Presence comes to rest upon the person.

Yet, the Shechinoh can elude even the followers of this divine path if they are oblivious to the inner spirit. The Shechinoh seeks a person in tune with his divinity, who yearns for Divine closeness his soul has known.[4] Resonance with this inner yearning is realized by learning, meditating and experiencing, through mindful action, speech and thought, in the word of King David, ‘Know the G-d of your fathers and server Him’. (Divrei HaYomim I, 28:9).[5]

Action combined with meditation establishes contact with our inner divine spark. It frees us from the shackles of materiality and connects us with eternity. Torah does not advocate ascet­icism or reclusivity. It promotes balance, ideals with action, contemplation with deed.[6] The spiritual is directed and given a vessel, holy speech, prayer, unifications, emotions bound to the physical. Soul and body working in unison cause individual and cosmic harmony. Through fusing thought with deed, spiritual heights reached through meditation are seeded and brought to fruition, transforming and rectifying ourselves and all aspects of the universe.

Taste and See! G-d is Good!

The virtues of meditating are extolled in medical journals.[7] But its ability to improve self-confidence, mental proficiency, physical performance and reduce stress, are the externalities of Torah prophetic meditation. The exercises presented here (in the book, not the article) will bolster your natural link to G-d, integrate G-dly awareness with day-to-day living and help you access higher dimensions of reality the soul thrives on and will embrace, thus strengthen­ing the soul’s influence, until its splendour is revealed and its joy and holiness consciously left. One then walks with G-d, experiencing the words of the Psalmist (Tehillim 33:9), ‘Taste and see! G-d is good!

People seek the world over for soul-fulfillment while the answer lies within. The soul craves G-d as a woman longs the company of her husband.[8] In that craving lies G-d’s signature, em­blazoned upon the soul as it distanced from its Maker to incarnate within the physical. When cleared of the impurities clogging the consciousness, this Divine Imprint shines through, allowing a person to behold hid Creator, naturally, effortlessly; to behold, ‘the whole world filled with His Glory’ (Yeshaiyoh 6:3).

The matter is extremely close to you, in your mouth and heart…’ (Devorim 30:14).[9] G-d is omniscient and omnipresent: always available, all-seeing, all-knowing, constantly convers­ing.[10]When Moshe came into the Ohel Mo’ed (Tent of Meeting-Tabernacles) to speak with Him, he heard the Voice speaking to him from upon the kaporeth (cover) that was on the Ark of Testimony, from between the two k’ruvim (cherubs) and He spoke to him’ (Bamidbor 7:89). Inside the Ark were the holy Luchoth, tablets inscribed with the Finger of G-d. Surely, here was the most sacred place of the universe. Yet the Voice emerged from between the two k’ruvim, above the cover (kaporeth).

(Priest hearing the Voice from upon the kaporeth, and the two kerubs/k’ruvim)

Each of us possesses our own Ohel Mo’ed, created through service of G-d.[11] The tablets in the Ark correspond to the Torah in our heart.[12] Living its precepts, we become aware of G-d’s Presence masked by veils of physicality.[13] This awareness between mind and heart, is the holy space between the two k’ruvim, the Ark’s ‘prefrontal love’, the place of free-will.[14] Here, man meets G-d; divinity marries Divinity. Here G-d speaks.

Above,’ said the Ba’al Shem, ‘are no words; only thought. The idea to return [to G-d] is G-d’s Voice spreading through the worlds… He who inclines his ear to hear, G-d will speak to him more…[15] G-d’s Voice resounds throughout the world. To hear It, we must merge with our soul and inner consciousness, and connect mind and soul to G-d.[16] The altruistic con­sciousness that pulsates with love for G-d and one’s fellow man, the result of a pervading awareness of G-d’s Presence, will bring His Voice into earshot, and allow for spontaneous revelation.

“If you are as something hidden, don’t hold of yourself, are entirely self-effacing as if you weren’t [existing], then you will hear My Voice…[17]

G-d says, ‘If you listen to the voice of the L-rd your G-d’ (Shem.15:26).[18] King David sang (Tehillim 29:4) ‘G-d’s voice is in the strength; G-d’s voice is in the beauty’; ‘Forever, G-d, Your word stands in the heavens’ (ibid. 119:89), while Elijah heard Him in a still, small voice (Melochim I, 19:11-13). Whether a whisper deep within our conscience, an intuitive knowing of truth, a crashing awareness that reverberates to the depths of our being, or a wasp sting when we least expect it, the Ubiquitous is addressing us.

It is time to tune in and start listening. We all have the tools.

 

Man in G-d’s image

 

(The Sefiroth & Their Manifestation in Man. The Sefiroth are always ten. Da’ath or Kether are used interchangeably, Kether representing a higher manifetation of Da’ath.)

 

The sages see man as the pinnacle of creation, surpassing the angels, mirroring the Divine.[19] Yet, compared to the rest of the universe, man appears insignificant. His strength is puny and inadequate, his scope negligible, his intelligence limited. For all his technological expertise and advances in science, he has not been able to replicate the properties of an animalcule.[20] No seed or vegetation has ever been synthetically replicated. An ant has abilities far surpassing anything manmade. Man is a title in a world of immeasurable potential and knowledge. Wherein lies his superiority?

Since G-d said to Noach, ‘Your awe will be upon all that lives’ (Bereishith 9:2), man has intuitively understood that he is the superior creation. Witness his surreal expectation of dom­inance, his urge for supremacy, his race to rule. Goaded by a hunger for purpose, a raison d’être, he strives on, relentless, determined to conquer, desperate for greatness. But what drives him? What is the source of his compulsion, the cause behind his aspirations? Like an unfurling fern frond craving the evanescent sunlight, he paws the cosmos for the power that eludes him. Why?

“When I see Your heavens, the works of Your Fingers, the moon and stars You have estab­lished [I ask]: ‘What is man that You remember him, son-of-man that You are mindful of him, that You have made him little less than Divine,[21] with Glory and Majesty (You have) adorned him? You have made him ruler over the work of Your hands and placed everything beneath his feet – flocks, cattle, all of them, also the beasts of the field, birds of the sky, fish of the sea. He traverses the paths of the seas…’ (Tehillim 8:4-9)

Long ago, King David pondered man’s apparent authority and dominion. What is man com­pared to the cosmos, that ‘You have placed everything beneath his feet’? At length, the psalmist exclaims, ‘O L-rd, our Master! How mighty is Your Name throughout the Earth!’ (ibid. 8:10). In this adulation, and in his statement, ‘You have made him little less than Divine’, lies a clue to the cosmic riddle, the anomaly of man. To unravel the crypti­cism, we need to learn about the soul, its relationship with the higher worlds and its connection with the holiest of names, the Tetragrammaton.[22]

On our journey, we will gain insight into the Torah’s soul, the blue-print of creation, and understand how man makes G-d’s Name mighty throughout the world and why the injunction, ‘fill and subdue the earth’ (Bereishith 1:28) is a foundation stone and purpose of creation.

G-d’s Ubiquity

G-d created every form of life, from the sublime to the inanimate dross. As Creator, He both transcends and is immanent in each stage and level of creation.[23] Thus, what might appear counterintuitive is a priori: He is as present in the material as in the spiritual. Albeit less apparent, G-d fills the Earth as He does the Heavens. ‘G-d, He is the L-rd, in the Heavens above and on the Earth below’ (Devorim 4:39).

Scriptures further states (ibid.): ‘G-d, He is the L-rd […]; there is nothing else’.[24] There are three ways to understand this. One: ‘There is no existence besides Him’ (ibid., 4:35): theאֵין עוֹד מִלְּבַדּוֹ – ‘ein od mil’vado’ concept. More than omnipresent, more even than the root of ex­istence, G-d is the only reality. Since creation exists solely because He wills it into existence, essentially only He exists.[25] He is. Period. Besides Him is nothing.[26] However, though we may catch glimpses in states of higher awareness, this reality is difficult to internalize (whilst living in this world) as our senses clamour to proclaim the presence of an external reality.

The second worldview involves a gradual diffusion of Divine Essence from the G-dhead, through various stages of intelligence and spirit, eventually manifesting in the physical. Although everything is G-d’s Light or the Light of Ein Sof (lit. endless; a kabbalistic term for G-d as He transcends creation), that Light (apparently) becomes progressively hidden, con­stricted and more ‘material’ as it extends through the void that is the space of creation. This is the reality we tend to live, the secret of the name Elokim, for the most part unaware of the spiritual worlds towering above us. According to this Weltanschauung, to reveal G-d, we must ‘draw down’ His Light from higher worlds.

The third paradigm presents the ultimate paradox. Whilst creation involves concealment and dissipation of Divine Light until It manifests an apparently separate reality, G-d remains the only reality,[27] His Infinite Light hidden, waiting to be discovered. Though this concept is essentially an amalgamation of the first two ideas, it differs in that it requires man’s participa­tion to make it a working reality.[28] That participation is Torah.

This subjective approach is essential to the human condition, not only because it enables freewill[29] but because the intensity and type of ‘G-d manifestation’ that creates and pervades the various universes,[30] the degree of Shechinoh (Divine Presence that dwells amongst us) and revelation, relates to the individual’s awareness. Human consciousness reveals G-d-consciousness (YKVK) within the boundaries (Elokim) of creation (secret of the combination of the holy names, YKVK and Elokim, first appearing in Genesis with the creation of Man.) Our mission is not to bring something down but to reveal that which is present (an approach emphasized by R. Yisroel Ba’al Shem Tov and his disciples).

With this we can understand the Rambam’s description of how one attains Ru’ach HaQodesh (lit. Holy Spirit, the Shechinoh residing with a person causing divine enlightenment) – by purifying and perfecting one’s desires, such that subjective awareness merges with the reality of G-d’s truth, the perfection of pure objectivity, the state of Adam and Eve before sin.[31]

This perfection of awareness involves Man’s two souls: the lower soul that manifests in this world and a higher soul rooted in heaven, one with the Divine.[32] Through meditation on the Torah and performance of mitsvoth, the higher soul is strengthened, until the lower soul unites with it. When that happens, we become privy to the hidden reality of G-d being everywhere. At that point, there is no subjectivity: only truth.

According to this view, Man is not only master of his own experience; he is the centre of the universe, partner with G-d in the evolving cosmos.[33] His place in the universe is supreme, the ramifications of his perception infinite and eternal. His deeds and focus have repercussions that influence revelation in every plane and sphere of existence; his thoughts and understand­ing affect reality; they are the crux of all cause and effect.[34] This is a quantum leap in under­standing one’s purpose in the cosmic plan

Levels in Awareness

There are four levels of human awareness:[35]

  • Physical awareness: a consciousness of being, of existing apart from the rest of the world; gained through the physical senses’ interaction with the outside world;
  • Emotional awareness – which includes empathy, emotional interaction at a social or spiritual level;
  • Intellectual or soul awareness, including deeply-felt intuition;
  • Prophetic clarity.[36]

The four levels, merging and interlapping at their interchange, relate to four types of human expression: (inversely:) aspiration, thought, speech and action. These manifestations of the soul link to four Divine worlds the soul encounters as it descends from its Source: Atsiluth, the G-dly world of Emanation, Bri’oh, realm of Soul and Creation, Yetsiroh, Angelic world of Formation and Assiyoh, Soul of the Material ‘doing’ world.

The Zohar describes the soul as originating from G-d’s Kisei HaKovod (Throne of Glory). The word, kisei כסא, ‘seat’ or ‘throne’, relates to kisui כסוּי, ‘covering’: the Heavenly ‘Throne’ covers G-d’s Glory to enable creation to benefit from G-d’s Light without being over­whelmed. It is this hiding that allows for free will.[37] Since the soul emanates from the Kisei HaKovod, it has a similar nature: it longs to receive G-d’s Light and its light is a ‘returning light’ (in kabbalah terminology, אורֹ חוֵזר ohr chozeir), a yearning to return to G-d.[38] This con­stant and pervasive thirst for its Divine Origin is the source of man’s aspiration and yearn for meaning.[39]

All desire, whether to attach to G-d, to experience the prophetic state or the uniquely human sense of craving, is a result of the soul’s essence,[40] the ayin, nothingness or no-thing-ness of self, longing to be reunited with its Source, the Ultimate Ayin.[41] As this is intrinsic to the soul, the higher the soul’s level, the more intense and recognizable the longing. (If this ‘energy’ is blocked, it may manifest in undesirable cravings and spiritual maladies. By addressing the blockage and redirecting the energy, the malady will disappear.[42]

It is in man’s will and drive, the highest manifestation of the soul’s expression,[43] that G-d can be most intensely experienced, consciously, if it is in harmony with its Divine Source. Such resonance leads to prophetic awareness. As Ayin (lit. nothingness) – the removal of self to give place for the other, the first level of G-d’s revelation in His initial act of creation – is the ultimate in selflessness, anything egoistic cannot satisfy the need to experience the Ayin. Ego­istic desire, especially if expressed through unholiness, blocks prophetic awareness and divine communion. (‘Prophetic’ is used in its wider sense to include any type of Divine communica­tion, even the experience of longing for G-d.)[44]

Through meditation and mindful action, the soul’s longing can be drawn into the psyche and consciousness, ultimate abode of the Shechinoh (Divine Presence). The unity of awareness with AYiN initiates a sublime spiritual union called שָלוֹם SHoLOM (peace).[45]

The second level of soul-expression is thought. Thought is the soul’s ‘garment’.[46] If thought is consistently fixed on G-d, man can experience an intellectual awareness of the Divine Pres­ence that approaches the prophetical. In the words of R. Bachya ibn Paquda, he who ‘always beholds Him with his intellect and continually reveres Him, […] will see without [physical] eyes, hear without ears, speak without the tongue, sense things without their special organs, appraise them without reasoning’.[47] Through thought and intellect, the soul declares individu­ality and purpose. Whilst universal thought-patters and archetypal imagery reflect its source, their myriad tones and nuances reflect the many levels of Divinity as the soul metamorphoses and incarnates.[48]

Sound and speech, the third level, relate to the angelic sphere. Holy angels are the articulation of G-dly thought and the result of ‘G-dly words’ uttered by man.[49] Thus, speech has angelic power, affecting the angelic realm with the finality of action. Through speaking with soul-intent, whether holy words of Torah and prayer or even mundane speech, a person attaches to the inner core of this realm and will sense G-d’s Presence. In this realm, the soul experiences emotion bordering intuition, sentient to the potential hovering over the physical.[50]

In the material world, consciousness manifests as action, the corporeal expression of higher vibrations. Here, Ayin is given tangibility through mitsvoth. As stated, these levels are the result of stages in the outpouring of Divine energy, giving rise to four spiritual worlds.[51]

(The Four Worlds)

(The Four Spiritual Levels)

The relationship between human expression and these worlds comes to the fore in the law of sympathetic resonance[52] (i.e. objects attuned to the same frequency automatically transfer their vibrations one to the other) and the modern theory of quantum entanglement, their effects most pronounced in the metaphysical.[53] Everyone affects and is affected by energy levels that resonate with their own spiritual vibrations, each act resonating in the sphere pecu­liar to its spiritual frequency.[54] Thought interacts with the World of Soul and Creation (Olom HaBri’oh) and with other thoughts of the same frequency, speech energy interacts with the World of Formation and other speech. As the Malbim notes, the law of resonance has cosmic consequence.[55]

“G-d arranged the world that it be affected and orchestrated through man’s actions, for good or otherwise. This has been likened to two harps, a larger and smaller, placed in an auditorium in a specific position. If the smaller is played upon, the larger will vibrate. Similarly, G-d arranged the world, the larger instrument, to play according to the melody played by the smaller instrument, man.[56]

On its earthbound journey, the soul puts on these ‘garments’ of thought, speech and action, through which it interacts with the various worlds. Realizing them to be garments and uniting them with the soul’s essence is a chief premise and aim of Jewish mindfulness.[57]

The  Fourfold Cosmos

Order occurs naturally throughout our universe, often comprising geometrical fractals, viz. recognizable patterns of self-similarity, repeated at several levels, the parts resembling the whole.[58] This phenomenon points to an underlying system reflecting the spiritual worlds where each individual is a microcosm of the Whole. Such structure can be seen in the four levels reiterating repeatedly through all planes of reality.

The prophet, Yechezkel, saw the Divine Chariot upon four Chayoth (heavenly beings); each Chayoh had four faces, four wings, four Ofanim (Yechezkel 1:4-11, 15:17).[59] Physical exist­ence has four dimensions: time, space, form and matter. Matter has four states: plasma, gas, liquid and solid (the Aristotelian or Empedoclean classic elements: fire, air, water and earth),[60] and four distinct levels: man, animal, vegetable and mineral, each of which contain four sublevels. Each of those sublevels has four parts: Divinity giving existence, soul (every­thing has a degree of soul),[61] angelic (possibly astrological) influence[62] and matter.[63]

Man has four stages in his gestation period; four basic emotions; four levels of awareness; four brain processes that combine as a ‘signature’ of conscious activity; four bases in the genetic code (adenine, quanine, thiamine and cytosine).[64] Our brain cortex divides into four lobes (frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital) to process four types of sensory information.

There are four animal types (if amphibians and reptiles are categorized together as ‘ectother­mic’), four types of invertebrate (Arthropoda, Mollusca, Annelida, Coelenterata) and four types of vegetation (plants, fungi, protoctist and bacteria). Each of the four types of vegetation divide again into four – four plant types (Thallophyta, Bryophyta, Pteridophyta, Spermato­phyta), four fungi types (Zygomycota, Ascomycota, Basidiomycota, Deuteromycota), four types of protoctista (unicellular algae, protozoa, slime moulds – oomycotes, and water moulds – myxomycotes) and four types of bacteria (baccilus, coccus, spirillum and vibrio).

Matter consists mainly of four elements (nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, carbon),[65] while living matter has four classes of biological molecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids). There are four main types of mineral cycles (i.e.: the Oxygen cycle, Water cycle, Phosphorus cycle and Sulphur cycle), four types of chemical bonds (covalent, ionic, hydrogen bonds, Van der Waal forces) and four key forces in the universe (strong nuclear and weak nuclear force, electromagnetism and gravity).

In short, the entire cosmos, from the general to the particular, from the highest intelligence to the lowest, from the most advanced to the simplest form of existence, has four distinct layers, categories, ingredients or properties. These link to four spiritual levels: G-dly, Soul, Angelic and physical and to the four worlds. Atsiluth, Bri’oh, Yetsiroh, Assiyoh. It is not just a number being repeated; it is a spiritual system, a universal hierarchy that points to the origin of all creation, expressed through the most sacred of names, the Tetragrammaton.[66]

G-d’s Ineffable Name, which translates as ‘He Who brings into being’ – the Life Force that creates ex nihilo, or ‘Absolute Existence’,[67] the Divine conatus essendi (will of self-expression), is the blueprint of life; thus, the creative process emanates from and is dictated by the Name’s four letters.

‘All creations are imprinted with this Name, to show Who created them’.[68] Each letter repre­sents a stage of the four levels, Will, Thought, Word and Action (Atsiluth, Bri’oh, Yetsiroh and Assiyoh), as indicated by the letters; thus, four layers manifest, continuously and holo­graphically, throughout creation.

As G-d is one, so all the levels combine as one unit. This unified structure is G-d’s signature, the worlds manifesting G-d’s Name.[69] Thus, the prophets say, ‘How mighty is Your Name in the whole world’; ‘G-d’s Name fills the whole world’.[70] G-d is at every level and in every detail: everywhere, right here, right now.

 

 

[1] Shabboth 86b; Me’or Einayim, Toldoth, p. 83.

[2] Bereishith, 1:26-7; Zohar, I, 20b; 71b (וְעַל דְמוּת הַכִסֵא דְמוּת כְמַרְאֵה אָדָם עָלָיו מִלְמָעְלָה – דא הוא תורה שבכתב); R. Eliyohu de Vidas (1518-1592), Reishith Chochmoh, Sha’ar HaYir’oh, 7:10; R.M. C. Luzatto, Derech Eits Chaim. (For explanation of ‘image’, see p. 43, fn. 58; p51, fn.24.)

[3] See p. 126, fn. 1.

[4] Nefesh, ‘soul’ (from noifesh – ‘to rest’), also denotes ‘will’ (a person’s will naturally gravitates to where it feels at rest; see p. 101, fn. 4, Maharal). See Moreh Nevuchim, 1:41.

[5] דַע אֶת אֱלֹהֵ-י אָבִיךָ וְעָבְדֵהוּ

[6] Me’or Einayim, II, p. 576. See Pirqei Ovoth, 1:17 (לא המדרש העיקר אלא המעשה – ‘The main thing is not the learn­ing but the [subsequential] action’); Sefer HaChinuch, Intro. (האדם נפעל כפי פעולותיו – ‘A person[’s character] is formed according to his deeds’). Also, Devorim 15:7-10. Science now concurs (e.g. Brian R. Flay, Carol G. Allred, Nicole Ordway, ‘Effects of the Positive Action Program on Achievement and Discipline: Two Matched-Control Comparisons’ in Prevention Science (2001, 2, Issue 2), pp. 71-89.

[7] E.g. D. H. Shapiro, ‘A mode of control and self-control profile for long term meditators’, in Psychologia: An International Journal of Psychology in the Orient (1992, Issue 35, pp. 1-11); R. J. Davidson, J. Kabat-Zinn, J. Schumacher, M. Rosenkranz, D. Muller et al., ‘Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindful­ness mediation’, in Psychosomatic Medicine (2003, Is. 65, pp. 564-70); Britta K. Holzel, J. Carmody, M. Vangel, C. Congleton, S.M. Yerramsetti, Tim Gard, Sara W. Lazar, ‘Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density’, in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging (Elsevier, 191, Is. 1, pp. 36-43); Tim V. Sa­lomons, Aaron Kucyi, ‘Does meditation reduce pain through a unique neural mechanism?’ in Journal of Neuro­science (2011, 31(36)); B. K. Holzel, S.W. Lazar, T. Gard, Z. Schuman-Olivier, D. R. Vago, U. Ott, ‘How does mindfulness meditation work? Proposing mechanisms of action from a conceptual and neural perspective’, in Perspectives on Psychological Science (2011, Vol. 6, no. 6, pp. 537-559).

[8] (הנשמה לגבי מעלה כנקבה בפני הזכר) Midrash HaNe’elam, Zohar, I, 125a; Torah Ohr, p. 1d.

[9] I.e. the afore mentioned mitsvoth to cleave to G-d (30:11) (Heichal HaBrochoh ad loc.).

[10] See Rashi, Bamidbor 7:89, s.v. Midabair.

[11] ‘We all posses an “inner Moshe”, the ability to selflessly devote ourselves to G-d and His will. G-d calls out to us through this inner Moshe, enabling us to enter the mysteries of the Torah and commune with His presence. By fulfilling G-d’s commandments and praying, we refine ourselves, so that wew can perceive G-d’s presence ever clearer in the study of His Torah.’ (Daily Wisdom: Inspiring insights on the Torah Portion from the Lubavitcher Rebbe, translated and adapted by Moshe Wisnefsky (Kehot Publication Society, 2014) Vayaq’hel-Paqudei.)

[12] The Holy Ark corresponds to the heart and mind; R. Chaim of Volozhin, Nefesh Ha-Chaim, 1:4; R. Mordechai HaKohein of Tsfath (1523-1598), Sifsei Kohein, Shemoth, 39:32; Me’or Einayim, p. 17, col. 1. Cf. R. Chaim ibn Attar (1696-1743), Ohr HaChaim, Vayiqro, 23:15: that the Luchoth correspond to the collective Soul of Israel. See also, R. Dovid Ben Zimro (c.1463-1573), Metsudoth Dovid: Ta’amei HaMitsvoth LeRadvaz, Mitsvoh §77; R. Yitschoq Isaac Chover, (1789-1852), Pischei She’orim, pp. 7-8, note 1 (that the Luchoth correspond to the two chambers of the heart); Liqutei MoHaRan, I, 34:6

[13] See Yalqut Shimoni, Tehilim, §808. Note the stress on veils and covers in Sh’moth 30:6.

[14] This one place left to our freewill can embrace the Light of Ein Sof (see Brochoth 33b). The Rambam under­stands this space as the thoughts of the heart (Responsa and Letters, p. 32). Thus, the two Kruvim may correspond to the heart’s bicameral chambers. Hence, כרוב – k’ruv in gematria אהבה יראה – ahavoh yir’oh – ‘love, awe’, the energies at the universe’s core, t he constant ‘running and returning’ (S. Yetsiroh 1:18) in the two [that are four] chambers of the heart. Thus, ‘the Voice speaking to him… from between the two k’ruvim’, corresponds to the wind-pipe between the two chambers (cf. R. E. Roke’ach, Soidi Rozyo, p. 131). A person, communing with G-d, are like the two facing k’ruvim, resulting in the Voice emanating from between. Accordingly, we may interpret the verse (Bamidbor 7:89) as referring to G-d – ‘Moshe’ meaning higher intelligence – wanting to speak with Moshe, or Moshe approaching G-d. See also the ambiguities implied in Sh’moth, 34:5-6 (see Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Ramban; also, Qedushath Levi ad loc.).

[15] R. Yosef Bloch of Holshitz-Stanov (quoting the Ba’al Shem), Ginzei Yosef, p. 559. אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי, בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם בַּת קוֹל יוֹצֵאת מֵהַר חוֹרֵב וּמַכְרֶזֶת וְאוֹמֶרֶת אוֹי לָהֶם לַבְּרִיּוֹת מֵעֶלְבּוֹנָהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה – R. Yehoshua Ben Levi says, “Every day a Bas Qol (Heavenly Voice) emanates from Mt. Horev, proclaiming, ‘Woe to mankind from the shame of the Torah’” (Pirqei Ovoth, 6:2). On this mishnoh, the Ba’al Shem Tov explains: ‘Every day a person hears G-d’s Voice reminding him to return. The Voice goes from one end of the earth to the other and is responsible for all earnings, all thoughts to make amends and return to G-d’; Kether Shem Tov (Kehot), p. 36, §146 (See also, R. DovBaer of Mezritch (1704-1772), Maggid Devorov LeYa’aqov, Liqutei Amorim, §250 (p. 256); Zera Qodesh, Re’eih, s.v. Re’eih Onoichi.) The MaHaRaL (R. Yehudoh Loew of Prague (1525-1609)) writes, ‚The Sages say, “This teaches, t he Holy One Blessed Be He’s Voice exists forever”… G-d is constantly giving the Torah… the only difference is in the recipients…’ (Tif’ereth Yisroel, Chapter 56 (p. 172)). See also below, p. 238, fn. 23.

[16] Shulchon Oruch, Orach Chaim 25:5, וישתעבד להקב”ה הנשמה … וגם הלב (‘He should subjugate his soul and heart to G-d’).

[17] R. Elimelech of Lizhensk, No’am Elimelech, Yithro, s.v. VeAtoh. See also, R. Ovadyoh ben Ya’aqov Sforno (1475-1550), Sforno, Shemoth 25:20-22 בא”ד: והיו הכרובים.

[18] See Tif’ereth Shlomo, vol. II, p. 135b, ‘When you merit to hear G-d’s actual voice’. Also, Devorim 13:5; 26:17, and Zera Qodesh (Nitsovim, Liqutim s.v. VeShov): Attune to ‘your G-d’, your own ‘portion’ (spark) of G-d; then you can attach the part to the Whole.

[19] Bereishith Rabboh 8:1; 78:1; Zohar, I, 22a; R. Chaim Vital, Sha’arei Qedushoh, 3:2.

[20] William G. Quinn, ‘Memories of a fruitfly’, in Nature (Nature Publishing Group, 2006 02/02, vol. 439), pp. 546-548. Cf. Mishlei, 6:6-8.

[21] See R. Meir Leibush Wisser (1809-1879), Malbim, ad loc.; Liqutei Torah (Ari), ad loc.

[22] Interestingly, the verse describing man’s creation in the tselem (‘image’) of G-d (see p. 43ff and fn. 58) is the 26th verse of the Torah, gematria of the Tetragrammaton. Cf. Yechezkel 1:26

[23] See Targum Yonothon, Yeshayoh 6:3, ‘He is holy in the highest heavens, place of His Abode, He is holy on Earth, work of His might,’ etc. For an in-depth discussion of G-d’s transcendence, see L.A. Tanya, Chapter 8; R. Shlomo of Tlust, Atereth Shlomoh, pp. 1-2.

[24] (Also, Devorim 4:35.) The verse uses the name, Elokim, denoting control and power. Thus, אֵין עוֹד ein od – ‘there is nothing else’, means there is no other power besides G-d (אֵין עוֹד is gematriah הכל אלקים – ‘all is G-d’), though some commentaries see here more than G-d’s omniscience (see sources below, fn. 9)

[25] Devorim Rabboh 2:28; Tanya, Sha’ar Yichud VehoEmunoh, Chs. 3, 6; Nefesh HaChaim, 3:3. Whether we can live on this plane is considered a subject of dispute between the Ba’al Shem and HeChosid HaGra’s (R. Eliyohu of Vilna) schools, discussed in Nefesh HaChaim (;cf. A. Fraenkel, Nefesh HaTzimtzum (Urim Publications) for in-depth analysis).

[26] R. Yeshaiyoh HaLevi Horowith (c. 1565-1630), Shnei Luchoth HaBrith (SHLo”H), Torath Odom. Also, Zohar, I, 11b; III, 225a; Tiqunei Zohar, 91b; 122b. (This is neither pantheism nor panentheism. This is reality where only G-d exists, perhaps echoed in Einstein’s unifying theory E = mc2, where mass is shown to be a form of compressed energy.)

[27] See Habohir §1; Chagigoh 12bff. These states from the Qedushoh prayer. The initial verse, Yeshayoh’s vision (6:3), ‘Holy holy holy [is the] L-rd of Hosts, His Glory fills the world’, parallels the first view. Yechezkel’s (Yec. 3:12) ‘Blessed is G-d’s Glory from His Place’, i.e. G-d’s Glory emanating from His Place, is the second paradigm. Qedushoh’s final verse, our contribution, ‘The L-rd shall reign forever, your G-d, Zion, for generation after generation’ (Tehilim 146:10), is the third worldview, realising the unification of transcendent G-d within the immanence of His created world. These correspond to the Zohar’s ‘yichud, brochoh, qedushoh’ (see vol. II, 116a; III, 272b).

[28] Which connects with the Shechinoh. See also Tanya, Sha’ar Yichud VehoEmunoh, Ch. 3.

[29] Subjective perception is not limited to the metaphysical, influencing behaviour and even Halacha (similar to Niels Bohr’s Observer Effect); see e.g., Yoreh Dei’oh, 110:10. In Decision Making Process of the Kohein, the historian, R. Berel Wein, writes “Though the Torah describes methods of diagnosis (of the ritual impurity, tsora’ath), it leaves the decision to the kohein (priest, descendant of Aharon). The kohein, so to speak, creates the impurity in the person [ …]; it is his declaration that decides the issue; like all human decisions, that declaration is of necessity a subjective one. This is a remarkable insight into [ … ] tsora’ath in particular and Halacha in general.”

[30] Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 3.

[31] R. Moshe ben Maimon (Rambam), Moreh Nevuchim, 1:2.

[32] R. Chaim Vital, Sha’arei Qedushoh (Gates of Holiness), 3:2.

[33] (This is the secret of the Tree of Knowing good and evil and the Tree of Life; see Bereishith 2:9). All man’s actions and thoughts are significant. In the physical realm, this has been dubbed, the ‘Butterfly Effect’ (see Ed­ward N. Lorenz, ‘Deterministic Non-Periodic Flow’, in Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1995]).

[34] The Ba’al Shem Tov said, ‘A person is where his thoughts are’ (addressed in Part 2). See R. DovBaer of Mezritch, Maggid Devorov L’Ya’aqov, §102; Toldoth Ya’aqov Yosef, Chayei Soroh, Shelach 139d; Kethoneth Pasim, Qorach 43c; R. Moshe Chaim Efraim of Sudilkov (1748-1800), grandson of Ba’al Shem, Degel Ma­chaneh Efraim, Shemoth; Zohar III, 247b, 306b, I, 266b; Yerushalmi Brochoth, 5:3, 6:8; Moreh Nevuchim, 3:51.

[35] Cf. four terms for man, Zohar, III, 48a.

[36] Zohar, II, 262b; cf. three categories vol. I, 99b, 161a. The four categories correspond to distinct levels of the soul: chayoh, neshomoh, ru’ach, nefesh – ‘Life’, ‘Breath’, ‘Spirit’, ‘Soul’ (four ‘names’ of ‘man’: Zohar, III: 48a). These correspond to the four worlds.

[37] Zohar, I, 113a; Tiqunei Zohar, 12b, Tiqun §22 (66a), §38 (79a), §43 (82b), §69 (105a). Cf. Nefesh HaChaim, 1:5 (before annotation); R. Shneur Zalman of Liade, Liqutei Torah, Devorim.

[38] Zohar, I, 125a (Midrash HaNe’elam). It is thus called ‘kovod‘honour’ or ‘glory’ (see Bereishith 49:6; Tehillim 30:13, Rabbeinu Bachya, Bereishith 25:8.)

[39] As opposed to the animalistic drive. Though the spiritual drive was recognized as a behavioural force by the early 20th century pioneers in psychology and Carl Jung quoted Tehilim 42:2, ‘As a hart long for water brooks, so my soul longs for You, G-d’, as the only reason for addictions (see William G. Wilson, Alcoholics Anony­mous, p. 26, quoted in R. Shais Taub, G-d of Our Understanding: Jewish Spirituality and Recovery from Addic­tion (Ktav Publ. House, 2010), pp. 13-19, for a facsimile of Jung’s letter), it needs to be appreciated as the psyche’s primal key, a catalyst towards holistic advancement at a core level, driving thought, emotion, speech and action. This has been recently recognized in transpersonal psychology (see Ken Wilber, ‘Two Humanistic Psychologies? A Response’, in Journal of Transpersonal Psychology (23.2, Jan. 1991), p. 105).

[40] The Hebrew word kessef (money) connotes the soul because the soul constitutes longing (kossef) to rise to the heights, as it says (Qoheleth 3:21), “The spirit of men rises up to the heights”. (Quote adapted from R. Men­achem Mendel Schneerson, Hayom Yom, trans. Yitschok M. Kagan; with permission of Kehot Publication Socie­ty.)

[41] See Iyov 26:7, תֹּלֶה אֶרֶץ, עַל-בְּלִי-מָה ‘He suspends the world on bli-moh (lit. without anything).’ This is the AYiN (no-thing-ness), the absence of ‘something’ the mind can grasp, the nihilo of creation. See also R. Moshe ben Nachmon, Ramban, Bereishith 1:2.

[42] See Sukkoh 52a, כל הגדול מחברו יצרו גדול ממנו – ‘Whoever is [spiritually] greater than his fellowman, his yetser will likewise be greater.’

[43] Sefer HaYoshor (LeRabbeinu Tam), Ch. 11; R. Shlomo Wolbe, Alei Shur, Ch. 25, p. 120.

[44] See R. Qalonymus Qalmish Shapira, (b. 1889-k.1943), Derech HaMelech; R. Moshe Sofer (1762-1839), Chasam Sofer Ul HaTorah, Noso, s.v. Ubevo Moshe. Also p. 276, fn. 16.

[45] שָלוֹם Sholom relates to שלם sholaym (perfect) and שלוה shalvoh (serenity), suggesting a status-quo, one party accepting the other.

[46] Zohar I, 128a (Midrash HaNe’elam: ‘Intelligence is the soul’s brother’).

[47] Chovoth HaLevovoth, (Feldheim: Jerusalem, N.Y., 1986, II, p. 217).

[48] כשם שאין פרצופותיהן דומין זה לזה כך אין דעתן שווין זה לזה – ‘Just as people’s faces differ, so do their thought patters.’ (Bamidbor Rabboh, 21:2. See also Sanhedrin 38a).

[49] (Conversely, unholy words create unholy forces.) See Tehillim 103:20-21; also, Chagigoh 14a: ‘Each word G-d utters creates an angel’. Man, through his G-dly soul, acts as an extension of G-d (Zichron Zoth, Vayishlach, first para; Ohr LaShomayim, p. 186). Holy words create holy angels (see Zohar I, 5a; No’am Elimelech, Sh’lach, p. 73, col. B). However, whereas vocal prayer and speech interact with the angelic, only G-d knows our inner­most thoughts (see R. Re’uvein Horovitz of Zarnowza (Tehillim im yalqut) Dudo’im BaSodeh, 5:2). Thus, as Shemoneh Esreh interacts with the G-dly Real (Atsiluth), it is said quietly; Zohar II, 210b; Avrohom Azulai, Ohr HaChamoh, ad loc; Tonoh D’vei Eliyohu 1:28; cf. Orach Chaim, 101; Zohar, II, 202a; Ohr HaChamoh ad loc, p. 216f., s.v. בלחישו.

[50] A resident of Mezhibuz once quarrelled with another, in the Ba’al Shem Tov’s shul, shouting he would tear the other fellow to pieces like a fish. The Ba’al Shem told his pupils to hold one another’s hand and stand near him, their eyes closed. Then, he placed his holy hands on the shoulders of the two disciples next to him. Suddenly, the disciples began shouting in terror. They had seen the fellow dismembering his disputant. This incident illustrates that everything has an effect on the spiritual plane, which can be perceived by refined senses. (Quote adapted from R. Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Hayom Yom, with permission of Kehot Publication Society.)

[51] See R. Chaim Vital, Sha’arei Qedushoh, Gate 3; R. C. Volozhin, Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 1

[52] ‘If you pluck a guitar’s low E-string, you’ll see the high E-string vibrating along with it, as if plucked by a phantom finger. This happens because the specific vibration rate of the high E (660 Hz) is an even multiple of the E two octaves lower (165 Hz). The same thing happens if you place a tuning fork next to a piano and strike the key for A above middle C; the tuning fork will vibrate too. This is called resonance, a word that literally means “sounds again”. When vibrations of two different phenomena have a similar shape or frequency, we say they resonate with each other.’ (George Pratt, Code to Joy).

[53] Zohar, I, 156b; R. Moshe ben Nachmon, Ramban, Bereishith, 28:12; R. Moshe ben Maimon, Moreh Nevuchim 2:4; R. Moshe Chaim Luzatto, Derech HaShem, 1:5:1, 2:1; R. Yosef Leib Bloch (1860-1929), Shiurei Da’ath I, 1:1, p. 38, that physical laws are sourced in the spiritual. Maharal posits that metaphysical forces are more pow­erful than physical forces, since the parallel force operating within nature is restricted within its limited scope of operation (Gur Aryeh, Pirqei Ovoth, 2:12). (Re. quantum entanglement, see J.M. Raimond, M. Brune, S. Haroche, ‘Manipulating quantum entanglement with atoms and photons in a cavity’, in Reviews of Modern Phys­ics (American Physical Soc.) 73:3, 2001, p.565-582.)

[54] Scientists now suggest the universe is based on this law of resonance, an idea first expressed in the Zohar. This law also underscores the importance of performing a ‘spiritual’ or religious exercise (e.g. praying) with others. See R. Chaim ibn Attar, Ohr HaChaim, Devorim, 33:2 that the effect exponentially increases, especially in a quorum of ten. Some people feel this. However, awareness does not assume focus. Those who wish to develop spiritually must aspire to the highest vibration: harmony with the soul’s Source. Anything less is a travesty of the soul’s nature and calling. Hence, the Torah warns against psychic or mediumistic practices. These seemingly innocent practices are the antithesis of true spiritual growth; focusing on a person’s ‘energies’, they lead in the opposite direction to closeness to HaShem, the True Name.

[55] See also, Krithuth 6a; R. Yishaye HaLevi Horowits, SHLo”H (Rosh HaShonoh) quoting R.M. Qordevero. As we shall see, the soul spans many spheres and levels, so the cause and effects of actions are much more extensive than one realizes.

[56] Malbim, Shemoth 25, Remozai HaMishkon

[57] Liqutei Amorim Tanya, beginning of Chapter 4.

[58] Benoit B. Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature (1982, W.H. Freeman & Co., N.Y.)

[59] See Zohar I:71a. (Also, R. Eliyohu Baal Shem of Loans (1555-1636), Adereth Eliyohu, ad loc. (p. 170), that each of the four faces had four faces, etc.) Cf. Zohar, III, 271a.

[60] Bamidbor Raboh, Noso, 14:12; Moreh Nevuchim, 1:62. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, R. M. M. Schneerson, describes them as: positive force, negative force, antimatter, matter’ (Liqutei Sichoth, Vol. 38, p. 184). As ecologist, David Bowen, writes, ‘the Greeks had it right with their classification of fire, air, earth and water’ (‘The World on Fire’, in New Scientist (Oct. 2009)).

[61] Liqutei Amorim Tanya, Sha’ar Yichuud VehoEmunoh, Chapter 1. See also p. 240, fn. 23.

[62] Devorim Rabboh 1:14; Ramban Vayiqro 18:25, Devorim 18:9-12; Moreh Nevuchim, 2:20.

[63] See Moreh Nevuchim, ibid. The vegetable element of soul is elementary and generic, with no self-cognition. Whereas the inanimate [metals, precious stones, minerals] are recipients of astrological forces, thereby possessing particular properties (Bereishith 1:15, Ramban, Rabbeinu Bachya (1340-1255), the vegetable world is influenced by both astrological and angelic energies (ibid. 1:11, Bereishith Rabboh, 10:6) and may have some semblance of intelligence (see, e.g. F. Baluska, Simcha Lev-Yaadun, Stefano Mancuso ‘Swarm intelligence in plant roots’, in Trends in Ecology, (vol. 25, Dec. 2010, p. 682); Stanislaw Karpinski and Magdalena Szechynska-Hebda, ‘Secret Life of Plants’ in Plant Signaling & Behaviour, 5:11, November, 2010; (Landes Bioscience), pp. 1391-1394). It may be that the inanimate too has consciousness, possibly on a quantum level, indicating four levels of spirituality at every plane (Ohr HaChaim, Bereishith 2:1; see also, R. Yosef Leib Bloch, Shiurei Da’ath I, 2:2, p. 233) (see, e.g. David J. Chalmers, The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (OUP, 1996), p. 299; Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is almost Certainly False (OUP, 2012), pp. 57-58, 61-63; Masafumi Oizumi, Larissa Albantakis, Giulio Tononi, ‘From the Phenomenology to the Mechanisms of Consciousness’ in Journal of PLOS Computational Biology, May 2014).

[64] Christian G. Kohler, Travis Turner, Neil M. Stolar, Warren B. Bilker, Collen M. Brensinger, Raquel E. Gur, Ruben C. Gur, ‘Differences in facial expressions of f our universal emotions’ in Psychiatry Research (vol. 128, Issue 3, Oct. 2004, pp. 235-244); Stanislas Dehaene, Consciousness and the Brain, Chap. 4 (‘The Signatures of Conscious Thought’), (Viking Press, 2014).

[65] (That three of these are gases and one matter is of notable interest, as the blueprint discussed below has a similar pattern.) These relate to the four Aristotelian (Empedoclean) elements: fire, water, wind and earth. Nitro­gen and hydrogen create lightning (fire), hydrogen and oxygen make water, oxygen moving is wind (air) and carbon is matter (earth). Liz Greene suggests four types of cognition: thinking, feeling, sensation, intuition. (L. Greene, Relating; An Astrological Guide to Living with Others on a Small Planet.)

[66] R. Chaim Vital, Eits Chaim Sha’ar Kitsur Abiyah; Sha’arei Qedushoh, ibid. Also, R. Chaim Tyrer (1760[?]-1817), Be’er Mayim Chaim, Bereishith (Chernovitz, 1836), p. 10.

[67] See R. Moshe ben Maimon, Moreh Nevuchim, 1:61.

[68] Zohar II, 42a (לית בריאה דלא אתרשים בהאי שמא, בגין לאשתמודעא למאן דברא ליה). See R. Yosef Giqatilla (1248-a.1305), Sha’arei Orah 1:10, Eits Chaim, Sha’ar TaNT”O; Derush Abiya; R. Sholom Sharabi (1720-1777), N’har Sholom, 92a and Rechovoth HaNohor, 3d, 5d-7a(; Moreh Nevuchim, 1:62). The ‘golden ratio’, which abounds in nature, is also a reflection of G-d’s Name: the ratio of the gematria of its masculine (giving) letters to its feminine (receiving) letters, (Yud + Vov) / (Heh + Heh) = 16/10 = 1.6, as well as the ratio of the graphic form of the yud to the vov.

[69] Since G-d’s Name also means to continually ‘bring into being’ all creation. This is echoed in the concept that all physical forces are extensions of one universal law (see Nassim Haramein, ‘Quantum Gravity and the Holo­graphic Mass’, in Physical Review & Research International (Sciencedomain international, 2013, 3(4), pp. 270-292) and in the holographic nature of quantum reality; see p. 69, fn. 54.

[70] Tehillim ibid; Yeshayo 6:3. See Zohar, ibid.; R. Tsodoq HaKohen, Dover Tsedek, p. 150.

 

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Position: Collaborator City: Age: Beliefs/System: Eclectic. various schools of [Jewish] meditation Domains of interest: Kabbalah, astrology, healing, hypnosis Website: http://jewish-meditation.weebly.com/

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