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Kabbalah teaches that via our daily prayers, we ascend spiritual worlds.

The Basics of Prayer

The Basics of Prayer

Intermediate Intermediate
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The Basics of Prayer
Kabbalah teaches that via our daily prayers, we ascend spiritual worlds.

The Zohar explores the subject of prayer at length in this week's Torah portion. An obvious connection between prayer and the name of the portion is the fact that a prayer group is called a "kahal", which is the root of the name of the portion, Vayakhel.

[Rebbe Shimon said to the Companions:] "A person's prayer is as you have said [see pages 201 to 203]. Happy is your lot [that you understand the mystery of the way the prayers are organized] because prayer rectifies the body and the soul of a person and makes him whole.

All three levels, external, surface and internal are rectified by the morning prayers….

The rectification of the body through prayer is a striking concept. The talit, or prayer shawl, is made of wool and encompasses the body. The tefillin are made of animal skin and parchment and are worn directly on the skin, and the first part of the prayer deals with sacrifices that are related to the blood. Thus all three levels, external, surface and internal are rectified by the morning prayers.

Prayer accomplishes a number of rectifications that are all included in one complete rectification consisting of four parts.

The Hebrew word for rectification is "tikun". This word implies repairing or fixing and in the Zohar also has the meaning of dressing. In English it is the root of the word technician and in relation to clothing, "(s)tich". The worlds appear to be full of separate beings, but, when rectified, their internal unity is revealed.

The spiritual / physical worlds are likened to garments.…

In the Zohar the spiritual/physical worlds are likened to garments, one underneath the other and all dressed on the spiritual core. These four garments, from the external to the internal core, are the four worlds of Asiya, Yetzira, Beriya and Atzilut.

The first rectification is the fixing of the completion of the person himself. The second rectification is of this [physical] world. The third rectification is of the higher [spiritual] world with all of the heavenly hosts. The fourth rectification is of the Holy Name in the secret of the Holy Chariots and in the secret of the rectification of all the worlds above and below in one rectified unit, as is proper. (Now each will be explained in more detail.)

The first rectification is of the person himself because he needs to be dressed in talit and tefillin and repair himself by saying the [prayers relating to] sacrifices and offerings, which purify him.

The talit represents the encompassing light of the spiritual worlds, and the tefillin of the arm represents the subjugation of the physical forces to the mind, represented by the tefillin on the head. By consciously dressing himself in this way, the person praying is "tuning" himself into the makeup of the spiritual and physical worlds and is ready to ascend to higher levels of consciousness in divine service. By completing the verses relating to all the different types of sacrifices, he is purified of the sins they rectified at the time when the Temple stood. By reciting the verses relating to the incense offering he protects his prayer from the grasp of external forces. He emerges from the first level of prayer (completed at "Baruch She'amar") having rectified the world of Asiya.

The second rectification is the fixing of the existence of this world in the Work of Creation, by blessing the Holy One Blessed be He, on each and every one of His works.

He is blessed, and His blessing is on all…

[This is as he says] those [prayers] of praise, all stars of light pay tribute to Him, the Heavens of the Heavens honor Him. Through this he establishes the existence of this world. It is in relation to this that he says Baruch She'amar - "Blessed is He who spoke and the world came into existence." Blessed, meaning He is blessed, and His blessing is on all.

By saying these prayers, known as Pesukei deZimra, which are between Baruch She'amar and Yishtabach in the Morning Service, a person is blessing G-d on each and every aspect of creation that He made in the universe. In so doing he is rectifying the world of Asiya and raising it to its higher source in the world of Yetzira.

The third rectification is of the higher world [of Beriya, which is the level where the Jewish People pray at the level of the angels] with all the hosts of angels and their encampments. This is as we say [after "Barechu"] "He who creates the ministering spirits, all of whom stand in the heights of the Universe" etc. and "the Ofanim and Holy Chayot [and Seraphim" - being three types of angels].

The Seraphim are fiery and are called "standing" because they await instructions from the Shechina. They pass the instructions to the Holy Chayot who enliven the Ofanim or "wheels", who cause things to occur [i.e. "wheels to turn"] in the physical world in accordance with the divine will. These angels all praise G-d, and in the morning service Israel joins with them in unison as they do so.

The fourth rectification is that of the Standing Prayer in the secret of the Holy Name as you have explained.

The silent Standing Prayer is at the pinnacle of the Four Worlds in Atzilut and unifies the name Havaya with the name Elo-him, Zeir Anpin with malchut.

Happy is your lot, and here is the secret of the rectification of the complete Name [in the "Bestow Peace" prayer at the end of the Standing Prayer]. Happy is my portion to be with you [my companions] in This World and in the World to Come.

The Four Worlds and Their Place in the Morning Prayer Liturgy:

Asiya

Yetzira

Beriya

Atzilut

Action, doing in the
physical world

Formation,
the Universe and
Galaxies, Angels

Creation,
Angelic Forces

Nearness,
Unity, Infinity.

Morning Blessings to Baruch She'amar

Baruch She'amar to Yishtabach

Baruchu
to Standing Prayer

Standing Prayer

Animal Sacrifices, Incense, Purification

Hymns of Praise

Throne of Glory, Palaces,
Sitting Kedusha
and Shema.

18 Blessings and Standing Kedusha.


Zohar, Vayahakel pg. 216b; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also know by the acronym "Rashbi," lived in the Holy Land in the 2nd century C.E. A disciple of Rabbi Akiva, Rashbi played a key role in the transmission of Torah, both as an important Talmudic sage and as author of the Zohar, the most fundamental work of Kabbalah. He was buried in Meron, Israel, west of Safed.
Shmuel-Simcha Treister is a lawyer from New Zealand who made aliya to Safed with his family in 1993 to study Zohar. He continues doing so to this day. He also works in the Ascent multi-media center.
The Zohar is a basic work of Kabbalah authored by Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his students (2nd century CE). English translation of annotated selections by Rabbi Moshe Miller (Morristown, N.J.: Fiftieth Gate Publications, 2000) includes a detailed introduction covering the history and basic concepts of Kabbalah. Volume 1 (36 pp.) covers the first half of the first of the original’s three volumes. It is available online from our store, KabbalaOnline Shop.
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