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Kabbalah reveals meditations on holiness in our daily Jewish prayers.

Triple Holiness

Triple Holiness

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Triple Holiness
Kabbalah reveals meditations on holiness in our daily Jewish prayers.

This week's parasha includes the mitzvah to proclaim the holiness of G‑d in the midst of the people of Israel. We fulfill this commandment in the reader's repetition of the Standing Prayer in the "Kedusha" in the Morning and Afternoon prayers. The analysis of Zohar relating to the proper intention to have in mind in saying the words of the Kedusha joins our other translation from parashat Pekudei relating to the inner aspects of the Morning Prayer.

"And you shall not profane My Holy Name; and I will be sanctified among the children of Israel; I am the Lord who sanctifies you." (Lev. 22:32)

This commandment to sanctify Him every day is in order to raise up His holiness from below to above every day, in the same way as [Angels] above.

Performing mitzvot with proper meditative intention in this physical world causes a response in the spiritual world….

It is a basic teaching of the Zohar that performing mitzvot with proper meditative intention in this physical world causes a response in the spiritual world. Thus, in order for holiness to be perceived at the physical level, it has to be drawn down from above. The word for "holy" or "sacred" in Hebrew is "kodesh" and implies that the Creator is separated out from the mundane and elevated in a pure and reverent manner. The Zohar will now teach us how to cause this holiness to descend, and the first step is to gather below in a minyan, or prayer group of at least 10, in order to create the action below that will cause the response from above. There are 10 sefirot and each of the members of the minyan corresponds to one of the sefirot; together they form a unity below that is worthy of sanctifying G‑d in the manner of the angels above.

[The holiness of G‑d is raised up] until it reaches the level of the forefathers and the sons. This is the secret of the words "I will be sanctified among the children of Israel". [Sanctified] above and below, above in three levels and below in three levels.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…represent the three sefirot of chesed, gevura and tiferet….

The fathers of the children of Israel are Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They represent the three sefirot of chesed, gevura and tiferet. Their "sons" are the sefirot below them, netzach, hod and yesod. The grouping of these sefirot in sets of three is clear when one looks at the diagram of the sefirot. The first three intellectual sefirot are chochma, bina and daat. Below them are the three "fathers" and below them the "sons". The last sefira is malchut and it stands alone to receive the abundance from the array of the nine sefirot above.

All are in the mystery of three….

The Kedusha [prayer] has been explained in numerous places, but [now will be explained as follows]. In the same way as there is holiness above over all [the three sefirot of chochma, bina and daat which are the source of holiness], so also is there holiness in the middle [triad of sefirot] and holiness below [in the lower triad]. All are in the mystery of three. The highest holiness is one secret [and from there it descends to sanctify] holiness in the middle and lowest [levels]. These are three levels that are one [unity].

The essence of the three intellectual sefirot is chochma. This is reflected in the verse "You created everything with Your wisdom" (Psalms 104:24). Just as our own thought process is remote and unknowable to others unless expressed openly, so is the wisdom of G‑d remote and holy. This wisdom can be drawn down into the sefirot below and this in fact is an integral part of the Kedusha prayer, as we shall now see. This drawing down from the third level of the sefirot tree also explains why we repeat the word "holy" ("kadosh") three times in the Kedusha prayer saying: "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory".

[The first] "Holy" refers to the side of the highest [chochma] that is the highest of all levels [since it is the first of the sefirot]. Even though it is a hidden level and is called "kodesh", it is the source from which holiness spreads out, shining down one slender hidden path [the yesod of chochma] to that middle level. When it lightens up that middle level it is inscribed with the letter vav that shines in that [word] "kodesh" and it is pronounced "kadosh".

This process starts with the conscious elevation of the letter vav, representing tiferet, the middle sefira….

The Hebrew letter vav has a numerical value of six and it represents the six directions - up, down, north, south, east and west. The Ari describes in Shaar HaKavanot, the meditative intention for the Kedusha prayer. He explains that G‑d is sanctified by Israel and He in turn sanctifies them. This process starts with the conscious elevation of the letter vav, representing tiferet, the middle sefira joining all the others at the emotional level, to the word "kodesh". By consciously planting the letter representing the 6 spatial dimensions into the word describing the removed sanctity of G‑d, we bring down that removed level into our physical consciousness. This action starts from below with our declaration of the first word "kadosh". It then is brought to the level of the emotions (chesed, gevura and tiferet) with the next word "kadosh". It is brought into physical reality with the next repetition of the word "kadosh", as we shall see. This three-step drawing down of the Holy is the reason for the threefold repetition of the word "kadosh".

From this light [at the level of chesed, gevura and tiferet,] it expands and spreads below to the end of all levels [to netzach, hod and yesod, which transmit it to malchut]. When it lights at the end it is registered in the light of that letter hei. Then it is called "kedusha", as we have explained.

In the name Havayah, the final letter hei represents the sefira of malchut. This represents the physical presence of the Divine. The threefold repetition of the word "kadosh", with the intention as stated, has now resulted in holiness/kedusha, being brought down into the physical world. This is also represented by the very words of the prayer that end "the whole earth is full of His glory."

Word

Kadosh

Kadosh

Kadosh

Meditation

"Throwing up" the letter vav to draw down the Holy into 6 dimensions

Drawing down the light of chochma to chesed gevura and tiferet (ChaGaT)

Drawing down the light of chochma from ChaGaT to netzach, hod, yesod (NeHY)

Place

Chochma partzuf Abba

ChaGaT of Zeir Anpin

NeHY of Zeir Anpin to Malchut


Zohar, parashat Emor p.93a; 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.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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