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Kabbala teaches that prayer is an act of war.

Prayer: Driving Me Up the Wall

Prayer: Driving Me Up the Wall

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Prayer: Driving Me Up the Wall
Kabbala teaches that prayer is an act of war.

With the arising of the dawn [and before prayer] a person should cleanse himself of everything.

By going to the bathroom to relieve oneself of all body wastes and by washing the hands and saying the appropriate prayer, one rectifies the external element of the world of Asiya.

Then he should arm himself for battle.

By putting on tallit and tefillin and preparing for prayer, one rectifies the external elements of the worlds of Yetzira, Beriya and Atzilut.

One should ready himself for the Holy King [to cause Him to unite with the Queen at the point of “sim shalom“ in the Standing Prayer]. Since he occupied himself with the Queen all night, he now accompanies Her as she goes up to unite with the King.

He goes to the Synagogue [in the early dawn light already dressed in his tallit and tefillin] and purifies his Nefesh

Saying the first part of the prayers dealing with the sacrifices with intention is the equivalent of actually bringing all the sacrifices mentioned (Menachot 110b) and allows one to proceed, fully rectified, higher in the spiritual worlds and specifically to the inside of the world of Yetzira - since he has now rectified himself in the world of Asiya. After reaching the prayer “Baruch She'Amar”, one ascends up to the world of Yetzira.

A person glorifies [G-d] with the psalms of King David [in the Verses of Song section of the liturgy] wrapped in his tefillin, bound on his arm and head, and fringed with tzitzit on the corners of his tallit.

Note that the order in which they are put on is reversed - one puts on the tallit first and only afterwards tefillin. This is to show that even though he has already donned them, he must remain conscious of them as he rises in his meditative prayer. One must stand in the same manner as the angels above….

He says the Ashrei prayer (Psalms 145) as we have explained.

He prays his prayer before his Master [the prayers before “Hear O Israel“, which rectify the world of Beriya] and afterwards must stand [for the Standing Prayer, which relates to the inner sefirot of the world of Atzilut]. One must stand in the same manner as the angels above.

The prophet Ezekiel describes, in his vision, angels as “standing straight-legged“. (Ezekiel 1:7) Angels stand humbly like a servant waiting the call of their master, whereas man is called “walking“ and hence has the Torah laws - called “halachot”, which literally means “walkings”, to guide him through the mixed spiritual-physical nature of this world. Since the person praying has reached the highest spiritual worlds in his meditative state, it is appropriate for him to behave in the manner of the denizens of that world, not strutting around, but humbly standing before his Master.

He needs to connect with the angels.

When he reaches the Kedusha prayer in the repetition of the Standing Prayer, he is actually praising G-d simultaneously with them. By…symbolically nullifying himself, one makes himself like an empty vessel ready to receive spiritual abundance….

They are said to be “standing“ as is stated in Zachariah: (3:7)then I will give you access among those who are standing“. One needs to turn his heart and mind fully to his Master and ask his requests [in the central 13 blessings of the Standing Prayer].

Come and see. At the time when a person rises from his bed at midnight to engage in learning Torah, a [spiritual] herald announces about him, saying, “Behold, those who bless G-d, all those servants of G-d that stand in the House of G-d at night(Psalms 134:1). Now [after dawn], as a person stands in prayer before his Master, that herald announces about him saying, “And I will allow you to walk among those who stand“ (Zachariah 3:7).

The angels are described as “standing“ as we have explained.

After a person has finished praying [the Standing Prayer] before his Master, he should prepare to nullify himself [at the confession prayer said after the Standing Prayer, which rectifies all his sins against G-d] to the proper place [malchut]. This is as we have explained.

By “falling on his face“ (i.e. resting his face on his arm) and symbolically nullifying himself, one makes himself like an empty vessel ready to receive spiritual abundance, which he draws down with him as he descends from the supernal worlds back to the world of Asiyaas he says the remaining part of the morning service.

The intention is that one fall on his face to the deepest level of the kelipot and nullify them before the Queen, making her even more desirous in the eyes of the King who will therefore shower His love on her. See Shaar HaKavanot, Lecture on Nefilat Apayim. Every word which escaped his lips in those prayers ascends on high….

How abundant is the advice of the Torah on everything! And when a person finishes his prayer, every word which escaped his lips in those prayers ascends on high and breaks through the atmosphere and the outer heavens, until it reaches the place it is meant to reach, and becomes formed into a crown crowning the Head of the King.

The Companions [of Rebbe Shimon] have explained that the prayer which a person pleads before the Holy One, Blessed be He, should be intended as a plea before Him. (Berachot 29b) From where do we learn this? From Moses, as it is written, “And I pleaded with the L-rd at that time(Deut. 3:23). This is a prayer worthy to be received.

As the Midrash says, G-d asked Moses to stop pleading, lest He be forced to grant his request! (Devarim Rabba 11) The following advice, given by the Holy Zohar, relates to the way in which one should perform the Standing Prayer, which is generically called “prayer”. One who stands in prayer…should close his eyes so as not to stare at the Shechinah….

Come and see. One who stands in prayer should stand with his legs together [in the likeness of the angels who stand thus], as we have explained. He should cover his head [with his tallit] in the manner of one who stands before a king. He should close his eyes so as not to stare at the Shechinah.

Following is a reference to the book of Rabbi Hamnuna Saba, which is referred to often by Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai. Rabbi Hamnuna lived during the time of the Second Temple. His book has been lost over the centuries.

In the book of Rabbi Hamnuna Saba it says that one who opens his eyes at the time of prayer, or doesn’t lower his eyes [on his prayer book or] towards the ground, will meet the Angel of Death early. And when his soul departs he will not see the light of the Shechinah nor will he die by a kiss [by which one’s soul may depart in perfect harmony from the physical to the spiritual realm]. One who scorns the Shechinah will be spurned by Her at the time when he needs Her. This is as written in the verse “For those who honor Me I will honor, and those who scorn Me shall be despised“. (Samuel I 2:30) This refers to one who gazes on the Shechinah at the time when he is praying.

Now how can it be possible for a person to gaze on the Shechinah?

For the verse says, “No man shall see Me and live(Ex. 33:20) from which is implied that he will see, but only as he dies. There should not be anything separating between a person and the wall at the time of prayer….

However, it is proper for a person to know, that certainly the Shechinah stands in front of him [as it is written, “Pour out your heart like water, when you are present in front of the face of G-d(Lamentations 2:19)]. That is the meaning of the verse “Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall (Isaiah 3:2), because there opposite him was the Shechinah. This is also the reason why there should not be anything separating between a person and the wall [at the time of prayer], as we have explained.

One who stands in [the Standing] Prayer, should prepare it such that he praises his Master first of all.

This refers to the first three blessings of the Standing Prayer. It is also a common meditative technique in the Zohar. Before most Torah lectures, the Sages would first praise G-d and the Torah and the people of Israel. This opens the mind and heart to the greatness of G-dand creates the mental environment for an influx of inspiration.

Afterwards [i.e. in the 13 central blessings] he should plead for what he requires [i.e. repentance, Torah learning, health, redemption etc.], for this is the way Moses prayed. First, “O Lord, G-d [Havayah], You have begun to show Your servant Your greatness and Your mighty hand; for what deity is there in heaven or in earth that can do according to Your works and according to Your might? (Deut. 3:24), and then finally, “I beg You, let me go over and see the good land that is beyond the Jordan…(ibid. 3:25)

Rabbi Yehuda asked why is there a change in the order of the names of G-d in that verse.

“O Lord, G-d“ seems to reverse the order of the spiritual worlds. “Lord”, here “Ado-nai”, which is cited first, refers to kingship or malchut; “Havayah”, the Tetragrammaton, is the higher level, yet it appears as the latter.

First is mentioned “Lord” (Ado-nai), spelled alef, dalet, nun, yud, and last is the name Havayah with the vowel points [in the traditional reading] for the pronunciation of the name Elokim. The reason is that this is the [spiritual] order from below to above.

The name Ado-nai represents the lowest sefira of malchutand Havayah represents Zeir Anpin Above. The meditation is therefore to unite these two aspects of divinity, unifying malchut with Zeir Anpin.

The order [of the names] is such in order to include the attribute of day [i.e. light, kindness, Zeir Anpin] with the attribute of night [darkness, judgment, malchut] and include the attribute of night with day.

The reading of the name Havayah as Elokim shows the intended similarity to malchut. The name Elokim is the creative aspect of Divinity, and that aspect requires borders and the contraction of the infinite light. In this it shares an aspect of the darkness and judgment (the force needed to cause contraction) of malchut. They are also referred to as Mother and Daughter or bina and malchut.

This [meditation] unites the two of them with each other, as is fitting.


Parashat Va’etchanan - Zohar p. 260a; 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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Discussion (1)
January 15, 2011
Prayer: Driving Me Up The Wall
I find this to be a fine demonstration of WRONG in our world. Billions and billions of "Man-seconds" are spent on rituals. Yet the ritual most likely to attract and multiply personal love of The Architect for you, as an individual, is to convert those billions of seconds into DEMONSTRATING one's love for the Architect, by serving the least among us....For those who disagree, please explain how I am among the richest men in history, feeding millions per week, happily fulfilled.
Mister Lamed
Brooklyn, NY USA

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