Come and see, if a person makes his prayer in this manner, with deeds and speech consistent, and ties the knot of unification [and causes the uniting of Zeir Anpin and Nukva in the Sim Shalom blessing], the result is that upper and lower beings are blessed through him.
...upper and lower beings are blessed through him.
Then, after he concludes his Amidah prayer, it must be apparent to him that it is as if he has departed from this world
. This is because he took leave from the Tree of Life [by finishing his prayer] and gathered his feet to that Tree of Death [malchut; during the Amidah prayer a person is in the world of Atzilut and now descends – and every such descent is a form of death compared to the high level that was attained]. The Tree of Death returns his pledge [his nefesh that is connected to that level], as it says [regarding Jacob], "he gathered up his feet into the bed." (Gen. 49:33) Since he has now confessed his sins and prayed for forgiveness [at the beginning of the “Tachanun” prayer], now he must necessarily be gathered to that Tree of Death and "fall [on his face" to represent going down into the world of external forces/kelipot from where he can again raise up the trapped sparks of holiness and return them through G‑d's female aspect back to Him], He now says to Him, "To You, O G‑d, do I lift up my soul/nefesh." (Psalms 25:1) In the beginning [when I went to sleep] I gave You [my nefesh] in pledge. Now that I have tied the unification [in the prayer "Sim Shalom"], and I have done my work [the physical mitzvot of cleansing one’s body and adorning talit and tefilin] and spoken properly [in the ancient holy words of prayer, thus having raised up the sparks of holiness through all 4 worlds] and confessed my sins [in the Tachanun prayer], now certainly I entrust You with my soul [and am willing to be sacrificed by falling back into the world of kelipot to raise up the sparks for Your sake].

And a person [when “falling on his face”] should imagine himself as if he departed from the world, since he gave his soul to that place of death [to malchut which is the place of death for there the external forces attach themselves]. That is the reason there is no [phrase beginning with the] letter Vav [in Psalm 25]. For Vav is the Tree of Life, and the [other] one [malchut] is the Tree of Death. [Note that the very saying of the letter Vav causes a union of two letters “V”!] And that teaches us the mystery that there are sins that are not atoned for until a person departs from this world. That is as it is written: "surely this iniquity [the desecration of G‑d's Name] shall not be forgiven you till you die." (Isaiah 22:14) This person most certainly gives himself to death and sacrifice his soul to this place [malchut], not for a pledge as at night, but rather as one who most certainly departs from the world.

...this rectification must be with intention of the heart...

And this rectification must be with intention of the heart [full and proper concentration] and then G‑d has mercy on him and forgives his sins. Happy is the person who knows to appease and serve his Master willfully and with his heart's devotion. Woe unto him who comes to appease his Creator with a distant heart, unwillingly. It says, "Nevertheless they did flatter Him with their mouths, and they lied to Him with their tongues. For their heart was not steadfast with Him." (Psalms 78:36-37) He says, "to You, O G‑d, do I lift up my soul," yet all his talk is with a distant heart. And this causes him to depart from the world before his time, during a period when this tree is awakened in this world to exact punishment. [There is danger in not being fully focused and properly worthy during this part of the prayer since the spiritual fall is real. This is a reason why the Sephardi custom is not to actually lower their head on their arms – to show their awareness of this danger.]

And therefore, a person must devote his soul and will to his Master, and not approach Him with a false intention, this is why it is written, "he that tells lies shall not remain in My sight." (Psalms 101:7) What is the meaning of "remain"? It is when one readies himself for that [supplication and “falling on his face” to pray for forgiveness], if his heart is far from G‑d. A voice calls out, '"he...shall not remain in My sight." This person wants to make amends for himself, but "he shall not remain": 'I do not wish to have him rectified [yet, since his lack of intention shows that he is still not worthy]'. Most certainly, this is even more so if he comes to unify the Holy Name but does not bring about unification properly [and his lack of proper intention causes no reaction in the spiritual realm].

Happy is the portion of the righteous in this world and the World to Come. About them it is written, "and they shall come, and see My Glory..." (Isaiah 66:18) [being worthy to see the Glory of the Shechinah in the spiritual dimension] and "surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your Name...[the upright shall dwell in Your presence]" (Psalms 140:14) Rabbi Elazar approached and kissed his hands. He told him: If I had come to this world only to listen to these words, it would have been enough. Rabbi Yehuda said: Happy is our lot and pure and meritorious is the lot of Israel who cling to G‑d [through proper intention when praying and performing mitzvot], as it says, "But you that cleave...[to the L-rd your G‑d are alive today]," (Deut. 4:4) and, "Your people also shall be all righteous...[and will forever inherit the Land….that I may be glorified.]" (Isaiah 60:21) Blessed be G‑d for evermore. Amen, and Amen. May G‑d reign for evermore. Amen, and Amen.

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
...when you are serving G‑d, to do so in a mindful fashion. Uh-oh! We've been busted! We knew that G‑d knows all of our words of our lips, but the meditations of our heart too?! "Not fair" we protest. The Torah commands "Tamim tiheyu" - you must be pure/simple/sincere toward the L-rd, your G‑d. That means when you are serving G‑d, to do so in a mindful fashion. Not easy. Even saying with intent the 6 words of the Shema and the 6 words of Baruch-Shem-Kavod etc. are difficult at times. What about all my other prayers?

Perhaps the Zohar is trying to give us a pep talk rather than a chastisement. Yes We Can — if it won a Presidency, perhaps it can win us over too. The best we can do is to try, to confess when we fail, and resolve to do what we can to stay present and in the sacred moment.


Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
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