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The Intention in the Prayer

It is written in The Zohar (Veyikahel, pp. 32-52): “Each day a voice calls upon all people in the world, ‘This depends on you. Separate a part of yourself and devote it to the Creator.’” At some point in life, thoughts and desires to draw closer to the spiritual come to every person, and it depends on us whether or not we heed that inner call. The voice reassures man that by casting aside his needless, transient, and earthly desires, by ceasing his endless chase for their appeasement, he will attain true and eternal happiness.

From this we can understand the secret meaning of prayer: he who fears the Creator and directs his heart and desires in his prayer, carries out great and exalted corrections. If one wishes to enter the spiritual realm and feel the Creator, the only thing he must do is pray, i.e., ask the Creator to correct his nature, to transform it from the nature of our world (egoistic) into the nature of the spiritual realm (altruistic). He will then enter eternity and transcend the boundaries of our world. Being completely enslaved by his egoism, man is unable to change himself on his own.

To correct himself, man needs to receive the strength that exists outside of him, beyond the bounds of his egoism. He must ask to receive this strength; hence, the only thing man must do is pray.

However, prayer is not uttered by one’s mouth. Rather, it is the desire in our heart, for the Creator reads the desires in our hearts. Therefore, man’s only task is to transform his heart’s desires – for his heart to wish to change its own desires. Yet, even this man is unable to do it by himself; he must ask the Creator for it.

Thus, everything boils down to exalting the Creator’s rule, faith in Him, in His singularity, His power, His ability and desire to help. All of man’s efforts aim to create the only true desire within him – to feel the Creator! Here, The Zohar, as well as all the other books of Kabbalah and the Torah, speak of those who have already attained the spiritual worlds with their desires and properties, and, while being in our world, perceive and exist in the two worlds simultaneously. The prayer the book refers to here constitutes the spiritual actions of one who has already acquired spiritual instruments, and can utilize them in exactly the same way we use our hands and auxiliary means in our world.

First, in the songs and hymns of the Supernal angels, and according to the order of chants sung by the sons of Israel below, Malchut adorns and corrects herself as a wife who adorns herself for her husband. The sons of Israel are those who wish to become Yashar (straight) and El(Creator), i.e., to draw closer to, or go straight to the Creator. Such people, who exist in the Upper Worlds with their spiritual (altruistic) instruments (desires), can change the states of Higher Sefirot and worlds by their spiritual actions.

Our prayer-book was compiled by the sages of the Great Assembly twenty centuries ago. Before that, everyone addressed the Creator in accordance with what he or she felt. About twenty centuries ago, coarser souls began descending to our world, which needed orderly prayers. Hence, the members of the Great Assembly (great Kabbalists) created the prayer book that we still use today.

In an orderly fashion, the prayer book expounds all the consecutive degrees of man’s correction. Behind the words of the prayer book, one who understands sees the spiritual actions that he needs to perform. This information is conveyed in letters, in their forms and combinations, as well as in the sequence of sentences and parts of the whole prayer.

According to the order of the prayer, correction of the worlds comes first by the morning blessings (See Tefilat Kol Peh) up to the prayer of Shmone Esreh, correction in a sitting position. Then, when they reach the words Emet ve Yatziv that conclude Kriyat Shema, all the worlds achieve correction. And as they reach the words Gaal Israel, all the corrections are to take their places; hence, they continue reciting the Shmone Esreh prayer while standing.

In spirituality (and, consequently, in corporeality) a person can be in one of three states: lying, sitting, or standing. A newborn infant in our world and a spiritually newborn person develop in the same order. Lying means that the position of the head, the legs, and the body are at the same level. In the spiritual, this corresponds to the embryonic state, when all that exists in the ten Sefirot is the same. This is the lowest spiritual state.

Sitting means that the head is above the body, and the body is above the legs, but one cannot use his legs. Such a state is called Katnut (smallness) or VAK. Standing implies absolute distinction between the levels of the head, body, and legs. It is called Gadlut (big state) or GAR. Thus, according to one’s ability to ask for correction, he gradually receives strength from the Creator and grows.

Therefore, when he reaches the words Emet ve Yatziv, everything has already been corrected: all of the worlds bear Malchut in them, while Malchut herself bears the Supernal King. When man reaches the words, Gaal Israel, the Supernal King advances along the degrees, along the three lines, and comes forward to receive Malchut.

The Supernal King (the Creator), with regard to all created beings, constitutes ZA of the world of Atzilut, for Malchut de Atzilut is the sum of all creations. Everything that was ever created, including us and all the worlds with all that inhabit them, is a part of Malchut.

In our initial state, we are the parts of Malchut that receive the smallest portion of the Creator’s Light, Ner Dakik (tiny candle). As we draw closer to the Creator in our properties (making them similar to His), we receive increasingly greater Light, in proportion to our advancement, which we feel as infinite bliss, peace, delight, eternity, and as a life-force.

The degrees of our closeness to the Creator (our “I” and Him, Malchut and ZA) are described in Kabbalah using a special language: the nearing of properties is considered a transition from the state of “back to back” between ZA and Malchut to the state of “face to face.” The souls’ union with the Creator is described as a Zivug – sexual act between ZA and Malchut, whereupon ZA passes the Light to Malchut, and each soul, in proportion to its correction, can thereby receive this Light.

Naturally, the Creator remains in a state of absolute rest, and all His alleged movements are felt with regard to Malchut, depending on the changes in her properties. At times she feels Him more and at times less, and she perceives this as His movement toward her.

We must stand in humility and awe before the Supernal King, each in his place, for He extends His right hand to Malchut in Magen Avraham, the first blessing in the Shmone Esreh prayer, designating the right line. Then He puts His left hand under the head of Malchut, as it is written: “Let his left hand be under my head, and his right hand embrace me” (Shir HaShirim, 2:6) in the blessing Ata Gibor, the second blessing in the Shmone Esreh prayer, designating the left line.

The entire magnificent Shir HaShirim (Song of Songs) speaks of the Supernal merging of all the creatures with the Creator. Since our world is created as a reflection of the spiritual world, spiritual merging can only be described with the corresponding words of our world. Because our world is egoistic, the spiritual, altruistic actions, directed toward the merging of properties and desires, are described in the words of our world as Malchut (man’s soul) drawing closer to the Creator in her properties, followed by their gradual unification. First, it manifests in the form of an embrace, followed by a kiss, then a coition, when the soul is sufficiently corrected to receive the Light (Ohr Hochma) from the Creator.

Afterward, ZA and Malchut embrace and unite in a kiss of the blessing HaEl HaKadosh, designating the middle line. From this state and higher on, everything transpires in the state of a kiss, up to the last three blessings in the Shmone Esreh prayer. This is the spiritual, true meaning of the first three blessings of the Shmone Esreh prayer.

In other words, if one is able to make a spiritual action that corresponds to the conditions described in these blessings, he attains unity with the Creator that it is called “embrace” and “kiss.” The detailed explanation of the spiritual actions is given in The Study of the Ten Sefirot by Rabbi Ashlag. The language of The Zohar and the Torah describes these actions with words of our world.

The language of Kabbalah describes them by using the names of Sefirot, Partzufim, and Lights. The most complete and precise language for the description of spiritual actions is the language of Sefirot. Therefore, this was the language chosen by Kabbalists for their inner work and for explaining to us the practice and method of spiritual ascent.

Man must aspire to the Creator in his heart and desires in order to acquire the intentions that bring him to correction in all the spiritual states described in this prayer – for his mouth and his heart (desires) to become a single whole, so his lips will not speak against the wishes of his heart. The Creator awaits only the sincerity of our desires so as to fulfill them at once and bring us closer to Him:

Beloved of the soul, Compassionate Father!

Draw Your servant to Your will.

Your servant will hurry like a hart, will bow before Your majesty.

To him Your friendship will be sweeter

Than the dripping of the honeycomb and any taste.

Majestic, Beautiful Radiance of the universe!

My soul pines for Your love.

Please O God, heal her now showing her the pleasantness of Your radiance.

Then she will be strengthened and healed

And eternal gladness will be hers.

All-worthy One, may Your mercy be aroused

And please take pity on the son of Your beloved.

Because it is so very long that I have yearned intensely to see the splendor of strength.

These my heart desires, and please take pity and do not conceal Yourself.

Please be revealed and spread upon me, my Beloved, the shelter of Your peace.

illuminate the land with Your glory, we shall rejoice and be glad in You.

Make haste, do love, for the time has come, and pardon us as in days of old.

(Song Yedid Nefesh)

When the Creator and Malchut merge in a kiss, he who needs advice and assistance can ask for it, for this state is called the “time of desire.” And since man appealed before the King and Queen in the twelve intermediate blessings of the Shmone Esreh prayer, he thereby corrected and prepared his heart’s desires for the last three blessings. He aroused the Creator’s desire for him, for thanks to these last three blessings, he merges with the Creator in Supernal Unity.

The “time of desire” is an appropriate state for making requests and receiving the answer – the strength for self-correction. The King and Queen are ZA and Malchut. Each blessing constitutes a sequence of individual corrections of man’s soul. Consequently, man ascends to a Higher spiritual level. Thus, he gradually attains Supernal Unity with the Creator.

Then, he must fall on his face, and when Malchut holds the souls within her, submit his soul to the Creator’s absolute power, as this is the appropriate time (state) to entrust one’s soul amongst all the other souls, for Malchut is the source of life.

To fall on one’s face and entrust one’s soul means that man has but a single desire – to completely rid himself of his egoistic desires, and receive the Creator’s altruistic desires in their stead. Upon receiving the Creator’s desires, man becomes similar to Him, and to the extent of his similarity, he merges with the Creator. By merging with the Creator, man acquires all that the Creator has: immortality, complete knowledge of all creation, might, and perfection.

The secret of the Light is available only to the chosen ones: when Malchut holds human souls by her single desire to merge with the Creator (because the same desire fills man’s heart), he submits himself entirely to the aspiration for this merging, so as to include his soul in the collective merging between Malchut and the Creator. And if his soul is received by the Creator, man instantly merges with Him and enters the source of life (Tzror HaChaim), both in this world and in the world to come.

Although Kabbalah is considered a secret teaching, it holds no secrets. It is perceived as secret only by those who are yet unable to create the spiritual organs within themselves with which to perceive their surroundings. We are the only ones who conceal our surroundings from ourselves in default of the corresponding sensory organs.

The King (Creator, ZA) and Queen (Malchut) must be connected to the souls on all sides, Above and below, and be adorned with the souls of the righteous (those who wish to merge with the Creator, entrust their souls to Him). And if man directs all the intentions of his heart (desires) to this goal and completely submits his soul to the Creator’s will, the Creator makes peace and a covenant with him (both in the Upper Covenant, called Yesod, and in the lower covenant). He blesses Malchut by this peace and covenant, and surrounds her on all sides.

Unity on all sides means that the souls attain similarity with the Creator in all their properties. The righteous are those who want to merge with the Creator, attain the entire creation, and as a result, discover the righteousness of the Creator, who created and thus governs them. Those who wish to justify all the Creator’s actions are called “righteous.”

Although they have not yet reached this state and are only en route to it, even if only at the very beginning of their path, and they are yet to correct even a single desire and only feel the smallest aspiration to draw closer to the Creator, they are already called “righteous,” after this desire. The Creator surrounds Malchut on all sides, and Malchut feels Him with all of her corrected properties, sensations.

Thus, man also receives the name Shalom (peace), for he has made a covenant with Malchut below, similar to the covenant of the Sefira Yesod Above. And when such a man leaves our world, his soul rises through all the Heavens and none stand in its way, and the Creator calls for it and says: “Let Peace come.” The soul reveals the thirteen elevations of the holy peach and no one stands in its way. Hence, happy is he who makes an offering to the Creator.

As soon as the soul tears itself from egoism altogether, it completely merges with the Creator and is no longer obliged to descend into this world, clothe in a physical body, and receive an additional portion of egoistic desires. An offering to the Creator signifies rejection of the body’s egoistic desires; it is called a “sacrifice,” for our body is no different from that of an animal.

Therefore, the aspiration to rid oneself of the animate body and its desires is called an “offering.” Depending on the kind of desires man is already able to wish to rid himself of, his offering takes the form of a bird (one part of his desires) or cattle (another part). Certain parts of The Zohar and some of the ARI’s compositions discuss this matter in great detail.

Rabbi Chiya raised his voice: “Oh, Rabbi Shimon, you are alive, and I was already mourning over you! Yet, it is not you that I mourn for, but for all my friends and for the whole world that will remain orphans after you. For Rabbi Shimon is like a torchlight, shining both Above and below. With this Light below, he illuminates the whole world. Woe unto this world when this Light will leave it and rise up Above. Who will shine in this world with the Light of the Torah? Rabbi Aba rose, kissed Rabbi Chiya, and said, “If such words are within you, I thank the Creator for sending me to you, so that I could be closer to you. How happy I am with my lot!”

All of the characters described in The Zohar are spiritual objects, Partzufim. As does the whole Torah, The Zohar speaks only of things that exist in the spiritual worlds, rather than in our world. Therefore, all of the objects, animals, plants, and people described in The Book of Zohar constitute spiritual degrees, desires, and Partzufim.

The Creator deliberately sends into our world special souls that are close to Him, to help all the others to attain the spiritual in this lifetime, while they are still in this world. These great Kabbalists serve as guides for those who have realized that they lack spiritual sight, and are hence ready to follow them blindly.

Rabbi Yehuda said after him: “When the Creator told Moshe to choose among the people those who are wise and understanding, Moshe looked at the people and could not find any. Then he was instructed to pick the heads of the tribes who were known for their wisdom. The word “understanding” is not used here, for the degree of the understanding is higher than that of the wise. What is the difference between one who is wise and one who understands? Wise is one who learns from a Rav (Teacher) and wants to attain wisdom. Wise is one who knows all that he has to know.

He who understands consists of several levels-degrees, for he sees into every thing and knows for himself and for others. The mark of him who understands is formulated in the phrase: “The righteous one knows his animal soul.” The righteous one signifies Yesod that passes the Light to Malchut (animal), for the Gematria of HaVaYaH of Malchut is fifty-two = BON = BeHeMaH (beast) = Bet- Hey- Mem- Hey = 2 + 5 + 40 + 5 = 52.

Malchut constitutes the level called “wise at heart,” as wisdom is found within the heart. But he who understands, sees Above and below, for himself and for others. He who is wise designates Malchut, for it is Malchut that reveals wisdom. He who understands is Yesod that stands above Malchut. Ohr Hochma in Malchut shines only from below upwards. It is impossible to receive the Light from Above downwards, as it would surely enter egoistic desires. Therefore, it is said that the wise (Hacham) sees only for himself, from himself upwards, and cannot pass the Light to others below.

Sefira Yesod, Tzadik, the righteous one) shines with the Light of mercy, Ohr Hassadim, from Above downwards. He sees that he receives for himself, and shines upon the others, i.e., shines upon Malchut, as it is written: “The righteous knows his animal soul.”

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