New year's Resolutions tips and ideas

New year's Resolutions tips and ideas

Meditation styles: Jewish meditation, Meditation in Kabbalah, Meditation in Hasidism

Written By: admin - Jan• 27•10
Jewish meditation includes the teachings of Abraham ben Maimonides. In Kabbalah of Abraham Abulafia, Isaac the Blind, Azriel of Gerona, Moses Cordovero, Yosef Karo and Isaac Luria. In Hasidism of the Baal Shem Tov, Schneur Zalman of Liadi and Nachman of Breslov. In the Mussar Movement of Israel Salanter and Simcha Zissel Ziv.

Jewish meditation refers to several traditional practices of contemplation, ranging from visualization and intuitive methods, or forms of emotional insight in communitive prayer, to intellectual analysis of philosophical and mystical concepts. It often accompanies unstructured, personal Jewish prayer that can allow isolated contemplation, or sometimes the instituted Jewish services. Its elevated psychological insights can give birth to dveikus (cleaving to God), particularly in Jewish mysticism.

Jewish Meditation in Kabbalah
The contemporary teacher of Kabbalah and Hasidic thought, Yitzchak Ginsburgh, describes the historical evoltion of Kabbalah as the union of “Wisdom” and “Prophecy”:
Historical Kabbalistic practice focused on Kavanot (meditations) of Divine names. Angels elevated or blocked prayers in the ascending Worlds. The names were seen as keys to gates in Heaven for elevated people, though simple tears of others could also open gates

The numerical value of the word Kabbalah (“Received”) in Hebrew is 137…and is the value of the sum of two very important words that relate to Kabbalah: Chochmah (“Wisdom”) equals 73 and Nevuah (“Prophecy”) equals 64. Kabbalah can therefore be understood as the union (or “marriage”) of wisdom and prophecy. Historically, Kabbalah developed out of the prophetic tradition that existed in Judaism up to the Second Temple period (beginning in the 4th century BCE). Though the prophetic spirit that had dwelt in the prophets continued to “hover above” (Sovev) the Jewish people, it was no longer manifest directly. Instead, the spirit of wisdom manifested the Divine in the form of the Oral Torah (the oral tradition), the body of Rabbinic knowledge that began developing in the second Temple period and continues to this day. The meeting of wisdom (the mind, intellect) and prophecy (the spirit which still remains) and their union is what produces and defines the essence of Kabbalah.

In the Kabbalistic conceptual scheme, “wisdom” corresponds to the sefirah of wisdom, otherwise known as the “Father” principle (Partsuf of Abba) and “prophecy” corresponds to the sefirah of understanding or the “Mother” principle (Parsuf of Ima). Wisdom and understanding are described in the Zohar as “two companions that never part”. Thus, Kabbalah represents the union of wisdom and prophecy in the collective Jewish soul; whenever we study Kabbalah, the inner wisdom of the Torah, we reveal this union. It is important to clarify that Kabbalah is not a separate discipline from the traditional study of the Torah, it is rather the Torah’s inner soul (nishmata de’orayta, in the language of the Zohar and the Arizal). Oftentimes a union of two things is represented in Kabbalah as an acronym composed of their initial letters. In this case, “wisdom” in Hebrew starts with the letter chet; “prophecy” begins with the letter nun; so their acronym spells the Hebrew word “chen”, which means “grace”, in the sense of beauty. Grace in particular refers to symmetric beauty, i.e., the type of beauty that we perceive in symmetry. This observation ties in with the fact that the inner wisdom of the Torah, Kabbalah is referred to as “Chochmat ha’Chen”, which we would literally translate as the wisdom of chen. Chen here is an acronym for another two words: “Concealed Wisdom”. But, following our analysis here, Kabbalah is called chen because it is the union of wisdom and prophecy…
Jewish Meditation in Kabbalah – Abraham Abulafia
Abraham Abulafia (1240-1291), the founder of the school of “Prophetic Kabbalah”, wrote meditation manuals using meditation on Hebrew letters and words to achieve ecstatic states. His work is surrounded in controversy because of the edict against him by the Rashba (R. Shlomo Ben Aderet), a contemporary leading scholar. However according to Aryeh Kaplan, the Abulafian system of meditations forms an important part of the work of Rabbi Hayim Vital, and in turn his master the Ari, Rabbi Isaac Luria[citation needed]. See Abraham Abulafia for further discussion of his meditative methods.
Jewish Meditation in Kabbalah – Moshe Cordovero
Rabbi Moses ben Jacob Cordovero (1522-1570 CE), central historical Kabbalist in Safed, taught that when meditating, one does not focus on the Sefirot (Divine emanations) per se, but rather on the light from the Infinite (“Atzmut”-essence of God) contained within the emanations. Keeping in mind that all reaches up to the Infinite, his prayer is “to Him, not to His attributes.” Proper meditation focuses upon how the Godhead acts through specific sefirot. In meditation on the essential Hebrew name of God, represented by the four letter Tetragrammaton, this corresponds to meditating on the Hebrew vowels which are seen as reflecting the light from the Infinite-Atzmut.
Meditation in Hasidism – The Baal Shem Tov and popular mysticism
Hasidic prayer left aside previous focus on Kabbalistic Kavanot (mental visualisation) of Divine names, in favour of innate dveikut (cleaving to God) of the soul

The Baal Shem Tov took the Talmudic phrase that “God desires the heart” and made it central to his love of the simple sincerity of the common folk. Advocating joy in the omnipresent Divine immanence, he sought to encourage the disenfranchised populance in their Jewish life. While he taught his close initiates the inner meaning of his teachings, his graspable presentation of Jewish mysticism to the unlearned, encouraged their emotional Dveikus (mystical fervour), especially through attachment to the Hasidic figure of the Tzaddik. In the presence of the Tzaddik, the followers could gain inspiration and attachment to God. In general, the Baal Shem Tov and the Hasidic Masters left aside the previous Kabbalistic meditation on Divine Names and their visualisation, in favour of a more personal, inner mysticism.
[edit] Chabad Hasidism: Hisbonenus – Chochma, Binah, and Daat
Habad differed from mainstream Hasidism in its preparation for prayer by intellectual contemplation of Hasidic philosophy. Nonetheless, an aim of this is to reveal simplicity of soul, which all possess. The Rebbes of Habad were envious of the sincerity of the simple folk

Rabbi Dov Ber of Lubavitch, the “Mitler Rebbe,” the second leader of the Chabad Dynasty wrote several works explaining the Chabad approach. In his works, he explains that the Hebrew word for meditation is hisbonenus (alternatively transliterated as hitbonenut). The word “hisbonenut” derives from the Hebrew word Binah (lit. understanding) and refers to the process of understanding through analytical study. While the word hisbonenut can be applied to analytical study of any topic, it is generally used to refer to study of the Torah, and particularly in this context, the explanations of Kabbalah in Chabad Hasidic philosophy, in order to achieve a greater understanding and appreciation of God.

In the Chabad presentation, every intellectual process must incorporate three faculties: Chochma, Binah, and Daat. Chochma (lit. wisdom) is the mind’s ability to come up with a new insight into a concept that one did not know before. Binah (lit. understanding) is the mind’s ability to take a new insight (from Chochma), analyze all of its implications and simplify the concept so it is understood well. Daat (lit. knowledge), the third stage, is the mind’s ability to focus and hold its attention on the Chochma and the Binah.

The term Hisbonenut represents an important point of the Chabad method: Chabad Hasidic philosophy rejects the notion that any new insight can come from mere concentration. Chabad philosophy explains that while “Daat” is a necessary component of cognition, it is like an empty vessel without the learning and analysis and study that comes through the faculty of Binah. Just as a scientist’s new insight or discovery (Chochma) always results from prior in-depth study and analysis of his topic (Binah), likewise, to gain any insight in G-dliness can only come through in-depth study of the explanations of Kabbalah and Chassidic philosophy.

Chassidic masters say that enlightenment is commensurate with one’s understanding of the Torah and specifically the explanations of Kabbalah and Hasidic philosophy. They warn that prolonged concentration devoid of intellectual content can lead to sensory depravation, hallucinations, and even insanity which all can be tragically mistaken for “spiritual enlightenment”.

However, a contemporary translation of the word hisbonenut into popular English would not be “meditation”. “Meditation” refers to the mind’s ability to concentrate (Daat), which in Hebrew is called Haamokat HaDaat. Hisbonenut, which, as explained above, refers to the process of analysis (Binah) is more properly translated as “in-depth analytical study”.

Chabad accepts and endorses the writings of Kabbalists such as Moshe Cordevero and Haim Vital and their works are quoted at length in the Hasidic texts. However, the Hasidic masters say that their methods are easily misunderstood without a proper foundation in Hasidic philosophy.

The Mitler Rebbe emphasizes that hallucinations that come from a mind devoid of intellectual content are the product of the brain’s Koach HaDimyon (lit. power of imagination), which is the brains lowest faculty. Even a child is capable of higher forms of thought than the Koach HaDimyon. So such imaginations should never be confused with the flash intuitive insight known as Chochma which can only be achieved through in-depth study of logical explanations of Kabbalah and Hasidic philosophy.

Meditation in Hasidism – Breslav Hasidism: Hisbodedus and communitative prayer
Breslov Hasidim spend time in secluded communication of their heart to God. In Jewish communities they often seek this solitude in Nature at night

Hisbodedus (alternatively transliterated as “hitbodedut”, from the root “boded” meaning “self-seclusion”) refers to an unstructured, spontaneous and individualized form of prayer and meditation taught by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. The goal of hitbodedut is to establish a close, personal relationship with God and a clearer understanding of one’s personal motives and goals. See Hisbodedus for the words of Rabbi Nachman on this method.

Meditation in the Musar Movement
The Mussar Movement, founded by Rabbi Israel Salanter in the middle of the nineteenth-century, encouraged meditative practices of introspection and visualization that could help to improve moral character. Many of these techniques were described in the writings of Salanter’s closest disciple, Rabbi Simcha Zissel Ziv.

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