Thursday, June 05, 2008

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To Unite

by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths

Before performing certain mitzvahs, and within the daily prayers, we sometimes declare that we are doing that deed, or praying those prayers, ג€ For the sake of the union of the Holy One, blessed be He, with His Presence, to unite the name yud-kay with vav-kay in a perfect union in the name of all Israel.ג€ Yud-kay are the first two letters of His most holy name, and vav-kay are the last two letters of this name.

The question is, what are we uniting here? To unite something means to bring it together, to join, combine, or incorporate so as to form a single whole or unit. Certainly, this cannot be our intention here because, as we all know, Hashem and His Presence are already one. And it cannot be His name that we are trying to bring together because His name is also already one. Neither He nor His name need to be unified. He is never apart from Himself nor from His name. So what are we intending to do when we say this?

The answer becomes clear in the context of the mitzvah of counting the Omer. Each night from the second day of Pesach until the day before Shavuot we count the days until we would bring the new meal offering in the Temple. This offering is called the Omer. According to most traditions, each night before counting we state that we intend to unite Him and His Presence, and the beginning of His name with the end of His name.

When we count we also mention the relationship that that particular day has to the sefirot. The sefirot are the Kabbalah's way of describing the process that G-d uses as He creates His creation. The descent from the One Who is beyond all, down to this most physical creation is described as being a descent passing though ten emanations, characteristics, or channels. These can be seen to be the building blocks of creation. They are usually listed as: Crown, Wisdom, Understanding, Loving-kindness, Might, Beauty, Victory, Splendor, Foundation, and Kingdom. They are sometimes listed a little differently, sometimes totaling eleven, but in all cases, the idea is the same.

When we count the Omer we also mention some combination of these sefirot. For instance, on the first night we mention ג€ Kindness within Kindness.ג€ On the second night we mention ג€ Might within Kindness.ג€ On another night it will be ג€ Kindness within Might.ג€ On still another we mention ג€ Beauty within Splendor,ג€ and so on, until we combine all ten in forty-nine different combinations.

What are we to learn by mentioning these emanations? When we act we rarely stop to analyze our motives other than our primary motive for doing what we are doing. But actually, there are always numerous ways to see every deed and every object in creation. For instance, when a father gives his son a new computer, the son sees that act as only kindness. But really, kindness is not the main building block of this act. It is only an act of kindness that is within the overall motive of might. Might is the main aspect here. From the sonג€™s point of view it is only kindness, but the father gave him that computer to help train him to learn to support himself. So the fatherג€™s primary motive is not kindness, but strength-might.

When a father spanks his child for running into the street, the child experiences that act as only might. But the father did what he did only from kindness. He is training his child to protect his very life. And so it is with every act and everything in creation. Nothing has only one characteristic. There are always numerous combinations of emanations.

We experience a world that seems to be entirely multiple with no apparent unifying factor. In fact, to different degrees, all ten emanations are always within each act and object.

Now we can look back to our original question. What we are unifying when we say that we are unifying Hashem and His Presence, and His name with itself, is not unifying G-d at all. We are trying to ג€ uniteג€ our understanding of reality. We are trying to see the many, not only from the multiple perspective, but also from the true underlying, singular reality. We are taking what we see to be multiple, and we are trying to understand how in fact these multiple aspects are merely multiple in perspective but are actually one. This is the ג€ unification.ג€

The first two letters of G-dג€™s name stand for the upper, higher aspects of existence, while the last two letters of His name represent the lower aspects. We see these as two entirely separate and irreconcilable realms. But they are really always a single one. The distinction is only in perspectives, not in the underlying, overall reality. It is this mistaken understanding that we are uniting, not Him nor His name.

G-d and His Presence are always a single one, but we do not experience this as such. Just as G-d is always present, so is His Presence always present. Our attempt to ג€ uniteג€ Him and His Presence is really an attempt to unite our way of looking at things.

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