Sunday, February 28, 2016

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Prayer–Connecting through Words and Letters

by Reb Aharon Rubin, from Eye to the Infinite, shared with permission.

& Connecting to G-d through the words and letters

Another approach is to use the prayers’ words and letters to connect to their divine source. As the prayers were formulated by prophets and men imbued with Ruach HaQodesh, each let­ter has its root in the higher super­nal realms.[1] With each letter, you touch the supernal worlds. Even without thinking of their mean­ing, you can meditate on their Divine light and power, and attach to their root.

Be with each letter. Each is a door to Heaven. Having this in mind, increases emotion and fervour and hence the efficaciousness of the prayers. In the words of Rabbi DovBer of Mezritch,

Realise that every letter is infinite spiri­tual worlds. With each letter you utter, you arouse all those worlds. Therefore, say the words with en­thusiasm, great joy and deveikuth.[2]

Similarly, the Nefesh HaChaim writes,

One should think about the words of the prayer [i.e. their letters]… When a person says a word of prayer, he should picture the word’s letters in his mind, with the intent to increase thereby their holiness and light, because each word, in its [Hebrew letter] form, goes up on high to affect great works and spiritual corrections...[3]

Toldoth Yaakov Yosef, quoting Chessed LeAvrohom, explains somewhat differently.

One should have in mind to draw down the inner light of the Sefiroth and the Ohr Ein Sof (Light of the Infinite One) into the letters, and then to cleave to and attach one’s thoughts to that inner spirit of the letters of the Torah and prayer.

Notwithstanding these lofty intentions, Rabbi Yitschok Isaac Sufrin of Komarno emphasises the importance of enunciating each word properly, and then infusing the words with love and awe:

The aim of man, his spiritual corrections and life-force, are [attained through] uttering the letters of Torah and prayer with love and awe, ea­ger­ness and joy. Through the letters were created all the worlds that he flawed [through sin] […] He should cleave his soul through the letters, enunciate them clearly, every word with heartfelt inten­tion. […] This is the gate to enter to all the higher levels. […] Therefore, the main beginning of Divine service is through binding one’s soul to the letters, enunciating each world properly.[4]

The Choizeh explains that the natural feeling when uttering words of prayer is awe, since each word is uttered before the holy Shechinoh. However, when on a level of expanded consciousness, one need not constrict oneself to this level: one should raise one’s awareness to the higher level of love and deveikuth.

At times of expanded consciousness, it is better not to constrict oneself to the words’ meanings. On the contrary, one should raise up the words. Each word is a pal­ace, a place of awe. One should raise them to the place of love, to be in a state of deveikuth to G-d.[5]

As always, belief in what you are doing is most important. The greater your be­lief, the greater the effect of the words you utter and the greater the subse­quent attachment.


[1] Chozeh MiLublin, Zichron Zoth, Rabbi Yaibi, Bamidbor, Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 2, Chap. 10.

[2] Awesome Rules (Kelolim Noroim) by Rabbi DovBer of Mezritch, recorded by R. Chaim Chayka, his disciple (Chaim VoChessed).

[3] Nefesh HaChaim, Gate 2, Chap. 13.

[4] Noitser Chessed, Chap. 6, 2:1.

[5] Divrei Emeth, Noach, s.v. Gol el HaShem.

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