First off, let me wish a meaningful journey to Ben, as he spends the next three months in Jerusalem. To say I am envious would be an understatement. It’s amazing how Israel gets into your very heart and soul. I miss her a great deal and want and NEED to go back.
We anxiously await your posts! Be safe and enjoy each and every moment, my friend and Blog Brother!
It is easy, as we pray every morning, to allow our prayers to become rote. We sometimes even rush through them without paying full attention to the specifics…the words, the ideas, the philosophies, the very meaning of what we are saying, singing or chanting. I write “we” but of course mean “me.” Though I know I am not the only one to have this experience.
However, there are also those moments when I will read something I have read 100 times and it will hit me in a different way and spur me to explore and truly discover its meaning. This happened the other day as I was wrapping.
As I pull out my Tefillin for my morning wrap and prayers… or rap and prayers… I utter the following:
“For the sake of unification of the Holy One, Blessed is He, and His Presence. In fear and love to unify the Name, Yud-kei with Vav-kei… In perfect unity, in the name of all Israel.”
In this short passage, we get the words “unification”, “unify” and “unity.” And the significance and desire to really and truly understand that grabbed hold of me.
If you recall, the most meaningful understanding of wrapping Tefillin, at least for me, came when I was in Israel and wrapped on top of Masada. It was there that Jordan, David, Shlomo and Sal, amongst others, explained to me their “practical” connection to it…Mostly the ability to start your day by bringing together your heart and your head. So essentially UNIFYING those two, sometimes at odds, parts of our body. That practical, meditative and most amazing way to start my day took hold like no other explanation ever did. Boom! I was hooked…or wrapped…and I have not stopped since.
But the words unity and unification have other meanings, and those notions are being tested these days. We are divided as a country and divided as a people. Families are literally not talking to each other because of the most recent election. This fracture and literal breaking apart is not a healthy thing, for humans need to come together now more than ever. Jews need to come together.
According to Kabbalah and in a book by Daniel M. Horowitz called A Kabbalah And Jewish Mysticism Reader, the purpose of this “introductory mediation prior to blessings” is to unify Tiferet (the force that integrates the compassion and strength or judgement) with Shekhinah (G-d’s presence and Kingdom).
It is also no coincidence that G-d is always referred two in one of two ways… In Compassion/Mercy or in Justice/Judgement.
The Jewish Virtual Library writes: “Shekhinah is a Talmudic concept representing God’s dwelling and immanence in the created world. It was equated with the “Keneset Yisrael,” the personified spirit of the People of Israel.
According to a Rabbinic tradition, the Shekhinah shares in the exiles of the Jewish people.
Therefore, the redemption of the people of Israel is inextricably linked to the remedying of an alienation within God (him/herself), introducing a bold new element into traditional Jewish Messianic eschatology.
It is through the Shekhinah that humans can experience the Divine.”
So from my understanding, the unification of G-d’s name or names, which is an amazingly complex thing to fully understand, and something I am not even CLOSE to getting yet, will happen when we arrive at the World To Come…and with the coming of the Mashiach (Messiah).
Meditation before prayer… or simply taking the time to prepare and know before whom we stand is essential to making our prayers that much more meaningful and worthwhile.
So is fully understanding the actual words and phrases we utter, or at the very least, putting ourselves on the path to self-exploration and learning how those words and notions affect us everyday.
It is further proof that the Torah is in fact a blueprint to help us live a fulfilled life. As such, I would ask all of us to embrace and explore the ideas of unification, unify and unity, both internally and externally… For ourselves, for the World, and for Hashem.
Coming together will only make us stronger and more complete… and that seems to be what this life is all about.