Thursday, December 2, 2010

Although less commonly than Psalm 67, the Ana Bi-Ko'ach prayer is sometimes arranged in the form of a Menorah and placed before the prayer leader's stand in the synagogue. (Such a design may be found in Congregation Netzach Yisrael, the Bostoner shtibel of Borough Park.) Since it, too, represents the seven lower sefiros, the Ana bi-Ko'ach prayer and the Forty-Two Letter Name that it contains may be seen as corresponding to the seven branches of the Menorah. The kabbalists relate the Forty-Two Letter Name to the mystery of creation. Thus, contemplating it puts one in touch with the very "genetic code" of the universe. Through it, all things ascend.


After having presented this meditation, we must remember that Rabbi Nachman was extremely cautionary about using kabbalistic kavanos (Sichos ha-Ran 75). Not everyone is capable of engaging in the kavanos, nor is everyone meant to do so. Rabbi Nachman taught that the most important kavanah is sincerity. Whatever our level of knowledge and spiritual development, we should carry out our devotions with awareness of what we are saying and doing, binding concentration of the heart to our words and actions (Likkutei Moharan I, 49; Sichos ha-Ran 66, 75). This is the simple and true way to connect to God.

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