Thursday, June 6, 2013

Yichudim: Mystical Unifications

From a work-in-progress by Rabbi Perets Auerbach
Source references remain incomplete.

Tsaddikim serve God in every thought. Through this, deeper and deeper realities are opened, until they are centered in the awareness of the Infinite Light. Just as to us the word “table” is simple and there is no need to figure out what it is when you think of it, so there is no breakdown between the flow of Eyn Sof (God’s Infinitude) in the Divine Names when tsaddikim think them. In such a state, saying the words of tefilah (prayer) while meditating on the Divine Names is the simple meaning. This does not detract from heart-service, simplicity, or make any separation. The shaimot (names) are experienced as living liquid, fluid, Divine energy channels that enliven, invigorate, and permeate the awareness with Godliness. This only increases ahavah (love) and yirah (awe) and takes the linkage above to much deeper dimensions.

            For those who are not on such a level, there is a breakdown between thought and speech. The mind summons an esoteric concept that it has not yet come to know as an experiential reality, while the mouth mouths actual words. This correspondingly causes separation above between the supernal lights and vessels. This is the source-dynamic of the Sitra Achara (“Other Side”).

            However, keeping the names solely in thought does not make any separation. One strives according to his level to attach the awareness to Eyn Sof through names. Whatever results one merits to attain, no damage is caused. Moreover, if one prays specifically about, in terms of, and around a certain unification, this itself becomes the “simple meaning” to one’s personal experience—the barrier between thought and word is removed. The key point is to make sure that a person stays within his “ram” capacity. Just be sure to be true to your own degree of higher awareness, and within that framework there is much room for yichudim.

            What comes out is that one can use yichudim in hitbodedut (secluded meditation and prayer), make them into tefilot, and through this merit to the direct linkage that the shaimot provide. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato actually bequeathed us a remarkable, lofty, precious work called ‘Ta’KTV Tefilot’ (515 Prayers)[1] that does exactly this. This work can be used as a guideline.

            The climax of making yichudim is when it comes to aliyat ha-neshamah (ascent of the soul). To this day there are tsaddikim that lead a Shabbat tish (table) that seem to doze off in the middle, but who are really promenading in the gardens of Divinity above. This happens when the yichudim are intense enough to actually lift the soul out of the body and so that it ascends to the upper realms. The Rabbis call this “one who descends to the merkavah.” The descent is of the soul into a type of spiritual vehicle that is its lofty limousine. It is an ethereal state like sleep in that the soul leaves the body—except that one remains totally aware. Self-consciousness is experienced as a bundle of energy. As one travels in the upper planes, the nature of the energies present change according to the quality of the place.

            For one to be on a level to make yichudim that really do something above, one must strive to always be ritually pure (tahor). Next in line is silence. It is brought that one who is quiet for forty days will receive ruach ha-kodesh (Divine inspiration). The reason for this is simple: Every soul is constantly receiving spiritual life-force from above. The mouth is a central vortex for the soul’s expression. Through blabbing away idle chatter, the precious energy goes “in one ear and out the other,” dissipates, and goes lost—like a funnel. If one keeps his mouth shut, the energy collects until it accrues to be enough to bestow inspiration. All of this must be combined with constant vigilance over one’s deeds to correct any mistakes, thoughts and intentions.

            For one who is not yet there, the yichudim are like spring training. Without this preparation one cannot play professionally. Also, working on yichudim before one is completely on the level to do so is definitely one of the things that uplift a person to get there. This all comes to exclude from those who think that engaging in kavanot (kabbalistic “intentions”) should be completely avoided until someone is totally fit. That approach applies mostly to practical kabbalah, which the Arizal told us to avoid. One of the main techniques of practical kabbalah is to coerce angels into doing your will. If someone is not fit, they don’t like it and they can zap the person. However yichudim, as long as they are done as a form of d’veikut (“cleaving”), only aid the soul to connect to God. Before one is fully in shape, the effect will be less, but most certainly positive. If one who can’t run a few miles would not be allowed to exercise, how could he ever get in shape?

      The greatest proof for allowing yichudim before one is totally fit is seen from the sinners. The Arizal went out of his way to prescribe complicated yichudim as a tikkun for people who messed up. He goes through various offences and what to do to fix them. Included are some of the worst sins! A person who did such things and is first coming to repair the damage is obviously not presently anywhere near being fit to perform the kavanot. Yet the Arizal nevertheless suggested the foundational yichudim that even such a person may use to get back on his feet.
            Yichudim are especially opened, accessed, and effective when done in a state of joy. Each letter is a dance unto itself. The forms of the letters are like freeze shots of each character’s particular energy amidst its dance. The sheimot are as a rehearsed, prepared, pre-meditated group dance. “The main bringing together of things (making yichudim) is through music.”[2]

            You can listen to music while doing the yichudim. Take it a step further and picture the holy names in a dance that synchs to the melody style. Let the shaimot rock! Strive to see the letters and names of the yichud unify in dance in your heart, sing in your mind, and illuminate your consciousness. They dance, prance, and promenade through your awareness. This can lead to the enlightenment of Divine inspiration.

            This is what we learn from Elisha, who summoned the musician when he wanted to draw upon himself the prophetic spirit. “Take for me the musician…and it will be when the musician is played—and the spirit of God rested upon him…” (Kings II-3:15).[3] He listened to the music and made yichudim.[4]Therefore, the Sha’ar Ruach HaKodesh [Gate of Divine Inspiration] is filled with how to unify Divine names… And this is the way that Dovid HaMelekh made his music and danced.[5] You can know that the ru’ach ha-kodesh is upon you when you hear the music as if coming by itself from your mouth or your instrument, and when your limbs seem to be moving of their own accord in the dance. In this state, you merit to creative inspiration that feels as if you don’t know where it’s coming from…

            When the inspiration first came to Dovid HaMelekh and awakened song, this resulted in “Mizmor L’Dovid”—and when he awakened the inspiration through singing, this resulted in “L’Dovid Mizmor.”[6] The Baal Shem Tov teaches that this can apply to each individual. One can merit to say Tehillim, or sing and dance to God, or learn in a state of ru’ach ha-kodesh. Furthermore, it is much easier in our generation than ever to get it.[7] It just involves making an “awakening from below.” Singing and dancing to God is perhaps the best way. If complimented by accompanying yichudim, it is all the more powerful. 

            Every wisdom and teaching has its own special accompanying song,[8] movement and dance. Rabbi Nachman said that if the music, motion, and dance of his teaching would manifest, the entire world would be stop its business and come to listen, see, and feel…[9]

            “A song of the Sabbath day…upon ten [strings] and upon a harp, upon a meditative instrument and the violin” (Psalms 92:1, 4).

            “All ba’aley shir [“masters of chains,” or in another sense “leashed animals”), are allowed to go out [on Shabbat, without any problem of carrying] with leashes.” (Even though animals have to be allowed to rest on Shabbat[10] and cannot carry, the leash is like a garment for them, and is not considered carrying.)[11] Rabbi Shnuer Zalman interprets[12]: “Ba’aley shir” alludes to masters of music. They can be freed from the chains of the animalistic nature, truly experience the Shabbat liberation, and become “chained” above in d’veikut by making music. Especially “White Sabbath”’ music…

[1] This is based on Moshe Rabbenu, who said this number of tefilot to get to Erets Yisrael. He did not leave any corner in heaven that he did not prostrate and beg from to merit to this (Midrash). This means that he spanned the whole spectrum of the shaimot and prayed from the special power of each one of them.

[2] Likutey Moharan I, 226, 237

[3] There is a tradition that the three times the verse mentions music hint to three special songs, from the right/left/middle aspects, that he used to draw Divine inspiration. Also, the group of prophets who met Shaul and turned him on to prophecy had “before them lyre and drum, and flute, and harp - and they were prophesizing” (I Samuel 9:5). And he prophesized with them, and was turned into another person.

The four instruments mentioned correspond to the tetragrammaton, and so the four musical aspects that Lavan mentioned “and I would I have sent you joy and with songs, with drum and with harp” (Gen.31:27). Music makes Divinity manifest, shine, and inspire. Lavan is drawn from the “supernal whiteness (lovan ha-elyon) (Eyts Chaim, Shaar Akudim); therefore, the first two aspects he mentioned, “joy and songs,” corresponding to YH/the mind and heart, are not the instruments themselves, just the inner emotion that they awaken. “Drum and harp” are expressions of the actualized VH.

 “When the musician is played” is based on the way the Amshinover Rebbe explains this verse. The music that brings ruach ha-kodesh is drawn by a musician who is connected, linked above, and the music flows through him – he himself is as if an instrument played from above!

[5] II Samuel 6:15, 16.

[6] Zohar

[7] Keter Shem Tov. It’s hard to get an appointment with the King and get into his palace. When he is on the road (as in galut), he is much more accessible. This relates to the metaphor of the King being in the field during the Eseret Y’mai Teshuvah (Tanya). There is a special closeness to God that we can attain in galut, even more than when the Temple stood.

[8] Likutey Moharan I, 64:5

[9] Ibid.

[10] Exodus 20:10. (Baal HaTanya’s drush.)

[11] Mishnah: Shabbat

Likutey Torah

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