This is the first class in teaching the Kavenah of the 18 Morning Blessing.
I have taught the Kavenah of the short and long form blessings. That Kevenah is available on the page www.yeshshem/kabbalah-prayer.htm. Please read that hand out for the kavenah of each blessing as i do not want to duplicate the Kavenah 18 times.
There are 18 morning Blessings for the reason that 18 is the gematria of the Hebrew word Chai which means life. Saying these Morning Blessings does enhance your life as you will come to understand.
The purpose of the 18 Morning Blessings is to reconnect our soul to our physical body after it has been almost totally disconnected during the previous night's sleep. One of the least appreciated miracles in our life is that fact that HaShem returned our soul to our bodies this morning. Actually the miracle is that we can find our way back by following the "golden chord" which did not break while we were sleeping. The "golden chord" is a metaphysical description by the Kabbalists explaining how does a soul find its way back to the body when it goes on an astral journey either in sleep or in meditation or soon in a prophetic trance BeEzrat HaShem.
Usually a human being does not appreciate these common place miracles until after we no longer have use of the effect of that miracle. In this case we need to appreciate the return of our soul to our body and utilize that fact as a motivation to do spiritual work during the day. Through the power of these 18 Morning Blessings we can become proactive instead of reactive and strengthen our appreciation of the Creator as well as the many miracles in our lives.
Appreciation is an energy. When we connect with that energy we create the effect of protection and preservation of what we find important - important on both a conscious and unconscious level.
The 18 Morning Blessings correspond to the level of consciousness called Yesod of Assiyah. With the saying of these Blessings with the appropriate Kavenah we draw great Light and great illumination to the Keter, Chochmah, and Binah of Yesod of Assiyah. In essence this allows the external aspect or the metaphorical garment of Yesod of Assiyah which is Malchut of Assiyah to become equal to the internal aspect of Yesod of Assiyah.
Also, these 18 Blessings are part of the 100 Blessings per day that is recommended for a Jewish Man to say. These 100 Blessings per day are written in the Book of Kings. Here are the recommended Blessings to say every day:
Morning Blessings - 18
Amidah of Shachrit - 19
Amidah of Minchah _ 19
Amidah of Evening Prayers - 19
Bearcat HaMazon at three meals each day = 12
Blessing of Tzitzit - 1
Blessing of Tefillin - 2
Blessings before and after all three Shema Israel - 9
Misc. blessing - 4
18 + 19 + 19 +19 + 12 + 1 +2 + 9 + 4 = 103
We see that by doing all the prayers and spiritual actions recommended each day we reach the goal of saying 100 Blessings per day. This is made more difficult on Shabbat and the idea is to say more specific Blessings on food. This is because the Amidah of Shabbat is only 7 Blessings not 19. We must replace 33 Blessings from the weekday. This is done with additional prayers that we do on Shabbat and making Blessings on more of the foods than just Hamotzei.
Here is an amended translation from Sefer Kavanot HaBerachah of Rabbi Daniel Frisch (z'l) It is important to "To say the blessings with intention." Intention is a translation of the Hebrew word Kavenah which also injects your prayer with direction. This means directing the prayer to which higher world it will find itself after it is elevated by the Angel given that responsibility.
Number 7. The strength of the supernal flow corresponds to the power of one's intention in reciting a blessing.
The matter [is revealed] in the light of the sun and in the light of the Holy Zohar from the Tanya, how it is necessary to greatly intend when one recites a blessing, for the strength of the supernal flow corresponds to the power of one's intention in reciting a blessing. For the lower Sefirot are equal to the upper Sefirot in all receiving the flow at one time together, since all are joined as one, and a great, wondrous, and considerable unification is made [through this deep intent]. For if one does not intend properly when reciting a blessing, it is as if he threw the blessing from his mouth, and this accomplishes nothing: "Present it now to the governor, and it does nothing" נָא לְפֶחָתֶךָ, הֲיִרְצְךָ for how can one be in a blessed place and still scorn, G-d forbid, in particular if one's blessing is missing letters, and words through recklessness...
(Shulchan Hator, Ma'amar Kavanot haBeracha)
Be a blessing! Become a Living Torah
When you say the same prayers day after day, you might expect that the prayers would become routine and would begin to lose meaning. While this may be true for some people, this is not the intention of Jewish prayer. As I said at the beginning of this discussion, the most important part of prayer is the introspection it provides. Accordingly, the proper frame of mind is vital to prayer.
The mindset for prayer is referred to as kavanah, which is generally translated as "concentration" or "intent." The minimum level of kavanah is an awareness that one is speaking to G-d and an intention to fulfill the obligation to pray. If you do not have this minimal level of kavanah, then you are not praying; you are merely reading. In addition, it is preferred that you have a mind free from other thoughts, that you know and understand what you are praying about and that you think about the meaning of the prayer.
Liturgical melodies are often used as an aid to forming the proper mindset. Many prayers and prayer services have traditional melodies associated with them. These can increase your focus on what you are doing and block out extraneous thoughts.
The more you put in, the more you receive:
בן הא הא אומר:לפום צערא אגרא
Ben Hei Hei would say: According to the pain is the gain.
Reb Hershy Worch of Tzfat writes:
What does it mean when it says that God only pours blessings into a vessel that is already full to capacity?
If I am thankful, God fills me with gratitude. If I am grateful, God fills me with joy. If I am joyful, God fills me with prayer. If I am prayerful, God fills me with thought. If I am thoughtful, God fills me with caring. If I am careful, God fills me with faith. If I am faithful, God fills me with tears. If I am tearful, God fills me with cheer. If I am cheerful, God fills me with mindfulness. If I am mindful, God fills me with worship. If I am worshipful, God fills me with wishes. If I am wishful, God fills me with fear. If I am fearful, God fills me with beauty. If I am beautiful, God fills me with mercy. If I am merciful, God fills me with need. If I am needful, God fills me with peace.
If I am peaceful?
You get the picture.To say the blessings with intention 7. By reciting a blessing with intention, one causes the supernal flow to go to all the worlds Now, your eyes see, my brother, my friend, my beloved, the name and endeared to my soul, upon all the strength, greatness, and importance that concern the blessings of enjoyment, to enable the supernal flow to go to all the worlds, as mentioned in the Holy Zohar. These blessings in which one pours his words are heard above, and blessings of all levels and sources fill and pour over the entire universe. Now truly the intention of one's heart is truly what matters, but for those who say their words without hearing their voices and understand the saying of the blessing in their hearts and thoughts with intent, however, truly they do not cause the supernal flow to go to all the worlds, as explained well in the Holy Zohar. Therefore, one must place his will in the secret of the blessings so he too will be blessed, for it is before you the explanation of the Holy Zohar that one must specifically have intention in his heart when he recites a blessing. Now, the Holy Zohar discusses in length how one must place his will in the secret of blessings, and so one needs to intend in the secret of the blessing while concealing the grade and the Sefirot and the Supernal Worlds, as will be explained. How can not each person merit to see the pleasantness of this concealed matter, and how can not each mind intend this deep and wondrous intention?! What you intend to do is in your power to do it, and how you contemplate is that which you are able to achieve! For G-d intends all for the good, as when you intend in all the intentions contemplated by the Anshe Kinesset HaG'dolah, the Great Assembly. [Yesod and Sha'ar HaBerachot, Perek 10] Be a blessing! Here's some practical halachot to help boost up the energy flow of your blessings: One should say the blessing in a slow, deliberate manner, as if he is counting money. No letters should be blurred or swallowed, and raising one’s voice is helpful for concentration. (M.B. 172:7) Preferably one should say the blessing loud enough that he can hear himself, but the bracha is still effective if he can not hear it. (O.C. 175:2) There should be no interruption of speech while making the bracha, not even to answer to “Kaddish.” (Kaf HaChaim 5:4) The “heart” of every bracha is mentioning of the name of HaShem. A person should know which bracha he is going to make before he begins the bracha, in order to say the name of HaShem with total awareness of the thanks that he is about to give. (S.O. 6:1) It is not proper to say a bracha by rote. One should contemplate the great good that the Creator has done by providing us with this food. (M.B. 5:1) One should say the bracha slowly and understand the plain meaning of the words. When one says the name A-D-O-N-O-Y he should consider the meaning of the word as it is pronounced: Master of the universe, and preferably also the word as it is written: He Who Was, Is, and Will Be. (S.O. 5, and M.B. 5:1) When one says the word “Elokim” he should concentrate on its meaning: The Mighty One, Omnipotent, Master of All Forces. If it is too difficult to concentrate on these meanings every time, then one should make an effort to do so at least the first time one makes a bracha every morning. Then one should state a condition that all of that days brachos will be said as if they were said with these intentions. (B’Tzeil HaChochmoh 4:1) Since we see that a bracha necessitates concentration, one should avoid speech that will disturb the person making the bracha. (V’Ten Bracha 2, 18:3) It is proper to realize (before making a bracha) that saying a bracha is a mitzvah. All of the brachos are of rabbinical origin, except for Birchas HaMazon which is a mitzvah from the Torah. (M.B. 60:10)
Rabbi Hershy of Tzefat, Israel writes:
Did you know that G-d only pours blessings into a vessel that is already full to capacity?
Those are the conditions.
What do you think are the meaning of Rabbi Hershy's words?
Blessings take up no space is one thought.
A Blessing is meant to help people and the most that one can do for another is to cause him to break his present capacity so that he can receive more of God's beneficence. This is another meaning of his words.
A vessel that is full has infinite capacity not limited capacity since the consciousness is one of desire to receive more.
Only a vessel that is full can communicate with the flow of Blessings and say Shadai - enough. Just as HaShem did when he created the universe.
To say the blessings with intention
Reason number 9. Much joy throughout all the worlds is caused by reciting blessings with intention.
Now, my brother, my beloved, see the discussion in the Holy Zohar on how much joy and gladness dwell in all the worlds due to the holiness of the blessing which ascends above, and so too when one responds after the blessing "Amen." So too, when one increases his Amens (the number of people who hear his Blessing) on Blessings recited on something edible when the Blessing comes out of your mouth with a greatly strong intention.
Two types of joy are then made: One is where the blessing rests, for there rests the holy sparks which ascend to above from the externalities, like a bird which is saved from a trap.
Also, for us this is exalted service, which cannot be accomplished if the blessing is recited by our mouths without intention, for there are many lights and flow and reward without measure prepared for us by this work, for on this the fixing of our souls depend (Our Tikune).
Also, note how without this when we bless the Holy One, Blessed be He, in the second person, as when we say "You, our G-d, our King, the King of the Universe" Too, when we answer and say to the King of the Universe Who created and formed all the supernal and lower worlds...All fears and panic in awe and dread, at the time of recognizing His Great, Holy, and Wondrous Name which all the worlds Supernal and lower, and all the names and code-words, and all the creations both above and below, all depend upon his Name, as brought in the Holy Zohar, and in the holy book Sha'are Orah (Gate of Light).
The Holy Teacher Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev said that at the time when one says a blessing, his body should recoil and shake in a great and wondrous fear, until he finds himself suddenly far from the place he was standing. Also during the time when one sends to the great name from the awe of His highness, His love, and His fear, may He be blessed. May it be the will in His merit to shield us so we may merit in all fears to intend a simple intention.
(Shulchan Hatov, Ma'amar Kavanot haBeracha)
Be a Blessing! Live like a Blessing!
It is well known that for a tzaddik, a righteous person, the day-of- death is a highly elevated time. The Holy Zohar discusses at great length the mystical day-of-death of its author Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Imagine, then, the irony that Moshe Rabbeinu, on the day that he is to depart from this world, has the Gates of Wisdom slammed shut in his face! (Moshe had nothing else to reveal that he had permission to reveal. His Tikune; his work was/is complete!)
How did Moshe react? He went to Beit HaMidrash/study hall. It is as if to say, "Since I find myself right now unable to serve HaShem - to learn Torah and communicate with HaShem - in the elevated state to which I am accustomed, I will go to the Beit HaMidrash and study Torah there like a simple Jew." No dejection. No depression. Just the simple realization that "it's not up to me." A person can be asked for no more that to do his very best with the moment he has been given. If this moment is meant to be spent serving HaShem with deep feelings of inspiration and fervour - great. If it is meant to be spent serving HaShem simply by just saying the words of tefilah (prayer) or Torah with the most concentration one can muster - so be it. Lack of inspiration is not an excuse for ceasing to serve HaShem.
What do we do when we do not feel the excitement that came with our early study in Kabbalah? Learn from Moshe and this Midrash and the story below as well.
The fervor with which the holy tzaddik Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov served HaShem is legendary. It is said that R' Levi Yitzchak could never fall asleep on Motzei Shabbat out of excitement for laying tefillin Sunday morning after not having done so on Shabbat. On the first night of Sukkot, he would wait up all night in anticipation of fulfilling the mitzvah of etrog and lulav in the morning. And when the morning sun came out, he would take out his etrog and lulav and kiss them over and over again out of great love. In fact it is told that once, in a state of great excitement, when reaching for his arba minim he accidentally forgot to open the doors of his cabinet, and put them straight through the glass.
Little known is the year-long period during which all of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak's spiritual elevation was taken from him. Nonetheless, during that year, he served HaShem as would a simple Jew, through words of prayer and studying the Torah to the best of his abilities.
This was a nisayon, a test. Was Rabbi Levi Yitzchak's service of HaShem dependent on the feelings of awe and inspiration he was accustomed to? It should never be. Sometimes these things are beyond our control. We have to follow the example Moshe Rabbeinu set for us on the day of his departure from this world. We have to do our best with each moment, and put in time each day davening and learning.
See you in Beit HaMidrash! Which for our community is the telephone conference call.
The First Blessing - Distinguishing Day from Night
The greatest gift to mankind by the Creator is "free will." The phrase distinguishing day from night refers to the ability to perceive both the Light of the Creator and the Darkness (absence of Light) of the Opponent which we call Satan. It is only when one can "see" the two opposing choices that one is able to activate true "free choice." By saying this Blessing we are given clarity and vision to be able to see these two opposing forces.
The first Blessing providing the LIght to the three partzufim of Keter called external, middle, and internal of Direct Light of the middle Partzuf of Zeir Anpin of Assiyah of Atzilut and also of the lower world of Assiyah.
ברוך אתה יהוה הנותן לשכוי בינה להבחין בין יום ובין לילה (אדני יאהדונהי) אלהינו מלך העולם
Baruch Atah Adonai (small letters Kavenah see previous class) Eloheinu Melech HaOlam Hanotain Lashechvi Vina Lehavchin Ben Yom Uven Lailah.
Blessed are You HaShem (small letters Kavenah see previous class) Our God, King of the Universe Who gives the rooster the understanding to distinguish between day and night.
There are 14 words in this Blessing indicating a connection to the Sefirah of Malchut. This is because the Hebrew word Hand has a gematria of 14. Our hands manifest our thoughts. This is why the 14 words relate to Manifestation and the Sefirah of Malchut.
There are 59 letters in this Blessing. 59 connects to the idea of a women's menstruation cycle. It is usually thought of as impure yet not negative. It is part of life that the male needs to be protected since he can not handle this energy. When a Colel is added for each word it has the gematria of 73. 73 is the gematria of Chochmah which is "Wisdom". Actually "What is the Power." If you can not answer this question you can not truly make the connection to the Rooster which is the animal connected to the left column which must be utilized to be able to "see" the difference of Light and Vessel, Good and Evil, etc.
The word Notain has the gematria of 506 which is the same gematria of the First Verse of the Ana Bekoach. Also, it is the same gematria of the phrase Ahavat Hinam - Unconditional Love. In addition, it is the same gematria of the 32nd Name of the 72 Names of God - Vav Shin Reish - dealing with a unique aspect of memories.
The word Shechvi has the gematria of 337 which is the same gematria as the name phrase Malach Gavriel- Angel Gabriel.
The word Vina has the gematria of 67. When we add another point for the Colel it becomes 68 which is the gematria of the word Chaim which means Life. It also has the gematria of a Name of God – Ehiyeh Ehiyeh HaShem - אהיה אהיא יהוה
The three words Hanotain LaShechvi Vina have the first letters of Hey Lamed Bet. These three letters permutate to spell the Hebrew word HaLev which means “The Heart.” The gematria of this phrase is 37. 37 is the milieu of the Tetragrammaton at the level of Binah which is 63. 26 + 37 = 63. Please ask if you do not understand this concept.
37 also is the gematria of the word Hevel which means breath. The purpose of the breath is to cool the seat of emotions which is the heart. Wherever 37 is found it is providing a sweetening of the judgment. In this case it is sweetening the judgment of the night. Sweetening of judgment is best described a moving the left column towards the central column of the Tree of Life. This means the judgment becomes more balanced.
The last letters of the same three words are Nun Yood Hey which have a gematria of 65. 65 is the gematria of the Name Adonai – Alef Dalet Nun Yood. It is also the gematria of the 6th Name from the 72 Names. This is Lammed Lammed Hey which is connected to “Dream State” which assists us to dream truthfully.
The word Yom which means day has a gematria of the first three letters of the third line of the Ana Bekoach. Actually Yom has the gematria of 56 yet when the Colel is added it becomes 57 which is the gematria of the first three letters described above. The gematria of 57 relates to the Hebrew word Zan which means parnassa or sustenance. It is also the gematria of the Hebrew word for altar – Mizbeach. Also, the Name of God El HaShem has this gematria. It is good to think of parnassa for the world when saying the word Yom.
The Hebrew word Lailah which means night has the gematria of 75. The Hebrew word Melah also has this gematria and it translates as “from her.”
The first letters of the phrase “LeHavchin Bain Yom Uven Lailah” has a gematria of 78 which is 3 times 26. A student of Kabbalah needs to recognize this as representing HaShem on the Right; HaShem on the Left; and HaShem in the Center.
Just as it said above, the more one puts into his / her Kavenah the more Shefa – beneficence – flow of goodness to the world is produced.
Do i need to do all of these kavenah each time i say this Blessing? No, you do not. Just remember you are producing an Angel with the saying of this Blessing. Is this Angel complete in its body and its soul if you do not build it with all of the Kavenah you know?
If there is time in this class this teaching is well worth the discussion.
To say the blessings with intention
Reason Number 6. All who recite blessings with intention, the worms will never rule over them.
"My son, place your heart on this matter, that all who recite with intention blessings before and after eating, the worms [in the grave] will never rule over them."
[Sefer Mishpat Tzedek on Psalm 86]
Be a blessing!
"The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out..." The words of a song.
Not a very nice thought, Nu?
We learn in our Jewish tradition that after death the disembodied soul is aware of everything that happens in the physical world. In the beginning though the soul is in a state of confusion. The soul is overwhelmed with the vast amount of information that is no longer screened through the brain and the nervous system which used to weed out most of the sensory data not essential for survival.
The soul has yet to learn how to focus on anything besides its previous body that the soul used to identify itself with. The Talmud in Tractate Shabbat 152b tells us that the soul mourns for its body the first seven days after the death, as alluded to in the verse, “His soul mourns for him / ונפשו עליו תאבל” (Job 14:22).
For the first twelve months after death, until the body decomposes, the soul hovers over the body. The Talmud in Tractate Shabbat 152b relates that during this time “the soul ascends and descends / כל י"ב חדש גופו קיים ונשמתו עולה ויורדת”. In other words, as Ramban explains (Torat haAdam, Shaar haGemul, 86), during the first twelve months the body still has an influence on the soul. Even though the soul ascends and explores the spiritual world, it still descends to its familiar previous state when it was bound to the body. After twelve months the body no longer affects the soul and therefore the soul ascends and does not descend.
The soul is aware of and identifies with the decomposition of the body, which is very painful to the soul. The Talmud in Tractates Berachot 18b and Shabbat 152b tells us that “Worms are as painful to the dead as needles in the flesh of the living / קשה רמה למת כמחט בבשר החי”, as it is written: “Even his flesh upon him will be in pain / אך בשרו עליו יכאב” (Job 14:22). The Kabbalists call this Chibut Hakever חיבוט הקבר - punishment of the grave.
We are taught, continues Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, that what the body experiences in the grave can be even worse than the experience of Gehinnom / גיהנום. That, however, depends on the individual. For those who put a priority or materialism, this deterioration of the body is most painful. But those whose life focus was more spiritual and who never considered their worldly body overly important are not bothered by Chibut HaKever. Those who lived in the moment and said blessings over food with intent both before and after eating are in that number.
For most of us death is extremely frightening. The righteous on the other hand, always looked forward to it. Shortly before his death Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said, “I very much want to divest myself of this garment that is my body” (Sichos HaRan, 179). If we truly believe and trust in a merciful God, concludes Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, then death has no terror for us.
Baal Shem Tov:
The holy Baal Shem Tov, zy”a, reveals a vital principle to us regarding the passuk (Tehillim 107, 5): ” רעבים גם צמאים נפשם בהם תתעטף “—hungry and also thirsty, their soul diminished within them. HKB”H intentionally created man so that he could not exist without food or drink. For, concealed within the food and drink are holy sparks relevant to and belonging to a person’s soul. By consuming the food and drink for the sake of Heaven and reciting the appropriate berachos with proper intent, a person rectifies and elevates the sparks contained in them.
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