We will be teaching the Kavenah (Intention/Meditative State) that has been used for centuries in Jewish Prayer as it relates to Psalm 67. Psalm 67 is commonly called the Menorah Psalm. This is because it has 7 significant verses out of a total of 8 verses. (We usually do not count the first verse of a Psalm since it frequently is announcing the Name/Type of Psalm).
As an aside there are co-incidentally 10 types of Psalms. The word Psalm or Tehillim in Hebrew has the meaning of song.
אַשְׁרֵיAshrai (Praise) – Keter
שִׁירShir (Song) – Chokmah
בְרָכָהBaracha (Blessing) – Binah
מזמורMeZamer (A Type of Song) – Chessed
נִגּוּןNiggun (Wordless Tune) – Gevurah
הללויהHalalulah (Praise Yah) – Tiferet
נצוחNeTzoach ( A Type of Song) – Netzach
הודוHodu (Thankfulness) – Hod
רַנְּנוּRannu (Running Type Song) – Yessod
תְהִלָּהTehilah or Tehillim (A Song of Psalm) - Malchut
We learn that the word Tehillim is Malchut in the Zohar. The Zohar also says in another place Tefilah refers to Malchut תפלה , ‘prayer’.
The word Shiviti is not well understood by modern people. Shiviti is a form of artwork using Hebrew Letters and Torah Text to create a "protection shield". Most modern people attribute the "protection" aspect to superstition. It also depends on the consciousness of the person who draws the Shiviti.
Please note the Shiviti from the Azamra organization. It has the first verse as the Lights on the Menorah. The first verse has 20 letters and thus fits into the 7 candle lights with three letters each, except the middle candle which has 2 letters.. Then Verse 2 is written into the left candle. Verse 3 is written next to verse 2 moving towards the right. Verse 4 is next to verse 3. Verse 5 is the middle candle and has 49 letters. Verse 5 is usually longer than the other verses and is written as part of the base as well. Verse 6 is next to the middle candle. Verse 7 is next to verse 6 and Verse 8 is in the last arm of the Menorah (to the right).
Here is the Psalm written in Hebrew Letters.
Verse 1: למנצח בנגינת מזמור שיר
Verse 2: אלהים יחננו ויברכנו יאר פניו אתנו סלה
Verse 3: לדעת בארץ דרכך בכל-גוים ישועתך
Verse 4: יודוך עמים אלהים יודוך עמים כלם
Verse 5: ישמחו וירננו לאמים כי-תשפט עמים מישור ולאמים בארץ תנחם סלה
Verse 6: יודוך עמים אלהים יודוך עמים כלם
Verse 7: ארץ נתנה יבולה יברכנו אלהים אלהינו
Verse 8: יברכנו אלהים וייראו אתו כל-אפסי-ארץ
Instructions to read/scan the Hebrew Letters while viewing the Menorah
Please try to read or scan the letters directly from the Menorah Candles themselves. Initially people find it easier to turn the Sefer (book) so that they see the letters more normally. Actually, it is helpful in developing your meditative strengths to try to adjust your vision without turning the book. In any event it is recommended that you read or scan this Psalm from the Menorah. As hinted at above, read right to left starting in the flames of the Candles. As you reach the left Candle start reading down the left Candle and then progress verse by verse, candle by candle from left to right.
Your last eye/head movement is to "see" the Tetragrammaton in unity with the Name Adonai, then move your vision down the Menorah trying to "see" all of it and finish by seeing the letters of the Ana Bekoach as the manifestation of the Creation.
Transliteration for those who do not read Hebrew. It is best to say this in the Hebrew Language.
Verse 1: Lamnatzayach Beengeenot Mizmor Shir.
Verse 2: Elohim Yechanaynu Vevarchaynu YaAir PaNav ETanu Selah.
Verse 3: LadaAt BaAretz Darchecha BeChol Goyim YeShuAtecha.
Verse 4: Yoducha Ahmim Elohim Yoducha Ahmim Culam.
Verse 5: YisMechu WeranNu LeUMim Ki Tishpot Ahmim MeShor UkUMim BaAhretz TanChaim Selah.
Verse 6: Yoducha Ahmim Elohim Yoducha Ahmim Culam.
Verse 7: EhRetz Natna Yevula YeVarCaynu Elohim Ehlohaynu.
Verse 8: Yvarchaynu Ehlohim WeYearOO OtO Cahl AhfSay AhRetz.
Translation and initial Kabbalah Insights
Verse 1: For the Leader, with string music; A Psalm, A Song.
There are 4 words and 20 letters. The letters are put directly on the flame of the Candles in sets of three except for the middle “Shamash Candle". Each of these three letters has some significance even while it is said that we “ignore” the first verse since it “only” tells us what type of song is being sung. The 4 connects to the 4 worlds or/and the 4 letters of the Tetragrammaton or the 4 levels of the Pardes (Garden). The 20 letters connect to the Shekel from Temple Times. 20 is 2 times 10 representing direct Light and Returning Light.
Verse 2: God, Be Gracious to Us, and Bless Us; May His Face Shine Towards Us. Selah
There are 6 words and 25 letters. As a student of Kabbalah, one should realize that these numbers have meaning to us. What do you think these numbers mean?
Verse 3: May Your pathways become known upon and within the Land. And your salvation come from all the Nations.
There are 6 words and 25 Nations. Do these mean the same thing as the same numbers from Verse 2?
Verse 4: The Peoples will give thanks to You, Oh God! Let all the Nations Give Thanks unto Thee. All of the Nations and People.
6 words and 26 letters. What do you think are these meanings and why do they connect together?
Verse 5: Let the Nations be glad and Sing for Joy; You will judge the nations equitably; and be the leader of the Nations; Selah!
11 words and 48 letters. The ARI teaches us that there are 49 letters. Count them yourself. Tell me what is the meaning of a letter that does not exist in the physical world?
Verse 6: This has 6 words and 26 letters and the words and letters and verse is a duplicate of the 4th Verse. What do you think the meaning of this is all about?
Verse 7: The earth yields her increase as our Blessing from God who is our God.
This has 6 words and 29 letters. The six connects to Zeir Anpin while the 29 letters connects to the month of Leo.
Verse 8: May God Bless Us with Awe and His Letters; May all of the Land be as Nothing to me.
This has 7 words and 31 letters. What is the meaning of these numbers?
The Kavenah comes from many Sages but mostly from the Baal HaTanya. This is be drawn from a blog written by Shmu the Jew. The Name of the Blog is HardCoreMeshorah. I will identify my comments as I usually do.
No one knows how long this practice has been going on. It is quite lengthy. We do know that the Kabbalist by the Name of Rabbi David Ben Yosef Avudraham living in the 14th Century strongly urged people to do this. We also know that it was the practice prior to the use of Siddurim for people to write this Menorah Shiviti and then read it from the written parchment.
The Ari in the 16th Century taught us to say this Psalm during morning prayers during the songs known as Pekudai DeZimrah. He also taught us to say this after the Vidui (Confession) and at the close of Shabbat prior to the Havdalah. We also learned from the ARI to say this as part of Counting the Omer Mitzvah. It may be said any time and is always said reading/scanning from the Menorah Sheviti. Minhagim between the Ashkenazim and the Sefardim for saying the Prayer are different.
The Menorah is a central part of the Temple Service which includes the Ketoret, the incense whose purpose is to draw ourselves closer to HaShem. Thus our reason for saying this Psalm as a Menorah is to draw ourselves closer to the Creator HaShem.
The title of the Shiviti is Menorat Lamnatzayach. Lamnatzayach will be discussed below. Although from above we learn that it is related to the Sefirah of Netzach or Eternal Victory. Menorat is a plural form of the word Menorah.
Immediately below are small Hebrew words that translate as follows:
Know Before Whom You Stand.
You stand before the King who reigns over Kings.
This is the Blessed Holy One, who we call HaShem.
We call upon this Name HaShem in Fear and in Awe.
The main thought of the Kavenah comes from Psalm 16 Verse 8.
שויתי יהוה לנגדי תמיד כי מימיני בל-אמוט
I have set YOOD HAY VAV HAY before me ALWAYS, at every TIME
We begin to place G-d before us. We recognize that G-d is watching over us, so we take on a solemnness of being before the King. Not only that, we focus on the placing the name of G-d before us. Not just figuratively, in its form as literally done in an artistic shiviti. We mean to make a conscious choice to connect to G-d through the meaning of His Four-Letter Name, Havayah (יהוה); Havaya (הֲוָיָה), as the name is referred to among the kabbalists. With these vowels it means being, existence or experience. In everything we encounter thoughout our day we make a choice to experience G-d in it.
These experiences will provide a deeper understanding of the meaning of UNITY both with HaShem and with Our other selves (every human being).
We wish to draw the light of righteousness and truth to shine over the face of the earth. We do this by meditating on this happening and connecting to the holy Name of Havayah (יהוה), to seek HaShem so that He “ya’air panav itanu / shines His face towards us” as described in verse 2. Ya’air means to enlighten, to brighten, to illuminate, and to kindle.
Six branches of the menorah of the Temple which was only kept alight at night. The center light is the Shechinah, the presence of G-d that is eternal, with no beginning nor end. It has no correspondence to anything as it is a manifestation of the Ohr Ain Sof, the Infinite Light that is transcendent; we only know it through the familiar Name of Havayah (יהוה). Thus the name of HaShem stands in the center of the Shiviti, in the place of the center light.
From that eternal life of G-d’s whole and holy light we seek to light our own flame. The Torah tells us how the lamps of the menorah are to be aligned and lit. What do I mean by aligned? When the menorah was created it was made so that “v’he’ehlah et nairoteh’ha v’hay’ir al ay’ver paneh’ha / they shall light the lamps so that it lights the face of it.” (Exodus 25:37) And this is exactly how it happened when Aharon (Aaron) the High Priest went about it, as instructed by G-d through Mosheh (Moses), “Behalotecha et-ha-neirot / when you light the lamps / el mol pnei menorah / toward the face of the menorah / yairu shivat hanerot / shall the seven lamps be lit.” (Numbers 8:2) The lights are lit and are turned in order to shine towards the center light, which symbolizes the Shechinah (Presence of G-d), in order to accentuate and aggrandize it. And being turned in this way the lamps also shine off the body of the menorah as well, so that the very face of its body reflects this light and floods the whole sanctuary with light. The body of the menorah has seven branches which relate the seven lower Sefirot – the mystical manifestations of Divine action in the physical world – from Chesed to Malchut. First we focus our minds toward G-d. Then we make the intention to take every element of our physical lives and reflect the Light of G-d’s goodness on to it, bringing the light of His presence to all parts of our mundane existence; then shinning it into our entire world.
Consider the Candles of the Menorah the vessel while the words of the Psalm, verse by verse is the fulfillment. Unlike the fulfillment starts in the wrong vessel on Chanukah (the first night is the light of Malchut going into the vessel of Binah.) In the Menorah the Light of the first verse which is Malchut goes into the left most candle which represents Malchut the largest desire to receive. Thus the Correct Fulfillment goes into the Correct Vessel.
Another way to perceive the fulfillment of the vessel by the Light is the Center Candle receives the largest amount of Letters which represents the Greatest Desire to Receive and is the Center Column. Then the left side of the Menorah, which is the higher triangle of the Star of David represents the Sefirot of Chesed, Gevurah, Tiferet. While the right side of the Menorah represents the Sefirot in the order of Netzach Hod and Yesod as going from left to right. This is consistant with the numbers of letters being less in the higher Sefirot.
The first line consists of the first four words of Psalm 67. This is not considered actually part of the psalm but the header to it. These four words of verse 1, “L’MaNatzeach b’neginot mizmor shir" / For the conductor, on the neginot (an instrument); a psalm, a song,” span across the six flames and the additional ornamental bowl that tops the menorah. These words help us set up the psalm.
The first Light has the three letters Lamed Men Nun which can be translated as “Manna (spiritual food from Heaven as given in the desert) Teaches."
The next Light has the letters Tzadi Chet Bet. This can be translated as "House of Cleansing" or "Cleaning House."
The third Light has the letters Nun Gimmel Yood. This word can be translated as "My Garden" or "My Kindergarten."
The fourth Light has only the two letters Nun and Vav. Their gematria is 56. When we add the Colel we get 57 which is the gematria of Zan the Hebrew word for Parnassa or Sustenance. As its own word it translates from the Yiddish Nu to mean “Come On!”
The next Light has the letters Tav Mem Zion which translates as “to plan”, "To Initiate," or "To Set in Motion."
The sixth Light has the letters Mem Vav Resh which translates as the herb “Myrrh.”
The seventh Candle has the letters Shin Yood Resh which translates as “Song” as well as “To Remain.”
Putting all of these together we get the following:
The Manna teaches us cleansing of our house and garden. Come on it is time to sing of Myrrh. Myrrh is a herb of joy and happiness. So it is is “Come on; it is time to sing of Joy and Happiness."'
From right to left these words are set up, just like we set up our candles on Chanukah. This order of right to left is also the direction in which Hebrew is read. The letters of the phrase are almost evenly divided, to span all the branches.
Now one will notice that the seven branches contain verses which are set on their side. The words of each verse span from top to bottom. It is the custom that as the words begin to bend and turn we keep the Shiviti upright, focusing in order be able (to read the verses without turning it in any way. Of course, as one reads it they should consider the meaning and significance each line.
There are 49 words of the Psalm that relate to parts of the menorah body. These words begin with verse 2, “Elohim yachanainu viybaracheinu / May G-d be gracious to us and bless us…” It is common tradition for the next seven verses to go from left to right. One verse for each of the branches, including the center shaft. This is candle-lighting order, the same order that candles are to be lit on Chanukah. Though the verses can be said in any order, the only requirement of our custom is to say it in the form of the menorah.
There are also other ways we can further contemplate upon the menorah when lined up in this progressive fashion. Let us take a look at two more quick kavanot to further fine-tune our minds and focus, ones that can be done while saying the psalm.
As we say the psalm we make notice that the verses concerning the benefit of Israel, and the well being of all the nations intertwined through out the chapter.
Now notice that the 3rd and 5th branches, the innermost spanning arm contains a unique occurrence of mirroring verses. The two arms bear the words “Yoducha amim Elohim / G-d, may the peoples give thanks to You / yoduch elohim kulam / let the peoples, all of them, give thanks to You.” At our core we should be aware and intend that our actions bring godliness to all parts or our lives, so that we can show people the goodness of life for which one can be grateful. First we can start considering all the reasons we have to be grateful. Then we think about sharing this attitude of gratitude. Why is this represented on the right arm and the left arm of the menorah? It's like a person that shares a loaf of bread with a friend; he tears it in half, this is your share and this is mine; however, like a good friend, the pieces in both hands are equal.
Another wonderful thought is to consider the center shaft of the menorah. It contains 49 letters, just like our Psalm contains 49 words that associate with the body of menorah. This psalm can be thought of a summary of the whole chapter, the nature of the chapter condensed down and concentrated in this one verse. Also the center shaft is where the menorah meets the ground, and upon which all the other branches rely. This is what we should hang our hopes upon.
Understanding our goal here is what keeps us “grounded.” This is the central reason for our devotion, to make this possible, that our desire and intention is to draw godliness into the world so that not only will we be singing and praying songs of gladness, so too will the entire world. Let all the nations of the world sing for joy! We desire and intend to help spread equality, fairness and justice across the entire face of the earth.
Also, feel like you are in a situation where an unfair judgment is hanging over you? This is a perfect time to open one’s heart and feel the light of G-d’s truth illuminating the situation so that the darkness of confusion dissipates.
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