Stages of Prayer

Click here for the Hebrew text which comes from Yishmiru Daat page 72.

[Moshe begins to pray to God to reverse the edict that he would not be allowed to cross over into the Promised Land.]

(Deuteronomy 3:24) “O Lord God, You have begun to show Your servant Your beneficence and Your strong hand

הוי’ אלקים / YHVH Elokim / “YHVH God” is the way it’s heard. ‘אדנ”י הוי / ADNY YHVH / “O Lord YHVH” is the way it’s written.

[The second word is written with Shem Hamephorash, YHVH, pointed (voweled) like Elokim and therefore read aloud as “Elokim” instead of its  usual way of being read, Adonai. Thus, one hearing it would normally assume the word is written as it sounds, “Elokim“. The first word Adonai is written out and read as written, but if one hears it, one would assume the word written is the Shem Hamephorash YHVH.]

YHVH Elokim, (the way one hears it when it’s read aloud), seems straightforward for this text because YHVH (Chesed) is associated gadlicha / Your beneficence (Chesed), while Elokim (Gevurah) is associated with yad’cha hachazaka / Your strong hand (Gevurah). But according to the way it’s written, ADNY YHVH, there’s a question as to what’s going on here.

And behold, it is written, (Psalms 23:4) “Thy whip” (Malchut) “and Thy crutch” (Chesed), etc., and this is associated with the way the verse here is written, ADNY (Malchut) like Thy whip, YHVH (Chesed) like Thy crutch, “they” equally “comfort me“.

[He is comforted by both Chesed and Malchut because God is there.]

[NOTE: I’ve translated this based on the Catholic understanding per the following by Rodger Kamenetz:

“Several years ago, Reb Zalman had an on-going dialogue with a nun from the Sisters of Sion. Because she said Tehilim / Psalms in Latin, Zalman wanted to make sure that she would know some deeper meanings. The exchange went both ways. The nuns did it in Latin in those days so he got himself a vulgate so he could study it and that’s when he found out a meaning of a sentence in Psalm 23 which he didn’t get in Hebrew but he got in Latin. In Hebrew it says “Thy Rod and Thy Staff, they comfort me” and, he’d been singing it all along not paying attention. But then he saw it in Latin, Virga tuo baculus tuo, which means thy whip and thy crutch they comfort me; whether you whip me or support me I get comfort in that either way because I know you are present in my life.”]

Because, when they climb the way of Jacob’s ladder,

[NOTE: A metaphor used for the process of Davvenen as is Moshe‘s situation in our text],

they start in the world of Assiyah / Malchut / Adnut  and they climb the ladder which is in the order of our text as it is written (AdonaiMalchut first, then YHVH Tiferet in Yisrael Saba), but in order to get past Adnut they need Chesed gadlecha / Your beneficence, Chesed freely bestowed irregardless of merit so he can pass the way of the veil of “brings death”, “brings life” with resurrecting dew. In order to pass through that veil, he needs to spend time with his relationship to death and dying and, it is the dealing with this which allows one to ascend the ladder.

Moshe at this time was faced with his dying. After God’s Chesed  he is strengthened and can manage the level of yad’cha hachazaka / Your strong hand (Gevurah) because he will have worked with the anxiety of dying having gone through that veil. Then he feels a relief and realizes that thy whip and thy crutch are equally comforting and, “brings death” in God’s presence and “brings life” in God’s presence are both comforting.

In the next stage of climbing the ladder, he reads what’s written in our text, Adonai YHVH, Adonai (Malchut) YHVH (Chesed) and changes it from what’s written to what’s read aloud, YHVH Elokim, YHVH (Chesed) Elokim (Gevurah), and this is what Moshe Rabbeinu a’h said:

את – ה’ מוצאות הפה מלכות/ אתה – “With five different kinds of sounds of the mouth of Malchut,

[Labials, dentals, sibilants, gutturals and palate corresponding to five-levels of soul, Nefesh Ruach Neshama Chaya and Yechidah, which are also connected to the veil of “brings death” “brings life”]

באתערותא דלעילא/ החלות / You have begun with Itaruta d’leila / arousal from above

[Chesed freely bestowed]

להראות את עבדך את גדלך במלכות / to show Your servant Your beneficence in Malchut

until he is bolstered and strengthened

[to endure Your strong hand]

and all of this will lead to the raising of mayin nukvin / feminine waters in Itaruta d’l’tataa / arousal from below

[They have become like two lovers and the prayer will flow.]

and so he was able to change the bitter flavor to a sweet flavor. Amen.

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