R. Moshe Cordovero on the Amidah.

R. Yosef Karo writes that he followed the kavvanot of the Ramak.

In contrast, to Provençal method where there is an ascent to tiferet or binah. In Cordovero’s method, as mentioned above, the shekhinah itself is raised and the entire system collapses up like the folding up of a telescope. One folds shekhinah up beyond nezah and hod which makes her the same as tiferet, not that there is only tiferet or that she merged into tiferet, but that she has been raised to the point of tiferet.  From tiferet, the shekhinah together with tiferet receive from an influx from binah. There is  loss of differentiation and integration within binah. This ascent during the silent prayer allows the entrance and then the merging of the soul into the supernal realms.

The passage contains the division of ADNY into AY, the Infinite oneness found within ten sefirot showing unity of keter, tiferet, and malkhut, and DN the forces of judgment and materiality showing the emanation process as privation from the Divine goodness.

Here we have words of the amidah especially the name A-donai (A-d-n-y) divided into Aleph for the top three sefirot, and daled-nun as judgment of the world, and yod as the ten sefirot. The infinite light (aleph) above descends to the earthy world of judgment (daled-nun) through the means of the ten sefirot (yod). The infinite light cascades down in emanation as the discrete units of the three Divine names, E-hyah, Y-H-V-H, and A-donai.

ADNY, this name is malkhut.

Meditate that She is now higher than nezah and hod, as She is silently rising between the two shepherds during the unification of the recitation of the Shema. The mystery of prayer is their literal union, that they completely unite. The individual is silent because the union is in silence. Voice (kol), tiferet, is not heard outside at all,. The mystery of this verse is to open the door of the palace for the worshiper to enter inside. Thus, he knocks on the opening of the palace gate, holy of holies, in order to enter inside, to unify and bind. As it is known, inside the palace is malkhut, bound with the three fathers whose mystery is love (ahavah).

One knocks and says, “my Lord” (ADNY), who is malkhut, as she is the aspect bound in the mystery of daled nun that she is the mystery of alef, which is the name eh-yeh in binah and the mystery of yud, which is Y-H-V-H in tiferet. This is why she is called Ado-nai, tied to three names, Eh-yeh, Y-H-V-H, Ado-nai on nezah and hod.

“My lips” are nezah and hod;

“open” (tiftah) from inside the palace. These are the openings of palace of the gates of righteousness so that I may enter them and praise Y-H (Psalms 118:19).

“and my mouth” (u’fi) for through the opening of the lips the mouth is formed, which is malkhut. Since She does not have a mouth without open lips, immediately you will see malkhut.

Immediately, “will express” (yaggid), from the side of hokhmah, which is the mystery of gimmel daled, seven sefirot GYD, a drop from the brains that are drawn down in the mystery of semen that shoots like an arrow.

First Blessing

The goal of the first blessing of the silent amidah is to draw down from binah into the lower sefirot of yesod and malkhut.

The following paragraph is a note written above the liturgy, so that the reader does not misunderstand the process and think that one is still just connecting the lower to the higher sefirot, The entire first berakhah is not only in binah, but in the depths of binah; while the other mentioned sefirot are all within binah. The imagery is of the infinite king, a cosmic deity, who is so great, that there are many aspects (bekhinot) , called inner limbs. This passage is not included in the first Rosh Hashanah commentary  and may be by another hand, but it does express the characteristics of the practice of the Cordovero intentions.

This entire blessing is in the depths of binah until “shield of Abraham” that She descends into hesed. Whenever it says that [the pray-er] goes down into malkhut and the avot, it is all hidden in binah. For the first blessing is the first principle of the king, and all the higher inner limbs are included in it. Thus, she will have many aspects.

Cordovero wrote notes above the words Bless and You explaining how the blessings within the amidah work.  He reiterates that his method is to go from top to bottom during blessings drawing down from the eyn sof to malkhut.

“Bless” During the amidah, one should direct “bless” down from the Ein Sof to yesod including all ten sefirot from the Source of everything. The power to bring down influence from on high until malkhut below depends on thought.

This is why the Zohar says that one should not start at the level of “Your face,” so that you do not admonished, God forbid. Should he start “bless” from bottom-up, standing in din, then the going bottom-up is din. Rather, start from the top and go before His face below; this is the mystery of “blessed” from top-down to repair it beforehand with influx and sweetening its judgments.

Energy is drawn down from the top three sefirot to the middle six, first as keter, hokhmah, and binah into tiferet, then in the middle blessings one draws daat the animating vitality of the world into the twelve-sided version of tiferet, and in the concluding blessings of the amidah one brings the spiritual energy into malkhut.

Yesod includes yesod malkhut (YM) from keter until yesod seals this world of yesod malkhut from the world of the male, spreading top-down.

Blessed (Barukh)

Malkhut is the world of the female. Alef (A) is keter; tav (T) is hesed, binah, gedulah, gevurah; hei (H) is tiferet until malkhut.

Are You (Atah; ATH)

Tiferet, which binds together male and female from the bottom up.

Lord (Y-H-V-H)

Ein Sof keter of keter:

yud hei vav hei (YUD HY VYV HY); [72]

alef hei yud hei (ALF HA YUD HA); [143]

yud hei vav hei (YUD HA VAV HA); [45]

alef dalet nun yud (ALF DLT NUN YUD). [#zzz]

Bind head to head YAHH-VYHHhokhmah and binah.

Bind body to body YAHD-UNHYtiferet and malkhut.

Binah

Our God (e-lo-heinu)

Hokhmah that lights up binah

And God of (vei-lo-hei)

In the mystery of her three roots, gedulah, gevurah and tiferet inside her.

Our fathers (avoteinu)

Hesed of hokhmah bound in hesed of binah.

God of (e-lo-hei) Abraham (avraham)

Gevurah of hokhmah bound in gevurah of binah.

God of (elo-hei) Isaac (yizhak)

Tiferet of hokhmah bound in tiferet of binah.

And God of (vei-lo-hei)  Jacob (ya’akov).

Mystery of three fathers revealed in the great binah of gedulah

The God  (ha-e-l) The great (ha-gadol)

Gevurah

The mighty (ha-gibbor)

Tiferet

And the awesome (ve-ha-nora)

To bring them influence and blessing from the source of the right of keter, called or zah, the mystery of yud in the name yud hei vav hei (YUD HY VYV HY) [72]

God on high (e-l elyon)

Who brings influence from hokhmah to binah

Benefactor of (gomeil)

Hasadim that are great and give light, that her aspect is from the right, hesed; and all the aspects from her side are kind

Great kindness (hasadim tovim)

From the source of binah of keter, which is the name alef hei yud hei (ALF HA YUD HA) [143]

And possesses all (vekoneih ha-kol)

The sprouting of three fathers, all hasadim from the highest white light.

And remembers the kindness of the fathers (vezokheir hasdei avot)

Mystery of the name yud hei vav hei (YUD HA VAV HA) [45] of keter, vav of the name of arikh anpin and keter revealed

And brings redemption (u’meivi go’eil)

Nezah and hod, children of the three fathers

To the sons (livnei) of their sons (veneihem)

Meditate on spreading the last letter hei in the name Y-H-V-H of keter

For the sake of His name (lema’an shemo)

From there, spreading out the exiled malkhut who will be bound between two arms.

In love (be’ahavah).

Now return to unify from bottom to top through hokhmah and binah as one. Malkhut bound with malkhut of keter.

King (melekh)

Tiferet bound to tiferet of keter yud hei vav hei (YUD HA VAV HA) [45]

Helper (ozeir)

Gevurah bound in the name Eh-yeh of keter

And savior (u-moshia)

Hesed bound in the mystery of the highest hesed of keter, yud hei vav hei (YUD HY VYV HY).[72]

And Shield (u-magein).

Yesod including all ten sefirot from the world of the male

Blessed (barukh)

Malkhut including all ten sefirot from the world of the female

Are You (atah)

Going up to unite in keter until Ein Sof

Lord (Y-H-V-H)

YAHD-UNHY; YAHA-VYHH;

alef dalet nun yud (ALF DLT NUN YUD); [#zz]

yud hei vav hei (YUD HA VAV HA);[45]

alef hei yud hei yud hei vav hei (ALF HA YUD HA YUD HY VYV HY).[#]

Bind three fathers of malkhut in hesed to bring everything out from binah and bring them to hesed.

Shield of Abraham (magein avraham).


Copyright © 2010 Alan Brill • All Rights Reserved

12 responses to “R. Moshe Cordovero on the Amidah.

  1. Ben-Tzion Saloff

    Where is the source in the original Hebrew for this? I would very much like to see that.

  2. David Chaim Smith

    His analysis brings up a point that seldom gets resolved; what mediates the disparity between aspiration and accomplishment? If we know what it is that we are trying to do, how do we know how close we have actually come? If we were to have realization of the ‘collapsed telescope’ and stop in the middle to acknowledge it we would be instantly thrust back into conventional consciousness, no? Isn’t the process of personal assessment linear and self-referential? It brings up some issues that are very tricky. I assume that these instructions are not meant to be taken mechanically, but instead offer a guideline to inquiry that is more or less a blueprint for a methodology. I assume the RAMAK would not encourage students to qualify or quantify the ascent. No?

  3. I am not sure he is measuring accomplishment. In fact, I think he is not.
    The instructions become habitual in a few weeks and there is no outside Roshi accessing you progress. Just daven this way.
    One would indeed be thrust back to conventional consciousness if one knew where he was.
    So after time one learns to retain focus.
    I know davveners who have the opposite problem, they get lost in the state of binah and forget about the siddur or that they have to return.
    Your right, i dont think he means it mechanically but how else does one create a manual for mental states? In addition, one gets a general sense of the pattern without having to look at the script. If every berakhah is a downward movement and the words Barukh atah hashem are always the same then the middle words are an ever regressing downward movement in which there are variants that usually correspond to practice.

  4. What do you think of using this kavanah as a stand-alone autonomous meditation without any conscious reference to the Amida? (yes, this is a variation of the same question I have been asking you since 1998!).

  5. Would you consider Tarthang Tulku a valid Nyingma path? He does that to Buddhism. Would the various teachers of Tibetan Buddhism agree with Tharthang Tulku? if not, why would they object?

  6. I think you are refering to taking internal tantric meditations out of the context of long liturgical style sadhanas. That is actually not such a radical idea in Vajrayana, it is done all the time. Maybe it is in Kabbalah too, but it seems much more rare. I was wondering if there would be some axiomatic reason why it would not work, which would not be the case in Vajrayana.

    • This may be the crucial point of where and why Kabbalah did not truly develop a meditation tradition even if they had the techniques.
      Ramak has some of the same meditations without the liturgy in his Pardes Rimonim but I cannot see him advocating a practice without the liturgy. I can look to find where he states that it
      should/must/is only efficacious with the liturgy but I think the issue goes deeper. Hayyim Vital in his Shaarei Kedushah has meditations without liturgy and it creates a different spirituality.
      The Hasidic tradition of Komarno has 202 meditations outside of the liturgy that have similar effect.

  7. DCS

    Why would you want to divorce the kavannos from the Shemoneh Esreh? These kavannos were developed to fit that vehicle specifically.

    On the other hand, there are kabbalistic kavannos / visualizations, such as those of the Sefer HaBris and those of the Komarno Rebbe in Heichal HaBrochah, etc., that are not connected to the Shomoneh Esreh. If that’s what you want to do, why not use those methods?

  8. Has any of them been translated into english? I am very interested and would really appreciate any info on them.

  9. See the sidebar of solitude-hisbodedus.blogspot.com under the headings “Kabbalists” and “Other Chassidic Masters.” But the Komarno material remains mostly untranslated.

    You could find it in a recent series of meditation manuals based on Heichal HaBerakhah called “Be’er Eliyahu,” sold through Biegeleisen’s Seforim on Sixteenth Ave. in Borough Park. The best place to start might be the small volume subtitled “Achdus HaOlamos” (from which the translation on the Solitude blog was taken).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s