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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jewish mystical testimonies of the 20th Century

“Our desire is to tear aside in one motion the entire curtain spread across the totality of life. Then, in an instant you will see yourself standing before God’s glory in the midst of a great camp of angels and seraphim–and you being one of them…
“…Instead of your senses forcing your thoughts to apprehend a sensory form according to their nature, the opposite will occur: your mind will contemplate a clear thought (the essence of thought without form and image), and this will overwhelm your senses, penetrating deeply into them and there being manifested by them in the world. Finally, all of your thought’s communication and contact with the world will occur without the veil of your senses. Your thought will function directly through the vehicles of your eyes, ears, and so forth. These organs will be no more than transmitters of your thought.
"This is not to say that I intend to entirely wipe out your physical senses so that you will not apprehend the world in front of you. You will see the world, but you will also see God’s holiness resting upon it (whether or not you are looking at it).
“…I know quite well that your heart is still doubtful. You believe somewhat, but then you doubt that you could reach a state from which you will see spirit and holiness in the entire world: that you will not merely understand conceptually, but that you will actually perceive holiness, souls and holy Names. You protest, “In truth, don’t I see a world that is physical? Who can deny the certainty of my senses, such as my sight and hearing?”
“But what makes you so sure that your senses are telling you the truth? The essence of each one of these things [that your senses perceive] is invisible to you. You see merely transient shapes and states of being. Your senses have led you astray and falsely led you to believe that the world we see and feel stands clearly before us, constituting the essence of reality. But our senses cannot reach this essence. Instead, like a blind man, we grope along the outer forms that envelop the hidden essence. This being the case, why should it be difficult for you to accept that the Kabbalist perceives the essence of true being within all things of the world as divine Names and souls?
Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (the Pieseszner Rebbe), B’nei Machshava Tova (trans. By Yaakov Dovid Shulman), pgs. 34-35, 42-43
“The Brisker Rav passed away on Yom Kippur eve 1960, just a few minutes before the recital of Kol Nidrei…
‘My father [R. Shmuel Aharon Yudelevitch] told me that while leading the Mussaf prayers of Yom Kippur he suddenly felt he was going to expire from thirst, and he told himself that he was willing to give up his life for Hashem’s honor. Immediately afterwards he saw a brilliant light – a pillar of brightness – and was drawn to it as though by supernal cables. My father continued to relate that when observed this light he felt indescribable pleasure and that all the delights of this world could never compare to the joy that he was experiencing…’
It was obvious that R. Shmuel Aharon had been privileged to perceive the amuda d’nehora, the shaft of light, which according to the Gemara is bestowed upon only one neshama that has passed from the world in the generation and only select individuals in the generation are considered worthy enough to catch a glimpse. R. Shmuel Aharon had clearly seen the Brisker Rav’s amuda n’hehora.”
In Every Generation - The life & legacy of the Gaon & Tzaddik Rav Shmuel Aharon Yudelevitch, zt’l, pg. 251
“It is necessary to show how one may enter the palace: by way of the gate. The gate is the divine dimension disclosed in the world, in all its phenomena of beauty and grandeur, as manifested in every living thing, in every insect, in every blooming plant and flower, in every nation and state, in the sea with its turbulent waves, in the panorama of the skies, in the talents of all creatures, in the thoughts of writers, the imagination of poets and the ideas of thinkers, in the feelings of every sensitive spirit and in the heroic deeds of every person of valor.
”The highest domain of divinity toward which we aspire – to be absorbed in it, to be included in its radiance – but which eludes all our longing, descends for us into the world, and we encounter it and delight in its love, and find peace in its tranquility. At times, moreover, we are privileged with a flash emanating from the higher radiance, from that higher light which transcends all thought. The heavens open for us and we see a vision of God.”
R. Kook, Orot, Tzima’on l’El Chai (trans. in Classics of Western Spirituality, pg. 251)
“Suddenly there appeared before my aching eyes some great light, and infinite dimensions stood before my mind’s eye, while my eyes of flesh were closed. It seemed to me as if I truly experienced the many dimensions with my senses – once and never again – and I walked in their midst.”
R. ShemTov Geffen, Memadim-Nevuah-Admatanut, pgs. 27-28 (Dimensions-Prophecy-Geology, trans. By Bezalel Naor in Lights of Prophecy)
“The Zoharic literature (Tikkunei ha’Zohar 21:50a) teaches that in contemplating a flame, one should be aware of its five colors: white, yellow, red, black, and sky-blue…On an intellectual level this is impossible to understand…however, one must actually do a candle or lamp meditation. It should be done in an otherwise dark room, with the candle far enough from the wall that it casts not light on it. Again, one uses the standard contemplation technique, allowing the flame to fill the entire mind. One becomes aware of the colors in the flame, the white, the yellow, and the red; each color and gradation of color is extremely significant. One is aware of the heat and energy radiating from the candle, and…one reaches a level at which one can actually see these abstract energies.
“The next step would be to concentrate on the darkness around the flame. When one contemplates the darkness of the room, it becomes a very profound, palpable darkness. One sees it as a velvety blackness that appears to radiate darkness…
“However, when one gets deeper into the meditation, one will begin to see a sky-blue field around the darkness. The blackness will extend for a certain distance around the candle, but around this will be an experience of pure sky-blue. It will be the most beautiful sky-blue color imaginable, like that of a summer day of the Holy Land. The color will have an almost awesome beauty.”
R. Aryeh Kaplan, Jewish Meditation, pp. 68-69
“Somehow, when I open a gemara, either alone or when I am in company, when I teach others, I have the impression—don’t call it hallucination—I have the impression that I hear soft footsteps of somebody, invisible, who comes in and sits down with me, sometimes looking over my shoulder.
The idea is not a mystical idea—the mishnah in Avos, the gemara in Brachos says yachid heyoshev v’osek batorah, shechina shruya [one who sits and occupies himself with Torah, the Divine presence rests there]. We all believe that the nosein hatorah, the One who gave us the Torah, has never deserted the Torah. And He simply accompanies the Torah; wherever the Torah has a rendezvous, an appointment, a date with somebody, He is there.”
R. Soloveitchik, Remarks at RCA Convention, 1975 (transcribed by Eitan Fiorino)
"If You had created for me an ear to listen to You with eternal love,
But not shown me how Your eyes peer from one end of the world to the other -
That would have been enough!
If you had promised me to grasp all of Your secrets,
But not manifested them in me as present reality -
That would have been enough!"
R. Ashlag, Dayeini, Hakdama l'Chochmat ha'Emet, pg. 7 (free translation)

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