God and God’s Name, Part 2: Endlessness and the Light of Ein Sof.

Photo: Adaya Walsh
Photo: Adaya Walsh

 By Gilla Nissan

The two forces of The Creator and the creation are known in Kabbalistic terms as the Ein Sof (Endlessness or  אדוני בכבודו ובעצמו  – The No-End Himself with all of His Glory) and the Ohr Ein Sof (Light of the Ein Sof). Creation as we can see, is considered the name of God, the reflection, God’s reputation and the place where the Divine shines His Light.
When we say Light (Orh), it is important to understand that it means a wide range of qualities and capacitiesin our world; the flow of goodness, protection from attracting negativity, harmony, beauty, creativity, clarity, strength and patience,  the ability to see a bigger picture, finding peaceful solutions and implementing them in the world, and the very ability to stay connected, aligned and in an ongoing relation with the source of all blessings. The Creator / Sheffa/ Light; this entity of supreme intelligent, is who we want to attract to ourselves.

When this Light descends to our world, the powers of negativity descend as well. We call it powers of negation or, in Aramaic, the sitra achrah, the powers of “the other side”. Since God is the Creator of both good and bad, light and darkness, these powers too have tasks to fulfill in our world. They are the forces of denial which play important roles in the maintenance of this level /world in which we live our  lives on a day-to-day basis. It is what resists and denies the impulse to do whatever we feel like doing at any time we want to.  In the Tree of Life, this is the attribute called Gevoura /laws and judgment.  It is that which stops the flow of unconditional love, contains it and put borders around it. These forces of denials by setting limits, strengthen and refine our character, thus assuring our return to the Divine, to the Source, the original Divine plan.   Now, these forces — of denial, negation, forgetfulness, indifference, destruction and other varieties of negativity — need to stay within boundaries. They need to serve the Divine plan, not grow out of control and spread like cancer.
In every moment of our life we contribute our energies, our power, and our attention to positive or negative forces – to powers that serve something. There is no break or “time out” or chance of not belonging to one side or the other. We are always somewhere. When we behave “against” the Teaching’s principles / Torah, we make a hole in the Light which comes from above. The Hebrew name for this hole is חילול  /chilul /chalal meaning a defilement, distortion which depletes and limits the power of this Light in our world. We cause an energetic change when we damage this Light.

And because this situation is unavoidable, something happens to start us new and fresh. During every Yom Kippur we receive a new name of God – meaning we receive a new Light, a corrected Light, a complete Light to start a new year. Between Yom Kippur and the harvest festival of Succot, there are four days called “Shem Adonai”, the “Name of God”. Each day one of the four Letters of the name of God descends in her pure and complete form.
The First day Yud descends.
The Second day Hey descends.
The Third day Vav descends.
The Fourth day Hey descends.

Thus, the prayers for God’s mercy, which often ends with the call: “Do it for the sake of Your name”
עשה למען שמך
Grant us an additional opportunity: a new name,  a new Light which creation will try again to work with and not defile. In all that we do and say, may we not create holes in the Light, may energy will not flow in the wrong direction to increase and empower negativity in the world we live in.

Photo: Nofhar Ben Ari
Photo: Nofhar Ben Ari

ברוך אתה אדוני אלוהינו מלך העולם

Blessed are You Adonai, our God, King of the World

This is the most common opening of hundreds of blessings. God is being addressed in four ways: You, Lord – Adonai, our God-our Elohim and King of the World. The last three clearly address God directly, but the first word Attah (you) interestingly, was seen by kabbalists as hinting at God’s creation. How so? Attah is in English, you;

however, in Hebrew, it also means from aleph to tav -את  all the twenty –two Hebrew Letters moving towards the third Letter of the word attah, the Letter Hey (ה), which stands for Havaya, present moment, the here and now and even all that will be. This common blessing,- suggests that what we bless first are the twenty- two Letters and all that we know and do not know yet about them. By doing so, we draw their power down to our life in the present moment.

Only then, after we say Baruch Attah, do we say Adonai-Lord, our God, King of the World. Baruch Attah occurs like this in dozens of blessings over foods, rituals, different life events and different phenomena. By saying Baruch Attah, we set in motion, using the power of speech, an intention– recognized or not– to bless creation in the here and now first!even before God Himself. Perhaps this is because God is the source of all blessings, and through the twenty-two Letters God empowers us first so we can say the blessings and perform our rituals with the right amount of intention / kavanah in our thoughts and feelings. The more kavanah we put in our words, the more life we charge them with and the more response will come back to us. The relationships are reciprocal. This partnership is a mutual feeding. The Lover feeds the beloved and in return she does the same. This is the fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham our Father.

Each time we recite Baruch Attah, we empower the named creation. We reinforce and enliven our life here on earth. The power of speech and intention manifesting through the various Letters we utter is the new perception we are called to experience today. What was practiced by Kabbalists for generations is brought into our understanding and consciousness. We respond to what is needed now and join the effort which was established by our fathers. We consider it a gift to empower creation because creation is in need. It’s our assignment in a time that is called by many a time of paradigm shift.

 Poet, teacher, essayist and innovator of Jewish rituals and ceremony, Gilla Nissan will regularly share  new insights of the ancient Hebrew Letters with Kol ALEPH readers. Her website is www.TheHebrewLetter.com