Below are some very practical meditations that help to experience and live the holiness of Shabbat – in a very real way.
by Kabbalist Rav Yitzchak Schwartz
What follows is a number of Shabbat meditations and a short summary of the Torah principles which they are based on.
All of these meditations are drawn from a series of Shabbat essays taught by the previous Slonimer Rebbe (Zatzal) in the second volume of his work Netivot Shalom. The common thread running through all of his essays (and I have only chosen a select few) is consciousness … the unique sublime Garden of Eden consciousness that we all can get a taste of in this world with a concerted effort…… and thereby sensitize ourselves to a life of true paradise in this world and in the next one.
I hope that by practicing these meditations we can open up more and more of this sensitivity.
1. ASCENT MEDITATION
(An introductory meditation or mind state which is the root of all the other meditations and mind states). The Kabbalah teaches that starting on Friday afternoon and culminating towards the end of Shabbat, there occurs “Aliyat Olamot” – “Ascent of the Worlds”. The imagery presented to us is that of one world rising or elevating against a backdrop of its present placement up to a realm which is above any type of negativity whatsoever. Practically speaking, this can be experienced as an ever deepening state of awareness of one’s soul and the removal, layer after layer of all that which separates it from the Master of the Universe.
********Focus on your present state of being, physically, emotionally, spiritually etc. See yourself now entering into a sort of cosmic elevator which climbs incrementally from one floor of a tall building to the next higher one to the next etc etc until it reaches the top.
Every time that elevator climbs up a few floors, focus again on the various aspects of your state of being, and allow yourself to experience a pure and holy state of being, stripped of all pretence and falseness and negativity ….focus on how this consciousness saturates you through and through and allows you to experience your inner Divine self.
Allow more and more of this pure holy positive Divine energy to saturate you more and more as the elevator climbs.
2. THE RETROACTIVE FUSION MEDITATION
When one is privileged to experience a higher state of being, they feel as if all that they do and accomplish, is not really them at all, but rather Hashem doing it through them. This is not only true of their present state of being, but is also true with regard to what they can recall of their past accomplishments.
********Focus on a list of the highlights of your previous weeks – either based on a written one, or a stream of thought recollection that you do in your mind right now.
First see every detail and feeling of your week’s highlights or main accomplishments as being that of your own doing.
Then reframe every aspect of every accomplishment as being infused, enabled and empowered by The Master of the Universe.
3. THE EVERYTHING IS PERFECT MEDITATION
Shabbat is a mindset that is patterned after a future era when there will be nothing lacking, not in people nor in anything else. All will be experienced as being whole and perfect just as it is, and there will be no need to rectify anything or anyone else including ourselves.
*******Focus on seeing everyone in your life in their perfected state; First scan the people you know (start with one or two and expand your list), and foresee or project what they will be like when they eventually reach their state of perfection.
Then project how differently you will relate to them when you are seeing them in this state.
Next see even their areas of lack as being stepping stones towards their perfection.
Finally, in real life, relate to these people as if you already see them in their perfected state.
Do the same entire process for yourself.
4. THE PLEASURE (Oneg) MEDITATION
Rebbe Shlomo of Karlin Ob’m taught what was overheard, being declared in the heavenly realms, an extremely important lesson; ‘‘Even if a person is very careful to observe all of the positive and negative commandments of Shabbat in all of their fine detail (and to properly observe these Mitzvot in all of their fine detail is of utmost importance, of utmost severity and requires a huge investment of energy), but nevertheless do not make a concerted effort in this life to feel or to experience at all the sweetness and pleasure of the Shabbat, so too, when they get upstairs in their post life eternal environment, they will not experience this pleasure and will rather be like an unfeeling bench!’’ This is because the atmosphere of the spiritual strata is filled with only pleasure and happiness, and if one doesn’t condition oneself to this atmosphere now, how will they be sensitized to it in the future?!
********Focus on taking pleasure on:
THE PAST: All the accomplishments that Hashem allowed you to accomplish last week.
THE PRESENT: All the physical delights of the day – eating, sleeping breathing and other bodily pleasures as well as spiritual pleasures.
THE FUTURE: Ask that Hashem should surprise and delight you for the remainder of the day.
5. THE REBIRTH MEDITATION
When we are plugged in to the true energy of Shabbat, i.e., being so much in Devakut in a fused clinging state with Hashem that we know that anything we do or want that is against Hashem’s will is not really our will, but something external to ourselves, then Shabbat provides us with a similar effect as that of Yom Kippur – a cleansing, purifying atoning, rebirth effect.
********Plug in to how Shabbat allows me to connect with my true Ratzon (primal will)…. and see that it is truly an extension of G-d’s Will, and all that I do, or have done in the past that is not on this pure Divine fused soul level, is not the real me, but something external to me.
Now focus on how this mindset infuses me with a spiritual purity and cleansing that ultimately enables me to feel like I am being reborn.
6. THE EXTRA SOUL MEDITATION
We receive a gift on Shabbat —a gift referred to as an Extra Soul [Neshama Yetyairah]……the Verse says that upon completion of the initial Creation process Hashem rested—the word describing this Divine Rest, is ‘VAYINAFASH’—-this represents a state of mind , where one’s Soul takes center stage—where one is primally motivated on Soul matters, such as one’s Eternal Divine purpose , life force, mission and pleasure…..the Kabbalists inform us that there are actually real Souls from the Garden of Eden that come into us and fill us up with their presence for the duration of the Shabbat
*********At the beginning of Shabbat and through out the night and day, be present to the inner elevated feeling that you experience-your ‘Neshama Yetairah’—-notice how the way that you relate to others to yourself , to G-d and to life in general is elevated….Cultivate this experience—notice how one Shabbat’s ‘Extra soul’ feeling is different than another Shabbat….notice how this Extra soul goes through a growth process on Shabbat itself, and how this experience relates very much to your previous week, and how, by being present with this experience, you can actually draw it into your upcoming
7. THE RAAVA D’RAAVIM [WILL OF WILLS] MEDITATION
Before departing Shabbat, we reach the culmination point—the highest ascent of consciousness….This state of being comes at the time when the sun is going down and the light of day grows dim and there is an internal knowledge that the power of the day will soon be taken away from us—and we will be called upon to jump into the cloudiness and darkness of the weekday world, where we must constantly cope with trials and tribulations to the best of our creative abilities……..so our hearts open up with the deepest of yearnings —a yearning to be able to stay here alone in the Presence of the Lord, and at the same time, a yearning to be able to draw upon all of the insights and heart-openings that we experience right now—into the coming week
*********As the Holy Shabbat day draws to a close, allow yourself to feel a deep yearning welling up inside of you—a yearning to return to the Divine womb….a yearning to constantly be inside of Shabbat…. A yearning to cling to Hashem constantly with every thread of your being…. A yearning to be able to draw from all the highest times [such as this present moment], into the low times [such as the weekday-relative to Shabbat]—to draw down all of the feelings and insights and love and awakeness.