You can use this method to; lead you in to deeper prayer. prepare yourself for Torah study or to unwind from a hard day/week. (Corresponding to the emotional, intellectual and physical aspects of Deuteronomy 6:5).*
Tzimtzum is defined as a contraction or restriction. Tzimtzum is a foundational principle of meditation as contraction precedes and makes room for expansion. We seek to block out the mundane in order to connect to the spiritual. (Fasting functions in much the same way.)
Music is a powerful force to effect tzimtzum. Through the Tenakh we find music is used to make connection to Hashem. (Click here to see ‘Meditation and the Bible, Aryeh Kaplan, pp. 63-65 on this subject.)
ABYA is an acronym for the “Four Worlds of Existence,” Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah and Asiya (from the ‘top down.’) As humans we have emotional, intellectual, physical and spiritual aspects that correspond to these, again reflecting Deuteronomy 6:5 (i.e., G-d/spiritual, heart/emotion, mind/intellect, strength/physical)
You may have your relaxation techniques. The following is only a suggestion.
- Find a comfortable chair you can softly sway back in forth in. (Office chairs can be great!)
- Close your eyes for each song as it begins
- Relax your shoulders as you gently rock with the rhythm.
- Take note of your breathing in rhythm to the music.
- Feel free to let your hands free to flow or gently move your toes.
- Let any thoughts you have return to the music. Each time, in your mind think: ‘There is G-d, there is only G-d.’
- Continue to breathe, sway and relax your shoulders, as needed.
With time you may experience the sense of your nefesh moving closer to G-d and back and closer and back. It’s all good. You will ‘travel to and fro,’ as Daniel wrote.
The following four videos were selected due to aspects they share to each level of ABYA. They are by no means restricted to these concepts and there are many other good ones you can use for this purpose.
For each video we offer concepts associated with that particular world of ABYA. We proceed in the ‘reverse order’ (with Asiyah first) as ABYA normally presents from the ‘top down’ and we’re looking to connect from the ‘bottom up’ so to speak.
Note that the videos feature performers in the (reverse) order of feminine, masculine, feminine, masculine, in accordance with the four worlds and 4-letter name (YHVH) as taught in traditional kabbalah.
We begin with the ‘closest’ of the four worlds to us, Asiyah (‘Making’). This world is also associated with several concepts, which you may choose to reflect on (one or more):
- The Sefirah of Malkhut (Kingdom) and the ‘physical’ world and self. it makes sense that this is our ‘starting point.’
- Malkhut is called ‘the first gate’ (Sha’are Orah) and is associated with the attribute of ‘humility,’ giving access to ‘all’ above.
- The last of the seven middot, separated from the other six (see below).
- This is the realm of the “Shekinah,” the Divine Presence within Creation and with Israel in exile.
- The concept of ‘Jerusalem below’ is associated with Malkhut and Asiyah.
- Talmud Ta’anith 5a says G-d will not enter Jerusalem above until He enters Jerusalem below first.
- The last letter “Hey” (in the name YHVH) relates to the partzuf (persona) of ‘bride.’ All of Israel and the Shekinah are ‘bride.’
- The first of five levels of the soul called ‘Nefesh.”
- The song depicts the themes of Jerusalem being in exile and one wishing to bring it tikkun being humble. (English lyrics here.)
We proceed to the the next world of Yetzirah (‘Formation’) Concepts associated with this world include:
- The next six Sefirot called ‘Zeir Anpin’ (‘lesser countenance’), the upper six of the seven middot.
- The letter vav with a value of six. The vav represents a ‘hook’ connecting the physical and upper spiritual worlds.
- The concept of Sulam Yaacov (‘Jacob’s Ladder’ from Genesis 28) functioning as the ‘vav’ and connecting the four worlds.
- This is the realm of the ‘tzadik,’ the righteous person dedicated for functioning as the vav and ladder.
- The third letter ‘Vav’ (in the name YHVH) relating to the partzuf (persona) of ‘groom’ or ‘son.’ (Thus the ‘masculine’ attribute.)
- The second level of the soul called Ruach. This is where a person ‘struggles’ between the carnal and the spiritual.
- Note the man in the video that the ‘spiritual group’ meets on the street. He is the tzaddik who connects them to the ‘bride,’ which transforms the physical home.
Continuing upward is the third world of Beriah/Creation.
- The ‘upper feminine.’ The partzuf of ‘Imma’ (mother) also called ‘Jerusalem above’ and ‘upper (aspect of the) Shekinah.’
- The ‘heavens’ (shemayim) which is plural as there are considered seven within Beriah
- The first of the upper three Sefirot – Binah/Understanding – beyond the seven middot (lower seven Sefirot)
- The realm of the ‘heavenly throne room’ of G-d
- The second letter ‘Hey’ (in the name YHVH) which is never separated from the first letter Yud
- The third level of the soul called Neshama (‘Breath,’ first seen in Genesis 2:7)
- The video is the Ana Bekoah prayer, consisting of seven verses aligned with the seven middot.
- It is performed by women, representing the feminine aspect of Beriah and Binah, the ‘house’ with ‘seven pillars’ in Proverbs 9:1 (i.e., the seven middot)
The last of the four worlds is Atzilut (‘nearness’) reflecting the aspect of “G-d” as seen above the heavens in Jacob’s ladder dream.
- The first Sefirah of Chochmah/Wisdom, which comes out of ‘nothingness.’ (i.e., Job 28:12)
- The concept of ‘Existence’ prior to Creation/Beriah (‘In the beginning …’ Genesis 1:1)
- The first letter ‘Yud’ (in the name YHVH) relating to the partzuf (persona) of ‘Abba/Father.’
- The fourth level of the soul, generally not attained by humans in this life, called Chaya (Life force)
- The song reflects a longing for G-d to help us ‘for His own sake.’
For your own sake act, our G-d, and not for ours.
Behold our position, impoverished and empty.
The soul is yours, and the body is thy work:
O have compassion on your labor.
* See http://www.13petals.org/soulchart for an expanded chart on applications to ABYA that you can reflect on and study in depth.