Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hisbonenus: Three Levels

We live in a world of spiritual darkness, of helem vehester, divine concealment. We know that Hashem is the true reality, but we do not feel it. How can we transcend the physical to become truly sensitive to Elokus (G-dliness)? Normally, only through Hisbonenus, which involves in-depth, lengthy meditation on a sechel Eloki, a G-dly concept. (There are certain prerequisites for Hisbonenus, but we will leave that for another post, im yirtzeh Hashem.) In Hisbonenus itself there are three stages, and one must proceed in order for it to work. Otherwise one stands no chance of reaching a true hergesh (feeling) of Elokus. The Frierdiker Rebbe tells us how:

This is the HaYom Yom of 20 Tammuz in Hebrew:
שלושה מיני התבוננות הם: א) התבוננות לימודית - אחר שמבין הענין על בוריו, הוא מתבונן בעומק הענין ההוא, עד שהשכלי מאיר אצלו. ב) שקודם התפלה - ענינה הרגש חיות הענין שלמד, ולא הרגש השכלי כמו בהתבוננות לימודית. ג) שבתפלה - ענינה הרגש האלוקות שבענין שלמד. שלש אלה הם שליבות סולם ההרגשה ורק בחסדי השי"ת עמנו מרגישים לפעמים - "דעהערט מען" - אלוקות בלי שום עבודה כלל, והוא מפני מעלת העצמות שיש בנשמה, אבל מצד העבודה שבכח עצמו מוכרחים שלש הנ"ל.
This is the HaYom Yom of 20 Tammuz in English:
There are three forms of Hisbonenus (meditation):

1. Study-meditation: After mastering the concept thoroughly, one meditates on its profundity, until the intellectual element shines forth for him.

2. Meditation before Tefillah: This is directed toward sensing the vitality of the concept learned, in contrast to sensing the intellectual element emphasized in study-meditation.

3. Meditation during Tefillah: To sense the "G-dly element" in the concept learned.

These are the three rungs on the ladder of sensitivity [to G-dliness]. It is only by G-d's kindness towards us that we may occasionally sense G-dliness spontaneously, without any Avodah at all. This comes about by virtue of the quality of Ultimate Essential G-dhood within the soul. For Avodah by one's own efforts, however, these three forms of meditation are essential.