Jewish Thought and History

Rashashian Kavanot as Concrete Poetry

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Jeremy Tibbetts

Editor’s Note: This article contains sheimos. Please bear this in mind when printing this article.

“God… is a three letter poem… approach God language as a poetic force, as a practice-oriented, experientially informed discourse.” -Dave Collins, “Zen and the Art of Unknowing” 27:50 

As a religion which eschews iconography, words are necessarily at the center of Jewish symbolism.[1] We have strict rules about the order of our words of prayer, divine names which cannot be pronounced or erased, and even traditional guidelines on the manner in which our sacred texts can be written. Jewish tradition at times takes a physicalist approach to language in which meaning is ascribed to the physical characteristics of the Hebrew letters themselves.[2] In the 18th century, R. Shalom Sharabi zy”a (or Rashash, 1720-1777) recreated the Lurianic Kabbalistic siddur by turning divine names and Hebrew letters into a sort of automorphic structure for the intangible spiritual worlds, indirectly depicting the undepictable. This concretization of the Hebrew language shares themes with concrete poetry, an aesthetic movement that uses physical and symbolic elements of language to produce poetry. This essay will begin by exploring classical examples of concrete poetry, then turn to its major themes, and finally applying these themes as interpretive principles to Rashashian kavanot. It is my hope that this can increase exposure to the Rashashian prayer system, provide a lens through which to read the different layouts of kavanot in Kabbalistic siddurim, and ultimately inspire other interdisciplinary studies between kavanot and other fields.

Concrete poetry

The oldest extant forms of what could be called concrete poetry are from 3rd century BCE Ancient Greece, first attributed to poet and grammarian Simias of Rhodes, often dubbed “pattern poetry.”[3] In pattern poetry, the words of a poem are arranged in the shape of a certain pattern. In Axe, a poem written in the shape of its title object, Simias praises Epeius of Phocis, the architect of the Trojan War, for redeeming himself from the charge of cowardice by offering Athena the axe he used in the war against Troy. While the words constitute poetry in their own right, the configuration of the poem as an axe adds an additional layer of meaning. Simias’ poem creates a literary representation of the axe of Epeius itself, this time with Simias’ inscription on the axe’s blade.[4] Through this act, Epeius’ axe transcends time and space and exists as it would for Athena beyond our realm. As will be explored below, concrete poetry like Simias’ often intersects with religious themes.

Two versions of Simias’ Axe

Pattern poetry such as Simias’ is also called a calligraph, where words are arranged in order to create a picture. They served as a prevalent form of concrete poetry through the medieval and modern eras.[5] Concrete poetry in its current form emerged in the 1950s through the interconnected works of German concrete poet Eugen Gomringer and the Brazilian group the Noigandres, the latter of which described their work as utilizing “the advantages of non-verbal communication, without renouncing the virtuality of the word.”[6] The Noigandres saw Joyce, Pound, Mallarmé, and other modernists as their main literary precursors. They took letters and words and sought to create art by manipulating the physical forms of the letters without foregoing the meaning of the words themselves. Augusto de Campos’ eis os amantes (here are the lovers) exemplifies what he and his fellow Noigandressought to create in concrete poetry. The progressing words form a sort of “semantic union,” depicting physically through words the unity of two lovers becoming one and the creation of new life through their union.[7] [8]

Campos’ eis os amantes in the original and translation.

One principle in the evaluation of concrete poetry is the importance of symbols and their contextual meanings. Concrete poetry extricates words and symbols from their contexts in order to highlight and extract new meanings. Letters are reworked, undone, and reconfigured to provide new meanings. In a personal favorite, the 20th century Japanese concrete poet Niikuni Seiichi’s elegy takes the kanji-ideogram for “sorrow” and plays on the fact that it is written by combining the kanji for “non” with the kanji for “mind.” Seiichi depicts a flurry of “nons,” scattered and disorganized, while at the bottom “mind” is written very small. The intensity of loss and the associated sorrow and pain form a literal cloud over the mind. It could also be read as creating a sort of thought bubble, depicting a mind in which nothing can be present except for thoughts of absence. The poet supplies the reader with the kanji for “sorrow” to show that which is alluded to but not directly stated by the poem. This poem exemplifies the first principle which will be of use to us in concrete poetry: its message is extra-linguistic. Rather than seeking to use letters and words in their usual syntax, it is precisely by taking them out of their normal uses that concrete poetry employs them for meaning. As Charles Russell has noted[9] and as will be shown below, concrete poetry can be written using non-linguistic symbols, stretching the very definition of what constitutes poetry. The question could be reasonably asked: what makes concrete poetry distinct from other visual arts? What is gained by labeling it as a poem? Concrete poetry intentionally blurs these lines. The concrete poet creates an image that is meant to be “read,” to be analyzed in a similar manner to how we analyze written poetry. By labeling their work as a poem, they lead the reader towards a certain attention to the symbols used and signal to the reader to read them as words. The unique features of analyzing poetry, such as “the visual and auditory patterns… meaning of words and sentences… those properties of words, depending on their history and usage… feeling, attitude towards subject matter and audience, and intent of speaker”[10] come to be applied to pieces of art that we would never otherwise think to apply them to. [11]

Niikuni Seiichi’s elegy

Second, the viewer is critical to concrete poetry. Poetry in general engages the reader intellectually to try to understand the poem, to determine what it means to them and what underlies its symbolism. Concrete poetry takes this one step further by forcing readers to examine their own conventional understandings of poetry. Take 20th century concrete poet and anthologist of concrete poetry Mary Ellen Solt’s Moonshot Sonnet. This sonnet was created using the grid pattern placed over photos that NASA engineers took when photographing the 1968 moon landing. Solt isolated the grid and dubbed it a Petrarchan sonnet, consisting of fourteen lines of five different rhyming sets. It is precisely the inventive use of structure that draws in the reader as a creative partner in the work. In concrete poetry, there is “some loss of semantic control by the poet, but a corresponding increase of opportunity for the reader… the poet sets it all up. He designs the play-ground as a field-of-force & suggests its possible workings. The reader, the new reader, accepts it in the spirit of play, and plays with it.”[12] The knowledge that concrete poetry will play with structure in addition to content opens up new vistas for interpretation. The reader is drawn into a cascade of questions about the poem’s makeup and meaning. Perhaps the writer is suggesting that a sonnet’s structure has come to express love beyond the words that comprise it. Perhaps Solt is likening the NASA engineers to lovers caressing their photographs with electronic grids. It has even been suggested that Solt here is writing “an entreaty to the American reader to appreciate the importance of a ‘worldview’ in the age of peaceful lunar exploration.”[13] There is a playfulness to concrete poetry’s interpretation, a coyness in our own wondering at the inner meaning as our normal syntactical interpretative tools prove ineffective. [14]

Moonshot Sonnet, Mary Ellen Solt

The final principle that will be of use regards concrete poetry’s use of space. The idea of manipulating space in poetry beyond the construction of calligraphs was pioneered by the French Symbolist poet and inspirer of concrete poetry Stéphane Mallarmé in his 1897 poem Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hasard. His assertion in the introduction to the poem that “the ‘blanks’ take on importance, and are what is the most immediately striking” exemplifies what has come to be a hallmark of concrete poetry.[15] The use of space can actually subvert or redirect how the poem is read altogether, as can be seen in the 20th century Turkish poet Metin Altiok’s Bir Uyumsuz Rastlasma (Discordant Encounter). Bir Uyumsuz Rastlasma is a poetic crossroads, offering multiple potentially valid readings by nature of its structure.[16] Altiok does not indicate a fixed start or end-point of the poem to the reader; any line could be the beginning or conclusion. It is specifically through his use of space that Altiok disorients the reader and forces her to create her own reading. This exposes the multi-leveled meaning of the title: not only are the encounters of ruinous earthquakes and burning fires themselves discordant, but the actual information about them is disrupted and discordant. Altiok captures the way that communication and language itself is distorted through disaster. [17]

Bir Uyumsuz Rastlasma and its possible readings.

Poetry often walks hand-in-hand with mysticism. Aubrey Glazer identifies a larger unity between the practitioner of poetry and of mysticism:

both poet and mystic seek to overcome the yearning that separates every human being from the divine. It is that very tantalizing trace of divine consciousness, always almost within reach, that gives way to this deeper yearning to re-ascend after descending into disconnectedness from the divine. That point of reuniting in unitive consciousness is called devekut.[18]

For Glazer, the internal ecstatic journey of the mystic and of the poet are one and the same. This is further reinforced by recent neuroscience which suggests that the areas of the brain which are engaged in the writing and creating of poetry, namely the amygdala, sections of the right temporal lobe, and the orbitofrontal and dorsolateral precortices,[19] are also the areas of the brain which are activated in religious experiences.[20] Concrete poetry is no exception to this connective rule and the religious theme in concrete poetry did not end with Simias over two thousand years ago. The concrete poet Emmett Williams wrote that next to concrete poets, “side by side are militant social reformers, religious mystics, lyricists of love, psychedelic visionaries, engaged philosophers, disinterested philologists and poetypographers.”[21] In williams’ view, the “poetypographers,” or concrete poets, find themselves at the intersection of all of these worldviews, weaving them together into a cohesive whole.

Dom Sylvester Houédard, or dsh, was a Benedictine monk who occupied this intersecting space between concrete poet and mystic. His practice mixed Christianity, Zen, and Tibetan Buddhism, all of which came to expression in the pages born on his typewriter. These “poemobjects,” as he dubbed them, became a manner of putting onto paper his mystical feelings and thoughts. Houédard felt that his typestracts were not simply expressive: “Rather than Dadaist declarations, Houédard believed in the transformative power of his word-based arrangements to elicit linguistic, visual, and spiritual connections, citing previous examples as ‘texts created for concrete use: amulets talismans grigris mani-walls devil traps kemioth tefillin mezuzahs medals sacred-monograms.’”[22] The texts Houdédard cited above are “created for concrete use” due to the fact that, like the scroll in a mezuzah or in tefillin, the written text’s purpose is not to be read but rather to effect some kind of change in an object, such as sanctifying one’s tefillin or protecting one’s home. The concrete poet placed his writing in the same tradition as such religious objects. The writing and usage of concrete poetry extends beyond the usage it served for the creator and the reader, taking on a ritual use. Language has the capacity to transcend the description of the spiritual and take on a prescriptive function, facilitating change in the spiritual and thereby creating something actually new. This is what Hakham José Faur zy”a means in his observation that in Philo’s philosophy, “logos is dynamic: it does not reveal but creates–not as an absolute, but as ciphers and consonants from which the reader must spawn meaning.”[23]

In dsh’s 4 stages of spiritual typewriting, he depicts the progressions of the spiritual writer. The poem depicts different stages in the relationship between the “JE” and the “MOI,” which can be defined as follows: “what we think of as our I, or in Houédard’s interpretive framework, our JE, is actually our MOI, a persona we impute on a continually changing flux of mind experiences and mindevents… the MOI is reborn moment to moment in a continuum of becoming… ‘thru the MOI I intuit 2 sacred néants or nothings ie both JE & god.”[24] The persona or the self (the MOI) proves to be illusory and impermanent, giving way through its finitude to a self intertwined with the divine Nothingness (the JE). This “JE/MOI” flicker, dsh’s name for the dissolution of the moi into the je, is depicted in 4 stages of spiritual typewriting. While the initial movement is the dissolution of the impermanent self, that also comes to fade away, leaving only division. In the fourth and final stage, even division is done away with, or in Kelsang Gyatso’s words, “eventually we shall realize nothingness directly.”[25] There are clear parallels between this four-fold system and the four-leveled Kabbalistic and Hasidic interpretation of the Tetragrammaton and the four worlds of Atzilut, Beriah, Yetzirah, and Asiyah, particularly in the idea that as one ascends higher in the worlds, distinction begins to melt away in the face of the divine.[26] [27]

dsh’s 4 stages of spiritual writing

In sum, the three prevalent themes that define concrete poetry are the use of symbols and words outside of their normative context, the necessity of an active reader, and the importance of space. The symbols and words that are used in concrete poetry are not necessarily used in their normal context and as such cannot necessarily be read as they normally are. It is precisely because these semantic rules are changed that the reader is involved in the meaning-making of the text. This extends beyond the content of the poem and means that the form is critical to determining the meaning of the text. These principles get to the heart of what concrete poetry sets out to accomplish, and they will be useful below as interpretative keys for reading Kabbalistic kavanot.

Rashashian Kavanot

The system of Kabbalistic kavanot as laid out by Rashash emerged from the Lurianic prayer system two hundred years after its initial creation. Ari (also known as Arizal or 1534-1572) created a complex set of intentions to use in prayer. These kavanot provide an inner meaning and channel through which to apply the restorative properties of our words and minds. “There is no doubt,” wrote Ari, “that one who knows how to intend all of this in all its truth will cause the aforementioned interconnections to be achieved by their efforts literally, and there is no limit to their reward.”[28] In a similar key to Houédard, Ari conceives of his kavanot as creating a reality or facilitating a spiritual connection. Kavanot constitute a concrete poetry that creates the concrete. The secrets of the universe’s origins take on a practical application as the thought of them can fix the worlds.

The use of imagery in Kabbalistic texts has not yet received sufficient study, as acknowledged by Marla Segol in the opening chapter of her Word and Image in Medieval Kabbalah. Segol identifies three main motivations for the use of graphics in Kabbalistic manuscripts: to convey information that stands in relation to text, orient the reader cosmologically, and provide instruction in practically applying the information given.[29] These map onto the three central features of concrete poetry: to convey something outside of the text but still within language, create a new spatial orientation for the reader, and engage the reader in the act of meaning-making. The students of Rashash explicitly wrote about their belief in “the wherewithal of kabbalistic poems to ‘do away with the peels [i.e. spiritual impurities], the dark side, and all the abominable spirits.’”[30] It is in this light that we will examine a few of Rashash’s Kabbalistic kavanot, first on their own, then in comparison with different versions as found in the different siddurim.

Upon looking into one of the siddurim written by the students of Ari, one finds the specific kavanah for a given prayer written out as an instruction. The symbolism is secondary to the language. Rashash completely overhauled the Lurianic siddur. Using the principles in R. Hayyim Vital zy”a’s (1542-1620, Ari’s main disciple) Etz Hayyim Sha’ar Ha-Sheimot that map a name of God onto every spiritual entity, Rashash created a siddur that illustrated the kavanot system entirely coded through the different names of God.[31] Rather than using the language of Ari to explain what to do, Rashash in a sense depicted it through a method intended precisely to prevent corporealization and depiction of the divine. For instance, the tree of ten sefirot is transformed into a branching structure of names one atop the other. Rashash’s linguistic recasting of Ari’s kavanot is at once both hieroglyphic and pictographic: the words are replaced with non-verbal symbols which visually represent their subjects, and from these hieroglyphs the actual spiritual entities being manipulated through our intentions are indirectly depicted.

Rashash delved into the Lurianic corpus and reformed the Kabbalistic siddur from the raw material. For example, the kavanah of the merkavah, in which one intends to make himself a vehicle for the Shekhinah, is listed in Sha’ar Ruah Ha-Kodesh as a yihud “that is always fit to intend… particularly at the moment when a person is praying.”[32] Similar to De Campos’ eis os amantes, the culmination of Ari’s and thereby Rashash’s Kabbalistic kavanot are zivug and yihud, the intercourse and interconnection of two parts of the upper worlds in order to create a new flow of vitality and energy below. The Kabbalists intentionally use the metaphor of human sexuality to describe these unifications.[33] Only one siddur from the direct students of Ari contains any kavanot from works besides Peri Etz Hayyim and Sha’ar Ha-Kavanot, the principle Lurianic works on tefillah. While the Hasidim opposed these additions,[34] Rashash would develop a similar line of thinking in certain elements of his siddur. Not only were the preexisting kavanot reimagined in a concrete manner, but new kavanot were also integrated into the siddur. The kavanat ha-merkavah is listed in many siddurei Rashash right before the Amidah, turning an undefined kavanah in Ari’s writings into an actual piece of the prayer book. Additionally, Rashash recast it in concrete terms. It is here that the principles distilled above can be applied.

Take the symbols Rashash uses to rewrite kavanat ha-merkavah. While Ari provides only an explanation of where one should imagine the names of God mapped onto his body, Rashash creates the physical map so that one can see a sort of reflection of the body printed in the siddur. The siddur becomes a sort of mirror, drawing a person into himself before beginning the Amidah. This is also accomplished through Rashash’s depiction of many body parts as containing an inner and outer part, allowing a person to draw energy inward or effuse it outward. Rashash’s use of space is also worth noting. His depiction reconfigures a person with the head as the largest and most central part of the body. A page and a half is devoted to the depiction of the head and only half a page to the rest of the body. This calls to mind the creation of the universe through the world of Adam Kadmon, whose descending creative lights are called the “eyes, ears, nose, and mouth.”[35] R. Hayyim Vital’s statement that the kavanat ha-merkavah is the secret of the verse “know God in all your ways” (Mishlei 3:6)[36] can be understood anew through this Rashashian reconfiguring, as our very ability for sensory perception becomes a way to know the divine. Rashash reveals through this kavanah his understanding of the essence of a person as their head and particularly their face: the power of the kavanat ha-merkavah is “to grant a person any knowledge they want as long as they do not stop thinking this for a moment and they don’t separate their thoughts from it, for it all depends on the strength of their intention and cleaving to what is above.”[37] The kavanah’s starting point and end result are in one’s head. This kavanah therefore becomes a depiction of the human body as it is idealized spirituality and not as it is physically. All of these coalesce to create a highly involved experience when performing this yihud, causing a person to read herself into the siddur and through it. These are some of the ways that the principles of concrete poetry can be applied to interpret and draw new meanings from Rashashian kavanot which are latent but not explicit in the text. [38]

Kavanat ha-merkavah as laid out by Rashash, from right to left

Such principles can be applied not only when looking at individual kavanot but also when examining the same kavanah across different authors of Kabbalistic siddurim. As part of the kavanah for bringing together the upper worlds, Vital wrote that individuals should intend to “give up their life to sanctify God’s name through which all of their sins are forgiven, giving them the ability to rise upwards… and to bring malkhut up with us,” described in the same essay as the essential work of all of our prayers.[39] In a different essay, Vital explains how this is accomplished: “place before your eyes two names, the Tetragrammaton and shem Adnut, and connect them.”[40] Rashash adds without explanation that one must see these names connected by the name Ekyeh.[41]

The layout of this kavanah takes different forms in different siddurei Rashash. In the siddur Ha-YaReH made by R. Yedidiah Refael Hai Abulafia (1806-1869), the kavanah places the names in the order they were written in the source material, going from the Tetragrammaton to Shem Adnut and ending with Ekyeh. This use of space denotes the centrality of the connection of the two names in which the act of mesirut nefesh is rooted.[42] There is a logic to this layout in which one is able to read these aligned names as a sort of text of their own, progressing through the actual names in the same order as they are given in the explanatory text. R. Hayyim Shaul ha-Kohen Dweck (1857-1933), publisher of the Siddur Ha-Nidpas, lays out the kavanah differently. In his depiction, Ekyeh is placed in between the two names that it unifies, acting as a spiritual adhesive for the two. This layout centers the role of Ekyeh as facilitating their connection and allowing for the elevation of the self and malkhut with it. Later siddurim use a sort of mixed model in which the names are put together in pseudo-sentences explaining what to do with them. These more recent siddurim actually engage the reader in a potentially deeper way than the previous printings in that they do not directly depict what one is to “place before your eyes.” In this way, the principles distilled from concrete poetry above become useful beyond their status as interpretive keys and actually constitute benchmarks through which to evaluate different kavanot. None of the kavanot below are inaccurate, nor are they trying to express anything different than each other. There is a degree to which one is making an aesthetic choice by preferring one layout over another. [43] [44] [45]

From right to left: mesirut nefesh in the siddur Ha-YaReH, Siddur Ha-Nidpas, and Siddur Torat Haham.

The kavanah of the twenty two letters will serve as a final example. These letters serve as the building blocks for the lower worlds. The lower worlds are compared to a fetus, as the letters act as a nutritional agent rooted in the upper worlds for the lower world’s construction.[46] While normally they reside in the upper worlds “above the heads” of the lower world as written by R. Hayyim Vital, they are drawn down when we say the word barukh.[47] These letters descend in accordance with the pre-existing three-part structure of the worlds such that the first seven letters are on the right side, the middle seven letters are on the left side, and the final eight letters are in the middle.[48] Most siddurim, though, do not print this intention this way. In the Siddur Ha-YaReH, for example, the letters are arranged in pairs in a single line. In the Siddur Ha-Nidpas, they are arranged in two rows of eleven letters, one atop the other. Both arrangements call to mind Sefer Yetzirah’s 231 “gates,” in which letters are paired up to activate their creative potential.[49] Furthermore, both have established Kabbalistic import, with the right to left a”b g”d progressive pairing representing a movement of divine flow outwards,[50] and the top down progression of a”l b”m representing the transition from concealment to revelation.[51] Both representations of the formative twenty two letters provide deeper meanings that can be seen as complements to the initial meaning laid out in Sha’ar Ha-Kavanot, intertwining different layers of Kabbalistic meaning latent in the letters as symbols beyond their defined use in this kavanah. These spatial arrangements require an involved reader who can know how to parse and distribute the letters to their appropriate place in the worlds below them. In the recently printed Siddur Etz Ha-Tidhar by R. Tidhar Azulai, the letters are arranged in line with the language of Sha’ar Ha-Kavanot. [52] [53] [54]

From top to bottom: the kavanah of the twenty two letters from the Siddur Ha-YaReH, Siddur Ha-Nidpas, and Siddur Etz Tidhar.

Conclusion

The role of written language as it relates to spoken language continues to be debated today by linguists.[55] Rashashian kavanot, and concrete poetry more largely, forge a new path in their analysis of the relationship between word, language, and meaning. The ability to supply new meanings to linguistic symbols allows for new vistas of interpretation to be opened which could not otherwise be. I hope that this essay has served to bring forward new layers of meaning previously latent in these kavanot and can inspire deeper study into Rashash’s system of kavanot, both on their own and through an interdisciplinary lens.

May it be Your will that through making further yihudim and connections between different types of wisdom and our uniquely Jewish wisdom, we can attain holy and pure perspective on the world as described by Rav Kook zy”a: “people–eager to affirm their ideological stances–battle against the so-called ‘evils’ which arise in the world: scientific knowledge, heroism, beauty, and order… all of this is a grave error, and displays a lack of faith. The ‘pure view’ sees God’s appearance in all worldly progress.”[56]


[1] My thanks to Joey Rosenfeld for his encouragement and his feedback on this piece.

[2] See Shabbat 104a. This is also highly prevalent in Kabbalistic works: see for example R. Elazar Rokeach’s Sodi Rezaya Vol 1. as well as numerous passages in Etz Hayyim, such as 1:5, 4:4, and 4:5.

[3] ”Simias’ Pattern Poems: The Margins of the Canon” by Luis Arturo Guichard, pg. 84.

[4] Ibid., pg. 90.

[5] Ibid., pg. 85.

[6] ”Speaking About Genre: The Case of Concrete Poetry by Victoria Pineda, pg. 380.

[7] “The Noigandres Poets and Concrete Art” by Claus Clüver.

[8] Ibid. Clüver also briefly discusses the inverted color scheme of the translation, drawing further attention to the inversion of the text via its translation.

[9] “Word and Image” by Charles Russell.

[10] “The Interpretation of Poetry” by Isabel C. Hungerland, pg. 352.

[11] Niikuni Seiichi’s elegy appears in Zero-On by Niikuni Seiichi, pg. 157.

[12] “Concrete Poetry” by R.P. Draper, pg. 332.

[13] “Concrete Poetry in America: A Story of Intermedia Performance, Publishing, and Pop Appeal” by Craig Saper.

[14] Ibid.

[15] “Reading Space in Visual Poetry: New Cognitive Perspectives” by Knowles, Schaffner, Weger, and Roberts.

[16] “Concrete Poetry in Turkish Literature” by Türkan Topcu.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Mystical Vertigo: Contemporary Kabbalistic Hebrew Poetry Dancing Over the Divide by Aubrey L. Glazer, pg. 94.

[19] “Brain activity and connectivity during poetry composition: Toward a multidimensional model of the creative process” by Liu, S. et. al.

[20] The Neuroscience of Religious Experience by Patrick McNamara, pg. 105. Interestingly, these areas of the brain are also involved in love. For more on this, see “The neuroscience of love, mysticism and poetry” by John Cornwell and the referenced book by Semir Zeki, Splendours and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity, and the Quest for Human Happiness.

[21] Anthology of Concrete Poetry by Emmett Williams, pg. vii.

[22] “Dom Sylvester Houédard” by Victoria Mitchell. A gris-gris (meaning “magic”) is a bag containing a ritual charm originating within Ghanian Vodun traditions that can bring good or bad luck depending on the intention of the user. Mani-walls (mani meaning “jewel” or “bead”) are walls made of mani-stones, carved with the ritual mantra om mani padme hum, which line the path to ritual sites.

[23] The Horizontal Society: Understanding the Covenant and Alphabetic Judaism, pg. 10. Although Faur was a highly rationalist thinker even to the point of being anti-mystical and would probably not agree with how I am using this quote, his insight into Philo stands on its own.

[24] Right mind-minding: the practice and transmission of Zen and Tantric Buddhist method practices in the poemobjects of Dom Sylvester Houédard, 1960-1975 by Nicola Jane Simpson, pgs. 53-54.

[25] Ibid., 59.

[26] See for example Sha’arei Kedushah 3:1, Sha’ar Ha-Shamayim 6:1, Siddur Tefillah Yesharah Keter Nehora Hakdamah Rishonah, and Torah Ohr Miketz 41a. See also Simpson, pg. 61 for the discussion of a hidden and highest fifth level in the je/moi flicker in comparison to Sha’arei Kedushah and Sha’ar Ha-Shamayim which discuss Adam Kadmon as the hidden fifth world.

[27] Simpson, pg. 57.

[28] Sha’ar Ha-Kavanot Drushei Laylah #4.

[29] Word and Image in Medieval Kabbalah by Marla Segol, pgs. 8-9.

[30] Kabbalistic Circles in Jerusalem (1896-1948) by Jonatan Meir, pgs. 170-171.

[31] “Contemporary Kabbalistic Publishing in the Middle Eastern Tradition” by Pinchas Giller.

[32] Sha’ar Ruah Ha-Kodesh Yihud #21.

[33] See Pinchas Giller’s Shalom Shar’abi and the Kabbalists of Beit El pg. 26.

[34] See R. Yitzchak Meir Morgenstern shlit”a’s approbation to the Siddur Sha’ar Ruah Ha-Kodesh, a siddur designed specifically to integrate the yihudim of works like Sha’ar Ruah Ha-Kodesh and Sha’ar Ha-Yihudim into the daily prayer service.

[35] Etz Hayyim Sha’ar Iggulim Ve-Yosher Drush #3.

[36] Sha’ar Ruah Ha-Kodesh Yihud #21.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Sha’ar Ruah Ha-Kodesh Im Sha’arei Hayyim pgs. 704-705. For a full exploration of the evolution of this yihud, see R. Aryeh Yitzchak Samet shlit”a’s Be-Tuv Yerushalayim Darkhei Hasagah Vol 1. pgs. 186-193.

[39] Sha’ar Ha-Kavanot Drushei Kavanot Kri’at Shema #6.

[40] Sha’ar Ha-Kavanot Drushei Ha-Laylah #5.

[41] See R. Yechezkel Bing shlit”a’s Nekudot Ha-Kesef Vol. 1 pgs. 529-531 for further analysis of this addition.

[42] Nekudot Ha-Kesef Vol. 1 pg. 531.

[43] Siddur Ha-YaReH Vol. 1 pg. 313.

[44] Nekudot Ha-Kesef Vol. 2 pg. 85.

[45] Siddur Torat Hokhom Le-Yemot Hol pg. 438. A similar layout is followed in R. Tidhar Azulai’s Siddur Etz Tidhar Anaf Minhah V-Arvit pg. 65

[46] Bati Le-Gani pg. 74a-74b.

[47] Sha’ar Ha-Kavanot Drushei Ha-Amidah #2.

[48] Ibid., based on Zohar Vol 1. pg. 16b.

[49] Sefer Yetzirah 2:7-10.

[50] Etz Hayyim 40:13.

[51] Emek Ha-Melekh 1:60.

[52] Siddur Ha-YaReH Vol. 1 pg. 304.

[53] Nekudot Ha-Kesef Vol. 2 pg. 52.

[54] Siddur Etz Tidhar Anaf Minhah V-Arvit pg. 126.

[55] “The Relation Between Written and Spoken Language” by Wallace Chafe and Deborah Tannen.

[56] Shemoneh Kevatzim 2:190. Translation adapted from R. Hillel Rachmani’s “The Essence of the Holy and the Secular.”