Prayer Skills: Chanukah Kavanot
When the Children of Israel thirsted for water in the desert, God told Moses, “Behold, I will stand before you buy the rock and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people shall drink (Exodus 17:6).” The obvious difficulty here is how God can say, “I will stand before you.” We know that, “the whole earth is filled with His glory,” and, “no place is empty of Him begin parenthesis Isaiah 6:3).” How can God say that He was standing by a rock, which seemingly implies that He was not elsewhere?
We can understand this, however, in terms of the following teaching: Our sages state, “Standing can only mean prayer, as it is written, “Pinchas stood up and prayed (Psalms 106:30).” [Berachot 6b]
This teaching also presents a difficulty. Do we not find any mention of standing, except in relation to prayer? It is obvious that this has a deeper meaning, and cannot simply be taken literally.
Actually, when our sages say that “standing” means prayer, they were not speaking of ordinary people. They were speaking of individuals who can never be said to be “standing.” All their lives, they are moving, both intellectually and spiritually, from one level to the next, from one spiritual universe to another.
When a person wants to serve God in all universes, attaining true devotion and closeness to God, he must seek this day and night. He must involve himself in Torah study and prayer, and if he wishes to go still further, must use special Kavanot that allow him to be helped by the holy angels and spiritual forces in each universe, as well as all the Divine Attributes.
It is impossible for such a person to stand still, and for this reason the righteous are called “moving (Zechariah 3:7).”
[Tools: Keep this in mind while reading the Hanukkah Haftarah.]
The only time that it is at all possible for such a person to stand still, is during prayer, which is attachment to God.
A person goes through all universes through the songs and praises that he says in the Pesukei d’Zimrah, and each time he comprehends more information through the Divine Attributes [The Way of God 4:6:10; Zohar I 266b]
[Use a Kavanah for Pesukei d’Zimrah]
Still, he has not yet reached the King Himself. He has not yet reached the level where he is literally attached to Him and near Him, without any intervention or barrier, even those of holiness.
The only time that it is possible to accomplish this is when one reaches the Lights of the Simple Infinite Essence. This is in the universe of Atzilut, or, “Nearness,” derived from the word, “Eitzel,” meaning near. It is here that one literally stands near to God.
One can reach this level during the Amidah. His position in the upper worlds is then in the Spiritual Universe of Atzilut, where there is no barrier or window, even of holiness, separating one from the Infinite. All that exists there are the Lights of the Infinite Essence, surrounding the person from all sides. On this level, a person literally, “pours out his words before God (Psalms 102:1, 142:3).”
Until this point, this is not the case. Even though there is an aspect of Nearness in each universe, this is only a garment of the Simple Unity. Therefore, as long as one is going from world to world in the lower universes, he can only attain Nearness and Attachment through the universe in which he’s standing. If the person is in the Universe of Action, Asiah, this is called the Nearness of Action. When he ascends to the world of Angels, he is then in Nearness of Formation.
Finally, the individual reaches the level of Nearness of Nearness. From there he can go no further.
On this level, one must imagine that he is standing before God alone, and is surrounded by Is Essence. The person is then presenting his petition before God, supplicating Him, “like a child before his Father (Ta’anit 3:8).” On this level, it is impossible to “move” at all.
This is why this prayer is called the Standing Prayer, or Amidah. The person is then “standing” before God.
Our sages therefore say that “standing can only mean prayer.” How can such a person stand still? The answer must be that he was standing in prayer, standing before God, at a place where it is impossible to go further.
All that we do below motivates a Counterpart on high. Therefore, when we are on a level of standing before God alone, then out of His love for His people, He parallels our action. Then, just as we stand before God, He “stands” before us.
Our thoughts reach out to the central Point, which is God’s Essence, the Root of all things, the innermost Point that gives existence to all. God parallels this and constricts Himself, making Himself “stand” on the point that is Israel, the point of thought from which He willed the creation of all.
Everything was brought into being in order that God should be able to bestow good upon us. This is the main Fought, and the Foundation capstone, upon which the world was founded (Yoma 54b). This is the foundation of the universe.
It is for this reason that God is called the “Rock of Israel (II Samuel 23:3).” The Hebrew word for Rock has the same meaning as Tzurah, meaning, “form.” The “Form” of Israel is engraved by God on the Throne of Glory.
It is for this reason that God said, “I will stand before you by the Rock.” (Kedushat Levi; Beshalach)
Application: When we sing the Maoz Tzur, we should focus on God both as our Rock, and the source of our Formation.
We should had the intention when standing during the Amidah to be standing before God at a place from which there is no possible movement further or higher.
We can achieve the same state of “Standing” while standing and lighting our Hanukkah candles.
Chanukah was one of the most powerful expressions of Counterpart; God responding to our actions: The miracle of the oil was God’s acknowledgement of how we achieved so much with so little.