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Prayer Skills: Or Hame’ir: The Letters and Their Combinations

Because in truth the Torah in its entirety is only letters and every member of Israel, according to his understanding and merit, makes combinations out of the individual letters, and these combinations that were done now anew by the merit of his actions and the depth of his understanding were also potentially in the letters from the beginning.


The enlightened one needs to strip the letters of their physical traits and to clothe them in spirituality, which is the same as making holy combinations; because in truth this is the essence of His pleasure, Blessed is He, when they also raise letters of the Torah from the lower levels to be stripped of their physical form and clothed in spiritual form.

And everywhere that one sees and hears even one utterance from one person to another about issues of physicality and takes from there a hint of the wisdom and strips it of its physical form and makes holy combinations to connect his soul with the heights of His divinity, Blessed is He, and transforms the combination of the physical to make out of these letters combinations of love or awe of God, this transformative effort needs the help of God to establish his thoughts, to know how to strip off the physical shape and to clothe it with spiritual form in holy combinations. (Or Hame’ir; Vayechi page 25a, Miketz 34b)

Each time we listen to a question and hear beyond the words, what it is the questioner really wants, we are practicing, “stripping the words of their physical form.” We practice this in a negative manner all the time, when we read into what people say to us, or even, what they don’t say. We are already familiar with the idea of stripping words of physical form. The more we practice this in a positive way, listening to others, the more skilled we will be at stripping the letters while praying and studying.

“This transformative effort needs the help of God to establish his thoughts,” and when we cry out at the beginning of the Amidah, “My Master! Open my lips,” we are requesting God’s help in this effort.

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