Invoking the Holy Letters of the Aleph-Beit for PeaceBy Deena Metzger
[Metzger is the author, among many other works, of the midrashic novel What Dina Thought.]
In the ancient tradition of Kabbalah, the quality and spiritual energy of the Holy Letters can be invoked for the sake of Creation. To do this with a pure heart, is to humbly pray that a door be opened so that the Divine can enter and suffuse the world.
These prayers or Invocations came to me the week of April 10th. At the time when Israel was embroiled in the horrors of war, I was taken by the idea of creating a Jewish esoteric practice of Peacemaking through the Sacred Letters. The Letters may indeed be the original building blocks of creation and if so we are given a gift and possibility by the opportunity to summon them on behalf of Divine Creation.
Approached with the profound humility and devoted Kavanah that these times require, these Invocations may be effective prayers for the sake of Peace and Tikkun Olam, the repair of the entire world.
A three part practice, both esoteric and exoteric: Meditating upon, contemplating, understanding the meanings and potential of the Letters as the essential elements of Peace and peacemaking. Invoking the Letters so that Peace enters the world. Living the Letters, meeting each situation and conflict with the wisdom and insight that the individual Letters and the Letters together imply. That is becoming peacemakers. All of this following from the understanding that if we want Peace, we are called to act on it with all our hearts and souls.
The call to offer these Invocations came to me after I realized that each one of the Letters, not only individual Letters the Samech, let's say is essential to the peace process and that invoked together the Letters constitute another energy altogether. This affirms the idea that the essential act of peacemaking and the essential act of Creation are similar and related in their reliance on the equal inclusion of all beings and all possibilities, all the qualities and all the elements.
May these Invocations be a Blessing to you and to the world in these times.
May Peace come.
I wish to acknowledge with much gratitude, the work of Yitzchak Ginsburgh, The Alef-Beit, Lawrence Kushner, The Book of Letters, and Edward Hoffman, The Kabbalah Deck, as being central to the development to this work. The first lines of the Kaddish in English are from a new translation by poet Peter Levitt and Rabbi Don Singer.
Please feel free to distribute these prayers and invocations, to amend them, correct them, translate them, to use them in all possible ways for the sake of Peace and peacemaking.
Eretz. The earth. The earth will be restored. The silence from which all sound issues. The All in the One. Let no one and no part be eliminated. Let no one and no part be eradicated. Alef is the silent blessing on all beings. A Holy name in which all beings reside is Elohim. All the names of God are the names of God. All the Gods are God. We relinquish the fire that consumes all for the fire that does not consume. The Burning Bush is the Tree of Life. All One, the Burning Bush and Creation. One. One. One. Alef invokes the unity of all beings in the One.
Everything is a house for God. Let no house be chosen over another house. Build me a Temple and I will dwell in them. We are two and cannot war against each other. Here we are aligned, enter us all and at once, Divine One, that we may be fertile with You. Now each moment is Beresheet, is In the Beginning as we return again and again to the original creation. We live in the house of God and the house of God is in us. That is the Blessing. The grass, every blade of it, the song bird, and the howl, these are great Temples. The one we think is an enemy is a Temple. Beit invokes the recognition that all beings are Temples.
Loving kindness takes us out of exile to Paradise. Loving kindness heals the tortured. We have tortured and we cease and heal with loving kindness. No one can redeem the deeds we have done but ourselves. Gimel comes to the battle and takes the two of us into its arms. For Gimel to exist I must exist alongside the Other and the Other must be present with me. It runs after us to give us the courage of reconciliation. Each of us is rich in gifts and we run to give what we have to the other. We are the rich ones giving to the poor ones with an open heart. The rich ones give to the poor ones. The rich ones give to the poor one. Instead of these great wars, we enter the gilgul, the wheel, the cycle, death and rebirth, transformation, the soul's journey. There is a great wave coming toward us. It is God running toward Creation; we run together toward God. Alone, I cannot accomplish it but if we are all alongside each other, redemption comes. Gimel invokes the loving kindness of the soul's journey that is generous to all beings.
There is a door. We open the door that seems closed. We go through it from one world to another. In the fourth world, adepts enact the miracle of the first world, the great Peace that passeth understanding. Blood will not be spilled. Da, we Know before whom we stand. The Judge discerns when we carry peace in our hearts, and when we are carrying fear, hate or murder. This knowledge. The hidden place on the Tree of Life. Daat is a door that we must open. Only then, Devekut. We bind ourselves to You and You are everywhere as we, poor ones, receive you. All of us are poor and bend down before the Holy One. Thus our egos are finally nullified as our souls are lifted up and ignited. We ask assistance from the four elements, the four directions for all beings. We open the doors of the four worlds: invisible, animal, vegetable, mineral. We invoke the Tetragrammaton on behalf of Creation. After our selves are finally undone, Dalet opens the door to Peace.
Here we are. Everything is broken. We are broken into many pieces. We are shattered into all the tiny but Holy distinct pieces of Creation. Atomized. Each one of us is a part of the shattering. We shatter and we are shattered. Because we are different from each other, we are the holy sparks. God calls us each. What can we say? We search our souls. Hitbodedut. This is the time of soul searching. We must account for ourselves with each other and with the world. Does Creation proceed from us or do we annihilate it? Are we seeds or are we destruction? Is the earth green under our touch or is it burning to extinction? Are the animals free and abundant? Are the trees exultant in their great woods? We scrutinize each of the 5 levels of our souls. We hear the voice again. The breath repeating itself twice in the Name of God. Breathe now. Breathe again. Be still. The breath carries us to the moment of awareness. Again, we are called. It is time to say, Heenayni. Here I am. Behold. Revelation comes to each, human and non-human in our own voice and understanding and way. It is not for ourselves alone. Hei praises the sacredness and equality of all the small particulars that are life and calls us forth on its behalf.
Vav mediates between the worlds. Vav joins heaven to earth. The lightning bolt of illumination for every one to see. It is the holy light descending. Vav calls every connection to be upright and sacred. Vav joins each one to each one. Each one is unique and independent and we depend upon these differences. We do not annihilate the others but treasure them equal to ourselves for their distinct ways of living and knowing. Vav is the straight line and the hook, the separate and individual paths that are fastened to each other. The jeweled net of Indra. The network of all life. The web of inter-being. This is the sacred that Vav mediates. When we forget - Vidui, confession. We strike our hearts with our fists in great remorse and act accordingly. Vav invokes the sacred, indisputable interconnections.
Zayin creates the Sabbath for all beings. Zayin offers the world rest, the joy and relief of prayer and contemplation, the heart eased by the Presence. Zayin is the holy life undistracted by personal and human cares and lived harmoniously according to the divine law. Zayin enfolds the secular and the sacred, the mundane and the esoteric. Zayin is the returning light, the prayers rising upwards and gaining consciousness so that they are on behalf of all. Zayin is remembering. Remembering the ethical life and living it impeccably. Remembering our joys, giving thanks and offering them to the world. Remembering our suffering with compassion and refusing to enact suffering on anyone. Zayin is the sword put down. And here come the grandfathers, the old ones, the ancestors in all shapes and forms who have wisdom and sustain the living community of all beings benevolently and equally. Zayin is the crown, the return to the great light, the splendor, that rescues us from our own darkness and illuminates all things. Zayin invokes the Presence in the world so that all beings live in its great light.
Life, the holy of holies. The faces of God are the living faces of Creation. A warning to all of us regarding the destruction and desecration we are wreaking in the world. We are doing this. We are. A small group of people gathered in piety brings life, restores life, saves life. We can do this. We can. We take the marriage vows under the canopy that shelters new life. We enter into the sacred union. We recognize the forty-nine gates of wisdom and do the work to pass through them, wise enough to study Peace. Life, not destruction, flows from us. Chet is the gate through which the dreams pass. The dream is the word of the divine, the teachings of the ancestors calling us to the Way and the sacredness of all life. Chet is life. Chet invokes life. L'Chaim. To life!
Tet is the vessel. A vessel containing the blessing of Peace. Nine months We are pregnant with Peace. In its good time, Peace will be born. The sefirah, Yesod, the vessel, the angel or the attribute of God, that symbolizes Peace. Peace is the only vessel containing blessing. The staff became the living snake in Moses' hand. Nefustan, the great serpent, is a name of God. The caduceus. Healing. Transformation. The Nine lives of peacemaking. Tiferet. Beauty. We walk in Beauty. Tet invokes the goodness of God. What more need be said? It is good. It is good. It is good. Peace and Blessings.
God. The name of God. The hand of God. The essential Presence of God everywhere. The essence of God hidden in Creation and extended as the hand is extended. The initial point from which Creation emerges. The point and the pathway. Every letter, the tiny, infinite Yud in motion. Giving thanks. Two hands. The hand extended in friendship. The hand of God extended to everyone. To the Presence, everyone is a friend. Therefore, minyans, councils that contain the wisdom of each individual. In council, together, we resurrect all the peacemaking traditions. We gather in minyans for the prayers of peace. The ten Sefirot and the pathway they travel. The attributes and paths of Creation entering and creating the world, infinitely. Yona, the Dove of Peace. Yud invokes the Presence of God everywhere and gathers us into the Holy Councils from which Peace emanates. God invoking God.
Keter. Here God first touches the world and God's spirit flows in the 10 Sefirot for the sake of creation. We touch our palms together in gratitude, in prayer. The palm of God sustains us, is under every burden and the palm of God blesses all of us. We raise our palms to receive God's bounty. We bless and we pray: Bless the clouds, bless the rain, bless the air, bless the earth, bless the holy fire in all things. Honor. Honor all. Honor all things. Honor all beings. Honor the mother and the father, the old ones, the ancestors, the four legged people, the crawling people, the standing people, the swimming people and the flying people. Honor the stones and honor the fire of the hearth. Caf is the intent to restore God's creation. Honor all. Caf is the intentionality, the will power, the focus, the one-pointedness, the devotion to prayer. Caf invokes the honor due all beings and the intent of blessing the wondrousness of creation. Kavanah.
Learning and teaching. The teacher and the student stand before the agonies and the mysteries of our time and respond with the wisdom of the heart. The teacher teaches peacemaking and the student becomes a peacemaker. One calls the other into being. The small flame of the moon is a light in the dark night of these times. These are the days when we are learning again and again what the words, 'Thou shalt not,' mean. The ability to say 'No.' The willingness to say 'No.' The heart to say 'No.' Thou shalt not kill. 'No, we will not kill.' Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Thou shalt not covet. We agree, 'No.' No, killing. No theft. No coveting. No bearing false witness. Lamed invokes the Lamed Vov, the ones who secretly and tirelessly carry the suffering and righteous action on behalf of the world. Lamed invokes the heart. Lamed invokes the Lamed Vov here. In us.
Here are the deep waters of wisdom and redemption. Here is the underground stream and the flowing fountain of Holiness. Here we purify ourselves so that we may return to the original state of blessedness. We went away, far away, from wisdom and purity, and now we step into the living waters so that we may return. The fountain of wisdom is never ending, it flows ceaselessly from the heights, and we drink from it. This is the wisdom we need in these times and it is given to us in abundance. The secret knowledge bubbles up from the springs in the earth, we bathe in it and are refreshed. The waters of the earth are gathered and purified. The waters are cleansed from our toxins and the wells we have poisoned are clear. We go into retreat, we quarantine ourselves, we take the time we must take, for our minds and hearts to be transformed from one consciousness to another. We wander in the desert until we are other than we were. We enter the kingdom, Malkut, restored. Mem calls the wise ones to guide our spirits and we restore ourselves in the presence of angels. Mem invokes the desire to return to holiness and means to purify ourselves. Mem is the universal activity of midrash, the penetration of the story, in order to understand the deeper meanings, the sacred teachings. Mem invokes the Messiah in everyone so that the Messiah can be among us.
Nun invokes the Jubilee year when all debts are forgiven, all slaves freed, all contracts dissolved. After Nun, no one is enslaved or beholden. Outside of slavery, each one attends his or her soul. Nun is the recognition of the soul in everyone. All souls are freed from the terrible servitude of hunger, fear and oppression. There are forty-nine gates to wisdom, Nun calls us to pass through the forty-nine in order to approach the fiftieth gate which is Faith. We carry the faith of the existence of the Divine and we serve that Peace in each moment. Now the spark is in us. Nun follows Mem and serves the exultant creatures of the Holy sea abundant in their joy and their liveliness. Nigun. A sacred melody. The song that Blesses and Invokes the Presence of the Divine. Nun invokes the healing song that brings all beings through the last gate where Faith is constituted in the Presence of God.
The circle. The sacred circle. Everyone and everything is in the circle. No one and no one thing is above another and each are necessary for the completion of the circle. The circle is the wedding ring that unites each with the other. With this ring, I thee wed. We say this to each other, endlessly. Creation is the Holy Book that we learn to read and honor. The secrets concealed in the worlds of holiness are revealed to all of us for the sake of restoring Creation. The teacher supports and blesses the student, transmits knowledge and blessings, in the way that the Divine supports us and blesses us in the work of Peace. We offer ourselves to God. Semichah. Each one of us. We are ordained to carry the wisdom that the earth and Creation teaches. We learn the sacred stories. We carry the sacred stories of the elements, of the animals, of the trees, of the water, of the angels, of the spirits, of our peoples in us as maps leading us toward Peace and kindness to each other. We search out the stories of peacemaking. We are all, in our different ways and languages, the servants of the sacred and the endless cycle of life. Samech verifies the completeness we feel when we are dancing with each other. The endless cycle. The endless cycle of the Sefirot descending and ascending. The ways and shapes of Divinity entering the world and Creation rising toward Spirit. Samech invokes the future.
Peace depends upon humility. What is great in any nation becomes greater with humility. What is arrogant, oppressive, imperial is undone with humility. We have lacked humility, and we humble ourselves. Ayin is an eye. Perception. Insight. We see the great harm we have done to others and to the earth and we take in these insights and perception with humility. We do not know how to proceed. We call upon the Sanhedrin, the ancestors, the Council of Holy Ones to guide us. The Sanhedrin are composed of all the ancestors of all the peoples in the world. We call upon the names of God, the secret attributes of God, the many faces to inform us. Each people knows another name and face of God. When we bring all the names and faces of God into the circle then the full nature of God as humans can know it, is revealed. The eye of God is upon us. And the eye of God sees through us all. We worship together. The different colors that we are, the full spectrum we carry together become the rainbow that is the covenant that we first make with each other. The covenant that we broke is renewed. We restore the sacred groves, the rain forests, the forests, the woods, the olive trees of peace that we cut down, and worship there among them. Ayin invokes the Tree of Life.
The mouth. Words. Words that open the gates. Right speech. The words we are obliged to speak and the words we must never speak. The end of evil speech. The end of calumny and bearing false witness. The end of propaganda. The end of the lie. The doors that right speech opens. The power of prayer. Pei supports the power of prayer. Pei is the wisdom of all that is hidden from us. In dangerous times, one can not rely on what is obvious or on the surface, one must find the wisdom that is concealed. The elephant. Wonder of wonders. We make alliances with the other animals of the world. We learn the languages of the beasts, the birds and the trees. We speak peace between all of us. Peace is carried into the world with the entrance of the Shechinah, the indwelling aspect of the Divine. We go to the Holy apple orchard, to Pardes, to meet Her. The miracle of the invocation of Pardes on earth. The simple truth. The simple heart. The simple prayer. Being present. Here. The ability and willingness to be here and to be open to what is present among us. Pei invokes the words of God as they come through all of us and open the gates to Peace. The Word. That miracle.
In the beginning, the Divine One withdrew for the sake of creation. Tzadik represents the sacred act of withdrawing to make room for others. The world emerges where we are not. Tzimtzum. Preferring Creation to ourselves. The sacred act of allowing each its place. Bending ourselves to the Higher Will. Offering Tzadakah. Hunting out what we can offer. The act of giving rather than taking. We have taken what belongs to others, we have taken what should not have been taken from the earth, we have taken more than we needed, Tzadakah, reverse this. We give everything we have to rectify the situation. We are defined by our giving. We become the bedrock of generosity. Righteousness. Hunting out righteousness. Hunting out the fallen sparks. The Tzadik. Tzadikim. The righteous ones. The Tzadik brings down the light of heaven. The great wisdom of the world of Atzilut, the world of Emanation is drawn down deep in our world through the activity of the Tzadik. Tzadik invokes the congregation of the righteous from everywhere on the planet, the elders, the teachers, the healers, the holy ones, the council or minyan of the righteous who become who they are in concert with each other.
The great prayer in the face of death. The great prayer of mourning and praise. Kuf invokes the prayer, Kaddish, for all the wrongful deaths we have invoked. We claim all the dead as our dead and we mourn them all. All the dead are our dead and we say Kaddish for them. 'Yitgadal veyitkadash... May the Great Name whose Desire gave birth to the universe, Resound through the Creation Now....' We raise the glass, we Bless the wine of life for all people, all beings: Sanctification We make the great sacrifice, whatever is necessary so that peace will come. We give up whatever we must give up that stands between us and peace. We make of ourselves an offering to all beings so that what we do is sacred, so that our peaceable actions have the power of this sacrifice. Whatever Peace wants we offer to it as a Sacred offering, a Holy sacrifice. We welcome peace as the luminous face of the Sabbath Bride. Kabalat Shabbat. We make ourselves so small that we can go through the eye of a needle. We follow the moon through her nineteen years of cycling the sun. We do not have to be the great light. We are content to reflect the light. We take down the walls we have put up and what we surround, we surround only with love and holiness. Kuf invokes the Sacred. Kadosh. Kadosh, Kadosh. Holy. Holy. Holy.
The wind. Ruach. We pray for the wind. We clear the air from the toxins we have released so that the wind may blow through the world as a great spirit. Ruach. Spirit. Breath. We follow the breath. We meditate upon Peace. We honor the breath of life in all beings. When we breathe in we take in the spirit. Compassion. Have Compassion. Rachel, the great womb, the great mother, weeping for her lost children. We weep for all our lost children. We do not send our children to die in the war. We refuse to allow any children to die in war. All the children are our children. We are Rachel to all the children. HaRachaman. Rachman. The all Merciful. The all Compassionate one. We become healers. We ask what will heal the world. We invoke God so that God might heal through us. We are poor but we are not destitute. When we are rich, we make others poor. There are not enough resources in the world for everyone to be rich. The poor planet. We can all have enough if we are poor in goods and rich in spirit. So we bow our heads so that Spirit might enter into us. We begin again. We put an end to the path we have been walking that endangers the world. We begin again. And we begin with the Spirit. Reshimu, the impression of Holiness. Reish invokes the Holy Spirit. Ruach Hakodosh. It blows through us.
The flame. The Eternal Flame. The Eternal Light. We must change our ways. We have the power to change our ways and bring Peace wherever we walk. We have broken the sacred vessels. Shvirat HaKaum. It happened before but in the last years we have broken them again. We have done this. We must gather up the sparks. We must make Peace. Shalom. Not only for us but for all beings. Peace to those whom we call enemy. Shalom. Salaam. Peace to them first so that we will not have enemies. Shanaim. Two. There must be an end to duality. Two together are not a division. Two together are the two candles of the Sabbath Blessing. Sound the Shofar. The animal opens the gates of Heaven and calls the divine spirit into the world. We can no longer sacrifice the animal. The animal is holy. Shin invokes the Letters of Flame. Shin is the Letter of Flame within the Letters of Flame. Shin invokes the Holy One. Shaddai. Shaddai. Shaddai. May there be Peace. Shalom. Shalom.
Tav completes the Invocation. It is complete. All the Letters are in this last Letter. All the prayers are in this prayer. Stamps, marks, signs, seals. We bear the mark on our foreheads of those who have killed their brothers. Repentance. Teshuvah. We do Teshuvah. We make amends. We repent. We make reparations. We return to holiness. We follow Torah, the Law. We follow the cosmic law. Prayer.
INVOKING THE HOLY LETTERS FOR PEACE AND TIKKUN OLAM