A Holy Tabernacle in the Heart (from Life of the Future World)

by Rabbi Abraham Abulafia

English version by Jewish Theological Seminary
Original Language Hebrew

     the breath
which is
     from the second one
is a
in the heart.
One ascends
     with the Unique Name
     to the sky
     to depict with Unifications
     the relationship
between everything that
     is difficult
     in this
     science of pronunciation.
It alone is
     life in the Name.
It is remembered and sealed
     in the Book of Life
to make the individual live
     with passion
     which enlightens
constantly, when
     every thought,
     every soul
is concentrated on it.

-- from Meditation and Kabbalah, by Aryeh Kaplan

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Sunday evening begins Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.

When we approach our own imperfections with honesty, integrity, and humility, we are surprised to find ourselves freed and able to make new, better decisions in the future.

Our mistakes rarely come from lack of will power. It's not usually that we didn't try hard enough. When we really look, we discover that most of our mistakes come from limited perception. We make poor choices when our awareness is clouded. The work, then, is not to be stricter with ourselves; instead, we need to see ourselves and our world more clearly. When we do that the best path of action not only becomes obvious, it is the path we prefer.

to make the individual live
     with passion
     which enlightens
constantly, when
     every thought,
     every soul
is concentrated on it.


There is an interesting connection in this verse that is easily missed. Rabbi Abulafia is, of course, saying something about the Kabbalistic practice of word permutations, as a way of discovering the foundational Word. This "Unique Name" becomes a ladder, allowing us to ascend to the heavenly realms, where we discover the interrelationship of things and the "Unifications" underlying reality.

But if we back up to the very beginning lines, he could be reminding us that this "science of pronunciation," the speaking of words rides upon the breath. And the breath emerges from the "holy tabernacle in the heart."

He is giving us a sacred formula:

Heart > Breath > Words > The Word > Heaven

Words without heart and breath, do they lead anywhere?

Recommended Books: Rabbi Abraham Abulafia

A Big Jewish Book: Poems and Other Visions of the Jews from Tribal Times to the Present The Dream of the Poem: Hebrew Poetry from Muslim and Christian Spain, 950-1492 Meditation and Kabbalah

A Holy Tabernacle