A Particular Spirituality

Finding the core mystical theology and contemplative practices of this website is not easy when searching through the many and various articles that have been added over the years. It has just become easier!

This Page is a summary of this website's  specific approach to Contemplative Prayer, all  in one location. The following items are taken from our Community website.

Our Community Mission Statement 
answers the question “what do we do?” by proposing one single and all pervasive activity: that of “cleaving to God”.

It reads:
We cleave to God.

• In doing this, We hope to be redeemed from selfishness;
• In doing this, We pray for our congregation’s members;
• In doing this, We pray for the Community of Israel;
• In doing this, We pray for all Creation.

We hope that this may be our specific and acceptable Service to God..

2: Our Definition of Contemplative Prayer reads:

Contemplative Prayer is giving God
a chance to speak to us/ do something to us.

It is not about us, it’s about Him.

Our method is simply
To stand in His Presence;
Make space inside ourselves for Him to act;
and then
Listen to what He may have to say to us
personally and individually.

Special Practices

We like to keep things simple and we certainly do not seek to add to the practice of normative Torah observance (which is already comprehensive). We simply wish to focus on certain contemplative aspects of our tradition by highlighting its contemplative mitsvos. There are however, TWO specific "community" practices which are highly recommended: Standing Before God and Hegyon Ha Lev.

1: Standing before God

Our “Cleaving to God” is meant to be an activity by which we develop a constant awareness of the Presence of God no matter what we are doing. The form of contemplative prayer we call “Standing” is an intensification of that process/awareness.

“Standing” is a form of receptive contemplative prayer which is described at length in Part Two of Kuntres M’arat Ha Lev. In very simple terms it means that one devotes a part of one’s private prayer to attentive listening. How each member does this is flexible. It may,for example, be inserted into a person's private davening (recitation of the formal daily services) or it may  practiced as a separate prayer session. A suggested method for that is given in the kuntres (on page 55) and reads:

In a room where you are not seen or heard,
find a spot where you are not likely to bump into anything.
Stand straight with your feet close together and your hands loosely by your sides.

Close your eyes and keep them closed.

(If you feel so inclined... stretch your body for a bit and then return to the same standing posture.)

After a few moments of standing in verbal or mental “talking to God” or in the recitation or singing of a prayer: ask God to permit you to stand before Him/help you to come to Him.

When you feel ready to approach,
and with your eyes still closed:

Slowly take three steps back, wait a moment....
then very slowly take three steps forward to “come into
His Presence”

Bow before Him, talk to Him or think in Him, then move on to something like the following statement:

“LORD, if there is anything that you would say to me, or something which You want to do to me…..I am here.”

Or even more simply…..try just saying or repeating:

Hineini (I am here)

After which you should “Listen” for as long as you feel you are being asked to. (That could be seconds or minutes).

2: Hegyon Ha Lev
The second core practice of our Community is Hegyon Ha-Lev (Intuitions of the Heart) which is a form of Lectio Divina or Spiritual Reading.

Hegyon ha-Lev is a studious form of prayer (or a prayerful form of study!) which means that one reads a biblical or mystical text with pauses for prayer and reflection. The aim is to use this as a method for opening the heart/mind/soul to Divine inspiration and to meanings which emerge from the text. They are often intensely personal, which is not surprising as we hold that this is a way of accessing the “Torah which is written on our heart.”

Articles elsewhere on the site explain it at length (see Here and Here)

Here is a very short extract from one of those articles (written in 2010) which gives a two very simple suggestions for how one might engage in such Hegyon Ha-Lev

 Method ONE

Take a psalm a day as part of your quiet time/mental prayer.

1. Make a short prayer of intention to listen.
2. Read it silently and slowly.
3. Leave a pause (perhaps after each sentence or pair of sentences). Close your eyes and let the words sink in. 
4. There is no need to be slavish about this...read on if you wish, pausing only when you feel like it.
5. If a particular phrase “jumps out”....stay in reflection on that phrase with your eyes closed for as long as you like.

 Maybe you might choose to do this with three Psalms per day...that was something I did one year as the basis for a mental prayer (hisbonenus) “session” of around an hour... and the rhythm seemed right. It goes without saying that the aim of this is to put you in a position where "item 5" may happen. We would be presumptuous  to expect G-d to speak to us like the telephone, (though He can) but I guarantee that you will be amazed at the directness and appropriateness of those “phrases which jump out” to enable you to hear His Voice personally.

 Method TWO

 Once a week take the Torah or Haftarah portion and read a section meditatively.

 1. Make a prayer of intention to listen.
 2. Read the portion (or part of it) very slowly.
 3. As this activity is more  meditation than study, do not focus on rabbinical commentaries...simply read the words themselves slowly.
 4. Whenever you feel something has “jumped out” close your eyes and dwell on it in prayer.
 5. Resist the temptation to analyse too much....just let the words sink in, and follow their lead wherever they may lead.

 My guess is that some weeks you will suddenly see something which you had not realised or understood or even noticed before. Later you can check the verse which was revealed to you with commentaries and nine times out of ten you will be amazed to see that someone has had exactly that “brilliant new insight” you thought you alone had been given. But don’t you see? That’s precisely the point. Because it came to you directly and not through study of another person’s thoughts....to find that “your idea” was the one Maimonides or the Baal Shem Tov had also “heard” is not a disappointment: It is the “voice of approval” I wrote of in “The Cave” which confirms that one is  on the right “prophetic” track.

We hope that our “cleaving to God” may be of service to our God... That our lives of dedicated contemplative prayer and our sharing within this community may flow out to increase Compassion and Peace in our world.

edited: N Davies June 15 2010