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Jewish meditation

Historical Development of Jewish Meditation: – Jewish meditation has been a central tradition since the time of the patriarchs, with figures like Isaac engaging in […]

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Historical Development of Jewish Meditation:
– Jewish meditation has been a central tradition since the time of the patriarchs, with figures like Isaac engaging in meditative practices.
– Various Jewish movements, including Merkavah-Heichalot mysticism and Kabbalistic traditions, have developed unique meditation practices over centuries.
– Influential figures like Maimonides emphasized the importance of intellectual meditation and private meditative practices for spiritual connection.
– The development of Jewish mysticism was significantly influenced by meditative methods of ecstatic Kabbalists like Abraham Abulafia and theosophical Kabbalists like Moses Cordovero.

Types of Jewish Meditation Practices:
– Jewish meditation practices include settling the mind, introspection, visualization, and contemplation of divine names.
– Structured Jewish services and prayers may incorporate meditation, while different Jewish movements have distinct approaches to meditation techniques.
– Specific practices like meditation on the Kabbalistic names of God, Yichudim Kavanot, and hisbodedus in Breslav Hasidism highlight the diversity of meditation techniques within Jewish traditions.

Influential Figures in Jewish Meditation:
– Key figures like Abraham Abulafia, Isaac of Acre, and Joseph Tzayach played significant roles in advancing meditative practices within Jewish mysticism.
– Scholars like Aryeh Kaplan and Moshe Idel have highlighted the importance of meditative Kabbalah and the influence of figures like Abulafia on later Jewish mysticism.
– Rabbi Israel Salanter’s Musar Movement emphasized meditative practices for moral character improvement, while contemporary rabbis continue to advocate for silent meditation.

Controversies and Criticisms in Jewish Meditation:
– Criticisms within Jewish meditation include debates over the generalization of terms like ‘meditation,’ the focus on theurgic practices, and interpretations of Jewish observance.
– Rationalist Jewish philosophy has sometimes clashed with the metaphysical views of theosophical Kabbalists, while concerns over idolatry and magical processes in prayer have been raised.
– These controversies have led to discussions on the proper focus of meditation and prayer within Jewish traditions.

Integration of Jewish Meditation in Contemporary Judaism:
– Different branches of Judaism, including Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform, have integrated meditation practices into their spiritual teachings and communal activities.
– Prominent rabbis and teachers within each branch, such as Alan Lew, Sheila Peltz Weinberg, Lawrence Kushner, and others, have advocated for the incorporation of Jewish meditation into modern Jewish practices.
– Synagogues and meditation centers in various Jewish denominations offer spaces for individuals to engage in meditative practices and cultivate spiritual presence in alignment with their faith traditions.

Jewish meditation (Wikipedia)

Jewish meditation includes practices of settling the mind, introspection, visualization, emotional insight, contemplation of divine names, or concentration on philosophical, ethical or mystical ideas. Meditation may accompany unstructured, personal Jewish prayer, may be part of structured Jewish services, or may be separate from prayer practices. Jewish mystics have viewed meditation as leading to devekut (cleaving to God). Hebrew terms for meditation include hitbodedut (or hisbodedus, literally "self-seclusion") or hitbonenut/hisbonenus ("contemplation").

Meditative Kabbalah Shiviti with Kabbalistic names of God

Through the centuries, meditation practices have been developed in many movements, including among Maimonideans (Moses Maimonides and Abraham Maimonides), Kabbalists (Abraham Abulafia, Isaac the Blind, Azriel of Gerona, Moses Cordovero, Yosef Karo and Isaac Luria), Hasidic rabbis (Baal Shem Tov, Schneur Zalman of Liadi and Nachman of Breslov), Musar movement rabbis (Israel Salanter and Simcha Zissel Ziv), Conservative movement rabbis (Alan Lew), Reform movement rabbis (Lawrence Kushner and Rami Shapiro), and Reconstructionist movement rabbi (Shefa Gold).

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