prayers with deep intentions

Today is the hilullah of the Rebbe Rayatz (R' Yosef Yitzhak) of Chabad. It is also, although many people do not know, the 230th Hilullah of The RaShaSh (R' Shalom Sharabi). You can read about him on wikipedia. His is probably most noted today as the first major commentary on the Ariz"l HaKadosh. Most of the true mekubalim of the present day daven out of the siddur of the Rashash. It is hard to recognise the likeness between this prayer book and the more tradditional prayer books, it is full of arcane diagrams outlining the particular kawanoth (intentions) and holy names to focus on during the various parts of the daily prayers.

My relationship to the RaShaSh revolves mainly around Bet El, the yeshivat hamekubalim which he was instrumental in creating. (more than 250 years ago) This synagogue and yeshivah has been the center for kabalistic learning in Israel for those 250 years, a chain broken temporarily in 1948 when the Jews were (temporarily) denied access to the old city of Jerusalem. Minutes after the liberation of the old city in 1967, Rav Meir Yehudah Getz reopened the yeshivah and reinstituted the prayers and learning according to the holy customs of the Ariz"l and the RaShaSh. I am blessed to have the priviledge of being able to occassionally attend classes and prayers there.

Last night, at Bet El, Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, Rav Yisrael Avichai, (The current Rosh Yeshiva, successor to Rav Getz) and all the other Chassidim and Mekubalim associated with Bet El were there to celebrate the Hillulah with learning, prayer, and candle-lighting. Like my earlier post from last week, it's a wonder to stand in the presence of such people. Being around such people is also exceedingly beneficial towards the goal discussed in my previous post on recognising the smallness of one's own accomplishments.

May the merit of Rav Shalom Sharabi protect us and all of Am Yisrael.

update: One of the RaShaSh's students was Rav Gershon Kitov, the Baal Shem Tov's brother in law, mentioned over on A Simple Jew today.


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