Jewish Meditation

The Three Faculties of Jewish Meditation behind the Understanding of Torah

In Hebrew, Jewish Meditation is called hitbonenut or hisbonenus. Usually, these are most clearly explained in the Hasidic and Kabbalistic texts. Hebrew pertains to one of the many dialects under the languages of Canaanite. It flourished as the Israel’s spoken language between tenth century BCE and third or fourth CE (the Byzantine Period) upon the extinction of several Canaanite dialects.

The term hisbonenus is derived from Binah, a Hebrew word which means understanding. This understanding is based from analytical study involving any topics. In general, hisbonenus is referred to as the Torah study under Kabbalah explanations for achieving a greater appreciation and understanding of God.

The primary Judaism document is the Torah. Traditional rabbinic writings provided several ideas about the revelation of the whole Torah. Many considered the event at Mount Sinai, when God revealed the Ten Commandments to Moses as one of the most significant revelatory event. The orthodox rabbis dated the revelation as 1280 BCE. Sources given by some rabbis stated that the whole Torah was all given at once during the revelation. The maximalist believed that the dictations not only include quotes which are appearing in the texts, but also each word contained in the texts itself, even the phrases and the revelation of the death of Moses.

Kabbalah transliterated as Qabalah, Kabbala, Cabala, or other related permutations means receiving of a particular tradition. It interprets esoterically the Bible of the Hebrew (Tanakh), aggadah and halakha (classical texts of the Jews), and mitzvot (practices). Mystical doctrines are expressed in connection with simultaneous transcendence and immanence of God. This was the attempted declaration to the old paradox that explains the Ultimate Being, in which even the blind Isaac cannot conceive it in his thoughts, but he came to be experienced and known by the people that He created.

The Kabbalah declares that each intellectual process should be incorporated with three faculties. It includes Daas, Binah, and Chochma. Daas literally means knowledge. This pertains to the ability of the mind to hold and focus its concentration on the Binah and Chochma. Chochma literally means wisdom. This is the ability of the mind to create a new point of view in a concept which one didn’t know before. Binah literally means understanding. This is the ability of the mind to obtain a new point of view from Chochma and evaluate all its propositions and simplify the concepts to be well understood.

It is a fact that hisbonenus referring to Binah defines Jewish meditation to distinguish it from other meditation forms. The philosophy of Hasidic and Kabbalah rejected the idea that any new point of view doesn’t necessarily come from a mere concentration only. They also explained that although Daas is an important part of cognition, it’s similar to an empty container without the study, learning, and analysis coming from the power of Binah. The Chassidic philosophy also stated that the new discovery or insight of a scientist (Chochma) is the end result of a deep analysis and study of his topics (Binah).

However, Chassidic masters revealed that deep concentration for a longer period of time sometimes devoid intellectual contents that can lead to hallucinations, insanity, and sensory deprivation instead of achieving spiritual enlightenment. The true enlightenment corresponds with Torah understandings specifically the Hasidic and Kabbalah philosophy explanations.

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