Vayak'hel: Chapter 11

The ascension of prayer


Rabbi Yosi tells us about the external service of deeds that relies on the twelve outer limbs, and the internal service of prayer that relies on the twelve internal organs of the body. A man's prayer is considered a worship of the Ruach, and it has great power above. Rabbi Yosi goes on to tell of the rulers of the day and the rulers of the night, who are all different. Prayer ascends to them; if the man is righteous they kiss the prayer and it ascends even higher. We are told of many guardians, first of the four sides, and then of the guardians of the firmaments. Rabbi Yosi says that on the east the twelve letters of the Holy Name soar and ascend with the prayer. The prayers of those who pray broken-heartedly ascend to the south, while the prayers of those who pray for deliverance from enemies ascend to the north. After the prayers ascend to the four directions they are escorted up and through the firmaments into their gates. As the prayer reaches the seventh firmament it unites Zeir Anpin and Malchut, and the righteous man is blessed. Rabbi Yosi then turns to a discussion of the six precepts of the Torah, and describes their meaning in some detail. He says that these six precepts correspond to Chesed, Gvurah, Tiferet, Netzach, Hod and Yesod. We learn that there are thirteen more precepts that draw the thirteen attributes of mercy; thus the man who puts his heart and will into his prayers to perfect them every day is a happy man. Rabbi Yitzchak reminds us that those who worshipped the golden calf died, and Moses gathered the children of Yisrael together and gave them the laws of Shabbat.