Pinchas: Chapter 49

Bowing and standing upright


The Faithful Shepherd outlines the four occasions when one has to bow and the four occasions when he has to stand upright during prayer.


This comprehensive and instructional portion expounds upon the mysteries of the Amidah prayer and the significance of bowing and standing upright during the appropriate points of the connection. In the act of revealing these hidden mysteries, the Light generated by the Amidah prayer is aroused by the Zohar in the present moment. This Light helps mankind spiritually evolve and develop, which is our ultimate purpose in life.

The act of bowing, on one level of understanding, concerns the concept of humility. Those who pray with deep humility and a feeling of spiritual poverty are assured of having their prayers answered. Accordingly, humility is born in our hearts. Our prayers for peace, prosperity and lasting fulfillment are answered. The energy force known as miracle vibrates throughout existence by the power of the 72 Names of God. And the entire realm of Malchut stands upright. Namely, we evolve and ascend into the realm of Zeir Anpin, the Upper World where perfection, bliss and blessedness reign supreme. This passage, like all sections of the Zohar, is layered with meaning. Some interesting insights stand out concerning the spiritual evolution of humanity and the corresponding physical reflection in the world.

On one level of understanding, the Zohar discusses the basic spiritual and physical structure of man. Rabbi Shimon writes: "Initially, Malchut was a state of prostration, which is the secret of the bowing, and has to be raised up through the Name of the Yud Hei Vav Hei, and has to be set upright through the Divine Name, through eighteen Worlds." Malchut, according to the Zohar, corresponds to the 'First Man.' The Zohar is indicating that prior to the First Man, pre-man initially walked in a state of prostration, bent over like an ape. Only through the infusion of divine energy, the genetic-like letters of the Creator's Name, did man stand upright and walk on two feet. The Name that altered our nature is the Tetragrammaton, the Yud Hei Vav Hei. The numerical value of this Name is 26. There are 26 bones in each foot. And the adult vertebral (spinal) column consists of 26 bones.

In verse 309, the Zohar speaks of the thumb and its correlation and relevance to the realm of Keter, which corresponds to the brain and human intelligence. According to the Zohar, the thumb is the vessel that holds the Light of Wisdom (Chassadim). Namely, through the thumb, intelligence is made possible. This is the secret to the spiritual evolution of man. Interestingly, science offers similar insights into the physical evolution of man. Only apes and primates have hands capable of grasping objects. The grasp is made possible by the opposable thumb, which moves opposite to the rest of the fingers. Science tells us that the key characteristics that played a role in human evolution is bipedalism (standing upright while walking on two legs), and the opposable thumb. A skillful hand with a thumb- grasp made intelligence advantageous, for now it could create tools. Moreover, science tells us that the brain and the hand changed at the same time in our evolutionary history. This is merely, the physical effect of the spiritual evolution that gave rise to man in this physical world.

The Central Column is spoken of in paragraph 310 and its correlation to the thumb. The Central Column is our divine trait of free will. Free Will allows us to choose to not react to primal urges and selfish desires the distinguishing feature of man over the animal kingdom.

Finally, we learn that the word Amen, unites the Upper and Lower worlds. The one who recites Amen, is therefore considered 'greater than the one who says the blessing.' Our reading of this paragraph utters the Amen throughout the world. It echoes into the distant past and into the future, thus uniting our world with the Upper World. This unification allows the Light to immediately complete our spiritual evolution in a merciful and pleasant manner.