Introduction to Jewish Meditation – Part 5

The Six Cities of Refuge

To review: The six constant mitzvot of the heart include:

1.  To believe in the existence and providence of God.

2.  Not to believe that there exist any other gods.

3.  To believe that God is an absolute, non-composite, and all-encompassing unity.

4.  To love God.

5.  To fear–be in awe of–God.

6.  To shield one’s mind from negative thoughts.

The Torah designated six Cities of Refuge to serve as refuge and protection for those guilty of manslaughter. The guilty individual is instructed to flee to one of these cities and remain within it. The six constant mitzvot   are enumerated in the introduction to Sefer HaChinuch, who refers to them allegorically as “the six cities of refuge.” 

Just as the person guilty of manslaughter is instructed to flee to one of the  six cities, so is every Jew instructed to enter all of these six continuous commandments of the Torah and never leave them.

Constructing a Spiritual Sanctuary

Essentially, the meditation of Living in Divine Space is to picture oneself inside a cube–to construct around oneself a spiritual sanctuary or Temple–defined by these six mitzvot, as follows:

1.  Above: the belief in the existence and providence of God.

2.  Below: the negation of belief in other gods.

3.  Front: the belief that God is one.

4.  Right: the love of God.

5.  Left: the fear of God.

6.  Behind: the shielding of the mind from negative thoughts.

Torah Orientation sees man as facing east (sunrise). Thus, the south is to his right, north to his left, and west (sunset) behind him.

The numerical value of the three letters of the word for One (Echad ) in the verse “Hear O’ Israel, God is our God, God is One” is 1, 8, and 4.Our sages interpret these three letters to allude to God being One (1) in all seven heavens and earth (8) and four lateral directions (4). In one’s spiritual sanctuary, “above” includes all seven heavens and “below” the earth. The four lateral directions–east, west, south, and north–correspond to front, back, right, and left, respectively, as stated previously.

east

front

west

back

south

right

north

left

IChassidut, we are taught that human consciousness develops from first recognizing the vertical space coordinate of above-below. Thereafter, it is possible to incorporate into one’s full spatial consciousness the world around the horizontal or lateral coordinates of right-left and front-back. This is the order of the letters of Echad, as well as the order of the meditation on the six continuous commandments of the Torah. This meditation begins with the first two of the Ten Commandments, which correspond to the above-below coordinate, and follows with those commandments that correspond to the lateral directions of space.

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