The meditation herein presented is a truly basic one in Jewish spiritual life (Cf. Biur Halachah of theMishnah Berurah on the opening statement of the Rema to the Orach Chaim 1:1, the beginning of the Shulchan Aruch, the code of Jewish law). As we will see, it embodies many of the fundamental teachings of Judaism, and moreover can serve as a filter through which to process virtually all aspects of reality. As such, it is a prime example of the purpose of Jewish meditation explained above.
It centers on the six constant mitzvot (“commandments”) of the Torah. The Torah’s 613 commandments can be categorized in various ways: positive (do’s) and negative (don’ts); on whom they devolve (e.g. everyone, the king, the kohen, etc.); when they apply (when the Temple is standing, etc.) and so forth. There are, however, sixmitzvot that apply to all Jews, in all places, at all times, inasmuch as they are “duties of the heart.” These are:
- 1. To believe in the existence and providence of G-d.
- 2. Not to believe that there are any other gods.
- 3. To believe that G-d is an absolute, non-composite and all-encompassing unity.
- 4. To love G-d.
- 5. To fear–be in awe of–G-d.
- 6. To guard oneself from foreign thoughts.
Essentially, the meditation is to picture oneself inside a cube, or “sanctuary,” defined by these six mitzvot, as follows:
- 1. Above: the belief in the existence and providence of G-d.
- 2. Below: the negation of belief in other gods.
- 3. In front: the belief in G-d’s unity.
- 4. To the right: the love of G-d.
- 5. To the left: the fear of G-d.
- 6. Behind: shielding the mind from foreign thoughts.
We will now explain the assignment of each mitzvah to its direction. In doing so, we will give the mitzvah as phrased in the Torah. This phrase will serve as a “consciousness-anchor” on which to focus one’s comprehension of the concepts, as explained above.