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Stan Tenen

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©1985, 2004 SNT / Meru Foundation 

Meru Foundation research has discovered an extraordinary geometric metaphor in the letter-sequence of the Hebrew text of Genesis (B'reshit). This metaphor models embryonic growth and self-organization, applies to all whole systems, and demonstrates that the relationship between consciousness and physics - mind and world - was understood and developed several thousand years ago, and is preserved in our great spiritual traditions.

Material on this page ©1985-2004 Stan Tenen and as marked.
Reprinted with permission.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

About the Author



Stan Tenen (B.S. Physics, Brooklyn Polytech, 1963) is Director of Research for the Meru Foundation (Sharon, MA). Mr. Tenen began an investigation of B'reshis and the alef-bais after visiting the Kotel in August 1967. He is a member of the Editorial Review Board for Science and the Primacy of Consciousness (Noetic Press, Orinda, CA), and has been published in the Noetic Journal (e.g.


Mr. Tenen presented for the Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists (Summer 1994), and has been interviewed on radio and television; his video lecture series is available from Meru Foundation. His essays have appeared in the NISHMA publication Introspections; Tattva Viveka (Frankfurt), Gnosis (San Francisco); Zen and the Art of Close Encounters; KQED-TV Focus (San Francisco); and Popular Electronics.
He has designed optical and electronic equipment, and holds several patents. He is currently working on his first book: FIRST HAND: The Geometry of Genesis and the Alphabet. Mr. Tenen and his wife Levanah live in Sharon, MA, and may be contacted via email at [email protected] and through Meru Foundation's internet website at

His  interpretation of Kabbalistic materials is radically different from that of most scholars dealing with the subject matter. For example, he has hard historical evidence that all of the modern "Tree of Life" configurations are mistaken and "flattened" from the original. Apparently, no one these days has noticed this, and apparently, just about everyone builds their theory on one or another of these Sephirotic Trees. Thus, obviously, what he is presenting is different, and controversial. He is working from the earliest source-texts, and from the Talmudic sources of all of the Kabbalistic texts, which are not currently being examined by any of the current academic or Jewish scholars (to his knowledge). The actual oldest surviving drawings of the precursors to the Tree of Life and other associated patterns are preserved on the 16 carpet pages of the Leningrad Codex, the oldest surviving full Hebrew Bible, from Karaite sources in Cairo ca. 1000 CE.

Reconciling the Irreconcilable

e-list posting, November 2000

by Stan Tenen

©2000 Stan Tenen. Reprinted with permission.



Once we use the word "irreconcilable" in ordinary usage, that brings our verbal logic to an end.  When something is literally irreconcilable, we mean that there are not going to be any words, nor any word-smith skills that can possibly solve the problem at hand.

Since most people, including most well-educated people like our scholars, diplomats, businesspeople, and political leaders, think almost exclusively in words - and, since, unfortunately, most word-based scholars believe that we can think ONLY in words - once something is called irreconcilable, we naturally assume that there is little more that anyone can do.  As we will see, this is a fundamentally flawed view, and it easily leads to much misunderstanding, and, of course, to the abandonment of possible, non-verbal, means of reconciliation.

But it is hard to make this case.  Most people do rely on words most of the time.  Trying to tell a highly educated, caring, and accomplished person that, in spite of their best intentions and efforts, they are not qualified for the job of solving and reconciling certain problems is not easy, not popular, and generally not appreciated.  Among accomplished people, it takes a near saint to graciously accept the idea that they are not qualified for a job they have taken on, and an extraordinarily secure and open mind to hear this sort of message - particularly when it comes from outside of their field of expertise.

But, the fact is, we do not ONLY think in words, and word skills are not always adequate for all situations.  As recent published scholarly work has confirmed, all cognition is based on movement, with words taking a secondary, later, back seat.  We know that musicians, dancers, craftspersons, mathematicians, and many other professionals use languages and modes of thought that are non-verbal. They would not do this if ordinary language were usable for their thinking, and able to solve their problems.  Why make it difficult for others to understand your meaning by making up your own language, if ordinary verbal language would do?  So, we can assume that mathematicians, for example, do not use arcane symbols just to be secretive, but because they must.  They cannot reconcile (or even properly discuss) many issues in mathematics with verbal language alone.

We can learn from this.  Here is a simple example of how a mathematician might reconcile the irreconcilable.

Examine a square and an equilateral triangle. They are entirely different.  They use different numbers of parts: 4-lines and 4-corner-points for the square and 3-lines and 3-corner-points for the triangle.  Squares have 4-fold, "square," symmetry while triangles have 3-fold, "triangular," symmetry.  When we limit ourselves to a flat surface, because squares and triangles are flat (2-dimensional), there really is no "non-violent" way to reconcile squares and triangles. We cannot make a square and a triangle equal parts of one greater whole without compromising essential features of one or the other.  For a square to become like a triangle it must lose one of its edges and points - and a square cannot do this without losing its defining "squareness."  Likewise, for a triangle to reconcile itself with a square would require the triangle to lose a vital part of its definition as a triangle.  This sort of reconciliation is no reconciliation at all.

In the verbal arena, we have a similar - irreconcilable - situation in Israel.  Israelis and Arabs seem to hold views which are vital to each of them that are mutually irreconcilable.  Our best statespersons, scholars, diplomats, businesspersons, and politicians have tried and tried, and, apparently, they have failed.  Many caring persons have now thrown up their hands in frustration and some have come to believe that because our masters-of-words have not been able to find a way to solve these problems, there are no other possibilities and the situation is permanently irreconcilable.  Any suggestion that anyone or any other sort of thinking could break the impasse is dismissed.

But this mode of thought and train of verbal logic is not correct.

In mathematics, despite our initial impression, there actually is a way to reconcile a square and a triangle without either giving up anything.  We simply move up and out of the limited, flat, 2-dimensional realm where we initially encountered our square and our triangle.  When we enter the infinitely broader, higher, space of 3-dimensions we immediately find that we can easily reconcile squares and triangles.  We can construct a 3-dimensional form that mathematicians call a cube-octahedron from a selection of perfect squares and triangles.  A cube-octahedron looks like a cube whose eight corners have been cut off evenly.  The result is a 3-dimensional form made up of 6-perfect square faces and 8-perfect triangle faces.  Not only does the cube-octahedron reconcile squares and triangles without taking anything away or adding anything to either, but it also provides some startling, "newly emergent" qualities - possibilities - that neither squares or triangles can offer on their own.  A cube-octahedron, unlike a square or a triangle, is a dynamic form.  It can move in ways that no square or triangle or accumulation of squares and triangles (in 2-dimensions) can ever duplicate.  A cube-octahedron can (in the words of architect Buckminster Fuller) "jitter-bug."  Even though it consists of nothing but rigid (and sterile) squares and triangles, a cube-octahedron can also be compressed until it looks just like an icosahedron.  An icosahedron is radically different from either a square or a triangle.  Squares are 4-fold symmetric; triangles are 3-fold symmetric, but an icosahedron adds a new, primary, quality that is never suspected in a square or a triangle.  An icosahedron has 5-fold symmetry!

But, there is more.  A cube-octahedron can be further compressed until it looks like an octahedron.  An octahedron has only (8-) triangular faces. It is related to both the square and the triangle, but it is also distinct from them (and from their 3-dimensional analogs, the cube and the tetrahedron.  A tetrahedron is a pyramid where all three of the faces and the base are perfect triangles.)

Before we go further, let me assure the reader that this is all kosher.  The cube-octahedron may demonstrate the fundamental geometry of The Thirteen-Petaled Rose, mentioned in the introduction to the Sefer Zohar.  It also can tell us - perhaps for the first time since Rabbi Akiva - how and why nine of our Hebrew letters (including finals) have those unusual tagin and keterim (tags and crowns) on top.  (For a possible geometry that determines which letters get crowns and for an explanation of the shapes of the crowns themselves, see the graphic poster at: .)

Once we realize the extraordinary and heretofore untapped potential of formal, non-verbal, languages for communicating where verbal communication is not adequate and for providing possibilities for reconciling matters that are verbally irreconcilable, we can look to these modes for solutions to the current political, social, cultural, and religious impasse in the middle east.

As outlined above, one common mathematical-geometric means of reconciling entities that are radically different is to move our perspective to a higher "plane" (dimension) where there is much more (actually, infinitely more) "room" to move and arrange things.  This is consistent with common sense. When there is not enough room for a new addition to the family, we add more room.  Mathematically - and I am suggesting also politically - the same process should work.

But, how can we add more room to Israel or to Jerusalem?  Isn't our problem based on there not being enough physical room (Eretz Israel) for both parties to use, and live in and on, without forcing painful changes on one, the other, or both? Where can we find more room in the space available and how do we gain the higher dimensional perspective that shows us how to use it?

From the verbal-diplomatic perspective there is nothing we can do.  There is simply not enough space for both peoples.  Once we accept this, we have no choice but to wait for God to come to us with a solution.  We can only - more or less passively - wait for Moshiach. When Moshiach comes "down" to us, He will solve our problems, defeat our adversaries and rebuild the Temple.  This may be so.....but it may also be a long time to wait - while our friends and neighbors would like to see something positive for themselves and their children right now.

But we do not have to wait.  We do not have to wait for HaShem to send Moshiach.  In my opinion, we do not have to wait for HaShem to come to us, for us to gain a small, but vital, measure of the HaShem's "higher" perspective. From this higher spiritual (and psychological, emotional, theological, hyper-physical) perspective, we could, if we looked and if we practiced, gain a higher dimensional view for ourselves (and, ultimately for our allies and adversaries) right here, right now.  We have always known that HaShem would meet us halfway.  We do not need to wait for HaShem to come to us because we can move towards HaShem, we can gain an empowering overview, and we can allow for the possibility that HaShem/Moshiach could meet us exactly at the right moment, when we have made ourselves ready by our own efforts.

And, of course, we know how to gain a perspective closer to that of HaShem.  We work on ourselves to be better people, we pray, and we study.  But, we already do all of this.  What can we do better than we are already doing?  We can improve ourselves in ways we have not worked on yet, sacrificing a bit of our ego's unhelpful demands with a measure of added humility.  We can pray with more attention and focus, and we can determine to live by the words we pray.  We can expand our studies of Torah by looking more closely at the most challenging depths of Torah - the Sod level.  The Sod (Sood, Yesod - Foundation) level of Torah informs the backbone of halacha and mitzvot.  It also holds the mysteries that our Kabbalah implores us to explore.  Sod and Kabbalah are not easy to understand, and there are risks involved if we approach them immaturely, rashly, or with unrealistic expectations.  Nevertheless, these depths of Torah can provide a means by which we can earn a higher perspective.  However, they do not provide a "free lunch" and they do not offer easy, quick, or simple solutions. Even with the proper Torah-knowledge, we still must do the work for ourselves.

Because they must address issues that are ineffable - which means that these issues cannot be described in words nor appreciated with words alone - the Sod level of Torah and our Kabbalah make use of forms of language that extend well beyond the limitations of ordinary verbal discussion.  Torah is even deeper and more empowering than the mysteries of the Greek Academy, of course.  The Greek Academy insisted that "Only those who know geometry can enter here."  The same is true for Torah - only with Torah there is even more depth and a more profound understanding for us to master.

The language of Kabbalah requires knowledge of geometry.  It has to.  The words and word translations of our Torah and Kabbalah are necessary, and of extraordinary value in themselves, but they are not sufficient for the greatest depths of understanding that we need for us to be able to reach a higher geometric perspective, closer to that of HaShem, where there really is sufficient room to reconcile what otherwise appears to be irreconcilable.

While geometry is required, it is not modern "rocket science."  The geometry we need is based on the hands-on trades that were available in the ancient world. We need to know about weaving (talitot), braiding (making challah) and knotting (tzitzit); simple carpentry, calendar-making, farming, and building our Sukkah.  These are all common skills that we know were known at the time of Moshe, for example, and that we can easily master.

Our first lesson, of course, is that there is One Infinite Omnipotent God and that in some way beyond our simple human sense of it, the One God is a jealous God.  It would be foolish (and arrogant) for me to attempt to write new midrash  on the matter of the Oneness of God and what that implies from a theological or Talmudic perspective.  Our sages have done this and continue to do this.

But, geometrically, there are some possibilities that may have eluded our current sages.  (Or more likely, that have eluded the attention of our modern sages' verbal understanding of what our sages - who had "hands on" experience and who were not limited to word-smith knowledge alone - have taught in the past.)

For example, there are social, psychological, and political implications that can be inferred from the geometry of an utterly singular omnipotent God.  If God were only fairly "big," than all of life would not have equal status. For example, if God were only 100 feet tall, then 8-footers would be closer to God than 6-footers. (Here, I am using physical stature measured in feet as an analogy for all of our desirable measurable qualities.) Because God is infinite, we are all infinitesimal by comparison. That makes the stature of all people equal no matter who they are or what they do or accomplish.  If God were not infinite, then some of us would be better than others and we would not, in any sense, be all equally precious.

Once we accept that God is infinite we cannot deny that our adversaries are as  precious to God as we are - without renouncing our belief in God.  No matter how heinous the actions of our adversaries are, or appear to be, once we accept that God is infinite, we must retain respect for our adversaries.  When we do this, we rise a bit spiritually and we gain a perspective closer to that of God. While this may be personally difficult while we are under siege, this higher perspective is, after all, what we need if we are going to be able to reconcile the irreconcilable.  When the immediate emergencies pass, we can use our "higher" perspective to see solutions that cannot be seen from the ground.

And what of God's jealousy?  Clearly God is not afraid of, nor threatened by, any puny demigod that might be set up.  "Jealousy" for God must mean something higher than our petty human experiences of jealousy.  We are taught that we are to have Yirat HaShem.  We are to be in awe of and fearful of God and ONLY of God.  Why?  Because when we fear anyone or anything other than the One God, we have, in effect set up an idol that we respect as much as God - and that is the equivalent of denying God's unique Oneness.

So, no matter how frightening our adversaries may appear and no matter how terrible the situation seems and no matter how painful our loses, we simply cannot afford to fear our adversaries - nor to act on that fear - without denying the Infinite, Exclusive, Oneness of God.  Of course this is difficult.  But, if we succumb to fear of our adversaries or the results of their actions, we have denied God.  When we deny God, we can expect God to (temporarily) deny us in turn.

Geometry teaches us that the verbally irreconcilable can be reconciled when we approach a geometric problem from a higher dimensional perspective, and God's Torah gives us the opportunity to do the same thing in the real world.

If there is interest in this approach, I will try to provide additional theoretical and real world examples and suggestions of how a Sod-Kabbalah geometric approach can offer perspectives where there really is enough room for all parties to live in peace in Jerusalem without the need to compromise or bargain away anything vital to ourselves or our adversaries.

For now, I am merely trying to point out that the irreconcilable is definitely not irreconcilable from HaShem's perspective - and that the Torah-means for finding peace in the city-of-peace is available to us right now.

A few notes on Kabbalah:

There are many aspects to Kabbalah.  Most public attention has focused either on relatively trivial aspects or on "Jewish meditation."  The trivial aspects, such as gematria, numerology, palmistry, astrology and the like are the most popular and the most widely known.  But they are also the least important, and the most discrediting to the modern critical scholarly and scientific mind.  Whatever their virtues, they do not represent the deepest, most useful and most empowering levels of Kabbalah.

Jewish meditation is as good as the Torah-quality of those exploring this path.  In the hands of serious, caring persons with a desire to learn more about themselves and about Torah and HaShem, this can be a very positive and effective path for personal and spiritual growth. But there is a limitation.  Meditation is naturally inward directed.  It helps the meditator directly, but it does not address worldly concerns directly.  When the meditator gains maturity, self-confidence, and a solid experiential spiritual center, they then can be more effective in the world.  But this is a secondary blessing, and it is a general situation that does not offer explicit pragmatic advice.  In other words, meditational Kabbalah practiced responsibly can be a very positive pursuit , but it is not all of Kabbalah and, by itself, it does not offer explicit real-world, problem solving insight.

The Kabbalah that empowers us in the real world is not only inner-directed (and/or God-directed, internally) but also outer-directed.  The so-called philosophical or theoretical Kabbalah can be extraordinarily practical in the real world.  This knowledge is carried not only in the personal meditational experiences of dedicated individuals, but also in the geometric precision of the "science of consciousness" that is really at the heart of Torah, Talmud, and Kabbalah.

The geometric aspect of Kabbalah has not been adequately explored _in our time_ and consequently it has not empowered us as it could.  But, just as geometry and mathematics have empowered the physical sciences, they also empower our Kabbalah and ourselves in turn.  Geometry is not (usually, for most people) a spiritual experience in itself, but it can provide a precise map for spiritual experience.  We know there is a holy mountain to climb.  This is the task of the meditator.  But we also know that even when we are well-trained, even when we have worthy companions, even when we have the sage advice of those who have gone before us, we still have a vital need for a precise map that shows where we are, were we are going and how to get there.  This map is in Torah, and it is explicated by Kabbalah.  We can continue to try to climb our holy mountains without a good map, and we can achieve real spiritual heights by doing this.  But without a good map, few can reach the highest levels, and then only by virtue of personal merit - which is not generally enough to take others without such merit along.

When we wish to make something objectively real so that others can see it, appreciate it, and use it, we need the precision of a good and true map.  When we have such a map, we can go forward with greater confidence and we can show each other how to go further yet.

Thus, in my opinion, it is time for us to study the Sod level of Torah and Kabbalah with new eyes, now, in our time, for the benefit of all.  This can be part of our personal tikkun (repair) and it can be a means by which we can speed along tikkun olam (repair of the world.)  Logically speaking, if we are not able to see how this could be so, it may be because we have not looked closely enough at the parts of Torah that hold the knowledge we need. Certainly Torah does provide us with guidance in dealing with the current situation. It is our job to find it.

Stan Tenen
Sharon, Mass.,
2 November 2000

© 2000 Stan Tenen / MERU Foundation

This essay was written in response to to the renewal of the Intifada in Israel in 2000-2001, and an increase in the feelings of frustration and hopelessness among Israelis and Palestinians.


Poster ©2002 Stan Tenen


The "Tree of Abraham, an Organic Model of Western Civilization," is an attempt to illustrate the intrinsic cyclic relationship among the three Abrahamic covenants.  They overlap in time, and they are sequential in time.  They overlap in space, and they are sequential in space.

There is an historical flow from the perennial tradition to Abraham, and then to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  So, we can make a model that shows the perennial pre-history, surrounded by Judaism, surrounded by Christianity, surrounded by Islam, and now again, surrounded in the world by the perennial history we are making today.  When we look back in time through Islam, we see Christianity, and when we look back in time through Christianity, we see Judaism, and before that, perennial and unbounded history.  This is the flow of civilization and time, moving from a metaphoric Jewish seed, through a metaphoric Christian tree, to a metaphoric Islamic fruit.

We also have all three traditions as three phases of life, together at the same time in our time.  The conceptual phase is identified with Judaism, the gestational phase with Christianity, and the letting-go (birthing) phase with Islam.  Of course, each of these phases of faith must include the other two, because this is all happening all at once, right now, just as it is also happening eternally, cyclically, and throughout history.

Life grows both ways.  Life grows sequentially in time, and it grows spread out in different organs within an organism at any given time.

(An earlier poster introducing this model can be found at  Additional material on this theme can be found in our section on Making Peace with Geometry.)

Click here to enlarge this picture:

Informal Essay by Stan Tenen:  Three Pillars of Love

21 May 2001
©2001 Stan Tenen



A science of consciousness must include a clear understanding of love.  Some suggest that "all you need is love," and that this must be "unconditional love".

Of course love, especially as lovingkindness and compassion, is universally recognized as a vital part of what all mature healthy humans have in common.  But this is not the only quality necessary for healing, or to restore the Whole.

In The Three Abrahamic Covenants and the Car-Passing Trick, and The Foundations of Jewish Survival, I try to make it clear that each of the three phases of the Abrahamic traditions necessarily includes the highest qualities of the other two, while at the same time, each is the primary representative of only one.  So, I associate the conceptual stage with Judaism, and I identify it embryologically with the seed, and functionally with reason and law (Torah), the priestly tradition, and integrity.  The Christian tradition is associated primarily with passion, compassion, "good works," and what the Eastern traditions call "Dharma".  Embryologically, it is identified with the tree that manifests the seed's life-force in the world (the tree as the cross is the symbol of Christianity).  Moslems must submit to Allah, and let go of their ego and worldly attachments.  This is the function of the fruit, which must let go of the tree to provide the fertile ground for the next cycle of life.  The Moslem covenant specializes in community and hospitality.

Put simply, Judaism is known for its Torah of integrity, Christianity is known for its Gospel of love, and Islam is known for its Quran of submission.

Of course, all three phases also include the other two.  Jewish tradition is clear that not only are the law, reason, and integrity essential, but so too are lovingkindness and compassion for all life, as well as yirat Hashem -- awe, and submission to God's Will.

Christianity is clear that not only are Christians expected to be loving and compassionate, but they are also supposed to honor the law (it is said that Jesus came to fulfill the law), and they can be reborn in their faith by entrusting their lives fully to their lord.

Islam is clear that not only are Moslems expected to submit to Allah, but they are also expected to exemplify hospitality, community, and compassion, and they are also supposed to think and act with honor and integrity.


T R U T H F U L N E S S  /  L O V I N G K I N D N E S S  /  H U M I L I T Y

All three pillars are essential teachings
in each of the three Abrahamic Covenants




















Green Flame









These days, it is politically correct to suppose that all that a person must do to make the world better is to act with unconditional love, and submit to the Will of God.  The problem with this mode is that it is often advocated as enabling a reconciliation among all three of the faiths that derive from Abraham, when in fact it only represents two, and thus excludes one.

"Unconditional love" is, as the logicians say, a self-contradiction.  For here we find the adjective "unconditional" as the condition required for this sort of love.  "Unconditional love" is not the higher love referred to in all of our traditions, but rather a self-defined perspective that politely overlooks, and then excludes, reason and integrity.  Its invocation is naturally (and often unconsciously) anti-Jewish, because it implies that reason and integrity, the basis of the law, are not necessary, and because historically, it implies that the Holocaust was the fault of Jews and others for not acting with unconditional love towards nazis.  "Unconditional love" is the limited condition of love that mistakenly forgives the crime while the crime is ongoing.  Thus it is the opposite of love, because it unconditionally encourages continued unloving behavior.

The higher love, the love advocated in all three of the Abrahamic phases, the love that can be a unifying force, includes not only unlimited compassion and submission, but it also includes reason, integrity, and context.  Neither the tradition of Moses, nor the tradition of Jesus, nor the tradition of Mohammed, ever endorsed unconditional love for an adversary while they were engaged in attack.  All require a higher standard of love that takes into account not only compassion for both the victim and the victimizer, not only submission to Allah and/or yirat ("awe of") Hashem, and/or giving one's life over to Jesus, but also consideration for the future, for both the victim and the victimizer, and for the rest of society.

Compassion and submission without integrity can easily lead to unintended perversion or unbridled lust.  Integrity without compassion and without submission to God's Will can easily lead to cruelty.  Thus, each of the specialties of each of the organs in the Abrahamic body politic must be fully engaged by all three.

While "unconditional love" is not unconditional, love as a condition can be.  After all, one of God's Names is Emet -- Truth.  Thus, love of truth is a true form of love.

In all faiths, a saint or tzaddik is known by their lovingkindness.  In the Talmud, a tzaddik is said to have the quality of integrity, exemplified by the phrase toku k'varo ("their insides are like their outsides").  The love of the tzaddik is the identity of Beauty and Truth.

The Light in the Meeting Tent:

Poster ©2001 Stan Tenen



This poster, and its companion poster, The Tree of Abraham, present a visual geometric model for viewing the relationships among main cultural "players" in the Middle East. The three Abrahamic faiths are organs of a single, unified living system. 
See also an earlier essay by Stan Tenen, The Three Pillars of Love.

Click here to enlarge this picture:


These posters complement both The Three Pillars of Love and Meru's
Draft Architectural Proposal for the New York World Trade Center.

For additional material on this topic, see also Making Peace with Geometry.

First Hand™: A Model of Continuous Creation


Click here to enlarge this picture:

Questions and Answers

by Stan Tenen

©1997, 2004 Stan Tenen



Question:  What is The PURPOSE of PRAYER?

Answer by Stan Tenen:

The model proposed by Stan Tenen responds to difficult questions that sets it apart from other work, and offers a new contribution to understanding.
We welcome your questions. Stan Tenen will be answering them as they come.
Please visit this section for frequent updates.

There are several different forms or modes of prayer.

Basically, HaShem, by withdrawing and producing a "vacant space" (via "tzimtzum"), gives us a portion of His Will. This is the source of our "free will."

When our ability to find a place in the world, by means of our portion of His Will, is insufficient, it is appropriate for us to return our will to His. This is prayer.

All prayers involve some level of sacrifice. The most obvious is the sacrifice of our free will to HaShem's Will in prayer. Prayer is not our getting our way based on our will. Prayer is our asking HaShem to take back a bit of our will and use it Himself, better than we could.

The daily prayers we all say require our time and attention. They are expensive in a busy world. With or without kavanah, this is a sacrifice. When we make it freely, it is accepted.

In fact, no matter at what level of intensity (kavanah), when we freely bend our will to HaShem, our prayers are always answered. Of course, when we are in a state of confusion, as is often the case when we are moved to pray most intensely, we may not be able to see the answer – or we might not be ready to understand how the "answer" is what we were praying for – or the response might be delayed until the timing of related events (we may also have prayed for) is appropriate.

Simple prayer comes from the heart. But, there is also intellectual prayer. In simple prayer we open our feelings to HaShem – no thinking is required. A child's spontaneous cry can be a fervent prayer, and as such, it can open the gates of heaven because of its purity and integrity of feeling.

Most adults cannot easily express their truest and deepest feelings spontaneously, like a child. For adults, intellectual prayer can be more accessible.

What in the intellect can correspond to the emotional prayer of an innocent and whole heart? Sacrifice.

For a peasant whose experiences are pragmatic and earthy, sacrifice, might mean giving up a valued physical possession. This is done from the heart, but also from the intellect. The peasant knows what they are doing.

For a more complex person, sacrifice is more subtle. Here the sacrifice is not (only) from one's property (that would be too cheap for an accomplished person), but rather from what is most valuable to an accomplished person, their ego (or more precisely, the illusions of their ego.)

We all have limitations, weaknesses and deficiencies. We develop skills to survive difficult childhoods and a difficult adult world. Our choices and "skills" form our personality. Some of these "skills" are not desirable. They lead to increased ego and self-centeredness rather than to increased humility and empathy. When there is something so important to us that we are moved to ask HaShem to help us attain it, we can offer to make the job "easier" for HaShem (This is a metaphor, HaShem doesn't need it to be easier, only we do.) by readying ourselves to be aware of, to receive, to accept, and to make best use of HaShem's answer. We can do this by letting go of, giving up on, "sacrificing" some part of our ego or our willfulness or our expectations that are not helping us to see and feel our humanity and our place vis a vis HaShem. (For example, we can sacrifice our ignorance by working to learn more.)

When we want to change the world so badly that we cry out to HaShem, our cry may consist of our changing ourselves by releasing some previously highly-valued part of our ego or willfulness that we have previously been dependent on, that now stands in the way.

The new-agers call it "the manifesting principle" and sometimes that lets them forget that it is HaShem and not themselves that does the manifesting. But, the principle is simple:

Know what you want.

Clearly and precisely understand what you want by doing the intellectual work needed to really know what you want and how much it costs (or how impossible it is.)

Sacrifice your(ego)self to the task.

Put your heart and soul into your endeavor. Do real work in the physical world towards your goal. Care deeply about the work you are doing. Work (and pray) well beyond your normal point of giving up. Do the work and show your caring anyway, even if it seems that HaShem is not listening.

Return your personal will to HaShem. Give up, be infinitely patient, and pay attention.

The manifesting principle only works when a person has made a real sacrifice and has continued to work even while they have let go of their expectations of the outcome they desire. When a person short-circuits the full process, nothing happens. When there has been no sacrifice, there is nothing for HaShem to respond to.

Q: Who Wrote The Bible?

A: Click here for the answer by Stan Tenen

More questions and answers coming soon!

Parenthetical translations of Hebrew terminology

©2004 Stan Tenen



Ahavat Elokim - Love of God (see also Yirat Hashem)

Alef-bais (alef-bet) - Hebrew alphabet, in particular the rabbinic Torah-scroll alphabet (not Canaanite)

AOJS - Association of Orthodox Jewish Scientists

B'reshis (B'reshit, Bereshit) - The Hebrew text of Genesis (in the original Hebrew)

Challah - Bread for Sabbath, usually made by braiding strands of dough.

Elokim - "God" (written instead of Elo-him)

Emet - Truth

Eretz Israel - The "Land of Israel"

Halacha - "The Way." Body of Jewish law, the code of living for religious Jews.

HaShem - "The Name" -- YH-VH, the Lord

Kavannah - "Intention" (to connect/be aware of God). Devotion; the state of mind appropriate to prayer, or other action that is part of one's religious practice.

Kotel - Western Wall of Herod's Temple in Jerusalem, one of Judaism's holiest sites

Mitzvot - "Commandments". Traditionally, there are 613 commandments from God stated in the Hebrew Bible, which are the basis for halacha (q.v.).

Moshe - Moses

Moshiach - "Messiah"

Rabbi Akiva - Great Jewish sage, living in the first century C.E. He was said to be the "Master of the Letters." Associated with the "Pardes" (paradise) ego-death and rebirth meditation.

Sefer Zohar - The Zohar, the "Book of Splendor", one of the best-known works of Kabbalah, believed by scholars to be fantasy

Sukkah - "Booth". A temporary outdoor "dwelling" used during Sukkot (Sukkos), the "Festival of Booths," celebrated in autumn.

Tagin, Triple-Tagin; Keterim - "Crowns" -- decorations on top of certain Hebrew letters as they are written on a Torah scroll

Talitot - Plural of Tallit (tallis) -- the rectangular "prayer shawl" worn during daily prayer.

Talmud - "Oral Torah" written down. Originally a purely oral tradition, these teachings were collected and organized during 200 BCE - 500 CE, and written down during the last part of this period.

Tikkun Olam - "Repair of the World"

Toku K'varo - "Insides like Outsides," a term used in the Talmud to refer to a person of integrity. Moral, ethical, and intellectual transparency; without ego.

Torah - The Five Books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.

Tzaddik - "Righteous One," saint

Tzimtzum - In Kabbalah, the initial "contraction" of God from Himself into Himself, leaving a "vacated space" in which the world/universe can form.

Tzitzit - "Fringes", specially knotted strings of woolen thread attached to each of the four corners of the rectangular prayer shawl (tallit, tallis, q.v.).

Yirat Hashem - Fear/Awe of the Lord (see also Ahavat Elokim)

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