Jewish Meditation techniques
"The mystic still conceives the source of religious knowledge and experience
which bursts forth from his own heart as being of equal importance".
Gershom Sholem, Major trends in Jewish mysticism, New York: Shocken, 1941,p.9
Jewish Meditation techniques can be roughly categorised in three directions: ectsatic practices, pietistic practices, and introspective practices. These directions have been generally taken, respectively, by Kabbalah, Chassidut and Mussar.
Yet throughout History, rabbis and Jewish sages from all trends would often combine elements of each of these trends.
Maimonide's Shmonei Prakim, with their invitation to follow "the middle way", can be seen as a foreseer of Jewish introspective meditations known as "hitbonenut" (self-understanding).
Early Medieval Kabbalistic masters such as Abraham Abulafia or Joseph Gikatilia were occupied with visualizations, repetitions of the divine names, and permutations of the letters (tserufim). Later medieval Kabbalistic Master in Sfat such as Moshe Cordovero focused on reflexive contemplation on various biblical verses (hitbonenut).
In the 18th century, the modern hassidim started focusing on more intimate forms of emotional et devotional connection (devekut) with God. This implied better self-knowledge, which was cultivated the technique of Hitbodedut dear to Rabbi Nachman.
More recently, at the beginning of the 20th century and right before the Shoah, the late rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto, Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro- also called the Piaczesner rebbe, was teaching a "quieting technique", Hashkata.
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