Do Jews Meditate?


How did the prophets of the Bible receive their prophecy? Aryeh Kaplan, who was a rabbi, author, and physicist, responds to this question at the start of his book Meditation and the Bible. He suggests that meditation is an intrinsically Jewish practice–and that it was actually the primary tool used by Israel’s prophets to receive Divine communication.”There are two methods to attain a mystical state, meditation and drugs,” writes Kaplan, “and there is no objective evidence in the Bible that such substances were involved.”

Indeed the ancient writings are chock-full of references to meditative techniques, to the point where prophets almost never interact with the Divine without meditating.

For instance, when King David prays, “My flesh and heart fade away, while God becomes the rock of my heart” (Psalms 73:26), he isn’t merely being metaphorical–he’s actually ascending into an alternate state of consciousness.

Kaplan doesn’t merely research these terms–he also uses them to introduce practical meditation techniques. In Kaplan’s methodology, all sorts of Jewish practices are compatible with meditation, and you might already be taking the first steps toward meditating without even realizing it–just by reciting a prayer or observing Shabbat.

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