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Mystical lulav movements

The custom of shaking the lulav in all directions the four points of the compass, and up and down originally symbolized an acknowledgment of Gods all-encompassing presence. But in Hasidic thought, the practice took on other symbolic, spiritual meanings. Hasidism brought the mystical teachings of the kabbalah to the masses, reinterpreting long-standing traditions with the spiritual meaning.

For Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the shaking of the lulav was a meditation that could last half an hour. Each direction had significance; each represented a different prayer.

The following is adapted from Rabbi Carlebach's teachings:

First, face right. Right in Kabbalah signifies the attribute of hesed, kindness, mercy, overwhelming beneficence. Its a reminder of Abraham, master of hospitality. Facing right, slowly shaking the lulav in and out three times, think about all the hesed, the giving in your life, and pray to God to perfect it. Do you find it too hard to be generous? Or are you suffering from an excess of generosity, of kindness, of love? "We don't know when to love and how to love and we always put so many borders inthe wrong place," explained Rabbi Carlebach. Facing right, pray for God to grant you the proper measure of hesed.

Then face left. Left in Kabbalah is gevurah strength, strict judgment, limits. Gevurah is Isaac bound for sacrifice on Mount Moriah, unflinching, accepting of judgment. Take this opportunity to think of the limits, the judgments in your life. Are your circumstances too confining? Do you need more boundaries, or fewer? Do you need more strength? This is an opportunity to invite God to help you fix the limits in your life.

Next, face straight ahead: tiferet, or beauty. This is the balance, where the beneficence and the boundaries are in their proper proportions. It is Jacob, it is the middle course.

Then, look up. Can you connect with God? Whats the holiness you need in your life? How high can you rise this year?

Then, aim down. This is about groundedness, about your foundations. And its about your ability to find the buried treasures, under your feet; the truths buried in the dirt.

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Finally, backwards. The essence of repentance is being able to go back and fix your past. This is a prayer that your past be fixed by your coming to terms with it.


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