“Meditation, Judaism, and Self-Mastery”
Let’s reclaim our spiritual heritage!
We will continue our study of Hitbodedut – “Isolation” – with the teachings of Abraham Maimonides.
We will also discuss how to deal with problems encountered when meditating, such as trying too hard.
Passover schedule of classes:
Wednesday March 31: 8pm
Wednesday April 7: 8pm
Sunday April 11: 8pm
Student questions currently being researched:
“I am curious why ‘purchasing / re-purchasing.’ How to better understand it? ‘Re-purchases’ from whom?”
“What does Judaism say about astrology (Mazalot?)”
“Can the Messiah be a woman?”
The Traditions: Internal Isolation
Rabbi Kaplan – “Meditation and the Bible”
Abraham Maimonides, pp 5 -10
Writings about Hitbodedut
Two types of isolation
Highest form of all practices
Contemplation of nature
Level of Aseph
The Psalms of Asaph are the twelve psalms numbered as 50 and 73–83 in the Masoretic Text, and as 49 and 72–82 in the Septuagint. They are located in the Book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible (which is also called the Old Testament). Scholars have determined that a psalm’s attribution to Asaph can mean a variety of things. It could mean that the psalms were a part of a collection from the Asaphites, a name commonly used to identify temple singers. Another possibility is that the psalms were performed in the style or tradition of the guild bearing Asaph’s name. Asaph is said to either be the author or the transcriber of these psalms. He may not have said these psalms but transcribed the words of David. No specific time period is known to be associated with these Psalms, but the record of destruction noted in Psalm 74 may indicate that these Psalms came from the post-exilic period.
In the Hebrew Bible, three men have the name of Asaph (אָסָף ’Āsāp̄). Asaph is identified with the twelve Psalms and is said to be the son of Berechiah who is said to be an ancestor of the Asaphites. The Asaphites were one of the guilds of musicians in the First Temple. This information is clarified in the Books of Chronicles. In Chronicles, it is said that Asaph was a descendant of Gershon the son of Levi and he is identified as a member of the Levites. He is also known as one of the three Levites commissioned by David to be in charge of singing in the house of Yahweh(see below). In 1 Chronicles 6:39 David appoints a man named Heman as the main musician or singer and Asaph as Heman’s right hand assistant and the Merarites at his left hand. Asaph is also credited with performing at the dedication of Solomon’s temple in 2 Chronicles 5:12.
As an officer within the Jerusalem religious system, Asaph would have participated in both the public and private side of that system. He served as an official for several years, starting with King David and serving King Solomon as well, if he is the same Asaph mentioned in 2 Chronicles 5:12. During his long term, Asaph saw the best and worst of other officials. His complaint against corruption among the rich and influential, recorded in Psalm 73 (MT) / Psalm 72 (LXX), might have been directed towards some of those officials. The words he used to describe the wicked come from the same lexicon of words used by officers of the cultic/sacrificial system.
Restrain ego and sensation
Music and song
Contemplate God’s works
Engage any time
Shed light on father
Rambam on meditation
Prophets and meditation
Guide for the Perplexed
Additional sources in Jewish literature that reference Hitbodedut
Rabbi Kaplan – “Meditation and the Bible,” pp 10 – 15
Best practices for meditation
Bhante Gunaratana, “Mindlfulness in Plain English,”
Problems, pp 97 – 107
Trying too hard, pp 103 – 104