In the Alef Zone: It’s All Prophecy, the Precious Lights
“Every candle lit for a mitzvah (such as the Shabbos candles, Chanukah, in a synagogue, etc.) is extremely holy. If we would have ruach ha Kodesh (Holy Seeing – The energy that enables us to see deeply into and beyond what the eyes are seeing), we would perceive the future when we light the candles, because the candles lit for a mitzvah tell prophecies. They are like when the prophet would speak (and tell us) what he heard…”
–Rabbi Tzvi Hirsh Koidanover, (d. 1712), an eminent Talmudic, legal, and kabbalistic master, author of Kav HaYashar, an ethical-kabbalistic work.
I learned about this one year in Chanukah not too long ago, and I immediately said to myself “I can use some of that kind of action, even just a little of it.” Since then I place the candles that my wife lights on Shabbos in a place where we have constant view of them. I have found a way to have the oil remain until the morning. When I walk into the room the first thing on Shabbos morning, they are there. Each time it’s a surprise for me, encountering their brightness after a dark night.
I go to their place. I sit with them. I say brochas (blessings) in front of them. I learn Torah and say Tehillim (Songs of King David) and sometimes I hear their song. I think, wonder, and ponder, and always, I look at the candles. I sometimes doze into one of those sleep/wake states. And if I stay longer, I start to ask myself, each time anew,
What are these lights all about? What is different about them today from last week, or yesterday? What can they show me, teach me, lead me to, bring me into? Will I discover a new world there, a new way of seeing reality, a new language? Will I understand the language, even be able to speak it? How? How can I grasp that which is invisible and can’t be spoken or taught?
That leads me to think that:
It must be there, in that elusive world, that the answers to many of my own situations and the world’s situations, also elusive, will be found. We have Torah and everything is there, waiting for us to bring it more light, and maybe through the additional light that we discover, some of the biggest and seemingly insolvable communal and global questions will be revealed.
I look at the lights, I look around them. I pay attention to the space between myself and the candles. It’s also a part of the picture. And eventually, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, answers to some of those questions begin to find their way to me. As the Kav HaYashar points out, it seems to be that Hashem allows the candles to speak to us, “and on some level we are perceiving the messages through impressions in the depths of our sub-conscious and soul,” as a contemporary Chassidic teacher expresses it.
I’ve given a name to that unique space with its own world and language: The Alef Zone.
Some years ago I met a man from Hollywood who was spending time in Jerusalem at a yeshiva. It was told to me when I met him that he had created many of the most successful shows coming out of Hollywood for over 30 years. When I asked him how he did it, he right away answered, “The Zone.” He jogs every day and goes into the athlete’s zone, the state of flow where one essentially loses oneself in the moments of activity. He asks a question about a project before going into the zone, which happens after about a half an hour of running, then he runs for another hour without thinking of his question, and within a day or two he has the whole project laid out in his mind’s eye.
I found this more than a little intriguing and pondered it for a number of years. Since neither I, nor anyone I know, is liable to take up jogging, I knew there had to be another way.
And then, there it was, right in front of my eyes on Chanukah, Shabbos, and other times: In The Zone that was becoming apparent to me. But what to put there? Do I say, “I want to go into The Zone now, and I hope my sub-conscious will be enlightened enough to tell me whether I should take the job in the falafel store or the cholent store?” Not wrong, but it didn’t sound right to me. Not for me at least. I can take any number of mind-control courses to get myself that Mercedes, and apartments for my kids, and all the other good things, or so they promise.
To pray there for refuahs and yeshuas – healings and rescues – is always a good thing, but I wanted to know what it could teach me. But where to begin? I spent more time with the candles, and insights began to come to me, clear insights in an unspoken language.
I heard, sensed, felt, thought,
“Where does everything begin? With Alef, doesn’t it? The first beginning. With the Aluf HaOlam, the First of the World. Put that in there before anything else. Then see what comes to you next.”
So I fill that space between and around the candles with that sense. I can’t say that I can report any vast cash windfalls or extraordinary healings that are directly attributable to this avoda. But I continue to look at the candles and do my work in The Alef Zone and I understand what I need to understand from that world that is invisible and full of things that can’t be taught, but which I need to know for my life.
And just like I need answers, the universe seems to need answers, responses, to some of the insanity that abounds. It too has a subconscious, a world existing outside of the visible world, and it’s possible that in The Alef Zone some of those answers will also be found. I ask myself:
What does the universe’s sub-conscious, enlightened by these special lights, have to tell me/us? What answers can it provide to get through these perilous times?
I look at the lights more, each one of them, all of them. They’re there for me, for each one of us, created exclusively for each individual. They will dance their exquisite dance, their mitzvah tantz, for me, and they will tell me what I need to hear, what I have been waiting to hear. They ask only one thing: That I be willing to be present, to be there in front of them in the way I would want to be with a very great Tzadik who was waiting to bestow his life-changing brocha upon me.
It sounds simple enough, but I never know if I can I do it. All they ask is for me to be open to them. And in return, if I am willing to wait for their timing, they present a vision with its own unique melody. Coming through these lights, my lights, I recognize the vision and the melody as unmistakably mine. And I begin to understand their language, my language. And these lights make me rich. Maybe the money will also come soon. Who knows?
©Yaakov Branfman 2017