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Flames engulfed the tomb, a Jewish holy site in the West Bank that is under control of Palestinian Authority policemen, early Friday morning. No one was hurt in the incident, which ended after Palestinian policemen dispersed the crowd. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority’s president, said in a statement that the arson was “wrong, obscene and irresponsible.” He added that the Palestinian Authority will restore the site and investigate the incident.
Palestinian Authority police and fire brigades arrived at the scene and extinguished the flames, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported. The riot occurred shortly after Hamas leaders in Gaza called for “a day of rage” on Friday against Israel — a term that is often used to describe shooting or the hurling of stones and firebombs at Israelis at various locales in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli officials harshly condemned the arson, which the Israeli foreign ministry’s director, Dore Gold, said was “reminiscent of the actions of radical Islamists from Afghanistan to Libya.” He added the incident showed the Palestinians could not be trusted to control religious holy sites. For 3,500 years, beginning with prophets and seers, Jews knew how to bring the Divine experience into their daily lives, says Yoel Glick.
Rabbi Yoel Glick may well be the most important Jewish meditation teacher you have not yet heard of.
For more than 30 years, Yoel has been my meditation partner, fellow member in a Jerusalem-based circle of friends exploring contemplative Jewish practices. He and Nomi moved to the south of France, and then for a while to India, where he immersed in Hindu mysticism, even as he deepened his study of Kabbalah. At age 61, Glick is now going public, teaching and lecturing in North America as well as in Israel. Yossi Klein Halevi: When you and I started exploring Jewish meditation together over 30 years ago, spirituality was on the fringes of Jewish life.
Yoel Glick: The next step is to return the personal relationship with God to the center of our religious life.
I spent many years studying the mystical paths and following the spiritual practices of Eastern traditions. The work is to mine and to systematize – and to express the teaching in the language of contemporary spirituality. You have to understand the language of direct experience, and also of Hasidism and Kabbalah. So you’ll read a passage in a Hassidic work and realize that what the author is describing is not an idea but an experience. Even when she is taking care of his kids and calling them my Rama and my Krishna as if they were her own children, all the time her mind is back in her village at home thinking about her real children. I am devoting myself to finding those places in Judaism that tell you how you can be always with God. One of the astonishing things that happens when you first begin to meditate is that you discover that when you stop talking, you’re not quiet. There is a wonderful teaching from the Ari [the 16th century master Kabbalist] where he says that there is the physical Torah down here, but there is also a supernal Torah in the higher worlds.
One of the basic tools of Kabbalistic meditation is to visualize the four-letter name of God, the Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh.
The Name is a visualization technique which creates a place of meeting between ourselves and God.
These teachings come to tell us that the purpose of meditation and prayer is to enable us to connect with the infinite and then bring its power down into our consciousness, our lives and our world. So the purpose of Jewish meditation is not just to enhance the spiritual experience of the individual meditator. The center point of all of our meditation practices is to transform ourselves into a fitting vessel for the light and power of God to flow into the world. Your new book, Walking the Path of the Jewish Mystic, is an inquiry into the nature of God. How do they explain the dichotomy between the perfected world they’ve just experienced and the broken world they return to?
For me, the most essential are the teachings of the Ari, who talks about the “shattering of the vessels.” This universe initially was a universe of light, but that universe was shattered and then everything became a mixture of netzuzot, sparks of light and klipot, shards of matter – everything became a mixture of light and darkness.
Most people, when they meditate, have an experience, and they are happy to have the experience, but they have no idea what’s actually going on. So you’re reading Kabbalah and Hasidism as roadmaps for the journey of the soul back to its source.
The great Hasidic teachers, particularly the early generations — the Baal Shem Tov, Dov Baer of Mezeritch, Shneur Zalman of Liadi [the first Lubavitcher Rebbe], Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, Nachman of Breslov — all saw their teachings as vehicles to express their inner reality and as a way to explain the dynamics of how you connect to God. In your books, you draw not only on Jewish sources, but on other religions, particularly Hinduism, as parallel and sometimes overlapping roadmaps.
A well-known Indian parable describes a group of blind men who are wandering around and they happen upon an elephant.
Right now, my energies are concentrated on helping to create a path in Judaism that focuses on God-consciousness.
The schedule would also include counseling with a staff member, for work on one’s own particular path and struggles. The next generation will still need traditional rabbis, but they will also need a new kind of spiritual leader who is focused on the knowledge of God.

Yossi Klein Halevi is a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, where he co-directs the Muslim Leadership Initiative. A step-by-step introduction to meditation and the Jewish practice of meditation in particular. A new dimension to the daily prayers opens up with this modern commentary that has become a classic. We design and manufacture spinner rings which are very particular rings together with totally different bands in silver and gold. Several hundred people gathered outside the site and a few individuals hurled firebombs over its fence, Army Radio reported.
Footage showed extensive damage to the tomb’s dome and to its perimeter fence, which was knocked over.
We are a Reform congregation of more than 800 families in Abington, dedicated to creating a warm, inclusive, and stimulating Jewish community. Warm and empathic, with graying beard, knitted kippah and tzitzit fringes peeking out, he could pass for a typical Orthodox rabbi. He divides his time between his home in southern France and in Jerusalem, where the following conversation took place. There’s a wealth of information, practices and knowledge in Judaism about how to access God. When I went back to the Jewish sources with the lens of Eastern teaching, the direct talk about God and how to experience God, I started to find parallels in the teaching of Hasidism and Kabbalah. The Baal Shem Tov talks about how one should walk in the world as if all the time we’re actually in the higher worlds. I pull them out of their context, for example a commentary on the Parshat Hashavua [weekly Torah portion].
The supernal Torah is the first Divine thought that is the basis for the manifest universe.
For thousands of years people have been using the Name to go toward God, so it has energy built into it. The tradition says that on Yom Kippur, the most spiritually potent moment in the Jewish calendar, the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies and then come out and bless the people using the name Yud Heh Vav Heh. The Baal Shem Tov insisted that the transformation of the world will only arise out of the spiritual transformation of the individual.
That pursuit is an old Kabbalistic tradition, but it’s been largely lost as a living expression of Jewish life. But I see all these sources through the lens of other mystical traditions, and of my own spiritual experience.
They go up and touch this place of unity, light, harmony, peace, and flowing love, and then they come down into a world where there is disharmony, darkness, and hatred, and the dichotomy between the two is acutely painful. But you’re talking about a different kind of tikkun – Letaken olam b’malkhut shaddai, to repair the world by bringing the power of the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth. If you just understand the Kabbalah as poetic metaphor, then you are missing its true purpose and meaning. But if you want to make God the center of your life, then you have to look at it differently.
The teachings of Kabbalah and Hasidism are there to tell you, this is the science of meditation. This is also true for the Kabbalists — Cordovero, the Ari, the author of the Zohar — and it is the purpose behind many of the stories in the Torah as well.
In your very original work you discern points of intersection between the traditions, as a tool to help the seeker on the way.
My books are written as manuals for seekers setting out on the path, tools for further study and practice.
He is the author of Like Dreamers, which won the Jewish Book Council’s Everett Family Jewish Book of the Year Award for 2013. This practical guide covers such topics as mantra meditation, contemplation and visualization within a Jewish context. Around that same time his aunt married Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, the Hasidic singer and spiritual teacher, and Glick became part of Carlebach’s inner circle. We’ve been doing this for 3,500 years, beginning in the time when we had prophets and seers, and going through the Kabbalistic and Hasidic masters who knew how to tap into this experience.
Judaism has a wealth of knowledge and information of how to get there, but it’s buried in mountains of commentary, exegesis, folklore. Like a person out on a journey who is doing everything he has to do, taking care of his business, but one part of his mind is always thinking, “When am I going to get back home?”. He understood that if your mind is connected to that inner reality, then it doesn’t matter where you are, you are with God. They are both composed of consciousness, which is the essence of our being, the essence of reality. It embodies the truth of all being and all life – what God wants and hopes for the universe. When you focus on the breath, it literally slows the mind down, puts you into the rhythm of the breath, allows you to become calm and relaxed, to become quiet and still.

When you do visualization you are creating an image in consciousness, which takes on life and has a spiritual vibration. When he pronounced the Name, a wave of such tremendous Divine power would emanate from him that all of the people gathered in the Temple courtyard would be thrown on their faces and all of their sins would be wiped away. The Eastern religions and some of the esoteric traditions really focus their understanding of the Godhead on experiential knowledge. But every time they go up into the light, they are able to bring a little of that light back down into the world. The mystical teaching is really an attempt to express an inexpressible inner reality and experience.
Because for serious seekers today, wisdom that comes from inner experience is the only authentic knowledge. His intensity reveals a single-minded urgency: to renew Judaism as a spiritual path to God realization.
Both books, published by Jewish Lights, draw deeply on Kabbalah and Hasidism – as well as on the mystical wisdom of other faiths, especially Vedanta, the ancient monotheistic core of Hinduism. And so he did the almost inconceivable: He shut down a thriving educational institution and went silent. There’s a proliferation of books on Jewish mysticism, rabbis are attending meditation retreats sponsored by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality and some synagogues have even introduced meditation into Shabbat services.
And I realized that the Baal Shem Tov is living that life, he has been in that place of experience. This extraction can be especially useful today when so many Jews lack the background for traditional study.
When you listen to the radio, you have to tune in to the right frequency in order to get the program you want.
Each religion uses different spiritual symbols, names, and images, as a way to take one toward God. As you go toward that place and try to connect with it through meditation and contemplation of the teaching, you actually move into those inner realities. After fifteen years of focusing on Eastern teaching and practice, I decided that it was time to try to help recreate that same kind of path in Judaism. All meditation techniques are just different ways of helping us build and then cross over that bridge. Inner transformation, linking yourself up to something greater than yourself, to God, to the soul of Israel, brings that power and consciousness into your being and makes you an effective instrument to change the world.
Some of that higher consciousness becomes part of how they live in this world, how they interact in their life, and their relationships with others. What you’re saying is that we need to go back to the original intent of the Kabbalistic system, which was to experience something of God’s Presence. We’re each one bit of that universal consciousness, of that eternal truth, which we’re meant to reveal in our life and in our world.
I think that Jewish mystical tradition has certain elements that are universal, and also unique insights to contribute to the overall understanding. We need a center where people can spend time, where they can work on building that inner link to God’s living presence. In any kind of community where you have interactions with people, there’s lots of opportunities to be shown what you still need to work on in yourself. That aspect of mind connects us to the reality of mind beyond the physical; it connects us to the world of spirit and the realm of direct knowing.
Meditation is a way of accessing that primal source, of being reconnected back to the essence of who we are. So the language of Hinduism is a reflection of their language and culture and way of seeing the world.
The work would consist of the practice of meditation and prayer, the study of spiritual wisdom and the work of self-transformation. Part of what Kabbalah is teaching is what is happening in those inner processes, what’s happening when you meditate. But the actual experience which the Hindu mystics are trying to describe is no different from what the Kabbalists and Hasidim are describing using their own language and metaphors. And the incredible opportunity of our time is that for the first time we can have easy access to all of these different traditions. So we can have these cross-fertilizations that enable us to get a wider picture of that higher reality. This approach combines the depth of knowledge that comes from studying the teachings and practices in our own tradition with the expansive vision that comes from exploring the wisdom of other faiths.

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