Ana B’Koach: the 42 Letter name of G-d

This mystical prayer is attributed to the first century sage, Rabbi Nechuniah Ben HaKana. It is a prayer that consists of seven passages, corresponding to the seven emotional sefirot (of the ten sefirot, or “spheres of creation”) through which Divine energy sustains and nourishes our world, which was created in a seven-day cycle. Since this prayer represents the sefirot, it is recited whenever, during the prayers, there is a symbolic ascent of divine energy from a lower to a higher plane.

In each of the seven passages of this prayer, there are six words which represent the six directions (up, down, right, left, front, back). The six directions are connected with the verse in the Book of Yechezkel/Isaiah referring to his vision of the angels with six wings: “with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.”

The first letters of each word spell out the 42-letter name of God, which is associated with the weekly unfolding of time. As such, each passage is linked to a six-letter segment within the 42-letter name since each passage corresponds to a different day of the week. When saying this prayer, we are to focus on the names mentally but not pronounce them.


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