Kabbalah and Music

In Judaism, music has always been a primary tool for uniting with the Divine. The Exodus from Egypt was accompanied by song. The Holy Temple in Jerusalem was constantly filled with the music of the Levites during most rituals. Prophets entered their meditative states of consciousness via listening to music. Since the exile began almost 2,000 years ago, however, we have lost most, if not all our ancient musical traditions; only vague knowledge of the musical instruments in the Holy Temple and the musical notes of the Torah scroll remains in our hands.

Understanding Music Through The Kabbalah

A vast amount is written about music in classic texts of Kabbalah. In the mid-sixteenth century in Safed, the holy Arizal, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria taught a unique way of perceiving the Hebrew language. In that everything in Creation can be understood in relation to G-d's Divine Name, the Tetragrammaton, so too can Hebrew. G-d's essential name is spelled with the four letters yud, hei, vav, and hei, and these each relate to a particular level of Hebrew language. From below to above (i.e. from the last letter to the first), he taught that the final hei of G-d's name corresponds to the form of the Hebrew letters themselves. Next, the vav corresponds to the crowns (which are shaped like little letter vavs) placed on some of the letters traditional Ashurite script. The first hei of the Tetragrammaton relates to the Hebrew vowels. And, finally, the letter yud, the first letter introducing the ultimate Divine Name, corresponds with the musical notes which accompany the long-established system of chanting the Torah.

Music And Song

From this we can see that, according to Kabbalah, the most elevated aspect of Divinity is expressed in the world via music and song. In addition, Jewish mysticism teaches that each of the above four levels corresponds with a particular level of the human soul; the most elevated aspect of the soul, of course, relates to music. Through meditating, studying, praying, and relating to others through music one can access the highest potential of the soul.

The Final Redemption is known as being characterized by an era of song, as in the verse from Psalms "Sing to G-d a new song." It is at that time that we will be able to access that highest level of consciousness which the Kabbalah associates with the letter yud, the first (i.e. the "highest") letter of G-d's Divine Name, the Tetragrammaton.