Yichud: יחוד

In the nusach of the Ari, just before the Baruch She'amar Prayer of the morning prayer service, we recite a statement about unifying the letters יה with the letters וה to form the great name of God יהוה. We might wonder why such a statement is even in a prayer book? What does this recitation have to do with anything?

לשם יחוד קודשא בריך הוא ושכינתה ליחדא שם יה בוה ביחודא שלים בשם כל ישראל

For the sake of the union of the Holy One, blessed be He, with His Shechinah, to unite the Name יה with וה in a perfect unity, in the name of all Israel.

In the Art Scroll Ashkenazi Siddurs, just before the Baruch She-amar, there is a different statement, about unifying the Holy One.

I now prepare my mouth to thank, laud and praise my Creator. For the sake of unifying the Holy One, Blessed be He and His Shechinah, through Him Who is hidden and inscrutable, in the name of all Israel.

What does it mean to unify the Name יה with וה or to unify the Holy One? Surely, it is not the case that God needs us to unify something in Him, for he is already perfect in every way. He has no defect. He has no deficiencies. So if unify does not mean unify in Him, what does it mean?

Whenever we read Name, meaning God's Name, it is a code word for God`s Immanence, God`s Presence in the world. God's Presence in the world can only be received by consciousness. The unification of God's name can only take place in consciousness. Before there is a unification, God's name in consciousness must be separated, not unified. This is because unification itself means that which was separated is now together. Thus in unfication there must be a change in consciousness.

The lesson of the words of the Siddur is that we are to begin the day by reminding ourselves that when we view the world, when we view our own situations, we are, in effect, viewing God through them. Our moment to moment situation is the window through which we may get a glimpse of God. To see through the window, we must understand and interpret the situation. Any deficiency we see is not in God, rather it is in our understanding and spiritual interpretation of the situation. In short, the deficiencies we see are deficiencies in us.

The Siddur is reminding us that when there arises a situation in which we see deficiency, meaning that from our point of view the Name is not unified, we should search, explore, rectify, elevate something in ourselves, and act in a Torah correct way, so that from our new point of view, there is no deficiency.

When does our situation have a deficiency? At the person to person level, this happens when someone in our circle comes to us deficient, comes to us in the role of a receiver. If we were not prepared for this to happen, somebody coming to us as a receiver is annoying, something negative for us because we are being asked to provide a handout. But as taught in the story of the onion, the one who comes as a receiver is actually coming as the beloved. When we receive the beloved who is giving us the gift of his/her belovedness, we understand that the beloved came as a giver. We give to the beloved making us a receiver of belovedness and a giver of that which was deficient. The beloved likewise becomes a giver and receiver. So each is a complete giver and receiver.

When we live in a way that our giving is a complete giving and our receiving is a complete receiving, meaning that our giving results in the receiver's completely receiving our giving so that this complete receiving constitutes the receiver's giving back to us, this constitutes the unifying of the letters of the Holy Name.

The Siddur statement is in fact a statement reminding us of our task as a servant of Hashem. When we see our situation as deficient, we must recognize that this is the sign that our consciousness has separated the letters of the Divine Name, meaning in effect that the situation does not have a connection to Hashem. This is darkness. In this moment we must change our consciousness, go to another level, another perspective, another framework. This change in concsiousness brings light. By this consciousness transformation within, we unite the letters of the Holy Name.