Devekut

Devekut, Hebrew «cleaving,» the communion with God, is derived from the Hebrew word davak, meaning being devoted to God.

The Talmud asks how can a man cleave to God as he is commanded (Deuteronomy 4:24)? The response is given, by helping scholars (B.Ket. 111b) or emulating God’s attributes (B.Sotah. 14b).

The concept is much used in Kabbalistic literature where devekut is perceived as the highest step on the spiritual ladder by which the mystics embrace the lower sephiroth (emanations) in his search for communion with the Divine.

It is generally agreed that devekut in the world is fleeting and incomplete; since it is thought that only after death can true devekut be achieved. In Hasidism, the concept and attainment of devekut is very important. A.G.H.

Dekekut jewish mysticism

Devekut, a central concept in Jewish mysticism and particularly significant in Kabbalistic and Hasidic traditions, refers to a deep, contemplative connection with God. It embodies the spiritual pursuit of cleaving to the Divine.

 

Definition and Etymology

  • Meaning: Devekut translates to ‘cleaving’ or ‘clinging’ in Hebrew, derived from the word ‘davak,’ which means being devoted or clinging to God.
  • Spiritual Communion: It represents a state of communion or close attachment to God, where the individual seeks to diminish the ego and experience a union with the Divine.

 

Talmudic Interpretation

  • How to Cleave to God: The Talmud addresses the question of how one can fulfill the commandment to cleave to God. It suggests two approaches: aiding scholars and emulating God’s attributes. Both approaches indicate an active engagement in righteous behavior and spiritual practice as means to draw closer to God.

 

Kabbalistic Perspective

  • Highest Spiritual Step: In Kabbalah, devekut is seen as the highest rung on the spiritual ladder, a state where mystics seek to embrace the lower Sephiroth (divine emanations) in their quest for union with the Divine.
  • Path to Communion: The pursuit of devekut in Kabbalistic practice involves deep meditation, contemplative prayer, and spiritual exercises designed to align the soul with the divine attributes.

 

Hasidic Emphasis

  • Core Principle in Hasidism: Devekut holds a particularly important place in Hasidic Judaism, where it’s emphasized as a key aspect of spiritual life.
  • Practical Attainment: Hasidism focuses on achieving devekut in daily life through prayer, joyous religious observance, and a heart-centered approach to God.

 

The Nature of Devekut

  • Fleeting in Life: It’s generally believed that devekut is difficult to maintain continuously in life. It is seen as a fleeting, though profound, experience.
  • Complete Union After Death: There’s a widespread view that true and complete devekut is only achievable after death, when the soul returns to its divine source.

 

Modern Relevance

  • Spiritual Goal: Devekut remains a significant spiritual goal in contemporary Jewish mysticism and religious practice.
  • Interfaith Interest: The concept is also of interest in comparative religious studies, illustrating a universal pursuit of divine connection found in many spiritual traditions.

Source:

Bowker, John, The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions, New York, Oxford University Press, 1997, p.272