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Do you ever feel like you’re just learning and learning without it affecting you? I find it frustrating when I spend time studying Torah and come away feeling tired and relieved to close the book.

I was once at a Purim seudah where someone was examining proofs about whether there is prophecy outside the land of Israel or not. I wanted to say to him, “Brother, who the hell cares? Find your personal Amalek and kill it!”

I heard Rabbi Yehoshua Gerzi coin this problem as mistakenly “seeing the Torah as information, when it should be seen as a Torah of transformation”.

Look how Rebbe Nachman addresses the solution:

“It’s good to turn your learning into prayers. If you learn or hear something from a great tzaddik, then make it into a prayer. Ask Hashem, in supplication, about every detail of the teaching. ‘[Hashem], when will I merit to reach this level? I feel so far from this teaching. Please help me practice the ideas that I learned about.’ (Tinyana 25)

As Reb Nosson expounds upon (Rosh Chodesh 5) kabbalistically and practically, this type of prayer is ‘the essential upholding of the Torah’. It’s the perfection of the Torah.

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Without much coercion, everyone is enamored with the intellectual stimulation of the Torah. Thank God, there are also many who are steadfast in their observance of the Torah’s laws. But sadly, not enough of us open our hearts in prayer and beg the Master of the World to help us preserve the Torah’s teachings.

The Rebbe said that the only way that any of the tzaddikim ever reached their high spiritual levels was with this type of prayer (Tinyana 100). It’s nothing less than essential.

“Hashem, please help me process my learning, so that when I leave the study hall I’m still thinking about Your teachings. Open my eyes so when I interact with the world I’m cognizant of Your teachings and act on them. Help me clarify more and more what lessons I should be gleaning from Your holy words. But most importantly, help me never ever stop praying to achieve the highest levels of Your teachings. Help me pray endlessly, time and again, in my own words, so that Your magnificent Torah is embodied in me. I want it badly! Don’t pay attention to my wasted opportunities. In my deepest, truest place, I want nothing but You! I don’t want to study Torah to have more information. I want to study it to become the best me. Assist me in overcoming my laziness. Encourage me to set aside time to talk to You about it. Guide me to practice it and aid me to uphold it. Amen!”

malchut

 

5 thoughts on “Praying to learn and learning to pray

  1. Howdy Davy, I really like this post. Its so hard to really connect. So many times I learn my daily Seder and am just trying to finish to move on to the next “thing.” Although I know the Torah is not just mere information, that often gets over looked. It becomes another “to do.” I also really like the how you applied the Rebbe’s advice of turning your Torah in Tefilah. This makes it more reall and well. What would you recomend or say about when Hesbodus also becomes another thing to check off your to do list? Any advice?

    I think the thing that makes it hard, is the Torah and God are both one Truth. The theing wit Truth is, sometimes you see it and some times you dont.

    1. Hi Shaya. Yup. I know the feeling too well. Rush to finish the checklist. Very difficult. Thanks for appreciating the connection with the Rebbe’s advice…Regarding hisbodedus, I make it the most important thing I do of the day; My primary avoda. So I wouldn’t skip it. But I definitely empathize that at times its hard to connect. Obviously when we need to call out or when we’re over-grateful it’s easier, but what about the neutral times, day in and day out? I find that many times even when the session is so-so, I still have moments, maybe half way through, that are very insightful and carry a lot of weight. I like to celebrate those moments. Sing them. Develop them. Dance with them. I have tried a lot of things: Sometimes I say the same thing many many many times in a row. I bring my instrument. I change my place. I stand. I run. I sit. I do a lot to wake up. But I think the ultimate reason why its hard to connect is because we’re lazy to develop the ideas. We’re too tired to imagine and describe our feelings. Even though Hashem knows our thoughts, the reality changes when we speak it out. We need to laboriously elaborate. When it leaves the mouth, it can change everything. That being said, any hisbodedus is so special. Even if 90% of the time you feel it’s lousy or just another thing you do, it’s great to be in the habit of it for when you have something you really to discuss. But, if you find that your life is turbulent and you’re still not animated in your sessions, there’s something wrong. Maybe read hishtapchus hanefesh or something else to inspire it. But if you’re in tzara, chas vshalom and you’re doing hisbodedus, but you’re not calling out, that’s not right. that has to change. peace and love.

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