Don’t stop after step one

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Thank God Rebbe Nachman’s advice to practice hisbodedus daily is heeded by many people worldwide.  I don’t like to be a stickler but can I suggest that we’ve been missing a key part of the formula?

Let’s see the text (Tinyana 25):

“וְיִזָּהֵר מְאֹד לְהַרְגִּיל עַצְמוֹ לְהַתְמִיד בָּזֶה מִדֵּי יוֹם בְּיוֹם שָׁעָה מְיֻחֶדֶת כַּנַּ”ל. וּשְׁאָר כָּל הַיּוֹם יִהְיֶה בְּשִׂמְחָה”

“One should be very careful to accustom himself to practicing [hisbodedus] consistently, designating an hour every day for it. And the rest of the day he should be happy“.

What happened to the second part? “And the rest of the day he should be happy”. When we finish our daily session with Hashem, there’s nothing to worry about anymore. He’s got our back. We need to stop going around moaning and groaning still about how hard everything is. That’s (partly) what hisbodedus is for. Let it all out there and then after, feel the relief and trust that the boss will take care of His part.

The truth is, the Rebbe writes that one can actually determine if he truly let go and opened his heart to Hashem based on his feelings afterwards. If he doesn’t feel happy, maybe his broken heart wasn’t what he thought it was? (Sichos Haran 45)

.אחר לב נשבר בא שמחה, וזה סימן, אם היה לו לב נשבר כשבא אחר כך לשמחה

There are so many benefits to practicing this type of unique prayer, but what could be better than feeling happy all the time? It’s like everything else in life, the more we believe it, the more it affects us. If we truly believed that we just finished entreating the most loving King of the Universe, who wants nothing else but to help us grow and succeed, then we must follow through after it with a real feeling of comfort, ease and simple happiness.

 

Hashem, help us make the time to talk real to You. Put the rights words in our mouth and open up our hearts of stone. Lead us deeper and deeper into our minds and souls, so we can tear through our fakeness and shallowness. We’re sitting here anyways, help us be real! Help us believe in You all the way. Help us believe that You truly hear our voices calling You. Let us break down and cry to You, like a child to their father. Then lift us up and help us trust that You will take care of the rest. All we can do is call out, so help us talk the truth. We know that if we can do it, nothing feels better. You got this! There’s nothing left for us to do, but sing and dance all day long!

 

Praying to learn and learning to pray

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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