3 Teves 5782 / Tuesday, December 07, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayigash
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HomeFoundations of JudaismHitbodedut (Personal Prayer)Breslever Shtick?
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Breslever Shtick?    

Breslever Shtick?

The Evil Inclination will be happy to let a person learn Gemara all day long, just as long as he doesn’t strive for emuna and personal holiness...


Rabbenu Bachiya in his classic "Duties of the Heart" (Gate of Self-assessment, chapters 1-6) teaches that we are obligated to engage ourselves in constant self-assessment, for King Solomon commanded (Ecclesiastes 9:8), "Your clothes should always be white;" in other words, we must keep our souls unblemished. So, by doing constant self-assessment, even if we do fall down, we rectify immediately.
Who is capable of doing contant self-assessment?
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto ("Ramchal") writes in "Path of the Just" (see Chapter 14) that a person should search for upright people to learn Torah with and to do business with, and then for the rest of the day, he should occupy himself with secluded personal prayer - hitbodedut - for this way, he shall learn the true and proper way of serving Hashem. Unsurprisingly, the Ramchal says that an integral part of secluded personal prayer is learning to limit one's speech about mundane manners to the barest minimum and learning to guard one's eyes. He concludes that daily personal prayer conditions a person to do both, guard one's speech and guard one's eyes.
Suppose you work for 9 hours a day and learn Torah for 2 hours a day. And suppose you need another 10 hours a day for sleeping, family time, and household chores - daily subtotal, 21 hours. According to the Ramchal, you should now devote 3 hours a day to hitbodedut.
The Chofetz Chaim spent 2 hours a day doing hitbodedut and daily self-assessment.
Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk says that a person should devote one entire day of the week to hitbodedut.
The holy "Reishit Chochma" says that hitbodedut is a prerequisite for personal holiness (see Shaar Hakedusha, Chapter 6).
Rabbi Yonatan Eibshitz writes in the name of the Arizal that Adam spent 98 days straight in total hitbodedut while doing teshuva for his transgression of eating the forbidden fruit (see Yaarot Dvash, part 2, 12th discourse).
The holy Alsheich explains (elaboration on Exodus 8: 25), that when Pharaoh begged Moses to pray for him, Moses had to leave the city in order to isolate himself, thus assuring that his prayers would be answered.
So far, I haven't cited a single Breslev source. But it's crystal clear that every single major Jewish ethics guide - whether the author is Ashkenazi or Sephardi, Lithuanian or Chassidic - stresses the importance of daily personal prayer, which is synonymous to cheshbon nefesh, or self-assessment.
Rav Shalom Arush said in Uman this year (see Rav Shalom's article this week, "30 Minutes to Glory") that a person can't be a kosher individual without daily personal prayer. After he said that, a mob of people surrounded me and started yelling, "Are you telling us that the leaders of our generation are not kosher?"
I answered them, "Since you don't engage in daily personal prayer, you're sure that this generation's spiritual leaders don't either. That shows your arrogance, for you're sure that you're on their level and that they don't do anything that you don't do. But that's wrong! In order to be a giant in Torah and a true spiritual leader, one must follow "Duties of the Heart" and "Path of the Just"; therefore, rest assured that our spiritual leaders devote daily time to personal prayer and self-assessment.
The Yetzer Hara – the Evil Inclination – will be happy to let a person learn Tosefot or Arizal all day long and even learn Gemara by heart, just as long as that person doesn’t strive for personal holiness. The Yetzer especially hates hitbodedut, which is the prerequisite for personal holiness, as the Ramchal, Reishit Chochma, Rebbe Nachman and many others teach us. prayer in your own language, where you talk to Hashem like you’d speak to friend.
So how does the Yetzer Hara discourage people from doing an hour of hitbodedut a day? He drives you crazy and says, “That’s a Breslever shtick – do you want people to think you’re crazy like the weirdos who converse with pine trees and dance on car roofs?”
According to the Yetzer Hara, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moshe Rabbenu, King David, Elijah the Prophet and a long list of other great tzaddikim throughout history fall into the category of “weirdos” since they all did an hour (minimum!) of personal prayer every day. The Yetzer is the number one opponent of Rabbenu Nachman, because our Rebbe leads us on the path of our soul correction and connecting to Hashem, which we can't possibly do without emuna and personal holiness, both of which are earned through daily personal prayer.
Don't let the Yetzer swindle you or misguide you. Autumn is a lovely time for a walk in the park and a private talk with Hashem. You'll be glad you did; you'll also be walking in the footsteps of our holy forefathers, may they intercede in our behalf, amen!

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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Dear Hashem
Moriah10/16/2012 4:49:08 PM
  Just what I need to show my father-in-law
Anonymous,10/14/2012 11:46:23 PM

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