12 Tamuz 5781 / Tuesday, June 22, 2021 | Torah Reading: Balak
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Calling His Name    

Calling His Name

Rebbe Nachman teaches that when a person wants to speak to Hashem, Hashem casts aside everything else and turns His attention to that person...


Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody

In Forest Fields, Part 20
The power of simple prayer
A person’s hour of personal prayer and self-evaluation is so strong that it has the power to protect the entire world, as Rebbe Nachman asks (Discourses, 70):
"How do we allow Hashem to ponder and implement harsh decrees in the world? We must call Hashem away from all His other tasks. We must distract Him from sending harsh decrees to the world, Heaven forbid. We must tell Him to put everything else aside and listen to us, for we want to ask Him to draw us close. For when a person wishes to speak to Hashem, He casts aside everything else and all the harsh decrees that He wants to decree, and turns His attention to the person that wants to speak to Him and ask for assistance in getting close to Him.”
Rebbe Nachman’s above discourse has far-reaching implications: no matter how small, insignificant, or simple a person might be, no matter if he’s an ex-convict or a person who’s made every mistake in life – as soon as he or she calls Hashem’s name, Hashem drops everything and listens! Not only does everyone have the right to turn to Hashem at any given moment – 24/7 – but by virtue of the person that seeks Hashem, the world is spared from calamity and harsh decrees. So, if there were people speaking to Hashem around the clock, there wouldn’t be any harsh decrees.
Breslever tradition tells that the Breslever Chassidim of Poland had a round-the-clock personal prayer vigil where someone was always speaking to Hashem. The day that the vigil was interrupted, the terrible Holocaust began…
What could be better than having the personal attention of The King? Imagine that a bachelor that’s looking for his soul-mate; someone arranges an hour-long audience for him with the country’s leading matchmaker. Do you think he wouldn’t bother showing up for such a meeting? He’d fly like a rocket to such a meeting! Or imagine that a needy person is granted a meeting with a millionaire philanthropist who with the snap of a finger could solve all the poor man’s money problems. Would the poor man hesitate or be too lazy to keep the appointment? No way! Whoever we perceive can help us – the world’s greatest physician, the number-one marriage counselor, the District bank manager, our representative in Parliament, or even the President or the Prime Minister – is futile and powerless compared to Hashem.
Hashem is the world’s greatest Physician, Psychologist, Matchmaker, and Philanthropist. Like King David says (Psalm 145:9), “Hashem is good for everything,” good for income, good for curing, good for matchmaking, good for advice, good to confide in, and good for whatever our needs are.
Our readers who are not yet familiar with the concept of an hour of hitbodedut should know that they may implement this hour at any time, any place, and in any form. Personal prayer is fine in any language, jargon, or dialect, preferably in simple sincere words from the heart. A person is not only allowed but encouraged to feel comfortable during personal prayer. You can sit in front of the fireplace in winter or with your feet in the lake in the summer. You can speak to Hashem on your flight from New York to London or while walking in the woods in rural Virginia. With hitbodedut, a lone sentry never feels alone and a young mother always has someone to speak to on a sleepless night. An office during lunch break and a wooded trail are both suitable places for personal prayer.
Put everything aside
If hitbodedut is so pleasant, convenient, and easy, why isn’t everyone speaking to Hashem for an hour a day? What’s stopping people from doing what they know is right and beneficial, from talking to Hashem in personal prayer?
The answer is that the Yetzer Hara – the Evil Inclination – knows full well the virtues of hitbodedut. He knows that by way of personal prayer, a person will realize his potential to the maximum and see blessings of success in all of his endeavors. Most of all, personal prayer is the vehicle that brings a person close to Hashem, to his true mission in life, and to his soul correction. For these reasons, the Yetzer Hara will fight tooth and nail against hitbodedut and do everything to convince and discourage a person from doing personal prayer.
Just knowing how badly the Evil Inclination wants to stop us from speaking to Hashem in personal prayer should be all the incentive we need to put everything aside and pursue it more and more. Those who regularly practice personal prayer enjoy a loving, gratifying, and intimately satisfying relationship with Hashem that defies adequate description. One cannot imagine how patiently, gently, and lovingly Hashem treats those who turn to Him in personal prayer. Man was created to live a life of emuna and proximity to Hashem; personal prayer enables a person to attain both.
To be continued.

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