22 Av 5781 / Saturday, July 31, 2021 | Torah Reading: Eikev
 
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HomeFoundations of JudaismHitbodedut (Personal Prayer)Like a Wild Donkey
 
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Like a Wild Donkey    

Like a Wild Donkey



How could the same generation that witnessed the Ten Plagues and the splitting of the Red Sea succumb to sexual lust? They saw Moses every day!

 



Teaching a person to pray is the greatest gift you can give! If you teach someone to pray for a half hour a day for one thing, you give him the gift of life. Rebbe Natan was a pure and righteous Torah scholar even before he met Rebbe Nachman; but, as Rebbe Nachman's pupil, he learned that he can solve any problem and overcome any obstacle through personal prayer. The daily half hour of praying for one thing shows us that the Torah is not up there in the sky - any person with two feet on this earth can witness miracles with his own eyes by using the tool of personal prayer.

 

Why fight bad habits and negative character traits for years without ever seeing tangible results? The half hour a day can and will work for you too.

 

Some people have been doing personal prayer for twenty years but they haven't budged an inch from their bad habits and bodily appetites. That's because they haven't focused on one area for thirty minutes a day and stick with it until they solve their problem. Rebbe Nachman says to take one problem or bad habit at a time and pray for its rectification until it's completely nullified. And, once a person sees results, he'll want to pray even more.

 

A person is born unrefined, like a wild donkey. Personal prayer is the only way to become a "human being". It's the only way to make sincere and effective teshuva. We can't even budge a finger without Hashem helping us. So, we certainly can't ascend the holy mountain of teshuva and get close to Hashem without His help. The way to enlist His help is through personal prayer - the more the better. Personal prayer is the path to freedom. It's the way to rise above our shortcomings and to rid ourselves of tribulations and suffering. It corrects the past and purifies us. Personal prayer is the reason it is possible for anyone to become righteous. More than anything, a half hour a day of praying for one thing invokes Divine compassion on a person, for it shows Hashem that the person is making an effort to improve and to do Hashem's will.

 

If a person doesn't toil to rid himself of bad habits, they won't disappear on their own. Torah and mitzvoth won't purify a person if he doesn't make a dedicated conscious effort to improve. Even if his rabbi is Moses, he won't make progress without hard work and commitment on his own part. Why? When lust burns inside a person, it distorts his entire attitude into thinking that anything he does is permissible. If a person is consumed with sexual lust, even if Hashem Himself would be revealed to him, he wouldn't pay attention; such a person certainly doesn't heed anyone else that gets in the way of what he craves.

 

Here's proof: The Children of Israel were in the desert with Moses, yet they succumbed to sexual lust! Our sages tell us that the Children of Israel knew that idolatry was nonsense, but they practiced idolatry by making the golden calf to allow themselves forbidden sexual relationships (see Tractate Sanhedrin, 63b). Later, they fell into the trap that the wicked Bilaam set for them by fornicating with the girls of Midian (see Numbers, Chapter 25).

 

How incredible! That same generation that saw Hashem face-to-face when He gave them the Torah on Mount Sinai, the same generation that saw Hashem bring the Ten Plagues upon Egypt and split the Red Sea, and the very same generation that ate the manna every day and saw dozens of other miracles daily - how could they succumb to sexual lust, especially when they knew that Hashem despises it?! They didn't understand that purifying themselves from lust and guarding their personal holiness was their main task on earth.

 

Our sages tell us that at the time that the Children of Israel were commanded to refrain from forbidden sexual relationships, each family sat at the entrance of their tents and cried (ibid, 11:10). The Rambam writes that refraining from forbidden sexual relationships is one of the most difficult mitzvoth for the majority of people. So as we have stressed so many times, we see how powerful people's evil inclination for sexual lust is. Not even praying on tzaddikim's graves helps the masses; tens of thousands visit Rebbe Nachman's gravesite in Uman, yet many remain unchanged in the area of their sexual lust. To purify oneself, one must devote at least thirty minutes of his daily hour of personal prayer to enlisting Hashem's help in guarding his eyes and attaining personal holiness. May we all succeed in doing so!





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