15 Kislev 5781 / Tuesday, December 01, 2020 | Torah Reading: Vayishlach
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Success for Everyone    

Success for Everyone

Everyone can be successful in personal prayer. Even a person on a low spiritual level can speak to Hashem with sincerity and intent about whatever hurts him at the moment...


Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody

In Forest Fields, Part 5
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev emphasizes (ibid, 101) that the very best advice for a person who seeks spiritual growth and proximity to Hashem is to devote as much time and effort as he can to personal prayer and speaking with Hashem, for this is the only strategy that enables a person to win the battle with his evil inclination. As in any war, one must persevere and be brave. Personal prayer is no exception, for dedication and conviction to personal prayer guarantees one’s victory over the evil inclination.
Why is personal prayer the very best advice for a person who seeks spiritual growth and proximity to Hashem? Rebbe Nachman explains that although there are other good methods of getting close to Hashem, not every person is able to implement those methods. For example, intensive Talmudic study is extremely conducive in bringing a person close to Hashem, but not everyone is at the level where he is capable of intensive Talmudic study. Personal prayer is so special in that it not only brings a person close to Hashem, but it invokes Divine assistance in implementing the other ways of getting close to Hashem.
Rebbe Nachman promises that if a person perseveres in personal prayer, Hashem will answer him without a doubt.
Individually tailored
Personal prayer is the only mode of Divine service that’s completely tailor-made to the individual. As such, personal prayer helps a person determine and successfully perform his individual mission in the world and live a truly satisfying life.
Your new path
Rebbe Natan of Breslev writes (ibid, 97), “I heard what he [Rebbe Nachman] said about the value of one’s dialogue with his Creator, that all the accusing angels lie in ambush to obstruct one’s prescribed prayers, for they all know the lanes that prescribed prayers ascend. For example, thieves and robbers lie in wait to pounce on the travelers along the well-travelled roads.”
“But,” continues Rebbe Natan, “when a person walks along his own new path that no one knows about, there are no “thieves and robbers” – in other words, the accusing angels aren’t familiar with a person’s new and individual path, so the prayers ascend intact and unobstructed. Even so, he [Rebbe Nachman] warned us not to underestimate the power of the prescribed prayers as well.”
We learn from Rebbe Nachman’s teachings that each prayer has its own path whereby it ascends, but only personal prayer blazes a bold new path upward to the Heavenly throne.
Personal prayer comes from the heart. The text of one’s sincere impromptu prayers doesn’t appear in any book. Personal prayers are neither rote nor routine. Like a kaleidoscope, they change with a person’s mood, not only every single day but every single hour and minute. Even if the accusing angels could discover the path of a person’s personal prayer on a certain day, by the time they could do any harm, a person who devotes daily time to personal prayer would already be on a new path with a new prayer.
Even more so, prescribed prayers require a person to connect his heart to the printed words in the prayer book. Few people are able to exercise such inner discipline to the extent that their minds don’t wander from the prayer book and the words they’re reciting. Yet, with personal prayer, one’s heart is immediately bound with the personal words that are flowing forth from the heart. A person attains the level of kavanna, or sincere intent, with much less effort when praying in his own words, especially when spilling his heart out to Hashem about his individual difficulties, aspirations, and needs in life.
Prescribed prayer consequently requires much more effort and discipline than personal prayer. Most people don’t reach a stage of “outpouring of the soul” with prescribed prayers and therefore have trouble praying with fervency. They therefore either pray either perfunctorily or with impatience, or scorn praying altogether. Their hearts and their mouths fail to focus on the same thing.
On the other hand, everyone can be successful in personal prayer. Even a person on a low spiritual level can speak to Hashem with sincerity and intent about whatever hurts him at the moment. The type of personal prayer said in your own words at your own convenience whenever you feel the need is the type of prayer that ascends straight up to the Heavenly throne. Such prayers emerge from the depth of the heart and are therefore supercharged with intent. These are the prayers that anyone can say. By way of personal prayer, anyone can connect with Hashem.
Rebbe Nachman therefore concludes (ibid, 100) that one can only become a “kosher person” by way of personal prayer, since without personal prayer, a person lacks a connection with Hashem.
To be continued.

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