24 Av 5781 / Monday, August 02, 2021 | Torah Reading: Re'eh
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The Book of Life    

The Book of Life

A person’s thoughts, deeds, and speech for a given day are merely on page in the book of his life, which undergoes uncompromising scrutiny...


Translated by Rabbi Lazer Brody

In Forest Fields, Part 21
My esteemed teacher and spiritual guide Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Binder of saintly and blessed memory once told me that after a person finishes his 120 years on this earth, he is called upon to stand before the Heavenly Court. The judges open a thick book, where each page describes down to the tiniest details that person’s thoughts, deeds, and speech for a given day, for this is the book of his life. Every single thought, deed, and utterance undergoes uncompromising scrutiny. But, when a given pages says, “Sixty minutes of hitbodedut – he spent sixty minutes in personal prayer and self-assessment, etc.,” then the judges turn the page with no scrutiny whatsoever. Such is the power of personal prayer: Heavenly law forbids double jeopardy, so whenever a person judges himself, the Heavenly Court is not allowed to judge him for the same offense.
We can now begin to understand why the Evil Inclination tries so hard to obstruct our daily personal prayer session. Hashem is the epitome of mercy and lovingkindness; when we judge ourselves and confess to Him, He always forgives. When we don’t, we are held responsible and accountable for every tiny thought, utterance, and deed. When we fail to devote an hour to personal prayer on a given day, we are judged according to the fine print of exacting justice. Who could be so senseless to forfeit the opportunity of judging oneself rather than having uncompromising stern judges preside over the trial?
Not only does a person’s life have its overall tikkun, or soul correction, but each individual day has its tikkun. That’s why each individual day has its renewed obstacles that we must overcome in order to devote our cherished hour to personal prayer. The desire and yearning that we activate in overcoming the hurdles that stand in our way only serve to elevate our personal prayers and make them ever so dear to Hashem. Things that come easy never have the power or the intrinsic value of accomplishments that we must work hard for.
Personal prayer is a golden daily opportunity to get close to Hashem, to solve our problems, to improve our character, and to realize our potential to the hilt. No wonder Rebbe Nachman declared that Hitbodedut surpasses everything!
To be continued.

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