Inspired by Reb Kalonymos Kalman's ideal of a group of people coming together with the common goal of enhancing their service of God, increasing their sensitivity to all things spiritual, strengthening their love of acheinu kol beis Yisrael, and unlocking the enormous potential that we all have to cleave to the Almighty.

Interaction and discussion of practical ideas and concepts toward this end, culled from any Torah true source is welcome and appreciated.

Observations and personal experiences are also welcome; the point is to grow!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ten Things to Remember

A great post by Yitz, of the Waxing Wellspring blog. I'm posting it here because I think it has very practical applications.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A pre Tisha b'Av post I wrote over at Tikkun! brought to mind an important element of daily prayer that can be used to enhance the potency of one's prayers:

The Kav HaYashar writes at the end of Chapter 3 that one should take pains to ensure that he sits in a specific spot in shul on a consistent basis, and that he sit next to someone who does not engage in frivolous talk during the prayers. Rabbi Zecharia Wallerstein explained that one of the ideas behind a makom kavua is like the parable from the other post: when we pray at a specific place, our prayers rise up to the Gates of Prayer up above and try to enter in the same spot. The constant, repetitious barrage of daily prayers aimed at the same spot effectively "weaken" that area, which may be otherwise impenetrable.

Moreover, sitting next to someone who doesn't waste his time in shul is mutually beneficial; together you can form a unified front, and give encouragement via reinforcement by your conscious efforts to maximize your prayers.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

One-Minute Hitbodedut

Hisbodedus is a wonderful way of nurturing one's relationship with HaShem. While hisbodedus is probably most famously associated with Rebbe Nachman and is a major pillar of Breslov avodah (see Hishtapchut HaNefesh), hisbodedus has been around in one form or another going back at least to the Avos. Other famous non-chassidic practitioners were Reb Yisrael Salanter, the Chofetz Chaim, and more recently, Reb Shimshon Pincus.

Hisbodedus according to the Breslov method involves (ideally) secluding oneself for an hour every day, and speaking to God "as one would speak to a friend".

While doing hisbodedus for a whole hour seems daunting even to some seasoned practitioners, beginners are encouraged to begin with baby steps. Rabbi Ozer Bergman, a teacher and writer associated with the Breslov Research Institute gives a step-by-step suggestion on how to begin practicing hisbodedus in earnest, in his work Where Earth and Heaven Kiss: A Guide to Rebbe Nachman's Path of Meditation:

Set a time during the day when you know you will be alone and fully available for just one minute.
  • Stop what you're doing
  • Take a deep breath.
  • Thank God for any two things in life - one current, the other current or past.
  • Ask God for two material things - one related to today, one related to the future.
  • Ask God for two spiritual things - one related to today, one related to the future.
  • Ask God to help the Jewish people in two ways.
  • Either:
  • (a) Ask God to talk again tomorrow and say, "Thank You," or
  • (b) Keep talking. When you finish, go to (a) 

Friday, August 5, 2011


Eicha begins: Eichah yashva badad - How She [Yerushalayim] sat alone. ALONE!

Why did we enjoy and rejoice in Yerushalayim? Because Yerushalayim connected us to the Source as the pasuk in tehillim says שמחתי באומרים לי וכו' ירושלים הבנויה כעיר שחוברה לה יחדיו I rejoiced when they told me .... Yerushalayim when built is the city that connects us to the Source. When Yerushalayim was destroyed we lost that connection. That is what the pasuk means when is says איכה היתה לזונה קריה נאמנה - How did She turn into a harlot that faithful city. The word "emuna" [kirya neemana] means "drawn after". When Yerushalayim was built we were "neeman", drawn after Hashem, but when we sinned we were unfaithful, we were no longer drawn after, which is metaphorically like a harlot who by connecting to everybody is connected to nobody.

A gematria! The gematria of Eicha is 36 which is the number of prohibitions for which one gets kares, excision, being cut off from G-d. "Eicha" means that as a community we were cut off. Eicha means "HOW CAN THIS BE?"

We are cut off. HOW CAN THIS BE?????

The tikkun of course is to reconnect. From churban to chibbur.

Bimheyra bi'yameinu!

[Sfas Emes Dvarim 1893]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Limitless Shefa

A poor farmer asks a rich man for a donation of some food and hands him a plastic bag to fill up. The rich man says "I will give you a whole TRUCKFUL of food! You don't need this bag."

The poor man has never seen a truck, doesn't know what a truck is and asks that the rich man just fill up the bag.

We are the poor man. Hashem has limitless shefa [bounty] to shower upon us but our keilim are so deficient. He wants to bestow upon us such bracha but we are all too often satisfied with some crumbs.

[Sefer Yichud Hahisbodedus]

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Danger Of Excessive Fear

לפעמים ע"י העמסת יראה יתירה על נפשו יותר מכחותיו בא לידי שנאת התורה. וצריך כל אדם למדוד את כחו וגם כששטף המחשבות המוסריות מתגבר עליו, וגם הטוב שבו מתעלם ממנו, ומוצא הוא בעצמו כל הדופי וכל החסרונות שבעולם לא ירף ידו ולא יבהל , וידע שבכל זאת הרבה טוב צפון בו. וידע גם כן שבכל התוכחות הרבות שבספרים, שעל פיהם מוצא האדם עצמו אומלל מאד, בתוכם מוסתר אור חיים וישועה, חסד גדול ואומץ לבב. ודוקא מתוך עומק נפילה באים לעומק קימה, ומתוך ריקניות התורה יבוא לאהבתה, ולהתאמץ בגדלה ותפארתה. ונתיקת הרצון בכל דהו לצד המעלה, מרים הכל לטוב. וישכיל ויבין שמצב העולם ההרוס גם הוא לטובה ולברכה, ולמחיה עשהו ה', וסוף הכל לתיקון גמור. -שמונה קבצים קובץ ו אות פח

ובתרגום חפשי -

Sometimes, when a person overloads himself with excessive fear of Heaven beyond his powers and abilities, he comes to hatred of the Torah. Even when a person is flooded with self-critical thoughts and sees no good in himself he shouldn't lose his bearings and should remain calm and at peace with himself, knowing that there is much good that reposes within him.He should also know that all of the stringent rebukes written in mussar sefarim that may make a person feel worthless, within them are hidden the light of life, salvation, great chesed and a courageous heart.

Specifically from the depths of failure one comes to the deepest success, from an empty feeling towards Torah one comes to love and to a feeling of it's glory and grandeur. Moving one's will in the right direction, elevates everything to the good. And he will understand that the world's present state of destruction is also for the best and everything is leading to the complete rectification.

So one should certainly have Yiras Shomayim - but only within his abilities to maintain. He must also know that all of what seems bad and scary is ultimately destined to bring one to a state of goodness and joy.

Sunday, July 10, 2011