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!

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]