The Jewish Spirit Journal
A Journal of Jewish Mysticism and Spirituality
Vol. 1, No. 6 January 2003

HANHAGOT


(SPIRITUAL PRACTICES)

1. Amen for Healing

Once, when Reb Arele Roth was sick, his hasidim not only said the whole Book of Psalms for his sake, that he be healed; they also offered one hundred "amen's" and "yehai sh'mai rabba's" for his sake (Zichron Tzaddik, p.42, #97). The Rabbis tell us to say these responses with all our devotion and energy (this was a particular focus of Reb Arele) and they tell us that doing so causes great spiritual effects. This is a beautiful practice when in the synagogue, to offer one's fervent "amen's" for someone's healing.

2. At the Opening of the Ark

A great tzaddik, the late Hadassah Linder, mentioned a sick boy in prayer every time the Ark was opened for forty days. (Nihohei HeHadass, p.275) When the Ark is opened is an especially favorable time for prayers.

3. It's Almost One

Countless times, Rebbe Moshe Mordechai Biderman of Lelov-Jerusalem was seen to look at his watch close to one o'clock and exclaim, "It's almost one!" No one knew what this was about. But once, they discovered its meaning, when the Rebbe looked at his watch as usual and cried out, "Oy! In a little while it'll be one!" Suddenly he trembled and called out, "In a little while God will be king over all the earth; in that day God will be one and His name will be one!" (Moshe Ish HaElokim, vol.1, p.153)

Of course this tells us that the Rebbe was using his watch and this practice as a device to remind himself about the redemption. We don't have to imitate him in this. But the anecdote tells us that we too can use anything in our lives to remind us of religiously important matters. Anything that keeps our mind and heart directed to God is good.

4. A Kavvanah for Cleaning and Sweeping

Tzvi Hirsh, the servant of Rebbe Mendel of Rimanov, reached perfection through serving a holy person, his rebbe. He later succeeded his master as a rebbe in Rimanov and was called Rebbe Tzvi Hirsh the Servant of Rimanov. It is said that when Tzvi Hirsh, as a humble servant, took a broom in his hands and swept up the synagogue, he expelled from the holy place all the unclean forces that prevented pure prayer. (Kohen Gadol Mesharait, p.83) This anecdote can provide us with a kavvanah for when we sweep our homes: To expel any impure forces ("vibrations") that lurk in our dwelling and prevent us from serving God.

5. Physical Symbols of Love

The Baal Shem Tov told his disciples that when they made a circle by placing their hand on the shoulder of the person next to them in singing a niggun, their intention should be to physically fulfill the mitzvah to love your neighbor as yourself. (Heard from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach)

The Besht also told them that when they shook someone's hand, their intention should be to draw to that person God's favor. (Based on Maaseh Avot, p.133, #4)

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Copyright 2004-2005, Yitzhak Buxbaum. All rights reserved.