The Jewish Spirit Journal
A Journal of Jewish Mysticism and Spirituality
Vol. 1, No. 9 September 2005

HANHAGOT


(SPIRITUAL PRACTICES)

1. In the Merit

Rabbi Matityahu Kohen, a Breslover hasid, used to study Torah with such fervor and intensity that he was sometimes heard to pray in the midst of his studying, "Master of the world, have compassion on me in the merit of Rabbi Akiba, that I become a truly good person!" or "in the merit of Abbaye" [whoever's words he was studying] (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.5, p.110, #251) We too can follow this practice.

2. To and From

Rabbi Avraham, who worked in the post office, asked Rabbi Noson of Nemirov (Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav's great disciple), how to maintain his spiritual level when at work. Rabbi Noson told him to meditate on God while walking to and from work, and then to be a diligent worker at the post office. People later saw that while on the street on the way to and from work he was enwrapped in holy thoughts in great d'vekut and was surrounded by an aura of holiness. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.5, p.100, #223)

This practice is especially for people who have jobs that require their full concentration and in which they can't be engaged in spiritual practice while working. We too can employ such advice.

3. Charity Before Every Mitzvah

Rabbi Noson of Nemirov was accustomed to give charity before almost every religious act: He gave before reciting the Midnight Lamentation, before studying Torah, before prayer, before reciting Grace, and before sleep. And all this was to open the gates a little bit so that the religious act he performed would proceed the right way, as he intended. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.5, p.99, #219)

4. Whispering to the Sick

There is a hasidic custom to whisper the following incantation, attributed to Rebbe Pinhas of Koretz, to a sick person:

Job was walking on the road and met Elijah. Elijah said to him, "What ails you?" "My head and whole body hurt!" said Job. "Go and immerse in the River of Fire," said Elijah, "and you will be healed!" Job went to the River of Fire, immersed, and was healed. Just as Job was healed, so may all the sick of Israel be healed! (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.5, p.188, #457)

Elijah is the heavenly messenger to save us from our troubles. His disciple, Elisha, told the sick Aramean general, Naaman, to immerse in the Jordan River; and he was healed. The cosmic River of Fire separates us from heaven. If we accept an immersion of divine fire, we are spared and saved from earthly pain and suffering. We attain heavenly delight despite our suffering. Even Job can be free of his afflictions.

5. You Too Give!

At the beginning of one winter, Rebbe Levi Yitzhak of Berditchev went to all the town's wealthy men to collect money to provide the poor with firewood for the cold weather. Afterward, he prayed, "Master of the world, all of the rich gave; You too give!" And so it was. One whole month of that winter was very warm. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.5, p.203, #500)

The Baal Shem Tov interpreted the verse "God is a shadow at your right hand" to mean that God does as we do. When we give, God is "inspired" to give. And when we give, we can pray that God give.

6. What Delicious Fish!

Rebbe Avraham of Slonim once said that when he was a child he saw that when they served the fish course at his father-- Rabbi Noah's-- Shabbat table, his father would put a little fish on his fork, taste it with great fervor and say in a loud voice, "What delicious fish!" He then repeated similar praise about the soup and about each food that was served. "To me, this was very strange," said the rebbe, "because it seemed to be contrary to my father's level in divine service, to get such pleasure out of bodily matters and to loudly announce that this food is so delicious! After I grew up a bit," continued the rebbe," I understood what he was doing. A Shabbat meal is not an ordinary meal like on weekdays; as it says in the Zohar, the Sabbath meal is the King's feast. At the Sabbath meal we honor the King of Kings; we're rejoicing in His kingdom! Therefore," concluded the rebbe, "the better and more tasty the food is, the more is the King honored." (HaRebbe HaKadosh MiSlonim, p.203)

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