SPARKS OF INSIGHT
1. The Meal of Perfect Faith
When the hasidim were at a Shabbat meal with their rebbe, the late Rabbi Avraham of Slonim, they felt they were in the Garden of Eden, tasting its delights, because the Sabbath foods had a special, sweet taste in his presence. The Rebbe would recite with great feeling the kabbalistic poem, "Atkinu Se'udata."
Once, he asked, "What is the meaning of these words; 'Prepare the feast'? What is there to prepare at the time of the meal? Everything has been ready on the table since erev Shabbat! So what's the meaning of the request to prepare the feast? But we need to go to the following words" said the Rebbe as sparks of holy fire flew from his eyes, "d'mehaimnuta shlaimata'; we are being asked to prepare the 'meal' of perfect faith. The matter of faith is also hinted at in the continuation: 'hedvata d'Malka kadisha' 'the joy of the holy King'-- because we give joy to the Master of the world by our faith in Him, expressed by our eating a lot of challah, meat, fish, and everything good in His honor. This gives Him joy and it shows great faith." (HaRebbe HaKodosh MiSlonim, p.203.)
The Ari said to his disciples, "How will your sins be atoned for? Do you want to be punished with poverty?" "No," they said, "That is too difficult for us!" "Perhaps with afflictions then?" Again they answered, "That is too difficult also!" He concluded, "And you also don't want insults and humiliations? If so, how will you achieve atonement?" (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.5, p.193, #465) Such ideas are not popular today but they demand more thought. Isn't it true that our suffering arouses God's compassion toward us? (just as we too feel a mitigating compassion for a bad person who is suffering) Isn't that a cause of atonement for our sins?
3. One's Spiritual Connection in Prayer
In the context of a teaching, Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav said about a person praying: "in any case, God hears his voice and that is his salvation." Breslover hasidim explain that "If his prayer is also accepted and answered, good; if not, not. But in any case, the essence of his involvement in prayer is his salvation, because one receives one's divine life-energy from prayer." (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov] vol.6, p.124, #289)
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