58 posts categorized "Prayer and Meditation"

When the Words Don't Come

Sometimes, you go out to the field - yearning to speak to Hashem - but the words don't come. On one such occasion, when I was all choked up, I took my little shepherd's flute and began to play. Hashem in His infinite mercy gave me the gift of the following melody, which unclogged the heart, released the tears, and enabled the words to flow forth. I call this melody, "Whispering Soul" - with all the noise in the world, we need daily time to be alone with Hashem and to listen to the faint but sublime message of our soul, which yearns to be heard. 

Overseas, it's holiday season and the roads are jammed; whatever you do, drive carefully. Don't forget to say The Traveler's Prayer (Tefilat_haderech) when you begin your journey, whether by car, bus, train, boat or plane. Don't ever think that you're alone, because Hashem is right there with you. He cares so very much about you, and so do we.


Don't Waste the Wine

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Hashem is a loving and compassionate Father in Heaven. He wants to give us every form of abundance, but he can't pour fine wine on the floor and waste it. We must prepare a suitable receptacle to receive Divine abundance. That receptacle is prayer.

One who erroneously believes that Hashem doesn't want to give him something is a heretic. Hashem's greatest pleasure is to give us abundance. But, we must be able to receive His abundance.

People complain that they lack things in life. Rebbe Natan said, "Wherever I see deficiency, I see lack of prayer." There are no instant remedies. There are no rabbit's-feet solutions for unemployment, a lack of a soulmate, childlessness or any other deficiency. The only solution is to turn to Hashem in prayer - the more the better. Many people don't like that answer, but it's the only true answer.

May Hashem answer all your prayers for the very best. Don't ever give up. Prayer is the best gift we have. And, Hashem always listens.


Yonatan Razel: Katonti

Our forefather Jacob was in grave danger, threatened with total annihilation. But he doesn't cry and complain to Hashem. Sure, he seeks Hashem's help, but before he does, he ever so humbly thanks Hashem and says (Genesis 32:11-12):

I am unworthy of all Your loving-kindnesses and the truth that You have done for your servant; 

For with my walking-stick alone, I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two camps.

Plase rescue me!

Yonatan Razel, one of our favorite singers, brings these holy words into one of the most beautiful melodies you'll ever want to hear. Enjoy it and have a wonderful Shabbat!


Solitude

Solitude
The more a person develops his or her spiritual awareness and spiritual self, the more he or she realizes their own treasured individuality. Just as their fingerprints are unique, so are their souls. The unique person doesn't enjoy "hanging" with others in idle talk, wasted time and inconsequential endeavors. He or she would much rather be alone in a field, on a mountain or on the beach, communing with the Almighty. Such a spiritually developed person loves solitude. Don't be mistaken, solitude is the opposite of loneliness. When you feel Hashem's presence all around you, you're never lonely.


Public Prayers with Private Emotions

Public prayers private emotion
The Mishna offers us important advice, especially for Rosh Hashana, when it says (tractate Avos 2:4), "Don't separate yourself from the public." When a person prays as a part of the tzibur, the public community, he or she gets judged together with the entire public. Such a trial is much easier, for it's less exacting on the individual. Therefore, it's advisable to pray in an upright community with upright people, preferably led by a righteous person. For this reason, many people travel great distances to pray with a tzaddik on Rosh Hashana. May all those travelling to pray by Rebbe Nachman's gravesite in Uman, Ukraine have a safe trip.

In Israel, there's no need to worry if you don't belong to a synagogue; there a tens of places where one can pray with a tzaddik, have a place to stay with festive meals, and it won't cost you a cent. Miron is a fantastic place to spend Rosh Hashana. In Ashdod alone, a guest can pick from any number of inspiring places; for yeshivishe davening, you can go to Grodno. For chassidishe davening with a Rebbe, you can go to Pittsburg, Neshchiz, Chernobel, or Melitz (the Belzers and Gerrers all go to Jerusalem, while the Vishnitzers go to Bnai Brak). If you like Sfardi davening, you can pray with the Baba Sali's grandsons, Rebbe Raphael or Rebbe Yekutiel Abu Chatzira (each has his own shul) right here in Ashdod.

If you're in America, and you either don't have the money for High Holiday tickets or you don't know where to go, or maybe you're an embarrassed newcomer to traditional Judaism, there's no need to worry. My very special brothers at Chabad sent me this Rosh Hashana services link, where you can find the shul nearest you that will welcome you with open arms, including a place to eat and a place to stay.

Praying with the public is important, but sometimes it's worthwhile just to close your eyes, bury your face in a scarf or hankie (if you're a woman) or in your tallis (if you're a man), and pour your heart out to Hashem in your very own words. This way, you have the advantage of the public aspects of prayer (public merits, shofar, kaddish, kedusha, etc.) with the emotion and intensity of your deepest meditation. Don't hold the tears back.

An old story attributed to the Baal Shem Tov zatza"l tells of a orphaned country bumpkin who couldn't read the aleph-bet, yet believed in Hashem with simple and pure faith. He came into town to join in the Rosh Hashana services, but didn't know how to pray a word. When others cried out in prayer, he simply looked up at the heavens, and said, "Dear G-d, I can't read or pray, but I know it's a holy day. I don't know what the others are saying, and I don't even know how to express myself. I do know how to imitate a rooster, so I dedicate this call to you...Cockadoodle-doo! Cockadoodle-doo!" As the orphan crowed, the tears streamed down his cheeks, for this was his personal prayer from the inner walls of a pure heart. The Baal Shem Tov said that the orphan's prayers pierced the heavens, and caused all harsh verdicts for the coming year to be rescinded.

Hashem never turns away anyone who comes to Him with a with sincerity. Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Kotsk said that nothing is more whole than a broken heart. May you have a sweet New Year 5775, and may all your prayers be answered for the very best, amen.