Continued from last week here:
Likutey Moharan II:73 – Week 1
In my mind, Likutey Moharan II:73 (a lesson centered around the time period of Sefiras HaOmer) seemed to be the next logical lesson to begin after “finishing” Likutey Moharan I:9 a few days before Pesach. I had ended the last lesson still searching where I could find one of the “many openings in the darkness.” I decided to return to this new lesson when I remembered that the Rebbe taught that through saying Tehillim one can reach the gate appropriate to him. I wanted to return to this lesson to discover how (and if) this really could occur. Right off the bat, I knew this was not going to be something that I could get to the bottom of quickly. I would need to really put in the time and effort.
Before starting Likutey Moharan II:73, I decided to increase the amount of time I spent in hisbodedus each day from 50 minutes to an hour for this very reason. I also did this because I figured that it was unlikely that I would be able to make it to Uman this year and at the very least I could fulfill one of the Rebbe’s eitzos (pieces of advice) in its entirety. I was further inspired to do this after re-reading what Rabbi Yitzchok Breiter wrote in Seder HaYom #12 (translated into English as A Day in the Life of a Breslover Chasid):
“Do your utmost to spend at least an hour every day in personal prayer and meditation… Even if you can’t open your mouth at all, the very fact that you stand there and put your hope in Hashem, lifting your eyes upwards and forcing yourself to speak even if you only say a single word the whole hour – all this endures forever.”
During the first morning I spent in hisbodedus focused on Likutey Moharan II:73, a thought came into my mind that I should say Tehillim during my lunch break down by the river at a perfect spot where I sat down and said Tikkun HaKlali a few days before.
I didn’t let the thought slip from my mind and walked down to the spot during my lunch break from work to sit down on the nice smooth slanted rock. After slowly completing the Tehillim for that day (I complete the whole sefer once a month), I spent some time just looking out at the water and at the rocks around me. Despite a very deep and lonely feeling inside, I reminded myself that I was not alone; that Hashem was right here with me. Before leaving, I resolved in my mind that I would continue this practice the next day, if possible.
Returning the next day, the thought occured to me that I should make note of those verses of Tehillim that resonated with me each day and look up the commentary to them in Breslov literature at night after work. (Obviously, the best book for doing this is Rabbi Dovid Sears’ book The Power of Psalms. Other useful references in Hebrew include Sefer Tehillim im Likutey Halachos and Hilchoso C’nachmeini.) Slowly going through the Tehillim for that day, I made mental note of a verse that jumped out at me that seemed to be alluding to a form of hisbodedus that I wrote about in the past:
Behold, You desired that truth be in the hidden places, and in the concealed part You teach me wisdom. (Tehillim 51:8)
That night when I looked up this verse in Tehillim, I found that indeed it seemed to be hinting exactly at what I thought. The Rebbe was 100% correct when he wrote the following words in Likutey Moharan II:101,
“Very easily, without any forced interpretation, one can find himself in the simple meaning of all prayers and supplications.”
Walking back to the office the lonely feeling I had felt the day before seemed to dissipate somewhat. Perhaps this was what the Rebbe was referring to when he quoted Malachi 3:7 (“Return to Me , and I will return to you.”) in this lesson in Likutey Moharan. Translated into my reality, perhaps it meant that when I will return from my work world to spend time with Hashem, He too will return and meet me there.
Next week, I will plan to write more about how I continued to live this lesson.
Wow saying Tehilim in solitude sounds wonderful. Can saying Tehilim count as part of the hourly hisbodedus?
I am not the right person to ask for that question since each person’s situation is different.
For myself, I would not count saying Tehillim as part of the hour of hisbodedus. Saying Tehillim is addition to hisbodedus.
The way I look at it is hisbodedus is prayer without a script and saying Tehillim is prayer with a script.
But then again, that is just me. If you are just starting out practicing hisbodedus do whatever works!