March 3, 2009


From Dovid Sears, “The Tree that Stands Beyond Space: Rebbe Nachman of Breslov on the Mystical Experience” (Breslov Research Institute).


From Likutey Moharan and Sichot HaRan

One Hour a Day

Rebbe Nachman was insistent that we practice hitbodedut, meditating and speaking to God in our own words, every day.

He encouraged us: Even if you can say only one word, this is very good. Remain firm in your resolve, and repeat that one word again and again countless times. Even if you spend many days reciting that single word, this, too, is good.

Pray and pray, until God has mercy on you and opens your mouth, so you may express yourself fluently.

Speech has great power. Indeed [if one is a master of speech] it is possible to silence a gun, preventing it from firing.

He also said: It would be good if we could spend our entire day in hitbodedut. However, not everyone is capable of this. Therefore, we should spend at least one hour each day alone, meditating and speaking to God. This, too, is very beneficial.

However, if a person's heart is strong, and he wishes to accept upon himself the yoke of Divine service, in truth he should aspire to practice hitbodedut all day long. Thus, our Sages declared: "Would that a person could pray all day long!” (Berakhot 21a) (LM 11, 96).

A New Path

The accusing angels are familiar with all the established prayers and supplications we recite. They are like bandits lying in wait beside the well-traveled roads our prayers must ascend.

However, when a traveler sets out on a new path, the highwaymen do not know about this, so they cannot attack.

When we create a new prayer during hitbodedut, this is a new path. It is a prayer that comes forth from the heart for the very first time. Therefore, the accusers are not as likely to interfere.

Nevertheless, we also must recite all the established prayers and supplications to the best of our ability (LM 11, 97).

Opening the Heart

Rebbe Nachman once said: No matter how small or great you rnay be, it is impossible to truly refine yourself except through hitbodedut. He mentioned many celebrated tzaddikim and said that they all attained their spiritual levels only through hitbodedut.

Indicating a simple fellow who was one of the Baal Shem Tov's descendants, he remarked: "This man, too, tearfully pours out his heart to God all the time. The descendants of the Baal Shem Tov are especially accustomed to do this, for they come from the lineage of King David." And this was King David's main occupation: he always broke his heart exceedingly before God. This is the foundation of his Book of Psalms (LM 11, 100).

Awakening from Sleep

On another occasion Rebbe Nachman said: Certainly there are many virtuous people who do not practice hitbodedut. However, I call them harried and confused people.

The Mashiach (Messiah) will appear without warning and summon them, and they will be quite shocked and confounded.

However, one who practices hitbodedut will be like a person who awakens from sleep with a mind that is calm and settled, without any agitation or disturbance (Sichol HaRan #228).

Alone with God

When you hear the sound of another person while you are engaged in meditation and prayer, this is not good. When you pray, you should be able to imagine that you are absolutely alone with God.

On another occasion, Rebbe Nachman stated that during prayer one must nullify himself to such a degree that he no longer possesses the least self-awareness. All that exists is God (LM 11, 103.