October 21, 2009


From Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, “Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom” (English translation of Shivachey HaRan and Sichos HaRan, penned by Reb Noson; Breslov Research Institute, 1973), “His Praises,” sec. 10, pp. 10-11.

Rabbi Nachman’s Secluded Devotions

The main way the Rebbe [Rabbi Nachman of Breslov] attained what he did was simply through prayer and supplication before G-d. He was very consistent in this. He would beg and plead in every way possible, asking that G-d have mercy and make him worthy of true devotion and closeness.

The thing that helped him most was his prayers in the language he usually spoke, which was Yiddish. He would find a secluded place and set it aside to express his thoughts to G-d. Speaking in his own language, he would beg and plead before G-d. He would make use of all sorts of arguments and logic, crying that it was fitting that G-d draw him close and help him in his devotions. He kept this up constantly, spending days and years engaged in such prayer.

His father’s house had a small garret, partitioned off as a storehouse for hay and feed. Here young Rabbi Nachman would hide himself, chanting Psalms and screaming quietly (see Sichos HaRan 16), begging G-d that he be worthy of drawing himself close to Him.

Besides this, Rabbi Nachman made use of every published prayer he could find. He went through all the books of prayers available, and there was not a prayer that he did not repeat countless times. He recited them all, the Psalms, the Sha’arey Tziyon (“Gates of Zion,” kabbalistic prayers by Rabbi Noson Nateh Hanover), the [supplementary] prayers printed in the large Siddurim. He poured out his heart in every possible prayer and supplication, even those printed in Yiddish for women. Not a single one was omitted.

The Rebbe also had the custom of reciting all the supplications following each day’s Ma’amodos (a compilation of daily readings from the Bible and Talmud). He would say the prayers for all seven days of the week at one time.

He also had the practice of chanting only the verses in the Psalms speaking of prayer and the cry to G-d. He would go through the entire Book of Psalms in one stretch, saying only those verses and leaving out the rest.

But beyond all this, the main thing was his own prayers, emanating from his heart in his own language. He would pray and argue before G-d, making up petitions and arguments as he went along. He would beg and plead that G-d make him worthy of true devotion. It was prayers such as these that helped the Rebbe to achieve his greatness. We heard this explicitly from the Rebbe’s holy lips.