Over 200 years ago, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) wrote prayers and taught timeless wisdom. Rebbe Nachman was a Hasidic Master, the great-grandson of the Ba’al Shem Tov (the founder of Hasidism). Unique in his time, his message lives on in the tens of thousands of Breslov followers today. His philosophy combined Torah study with developing a close personal relationship with the Holy One. In fact, he taught, “When you pray, hold nothing back from God. Pour out your heart with honest openness, as if you were speaking to your very best friend.” He taught that the secret to prayer is to open one’s heart, praying in one’s own language, in one’s own words.
The Rebbe taught that we should take a few minutes every day to converse with God, which some would call prayer. He called this special outpouring of the heart hitbodedut – focused, private prayer. Too busy? Alone in the car, exercising, sitting in a chair in your living room… Rebbe Nachman especially loved going into the forest or some place of natural wonderment for these personal conversations.
My Rebbe Nachman books are marked with folded in corners and special slips of paper. What’s fascinating to me is how many times I’ve unfolded a corner – I’m done with that one – only to quickly find a replacement page. His writings are timeless and speaks to me as if he knows me. In the next few weeks I hope to share some of Rebbe Nachman’s wisdom. To begin (from The Gentle Weapon, Prayers for Everyday and Not-so-everyday Moments):
A Prayer for Living Life to the Fullest: Dear God, as I age – as hours turn to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, and months to years – let none of my time be wasted or lost. Let me use my life to the fullest, to become the person I was meant to be.
A Prayer for Seeing the Good: God, it is oh so simple to find the evil, the ugly, the bad. Help me learn to discount all that is negative in the other. Show me the goodness, the beauty, the kindness, in everyone I meet.
May you have a week of blessings and a Shabbat of peace.
Rabbi Debbie Israel