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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rebbe Nachman helps us get to the heart of Elul!


On the last episode of the Eyshet Chayil Show, we continued our quest toward a meaningful Elul, and we explored the joys of "Back to School" - both are opportunities for renewal, growth, and 'turning over a new leaf'!

I don't know about you, but Elul can be a struggle for me. The harder I try to connect, sometimes, the more it seems that bad energy and my many sins and weaknesses get in the way!

When that happens, there's often one man I go to who can soothe my hurt and frustration (okay, aside from my husband): Rebbe Nachman.

There are a lot of great rabbis out there. I, for example, happen to love the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and Rav Kook.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe is terrific for making you want to serve G-d, for getting you excited about working hard, and for creating a juxtaposedly proud and humble Jew. Rav Kook is all about loving Jews and loving the Land of Israel.

Rebbe Nachman heals the torment of guilt. His teachings rely on the mitzvah of constant happiness and one's belief in his ability to be renewed - hitting the Elul nail right on the head.

Lovers of Rebbe Nachman frequently refer to his #1 student's homemade prayer book, Likutei Tefilot. Here is one prayer, in English, that is particularly meaningful to me right now:

A cry from the depths

Master of the Universe, Who lovingly hears the cry of His People Israel: have mercy on me and help me! Put it into my heart to call out and cry to You with perfect sincerity until You answer me. Let my cry become ever stronger, and let me give You no peace until You take pity on me and hear my cry, and lovingly help me reveal and give birth to the radiant light of holy wisdom and inspiration that are now so deeply concealed from me because of my sins. At present I have no real knowledge of You or how to serve You truly, and I find it impossible to gain new insight into Your holy Torah.

Master of the Universe: nothing is secret from You. You know my heart. I am so far from You right now that my face is covered with shame. I am embarrassed even to ask You to open up to me the hidden secrets of the Torah. I don't know what to ask for first, because I have not even started to purify and sanctify myself. Even so, You know the great preciousness of our holy souls at their root. You chose us from all the nations and called us the Holy People, a precious treasure, as it is written: 'And you will be My precious treasure out of all the nations'... 'For G-d has chosen Yaakov for Himself, Israel as His precious treasure.'

Have mercy on Your precious treasure, Your beloved one, the people of Your inheritance, Your pride and love out of all the hosts. In Your tender mercy You have called us by every affectionate name. You have love and favored us. You have exalted us about all tongues and brought us nearer to Your service, our King. Have pity on us - because we have fallen so low, and we are so despised. Rise up and help us! Save us! Put it into our hearts to cry out to You without respite until You have mercy on us. Turn Your face to us and draw us near.

I know that I have become to totally and utterly distanced from You that my cries are powerless to arouse and give birth to the wisdom and inspiration buried deep within me. Even if I could roar and scream like all the creatures in the world, it would still not be enough to express my inner pain over even one of the rebuffs I suffer in a single day. There's not a cry in the whole world that can help me bridge the terrible gulf that separates me from You. 'Even when I scream and shout, my prayer is closed up.' How much more so, seeing that I haven't even begun to cry out to You with all my strength.

Even so, You have taught us that You are filled with tender love for us at every single moment, and that You hear and pay attention to every cry in the world, even from the lowest depths, as it is written: 'From the belly of hell I screamed: You heard my voice.' I am therefore relying on Your great goodness and kindness. I put my trust in Your abundant mercy and loving kindness. I have hope that You will forgive me, and I am confident that You will save me. I stretch out my hands to you, Hashem my G-d and G-d of my fathers. Help me! Be kind to me! Awaken my heart until I feel the true intensity of my pain - the pain of my nefesh, my ruach and neshamah. Let me realize how totally far from You I am. Help me cry to You constantly with all my power and strength. And You have pity on me and hear my cry, no matter how inadequate it may be.

Loving G-d: heal my voice and help me develop a good, strong voice instead of my present weak, inadequate voice. Both when I learn Torah and when I pray, let me cry out loud. Loving G-d, help me learn to use my voice to arouse and give birth to that holy wisdom and inspiration that have become hidden from me because of my sins. My sins are so many that they have weakened the power of Heaven, as it were, so that even the Shekhinah is not strong enough to give birth to new inspiration. 'You weakened the rock that gave birth to you!' 'The children have come to the birth-stool, but there's no strength to give birth."

Master of the Universe: For Your sake if not for mine, for the sake of Your Shekhinah, help me cry out to You sincerely when I learn Torah and when I pray. Let my voice rise up and reach You. Accept my cries as if they were the cry of the Shekhinah, until I can arouse and give birth to the holy wisdom and inspiration that have become hidden from me. You alone know all secrets. To You it is revealed and known where the potential wisdom and inspiration of every single Jew are exiled and concealed. Help me and all other Jews to use our voices to arouse the holy wisdom and inspiration that have become concealed from us, from each one in a different way, until we will all be able to rise to ever higher levels of vision and inspiration, each according to the root of his nefesh, ruach and neshamah. Let us come to known and be connected to You with ever deeper understanding and reveal Your G-dliness to the world.



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