Out To The Field – Here Comes The First Monkey Wrench

Continued from last week here:

Likutey Moharan I:24 – Week 4

​Shortly after starting to feel progress waking up happy and grateful for a new day, I got sick. Instead of waking up as I had been, I woke up feeling like I had a head full of rocks and a sinuses that were all backed up. Nevertheless, I summoned any enthusiasm I could muster, said Modeh Ani and then headed downstairs for hisbodedus.

Compounded with this head cold, one Shabbos​ I had a very distressing dream dealing with something I had been worried about with my oldest child (a pre-teen). The dream seemed so real, and it played out exactly as I had feared. Pre-occupied with these thoughts in hisbodedus the next morning, I had really difficulty saying thank you to Hashem for all of the blessings. Then, I suddenly remembered something Reb Noson had written in a letter (Alim L’Terufah #249):

“Summon your inner strength very much and always be joyful, especially during prayer! Prayer requires extra fortification. So every time you stand up to pray put everything that has happened until that time completely out of your mind. Just trust in God’s great kin​dness, as is written, ‘I trust in Your kindness; my heart will rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to God, for He has treated me kindly’ (Tehillim 13:6). Then you will pray in joy and happiness.”

​This verse from Tehillim was the answer! ​

It taught me that if I found myself worried about something, it was a clear indication that I was not placing proper trust in Hashem. The Rebbe even wrote (Sefer HaMiddos, Bitachon A:9),

“Trust in Hashem saves one from worry.”

​I then began to understand why the Rebbe had quoted the verse “For you will go out with joy.” (Yeshaya 55:12) in the Torah I was focused on. It is only once a person make a mental effort to put aside worry and begin trusting in Hashem can he attain happiness.

With ​ all of this thought in mind, I tried to reframe how I spoke to Hashem. Instead of rushing through the Amidah in order to unload my troubles during Shema Koleinu section when I could insert my personal requests, I attempted a new technique in davening; forgoing this opportunity to use Shema Koleinu for my “me list”. I then began to pay more attention to the other words in the ​​siddur and let them speak on my behalf. In the ​​siddur I could find words to address all of the things I was concerned about in my life. The more I proceeded in this manner, the more I began to really start connecting my heart to the words I was saying during davening.

I tried to do the same with the Tehillim I said during the day and also began to feel an increased connection. However, I realized that any of the distance I continued to feel was due primarily to the fact that I was trying to connect with Hashem using third-person language. Perhaps this is also what the Rebbe experienced as a child. ​ ​Sh​i​vche​i​ HaRan #10 relates the following detail:

“He also had the practice of chanting only the verses in Tehillim speaking of prayer and the cry to Hashem. He would go through the entire Sefer Tehillim in one stretch, saying only these verses and leaving out the rest.”

Taking this lead, I also followed suit. While my schedule would not allow my enough time to go through the entire Sefer Tehillim in one stretch, I did what I could. (As the saying goes, “A little is also good!”). The first day I tried this, I felt like a million bucks and things really felt like they were beginning to fall into place. But would this be a short-lived success as SO many things I have tried in the past, or was I really onto something?

It is too early to know now, so I will let you know more next week.

Author: An Aspiring Breslover

An Aspiring Breslover is a devoted husband, father, and working man who constantly strives to carry out the Rebbe’s teachings with utter simplicity.

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15 Comments

  1. I am finding your series so helpful. It is a great lesson in how to put Rebbe Nachman’s teachings into practice. Thank you so very much!

    I believe that the Breslover approach to dreams is generally not to worry about them too much – they are usually a reflection of something you thought about during the day. I actually checked “Through Fire & Water” and discovered this:

    “Reb Noson paid little attention to most dreams — when someone came to him to speak about a dream, Reb Noson would usually reply, “Don’t tell me what happens to you when you’re asleep. Tell me what׳s going on with you when you’re awake!”

    It seems unless it was a peculiar dream, one shouldn’t worry.

    I find that there are always so many distractions that don’t let us take time for ourselves, even a few minutes to concentrate on our spirituality. There is always something that comes up.

    Have you experienced this as well? Have there been any particular strategies that have worked for you?

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    • The piece about Reb Noson and dreams is very interesting, especially since Sefer HaMiddos, Emes 44 states,

      “A man can tell from his dreams if his heart is true with G-d.”

      Nevertheless, I hear your point and agree with you for the most part.

      As for your question, about how to take time for spirtituality, I would say a person must make an iron clad committment to daily hisbodedus now matter what happens. I personally start the day off with it so that nothing can insert itself first to compete for my attention. If I left it for later in the day, I am certain I would get sidetracked and perhaps not be able to do it at all.

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      • Have you heard about the method of starting off with just 6 minutes and being happy the whole day that you made 6 minutes and then gradually increasing the time? There is something to be said about consistency and one wonders how many Breslovers are truly consistent. Because of the hour recommendation, I fear many simply give up! I don’t believe that the 1 hour is an iron clad rule by any means!

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  2. Yes, I have heard about that method and would strongly encourage it. I started off with just 10 minutes a day as I wrote here:
    http://www.breslov.org/out-to-the-field-first-steps-re-balancing-the-scales/

    Today, I am up to 50 minutes a day and still aspire to finally get to 1 hour, as the Rebbe taught. However, the most important factor is not the amount of time, but the simple fact that a person makes time every day to simply talk to Hashem – no matter where he is – home, travelling, or on vacation. (Yes, I have even done hisbodedus early in the morning at a hotel at Disney World!)

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    • I think that 10 minutes may be too much for a start. Most people find the concept of formally setting time to talk with God awkward at the start. Even though many people might have always done this, there are many times if you are consistent where you just might not have the words… Rebbe Nachman taught that there is much to be said about that experience as well…

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      • I don’t disagree with you. 10 minutes is just what I started with. Even a person did 5 minutes – that too would be good! It doesn’t even matter whether a person even says one words when he starts.

        My recommendation for a person starting would be to use the Timer function on their iPhone and set it for 5 minutes. Put it aside and don’t look at it until it buzzes; telling you that your time is up.

        I use this method but set the timer for 50 minutes. On Shabbos when it is not permitted, I just look at a watch if I feel that my time is up. ….sometimes I still have long time to go!

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        • Come on… This is supposed to be natural – what are you running laps!?! We are talking about conversing with God for heaven sake. I find your suggestion absurd.

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          • Dan K: I do it because I only have so much time in the morning before I go to work and I need to also make time for learning Torah as well. Would it be better that I don’t do it and be late to work… …or not do it at all?

    • Every athlete, musician etc.. understands hard work, consistency etc… Hisbodedus, meditation and spiritual matters are no simple matters. You can’t just turn on the light switch. They require dedication. I think that he is just trying to suggest a practical method. I also think that when one starts they should be as happy with their 5 minutes or whatever as someone who does an hour. This is what they are capable of right now and that positive will push them forward.

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  3. It would appear to me that Dan K is operating on the “ideal” level and An Aspiring Breslover is operating on the “real” level.

    When one first hears about hisbodedus vivid images of strolling through open fields for hours on end pouring out the heart in a state of utmost devikus fills the mind. Then we step out for some hisbodedus and realise that those images do not factor in the yetzer horah. The yetzer horah is very clever and we have to match him and come prepared.

    Like everything in Yiddishkiet it is best to take small steps forward and build a consistent avodah as opposed to burst of inspiration which are hard to maintain. Working slowly and building up as An Aspiring Breslover suggests is not stam advice it is tried and proven time and time again.

    There are plenty of sources in Breslover seforim for taking it slow – check out torah 49 in LM1.

    An Aspiring Breslover has proved himself to be a real Breslover – after all he is the one who sits down to 50 mins hisbodedus every single day without fail, who else can claim such consistency in hisbodedus?

    keep up the great articles!

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    • I really appreciate your kind words and chizuk!! I can’t tell you how much it means to know that other people relate to these postings.

      My idea behind this series is that postings are often written without the personal touch. Too often we read things or hear drashos which say “This is the ideal, and you should work to get there.” What we never read/hear is, “This is the ideal, and this is how I am stumbling all over the place to get there. Here are all my misteps and here are my honest feelings about the process of trying to get there.”

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      • I find very often that when learning Chassidisher seforim the main avoidah is to take the amazing avoidahs and m’dragas they write about and bring it down to my own level and ability.

        I heard once someone said that only the Yosher Divrei Emes and The Tanya came down to the level of the ordinary man when writing and all other seforim require the reader to drag it down to their level themselves. I would add Likutei Halochas to that list as I feel Reb Noson is amazing at touching everyone on their own level.

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        • That’s more than sensebli! That’s a great post!

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  4. about the dreams: doesnt seem to be too much of a contradiction. the first one is saying how you shouldnt trust your dreams as a basis for reality or interpretation of any sort. as for the second, you can easily tell how devoted you are to Hashem by how self-related your dreams are. nothing to do with prediction or taking your dreams seriously – in fact, it supports NOT taking your dreams seriously because unless one is a tzadik (Tanya’s definition), one is not devoted to Hashem enough for his dreams to reflect on the reality of his relationship with Hashem. and perhaps also – this is my own thing i’m making up here – perhaps he isnt worthy of such a revelation in a dream unless he fits the bill of an eved Havaye.

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