Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The Greatness of Hitboedut!

by Reb Nati Mystical Paths

“This practice is for every Jew!”
“For it is something that everyone has the ability to do!”

A person’s Prayers before Hashem in Hitbodedut are a form of Ruach Hakodesh (Divine Inspiration).
This is how King Dovid made up the book of psalms. He aroused himself to pray and to speak before Hashem. “To You, my heart spoke” (psalms 27:8), he said. Rashi explains: “To You” in your service, as your messenger “My heart spoke.” His heart served as the messenger of the Holy, delivering the words which Hashem Himself provided for King David to pray before Him. From these words, words of divine Inspiration, the book of psalms was formed. Each person’s level of Divine Inspiration is determined by the extent that he draws upon himself these words which come from Hashem. (Likutey Moharan I,156)

Reb Noson was once describing the greatness of hitbodedut. “Try to picture the high priest as he entered the holy of holies at the one time of the year that this was permitted, Yom Kippur. In describing his appearance, the liturgy states that the high priest looked like “one who sits in solitude to pray before Hashem.” “Imagine,” said Reb Noson, “the high priest entering the holy of holies is likened to the person who sits and pours out his heart before Hashem” (Hishafkut HaNefesh)
Through Hitbodedut, we can, as it were, enter the holy of Holies each and every day! Rebbe Nachman gave the following analogy. You’ll see that all the thieves generally gather around the well know and often used roads, waiting to set upon the innocent passers-by. Someone who wants to outwit them has to find a new road, so that the thieves won’t notice him. The same is true when it comes to prayer. The standard, often used prayers are well know to the “thieves” The other side.

Hitbodedut, on the other hand, is entirely new path. Taking this approach, and using new words and original supplications, deceives these spiritual “thieves” Then our prayers are able to asend without hindrances (Likutey Moharan II, 97). Reb Noson, Test it out. Practice Hitbodedut for forty days straight. I guarantee you’ll see results (Aveneha Barzel) pg.66) The Rebbe prescribed different devotions for each of his followers. Yet there were two devotional practices that were universally prescribed for all his followers in his generation and for all time. They are the daily study of the Shulchan Aruch and the codes and Hitbodedut. He said “this advice is for everyone, because it is something that every Jew has the ability to perform (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #185)


  1. R' Shalom Arush, in his new sefer In Forest Fields, argues that numerous seforim through the ages have said that we should do hitbodedut daily. I think this is very important, because most frum Jews are not yet convinced that hitbodedut as Rebbe Nachman describes it is required or all that important. It seems that some of the people R' Arush cites aren't advocating precisely the same kind of hitbodedut that Breslover do -- but it's probably pretty close. I think it would be useful for someone to write -- maybe you, Nati? Maybe me? -- a little essay demonstrating how according to numerous sources Jews should be doing hitbodedut daily. In Forest Fields is a great place to start because he provides a list of various rabbis who recommended hitbodedut.

    The Talmud says do teshuvah the day before you die -- which is every day because we never know when we're going to die. Rambam tells us the details of how to do teshuvah. And the Talmud says a person should ideally pray all day long. The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that a Jew should be engaged in prayer and Torah study constantly -- as if it were his prime occupation. The Ramchal stresses an hour a day of personal prayer.

    So we have a lot of good sources. But a short, succinct essay bringing together all these sources, and arguing to Jews of all stripes that hitbodedut is vital -- this could be very useful. This is quite important, because I fear that now, hitbodedut may be more common among non-Jews than it is among Jews! It seems that most frum Jews think we have so many blessings and prayers to say, that must be enough -- along with perhaps a few seconds of personal prayer during the Amidah.

    People need to understand hitbodedut is not a Breslover thing -- it's for everybody! Now there are other methods of personal prayer and meditation, and those are good too -- but at least some amount of hitbodedut (thanking Hashem, doing teshuvah for one's daily actions, asking for whatever spiritual or physical things one needs, praying for more faith and connection to Hashem) is something every Jew needs to do. The Bilvavi, a text studied by frum Jews from all sects, advocates something similar to hitbodedut, so hopefully this idea is catching on to the general Jewish population.

    (The Bilvavi can be read here in English:

    The parts on prayer are here, among other places (paragraphs 130-38):

  2. I was at the kotel today, and notice Gutmans little tefillin stand. Was going to stop and say hello, but he was rather busy.

  3. metsuyan, yasher koach, great post!
    "Each person’s level of Divine Inspiration is determined by the extent that he draws upon himself these words which come from Hashem. (Likutey Moharan I,156)".
    there's a medrash saying that when yaakov avinu was tending sheep all those years in shechem, he would sing songs to Hashem. these songs went up to heaven and waited....then, when david hamelech was tending sheep the songs came to him and became 'shir hamaalot' songs of ascent (pslams 120-134, corresponding with the 15 steps to the bet hamikdash).
    david is where the moshiach comes from. his book, tehilim "praises"/psalms is the most popular book in the entire world. the book not only corresponds to the torah/chumash (each with 5 sections)..but is so powerful because it contains the spirit of moshiach which was in david.
    the tzemach tzedek said 'tehilim ascend to the highest levels shattering all barriers and prostrate before the kisei kavod/throne of glory. if you only knew how powerful tehilim were, you would never stop saying them'.
    in 'outpouring of the soul' reb nachman talks about doing hitbodedut w/tehilim outside in a field.
    it appears that the combination of hitbodedut w/tehilim is very potent, healing and helpful.

  4. Good points about tehillim. Before Rebbe Nachman revealed the Tikkun HaKlali, he would tell people to recite any ten psalms for the same kind of remedy. So Rebbe Nachman clearly saw the power of reading tehillim in general, not just Tikkun HaKlali.

  5. When we do a personal prayer, however we do it, we give ourself a boost each day, and build that relationship even stronger.

  6. FOr anyone considering trying hitbodedut I can testify it is the one most powerful thing you can do to change yourself, become happier adn have a close relationship with Hashem. It is true therapy in all senses of the word.


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