Thursday, January 20, 2022

Prayer for Receiving the Torah Anew, Absorbing it Completely and Sharing it with the World

Parashat Yitro

Prayer for Receiving the Torah Anew, Absorbing it Completely
and Sharing it with the World
Hashem, please fulfill my yearning to receive Your Torah anew,
so, I will know how to serve You and what You want me to do!
I yearn for a personal revelation to begin,
allowing me to absorb Your Torah within.
Please help my soul and body to reflect Your will,
enabling me even the hard halachot to fulfill!
Strengthen my emunah, even if I don’t understand,
as if I heard the commands directly from You firsthand!
Let me tap into the commitment of the Israelites to You,
when they declared, “All that Hashem has spoken we shall do!”
May Your spirit guide me to understand Your secrets so deep and sweet,
enabling me to convey them to more students and to everyone I meet!
Just as the succulent first fruits are ripening on the trees,
let me be part of sharing Your Torah and make it increase!
Like the exquisite ripening fruits shining their lights,
open my heart and grant me brand new Torah insights!
Let Your Torah fill my heart and be on my lips,
in my guts, in my steps and in my fingertips!
Let me remember the Torah and put it to pen,
for others to keep learning and repeat it again!
May Your Torah transform us to become pure,
penetrating and unblocking all the obscure!
Then all our fears will gradually melt away,
Turning gloomy nights to the brightness of day!
May Your Torah enlighten and grant us clarity,
to become united and overcome polarity!
With Your Torah, we can overcome all accusations.
Then we can finally become a light to the nations!  

Based on the Book of Shemot Chapter 19 especially verse 8 and 9:

ספר שמות פרק יט פסוק ח
 וַיַּעֲנוּ כָל הָעָם יַחְדָּו וַיֹּאמְרוּ כֹּל אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר הָשֵׁם נַעֲשֶׂה וַיָּשֶׁב משֶׁה אֶת דִּבְרֵי הָעָם אֶל הָשֵׁם: (ט) וַיֹּאמֶר הָשֵׁם אֶל משֶׁה הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי בָּא אֵלֶיךָ בְּעַב הֶעָנָן בַּעֲבוּר יִשְׁמַע הָעָם בְּדַבְּרִי עִמָּךְ וְגַם בְּךָ יַאֲמִינוּ לְעוֹלָם וַיַּגֵּד משֶׁה אֶת דִּבְרֵי הָעָם אֶל הָשֵׁם:
“Then all the people replied in unison and said, ‘All that Hashem has spoken we shall do!’  and Moshe took the words of the people back to Hashem. And Hashem said to Moshe, ‘Behold, I am coming to you in the thickness of the cloud, in order that the people hear when I speak to you, and they will also believe in you forever.’ Then Moshe relayed the words of the people to Hashem” (Shemot 19:8). 

ספר ישעיה פרק מב פסוק ו אֲנִי הָשֵׁם קְרָאתִיךָ בְצֶדֶק וְאַחְזֵק בְּיָדֶךָ וְאֶצָּרְךָ וְאֶתֶּנְךָ לִבְרִית עָם לְאוֹר גּוֹיִם:

“I am Hashem; I called you with righteousness and I will strengthen your hand; and I formed you, and I made you for a people's covenant, for a light to nations” (Yesha’yahu 42:6).

ספר ירמיה פרק לא פסוק לג וְלֹא יְלַמְּדוּ עוֹד אִישׁ אֶת רֵעֵהוּ וְאִישׁ אֶת אָחִיו לֵאמֹר דְּעוּ אֶת הָשֵׁם כִּי כוּלָּם יֵדְעוּ אוֹתִי לְמִקְטַנָּם וְעַד גְּדוֹלָם נְאֻם יְדֹוָד כִּי אֶסְלַח לַעֲוֹנָם וּלְחַטָּאתָם לֹא אֶזְכָּר עוֹד:

A person will no longer teach his friend for everyone will know Him, from their smallest to their greatest” (Yirmeyahu 31:33). 

ספר תהילים פרק מ פסוק ט לַעֲשׂוֹת רְצוֹנְךָ אֱלֹהַי חָפָצְתִּי וְתוֹרָתְךָ בְּתוֹךְ מֵעָי:

“To do your will my G-d I desired and your Torah inside of my inwards” (Tehillim 40:9).

 …In the future, everyone will rectify his soul to the root and raise up all the holy sparks so the exterior [husks] will be completely nullified. Then the clear Divine Light will appear in all the worlds. The circle and the line will then become equal. There will no longer be [different levels of] male and female, for everyone, will equally grasp the light of His Divinity. This is like a circle that has neither beginning nor end, like the perimeter surrounding the vineyard, each point in the circle is equidistant from its center. [Thus, in the future] no-one will ever need to learn from another because everyone will perceive the clear light of G-d equally as it is written, “A person will no longer teach his friend for everyone will know Him, from their smallest to their greatest” (Yirmeyahu 31:33); (Meor VaShemesh, Parashat BeShalach).

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Prayer of Praising Hashem for Transforming our Hardships to Happiness, and for Revealing His Light of Redemption

Parashat Beshalach

Prayer of Praising Hashem for Transforming our Hardships to Happiness, 
and for Revealing His Light of Redemption
Hashem, this time I want to sing Your praise.
You have transformed my darkest nights to days.
Although I will never fathom your hidden ways,
I feel Your embrace through your warming rays.
Now the hidden reason behind my bitterness I see.
It propelled me forward and thoroughly helped me
refine my harshness, and constriction flee,
casting all my failings in the turbulent sea.  
Thank you for the power to dance with my feet.
Let my dance transform all bitterness to sweet!
I didn’t forget to bring my drum to mark the beat.
With joyful drum, dances, and song Hashem I greet.
Thank you, Hashem for shining Your Might,
through Your multicolored, brilliant light.
You empowered me to reach a greater height,
by thawing the tip of my fearful, freezing fright.
You ignited my fire to become aglow,
showing me the straight and upright way to go.
Hashem help me keep going strongly with the flow,
no longer needing to wait for the rising of my dough!
It’s time to wipe our tears, we no longer need to cry and whine.
Let us jump Your holy bandwagon, with Your will we align.
Help us surrender our will to Yours considering it ‘mine’
As long as we cleave to Your path, everything will be fine.
The light of redemption has begun to shine,
Let us celebrate and lift our cup of wine!
Thank you, Hashem for showing Your sign,
revealing that there is nothing but the Divine!

Based on the Book of Shemot Chapter 15
ספר שמות פרק טו פסוק כ וַתִּקַּח מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה אֲחוֹת אַהֲרֹן אֶת הַתֹּף בְּיָדָהּ וַתֵּצֶאןָ כָל הַנָּשִׁים אַחֲרֶיהָ בְּתֻפִּים וּבִמְחֹלֹת :(כא) וַתַּעַן לָהֶם מִרְיָם שִׁירוּ לַהָשֵׁם כִּי גָאֹה גָּאָה סוּס וְרֹכְבוֹ רָמָה בַיָּם: (כב) וַיַּסַּע משֶׁה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִיַּם סוּף וַיֵּצְאוּ אֶל מִדְבַּר שׁוּר וַיֵּלְכוּ שְׁלשֶׁת יָמִים בַּמִּדְבָּר וְלֹא מָצְאוּ מָיִם: (כג) וַיָּבֹאוּ מָרָתָה וְלֹא יָכְלוּ לִשְׁתֹּת מַיִם מִמָּרָה כִּי מָרִים הֵם עַל כֵּן קָרָא שְׁמָהּ מָרָה: (כד) וַיִּלֹּנוּ הָעָם עַל משֶׁה לֵּאמֹר מַה נִּשְׁתֶּה :כה) וַיִּצְעַק אֶל הָשֵׁם וַיּוֹרֵהוּ הָשֵׁם עֵץ וַיַּשְׁלֵךְ אֶל הַמַּיִם וַיִּמְתְּקוּ הַמָּיִם שָׁם שָׂם לוֹ חֹק וּמִשְׁפָּט וְשָׁם נִסָּהוּ :(כו) וַיֹּאמֶר אִם שָׁמוֹעַ תִּשְׁמַע לְקוֹל הָשֵׁם אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהַיָּשָׁר בְּעֵינָיו תַּעֲשֶׂה וְהַאֲזַנְתָּ לְמִצְוֹתָיו וְשָׁמַרְתָּ כָּל חֻקָּיו כָּל הַמַּחֲלָה אֲשֶׁר שַׂמְתִּי בְמִצְרַיִם לֹא אָשִׂים עָלֶיךָ כִּי אֲנִי הָשֵׁם רֹפְאֶךָ:

“Miriam, the prophetess, Aharon’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women came out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam called out to them, ‘Sing to Hashem, for He is very exalted; a horse and its rider He cast into the sea.’ Moshe then led Israel away from the Reed Sea, and they went out into the desert of Shur; they walked for three days in the desert but did not find water. They came to Marah, but they could not drink water from Marah because they were bitter; therefore, it was named Marah. The people complained against Moshe, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’” So, he cried out to Hashem, and Hashem instructed him concerning a tree, which he cast into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He gave them a statute and an ordinance, and there He tested them. And He said, ‘If you listen to the voice of Hashem, your G-d, and you do what is proper in His eyes, and you listen closely to His commandments and observe all His statutes, all the sicknesses that I have visited upon Egypt I will not visit upon you, for I am Hashem, your healer’” (Shemot 15:20-26).

רשי על שמות פרק טו פסוק כ ותקח מרים הנביאה - היכן נתנבאה כשהיתה אחות אהרן קודם שנולד משה אמרה עתידה אמי שתלד בן וכו’ כדאיתא בסוטה (דף יב) בתופים ובמחולות - מובטחות היו צדקניות שבדור שהקדוש ברוך הוא עושה להם נסים והוציאו תופים ממצרים:

MIRIAM, THE PROPHETESS TOOK – When did she prophecy? When she was [known only as] “Aharon’s sister,” before Moshe was born. She said, in the future, my mother will give birth to a son [who will redeem Israel]. ...The righteous women of the generation trusted that Hashem would perform miracles for them, (as it states in Sotah 12), so they took drums out of Egypt (Rashi, Shemot 15:20).

Dispelling Bitterness Through Drumming and Dance

Just as the trauma of the Holocaust didn’t end with the liberation of the allies, so did the bitterness of the Israelites not come to an end at the Song of the Sea. Even after everyone was saved, the people were still suffering from trauma and experienced bitterness – which is a kind of disease. By taking a drum or a timbrel in her hand, Miriam began the process of spiritual healing from this profound psychological wound. She began to transform the pain of the bitter memory of the infants cast into the Nile, into utter joy. This is alluded to by the word הַתֹּף/hatof – “the drum,” which is pronounced similarly to טַף/taf – “infants.” Moreover, “all the women followed her, with their timbrels, and בִמְחֹלֹת/b’mecholot – “with dancing,” which shares the root letters מ/ח/ל the same as in מַּחֲלָה/machala – sickness.’ The women thus began to transmute the bitter sickness through their exultant dancing (Based on Rabbi David Fohrman, Refaenu). Similarly, Rebbi Nachman teaches, “By means of dancing and clapping the hands, the judgments are sweetened” (Rebbe Nachman, Likutei Moharan, Mahadura Kama 10:1). Dancing “displaces depression,” and sweats out our bitterness. It is a way that we come out of ourselves. By reducing self-focus, it can bring us to a state of joy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Prayer for Liberation from Old Life Routines and Fear that Block us from Experiencing the Divine

Parashat Bo

Prayer for Liberation from Old Life Routines and Fear
that Block us from Experiencing the Divine
Hashem, please help set me free
from fears and blocks that limit me!
Deliver me from fear of the plague of the dark!
Open for me a new enthralling path to embark!
Please remove the tension in my shoulder and neck!
So, I will be able to journey on this challenging trek.
I’m tired of my life being confined,
Please open my eyes, heart, and mind! 

So, I can know Your will and be clear,

to experience Your presence so near!
As I am walking on the beauty of Your holy Land,
please take me by Your arm and let me hold Your hand!
Just like “in the month of spring”,
please take me under Your wing!
Help me overcome my need to cling
to old ways that no longer make me sing!
Even my self-imposed obligation to write this weekly blog
makes me wonder how long I must continue to walk in the fog.
Allow me to be experiencing a brand-new start,
without becoming disengaged or feeling apart.
I yearn for a breakthrough renewal in my routine,
kind of like my carefree life when I was just sixteen.
Yet, without losing the life experience I have gained,
including all the deep wisdom my years have attained.
Envelop me in the scent of the Presence of Your Being,
without the need to run away from visions and keep fleeing!
The air of redemption is hidden under a blanket of fear
When will You remove the concealment and let Your face appear? 

Based on the Book of Shemot Chapter 12-13

ספר שמות פרק יב פסוק ב הַחֹדֶשׁ הַזֶּה לָכֶם רֹאשׁ חֳדָשִׁים רִאשׁוֹן הוּא לָכֶם לְחָדְשֵׁי הַשָּׁנָה:

“This month shall be to you the head of the months; to you it shall be the first of the months of the year (Shemot 12:2).

ספר שמות פרק יב פסוק נא וַיְהִי בְּעֶצֶם הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה הוֹצִיא הָשֵׁם אֶת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם עַל צִבְאֹתָם:

 ספר שמות פרק יג פסוק ד הַיּוֹם אַתֶּם יֹצְאִים בְּחֹדֶשׁ הָאָבִיב:

“Today you are going out, in the month of spring” (Shemot 13:4)   
ספר שמות פרק יג פסוק כא
וַהָשֵׁם הֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיהֶם יוֹמָם בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן לַנְחֹתָם הַדֶּרֶךְ וְלַיְלָה בְּעַמּוּד אֵשׁ לְהָאִיר לָהֶם לָלֶכֶת יוֹמָם וָלָיְלָה:
“Hashem went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to cause it to lead them on the way and at night in a pillar of fire to give them light, [they thus could] travel day and night” (Shemot 13:21).

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Prayer for Overcoming Obsessions Distracting us From Experiencing Prayerful Divine Encounters

Parashat Vayera

Prayer for Overcoming Obsessions Distracting us
From Experiencing Prayerful Divine Encounters
Hashem when will You please reveal Yourself to me?
My soul has been yearning for a spiritual vision to see.
My spirit is thirsting for Your sacred perk,
to help me slow down from all the hard work.
If only I could ignore every message, what’s app and email,
and all the heaps of worldly chores that my mindfulness derail.
Then my prayerful Divine encounter wouldn’t have to fail.
Why am I still so afraid that my messages will grow stale?
Is it an obsessive compulsion that prompts me to keep my inbox clean,
preventing me from a meditative experience that would feel so serene?
Help me open my heart to hear the messages directly from You!
I know deep down that only these missives are perpetually true.
Don’t allow the hardships of life harden my heart,
detaching me from my soul and tearing me apart!
Spare me from becoming like Pharaoh, from whom you removed free choice,
or like the Hebrews, who due to shortness of breath, couldn’t hear Your voice!
Though the Israelites in the forty-nine impure gates were disgraced,
You enveloped them with Your compassion and let them be embraced.
I too ask for a chance to rectify and begin cultivating mindful ways,
dedicated more to prayerful living, meditation, and to Your praise.
Help me let go of the need to take charge, arrange and control!
Remind me how organization isn’t worth selling my soul!
Hashem help me to overcome any ambitious addictive drives!
Strengthen my resolve to recall the ultimate purpose of our lives!
Allow me to tear myself away from my repetitive life routine! 
I desire to expect Your miracles and pack my new tambourine.
We are created to reveal Your presence here on the earth.
Help me start over, allow me to experience a rebirth!

Based on the Book of Shemot Chapter 6-8

ספר שמות פרק ו פסוק ג וָאֵרָא אֶל אַבְרָהָם אֶל יִצְחָק וְאֶל יַעֲקֹב בְּאֵל שַׁדָּי וּשְׁמִי הָשֵׁם לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם:

“I appeared to Avraham, to Yitzchak, and to Ya’acov with [the name] Almighty G-d, but [with] My name Y-H-V-H, I did not become known to them” (Shemot 6:3).
ספר שמות פרק ו פסוק ט וְלֹא שָׁמְעוּ אֶל משֶׁה מִקֹּצֶר רוּחַ וּמֵעֲבֹדָה קָשָׁה:
“Moshe spoke thus to the children of Israel, but they did not listen to Moshe because of [their] shortness of breath and because of [their] hard labor” (Shemot 6:9). 

ספר שמות פרק ז פסוק ג וַאֲנִי אַקְשֶׁה אֶת לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְהִרְבֵּיתִי אֶת אֹתֹתַי וְאֶת מוֹפְתַי בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם:
“But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and I will increase My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt (Shemot 7:3). 
ספר שמות פרק ח פסוק יא וַיַּרְא פַּרְעֹה כִּי הָיְתָה הָרְוָחָה וְהַכְבֵּד אֶת לִבּוֹ וְלֹא שָׁמַע אֲלֵהֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר הָשֵׁם:
“When Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart, and he did not hearken to them, as Hashem had spoken” (Shemot 8:11). 

תלמוד בבלי מסכת שבת דף קד/א בָּא לִיטַמֵּא פּוֹתְחִין לוֹ בָּא לִטָּהֵר מְסַיְּעִים אוֹתוֹ:
One who comes to become impure, they, [Heaven] provide him with an opening [to do so, and he is not prevented from sinning. If he comes to become purified, [not only is he allowed to do so, but] they, in Heaven, assist him (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 104a). 

The active help of heaven for going in the right direction is much greater than the passive help, which does not prevent a person from choosing evil. 

Nechama Leibowitz: It is the person who chooses. We are the ones who open or harden our hearts. G-d helps us according to His will. The active help which we get from heaven for choosing the good path is different from the passive help that doesn’t prevent us from choosing evil.
            An example of this is when we sometimes wake up full of energy to daven, to feel connected to Hashem through Torah learning and perfor­mance of Mitzvot. It is up to us to choose whether we are going to act upon or ignore this awareness. If we chose repeatedly to ignore it, even if a great miracle should happen to us, it would not arouse us to repent, since we already conditioned ourselves not to be aware of G‑d. We must beware not to let our yetzer hara act like Pharaoh, who said, “Who is Hashem that I should listen to him?” He had made his heart so hard that it had become desensi­tized from recognizing G‑d. This is the real meaning of “And the Eternal hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Shemot 9:12). 

ספר שמות פרק ט פסוק יב וַיְחַזֵּק הָשֵׁם אֶת לֵב פַּרְעֹה וְלֹא שָׁמַע אֲלֵהֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר הָשֵׁם אֶל משֶׁה:

“But Hashem strengthened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen to them, as Hashem spoke to Moshe (Shemot 9:12).
ריש לקיש אמר אין אדם עובר עבירה אלא אם כן נכנס בו רוח שטות שנא' איש איש כי תשטה אשתו תשטה:
Reish Lakish said, “A person doesn’t sin unless a spirit of insanity enters him…” (Babylonian Talmud Sotah 3a). 

It is within the power of our free will not to let in this spirit of insanity (ruach stut). Once a person lets the ruach stut in, he gets trapped, and it is very difficult to repent. We can learn from Pharaoh that once we start in the wrong way, it is extremely difficult to change. Everyone knows how hard it is to say no to that second piece of cake. 

The Talmud teaches us that when a person repeats the same sin over and over, he starts to feel that what he is not sinning at all:
תלמוד בבלי מסכת יומא דף פו/ב
דאמר רב הונא כיון שעבר אדם עבירה ושנה בה הותרה לו הותרה לו סלקא דעתך אלא אימא נעשית לו כהיתר...
Rav Huna said: When a person commits a transgression and repeats it, it is permitted to him. Can it enter your mind that it is permitted to him Rather, say it becomes to him as if [it were] permitted (Babylonian Talmud, Yoma 86b). 

This is an additional way of explaining the mechanism of hardening our own heart. By accustoming ourselves to bad habits, the yetzer hara makes us believe that it is o.k. When we don’t recognize our own wrongdoing, how can we ever do teshuva? We learn from Pharaoh, how important it is not to begin to sin, to avoid being trapped in evil habits which lock the gate of repentance.