Advice on: Doing Hitbodedut

hitbodedut prep prayer

Continuing our translation of Etzot HaNachal, a compendium of advice from Rav Eliezer Berland’s teachings on Likutey Moharan.

That hour of hitbodedut is governing the world.

It’s not me, with my own intelligence. All my own intelligence does is cause harm, and causes failures, and it only brings harm to myself and to other people. Only doing an hour of hitbodedut is what’s going to change me. Then, there is a situation where everything will turn around for the good.[1]

Tefillah, prayer, is the thing that people most scorn.

A person thinks to himself, ‘if I do an hour of hitbodedut, is the world really going to improve?!’ Yes! The world will improve. We have to believe that we are changing the world.

The main ikker, a person’s main focus in the hour of hitbodedut should be a personal accounting.

A person should explore, ‘who am I afraid of? Who am in awe of? What’s really bothering me? And what does all this say about me, and what is it coming to tell me?’

Then, a person will get a thought pop into his head about what it’s really coming to tell him, and why it’s so important to him.

We have to tell ourselves: “Ribono Shel Olam, you gave me my soul! If I’m doing the will of Hashem, what do I care, what other people are saying?

Whatever I’m going to say or do, I have to just decide that I’m only going to do what Hashem wants. Even if the whole world is going to stand against me! Avraham was also completely alone! I am ready to be thrown in the fiery kiln!”

But if we’re talking about an issue where there is doubt,[2] then I have to weigh everything up. And even more so, I have to weigh things again and again, and go and do hitbodedut on it again.

And then, if I come to realize that the thing is truly not good, then I have to drop it.

A person should do an hour of hitbodedut.

And in that that hour of hitbodedut that we have, each day we should go out to the field. [We should ask Hashem], ‘Ribonu Shel Olam, please nullify my arrogance and pride! Show me that I’m really the lowest person in the world. Please reveal that to me! By You, this is already revealed and known, but by me, it’s completely obscured. It’s so hard for me to grasp this.”

Rabbenu tells us that inappropriate hitbodedut brings a person to anger.

There is such a thing, as inappropriate hitbodedut. The person isn’t asking for humility in his hitbodedut, instead, he’s asking to be the biggest learner, the smartest genius, and that he should get to finish the whole of Shas.

[1] Commentary to Likutey Moharan, 2:25.

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[2] I.e. the halacha is not clear and obvious.


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