Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Leaves of Grass

Leaves of Grass
Selected Teachings on Hisbodedus (Secluded Meditation and Prayer)

Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom (Breslov Research Institute), pp. 280, 306-307, 364-364 

Sichos HaRan 227

[Reb Noson writes:]  I found this in a manuscript written by a member of our group:

It is best to seclude yourself and meditate in the meadows outside the city. Go to a grassy field, for the grass will awaken your heart.


Sichos HaRan 144

After the Rebbe returned from Lemberg, he was still very sick with tuberculosis. He would often ride to the outskirts of the city and take walks in the field. This was for his health and for other awesome reasons that only he knew.[1]

During these strolls we heard many wonderful lessons and tales from the Rebbe. It was on one such occasion that we heard the lesson on the verse (Genesis 24:63), “And Isaac went to meditate in the field," appearing in the second part of Likutey Moharan #11.

We had taken the coach out of the city, and stopped in a field to walk. We had descended from the coach and were standing around the Rebbe, who was still sitting there. It was time for the afternoon Minchah prayer, and we were about to begin the service in the field. The Rebbe then revealed the above lesson, saying that when one prays in the field, every blade of grass enters into his prayers.


Sichos HaRan 163

One of the Rebbe's followers from Zlatipolia related the following:

One summer day in Zlatipolia, the Rebbe worshipped very early. He sent his daughter Sarah to call me. When I came to him he suggested that we take a stroll together. We soon left the city and found ourselves walking in a grassy meadow.

The Rebbe spoke. “If you could only be worthy to hear the song of this grass! Each blade sings out to G-d without any ulterior motive, not expecting any reward. It is most wonderful to hear their song and serve G-d in their midst. Es is zehr gut frum tzu zein tzivishen zei. It is very good to be religious among them…”

We walked a bit further and came to a mogila, a small mountain near the city. I asked why we were going there, and the Rebbe told me the secret of that mogila. He asked me to come with him.

The mountain was hollow like a cave, and when we entered it, could not be seen from the outside. As soon as we entered the hollow, the Rebbe took a copy of Shaarey Zion [2] out of his pocket and began reading. He read it page by page, weeping bitterly all the time.

I was standing there holding the Rebbe's coat and was amazed at the extent of his weeping. We stayed there for a very long time. When the Rebbe finished he asked me to go out and see the time. When I looked, the day was almost over and the sun was
beginning to set. The Rebbe had been weeping in prayer for an entire long summer day without stopping.

Sichos HaRan 228, 229
Rabbi Nachman’s Wisom, pp. 364-365

The Rebbe once said: There are certainly many religious people who do not seclude themselves with G-d. But I call them ple’etim — confused and confounded. When the Messiah suddenly comes and calls them, they will be baffled.

When a man wakes up from a restful sleep, his mind is calm and relaxed. This is how we will be when the Messiah comes, totally without quandary or confusion.


The Rebbe once spoke to a youth and encouraged him to seclude himself and converse with G-d in his native language. The Rebbe told him that this is how prayer began. The main form of prayer was an expression of the heart before G-d in each man's native tongue.

Maimonides speaks of this in the beginning of his code on prayer.[3] He states that this was the mam form of prayer in the beginning, before it was formalized by the men of the Great Assembly.[4] It was only then that a formal order of prayer was introduced.

But even according to the Law, the original form is still foremost. Even though we follow the order of prayer ordained by the Great Assembly, the original form is still most beneficial.

Make a habit of praying before G-d from the depths of your heart. Use whatever language you know best. Ask G-d to make you worthy of truly serving Him. This is the essence of prayer.

In many places, we discussed the importance of making this regular practice. This is the way all the Tzaddikim attained their high level. Look well in our words.[5]

[1] See Yemay Moharnat 25b, Chayay Moharan 13a (151). Rabbi Nachman returned from Lemberg on Sunday, 8 Tammuz, 5568 (July 2, 1808). Rabbi Nachman returned home from Ohelov right after Tisha B'Av, a little over a month later. It was during August and September of that year that these lessons were revealed. The first edition of Likutey Moharan was then being printed. Chayay Moharan 38a (#16); Yemey Moharanat 25a.
[2] A collection of kabbalistic prayers compiled by Rabbi Noson Nota Hanover that was favored by many tzaddikim, particularly during the early Chassidic period. See an earlier posting about Shaarey Zion here (DS).
[3] Yad Chazakah, Tefillah 1:2-4.
[4] The Knesses HaGedolah, the great Sanhedrin or supreme legislative court of Ezra the Scribe, existed between 392 and 310 b.c.e. It consisted of 120 elders, among them several prophets. See Avos 1:1; Megilah 17b; Introduction to Yad Chazakah.
[5] See Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Outpouring of the Soul (Breslov Research Institute), which presents a selection of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings about hisbodedus. The Hebrew original, Hishtapkhus HaNefesh, compiled by Rabbi Alter of Teplik, also contains even more material from Reb Noson’s Likutey Halakhos on this subject (DS).

No comments:

Post a Comment