Monday, February 23, 2015

"Pray for Peace"

Based on Likutey Moharan I, 14 (“Lehamshikh shalom”)
Sections 8 and 9 (bold type)
Translated and annotated by Dovid Sears (bold guesswork, regular type)
With the help of Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Bar-Lev’s Orach Mishor (Vol. 2) and the Breslov Research Institute edition of Likutey Moharan (Vol. 2).
(“Pray for Peace” was the cancellation mark used by the U.S. Postal Service during World War II and for many years thereafter. Maybe they should have kept it up.)

Le-zekher nishmas: imi morasi Gittel bas Aida (yahrtzeit: 5 Adar)
Also for the refu’ah sheleimah of Nechamah Brochah bas Basya, a mother of ten who at the time of my writing this posting is scheduled to undergo surgery to remove a mass on her spine, Hashem yerachem. She and her husband, a kollel scholar, and their children are Americans living in Jerusalem.

This is the fourth part of a series based on Torah 14. (A two-part summary appears here and here). This posting presents section 8 of the lesson in its entirety. Here, the Rebbe’s focus is on the role of prayer in accomplishing inner peace (“peace in one’s bones”) and universal peace—which means not only world peace in the usual sense, but peace that extends through all levels of creation, physical and spiritual, and their reabsorption in the unity of the Eyn Sof. For many of us, this teaching puts prayer in a very different light, and implicitly tells us about the lofty spiritual effects of the daily communal prayer services.

“Pray for Peace”

And when one restores the kavod [of Hashem] to its source, which is yirah (awe), the defects of yirah are made whole—and then one merits to attain peace.

Orach Mishor: For one feels the kavod of Hashem in his heart, to the point that he experiences yiras ha-romemus [awe and wonder before the Infinite One].

There are two types of peace: “peace in one’s bones,” because first a person must see to it that he is at peace within himself. For sometimes there is no peace; as it is written, “There is no peace in my bones [hence the Rebbe’s use of this phrase to indicate inner peace] because I have sinned” (Psalms 38:4).

The Rebbe does not tell us that inner peace is achieved by simply accepting oneself, or even by finding the good points within oneself, as he recommends in Likutey Moharan I, 282 (“Azamra”). Rather, the inner split caused by sin must be corrected. This is brought about through yirah, as he goes on to explain.

However, through yirah one attains “peace in one’s bones.” As the Zohar (II, 79a) states, “In the place where there is awe, there is wholeness.” And as it is written, “There is no lack for those who fear Him” (Psalms 34:10).

Orach Mishor: “Wholeness” [shelemta in the Zohar’s Aramaic, which is sheleimus in Hebrew] is an aspect of shalom (peace); for the word sheleimus is related to shalom. This is particularly so of the body and soul; only when there is peace between them does a person become whole [i.e., undivided].

When one has “peace in his bones,” he is able to pray. For prayer is primarily attained through yirah, in an aspect of “A God-fearing woman is praised [tis’halal, a reflexive form of tehilah]” (Proverbs 31:30).

Orach Mishor: When a person stands up to pray with yirah, as if he were standing before the king, he is assisted from above; they confer upon him a spiritual arousal and deveykus ila’ah [“sublime cleaving,” which is the experience of merging with the Divine]. This is called “tehilah” (praise), as in the verse, “A woman [i.e., prayer] who fears Hashem [i.e., one who prays with yirah] is praised (tis’halal, i.e., turns into tehilah)—that prayer is perfected and becomes “tehilah,” a prayer of deveykus.

And it is written regarding a korban: “Whatever is defective, you shall not offer” (Leviticus 21:18). And where there is no defect—that is, “in the place where there is awe”—one can draw close [yikrav, as in korban] to perform a “complete service” (avodah tamah).

Thus, it is written of Chanah (I Samuel 1:13), “And Chanah spoke unto her heart”—that is, through yirah, she attained prayer [which is the “service of the heart.”]. For the essence of yirah is in the heart.

The Gemara states that many of the laws of prayer are derived from the way Chanah prayed; see Berakhos 31a-b. Thus, her prayer is a paradigm for all prayer.

And through prayer, one brings about shalom ha-klali, universal peace—that is, the perfection (sheleimus) of the “worlds” [i.e., the “four worlds” or levels of reality described by the kabbalists]. This is why prayer is called a “korban” [the Gemara in Berakhos 26b explains that the daily prayers correspond to the daily sacrifices]: because it brings the worlds closer (kiruv) to their perfection.

Orach Mishor: That is, each lower “world” ascends and becomes incorporated into the “world” above itself—like the body that attains peace with the soul—until all of the worlds become absorbed into their Divine Source, thus attaining perfection.

Thus, we see that according to Rebbe Nachman, peace ultimately depends on all things “reconnecting” with the Eyn Sof, the Infinite One. And this is accomplished by the spiritual work of each individual—through elevating the fallen Divine glory (kavod); regaining the lost sense of awe (yiras ha-romemus); and with this sense of awe, engaging in the “service of the heart” that is prayer with deveykus, mystical cleaving. Thus, body and soul attain harmony, which is called “peace in one’s bones.” The body’s desires are sublimated to the will of the neshamah.

This leads to universal peace (shalom ha-klali), which extends, level after level, in a sort of ripple effect, throughout all the worlds. Therefore, prayer is compared to a korban: for it brings everything closer to the Divine Source of all, and thus to perfection. All division and strife is mitigated, and peace reigns. In light of this, we can also understand the teaching of Chazal (Shabbos 10b) that “shalom” is one of Hashem’s holy names.  

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