Forms Of Prayer: Using The Siddur As A Workbook
One of the great gifts of the Siddur – Prayerbook – is that it can help us integrate all the beautiful ideas that we learn over the course of a day. I urge people to write down all the important concepts they learned and see where they can use the idea as part of their prayers. This helps us remember these concepts and make them part of our lives. O offer three such thoughts below with a challenge to our readers to see where to incorporate them in the Siddur:
by R. Nachman of Breslov
Sometimes your spirit is weary, so far from her mother of glory. Revive her, heal her with the cool waters, the “cool waters upon a faint spirit” (Mishlei 28:25).
If you pray without feeling, your spirit grows distant from [her mother of glory]–…for the feeling of your heart–that is your spirit itself.
Likutei Moharan 67:8
by R. Kalonymus Kalmish Shapira
Therefore, even you haven’t found it possible to join a group but are serving God on your own, follow the instructions that I have laid out for members of a group.
In addition, make a verbal commitment to being a “Hasid.” The Rambam states (Mishkav Umoshav 10) that nowadays even a Torah scholar is not assumed to be a chaver (who keeps the laws of purity) unless he as made a specific commitment to do so. One makes such a commitment before three people.
But in regard to being a “hasid, there is no need to require that. It suffices that you make such a resolution by yourself, standing before God. (And deeper matters are involved in this.)
The Talmud teaches (Bava Metzia 84) that before Reish Lakish took on the “yoke of Torah,” he jumped into the Jordan River [to save] Rabbi Yochanan. But the moment he took on the yoke of Torah [while he was still in the river], he grew weak and he could no longer return [to shore].
But why should that be? [Even though Torah saps a person’s physical strength,] at that point he hadn’t yet learned Torah–he had only accepted the yoke of Torah.
The answer to this is as follows. A Jew has the power to sanctify the body of an animal by stating, “This animal will be a burnt-offering.” Then its flesh, bones, hide, etc., are sanctified, so that were a person to harm the beast he would be liable to karet, excision of the soul (heaven forbid), like a person who offers sacrifices outside the Temple and has desecrated them.
So if a Jew can sanctify an animal through a verbal declaration, he can certainly sanctify himself and his body in the same way.
That is the power of accepting the yoke of Torah that sanctifies a Jew. Before Reish Lakish repented, his strength stemmed from a low level. But when he accepted the yoke of Torah, he sanctified himself and his body. And so his previous strength faded, and he was unable to return [to shore].
The phrase “if you heed” is translated by the official Aramaic Targum as “if you accept.” We learn in Imrei Elimelech (Eikev) that as you resolve to accept these laws, then “you shall guard and do them.” You can already expect to perform them, for the word “guard” can also mean “to look forward to” (as in the verse “and his father guarded the matter”). Hakhsharat Ha’avreikhim
THE BUSINESS FOR WHICH WE ARE SUITED
by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Kook
Every one of us must engage in the business for which we are suited.
This is particularly true regarding Torah learning. At times, circumstances may make it difficult for you to stand firm in what your heart desires. But nevertheless, you must stay strong and not relinquish that which is suited for your particular spirit.
Oros Hatorah 9:1