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The Baal Shem Tov On Davening -Prayer

Make a light for the Teive (ark) and complete it (on its roof) to the width of an Ama (app. 3 feet.) Tzohar means light and Teiva means (also ) word.

Says the Holy Baal Shem “Make your words of Torah and Teffilah (prayer) bright. For within every letter there are universes, souls and Divine energy.

And these universes and souls elevate and connect and unify with Divine energy – then afterwards they connect with the letters of the word, and they become an ark, and afterwards combinations (Yechudim) of Divine energy occur – and a person should include his soul in each level mentioned – and then all the universes unite as one – they elevate and a great pleasure and rejoicing occurs above – this is the meaning that, the Teviah should have an upper middle and lower floor – there are the worlds, angels and Divine energy.

Every word you say, you must hear (yourself) for the Divine presence (the Shechina) is the world of speech – – it takes much faith to believe this.  

 When we pray we must put all our energy in every letter we say – we should have in mind that the letters connect – now if a physical union is pleasurable – infinitely more so a spiritual – we should then elevate ourselves to the point where we are in the mystical realm of Beriah – we can’t even hear the words, only our thoughts, and then we get to the point of Atzilus.

Every word has three stories – universes, souls and Divine energy – the bottom level are the universes which we connect to the soul, which then get connected to the Divine energy – we must have faith that this is what we accomplish in every word of prayer.

Make a portal from the word – to see from one end, to the other end of the world.

Make your words bright – when a Jew speaks, he must make sure that before he speaks he thinks (so his word will be illuminated.)

When you pray, pray to the Divine within the letters.

Request that the Divine in the letters cause you to pray a since prayer – through this, all the harsh judgment will be sweetened to mercy.  

Every word includes in it every universe.

Every word is like a spiritual person, and one must place all one’s energy into the word, otherwise it creates sort of a spiritual man, missing a limb or two.

Every word contains universes – and if one places one’s entire energy into saying the words, then these universes are enlightened – and bestow.

The breath below rises, to the breath above (I think this means our souls beyond) which then gives us breath below.

The Baal Shem Tov’s soul told him that all that was bestowed upon him, was not for the incredible knowledge he learned, but the tremendous devotion in prayer.

The Baal Shem Tov said, though one should pray with the fire of their soul, they must do so with a broken humble heart – for once his disciples were all praying with fiery passion but an accusatory decree in heaven arose as they lacked humility but as one person had humility, it saved them.

One can read the Torah making mistakes, but knowing its light, as one cherishes the Torah this brings God joy – this is like a parent who though his young son is stumbling over the words, but he is so happy to listen and fulfil his requests.

When one awakens, one must be careful to say nothing (certainly superfluous) for the world is created as is known through (Divine) thought, speech and action – now of-course thought was the first – just as the Torah commands one to honor the eldest son, for he receives the greatest portion from the father and transfers this to his siblings (perhaps this means latent soul talents) similar, all comes from our first thoughts.

Whatever one sees, one should connect it to God, when one sees love, remind yourself of your love for God, if one sees fear remind yourself of your fear of God – even when going to the bathroom, you can say “I separate the evil from the good” – this is Yechudim.

When a person goes to do a Mitzvah they must run – you see… – when we get to heaven, every Mitzvah we did – everything we do, creates a soul and a body – the intent is the soul, and the body is the deed – so this person who tarries, perhaps shmoozing along… they in heaven is forced to crawl a narrow bridge over a raging river – firstly it is very scary – but then the angels he created – that were looking forward to his creation – for from his intent the angel’s soul was born, and from his future action, the body – it blocks the way, and the extra time spent on the bridge, is for it painful.

34 Says the Holy Baal Shem Tov – once the satan in heaven accused the Jews – not the wicked but the righteous – they go to Shul, however on the way they get sidetracked by a hawker, and for the few cents they save by purchasing the item/s, they miss Kadish and Barchu etc. – answered the Baal Shem Tov: true they may spend a few cents and lose a mitzvah, but if they already gained a Mitzvah, even for all the money in the world, never would they relinquish.

35. Sometimes prior to Davening (prayer) one must truly strengthen themselves, so they can meditate/concentrate – some people this works by learning Torah (hence expanding their thinking) others through saying psalms and others though neither – as long as a person gets themselves into the right frame of mind.

36. One should not exert all their energy prior to praying, on say, saying the Tehhilim and lose what is most important, namely deep concentration/meditation during Pesuikie Dezimrah, Shema and Shmoinah Esrei – the same applies that one should lessen their effort before Neilah – so as to say Neilah with great concentration.

37. Whenever in Tehhilim it states Mizmor Lidavid (a song to David ) first David would sing and then the Ruach Hakodesh upon him would reside – whenever it says Lidavid Mizmor – to David a song, first the Ruach Hakodesh would rest and then he would sing – so when we say Tehhilim with great reverence and humility must we say – for when does the Ruach Hakodesh upon us reside?? 

38. The Baal Shem Tov told his disciples that before prayers, one should learn a teaching of the Zohar.

39. One should be very careful to begin prayers, saying the Shema before Netz, sunrise, for then it is easy to be heard (afterward harsh judgments are in the air.)

40. The Baal Shem Tov wrote: how come one may not precede their prayers to the community?… for it is important to pray together.

Once the Baal Shem Tov took – as his custom, but this time more so, – long in his prayers – all his Holy Disciples waited for a very long time but eventually each departed to do what they need – When they came back, the Baal Shem Tov said, the fact that you left caused a great separation – for when we are all together, the prayer ascended – he gave an example that, there was once a beautiful bird of an extraordinary kaleidoscope of color, and it perched itself high on a tree that no one could reach it – the king desperately desired it, so he said / told people to climb on each others’ shoulders to reach it – but as some people weren’t in the mood, they couldn’t get to the top – the truth behind this exercise was not really the bird – but the king desires the unity of the people.

Through unity we ascend to the highest heaven, for every Jew, like every letter of the Torah, combined, form the Holy of Holies.

As you caused a separation, therefore the rectification is to place deep within each of your hearts, a real love for your fellow Jew, and your Father In Heaven.

42 It is amazing that someone can remain alive after praying – for based on the incredible sacrifice in prayer (focus / concertation) it is amazing.

43 The Baal Shem Tov said – it is amazing that though one can be total concentration in prayer- after they remain alive.

44. A person who speaks without thinking this is as grievous as the sin of one who emits wasteful semen (as is known, the thought one has during intimacy effects the child, and if one thinks foreign thoughts, this created a foreign child.)

45. One who is on a low level, far better s/he should pray form the siddur, for the letters add in concentration – however one who is in heaven, far better not – for then the letters disturb.

47. To begin a person should have intense concertation during prayer and this will allow that through their prayer they will.

49. It is not possible to pray without strengthening oneself, and hence one should ask of Hashem.

50. Be aware, it is good that God helps one should pray half or most of the prayer with great concentration, and when one feels weak, then one can pray the rest with a little.

51. Sometimes a person prays with minimal ability to concentrate but then in one second the light of God shines through his soul and he is elevated heavenly.

52. Sometimes a person prays in small (“small” and “large” are refences to capacity) he doesn’t go heavenward – however he is aware that God’s glory fill this earth and like a child feels close – this too is a great connection.

53.   Even if one is in small (capacity – connection) one should still pray (with small) for sometimes above it is small (like zah) – the most important thing is to be connected, for like a coal – the flame may be small, however with a blow it can quickly go large –

54. If one finds one (intellectually/emotionally) cannot pray, then one shouldn’t give up and strengthen and deepen their fear of God, this is like a king who goes to battle – now the wise people know him from his character (behavior) but the average person can recognize him only because that is where greater protection is – so too, the person who wishes to get to the king must strengthen themselves.

55. A person shouldn’t say – when I can pray with fervor I shall, but when I can’t I won’t, for as the example of a king who goes into battle (battlefield) so those who are close recognize him (from his behavior) but most only, through the fact he is extra protected – likewise God is there ( you just have to fight harder to get to Him.)

56. Even when someone is small (stressed) they should think about Heaven – God – and immediately to there they are elevated, for as is known, wherever a person’s thoughts are there he is.

In the book Kesoinois Pasm it writes – wherever a person’s thoughts are, there he is, whether above or…

In Toildois Yaakov Yosef he writes, I heard from my master “Where a person’s thoughts are, there the person is.”

In the Degel Machaneh Efraim (from the Baal Shem Tov) wherever a person’s thoughts are, there they are entirely.

In Likutie Imri Pninim I heard from my Rebbe “Wherever a person’s thoughts are, there they are entirely – when someone thinks about God then they stand in God’s presence, if God-forbid they have negative thoughts (anger etc.) they are literally in hell (with its fires consuming them) this is so even when they are alive, how much more so after death – but Tzaddikim whose thoughts are about God – (machshavah) “thought” is the same letters as “joy” (simcha.)  

In Ksoines Pasim I received from my master, to know if one’s soul is connected to life or death, one need ask themselves what they want – if it is lashoin hara, jokes etc., or if Torah and good deeds.

In Shoishanim Lidavid he writes: the Baal Shem Tov explained, where a person’s thoughts are that is where he is connected to – if he thinks angry thoughts, he is connected to the realm of din (anger, and he will be judged) if he has trust in God’s plan – he will receive blessings – hence a person should always be connected to God.

58. When a person begins to pray, he should do so in fear – considering to whom will I be praying to – the Master of all the universes, who creates and keeps them going – think about how great and lofty God is, and afterwards he can be in the higher universes.

60. Certainly prayer done from joy is far greater than from bitterness and with tears – this is like the difference between a poor person who requests of the king with tears – even so, but a little will he receive… – whereas the minister who praises the king highly, gets a great gift.

61. Ensure your prayers are said with love and fear of God, not for any selfish motives – for this gives rise (perhaps this is speaking to the great Tzaddikim, to enemies who seek to harm you – and even more importantly is the love.

From Toidois Yaakov Yosef – The Kabbalists teach, one should always serve God with love and fear – says the Baal Shem Tov, but on Rosh Hashanah it should be with more fear, and on Shabbos and the holidays with more love.

62 From doing a Mitzvah – Torah prayer – with selfish intents – as every thought is a complete “person” thus is born someone (see below for more) who will cause you pain.

Teaches the Degel Machenah Efraim (in the name of the Baal Shem Tov) the verse states “if God loves someone, even their enemies makes peace with them” – why enemies? – for some people are simply malicious – but sometimes the hate that comes from one (even from within their own family,) is because it is offshoots (sparks) of sins they did (that are inhabiting this person) however when you do Teshuvah, those sparks die (so the hate dissolves.)  

63. One should not say, I will only Daven intensely on Shabbos but not during the weekdays – for this is like someone who once a week has access to the king, but the rest of the week ignores – even though his access is once a week, but as he knows, without the king, life is meaningless… he does whatever he can (to gain access) and the king will do His will.

64. Even someone who learns Torah, if they are not nice, especially if it fills them with arrogance, their Torah is worthless.

66. Sometimes a person wishes to Daven but (as an old man) his limbs feel like they are a burden (heavy) this is what King David prayed for, to have the energy to pray.

67. “Cast me not aside in old age” explain the Baal Shem Tov “cast not serving God, till old age “

68. Says the Baal Shem Tov, what does it mean, “Cast me not aside in old age?” does a person need not God when they are young?! – rather at times a person can get inspired – teaches the Baal Shem Tov, don’t let that inspiration fade.  

69. A person should train themselves to Daven, even the songs in a low voice – and he should cry out quietly – and he should say the words, whether in Davening or learning with all his energy – as it states “my entire body” speaks – and the crying out that comes from intense concentration (passion) should be soft.

70. Sometimes we must pray to God only with our soul – this means with thought – and the body is pretty stationary… – in order to not wear oneself out… – and sometimes, a person can say the entire prayer with great fear and love and passion without actual movement – and it will appear to another that he is saying these things without any passion – and a person can do this when he is deeply attached to God – then he can serve Him with his soul alone, with great love – and this in fact is even better, and goes quicker, and even deeper passion to God – then a prayer that looks outwardly very passionate – such a prayer the Kelipah has no hold over, for it is all internal.

71. Sometimes a person can pray exceptionally quickly as his heart is so passionately fired up for God that the words say themselves.

72. By Meditating on this name כ”ף וא”ו זיי”ן וא”ו we clear our mind.

76. I heard from my master, both when it comes to learning, and when it comes to prayer, if one understands, the words they are saying and the actual law in his learning, then he attaches Malchus which is speech to Binah which is thought.

77. The whole point of prayer is to unite the Din (or sweeten the din) of Malchus by connecting it to Binah.

78. The secret of Prayer like lighting, is first there is silence which is golden, and then it leads to the love which assuages the din (for as is known, one must rectify anger at its source.)

81.

If one needs to educate their fellow man / citizens etc. first one must connect oneself to God – and then one should feel connected to them – for we all have one source (particularly the leaders to the people (Rebbes etc.)) and when one does this – then God your Lord is with you, and you can uplift them and connect them to God.

The Baal Shem Tov says, if you seek to lift someone who is drowning, you cannot give him your hand, for then he will pull you in, rather you must grab his hair.

 82 The Baal Shem Tov says, when we pray, we should realize that the person is a small (micro, which contains the macro) universe – so by praying and realizing that this energy is coming into you, it comes into the entire (macro ) universe/s.

83. Ask Of Your God, A Sign Ois – (Ois in Hebrew also means letter) says the Baal Shem Tov – ask of God that the letters you say in prayer, you should be able to return them to their source.

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