Hasidic Prayers: Examples

The rungs of prayer and how to climb them.

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Hasidic literature contains no systematic manual of contemplative prayer. The texts below appear in a collection of passages culled from the records of the teachings of the Ba'al Shem Tov, the Maggid Dov Baer of Miedzyrzec, and their immediate disciples in the latter part of the eighteenth century. They have been meticulously and sensitively translated into English by two prominent scholars, one a specialist in Kabbalah and the other a scholar of Jewish literature and Jewish education. Excerpted from Your Word Is Fire by Arthur Green and Barry W. Holtz (Jewish Lights Publishing).

 

We Do More Than Pray to God

People think that they pray to God.

But this is not the case.

For prayer itself is of the very essence of God.

--Rabbi Pinhas Of Korzec

The Power of Your Prayer

It is possible to be so humble

     that your very humility

     keeps you far from God.

A humble person may not believe that his own prayer

     can cause the Presence

     to flow through all the worlds.

But how then can you believe

     that even angels are nourished

     by your words?

Know the power of your prayer

     And serve your God in fullness.

--Ya'akov Yosef of Polnoye, Toledot Ya'akov Yosef 172c

Preparing the Way

A person of spirit may begin his prayer

     in awe and trembling,

     saying to himself:

     "Who are I, a poor clod of earth,

     to stand before the King of Kings in prayer?"

He speaks only a partial truth.

He does not yet know the higher truth, however—

     the truth that all things,

     even the material world,

     are filled with God's presence.

Indeed he cannot speak the words of prayer—

     better that he remain silent before the Lord.

Thus scripture says:

     "God is in heaven and you are upon the earth;

     do not rush to speak, and let your words be few."

As long as you believe that God is only in heaven

     and does not fill the earth—

     let your words be few.

Only when you come to know

     that you too contain His Presence-

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