Sunday, March 13, 2011

Of vessels and shuckling

As I have stated in the last post, people show two extreme forms of davening: 1) davening with many outbursts of emotions in a form of exclamations, gesticulations, etc., and 2) davening very quietly and motionlessly.

Two reasons can exist for each form. For the first form, one of the reasons is that the person is fake. Or, giving him limud zchus, he is not faking his emotions intentionally, but he gets excited by the emotions (sometimes artificially induced) themselves, not by Elokus. I.e., he knows he must feel emotions about Eibeshter, and he thinks (erroneously) that when one feels these emotions, one is supposed to cry out and shake his hands, so he does the latter... and sure enough, he feels something, but it’s not directed at the Eibeshter; it’s directed at himself.

For the second form, a person can be quiet because he doesn’t really feel anything when he davens — either artificial or real. He just says the words, and maybe he even knows their meaning, but no emotions are produced in his mind. So, he is quiet.

But what about those who daven properly? Those who feel emotions, and the emotions are directed to Elokus, and yet they either cry out and express themselves outwardly or are very quiet.

When Alter Rebbe was nistalek, there was a question about who was going to be the next Rebbe of Chabad Chassidus. Some Chassidim favored the Mitteler Rebbe, Alter Rebbe’s son, and some favored Reb Aaron Strashiler, the Mitteler Rebbe’s former chavrussa. Now, to be sure, both had Rebbishe neshamos. But there was a difference in their avoida: when Reb Aaron davened, he was very expressive outwardly, and when Mitteler Rebbe davened, he was absolutely quiet and motionless.

One chossid remarked once on this difference. He said: Reb Aaron brings very great Oiros (Supernal Lights) into his neshama when he davens. But the lights are so great that they cannot be contained by the keilim (vessels) of his neshamo, and as a result, the Light “spills over” and creates a sort of emotional exothermic reaction, with Reb Aaron expressing himself very greatly.

Mitteler Rebbe, the chossid continued, also brings down great Oiros. But his neshama’s keilim are big enough to incorporate the Oiros into themselves. As a result, he davens motionlessly, because all the “energy” of the Lights is absorbed.

The difference is, said the chossid, that the Light that Mitteler Rebbe brings down stays, since it has become internalized into his neshamo...

The lesson for us (whose keilim are miniscule, and who cannot bring down great Oiros) is that we can become very emotional during davening and feel like we are surrounded by holiness. And then we can finish davening, take off tefillin and tallis, zip up the tallis bag, and go on being the same selves that we had been before the davening. That is a result of not internalizing the Light that one brings down into his neshamo during davening.

The way to avoid that is daven b’avoido — prepare oneself before davening by learning about Eibeshter and Elokus, daven slowly and deliberately, and think intently and deeply about what one has learned, trying to “see” Eibeshter in the words of prayer. To make sure, when talking to the Eibeshter, to force oneself to really address Him and not the pages of the siddur or the wall. And when one experiences emotions, not let them spill out, but keep them inside, burning like the hidden flame inside a coal.

It doesn’t always work — neither from day to day, nor from page to page, but it is important to keep trying and keep pushing.


klip klap said...

But doesnt Mitteler Rebbe say in kuntres hahispaalus that sometimes it is appropriate to express emotion during davening? So it is not such a pashut thing.

CA said...

Kuntres HaHispa'alus is a proper noun and needs to be capitalized.