“Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and may the earth hear the words of my mouth. May my teaching drop like the rain, may my utterance flow like the dew… When I call out the Name of Hashem, ascribe greatness to our God.” (Chapter 32, Verses 1-3) This is how Moshe begins the powerful song of Ha’azinu, as part of his final words to the Jewish people.
Rebbe Natan explains that the tsaddikim only reached their great levels by way of personal prayer. They prayed and pleaded a lot before Hashem that they should merit to fulfill the Torah. The main way to defeat the evil inclination completely is only through prayer and Torah learning together. Why? Because if a person only learns Torah, without investing in prayer, he could be influenced by the evil inclination, who convinces him to learn with improper motivations, such as seeking honor for himself. This is also the case if a person only prays; the evil inclination can also have a negative influence by telling a person only to pray for his physical needs. However, when somebody joins Torah and tefilah (prayer) together, and his main prayer is to be able to fulfill the words of the Torah, then Torah and prayer join together as one. This has the power to push away any possible bad influences of the evil inclination. When I will call out and pray to Hashem and make prayers out of the Torah I learn, then surely ‘my teaching (will) drop like the rain’, my words will enter into my heart, just as rainwater influences the earth. The main way for a person to fulfill the Torah and live by its words, is by praying over what they learn. Moshe said all of the song of Ha’azinu for our time period, so that even our generation will be able to fulfill the Torah at the end of exile. The song Ha’azinu is the aspect of prayer and song, the aspect of the ten types of song by which King David authored the prayers of Tehillim (Psalms). In Ha’azinu Moshe included all of the Torah into the aspect of song, which is prayer. He gave us the gift, even today, of discovering this path of making a prayer out of our learning. (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Rosh Chodesh, 5th teaching)
Rebbe Nachman teaches in Likutei Moharan (73rd teaching, Part Two) that the words of Tehillim have tremendous power to awaken a person’s heart and soul to return to Hashem. Many people try to say more chapters of Tehillim during the last month of the year, Elul, and during the 10 days of teshuva, which begin with Rosh Hashana. There are five books of Tehillim, which correspond to the five books of the Torah. There are many, many verses in the psalms where King David prays to come close to Hashem and be able to fulfill the Torah. He made the teachings of the Torah into prayers. In the lesson above, Rebbe Natan is teaching us that we too have the power to write our own book of Tehillim!
To make the Torah into a prayer. To truly bring the words of faith and Torah into our hearts we need to pray over our learning, and to make a prayer out of what we learn. This is the service of the heart. I was familiar with this advice from Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, but only after hearing a few teachers who I like to listen to speak about this and encourage it, did I start to try to write my own prayers to different teachings. Even if I only write down a few sentences of my own words, it is a very powerful experience to pray and read your own words before Hashem. I am able to express how I connect to this teaching, and how I want it to make a positive impact in my life. It gives me a special feeling of bringing the teaching into my life, and really living with the teaching day to day. ‘Hashem, please help me find my special point of light. Please heal my broken heart, with the light of Your love. Please help me feel the light of Your love in my life.’ These are some prayers that I wrote down recently based on a teaching in Likutei Moharan that I have been learning the past few months. The teaching talks in general about healing our broken hearts through the light of Hashem, which is revealed by the Tsaddik.
“From all my teachers I grew wise, for Your testimonies are a conversation for me.” (Psalms 119: 99) May we all merit during these days of teshuvah to bring the words of the Torah into our heart through our own prayers, and may we all merit to be sealed in the Book of Life for a good, blessed year. Amen.