Thursday, December 27, 2007

Question & Answer With Rabbi Dovid Sears - Tikkun HaKlali


A Simple Jew asks:


Hisbodedus provides a person with the opportunity to break out of the confines of a set liturgy and express himself in a unique and purely personal manner. Yet, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov's prescription to say Tikkun HaKlali seems to do the opposite. I have found it incredibly difficult to recite Tikkun HaKlali on a regular basis and often just recite it at times of need or when I feel I have slipped.

Rabbi Dovid Sears answers:

Hisbodedus and things like Tikkun HaKlali (i.e., tikkunim in general) have very different purposes. Hisbodedus is a means of connection and dialogue with Hashem, as well as a way of spiritual transformation (see Likkutei Moharan I, 52 and II, 25 for the basics).

Tikkun HaKlali is a specific "remedy" for spiritual damage; expression of feelings is something one invests into the recitation of the words -- but despite the importance of the subjective element, it is only one aspect of the tikkun. These ten psalms are a remedy that was never revealed to the world previously. And the Rebbe warned us that it would be difficult to follow this simple piece of advice (Sichos HaRan 141). (I try to say it every day, in keeping with a common Breslover custom, but missed yesterday. And now you're asking me this question!)

Another point that is often overlooked: the "set liturgy" is not something that we are just "stuck with" according to Reb Nachman. He is not saying that he would like to drop davening from the siddur, but it is too late!

In fact, he devotes many lessons to the inyan of davening be-ko'ach, with powerful concentration and feeling, and with transcendence of ego (which he sometimes calls "be-mesirus nefesh., but that's what he means). These are all different ways of working through our inner darkness and entering the light.

A Simple Jew responds:

When saying the same 10 kapitlach of Tehillim each and every day, how are you able to bring a new vitality to your recitation of Tikkun HaKlali?

Rabbi Dovid Sears answers:

It is like davenning from the same Siddur each day. This is always a challenge. But if you go into the avodah with clear intention about what you are doing, this will imbue the words with life.

Another key is simple concentration: refusing to "bite the bait" of distracting thoughts and fantasies, and just doing what you are doing through and through. The truth is that past and future don't exist. Only the present exists (Sichos HaRan 409). When approached this way, saying Tehillim or davenning from a printed book is always new!

A Simple Jew responds:

As you noted above, Sichos HaRan 141 states that it may seem extremely easy to say just ten kapitlach of Tehillim but it is actually very difficult in practice. Do you think that what Rebbe Nachman was alluding to is the fact that while a person can certainly say all 10 kapitlach of Tehillim once or twice, he will find it very hard to keep a proper perspective of what he is accomplishing with each day's recitation and may easily slip to the point where he stops following this practice altogether?

Rabbi Dovid Sears answers:

I think we all have different maniyos, or obstacles, and as the Rebbe says, the greatest of them all is maniyos ha-mo'ach, mental obstacles. For one person, the problem may be you stated; for another, it might be just slowing down enough to find the time to say the words, even without so much presence of mind (which is still worthwhile, even if not the optimal way to say Tehillim). A person may have different obstacles to overcome at different times in his or her life. But the answer always goes back to being "A Simple Jew" and just doing what you have set out to do!

14 Comments:

At December 27, 2007 at 7:12:00 AM EST, Anonymous breslov said...

תיקון הכללי מפי החזן הידוע משה חבושה, להאזנה:
http://www.breslev.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=105

 
At December 27, 2007 at 12:23:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ASJ...
Perhaps learning the meanings (simple and deeper) of the 10 kepital Tehillim in the Tikkun might help. I don't know if such a thing exists, but maybe there's a sefer or book that explains the meanings/importance of the tikkun klali. My point is that maybe by learning more about the Tehillim in the Tikkun and the Tikkun in general, you'd have a better appreciation for it. Then it's not like you're just rattling off 10 kepital Tehillim. I don't say it at all myself so I can't for sure one way or the other.

 
At December 27, 2007 at 12:47:00 PM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Thank you for your suggestion.

 
At December 27, 2007 at 1:49:00 PM EST, OpenID ECKesho said...

Rabbi Sears, you wrote:

"Another key is simple concentration: refusing to "bite the bait" of distracting thoughts and fantasies, and just doing what you are doing through and through. The truth is that past and future don't exist. Only the present exists (Sichos HaRan 409). When approached this way, saying Tehillim or davenning from a printed book is always new!"

Absolutely! The Buddhist Sutras say the same thing--this applies to whatever one is doing. Thanks so much for writing this.

 
At December 28, 2007 at 1:28:00 AM EST, Anonymous carlos bnei noach said...

Tikkun HaKlali helps they bnei noach too? im a bnei Noach

 
At December 28, 2007 at 11:06:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this might help:

http://www.breslov.org/ordering/productdetails.php?productID=13

 
At December 28, 2007 at 3:30:00 PM EST, Anonymous Dovid Sears said...

Carlos

Tikkun HaKlalli consists of ten psalms, and although Rebbe Nachman never discusses this issue, I would assume that it may be said by non-Jews, too.

He did say, "The whole world needs my Rosh Hashanah," and that he had the power to guide the nations of the world "on a path close to that of Israel," although the time had not come for this (see Chayei Moharan 251).

He also said that anyone, Jew or non-Jew, could overcome all sexual temptation -- and there must have been a reason why he said this.

It is a great thing that you have accepted the Seven Laws of Noah.

According to the Tiferes Yisrael (Avos 3:14 -- "chaviv adam she-nivra be-tzelem"), it is an even greater accomplishment for a non-Jew to overcome atheism and idolatry in order to come closer to G-d than for one to be born Jewish and receive the spiritual gifts of the Torah and commandments "on a silver platter."

 
At December 28, 2007 at 3:34:00 PM EST, Anonymous Carlos bnei Noach said...

Shalom

thank you so muchs for the explanation Rabbi Sears.

 
At January 1, 2008 at 8:22:00 AM EST, Blogger yitz.. said...

Rebbe nachman also spoke about serving HaShem from a place of absolute newness every day.. (the Maor Eynayim also spoke about the same thing, which leads me to believe it's a teaching of the Baal Shem Tov)

The source i remember for this offhand is hilchot tefillin in likkutei halachoth (halacha 3 or 4)

but if you are really getting into that idea, it doesn't matter what you are doing, it is a challenge to perform even things you haven't done before from a place of newness :)

 
At January 16, 2008 at 4:22:00 PM EST, Anonymous Rafi said...

""Another key is simple concentration: refusing to "bite the bait" of distracting thoughts and fantasies, and just doing what you are doing through and through. The truth is that past and future don't exist. Only the present exists (Sichos HaRan 409). When approached this way, saying Tehillim or davenning from a printed book is always new!"

Absolutely! The Buddhist Sutras say the same thing--this applies to whatever one is doing. Thanks so much for writing this.""

)))

My Rabbi, who got it from some Tibetans at Naropa, quotes a saying of theirs: "Innocently favoring the mantra." This means calmly continuing, not clinging to the thoughts that intrude.

I think of foreign thoughts as impurities that need to be thrown onto the "hot coals" of our prayers, so they can be transformed, so their sparks can be released, and they can rise like qetoret.

Another thing I've discovered is that to "keep the coals hot" it is helpful to use yogic breathing - that is, empty the lungs completely with the davening, then inhale fully through the nostrils. This forces you to pause slightly on a regular basis, slowing your pace, and also supercharges your concentration on the meaning and shapes of the words.

yashar koach

 
At February 13, 2008 at 12:34:00 PM EST, Blogger Michael said...

yashar koach reb sears,

pardon me while I open a topic...

if davening bkavannah (praying with intention) is so important (of course your kvannah needs to be right too...dvekuth haShem) don't intentions take the self away from the moment?

or is it normal for koach medameh to be part of one's experience of davening?

 
At February 13, 2008 at 1:39:00 PM EST, Anonymous Dovid Sears said...

There are different ways to approach davening and different kinds of kavannos.

Simply focussing on the words according to whatever our level of understanding of their meaning happens to be is the most straightforward. Reb Nachman says we should hear our own words as words of the Shekhinah, and let the ordinary self-awareness fade away as we bind thought to speech.

The method of the ARI zal is to contemplate the complex kavannos that are detailed in the various kabbalistic siddurim. (The newer ones present the kavannos as diagrams, sometimes even color-coded!) However, Reb Nachman cautioned against davenning this way until the ARI zal's system becomes like perush ha-milos, the simple meaning of the words for you. Otherwise, prayer could become a mechanistic thing, and not really prayer at all.

Chabad developed a contemplative way of davenning, engaging the intellect in a guided way in order to awaken the heart and lead the davenner to a state of deveykus.

The Piacetzna Rebbe has his own approach, which uses visualization techniques.

I don't think any of these methods need take a person out of the moment if prayer is approached with concentration and without a wandering mind.

As for the koach ha-medameh, this too is part of the path to deveykus, as Rav Chaim Vital states at the end of Gate 3 in Shaarey Kedushah.

 
At March 20, 2011 at 3:11:00 PM EDT, Blogger Benjamin said...

this question "how to make saying the tikun ha klali more meaningful" is a general question about how to make ones avoda more meaningful. Having explored breslov and chabbad hassidus i recomend a mixture of hibodidus and hisbonninus. realy i think hisbonninus awaking emotions much quicker than hisboddidus but for me I don't have the concentration to hold the meditations at length so there for i anchor myself with words. so what i am saying is that one should realize the greatness of what he is doing before he does it, and its brought down in the end of ch. 46 of tanya that when a person does a mitzvah or learns torah (or says tikkun ha klali) he unifies himself with Hashem on the level that the Avot did.

 
At July 31, 2013 at 2:14:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TIKUN HaKLALI REALLY WORKS, I HAVE PROOF -LAZY DOUBTING MEN PLEASE READ

I went through a very bad and potentially life threatening situation with my wife and son while I was away. Terrible things could of happened. I didnt guard the bris. I felt worse and worse.

I found "Yalkut siach b'sadeh" and it reminded me that I need to do ThK which I had not bothered to do in years.

I recited it with great sadness focusing on Hashem and his kindness to me, always and without exception.

I then picked up the phone called my wife and this terrible tragedy had been 100% avoided.

Please say ThK, don;t be lazy like me. I READ IN ENGLISH as my Hebrew is too slow apart from a few tehillim i know well (#23 for example). Have a good Shabbos everyone!

 

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