Avoda For The Common Man - Part II
In several places throughout his sefer, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim teaches that a person only experiences problems and deficiencies in his life because of a corresponding deficiency in the Shechinah (the Divine Presence).
The Degel then explains that a person can only rectify his own personal problems by davening for the sake of the Shechinah. While in Parshas Vayeira, he states that a tzaddik understands how to daven in such a manner, in Parshas Beshalach and Parshas Terumah he does not make mention that this must be done by a tzaddik.
I asked Rabbi Tal Zwecker if davening for the sake of the Shechinah could be done by the common person or if it was considered to be an avoda solely for tzaddikim? Rabbi Zwecker recalled that he had addressed this question quite thoroughly in one of his past postings, however, he also had the opportunity to ask the Sudilkover Rebbe about this issue on Shabbos Shelach at the Bostoner Beis Medrash in Ramat Beit Shemesh. The Sudilkover Rebbe told him that he agreed with what he had written in the posting and remarked that this topic was also addressed in Likutey Moharan.
Likutey Moharan II:120 states:
You should not try to follow the Kabbalistic devotions of the Arizal even if you have started to study his writings. The only people to whom these devotions apply are those who have already attained such a level that for them these devotions are the plain meaning of the words! This is the level of the truly great tzaddikim. But all other people should simply concentrate on the straightforward meaning of the prayers.
Thanks to Rabbi Tzvi Aryeh Adler, Rabbi Zwecker also provided me with some additional sources on the issue of avodas for the common man:
Likutei Halachos, Yoreh Deah, Hilchos Shiluach HaKen 4 teaches that a person who has not sanctified and purified the body should totally disregard the thoughts which attempt to mix him up and bother him during davening.
Rabbi Zwecker commented,
"This seems to indicate that you could become a tzaddik one day and then you could work on these things, however one must remember that in my previous post we quoted the Baal HaTanya's opinion, that the Baal HaTanya believes that tzaddikim are born and not made. You can become a beinoni but never a tzaddik. Therefore this would seem to be a dispute between Chabad and Breslov. In Chabad, tzaddikim are born and not made, and this type of avoda is for tzaddikim only. In Breslov although this avoda is for tzadikim only, you should strive to sanctify and purify yourself to reach that level and then it will be your avoda as well!"
Sfas Emes, Parshas Chukas, teaches, however, that the common man may sometimes achieve even more than the tzaddik:
"The song about the well indicates that although great tzaddikim originally dug the well, the simple people who had a desire and yearning to serve Hashem where the ones who completed the task. This is because once the great tzaddikim have opened a passageway and dug a well, the simple people can also achieve what is on their level. Therefore their digging is called Kriah and is even deeper. And it may be that the simple man digs even deeper than the tzaddik and draws down light to even the lowest realms and levels that even tzadikim cannot reach. "
Additionaly, Noam Elimelech, Parshas Metzora states,
"When a wicked person repents from grave sins, like theft or promiscuity, Heaven forbid, nothing stands in his way since "nothing stands in the way of teshuvah". When such a person does complete teshuvah, repenting completely for his past errors, he can even uplift the tzaddik's prayers that have fallen due to some slight ulterior motive or distraction. This is the meaning of "In a place where the ba'al teshuvah stands, not even the completely righteous can stand." The ba'al teshuvah is on a loftier level than even the tzaddik, since he can even uplift the Torah and prayer of the tzaddik which has fallen, as we said."