Monday, July 14, 2008

Should One Try to Go to Kivrei Tzadkim if He Doesn't Feel Drawn To?


Over Shabbos, a Tzadik friend of mine asked me if I wanted to go with him to the "Ohel" of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zt"l, for his 14th Yohrtzeit. It was a sweet offer, but I declined, since I don't usually go to Kivrei Tzadikim.

A Simple Jew and I were e-talking about this topic, and I pointed out that, in general, I am not drawn to go to Kivrei Tzadkim to daven. I know there's an inyan to do so, but does this mean that one should go out of their way to do so, even without feeling internally compelled?

More generally, there are many practices which are not required halachically, but are good for the person. I, like perhaps others, feel connected and drawn to do some of these things. But there are others that I do not feel drawn to do, for the most part. For instance, it's very good to say Tehillim daily and daven by Kivrei Tzadkim, but these are two things that I'm not naturally inclined to do. Should I see this as a sign that this is not an avodah that my neshama is connected to? Or should I see it as something that I should get myself to do at least once in a while? Any thoughts?

-Dixie Yid

(Picture courtesy of Letters of Thought)

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26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you didn't go to the 'Ohel' which is a bais avoda zara, the way many pple treat it.

A Simple Jew said...

I see the daily recitation of Tehillim as a normative/regular practice and visiting kivrei tzaddikim as something of an exceptional practice when a person gets the opportunity to do so.

What is it about saying Tehillim that you have difficulty with? Do you feel as if you were reading someone's else script by rote?

As for your final question. I would higly recommend that you begin saying Tehillim on a daily basis (according to the division where you finish Sefer Tehillim once a month).

ELIYAHU ben PINCHAS said...

The Mittler Rebbe has an entire Maamar - a Chassidic discourse (known as Kuntres HaHishtatchus) discussing the issue of davening at the graves of Tzaddikim. In one point in particular he focuses on the value of davening at Chevron - Maarat HaMachpela. Not for nothing did Calev daven there on his journey to seeing the Land of Israel!

The Mittler Rebbe discusses not only the mystical aspects of this practice, but also the practical Halachic implications involved in doing this. I'd recommend this as compulsory reading for anyone who wants to understand the connections between souls - in this world and the next. Don't just read it once though - in fact, you'll probably find yourself wanting to read it a dozen times over. His words are filled with true Devekus - cleaving, in understanding just how connected we all are (especially to the Tzaddikim), and the actual real important value of davening at the graves of Tzaddikim. See this link for the entire Maamar:

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/88978/
jewish/Kuntres-HaHishtatchus.htm

(You'll have to join the link as it was too long to fit into one line in the comments.)

BeHatzlacha!

DixieYid said...

Tehillim are harder for me to be "interested" in saying partly because the language is difficult and so I don't readily understand what I'm saying. I can easily get into a line in Tehillim 23 like "Lo irah rah ki Ata Imadi!," I will not fear evil because you are with me!" Like it says somewhere in Bilvavi Beis, that's an idea I can really focus on. "Ki ata imadi," "Ki ata imadi," again and again. It's so powerful. But besides that, although I know intellectually that there is a value in saying it, I don't feel that I can relate to it very often.

Would you even recommend saying all of Tehillim 1X/month even if that time could be used to do more of the hour a day of Hisbonenus/Hisbodedus that Bilvavi Mishkan Evneh talks about?

-Dixie Yid

DixieYid said...

Eliyahu,

Great comment. thank you for pointing me to that Ma'amar. It sounds very very useful. Big yasher koach.

-Dixie Yid

A Simple Jew said...

Indeed the language is very difficult and for this reason I use the Artscroll Interlinear Tehillim (A Talmid recommend's it too). There is no shame in doing so if you did not grow up with Hebrew as your mother tongue.

As for your second question, saying daily Tehillim seems to be a universally suggested practice by most of the great chassidic rebbes. If you truly desire to do so, you will be able to find time to say the few Tehillim each day AND do the hisbonenus/hisbodedus you seek to practice.

Saying these Tehillim really doesn't take all that much time... You are only saying a few (usually less than 10), not the whole sefer.

duvid said...

You didn't mention going to the mikve, which is what it all starts with! The mikve kind of clenses the soul from the klipos, opening it up for true spirituality. Once you do that (if you don't already) you may find yourself more drawn to tehillim and kivrei tzaddikim...
The Baal Shem Tov said a Jew shouldn't go 3 days without a mikve...

I also used to study chassidus and think that it's enough to just study it, and apply it's moral teachings, but i thought things like mikve is a matter of minhag, and my minhag was not chassidish... Till trouble hit, and hit hard... Then one big person told me to start going to the mikve. I did, reluctantly at first. After a while, I started feeling something open up in me, and would run to the mikve! And shortly afterwards I began doing pricisely the 2 things you're talking about, tehillim and going to kivrei tzaddikim, and it's really saved my life...

DixieYid said...

Duvid,

I definitely hear what you're saying. Recently I actually did start trying to go to the mikvah in the morning, when I can get up early enough. Some weeks I may go once. Other weeks 3 times and other weeks not at all. But it's a start. Have you seen this new Toldos Aharon sidur? The Rav who wrote the commentary has a lot of great advice and hanhagos from the Rebbes of Toldos Aharon. The meditations he gives the person to think about when dipping each of the four times are very very helpful to me.

Thank you very much for the eitza tova!

-Dixie Yid

A Jewish Music Insider said...

Great post I believe Daf Notes recently had a post discussing davening at a bais hakvaros..I suggest it highly

duvid said...

DY: No I haven't seen it. Someone once suggested I do the kavanos of the Baal Shem Tov that R' Arie Kaplan brings in Meditation and Kaballa, but I find it hard to concentrate under water... Wow, you're lucky you can do that.

By meditations you mean kavanos of shemos kodesh?

Another thing about mikve and kivrei tzaddikim: Here in Eretz Yisroel we're blessed with many live springs, and dipping in them is real powerful! (there's an inyan davka to go to a spring if one can). And I don't have to tell you about kivrei tzaddikim. This is where it all starts man! You know, not everyone may connect with the Lubavicher Rebbe, or the Satmar Rebbe. But every jew will connect with Avraham Yitzchak and Yaakov... And even a non jew will connect with Avraham Avinu...

I'll tell you this: there was time, i used to take a very early bus from Jerusalem to Maaras Hamachpela almost every other Friday morning. I'd fall asleep on the bus, but once it would enter the city of Chevron, I'd feel the vibes, and wake up... And davening there was powerful... you just feel every word as it leaves your mouth... And following week, my parnasa would almost double... Wow, some special times...

Bhatzlacha.

Akiva said...

To anonymous first comment - what a nasty thing to say. Just for clarification, those who you would say act that way davka DON'T go to the holy resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's (the 6th and 7th are buried there) in Queens.

DY - I found until I spent some time in Eretz Yisroel, which is dotted with kevorim everywhere, I also found it strange and undesirable. After having the opportunity to visit many such holy kevorim of navi'im, avot, imahot, tanaim, amoraim, etc, I found a special draw to such places of special holiness.

DixieYid said...

Duvid,

They're more like short, simple little tefilos to think silently while under water. It's not as difficult as it may sound. I just exhale as much as I can so I can stay under water for a few seconds longer and think of them. The first one is to think "Hashem take away from me all tumah and zuhama, remove from me all midos ra'os, especially ka'as and kapdanus, and remove all gezeiros ra'os from Klal Yisroel." There are three more after that. I think they are very powerful.

Akiva and Duvid,

Y'all are saying something somewhat similar. Especially in E"Y, it's easier to connect to the idea of going to Kivrei Tzadikim. When I was in E"Y for the year, about 12 years ago, I definitely went to these places more often and it was a positive experience.

IY"H, I'll be zocheh to get to E"Y at some point soon!

-Dixie Yid

Anonymous said...

I find your posting very interesting since my wife has the same "disconnect" as you do, while I can visit kivrei tzaddikim and read tehillim all day (as opposed to the way she loves learning halacha). I lend this to the fact that most of my spirituality stems from my mother (I didn't grow up religious) and like every good Moroccan Jewish mother, she regularly taught us to pray and to visit tzadikim, living and dead. My wife, on the other hand, was raised in a "straight laced" American Jewish environment.
I sincerely believe that different Jews are drawn to different ways of drawing close to hashem based on their roots. my only question is, are these spiritual roots or roots sewn by the way one was raised?

DixieYid said...

Anon 3:31,

So you fall out on the side that my inclinations would be an indication that these aren't an avodah that my neshoma is as drawn to. But you're asking a chakira within that tzad, which is whether that nature comes as a result of "nature or nurture."

Based on the situation with you and your wife, you've given a good case for why the differences between you are based on nature, since you're Morrocan and she's American (By the way, my wife and I are the opposite. She's Moroccan and I'm American). But I'd still say that you've given a good case for "nature." Where we are born and grown up and who our parents are is a matter of hashgacha pratis. I think Hashem places people in those countries and cultures that generally match that person's shoresh neshoma better. So it's not merely the cultural influences that causes people who are brought up in America have one general set of preferences, and those born in North Africa/Middle East/Eretz Yisroel have a different general set of preferences. Rather, the cultural influences are merely the expression of the Divine will. He causes people with the shoresh neshoma that will be better nurtured in American to be born to American parents. And he causes people who would be better nurtured in a Morrocan family to be born into a Moroccan family.

Which brings me to the age old question, "Which came first? The chicken or the egg?" We can now see that the real answer is... Hashem!

-Dixie Yid

Abu Daud said...

DY: I can just hear R' Aharon Kahn in that "chakira" of yours, espetially the "nature or nurture"...

It's true that people with different shoresh neshama may perceive spirituality differently, like the Arizal writes about the Ramban and the Rambam, that the Ramban came from the "right" and the Rambam from the "left", and as a result, the Ramban was initiated into the kaballa, and the Rambam not (that itself is not so clear, there're those that say it means that the Rambam did not have as deep an understanding of kaballa as the Ramban, but was indeed initiated into it's misteries).

However, as we say, "lichlol smola b'ymina", that the "left" people should also learn to experience spirituality as a way of chesed and revelation and not only as gvurah and tzimtzumim (or to "experience" it as opposed to only intelectualize it). Like the story of the meeting of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid (which we can say one was from the "right" and one was from the "left"), the Maggid knew kaballa by heart but never experienced it, untill the Baal Shem Tov "showed" it to him...

Abu Daud said...

Zchusam yagen alenu v'al kol Yisroel Amen.

DixieYid said...

abu daud,

You either have a really good memory of the one time I mentioned on here months ago that Rav Kahn was my rebbe in Y.U., or you know me personally well enough to just know that!

Reading your comments, it gives me new meaning to the phrase, "I don't know my right from my left!"

-Dixie Yid

Neil Harris said...

FWIW, visiting a kever, like the "Ohel" as you wrote, is, IMHO, worthwhile on several levels. Even if you only hold of the previous Rebbe as being a Talmud Chacham, going there shows kavod for the Torah he learned and all the good that Chabad has done. Aside from this, it's (and this is from personal experience)very moving to go there and see the emotion and for lack of a better term "fire" that those who feel drawn to Chabad have when they are saying Tehillim or writing a kvittel.

Mottel said...

I hadn't realized that my picture was there -thanks for the link!

DixieYid said...

Your welcome. And thank you even more for taking the picture!

-Dixie Yid

A Talmid said...

There are many reasons to go which are brought down in sefarim, suchas the Kuntres HaHishtatchus mentioned above and especially from Breslover sources. One thing I would suggest is going to Kevarim of tzadikim whose sefarim you learn and feel attached to, such as the Meor Einayim. You are then going to the kever of your own Rebbe. You can ask them to daven for you (tzadikim are greater in death than in life) so you can understand their teachings. By learning their sefer you are bringing much benefit to them, so they will surely want to intercede on your behalf. Many people make a kabala to improve in some area of Avodas Hashem whenever they visit a kever, making it a time for teshuva also.

Most of all, you daven to Hashem that in the zchus of these tzadikim your tefilos should be answered. Another benefeit is that the burial places of tzadikim have the kedusha of Eretz Yisroel "mamash" (Likutei Mohoran 2, 109) The Mishna Brura and others say that it's "admas kodesh".

DixieYid said...

Neil,

I hear what you're saying. I'm afraid that though people's dedication at "the Ohel" would indeed be inspiring, I'm also afraid that I might not be able to look past my distain for the Meshichist tendencies.

A Talmid,

I definitely hear what you're saying. Those are some great sources and defnitely good things to think about and daven on while I am there. Though I don't think that I'll be able to get to the Meor Einayim's kever anytime soon, that would indeed be a worthwhile trip. Hopefully, the best way for me to do some of these things might be if I can get to Uman sometime in the next couple of years for Rosh Hashana and then tack on a trip to go to many of the kevarim in Eastern Europe either before or after Rosh Hashana.

Where is Reb Nachum Chernobyler's kever, by the way?

-Dixie Yid

A Talmid said...

I looked on a map of Ukrainian kevarim and there was no listing for the Meor Einayim. Zadikim.org also had no location for kever. I had heard that it was in Chernobyl but it could be the exact location isn't known any more.

DixieYid said...

A Talmid,

That's a shame. Thank you. Sorry you had to go to the trouble. I thought you perhaps already knew.

-Dixie Yid

A Simple Jew said...

The kever of the Meor Einayim indeed is in Chernobyl. A new ohel was built for it within the last 10 years and I am trying to find the story I once saw about the story of how it was restored.

Anonymous said...

I am currently on my way from teaneck new jersey to the Kever of the satmar Rebbe in Monroe New York With a printed copy of Kuntres HaHishtatchus thanks to you guys for the info