The story is told that the holy Baal Shem Tov once traveled with some of his disciples to visit a shul in Eastern Europe. When he came to the entrance of the sanctuary, the founder of the Chassidic movement stopped abruptly and refused to enter. “There is no room,” he said. Looking through the open doorway and finding the sanctuary virtually vacant, the Chassidim pointed this out to their great master. Again, the Baal Shem Tov insisted, “There is no room.”  “But Rebbe,” the Chassidim protested once more, “the shul is almost entirely empty!” “You don’t understand” the Baal Shem responded. “I don’t mean that the room is full of people. In that respect it is, as you have correctly pointed out, practically vacant. Rather, what I mean is that the room is absolutely filled with prayers – blemished prayers that were unable to rise to their proper place in heaven. The Zohar Hakadosh refers to ahava and yirah, love and awe, as the wings that enable one’s prayer to rise. Because the people in this place consistently pray without the proper intent, their prayers are unable to rise. Instead, they remain in the sanctuary. Because the room is filled with incomplete prayers, there is no room for me to enter.”

In Likutei Moharan, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that although, as illustrated in this story, many of our tefillos are often unable to rise above, when we manage to pray even a single prayer with the proper passion and kavvanah, all the blemished prayers of the past are lifted by its wings and rise to their proper place in the spiritual realms. One prayer bursting with true love and awe in an eis ratzon of true inspiration is all it takes to elevate years’ worth of blemished prayers, affecting the entirety of creation in a major way and causing incredible blessing and spiritual life-force to flow into our lives and the world at large.

The tzaddik sees this idea hinted to in the opening verse of this week’s parsha, “Va’eschanan el Hashem b’eis hahi leimor”, “And I pleaded with Hashem at that time, saying.” Rebbe Nachman reads the pasuk as follows:

“Va’eschanan el Hashem”: When a Jew merits to offer a single prayer to Hashem that is bursting with love, awe, and total concentration, “b’eis hahi”: while previous prayers may have lacked the spiritual “wings” necessary to rise to their proper place at the time they were offered, at the time of the single perfect prayer, “leimor”:  it is considered as if all of those prayers were being repeated as well, this time with the requisite devotion. “B’eis hahi”, in this moment of true spiritual connection, those prayers receive their tikkun. Looking back over the thousands of uninspired tefillos we rattled off mindlessly, by rote, can be a very discouraging experience. But Rebbe Nachman is teaching us that we must never underestimate the power of a single prayer. If we will strengthen ourselves to begin anew, we can rectify all those crippled prayers in today’s tefillos offered up with focus, emotion, love, and a tangible connection with the divine.

In Likutei Moharan, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that although, as illustrated in this story, many of our tefillos are often unable to rise above, when we manage to pray even a single prayer with the proper passion and kavvanah, all the blemished prayers of the past are lifted by its wings and rise to their proper place in the spiritual realms. One prayer bursting with true love and awe in an eis ratzon of true inspiration is all it takes to elevate years’ worth of blemished prayers, affecting the entirety of creation in a major way and causing incredible blessing and spiritual life-force to flow into our lives and the world at large.

The tzaddik sees this idea hinted to in the opening verse of this week’s parsha, “Va’eschanan el Hashem b’eis hahi leimor”, “And I pleaded with Hashem at that time, saying.” Rebbe Nachman reads the pasuk as follows:

“Va’eschanan el Hashem”: When a Jew merits to offer a single prayer to Hashem that is bursting with love, awe, and total concentration, “b’eis hahi”: while previous prayers may have lacked the spiritual “wings” necessary to rise to their proper place at the time they were offered, at the time of the single perfect prayer, “leimor”:  it is considered as if all of those prayers were being repeated as well, this time with the requisite devotion. “B’eis hahi”, in this moment of true spiritual connection, those prayers receive their tikkun. Looking back over the thousands of uninspired tefillos we rattled off mindlessly, by rote, can be a very discouraging experience. But Rebbe Nachman is teaching us that we must never underestimate the power of a single prayer. If we will strengthen ourselves to begin anew, we can rectify all those crippled prayers in today’s tefillos offered up with focus, emotion, love, and a tangible connection with the divine.

All blemished prayers of the past rise on the wings of the single prayer that leaves the Jewish heart with love and awe.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
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R’ Yaakov Klein is the founder of the Lost Princess Initiative, an author, musician, and lecturer devoted to sharing the inner light of Torah through his books, music, and lectures.

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