Parshas Balak

“From Aram, Balak, king of Moav, led me, from the mountains of the east” (23:7)

   Bilaam used to do hisbodedus. He would walk in the mountains, as it is written, “From Aram, Balak, king of Moav, led me, from the mountains of the east…” He walked in the mountains of the east—he shouted to the mountains. He walked through the hills. He shouted to Hashem from the depths of his soul. But he still remained Bilaam—it didn’t help him at all.
   A person thinks that by doing hisbodedus he will suddenly find a million dollars. When he does hisbodedus he wants to immediately see a blessing—that he will already have his shidduch waiting for him or that he will immediately get an apartment or a million dollars. He wants to have some savings in the bank for his children and grandchildren. He says, “I did my hour of hisbodedus: Where is Hashem? Why doesn’t He answer me?” A person doesn’t know what hisbodedus really is. He stands there and says to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, give me already. When will You finally give me?” He brings a bag with him when he goes to do hisbodedus, and when he finishes doing hisbodedus, he says, “I want to see this bag get filled.” Though it’s true that this is called looking to HaKadosh Baruch Hu to fill one’s needs and though this does make Hashem happy, it’s still not called hisbodedus!
   What is hisbodedus? The Rebbe says in Torah 52 that a person needs to achieve self-nullification and that one is only able to come to this through hisbodedus. A person must nullify himself. “I am not Moshe Rabbeinu and I’m not Eliyahu HaNavi and I’m not Rebbe Nachman from Breslov. I don’t know what Breslov is. I have no conception of Breslov—just the opposite: I love to eat and drink like a goy, Hashem have mercy.” Then all of his hisbodedus becomes something entirely different. A person needs to do hisbodedus in order to achieve self-nullification. Hisbodedus is knowing that I am really nothing: I am dust and ashes. A person thinks all the time, “I am the smartest, the most brilliant, the most successful, the most educated, the biggest chevreman—a person thinks for 24 hours a day that he is the very, very best. Every person has his own proofs for how he is the most successful, the smartest, and the sharpest. If you could open the mind of a person and reveal all of his thoughts, you would see that he has a million thoughts every second about how he is the very best.
   This is why a person needs an hour of hisbodedus. It’s an hour to take a break from all the haughty thoughts, to nullify his existence, to talk to Hashem, and to nullify all the thoughts of “I am the best in the world.” There are other wise people in the world. There are other people who are successful and understand what is going on in the world. This takes an entire hour. Hisbodedus to Hashem is simply an hour of stopping the constant flow of haughty thoughts. Your soul is neglected! It is in a pitiful state and cannot return to its source. It doesn’t want all these kinds of thoughts. The soul is G-dly and doesn’t want to hear all this garbage—it can’t bear it! Just give it a break for an hour a day! Let your soul do a little bit of the speaking. It will tell you, “Stop it with all this garbage and all those stupid thoughts. Have a bit of humility and free me! Give me some rest! I want to be nullified to Hashem. I want humility. The soul is G-dly and wants only one thing: to be nothing!
   Even if a person already does hisbodedus the question is: how does he do it? If a person thinks, “I am the biggest tzaddik. There is no other tzaddik like me in the whole country and everyone is behaving unjustly towards me all the time.” And his whole purpose of this hisbodedus is just to calm himself down because he is so offended from all of the grief people are giving him all the time. So he goes and does hisbodedus to alleviate his distress so that he can stand up in the test and he won’t explode at all the people who are offending him. What comes out of this hisbodedus is that he thinks that he is essentially a tzaddik who is suffering senseless aggravation. How can people do such things to him since he is so humble and self-effacing, and what a tzaddik he is that he is able to control himself and not get angry. But in the end, the anger will certainly erupt in one form or another because he is not doing proper hisbodedus. About this Rabbeinu writes in Sefer HaMidos that anger is the result of improper hisbodedus. Such hisbodedus certainly will not help a person and it cannot protect him or save him from evil decrees. The only right way to do hisbodedus is when a person believes that he is the lowest of all creatures, when he contemplates his mistakes: “Maybe I insulted this person, or perhaps I offended that one. Maybe I didn’t speak nicely enough to him.” Hisbodedus is when I say, “Moshe is better than me. Reuven is better than me. Aharon is better than me. Avraham is better than me. Yitzhak is better. Yaakov is better…” This is called proper hisbodedus, this is what sweetens harsh judgments and cancels severe decrees. The moment that a person starts doing hisbodedus correctly then it is in his merit that there aren’t murders and tragedies. The proof that a person is doing hisbodedus correctly is that people can insult him a thousand times and it won’t bother him at all. He does not take offense, he knows that he is nothing but dust and ashes. He truly believes that he is absolutely nothing and that every Jew is better than he is. He doesn’t speak badly about any Jew and he loves everyone. He wants to help everyone. This is the proof that he is doing proper hisbodedus.

   Master of the Universe, full of abundant, wondrous, mercy which is unfathomable and without limit, please help me to merit to do one hour hisbodedus each and every day during which I should make, in particular, only spiritual requests. Then I will be able to cling to You with the ultimate level of attachment. There should not arise in my mind the slightest excuse for avoiding this lofty service on which all my life-force, success, and soul’s salvation depends. So please help me to merit, Master of Mercy, that not a single day should pass in which I fail to do an hour hisbodedus, and I should make great efforts and strengthen myself with all my strength and all my 248 limbs and 365 sinews to keep this hour each and every day.

B’Ohr Pnei HaMelech
   When we received the Torah, it is written, “And Israel encamped (va’yechen) there, opposite the mountain” (Shemos 19:2). What is the meaning of “va’yechen?” That each person saw the “chen”—the grace in the other. Today this is very difficult because people become depressed since they don't even see their own grace. First of all see your own grace, then you’ll have the ability to see the grace in someone else. A person needs to start working from the beginning, from the source. We must believe that we are a heavenly spark, and how much Hashem loves us, and how wonderful we are, and how much G-dly light there is in each of us. This needs to be the starting point, and then we will be able to see that this grace is also found in others. “Even if we had camped before Mount Sinai, but He didn’t give us the Torah, it would have been enough. Dayeinu.” What is the meaning of “Dayeinu”? How would it have been enough without the Torah? If you see the grace in another person, then you don’t even need the Torah, for, as we explained, this itself is the whole Torah. When a person sees the grace of another, it is a sign that he is connected to G-dliness all the time and that he has reached the highest level. But because HaKadosh Baruch Hu knew that afterwards we would fall from this level, we needed to have some kind of book in our hands. The grace can so easily evaporate and then you will be left with nothing. We needed to have something in our hands. Because, even though we had reached such a high level, HaKadosh Baruch Hu knew that we would fall from this level, and that He would need to give us something in our hands, so that we would have some grasp on something with substance.   


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