In honor of all those alone, in quarantine, Rav Dov Singer has asked us to share the following chapter from his book, Prepare My Prayer, where he encourages us to take advantage of being alone:
כְּצֵאתִי אֶת־הָעִיר, אֶפְרֹשׂ אֶת־כַּפַּי אֶל־ה׳.
שמות ט, כט
When I leave the city, I will spread my hands to the Lord.
And another time [Rebbe Nahman] told us that in his youth he
would perform hitbodedut in some forest or field, and when he
would return from there the whole world seemed as if new in his eyes and it seemed as if it was a completely different world and the world didn’t seem as it had previously at all.
Rebbe Natan of Breslov, Ĥayei Moharan 107
The Rebbe said that it is very good even to just sit in such a special room. The atmosphere itself is beneficial, even if you sit there and do nothing else. Even if you do not have a special room, you can still seclude yourself and converse with God. The Rebbe also said that you can create your own special room under your prayer shawl. Just drape it over your eyes and converse with God as you desire. You can also seclude yourself with God in bed under the covers. This was the custom of King David, as it is written, “Each night I converse from my bed…”
Rebbe Nahman of Breslov, Siĥot HaRan 275
From days past and years ancient
Even before the prayers were established
The prayer book had not yet been written, the text not yet cast,
There was hitbodedut, a person’s private prayer of the heart:
A person stands alone
Pouring out words
Rebbe Nahman of Breslov
Who elevated hitbodedut to be a foundation of Divine service
Tried to precede the frame to the content.
As opposed to the awareness of one praying from a prayer book,
Who is focused on the content, on the number of words that
need to be said,
Rebbe Nahman suggests we focus on the framework:
An hour a day, pick a place and stand before God.
What will happen there? What will you say?
Come and see.
The challenge is to show up. To allow life to reverberate within
me and see what arises,
To open a regular channel of talking to God.
If in our set prayer the challenge is to give the words heart
In hitbodedut it’s the opposite: the challenge is to give the
It is important to step out of known surroundings, worn-out
And create, as much as possible, a regularity of time and place.
A set time, an hour, or half-an-hour a day,
A place where I can be in intimate communication with my
Where I can truly open my heart.
In a special room, under a prayer shawl or beneath the covers
Or even amongst a crowd, under an invisible veil:
The Initial Step of Hitbodedut
And every person should set for himself for this some time every day, to speak out his words before God in the language that he speaks, for in the language a person speaks it is easier to express his words well, and everything that is in his heart he should say before God with claims and explanations and words of appeasement and supplication, that he should merit to come close to Him, every person as he knows the pains of his heart and how far away he is from God. And the actual spiritual level of this action cannot be explained or estimated, for this is above everything and includes the entire service of God. For through this one can come to all the good in this world and the next. For one can achieve anything through praying and pleading. And all the great holy people only came to their high level through this action…. Happy is the one who merits to set for himself a special time of day every day for this, and the rest of the day he should be happy.
Rebbe Nahman of Breslov, Likutei Eitzot – Hitbodedut
• Where can we do hitbodedut?
Outside of the city, away from the hustle and bustle
and endless distractions.
If our circumstances prevent us from going out into
It is important to choose a place where we can feel
quiet, calm, relaxed.
Perhaps on our porch, in our garden, or even in bed
under the covers.
• How do we do hitbodedut?
Whatever feels right.
• How do we begin?
It is a good idea to begin with a few minutes of silence,
To go quietly inside, to sense our body, our breath,
To listen to the surrounding sounds,
To notice what comes up inside of me.
• When we feel ready, we can begin speaking.
As in any conversation, we begin by addressing our
We don’t mumble to ourselves, but rather call out with
a specific name,
The name of the One with whom we are speaking.
The Master of the World has many names and titles,
Which can fit different types of conversations,
And so it is worthwhile to find the name that fits the
Even if no specific name is preferred, it is important
to choose one.
• We dedicate our initial words to thanks and praise,
For all the kindness,
For all the good that has come to us till this very day.
We appreciate it and express our gratitude.
I thank You for… It amazes me that…
Afterward we can begin to request,
To pour out our heart.
I ask You to… I so want…
We can also share with the Holy Blessed One,
To make God a partner in what happened to us today,
events large or small.
I wanted You to know…
• When we feel that we have exhausted what we have to
say, we end as we began – with words of thanks and
praise. We can repeat the same things we said before,
or mention something we remembered as we spoke.
We can thank God for listening and for the very ability
to do hitbodedut, to speak and to share.
It is a good idea to pause for a few more moments in
silence, in order to allow the words to be absorbed.
• It is also possible to do hitbodedut as part of a group.
When we do so, it is a good idea to set times for each
stage of hitbodedut and to appoint someone in the
group to be responsible to announce when it’s time to
move from stage to stage. This will make it easier for
everyone to give themselves over to talking, without
feeling the need to check the time.
A summary of the above:
Addressing, choosing the right name to call
Concluding in silence.