Positive Vision - Day 63
Rabbi Avrohom Neuberger
Our weekly excerpt from the book "Positive Vision"
Day 63 - The Best Tefillah - Davening for Ruchniyus
There are numerous examples in Tanach and in the words of Chazal of prayers for the sake of spiritual growth. For example, the following verses are found in Tehillim 119:
Remove from me the way of falsehood and favor me with Your Torah. Lead me in the path of Your commandments for I desired it. Extend my heart to Your testimonies and not to monetary gain. Turn away my eyes from seeing vanity; with Your ways sustain me. May my heart be perfect in Your statutes in order that I not be shamed.
All these verses are prayers for success in ruchniyus.
Similarly, throughout our daily prayers we ask Hashem for assistance in spiritual matters. In Shemoneh Esrei, in Ahavah Rabbah and in Birchos HaShachar.
How do these prayers conform to the well-known principle, “Everything is in the hands of Heaven except for fear of Heaven”? 2 This principle, after all, is the very basis for personal accountability. It’s all up to us. Yet in all these prayers, we take a back seat and ask Hashem to take the steering wheel and steer our ruchniyus!
The Meforshim explain: The ball is indeed in our court to decide whether to do right or wrong. Hashem does not get involved with this initial step. But once we decide that we truly wish to do what’s right, we can ask Him for assistance.
In fact, we must ask for assistance, for without Hashem’s assistance, we cannot succeed, as Chazal say: “One’s yetzer hara overpowers him daily, and if not for Hashem’s assistance, he cannot win.” Apparently, the bechirah )free choice( system is set up so that we will certainly fail unless we humbly submit to Hashem with the realization that we cannot do it on our own.
In the words of the Chovos HaLevavos:
He (King David) chose (on his own) to serve Hashem, but then prayed to Hashem for two things: first, that Hashem strengthen his resolve by removing the factors that detract him ... and second, that he should be able to carry out that which he resolved to do.
Now, you may think, “Of course I want to do what is right. Who doesn’t? It’s the actual doing it that is the problem.” But be honest, do you truly want to do what’s right? Say you’re sitting in front of the computer and a click away from doing an aveirah. At this moment are you thinking, “I really don’t want to do this,” or perhaps, “Just leave me alone already! What’s so bad?!”
This is reminiscent of that famous line of the baalei mussar: True, Chazal teach that Hashem says: “Open for Me an opening the size of the head of a needle, and I will open for you a gate wide enough for a team of horses to pass” - but that opening had better be all the way through.