QUESTION: "Does G‑d answer individual’s prayers?"
ANSWER: Yes. Absolutely. But the answer is not always "yes". G‑d also has free
choice, right? And He chooses only what is best for us, even when we don't see
it at the time.
QUESTION: "I was told that 'it is customary not to
say Tehillim from sunset to midnight, but that it's permissible after
midnight,' and I was told the reason was Kabbalistic. What is the Kabbalistic
reason, and is this the custom in some or all circles?"
ANSWER: The hours from sunset to midnight are dominated by the divine attribute
of Gevurah - might, justice. The hours from midnight to sunrise are
dominated by the divine attribute of Chesed - kindness, love.
Those who try to custom themselves to be aligned with Kabbalah refrain from
*reading* the Written Torah during the hours of Gevurah, and are careful to
study Oral Torah then instead. This includes nearly all Chasidim and most
Sephardim, and others as well.
Some say if you *study* Tehillim or Chumash then WITH a commentary, then it may
be considered Oral Torah too.
QUESTION 1: "Is there a reason that some Psalms end
with a double Amen, such as Psalm 89? Does it have something to do with the text
themselves, the ferventness of the prayers, or both?
QUESTION 2: Also, would it be appropriate for me to end any prayer, especially a
private, informal prayer with a double amen? Or, when a close friend writes a
prayer on his blog, to respond with, "amen and amen"?"
ANSWER 1: GOOD questions! In the Books of Psalms, these usually signify the end
of a large section, or even one of the five books of Psalms, as in the example
you gave. However,
ANSWER 2: You are on to something, and I congratulate you. It is okay to say
Amen twice with your own prayer, and according to Jewish mystical sources
excellent to do so in response to prayers of others.
QUESTION: "How can I perform properly the "Tikkun
Klali" of Rabbi Nachman, I mean, the hour and how to give the tzedakkah and
to whom should I give it?
Also, how to start putting in practice the Kabalistic teachings, I don't mean to
manipulate nature by the Names, but how to transform and remove impurities from
Also, the very fact of just studying the Zohar and the Kabbalah remove the
ANSWER: The ideal time for Tikun Klali is between midnight and dawn, but
I see that many if not most Breslavers now do it immediately after the morning
prayers. The tzadakah should be to help poor Jews, or another worthy Jewish
cause. You can put it into a receptacle and store it until the opportunity
arises to deliver it to someone or somewhere appropriate.
Studying Zohar and Kabbalah can inspire you to not listen to your evil
inclination. Each time you deny it, you weaken the kelipot. Also, the study
itself is purifying. Sincere prayer also helps with this.
QUESTION: "I've been reading the works of Rabbi
Michael Laitman of Bnai Brak and he does not give any importance to meditation
or practical Kabbalah. He gives importance to the desire of the heart to
receive the light. My question is: Why the difference between Chasidism and R’
Laitman’s teachings? And may I be one with the Creator by either meditation,
practical Kabbalah, prayer, or the real desire of the heart?"
ANSWER: According to Chasidism, and all schools of Judaism really, the ultimate
measure of our relationship with the Creator is our deeds. Of course, meditation
and sincerity both help to deepen the deed. But meditation and study without the
proper deed in consequence is considered extremely unworthy and in some
situations even dangerous. Does the author you cite stress or at least mention
the importance of actually and physically fulfilling the commandments?
QUESTION: "Oracles and astrology certainly have a
debatable value for spiritual seekers today. As the Kabbala offers deeper
insight of G‑d's law, how are the laws concerning methods of divination and
astrology further addressed?"
ANSWER: Divination is an absolute prohibition of the Torah. Kabbala is an
integral part of Judaism, so there is nothing further to discuss. We find some
room in Kabbala thought for astrology and palm-reading for character analysis,
but not in an oracular or divination sense.
QUESTION: "I recently read that when praying for
something, like sustenance and income, you should address G‑d by His correct
holy name, for this petition, in order for Him to deliver.
If this is so, what should be the correct holy name or names to address G‑d?
[list of Names omitted]
ANSWER: What you heard is not necessarily true, and is the opposite of true for
someone who doesn't understand the precise meanings and intentions associated
with each name, or have the requisite purity (almost impossible in the case of
someone whose primary concern in prayer is income). It is advisable and
preferable to call on G‑d using whatever name you are used to addressing him.
Heartfelt prayers should come from the heart.
QUESTION: "I'm currently reading "Tzava'at Harivash",
wherein the Bal Shem Tov continually discusses the importance of cleaving to
G‑d, whether it be through prayer, or daily activities. I assume this is a form
of meditation, so we don't dwell too long on negative thoughts that might
naturally come-and-go through out the day. What kind of meditation is it, the
four letter name? I understand when we study Torah this occurs naturally, but
when we aren't, what should we do?"
ANSWER: You say you understand how this works during Torah study. One
contribution of Chasidut is to reveal how this can also be accomplished during
prayer and mitzvah performance, and perhaps even better than during Torah study
(see below). The Besht is pushing it further, that it should be during all of
our activities. It can be done through the meditation that you proposed, but
that is not the Besht's emphasis. Rather, however, whenever one thinks of G‑d,
that’s fine but the point is to have that thought in consciousness throughout
the day as much as possible.
You will soon reach the section where the Besht observes that one obstacle
towards this goal can be intensive Torah study itself! He notes that a
person can study Talmud for eight hours straight and not once think of G‑d. He
recommends specifically to full-time studiers to stop once an hour and think of
the Giver of the Torah.
QUESTION: Do you have the text of the Kabbalistic "kavanot"/intentions to say
before immersing in a mikvah? I know that these exist both in an Ari
version and in a Besht version. If you have either of these in Hebrew and
can e-mail them to me, it would considerably enrich my Friday pre-Shabbat
ANSWER: The Ari kavanot are to be found in Shaar Hakavanot and in Pri
The Besht kavanot are in Keter Shem Tov. These are available on CD by purchase,
but not on the net, so far as I know. But to "considerably enrich my weekly erev
Shabbat tevilah", surely it must be worth it to purchase a book or the disk. We
have testimony from the Besht that the Ari accepted that the Besht's kavannot
are more appropriate for the later generations.
QUESTION: "I understand that one should not utter the
name of such and such supernal being, or the proper names of false idols. Does
the invocation of a prohibited name have the same power if it is mental and not
verbal, such as in random thought or if it just crawls into your head and won't
ANSWER: In terms of the Law, there is no prohibition in thinking, unless they
are thoughts of worship to another god. Spiritually, it is wise to be careful
even, or especially, with one's thoughts. Even if it "won't go away" you don't
have to feed it energy by paying attention to it.