Imagine someone giving you the private cell number of the most powerful person in the world, or granting you a daily audience with the leader of your country. In the case of hitbodedut, you can speak directly to no other than God Himself, during any time or place you choose.

The subject of hitbodedut is extremely broad. The idea of speaking directly to God from the heart in your native language was a concept championed by the holy Baal Shem Tov, and developed further by his great grandson, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. God yearns for us to speak to Him in our own words. He waits for us to go over the entire list of our needs with Him, saying, “Abba, thank you. Abba, I lack this or that. Abba, please give me what I need.” This brings tremendous satisfaction and enjoyment to God.

One of the reasons hitbodedut is so powerful is that regular prayers need special merit to be accepted properly.[1] This is because the prayer of a Jew must ascend to an extremely exalted level, to a place far beyond the angelic realm, directly to what is called the “crown” of God. Many heavenly forces, led by the yetzer hara, seek to stop our prayers by bringing all sorts of accusations against a person, who they consider to be a “lowly human”. They say, “Let’s check out exactly who this one is,” and proceed to investigate a person in an effort to block their prayers from being accepted.

Hitbodedut on the other hand, is completely different. The yetzer hara can’t figure out how to touch the words of hitbodedut because it is unable to fathom the chutzpa of a Jew, who, despite all of his or her deficiencies, has the gumption to stand before God and speak directly to Him. It doesn’t understand how it is possible that G-d simply accepts the prayer exactly as articulated during hitbodedut.

Although the yetzer hara is aware that hitbodedut possesses some sort of secret, it doesn’t know exactly what. Once the words are uttered during hitbodedut, they ascend unhindered, directly to God. For this reason, it tries to weaken the resolve of anyone trying to practice hitbodedut. Therefore, it is important to overcome any obstacles that may arise, whether mental or otherwise, and strengthen ourselves to speak freely to God in our own words on a daily basis.While it is impossible to measure the actual greatness of hitbodedut, one who truly applies themselves to it will discover a priceless treasure of eternal value.

Based on a lesson given by Rav Ephraim Kenig, shlita, in Tsfat.

  1. There are stories of the holy Baal Shem Tov where he would enter a synagogue and release communal prayers caught between heaven and earth for generations because they lacked merit.