Mind Your Prayers
A man who could read minds. He used to walk around the city or ride the train and listen in on people's thoughts. Then he would write stories using the things he had learned...
by Yehudit Channen
When I was in high school, I read a story that I have never forgotten. It was about a man who could read minds. He used to walk around the city or ride the train and listen in on people's thoughts. Then he would write stories using the things he had learned. That's how he made his living. He became a very famous writer because all of his stories seemed real.
When he wasn't collecting material for his stories he holed up in his cabin in the woods, isolated from everyone. It was agony for him to be privy to people's innermost thoughts, most of which were petty and bitter. The overwhelming sorrow and hopelessness he encountered could easily drive him mad so for the sake of his sanity he avoided all people. But one day, in search of new material he encountered a woman who could also read minds. They connected telepathically and after a few minutes they fell in love. How joyous they were to have found each other!
The man and the woman went back to the cabin in the woods and began their life together but after only a few days, they were miserable. They had no emotional privacy and each one's thoughts were not always pleasing to the other. Before long, they couldn't bear to be together and separated in relief.
Whenever I hear someone on his or her cell phone, I think of that story. How annoying it can be to hear what other people are thinking about. So much of the conversation seems like drivel, so much of it is mundane. If it is interesting, then it's usually personal and no one normal wants to hear it. It can get very embarrassing sometimes when people don't realize how loud they're talking.
What a gift it is to have a mind no other person can see into! How kind God is to prevent us from reading other people's thoughts. As the old saying goes, “What other people think of you is none of your business.” And there's a good reason for that.
While transparency can be charming in a young child, in an adult it can be hurtful and disturbing.
Hashem, who is privy to all of our secrets, has a monopoly on patience, compassion and love. We can't imagine what it’s like to know everything about everybody. He reads our minds all day, every day. He knows everything there is to know and loves us anyway, despite the negative thoughts we have, despite our obsession with things that don't matter. Isn't that incredible? And doesn't that make you want to have a cleaner, more interesting mind, a mind worth ease-dropping on, a mind with deeper, more spiritual concerns?
But it goes even further. Hashem wants us to spell out our thoughts for Him, He wants us to put it all into words.
It can't be for His benefit, so it must be for ours. Hisbodedus (personal prayer) helps us focus mentally. By voicing our concerns to Hashem we clarify our real priorities. We discover what we really care about and we see who we are.
God is the master therapist, the consummate listener. He never interrupts and He never gets defensive. I can talk as long as I want about any topic I choose. I can stop and start, ramble on, be repetitive, contradict myself and doze off in the middle. He listens patiently while I go off on tangents and free associate. In return I try to be a good client; to use my time wisely by being honest, earnest and vulnerable. I need to be willing to face myself in all of my moods.
Hashem can read our thoughts but He listens for our prayers. Our words are the bridge between what we think about and what we actually share. Having your mind read is passive and requires no communication. Of course, God knows what you really need and what you really want. But do you?
If you don't take this idea, this lesson, and utilize it, then you are wasting your time in this world. You can accomplish great things if you begin to put these ideas to use. For instance, if the most beautiful actress in the world would meet you in the street and say, "Young man, I like you. Maybe you'll come visit me?" So you should think that she smells like a dead cat that's been rotting in the street for ten days in the July sun. And that's how she does smell, if you've trained yourself to think like Hashem. When you see something forbidden, even if the forbidden thing is perfumed and trying to smell like roses, you should train yourself to feel like you're smelling a filthy garbage can. And I'll tell you what you should really do. What should you do? You should lean over and sniff the nearest dirty garbage can. Sniff it. Don't just leave it up to your imagination. Make the truth of Hashem's thoughts real to you. That is training yourself to think and feel along with Him.
Rebbitzen Yehudit Channen is a certified Emuna Therapist for Breslev Israel. You can set up an appointment with her by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org