The pain is too great! The suffering is too long! Who can say they’re not deteriorating from stress or despair? So many of us need a miracle, whether we’re floundering financially or we have illness close to home. Many marriages have been falling apart and yet too many singles are waiting, for what seems like eternity, to meet their precious soulmate. Then there’s the global threats that constantly linger and flare up. It’s truly heartbreaking. “When, O’ when, will this galus end”?
Listen to Jeremiah the Prophet:
(31:21) “עַד־מָתַי֙ תִּתְחַמָּקִ֔ין הַבַּ֖ת הַשּֽׁוֹבֵבָ֑ה כִּֽי־בָרָ֨א יְהֹוָ֚ה חֲדָשָׁה֙ בָּאָ֔רֶץ נְקֵבָ֖ה תְּס֥וֹבֵֽב גָּֽבֶר”
“Come out of hiding, you naughty girl! Hashem created something new on earth. Now the woman will chase the man”.
Rashi explains that the verse is referring to Teshuva, coming back to Hashem. We’re embarrassed to come back home because of our disgusting ways. So what does Hashem do to aid us in the times before Moshiach? And why now, all of a sudden, should we be willing to come back to him? Because now the woman will pursue the man to marry her, whereas it always used to be the man pursuing the woman.
What does it mean that the woman will chase the man? And how does that enable us to overcome our humiliation and return to Hashem?
In Rosh Chodesh 5, Reb Nosson describes how we often see people feeling stuck in their lives. Even though they wanna make a change, they’re just so brokenhearted that they fall into despair. They try to break out, but then they fall again deeper, with one more bridge burned on the way. They’re just too embarrassed, and sometimes too angry or depressed, to make a change. They believe beyond the shadow of a doubt that there’s no use in fighting it. This is their life sentence. This happens with addicts and it also happens when people feel stuck in a marriage or in a bad job. The ‘other side‘ overwhelms them and they slowly give up.
But then ‘Hashem creates something new on earth’. This is the Rebbe’s advice of turning your Torah into prayer. With this prayer, there’s no more shame in the sins that led us astray. Because with this type of prayer, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, we can be confident in our prayers. Because we’re begging Hashem to pull us out of the lion’s jaws. Imagine, the other day, we went on an anger rampage. The next morning we’re learning some Torah about how anger is like worshipping idols. That makes us feel ashamed. So we crawl up into a hole and discount the power of our prayers. But turning Torah into prayer says, “Hashem! I’m a wild animal! Help me! I’m enraged. I’m so out of control that I’m compared to an idolator. I don’t want to be an idolator. I only want to worship You. Help me escape this place of constriction”! Or what about someone who got fired from another job and he honestly can’t pick his head up anymore? He might hear a line from Rebbe Nachman that “with simple trust in God, one makes himself into a receptacle for Hashem’s bounty of financial security” (Torah 76). That teaching could make him cynical. “Oh Please! I trusted and trusted and nothing happened. There’s no point in me praying anymore. Hashem is just punishing me for something”. But by turning Torah into prayer, he might say, “I don’t know how to trust you! You spank me left and right! It’s been so long since I had a dollar to spend. How can I trust you? How? I’m so far from trusting you! I actually think you must hate me!”
Reb Nosson says these prayers make the soul of Moshiach sprout. These are the highest prayers. We might think they’re so pathetic, because as sinners and non-believers, we feel so pathetic. But it’s not true. Hashem doesn’t expect us to be perfect; far from it. He wants us to call out to him when we’re not perfect. This is what King David started. His Psalms are all about turning Torah into prayer. There are five books of Psalms, just like there are five books of the Torah. The essence of Psalms is David begging Hashem to help him do Teshuva and uphold the Torah sincerely.
Turning Torah into prayer is the woman chasing the man. Before, the woman, hinted to in prayer, is embarrassed to come back to Hashem. The Man, hinted to as the Torah, makes her feel ashamed, like she is unworthy of praying because of her inability to uphold the Torah. But then Hashem creates something new, (the Rebbe said of himself, “there was never a novelty in the world as new as me”), and it’s no longer shameful to pray in our hideous state. Now we take the Torah itself and turn it into prayer. So the woman – the prayer – is the perfection of the Torah. It’s a necessity of Torah. The Torah – the man – now needs the woman, so she isn’t bashful to pursue him.
Please Hashem! We’re so ashamed to knock on your door. We can’t walk in a straight line anymore! Everything is falling apart. Our lives are upside down and we have no confidence left. We don’t believe that you’re bringing Moshiach. We don’t really believe in anything. We do and do, for whatever reasons we do, but we don’t believe that we’re doing anything worthy at all. The only thing we know for sure is that our constant sins are creating more and more barriers between us! We wanna give up already! We’re so ashamed from the holy Torah. It makes us feel unworthy and lowly. It sends shivers down our spines, as our souls weep from isolation. Please, in your endless mercy, create something new in our hearts! Give us the gall to call out to you in the name of the Torah, that we want to keep, deep deep inside. Help us find you in this dark place. Help us find the words to admit how we’re so far from where we want to be, and express our desire to change. We want Moshiach! We want some sense of purpose. Help us overcome our despair. Help us believe in ourselves and in your boundless compassion. It’s taking way too long! Make it end. Make it end!