The Subconscious Tzaddik

By Shmuel Chein, Aventura, FL
Essays 2016

MyLife Essay Contest 2016

Who hasn’t experienced the pivotal moment in which one wakes up and decides “I want to change”?  “I am determined to lose weight, get married, rid myself of a harmful habit or be a better servant to my creator.” Perhaps it started with those words. Without the proper perspective and motivation it is difficult to achieve the clarity of thought required to maintain the persistent commitment to succeeding. If we truly want to transform ourselves we must first face inward to effect change.

When I was a child, under 10 years old, I would watch my father pray the Amidah[1] prayers in the synagogue. What I’ve seen many a time has forever changed my perspective about prayers! I saw my father’s eyes pouring forth tears, his eyes red from weeping. Prayer since then and forever, to me, means a time to feel, a time to yearn. Like a therapy session, only G-d is the therapist, the person pours out his heart, feelings, and aspirations, to the Almighty. Do you have aspirations, do you wish sometimes, heart and soul, that you could start?! Share it with G-d in your prayers.

Let’s take the Yom Kippur Neilah prayer meditation[2], for example, the collective effort generates intense emotions on high and draws down immense energy and blessing for the upcoming year. From attitudes to habits, perceptions to reality, everything changes through meditation and prayer. We are all connected, but are we really in touch with our deeper self?!

The Zohar[3] records an interesting statement from Reb Yossi “whoever is wise, should pray to the Almighty like King David, for He guarded the entrance of the King”. [4]Perhaps this may suggest that King David’s prayers are most unique for every emotion, every experience and every battle, spiritual or physical, is captured in the Book of Psalms, of which comprises most of our text for the daily prayers. G-d desires the heart[5], our emotions, our feelings, to be at the forefront of our service to Him.  In the Talmud[7],  the verse “Serve G-d with your heart Gd with your heart[6]“is interpreted as prayer.

Jewish Meditation
One of the most organic forms of meditation can be attributed to the forefathers who instituted the three daily prayers we have today. [8]The Talmud records numerous opinions as to the origin of prayer and according to one opinion, proceeds to list verses from the Torah that support this notion of prayers originating from our forefathers.[9] [10]

(In fact Prayer is a most unusual Jewish Biblical commandment for it is described in [11]Chassidus not just as a Commandment, but as a metaphor for the vertebrae, the spinal column and nucleus of all commandments.)

Chassidic Meditation
 The human being is a multi-layered individual in the spiritual sense. Every person has two souls[13]; an animal soul, that resides in the heart and a Gdly soul, which resides in the mind.[14] There is a battle between these two forces to control the entirety of man; from thought to speech and action.

Now, prayer is one of the most intense battles between the two[15]. The Gdly soul seeks to unite with the creator while the animal soul pursues its own cravings.

The mind is the control center of the heart[16]and entire body.[17] In fact the brain is not only the command center of the entire person, the brain encapsulates in great detail, the totality of man’s physiology. All energies, capabilities and details that exist throughout the body, originate and diffuse forth from the brain.

Meditation conjures up many different notions to diverse walks of life. [18]Meditation in Chasidic thought nevertheless, is controlled thinking; mindfulness[19]. Meditation[20] carries miraculous capabilities as it purifies and illuminates the heart with joy.

[21]The first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, promises that meditation in the context of an effort to achieve the status of ‘utmost self-control’ (beinoni) level of righteousness[22], will bear fruit[23]. He suggests further that meditation is crucial to engage the mind to visualize the Unity of the creator until this forges a deep connection, likened to the connection one achieves with seeing something in the physical reality.[24]

[25] Various sources on meditation elaborate how everything we supply our [26]subconscious mind with, feeds back into the conscious mind, and our body begins to work towards the visualizations that exist in the subconscious mind.[27] Visualizing a private audience with one’s Chasidic master will help to emotionally engage the disciple.[28]

Meditation assists one in accounting for all he experiences daily and finding a place for them everything that happens in the framework of his religious obligations[29]. Furthermore, the 4th Chabad Rabbi of Chabad, Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch promises that one who puts in time and effort to understand deep concepts, “if the subject is of deep personal concern, the person will come to understand and comprehend it very well.”[30]

[31]Meditation has many functions in the Chassidic life.

There are three forms of hitbon’nut [32](contemplation, meditation): (a) Study-meditation, (b) Meditation before prayer(c): Meditation in prayer.

Let’s focus on meditation in prayer.

Meditation in prayer (as well as before prayer) is an important tool that helps one awaken positive latent intrinsic emotions. In fact emotions that aren’t preceded by meditational inspiration, won’t be sustained throughout the prayers.[33]

Furthermore not only does meditation help one intellectually unite with the G-dly idea he is contemplating over; [34]but a more involved meditation can help a person create new emotions. Meditation also helps a person with subduing and suspending the ego[35].

Harmful Habits
[36]Changing the nature of our habits[37] or changing our natural habits[38] is a feat that is discussed at length throughout Chassidus[39], and it grants us a penetrating study into the human psyche[40].

Harmful habits the consequences of conditioning and accustoming ourselves to believe that we need to do a specific action, usually a useless one. The conditioning runs so deep that bad habits often times reach the subconscious level. Changing a bad habit is about accessing our inner subconscious mind, and reprogramming it from there outward.

Science of Meditation
Let’s continue by discussing the power of what modern day science[41] calls the subconscious mind. Our memories and most vivid imagery we carry since our birth is stored in our subconscious mind. The subconscious mind doesn’t speak in words or letters, its primary language is emotions, passion, imagery and the five senses. Our beliefs animate and account for all of our daily thoughts.[42]

The Science of Prayer
Prayer is meant to transform you. There are four stages of mental consciousness.

Beta –awake stage, normal alert consciousness.

Alpha- relaxed, calm, lucid, not thinking.

Theta –deep relaxation and meditation, mental imagery.

Delta-deep, dreamless, sleep.[43]

Getting Practical
When you wake up and say Modeh Ani, (alpha going to beta) you’re dancing between being awake and being asleep. It’s a time to be grateful Gd has restored life into you and a powerful time to visualize all the good you wish to reciprocate into this world.

When your day is winding down (beta entering into alpha), Chassidus[44] tells us, and we recite the bedtime Shema, this is the most opportune time to rectify even the seemingly unforgivable sins. It’s a time for self-introspection and accounting.

You already meditate every day. You may not associate it with the full understanding of meditation but it is indeed meditation. Habits, resolutions, and goals you want to achieve, anything you want in life, starts with a thought, a visualized thought, an animated thought, an impassioned thought, a meditation. Take small steps, and your meditative steps turn your beliefs into your thoughts, and your thoughts into a material reality. Visualize to yourself. Involved meditation has the power for your subconscious to create new neural pathways i.e. brain cells[45].

In conclusion
After everything said above, there’s one line that encapsulates it all, a quote minted from the 3rd Chabad Rebbe[46] Rabbi Menachem Mendel, “think good and will be good”. Your thoughts create a material reality, it may be invisible to your eyes, remote and distant from your immediate surroundings, but everything starts with a thought, a meditation and a visualization.

Indeed this world was conceptualized first[47], in the cosmic subconscious mind of creation.[48] The last action[49] is first in thought.[50]

Every day we have a chance to emulate our creator, by conceptualizing a perfect world. Indeed we all hope, will, and wish to be A Beinoni of the Tanya, but how deeply and qualitatively does this occupy the deepest thoughts of our mind?

Are you a subconscious Tzaddik?!



[1] Lengthy prayer lasting 2-4 minutes in all three of the daily prayers.

[2]  The Zenith in time of the entire year, When we recite the Shema at this time, the Chasidic Masters explain to visualize our self-sacrifice for the Almighty

[3] Vayikra Part 3 page 20

[4] See Likkutei Maharan Volume 2:73 (Reb Nachman of Breslov, 18th century Chassidic master)

[5] Talmud Sanhedrin 106b

[6] Deuteronomy 11:13

[7] Taanit 2a

[8] Talmud Berachot 26b

[9] See Meditations in the Bible, R’ Aryeh Kaplan

[10]See Ein Ayah to Berachot chapter 4:2 (of Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook) for an in depth analysis distinguishing the three terms of Amidah (Avraham) Sichah(Yitzchak) and Vayifga (Yaakov) a three pronged approach to a person’s internalization, personalization and implementation of his ideals; throughout the day, when these three prayers are experienced.

[11] Likkutei Torah of the Alter Rebbe parshat Balak 70

[12] See at length Beginning Shaar Hayichud of the 2nd Chabad Rebbe Dov Ber

[13] See Tanya chapter 1

[14] See Tanya chapter 2

[15] See Zohar volume 1 240:2

[16] See Tanya chapter 12

[17] See Tanya chapter 51, see also Ibn Ezra Exodus 23:25 See also Abarbanel 30:22-33

[18] See at length beginning of Shaar Hayichud of the 2nd Chabad Rebbe, Dov ber, Meditation is powerful visualization that leads to wrapping one’s mind around the subject at hand, Meditation on different layers of consciousness of the soul.

[19] For an English treatment on the subject, seee at length Jewish Meditation, a practical guide, R’ Aryeh Kaplan.

[20] Over the Unity of the Creator, see Tanya Chapter 33,

[21] See Tanya chapter 16

[22] See introduction to part 2 of Tanya, Shaar Hayichud Vehaemunah The love that Moshe wanted to instill in each of our hearts, through meditation

[23] Ibid Meditation is necessary to inspire the heart to feel a love for the Almighty, and to assist one in his spirit ruling over matter.

[24] See Tanya Chapter 42

[25] See for example end of Tanya Chapter 3, furthermore see Toras Menachem Volume 1, year 1950, Shabbos Shemini, how Meditation is a crucial step to Build ones Kabbalas Ol, an unwavering commitment to Gd as a servant with no personal agenda, whatsoever.

[26]I personally asked Rabbi YY Jacobson (Dean of for an accurate English interpretation of the Kabbalistic definition of the subconscious mind and he told me it was Keter, the highest of the Sefirot.

[27] See chapter 14 of Tanya on the importance of imagination as a critical step to achieving the status of a beinoni which is in man’s reach, and even more so to achieve the status of a Tzaddik which is beyond man’s reach, and granted only as a gift from Heaven.

[28] See Toras Menachem 1950 Motzei Pesach Sheni

[29] See Igeret Hateshuva chapters 7,8,

[30] See Hayom Yom of 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe 9th Elul

[31] See Toras Menachem volume 11 Year 1954 part 2 potion of Mishpatim

[32] See Hayom Yom 20th of Tammuz at length, There are three forms of hitbon’nut

[33] See Toras Menachem volume 16 year 1956 part 2 Portion of Shemot

[34] Op cit

[35] See Toras Menachem volume 13 year 1956 part 1 portion Vayeishev

[36] See Inyana Shel Toras Hachasiddus at length, from the 7th Lubavitcher Rebbe See at length reference in note 18

[37] Torah Ohr Toldos 19,2 of the 1ST Chabad Rebbe

[38] Sefer Hamamorim 1950 pg 88

[39] Sefer Hasichos 1940 pg 141

[40] See Igros kodesh Rayatz volume 3 page 459
Igris Kodesh Rayatz volume 4 page 189 of the 5th Chabad Rebbe

[41] See end of chapter 8 of Tanya about our holy Ancesors using science for Torah purposes and earning a livelihood only. Furthermore see for a letter the Rambam Sent a student in regards to his expertise in the sciences “Gd knows that I only engaged in the sciences only as perfumers, butchers, bakers, to show the nations of the world, its, the Torahs, beauty, for its comely appearance” page 88 in the book and 92 in the document.

[42] The Genie within Harry W. Carpenter

[43] The Genie within page 25

[44] See end of chapter 7 of Tanya

[45] The power of your subconscious mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy

[46] Transcribed in the 5th Chabad Rebbes Sefer Hamamarim 5787 page 236

[47] See Sefer Yetzira 1:7 for a similar concept “the final act was first conceived” see Likutei Sichot vol 6 pg 19 footnote 57 (7th Chabad Rebbe)

[48] See Talmud Menachot 29b for similar statement made by the Almighty to Moshe

[49] See Hayom Yom 16TH Adar 1 compare Shvat 23 and footnotes

[50] Lecha Dodi prayer of Friday night authored by Rabbi Shlomo Elkabatz of Safed 16th century Kabbalist