A Prayer before Torah Study by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Source (Hebrew) Translation (English)

My Lord Creator of all,
Master of all worlds,
Supreme, compassionate and forgiving,
Thank You for Your Torah,
Thank You for allowing me to learn from it
And to move toward serving You.
Thank You for revealing some of the
Mysteries of Your Way.[1]Cf. the “Prayer Before Studying Kabbalah” by Rav Yitzḥak Luria (trans. Aharon Varady):
רִבּוֺן הָעוֺלָמִים וַאֲדוֺנֵי הָאֲדוֺנִים, אַב הָרָחֲמִים וְהָסְּלִיחוֺת, מוֺדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לְפָנֶיךָ ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, בְּקִידָּה וּבְהִשְׁתַּחֲוָיָה, שֶׁקֵּרַבְתָּנוּ לְתוֺרָתֶךָ וְלַעֲבוֺדָתֶךָ עֲבוֺדַת הַקֹדֶשׁ, וְנָתַתָּ לָנוּ חֵלֶק בְּסוֺדוֺת תּוֺרָתֶךָ הַקְּדוֺשָׁה.‏ (“Master of the worlds and Lord of Lords, Father of Compassion and Forgiveness, we give thanks before you [haShem] Elohainu, Elohai of our ancestors, kneeling and bowing, for drawing us close to your Torah and to your service [in] the holy mission, and for granting us a portion in the hidden insights of your holy Torah.”)
 
I’m amazed this is truly happening to me.
Please forgive my foolishness and unkindness,
The sins of my past.
Sincerely I pledge to live more uprightly
That I may be ever closer to You.
Fill me with that awe of You
that opens my capacity for loving.
And open my heart
to the mysteries of Your Holy Way.
Reveal Your Torah, I pray.

I pray too that this study will bring You joy.
It is the incense I offer in Your Holy Temple.
Bathe this my soul, Your Soul, in the light
Of the Source of all.[2]Cf. ibid: וְיִהְיֶה לִמּוּדֵינוּ זֶה נַחַת רוּחַ לִפְנֵי כִסֵּא כְבוֺדֶךָ כְּרֵיחַ נִיחוֺחַ,‏ (“and let our study be pleasing before your Resplendent Cathedra as the redolence of honeyed incense,”) 

Lord, please remember, with me now,
the kindness and honesty of my ancestors
who served You before.[3]Cf. ibid: וּזְכוּתָם וּזְכוּת אֲבוֹתָם וּזְכוּת תּוֺרָתָם וּתְמִימוּתָם וּקְדוּשָתָם יַעֲמוֺד לָנוּ לְבַל נִכָּשֵׁל בִּדְבָרִים אֵלוּ,‏ (“May their merit, and the merit of their ancestors, and the merit of their Torah, of their perfection, and of their sanctity support us so that we should not stumble in our study.”)  
Remember Your promise to care
for the children of the righteous
to the thousandth generation.
Enlighten me, if not for my own worth,
Then for theirs, and for
the future growth of Your people.

Let Your radiance be recognized
today, now, in me and through me,
that I may use the insights and energy
of these, Your Holy Teachings,
for the good of all living creatures
Everywhere, and for the furtherance
of Your Plan of the Continuing Creation.[4]Cf. ibid: וְתַאֲצִיל עֲלֵינוּ אוֺר מְקוֺר נִשְׁמָתֵנוּ בְּכָל בְּחִינָתֵנוּ, וְשֶׁיִּתְנוֺצְצוּ נִיצוֺצוֺת עֲבָדֶיךָ הַקְּדוֺשִׁים אֲשֶׁר עַל יָדָם גִּלִּיתָ דְבָרֶיךָ אֵלֶה בָּעוֺלָם. (“and emanate upon us light from the source of our souls to [illuminate] all facets of our inner being, and let the nitzotzot (primordial lights) [contained within] your holy servants, through whom You have revealed your words in this Age, shine forth!”) 
Let no one anywhere be hurt by this study.
Guard my soul that it stays on the straight Path
back to Your Home.

כְּמַאֲמַר
נְעִים זְמִירוֺת יִשְׂרָאֵל:
“גַּל־עֵינַ֥י
וְאַבִּ֑יטָה נִ֝פְלָא֗וֹת מִתּוֹרָתֶֽךָ.‏”‏
With King David
The joyful singer of Yisra’el
I pray: “Open my eyes
and let me see the Wonders of Your Torah.”[5]Psalms 119:18)

יִֽהְי֥וּ לְרָצ֨וֹן ׀ אִמְרֵי־פִ֡י
וְהֶגְי֣וֹן לִבִּ֣י
לְפָנֶ֑יךָ יְ֝הוָ֗ה
צוּרִ֥י וְגֹאֲלִֽי׃
May the words of my mouth
and the meditations of my heart
find favor before You, my God,
My Rock and my Redeemer.[6]Psalms 19:15

A version of this prayer was published in Reb Zalman and Netanel Miles-Yepez’s A Heart Afire: Stories and Teachings of the Early Hasidic Masters (p. 316-317. JPS 2009). A full translation of Rabbi Yitzḥak Luria’s original Prayer Before Studying Kabbalah can be found here.

Notes   [ + ]

  1. Cf. the “Prayer Before Studying Kabbalah” by Rav Yitzḥak Luria (trans. Aharon Varady):
רִבּוֺן הָעוֺלָמִים וַאֲדוֺנֵי הָאֲדוֺנִים, אַב הָרָחֲמִים וְהָסְּלִיחוֺת, מוֺדִים אֲנַחְנוּ לְפָנֶיךָ ה׳ אֱלֹהֵינוּ וֵאלֹהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ, בְּקִידָּה וּבְהִשְׁתַּחֲוָיָה, שֶׁקֵּרַבְתָּנוּ לְתוֺרָתֶךָ וְלַעֲבוֺדָתֶךָ עֲבוֺדַת הַקֹדֶשׁ, וְנָתַתָּ לָנוּ חֵלֶק בְּסוֺדוֺת תּוֺרָתֶךָ הַקְּדוֺשָׁה.‏ (“Master of the worlds and Lord of Lords, Father of Compassion and Forgiveness, we give thanks before you [haShem] Elohainu, Elohai of our ancestors, kneeling and bowing, for drawing us close to your Torah and to your service [in] the holy mission, and for granting us a portion in the hidden insights of your holy Torah.”)
  2. Cf. ibid: וְיִהְיֶה לִמּוּדֵינוּ זֶה נַחַת רוּחַ לִפְנֵי כִסֵּא כְבוֺדֶךָ כְּרֵיחַ נִיחוֺחַ,‏ (“and let our study be pleasing before your Resplendent Cathedra as the redolence of honeyed incense,”)
  3. Cf. ibid: וּזְכוּתָם וּזְכוּת אֲבוֹתָם וּזְכוּת תּוֺרָתָם וּתְמִימוּתָם וּקְדוּשָתָם יַעֲמוֺד לָנוּ לְבַל נִכָּשֵׁל בִּדְבָרִים אֵלוּ,‏ (“May their merit, and the merit of their ancestors, and the merit of their Torah, of their perfection, and of their sanctity support us so that we should not stumble in our study.”)
  4. Cf. ibid: וְתַאֲצִיל עֲלֵינוּ אוֺר מְקוֺר נִשְׁמָתֵנוּ בְּכָל בְּחִינָתֵנוּ, וְשֶׁיִּתְנוֺצְצוּ נִיצוֺצוֺת עֲבָדֶיךָ הַקְּדוֺשִׁים אֲשֶׁר עַל יָדָם גִּלִּיתָ דְבָרֶיךָ אֵלֶה בָּעוֺלָם. (“and emanate upon us light from the source of our souls to [illuminate] all facets of our inner being, and let the nitzotzot (primordial lights) [contained within] your holy servants, through whom You have revealed your words in this Age, shine forth!”)
  5. Psalms 119:18)
  6. Psalms 19:15

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