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|Tikun HaYesod - Learning and Penitential Prayer|
|Written by Rabbi Aharon Rota|
|Monday, 16 December 2013|
by Tzvi Fishman
As we have previously written in the essay, “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf,” that while repentance is always accepted before G-d, the 10 days of t'shuva between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and the period of “Shovavim” (the 6 straight weeks starting with parshat Shemot) are especially propitious times to atone for sexual transgressions. To help readers, we have translated a powerful penitential prayer composed by the renowned Torah scholar, Rabbi Aharon Rota, of blessed memory, author of the classic works, “Taharat HaKodesh” and “Shomer Emunim.”
This prayer and the learning that precedes it are designed to cleanse a person of sexual transgressions, known as blemishes to the Brit. These transgressions, including the spilling of semen in vain (masturbation), pre-marital sex, sexual relations with non-Jews, relations with a woman in her “niddah” menstrual period, adultery, improper relations with one’s wife, including premature ejaculation, forbidden incestuous relations, and the like, all of these are also known as blemishes to the “Yesod.”
The Yesod, one of the “sefirot,” is the spiritual channel that brings blessing to the world. It is also the channel that carries our prayers, Torah learning, and good deeds up to the most exalted celestial reaches. As we have explained in depth elsewhere, according to the secrets of Torah, the Yesod is associated with the sexual organ. If this spiritual channel is blocked because of our sexual transgressions, blessings are stunted from reaching us, and our prayers are not heard, G-d forbid.
Furthermore, according to a deep Kabbalistic concept, the myriad of souls, contained in semen which is wasted through spilling semen in vain, are captured by impure spiritual forces, called “kelipot.”
The “Zohar” and the writings of our holy Kabbalists emphasize the terrible damage caused by the spilling of semen in vain and sexual transgression in general. They say that these wrongdoings damage the channel that brings blessing to the world and causes the Divine Presence (the “Shechinah”) to flee.
Furthermore, the myriad of wasted souls that are captured by the realm of impurity (the "Sitra Achra") are doomed to eternal purgatory unless they are redeemed by their spiritual father – the person who created and empowered the destructive kelipot through his transgressions. This is why repentance is so difficult for the sin of spilling semen in vain – because of the great damage which the kelipot cause to the individual and to the world, and because of the suffering of the captured souls, which are considered the person’s spiritual children, whom the father has abandoned to suffering. These spiritual children, which exist without bodily form, must be redeemed through t’shuva (repentance).
To facilitate this rectification (Tikun) and atonement, Kabbalists have composed special prayers and practices that a penitent can employ to correct the blemishes that he caused. Many of these are described in the above-mentioned essay. The six- week “Shovavim” period, from the Torah reading of “Shemot,” to the reading of “Mishpatim,” is the time most suited for penitence over sexual transgression.
The learning and prayer which follows this introduction is a condensed version of the “Tikun HaYesod” composed by Rabbi Aharon Rota, author of the classic work, “Taharat HaKodesh” and founder of the Toldot Aharon Hassidic dynasty. Any errors in the text are the fault of the translator. Of course, no translation can be compared with the original Hebrew, especially concerning a work so rich in “kavanot” (mystic intentions), and esoteric references.
Nevertheless, it is our hope and prayer that the translation will bring assistance and blessing to all those Jews who have not yet learned Hebrew and who seek a path of rectification and Tikun.
Rabbi Aharon Rota’s Preface:
The prayer which follows this preface is designed to repair damage to the spiritual channel of the Yesod through repentance and confessing wrongdoings associated with this blemish, as explained in the book “Reishit Chochmah” and the “Shlah HaKodesh” and other writings of the G-d fearing. This preface and prayer will also remind the reader of the causes and seriousness of these transgressions, so that he will be more careful in guarding his ways in the future.
Since not everyone can automatically elevate himself to express the outpourings of his soul in the fitting manner whenever there is a need, I am writing these things to help myself and others, so that a pathway of prayer be set down in an ordered fashion to inspire hearts to repent, to awaken the soul from its slumber, and to draw us back to our Father in Heaven. For all those seeking the wondrous cleansing that repentance affords, it is proper to recite this prayer daily during the weeks of Shovavim [from mid-January for 6 straight weeks], during the month of Elul [approximately September], during the Ten Days of Penitence before Yom Kippur, during the Counting of the Omer, and on Fridays all through the year, for Friday, the sixth day of the week, is associated with the Yesod – all of these times are propitious times of favor to atone for this blemish.
The prayer can assist those whose hearts have been hardened and sealed up by the trials and tribulations of the times, and by our many sins, which have clogged up the fountains of wisdom which teach us how to pour out our hearts before Hashem. Thus this prayer can help free prisoners who are jailed in the darkness of their dungeons, to guide them in pouring forth, from the depths of their hearts, petitions and supplications before their Maker, until the gates of repentance and the wellspring of tears will be opened before them, enabling them to utter their pleas before G-d.
For the penitent’s pleas for forgiveness, weeping, and broken heart are the keys to mending the damage which his errant deeds caused, both to his corrupted soul and to the world. For all of the exiles, and all of the tribulations which befall the individual and the Jewish People as a whole, everything stems from this sin. All of the sorrows that people suffer, all of the hardships, and lack of blessing, all are derived from blemishes to the spiritual channel of the Yesod, may the Merciful One have mercy.
Accordingly, and to an even greater degree, are the awesome and terrible punishments that he faces in the World To Come because of this transgression. If he does not exert himself to rectify his wrongdoings, then the kelipot (husks) and evil spiritual forces that he created by his sins will attach themselves to his Torah learning and mitzvot, kidnapping the holy life force within them in order to nourish the forces of evil in the world, as our holy books have taught.
And this is what we request in our prayers, that “our efforts not be for naught" – "למען לא ניגע לריק" where the letters of the word ריק also spell out the word קרי meaning spilling semen in vain. According to the secrets of Torah, we are requesting that our efforts in serving Hashem not be given over to the destructive forces created by the holy drops of life emitted through the spilling of semen in vain. Let us warm our hearts with a love of Hashem, and pour out words of fire, and may our torrent of tears drown out the damage we caused, as the Baal Shem Tov, and our holy books have taught, that each tear releases a holy soul from the captivity of the kelipot.
But take care that the weeping be true and that one’s heart not fall to arrogance, G-d forbid, lest a person believe that he is a great penitent, for, as the students of the Baal Shem Tov have taught, this type of personal pride can lead to even greater damage. Rather, true penitence must lead to feelings of shame and humility, and not the opposite.
It is very good if the penitent can recite this prayer during the hours of the night before dawn, to remove his shoes and sit on the ground, lower his head and cry out like a servant before his master, for this is a time of Divine favor. He should contemplate on the terrible damage and spiritual pollution caused by his sins, as set forth in the holy “Zohar,” and other holy writings, and the terrible descent and agony it causes the holy Shechinah, and the anguish in all of the spiritual worlds. Our cries to Hashem are all that we have to aid us, our cries are repentance out of love, expressing our longing to come back to G-d, and even our silent cries from the depths of our heart are pleasing before Him.
For our Sages have taught us that regular repentance is not adequate to repair the damage we caused, but only an elevated repentance (t’shuva iliah) and our cries for forgiveness will pave the way before us, even though we lack the strength for the rigorous fasts that our Sages have prescribed. And by repairing the damage we have done, we will once again be able to serve Hashem with pure thoughts and a pure heart when we pray and study Torah, filling our minds with holy thoughts the remaining hours of the day.
For what person is there who does not want to have mercy on his soul, and not forfeit his life in this world, and in the World To Come, G-d forbid? For in this world, the Holy One Blessed Be He acts with kindness and compassion, but in the World of Souls, there is no leniency whatsoever. Therefore, recite this prayer, or similar words of your own, raise yourselves up to fervent supplication with a passionate heart.
It is also good to give charity as an additional atonement before saying this prayer, so that the Holy One Blessed Be He will unlock hearts that have been numbed and sealed through transgression. Then tears will stream forth over wrongdoings that caused damage to all of the worlds, causing anguish to Hashem and the Shechinah, and creating agents of destruction. Let the pain of this recognition burn in the heart, for this is the essence of repentance.
The more one can conceptualize and feel the terrible anguish he caused to the Holy One Blessed Be He, and all of the spiritual worlds, realizing that he himself brought about blemishes that restrict the flow of blessing to the world, and polluted his own holy soul, and cast away uncountable holy sparks and living souls to the darkest corners of the world, where they are doomed to an agonizing and perilous captivity in the realm of impurity, and who can describe their pain and the terror of their cries and their pleas for salvation?
The person who comes to rectify his transgression through repentance, he brings renewed life and strength to these kidnapped souls, and the greater effort he makes in atoning, the more he succeeds in raising these holy souls out of their bondage. Faced with his great shame before Hashem, and filled with a burning remorse over his sins, his cries and prayers and tears will awaken a great Heavenly mercy from the source of all Celestial compassion, to have mercy on his lowly and humiliated soul, which is imprisoned in such a coarse and earthly body as his.
But one needn’t despair, for the Holy One Blessed Be He is certainly forgiving, and compassionate, and long suffering, and full of loving kindness and truth, and He accepts all those who return to Him, and He won’t turn an outcast away.
In addition to this prayer, other methods of atonement over this blemish can be found in my book, “Taharat HaKodesh.” And one of the major fundamental points in repenting over this particular transgression is to be always happy, and not to succumb to depression at all, G-d forbid, for depression only serves to envelope a person in more impurity, G-d forbid. Therefore, immediately after crying out in repentance, a person should strengthen himself with a feeling of joy, with faith, and with trust in Hashem, and not wallow in sorrow, G-d forbid, and he should say: “Behold, I believe in complete faith that the Holy One Blessed Be He, in His unlimited mercy, will certainly accept my prayer and my repentance, for He desires the penitence of His children, and He is gracious and every ready to pardon.”
Thus the penitent should be happy and thank and praise Hashem for allowing him to perform the mitzvah of t‘shuva (repentance), which is a very great and awesome matter. May the Merciful One purify our hearts to serve Him in truth – Amen.
Now, I will mention a few of the matters that a penitent must hasten to correct, matters that are recorded in our holy books, matters that contain many secrets, each deeper than the next, and that I can only hint at here. Don’t say, ‘How can such a shameful and lowly sinner as I request forgiveness for such terrible transgressions, and how will the words of such a one as I be heard?’ For this is not the case.
For if a radio can broadcast the sound of a voice over a distance of hundreds and thousands of miles in all directions, with the tiniest of apparatuses and currents, how much more so the holy words of a Jew which pierce all of the Heavenly vaults? The secrets of this matter are so great they cannot be disclosed here - how every movement and vibration of the lungs and the throat and the mouth of a Jew who cries out to G-d in holiness reach up and influence all of the upper worlds, regrouping above to crown all of Creation. For with every utterance, an effect is brought forth in the upper worlds, for good - or for evil, G-d forbid, if the gift of speech is misused and polluted.
Bear in mind how your transgressions caused terrible destruction in upper worlds, weakened the Ministering Angels, and constricted the Heavenly influx and blessing that comes to the world, and how they caused anguish to the holy Shechinah, and blemished the letters of the Divine Name and the letters of the Torah, and gave strength to the powers of evil and all of their destructive agents, enabling them, through your misdeeds, to carry out their wicked designs in the world, which comes about especially in the sin of spilling semen in vain, which stains the world with an immeasurable pollution, even more than all forbidden sexual relations, may the Merciful One have mercy.
And do not say, that you didn’t mean to transgress, for if you purposefully looked at the likeness of a woman to enjoy it, or if you spoke of licentious matters that brought about fantasies of forbidden relations, G-d forbid, or gazed upon other forbidden things, and because of these things you came to have a wasteful spilling of seed, Heaven forbid, then you are like a willful transgressor. In addition, merely by having a sexual fantasy, you transgressed a Torah prohibition, as it says, “Thou shall not stray after your heart and your eyes which lead you to adulterously stray” (Bamidbar, 15:39).
And you further violate the Torah injunction, “And you shall guard yourselves from everything evil,” where the word “devar” hints at licentious language that can bring about this sin. This is all the more so when the fantasy, whether through sight or through speech, incites a person to commit this transgression, even if it be unintentional, it causes a very great and terrible blemish. And this matter demands a repeated, forceful warning, for all of the tribulations and sufferings that befall an individual, all result from this, may the Merciful One have mercy. And there are many times that this pollution occurs, and the man is not aware of it, as our holy books have explained. Therefore, do not tarry in repenting, for the sooner the better.
How much damage is caused to one’s Torah learning and prayer and good deeds if one does not make an effort to rectify this matter! For the forces of the Other Side (Sitra Achra - the evil inclination) make plunder out of one’s mitzvot, and transfer their holiness to their impure realm, G-d forbid. Thus, since the main matter in atoning over this sin is weeping and a broken heart, for simple people like myself, who find it difficult to order their thoughts before Hashem in the proper manner in all times and places, this prayer will benefit them, with the help of G-d, praised be He.
And a person should be steadfast in this repentance all of his days and years, as King David has taught: “And my sin is always before me” (Tehillim, 51:5). And when a person returns to G-d, all of the spiritual riches which the forces of evil have stolen because of his sins are returned to the Shechinah. Therefore when a penitent is aroused to redress his wrongdoing, he should have this intention and beg Hashem to repair all of the spiritual worlds that he has damaged, along with all of the holy Names of G-d, and all of their variations.
And he should bear in mind because every Jew is attached to and responsible for every other Jew, and to the Jewish Nation as a whole, so that his transgressions damage all of Israel. And let him know that every soul is rooted in and connected to many other souls, so that he is responsible for their rectification as well, and when one soul is blemished, it blemishes the others, so that someone else’s transgression can have an adverse effect on him.
Therefore a person must repent even for sins which he knows he didn’t commit himself. One must also rectify the sins of his forefathers, as is stated in the holy book, “Likutei Torah” of the Arizal (Torah portion Vayera), for all of the sins that a person commits result from the fact that his forefathers did not sanctify themselves in the proper manner, causing him to inherit a blemished spiritual wardrobe. For all of the Torah one manages to learn and the commandments that he succeeds in performing, along with good deeds, and all of the blessing which he receives from Heaven, all stem from this spiritual inheritance. Thus a person must rectify the sins of his forefathers, since he is rooted in them.
Additionally, a person’s transgressions blemish all of his sparks of holiness, and the sparks of holiness in the general communal pool of Israeli souls. Also, his sin causes a blemish to the righteous Tzaddik, and causes his fellow Jew to have immoral fantasies, and it dims the light of his soul and its faculties, and causes anguish to the spark of the Divine Presence within him, and in this lies the secret of the exile of the Shechinah.
Furthermore, a person must rectify everything that he damaged in previous reincarnations, and rectify all of the souls that he doomed to wander bodiless in the realm of evil. All of this must be on his mind, and weigh on his heart, when he prepares to repent. At the time of his prayer, his must intend to draw Heavenly mercy from the seat of Divine mercy and Divine Will down on the Divine spark within him. And then intend to draw down the light of holiness from the source of Divine Will, from the root of all blessing, to continue this holy influx down to the root of the communal pool of the souls of all Israel, and from there to bring healing and holiness to the root of his soul and its faculties (nefesh, ruach, neshamah) in his body, that they be rectified and sanctified and purified from all of the transgressions and sins that polluted his being, that they be cleansed and laundered from all stain and blemish.
And intend to draw down this exalted holiness to the lights which shine within him and around him, and to rectify in all of the spiritual worlds of “Atzilut,” “Beriah,” “Yetzira,” and “Aseyah,” the places he must amend. And intend to bring down this influx of holiness to heal all of the sparks of holiness belonging to the root of his soul which he blemished, along with the sparks of holiness of all of the nation of Israel that were blemished, according to their common root in his soul, in this and every previous reincarnation, and to rectify all of the holy Names of G-d, and their transmutations, and the spiritual worlds that were blemished.
And intend to liberate all of the holy sparks (the souls) and their holy life force from the kelipot and impure agents that captured them, that the kelipot will be compelled, with the aid of G-d, to expel all of the drops of holiness which they captured, and thus fulfill the verse, “"חיל בלע ויקיאנו מבטנו יורישנו אל “He has swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again; G-d shall cast them out of his belly (Iyov, 20:15).
Having done this, he should intend to return all of this holy influx and the sparks of holiness of these souls to their place, to bring aid and comfort to the holy Shechinah, to adorn the Shechinah with beautiful, holy adornments, and to raise her, so to speak, out of the dust. And one should have the intention (kavanah) that his repentance will be an aid and support for the Mashiach, in lessening his anguish over our sins, and also to ease the pain of the angels who suffer because of the sins of Israel.
Finally, he should have the intention that he will not ever again transgress in this matter, but rather always work to sanctify and purify himself before G-d. He should feel in his heart that he is undertaking to fulfill the precepts of t’shuva (repentance) and vidui (confession), and to rectify and purify all of the Torah learning, and prayers, and good deeds that were polluted, and to remove them from the realm of evil, and to destroy all of the evil edifices that were created and activated due to his sins, and to rectify all of the times and occasions that transpired in darkness, and to cleanse his soul in the exalted light of repentance, and to dress his soul in royal robes.
He should think to include himself with all baale t’shuva (masters of penitence), and with the souls of all of the Tzaddikim who succeeded to totally rectify blemishes to the Brit, and with the Tzaddikim who never sinned in this matter, and with the Tzaddik of the generation who comprises all of the souls of the Jewish People. And that in their merit and power, his prayers and repentance will be accepted in favor before the Most High, blessed be He and blessed be His Name to all of eternity – Amen, for ever and ever, nezach, sela, va’ed.
Before the prayer, I will mention a holy teaching from the book, “Reisheet Chochmah” (Ch. 17), which states that a person must be constantly engaged in t’shuva, year after year, and not forget the many times that he angered his Maker, for all of one’s sins are counted and recorded above. If a person fails to do this, then “Lilith” (the destroying angel who ministers over sexual transgression) is summoned to punish him for each of his sins, with a fire in the same place which he enflamed his passion, and the punishment will last all the time it takes to wipe out the wickedness, for HaKodesh Baruch Hu, the Holy One Blessed Be He, gives strength to wicked sinners to endure the term of their suffering, and for each time that he fired himself with his sinful passion, he will be burned anew.
Furthermore, the “Reishit Chochmah” explains: “A person who has sinned in the matter of the Brit, how much he must suffer with self-flagellations and fasting all of his life, as exemplified by the example of King David (who fasted for 22 years). And if you say that Torah study alone atones for sin, behold, King David busied himself with Torah study far more than we do today, as our Sages have taught, and he possessed Divine Inspiration, so why did he expose himself to self-flagellations for no reason when he could have rested on the theory that his study of Torah day and night would atone for his sin?
Rather, the answer is surely this – what is meant by the teaching that the study of Torah is an atonement is that, as the saintly Rabbi Yonah has explained in his book, ‘Shaarei T’shuva,’ that a sinner’s punishment is postponed all the time he learns Torah, until he returns in repentance, as is true with the doing of good deeds as well – but certainly he must also purify himself from his transgression with self-flagellations and fasting so that his Torah learning will be acceptable, as I have explained in length in my chapter on T’shuva.
And this is especially true regarding someone who has transgressed in the matter of the Brit, which causes damage equal in weight to the violation of all of the Torah, for to the extent that our Sages have emphasized the importance of guarding the Brit, we can correlate the severity of the punishment that results from its blemish, which, in turn, will help us to appreciate its exalted level” (“Reshit Chochmah,” Ch. 17).
For this reason, before a person learns Torah, or prays, or undertakes to perform a commandment, he should follow the advice of the Tzaddikim and first have in his mind to repent over the sins of his youth (transgressions to the Brit,) and then his learning, his prayers, and his mitzvot will be pleasing and acceptable to Hashem.
Finally, it is important to note the warning mentioned by the holy Rabbi from Lublin, may his memory be a blessing, that when a person confesses his sins before Hashem and recalls what he did, he should not conjure up images in his mind of his transgressions, for these mental pictures and thoughts will cause him to pollute himself once again, G-d forbid. Rather, he should recall the transgression in its general category without conjuring up mental images, and impress upon his heart the extent of the blemish, and the depth of the anguish he caused to the holy Shechinah, and the pain to his very own soul, along with the other kavanot (mystical intentions) that we have mentioned. And this is an important rule for everyone who repents and confesses his sins.
Prayer for Tikun HaYesod (condensed for the Internet)
This is a prayer and supplication and great spiritual awakening to rectify blemishes to the Brit, and a rectification of the spiritual worlds and channels that have been damaged. It is a supplication over the anguish of the holy Shechinah, and the continuation of the exile, and the pain of the castaway souls, and a vidui (confession) and penitence over the detailed sins which lead a person to this blemish, G-d forbid, and a plea for mercy on behalf of his soul, that he be delivered now, and in the future, from all mishap and evil.
(Before beginning to pray, the penitent should focus his thoughts and say:) “Behold, I am ready and prepared to perform the positive commandment of repentance, as is written in the Torah, ‘And you shall return unto Hashem your G-d’ (Devarim, 30:2). It is also written, ‘Thou shall recall them to mind among all of the nations where Hashem your G-d has scattered you there’ (Ibid, 30:1).
And I am ready to perform the positive commandment of vidui/confession, as it says, ‘When a man or a woman shall commit any sin that men commit, to commit a trespass against the L-rd, and that person be guilty, then they shall confess their sin which they have done’ (Bamidbar, 5:6). “Behold, I attach my soul, my spirit, and my physical being with the souls of all baale t’shuva (penitents) who return to Hashem with all of their heart, their strength, and their soul; and with the communal soul of all of the Jewish Nation, and with the souls of all of the Tzaddikim.
“Please, merciful Father, have pity and take compassion on me, and on the holy sparks within me, and do not cast me away from you. Though I be very distant from You, fallen to the lowest and worthless level, and have blackened the light of my face and the Divine image of my soul because of my many sins, please, my Father in heaven, do not distance me from the light of Your holy and luminous countenance – but draw me close to You with the greatness of Your mercy, and accept my repentance and my prayer in the merit of all true penitents, and in the merit of the Tzaddikim, who serve Hashem with all of their hearts, their souls, and their strength, and in the merit of the Clal Yisrael, the entire community of Israel.”
Prayer for Tikun HaYesod
Our Father, Master of Compassion, please don’t hide Your countenance from me. May I merit to always recollect my sins and the times that I angered You, from the days of my youth until today, and not let them out of my mind, and not feel proud that I am a righteous penitent. Help me to always be lowly in spirit, and to feel shame in Your Presence, to be ashamed of my transgressions and to repent over them with complete repentance.
Grant me forgiveness from beneath the seat of Your throne, just as you forgave Menashe and all other baale t’shuva, and bring me back in perfect repentance before You. Open my sealed and polluted mind, and soften my hardened heart, that I be able to feel the extent of the pain that I caused my soul and its faculties by my sins and failings before You until this day. Grant me wisdom, understanding, and knowledge, to deepen my awareness of my situation, that my heart should feel its great bitterness over my sins, transgressions, and willful wrongdoings, and over my alienation from You, and over what I spoiled and blemished in the exalted spheres.
Help me to pour out my confession and regret over all this with a great and sincere repentance from the depth of my heart. And do not allow this confession and bitter regret to cause me any depression whatsoever – on the contrary, may this be the very thing that leads to the overturning of my heart to serve You from this time forth and forevermore with a fervent will, desire, love, joy, and a happy heart in the bounty of my lot. Amen, may it be Your will.
For the purpose of unifying the Holy One Blessed Be He with His Shechinah, in fear and love, and love and fear, on the part of the Recondite One, on behalf of all the Jewish People, and in order to ease the suffering of the holy Shechinah, and to raise Her out of the dust, and to adorn the holy Shechinah with beautiful adornments, and to ease that pain of Mashiach, which I brought about through my sins, and in order to rectify and cleanse all of the worlds and holy Names of G-d that I blemished, and in order to rectify and purify my soul and its faculties (Nefesh, Ruach, Neshama) and the sparks and their roots that are connected to them, and to rectify what I damaged since the days of my youth until today, and what I damaged in my previous reincarnations, and to rectify all of the blemishes and sins of the House of Israel.
Shine on me the light of the Divine image (Tzelem), that I may merit to be a chariot for the holy Shechinah, and may my t’shuva and prayer be noteworthy and acceptable and find favor before You, that they raise up all of the sparks of holiness that I caused to be scattered amidst the forces of evil, that the verse be fulfilled, “He has swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again; G-d shall cast them out of his belly" (Iyov, 20:15).
May the root of my t’shuva be rectified in an exalted place to bring perfection to the upper spiritual image of man (adam elyon) and the upper spiritual blueprint and tree of Creation (ilan elyon). “May the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; O prosper it, the work of our hands” (Tehillim, 90:17).
Our Father in heaven, You promised us in Your holy Torah, and through Your holy Prophets, and through our saintly Rabbis, that You busy Yourself with purifying the souls of the Jewish People from their pollutions, as is written in the Torah, “For on this day, your atonement will be effected, purifying you from all of your impurities” (Vayikra, 16:30), and it is further written in the Prophets, “And I will sprinkle purifying water over you, and will purify you from all of your impurities, and from all of your uncleanliness, I will cleanse you” (Yechezkel, 36:25). And it says, “Hashem is the mikvah of the Jewish People, their savior in times of trouble” (Yermiahu, 14:8). And our Rabbis have stated, “Just as a mikvah purifies the impure, so does the Holy One Blessed Be He purify the Jewish People.”
Thus have You revealed to your servant the greatness of Your attribute of compassion and Your infinite loving kindness, in that You have mercy on the souls of Israel in every generation, to purify and cleanse them from all sorts of pollution. However, our Father in heaven, our Father, Master of mercy, what can we say, what can we speak, how can we justify ourselves before You for our numerous sins, transgressions, and willful wrongdoings that we committed before You from our youth until this day, and in previous reincarnations, and for the multitude of blemishes and stains that we inflicted on our souls and on its faculties, from the tip of our feet to the top of our heads?
It is fitting that we hide ourselves in mountaintop caves, and to bow our heads in shame over our numerous sins and our rebellious ways in rebelling against You, and not open our mouths to speak before You, and all the more so in asking You to forgive us once again. For we are humiliated that we caused You such great sorrow, and caused anguish to the holy Shechinah, and great anguish in all of the worlds, and to all of the angels, and to all of the souls, and caused a diminishing of blessing to all of the creations that You created. Woe to us and to our souls that we brought all of this about because of our many sins and transgressions.
We exchanged an eternal world for a world that passes, in occupying ourselves with all types of foolishness and vanity. Instead of causing You satisfaction and pleasure, and pleasing the holy Shechinah with our good deeds, and endowing all of the worlds and creations with great pleasure and blessing – for this is the reason You created us, that we should always cleave to You, to always rise to a higher and higher level, to love and fear Your Name with all of our might and dedication – not only did we fail to do this, but, on the contrary, lowly as we are, we shattered and destroyed holy exalted channels, and polluted transcendental holy spheres with the stench of our misdeeds, causing the ministering angels to flee from our presence.
How can we lift our countenances to You? How can we escape great shame and never-ending embarrassment? How can we open our mouths in confession before You over our sins and dare beseech You to forgive us once again? It is only through the greatness of Your kindness and compassion that we have trusted, just as the extent of our lowliness and diminished worth have no boundary, so to Your kindness and mercy is limitless without measure, especially since You have promised through Your holy Prophets, “Whoever confesses and forsakes his sins shall have mercy” (Mishle, 28:13), and “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return to the L-rd, and He will have mercy upon him, and return to our G-d, for He will abundantly pardon” (Yeshayahu, 55:7), and “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? Says the L-rd, and not that he should return from his ways and live?” (Yehezkel, 18:23).
You have shown us through this Your immeasurable love for us, for when we confess our wrongdoings before You with shame and remorse, and abandon our errant paths, and return in perfect repentance before You, then You will return and have compassion upon us, and draw us close to You, like a Father who shows compassion to his son, and like a Master who pardons and has mercy on His servant. Therefore have we come before You, our Father in heaven, in a spirit of great submission, embarrassment, and regret, and with a broken spirit, to say before You: we have sinned, we have transgressed, we have committed willful wrongdoings, and violated all of Your holy commandments, from alef [the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet] to tav [the last letter], we have transgressed all of the mitzvot of the Torah, and those handed down from our Forefathers and Rabbis.
We have sinned, we have transgressed, we have committed willful wrongdoings in this lifetime and in previous reincarnations, and we have angered You in so many ways until we have polluted and stained all of our organs and limbs. We have blemished our nefesh, ruach, and neshamah [three parts of the soul], and the soul of our souls, to the extent that we have darkened the light of our souls, and brought about a diminishing of the Divine influx, and caused our hearts and our brains to be sealed.
Our Father in heaven, how can we explain ourselves, and how can we appease You for all of the times that we have angered You through our abundant sins and rebellious behavior? Especially in the hour that we recall in our hearts the great and terrible sin of blemishing the holy Brit in spilling our seed in vain, whether it happened because we didn’t keep our eyes from gazing at forbidden things, for we looked upon women, unmarried and married alike, and upon the holy Brit itself, our own and that of others, and gazed upon immodest places, (and upon our wives during their menstrual days) and walked about arrogantly with wide-open eyes, and this is what caused us to trespass again and again, looking at things which You have forbidden, without guarding our eyes at all, thus violating what is written in the Torah, “Thou shall not stray after you hearts and your eyes after which you adulterously stray” (Bamidbar, 15:39), and “Do not turn after their gods” (Vayikra, 19:4) which includes looking at their women, as the holy Zohar explains.
In doing this we brought ourselves to lustful fantasies and filled our mind with sinful thoughts. Not only did we not make an effort to drive away these fantasies from our minds and hearts with all of our strength, we brought ourselves to fantasize even more, and filled our minds with lustful images during the day until we came to pollute ourselves at night, and transgressed “You shall guard yourselves from every evil matter” (Devarim, 23:10), which our Sages have explained to mean that a person should not engage in lustful fantasies that bring him to emit semen in vain.
We spilled our seed wastefully while we were awake and while we slept, because of things that we saw, or heard, whether a woman’s singing, or lewd speech, or through hearing evil tales about others, or through our getting angry which draws a great impurity upon all of a person’s organs and limbs, or whether it resulted from polluting our mouths by speaking slander about others, lies, or cynical and obscene speech, or through embarrassing others, or speaking against the true Tzaddikim, the fearers of G-d, or whether because we made vows and did not keep them, or because we spoke at length with women without any real need (especially during their times of “niddah” which transfers impurity unto a man), or whether we spilled our seed in vain because we said blessings in vain, or mentioned Names of G-d for no reason, or because we were careless in answering “Amen,” or because we were remiss in properly washing our hands in the morning and before eating our meals.
We have sinned before You by gluttonous eating, not for the sake of Heaven, and by eating non-kosher foods, and this has sometimes brought us to spill semen in vain. We have sinned before You by pampering ourselves with oversleeping, and with taking afternoon naps, not for health reasons, and by sleeping on our stomachs which brought about our polluting ourselves through spilling semen in vain.
We have sinned before You for not having served You with joy and a happy heart, but rather with laziness and depression, and we blemished our souls with worry and a bitter spirit which led to polluting ourselves by spilling our seed in vain. We have sinned before You by being in the company of scoffers and people who spoke lashon hara (evil speech), and we allowed our ears to hear all kinds of cynicism and slander and obscene talk, and yet we didn’t hurry to leave their company right away.
We have sinned before You by being arrogant and prideful, and lauded ourselves for our good deeds, and acted pompously and even lied to create a false impression, and by our arrogant behavior we clothed our bodies in a suit of impurity from the heels of our feet to the top of our heads, as if we had worshipped idols. We have sinned before You by speaking words of Torah and prayer not for the sake of Heaven, but for our personal honor or gain, and we adopted modes of saintly behavior that were not fitting to our station, and we revealed secrets of Torah to show off our learning and to people who were not fit to hear them.
We have sinned before You by trespassing on forbidden sexual relationships, and by hugging and kissing women forbidden to us even though we did not consummate relations with them, and by gazing upon women to enjoy their beauty, and by gazing on forbidden pictures and the like. We have sinned before You by being alone with a woman forbidden to us (yichud).
We have sinned before You by being in a place of licentiousness and immodest behavior or dress, by dancing with women, and by engaging in unnecessary conversations with them. We have sinned before You by purposefully arousing ourselves in all sorts of ways, (whether through fantasies, or gazing at erotica, or being amongst women unnecessarily, especially where women are immodestly dressed, like at parties or beaches.)
We have sinned before You by trespassing the laws of family purity and niddah (menstrual impurity), and violated what is written in the Torah, “A woman in her menstrual state of niddah, do not come close to her’ (Vayikra, 18:19), which caused us to bring upon ourselves a terrible spiritual impurity. We have sinned, we have transgressed, we have committed willful wrongdoings and excessively angered You with all kinds of abominable and immodest deeds that are too numerous to count, and thereby polluted all of our body, and this great impurity closed up our hearts and prevented us from experiencing the holiness of your blessed Name.
We ran after all kinds of lusts until we lost our heads and could not experience the joy of Torah learning and prayer, until all holy endeavors became foreign to our hearts and we lost the holy fire of serving You, for which we were created as a member of the holy Nation of Israel.
Father in heaven, where can we hide from our shame and disgrace? We are embarrassed to lift our faces to You, for we have acted traitorously in violating Your pleasant and holy Torah in order to chase after the fleeting and empty vanities of time and commit innumerable transgressions.
Master of the World, what can we say, and what can we speak, oy to us, and oy to our souls for we have rebelled against a King so great and holy as You. How can we merit to rectify such great and innumerable sins? And how can such base and lowly creatures hope to find favor in Your sight?
For we cannot even begin to fathom the depth of the blemish we caused, nor recall everything we need to amend, and know by what path and means our repentance can be attained. Even though You revealed to Your righteous and holy Tzaddikim many tikunim and fasts and self-afflictions, You know that we lack the strength to perform them all, not even a small portion of them, especially concerning the many fasts that our holy Rabbis have ordained – we do not have the strength to do them, for the long, oppressive exile has weakened us greatly, and our hearts have become totally sealed, and we know not what are our trespasses and how we can fix them.
And we barely have the strength to do two of the prescribed tikunim – to render our hearts broken and to shed tears from our eyes, which our Sages have revealed as being a great tikun (rectification) over this sin, as is written, “The sacrifices of G-d are a broken heart” (Tehillim, 51:19), and “Thou dost count my wanderings; put my tears into Thy bottle; are they not in Thy book. When I cry, my enemies shall turn back" (Tehillim 56:9).
Just as our hearts are broken in sorrow, may You shatter all of the power of impurity, and break all the strength of the kelipot and the evil agents that were brought into being through my spilling seed in vain. For each of our tears, may You extract many drops and sparks of holiness from the kelipot, and fulfill the verse, “He has swallowed down riches, and he shall vomit them up again; G-d shall cast them out of his belly (Iyov, 20:15), and return and elevate the holy sparks to their original source in holiness.
Even at a time when our hearts are numb and sealed, and we lack the strength to shed tears, may the voice of our cries be considered worthy before You, for You hear the voice of fervent supplication and see our broken and downtrodden hearts. Our Father in heaven, do not abandon and forsake us, rather allow us, in our lifetimes, to completely rectify our transgressions and the damage we caused, in this reincarnation and in previous ones. May we not have to undergo another reincarnation because of this sin, G-d forbid, and not be forever embarrassed and ashamed before You.
Help us and save us, for upon You we depend, and our eyes are lifted to You, for You are our Father, and our Master, and we are Your children and servants. And if we are not meritorious to deserve this, do it for the sake of Your holy Shechinah, which suffers anguish because of our fallen state, and do it for the sake of all penitents who have returned in complete repentance over this sin, and do it in the merit of all of the Tzaddikim who never committed this wrongdoing in their lives.
May we merit to be guardians of Your Brit, that we not evermore blemish the holy Brit in any way whatsoever, whether intentionally or unintentionally, willfully or through coercion. May we be included among all of your righteous Tzaddikim – have mercy on me and on all that is mine. For You are the Guardian of Israel. And remove the impurity from our clogged hearts, and the darkness from our eyes, that led us to commit these sins and blemishes, and open the eyes of our faculties of reason to see the truth, and to cleave to the truth, and to grasp Your exalted holiness, ourselves, and our children, and all those who we know, and all who assist us in serving You, and all of Your nation the House of Israel.
Grant us the strength to guard our minds from all kinds of impurity and pollution, and may our hearts be protected from all impure lusts and evil desires, G-d forbid. And may no forbidden visual fantasies enter our minds or hearts, nor any unholy cravings. And may this despicable lusting become repulsive to us, so that it be far from our hearts.
And help us safeguard our eyes not to look at any forbidden sights. And if such a chance image comes our way, grant us the strength to immediately turn away and not think about it at all, so that our souls not be damaged. And help us to sanctify ourselves even in the things that are permitted to us, in all areas of our lives.
May we guard our mouths from idle speech, especially from speaking about immodest matters that cause a person to think about sin. And may we guard over our ears not to hear and accept evil speech about others. And may we not indulge in excessive sleep, more than is needed for our health.
Guard us from depression and worry that we may be always joyful in Your service, so that we not be drawn toward the sins that blemish the holy Brit, G-d forbid. May we merit to learn Torah for its own sake, and may our learning accompany us to sleep at night. May we be always on guard against sin and be masters of self-appraisal, so that our every day and night be filled with repentance, vidui, embarrassment, and remorse over our sins.
Father in Heaven, it is revealed and known before Your honored throne the great extent to which the forces of evil have proliferated in this generation, so much so that we do not have the power to battle against them. Also, who can measure the breaches of modesty that surround us wherever we turn? And the terrible brazenness of the purveyors of evil in all of their forms, so that one can hardly walk a few paces with cleanliness of thought?
You are aware of this situation, and certainly You are not unjustly unfair with Your Creation, and You know the pain and suffering of our hearts, for truly we lack the strength to guard ourselves, and our thoughts, and our bodies, from sinning against You. Therefore, Master of mercy, and Master of kindness, Who is even compassionate with total sinners, You have established the way of repentance from the very beginning of Creation for all time, for You will not turn penitents away, and You desire the repentance of evildoers, as is written, “Return, return from your evil ways, O House of Israel (Yechezkiel, 33:11).
Therefore, we fall down and beseech You, that You have mercy on us and on our souls, and on the sparks of the Shechinah that pulsate within us, and pardon us for every blemish we made by our sins over the holy Brit, in all of our reincarnations, [if a blemish occurred the same day, G-d forbid, say here: especially the blemish that occurred this day/night through my many sins].
And pardon us with Your very great mercy for all of the transgressions, and for the sealing of our minds, and confused thoughts, and lack of heavenly fear and love, and lack of faith and trust, that resulted from our sins. Over everything, pardon and forgive us, and vanquish and smash the forces of evil and the kelipot, that they not overcome us and bring us to evil thoughts and fantasies, G-d forbid.
May we merit to sanctify and cleanse ourselves properly in Your holiness in all of our organs and limbs, especially our eyes, specifically in not gazing beyond four cubits when we walk in the street and public places. And guard us from arrogantly walking with upright postures and prideful spirits, as if we are the masters of the world. Rather let us be lowly in spirit at all times, and disgraceful in our own eyes, not boastful over our good deeds, but rather always with a feeling of shame over the paucity of our Divine service and achievement, always embarrassed over the transgressions that we committed, that the fear and reverence of You be always upon our faces, that we never sin before You again.
And save us from neglecting Your Torah, even for a moment. And keep us away from people who would prevent us from studying Your Torah and from worshiping You. Save us from bad friends and evil neighbors. Instead, may we always cleave to righteous Tzaddikim and to friends who possess a true fear of G-d.
Our Father in heaven, though we be on the lowest and worthless of levels, we have not despaired of Your salvation, and we look to You with trusting hearts, believing that You are there for us at every time and every place, even though You be hidden. You will certainly have pity and mercy on us, even in our dark and bitter exile, even in the depths of our descent. In the merit of our faith and trust, rescue our spirits and souls from our oppressive sea of exile and from the kelipot, and open for us the gates of repentance, and grant us an influx of holy knowledge to constantly meditate on Your greatness and love and reverence, that we be ever ready to sacrifice our hearts and souls and all of our means in Your service because of Your holiness and love.
Help us to be attached to You with a great faith and trust, that there never rise in our hearts any doubts regarding our faith in You, G-d forbid, and no doubts regarding the Tzaddikim, Your servants, and no doubts regarding the words of Your holy Torah and commandments, whether they be from the Torah itself or from the enactments of the Rabbis, the revealed and secret alike. May we merit to perform all of the tikunim/rectifications of the Brit that the Tzaddikim have revealed to us, and for those remedies that we lack the power to fulfill, may it be in Your eyes as if we have performed them in all of their completeness.
And may You compel the kelipot and evil forces to release all of the holy drops of seed from their innards, so that the sparks of holiness rise up to the place of their holy roots, and then return to the faculty of holiness in our minds, that we may serve You in reverence. May the kelipot and evil forces that came into being through the life force of the drops of seed that we spilled in vain be stripped of their power and have no dominance whatsoever and no affect on us at all, from now and evermore, neither in this life, may it be prolonged in years, nor in the next.
Let these evil agents have no power to confuse our minds in order to lead us astray, G-d forbid, whether unwillingly or willingly, with or without coercion. Eradicate, uproot, and nullify all of the evil bodies and the evil machinations and doings that were brought in being by the holy drops of seed that I spilled in vain, and those of all the Nation of Israel, whether willfully or not willfully, whether they were cause by sight, hearing, thoughts, speech, or deeds.
Over everything, pardon and forgive us and grant us atonement. And may we merit to make perfect penitence before You, and to help others make repentance, by kindling flames of love for You in their hearts. Father in heaven, King of unending mercy and Master of forgiveness, we ask and beg of You to grant us mercy. May we find favor and appeasement before You, and may our poor and meager words appear before You as if we offered abundant supplications and eloquent penitential prayers.
For it is known and revealed before You the smallness of our achievement, and the paucity of our worth, the lack of our wit, the lowliness of our station, and the poorness of our deeds; and You know how sealed our hearts are and see how unable we are to pour out our pleas to win Your Divine favor. It is only because of Your towering compassion that You recognize the desire of our inner hearts to let us find favor in Your presence, and to do Thy will, and to serve You with a perfect heart, for it is the leaven in the dough (the evil inclination) that has prevented us from serving You, and the depths of the exile.
Take note how our hearts are shattered into pieces, and may the attribute of mercy rise up before You, and have pity and compassion upon us and upon the sparks of the Shechinah that adorn our beings. Forgive us for the sins of our youth and for our transgressions, as King David requested, “Don’t recall the sins and transgressions of my youth” (Tehillim, 25:7).
In Your abundant mercy, rectify and cleanse all of the holy worlds and places that we blemished. Renew our strength in Your service, wake us from our heavy slumber, and from our thick darkness that surrounds us. Grant us joy in Your salvation, and with a generous spirit make us stand anew, and gladden us with the ever-increasing joy of the appearance of the light of Your brilliant holy Shechinah upon us, and the pleasantness of Your holiness and Your sweet remembrance, for our souls desire and long for the closeness of Your Name upon us, for Your Name and Your remembrance are the longings of our soul.
May we merit to serve You according to Your will, and may our love for You not depart from our hearts even for a moment, for the rest of our lives. Our Father, Master of mercy, may the stirrings of our hearts, and their sparks of repentance, ascend like the pleasing aroma of sacrifices and find favor before You, and may it be considered before You as if we were united with You all of our lives.
In the abundance of Your kindness and mercy, plant the holy Shechinah between us, and rescue us and all of Your nation, the House of Israel, from all sorts of harsh and evil decrees, and from all evil mishaps, and from the trials of making a living, so that the tribulations of the hour don’t separate and distance us from Your holy Torah and Your service and holy commandments, that are so dear and sweet to us.
May we increase valor and might in Your fear and Your service, so that we not succumb to and be seduced by our evil inclination which constantly tries to deceive us and trap us in its web, Heaven forbid. And grant us the strength and wisdom to rectify and fulfill the purpose of our coming into this world, and to complete and rectify everything that we lacked from previous reincarnations, so that we not be embarrassed before You.
Father in heaven, Master of mercy, have compassion on the outcast souls of Your nation Israel that are stranded in tribulation and captivity amongst the forces of evil in the far corners of the earth, handed over to and imprisoned by the kelipot, without the power to ascend from the depths. They are in great anguish - exiled, oppressed, beaten, tortured; they cry out and there is no one to save them. And our sins caused all of this.
Look and see the terrible pain of the holy Shechinah, and the depth of Her descent and anguish, for She sits in the dust because of our sins, and She suffers over the outcast souls, and who can describe even a tiny fragment of the immeasurable anguish that She feels? Woe to us and woe to our souls that we brought all of this about.
For if we were to correct our ways, the Shechinah would be redeemed and lifted out of her exile, but rather, we add to Her anguish and pain due to our sins, especially by our transgressions to the holy Brit, which is worse than all other sins and causes the elongation of the exile, and the kidnapping of souls by the forces of evil, causing them terrible oppression.
Woe are we – how can we lift up our faces? How can we not throw ourselves down in the dust and weep day and night over what we brought about through our many sins? And who can imagine the terrible sorrow of our righteous Mashiach who suffers for our sins and who is oppressed by our transgressions, sick and stricken in agony, with his body covered with bruises, and he awaits and longs for our repentance and the improvement of our ways, that we have compassion on him and comfort him?
And who can describe the incredible pain of our holy Forefathers, and the anguish of all of the Heavenly souls who mourn over the pain of the Shechinah, and the pain of our righteous Mashiach, and over the anguish of the outcast souls?
Father in heaven, have mercy quickly on these downtrodden souls. Do it for the sake of the holy Shechinah, in the merit of our holy Forefathers, and for the sake of their children, the holy Tzaddikim who sacrificed their lives before You in every generation – release the outcast souls from their imprisonment and captivity, and elevate them to their source and comfort. And if we lack the strength to elevate these souls, You do it for the sake of Your Great Name that is called upon us, for this is the cause of the exile and the reason for its continuation, and the redemption of our souls depends upon this.
Look upon our oppression and lowliness, and look upon the hundreds and thousands of years that we have been persecuted by all sorts of cruel afflictions and tribulations, wherein our blood was spilled like water in the sanctification of Your Name, and we were reduced to indescribable degradation and shame under the yoke of our oppressors – slaves ruled over us, and there was no deliverance from their grasp.
Father in heaven, when will the end come to all of our tribulations? How much longer will You allow Your anger to continue, and suffer the great evil of the evildoers who afflict us? For You suffer over our sufferings, as it is written, “In all of their sorrow, He has sorrow” (Yishayahu, 63:9). We beg of you, have pity and compassion on Your holy sons, the offspring of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Yaacov, and remember, on our behalf, all of the holy Tzaddikim and saintly ones who sacrificed their lives and souls and all of their possessions to sanctify Thy Name.
Gather our outcasts from the far corners of the earth to our Land, and blow the great shofar of our freedom, and raise the banner to gather our exiles, and may our eyes soon behold the return of Your Presence to Zion in mercy, for there we will serve You in faith, in joy, in reverence, and in love, like in the days of yore and for all time to come.
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable before You, my Rock and my Salvation. Blessed be Hashem forever, Amen and Amen.
[After the prayer, it is proper to say this:] Behold, I believe with a perfect belief that the Holy One Blessed Be He will certainly accept my penitence, even though I committed many sins against Him, for He is the Master of goodness and the Master of loving kindness and the Master of mercy, and His right hand is stretched out to accept all who return to Him, and He is the One who graciously pardons, and the One who is magnanimous in forgiveness.
Tikun for an Accidental Nocturnal Emission of Seed
(From the book, “Taharat HaKodesh” by Rabbi Aharon Rota) The following Tikun (rectification) is most effective when performed on the same day:
[If you are unable to do all of these Tikunim, don’t be discouraged. Whatever you can perform, do it with all of your strength. Also, be careful not to be depressed, or to become angry or bitter, for this only re-strengthens the evil inclination, G-d forbid.]
|Last Updated ( Monday, 16 December 2013 )|
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