The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 

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With your lips

It is both the traditional custom and requirement that study and prayer are done with the lips and breath, not just the eyes. The following teaching from Tanya is one explanation for why actually embodying the words one studies and prays is so crucial. You can study many other examples of Hasidic texts that make this point in the collection Your Word Is Fire. A word of advice to all prayer leaders and gabbayim: NEVER SAY "Pray silently." Always say instead, "Pray quietly" or "Pray individually", etc.

One does not fulfill one's duty [to study and pray] by meditation and deliberation alone, until one expresses the words with one's lips, in order to draw the light of Eyn Sof, the Infinite One, blessed be, down to the living force of the nefesh that dwells in [the physical] human blood, which comes from all the silent, growing, moving creatures [i.e. rock, plant, animal - everything which one encounters, especially whatever one eats].

[This light is drawn down] in order to raise [all these creatures] to God, along with the whole entire world, and to include them in God's unity and God's light which "illumines the land and all that dwell on her".

For this is the purpose of the hishtal'sh'lut - evolution, entwining - of all the worlds, that the glory of God fill all the earth. And this is the purpose of human intention itself: to draw the light of the Infinite Eyn Sof blessed be down below.

Tanya, p.261

Comment: I grew up in an old-school Reform synagogue in which the Amidah (a.k.a. "silent prayer") referred to the three minutes following an operatic Kedushah during which most folks stood around looking uncomfortable. During that time we were supposed to read "silently" (meaning with our eyes only) the very abbreviated version of the prayers, or reflect upon "whatever meditation the heart may prompt". From what I saw as a ten year-old, it did not occur to anyone to actually mouth words or even to act prayerful during that time. The antidote is the physical act, the commitment of one's body, which makes all the difference between establishing a deep connection and just going through the motions.



Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006