The power of prayer for spiritual renewal and personal transformation is at the core of all religious traditions. Because Hasidic literature contains no systematic manual of contemplative prayer, the texts included in this volume have been culled from many sources. From the teachings of the Hasidic Masters—the Ba’al Shem Tov, the Maggid Dov Baer of Meidzyrzec, and their immediate disciples—the editors have gleaned “hints as to the various rungs of inner prayer and how they are attained.”
Hasidism, the Jewish revivalist movement that began in the late eighteenth century, saw prayer as being at the heart of religious experience and was particularly concerned with the nature of a person’s relationship with God. The obstacles to prayer discussed by the Hasidic masters—distraction, loss of spirituality, and inconstancy of purpose—feel very close to concerns of our own age. Through advice, parables, and explanations, the Hasidic masters of the past speak to our own attempts to find meaning in prayer.