the 3 levels of the Noam Elimelech

according to the Noam Elimelech, there are three levels in the service of HaShem:
  1. תורה צוה לנו משה - we have to learn even if it's not l'shmah.
  2. מורשה - learning l'shmah, to raise up the nitzotzot of kedushah to their source, so that all of our actions are focused on serving God.
  3. קהילת יעקב - the tzaddik whose whole being is cleaving to God, and he brings life and bracha to klal Yisrael, and actually is makhil bnei yisrael as they gather shelter under his shade. (Interesting analogy as a tree creates comfortable shade on a fine sunny day--and we know a tzaddik is likened to a tree.)
I think these levels are there in tefillah to:
  1. First you return to the daily grind of davening because that is what you are commanded. (Psukei D'Zimrah)
  2. Then you start to bring kavanah into your davening, having intent to connect to HaShem and not just say the words. (Shema & its brachot)
  3. Finally you lose yourself in the experience of prayer (amidah)
Of course, this isn't how it happens for everyone every day, but I think it's the goal and it's possible. Of course, there are both higher and lower levels of tefillah.


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