Chovot Ha-l’vavot / Obligations of the Heart

From Reb Zalman’s book, Integral Halachah: Transcending and Including, available from Aleph

“Really important in Psycho-Halachic work is to keep in mind Reb Ahrele Roth’s, a”h, 32 mitzvot hat’luyot b’lev / 32 obligations that depend on the heart for fulfillment.  They are mitzvahs one strives to do continually, in every moment. 

“Years ago I would give my friends a little bell to hang in the car as a help in this practice.  Each time they heard the bell when the car went over a bump in the road, the bell was to remind them:  ‘Nu?  Think of one of these mitzvahs.’  E.g., Aha!  I love You G-d!  You are One!  I respect You!  I place my faith and my trust in You!  I ask You to help me live a good life!  I called it the Nu-bell – a pun, like Nu-bell prize.  I would say that if holila v’chas / God forbid I’d have to die in an automobile accident, then I would hear the bell and instead of going out, ‘Oh sh..,’ I’d go out saying, e.g., ‘Echad, Yachid um’yuchad’ / ‘One, only one, altogether one.’

“These are the kinds of affirmations we can make. The whole point is to accommodate one’s mind so that an awareness of G-d is always in the background whatever we’re doing, and to keep these installed in the background.”

Here are the 32 affirmations of Reb Ahrele Roth as it appears in Reb Zalman’s “An English Siddur for Weekday,” available from Aleph.

Reb Ahrele Roth, a”h, wrote a list of 32 mitzvot whose fulfillment is completed in the brain, the heart and the mouth.

A good preparation and a bridge for the shema and its blessings section of the shacharit service as you enter into the world of B’ri’ah is Reb Ahrele Roth’s list of Mitzvot one can do with consciousness alone. 

The Hebrew alphabetical equivalent of 32 is ל”ב, the letters of which spell the Hebrew word, lev / heart.

O my Creator!

May Your Name be praised:

With my mouth, brain and heart prepared, I am ready to fulfill Your mitzvot.  You who shape me:

  1. Faith I place in You.
  2. Oneness I affirm in You.
  3. I am mindful of You.
  4. I focus on Your vast Greatness,
  5. and focus on my insignificance.
  6. Thus do I turn back to You in teshuvah,
  7. and am bashful in Your Presence.
  8. I am awed by You,
  9. and love You.
  10. I accept the authority of your mitzvot,
  11. find my joy in You,
  12. and place my trust in You.
  13. I deny all false gods and those in their service; I reject unfit thoughts that rise in my heart.
  14. I give You my thanks,
  15. and aim to hold You sacred.
  16. I remember Jerusalem, Your House of Prayer for all peoples,
  17. and look out to You, to redeem us and free our souls.
  18. Amalek, I will blot out,
  19. by loving my neighbor as myself,
  20. and adhering to You, in devekut,
  21. walking in Your ways.
  22. Thus, will I make in me a Holy Space for You to be at home in.
  23. I long for Your intimacy and love,
  24. and am energized to find you empowering my heart.
  25. I affirm that Your actions are just,
  26. and am mindful that You redeem us from Mitzrayim.
  27. Therefore, I will not welcome in my awareness, thought that opposes faith in Your/our service and in Your Torah.
  28. I will not yield to pride.
  29. I will not hate any fellow Godwrestler in my heart,
  30. and I will give up all vindictiveness, not consider my self flawless,
  31. but remember that I caused You displeasure.
  32. With all these, I intend not to forget Your presence in my life.


Thus, may You be pleased, O Supernal Parent, that by the merit and the power of my making mention of these Mitzvot with my mouth, there be stimulated the energy of these Mitzvot in their supernal root, to draw down to me, that High Holy flow that will shield my thoughts, my voice and my words, from all damage, all taint, all dross and dirt.  And there be drawn to me a flow that will make pure my thoughts and heart, my voice and words.  May all of them be surrendered to You, Praised One, to the end that I may merit to be connected to You, in d’vekut and love.  And to attain the fulfillment of Your mitzvah to cleave to You.  Thus will I be privileged to be an instrument of Your will, a vehicle for the the blessed Shechinah of Your Glory.

Thus will the light in my soul not darken, nor will Your Divine spark be extinguished in me, from now on and forever.

Amen!  May this be Your will.

3 Responses to “Chovot Ha-l’vavot / Obligations of the Heart”

  1. Rachel Says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for putting this out onto the web and into the world.

  2. rabbialan Says:

    This remarkable material is further evidence of Reb Zalman’s unique place among the great Jewish spiritual teachers in this (or any other) generation. You simply cannot find this kind of Torah, translated and interpreted in contemporary English, anywhere else in the world. Once again Reb Zalman. the founder of contemporary Neo-Hasidism, proves himself to be the greatest living exponent of the tradition of the Baal Shem Tov.

  3. How the Psycho-Halachic Process is Like Halachah - Interfaith forums Says:

    This thread has been dead but I thought I’d revive it because Reb Zalman just released a new book: Integral Halachah: Transcending and Including: Books: Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Rabbi Daniel Siegel, and I saw an entry on the Reb Zalman Legacy Project blog that had an excerpt here.

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