QUESTION 1: In the series on Hisbodedus, the Rav recommends several ways to calm the soul, mainly through smelling an item of a mitzvah such as besamim, and deep breathing, and hearing a deep niggun from a pure source. Is this advice only an avodah to begin Hisbodedus, or may it be practiced outside of Hisbodedus as well, such as when a person simply wants to calm his soul from any anxiety or pain that comes from the external aspects of life? Or is this dangerous, since it may cause a person to run away into a fantasy? Especially music, because I find that when I listen to music, I feel as if I am running away from reality and entering into fantasy.
ANSWER: These methods can be used [outside of hisbodedus], but make sure that you stay balanced between reality and fantasy.
QUESTION 2: I have seen that it is brought in the name of the Raava”d that a person can appease his evil inclination and physical desires through three different ways of calming the body – either through listening to a pleasant tune, or through immersing the body in hot water, or through smelling something deeply that is pleasantly scented. Through this, the body is calmed. Does this calm only the animal level of the soul, or does it need to be practiced together with a more spiritual kind of avodah ? Also, in relation to the above question, is this advice of the Raava”d meant to be practiced every day as well, so that one should deliberately accustom himself to these practices, in order that he will be saved from desires for the forbidden? Or is the advice of the Raava”d only meant to be employed when a person feels that his physical desires are overpowering him?
ANSWER: It is a beginning for spiritual avodah. Every time a person feels that his soul is in pain or weighing upon him, and the like, he may employ such methods. However one must be careful not to become pulled after the body when it is more than necessary.
QUESTION 4: According to one the above methods of the Raava”d, that bathing the body in hot water is helpful to the soul (I assume that this means that it calms the animal level of the soul), can this also be done before hisbodedus, as a beginning stage for hisbodedus, which is to calm the senses? Similarly, is immersing in a hot mikveh a way to calm the soul and prepare properly for hisbodedus?
AnswerThe above questions and answers were on the same topic so we displayed them as above. For in-depth analysis see here: Prepping Hisbodedus