Tzetel Katon

1. At any time when one is free from learning Torah. Especially when he has nothing to do and he is sitting alone in his room. Or he is lying on his bed, and he is not able to sleep. He should have in mind the mitzvah of 'And I shall be made holy among the children of Israel.' [This is the mitzvah of Kiddush HaShem: to sanctify HaShem's holy name, even if it means giving up one's life.] He should feel in his soul, and imagine in his thoughts as if a great fire was burning before him reaching until heaven. Because of his desire to sanctify HaShem's name, he breaks his natural inclinations [for life] and throws himself into the fire to sanctify HaShem's name. And from this good thought, HaShem will consider it as if he had physically done the act. This way he is not lying or sitting doing nothing. He is fulfilling a positive mitzvah of the Torah.
2. In the first verse of the Shema*, and the first blessing of the Shemonah Esra* he should have in mind as above [in paragraph 1.] He should also have in mind that should all the nations of the world afflict him with horrible afflictions. If they should rip the skin from his body in order to make him deny His oneness (G-d forbid.) He would be willing to bear all the suffering and not agree to them (G-d forbid.) He should imagine with his understanding and thoughts that they are doing this to him (as above.) With this he will have fulfilled the requirements of the Shema and prayer according to the law.
3. Also when you are eating and when having marital relations you should have in mind as I wrote above. [Paragraph 1 and 2.] When you begin to feel the physical pleasure you should picture in your mind as above. Immediately you should say with your mouth and your heart: 'I would rather have the joy and happiness that comes from doing the mitzvah of sanctifying the name of HaShem in the above method, then to feel physical pleasure.' And he should say that a proof to this, that he would rather have the joy and happiness that comes from doing the mitzvah of sanctifying the name of HaShem in the above method, is that even were murderers to take me while I was in the middle of eating or marital relations. To do to me all those tortures. I would be happy within myself that I was sanctifying the name of HaShem. More then with those physical pleasures. He should also be careful that he is saying this truthfully in his heart. And it should be done in the middle of his actions. And it should be engraved on his heart, in the depths of his heart with a complete truth. He should not fool himself and be one who tries to fool HaShem.
4. In everything that he does in this world. Whether Torah or prayer or doing mitzvos he should make himself accustomed to saying, 'Behold I do this act in order to unify the name of HaShem and to give enjoyment to the Creator, Blessed is He.' He should accustom himself to do this for a while, from the depths of his heart. And with time he will feel a great light when he says this.
5. When a person begins to see that a bad midah* is arising in him, from one of the bad midos that he is has. Like stubbornness, or shame that comes from haughtiness. Laziness, or idleness that brings a person to dullness of thought. Or any others like this. He should immediately say with all of his strength, 'HaKanani, HaChiti, HuEmori, HaParizi, HaChivi, HaYavusi, v'HaGirgushi.' Then he will be rescued [from this bad midah.] He should accustom himself to minimize his range of vision so that he will not look outside of his own 4 amos* (8 feet.) [This is true] even in his own house and more so in Shul* and in the room where he learns. When he goes outside, and when a women appears before him, even his own wife and young children etc. He should [at this time] imagine before his eyes the name of G-d, 'aleph dalit*.'
6. If he will have some bad thoughts that he is forbidden to have he should say many times [the verse] 'You should watch yourself from all evil.' And he should have in mind the teaching of Chazal who teach that a man should not have thoughts by day that will bring him to have an emission at night. He should not allow these thoughts to remain with him, so that they will make the mind that HaShem has given to him impure.
7. When he should come upon something that is a sin for him to see like animals or birds having relations. Or a women who is uncovered where it is forbidden for her to be uncovered. Or he should see his wife who is unclean at that time. He should say immediately, 'You should not go after your heart.' He should be careful not to make his thoughts impure.
8. You should accustom yourself not to speak to any person unless you have a great need for it. And even if there is a need for it, you should be careful in your words. You should weigh them in a scale to insure that there is no falsehood in them. Nor should there be any flattery, Loshon HaRah*, tale bearing or any words that embarrass the other person. One should not reveal his [good] deeds to others. He should make himself accustomed to what Chazal teach: 'One should teach himself to say "I do not know."' If he should be in a conversation with those who are not careful to refrain from speaking frivolous matters. He should remove himself from the conversation, in any way possible. And if he cannot, he should make the shortest answers possible to them when he has to answer them.
9. He should accustom himself that immediately when he stirs from his sleep he should say, [Modeh Ani...] 'I am thankful before you, Living and Eternal King. Who has returned to me my soul with compassion, great is your faithfulness.' He should [then] say with a joyful heart, even in Yiddish [i.e. the language he usually speaks] 'Blessed is the Exalted G-d who has given to me this mitzvah of tzitzis* that I am surrounded with. And the Mitzvah of washing ones hands in the morning to remove the impurity from my two hands.' He should see to it that he is filled with joy when he says this. He should then accept upon himself to minimize his speech as I mentioned in paragraph 8.
10. He should be careful to learn with diligence his set regiment of studies immediately when he rises in the morning from his sleep and after saying Tikkun Chatzos*. This Tzetel Katon should not be removed [from his thought] when learning from a sefer, even for a short time. Every time he sits to learn, he should say the Tephilos Hashiv*, that starts 'Please HaShem...' and the prayer regarding learning Torah that is in Shaarei Tzion* which starts: 'I desire to learn.' He should see to it, with all of his strength, that he should not interrupt himself even with thoughts of things other then what he is learning, or with the thoughts of this tzetel katon, which should be before him at all times. The holy light that is in it will return him to the good [way if he should stray.]
11. He should accustom himself to pray with all of his strength with a loud voice, which will aid him in having Kavanah*. He should unite his thoughts to the words [and should not think of things other then what he is praying.] He should face the wall and look into his siddur* during the morning and evening prayer. He should not look to the side from the time when he starts his prayers until the end. When the Baal Tephilah* is repeating out loud the Shemonah Esra* he should look into his siddur, so that he could answer Amen with all of his strength for each and every Bracha. When they are reading the Torah he should pay careful attention to hear each and every word that the reader says just as if he were reading from the Megillah*. He should make himself to be dumb [unable to speak] the whole time he is in the Beis HaKnesses. [This is the case] even before the prayers and after them until he leaves.
12. He should always imagine in his mind, and especially when he is reading this Tzetel Katon, that a person is standing before him. He is near him shouting at him to follow all of the words that are written in it. He should not ignore a single word. Even of the smallest of things. If he accustoms himself to this for a long time it will cause him to have a great inspiration, from his nashama. [He will feel] sparks of fire and a holy G-dly flame.
13. One should relate before ones teacher, who instructs him in the way of HaShem, or even before a good friend, all of one's thoughts that are contrary to the Holy Torah that the Yetzer HaRah causes to arise in his mind or heart. [This is the case whether they occur] when he is learning Torah, or praying. Sitting in his bed or during the day. And he should not withhold anything because of shame. He will find that by relating these things he will gain the power to break the strength of the Yetzer HaRah so that it will no longer be able to overcome him another time. This excludes the good advice you will receive from your friend, which is the way of HaShem. This is a wonderful remedy.
14. You should be very careful to review twice a day this Tzetel Katon. And you should explain each and every word in the Yiddish language. [i.e. the language you commonly speak] It should be for you a decree that you will never violate to learn before marital relations the 16th chapter of the sefer Reishis Chochmah, and the customs of the Arizal*. If you have more time you should also learn the 17th chapter of Reishis Chochmah. This should be a decree that you should not violate.
15. Before you wash your hands to eat, you should say the Tephilos HaShuv of Rabbeinu Yonah Z'L*. After you have eaten a little of the bread you should say, 'I am eating in order to unify the Holy One Blessed is He and his Shechina. I am not eating in order to bring enjoyment to my body (G-d forbid.) It is only that my body should be healthy and strong for the service of HaShem. Neither sin, transgression, evil thoughts or desires for things of this physical world should hold back the unification that comes about from the sparks of holiness from this food and drink.' He should have in mind when he is eating or drinking that the taste that he has in his mouth when chewing, or swallowing is really from the inner holiness, and the holy sparks that are in that food and drink. Through his eating, and chewing with his teeth, and his stomach he separates the holiness from the food, so that it should not go to the 'Outside.' Then his soul will have nourishment from the inner holiness [of the food] and the leftover waste will be expelled from him. For this reason as soon as he feels the need to relieve himself, he should not allow this waste to remain with him to cause his thoughts to become impure, and his soul to become disgusting. He should not allow this to remain in him for even the smallest amount of time. He should also when eating have before him the letters 'mem' 'aleph' 'chof' 'lamid' [The word machal - food], which is the gematria of 91. The same as the two names 'HaShem' and 'Adnus.'
16. A person was only created in order to break his nature. Therefore he should spur himself to correct his midos*. Specifically when he is 18. As I have explained, one who is born with the nature to be stubborn, should break this nature for 40 days one after another. He should specifically do the opposite from what he had in mind to do. The same is if one is lazy. He should train himself for 40 days to do everything swiftly. Whether he is going to sleep, or rising in the morning from his bed. He should quickly dress himself, wash his hands, purify his body and speedily go to the Beis HaKnesses after he has finished learning in a sefer. Similarly someone who is shy, from a shyness that is bad. He should train himself 40 days to pray with a loud voice, with all his strength, and with all his limbs in order to fulfil the verse, 'All my bones say...' And he should say the blessing over the Torah with a loud voice. [All this] he should do until from Heaven they will help him and remove this evil shyness that is in him. The same is with the one who does not clearly say his words. He should train himself for 40 days to listen carefully to the words he says. [This is the case] whether speaking common things or words of prayer or when he is learning Torah. The reason for this is that one is ruled over by those things he is used to do. The same is with the person who does not learn diligently. He should train himself for 40 days to learn more then he is used to learning. Every time before he learns he should look at this Tzetel Katon. From this time on he will be helped from heaven and he will add to his service and break his bad midos until he attains perfection.
17. Whenever he has free time from learning Torah, or prayer he should teach himself to say by heart those things that he needs to know. For example Tikkun Rachel and Tikkun Leah, Tephilos HaShuv, the blessing for the new moon, Baruch Shemei, etc. [Also] he should have in mind the positive mitzvah* to sanctify HaShem's name as I wrote above [in paragraph 1] * * * Glossary: aleph dalit: Two letters of one of the names of G-d, spelled Aleph Dalit Nun Yod. It is customary not to say these names. Arizal: Hebrew initials of the words: Adoni Rabbenu Yitzchok Zechorono LeVaracha our master Rabbi Yitzchok. Better known as Yitzchok Luria the great 16th century Kabbalist Kavanah(Kavanos): Hebrew word for 'intention'. midah(midos): A character trait, either good or bad. mitzvah(mitzvos): One of the commandments of the Torah. Shaarei Tzion: A sefer with various prayers which is popular among Chasidim. Shema: Main Jewish prayer of the confession of faith. Contains 3 parshas. Devorim 6.5-9; 11.13-21 and Bamidbar 15.37-41 Shemonah Esra: Lit. 18. refers to the 18 blessings of the main prayer said three times a day. tzitzis: Strands that hang from the corners of a talis Z'L: Hebrew initials of the words: Zechorono LeVaracha (His memory is a blessing.) ******************************************************************* Copyright (c) 1997 by Moshe Shulman ( All rights reserved. Issur Hasugas Givil