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Nachman of Breslov
Breslover Rebbe
Nahmantomb.JPG
Grave of Nachman of Breslov
Full name Nachman of Breslov
Main work Likutey Moharan
Born 4 April 1772 (Rosh Chodesh Nisan 5532)
Medzhybizh, Ukraine
Died 16 October 1810 (18 Tishrei 5571)
Uman, Ukraine
Buried Uman, Ukraine
Dynasty Breslov
Predecessor none
Successor none
Father Simcha
Mother Feiga
Wife1 Sashia, daughter of Rabbi Ephraim of Ossatin
Issue1 Adil
Sarah
Feiga
Chaya
Miriam
daughter (died in infancy)
Yaakov
Shlomo Ephraim
Wife 2 name unknown
For the amora, see Rav Nachman of Nehardea.

Nachman of Breslov (Hebrew: נחמן מברסלב‎), also known as Reb Nachman of Bratslav, Reb Nachman Breslover (Yiddish: רב נחמן ברעסלאווער), Nachman from Uman (April 4, 1772 – October 16, 1810), was the founder of the Breslov Hasidic dynasty.

Rebbe Nachman, a great grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, breathed new life into the Hasidic movement by combining the esoteric secrets of Judaism (the Kabbalah) with in-depth Torah scholarship. He attracted thousands of followers during his lifetime and his influence continues until today.[1] Rebbe Nachman's religious philosophy revolved around closeness to God and speaking to God in normal conversation "as you would with a best friend." The concept of hitbodedut is central to his thinking.[2]

Contents

Biography

Rebbe Nachman was born in the town of Medzhybizh in the Ukraine. His mother, Feiga, was the daughter of Adil (also spelled Udel), daughter of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidic Judaism. His father Simcha was the son of Rabbi Nachman of Horodenka (Gorodenka), one of the Baal Shem Tov's disciples, after whom Rebbe Nachman was named. Rebbe Nachman had two brothers, Yechiel Zvi and Yisroel Mes, and a sister, Perel.[3]

Rebbe Nachman told his disciples that as a small child, he eschewed the pleasures of this world and set his sights on spirituality.[4] He paid his melamed (teacher) three extra coins for every page of Talmud that he taught him, beyond the fee that his father was paying the teacher, to encourage the teacher to cover more material.[5] From the age of six, he would go out at night to pray at the grave of his great-grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov, and immerse in the mikveh afterward.[6]

At the age of 13, he married Sashia, daughter of Rabbi Ephraim, and moved to his father-in-law's house in Ossatin (Staraya Osota today). He acquired his first disciple on his wedding day, a young man named Shimon who was several years older than he.[7] He continued to teach and attract new followers in the Medvedevka region in the years that followed.

In 1798-1799 he traveled to the Land of Israel, where he was received with honor by the Hasidim living in Haifa, Tiberias, and Safed. In Tiberias, his influence brought about a reconciliation between the Lithuanian and Volhynian Hasidim.[8]

Shortly before Rosh Hashana 1800, Rebbe Nachman moved to the town of Zlatopol. The townspeople invited him to have the final word on who would lead the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayer services. The man chosen to lead Neilah, the final prayer service of Yom Kippur, did not meet the Rebbe's approval. Suddenly the man was struck dumb and forced to step down, to his great embarrassment. After the fast ended, Rebbe Nachman spoke in a light-hearted way about what the man's true intentions had been, and the man was so incensed that he denounced Rebbe Nachman to Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Shpola, known as the "Shpoler Zeide", a prominent Hasidic rabbi and early disciple of Rabbi Pinchas of Koritz, who was a leading figure in the first generation of Hasidut. Thus began the Shpoler Zeide's vehement campaign against Breslov Hasidism.[9]

In 1802, Rebbe Nachman moved to the town of Bratslav, Ukraine, also known as "Breslov". Here he declared, "Today we have planted the name of the Breslover Hasidim. This name will never disappear, because my followers will always be called after the town of Breslov."[10]

His move brought him into contact with Nathan of Breslov ("Reb Noson"), a 22-year-old Torah scholar in the nearby town of Nemirov, eight miles north of Breslov. Over the next eight years, Reb Noson became his foremost disciple and scribe, recording all of Rebbe Nachman's formal lessons as well as transcribing the Rebbe's magnum opus, Likutey Moharan. After Rebbe Nachman's death, Reb Noson recorded all the informal conversations he and other disciples had had with the Rebbe, and published all of Rebbe Nachman's works as well as his own commentaries on them.

Rebbe Nachman and Sashia had six daughters and two sons. Two daughters died in infancy and the two sons (Ya'akov and Shlomo Efraim) both died within a year and a half of their births. Their surviving children were Adil, Sarah, Miriam, and Chayah.[11] Sashia died of tuberculosis on June 11, 1807, the eve of Shavuot, and was buried in Zaslov just before the festival began.[12] The following month, Rebbe Nachman became engaged to a woman from Brody (name unknown). Right after the engagement, he contracted tuberculosis.[13]

In May 1810, a fire broke out in Bratslav, destroying Rebbe Nachman's home. A group of maskilim (Jews belonging to the secular Haskalah [Enlightenment] movement) living in Uman, Ukraine invited him to live in their town, and provided housing for him as his illness worsened. Many years before, Rebbe Nachman had passed through Uman and told his disciples, "This is a good place to be buried."[14] He was referring to the cemetery where more than 20,000 Jewish martyrs were buried following the Haidamak Massacre of Uman of 1768. Rebbe Nachman died of tuberculosis at the age of 38 on the fourth day of Sukkot 1810, and was buried in that cemetery.[15]

Pilgrimage tradition

During the Rebbe's lifetime, thousands of Hasidim traveled to be with him for the Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashana, Chanuka, and Shavuot, when he delivered his formal lessons. On the last Rosh Hashana of his life, Rebbe Nachman stressed to his followers the importance of being with him for that holiday in particular. Therefore, after the Rebbe's death, Reb Noson instituted an annual pilgrimage to the Rebbe's gravesite on Rosh Hashana.

This annual pilgrimage, called the Rosh Hashana kibbutz, drew thousands of Hasidim from all over Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania and even Poland until 1917, when the Bolshevik Revolution forced it to continue clandestinely. Only a dozen or so Hasidim risked making the annual pilgrimage during the Communist era, as the authorities regularly raided the gathering and often arrested and imprisoned worshippers. Beginning in the mid-1960s, Hasidim who lived outside Russia began to sneak into Uman to pray at Rebbe Nachman's grave during the year. After the fall of Communism in 1989, the gates were reopened entirely. In 2008, approximately 25,000 people from all over the world participated in this annual pilgrimage.[16]

Teachings

In his short life, Rebbe Nachman achieved much acclaim as a teacher and spiritual leader, and is considered a seminal figure in the history of Hasidism. His contributions to Hasidic Judaism include the following:

  • He rejected the idea of hereditary Hasidic dynasties, and taught that each Hasid must "search for the tzaddik ('saintly/righteous person')" for himself — and within himself. He believed that every Jew has the potential to become a tzaddik.[17]
  • He emphasized that a tzaddik should magnify the blessings on the community through his mitzvot. However, the tzaddik cannot "absolve" a Hasid of his sins, and the Hasid should pray only to God, not to the Rebbe. The purpose of confiding in another human being is to unburden the soul as part of the process of repentance and healing. (Modern psychology supports this idea, which is the "Fifth Step" in many 12-step programs for recovery.)
  • In his early life, he stressed the practice of fasting and self-castigation as the most effective means of repentance. In later years, however, he abandoned these severe ascetisms because he felt they may lead to depression and sadness. He told his followers not to be "fanatics". Rather, they should choose one personal mitzvah to be very strict about, and do the others with the normal amount of care.[18]
  • He encouraged his disciples to take every opportunity to increase holiness in themselves and their daily activities. For example, by marrying and living with one's spouse according to Torah law, one elevates sexual intimacy to an act bespeaking honor and respect to the God-given powers of procreation. This in turn safeguards the sign of the covenant, the brit milah ("covenant of circumcision") which is considered the symbol of the everlasting pact between God and the Jewish people.
  • He urged everyone to seek out his own and others' good points in order to approach life in a state of continual happiness. If one cannot find any "good points" in himself, let him search his deeds. If he finds that his deeds were driven by ulterior motives or improper thoughts, let him search for the positive aspects within them. And if he cannot find any good points, he should at least be happy that he is a Jew. This "good point" is God's doing, not his.
  • He placed great stress on living with faith, simplicity, and joy. He encouraged his followers to clap, sing and dance during or after their prayers, bringing them to a closer relationship with God.
  • He emphasized the importance of intellectual learning and Torah scholarship. "You can originate Torah novellae, but do not change anything in the laws of the Shulchan Aruch!" he said. He and his disciples were thoroughly familiar with all the classic texts of Judaism, including the Talmud and its commentaries, Midrash, and Shulchan Aruch.
  • He frequently recited extemporaneous prayers. He taught that his followers should spend an hour alone each day, talking aloud to God in his or her own words, as if "talking to a good friend." This is in addition to the prayers in the siddur. Breslover Hasidim still follow this practice today, which is known as hitbodedut (literally, "to make oneself be in solitude"). Rebbe Nachman taught that the best place to do hitbodedut was in a field or forest, among the natural works of God's creation.
  • He taught, "The purpose of knowledge is that we should not know (anything)" (Likutey Moharan II, 83.
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Tikkun HaKlali

Another prominent feature of Rebbe Nachman's teachings is his Tikkun HaKlali ("General Rectification" or "General Remedy") for spiritual correction. This general rectification can override the spiritual harm caused by many sins, or one sin whose ramifications are many. Rebbe Nachman revealed that ten specific Psalms, recited in this order: Psalms 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, and 150, constitute a special remedy for the sin of wasting seed, which defiles the sign of the covenant, and, by extension, all the other mitzvot. Most Breslover Hasidim try to say the Tikkun HaKlali daily.

In April 1810, Rebbe Nachman called two of his closest disciples, Rabbi Aharon of Breslov and Rabbi Naftali of Nemirov, to act as witnesses for an unprecedented vow:

"If someone comes to my grave, gives a coin to charity, and says these ten Psalms [the Tikkun HaKlali], I will pull him out from the depths of Gehinnom!" (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #141). "It makes no difference what he did until that day, but from that day on, he must take upon himself not to return to his foolish ways".[19]

This vow spurred many followers to undertake the trip to Rebbe Nachman's grave, even during the Communist crackdown.

Controversy

Rebbe Nachman lived at a time of controversy between Hasidim and more traditional Orthodox Jews, known as Misnagdim (opponents) for their opposition to hasidism. It was also a time of friction between Hasidim and proponents of Jewish emancipation and Haskalah. (In 1816, Joseph Perl wrote a denunciation of Hasidic mysticism and beliefs, in which he criticized many of the writings of Nachman, who had died six years earlier. Austrian imperial censors blocked publication of Perl's treatise, fearing that it would foment unrest among the empire's Jewish subjects.)

During his lifetime, Rebbe Nachman also encountered opposition from within the Hasidic movement itself, from people who questioned his new approach to Hasidut. One of these was Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Shpola, known as the "Shpoler Zeide" (Grandfather/Sage of Shpola) (1725–1812), who had supported Rebbe Nachman in his early years but began to oppose him after he moved to Zlatipola, near Shpola, in 1802.

The Shpoler Zeide saw Rebbe Nachman's teachings as deviating from classical Judaism and from the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov. Some postulate that the Zeide felt threatened because Rebbe Nachman was moving in on his territory and taking disciples away from him. Still others claim that Rebbe Nachman was a threat to other rebbes because he opposed the institutional dynasties that were already beginning to form in the Hasidic world. (Rebbe Nachman himself did not found a dynasty; his two sons died in infancy and he appointed no successor.)

A number of prominent figures of Hasidut supported Rebbe Nachman against the Shpoler Zeide's opposition, including Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev, Rabbi Gedalia of Linitz, Rabbi Zev Wolf of Charni-Ostrov, and Rabbi Avraham of Kalisk. At one point, a number of Hasidic rabbis gathered in Berditchev to place the Shpoler Zeide in cherem (a rabbinic form of excommunication) for showing contempt to a true Torah scholar. Their effort was nixed, however, when Rabbi Levi Yitzchak heard about the idea and persuaded them to desist.[20]

Did he believe he was the Messiah?

Secular academic view

The Encyclopaedia Judaica and other secular academic sources claim that Rebbe Nachman saw himself as the Messiah. One proof that secular academics offer is that the messianic personality is expected to rectify errant souls. Rebbe Nachman did speak to his disciples about the principle of tikkun (rectification of souls), and even suggested that he was capable of rectifying souls. However, this power was also claimed by Rebbes of other Hasidic sects. The principle of tikkun is also found throughout the teachings of (Rabbi Isaac Luria), who preceded Rebbe Nachman by several hundred years.

Some secular academics postulate that Rebbe Nachman was influenced by the teachings of Sabbatai Zevi and Jacob Frank, false messiahs of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, respectively, but that he was not actually a Sabbatean or Frankist. As proof, they note that Rebbe Nachman's thinking on tikkun olam, the Kabbalistic healing of the universe, bears similarities to the teachings of Sabbatai Zevi.

In his writings, Rebbe Nachman refers to Sabbetai Zevi as SHaTZ (an acronym for his Hebrew name, SHabbetai TZvi, and concludes the reference with the expression yimach shemo (may his name be obliterated). The latter expression is generally reserved for the worst enemies of the Jewish people.

Breslov view

Rebbe Nachman never claimed that he was the Messiah. He taught the general Hasidic concept of the tzaddik ha-dor (tzadik of the generation), which is the idea that in every generation, a special, saintly person is born who could potentially become the Jewish Messiah if conditions were right in the world. Otherwise, this tzaddik lives and dies the same as any other holy man. Toward the end of his life, he said, "My light will burn until the coming of the Messiah" — indicating that the Messiah had not yet arrived. Breslover Hasidim do not believe Rebbe Nachman was the Messiah, but they do believe that the light of his teachings continues to illuminate the paths of Jews from many disparate backgrounds.

It should be noted that the Sabbateans based their teachings on the same Zohar and Lurianic kabbalah that are considered part of classical Judaism by Hasidism. Where the Sabbateans diverged from accepted teaching was in believing that Sabbatai Zevi was "the Messiah" and that the Halakha (Jewish law) was no longer binding. Rebbe Nachman did not do the same. He did not claim he was the Messiah, and when asked, "What do we do as Breslover Hasidim?" he replied, "Whatever it says in the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law)."

Published works

Rebbe Nachman's Torah lessons and stories were published and disseminated mainly after his death by his disciple, Reb Noson:

  • Likutey Moharan ("Collected Teachings of Our Teacher, Rabbi Nachman") (vol. i., Ostrog, 1808; vol. ii., Moghilev, 1811; vol. iii., Ostrog, 1815)—Hasidic interpretations of the Tanakh, Midrashim, etc.
  • Sefer HaMidot (The Aleph-Bet Book) (Moghilev, 1821)—Treatises on morals, arranged alphabetically as a primer.
  • Tikkun HaKlali ("General Remedy")—Rebbe Nachman's order of ten Psalms to be recited for various problems, plus commentary by Reb Noson. Published as a separate book in 1821.
  • Sippurey Ma'asiyyot (Rabbi Nachman's Stories) (n.p., 1816)—13 seemingly simple "tales" in Hebrew and Yiddish that are filled with deep mystical secrets. The longest of these tales is The Seven Beggars,[21] which contains many kabbalistic themes and hidden allusions. Several fragmentary stories are also included in Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan's translation of the complete tales, Rabbi Nachman's Stories.

Rebbe Nachman also wrote two other books, the Sefer HaGanuz ("The Hidden Book") and the Sefer HaNisraf ("The Burned Book"), neither of which are extant. Rebbe Nachman told his disciples that these volumes contained deep mystical insights which few would be able to comprehend. He never showed the Sefer Ha-ganuz to anyone, and instructed Reb Noson to burn the latter's copy of Sefer Ha-nisraf in 1808. No one knows what was written in either manuscript.

Quotes

  • "If you believe that you can damage, then believe that you can fix."[23]
  • "Worldly desires are like sunbeams in a dark room. They seem solid until you try to grasp one."[24]
  • "It is very good to pour out your heart to God as you would to a true, good friend."[25]
  • "You are never given an obstacle you cannot overcome."[26]
  • "Know! A person needs to cross a very narrow bridge, but the most important thing is not to be afraid."[27]

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/984972.html
  2. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1033648.html
  3. ^ Until the Mashiach, p. 2.
  4. ^ Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom: His Praises #1.
  5. ^ Ibid., #4.
  6. ^ Ibid., #19.
  7. ^ Until the Mashiach, p. 7.
  8. ^ Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom: His Pilgrimage to the Land of Israel #19.
  9. ^ Until the Mashiach, pp. 60-61.
  10. ^ Tzaddik #12.
  11. ^ Until the Mashiach, pp. 330-341.
  12. ^ Ibid., p. 140.
  13. ^ Ibid., pp. 143-144.
  14. ^ Tzaddik #114.
  15. ^ Until the Mashiach, pp. 204-206.
  16. ^ "Hasidic Jews celebrate holiday in Uman" Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 2008-10-02. Retrieved 2009-07-31.
  17. ^ Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #26.
  18. ^ Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #235.
  19. ^ Tzaddik #122.
  20. ^ Tzaddik #19.
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ Likutey Moharan II, 24.
  23. ^ Ibid., II, 112.
  24. ^ Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #6.
  25. ^ Kochavey Ohr, Anshey Moharan #4.
  26. ^ Likutey Moharan II, 46.
  27. ^ Ibid., II, 48. This saying has been set to music in Hebrew as the song Kol Ha-Olam Kulo (MIDI: [2]) (MP3: [3])

Bibliography

  • Greenbaum, Avraham (1987). Tzaddik: A Portrait of Rabbi Nachman. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute. ISBN 0-930213-17-3
  • Kaplan, Aryeh (1973). Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute.
  • Kaplan, Aryeh (1985). Until the Mashiach: The Life of Rabbi Nachman. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute.
  • Kramer, Chaim (1989). Crossing the Narrow Bridge. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute. ISBN 0-930213-40-8
  • Kramer, Chaim (1992). Through Fire and Water: The Life of Reb Noson of Breslov. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute. ISBN 0-930213-44-0.

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Nachman of Breslov (1772-04-04 - 1810-10-16), known as Reb Nachman of Breslov or simply as Rebbe Nachman, was the founder of the Breslov Hasidic dynasty.

Transliterator note: In the Ashkenazi tradition, the Hebrew must be pronounced in mil'el, with the stress on the next-to-last syllable. The transliterations here are nonetheless presented in a more modern Hebrew way, with "taf" transliterated to "t", not "th".

Attributed

  • לעולם אל יהא אדם זקן. לא צדיק זקן ולא חסיד זקן. הזקנה מידה מגונה היא, חייב אדם להתחדש תמיד, מתחיל וחוזר ומתחיל
    • L'olam al yehe adam zaken, lo tzadik zaken v'lo hasid zaken. Hazikna mida meguna hi, hayav adam l'hithadesh tamid, mathil v'hozer u'mathil
    • One must never be old, neither an old saint nor an old follower. Being elderly is a vice; a man must always renew, begins and begins anew
  • יש מפורסמים שעיקר הפרסום שלהם נעשה על ידי מחלוקת
    • Yesh mefursamim sh'ikar hapirsum shelahem n'ase al yedey mahloket.
    • Some famous people owe their fame to controversy.
  • הכל אומרים שיש עולם הזה ועולם הבא. והנה בעולם הבא אנו מאמינים שישנו, אפשר שיש עולם הזה באיזה עולם, כי כאן נראה שהוא הגיהינום
    • Hakol omrim sh'yesh olam hazeh v'olam haba. V'hine, ba'olam habah anu ma'aminim sh'yeshno, efshar sh'yesh olam hazeh b'eize olam, ki kan nir'a sh'hu ha'geheinom.
    • All say there is this world and the next world. We believe in the next world, there might be this world, because here it looks like hell.
  • 'אין ייאוש בעולם כלל
    • Ein ye'ush ba'olam klal.
    • There is no despair in the world.
  • אם אתה מאמין שיכולים לקלקל, תאמין שיכולים לתקן
    • Im ata ma'amin sh'ykholim lekalkel, ta'amin sh'yecholim letaken.
    • If you believe breaking is possible, believe fixing is possible.
  • כל העולם כולו גשר צר מאוד, והעיקר - לא לפחד כלל.
    • Kol ha'olam kulo gesher tzar me'od, v'ha'ikar lo lefahed klal.
    • All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to fear at all.
  • 'זכור תמיד: השמחה איננה עניין שולי במסעך הרוחני - היא חיונית
    • Z'khor tamid: ha'simha einena 'inyan shuli b'masa'akh ha'ruhani - hi hyunit.
    • Always remember: happiness is not a side matter in your spiritual journey - it is essential.
  • 'היום אתה חש מרומם. אל תיתן לימות האתמול והמחר להשפיל את רוחך
    • Hayom ata hash m'romam. Al titen l'ymot ha'etmol v'hamahar lehashpil at ruhekha.
    • Today you feel uplifted. Do not let yesterday and tommorow to bring you down.
  • נהוג לחשוב שהשכחה הינה חסרון. אני סבור שהיא יתרון. לדעת לשכוח, פירושו להשתחרר מכל תלאות העבר
    • Nahug lahshov sh'hashikh'ha hina hisaron. Ani savur sh'hi yitaron. Lada'at lishko'ah, peyrusho le'hishtahrer m'kol tla'ot ha'avar.
    • It is customary to consider forgetfulness a disadvantage. I believe it is an advantage. Knowing to forget, means loosening the troubles of the past.
  • לבקר אחרים ולתת להם הרגשה שאינם רצויים - זאת יכול כל אחד לעשות. אך לרומם את רוחם ולהעניק להם הרגשה טובה - לכך דרושים כישרון מיוחד והשקעת מאמץ
    • L'vaker aherim v'latet lahem hargasha she'eynam retzuim - zot yakhol kol ehad la'asot. Akh l'romem at ruham u'l'ha'anik lahem hargasha tova - l'khakh drushim kisharon m'yuhad v'hashka'at ma'amatz.
    • Criticising others, giving them an unwelcome feeling, can be done by anyone. Uplifting them and giving them a good feeling - that takes a special gift and spending effort.
  • Disparage no book, for it is also a part of the world.


JOY

It is a great mitzvah to always be happy. (LM2 34)

It is even good to do silly things in order to cheer oneself up. (ibid)

It is good to set aside a specific time everyday to be heartbroken and to speak out all ones problems before God, but the rest of the day be only happy. (ibid)

The essential joy comes from mitzvot. (LM 30:5)


PRAYER

Hisbodedus, personal prayer before God, is greater than anything else. That is, a person should set aside at least an hour or more everyday to seclude himself from others and speak to God in his own language. (LM2 25, see “outpouring of the soul” translated by Aryeh Kaplan)

A person needs to scream to his father in heaven with a powerful voice from the depths of his heart. Then God will listen to his voice and turn to his outcry. And it could be that from this act itself, all doubts and obstacles that are keeping him back from true service of Hashem will fall from him and be completely nullified. (LM2 46)

And know that it’s not enough to have yearnings [for God] in the heart alone, for a person needs to bring all his yearnings out into words. (LM 31)

When a person has a yearning for something and he brings it out into words, a soul is created. This soul flies in the air and reaches another person thereby awakening in him too a yearning. (Ibid)

Behold! Precious is the sigh (called ‘krechtz’) from a Jewish person (LM 8)

When one prays with all his energy as in “my entire essence speaks…” (tehilim 35), the energy (co’ach) that he enters into the words are the 28 (co’ach) letters which the world was created with. The 10 sayings of creation receive their energy from these 28 letters. The words that come out of this persons’ mouth are then actually the words of Hashem, as in the verse “I will place my words in your mouth” (Isaiah 51). (LM 48)

Prayer depends on the heart, A person should put all of his heart into it, so that it shouldn’t be in the aspect of “With their lips they honor me but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29) (LM 49)


ENCOURAGEMENT AND TESHUVA

When a person enters into service of Hashem and sees it is so hard for him, and it seems as if they are distancing him from above and not allowing him at all to enter, he should know that all this feeling of being “distanced” is truthfully only his being “drawn near”. He must remain very very strong not to be discouraged even if many years of hard work go by and he still feels that he is very far and that he didn’t even begin to enter into the gates of holiness, for he sees that he is full of materialism, evil thoughts and the like, and every time he tries to do something holy it is so hard for him and all his crying and pleading with God seems to be going to waste… On all this he needs great courage not to pay attention to these delusions at all. Because all this “distancing”, in truth, is only his “drawing near”, and all the great tzaddikim had to go through this kind of experience before they reached their level. (LM2 48)

You need to have great stubbornness in the service of Hashem (ibid)

And know! A person has to pass a very very narrow bridge, the main thing is to have no fear at all (ibid)

There is no despair in the world! (LM2 78)

If you believe that you can destroy, believe you can fix. (LM2 112)

You need to greatly encourage yourself in His service as much as you can, even if you are the way you are, you should rely on His abundantly great mercy which is beyond limit, for certainly he will not forsake you, no matter how badly you’ve acted. The past doesn’t exist. The main thing is that from now on you honestly resolve not to do it again. (LM2 49)

This is a great principal in Avodas Hashem – That a person has to begin everyday anew. (LM 261)

When a person falls from his level he should know that it’s heaven-sent, because going down is needed in order to go up, therefore he fell, in order that he arouses himself more to come close to Hashem. Advice for him - Begin anew to enter into service of Hashem as if you have never yet even begun (Ibid)

Whenever a person rises from one level to the next, it necessitates that he first has a descent before the ascent. Because the purpose of any descent is always in order to ascend. (LM 22)

There is a lot to talk about here (in the above topic). Because each person who fell to the place where he fell thinks that these words weren’t spoken for him, for he imagines that these ideas are only for great people who are always climbing from one level to the next. But truthfully, you should know and believe, that all these words were also said concerning the smallest of the small and the worst of the worst, for Hashem is forever good to all. (Ibid as quoted in LE)

It is a great thing for a person to still have an evil inclination because then he is able to serve Hashem with the evil inclination itself. That is, to take all of the fire in his heart and channel it towards service of Hashem. For example, to pray with fiery passion of the heart, etc. For, if there is no evil inclination in a person his service cannot be complete. (LM2 49)

A person must know that “Gods glory fills the entire world” (Isiah 6), and “There is no place void of Him” (Tikunei Zohar), and “He fills all worlds and surrounds all worlds” (Zohar)… even in the most defiled places there is godliness, for He gives life to everything as it says, “And you give life to everything” (Nechemia 9). So even if a person is stuck in the lowest of places he cannot excuse himself and say “I cannot serve Hashem here because of all the thickness and materialism that attacks me always,” for even there you can find Him and cling to Him and do complete teshuva, “For it is not far from you” (devarim 30), only that in this place there are many garments.”(LM 33)

This is the Tikun Haklali, the complete fixing. Whoever destroys his sexual impulse, it will be easy for him to get rid of his other evil desires. For all other impulses stem from this one. (LM 36)

Anyone who wants to enter into the service of Hashem, the only way possible is to be like Avraham who considered himself to be the only one in the world. That is, he should not pay attention to anyone who is preventing him from coming close to Hashem, whether it be his father, mother, in-laws, wife, children, etc. or anyone else in the world who mocks him and tries to prevent him from serving Hashem. He should not pay attention to them at all, rather he should follow the verse “Avraham was one” (Yichezkel 32) As if he is the only one in the world. (LM2 inserted after intro)

“Even when people are serving Idolatry, nevertheless, deep down, they are all submissive to G-d and serving Him, only it is taking place in a greatly concealed realm.” (LM 56)

“There are two concealments. When Hashem is hidden in one concealment it is certainly very hard to find Him, but nevertheless, since it is only one concealment a person is able to exert himself and to dig until he finds Him, for at least he knows that Hashem is hidden. However, when Hashem is hidden in a concealment within a concealment, that is, the concealment itself is hidden from the person, in other words, he has no idea that Hashem is hidden from him, then it is completely impossible to find Him, for he doesn’t even know that Hashem is hidden.” (LM 56)

“But truthfully, even in all the concealments, even in the concealment within a concealment, certainly even there Hashem is enclothed. For certainly there is absolutely nothing that doesn’t contain in it the life-force of Hashem, for without His life-force it would not have any existence at all. Therefore, certainly, in all things, all deeds, and all thoughts, Hashem is, so to speak, enclothed within. Even if, G-d forbid, a person sins and does something against the will of Hashem, nevertheless, there is certainly the life-force of Hashem within that thing, only it is greatly concealed and constricted. (LM 56)

“You should know. The torah which is enclothed within the concealment within a concealment is a very high torah; the secrets of the torah. Since it needs to enclothe itself in these low places, by those who have sinned a lot until Hashem became concealed from them in a concealment within a concealment, Hashem decided not to place there simple torah, in order that the evil should not be able to draw strength from there too much, which will cause much defect. Therefore He concealed and enclothed within there specifically very high torah, the secrets of torah, which is Hashems Torah itself. This is as it says with regards to Egypt (Shemot 12) “I will pass through the land of Egypt, I and not an angel, I and not a messenger, I, Hashem and no other.” For in the land of Egypt, the place of much evil, specifically there, Hashem himself is hidden and enclothed, that is, Hashems Torah itself, the secrets of Torah. Therefore specifically in the concealment within a concealment, even though one cannot find Hashem, his knowledge and belief alone that Hashem is hidden there, turns the concealment around into a great revelation and the secrets of torah are revealed.” (LM 56)


TEHILLIM

Someone who wants to merit to do teshuva (repentance) should make it a practice to say tehillim (LM2 73)

A person should find himself within the words of tehillim (LM2 125) Tehillim was written with Divine Inspiration and includes within it each individual’s personal struggle, whatever he may be going through at any given time.

(Explanation of above from Hishtaqpchut Hanefesh 1)


MIKVEH

Immersion in a mikveh redeems a person from all hardships, and purifies from all impurities and from all sins, for the mikveh draws down extremely lofty awareness and supernal kindness and compassion. (LM 56)


SIMPLICITY

Philosophies and intellectual wisdoms are not needed at all. Only pure and simple faith. Because too much sophistication can greatly damage a person. (LM2 78, also see story of the Sophisticate and the Simpleton in Rebbe Nachman's Stories)

Sometimes, when a person gets too caught up in philosophies and sophistication, he needs to purposely free himself of his mind and do things which make him seem silly, to ”Be crazy with love” (Proverbs 5). Meaning, in his love for Hashem he does things which make him seem crazy. (LM2 5)

A person shouldn’t take upon himself added stringencies, as our Rabbis taught ‘The torah was not given to angels.’ This can make him fall from his service of Hashem. The greatest wisdom of all wisdoms is not to be wise at all, rather to be pure and honest with simplicity. (LM2 44)


HOLY CHUTZPAH

You need to know that just as evil arrogance is a very bad character trait, so too a person needs to have holy arrogance. Because it is impossible to come to the true tzaddikim or to draw near to holiness without arrogance as our rabbis taught, “Be bold as a leopard” (LM 22:11)

A person needs holy arrogance, holy chutzpah. He should be bold as a leopard against the people who are preventing him and mocking him. He shouldn’t subjugate himself before them, and he shouldn’t be embarrassed in front of them at all. Even though it seems that they are tzaddikim and they are better than him, and even if it is true that they are better than him, even so, since his intentions are for heaven, and they want to confuse him, and block him from the path of life, he needs to strengthen himself with holy arrogance against them. And even against ones own Rabbi a person needs this boldness, in order to be strong to say whatever he needs to and not be embarrassed. On this it is said, “a timid person cannot be a learned person.” (LM 271)

SHULCHAN ARUCH

It is incumbent upon every single Jew to study Halacha (Jewish law) every day without allowing a single day to pass without it. Even if he is held back for he didn’t have time, he should study at least one section of “Shulchan Aruch” no matter which one, even if it is not in the place he is holding during his usual order of studies. For a Jew must learn at least some law in Shulchan Aruch every single day, all the days of his life. If he is not held back due to extraneous circumstances, he should have a set study in Shulchan Aruch each and every day in order, from the beginning to the end. When he finishes he should go back and do it again. So he should accustom himself his entire life. For it is a very very great fixing of the soul. (SH 29)


SONG AND DANCE

When there are harsh judgments on the Jewish people, God forbid, through dancing and clapping ones hands, the judgments are sweetened (LM 10:1)

When one sings the words of prayer and the song resonates with great clarity and purity, he enclothes the shechina (divine presence) with luminous clothing (LM 42)

When we clap our hands during prayer it awakens the 28 letters that the world was created with which parallel the 28 joints in the hands. Through this we have power to purify the air of the nations, to dispel the impure air and replace it with the pure air of the Land of Israel (LM 44)

It is a great thing to hear music from a holy person playing on an instrument for the sake of heaven. Because through this, false fantasies are dismissed, the spirit of depression is dispelled, and the person merits happiness. Through this the memory is preserved, that is, the memory of the world to come, and a person is able to understand the hints that Hashem is constantly hinting to him everyday. Furthermore, through this a person can reach the level of the spirit of prophecy and divine inspiration, and he will be able to pour out his heart like water before Hashem. (LM 54)


LOVE YOUR FELLOW LOVE YOURSELF

Know! You need to judge every person favorably, even someone who is completely wicked, you need to search and find any little bit of good. By finding in him a little good and judging him favorably you actually bring him over to the side of merit and you can return him in teshuva (LM 282)

A person also needs to find in himself a little bit of good. Because no matter how low a person is, how can it be that he didn’t do one good thing in his entire life? (ibid)

Every single Jew has a point in them that is uniquely precious. And it is with this point that he bestows upon, enlightens, and arouses the heart of others. We all need to accept this arousal and this unique point from each other. As it says, “And they receive one from another” (Isaiah 3). (LM 34)

Every single Jew has in him a portion of God above. (LM 35)


PERSONAL REDEMPTION AND ENLIGHTENMENT

When a person knows that everything that happens to him is for the best, this is a taste of the world to come. (LM 4)

Know that the primary essence of exile is only our lack of belief. (LM 7)

Gan Eiden and Geihinom are literally in this world. (Ibid 22)

A Jewish person needs to always look at the wisdom within everything in order that it will enlighten him so that he can come close to God through each thing. Because this wisdom is a great light and it will enlighten all his ways. (Ibid 1)

Whoever breaks free from the lust for food can become a miracle worker. But someone who is stuck in this desire it is a sign that he is a liar. Even a Tzaddik who already freed himself from all desires and then falls back into the desire for food, it must be that something false left his mouth. It also shows that there is Judgment upon him from above and it is a sign of poverty. (LM 47)

Every single Jew is a portion of God above, and the essence of Godliness is in the heart. This godliness, which resides in the heart of a Jewish person, is infinite, for the light of its flame reaches infinity, that is, his yearnings and desires are without end or limit. (LM 49)

Just as God constricted his infinite light in creating the world, for due to the greatness of the light there was no room for creation, so too a person needs to constrict the infinite light of his heart in order to serve God in measure and in steps, for if the light would remain unconstricted it would be impossible to serve Him. So it turns out, in both cases, that this “constriction” of the light actually makes room for its own “revelation.” (ibid)

The Blessed Holy One constantly constricts his godliness from utmost infinity to the most finite center point of this physical world and he sends to each person thought, speech and deed according to the person and according to the time and place. He enclothes within the thought, speech and deed, hints, in order to bring the person close to his service. Therefore a person needs to delve his mind into this and expand his consciousness in order to understand what the hints are in their details which Hashem is sending to him in the thoughts, words, and deeds of this day according to the specific circumstances he finds himself in. In business or work and in everything that Hashem sends to him each day he needs to delve and expand his mind in it, in order to understand the hints of Hashem. (LM 54)


THE TZADDIK

“A chidush (novelty) like me never existed in the world.” (quoted in CM)

“I am a river that purifies all stains.” (ibid)

“I am a beautiful and wondrous tree with great awesome braches, but below I am set firmly in the ground.” (ibid)

Rebbe Nachman would often tell his students about the great level that he reached in order to get them jealous and inspire them to serve Hashem like he does. One time someone responded to him, “Who can possibly reach the level of the Tzaddkim like yourself, certainly you were all created with really great souls.” Rebbe Nachman answered him in a stringent manner; “This is the main problem with you all, that you think the greatness of the Tzaddikim are due to their high level of soul, that is not true, every single person can reach my level and be exactly like me. It all depends on effort and honest work.” (sichos haran 165)

The world says that a person doesn’t need to seek greatness. I say that you must certainly seek greatness. Investigate and seek out only the greatest Tzaddik. (SH 51)

Conceptions of Godliness are only possible to grasp through many constrictions. Therefore a person should search very much for a proper teacher who is able to explain things and make these lofty concepts understandable, for this a person needs a tremendously great teacher who is able to explain such lofty concepts on a simple level enabling small-minded people to understand. The smaller a person is and the further away from Hashem he is, the greater teacher he must find, just as the sicker a person is the greater doctor he needs. Much prayer is needed to find a teacher like this, but one must never lose resolve and settle for mediocrity. (LM 30)

“The whole world needs me. You (my students) already know how much you need me, however, even all the Tzaddikim need me, for they too need to be benefited. All the nations of the world need me as well.” (quoted in CM)

While he was still alive, Rebbe Nachman took two witnesses and promised us that after he dies, when a person comes to his grave and gives a coin to charity, and says the 10 psalms that he established called “tikun haklali” (see end of this book), he promised to help this person. He said “I will pull him out of hell by his sidelocks.” No matter what evil this person has done in his life, as long as from now on he accepts it upon himself not to do it again. And the night before he died he said “What are you all worrying about!? I will continue to walk before you, and even those who don’t know me yet; I am helping them. (ibid)

Rebbe Nachman said that all the teachings and sayings of his are not only for us. Rather, “for those who are here standing with us today and for those who are not here with us today” (devarim 29:14). In other words, it is for the generations that are yet to come. He spoke to us about this many times and he hinted to us in his words to make it known to the future generations… One time when he told us about passing on everything that happened with us and everything we heard from him to our children he said this verse with great passion like fiery coals, “You should make known to your children and your children’s children.” And he said, “Know and believe, if its possible to take one person out of the garbage dump, anyone who holds on to that person will come out as well.” (SH 209)

“My fire will burn until Moshiach comes.” (CM)

A Rav must have in him the two powers that there are in the torah, that is, “a drug of life and a drug of death” (Yoma 72), in order that it will be possible for those who come close to him to receive according to their own will, as in the Torah “the righteous will walk and the wicked will stumble” (Hosea 14). If he yearns for true service of Hashem he can receive from the Rav a straight path to serve Hashem, but if his heart isn’t pure, he can also find in the Rav something impure and be led completely astray. There are those who connect to the Tzaddik and become complete apostates. (LM 31)

Every Tzaddik needs to be both well versed in Torah and full of good deeds, for if he is not learned, our sages say, “an unlearned person cannot be a Chassid.” But a learned person alone isn’t anything, for it is possible to be a very educated and studious person and remain completely wicked, for “If he is not worthy it will be a drug of death” (Talmud Yoma 42b). Torah without good deeds is not only insignificant - it is detrimental. (Ibid)

“How could they not appose me, for I walk a new path, one that no man has ever walked before, nor any creature since the time the torah was received. Even though it is a very old path, nevertheless it is completely new.” (CM)

“There are those who are against me yet they don’t even know me at all. This is as it says in the Zohar when the torah states that Pharaoh said to the Egyptians, “Let’s outsmart the Jews.” Could it be that he went to each and every citizen to personally relate this message? Rather he entered it into their hearts.” (CM)

Since the evil forces see that the Jewish people are very very close to the end (to the messiah), and there are Jews nowadays who have tremendous yearning and passion for spirituality and godliness, such a thing that has never occurred in past generations, so the evil forces enter arguments between the tzaddikim, and they establish in the world many false leaders, and even between true tzaddikim the evil forces cause great arguments, until no one knows where truth can be found. Therefore, a person needs to plead very much from Hashem to merit to recognize and come close to the true Tzaddik. (LM2 44)

Rebbe Nachman revealed these 10 psalms to say in order to rectify the damage caused by passed sins especially those related to sexual impurity: 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150

  • “You should constantly review my teachings until you know them by heart” (CM)
  • “All my teachings are only introductions, [the main part is up to you to discover]” (SH 199)
  • It is a great mitzvah to be happy always.
  • If you believe that it is possible to break, believe it is also possible to fix.
  • And know that a person needs to traverse a very, very narrow bridge, but the fundamental and most important principle is to have no hesitation or fear at all.
    • This saying has been set to music in Hebrew as the song Kol Ha-Olam Kulo

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