From the book Noam Siach, Part I, excerpts
from lessons given by Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender, zt"l.
If We Would
Only Join Together in Unity
It is impossible
even to imagine how much Rebbe Nachman could reveal to us and influence
us if only all the Breslov Chassidim would be united as one. A man on his
own, even if he is completely righteous, does not merit a complete revelation
from the Tzaddik according to his needs and his abilities. After
all, Rabbeinu is a wondrous light, a light of truth, but he cannot reveal
this light to us—he can’t give to us—so long as we are not united as one.
In the same way that
we have to study each negative commandment in the Torah and investigate
our behavior to see if we have transgressed some part of the commandment
in any way, so too are we obligated to study the greatness of the Tzaddikim.
Even if we can’t reach such a level of holiness, still we have to believe
that we can achieve, in some way, a part of his level.
Rabbeinu said, “The
world will wonder at the love between my Chassidim.” What did he
mean by love? The light of Rabbeinu is so great, so holy, such a
truth, that we must each work very hard on ourselves to always see the
good in our friend. As Rabbeinu said (Likutei Moharan I:34), every
single person has a holy spark inside of him, and there resides the holy
love. This much pride we can allow ourselves: that there is inside me a
holy spark, a holy spark of love, so that even if, G-d forbid, a person
should come to do a sin, [he can rectify it through teshuva, repentance].
As Rabbeinu says there,
“The breaking was only of the vessels, but the light itself remains in
the heavens in the Yesod of Atzilus, and there, there was
no breaking.” And why? “Because if the light itself had also been broken
there would have been no possibility of ever doing teshuva.” When
one does a sin, he is completely broken, but if his holy spark were also
broken, from where would he be able to find the strength to do teshuva?
Surely his whole vessel is broken. There is nothing left from which he
can return. Regarding this, Rabbeinu said, “Know, you are not completely
broken. Even though the vessel itself is shattered, the holy spark of love
still remains.” The holy point of love is still complete inside me,
and through it, I can do teshuva. I still have the ability to repent.
Even as we see the
words of Rabbi Nachman coming true—[as he said,] “I will separate you into
many different groups”—still, we have to be very careful not to lose or
even lessen the love between all the Breslov Chassidim. We should be like
Abaye and Rava who argued about everything under the sun, yet this never
affected the love between them. Their arguments were only ever regarding
what is the true will of Hashem.
Rabbi Nachman had
Chassidim by him on the very highest levels of spirituality—people who
could literally see into the future. And still he said (Likutei Moharan
II:5), “Every person has to investigate himself where he is holding regarding
his faith in Hashem.” In other words, regarding belief in Hashem, whatever
level one is on, he should constantly pray to Hashem to help him to reach
higher levels, that is, that his faith in Hashem should fill him ever more
Rabbi Nachman said, “I judge
everyone to the side of mercy, apart from an argumentative person.” We
see in the Torah that Aharon HaKohen and Miriam the prophetess spoke disparagingly
about Moshe Rabbeinu (BaMidbar 12:1). Hashem punished them both
with leprosy. Aharon was cured straight away because he was a Kohen, but
Miriam had to spend seven days outside of the camp as a leper. They spoke
hara, they argued against Moshe Rabbeinu, and Hashem immediately punished
them. That Miriam, a prophetess, should have to spend seven days outside
of the camp as a leper, is a tremendous punishment. And Moshe Rabbeinu
himself wasn’t so bothered by their speaking against him. As the Torah
says there, “And the man Moshe was very humble.” And Rashi explains that
he didn’t get angry at the disgrace. But Hashem was much stricter regarding
the honor of Moshe Rabbeinu, through whom was given the Torah, and who
led Israel out of Egypt and across the Reed Sea and the Sinai desert to
Israel. Even though they were both Tzaddikim and their intentions
were for the best, they still spoke against the Tzaddik and were
So what did Rabbeinu
mean when he said that he couldn’t judge favorably an argumentative person?
It was not that he would abandon him completely, G-d forbid, but rather
that for the sin of speaking lashon hara there is always a punishment,
whether it is immediate or delayed. A person can be given time to
repent, or he can repent immediately as did Aharon, who straight away asked
for mercy. And even though Rabbeinu said that he could judge everyone to
the side of mercy, this applies to everything except argument.
Rabbeinu said (Likutei
Moharan I:5), “If a person hears any kind of argument between Tzaddikim,
he should know that it comes to reprove him also.” In other words, if he
heard it then it applies to him also, and he should pay very careful attention
to the message that is coming to him. There have been many arguments between
but one doesn’t hear them speaking badly about one another. It is only
each in his own particular way trying to come closer to Hashem. One must
be careful not to justify one side more than the other, but rather, he
should not to get involved in the argument. One must know that even to
hear about the argument is a sign that he himself is damaged, for otherwise
he wouldn’t have heard the argument at all. It could even be that a person
could learn that very Torah, and not pay any attention to the matter, but
if it does catch his attention, this is a sign to him that he also has
to rectify himself.
If a person learns
a Torah speaking about faith in Hashem, surely it cannot be said that he
doesn't believe in Hashem. Yet Rabbeinu explains that faith is dependent
on praying every single word of all the prayers with full concentration.
If I then apply this to myself, I see that in fact I really am very far
away from true faith. If I learn such a Torah and pay attention to it,
it really does apply to me. Reb Yisrael from Terovitza used to prostrate
himself on the grave of Rabbeinu and cry out, “Help me! I am in such danger.”
it be that such a holy and kosher Tzaddik could really have been
in danger? But according to our understanding of faith as explained by
Rabbeinu, we have to believe that we have to pray to Hashem at all times
to help us to strengthen ourselves in our belief in Him. If I come to hear
such a teaching, then it must apply also to me.
many, many times how important it is to serve Hashem with complete simplicity
and not only with deep learning and higher wisdoms. This means doing
the simple things properly, praying with concentration, and fulfilling
the mitzvos with happiness. A man has to make hisbodedus
and pray to Hashem, “Ribono Shel Olam, lead me to your truth! I don’t
know anything at all!” And he must remind himself always of the words of
Rabbeinu, “Stick together! Each of you must be filled with love for the
other and go in the way of truth.”
The Importance of
Feeling Ashamed of Oneself in this World
Rabbeinu said, “Everyone
must search his ways, to see how closely he is attached to Hashem.
The main sign is the Tefillin, and Tefillin is the aspect
of shame.” Can it be that the more one is ashamed, the greater is his attachment
to Hashem? For what must one be ashamed? The answer is that
he must feel shame that he is angering Hashem, that he isn’t performing
His will. And by achieving this feeling of shame, this of itself increases
his attachment to Hashem. A person who goes through life treating it as
joke is demonstrating the opposite of this feeling of shame. One must at
all times feel shame, but this has nothing to do with depression. Exactly
the opposite, this shame is the root of life. This itself is life. The
Torah says of Moshe Rabbeinu that his face was shining. And Rabbeinu explains
(Likutei Morahan I:38) that this was his feeling of shame. The Rabbis
teach that anyone who commits a sin and is embarrassed about it, all his
sins are forgiven. Because he is embarrassed, he is forgiven. Similarly,
all our hisbodedus must also have this aspect of embarrassment.
“Ribono Shel Olam, how can it be that I could behave in such a way that
would make you angry with me!” And the embarrassment that he feels is in
itself his repentance.
Hashem has tremendous
mercy on us. Rabbeinu says (Likutei Moharan II:1) that this shows
itself in the way Hashem gave us Rosh Hashanah on Rosh Chodesh. How could
we come before Hashem and request forgiveness and say that we truly repent.
The whole year I behaved improperly, and now suddenly am I going to repent?
However since, on Rosh Chodesh, Hashem himself regrets how he ordered the
moon to make itself smaller, and He says, “Bring for Me an atonement.”
This gives us also the chance to stand before Him and say, “We repent.”
The Torah describes bringing a sacrifice to the Temple as “giving a satisfying
aroma to Hashem.” Our embarrassment over our behavior is this satisfying
This is the true purpose
of making hisbodedus: that one should feel embarrassment before
Hashem and that this shame should automatically lead one to repentance.
And one who truly repents does not come to do those sins again.
The Importance of
Learning the Books of Rabbeinu
(Likutei Moharan I:7), “Through coming close to the Tzaddik
and following his advice, the truth is engraved upon him.” This means that
the essence of coming close to the Tzaddik is following his advice.
Rabbeinu once said to his followers, “I have placed inside you a great
deal of Truth.” What is this truth that we have received from Rabbeinu?
It is when we learn his books and follow his advice. That is when the truth
becomes engraved in us. But we have to learn his books!
Rav Nosson said, “Happy
is the person who thinks always about the teachings of Rabbeinu.” Rav Nachman
Tulchiner said one time, “Who will learn the book of Rabbeinu? Behold!
No one in the world is learning it. Will we also not learn it?” Rabbeinu
himself said, “Once the whole world starts to learn my book, it will be
time to prepare for Moshiach.”
The Importance of
Learning from the Written Word and Not to Rely on Cassettes and the Like
It says in the Torah,
“Open our eyes to your Torah.” When my eyes see the written word [in Hebrew],
this is what gives the kedusha, the holiness. Today, people learn
Gemara from cassettes, but it doesn’t give any holiness. It actually prevents
many people from opening the Gemara. What do I need it for? Why do I need
the Shas? I’ve got the tapes! This is a terrible mistake. It prevents people
from looking at words of Torah.
When a person damages
his eyes by looking at forbidden sights, the only way to repair them is
by looking at words of Torah. When one damages his speech by speaking lashon
hara, the only way to repair the damage is to speak words of Torah.
It is related regarding
the Arizal, that in front of his desk, where he learned in the Beis Medrash,
was written the word “Amen.” Any time he had the opportunity to
answer amen to a blessing, he would read it from the written word
and not answer it off by heart. The word “amen,” as is known, is
the gematria of two names of Hashem. Therefore it is important to
look at the letters, even of the word “amen.”
Today a person sits
down at the table, lights a cigarette, and learns Gemara from a tape. I
am certain this is damaging the Torah, damaging the honor of the Torah.
This does not come into the category of “working hard to learn Torah.”
Surely we bless on the Torah every morning, “who has chosen us from all
the peoples and given us the Torah.” Am I really allowed to bless on something
that someone else is learning for me? Hashem wants us to purify our eyes
by looking at words of Torah, to purify our mouths by speaking words of
My eyes are already
very weak [Rav Levi Yitzchak was almost blind at this time] and I need
someone to learn with me. Even so, I repeat every word after him. The one
and only way for a Jew to purify himself is by looking at the words of
Torah, and by speaking words of Torah.
The Importance of
The Rabbis teach that
the one character trait that Hashem cannot tolerate in a person is pride.
When Rav Nosson first came to Rabbeinu, he was already on a very high level.
It was nine years after his marriage to the daughter of Rav David Tzvi,
one of the most famous Rabbis in the Ukraine. Still Rabbeinu said in describing
him, “in his own eyes, he is nothing more than dust and earth. If a small
child would send him to buy some candies, he would run to buy them.” As
great as Rav Nosson already was in his Torah learning, the Rebbe, in describing
him, only mentioned his complete humility, and it is because of this humility
that he was able to receive so much from the Rebbe.
The Gemara relates
that when Reb Zera came from Babylon to live in Israel, he fasted many
fasts in order to forget all the Torah that he had learned in Babylon.
And did it help? Surely he went straight away and learned in the yeshiva
of Rav Yochanan! But what really happened is that when Reb Zera came to
Israel, he realized that it was on a completely different level, that Israel
was the aspect of serenity as opposed to Babylon, which was the aspect
of argument. Rav Zera saw that he would be unable to receive from the Torah
of Israel as long as he still had inside him the Torah of Babylon. The
explanation isn’t that he abandoned everything that he had learned prior
to his arrival in Israel, but rather that all his learning no longer had
any importance for him.
When Rav Nosson started
to come close to Rabbeinu, he said about himself, “I completely abandoned
all my knowledge.” Does he mean he was no longer a gadol in Torah? There
is a very great secret involved here. A person can be filled with Torah,
fear of heaven, righteousness, and holiness, and yet he can see that he
is unable to receive anything from the Tzaddik. That is why he has
to leave everything behind him. After all, he has come to the Tzaddik
in order to receive from him, but what is he to receive, Tzidkus?
Behold, he is already a Tzaddik! Holiness? But he is already holy.
So what is left to receive? If he comes to the Tzaddik and feels
that he already has everything that he needs, then he won’t be able to
receive from the Tzaddik. That’s why he has to leave behind all
his knowledge. But where should he leave it? Where should he put it? Someone
who worked so hard and struggled so many years until he has reached such
a high level, how does he leave his Torah behind him? Furthermore, Rav
Nosson was the son-in-law of the famous Rav David Tzvi. Does he also have
to leave that behind him?
The solution is as
follows: regarding humility, it is not that a person has to go with his
head bowed down. Quite the opposite, that’s not humility at all. Rabbeinu
himself said (Likutei Moharan II:72), “To be humble, one needs a
lot of intelligence.” A man decides to go with head bowed down, torn clothes...this
is not humility—it is nothing at all. The main point of humility is to
contemplate the greatness of Hashem. What am I next to such greatness,
such an incredible greatness? How can I rebel against Him? This is already
a different type of wisdom. This is a humility that increases as one feels
more the greatness of Hashem, and this is how it is when one comes close
to a Tzaddik. One comes close to the Tzaddik and starts to
feel such a light. This in itself is enough to bring one to humility. Consequently,
his Torah also will be a Torah of humility. He will be filled with a completely
different Torah and a completely different tefilla.
It is said in the
name of Reb Pinchas of Koritz, “Before I came close to the Baal Shem Tov,
my teeth used to fly out of my mouth when I prayed. But this wasn’t the
truth. After I came close to the Baal Shem Tov, my teeth stopped flying
out of mouth when I prayed, and this was the real truth.” When one sees
and examines the light of the Tzaddik, of the Baal Shem Tov, and
he receives from this light and leaves behind him everything that he had
up until then, only then does the light of truth enter him.
Rav Nosson came close
to Rabbeinu and examined his light, his truth, and all that he had achieved
up until then fell away from him. It had no importance in his eyes. He
was no longer able to see himself with the same importance. This is what
is called “leaving all your knowledge behind you.” It is not that he stopped
being a great Torah scholar or a holy Tzaddik, but he saw such a
great light, regarding which Rabbeinu said, “It is the nature of things
that the small is canceled before the great.” If one can feel the light
of the Tzaddik, it is impossible that he should continue to feel
his own importance. Just the opposite, if one still feels that he has the
slightest importance, this is a sign that he doesn’t yet feel the light
of the Tzaddik. Next to a bright light, a lesser light simply cannot
be seen at all.
In truth we have to
beg from Hashem, “Ribono Shel Olam, surely we are known as Breslover Chassidim,
and if we were to really feel the great light of Rabbeinu, we would have
to be completely humble—to have such a great Rebbe, and not to feel him
The Rebbe brings in
Moharan I:17 that Ma’Aras HaMachpelah, which was owned by Ephron
the Hittite, is the gateway to heaven. All the souls go up via this gate
to heaven. Such an incredible light is there, but Ephron did not see the
light at all. He was delighted to sell it to Avraham. Rabbeinu explains
there that this is how it can be by the Tzaddik. One can be right
next to him and not feel the slightest light.
It is our task to
apply this teaching to ourselves. Behold, there were such great Tzaddikim
by Rabbeinu. They could open Likutei Moharan and feel such a great
light, such an awakening! This was a sign of their humility. Tears, literally,
used to fall from their eyes. So how come we do not feel this? How come
we are unable to feel this great light! We have to beg very much from Hashem,
“Reveal to us the light of your Torah!” I open the books but the letters
do not shine for me. Why not? Surely it can not be the fault of the Torah.
Surely the Torah is so holy that it should be able to shine for everybody.
So it must be me that is at fault. Thus, one can start to cry out before
Hashem, and slowly, surely, gradually over the years, Hashem will help
him, and the Torah will start to shine to him.
There is a letter from
the Baal Shem Tov to the Toldos Yaakov Yosef which says, “I have heard
that you are taking upon yourself all kinds of fasts and sufferings. This
is not the true path. My advice is that you simply concentrate on the words
of the Torah. They will shine to you such an incredible light.” In this
generation, the only way to come close to Hashem is through a tremendous
amount of prayer and hisbodedus and by turning our learning into
Rabbeinu said, “Once,
the way to come close to Hashem was through fasting and all kind of self-afflictions.
People actually used to fast from Shabbos to Shabbos. Today, this path
is not applicable. One should not fast at all, other than on the days specified
in the Shulchan Aruch. Similarly, self-affliction is also forbidden.” Once
people used to roll in the snow. Unbelievable!
Rabbeinu said, “what people
once used to achieve through fasting and suffering, is today, only achievable
through prayer and hisbodedus.”
Rabbeinu said in Chayei
Moharan, “Before a new path opens up, it is possible to achieve without
using that path. But once the new path has been opened, achievement is
possible only by using that path.” Before Rabbeinu, there were a number
of different ways of doing teshuva. Once he arrived, only the way
that he specified was effective, which is through prayer and hisbodedus.
Since then, the previous paths are now forbidden to us.
One must spend very
much time doing hisbodedus. The best time is at midnight. One should
wake up and pray to Hashem for all that he is lacking. It is especially
good, with Hashem’s help, if one can come to weep during the hisbodedus.
This is the path that Rabbeinu decreed for us. Through this path, one can
become a kosher and holy Jew, a real Tzaddik, exactly as they used
to become through fasts and sufferings. But now, since we have a Rebbe
who has taught us the greatness of prayer and hisbodedus, it is
no longer permitted to use the previous paths. Not only that, but the previous
paths can now do more damage than they can fix. Especially for us, Breslover
Chassidim, for surely the Rebbe is our Rebbe. We, more than anyone, must
go on his path of prayer and hisbodedus and wake up at midnight,
at a time of special favor. This is our path to repentance and to Hashem.
Rav Ozer, a student
of Rav Nosson, regularly used to go out to the forests after Shabbos and
return home in time for the next Shabbos. One time someone related to Rav
Nosson that he had a friend who knew a thousand pages of Gemara by heart.
Rav Nosson answered him, “My student Ozer can stand in the corner and cry
‘Ribono Shel Olam’ a thousand times.” Rav Ozer was a Gadol in Torah. By
the time he came to Rabbeinu he already had many students of his own. But
Rav Nosson’s praise of him was that he could cry “Ribono Shel Olam” a thousand
times. One thousand pages of Gemara learnt by heart is a tremendous achievement,
but someone who can cry out “Ribono Shel Olam” a thousand times, his Gemara
learning is a different thing altogether.
The Gemara explains that Hashem created the evil inclination and that He
created the Torah as its “tavlin,” its spice. Why should the Torah
be called a spice? Surely a spice is used for flavoring! The answer is
that the evil inclination, with all its lusts and desires, is nothing more
than a disgusting smell, and the Torah is the spice that sweetens it. Rabbeinu
told us, “Make prayers out of my teachings.” The first Torah in Likutei
Moharan starts, “Through the Torah, all the prayers are accepted.”
Rabbeinu is speaking here about a tremendously high level of the Torah.
In practical terms, Rabbeinu is saying that one should pray about what
one learns, that he should pray that he will be able to fulfill it.
Learning without prayer
is what is described as “His wisdom is greater than his deeds.” The slightest
wind can uproot such learning completely, which is why Rabbeinu taught
us the importance of prayer. Whatever you learn—be it a chapter of Shulchan
Aruch or whatever—you must pray to Hashem that He should help you to carry
it out. Rabbeinu says there that Hashem gets immense pleasure from this
type of prayer. We have come close to Rabbeinu; therefore, it is incumbent
upon us to understand the importance of prayer, especially since Rabbeinu
instructed us to pray to Hashem about absolutely everything. And even though
we already pray the Shmonei Esrei three times a day and even though
we also have Tehillim, still we have to pray to Hashem about each
and every detail of our lives. Any time we leave the house, for whatever
purpose, we must pray to Hashem to help us succeed. The prayer is our connection
Torah and Prayer are inseparable.
Rabbeinu said that they light up one another. This is the path of Rabbeinu,
to wake up at midnight, say Tikkun Chatzos, and then to immediately
sit down and start learning.
Rabbeinu said in Likutei
Moharan I:65, “After hisbodedus, one must learn new ideas in
the Torah. That way, a reflection of his hisbodedus enters into
his learning.” Only through hisbodedus, followed immediately by
learning, does an image of the hisbodedus stay with him. But one
who does not follow his hisbodedus with learning, all his hisbodedus
can fall away from him. At the time one is making hisbodedus, his
head is filled with thoughts of serving Hashem. But what will remain for
him after he finishes speaking? For this, Rabbeinu says, “the hisbodedus
has to merge with the learning.” The two are inseparable. Either without
the other is ineffective. One who finishes his hisbodedus and goes
off to talk to his friend, loses everything. Learn anything, Likutei
Moharan, a Mishna, a halacha in the Shulchan Aruch. The Torah
learning alone does not impart strength, but the two together have a tremendous
Rabbeinu asked, “Why do
people argue against me? My whole essence is prayer. Regarding prayer,
it is said that it stands as the foundation of the world, and yet, people
treat it so lightly!” What did he mean, “my whole essence is prayer?” Surely
all the world prays! All Jews pray to Hashem. Rather, the explanation of
the word “prayer” is that one must ask Hashem for everything. That is the
meaning of “My whole essence is prayer.”
As Rabbeinu explains
in Likutei Moharan I:10, “Prayer is called a “mountain,” a “field,”
and a “house.” Avraham called his place of prayer a “mountain.” “The mountain
of Moriah.” Yitzchak called it a “field,” as it says, “and Yitzchak
went out to speak in the field.” Yaakov called it a “house,” as it says,
“the house of Hashem.” Rabbeinu explains there that Yaakov called prayer
a “house.” Just as one can not live without a house, so, one can not live
What Rabbeinu meant when
he said, “My whole essence is prayer,” is that when one leaves his house,
he has to pray to Hashem to protect him and to bring him home safely and
that his evil inclination should not be able to overcome him. Similarly,
when one goes to sleep, he should pray to Hashem to protect him. This is
already a different sleep altogether.
Rabbeinu said in Likutei Moharan, I:35, “While sleeping, one needs
a very powerful protection.” What should one do if he can not fall asleep?
He should pray by making hisbodedus. That way he will fall asleep
while speaking to Hashem. Even if he has said the final blessing before
retiring, “Hamapil,” this is not similar to other blessings, where
the blessing has to be followed immediately by the act. If one cannot fall
asleep, he is permitted to talk to Hashem.
According to the way one
falls asleep is the sleep itself. If one falls asleep while thinking about
Hashem or while talking to Hashem, this is altogether a different sleep.
Regarding this, Rabbeinu said (Likutei Moharan, I:54), “Sleep is
the world to come…Immediately when a person wakes up, he should remember
that there is another world.” If Hashem helps you and when you wake up
your first thought is about the next world, this is already a different
type of day altogether. The way one wakes up sets the tone for the day,
and the way one goes to sleep sets the tone for the night. If you go to
sleep speaking to Hashem, that sets the tone as to how you are going to
This is the aspect of, “My
whole essence is prayer. And that is why people argue against me.”
Such a thing the evil inclination can not stand. If you only pray three
times a day and maybe say a few Tehillim, this is not so bad. But
to make a prayer out of your whole life, to pray as you go to sleep and
as you wake up, this the evil inclination can not tolerate.
Rabbeinu brings in Likutei Moharan, I:11, “Yochni and Mamre, (two
Egyptian magicians) asked Moshe, ‘Are you bringing teven (straw)
to Apharayim?’” He answered them, ‘People say, “to the place where they
sell vegetables, bring vegetables to sell.”’” Rabbeinu explains:
“teven” is referring to “tevuna,” the understanding [of Torah].
They understood that Moshe wanted to introduce understanding of Torah to
the Jewish people. Which is why they asked, “When Israel is not doing the
will of Hashem, they are likened to ‘afar’ (dust). So how are you
going to be able to bring them to such a high level, to the understanding
of Torah?” He answered them, “People say…” i.e. that through speaking a
Jew can reach all the places that he has to do teshuva.
During the time that the
people of Israel were in Egypt, they behaved the same way as the Egyptians.
As it is said, “These worship idols, and those worship idols.” And the
two magicians understood that Moshe wanted to introduce Torah to the Jewish
people, which is why they asked, “How is this possible? Can people on such
a low level possibly have any understanding of Torah?”
The evil inclination devotes
all his efforts into fooling a person. “Who are you, such a lowly and badly
behaved creature! Do you really think that you can do teshuva? You
want to become a man? Do you truly believe that this is something that
you are capable of?”
Moshe answered them,
“People say…” that through speech, speaking one’s heart out to Hashem,
everything is possible. And that is why it is written (Shemos, 4:19),
“And Moshe was slow of speech.” It is explained that his speech impediment
only lasted during the time that he was in Egypt. Once he left Egypt he
was cured, for behold, he gave over the whole Torah to Israel. For in Egypt,
speech was in exile, but once they escaped, they achieved the level of,
“People say…” that is, they were at last able to start speaking, which
is the aspect of, “to the place where they sell vegetables, bring vegetables
to sell.” “Vegetables” refers to repentance (Likutei Moharan I:11),
for then, at last, the people can start to do teshuva.
Speech has such a
power that even a person who does not know for what he has to do teshuva
(for continuous sinning brings forgetfulness) can be awakened. Through
speaking to Hashem, all that was hidden from him becomes revealed. He begins
to understand the things that he is doing which things are truly forbidden.
Until now, he did not take his speech seriously; he spoke only about things
that were inconsequential. “So what if I speak to Hashem, what benefit
will it give me?”
Similarly is it concerning
looking at forbidden sights. A person says to himself, “What damage is
it going to cause me?” How can such a person ever do teshuva? Everything
is permitted to him: to speak stupidity, to think stupid thoughts, to look.
The Tzaddik says to him, “If you will only start speaking to Hashem,
all will be revealed to you: everything for which you need to do teshuva
and everything you did that was forbidden.”
We had people by us
who were so simple that they did not even know how to pray. But simply
by speaking constantly to Hashem, they turned out to be very kosher Jews.
There are Breslov Chassidim who used to say that just for this one piece
of advice from Rabbeinu—hisbodedus—it is worth becoming a Breslover
Chassid. To learn how to say to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, have mercy
on me. I myself do not know what to do with myself.” Then Hashem will surely
have mercy on you, and reveal to you a great light.
exactly what the son of the King says in the story of “The Seven Beggars.”
“Is it fitting for me that I should behave in such a way?” All this comes
simply from speaking to Hashem, which is why the evil inclination puts
so much effort into preventing a person from speaking to Hashem. He tells
you, “Do not speak to Hashem. Whatever you do, do not speak to Hashem.
Who do you think you are?” And the Tzaddik tells you absolutely
the opposite, “Speak to Hashem. Constantly speak to Him. Only through this
will you do teshuva. Only through this will you become a kosher
Jew.” Breslover Chassidim will be judged regarding this in Heaven: Why
did you not follow the advice of your Rabbi? Why did you not pour out your
heart before Hashem? Granted you did not know this was forbidden, granted
you did not know that was forbidden, but if you had only followed the advice
of your Rabbi, all would have been revealed to you.
And if you do not have what to say, do like Rav Ozer: stand facing the
wall and say a thousand times, “Ribono Shel Olam” (“Master of the Universe”)
over and over again. Say it for an hour. “Have mercy on me. Save me. Put
words into my mouth that I should be able to speak to you.” Just speak
even if you have nothing to say. Through this alone, Hashem will surely
save you. Be stubborn, and do not get discouraged. Speak, even if
you can not think of what to say. When Hashem sees that you are trying,
even if you are not succeeding, He will help you. He Himself will put the
words into your mouth to petition Him. He Himself will reveal to you a
new light, and show you all the places that you need to do teshuva.
Simply to stand before Hashem and say, “Is it fitting that I should behave
before you in such a way?” This alone will bring him to the level of
“teven,” a deeper understanding of the Torah, and through this he
can become a kosher Jew. One must be tremendously stubborn, but only in
said in Likutei Moharan, I:48 that one must be very stubborn in
serving Hashem. Rav Avraham ben Rav Nachman explained this as referring
to prayer, for in nothing else is it permitted to be stubborn, only in
prayer. Because sometimes a prayer is immediately accepted, and sometimes
one is told to wait. This is not because the prayer has not been accepted,
but rather because the person is not ready to be given what he prayed for.
He has to improve himself, to raise himself up through continued prayer
and longing to serve Hashem properly, until he is capable of receiving
that which he is praying for.
Rabbeinu once said to someone, “Do you really want to want?” Desire is
a powerful thing. Even when you are not given what you ask for, still,
you must continue to want, continue to pray. There is an example given
in the Gemara (Yoma 38): One who wants to buy persimmon [which has
a fragrant smell] is told to wait. One who wants to buy kerosene [which
has a foul smell] is served immediately. A person succeeds in getting up
at midnight every night, making hisbodedus and praying constantly
to Hashem, yet he sees no progress, no improvement. The truth is that he
is without question progressing, he is certainly improving, but the evil
inclination has the power to hide this from a person. Even after years
of working on himself, he still seems to have got nowhere. However, this
is just a test. The evil inclination is trying to prevent him from carrying
out the advice of the Tzaddik. One has to be tremendously stubborn
and not allow himself to be prevented from continuing to cry out endlessly
to Hashem. One must never cease from following the advice of Rabbeinu and
not be put off by his apparent lack of success and improvement. Rather,
he must say to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, do with me as You will.
Nothing is going to stop me from crying out to You!” Do not stop
praying because you do not get what you want. If you stop praying, this
just shows that you did not want it enough.
When a person has an awakening to do teshuva, he straight away wants
to start praying with concentration, to put meaning into every word. Rabbeinu
says, “This I am not yet ready to give you. Perhaps tomorrow you will abandon
me. Continue doing the best that you can until I see that you are really
serious, really determined, and then I will give it to you.” Were a person
to search for a hidden treasure, and not find it, would he simply give
up searching? One must search for Hashem constantly. This is the only proof
of sufficient desire. One should not press Him that He should give him
immediately, but rather be prepared to wait for Him to give when He sees
that you are ready.
Hisbodedus is our only weapon. Through persistently begging Hashem
to help us we can achieve every level and truly become a kosher Jew. But
to do this, we have to pray, and pray, and never stop praying.
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