Excerpts from a lecture by
HaRav Eliezer Berland, shlit"a,
delivered in Uman, the Shabbos following Rosh Hashanah, 5758.
In the story of “The Seven Beggars,” the Beggar
with the speech defect tells a story about the Heart of the World and the
Spring, and how the Heart yearns for the Spring. He describes how the Spring
does not exist in time at all, and receives its time only through the Beggar
with the speech defect. This beggar collects all the acts of true
kindness done in the world and brings them to the True Man of Kindness,
who turns them into time, which he gives to the Heart, one day at a time,
who in turn, gives each day to the Spring. The Beggar with the speech defect
is the wisest of the group of wise men gathered together in the story.
Moreover, he knows the wisdom of each day, meaning that each day is formed
by his collecting all the acts of true kindness, which are performed with
self-sacrifice throughout the world.
As far as we are concerned, we know that today
is Shabbos, tomorrow is Sunday, etc., but in Heaven this is not the case.
There, they know that the day to come has not yet been created, and in
fact, they do not even know for whom they should create the day. Should
they create it for us? People who do not guard their eyes, and who do not
dedicate themselves to learning Torah, etc.? And if not, then for whom
should they create the new day?
What Hashem does, therefore, is to inspire somebody
somewhere to do an act of unadulterated kindness, which includes within
it a certain amount of self–sacrifice, and through this, the new day is
Similarly, there are people who come to Rebbe Nachman’s
gravesite with such self-sacrifice, that they actually cause Rosh Hashanah
to come into being. There are people who are facing court cases or imprisonment,
and there are some who have battled against obstacles from home.
They, through their self-sacrifice in coming to Uman, actually create Rosh
Hashanah, and all the light of Rosh Hashanah is in their merit.
One person, whose story we heard, had come from
Sweden, and was in great danger. If he stayed for the holiday, his
visa would run out even before Rosh Hashanah, and he was anticipating facing
a large fine on his departure from Russia. It must have taken a lot of
courage for him to make the decision to stay. Furthermore, his daughter
had been terribly sick, to the point that the doctors had already completely
given up hope. His sister, however, had heard about the tremendous salvation
that could be achieved through the saying of Rebbe Nachman’s “Tikkun HaKlali”
(“The Complete Rectification,”) the ten Psalms which he so vehemently recommended
to be recited every day by every single person. He and his sister both
said the “Tikkun HaKlali” over and over again, without interruption, and
every time he said it, his daughter’s condition improved, until she literally
came back to life. She is now recuperating from what was heading towards
being a fatal illness.
The father, when he saw this resurrection of the
dead with his own eyes, decided to become religious, and sought out a yeshiva
where he could learn more about Judaism. He was directed to the Chabad
yeshiva in New Jersey, which is open to all to come and learn. However,
from Heaven it had been decreed that he should find his way to our Holy
Rebbe. Two weeks before he applied to the yeshiva, a group from Israel
came and “kidnapped” half the yeshiva. From then on, they decided that
all Israelis were suspected of wanting to do the same, and they accused
him of having the same aims. He was most insulted at this, and decided
to seek out the Tzaddik who had disclosed the “Tikkun HaKlali,”
through whom the resurrection of the dead–which he had seen with his own
eyes–had come about. So, he came to visit the gravesite of Rebbe Nachman.
He related how, when he came to the grave, even though he was completely
frozen [from the cold], he began to feel waves of warmth radiating from
Today, tourists come to the grave of the Rebbe
after such an easy journey–a few hours on a plane, bringing with them food
and everything else that they could possibly need–that it is very difficult
for them to feel the presence of the Rebbe, that he is actually there at
his gravesite. But there was a time that people came with tremendous self–sacrifice
to the grave, after days and sometimes even weeks of traveling: crossing
borders, riding for hours and even days on uncomfortable trains and buses,
running out of food and having to survive on whatever fruit and vegetables
that they were able to find. By the time that they actually arrived, they
were truly able to feel the presence of the Tzaddik. Even in the
great frosts of Russia, they would actually feel the waves of warmth radiating
from the grave and, they would literally sweat.
This Jew, who felt these incredible sensations,
decided that he was not going to leave the grave, and eventually he stayed
there for about two weeks, day and night. Even on Shabbos, when they offered
him hospitality, he was unwilling to take them up on it. For certain, when
he made Kiddush, he was making it with the Rebbe beside him, and when he
sang the Shabbos songs, he was singing them with the Rebbe. Only through
such complete self-sacrifice can one truly feel the Rebbe, to feel that
he is actually beside you. And for his sister also, through whom the miracle
came about, who literally saved the life of her niece and caused her brother
to return to a religious life, she also received an awakening and, she
eventually became a Breslover Chassid.
Rebbe Nachman truly is alive, and it is possible
for one to actually feel his presence. Wherever the Rebbe is, the Seven
Shepherds, (Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, Yosef, Moshe, Aaron and David,)
are there as well. Reb Yudel, one of the students of the Rebbe, had said
on Rosh Hashanah, many years ago, that he was able to literally see Rebbe
Nachman, and that anyone who was worthy could see him too.
All who come to Uman have a hand in the creation
of Rosh Hashanah–in the creation of the world–and we must all pray very
much that no tragedies should happen this year, neither to the Jews nor
to the non-Jews. As it is brought in the Midrash Rabba, Lech Lecha
39:11, that during the time of Avraham Avinu, no boat sank at sea, even
the boats that belonged to the idolaters who were transporting wine for
their services. For then, if there would be a shortage of wine at the markets,
even Avraham Avinu and his students would be unable to procure wine, and
what there was would be very expensive. So too is it with every non-Jew
that makes a product: when he dies, that product is lacking in the market.
As Rashi wrote regarding Yonah, the nations repent very easily. In truth,
it would be possible to arouse them all to convert, as it is known, that
there have been entire villages that converted. It is easy to direct a
non-Jew to the truth, because he doesn’t have a thousand thoughts running
through is head at the same time. They tell him to love Jews, he loves
them; to hate, and he hates; to convert and he converts.
Rav Levi Yitzchak used to relate how there were women
that had converted to Judaism who used to come to the synagogue in Uman.
They would cry from the beginning of the service to the end, despite the
fact that they were unable to read one single word from the prayer book
or understand any of the service. They would just weep. Rav Levi Yitzhak
explained that converts have a tremendously pure and uncomplicated approach
to Judaism, whereas the Jew has a thousand twists and turns in his brain
every minute, which is why, as the Rabbis teach, that Moshiach will be
descended from converts.
Rav Nosson said that when a boy reaches thirteen
years of age, it would actually be more fitting for us to rend our garments,
rather than to make a huge party. Because, at that age, such awful thoughts
begin to race around inside his head, and he doesn’t even know the extent
to which they are forbidden. It is so important, when one comes to the
grave of Rebbe Nachman, that he should truly repent for any kind of improper
thoughts and desires that he might have had. If just one person expels
all his bad thoughts and refuses to allow them the slightest entry into
his head, his returning in repentance can also bring the whole world back
I spoke to one of my students from Ashkelon who
had become very sick. I said to him, “If you will only be strong, thousands
of others will be strengthened with you.” This is because every Jew is
connected to all the other Jewish souls. Afterward, that same young man
came to me and told me that my encouragement had meant so much to him,
and had had such an effect on him that he actually came to feel a whole
new sense of responsibility for other people, as well as for himself. Every
soul is connected to all other souls, and his mind encompasses all their
thoughts, which is why it sometimes happens that such thoughts pass through
his mind. But equally, every holy thought and act has an awakening effect
on all others. So, when one decides to repent and push away all his own
negative thoughts, all others are aroused to repentance also.
In the merit of our returning in true repentance,
may we also merit to bring back all our fellow Jews in repentance, and
also all the non-Jews. For, in truth, it is actually easier to bring
the nations back in repentance, and if we were only worthy, we could arouse
them all to convert to Judaism, and bring the final Redemption, may it
happen speedily and in our days, Amen.
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