Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Archive for February 12, 2010

Meshivas Nefesh 29

It is forbidden for a person to give up. Even if he has fallen to wherever it may be, and is lying in the deepest places, no matter what, he still should not despair of coming close Hashem. It is possible to draw near to Hashem from everywhere, for ‘the entire world is full of His glory’.

A true Tzaddik is only worthy of his name when he has this ability to revive and lift up those who have fallen very low, to encourage and strengthen them, to inspire them and to awaken them, and to reveal to them that Hashem is still with them, by them, next to them and close to them, ‘for the entire world is full of His glory’. The Tzaddik must also be able to do the opposite, to show those who are on a high level that they still don’t know anything about Hashem and serving Him.

Meshivas Nefesh 29, Based on Likutei Moharan II, 7 teaches:

The Rebbe revealed this teaching on the last Chanukah of his life. In it, he hints at his passing, and how he wanted the matter which he started to continue through his disciples who would in turn make new disciples. We also learn about a key in applying Hischazkus – a way through which Hischazkus can always be fresh and uplifting. What causes people to tire of hearing over and over, “Hashem is with you, by you and next to you” or “You have a Nekudah Tovah”, etc. is a lack of awareness of the lesson of this teaching.

The Compassionate Leader

When it comes to learning and understanding Torah, it’s understood that one must study from those who have toiled especially in that area of Torah which he wants to learn, whether it be Halachah, Gemara, Kabbalah and so on. The same thing applies in regard to the knowledge of Hashem. One must learn by Tzaddikim who have worked and put tremendous effort into achieving awareness of Hashem.

What’s needed is a compassionate leader who knows and understands the Jewish soul and where it stems from, and how pure they are at their essence; somebody who knows the fundamental nature of the Jew’s holiness, that a Jew is totally removed from sin. Sin has nothing to do with a Jew. The foremost sympathy on a Jew would be to remove him from sin, and to enlighten his mind, and to help him feel Hashem.

But even a compassionate person needs to know how to act with his compassion. He must know upon whom to have sympathy and how, in order to give everybody the message which he needs for his soul. Somebody of a smaller standing might need to be shown how “the whole world is full of His glory”, that Hashem is with him and by him. Someone on a higher level needs to be shown the greatness of Hashem, and how he hasn’t even begun to draw near to Him, and to be inspired to search, “where is the place of His glory?”

This is the foremost endeavor of the Tzaddikim. They are constantly ascending to highest sources of Divine Compassion to draw them upon every individual in Klal Yisroel, in order that everyone should be worthy to be called a “person” and not just an animal who doesn’t know of Hashem that just looks human. For although these ideas of how Hashem’s glory fills the world or that Hashem is very great and we must awaken ourselves to seek Him out are well known and found in all the books, and everyone is capable of repeating them, practically speaking, as long as a person’s sins cover up his heart, they don’t allow him to internalize these teachings in a way that inspire and ignite his heart with a longing and desire for Hashem. It comes to a point that he just tires of hearing about them.

Studying Chassidus is not enough when it comes to achieving awareness of Hashem. These ideas in and as of themselves don’t inspire people. On the contrary, they become ‘old’ very quickly. The solution is to for a person to enlighten himself with what is called a “surrounding awareness”. This means teachings and ideas which “surround” the mind which although he is unable to understand internally, he still realizes that there is something here, something awesome which is above his perception. This realization is what excites the heart and inspires longing for Hashem.

That is why it’s necessary to constantly arouse Heavenly Compassion upon people, in order to draw upon them this illumination which will blow entirely new life into them. This is constantly being done with the power of the great Tzaddikim, who are full of awesome compassion on Klal Yisroel, and want to open for them the light of knowledge of Hashem.

Speaking with Friends

The way through which we can draw upon ourselves the sympathy and compassion of the Tzaddikim, is through friends sincerely discussing between each other the teachings which are revealed by the Tzaddikim, with an honest desire to come to Yiras Shomayim.

Even though the lessons are well known, still, every day the Torah can be understood in a new light. And through becoming close to Tzaddikim and genuinely seeking to illuminate the heart with enlightenment of the mind, we merit experiencing new life in every teaching. The power of the words which a person speaks with friends about Yiras Shomayim helps a person internalize those teachings.

The main thing is to have faith in the power of the Tzaddikim who are constantly arousing Divine Kindness to help us internalize new light through their Torah. Through them, a person can always find novel counsel, which literally descends into his situation to awaken him to come to know Hashem. Each time in its own way, be it through realizing how far we are from Hashem or realizing how close He is. This is the basis of accepting the ways of Hischazkus.

The Light of Chanukah Through the Forgiveness of Yom Kippur

The days of Chanukah have a special power within them to help a person merit enlightening his mind. But in order to merit the flow of Divine Compassion through the Tzaddikim, it is necessary that a person first achieve forgiveness. This means that he should not give up, saying that he has already heard and knows about all the teaching of the Tzaddikim how Hashem is with him and by him. On the contrary, he should liven up and start seeking and searching in the depths of the Torah of the Tzaddikim, and to do Teshuvah, then request mercy and forgiveness from Hashem, and to merit being a ‘man’ – not an animal in the form of a person. As much as he arouses himself to pray for forgiveness and compassion, so too, he merits the light of Chanukah, to renew himself with the power of the Tzaddikim.

Various Laws Pertaining to Rosh Chodesh

By HaRav Shimon Anshin shlit”a

A. Does one mention “Yaaleh V’Yavoh” at the 3rd Meal?

In the case where Motzei Shabbos falls out on Rosh Chodesh, one who makes Birkas Hamazon at night (Tzeis Hakochavim), raises the question as to whether or not to say “Retzei” as one does on Shabbos itself, or “Yaaleh V’Yavoh” as we will clarify below according to the Poskim (Shulchan Aruch – 188).

  • If one finishes the Seuda before sunset even if he only benches Birkas Hamazon at night (Tzeis Hakochavim), he only mentions “Retzei”.
  • If one finishes the Seuda bein Hasmashos (between sunset and Tzeis Hakochavim), there are those who say that the law goes according to one who finishes the Seuda before sunset according to point A. above and therefore one would only mention “Retzei”.
  • If one continued to eat bread after Tzeis Hakochavim, there is a difference of opinion among the Poskim as what to say:

1. There are those that say only to mention Yaaleh V’Yavoh in as much as that if one said “Retzei” it would be as if one “contradicted” the other.  Since, on the one hand one is still considering the time to be Shabbos yet on the other hand by saying “Yaaleh V’Yavoh”, one is considering it to be Rosh Chodesh (in which case it would no longer be Shabbos!) – (Magen Avraham and many of the Achronim).

2. There are those that say to mention both “Retzei” and “Yaaleh V’Yavoh” and hold that mentioning the two insertions do not contradict one another – (Taz and Baal HaTanya)

3. There are those that say only to mention “Retzei” (Bach, Aruch Hashulchan and the Ben Ish Chai)

In practice:

Based on the differing opinions above then, it would be best not to continue eating bread after sunset in order not to enter into any doubt and therefore avoid having to deal with the 3 differences of opinion above.

  • If one did in fact continue to eat bread between sunset and Tzeis Hakochavim, it would seem preferable to say “Retzei” only.
  • If however, one continued to eat bread after Tzeis Hakochavim, whether one said just “Yaaleh V’Yavoh” or “Retzei” and “Yaaleh V’Yavo” there are those on whom to rely.  But if one said only “Retzei” (albeit not preferable), the Poskim do not “object.”
  • If however, one prayed Maariv before Birkas Hamazon, one only mentions “Yaaleh V’Yavoh”.
  • If one did not eat bread after sunset or Tzeis Hakochavim, but only ate other items (or a kazayis of bread in more that the allotted amount of time for eating the kazayis (“achilat pras”), one only mentions “Retzei”.

B.  The prohibition of Women to perform Melachos on Rosh Chodesh.

Women are prohibited to perform Melachos on Rosh Chodesh, however within these prohibitions, there are a different Minhagim:

a) Those that do not perform any Melacha at all.

b) Those that do not sew, knit and wash clothes other that for specific needs on the day.

c) Those that do not sew and knit but wash clothes per usual (especially since today we have washing machines and therefore many are lenient in this way).  The same also applies to ironing and the way it is done today.

However with regards to baking and cooking, there is no minhag to be stringent and refrain.

In practice:

If there is a known minhag in the community, one should do according to the Minhag of the place (minhag hamakom).  If however, there is no established minhag in the community, one should go according to the minhag of her mother.  But if one has neither minhag, a woman should ask her Rav.

Women working for a living:

If a woman is an employee and it would be difficult to stop working on Rosh Chodesh, she should work as per usual.  Even if she is an independent contractor, according to the Aruch Hashulchan, she is permitted to work as per usual.

The Night of Rosh Chodesh:

The prohibition of melacha on the night of Rosh Chodesh itself also depends on the minhag of the community.

Two-day Rosh Chodesh:

If Rosh Chodesh is two days, there are those that are stringent not to perform melacha on both days but others are stringent only on the 2nd day and not on the 1st.

All of the above points apply ONLY to married woman, but with regards to unmarried women, there are those that say there is no prohibition against Melacha at all, but those that are stringent however, find blessing.

C.  Seudas Rosh Chodesh:

  • There is a specific mitzvah to eat plenty at the Seudas Rosh Chodesh day and one who spends money and eats and drinks in its honor is praiseworthy as the Talmud states: “all the nourishment of a person is determined on Rosh Hashanah except for Shabbos, Yom Tov and Rosh Chodesh and if one adds for this purpose, they enable him from Above” – Shulchan Aruch Siman 419.

(Many people are not careful with this law, not even aware that this is specific law outlined in the Shulchan Aruch and they therefore worry about spending money on this Seuda not realizing that they are not loosing anything as it is not part of their livelihood allotted on Rosh Hashanah.)

  • It is preferable to eat bread on Rosh Chodesh day for the Seudas Rosh Chodesh.
  • If Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos, one should add additional food specifically in honor of Rosh Chodesh.


As this is a translation of the original Hebrew, if you are unclear on any of the Laws outlined herein in any way whatsoever, please consult with a Posek.

“The Living Torah”

Sruly was a true free spirit; he could not bear the thought of being confined to any system or bound to any responsibility. The majority of his time he spent inside his imagination, it was there that he amassed his wealth, made a great living and lacked nothing. The big problem was that he also had a family, which was something that actually existed in reality. Caring people tried to help out somewhat, the daring amongst them even tried to arrange some work for Sruly, but whatever they managed to find him, at best would only last a few days.

Sruly was neither foolish nor ignorant of his issue; he did have a great desire to stabilize his untamable spirit. He was not free of the worries of parnassah and the worry of falling into debt did not evade him either, but what could he do, there was nothing that he despised more and nothing more frightening to him than accepting upon himself the burden of any yolk.  The business managers that he had met with throughout the years found him to be bright, sharp and of good character, yet somehow when it came down to the practical things like being on time and keeping a schedule, Sruly was nowhere to be found.

The suggestion that came his way one morning after Shacharis, was utterly surprising. The esteemed businessman and manager of The National Bank offered Sruly to try out the position of being his personal assistant. “You won’t have too much work” he said, “and there are no real fixed working hours. You’ll only have to worry about a few small things and other than that you’re free” he added. “Wow, such a position I never even dreamed of”, thought Sruly as he rubbed his hands together in excitement – “a prestigious position, a great salary… and to be free!”

The following days were like a dream come true. Sruly danced his way to the bank and fulfilled his job with joy and satisfaction, and when the bank manager suggested at the end of the month that he take the position indefinitely, Sruly was overjoyed.

It was only later that night, when his pride subsided and his clarity returned that suddenly the manager’s words floated to the forefront of his mind: “Don’t forget,” he said with an authoritative glare “from today you are an official staff member, your dress code should match appropriately.” After a short silence he added “and a schedule of course.” That night Sruly hardly slept.

The next morning Sruly sat at his desk staring at the employment contract in his hands. The paper fluttered between his trembling fingers as his beady eyes glared with fear at the many paragraphs. The contract was official and precise, fitting for ‘The National Bank.’ His heart throbbed powerfully, he dropped the piece of paper and buried his head in his hands as a heavy sigh rippled through his body, “Oy, what have I got myself into, my freedom is gone, my life is over!” Just then there was a light knock on the door, Sruly looked up and standing in the doorway was the bank’s secretary with a large pile of documents in his hands…

The following days were heavily laden with activities and only at the end of the week, when he finally had some time to think clearly, he looked back upon the days that had passed and suddenly he felt a feeling of tremendous accomplishment. “Yes, this is exactly what I needed” he said to himself, “until now I thought I was free, but now I have a accomplished something – I can do it, this is true freedom, this is life!” ■

This week we have great expectations. We ended last week’s parsha amidst the awesome standing of the giving of the Torah. Thunderous voices and lightning, a gathering filled with splendor, holiness and purity. And so we surely expect to continue with something no less grand and exalted. This is where we stand to be greatly surprised…

Suddenly the Torah begins to discuss all sorts of details; commandments, mandates and laws regarding monetary matters and damages. Worst of all – ‘The Hebrew slave’ – what connection does all this have to such a lofty and holy event as the giving of the Torah?

Let us picture this a little more vividly. The Jewish people leave Egypt, but not before all the laws of nature are shattered before the eyes of every individual. The sea splits and they pass through it on dry land. Their lives are more spiritual than physical, they tread upon the clouds of glory, perceiving Hashem’s greatness more and more with every moment, their clothes grow together with them and they eat only bread from heaven. Then, at the foot of Har Sinai they are commanded to completely shed the limitations of physicality and to prepare themselves in holiness for three days. A spirit of purity fills the entire surroundings and everything seems to be uplifted.

Finally the great day arrives; only through a miracle do their souls not burst out of the confines of their bodies. The mountain is covered with smoke; thunder and lightning – a level of awe and trepidation completely out of this world.  They see the sounds and smell the scent of Gan Eiden. Their ears hear the voice of The Creator and at the end, when they can no longer withstand the intensity, the last strand that binds their souls to their bodies is broken and the angels begin to sprinkle the Tal (dew) that revives the dead. Then, just as the physical world has been completely left behind, they begin to hear the most extremely foreign concepts: ‘One who strikes his father or mother … One who kidnaps a man and sells him…’ (Shmos 21). What happened! Where did all the holiness go? Who is dreaming about such things? Who would even think of doing such lowly things? The Torah is holy – how do such lowly and physical concepts get in here? Were we not commanded just a few days ago to completely leave physicality behind, to become holy? All of a sudden we are not only being returned to physicality but to the lowliest coarseness…

Yes, we heard correctly, this is the receiving of the Torah. Although the Torah comes from heaven, if Hashem had wanted to leave it up there He would not have needed to shake up the whole world for it. If the Torah was intended for the angels we would have had no need to stand at the foot of Har Sinai. The Torah was written in order to enter into the boundaries of physicality, and until it has penetrated to the lowest place in the world, it has still not been properly accepted.

When the Rebbe explains the opening verse of this week’s parsha (L.M 7), he teaches that the Torah was given in order to bring emunah into every aspect of life. The gallus (exile) of Mitzrayim was itself a lack of emunah, and when one lacks emunah, his life is bound into exile. It is the holy Torah that is able to redeem the soul from its exile and until the Torah has penetrated into every aspect of life, we have not completely received it. This means that the receiving of the Torah IS the acceptance of the light of emunah in every place and in every situation.

This is why specifically at the height of the giving of the Torah it was most appropriate to tell us about ‘the Hebrew slave.’ It is just then, that it was of utmost importance to the Torah that we know that there is such a situation as a Hebrew slave, and that the Torah speaks about that too. Now, one will never be able to say: ‘the Torah is too lofty and spiritual for me.’ Since if the Torah specifies how a Hebrew slave, who has fallen so low that he is permitted to marry a non-Jewish maidservant, must act, then there is surely something here that is relevant to us too.

When we stood ready to receive the Torah we thought that on top of all we have in our lives we will receive another detail, something higher and loftier. We quickly discovered the truth … the Torah envelopes our entire being, resting upon every fine detail of life, even the things we never thought of. The Torah pays attention to every little thing; it is even concerned with how we dress.

That’s it! There is nowhere to run.

But then the great understanding comes, that in truth, I don’t want to run away. How wonderful it is to be connected in every fine detail to the purpose. How fantastic it is to be attached and bound to Hashem, and how great it is to discover that He is interested in me. He is interested in what I think, in what I eat, how I speak and even how I do business. The Torah was given to us in order to make life holy. Our greatest challenge occurs specifically with the smaller things, these are the things to which we generally give no importance. But the Torah asks of us to be holy, and to connect EVERYTHING to the great joy and ultimate purpose.

This week we will also read Parshas Shekalim. It speaks about money. This is because the majority of problems are focused around money; parnassah, debts and business dealings. This area generally seems so complicated; it seems to be better not to get involved at all. Parshas Shekalim comes and teaches: money is a truly wondrous thing when we use it for Tzeddakah – meaning, when we uplift it into holiness. Specifically when we take the lowliest things and uplift them to the glory of Hashem, that is when we create a Parshas Shekalim.

Yes, its difficult, but we are only asked to do what we can. Our half, the “Machtzis hashekel” (half a shekel). This ultimately is what will build “Mishkan L’Hashem”

You can download the entire parasha sheet here

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