Revised and translated from the lessons of Rabbi Nissan Dovid Kivak shlit”a
Rebbe Nachman teaches us what serving Hashem really means and how to best invest all of our time in this world. The main service of Hashem is Torah and mitzvos – to look at the inherent wisdom and inner essence of everything, to understand that there is a Creator, one G-d, and to take this into our hearts. We need to live with the light of Emuna, to think about how Hashem constantly renews the creation, and about how He is running our lives with great love and kindness. This is the most important thing in Yiddishkeit – that a person connects himself to the inherent wisdom in everything, to the point that whenever he does a mitzvah, he looks to the inner essence of the mitzvah. He puts on Tzitzit and Tefillin and thinks about the inner meaning of these mitzvos; he looks for the deeper essence of everything he does. There are the books of the Tzaddikim, and especially Reb Nosson’s Likutei Halachos – incredible things that help us understand the inner essence.
The general underlying idea is simply to connect to Hashem, and this is the main thing in Yiddishkeit, to look for the inner spiritual essence in everything we do. In everything that we are busy with, whether it’s at work or at home, or just generally if we are tired and don’t have much strength to learn, or if we are facing all sorts of hassles and things to take care of – to not get confused by this, and to know that this is also serving Hashem. In each thing, look for it’s inner spiritual essence and for what there is to fix there. When you do this, it becomes part of serving Hashem. This is a principle of the Baal Shem Tov and the Tzaddikim, that when a person looks for the inherent wisdom in everything, he lives with true charm in serving Hashem.
Our Rebbe in the first discourse in Likutei Moharan greatly expands on this idea, and he adds to it. He tells us, “I know that there is a problem here – that you feel that you can’t do this. You feel that you can’t look for and connect to the deeper essence and inherent wisdom of things, and that you can’t become enflamed by your Emuna that there are sparks here to elevate and corrections to make. I know that you are weak people – you forget things and get all confused and confounded. You aren’t sure of things, and you haven’t got any strength, and the Yetzer Hora (evil inclination) is pushing you relentlessly and you fall again and again and again. Despite all this – I’m still directing my words to you, and I’m telling you that you can connect to this wonderful light and you can be connected to the true charm of serving Hashem. It’s the truth! Even if you make mistakes and fall, each time that happens, come back and focus yourself – ‘I don’t want to be superficial! I want to look at things with inherent wisdom.’”
Just like the Moon. The Moon shines very beautifully at night. What does it do? It simply stands itself facing the Sun. We have to do the same thing. “I want inherent wisdom. I know that I need to constrain myself.” When there’s an overabundance of light – when a person wants things too much, then he can easily get discouraged, and this isn’t good. Too little light also isn’t good, because then a person thinks that he doesn’t want to act in the ways described in the books of the Tzaddikim. Neither of these ways works. What does work is the way our Rebbe describes here – “Take what you already have; you don’t need more than that. Whatever it is that Hashem has arranged for you, your simple Yiddishkeit. Baruch Hashem you have a beard and peyos, you have Tzitzit and Tefillin and you pray every day. Now grab as much Torah and mitzvos as you can, and rejoice with whatever you manage to do. Take hold of these things – this is your holy servitude, your acceptance of Hashem’s yoke, and here your closeness to Hashem can shine.”
The main service of Hashem is Tefillah. Tell Hashem what you’re going through. “Ribono Shel Olam, I wanted to be like this… (XYZ). I’ve wanted this for sixty years… and I still want it! For today, I want to be close to You with what I have. Not an overabundance of light, with what I don’t have, but to rejoice with my Shabbos observance – ‘I’m the most successful man in the world! I’ve done it! I’m a billionaire! I have ten cars outside, and a private jet. I fly to Uman every few hours. Ah! I have such a good life – with what? Because I keep Shabbos! I’ve already succeeded’. Be happy in what you’re doing. Get rid of the fantasies that you can’t serve Hashem if you’re not some great Rosh Yeshiva or Kabbalist – that’s nonsense! Realize how everything else is just false illusions. Just rejoice with Hashem. You’re already great. “Here – I ate kosher food. I’ve guarded my thoughts, and my speech. One moment of silence is worth all the riches in the world.” Now, you’re free to serve Hashem with a smile in everything you do. Do you know why? If you look at yourself properly, you’re already doing a wonderful job.