Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Archive for the ‘FAQS’ Category

Worriors of the Heart

Translated from the orginal Hebrew of Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Kletzky shlit”a

Question:

Why are there so many difficulties concerning every good thing which I want to accomplish?

Answer:

This is exactly the goal for which you came into this world, to choose the good.  In order that there be freedom of choice, it’s necessary for there also to be a power opposing holiness. On the contrary, each time that a difficulty or obstacle arises in learning, praying, faith or any other Mitzvah, we have to strengthen ourselves exceedingly and tell ourselves, that this is a sign that Hashem does indeed love our Mitzvos very much and He also believes in us – He is therefore sending us this difficulty in order that we have proper free will, and when we do overcome it, we will give Him satisfaction.

An analogy which we can use to understand this concept can be of a soldier, who after performing a heroic act, is recognized by superiors to be a valiant soldier, and he is sent on a even more dangerous mission deep in enemy territory. The soldier becomes angry and says, what do they want from me, I’ve already proven my abilities, why do I deserve such a punishment? His commanders answer him with a warm smile; you don’t understand at all your role in the army. This isn’t a punishment at all, and this isn’t the place to show your heroism. You have to understand that there is a real war going on with enemy forces which need to be annihilated. Therefore, when you first joined the army we started off slowly, and when we saw your successes, we decided to send just you.

Hashem loves us very much, and believes in our abilities, that we are capable. He therefore sends us on battles and missions, sometimes even more difficult ones that the previous ones.

Question:

The analogy isn’t precise, because I’m not a successful soldier, and in many cases the evil wins over me.

Answer:

Indeed the analogy isn’t exact, because in a simple war, we want to see results – conquering enemy territory. It really doesn’t make any difference to the king what the soldiers’ feelings towards him are during the war, and if they really have the king’s honor in mind or not. The main thing is that the soldiers will follow orders, and win the war.

On the other hand, in this holy war, there is an entirely different goal. Hashem wants us to connect with Him with a sincere heart, with longing and desire.  The war in Yiddishkeit between good and evil takes place in a different arena – it’s to be found in the heart.  Is there a desire and longing for Hashem or some type of spiritual obliteration, coolness and tiredness?

It’s therefore untrue to say that we haven’t been successful at war.

Even if we didn’t actually win and conquer, still, Hashem checks our heart, how much have we tried and exerted ourselves to come close to Him, how many internal battles did we have until we were beaten

The main thing which Hashem wants from us, is that we should awaken within ourselves a want and a desire, and this itself is already called ‘victory’.

Question:

If the main thing is the desire, what advice is there to boost the will and the desire?

Answer:

We’re now going back to the original question which you asked, why does everything in holiness have to come together with so many battles. Here you have another explanation. Hashem meets out tremendous kindness with us by causing obstacles and difficulties before everything. If everything would go easy, we would be performing mitzvos and serving Hashem without awakening any longing for Him. He therefore has to set up barriers which bring about an awakening of holy passion and longing. The distance itself causes longing.

This is a tremendous rule throughout the Rebbe’s teachings: Obstacles are there to stir up the enthusiasm. This isn’t just a saying – this is exactly how it is. Anyone who wants to come close to Hashem must pass through many points of distance and falls in every prayer, every Torah-study, every act of charity or kindness which he wants to do.

On the contrary, the more things get in the way, the more the desire is truly awakened. We see ourselves that when a person is hungry, the more time passes and he doesn’t find what to eat, the feelings of hunger just become stronger. Every moment that passes, all of his mental capabilities concentrate fully and sharpen his understanding that the only thing that should be interesting him now is the quest for food.

Question:

It seems to be just the opposite, the more I see that I’m not successful in accomplishing, I become weaker and more dejected. Slowly, I stop wanting and longing for many holy things the same way that I did in the past.

Answer:

Why when we need food don’t we give up when it doesn’t come easy? In material things it is obvious to us that that is what we need, and we have no way to escape to a place where we won’t have to eat. This isn’t the case by spiritual matters, where we inside we think it’s possible to get by without it.

This is Amalek’s tactic. He knows the secret that the more he’ll disturb us, the more he’ll awaken within us a greater desire. So what does he do? He inserts into our ideology thoughts that maybe in reality there is something else besides Avodas Hashem. In general he shows us, “see how people are succeeding in living without fear of Heaven.” When he’s unsuccessful in convincing us in general, he then tries before each individual Mitzvah, deriding and cooling off the importance of the Mitzvah – what the outcome will be if you don’t stand this trial, and so on.

We therefore have to clearly define our soul’s true position, that even if it’s hard to accomplish everything that we have to, we should still keep in mind the truth, that life is about the light of Torah and serving Hashem.

When this point is clearly in focus, then the more the obstacles become stronger, we will perceive the longing itself becoming stronger.

Therefore, it’s very important to sit every day with Hashem and tell Him everything in your heart. Tell Him all of your inner wants and how much you want to come close to Him, and go into detail as much as possible. This action strengthens and sharpens the heart with the understanding that it’s primary food is spirituality, and there is no substitute.  And the more that the heart is reinforced with this aspiration, the more you will be able to see how every obstacle and difficulty in fact  only helps to strengthen one’s desire and longing for Hashem.

Advertisements

TU B’SHEVAT- BLOSSOMING ANEW

By Rabbi Avroham Kletzky shlit”a

Question:

What is special about Tu B’Shevat being the New Year for trees, and what relevance does it have for me?

Answer:

Tu B’Shevat is the introduction to Purim.

We are now within forty days before Purim. Now is the time to ask and beg Hashem at every opportunity to save us from our spiritual adversary Haman and Amalek. The days of the month of Shevat are the starting point from where we will gather the strength to erase the memory of Amalek on Purim, and to leave Mitzrayim on Pesach.

When we motivate ourselves to yearn for the joy of Purim, the question is always asked, how can we begin to be happy? Where do we get the strength for that?

This is why we have Tu B’Shevat, which is itself a very novel idea which requires faith in the Tzaddikim – belief in the words of our sages.  Chazal fixed this day as the New Year for trees, which has many Halachic ramifications, such as Ma’asrot and Orlah, etc. This seems puzzling, because it would make more sense to start the year by when the fruit is harvested, just as we do by vegetables, or at least when the fruit has grown at least a third, as we do by grains. But Chazal set the date by the day the fruit takes hold, a time when we see nothing. In colder climates trees are actually wrapped now to protect them. Chazal are teaching us that the New Year for trees is even before we can see anything.

The Tzaddikim reveal even further, that even when we can’t even see the start, still, whoever believes in Chazal knows for certain that he did get off to a good start. Even if the tree looks dead, it’s still totally alive. When we will understand this we will be able to await our salvation, and to proceed towards Purim and Pesach.

Question:

If all Tu B’Shevat is just about a metaphor for a person, as the verse says, “For Man is like a tree in the field”, what is the significance of eating fruit?

Answer:

It’s not just a metaphor comparing a person’s renewal to that of a tree. This is the entire idea behind Tu B’Shevat, to take the fruits of Eretz Yisroel and to taste their sweetness. We taste the sweetness and pleasantness of attaching oneself to Hashem through the fruits of Eretz Yisroel, a sample of what will be revealed in Moshiach’s times, the means of attaching to Hashem through song and praise.

That’s why we have a custom to taste fruits, to recite Berachos aloud, to thank Hashem for the wonderful and diverse tastes which He created. We praise Eretz Yisroel and the G-dliness revealed within it, and which will be revealed with the coming of Moshiach.  This is how we make a new start in always reciting Berachos with concentration and in reciting a hundred Blessings daily, which has the power to save us from spiritual illness and morbidity.

Let’s engrave within ourselves this wonderful path, that even though now we only see the beginning of the fruit, and we are literally holding at the onset of the growth of the sweet fruits, we are still so sure of our ultimate salvation that we are already blessing and thanking Hashem.  Like someone walking through a desert, hungry and thirsty, and crossing upon something to eat like juicy grapes, etc. Can we imagine the excitement he has with each bite? We believe that at least that much will be our excitement with the sweetness of cleaving to Hashem.

This is the proper start and preparation for Purim and to triumph over the dejection which Amalek tries instilling within us.

Practically speaking, we must keep in mind that even if it seems that the world is still and dry, in truth the whole universe is playing a song for Hashem.  Amalek conceals and hides this wonderful and pleasant sound, and even “shows” us that Yiddishkeit and Emunah are difficult and “weighty”.

Shevat is the month in which Moshe Rabeinu began teaching us the Mishne Torah (Devarim), which is the sweet and pleasant reprimand of the Tzaddik in which Emunah obtains the melodic notes which draw our souls closer to Hashem with such sparkling that a person throws away all of his confusion and heaviness, mania and bitterness, and starts to understand that everything that he’s going through is only because he doesn’t have the Torah and the song of the Tzaddik.  All this because Amalek has “swallowed” his mind.

At the beginning of Tishrei, which is Rosh Hashanah, the Tzaddik stands in the way of Amalek’s “swallowing” and causes him to “vomit” out all of the holy sparks which he had already swallowed. This Tikkun is completed on Sukkos, the holiday of ‘gathering”, when all of the holy sparks return and are gathered back into holiness.

But there is still the New Year for trees, when the sparks once again start entering the trees to become part of the pleasant song.  We therefore strengthen ourselves already now, at the beginning of the blossoming, to taste the sweetness of Hashem, to renew our listening to the Tzaddiks’ teachings, to recite blessings with concentration, with song and praise.

(See LKM II 8, Likutei Halachos, Orloh 3)

FAQS on Avodas Hashem – Sefiras HaOmer

Question:

Why do we find that Breslover Chassidim scream and pray with such intensity in the Mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer?

Answer:

The Mitzvah of Sefiras HaOmer is seemingly an easy Mitzvah. All we need to do is to say, “Today is … days of the Omer.” But in reality, some of the greatest secrets are contained with it. Each day one specific heavenly Sefirah shines its own individual light in its own way. The Rebbe teaches that even everything which people discuss between themselves every day of Sefira, is in accordance with the light of that day’s Sefirah, even though they themselves are unaware. (See Likutei Moharan I 182)

Of course, we can’t cover the entire subject of Sefiras HaOmer in such a short article. It’s recommended that you take time to study the teachings of the Tzaddikim which provide many practical approaches towards Sefiras HaOmer. But we will still discuss the simple understanding of Sefiras HaOmer as a preparation for the imminent Kabbolas HaTorah on Shavuos. The most important preparation is the yearning and anticipation for the renewal of our Yiddishkeit on Shavuos.

If we would take a good look at what happens in our lives, we would see that what we are missing in Avodas Hashem is essentially the lack of practical guidance. Every day, each of us passes through so many types of experiences, and we don’t find a way to draw close to Hashem from within them. In reality, there is something we can do in every situation, but everyone needs a different individual solution ,depending on the time and the place. One person can’t tell someone else what he needs to do. Every person has to call out to Hashem himself, until He enlightens him with a new understanding of his circumstances, and perhaps a simple, practical idea as to how to properly deal with what he’s going through.

This is preparation for Kabbolas HaTorah. Every day of Sefiras HaOmer, according to the Sefirah of that day, new understandings and pathways open for us in order to help us correct our negative character traits or immoral desires. But everything depends upon our enthusiasm and faith that every day of Sefirah is an opportunity to find new ways to draw near to Hashem. (For further elaboration, see Likutei Halachos, Rosh Chodesh 6:7)

Try hard to use these precious moments of Sefirah. Take a few minutes every day to try awakening your genuine longing for Hashem which you already have in your heart. Verbalize them, and pray and request from Him that He should assist you to approach the holy Torah anew, and to always help you find your proper path.

If you see that despair has already begun to take a hold of you, with thoughts such as, ‘can I even change?’ and ‘what can my prayers help?’, then realize that this is precisely the Avodah of Sefirah; stubbornly standing strong day after day, ‘yes, I’m waiting and anticipating my salvation, and I’m not giving up, I’m counting day after day!’

Question:

Just the thought that I’m going to have to shout so much by Sefiras HaOmer makes the entire Mitzvah burdensome on me. Do I have to force myself to scream?

Answer:

Avodas Hashem is not a competition who can scream louder or for the longest time. There is no duty to scream. It isn’t even a custom … It’s something authentic for someone who understands that we are heading towards something immense.

Everything in Avodas Hashem becomes cumbersome when you make a plan for yourself to copy what you’ve seen in others, or even what you’ve seen by yourself in past successes, and you try to make your Avodah look like that. Thus we find entire Tefillos becoming confused just from checking the entire time if you feel anything, or are you crying, are you screaming enough, etc. This is literally a foreign thought in the middle of davening.  The Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan II 95, “During the recital of prayers it’s necessary to distance oneself from every form of outside thoughts in the world, and to direct your mind only to the words which you are speaking to Hashem.”

Don’t make any plans, and approach the Mitzvah in an exalted frame of mind, “I am going to bring satisfaction to Hashem in performing this Mitzvah.” Don’t look at anyone else. The Torah writes, “Count for you” – for yourself. Everyone has his own special Sefirah, his own private longing for Hashem. (See Hil’ Pesach 9)

Keep your mind on what you are saying. While reciting the Brachah, concentrate on the simple idea that Hashem has sanctified us with His Mitzvos, and thank Him for inviting you to become sanctified through His Mitzvos. While actually accounting, again keep in mind the simple yearning and anticipation, one day closer to Kabbolas HaTorah. Say the prayers after the Sefirah slowly, without pressure. Just pay attention to the words you are saying.

The more you connect to the straightforward message of the Mitzvah without troubling yourself how you have to scream and how you have to contemplate this and that, etc., the more you will become truly inspired to count the Omer correctly every day. You may even merit a few days out of the Sefirah to actually scream and let out your heart to Hashem.

Our intention here is not to stop you from screaming until you feel you are doing so authentically. Of course, you can come to inspiration through your voice also, and your heart can thereby also be inspired to scream. But the main thing is to connect with the genuineness of the Mitzvah, without looking to scream.

It’s highly recommended that you study a Halacha or two from Likutei Halachos on Sefiras HaOmer. If you need help finding something, you can use the Otzar HaYirah, which summarizes all of Reb Noson’ teachings. Think about what you have learned, and discuss it with your friends, and try to come to an understanding of what your Avodah will be this year throughout the days of Sefirah.

Throughout the day, try to think about what you’ve learned. For example, in Hil’ Pikadon 4 Reb Noson writes that Sefiras HaOmer is a time to internalize that every day in a person’s life is important, even though many times it seems as if a day doesn’t count because of all the troubles and bothers of that day. We therefore say “Today is the … day …” when we count the days of Sefirah, to internalize that every day is counted, and every day can be used to serve Hashem.

Take such an idea, and remind yourself of it throughout the day, and not just during the actual counting of the Omer. ‘Today is a day!’ You will thereby merit a new yearning for Kabbolas HaTorah.

 

How to be Redeemed this Pesach

Question:

How do we prepare for Pesach?

Answer:

1) First of all, we should remember that through all of the simple preparations for Pesach such as cleaning and shopping, as well as all other accompanying Mitzvos, we build containers for ourselves in which to receive the holiness of Pesach. We should therefore carry them out with joyfulness and liveliness.

2) For sure we should pray and call out to Hashem, be Misboded to destroy the Chametz in our hearts, or at least to ‘nullify’ it and to tell Hashem that we have no interest in it. Even if you see that you don’t have the composure to sit and speak to Hashem, you can still talk to Him in the middle of working. Awaken your heart to Hashem and throw in some words of prayer to Him.

It’s said about Adel, the daughter of the Baal Shem Tov, that she would raise her eyes heavenward in middle of cleaning her house, and say, “How can I give Hashem satisfaction?”

Of course, you should still try very hard to find a set time to speak to Hashem.

3) You should study the Halachos of Pesach as well as the teachings of the Tzaddikim which explain the essence of Pesach and the subject of the Exodus.

4) But even after all of this, you should know that the main thing is to prepare is your heart. Awaken by yourself a new, fresh hope that Pesach is coming and you are about to be redeemed. There is a concept of ‘redemption’. There is a reality in which your entire mind and heart is going to change. From this Pesach on you will start to seek Hashem with sincerity.

This was the main effect of the exile in Egypt. Pharaoh enslaved Klal Yisroel so much that their spirit was defeated and they gave up on ever being redeemed.  The greatest wonder is how even after they screamed out to Hashem and cried from their work, still, when Moshe appeared to announce their emancipation, their hearts were unable to believe anymore that Hashem had really listened to their cries and that He wanted to redeem them. “And they did not listen to Moshe from a defeated spirit and hard work.”

Pharaoh overpowers and holds us captive in this way, even now.  He occupies a person and disturbs him in many ways; the main thing is that he should not have time to consider the possibility of having a free mind. What’s interesting is that Pharaoh will sometimes allow a person to be involved in Avodas Hashem, as long as he doesn’t use his mind to recognize his connection with Hashem, and the joy Above from the simple Mitzvos.

Therefore even though we have to learn about the essence of Pesach and to pray about it, it’s still possible that a person will learn ideas and study essays about the holiday of Pesach, but it all stays by him as nothing more than nice ideas to say over by the Seder. It’s also possible that a person prays to Hashem to be redeemed on Pesach, but on the inside he’s given up. Not necessarily given up on life, but he doesn’t believe anymore that it’s possible for things to be entirely different, that it’s possible to live a life of faith and joy, satisfaction from every Mitzvah, and a constant connection to Hashem.

A person therefore has to fortify himself with the conviction that Hashem certainly needs him, and will not leave him in exile forever. The same way that when Moshe announced the redemption to Klal Yisroel, he couldn’t just take them out because they didn’t believe him. It’s difficult to redeem someone if he himself doesn’t believe that he himself is ready for it.

We have to know that on Pesach an immense light of Geulah is revealed. The problem is that a person is so small in his own eyes that it’s hard for him to believe that this light which has redeemed us in the past is literally renewed every year.

Question:

Last year I also looked forward to Pesach, and I didn’t see myself being redeemed?

Answer:

This is the question which lies deep in the heart and prevents a person from being redeemed. It’s reminiscent of the question, “What is this Avodah to you?”, for which we answer, “If you would have been there you wouldn’t have been redeemed.” We have to renew ourselves with a strong faith that there certainly will be a Geulah.

But a person has to know what the redemption that he’s looking forward to so much is. There are people who place high hopes on the Seder night, that from that day on they will be Tzaddikim or Talmidei Chachimim, etc., and are filled with disappointment when things don’t work out the way they had hoped.

On Pesach we have to yearn and to search to renew our recognition of Hashem, to put more thought and concentration into our davening, to pay attention to Hashem’s greatness, to say the Haggadah with a loud voice and with liveliness, to contemplate the miracles and wonders how Hashem keeps up the entire universe and reorganized the whole system of nature just in order to bring Klal Yisroel close to him, to open our mouths with song, to eat the Matzo with thoughts of Emunah, to believe that the Matzo is the remedy which Hashem gave us to heal our minds and heart, and when a person looks to change the way he sees looks at the world, he automatically merits entering into this Avodah this year according to his abilities.

Again, the main thing is to believe that there is another way to live. Not only that there are people in this world who are living differently, but that you yourself can be different.

Even afterwards, you have to know that after Pesach comes the period of Sefiras HaOmer. There are days in which a person is checked and tested in many ways. Some people have their presence of mind and their power of holy speech and prayer taken away from them. The purpose is not to distance them, but to test them to see if they will be stubborn to go after the truth, and to constantly push away feelings of imaginary distance form Hashem. Thereby, they will merit a true renewal of their constant connection to Hashem.

 

 

 

Preparing for Pesach and Transforming obstacles into Holiness

Question:

I want to prepare for Pesach properly through Torah study and prayer, but instead I find that I need to be busy with cleaning and shopping.

Answer:

Of course, you should try to grab time for Torah study in middle of everything you’re busy with, and to be firm to daven at set times with a Minyan.

But don’t become overwhelmed by all the obstacles that you have to endure. They are there for a purpose, and they are actually the only reason why you’re here in this world.

This can be understood with the analogy of a watch. In a watch, there is a spring which is bent backwards and naturally tries breaking free to jump forward, but is held back by the gears. The gears only allow the spring to be released forward bit by bit at the pace of seconds and minutes. If we would allow the spring the freedom to bounce forward straight away, the watch wouldn’t be able to keep time. Many machines are made in this fashion, by taking two opposing forces and creating a harmony between them.

This is the purpose of man in this world. Naturally, a person’s soul burns for Hashem. But Hashem wants us to declare His Kingship inside this world together with all of its problems and difficulties. Therefore He created an opposing force which separates a person and forcefully severs him from Torah and Tefilah and keeping his mind focused on a connection with Hashem. It’s all in order that a person should live in a reality which prevents him from serving Hashem and hides Hashem from him, and from within this reality to free oneself forward little by little. He thereby pulls the “gears”, the opposing force, with him to come closer to Hashem. Only in this way can we make wonderful Tikkunim above with our Avodas Hashem.

Question:

What should I do when I don’t see myself becoming free at all?

Answer:

Sometimes the force which is keeping us away from holiness is so strong that a person can become overwhelmed. It seems to him as if it’s impossible to serve Hashem in the place where he is. But this is a mistake.

To go back to the analogy of the watch, it would be like a spring which is sometimes pulled back so strongly that it becomes bent and stops bouncing forwards. So too, the numerous obstacles can grab a person and bend him, until he gives in and says, “That’s it, I can’t!”

We have to know that there really aren’t two equal forces which are standing opposite each other. The real stronger force is the natural pull that a person feels towards Hashem. Obstacles are only for the purpose of making a “vessel” and a “machine”. You for sure have the ability to overcome everything.

It’s just like gravity which holds on to everything in the world. When a person throws something he needs to break the hold of gravity which the world naturally has on that object. But that break is only temporary, because after the force of his throw is finished, the object is immediately pulled back down.

We also have to remember that there’s no such thing as “I’m not being allowed to serve Hashem.” The Rebbe stands against this attitude and screams, “There is no such thing as despair!”

Remember who you are. Your soul is really always being pulled above. Whatever you can’t do at this moment is only because of ‘temporary’ obstacles which are getting a hold of you. But you are stronger than them. You can’t be entirely bent and broken. The more you keep this in mind, the more you will strengthen your yearning and longing for Hashem.

You should therefore arouse a yearning for Avodas Hashem even at times when you are unable to actually serve Hashem. As much as you will pull yourself forward, you will merit freeing points of holiness for yourself little by little. Not only will you practically be able to grab many Mitzvos and much good, but even with the yearning itself you elevate the entire world to Hashem.

For example, if you have to go out into the street to take care of things, or you are standing on a ladder cleaning or plastering and you remind yourself that the only thing you want is to be close to the Creator, you have just sanctified the street or the ladder. Places which are usually in the dominion of anxiety and anger or just plain materialism, are pulling with you into holiness, just like the spring in the watch which controls the gears.

Question:

What do I achieve by pulling the obstacles into holiness?

Answer:

You’ve built in your heart a Mishkan, a Sanctuary for Hashem. This is why it’s called a “MiSHKaN”, because it’s “MoSHeKh”, the pull of gravity through which you bring G-dliness into everything which is hiding Hashem from you.

Don’t say that these are concepts which are too high for you. Mishkan is also a “MaSHKoN”, a security with which Hashem promised that He will always be with us even when we sin. This is why Hashem gave us the Mishkan after we fell into the sin of the Egel, the Golden Calf, to remind everyone that Hashem dwells upon each individual. You have the ability to arise and to rectify all situations in your life, if you will just pull yourself forward with a yearning for Hashem.

Everything depends on humility. When a person keeps in mind that he only wants to honor Hashem and doesn’t think about his own personal success, and the more he makes himself like dust, he merits that Hashem says “I will dwell by the downtrodden.” His faith that Hashem dwells with him is strengthened. He starts to understand that everything that he’s going through is a mission and an appointment from the King, that the King Himself has sent him to conquer and annex distant territories into the realm of holiness, to build another Mishkan in the desert, in a place of snakes and scorpions, by being strong to pull himself forward from the forces which are holding him back.

This is what we are praying for when we say, “Let my soul be like dust for everyone.” We should merit being like the ground which has the power of gravity to pull everything towards it.

Question:

How do we attain this ability?

Answer:

As we said, the building of the Mishkan was through Klal Yisroel. Each person brought his own portion. Everyone has his own unique mission through which the Divine Presence dwells in this world, according to his own personal trials.

But even after the Mishkan was ready, they needed Moshe to erect it. The Tzaddik is the foundation of the world. He has reached true humility until he has literally become like dust, having the gravity to pull Hashem into this world and to pull the whole world to Hashem.

The more we become closer to Tzaddikim, study their Sefarim and give charity to the poor, we merit truly being drawn after Hashem and to draw all our surroundings and all our obstacles and concealments into holiness, to bring the Divine Presence to dwell below.

Now is the time. “Rosh Chodesh Nissan is the Rosh Hashanah for kings.” Everyone in Klal Yisroel now receives his appointment for the coming year in order to receive new abilities to draw G-dliness into one’s trials and obstacles.

(Based on Likutei Moharan I 70, Likutei Halachos Yom Tov 5)

 

 

 

Preparing for Purim – Part I

Question:

What is the proper way to prepare for the upcoming holiday of Purim?

Answer:

Reb Nosson said that when one cries out to Hashem in prayer for thirty days prior to Purim, “Save me from the evil forces of Haman and Amalek,” a person can merit seeing Mordechai and Esther during the reading of the Megillah (some say that he said forty days).  But the point isn’t to keep count of the days of saying “Save me…”. The idea is to motivate oneself to perform the Mitzvah of blotting out Amalek, through understanding that Amalek is a real force which stands over us and tries to destroy us. It’s similar to what Reb Nosson said that he sees Amalek standing over him with a metal stick. As much as we internalize who Amalek is, we will be able to ask Hashem and scream out to Him that we should be saved from him.

To prepare for Purim is by identifying with entire story of the Megillah of Esther and Amalek and reading it into our own daily lives, not to see it just as a story which happened many years ago. This is an important teaching of the Rebbe: to interpret every idea onto ourselves. When reciting Tehillim in which Dovid HaMelech screams out to Hashem to be saved from those who were pursuing him, we are supposed to interpret it onto our own situation with our own Yetzer Hara which is chasing after us. The same thing is by mourning at Tikkun Chatzos about our own personal “Destruction of the Beis HaMikdash”.

On this note the Tzaddikim explain the Mishna, “Whoever reads the Megillah backwards doesn’t fulfill his obligation” to mean that whoever reads the Megillah as if it’s a story that happened once upon a time – backwards – hasn’t fulfilled his obligation. The main thing is to concentrate on the “In those days in this time”, on what’s happening in our times.

Reb Levi Yitzchak Bender used to relate how in Uman they had to stop the Megillah reading several times because of all the noise of the congregation’s crying.

Therefore it’s self-understood that before Purim the main Avodah and the right way to prepare is by indentifying Amalek well, and crying out to Hashem to be saved from his dangerous hands. The more one prays, the more he will be able to feel the holiness of Mordechai and Esther when the Megillah will be read.

It’s therefore also appropriate to study these days the teachings of the Tzaddikim about Purim in order to understand what Amalek is (or at least one point of it), and to gain knowledge of what the holiness of Mordechai and Esther is. Since he knows what he’s asking for he will then be able to cry to Hashem better.

Question:

When I just think about my personal Amalek, I immediately give up from ever conquering it. I wonder if there’s any hope in this long conflict.

Answer:

Amalek can let a person identify with the first half of the story of the Megillah, which tells about Klal Yisroel falling to enjoying Achashverosh’s feast and Haman’s decree. But he then makes us forget about the beginning of the miracle of ‘that night the king’s sleep was disturbed’ – referring to the King of the World. This is the part which tells us about the miracles and our hope. Amalek doesn’t want us to realize how much Hashem ‘disturbs His sleep’ so to speak, in order to bring us closer to Him from wherever we are, until in the end ‘it turns over that the Jews rule over their enemies.’

The same way we have to understand that Amalek is inside our hearts and we have to fight him, we also have to recognize and identify with the miracle of the Megillah. These days, as we enter into the month of Adar, it’s a Mitzvah to increase in happiness, meaning to awaken a new hope within ourselves. A new flow of Divine assistance is coming down now to help us fight Amalek.

This is also the reason for the Fast of Esther. Unlike other fast days which are in commemoration of troubles which befell us, this fast is in memory of the miracle, in order to remember that Hashem listens to all of our prayers.

This is the wicked ability of Amalek, who stands at the top of all malevolent and impure powers: to demonstrate for a person that he is so great that it’s impossible even to begin overpowering him. (Hil’ Birchas HaReiach 5)

Amalek is very tricky. He starts by approaching a person in a way that he shouldn’t realize it – in an unrecognizable manner. But even after a person wakes up to discern who Amalek is and that he must be obliterated, Amalek puts on a new outfit: despair, small mindedness. He throws person into a fear in order that he shouldn’t realize his own strength. He makes a person imagine as if Amalek is something so big that we can’t even start dealing with it. He reminds us of all the years that we have already cried: “save me from Haman and Amalek …” and it still seems as if we haven’t even begun to see any form of salvation.

Even more, not only does he cause a person to give up, he also mixes himself into a person’s psyche in a fashion that it’s difficult to make him out. A person imagines about himself that his whole essence is anger and earthly desires. He doesn’t grasp that this is not him at all but the Amalek which has attached himself to him. A person himself is a part of Klal Yisroel, a Yiddish soul whose source is from the Heavenly Throne, pure and holy and entirely removed from sin.

This is ‘remember what Amalek did for you’, to remember that Amalek has done all of this to you and this isn’t you. Through identifying the enemy, you will awaken within yourself the ability to cry out and the strength to fight him.

The truth be told, is that it is impossible to totally conquer Amalek until Moshiach comes. Then, Hashem’s name will be revealed throughout the universe, and all evil will be null. Amalek is this material world which hides Hashem. It’s therefore understood that we can’t totally erase him, because then the whole universe would be null.

It is important to know that the war with Amalek is fought little by little. The main Mitzvah is to remain persistent in battle, not to put down the weapon and surrender (Hil’ Shabbos 6). This is the Torah’s commandment to remember what Amalek has done to us. The way we erase Amalek is by remembering that Amalek exists and that he only wants that we shouldn’t realize that he exists.

Keep strong ‘to proclaim that all who hope in you will not be shamed, and all who take refuge in you will never be shamed’.

 

 

 

 

Preparing for Purim – Part II

Question:

Purim is coming up, a day of which the Zohar teaches is holier even than Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur is only ‘like’ Purim, Ki-Purim. But I ask myself, how do I fit into this holiness?

Answer:

The Rebbe reveals in Likutei Moharan II 74, “Now, all beginnings are from Purim.” For this reason the holiday of Purim takes up such an important position in the internal Avodah of Breslover Chassidim.  No matter if the whole year has passed in such a way that today we don’t feel any connection with Purim, still, on Purim there’s a special opportunity to catch a glimpse of what’s going on inside the holiness and to enter inside. We have witnessed many people who became close to holiness through seeing the wonderful light which shines by Breslover Chassidim on Purim.

Tzaddikim would say about the Halachah, “Whoever stretches out his hand [for charity on Purim,] is given.”  That on this day Hashem sends down immense spiritual gifts for every individual without looking to see if they deserve it or not.  On Purim, prayer is elevated to the level of “a home” (see Likutei Moharan I 10), to be a perfect prayer through which anything can be accomplished, especially the main, eternal victory which we are all so much hoping for- to merit closeness to Hashem, to attach ourselves with Him.

The Ariza”l revealed that there is no revelation of holiness throughout the year as much as there is on Purim, not on any Shabbos or other holiday. On Purim the highest level of spiritual light, the revelation of the Tzaddik’s great light comes down into our material world.  Certainly, whoever is connected to the Tree of Life, and the whole year awaits and longs to come close to Hashem, will use this awesome day to its fullest. This day is the opening, the beginning.

Question:

I want to understand why we need to fast on Taanis Esther if it’s only in commemoration of the miracle?

Answer:

It is understood from Likutei Halachos as well as other holy books that a great part of Purim’s light depends on Taanis Esther.  Now is the main war with Amalek and Haman.

We have to realize that the battle with Amalek is the beginning of the war with the Yetzer Hara. Amalek is not just another materialistic desire or spiritual trial. Amalek wants to uproot the point of holiness within every Jew’s heart.  He will then be more dead than alive, without any desire to serve Hashem. The way he worked is by throwing us down in the issue of the desire for food by Achashverosh’s feast. Through unholy eating a person’s heart cools off and he loses all of his good desires, as the Rebbe teaches in many places

Therefore, on Taanis Esther, which is a day of battle, there is special divine assistance to be victorious through the following two ways:

First of all, through not eating, and strengthening one’s longing and desire for Hashem, that his entire internal wish is only to be attached to Hashem and do His will, and he doesn’t want to be drawn after food. Through this he can rectify all that he’s blemished through his desire for food, which is the aspect of Achashverosh’s feast (Likutei Halachos Purim 2).

Secondly, through prayer and calling out to Hashem with all your heart.  Taanis Esther was established in order that we remember that Hashem sees and hears every person at his time of pain.  Therefore, now is the time to uproot Amalek which is trying to sow doubt in our hearts as if Hashem isn’t listening to our prayers. We have to wake ourselves up with fresh enthusiasm to set aside time every day to speak to Hashem and to tell Him all the difficulties which we have in Avodas Hashem, to say a lot of Tehillim and Likutei Teffilos, with a strong faith that Hashem is certainly listening to every word and that no Tefillah goes to waste. This is the great joy of Purim which is in the revelation of the fact that Hashem listens to all of our prayers. (Likutei Halachos 4)

Question:

What is the Avodah of the night of Purim?

Answer:

1] Maariv and the reading of the Megillah:

You should know that from the moment that Maariv starts, the awesome and wonderful light of Purim begins to shine in the world. This is a light which can give everyone a taste of the pleasantness of Hashem’s light.  It is therefore appropriate to put extra effort into concentrating during Maariv and to think about the wonderful kindness of Hashem.  You will thereby prepare yourself for the first Mitzvah of Purim – the reading of the Megillah.

The Ariza”l says that Megillah comes from the root of “giluy” – “to reveal”. Meaning that through it there is a revelation of such an understanding that brings awe of Hashem into our hearts with a wonderful perfectness. This light is now shining down below in places where it is not revealed throughout the year. We therefore spread the Megillah out like a letter. This is the miracle of Purim which renews itself every year.

Pay attention to the story of the Megillah as it’s being read. The story has the ability to wake us up from our sleep (Likutei Halachos Purim 1). Try standing by the Megillah as if by Matan Torah, with awe and trepidation (Likutei Halachos Bechor Behema Tehora).

When we read the Megillah, and publicize the miracle which was done through Mordechai and Esther who acted with great wisdom and holiness, we show and shine their ‘faces’ from within the Megillah, and it is as if we see them and look at their faces (Tefillin 6, Otzar HaYirah Purim 5).

2] Chatzos:

If the whole year the time of Chatzos is a special time, of course on Purim it’s even greater. The main Avodas is to wake up properly, to strengthen yourself with faith that Hashem is taking pleasure now with the souls of Klal Yisroel and is sending down limitless spiritual bounty. Try connecting with it through prayer.

Even if it seems as if you are distant from all this, know and remember that now is a time that you can go before the King even improperly, and to put yourself into davening with Mesirus Nefesh: whatever will happen, I will try no matter what.  Strengthen your belief that Hashem loves you no matter what you are, and the King will put out his scepter…

It is therefore advisable to go to sleep early in order to have the strength to get up in middle of the night or at least before dawn, to speak to Hashem.

Tag Cloud