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Rosh Hashanah 5772
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Wishing you a Kesiva v’Chasima Tovah
FAQS on Avodas Hashem – Pesach Part I
What can be done about the fact that I don’t feel any special motivation and longing in preparation for Pesach?
There are certainly people whose hearts are aflame with joy and anticipation for the approaching Yom Tov. Wherever they go and whatever they do, they are thinking only about the wonderful delight of Emunah being revealed which will occur then, and from the songs of praise to Hashem which they will sing then, and from the holiness of the Matzos which they are going to be holding in their hands, and of drinking the four cups of wine, and of Chol HaMoed, Sefiras HaOmer, etc.
But don’t be broken and despair when you don’t feel as if an extraordinary day is coming up. Do you want to already taste from the light of Pesach now?! We must wait, because now is the time which is meant for preparations, and preparations are not always through feeling the light. They can be practical measures meant to inspire a longing and desire to come close to Hashem on the upcoming Yom Tov. With Hashem’s help, on the holy day itself you will merit to taste a little.
We will therefore mention a few practical points regarding the preparation:
1] The main preparation is the longing and desire for Pesach. Hence, the more you feel distant and the more you feel detached from Pesach, you should realize that on the contrary, these feelings are for your benefit. This feeling in itself can bring you to longing, for the heart can only honestly cry out to Hashem when in such a state. “Master of the World! I want to be part of the redemption, but where is the holiness of Pesach for me!? Please give me a taste of Matzo, etc. I have nothing…” This in itself is the preparation…
2] Part of the preparation is to get to know the particulars regarding the light of Pesach, such as what needs to be done and what should be had in mind during the Seder. This will make it easier for you to anticipate Pesach and to daven for it.
For this purpose, it would be worth it to study something about Pesach in Likutei Moharan or Likutei Halachos, or Otzar HaYirah. Today there are many anthologies which collect all the major teachings of the Rebbe about Pesach. You don’t necessarily need to study a complete Torah. You can concentrate on any one point, for example to understand what is the Galus of Mitzrayim, what is Chametz, what is the individual Geulah or what is Matzo, and so on. Try to understand it as much as you are capable, and don’t be embarrassed to discuss the ideas with your friends. Keep the idea in your mind and start to think about what the Tzaddikim are trying to tell you through it, and how it is relevant to you. The more you will think about it, the more you will feel enthusiasm for the holiness of the Yom Tov.
Even if you don’t feel inspiration, you will at least know what to pray for and what to request. You can yearn for what you’ve learnt concerning the secrets of Pesach, even if you don’t feel it.
Sometimes, you may not have peace of mind to focus on a specific subject. You can then study many different ideas about Pesach, which can inspire you to understand that in general Pesach has in it many great and hidden things.
3] In addition, remember to learn the Halachos of Pesach, such as those outlined in Mishna Berurah, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, and especially in more recent works, to know how to conduct the Yom Tov. Halachos are the vessel in which the light of Pesach is contained. Therefore, when you study these Halachos, arouse within yourself the belief that these Halachos and Mitzvos are in reality great pipelines of divine flow for the holiness of Pesach. Every Halachah and minhag contains the greatest of secrets. Hashem in His great compassion is drawing you close to this holiness through the practical Halachos and customs.
4] Even helping at home, cleaning for Pesach and performing errands is part of the preparation. This that Klal Yisroel toils so much for before Pesach is in itself an expression of how much deep in their hearts they desire to come close to Hashem on Pesach. Sometimes the Yetzer Hara makes an effort in order to make us forget about feeling that longing for Hashem while cleaning for Pesach, and instead, makes sure to cause stress and agitation in the home, in order to make us forget the main purpose of all our work.
Therefore you should be very, very careful to help with joy and liveliness in whatever is needed, and yield to your family with selflessness. You should have faith that whatever you are doing gives great pleasure and pride to Hashem, and don’t forget what you are cleaning for -Pesach! Remind yourself aloud: “I am doing this for Pesach!”
It is also possible to speak to Hashem and express your yearning for Him, while you are working. Adel, the daughter of the Baal Shem Tov, would sometimes stop in middle of sweeping the house, with her broom in her hand, and would say with great yearning, “How can I give delight to Hashem?”
Whenever you clean a place which really needs to be cleaned from Chametz, keep in mind that with this action you are literally destroying the Chametz from your mind and heart, which refers to all the illusions, worries, fights, jealousies, angers, etc.
5] In general you should know that every Mitzvah which you do before Pesach, and all the Torah which you learn, every Kriyas Shema which you recite, and every Tefillah, every respect you give for your parents, and every overcoming a trial, in essence is preparing you for the Yom Tov, even if it’s not directly connected to Pesach. You should therefore try to grab as much Torah and Mitzvos you can as a preparation.
There is a story told about Reb Noson and Reb Aharon, the Rav of Breslov, who were about to recite Kiddush Levanah, but since the moon wasn’t clear, Reb Aharon chose to wait another day, while Reb Noson didn’t wait. The next night, after Reb Aharon recited Kiddush Levanah by a clear moon, Reb Noson said, “True, he recited Kiddush Levanah properly, however I already merited to daven Maariv today coming after [yesterday’s] Kiddush Levanah.” Because in actuality each Mitzvah helps us to receive the holiness from the following one.
The main point is to arouse your heart whenever you remember to, that Pesach is coming, a Pesach which has never been before, and that “I certainly have a portion in it. I will prepare for it however I am able”. In such a manner, you will truly merit to taste from this year’s Korban Pesach and Chagigah, in the Beis HaMikdash.
Why We Travel to Tzaddikim for Rosh Hashanah
By HaRav Shmuel Moshe Kramer, Shlit”a – Rosh Hashana 5770
We have no idea what the actual secret of the power of the Rebbe’s Tziyun is. It is something beyond our imagination. But there are a few thoughts which we can understand from the general picture which arises from the words of the Rebbe and R’ Nosson.
The Rebbe wanted to be buried specifically in Uman, between the martyrs of the Uman massacre. He receives strength that from this, and it gives him the ability to then lower himself to the lowest places, to where the worst people in the world have fallen, in order to take them out.
The Rebbe discussed this idea on the last Rosh Hashanah before he passed away, in the discourse recorded in Likutei Moharan II #8, entitled “Tiku- Rebuke”. This lesson is viewed as a sort of will that the Rebbe left us, instructions how we should conduct ourselves after he passes on.
In that lesson the Rebbe explains at length the obligation to come to him for Rosh Hashanah. He discusses how the Tzaddik must sometimes pray with an aspect of “din”, harshness. “Din”, judgment, is the underlying theme of Rosh Hashanah, it being the day the entire world is judged. The Rebbe explains that the Sitra Achara is always trying to swallow up the kedushah of Klal Yisroel, by preventing us from Avodas Hashem and doing Mitzvos properly. Throughout Rosh Hashanah, when the Tzaddik prays with the aspect of din-harshness, he is able to go into the Sitra Achara, into its neck, and to force it to vomit out all the holiness which it has swallowed up.
We can now understand, albeit from afar, what the Rebbe meant when he said, “My thing is Rosh Hashanah.” We know that the Rebbe’s main dealing was with Tikkun, rectifying souls. And we can understand a little why the Rebbe wanted to lie there; in order to pull souls out of the Sitra Achara.
The Significance of Having Many People Participate in the Kibbutz
In the aforementioned Rosh Hashanah lesson, the Rebbe also speaks about the concept of the connecting of souls who come to participate in the Tzaddik’s Kibbutz, in light of an idea discussed in the early Kabalistic classic, Sefer Yetzirah.
When putting together letters in order to form a word, every new letter added to the mix multiplies the possible combinations by incredible amounts. For example, with two letters, there are two possible combinations, i.e. AB and BA. When we would add just one more letter, we already have six possibilities, ABC, ACB, BAC, BCA, CAB, and CBA.
With a fourth letter, the potential combinations are multiplied by four to 24. With five letters, we have 120. By the time you reach 13, you already have 6,227,020,800 combinations. By 17 you have over 355 trillion!
The Rebbe explains that every individual in the Kibbutz is like a letter in a word, which the Sefer Yetzirah calls stones which build a house. All of the participants of the Kibbutz together have the potential to form words, to build buildings. The amount of word-buildings which they can build is dependent upon how many people have joined in the Kibbutz.
As we have just explained, the more people band together, the greater their potential. But if G-d forbid, the letters would not join together, the potential number of combinations is severely diminished. The same way the addition of just one letter-stone can sometimes increase the possibilities by the trillions; the subtraction of just one can decrease it the same way. If a ten-letter word would be split into two five letter words, the amount of combinations is barely a fraction ( ) of what it was before, and who can imagine bigger numbers being split.
All this teaches us an invaluable lesson, about the harmony and unity which Breslover Chassidim must feel between each other, at all times, and especially by the Kibbutz. Every one of us is another stone, and every individual who joins increases the potential of the others amazing amounts. We must therefore be extremely careful to preserve the unity between all the participants and to feel the camaraderie between all of us.
In fact, this is what we have seen by Breslover Chassidim throughout the generations. With this in mind, they had a special Avodah of trying to bring more people to the Tziyun for Rosh Hashanah. The Rebbe himself remarked before his last Rosh Hashanah, that he misses the presence of Reb Ahron, the Rav of Breslov, as well as Bereleh, a simple Chassid who couldn’t make it for Rosh Hashanah. It would seem that the Rebbe had some Tikkun which he has wished to accomplish, but was unable to because just these two were absent.
The same thing is in every generation. These Tikkunim take place every year. Not only that, they become greater and greater from year to year.
From the Weekly Class in Likutei Moharan by R’ Moshe Kramer
The Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan I #211, “The reason behind traveling to Tzaddikim for Rosh Hashanah is because the main way to sweeten judgment is through the holiness and purity of thought, which is their source. This is brought in the Zohar, “Everything is purified through thought”. It is impossible to come to a pure mind without attachment to Tzaddikim as we find written, “And Moshe took the bones of Yosef.” Moshe is the aspect of the mind and Yosef is the aspect of Tzaddik. This means to say that there is no way to perfect the mind without attachment to the Tzaddikim. Rosh Hashanah is the source of all the judgments for the whole year and we must then purify the mind in order to sweeten them. For this reason we travel to Tzaddikim, in order to merit holiness of thought.”
The Rebbe explains that the key method for mitigating and sweetening the judgment for the coming year is through properly watching over our thoughts and keeping them pure and holy. What is the reasoning behind this? The cause of all dinim, harsh decrees, are sparks of holiness which have been trapped by the forces of “din”. When we want to rectify them, we must lift them back up to their origin, in the world of “thought”. There, the good, holy part is separated from the dinim and are elevated. Of course, these concepts are very deep Kabalistic ideas, but this is a simple explanation of what the Zohar means, that everything is separated in the mind.
This is what the Rebbe is teaching us regarding our practical obligation. Every one of us has the ability to mitigate stern and harsh decrees, by watching our thoughts and keeping them pure. The holy books all speak about how each person is a world unto himself, and by the way he conducts himself down here in this world, he influences the supernal worlds which he is intrinsically connected to. Chazal allude to this when they exhort us, “Know what is above you”, meaning know how you are affecting the worlds above you. Tzaddikim explain that this is what is meant by, “Man is created in the image of G-d”, that we all have G-d-like capabilities to influence the higher worlds. So when a person is careful with his thoughts, he causes the separation of the holy and good from the dinim to take place in the supernal world of “thought”, and thereby mitigating the harshness.
This is particularly done on Rosh Hashanah, which, in the dimension of time, the Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan I #61 is the source of dinim for the whole year. This day is unique, that the dinim attempt to take hold of it more than any other day of the year, and we must sweeten them. Therefore we must be extra careful to watch our minds on Rosh Hashanah, much more than the whole year.
The Rebbe discusses this also in Sichos HaRan, #21, that on Rosh Hashanah, it’s important to be smart and think only positive thoughts, how Hashem will be good to us throughout the coming year. This concept is mentioned in Shulchan Aruch as the reason why we wear festive clothing on Rosh Hashanah even though there is a fear of the impending judgment. When fulfill our obligations, of the special prayers of the day and the blowing of the Shofar, Hashem takes care of His part, to seal us in for a year of good life, and we don’t need to think about it or worry at all. Quite the opposite, we are commanded to rejoice, with awe, through positive thoughts, that everything will undoubtedly be good.
Besides this, the Rebbe in the Likutei Moharan which we are discussing speaks about the purity and holiness of the mind, which is a subject unto itself, as the Rebbe explains that purity of thought can only be achieved through holy power of the Tzaddikim, the mind of the Tzaddik.
We in particular need wholesomeness of thought on Rosh Hashanah, the time when we are being judged for the entire coming year. For certain, we need to come onto the aspect of judgment, for without it the world wouldn’t be able to exist. We must therefore cleanse and purify our minds, so that we can be vindicated by the judgment. This means that the decrees should be sweetened through everyone purifying his thoughts.
This is why we spend the entire day praying, as the Shulchan Aruch advises, that besides the set time for davening, everybody by himself should try saying Tehillim, etc., that the point of all this is in order to keep our minds focused on holiness, Torah, prayer, etc., which is the whole point of Rosh Hashanah.
In order to merit a clear mind, we must have special divine assistance. The Rebbe says that we must travel to Tzaddikim in order to achieve this holiness of thought. This is one of the reasons which the Rebbe revealed to us why we should come to him for Rosh Hashanah. We understand from his words, that although it’s possible to be attached to the Tzaddik wherever you are, it’s still something else to travel to the Tzaddik to be by him.
We must draw attention to the Rebbe’s explanation of this idea onto the verse, “And Moshe took the bones of Yosef…” that in order to merit the aspect of “Moshe”, clarity of mind, we must attach ourselves to “Yosef”vthe Tzaddik. The Tcheriner Rav points out that the verse is talking about the bones of Yosef. This alludes to the Rebbe’s will that we come to him even after he has passed away.
R’ Avrohom b’Rav Nachman in his book, Kochvey Ohr, explains that the same way our first redemption, from Egypt, was through the bones of Yosef, so too the complete and final redemption will be in the merit of us going to the resting of place of the Tzaddik. The fact that so many people merit to go is part of the beginning of the redemption.
This is especially true about Rosh Hashanah. Reb Nosson once said, that every trip of each one of us for Rosh Hashanah, will have a portion in the final redemption, may it be speedily in our days, Amen.
“Whoever believes in me, should come to me for Rosh Hashanah”
A talk given in preparation for the journey to Uman for Rosh Hashanah
By HaRav Nosson Liebermensh, Shlit”a – Rosh Hashana 5770
In the Midrash Rabbah on Parshas Chukas, the sages discuss the mitzvah of Parah Adumah, which the Torah refers to as a “chok” – a law without explanation. They explain that “The Satan and the nations of the world agitate Klal Yisroel by asking, ‘What’s this mitzvah all about? What rationale is behind it?’ The Torah therefore calls it a ‘chok’, as if to say, I have decreed this mitzvah, and you don’t have permission to wonder about it.”
This Midrash needs clarification. Don’t we perform all the mitzvos only because Hashem so decreed? If that’s the case, what’s the novelty of the mitzvah of Parah Adumah relative to all the other mitzvos in the Torah?
It would appear than the explanation is as follows: all the other mitzvos have at least an amount of reason and understanding which we are capable of grasping. The reasoning behind Parah Adumah, however, is totally hidden from us, and no human mind can grasp its meaning.
The nations of the world therefore harass and pain Klal Yisroel with their words, “what is this burning of the Parah and grinding of its ashes and spraying the water etc.” But we know that the answer is that Hashem has decreed it and we have no permission to wonder about it.
But it’s the Parah Adumah – about which we have no understanding – that has the ability to cleanse the most severe form of impurity, Tumaas Mes, defilement from a corpse. The only way to be purified from it is with the ashes of the Parah.
We find a similar concept in regard to the Rebbe’s Rosh Hashanah. While in the Rebbe’s general advice, although their key effectiveness comes from our faith in each of them, at the same time we see that the Rebbe presented them together with a variety of reasons and explanations, by which someone who needs them explained can be satisfied and convinced of their truth. We are actually expected to look deeply into them and to understand them. Even though, of course we must remember that with all of our understanding, however great it may be, it’s nothing in comparison to their true greatness, as the Rebbe truly grasped them.
The exception to the rule is the Rebbe’s Rosh Hashanah. It’s akin to the mitzvah of Parah Adumah. It’s as if the Rebbe also said, “I have decreed a chok, and you have no permission to ponder it.” Concerning his Rosh Hashanah, the Rebbe didn’t give any reason or explanations as he usually does. Even those lessons in Likutei Moharan where the Rebbe discusses the greatness of spending Rosh Hashanah by the Tzaddik, are lofty ideas, far from our understanding.
An expression of this idea is that we don’t find that concerning any other advice which the Rebbe gives. An expression such as, “all who believe in me and heed my call should come to me for Rosh Hashanah.” When trying to convince somebody of an idea in a way that it should take hold of him, we don’t employ faith and belief. We try to explain the thought every possible way. But when it comes to Rosh Hashanah, the Rebbe uses this unique expression, “Whoever believes in me.” This is because we have no idea what the Rebbe’s Rosh Hashanah is. Everything depends on what the Rebbe said, “If you believe in me- come to me for Rosh Hashanah…”
In this context, we find Reb Nosson in Likutei Halachos discussing the well-known Zohar that no Teshuvah helps with the blemishing of the Holy Covenant (Pgam Habris) for which the Rebbe insisted that Teshuvah does in fact help and that no one understands that Zohar besides him. Reb Nosson explains how the rectification of that blemish, and the true repentance for the sin, is through believing in Tzaddikim. He explains this in light of Likutei Moharan 29, that all the 365 spiritual “tendons” in a person correspond to the 365 negative commandments in the Torah, and when someone does a specific sin, he causes a blemish in the tendons which corresponds to it.
Concerning this, the Rebbe says that we must always try to purify ourselves by drawing purity and “whiteness” from our minds to our “tendons”. But what should somebody who has blemished his mind through Pgam Habris do?
Reb Nosson explains that the only solution is to nullify his mind to the mind of the Tzaddik. Then the Tzaddik can give him “whiteness” from his own mind in order to purify him from all his blemishes.
In this light, we can understand the following Midrash: “Said R’ Yehoshuah D’Sachnin in the name of R’ Levi: Concerning everything which the Holy One, Blessed be He, told Moshe, he explained to him its impurity and its purification. When they reached the portion of the Kohanim being defiled by a corpse, Moshe asked, ‘Master of the World, if one is defiled is such a way, how will he be purified?’ and He did not answer him… When they reached the portion about Parah Adumah, Hashem told him, ‘At the time I told you about Tumaas Mes, and you asked me what is its purification, this is its purification.’”
The Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan 2 that Pgam Habris is also referred to as Tumaas Mes.
Together with what we just saw from Reb Nosson, we can understand that this is what Hashem was telling Moshe. The rectification for Tumaas Mes, which is Pgam Habris, is through a “chok”. Putting aside the mind and nullifying oneself before the Tzaddik, through belief in him, is what purifies and renews the mind.
This is what is alluded to in the Midrash that Hashem told Moshe, “To you I am revealing the reason behind Parah Adumah, and for everyone else it’s a chok.” The explanation was given to Moshe, the true Tzaddik. The same way the Rebbe said that only he understands the aforementioned Zohar. For the mind of the Tzaddik is the Tikkun. But we must approach it as a Chok, by totally giving ourselves over to the Tzaddik.
Therefore, concerning all the obstacles and doubts which we all have, there seems to be a simple solution. Let us all imagine the Rebbe alive, living in Uman, and calling out to us, “Come to me for Rosh Hashanah!” People ask the question, there are people who would rather come a different time, and the Rebbe answers them all, “Whether you eat or not, whether you sleep or not, whether you daven or not, just be by me for Rosh Hashanah, there’s nothing greater than this.”
And then he adds, “The Tikkunim which I accomplish on Rosh Hashanah, I can’t do throughout the whole year.”
Everybody should think about how much he has sacrificed himself to get close to the Rebbe and to Breslov, and to all the advice which he has given. Here we are discussing an awesome thing, such an incredible Tikkun, incomparable to anything else, something which the Rebbe himself told us that there is nothing greater than it. Of course, it’s impossible to demand sacrifice from someone else, but at least let everybody know what we’re talking about. Maybe this will help people to try harder to overcome their obstacles.
Hashem should help us all draw upon ourselves the holiness of Rosh Hashanah, and alleviate all harshness for the coming year, for the entire world.
Uman: The Dog or the Lion?
By Harav Lazer Brody Shlit”a – Rosh Hashana 5770
Just as in the holy of holies in the Beit Hamikdash, travelers to Uman must be forewarned that one can encounter both proverbial dog and lion in Uman…
Our sages teach us that the Evil Inclination resides right in the heart of the holy of holies of the Beit Hamikdash, our holy Temple in Jerusalem, just as the good and evil inclinations reside side by side in a person’s heart. When a sacrifice was pleasing to Hashem, the image of a lion came down in a flame from Heaven that consumed the sacrifice on the altar. But, when a sacrifice was unworthy, the image of a dog would be come down in a similar pillar of fire, and its flames would lick the sacrifice. In other words, right there on the holiest place on earth, the epitome of holiness and its dark-side counterpart were side by side. The image of the lion and the image of the dog descended in similar pillars of fire that originated in the same place.
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, the “Ramchal” of saintly and blessed memory, explains that the above phenomenon is necessary to preserve free choice – wherever there is holiness, there is also an equal and opposite force of unholiness. Without equal forces, one would be coerced to do good or bad. Within the framework of coercion, then the concept of reward and punishment becomes meaningless.
Uman has the attributes of the holy of holies. From one standpoint, it was the site of one of the greatest sanctifications of Hashem’s name in history. In 1768, only four years before Rebbe Nachman was born, the evil Cossack leader Gonta and his henchman attacked the Jews of Uman. The Jews that weren’t slaughtered in the fierce hand-to-hand and house-to-house fighting were told that anyone who passed under a certain canopy in front of the church would be spared. But, in order to do so, one would have to prostrate oneself before the cross. Not a single man, woman, or child of Uman’s 33,000 Jews agreed to do so, despite the fact that parents were slaughtered in front of their children and children were brutally maimed in front of their parents, all becoming holy martyrs.
Uman is also an aspect of “holy of holies” in that it is the eternal resting place of Rebbe Nachman, who yearned to lie among the martyrs.
Just as in the holy of holies in the Beit Hamikdash, travelers to Uman must be forewarned that one can encounter both proverbial dog and lion in Uman.
We certainly want a “lion’s share” from all the expense, preplanning, and dedication that it takes to make the trip to the holy kibbutz (gathering) of Breslever Chassidim in Uman on Rosh Hashanna. Nobody wants their trip to go to the dogs. In a nutshell, a person must be on strong spiritual guard in Uman, guarding his time, his eyes, and his tongue. One who guards all three will certainly reap all the benefits that the holy pilgrimage to Uman has to offer, including a soul correction for oneself, one’s spouse, and one’s family. Let’s see how:
Guarding one’s time
Time flies in Uman. You never seem to have enough. One of the Yetzer’s (evil inclination’s) biggest ploys in Uman is to rob you of your time. The Yetzer tells you to have long conversations with people, and all of a sudden you either haven’t slept all night or else you’ve awoken late for prayer services.
Don’t get trapped in all the outdoor carnivals in the days and hours before Rosh Hashanna. Uman is not the place to do your duty-free shopping either, for the locals are just waiting to rip you off. If you want to bring home gifts, bring home books and CDs that you’ll find from all the major spiritual guides of Breslev in a tremendous and beautiful assortment. Don’t forget that while you’re roaming around outside, inside the Kloiz are back-to-back Torah lessons from Breslev’s leading rabbis, right there in one place! It’s Heaven on earth, great preparation for Rosh Hashanna praying, and like collecting diamonds off the sidewalk.
Rebbe Nachman said that our Rosh Hashanna eve is like other people’s Rosh Hashanna. Why? Uman is a teshuva factory. But, to be part of the unbelievable personal prayers and teshuva that takes place by Rebbe Nachman’s gravesite on Erev Rosh Hashanna, you must be there praying, saying Psalms, speaking to Hashem, and actively doing teshuva. You can’t be out on the street talking to your buddies from Miami.
Each minute in Uman is therefore a diamond that must be guarded carefully.
Guarding one’s eyes
Even in the short walk from your lodging to the mikva, the Kloiz, or the tziyun (gravesite), if you open your eyes, there will be an abundant assortment of forbidden images that get right in your face. Once again, wherever the lion is, the dog is right there too.
The best way to guard one’s eyes is to stay in the confines of the tziyun, Kloiz, and immediate areas and avoid the locals and their part of town like you’d avoid a plague.
Guarding one’s speech
The Yetzer tries his best to stir up dissension among people in Uman. The rule of thumb is to use your speech for holiness. Don’t get drawn into aimless discussions, and beware of people who try and lure you into badmouthing other groups, rabbis, or people within Breslev. This is none other than the Yetzer trying to get you to say derogatory things about others, which will enable him to say derogatory things about you on Rosh Hashanna, G-d forbid. Whatever you do, guard your tongue and don’t fall into the Yetzer’s trap.
By devoting every spare moment to more prayers, more Torah study, more teshuva and more hitbodedut, your lion will defeat the dog and you’ll be inscribed in the Book of Life for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year, amen!
“Whether As Children, Whether As Slaves” – Words of Emunah to understand the Truth
By HaRav Nissan Dovid Kivak, Shlit”a – Rosh Hashana 5770
- “The essence of crowning that makes us Hashem’s children”
- “Children vs. Slaves”
- “By the Kibbutz we can merit remembering Hashem with awe and sanctify our deeds.”
- “Rosh Hashanah – meriment that combines a broken heart within.”
“Remember us to life, O King who wishes Life”.
Hashem favors mercy. He wants to bestow on us good life. During the High Holidays we ask for life from a “King who wishes life.”
There is a kind of life Hashem wishes for – it is the life of Torah and service of Hashem. On Rosh Hashanah, we ask Hashem for an existence in which we can imbue our lives with the performance of his will and adhere to a life of eternal fulfillment and joy.
“Life” therefore means enthusiasm and satisfaction in keeping the Torah. This is no trivial matter. It is an incredible merit to rejoice while one is learning, keeping the Torah, and serving the King of Kings.
Depression on the other hand, is the essence of the exile of the Shechina (divine presence) and the only way to rescue her is through joy. By enhancing our joy we come closer to Hashem. Every time we experience any success in the service of Hashem, we immediately experience an influx of joy and rejuvenation. This is the source of the ability we have to withstand whatever may happen in our lives.
This is true for all times of the year, but never more so than during the time of Rosh Hashanah Hakadosh. It is the time for ushering in the Holy Yom Tov with a joy for having merited coming closer to Hashem. It is joy that will bestow holiness and a sense of rejuvenation on us. It is the time to elevate the Shechina .
Even though this is the Day of Judgment, and any rational person experiences an understandable anxiety, this should not drag us down to thoughts of despair and doubt. In fact, the main job of this day is to guard the thinking faculties and keep them focused on happy, joyful thoughts.
This is the time to keep constantly in mind Hashem’s royal authority with great joy and a broken heart (see Sichot HaRa”n, 42, on the difference between a “broken heart” and “depression”, which is akin to anger).
The reason for Joy – The merit of being the King’s son
When we are at the holy Kibbutz (gathering) of Rebbe Nachman on Rosh Hashanah we can plainly see how faith lights up the hearts of the people of Israel. We can see thousands of people who have overcome incredible obstacles to be there.
You can see the burning faith in every single word uttered by the Rebbe. We need to internalize this in our hearts enabling an indescribable joy and vigor to fill our very being. And this is because we experience something here which is beyond anything we have ever done. This is way beyond any mitzvah we have performed during the year – simply because, as great as the mitzvah is, it is still far from perfection.
Rosh Hashanah by Rebbe Nachman is an event of cosmic proportions – An event upon which the rectification of creation itself stands. To be a part of the endeavor of this profound Tzaddik is a merit beyond anything we can ever imagine.
“Be it Like Children, Be it Like Slaves”
During the Musaf prayer on Rosh Hashanah, we implore Hashem to have mercy on us any way – be it like children or be it like slaves. “Be it Like Children” means that if we have merits we will be judged as His children. This obviously makes it much easier to be judged for life as the judgment comes from the King Himself. And a father always has mercy on his child. The sole reason for judgment in such a case is to awaken the fear of judgment in us so that we return to Him.
But when we say “be it like slaves” this is when we have no merits in our favor. However even so, we will not give up. We will beg and trust in the power of prayer that Hashem will bestow mercy on us regardless.
Some interpret this verse to say, that if we find ourselves without merits to the degree that we are considered slaves, we will look up to Hashem in supplication until we will be considered like children once again.
The holy Zohar explains a few times that the profound Tzaddikim ascend to the universe of Emanation אצילות)) where they rectify and bring about the unification of Hashem and the Shechina. Only such exalted Tzaddikim merit being called “children”. At such an elevated place the negotiations are not handled by judges and court-clerks, so-to-speak. These matters transpire “before You” – the place of complete and total Presence and mercy. Only as creation trickles down into coarser manifestations are we degraded into the state of “slaves”. Hardly anyone merits a soul of the world of Atzilut. This is the rarified air of the great and profound Tzaddikim.
Now, obviously there must be someone at the Atzilut level to affect the rectifications every day. It is also obvious that each and every one of us rectifies only according to his own level and no more. If that is the case, how then, is it possible for any “regular” person to ever be called a “son”?
The answer is by connection to Tzaddikim. This is what the Zohar reveals and this is what the Baal Shem Tov made known throughout the world. Reb Nosson expounds on this topic at length explaining how everything depends on faith in Tzaddikim.
There are various ways of connecting to Tzaddikim with one’s prayer and avoda. They are affected when a person does what he can and “hands over” his work to the Tzaddik to “cleanse and sterilize” so that the intrinsic good in it can ascend and affect a supernal rectification at the level of Atzilut.
That being said, we must realize the astounding difference between the true avoda that affects real joy in front of Hashem, and our lukewarm service that is muddled with ulterior motives and stray thoughts. By realizing how far from perfection we really are, we connect to the Tzaddikim. This is what makes it possible for us to recognize the truth and do teshuvah. This is also what makes it possible for us to rejoice with every iota of goodness we find within us. It enables us to awaken ourselves to true avoda. And this, in turn, includes us in the avoda of the Tzaddikim – the ultimate regimen that has the “wings” of love and awe to ascend and affect the reconstruction of the divine presence.
This is what the Rebbe meant when he said: “You bring bricks and mortar and I build edifices.”
We have to be filled with endless joy for having merited being by the Tzaddik at this holy gathering. This is what makes us “Children” before Hashem even though we do not merit it individually. Nothing is greater. It makes it possible to connect to the Tzaddikim all year round as well.
Rosh Hashanah “One long day” – the source of drawing down joy.
“My Rosh Hashanah is greater than anything”. Rebbe Nachman declared this unequivocally.
This is an extremely important declaration for it allows us to realize how incredibly fortunate we are to be here, and draw an abundant amount of enthusiasm.
One should dedicate time at the Tziyun to pray that the astonishing significance of these words “descends” into our hearts and takes permanent root. While here, we should also beg for Emunah in the Tzaddik and his holy words so that it too, will permeate our being and infuse us with joy and rejuvenation. This will in turn strengthen our resolve when tests threaten to drive us down.
We need this reinforcement because of the distractions that the trials and tribulations of the trip to Uman can present. Frequent irritations may arise and we need to have this Emunah ingrained in our hearts so that we are able to enter the universe of thought, pray with proper intentions while pouring out our hearts at the Tziyun and awaken ourselves to the true remorse that will make our teshuvah deep and lasting.
All this will enable us to experience what the Rebbe expressed: “Anyone who comes to me for Rosh Hashanah should be exceedingly happy”. That happiness will enable us to keep our thoughts positive throughout Rosh Hashanah. It will also enable us to renew ourselves for the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah, treating it as if it is our first, enthusiastic day.
If we accomplish this, it will enable us to treat every day of the following year as new.
Drawing down Enthusiasm for the coming year
Once we manage to internalize the incredible greatness of our merit of being in Uman for Rosh Hashanah, we can down–size our pride. We understand the difference between our avoda and that of the Tzaddik. We can begin to appreciate the merit of having come close to such a Tzaddik, one who can renew us and affect the heavenly tribunals in favor of all the people of Israel.
As far away as we are from understanding anything involved in such exalted rectifications, it is astonishing to contemplate that the Rebbe actually wants us to participate in them (which we do by traveling to him). We, as small and insignificant as we are, are standing on the shoulders of a giant, partaking in the greatest, most crucial universal rectification!
How vital is it that we introduce these words into our hearts and internalize them! The Rebbe elevates us to the place of the greatest Tzaddikim, involving us in the toil of the greatest spiritual giants that ever lived! Such an idea simply boggles the mind.
When we manage to internalize this knowledge, we can illuminate our souls with this awesome, holy imprint month after month throughout the coming year. This will enable us to actualize that which the Rebbe expressed about anyone who merited to be by him during Rosh Hashanah “should rejoice all year long”. It will enable us to connect our prayers and avoda to our Holy Rebbe at all times, infusing them with life and energy to ascend before the Master of the universe.
Coming to the Tziyun with Joy
The Rebbe’s Tziyun and the wisdom he left in this world are an incomprehensible wonder.
The light of the Rebbe is completely concealed, known only in the hearts of those who seek it relentlessly. However, we were fortunate enough that our Rebbe toiled, journeying ever so high, until a crack was opened in the concealment, giving the entire world a glimpse of previously-unimagined extraordinary light.
It is obvious that there cannot be such a profound Tzaddik in every single generation. From days of old the order always was that generations rested on the strength and power of the profound Tzaddikim of the generations that preceded them.
Every few generations however, there arrives a profound Tzaddik of this caliber who has elevated himself to the level of “Hashem’s son” whose light shines to the rest of the world and the following generations.
This Tzaddik has toiled relentlessly to find rectifications for the entire nation of Israel, especially the tikkun (correction) for the holy covenant without which people cannot even begin to find their way.
Furthermore, this Tzaddik has established a way to connect us to his truth to the point that we, too, will be labeled “Hashem’s sons”! This is done with the power of his holy Tziyun. This is the place to engage in teshuvah and confessions because the Tziyun is the ultimate place of teshuvah. There is such power of kedusha there, that it elevates the Kingdom of Hashem and draws upon one the wisdom to know that everything happens for the good. There resides a power of kedusha there that can totally extricate us from the influence of the klipot (impure husks) to sway and deceive us.
By saying the Rebbe’s prescribed 10 Psalms of “Tikkun Ha’Kalali” at the Tziyun we awaken the power of joy and stop the freefall into the lowest depths of purgatory and start to live a true Jewish life.
At the Tziyun we come to our Rebbe, the Tzaddik that descends from the upper worlds to converse and relate to each and every one of us privately. By connecting to his light we receive our insights into Torah and renew our days.
The power of the Tziyun is a well known force. The Talmud and Holy Zohar state explicitly that the world exists in the merit of the prayers of the departed Tzaddikim. The fact the we don’t see anything is, of course, no hindrance. None other than Rabbi Chiya of the Talmud came to the Tziyun of Rabbi Shimon in Meron and cried: “How can the mountain and the earth cover the holiness of Bar Yochai?” Only after he fasted was he suddenly able to see what he perceived and cried: “No! They cover nothing!”
We, of course, have not fasted, and even if we did, would still be far away from comprehending the holiness of “the bones of Yosef” – the remains of the holy Tzaddikim that are called “the true living” even after their departure.
As Reb Nosson stated, we all witnessed the traveling of Israel to Rabbi Shimon in Meron for generations, in order to seek closeness with Hashem and affect tremendous miracles and salvations.
We witnessed the same with the Rebbe’s Tziyun. Anyone who has eyes to see, understands the tremendous power of the Tzaddik to give hope and rectification to all.
No one makes the mistake of “speaking to spirits” when it comes to the Rebbe. The aim of each and every one of us is to come to the Tziyun and merit the essence of truth. We know we come there to correct our defects and renew ourselves. We come to connect to the truth and kedusha in the Rosh Hashanah of the Rebbe that is “higher than everything”.
1) By rejoicing in the incredible merit of being at the Rebbe’s holy gathering, we can sanctify our thoughts during Rosh Hashanah, think positively of the wonderful year that awaits us, and pray with great intention. By doing this we are considered “Hashem’s sons”.
2) By being happy that we are by the Kibbutz we will draw the rectification for the entire year.
3) The avodah of the feeling of the heart during the coronation of Hashem is not a simple matter. The essence of the coronation is revealed with the power of the Tzaddikim and this opens the gates for us. When we become part of the crowning process, we merit sanctifying our minds. This awakens us to study the Rebbe’s Books and receive from them the ways that are tailor-made for each and every one of us. With this we are in fact, the messengers of the entire nation of Israel.
Real teshuvah is not a simple matter either. True change never is. A deep realization shines on us at the Rebbe’s Kibbutz – one that reminds us of the simple truth of the nature of this life. This drives us to “put an end to our nonsense” and look for Hashem’s mercy and sound advice to affect the changes we need. True mercy is drawn down only with the power of the Tzaddikim.
Even though it seems as if the matter of crowning Hashem is known and understood by people at large, in point of fact such perception is only possible by coming to the Rebbe and receiving the ways of truth from him.
In the merit of being by the Kibbutz on Rosh Hashanah we acquire the insight to open our hearts and serve Hashem seriously without self-delusion. This will in turn bring us to feel Hashem’s presence near us all year long. We will constantly be careful to protect Hashem’s honor even when there’s no one around us.
With the merit of the Kibbutz we will be strengthened to rejoice with the truth at all times. This will enable us to remember that Hashem is in total control of reality and will drive away worry and stress from our lives.
The essence of crowning Hashem is the resolve to keep on strengthening and renewing ourselves at all times for the honor of Hashem because he is the King.
The essence of crowning Hashem is to search the books of Tzaddikim and draw from them the light of Torah we need. This is the significance of the sound of the Shofar which is an aspect of the drawing down of Torah. This “personalized view” will enable us to always find the way to keep the Torah and accept Hashem’s authority in our own private lives.
By traveling to the Rebbe for Rosh Hashanah we receive the power to sanctify our thoughts during Rosh Hashanah. It gives us the ways and means to win the “battle of thought” and avoid dispiriting confusions.
We need to nullify ourselves to the Tzaddik and the totality of the crowd that comes to the Tziyun. We need to keep in mind that we really have no concept as to what Rosh Hashanah really is about – the Rebbe does. We need to internalize that we must learn what the Rebbe teaches us – not what WE think is right.
Questions and Answers to Maximize your Prayer at the Holy Tomb of Rebbe Nachman
By HaRav Kletsky, Shlit”a – Rosh Hashana 5770
How can someone describe the great nachas and joy, both in heaven above and down here on earth, as tens of thousands of Jews are taking heed of the call of the Rebbe, zt”l, sacrificing themselves in order to carry out his holy command to gather together by him for Rosh Hashanah.
The Rebbe once remarked how every step of the way creates an angel. Just imagine how many angels are being created from all the thousands of travelers together and from all their difficulties and overcoming of obstacles which they experience, from acquiring a ticket to the whole organization of the trip, not to speak of the journey itself.
Is it a wonder, then, that Hashem has such delight from this? The day of the coronation of the King, Hashem, approaches. Now is the time that the Tzaddik is going to extract from the Sitra Achara all the good which he has caused Klal Yisroel to lose out on throughout the whole year (see Likutei Moharan II 8).
It’s therefore possible that various different questions, doubts and confusion may come up, in order to disturb us from achieving the joy and satisfaction that we should be, concerning this journey. The forces of the yetzer hara are disturbed that heaven is taking such enjoyment from what’s happening, and with all their might they are trying to confound this holy enterprise, by bringing into our hearts dejection and lack of enthusiasm.
We therefore thought it worthwhile to provide answers and practical solutions to several questions which have been brought to our attention.
I was looking forward the whole year for this journey to Uman. But now that I’m here, I’ve totally lost any enthusiasm. My heart feels all blocked-up. Where has all my passion gone?
It’s imperative to know a very important concept in the service of Hashem. The yetzer hara of a person is not one, big yetzer hara, which sometimes you win over, and sometimes he wins over you. Every test we pass through in life is a totally new yetzer. Whenever a person wins over one yetzer hara, he is immediately sent to combat a new yetzer hara.
Therefore, don’t get taken aback when you realize that in the past you may have had a longing and yearning for kedushah, and now all that former excitement is gone. This doesn’t mean that you’ve fallen. All it means is that you were already victorious in the first battle when you originally thought about doing Teshuvah, and developed a desire to travel to the Tzaddik, at that point.
Now that you are by the Tzaddik, a new encounter is starting with a new enemy: a battle to regain your excitement and enthusiasm.
See Likutei Moharan I, Lesson 72, for a more detailed explanation of this concept.
I am always thinking of all the stories which I’ve heard about the great Breslover Chassidim of previous generations, how they would spend whole days and nights in prayer and Hisbodedus by the Holy Tziyun. I also see all the people standing by the Tziyun, and how they all seem to be so full of enthusiasm. Why am I so unsuccessful at being like them?
We must be very careful when we hear stories about Tzaddikim and other great people. Their main purpose is to provide general inspiration to serve Hashem better. But be wary of trying to imitate any Tzaddik or great person. Everybody has his own unique soul and therefore a different way of serving Hashem and everyone must concentrate on his own talents when coming close to the Tzaddik, and to take from him what he needs to take.
We have no understanding of the exalted Tikkunim, rectifications of our souls, which the Rebbe is performing by the Tziyun. We are here because of the trust we have placed in the Tzaddik, and our faithfulness to his command. We must therefore realize that the Tzaddik rectifies everyone according to his individual soul. For one person the Tzaddik does this by causing him to be filled with thoughts of Teshuvah and repentance, and for someone else, the Tzaddik does the same thing with feelings of detachment. (This is explained in Likutei Moharan I, 63.)
Sometimes the rectification of our blemishes is dependent upon a person getting a very strong feeling of rejection, until he almost feels sorry for expending himself so much to come to the Tzaddik. If he will then overcome his feelings, and be stubborn not to despair, and instead to simply do whatever he has to, like saying Tehillim, this alone will merit him to his Tikkun. This is explained at length in Likutei Halachos, Tefillin 4.
Be strong! Maybe you were chosen to be the one to demonstrate the strength of being able to have faith even without any feeling.
What do I do? I’m standing by the Tziyun, trying to arouse myself. I say some Tehillim, Likutei Tefilos, and I try with all my might to pour out my heart to Hashem, and it just doesn’t work. My heart is locked up, and the well of tears has dried up.
The Rebbe has already taught us that when a person is praying and is thinking about how he would like to cry, this in itself is a “foreign thought.” He should be trying to concentrate only on the words of the prayers which he is saying, and to also keep in mind that Hashem is certainly listening to him.
The same applies when doing Teshuvah, and confessing one’s sins, and begging for a better future; say the words, even without any feeling. Keep out of your mind any thought or anticipation of trying to feel something or to cry. Just believe with simplicity that you are for sure being heard.
(On a side note, that even though it’s for sure good to get close to the Tziyun, it’s still possible to pray anywhere in the room. There’s no need to wait or push until you reach it, as explained in the writings of the Tcheriner Rav.)
You must be very careful about this, because this is one of the most common causes of confusion which affects many people in every prayer and Hisbodedus, and especially by the Rebbe’s Tziyun. They are constantly checking themselves to see if they are feeling something or not.
We don’t mean to say that you should pray just with lip service, without any feeling whatsoever. On the contrary, you should try to concentrate on what you are saying, but the feelings should come automatically. You don’t need to force yourself to experience something. Just say the words, simply and honestly, with whatever’s in your heart right then, together with bearing in mind the belief that Hashem is certainly listening.
An additional thing which is important to emphasize is to set aside time during your stay in Uman for Torah study, such as Chumash, Gemara, Mishnayos, and Shulchan Aruch. It would even be advisable to have a study partner. This helps very much to have a clear, fresh mind. The Torah which you study also helps out in your prayers. It’s been tried and tested that when the mind is empty of Torah, it’s difficult to engage in Tefillah. (Of course, that doesn’t absolve someone from praying when feeling empty.)
It’s also important to make time to study the Rebbe’s works. Take an idea from the Rebbe or Reb Nosson on Rosh Hashanah, think about it, and discuss it with your friends. This will help you build up your mind and heart to be able to pray better.
During the stay in Uman, I feel a pressure to be especially careful to spend my time wisely, to accomplish as much as I can. This completely takes away my enthusiasm to be by the Tziyun. Everything I do I think that maybe I should be doing more, or that I should be doing something else now. I have no satisfaction from any prayer or study, and I feel like the whole time I’m persecuting myself for wasting time. After a day or two I’m already looking forward to the flight home, but on the plane I’m full of regret for not spending my time properly.
Even when going back to my quarters to eat or sleep, I feel that maybe I’m supposed to be trying harder to stay by the Tziyun, since every moment there is worth a treasure.
Every morning there’s this fear, what will I do the whole day by the Tziyun, and ultimately the whole day passes without doing anything.
Everybody has to recognize his own abilities, to know how long he is able to spend by the Tziyun. Of course, it’s important to be careful not to get carried away with idle chatter, getting into a conversation with every friend you see. Try to see that the conversations that you do have revolve around serving Hashem, and be careful not to get into arguments. With such an attitude, there’s nothing to worry about, for on the contrary, such conversation can provide a break to refresh your mind. It’s understood that you can take care of all your needs, to spend time at the apartment, to eat something, or to rest. in this manner, even the time spent away from the Tziyun can be considered akin to preparation for serving Hashem.
It would be great to start a new beginning in Uman, to start keeping “Shvisi Hashem LeNegdi Tamid”, to constantly place Hashem before me. Even in the apartment, and even at meal times. The Rebbe related to us how much he toiled to develop the habit of always thinking about Hashem. It’s certainly good for us to start now, when we are by the Rebbe, especially at the times when we are outside the Tziyun. Even when it’s hard and we aren’t successful, keep starting again, even a thousand times. This is the only way to start getting into the habit of “shvisi”, to start again and again innumerable times, whenever you remember Hashem, especially when involved in mundane matters.
As a preparation to being by the Tziyun, it’s good to first study Torah, and then to go to the Tziyun without taking a break for idle chatter. But the main thing is that everything should be with tranquility and without pressure.
By the Tziyun, start with thanking Hashem for whatever you’ve merited until now, and then talk to Hashem about Teshuvah and confession for some time. Afterwards say the Tikkun Haklali, and the prayer afterwards. It’s very important to try to do Hisbodedus, to pour out your heart to Hashem, but even then, to be careful to avoid pressure and anxiousness. Try hard to speak from the heart, with simplicity, about whatever is on your heart and all that you desire.
When there is a need to rest, you can sit by the side and simply say Tehillim. You can even rejuvenate yourself by speaking with your friends, to go outside, get some fresh air, and get something to eat. There’s nothing wrong with that. But be careful to avoid arguments and pointless conversations. You can then go back to the Tziyun for a little more. Just like in Yeshivah, when there is a set time to learn, and a time to take a break.
In general, when somebody doesn’t have a schedule, even if he plans on spending the whole day in Torah and prayer without a break, at the end of the day he ends up wasting his time either in the apartment, or eating, or checking out what’s for sale by the vendors. But when he schedules himself, he knows that there will be time to eat, there will be time to speak with friends, and there will be time to sleep and rest. And there will be plenty of relaxed time for Torah study, prayer and Hisbodedus.
Even if this is also too hard for you, don’t get upset. The most important thing is just to keep away from things which might cool you off from the tone of Avodas Hashem.
The main and most important thing is to be relaxed. Remember the great privilege you have to participate in the holy Kibbutz by the Tziyun, an awesome thing of which there is nothing greater, and to ask Hashem that the whole experience should help you to come closer to Him throughout the year.
When you accustom yourself to think in this fashion, you will be able to spend your entire time attached to Kedushah. This in itself is preparation for Rosh Hashanah, to realize that everything, even resting, is a component of serving Hashem. Recite Berachos with concentration; eat slowly, without pushing to get a portion, with the certainty that nobody has the ability to take away from you that which you are supposed to receive from Hashem. Speak with your friends with Derech Eretz, without lightheartedness or Lashon Hara or arguing. Realize that proper behavior is also part of serving Hashem.
With this you will be able to absorb the atmosphere of spiritual elevation which surrounds the Tziyun. As the Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan #191, that it’s possible that two people could be sitting right next to each other, yet one is enjoying the experience of spiritual delights, and the other feels nothing. It all depends on Simcha, joy, and Emunah, faith, clarity of what you want, and serenity.
The Rebbe describes (Likutei Moharan II #115) how many people have yearned to ascend to Eretz Yisroel, but from their great longing they were unable to imagine that Eretz Yisroel exists in this material world. When they got there they saw how the land is just like the rest of the world, and there is earth and stones there just like everywhere else. We must realize that with material eyes we can’t see the difference. Everything depends on faith.
The same applies with everything pertaining to Yiddishkeit. For example, when we hear about the greatness of the Tziyun, and the holiness of Rosh Hashanah, we imagine something heavenly and other worldly, which we have a strong desire to reach. But when we actually get to Rosh Hashanah, we can’t understand how this is the thing which we were longing for so much. With material eyes, the place looks just like everywhere else, especially since we have gotten so used to it, and it is so full of masses of people. The awesome day of Rosh Hashanah seems to be an ordinary day. This is how the world works; sometimes a person has an inspiration and sees the world with entirely different eyes. Other times are simpler; then, the material world conceals everything and makes itself look real.
This is the reason why when we reach Uman and the Tziyun we don’t feel content, and we find ourselves persecuting ourselves that maybe I should be doing something more. We don’t feel happy with actually being by the Tziyun, and simply saying the Tikkun Haklali, and simple words of Hisbodedus and Torah study. We are therefore constantly looking for another “experience”.
This is a sign of “Ribuy Ohr”, of not concentrating on what we are doing at that moment, and realizing that this is the mitzvah which Hashem expects from me right now. This is what brings joy in performing mitzvos, as explained in Likutei Moharan #5. Instead, we are always thinking about what’s coming next. Perhaps this is also an important thing to daven for these days – that Hashem should remove from us this terrible “thirst”, that we are always wanting and searching for more and more and we don’t know how to connect with Hashem and be cheerful with what we have. (See Likutei Moharan #76)
We must get used to concentrating on what we are doing at the present moment, and to believe that awesome things are taking place, things above our perception, which the Tikkun HaOlam is dependent upon.
In Uman we are constantly meeting up with friends. A lot of time is wasted because of this. One year I decided not to speak with anybody, but it ended up being very stressful, not to answer to anybody. What is the proper way to act?
Reb Nosson would remark, the Baal Shem Tov came into the world in order to uproot the concept of a “beize lamden” (an anxious scholar). This means those who take Avodas Hashem as a stressful, pressure-filled experience.
In everything we do, it’s best to take the middle ground. Of course, we must be careful not to waste time, but on the other hand, one of the ideas behind the Kibbutz gathering is the great unity which is displayed between the Breslover Chassidim. Therefore, it’s certainly proper to spend time in friendly conversation. Especially since many people are not in such a great state of mind, and sometimes with just one good word, you can save him.
The clarity in this issue is as explained above in the previous question. When someone is scheduled, he knows that there is a set time for everything. There’s a time to learn and a time to pray, which at that time nothing else can bother him (of course without any anxiousness or nervousness, without hurting anyone who stands in his way, and not to be angry at himself when unable to carry out all his plans). So too, there’s also a time to speak with others, and he knows how to talk and also how to stop talking.
The main thing is that it should be done as Avodas Hashem. The mind also needs a rest through speaking with friends. (Needless to say, it’s important to respect the sanctity of the Tziyun, and not to discuss mundane matters over there.)
I don’t find myself in Uman. I feel like there’s noise and tumult from all directions, with such large crowds and so many different types of people. I have nowhere to sit by the Tziyun. Even on Rosh Hashanah itself I don’t have a seat, and throughout the entire prayer there’s pushing. How is it possible to concentrate on anything in this situation?
There’s no solution to the tumult, but everything depends on how we choose to view the whole matter of the Kibbutz.
Breslover Chassidim have always considered the harmony between the participants of the Kibbutz to be an exalted element of Avodas Hashem. Everyone leaves his own concerns aside and considers himself to be just another soul that merited joining the Kibbutz. Therefore, even the simple folk were able to sit side by side with the great Ovdei Hashem.
Chassidim relate how Reb Nachman, the Tcheriner Rav, would look into the face of each of the participants of the Kibbutz. He would not wear his special rabbinical attire, and would act like everybody else. About the great Chassid, Reb Getche, we are told, how the entire year he would pray with awesome screams, but on Rosh Hashanah he would pray just like everybody else.
Well known, also, is the story about the last year of the Rebbe’s life, when two Chassidim were missing for Rosh Hashanah; the great Reb Aaron, the Rav of Breslov, and another simple Chassid named Berel. The Rebbe remarked then, “Ahreleh iz nit du, un Bereleh iz nit du.” In other words, holding them equal in regards to the Tikkunim of the Kibbutz.
The entire year, we concentrate on our own private service of Hashem and spiritual growth. On Rosh Hashanah, we work on trying to leave these thoughts of personal honor and success, and we try to enter into thoughts of recognizing Hashem and performing Mitzvos solely for His honor. How do we go about this?
Through gathering together for prayer and Avodah, a person feels how everybody has come together to coronate the King, and I with my own private service am only one part of the entire nation of Klal Yisroel. Like an article of clothing which is produced from many threads, the benefit of each individual thread is only realized when they are all woven together.
This is our work on Rosh Hashanah; to stop concentrating only on myself, and my progressing and achieving successes. In its place, to nullify myself and unite with the masses who are gathered to recognize and accept Hashem’s kingship, and to understand how every person is part of Hashem’s nachas- and I am one of them!
Such an outlook, on one hand causes great happiness and satisfaction, and conversely, humility and meekness. In such a way, it’s possible every moment to have vitality from the Kibbutz, together with the commotion and pushing, crowds and different types of people. We are all crowning Hashem together, and we all want the glory of Hashem to be revealed. On the contrary, this is what is so glorious about the Kibbutz: how it helps us leave our egos a little, and to concentrate on the glory of Hashem.
Of course, everyone has his own personal Avodah, his way of serving Hashem, according to his personality and soul. Therefore it’s important to spend the time in Uman with Hisbodedus, prayer and Torah study. But everything should be together with a feeling of the unity of all these Jewish souls coming together to recognize Hashem’s kingship. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, have patience for everyone. This will elevate your mind, to only want Hashem’s honor.
We can now understand what the Rebbe said to the person who requested to be able to come after Rosh Hashanah, since then it’s easier for him to concentrate. The Rebbe told him, “Whether you pray or not, whether you eat or not, the main thing is to be by me for Rosh Hashanah.” For sure, the Rebbe didn’t mean that we shouldn’t care about prayer. What he meant is that we should rise above thoughts of individual successes, and to join together in screaming, “HaMelech!”
It’s necessary to view the crowds in a different way. Judge everyone favorably. Everybody here has come with a desire and longing for Hashem. Everybody is a precious gem, a pearl, from which a crown will be fashioned for the King (see end of Likutei Moharan 6). I don’t want to make an issue of the material over here. The Rebbe is now connecting heaven and earth.
When we adapt such an outlook, we won’t be bothered anymore by where to sit, or a need to be able to concentrate properly without outside distractions. On the contrary, we will understand that the trip to the Rebbe strengthens our Emunah, to know that Hashem will help me to find everything that I need, which is the most important lesson in our lives. We will then understand that if the Rebbe brought me here to Uman, he will certainly take care of a place for me. We will believe in divine providence, and we won’t think too much about it.
Now, the days of Rosh Hashanah, the day when Man was created, is the time that freedom of choice and the possibility of forgetting about Hashem’s honor was created. Now, the main battle is to understand how to connect with Hashem from the midst of all these situations of confusion and tumult. This is part of the Tikkun of Rosh Hashanah.
Question # 7
I feel a paradox within myself. On one side, I try to rely on the power of the Tzaddik, and to rejoice with the great zechus of being part of the holy Kibbutz. But I also know that I must present my own, personal Avodah of praying with all my might, and repentance. The Rebbe has so many teachings describing the personal Avodah of each individual on Rosh Hashanah, to purify the mind, and to accept Hashem’s kingship.
Also, with regard to that which the Rebbe said, that he takes care of all of his Chassidim already on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. If so, what is my job the next two days, and the subsequent days of Teshuvah and Yom Kippur?
We will not discuss the subject of attaching oneself to Tzaddikim. We will just mention that faith and trust in Tzaddikim and their awesome strength is a reality. There are tremendous Tzaddikim who are performing Tikkunim. This is not just imagination and guesswork, this is reality. We already have belief in this idea, as we understand it to be true. We must awaken that faith every time we ascend to the Tziyun and Kibbutz of Rosh Hashanah, even when we don’t understand anything. And the more we will study the teachings of the Rebbe and Reb Nosson concerning this subject, we will come to understand more and more.
What is Tikkun? What needs to be rectified? What has been ruined?
Everything has already entered into a state of ruin through the first sin of Adam, for which he was banished from the Garden of Eden. His way back was guarded by a “revolving flaming sword”, which alludes to the confusion which we experience in our attempt to enter into Avodas Hashem. At that time, it became difficult to feel the sweetness of closeness to Hashem, and as a result, we stumble in sin. This has now become our life’s’ work; to rectify the sin in order to be able to return to Gan Eden, and a life of joy and faith.
Even if we ourselves have added to the roster of sins, and the concealment has overcome us, and our minds and hearts are stopped up, and many obstacles stand in our way, we still should not despair. Everything can be fixed and rectified, and we can gather new vigor to reverse the concealment.
Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the day Adam was created and originally sinned. It is the day that we try again every year to rectify the concealment which started at the world’s genesis, and to remove the concealments which have been added over time.
The Rebbe works to rectify souls. He draws upon us new souls. We of course are not looking for ways to be acquitted in order to be absolved from the yoke of mitzvos. Quite the opposite, Reb Nosson once remarked how especially after Yom Kippur, when we are clean of all sin, is an opportune time to renew our commitment to Avodas Hashem.
When we pay attention to the prayers of Rosh Hashanah, we will see that sin is almost not mentioned anywhere. The entire prayer is about accepting Hashem’s kingship, that we should merit feeling Him, with love and awe of Him. This really is the crux of the sentence which has been placed upon us; not to feel the sweetness of that feeling.
In truth, everyone, deep inside his heart, wants only Hashem. Preventing us from feeling that is the yetzer and materialism, and our desires for other things. Through them we have fallen under the dominion of strict judgment, which causes us not to feel and taste the light and sweetness of the closeness to Hashem. This is what needs ‘Tikkun”, that we should be able to return to Gan Eden.
We therefore travel to the Tzaddik who performs these awesome Tikkunim, that we should be able to truly purify our hearts and thoughts, to receive his Torah which encourages us and brings our hearts closer to Hashem. This is what we pray for when we say, “Remember us for life,” eternal, true life. To be entered into the book of Tzaddikim, to understand their Torah and to apply it. (see Likutei Halachos, Teffilin 5, Sukkah 7)
It would seem then, that if we have already been taken care of on the first night, and we have already received our Tikkun, now we can really scream “HaMelech” from the depths of our heart, and to repent with feelings of renewal and with greater vigor throughout the coming Days of Repentance.
We can now understand a little bit what Reb Nosson meant when he said, “On Rosh Hashanah everyone screams, ‘HaMelech’, but the actual coronation is in Uman.” For that is where all the severity is mitigated in order that we are able to accept upon ourselves the yoke of Heaven willingly and with joy.
Thank G-d, I merited feeling a little inspiration in Uman, and to taste a little of the wonderful experience of connection to Hashem. However, I’m scared of returning back to everyday life. I know that I will be unable to stay with these feelings.
The Rebbe once told Reb Nosson, that there is a concept of traveling to a Tzaddik, and there is also a concept of “coming home.” By Kabbolas HaTorah, when Klal Yisroel received the Torah, they were told afterwards, “Return to your tents!” The entire purpose of the journey is in order to learn how to serve Hashem throughout everyday life.
This is one of the most fundamental principles of the Rebbe’s path, to serve Hashem in the “running ups” and in the “returning back downs”: To taste some true light, and immediately to constrict oneself to little actions in order to cleave to Hashem throughout normal life, after having tasted the truth. The main parts of life are the times when we are down. The ups only come at specific times, in order to give us a taste of the truth, in order to take with us a lasting impression that will help us to remember what we really want out of life, until we merit more permanence in Torah study and prayer.
On Rosh Hashanah, every Jew merits some feeling of fear of punishment, and of accepting the yoke of Heaven, especially at the holy Kibbutz. In addition to the central idea, how we have all truly taken part in a great and awesome event which rectifies the soul, after Rosh Hashanah, we shouldn’t be checking and thinking about it too much, about what happened, and what will be. Just concentrate on the joy and the awe, and to look for practical ways to keep this mind throughout the Days of Repentance. This is the main way to do Teshuvah. This is how we will merit forgiveness that will help us to continue the joy and energy throughout the coming whole year.
It’s therefore advisable to set aside time, and to contemplate, and to have Hisbodedus, about any idea or action which you would like to accept upon yourself for the coming year, but something that you will be able to keep up with. It’s not expected from a person anything which he does not have the ability to do.
When I just leave the Tziyun, I see those same familiar trials, as if nothing has changed.
You must remember, the Rebbe doesn’t take away our freedom of choice. He only helps us to serve Hashem together with our free will. In other words, on one hand he calls us to wage battle with the yetzer, but on the other hand he also gives us encouragement in the face of difficulty and failure. But he has revealed to us in many places how he has left the actual work for us to do. Everybody must pass through whatever experience he has to in order to reach his potential.
Therefore, the most important resolutions for the coming years should be in regard to studying the works of the Tzaddik, and to fill our minds with more and more of the Rebbe’s Torah and advice, and to listen to lectures and classes from Breslover Chassidim. Through this we will be able to cleave to Hashem in every situation, whether on a high or during a “low”, and we will know how much Hashem takes pride in us, and we will cherish every small good point, and we will rejoice and enjoy every mitzvah and good deed which we merit.
We must be ready to return home like an armored soldier, who sets out for battle with confidence, with a sense of mission. Even if there is danger, and even if he is wounded, he still knows that he certainly has received the Tikkunim of the Tzaddik who goes before him, that no matter what will happen, with Tzaddik’s strength, he will always be able to renew himself to start again in Avodas Hashem throughout the coming year.
Crowning Hashem Everywhere
By HaRav Yaakov Meir Schecter, Shlit”a – Rosh Hashana 5770
Rosh Hashana is the chosen day when the people of Israel crown Hashem, as is clearly evident from the prayers we say during that day. The Talmud (Tract Rosh Hashana, p. 34) says: Hashem said: “Mention Kingships, Remembrances, and Shofars before me so that you crown me upon you”. All three issues are said mainly during the Musaf prayer. The rest of the prayers of Rosh Hashana concentrate almost entirely on coronation.
What’s more, our sages say that one of the reasons for blowing the shofar is because trumpets are customarily blown during the coronation ceremony of human kings.
From all this we learn that the main thrust of the day is crowning Hashem as king of the world. So much so, that even though this is the day of judgment for the entire creation, for us it is still mainly the day when we crown Hashem on us. This is very significant, as the Vilna Gaon explains, because there is a major difference between a ruler and king. A ruler, he explains, alludes to the act of “ruling” – exerting authority by force – whereas a king is someone who is willingly crowned by his subjects.
The main goal of creation is crowning Hashem
The beginning of the world was on the 25th day of the month of Elul (Pirkey d’Rabbi Elazar, chapter 8 ) and our Rosh Hashana is six days later. It is the day Adam was created and crowned Hashem over the world. This is why we say ”זה היום תחילת מעשיך” “This the day when your deeds have begun” even though creation actually started six days earlier. This is because the world has gained its significance when Adam crowned Hashem. We say “Whoever teaches another man’s child Torah is akin to having created him.” This is so because even though he is the natural child of someone else, his significance as a human being lies in him possessing a true da’at, comprehension. Without Torah he is merely a “human animal”. Teaching him Torah gives him the stature of a “human manifestation of G-dly” – the goal of man’s existence. So, too, the entire world, as magnificent and awesome as it was, was meaningless until Hashem was crowned over it, giving it meaning. This is why the day the coronation took place is considered “This is the day your deeds have begun”. Since the world was created for conscious man, the day man was created is considered the real beginning.
The sefer Eitz Chaim (Gate 8, chapter 6) describes the incredible rectifications Adam affected on the first day. This is why we are ordered to “feast on fats and drink sweets etc’…for this day is sacred to our Master…don’t be upset for the merriment of Hashem is our strength.” We must be incredibly happy for having merited being among the army of Hashem, those who crown Him and unify Him on this day.
This is also why we do not confess our sins on Rosh Hashana because the amelioration of the heavenly verdicts and prosecutions depend only on the crowning of Hashem and celebrating it on this day.
To Illuminate His Kingdom in the Darkest Places
It is therefore a wonder why Rosh Hashana is the only holiday on which the moon is always unseen.
We should ponder this because the moon, as we know, signifies kingship. It would stand to reason that on this day, when the kingdom of Hashem is renewed, that it should take place on the day when the moon can be seen in all its glory. In fact, all other holidays take place in the middle of the month when the moon can be fully seen and appreciated – except Rosh Hashana. We need to understand why this is so.
But this can be easily understood when we understand the nature of the obligation of crowning Hashem. We need to see to it that the coronation is complete. We need to make Hashem’s kingdom evident everywhere, especially in the lower, covered places. The crux of Hashem being the recognized monarch is when this recognition comes from places where He cannot be seen. This is the secret behind Rosh Hashana being on the day the moon is covered and unseen. We are calling out declaring that Hashem is our king even when we have no visible evidence of it. This makes Hashem’s kingdom more complete. The main joy we bring to Hashem is when we recognize his authority when we are “blinded” by this world, yet still we call “Hashem is King, Hashem was King, Hashem will be King for ever and ever!”
The Secret of the Month of Elul
In point of fact, this is the secret behind the essence of Elul, the month we prepare ourselves for Rosh Hashana. This is the month when we need to learn the art of staying with Hashem at all times (Likutei Mohar”an, 6). We need to be able to recognize correctly times of expanded and constricted consciousness and adjust our crowning efforts accordingly. And this is what it says in this lesson:
“The simple explanation is that whoever wants to walk in the ways of Teshuva must be resolved to forever strengthen himself in the ways of Hashem at all times, whether being “up” or “down”. This means that if one finds himself attaining a great stature, still, he should not be satisfied with it, but endeavor to search higher and higher still…and the opposite is true as well. If one falls to the deepest of depths, even into Hell itself, one should not become despaired, but should keep on looking for Hashem and hold himself up in any way he can. One should know that it is possible to adhere oneself onto Hashem even from the depths of Hell itself.” The goal on Rosh Hashana is to crown Hashem completely. We can do this if we prepare ourselves to do so even when times are hard.
Elul – the Time for Searching
“Elul” can be understood to mean “searching”. When the Torah says “And they searched the land of Cna’an” (Numbers, 11), Unkelus translated “Ye’Elul-lun”. This comes to tell you that the essence of Elul is to search within oneself and be ready to crown Hashem at any place, physically, mentally, and spiritually. This is why one must search his soul, especially in the darkest and deepest places, if one is to crown Hashem properly.