Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

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The Holy Yeshivah

Meshivas Nefesh 31 – Elucidated

“Bring ruin to the speakers of falsehood. And as for me, in your abundant kindness I will enter your house” (Tehillim 5; 7-8). Our sages taught in the Medrash that “the speakers of falsehood” refers to Doeg, Achitophel and King David’s other opposers, and that with the continuing verse King David was in essence saying: “and I too have done as they did” but nevertheless “In your abundant kindness I will enter your house”. Every person must say the same regarding himself, specifically one who feels the great pain of his sins. He must enliven and strengthen himself greatly with the kindnesses that Hashem has done with him; that he merited to come close to the true Tzaddik and at least does not oppose him, that he has the merit of being included in the holy Yeshiva and holy Beis Medrash of the followers of the true Tzaddik. He should say to himself: “I too have done the same as the opposers, and nevertheless in the great mercy that You have bestowed upon me, ‘I will enter your house’” – this Beis Medrash, which is my hope for eternity.

For the truth is that in every generation there is a Beis Bedrash of students with a true teacher where they involve themselves with true Torah novelties which can bring close to Hashem all the distant souls that are very difficult to grasp and bring close to holiness. There are those who have even fallen to the depths of hell and the lowest pits because of their sins and filthy thoughts, especially sexual lust which is the main aspect of the evil inclination, as the Zohar teaches. There is an evil inclination that is truly vile, disgusting and exceedingly filthy, and whoever it comes in contact with, G-d forbid, has great difficulty escaping from it. It is very detestable and it chases after one who wishes to trap it, attacking him at every moment. This is the “evil encounter” which we pray every day to be saved from.

About this our sages said: “If this vile one encounters you, drag him to the Beis Medrash” (Kiddushin 15a), for this is the main rectification, to draw one’s thoughts into the holy Beis Medrash mentioned above. Through this itself; through reminding oneself that he is included in this group, “if [the evil inclination] is [as hard as] a stone, it will be melted”. For from this Beis Medrash emerges a holy and pure spring that can purify all the exceedingly fallen souls, through the deep and holy advice that flow from it. It can raise them from the depths and return them to Hashem.

Therefore, one who merits being included in this holy Beis Medrash, must strengthen himself tremendously. He must believe and know that every good point and every tiny holy arousal to break away from the evil thoughts and to draw himself to holiness; all that he struggles to the best of his  ability to do some good, even though he has many falls amidst this, even if it has been so thousands of times – nevertheless, not a single good point is ever lost. This is because the true Tzaddik, who is the Rosh Yeshiva, uplifts and gathers everything into the building of holiness and builds wondrous structures with them. He does this specifically by uplifting the aspect of ‘arousal from below’ from the lowliest places, for this is the main rectification of all the worlds which are dependant upon the arousal from below of man, specifically because he possesses free-will. The lower the place is, the more precious and dear is the holy arousal that arise from there; through this the true Tzaddikim build the aspect of the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash in each generation. Eventually, through this, the last and eternal Beis Hamikdash will truly be built.

A man walks through the forest on a chilly winter night, raindrops beat upon the ground and the icy wind blows with cruelty upon his face. He is alone, amidst a seemingly endless muddy and dark swamp.  The only thing in his mind – the yearning for a warm cozy house and a bowl of hot soup to warm his bones….

According to what a person goes through in this world, it is impossible to describe just how much one needs to  strengthen himself in order to learn torah, to pray, and to stand up to all the difficult challenges. The soul screams out for a warm and sheltered house, a place to be refreshed, where it can find help, advice and salvation. Indeed, for this reason Yeshivas are established for the young, to serve as an Ark of Noach by providing protection from the flood of atheism and confusion that wash away all who stand in its path. But what should he whose time has come to leave the Yeshiva do? Who will come to his aid, to save him from all that he will endure in the future? If even in the Yeshiva itself one needs so much heavenly help to serve Hashem truly and to guard ones thoughts, what will be outside the shelter of its walls?

Does such a thing truly exist, a ‘Yeshiva’ that accompanies a person throughout his entire life, that gives him the ability to endure the ups and downs, that provides a feeling of warmth and that offers guidance for every situation.

Indeed it does, Reb Nosson teaches us above. This is the reason why drawing near to the Tzaddik is the foundation of Chassidus. On the one hand they reveal to us how to serve Hashem with truth and pure intention, to merit to love and fear of Hashem and to proceed gradually from level to level in D’veikus with The Creator. On the other hand, they provide us with shelter, warming our hearts in times of difficulty and reminding us that we belong to Hashem and can always bring Him joy. They instill us with the knowledge that through the power of the ‘Rosh Yeshiva’, every drop of good is gathered and raised into holiness.

Guidance is always available; there is not a moment without closeness to Hashem. Sometimes this closeness is achieved through exertion in Torah and tefillah, tasting the sweetness of every word, and sometimes it is through encouraging ourselves and rejoicing in our good points.

About this we should burst forth in praise and say “And I, in Your abundant kindness, will enter Your house” – I, however I may be, even if my actions seem exactly like those who oppose holiness, G-d forbid, nevertheless I have merited “In Your abundant Kindness” to be included in the building of holiness and to have a share in the rectification of the world.

 

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The Letter – Impossible Times & Perseverance in Avodas Hashem

A person must be very stubborn and persistent in his service of Hashem. This idea must be understood well. Every person who wants to enter into Avodas Hashem, even the lowest of the low, must undergo immeasurable amount of ups and downs and all sorts of falls, and sometimes even being thrown down intentionally, away from Avodas Hashem.

Concerning all of this it’s essential to have an inestimable amount of encouragement, as explained above. Often a person must be strong and to hold on with no more than stubbornness. An enormous amount of perseverance is needed. Remember this very well, because there will be many times that you will need to keep this in mind.

Meshivas Nefesh 31, Based on Likutei Moharan II 48

The Letter

This lesson in Likutei Moharan is referred to by Breslover Chassidim as “The Letter”, because the Rebbe conveyed it in first person, like someone writing a letter to his friend. You can see his pleasant words at length inside, which contain the foundations of Hischazkus in simple words, from where we can learn the great importance of accepting upon ourselves the teachings of Hischazkus, as he warns us, “Remember this very well, because there will be many times that you will need to keep this in mind.”

[Since this lesson contains many directives in Hischazkus, in Meshivas Nefesh it is split into several paragraphs, from paragraphs 31 until 38. In this essay we will explain paragraphs 31 and 32.]

We find two approaches throughout the teachings of Hischazkus. There are ideas which give a person the encouragement not to fall into sadness and how to always be happy. And there are others, such as this lesson, which teach us how to continue in our Avodas Hashem and to do what we have to do, even when we fall or when we see that things are not going good.

Impossible Times

Very often people are tested from above by not being allowed to achieve any sense of enlightenment or enthusiasm in Avodas Hashem. It may appear to him as if Hashem is pushing him away and it puts him in low spirits. He may think that maybe he doesn’t have a share in Avodas Hashem in general or even in a specific point of Avodas Hashem. But the reality is that having us fall into these feelings of smallness is the way that we are tested.

A person must always be telling himself, that there are times in which it’s impossible to be on an elevated state of mind. But still, he has to know that in every situation a person is always left with a small point deep inside his heart in which he knows the truth that the main thing is Hashem and we must serve Him. It’s just since he’s seeing that his heart is not drawn after Hashem or since he’s fallen and isn’t successful in getting up, that he therefore gets into the habit during low times of being lazy in Avodas Hashem and following his negative feelings.

Perseverance in Avodas Hashem

This is how the Rebbe seeks to encourage us through this letter. It is specifically in these low times that a person must strengthen himself to pursue that last small point of sense which he still has, in which he still is aware of the truth. He should go after it with tremendous stubbornness, even if at that moment he doesn’t know or understand for what and why he should be davening or learning or protecting himself from sins and trials. During these low times, a person must strengthen himself with stubbornness, just like a child who remains stubborn and unwilling to compromise about something, even after he’s already forgotten why.

The trait of stubbornness, when a person wants to forcefully accomplish exactly what he wants, is generally a negative character trait which is rooted in misplaced pride. But still, when it comes to holiness, stubbornness is a very necessary quality. A person needs to have pride when it comes to spirituality, and to be steadfast and to stand his own, even when he doesn’t have any energy, vitality or spirit.

One must be stubborn in practicing Hisbodedus daily, as the Rebbe taught us that we should make sure to have Hisbodedus even when we have nothing to say or no feelings. Stubbornness is also required concerning studying Torah every day, on which the Rebbe said that anyone who will study a set amount every day no matter what, will certainly leave all his sins, even if he is very far from Hashem. The same thing when it comes to davening, on which the Rebbe taught that we must be stubborn to daven and pray with enthusiasm, or to pray as if we really feel that passion.

This advice of stubbornness which the Rebbe is guiding us with is the greatest encouragement, because a person primarily falls because he feels bad when he sees that he doesn’t feel any passion in his Avodas Hashem. It’s therefore important to know this concept, which is that a person must go through many low days and times. It’s not because Hashem is distancing him, rather He is testing him to see how he will persevere and remain stubborn to do what he has to do no matter what, just not to give up on his holiness.

This is the advice of “Waiting” which is discussed elsewhere, that a person is steadfast not to leave the entrance to Avodas Hashem just because he sees that he’s unable to go in, rather he continues to do whatever he can, and to keep starting over again and again.

You should know that it’s necessary to go through all of these falls and lows and confusion, etc., before entering the gates of Kedushah, and all of the Tzaddikim experienced all of this.

Ibid. 32

The thing which most prevents a person from remaining persistent and steadfast is that he thinks that he is the only one who has to go through these experiences. It therefore seems to him as if he doesn’t have the ability to even start. It is for this reason that the Rebbe teaches us the important idea in the style of a letter, “You should know…”

A person must know very well that all the Tzaddikim experienced all this, and thereby strengthen himself with resoluteness to keep on starting again and again. No matter what’s happening, he continues to wait for the time that it will become easier, but in the meantime he does what he can and what he’s able. The main thing is not to give up, whatever might be, and not to see even a hint in what he’s going through of being pushed away, because he knows that all the Tzaddikim have already gone on this path.

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