Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

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Who is Victorious? …

The war against Amalek, which represents the war against the Evil Inclination, is an extremely long battle. The main way in which Amalek is subdued is through encouragement – that no matter what a person endures during his entire life, he be extremely determined to not allow himself to become discouraged. “And if I make my bed in hell, behold there You are” (Tehillim 139; 8). Even from there, one should call out and scream to Hashem from the depths of one’s heart, as the verse says: “From the belly of Hell I cried out” (Iyov 2;3).This is the main path of teshuva that we work to draw upon ourselves during the awesomely holy days of Rosh Hashanah, The Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur. This is the main victory in the battle that we are fighting during these days.

As long as a person does not despair, and strengthens himself to begin each time anew no matter what, he is already called victorious. This is because it is impossible for a person to defeat the Evil Inclination on his own, as our sages taught: “Without Hashem’s help, he could not overcome him” (Sukkah 52a), and as the verse states: “Hashem does battle with Amalek…” (Shemos 17;16). A person’s obligation is to strengthen himself anew each time and not to allow himself to retreat from this battle in despair no matter what. This is alluded to in the words of the Holy Zohar: “Who is Victorious? He who holds the weapons of battle in his hands” (Tikkun 13).  In this battle we certainly do not yet see who has won, for the war is still greatly prolonged, the exile is strengthening and each person is experiencing his own difficulties. However, as long as we hold our weapons in our hands – and our main weapon is prayer, as we have explained elsewhere (Likutey Moharan, lesson 2) – we are certainly being victorious. For as long as one does not despair and strengthens himself in prayer and screaming out to Hashem, he is called triumphant, for this itself is victory. (Likutey Halachos, Shabbos 7, section 54)

During this time of year when the days of Purim are approaching it is our obligation to adhere to the teaching of our sages: “When [the month] of Adar arrives, we increase our joy”. The simple reason for this added level of joy is that we merited to do battle with Amalek and to fulfill the commandment of: “You must eradicate the memory of Amalek”. Indeed, in these days we escalate in joy, in a manner far supreme to the rest of the year, to the extent that on Purim we express this great joy in an unusual way. All this is in celebration of the wondrous victory against Amalek.

This is seemingly hard to understand, for after all is said and done we are still in exile and the klippah (evil force) of Amalek still assaults us every day in many different forms. Who amongst us can say that we have truly merited eradicating the name of Amalek? How then can we be so quick to rejoice?

The truth is that this itself is the very answer. This is because the war with Amalek is unlike all other battles in which one destroys the enemy and simply celebrates victory. This war is an ongoing battle and as long as the physical world as we know it exists, Amalek remains. Amalek is the existence of the concealment of G-dliness that rests upon the world. It is a brazen and defiant force that attempts to discourage and subdue our uprising against it. Even if we merited defeating him a number of times, he immediately returns to battle in a renewed effort to overcome us. His aim is to cause us constant confusion and to ensure that we remain with many failures – this is the kilppah of Haman Amalek.

His entire ambition is to remove every last drop of holy desire from inside us, to crush us completely. Now we can understand the ‘extreme’ way in which the Torah relates to Amalek, commanding us to remember that we must annihilate him, “Do not forget!”

What this practically means is that  our victory in this battle is gauged by how much desire we still have to continue fighting, to get up after a stumble and to keep yearning to come close to Hashem – This is victory.

This is what the Zohar teaches about the Lulav and Esrog we hold in our hands on Sukkos – it is the symbol of our victory against the Klippah of Eisav that threatened us on Yom Kippur.  “Who is Victorious? He who holds the weapons of battle in his hands” (Tikkun 13). At first glance we would have thought the exact opposite, surely when the battle is over one would resign his weapons and not continue to grasp them? Is the holding of these weapons not the greatest sign that the war is NOT over! However, as we have explained, Amalek’s entire aim is for us to surrender and as long as we clasp the weapons of war in our hands we are truly victorious.

In light of this it is truly fitting that we renew ourselves with ecstatic joy and celebrate Hashem’s wondrous miracles, that we are still fighting, that we want nothing more than closeness to Hashem, and most of all – that He wants nothing more than us …

 

 

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There is no such thing as Despair

We have already explained that there is no such thing as despair at all in the world. Even when a person sees himself as being very far from Hashem, he can still revitalize himself with this itself, that he knows his distance. It’s possible that he could have been so far that he wouldn’t have even realized it. This, that he at least knows how far he has fallen, is very treasured by Hashem, even if he actually has fallen. And so, it is appropriate to rejuvenate himself with this awareness, and with it to find encouragement and strength to continue doing whatever he can still do in Avodas Hashem.

Meshivas Nefesh 40, based on Likutei Moharan II 68

There is No Such Thing as Despair

“There is no such thing as despair in the world” – sometimes it seems as if this cry which emerged from the Rebbe’s mouth was intended for heartbroken and miserable people who are fed up with their lives. But the truth is that despair takes hold of almost everybody. ‘Despair’ could mean a cooling down in Avodas Hashem, which a person has from seeing how his Torah study, prayers, and other Mitzvos don’t have any vitality to them. It might also be seeing how since he’s failed so many times to conduct himself in holiness, in his eating or in other matters, he abandons working on those things and he begins to perceive materialism as totally fine.

Even though he recognizes and admits to the importance of Avodas Hashem and the severity of sin, in practicality he’s given up on continuing to persevere. This is what is meant by despair – when it seems as if it’s impossible to connect to Hashem while unsuccessful in Avodah.

Why does a person cool off from his goals in Avodas Hashem? The reason why is because it’s difficult for a person to live with a deficiency and to admit to it. The lack obligates him in his life, and that breaks his spirit. To deal with these feelings, the Rebbe reveals the following awesome advice: One should know that just this, that he knows about his deficiencies and his distance from Hashem, with this alone he can already revitalize himself and find happiness, since at least he doesn’t allow himself to live in hiding from Hashem.

Therefore, the main toil of the Tzaddikim is to introduce new ways of thinking into a person’s mind, in order that he should know what Hashem really wants from him. Even if a person sees that it’s impossible that he should ever reach certain levels, still, “There is no such thing as despair at all in the world.” Don’t become cold, and don’t raise your hands in defeat, even if you see that you are failing and unsuccessful. There is an immense difference between somebody that already doesn’t want to enter into the ways of holiness, to someone who lives with the truth even if he sees that he is far from it.

When a person accepts the teachings of the Tzaddikim into his heart, on one hand he acquires the ability to see where he is really holding, and on the other hand, he reprimands himself properly when needed, by being very careful not to fall into unhappiness. He knows how to view his existence through other lenses.

With this he can connect to Hashem even in the midst of failure. He can be strong to start doing whatever he still can, to grab a few good deeds and to keep away from sin as much as he can, with the recognition that he is close to Hashem even if in truth he knows how far he still is.

Somebody who doesn’t actually try to climb from his fall, and allows himself to fall into despair and “coolness” in his Avodas Hashem, won’t understand the advice being offered here. What does it help him to know if he’s far from Hashem? But someone who tries to wage a battle feels what a powerful, essential message is contained within this advice. It reveals to us an incredibly deep insight as to how a person can bring himself to happiness specifically from being distant, by viewing the situation differently, and thereby being motivated to battle further.

Being sensible enough to make oneself joyous and know that he’s close to Hashem through knowing his distance and not denying it, in itself will give him the strength to break through all the curtains and enter the gates of Kedushah. He doesn’t become distant as a result of the fall; on the contrary, he starts to feel closer to Hashem with this new way of viewing his situation.

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