Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

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Holy Days of Chanukah – 1

The holy days of Chanukah are drawing nearer and it is fitting to begin preparing ourselves with the teachings of the Tzaddikim that pertain to them. In the coming weeks we will try to explain the general concept of the famous lesson: “The Days of Chanukah” (Likutey Tinyana 2) about which Reb Nosson exclaimed: “We must go with this torah” (Aleh Le’trufah 20). [This Lesson is extremely deep, we have explained only the main points, and anyone who wishes to explore it further is encouraged to study it inside.]

Part 1:

The days of Chanukah are days of thanksgiving, as is written: “they fixed these eight days of Chanukah for praise and thanksgiving”. Days of thanksgiving are an aspect of the delight of the world to come, for this is the main delight of the world to come, to thank and praise His Holy Great name, blessed be He, and to know Him, for the more we know and recognize Him, the closer we are to Him, blessed be He.

The main delight of the world to come, which we so greatly hope for, is that the mind and heart should be ignited with a tremendous illumination of knowledge of Hashem to the extent that we sing in thanks and praise to His great name until we merit through this to be truly close to Him. There is no greater pleasure than this – when the da’as (holy intellect) and dveikus ha’leiv (deep cleaving of the heart to Hashem) are ignited to understand the true meaning of ‘being close to Hashem’.

In this world there are days when the harsh judgments are sweetened, when darkness is dispelled and the wondrous ways of Hashem are revealed. Then a new illumination of the mind is born, similar to that which will be in the future, and we open our mouths in song and praise and merit to taste the awesome sweetness of closeness to Hashem. This is the light that shines forth on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

However, in contrast to this, there are days when a person experiences obstacles, confusion, suffering and emotional pain regarding both the needs of the body and those of the soul; the heart is terribly pressured and one cannot arouse his da’as to enliven himself with the knowledge that he is close to Hashem. This is the time of the main battle, to transform the sorrow and anguish into happiness and joy, to exert oneself greatly to encourage oneself specifically at a time of distress. This applies both in regards to physical distress – to find some aspect of how Hashem helped him even in the suffering that at least it should not be any worse, and both in regards to spiritual distress – to find some good points in oneself despite all the falls. Until one feels the kindness and wonders of Hashem and bursts forth in praise and thanks, thereby opening his heart to know how he is close to Hashem even from the depths of hell and amidst the difficulties.

This is the main topic of the lesson, to reveal that the holy days of Chanukah are the most auspicious time to transform the days of winter and darkness into ‘days’ of thanksgiving, to traverse the days of anguish the same way one would traverse a day in which he attained a fortune of wealth – The days of Chanukah are days of thanksgiving, as is written: “they fixed these eight days of Chanukah for praise and thanksgiving”, for in these days the sages “fixed” the root from which one can draw strength to encourage himself and seek out a way not to be drawn after the distress.

All the sacrifices will be nullified except for the Korban Todah (thanksgiving offering), for nothing will remain in the future besides gratitude and thanksgiving.

The Korban Todah is the only offering which is accompanied by a mincha-offering of chametz (leavened bread). This is because the sparking of the mind with recognition of the greatness of Hashem occurs when thanksgiving is revealed from within a situation of chametz and darkness. This is what will take place in the future and for this reason the Korban Todah will not be nullified. With the power of Chanukah we must strengthen ourselves to draw near to thanksgiving even while we are still in the darkness of exile.

…And the aspect of thanksgiving, which is the delight of the world to come, is an aspect of Halachos (the laws of the Torah), for the laws which we merit to learn, specifically one who merits to formulate novelties in them, are an aspect of the delight of the world to come, an aspect of [what the sages taught]: “anyone who studies halachos every day is guaranteed that he has a place in the world to come.”

Halacha is from the wondrous kindnesses of Hashem, who revealed to us paths and ways in every aspect of life how we can create a vessel to be close to Him from within the darkness. So too, through the study of Halacha, one can draw near to Him.

This is our main avodah (divine service), to believe in general that the fulfillment of every mitzvah makes us close to Hashem. So too in specifics, every mitzvah and halacha has a deeper meaning and a way in which specifically through this mitzvah one can come closer to Hashem, as we see in Likutey Halachos where Reb Nosson reveals the inner divine service contained in the mitzvos.

When a person involves himself in the study and clarification of the laws, whether pertaining to the parameters of what is forbidden and what is permitted, or the study of the practical ways of serving Hashem, how to conduct oneself properly and with good character traits; if this is done with a faith and contemplation of how this halacha is what Hashem desires of him, in order to draw close to Him, through this one can merit to a sparking illumination of holy intellect that he is truly close and near to Hashem – a taste of the thanksgiving that will be in the future. Especially one who merits innovating novelties in Halacha, to uncover the will of Hashem in a new situation that has not yet been clarified in halacha, through this is revealed a new da’as of how to draw near to Hashem through another thing in the world.

The kindness of Hashem is an aspect of Halachos, as the sages taught: “one who prevents his student from apprenticing him is as if he withholds from him Chesed (kindess).”

When a wise man allows a student to be an apprentice to him and to learn from him the exact ways of clarifying the law, through this he bestows kindness upon the student. On a deeper level a great piece of advice can be understood from this – that we need to be “apprentices” by Tzaddikim and to learn from them how to view the halachos as Hashem’s kindness, to fulfill them with joy and to believe that every mitzvah and halacha is what Hashem desires from me now in order to draw close to him. Through this one can merit to transform the days of suffering into days of thanksgiving and kindness.

This is what is said regarding King David: “and Hashem is with him”, upon which the sages expounded: “that the law is in accordance with him”. For regarding King David the verse states “the faithful kindnesses of David” – meaning, he involved himself in Halacha from amidst faith that every Halacha is kindness and that through it “Hashem is with him”. This is how the psalm of “hodu La’Shem Ki Tov (Praise Hashem for He is good)” (Tehillim 107) concludes: “He who is wise will fulfill these [laws] and they will contemplate the kindness of Hashem” – to study the laws together with contemplation of the kindness of Hashem that they contain, that through them it is possible to come close to Hashem from every place.


Holy Days of Chanukah – 2

Summary of Part 1:

Chanukah is the most auspicious time for transforming the days of suffering into days of joy and thanksgiving, to be close to Hashem as it will be in the world to come. This is achieved in two ways: A) through thanking Hashem and finding the aspects of relief that exist within the difficulties, and B) by learning halacha with contemplation that every law is a revelation of Hashem’s will. This enables us to be close to Him through all aspects of the world.

Part 2:

…through this comes giving birth with ease.

The main form of sweetening all the judgments and distress, as is known, is to ‘give birth’ to the holy intellect – to know and perceive Hashem. The way in which this takes place is that the recognition of Hashem’s greatness appears specifically when one emerges from distress, lack of enthusiasm and difficulty. For it is imperative that there be a lack of light in the lowly places in order that through this one can come to a new perception of Hashem when he is saved. However, the Rebbe revealed a segulah for ‘giving birth’ with ease – to say the chapter of Tehillim beginning “Mizmor L’etodah” (Tehillim 100) [unlike the prevalent custom to thank Hashem after the birth], for when a person thanks Hashem and learns Halacha even before the salvation, without falling in his spirit because of the distress, with this he causes the ‘birth’ to take place easily. Then, the knowledge that he is close to Hashem is born even before the physical salvation. This is the secret of the mystical intentions of Chanukah, to shine the light down to the ‘feet’ – to the lowest facets of the soul.

…Halacha too, is an aspect of giving birth…

The revelation of the law into the world takes place much in the same way as the process of giving birth. For the supporters of Torah scholars give away their money, which is an aspect of lack, and through this the halachos are innovated and ‘born’ [See inside the Lesson for a fuller explanation of the connection between Halacha and birth]. Since the halachos are an aspect of Hashem’s kindness, automatically the bounty is returned and their lack is filled. Just like the kindness that is revealed has the power to bestow monetary bounty in return, so too is it able to bestow a revelation of kindness in the form of closeness to Hashem from any place of deficiency.

This also provides us with a simple piece of advice, to support those learning Torah, for through this one merits to the light of kindness contained within the halachos and will thus be able to strengthen himself in every situation. On a deeper level, this relates to the Pidyon (monetary redemption) that is given to the Tzaddik, for the main miracle that is brought about through this is not only the physical salvation, but rather redemption of the holy intellect from exile, that one should be able to always be close to Hashem.

…The nature of the moon is cold, and in the future it will be filled like the light of the sun, an aspect of the filling of deficiency.

Until now we have spoken about the advice of giving thanks in order to take a person out of suffering. However, in truth, this is advice for all times when a person feels a coldness and lack in his service of Hashem. Through strengthening oneself in giving thanks and learning Halacha one can fill the lack of the moon that it should shine like the light of the sun. On a deeper level this is the secret of the unification of Hashem and his Divine Presence, the unification of the aspects of the sun and moon, which is the purpose of all the mitzvos, to become one with Hashem through performing the mitzvos. This is achieved by giving thanks and learning Halacha.

…originally, when the blood floods the heart, this is an aspect of a deficiency in truth, an aspect of “men of blood will hate one who is complete”(Mishlei 29)

When a person is in distress and the blood doesn’t flow properly, then one despises hearing words of truth, that there is surely always a point of good and things aren’t all bad. When one is ‘in the moment’ he desires only a manifest and complete salvation, he is not willing to understand that his main salvation is that he should receive the intellect to know that he is close to Hashem. This is the meaning of the verse: “men of blood will hate one who is complete” – when the blood and troubles take hold one hates the truth.

When one emerges from the distress, then the truth shines forth and brings completion to speech.

The weekdays, with all their obligations and responsibilities, jumble the mind and prevent a person from feeling close to Hashem. This ‘forgetfulness’ is mainly caused by one’s faculty of speech, for speech is that which connects a person with the light of truth, to emerge from distress through giving thanks and learning Halacha. Through this the faculty of speech is perfected in complete holiness and one’s faith can no longer be disturbed.

The faculty of speech is divided into four categories, two of a physical nature and two of a spiritual nature. [This is a very deep concept that contains much mystical depth; we have only explained that which practically emerges from it.]

One type of speech is that which that connects people – like pleasant words with the members of one’s household or with one relatives and friends. This is called ‘speech of charity’. With an abundance of speech in relation to physical needs one can forget Hashem and become ‘cooled off’ from the light of emunah. However, when one remembers the truth, even in the darkness, then these words do not distance him from Hashem and he can constantly remember that he is close to Hashem.

The second type of speech is that of confession, when one speaks words in order to rectify the past, this is known as ‘speech of repentance’, as the verse stated: “take words with you and return to Hashem” [This form of speech is the main rectification for the ‘speech of charity’, to arouse oneself to remember Hashem]. However, if one does not constantly involve himself in connecting to the truth by remembering Hashem’s infinite mercy, then when he sees how immensely far from Hashem he is, he can be drawn further away from Hashem and despair specifically because of this improper repentance. Yet with the light of truth one will remember Hashem’s mercy and believe that the words of repentance have the power to overturn everything from evil to good.

The third type of speech is that which is used for control and forceful commands and is called “the speech of the affluent”. This type of speech is used mostly for giving instructions in order to get things done as one desires. These words often contain a great deal of anger and can be the cause of much anguish which can distance a person from Hashem. Yet with the light of truth one will not be distanced by such words since he will remember that Hashem’s providence is in these words too.

The fourth type of speech is that which is used in serving Hashem through Torah and tefillah and is called “the speech of malchus (kingdom [of holiness])” because the main revelation of Hashem’s Kingship is brought about by words of holiness, as the Zohar teaches malchus is the mouth”. However, these words are only capable of bringing us close to Hashem in as much as we connect to the light of truth that Hashem hears every single word.

When the light of truth shines forth and speech is perfected, then one can be in this world without becoming bewildered and forgetting about the delights of the world to come. He will thus be truly close to Hashem, always.


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