Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Archive for the ‘Rav Avrohom Yitzchok Kletzky’ Category

FAQ: Jealousy and Envy

Question:

What should I do that I feel very unhappy when I see that my friends are more successful in their Avodas Hashem than I am?

Answer:

Before we discuss the issue itself, we have to pay attention to whether we are dealing here with ‘jealousy’ or ‘envy’. Although they both aren’t good character traits, ‘envy’ is worse. There’s a big difference between the two. Jealousy is when a person thinks to himself, “Why am I not like so-and-so?” because he also wants to do well. But ‘envy’ is “Why is so-and-so successful?” as if to say that it bothers him that this person is successful when he’s not. He therefore looks to find something wrong with the other person, to spot where he’s unsuccessful. He would like to see him trip and fall.

For this reason we have to think carefully what we are looking for in life; we want to bring delight to Hashem. If I don’t merit revealing Hashem enough in the world, at least let there be someone else that will be. In the end I might also gain, because I might be inspired further in Avodas Hashem when there will be more holiness in the world through someone else’s Avodah.

Therefore, before we talk about unhappiness that comes about from jealousy of others, we should be careful that at least we shouldn’t take satisfaction in their downfall. On the contrary, we have to be full of love and compassion on all of Klal Yisroel, and especially with our close friends, and hope for all of them to be as Hashem wants.

The Rebbe very much praised the ability to be pleased about one’s friend’s Avodas Hashem even though he himself hasn’t been successful. It’s very common that a person should be pained to see others being successful, especially when he’s on a low. (Sichos Haran 119)

Question:

What’s the solution for this?

Answer:

There is a simple solution: to pray for another’s success in that matter which he himself wants to do well. This can help bring a person to a real nullification before Hashem (Likutei Mohoran 22). In the beginning it’s difficult to pray for someone else to be successful, but he should still try to force himself a little to pray for him.

In addition, through praying for his friend’s success in Avodas Hashem, he will cleanse his own wishes, making them purer and more Heavenly focused. He won’t only be thinking about his own personal success, but about Hashem being revealed in the world. Thus, Hashem will help him so that his wishes will be accepted, bringing him to merit true Avodas Hashem.

After we have strengthened ourselves in valuing other people’s success, let’s now discuss jealousy, the feeling of ‘When will I be like him?’

We must be very careful to run away from any thoughts of jealousy. This is one of the greatest causes of people to be distanced from Hashem, and it brings people down to the point where they have no ability to focus on the World to Come nor the state of mind of living with Hashem (Likutei Mohoran I 54).

We have to strengthen ourselves very much in our Emunah to know that each person has a specific job in this world which no one else has. Like a large machine which has many screws; each screw and part is an essential part of the machine, and without it the machine wouldn’t be able to operate. We can imagine that if one screw would want to go into the place of another screw, not only wouldn’t it be able to fit because of the size of the other screw’s hole, but also its own hole would remain empty. The entire machine would be worthless.

We need to know that the same thing is in regards to the special mission which each person has which is fitting just for him. Every person has his talents and surroundings which he was born into and grew up with, and tests and trials which he had to pass. The entire world depends on him fulfilling his own mission and to serve Hashem with the tools which he has, not with someone else’s tools.

But again, this is all only when one truly tries encouraging himself to seek Hashem’s will. I.e what does Hashem want from ‘me’, ‘This is my job and that is someone else’s’.

Question:

How should we understand Chazal’s saying, ‘Jealousy amongst the wise increases wisdom’?

Answer:

Everything in the world can be used for good and can also be used to ruin. Everything has a good side and a bad side.

Of course, in order to find motivation in Avodas Hashem it is good to keep the company of good friends who will increase one’s desire and aspirations to emulate their ways – a form of jealousy which increases wisdom.

But we have to be careful not to ruin anything with this trait of jealousy, meaning, we shouldn’t want to be exactly like someone else, because no two people are alike. Chazal say “Many tried to do like Rashbi and were unsuccessful.” The Baal Shem Tov explains that this was because they made the mistake of trying to reach Rashbi’s spiritual level and imitate him, and didn’t focus on giving Hashem satisfaction.

The positive form of jealousy is when a person receives from other people a general inspiration for Avodas Hashem, to see that Avodas Hashem is a relevant, possible thing, and that we can come close to Hashem from within this stormy world.

But this inspiration has to be within one’s own account with Hashem, according to his own talents and capabilities, and not in relation to competition with others. To think, “How can I be so far while someone else is advancing?”, would be real pride. (Likutei Halachos Pesach 9)

We have to be very careful about this. The same way there can be obstacles towards Avodas Hashem from the Yetzer Hara, it is also possible for close friends to become obstacles by their causing us to feel dejected when we see their advancement, and we start to imagine that they are ‘cutting us off’. We have to strengthen ourselves in our belief in our own Avodah, and to remember that it’s for sure very dear in Hashem’s eyes. We don’t know Hashem’s calculations, who’s greater, who puts in more effort, and in what way Hashem takes satisfaction.

Don’t worry that maybe because of this you will weaken in Avodas Hashem. If a person is seriously looking to do Hashem’s will, and prays that Hashem draw him close, without any feelings of dejection from others, nor that his Avodah should just be the imitation of others, then he will truly advance little by little according to his abilities.

 

HOWTO: Awaken the Power and Merit of the Tzaddikim

By Rabbi Avrohom Yitzchok Kletzky

Question:

How do we awaken the power and merit of the Tzaddikim to help us?

Answer:

1] Everything depends on faith in Tzaddikim. The more we believe in their merit and connect ourselves to them through our thoughts and feelings, the more we will truly attach to them and awaken them to bring Divine Mercy upon us. (See Likutei Moharan I 135, II 5)

2] The Zohar teaches that just as during the first exodus from Egypt the sea was split through Moshe’s staff, so too in this final exile the ‘sea of wisdom’ will be split through the ‘staff’, the pen which has written the Torah which the Tzaddikim have taught. The Tzaddikim toiled to arouse Heavenly Compassion upon us, until they were able to fashion ‘garments’ and tools, Torah which bring a person to truly keep Hashem in mind at all times, and through which we are always able, in every situation, to enter into the ways of coming close to Hashem, awakening our hearts and minds, with joy and liveliness. This is discussed a lot throughout Likutei Halachos, especially in Hilchos Rosh Chodesh 6.

A large part of the connection to a Tzaddik is through putting his mind and heart into contemplating what his Rav has taught him, to thereby come to complete Teshuvah and purification from sin. When a talmid doesn’t want to understand what his Rav is saying, the Rebbe in Likutei Moharan II 91 calls it ‘exile of the divine presence’.

3] Although we need the great merit of the Tzaddikim even after their Torah has already been written to properly understand and grasp their message, still, the Tzaddikim are waiting for us to take initiative, to wake up and start working to try to understand their teachings, and to try to think over their Torah. This is how we connect with them, and truly grasp their words.

4] Every time a person studies the Tzaddik’s teachings, even if he doesn’t understand it in its entirety, after studying he should try to take out at least one idea which can give him a new look on Avodas Hashem. It may be in Avodas Hashem in general, or a specific point of Avodah, e.g., how to perform a specific Mitzvah properly. Or it may be a new way of viewing what’s going on in the world or in his own life, or how to understand the worries or wants which are bothering him at this time.

The same way that when we study Halachah the point of our learning is to come out with a practical understanding of what to do in the cases being described, so too in our study of Chassidus, we should be looking to understand how to conduct ourselves in each situation.

5] Throughout the day, try to think about whatever we come across, what is the Tzaddik’s teaching in this situation? How can I keep Hashem in mind here? Through trying to think about the Tzaddik’s teachings according to his level, even just a bit, the power of the Tzaddikim is awakened to bring him in to this Avodah, even if he does not yet deserve enter.

This is the greatest encouragement a person can have, that a person should never worry that at this moment he can’t connect to Hashem. At any moment a person can completely renew himself by reminding himself of Torah from the Tzaddik and thinking about it, thereby arousing the power and merit of the Tzaddikim to help him attach himself to Hashem.

6] An additional point is that when a person lives in such a fashion, he doesn’t have to worry about pride when he comes to any inspiration in Avodas Hashem, because he knows that he didn’t get to it by himself since he himself is full of sin and isn’t deserving of feeling any connection to Hashem. It’s only in merit of the Tzaddikim that he has any enlightenment.

So too when he falls away from those feelings of inspiration, he doesn’t become dejected because he knows that he was anyways undeserving. On the contrary, he can now look forward to starting anew in coming close to Hashem.

 

FAQ – Ancestral Merit and Connecting to Hashem

Question:

Is everyone really holding by connecting to Hashem with dveykus?

Answer:

A] The entire purpose of the world is only in order that we recognize Hashem and cling to Him. If so, of course no one can say that it’s not for him. It’s self understood that there are many levels involved, but everyone is obligated to start according to his level to think about Hashem, to keep Him in mind and to yearn for Him.

Of course, we need great merit in order to realize this. It’s almost impossible to start thinking holy thoughts about love of Hashem and His awe because of the physicality of a person combined with the additional materialism a person brings upon himself day after day by strengthening his body over his soul.

The Bnei Yisroel stood in just such a situation when they were in danger by the Yam Suf. The Mitzrim were chasing them below, and in heaven the prosecuting angels were claiming that there is no reason to save the Israelites any more than to help the Egyptians, since they are both idol worshippers. On their own, they were almost undeserving of the sea being split for them. Only just before daybreak did the merit of their ancestors awaken upon them and they merited the miracle of Kriyas Yam Suf. Hashem’s G-dliness was then revealed to such an extent that even maidservants who were present saw things that the great prophet Yechezkel did not see.

We see from here the great power of the Tzaddikim, of Moshe and the Patriarchs that were able to bring recognition and realization of Hashem even to the lowest in the nation.

So too, each of us needs a miracle that our minds and hearts should also ‘split’ open in order that we can enter into the ‘sea’ of knowledge – that we should realize Hashem according to our level. In reality, we don’t deserve such a thing.  It’s only in the merit of our closeness to Tzaddikim who toiled their entire lives and even more after they passed on, to find merit in Klal Yisroel and to arouse Hashem’s compassion and mercy upon us that we should also start feeling and realizing Hashem even if we aren’t yet deserving of it.

B] This is the idea behind ‘ancestral merit’, and what Chazal are referring to in so many Midrashim about Zchus Avos and how our existence is only in their merit, and we mention them at the beginning of every prayer.

Zchus Avos isn’t only in order to merit a livelihood or health, etc., even if we need much heavenly compassion for these things also. The Baal Shem Tov didn’t intend just that when he encouraged being close to Tzaddikim. The main compassion which the Tzaddikim have on us is to give us a taste of the spiritual delight of being close to Hashem.

 

 

 

FAQ – Studying the Inner Dimension vs Simple Faith

Question:

What is the practical way that we can go about the study of the inner dimension, to connect with the G-dliness in everything?

Answer:

A] The underlying foundation of Chassidus is to look at the wisdom contained in everything, to attach our thoughts to the inner G-dliness which is found in everything in the world:

(1) To look at the inner grace which every Jew has, and at the joy which he gives Hashem. (2) To connect our thoughts to the inner light within all the Mitzvos which we do, within the holidays, and other Mitzvos. (3) To always find a way not to forget Hashem throughout all of our mundane activities, such as eating, earning a livelihood, and other needs, because we know that the whole world is just a covering of false charm which hides the light of Hashem. (4) To strengthen ourselves throughout all types of falls, sadness and worries by realizing that Hashem is with us everywhere.

It’s clear that anyone who wants to increase his awareness in these things, to know more about the inner ways of things, he should study sefarim which discuss the inner dimension and reveal wondrously how the whole world is but at the bottom of the chain stemming from spiritual sources which took on material form.

B] But the Rebbe teaches us that after all of this, the main Yiddishkeit must be with ‘innocence and simplicity’. In truth, our main searching and struggling isn’t in order to acquire more knowledge, but to be close to Hashem. Therefore anyone who bases his Yiddishkeit according to what he knows is standing in great danger for many reasons:

(1) When a person derives fulfillment only from those things which he knows and understands, even if they are true and holy things, still, Hashem’s light is like the sun’s rays which rises and sets. It’s necessarily so, and it’s impossible even for the great Tzaddikim to be in a constant enlightened frame of mind. If a person bases his Yiddishkeit only on knowledge and understanding, what will he do at the times that the light isn’t shining?

(2) Hashem’s light in itself is very great, and it can’t be grasped in a material body. We therefore have to purify and sanctify our bodies and to withstand trials until we begin to grasp a little of the true inner light.

(3) As long as a person isn’t properly purified, even if he becomes inspired from learning sefarim which discuss internal levels and Kabbalah or Chassidus, that feeling generally comes from the beauty of the novel idea which he has discovered, and that he now knows new and wonderful things. This is of course is also very good, that a person’s thoughts should be elevated a little above the vanities of this world. But usually this only happens the first few times that he learns that topic and he first discovers that idea. When he wants to go back and go over it again, it becomes ‘old’ and he loses that first spark which he originally had.

(4) Even if he enjoys this type of study, usually there is an element of ego and pride mixed into it. Not necessarily pride relative to others, but pride within his own self, that he feels that he’s a person who knows something wonderful which is not readily seen. This isn’t yet the true enjoyment which he can have from entering into nullification before Hashem, to realize the truth of Hashem’s presence in his place.

C] Therefore, the main Yiddishkeit and fulfillment has to be Emunah with innocence and simplicity, to keep the simple faith of Hashem and to know that the whole world is full of His glory, even if he doesn’t see or understand this.

Question:

If so, why do we have to study the sefarim of Tzaddikim? Isn’t it enough just to go with faith with innocence and simplicity?

Answer:

A] The passuk says, “The desire of a man’s heart is evil from his youth.” The ‘simple’ thoughts of a person are thoughts of fighting and politics, confusion and doubts, sadness and bitterness, anger and sorrow, and other illnesses.

Therefore, it’s understood that ‘innocence and simplicity’ doesn’t mean to think about whatever comes up in our heads without trying to think.  This is why we have to study the books of Tzaddikim. They teach us what the proper way of thinking about everything is, what is the true light in this world, how should we look properly at every situation, how can we remember Hashem every moment, in good times and otherwise, in every Mitzvah that we do, to know how to connect with Hashem specifically through this Mitzvah, be it Torah or prayer, Teffilin, Shabbos, Pesach, etc. how to remember Hashem when we have to take care of physical material needs, and especially how not to forsake Hashem during down times.

B] This is innocence and simplicity: Not to leave the sensible path. On the contrary, we all have to study and learn as much as we can, and it’s a great Mitzvah to sharpen our mind (Likutei Moharan I 62).  The thing is that in our learning we are not looking for the knowledge itself, but rather in order to cling to Hashem.

Therefore, we learn an idea from the Tzaddikim, and we start to think it over, to believe in its truth as the Tzaddik revealed it. For example, how to remain connected to Hashem while in a low, and how Hashem listens to every prayer, and how every word we study ascends up high, etc. Thus, we liven ourselves up with simplicity while being connected to the awareness, even though we don’t see it with our eyes. The light is very great and we don’t have the vessels to contain them as they are.

C] The Tzaddikim therefore exerted themselves to reveal to us Torah, to clothe Hashem’s light with words of Torah, in order to give people a handle on a way to think properly, with a different teaching and idea all the time, not just with an overall knowledge of Emunah that “His Glory fills the world”.

The tool that we have to use to hold onto the Tzaddik’s teaching is innocence, the simple faith that this is the truth. This is perfection, to connect with light of understanding with simple faith.

D] In addition, we have to know that the holy Tzaddikim put a great potency into their words, that someone who studies them should have the merit to enter a little into grasping the light of understanding even when he doesn’t deserve it by himself. The study itself affects a rectification in the subject being studied. But this is only when a person has the simple faith in Hashem’s light being revealed through their Torah, even when he doesn’t see it.

E] Reb Nosson asks in Hilchos Chezkas Karkaos 5, that we find it written that Yehoshua never left Moshe’s tent. How is that possible? Didn’t he ever have to take care of his own needs? The Torah doesn’t exaggerate.

Reb Nosson explains that Yehoshua was so attached to his Rebbe, that even when he went to take care of his needs he would remember his Rebbe, and thus he was able to be connected to Hashem constantly through the power of simple faith in his Rebbe’s words which revealed to him how to always live with Hashem in every place and situation even when we don’t see anything.

What’s so Unique about Rebbe Nachman’s Teachings?

Question:

What is unique about the Rebbe’s sefarim? Is it just in their ability to motivate a person and warm his heart towards Avodas Hashem, and to bring out the greatness of every Mitzvah and good character trait? If so, there are many topics which the Rebbe doesn’t address at such length, while other sefarim do dedicate chapters or even entire sefarim to those subjects?

Answer:

1] Reb Nosson became close to the Rebbe although he had previously been very close to the greatest students of the Maggid of Mezritch, zy”a, such as the Rebbe, Reb Zusha, Reb Mordechai of Kreminetz, the Rav of Neschiz, and the Holy Berditchover, zy”a. By them, he indeed discovered the Torah of Chassidus, which is an outpouring of awareness and inspiration for clinging to Hashem and knowing Him. But at the same time, Reb Nosson didn’t understand how he, together with everything he was going through in his personal life, could have any sort of connection with the exalted levels which these Tzaddikim had reached.

When Reb Nosson became close to the Rebbe, he discovered advice and guidance, paths through which everybody can enter into the ways of the Tzaddikim and follow in them. He found a way how to practically apply that which is written in the other Sefarim, as he writes in Likutei Halachos, Eiruvei Techumin 5, “The point of the new advice is only with the aim of going on the old path, to maintain the Torah which we have.”

2] Of course we should study all the holy sefarim which discuss at length the depravity of materialistic desires and other bad character traits, and motivate us to acquire good traits and climb up level after level in the ways of Avodas Hashem, loving Hashem, being in awe of Him, etc. We should also study a lot about knowing Hashem.

But it’s not enough just to study. The main thing is to apply what we learn. For this we need to learn Torah and sefarim of Tzaddikim which contain advice. “This is the difference between someone who learns only books of Mussar, to those who are close to a Tzaddik. Even though the study of Mussar books is very very valuable, there isn’t explained therein so much good advice for serving Hashem. They reprimand a person and motivate him to return to Hashem, but usually you can’t find in them any advice how to come close to Hashem, how to hold onto proper ways of thinking and to be aware of Hashem. But when we draw close to the Tzaddikim and their followers, we find precious advice and paths how to attach ourselves to Hashem from every place and level.” (Likutei Halachos, Shabbos 6)

3] Of course, even just the wonderful words of the Rebbe have in them a potency to soften our tough hearts and to warm us up towards Hashem. Especially when we take the words of a Torah and make them into a prayer, begging Hashem that we merit applying it, then they certainly have the power to inspire us and break our hearts, as we can all see.

But at the same time, the most amazing thing about the Rebbe’s Torah is not in its poetic style or its mentioning Midrashim and Zohars about the greatness and importance of the subject being discussed. For that we can learn the other holy sefarim. The Likutei Moharan doesn’t generally explain lofty ideas, and relies on the reader to already know the basics of Chassidus, the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and his followers.

What is unique about the Rebbe’s Torah is that it’s full of advice and guidance how every individual can merit reaching the highest spiritual levels. Even when the Rebbe mentions Midrashim etc., it’s for the purpose of illuminating the advice which he is revealing.

4] Someone learning the Rebbe’s sefarim will realize that he starts off each lesson with a concept in Avodas Hashem, and without explaining it at length, immediately proceeds to connect it to a practical idea, advice how to attain that level. He then continues to reveal more guidance regarding that advice, how to merit applying that advice itself. So he goes on, from one piece of advice to another, in a way that that anyone can enter into Avodas Hashem and achieve all the levels in the world, by starting from the level which he’s on now.

5] Let’s take for example Likutei Moharan I 1. The Rebbe opens with the concept that a Jewish person must look at the internal understanding contained in everything. The Tcheriner Rav in Nachat HaShulchan explains that the Rebbe is referring to the path of the Torah of the Baal Shem Tov, which is to connect to the G-dly light within everything.

This short statement is wonderful, inspiring and heartwarming, to know that a person’s purpose is to look at the understanding in everything and to come close to Hashem through everything and in every place, be it Mitzvos or otherwise permitted things, both during good times and “low” times.

But still, the Rebbe doesn’t explain at length with motivating and inspiring words this concept of G-dliness found in everything, as other Chassidic sefarim would do. Someone who wants to understand this concept should learn others sefarim of Chassidus, about which the Rebbe extolled how great their study is (see Chayei Moharan 408 and many places in Likutei Halachos that we should study all the sefarim which are based on the path of the holy Zohar. Reb Levi Yitzchak Bender told us that in Uman the Breslover Chassidim would learn all the sefarim of Chassidus, Noam Elimelech, Kedushas Levi, etc.) In those sefarim we find many explanations of the concept of ‘connecting to the inner thoughts in everything that happens to a person’, each Tzaddik in his own way.

The main point of the Rebbe in this Torah is the continuation, after we know what we have to accomplish, we still need paths and practical advice how to achieve it. How do we connect to Hashem constantly, every moment, in everything we do, even if we are on a low level? This is the innovation of the Rebbe in his sefarim, by providing paths even for us on our low level.

We have mentioned here just one small example. You can look into that lesson and see how the Rebbe is practically leading you step by step, not only with general inspiration but with practical advice how to come close to Hashem always.

[In this essay we have explained at length that all of the Rebbe’s Torah is advice, and this is the main thing that we are supposed to be looking for in his sefarim. We should be paying attention to the advice and paths. In the coming weeks we will explain more about the concept of ‘advice’ and what is the wonderful path through which the Rebbe reveals ‘advice’, and how to apply them practically and connect them together.]

 

 

HOWTO: Learning Likutei Moharan

Question:

I want to study the Rebbe’s sefarim, but it seems to me that the topics which they discuss pertain to a much higher spiritual level than my own.

Answer:

The Rebbe teaches in Likutei Moharan I 61 that everything that a person studies he must see to it to find proper and just guidance as to how to conduct oneself. The way to achieve this is through faith and trust in Chachamim, the sages of Torah. When a person doesn’t have proper belief in Chachamim, then he doesn’t have respect for sefarim, and he deems the many sefarim which exist as superfluous and ridicules them.

There are certainly people who don’t have Emunas Chachamim, and scorn the sefarim of the Tzaddikim.  But most of Klal Yisroel believe in Tzaddikim and respect their sefarim. But the Yezter Hara ambushes us from a different angle. He tells us, “Look, the sefarim of the Tzaddikim are too high for you, they are not for your level.” He thereby keeps a person away from ever truly uplifting himself.

We must therefore strengthen ourselves very much in our belief and trust in Chachamim. This doesn’t just mean to believe that a certain individual is a Tzaddik and serves Hashem. To trust the Chachamim means that the whole essence of the revelation of the Tzaddikim in the world is in order to bring ‘all of us’ close to Hashem and His Avodah, from the highest Tzaddik to the lowest Rasha, and everyone in between.

As a person becomes stronger in his Emunas Chachamim, he begins to understand that if the Tzaddik devoted his whole life to teaching us these Torahs, and spoke to us many times and in many different ways about their exaltedness, and how they are meant for every level, then we must certainly dedicate ourselves to setting aside time to study his sefarim, and to search within them for guidance in Avodas Hashem. And if one looks, he will definitely find.

We must keep in mind what the Rebbe said, that every talk which he had with us, a person can use it to become a proper Oved Hashem, if we will want to follow his word and put into practice.

Reb Noson explains further, that by every Torah the main thing is not the study, but the practical application thereof. Pay good attention to each Torah, to understand the practical advice and guidance and inspiration which are derived from them. Even in those few places which seem at first glance to be not understandable, and you don’t see their practical relevance to your level, in reality contains wonderful advice and inspiration for you to come close to Hashem from your situation where you are holding now. If you will put your heart into it to look very well, you will definitely find advice according to your level.

Everything the Rebbe taught was in a very general sense, in a way in which it pertains to every person in the world on every single level. With every Torah of the Rebbe, every person can serve Hashem, from the person standing on a high level to person on the lowest level. Everyone can return to Hashem and find guidance for himself through each Torah, as they include everything within them in a wondrous way. (See Chayei Moharan, Ma’alas Toraso 19, Sichos Haran 131)

Everything depends on Emunas Chachamim – to know that the Tzaddikim are speaking to us. They were not trying to tell us vortim or ideas on the Parsha; they were trying to teach us practical ideas how we can come close to Hashem. We see ourselves that those who have a strong Emunah and studied the sefarim to look for guidance and advice, merited to become true, proper Ovdei Hashem.

We must also apply our Emunas Chachamim in a practical way. Sometimes a person has such strong Emunah in the Torah of the Tzaddik, that he ceases to study the sefarim to search for practical guidance, and instead just looks for the hidden spiritual energy which is found in them, because of his strong belief that the words of the Tzaddik sanctifies and purifies us, or just knowing the ideas which they teach helps. Even though this is all true, the true greatness of the Tzaddikim is that throughout all of their wonderful revelations, they also revealed to us simple practical advice which is fitting for every one of us.

Question:

Are all of the concepts really relevant to everyone?

Answer:

As we said, every idea discussed in the sefarim, are made up of many, many levels. Every person must learn according to his level, and not to go too high. We must always pray that we find the level which pertains to us in the Torahs which we learn. If a person searches with sincerity, he will always find what is related to him.

But it’s important not to skip or “cut out” what seems to you to be irrelevant to you. You must believe very much that every piece really is applicable to you, also.

Question: Even if I understand something which is applicable to me, there are so many other simple things in which I am weak. If only I would strengthen myself in those things first before I enter into the lofty concepts of the Rebbe.

Answer: This is what we have said already, that everything depends on Emunas Chachamim. We must understand that these Torahs are my medicine. We must pray about this itself, ‘Why do I feel so far from what the Tzaddik reveals to be applicable to me, and that my entire salvation depends upon?’

When the Rebbe exhorted us to make prayers out of his Torah, to speak to Hashem and ask Him that we merit applying whatever we have studied, he brought as an example Likutei Moharan I 5. There, he discusses how every person must say that the whole world was created only for him. The Rebbe said that we must simply talk to Hashem about how far we are from this concept.

The Chassidim asked him then, this doesn’t seem to be something which we are missing according to our level. We are too far from this concept to be praying about it.

The Rebbe responded, ‘Listen to what you are saying! I just said that a person has to say that the whole world was created just for him, meaning that every person must do so, and nobody can absolve himself from this.’ (See Intro. To Likutei Teffilos)

The Tzaddikim revealed to us Torah through which we can come close to Hashem. If it still seems to us that it would have been better to first strengthen ourselves in simpler things, on the contrary, through entering into Avodas Hashem according to the guidance of the Tzaddik, we will also become strengthened in the simple things.

Let’s not be like the ill person who comes to the specialist and instead of taking his medication, starts arguing with the doctor how he needs other medications… (See Likutei Moharan I 164)

HOWTO: Practice The Teachings of the Tzaddikim

Question:

How do we take what we learn from the teachings of the Tzaddikim and apply them practically?

Answer:

1] The teachings which are revealed throughout the works of the Tzaddikim are unimaginably great and they contain tremendous depth. This is one of the reasons that a person doesn’t see how he can practically apply what he’s learnt. But the truth is that even though we have to study and try to understand as much as we can, at the same time we need to know how to take out practical advice and guidance from within the entire construct which we are studying, even if we don’t fully understand it.

The structure that our study should take is to continuously reflect what practical ideas come out for me out of what I have just learnt. Sometimes I might find something which I must act upon, to conduct myself in a new way or perform good deeds. Most of the time the advice which will be discovered, will be a new way of looking at life, how to strengthen our faith and not to fall into unhappiness, how to engage in prayer, and what intent to strive for in our studies.

This is in addition to what we spoke about last week concerning learning a lot of material even without proper understanding. Besides studying quickly we also have to keep in mind practical applications.

After you are done learning, try throughout the day to think about what you’ve learned over and over, even if but just a little, as much as you are able to. You should also speak it over with friends. Concentrate on finding the practical application of what’s been learnt. Everyday take another point, and with time you will begin to take notice how the words of the Tzaddik are starting to engrave themselves into your heart. Your thoughts are already different, you have less confusion, less worries about what people are thinking, you want undesirable things less; your thoughts are more upbeat, etc.

2] Afterwards, the best advice to merit practicing what the Tzaddikim teach us is to daven about what you have learned, as the Rebbe told us to ‘make prayers out of Torah’. Prayers such as these bring Hashem enjoyment.

Open your mouth and ask Hashem that you merit achieving whatever it is you’ve learnt about. Then, even if you haven’t yet merited to actually practicing it, it’s as if you have. (see Likutei Halachos, Rosh Chodesh 5)

3] In addition to the actual power which prayer has on high, the more one beseeches and prays about what he has learnt, the more his desire and yearning to constantly search as to how to merit truly practicing what’s been learnt will be increased through the prayer itself. Thus, you will always be able to find the proper path which can be gleaned from the Torah of the Tzaddikim.

4] The combination and connection of Torah and Tefilah elevates a person to another place. The desires in his heart and the thoughts in his mind are elevated through it to only being attached to Hashem. This is the tool through which a person can attach himself to Hashem.

5] Reb Nosson composed the Likutei Tefilos, which are prayers based on the Rebbe’s Torahs. It has in it a real holiness in which a person can always find himself in its words. He writes in the introduction, however, that these Tefilos do not serve as a substitute for personal prayer between a person and the Creator, to merit putting the words of the Tzaddikim into practice.

To mention one more small piece of advice, that when you pray about the Torah which you have learnt, you should still try to find how you have already applied a little of what you are praying for. If not, you can come to despair immediately when you see the distance between you and the words of the Tzaddikim. You should therefore try to find your own connection to that teaching, how you have already applied some of it, and in such a way you will build a connection to their words and continue to search for ways to apply them more and more.

Question:

Isn’t prayer and conversation between a person and Hashem supposed to be concentrated on talking to Him about whatever is bothering him right now? It’s not always possible to find oneself in what has been learnt just now.

Answer:

1] Of course, the main discussion with Hashem must be about what you are going through. But on the contrary, as you are speaking your heart out, bring in a statement or idea from the Tzaddik and see how you can combine them together. Pay attention how the Torah of the Tzaddikim is a living Torah which goes down into the realities of life, in order to save us from whatever it is we need, both material and spiritual. In the words of the Tzaddik we can attain a different way of viewing everything that we experience. Thus, we can truly talk to Hashem at length about everything that is going on.

2] Sometimes it goes the opposite way. Sometimes we have nothing to say by Hisbodedus, and we don’t have the composure to start talking about everything that we’re going through. But through this advice of making prayers out of Torah, we will always have material to pray about. Take any subject that you’ve learnt, even if you don’t feel connected to it, and start talking to Hashem and asking about it. Throughout, you can find inspiration to connect your life to what you’ve learnt, and to speak about the point which your heart is connected to at that time.

3] Every day, a person has so much nonsense, fantasies, confusions and worries, etc. Therefore a person really has to identify every day what’s going on with himself, and to pray about it. When a person gets used to praying and speaking to Hashem about what he has learnt by the Tzaddikim, he will get out of much nonsense by himself. Prayer and talking to Hashem about the Torah of Tzaddikim will itself help a person concentrate on wanting what he has learnt and to think only about it.

Talking to Hashem helps aim a person’s heart and direct it to where it belongs. Such, he will become inspired to search to practically apply the words of the Tzaddik, and to find more practical ideas throughout their Sefarim. He will thus be able to throughout the day, even after Tefilah, to continue thinking and living with what has been learnt. The next time when he sits down to talk to Hashem, the point in his heart will already be the subject on which he has been thinking about the whole day.

4] Taste and see that Hashem is good; it’s not as difficult as it seems. Take a small point from the words of the Tzaddikim, ask Hashem about it, and achieve Hheaven in your lifetime. Your connection to Hashem will be strengthened unrecognizably, and the Torah which you have learnt won’t be abstract ideas anymore. Your prayer will be much deeper.

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