Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Posts tagged ‘Emunah’

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.

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FAQ – Emunah

Question:

The Rebbe warns us to distance ourselves from philosophical speculation and skepticism. How is this topic relevant to me, if I anyways don’t read this type of material?

Answer:

A)     You should know, that the Rebbe says “People think that Emunah is something small. By me, Emunah is a very great thing.” (Sichos Haran 33).  It should be clear by everyone that the basis of Yiddishkeit is belief in Hashem. Without it, it would be impossible to perform any Mitzvos. But for whatever reason, it has become accepted to thing that every Jew who keeps Mitzvos already has Emunah. If you would ask him if he believes, he would certainly answer in the positive. He would of course be ready to sacrifice himself for Hashem’s name. Because of this, we have almost no motivation to strengthen ourselves in Emunah, unless some type of tragedy occurs. Only then do we try strengthening ourselves in order to endure the difficulties with words of faith. But the general conversation is to strengthen ourselves in performing Mitzvos and Torah study.

This is what the Rebbe meant, that people think Emunah is a small thing. “Emunah is the main thing, and every individual must search within himself and strengthen himself in Emunah.” (Likutei Moharan II 5) Emunah is something that we must constantly be involved in, to awaken it and keep it alive. It can be compared to dough, which starts leavening and souring when left alone.

B)      The Rebbe reveals an awesome thing, “that even thought it appears that the general public is distant from speculation and skepticism, and are not philosophically inclined at all, in reality, everyone is caught up in speculation. Every person has doubts; even children have confusing and doubting thoughts.” (Sichos Haran 32) But people usually don’t identify these thoughts as “skepticism”. Only after some time is their influence recognizable. It’s like a mosquito bite, which isn’t felt at the time of the sting, only afterwards… When a person starts to lose his liveliness in Avodas Hashem, it’s a sign of an itching sting. This is why the measurement of time for leavening of dough is 18 minutes, because the souring of Emunah causes someone to lose his liveliness (Life חי=18)

All this starts with a tiny skeptic which sits in the heart and thinks, “Does Hashem really need me, is He interested in my Mitzvos, does He still love me even after I fall? Why do I have so many difficulties, why was I born into this family, why am I so unsuccessful, is true satisfaction really in holiness?”

The Rebbe gives us a clear indication which proves the existence of hidden questions – that during davening we aren’t full of fervor from the fact that we are speaking to Hashem. “If someone would know in his heart that Hashem’s Glory fills the world, and that He is standing over him during his prayers and listening to his prayers, he would surely pray with great enthusiasm, and would be very exacting with himself to concentrate by every word.” (Likutei Moharan I 62)

Question:

How can we achieve a clear Emunah?

Answer:

A)     Even though we explained that everyone is full of speculation and doubts, still, the way to increase your Emunah is not by looking to see how far you are from it. The proper way is to motivate yourself to remind yourself that you do have Emunah in your heart, which you just need to awaken (see Parpaot Le’Chochma II 5). Through trying to grab a moment and another moment of thinking about Hashem, you will grow your faith, little by little.

You should know that thoughts don’t just pass through our minds. They are real entities which cause great and elevated things to happen up high, as explained throughout all the works of Tzaddikim, and the Rebbe himself discusses it many times. With every thought of Emunah you can be performing many Mitzvos.

B)      The main way to build up a heart with Emunah is through being involved in prayer. Both by praying for Emunah, by crying out to Hashem from the depths of your heart that Hashem should give you faith, and also by accustoming yourself to speak to Hashem in your native language and asking Him for all you needs, and to thank Him for everything good which happens to you. Be adamant about this, even if you still aren’t feeling Emunah. With time, you will get used to seeing that everything is from Hashem, and everything is in His hands and only He can help you. Your entire Yiddishkeit will take on an entirely new form.

C)      When you try going into the Avodah of Emunah, don’t panic when you see that the doubts and confusions continue to come up, perhaps even more than before. The truth is that all of these questions were there before, but you just weren’t conscious of them. They seemed to be just one solid piece of distance from Hashem. When you start to awaken the Emunah, you can start to pay attention to the difficulties in accepting the realities of Emunah. You should know that this is how it goes; sometimes Emunah wins out, sometimes the opposite. This is Hashem’s pride in us; that a Jew continues to try fighting his thoughts, and strives to think only of Hashem.

D)     You should know that when it comes to Emunah, there are many infinite levels upon levels. For that reason it’s necessary to study the books of the Tzaddikim who go in the path of the Baal Shem Tov. Especially Likutei Halachos, which reveals wonderful ways how to feel Hashem’s existence, on many levels and in many ways, by thinking about encouragement and closeness to Hashem.  Sometimes with simple faith without any feeling, sometimes with feeling, sometimes with intellectual inspiration, etc. All things which can all lead to a great desire for Hashem.

Their holy works speak about the fact that Emunah is already in every Jew’s heart, because we are all parts of Hashem’s presence. They thereby reveal ways to cling to Hashem and thinking about Him. These all bring a person into a reality of a life of Emunah, of tasting how Hashem is good.

[This is in contrast to other books of Jewish thought which try to bring a person to Emunah through explanations and intellectual arguments. They usually don’t have the ability to give a person a way how to liven up our hearts with Emunah, only to bring us to an intellectual agreement on Hashem’s existence.]

 

“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”.

In Summary:

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.

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