Emunah Based on the Teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Posts tagged ‘Faith’

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.

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.]

 

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