Sunday, June 9, 2013
RABBI NACHMAN of Breslov Emunah Podcast Edition 2 part 3
Online version of the English translation of Likutey Etzot, a complete compendium of Rabbi Nachman's practical teachings on spiritual growth and devotion based on his lessons in Likutey Moharan as transcribed by his leading student, Rabbi Noson of Breslov
Translated by Avraham Greenbaum
Through giving charity the force of love and kindness is brought into the world; the Messiah is revealed, and the Holy Temple, which is itself the revelation of the knowledge of God rebuilt. The unification of the Holy One, blessed-be-He and the Shechinah then becomes complete. Through this we will become worthy of the new revelation of Torah which is destined to come about in the future.
1) One kind of boldness is thoroughly evil. This is the unashamed self-assertiveness of arrogant people. For `the bold-faced will go to hell' (Avoth 5:25) and Abraham preferred exile rather than hell as the punishment for the sins of the Jewish people. All other sins are punished with exile, but the penalty for this kind of brazen arrogance is still Gehinnom. On the other hand, there is another kind of forcefulness which is essential for anyone who wants to come closer to God. It is impossible to draw closer to the Tzaddikim and sanctify oneself without it. It entails a certain firmness, determination and initiative. This is the quality the sages referred to when they said, `Be bold as a leopard' (Avoth 5:24). The people who oppose those who are truly righteous and who put every kind of obstacle in their way have a brazen arrogance which is `royalty without a crown.' Whoever chooses life and truth needs the other kind of forcefulness in order to overcome these obstacles. His opponents have set their jaws firmly against him, and therefore he needs to set himself equally firmly against them. Only with determination is it possible to enter the gates of holiness (22:11).
ARROGANCE OF THE BODY AND HOLY SOUNDS
2) This determination and forcefulness are also necessary in the fight against oneself -- or rather, against the brazen arrogance of the body, which is itself so forceful when it comes to satisfying its own desires and has no sense of shame before the Almighty. The arrogance of the body makes it impossible for the soul to come down and draw closer to it in order to communicate something of her own spiritual perceptions. The soul has constant contact with the highest spiritual levels, but the body does not have an inkling of any of this because of its dogged involvement with its own impulses. One should take pity on the flesh of one's body and break its dogged pursuit of desire. Then the soul will be able to draw closer and give the body a share in her own spiritual visions and perceptions. To stand up to this arrogance of the body requires the other, holy forcefulness and determination. The way to assert the spiritual power of the soul is with holy sounds -- the sound of prayer and song, the sound of crying and sighing before God, the sound of the shofar or the sound of the voice of the true Tzaddik, and all the other holy sounds, even the sound of the jingling of coins in a charity box! These holy sounds have the power to break the arrogance of the body (Ibid.).
3) But at times a person may be on such a low level and his body so far removed from his soul that even when he groans and cries out to God the body does not hear the sound at all. It is so far removed from the soul that it hears only a confused and indistinct echo. This is because as soon as a holy sound is heard, it arouses the forces of the Other Side, and they are the source of the confused noise. Such a person may even hear the voice of the Tzaddik himself, but he does not hear the essence of his voice, only an indistinct noise, and the arrogance of the body remains unbroken. The body needs to be trained to hear the voice of the soul. It must be pressed into service by performing the practical mitzvot. And to hear the voice of the Tzaddik, the body must be made to participate in practical activities on his behalf. This is the way to train the body to listen to the voice of the sage and to the groaning and crying of the person himself. In the end, the arrogance of the body will be broken (Ibid. 7,8).
4) The way to attain this firmness and determination in pursuit of the holy is through joy. Joy and happiness are the main source of strength for one who wants to draw closer to God and serve Him. `For the joy of the Lord is your strength' (Nehemiah 8:10) (Ibid. 9).
5) Boldness is essential if you want to acquire Torah. You must be `bold as a leopard' to resist the people who put obstacles in your way. You must not be ashamed if they mock you. The bolder you are, the more you will find new horizons in Torah. But a person whose boldness stems from arrogance will not discover truly original Torah concepts. The Torah he receives will be drawn from the forces of the Other Side. To be bold in a positive sense in pursuit of the holy is part of the very essence of prayer -- and the level of Torah a person attains with his boldness will bring him to a corresponding level of prayer. It takes a certain daring, and even `impudence' to stand before God and ask Him for what we need, including even miracles. A person who feels ashamed when he thinks of God's greatness and his own inadequacies and failings will never be able to open his mouth at all. This is why it takes boldness to pray. The more firm and determined a person is in the face of the opposition, the higher the levels of Torah and prayer he will attain (30:8).
v6) The bold have no share in Torah. And only the bold have a share. Those whose boldness is arrogance will have no share. Only those who are bold and determined for the sake of holiness will have a share (Ibid.).
7) People may mock at you or put obstacles in your way. But don't allow yourself to be put off by them, and don't become shy and timid. You may think they are better than you or on a higher level. It may even be true and perhaps they really are on a higher level. Even so, as long as your own motive is for the sake of Heaven you must be firm and bold in the face of those who are confusing you and keeping you from the path of life. This is the only way you will attain holiness. Even with the Rav himself you need to be bold. Don't be afraid to talk about anything you need to discuss with him. It is no good to be shy, for `one who is shy will never learn' (Avoth 2:6). The reason why some people are closer to the Rav than others is only because they took the initiative and therefore the Rav speaks with them more (171).
1) Through the mitzvah of kindling the lights of Chanukah we acknowledge the glory of God. His glory is exalted and magnified in the world. Those who were distant from Him are stirred to return. We can attain true fear of Heaven, harmony in the home and genuine prayer. Strife and malicious slander are banished and universal peace spreads in all th e worlds (Likutey Moharan 14).
2) Through the mitzva of kindling the lights of Chanukah we draw down holy Da'at, the knowledge of God, upon ourselves. This Da'at is `the goodly oil' (Psalms 133:) of memory, whereby a person at all times bears in mind that everything in this world, both in general and in particular, has meaning only in relation to the World to Come (See Zicaron) (54).3) The days of Chanukah are days of thanksgiving and praise. Thanksgiving and praise are the essence of the delight of the World to Come. They cause the light of truth to shine: we can pray in truth and learn Torah in truth from the lips of the true teacher, and marriage unions are formed in truth. These three rays of truth send light to all the different facets of speech and bring the faculty of speech to perfection. Through this we are able to bring the sanctity and joy of Shabbat into the six days of the week. Then the simple unity of God is revealed. All these tikkunim are brought about by the kindling of the Chanukah lights, and the praise and thanksgiving which we offer on Chanukah. How precious it is if you achieve all this on Chanukah and bring about these awesome tikkunim (Likutey Moharan II, 2).
4) The appeals we make to God to `Forgive us!' on Yom Kippur help us to experience the holiness of Chanukah. The reason is that the theme of Chanukah is the consecration of the Holy Temple (chanukat Beit Hamikdash), and on Chanukah we draw the sanctity of the Holy Temple upon ourselves. But it is only possible to do this when our sins are forgiven, as they are on Yom Kippur. The great teaching which the Holy Temple embodies and declares to the world is that `The Lord, He is God:' in all His aspects He is One. This knowledge can free us from the hold of sin. Nowhere is God's love for Israel more clearly revealed than in the forgiveness of sin. When we radiate the holy knowledge of God's unity to our children and pupils in this generation and in all the generations of the future, we can come to a vision of the transcendental levels of holiness, the holiness which is beyond this world and encompasses it. This vision is a foretaste of the joy of the World to Come. It is through the kindling of the holy oil of the Chanukah lights that we come to perceive these levels and then our very life and sustenance are drawn from the Supernal Will. We can be worthy of receiving an awesome revelation of God's Will and favor at the very time we are eating. We long and yearn and pine for God with a desire that has no limits. But only if you are close to a true teacher who is filled with genui ne love can you come to attain these levels on Chanukah. How precious to find such a teacher (7:11)
1) You should give to charity before you pray. This is the way to avoid the extraneous thoughts which come to a person while praying. You will be able to pray properly without straying to the right or the left. You will order and measure your words in the scale of justice (2).
2) Giving charity to Torah scholars will protect you against time wasting and malicious gossip. It will also save you from pride and all related character defects. Giving charity is a protection against poverty and will make you wealthy (4:8).
3) In order to break your appetite for riches you must give charity. The harsh anger which hangs over the world will be dissipated, and God's providence will be drawn over the whole world. Through giving charity the force of love and kindness is brought into the world; the Messiah is revealed, and the Holy Temple, which is itself the revelation of the knowledge of God rebuilt. The unification of the Holy One, blessed-be-He and the Shechinah then becomes complete. Through this we will become worthy of the new revelation of Torah which is destined to come about in the future. The upper and lower chariots are restored, and it is accounted like an offering of incense (13).
4) Through giving charity to the true Tzaddikim and to poor people who genuinely deserve it, converts are made. Through this one attains perfect wisdom and becomes worthy of seeing the light of the Tzaddikim. This is how to achieve the love and fear of Heaven (17:5).
5) When a person gives charity to the true Tzaddikim and to poor people who genuinely deserve it, it is as if he gave charity to many, many Jewish souls (Ibid.).
6) This kind of charity enables all the goodness which is held captive amidst the heathen nations of the world to be brought back to mind and be remembered. This goodness is all the sparks of Jewish souls which have fallen into exile, and because of the length of the exile they have forgotten their true worth. Giving charity enables these souls to remember what they really are and how they have fallen from heaven to earth. They start to take pity on themselves, and long and yearn to be restored. Because the real essence of the soul is beyond all the worlds for `Israel arose in His thought first' (Bereshith Rabbah 1) and `the Holy One, blessed-be-He, consulted with the souls of Israel when He created the world' (Ibid. 8). But now these sparks are trapped in exile, and they are in danger of being destroyed and going to waste, God forbid. But when they remember their own exaltedness they repent and their holiness is restored. If you think about all this carefully you will see for yourself how far you need to take care of yourself and have pity on yourself and your condition, considering the true preciousness of your soul. You should say to yourself: `Am I not from the seed of Israel, who are above all the worlds? What have I come to? Who knows what will be in the future? Is the Evil One trying to destroy me, God forbid?' Think deeply about this, and you will be so overwhelmed with the desire to do something for yourself that you will try with all your might to return to God (Ibid. 6).
7) When a person gives some of his money to a poor person who genuinely deserves it, it is a tikkun for all his money. The `supernal colors' are revealed through his money this is the main revelation of the greatness of the Creator. The husks are thereby broken and humbled namely the fantasies, desires and distractions which rise up against a person every time he has to climb from one level to the next and which range themselves against him to prevent him entering the gates of holiness. Giving charity makes it possible to break the husks and rise from level to level (25:4).
8) Charity is the comprehensive tikkun for business activity. With every step a person takes as he goes about his business, with every word he speaks and every ounce of strength he puts into his work, he should have it in mind that his only goal is to give charity from the money he earns (29:9).
9) Giving charity expands and elevates the mind, and this brings blessing and livelihood (Ibid.).
10) Through giving charity one can come to speak words which radiate with the wisdom of Torah (Ibid. 10).
11) Acts of charity and lovingkindness have the power to undermine alien ideologies and release us from the burdens of worldly authorities, and we can achieve a perception of Godliness (30:7).
12) When the Sages criticize us and point out our faults, we should accept their criticisms submissively, even if at times they are expressed in a derogatory way. Through this we will be worthy of performing acts of charity and lovingkindness (Ibid.).
13) All the heavenly constellations are directed and governed by tzedakah, charity. It is through charity that all blessings flow into the world. But only on Shabbat are the blessings perfect. Shabbat is the embodiment of faith. The main significance of charity is that it is an expression of faith. This is why the true radiance of the light of charity and its perfection are seen only on Shabbat the embodiment of faith (31).
14) One should give charity before going on a journey. Then he will be saved from any obstacles and troubles on the way (Ibid.).
15) The central aspect of any fast is the charity which the person who is fasting gives. Fasting and charity make it possible to subdue the body as against the soul, substance as against form, folly as against wisdom. One emerges from darkness to light, from death to life, from animality to the level of Man. The force of alien ideologies and all other false and foolish idea-systems is broken, and the wisdom of Torah, which is the true wisdom, comes into its place. The hold of forgetfulness is broken, and in its place comes memory. The harsh judgments and darkness are dissipated, and love is brought into the world (37).
16) Charity given for the Land of Israel is greater than charity for other causes. When you give charity for the Land of Israel you become included in the air of the Land of Israel, which is holy breath without the taint of sin. Harsh judgements, darkness, forgetfulness and folly are banished from the world (Ibid. 4).
17) You must aim to be contented. You must be contented with just as much as is essential for you to take from this world. And even out of that you must still devote a portion to charity. The effect of this in the upper worlds is to bring about a great unification, and abundant blessings are brought into the world (54:2).
18) Charity for the Land of Israel can save you from distracting thoughts while you are praying. Your mind and thoughts are clarified and purified. This is tikkun habrit (44).
19) Charity brings abundant peace (57:7).
20) Acts of charity bring blessings of love into the world. The honor and majesty of the forces of holiness are released from the husks and the Other Side. The lust for food is broken. The prestige and power of those who are arrogant and self-assertive is broken, and honor is returned to the true leaders (67).
21) During the morning service, when you reach the words `And You have dominion over everything' (Chronicles I, 29:12) you should give to charity. The reason for this is to elevate glory and dominion from the forces of the Other Side and return them to the side of holiness (Ibid. 7).
22) When a person gives charity, it is a tikkun for all his money. This way it will stay with him, and his livelihood will be sent in abundance (69).
23) One who gives charity to a Tzaddik who is truly humble is immediately blessed (70).
24) Giving charity in secret is a tikkun for a wasteful emission at night (83).
25) Charity saves from sin (116).
26) Through charity comes wisdom (119).
27) A segulah for epilepsy, God forbid, is to distribute charity to the poor. In the Hebrew words of the verse: `He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the needy' (Psalms 112:9) the first letters of each word, Pizar Matan La-evyonim, spell out the word NoPheL, which is the word for epilepsy (201).
28) The charity you give to Torah scholars is something great and precious. No sin can extinguish this merit (204).
29) The Sages ordained that we should give between a tenth and a fifth of our income to charity. This tithe has the power to save us from our enemies (221).
30) The tithe we give to charity brings us contentment (Ibid.).
31) Charity protects against immoral fantasies (242).
32) Charity is a remedy for immorality. But it is important not to give money to a poor person who is undeserving because this only makes things worse. One must beg God to make him worthy of finding poor people who deserve to be helped (264).
33) The merit of those who support the Torah and give money for Torah scholars is very great indeed. This money makes it possible for them to devote themselves to Torah, to give birth to new legal rulings and to open up new horizons in Torah. Those who gave the money therefore have a share in the Torah which was born and revealed through their help. Whatever they gave to the Torah scholars and whatever they themselves went short of as a result, will all be made up to them later on, by means of the new Torah concepts which came into being through their help.Revelations of Torah bring an influx of love into the world which completes all that was lacking. Those who support Torah scholars will be rewarded with the delights of the World to Come (II 2:2).
34) It is speech that gives man his uniqueness. The roots of speech lie in charity. The instinct to give charity and show lovingkindness is peculiar to man. It is in the nature of Man, the Speaker, to show kindness to his fellow creatures. When a person fails to act kindly and charitably it is a stain on the faculty of speech and he cannot be defined as a Man (225).
35) When we give charity, the main task is to break our instinct to be cruel and turn it in to lovingkindness in order to give generously. When a person who is kind by nature gives charity purely out of instinct, it cannot be called an act of service of God. In order to fulfill the mitzvah of charity in the proper way, one must first experience the battle of breaking his natural instinct to be cruel and turn it into love in order to give to charity (II, 4:1,2).
36) Charity has the power to widen the entrance to holiness. When a person wants to embark upon a certain path of devotion, he first needs to make an opening in order to enter his new path. This is why all beginnings are hard. But giving charity makes the entrance wider (Ibid. 2).
37) Any act of charity is very hard and heavy at the beginning. But the effects of charity are great beyond measure. The body has many needs even the essentials, like food, drink, clothing and shelter are very demanding. They are all a distraction from one's religious devotions. But charity has the power to break all these obstacles because it opens up the channels of God's blessing and love to the point where one has no need to work at all in order to have what he needs to live. All his work will be done by others, leaving him free to devote himself to the service of God (Ibid. 3).
38) Charity is the remedy for the damage caused when the elders of the generation do not lead their lives as they should. Through remedying this, it is possible to strike at the very roots of materialism the idea that everything in the world is dominated by the laws of nature. Then we can hear the mesSage of the three festivals, Pesach, Shavuot and Succot: that everything takes place only through the will of God. Each of the festivals recalls the miracles that were brought about for us miracles transcending nature. To be aware that God's will transcends the laws of nature, is to experience the joy of the festivals and attain to the fear of Heaven.Fear of Heaven is the channel for receiving blessings so abundant that you will have not have to work at all, to have what you need to live (Ibid. 9).
39) Charity is the remedy for all wounds (Ibid. 12).
40) The true Tzaddik receives the words of his holy lips from those who give charity (II, 15).
41) Zealousness for the Lord of Hosts is accounted as an act of charity (65).
42) You must learn the thirteen Divine attributes of lovingkindness learn them in order to fulfill them in practice. You must cultivate the quality of love and do as many kindnesses as you can for other people.When we strive to fulfill each of the thirteen attributes of love, the thirteen supernal attributes of love are aroused, and the destructive angels brought into being through sin are humbled. Our own acts of kindness arouse God's forgiveness, and He passes over our sins one after the other (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom 89).
1) Intense prayer is a segulah for having children. The same is true of the mitzvah of Succah and the Land of Israel. These three concepts are all connected with one another (48).
2) Those who work hard to draw people closer to God and to the Tzaddik are worthy of having children (53).
3) If you are married, be careful that you sanctify the marriage relationship. You must break the force of your desires, which are rooted in the animal soul. You should imagine that a demon is forcing you (cf. Nedarim 20b). Then you will be blessed with children, and they will be protected from premature death (39).
4) The best time for relations between husband and wife is on the night of Shabbat (cf. Ketuboth 61b). Then they will be blessed with children (Ibid.).
5) One with an evil eye will not leave male offspring behind. The same goes for one who talks lashon hara, slander, and bad language (Ibid.).
5) A segulah for having children is that prior to having relations, the husband and wife should recite the account of the additional offerings which were brought on the New Moon. This also helps for a child who is sick (151).
6) A woman who usually has a difficult labour should recite the Psalm of Thanksgiving (Psalm 100). It is also a segulah for her to give generously to charity and to help others as much as possible with favors and acts of kindness (II, 2:3,4).
7) A person who has no children should make it a practice whenever he attends a religious celebration to be especially joyful. When he studies Torah it should be with joy. The same goes for all the mitzvot. The joy should be so great that he literally starts dancing for joy. Then he will be worthy of having children (81).
8) Faith brings children (cf. Genesis 15:5,6) The Hebrew word for faith is emunah. The numerical value of the word emunah is one hundred and two. The word for children is banim. The numerical value of banim is also one hundred and two (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom 34).
9) It is best for children if you leave them alone for the most part rather than sticking to them and playing with them constantly. Don't pay overmuch attention to them. Do what you have to in order to give them their religious education, and training them in mitzvot when they reach the appropriate age. But don't play with them too much (Ibid. 59).
10) If you are joyous, it can protect your children from death (Ibid. 65
1) You should be very particular about your clothes. Never treat them carelessly, and make sure they are not stained or dirty. A person's clothes become his judges if he does not show them the respect they deserve. The greater the man the more care he must take over his garments, because the higher one's level the more scrupulously one is judged (29:3).
2) A person who fails to protect his garments from stains causes a division between the Holy One, blessed-be-He, and the Shechinah. This gives strength to the `wicked maid,' which is an expression for the forces of evil. Such a person is like a rebel against God's kingship, and therefore his whole livelihood will only come to him with great exertion and difficulty (Ibid.).
3) By making a beautiful garment for a Tzaddik the Shechinah is clothed in radiant garments, and the severe face which God shows to the world becomes sweetened (42).
4) See to it that your clothes are always in good condition. Never wear clothes that are torn. Torn clothes are an indication of weakness in the fight against evil, because the concept of clothing alludes to the mystery of the chashmal (Ezekiel 1:27) which is bound up with the idea of watchfulness (127).
The definition of Chashmal is based on
5) The Evil One and the forces of the Other Side grab people by their clothes. They burden people with all kinds of worries about clothing. The trouble people have to go to for various items of clothing they need can easily become a serious distraction from religious devotion. Someone who is firm in his faith will not be concerned about this. Even if he has nothing to wear he will still do what he can to serve God to the full extent of his capability. In the end God will look down from the Heavens and see (Rabbi Nachman's
Ezekiel 1:4 And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the colour of amber (chashmal), out of the midst of the fire.
Chagigah 13b The Rabbis taught: There was once a child who was reading at his teacher’s house the Book of Ezekiel, and he apprehended what Hashmal was, whereupon a fire went forth from Hashmal and consumed him. So they sought to suppress the Book of Ezekiel, but Hananiah b. Hezekiah said to them: If he was a Sage, all are Sages! What does [the word] Hashmal mean?-Rab Judah said: Living creatures speaking fire. In a Baraitha it is taught: [Hashmal means], At times they are silent, at times they speak. When the utterance goes forth from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, they are silent, and when the utterance goes not forth from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed be He, they speak.
Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsberg defines Chashmalim as:
The dynamic of contraction and relaxation characterizes the class of angels whose spiritual abode (the “heaven” known as Ma’on’) is in the realm of the sefirah of gevurah. These angels are referred to as Chashmalim, which means that they are “at times silent, at limes speaking”. The time of silence is the time of contraction; the time of speaking is the time of relaxation. As it is written, “The words of the wise spoken in a state of tranquility, are heard”.
1) It is a good thing to pour out your heart and confess all your sins before a Torah scholar. Sin is in essence a denial of Godliness. Therefore when a person confesses his sins it is an acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God. God's sovereignty is then exalted and restored to its root, and the power of the forces denying Godliness is broken. Through confessing in this way and expressing what is in your heart you will eventually come to understand how everything that happens is for your own good. You will acknowledge that `God is good and does good.' This is the formula of the blessing we make on hearing good news. Today, we still have a separate blessing for news that is not good. But our Sages said that in time to come there will only be one blessing -- the one for good news (Pesachim 50a).
This will be when we will realize that everything is for the best. To achieve this realization is to have a taste of the World to Come (Likutey Moharan I, 4:3).
2) The sins a person commits are engraved upon his very bones (Ezekiel 32:27) But when he confesses them before a Torah scholar, the entire accumulation of evil engraved on his bones is lifted. All his sins are forgiven and atonement is granted (Ibid. 5).
3) A person may come to visit a great scholar and even contribute money to him. But until he comes before him and confesses his sins and pours out his heart, he still does not know the path he should travel. For `there is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the ways of death' (Proverbs 14:12). Through his confession, the scholar is able to set him straight on the path which accords with the root of his soul (Ibid. 8).
4) Each time a person visits the scholar, he should pour out his heart before him. Through this he will come to be merged with the En Sof. (Ibid. 9).
5) It is necessary to specify exactly what the sin was, and the confession must be put into words. Thought is not enough. Whatever you may have done, you must verbally articulate what you did. There are many obstacles to doing this. Sometimes the sin passes out of your mind and you forget it. In certain cases people find it very difficult to bring out the words and confess. There are many other obstacles. The way to conquer them is with joy, the joy of a mitzvah, such as a wedding celebration and so on. You should work yourself up until you literally dance for joy. Then you will be able to confess what you must and right the wrongs caused by your sins (178).