Nachman of Breslov
Transliterator note: In the Ashkenazi tradition, the Hebrew must be pronounced in mil'el, with the stress on the next-to-last syllable. The transliterations here are nonetheless presented in a more modern Hebrew way, with "taf" transliterated to "t", not "th".
- לעולם אל יהא אדם זקן. לא צדיק זקן ולא חסיד זקן. הזקנה מידה מגונה היא, חייב אדם להתחדש תמיד, מתחיל וחוזר ומתחיל
- L'olam al yehe adam zaken, lo tzadik zaken v'lo hasid zaken. Hazikna mida meguna hi, hayav adam l'hithadesh tamid, mathil v'hozer u'mathil
- One must never be old, neither an old saint nor an old follower. Being elderly is a vice; a man must always renew, begin and go back and begin anew
- יש מפורסמים שעיקר הפרסום שלהם נעשה על ידי מחלוקת
- Yesh mefursamim sh'ikar hapirsum shelahem n'ase al yedey mahloket.
- Some famous people owe their fame to controversy.
- הִנֵּה הַכּל אוֹמְרִים, שֶׁיֵּשׁ עוֹלָם הַזֶּה וְעוֹלָם הַבָּא
וְהִנֵּה עוֹלָם הַבָּא אָנוּ מַאֲמִינִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ עוֹלָם הַבָּא אֶפְשָׁר יֵשׁ גַּם עוֹלָם הַזֶּה גַּם כֵּן בְּאֵיזֶה עוֹלָם כִּי בְּכָאן נִרְאֶה שֶׁהוּא הַגֵּיהִנּוֹם כִּי כֻלָּם מְלֵאִים יִסּוּרִים גְּדוֹלִים תָּמִיד ואמר שאין נמצא שום עולם הזה כלל. -- ליקוטי מוהר"ן ח"ב - תורה קיט
- Hakol omrim sh'yesh olam hazeh v'olam haba. V'hine, ba'olam habah anu ma'aminim sh'yeshno, efshar sh'yesh olam hazeh b'eize olam, ki kan nir'a sh'hu ha'geheinom, ki kulam m'le'im yisurim gedolim tamid, v'amar she'ein nimtza shum olam hazeh klal.
- Everybody says there is this world and the coming world. Behold, here is the coming world -- we believe that the coming world exists; perhaps this world also exists in some place, because here it looks like hell, for everybody is full of great afflictions all the time (and he said that this world does not exist at all). -- Likutei Moharan II 119
- 'אין ייאוש בעולם כלל
- Ein ye'ush ba'olam klal.
- There is no despair in the world.
- אם אתה מאמין שיכולים לקלקל, תאמין שיכולים לתקן
- Im ata ma'amin sh'ykholim lekalkel, ta'amin sh'yecholim letaken.
- If you believe breaking is possible, believe fixing is possible.
- כל העולם כולו גשר צר מאוד, והעיקר - לא לפחד כלל.
- Kol ha'olam kulo gesher tzar me'od, v'ha'ikar lo lefahed klal.
- All the world is a very narrow bridge, and the most important thing is not to fear at all.
- 'זכור תמיד: השמחה איננה עניין שולי במסעך הרוחני - היא חיונית
- Z'khor tamid: ha'simha einena 'inyan shuli b'masa'akh ha'ruhani - hi hyunit.
- Always remember: happiness is not a side matter in your spiritual journey - it is essential.
- 'היום אתה חש מרומם. אל תיתן לימות האתמול והמחר להשפיל את רוחך
- Hayom ata hash m'romam. Al titen l'ymot ha'etmol v'hamahar lehashpil at ruhekha.
- Today you feel uplifted. Do not let yesterday and tomorrow bring you down.
- נהוג לחשוב שהשכחה הינה חסרון. אני סבור שהיא יתרון. לדעת לשכוח, פירושו להשתחרר מכל תלאות העבר
- Nahug lahshov sh'hashikh'ha hina hisaron. Ani savur sh'hi yitaron. Lada'at lishko'ah, peyrusho le'hishtahrer m'kol tla'ot ha'avar.
- It is customary to consider forgetfulness a disadvantage. I believe it is an advantage. Knowing to forget, means loosening the troubles of the past.
- לבקר אחרים ולתת להם הרגשה שאינם רצויים - זאת יכול כל אחד לעשות. אך לרומם את רוחם ולהעניק להם הרגשה טובה - לכך דרושים כישרון מיוחד והשקעת מאמץ
- L'vaker aherim v'latet lahem hargasha she'eynam retzuim - zot yakhol kol ehad la'asot. Akh l'romem at ruham u'l'ha'anik lahem hargasha tova - l'khakh drushim kisharon m'yuhad v'hashka'at ma'amatz.
- Criticising others, giving them an unwelcome feeling, can be done by anyone. Uplifting them and giving them a good feeling - that takes a special gift and spending effort.
- Disparage no book, for it is also a part of the world.
It is a great mitzvah to always be happy. (LM2 34)
It is even good to do silly things in order to cheer oneself up. (ibid)
It is good to set aside a specific time everyday to be heartbroken and to speak out all ones problems before God, but the rest of the day be only happy. (ibid)
The essential joy comes from mitzvot. (LM 30:5)
Hisbodedus, personal prayer before God, is greater than anything else. That is, a person should set aside at least an hour or more everyday to seclude himself from others and speak to God in his own language. (LM2 25, see “outpouring of the soul” translated by Aryeh Kaplan)
A person needs to scream to his father in heaven with a powerful voice from the depths of his heart. Then God will listen to his voice and turn to his outcry. And it could be that from this act itself, all doubts and obstacles that are keeping him back from true service of Hashem will fall from him and be completely nullified. (LM2 46)
And know that it’s not enough to have yearnings [for God] in the heart alone, for a person needs to bring all his yearnings out into words. (LM 31)
When a person has a yearning for something and he brings it out into words, a soul is created. This soul flies in the air and reaches another person thereby awakening in him too a yearning. (Ibid)
Behold! Precious is the sigh (called ‘krechtz’) from a Jewish person (LM 8)
When one prays with all his energy as in “my entire essence speaks…” (tehilim 35), the energy (co’ach) that he enters into the words are the 28 (co’ach) letters which the world was created with. The 10 sayings of creation receive their energy from these 28 letters. The words that come out of this persons’ mouth are then actually the words of Hashem, as in the verse “I will place my words in your mouth” (Isaiah 51). (LM 48)
Prayer depends on the heart, A person should put all of his heart into it, so that it shouldn’t be in the aspect of “With their lips they honor me but their hearts are far from me.” (Isaiah 29) (LM 49)
ENCOURAGEMENT AND TESHUVA
When a person enters into service of Hashem and sees it is so hard for him, and it seems as if they are distancing him from above and not allowing him at all to enter, he should know that all this feeling of being “distanced” is truthfully only his being “drawn near”. He must remain very very strong not to be discouraged even if many years of hard work go by and he still feels that he is very far and that he didn’t even begin to enter into the gates of holiness, for he sees that he is full of materialism, evil thoughts and the like, and every time he tries to do something holy it is so hard for him and all his crying and pleading with God seems to be going to waste… On all this he needs great courage not to pay attention to these delusions at all. Because all this “distancing”, in truth, is only his “drawing near”, and all the great tzaddikim had to go through this kind of experience before they reached their level. (LM2 48)
You need to have great stubbornness in the service of Hashem (ibid)
And know! A person has to pass a very very narrow bridge, the main thing is to have no fear at all (ibid)
There is no despair in the world! (LM2 78)
If you believe that you can destroy, believe you can fix. (LM2 112)
You need to greatly encourage yourself in His service as much as you can, even if you are the way you are, you should rely on His abundantly great mercy which is beyond limit, for certainly he will not forsake you, no matter how badly you’ve acted. The past doesn’t exist. The main thing is that from now on you honestly resolve not to do it again. (LM2 49)
This is a great principal in Avodas Hashem – That a person has to begin everyday anew. (LM 261)
When a person falls from his level he should know that it’s heaven-sent, because going down is needed in order to go up, therefore he fell, in order that he arouses himself more to come close to Hashem. Advice for him - Begin anew to enter into service of Hashem as if you have never yet even begun (Ibid)
Whenever a person rises from one level to the next, it necessitates that he first has a descent before the ascent. Because the purpose of any descent is always in order to ascend. (LM 22)
There is a lot to talk about here (in the above topic). Because each person who fell to the place where he fell thinks that these words weren’t spoken for him, for he imagines that these ideas are only for great people who are always climbing from one level to the next. But truthfully, you should know and believe, that all these words were also said concerning the smallest of the small and the worst of the worst, for Hashem is forever good to all. (Ibid as quoted in LE)
It is a great thing for a person to still have an evil inclination because then he is able to serve Hashem with the evil inclination itself. That is, to take all of the fire in his heart and channel it towards service of Hashem. For example, to pray with fiery passion of the heart, etc. For, if there is no evil inclination in a person his service cannot be complete. (LM2 49)
A person must know that “Gods glory fills the entire world” (Isiah 6), and “There is no place void of Him” (Tikunei Zohar), and “He fills all worlds and surrounds all worlds” (Zohar)… even in the most defiled places there is godliness, for He gives life to everything as it says, “And you give life to everything” (Nechemia 9). So even if a person is stuck in the lowest of places he cannot excuse himself and say “I cannot serve Hashem here because of all the thickness and materialism that attacks me always,” for even there you can find Him and cling to Him and do complete teshuva, “For it is not far from you” (devarim 30), only that in this place there are many garments.”(LM 33)
This is the Tikun Haklali, the complete fixing. Whoever destroys his sexual impulse, it will be easy for him to get rid of his other evil desires. For all other impulses stem from this one. (LM 36)
Anyone who wants to enter into the service of Hashem, the only way possible is to be like Avraham who considered himself to be the only one in the world. That is, he should not pay attention to anyone who is preventing him from coming close to Hashem, whether it be his father, mother, in-laws, wife, children, etc. or anyone else in the world who mocks him and tries to prevent him from serving Hashem. He should not pay attention to them at all, rather he should follow the verse “Avraham was one” (Yichezkel 32) As if he is the only one in the world. (LM2 inserted after intro)
“Even when people are serving Idolatry, nevertheless, deep down, they are all submissive to G-d and serving Him, only it is taking place in a greatly concealed realm.” (LM 56)
“There are two concealments. When Hashem is hidden in one concealment it is certainly very hard to find Him, but nevertheless, since it is only one concealment a person is able to exert himself and to dig until he finds Him, for at least he knows that Hashem is hidden. However, when Hashem is hidden in a concealment within a concealment, that is, the concealment itself is hidden from the person, in other words, he has no idea that Hashem is hidden from him, then it is completely impossible to find Him, for he doesn’t even know that Hashem is hidden.” (LM 56)
“But truthfully, even in all the concealments, even in the concealment within a concealment, certainly even there Hashem is enclothed. For certainly there is absolutely nothing that doesn’t contain in it the life-force of Hashem, for without His life-force it would not have any existence at all. Therefore, certainly, in all things, all deeds, and all thoughts, Hashem is, so to speak, enclothed within. Even if, G-d forbid, a person sins and does something against the will of Hashem, nevertheless, there is certainly the life-force of Hashem within that thing, only it is greatly concealed and constricted. (LM 56)
“You should know. The torah which is enclothed within the concealment within a concealment is a very high torah; the secrets of the torah. Since it needs to enclothe itself in these low places, by those who have sinned a lot until Hashem became concealed from them in a concealment within a concealment, Hashem decided not to place there simple torah, in order that the evil should not be able to draw strength from there too much, which will cause much defect. Therefore He concealed and enclothed within there specifically very high torah, the secrets of torah, which is Hashems Torah itself. This is as it says with regards to Egypt (Shemot 12) “I will pass through the land of Egypt, I and not an angel, I and not a messenger, I, Hashem and no other.” For in the land of Egypt, the place of much evil, specifically there, Hashem himself is hidden and enclothed, that is, Hashems Torah itself, the secrets of Torah. Therefore specifically in the concealment within a concealment, even though one cannot find Hashem, his knowledge and belief alone that Hashem is hidden there, turns the concealment around into a great revelation and the secrets of torah are revealed.” (LM 56)
Someone who wants to merit to do teshuva (repentance) should make it a practice to say tehillim (LM2 73)
A person should find himself within the words of tehillim (LM2 125) Tehillim was written with Divine Inspiration and includes within it each individual’s personal struggle, whatever he may be going through at any given time.
- (Explanation of above from Hishtaqpchut Hanefesh 1)
Immersion in a mikveh redeems a person from all hardships, and purifies from all impurities and from all sins, for the mikveh draws down extremely lofty awareness and supernal kindness and compassion. (LM 56)
Philosophies and intellectual wisdoms are not needed at all. Only pure and simple faith. Because too much sophistication can greatly damage a person. (LM2 78, also see story of the Sophisticate and the Simpleton in Rebbe Nachman's Stories)
Sometimes, when a person gets too caught up in philosophies and sophistication, he needs to purposely free himself of his mind and do things which make him seem silly, to ”Be crazy with love” (Proverbs 5). Meaning, in his love for Hashem he does things which make him seem crazy. (LM2 5)
A person shouldn’t take upon himself added stringencies, as our Rabbis taught ‘The torah was not given to angels.’ This can make him fall from his service of Hashem. The greatest wisdom of all wisdoms is not to be wise at all, rather to be pure and honest with simplicity. (LM2 44)
You need to know that just as evil arrogance is a very bad character trait, so too a person needs to have holy arrogance. Because it is impossible to come to the true tzaddikim or to draw near to holiness without arrogance as our rabbis taught, “Be bold as a leopard” (LM 22:11)
A person needs holy arrogance, holy chutzpah. He should be bold as a leopard against the people who are preventing him and mocking him. He shouldn’t subjugate himself before them, and he shouldn’t be embarrassed in front of them at all. Even though it seems that they are tzaddikim and they are better than him, and even if it is true that they are better than him, even so, since his intentions are for heaven, and they want to confuse him, and block him from the path of life, he needs to strengthen himself with holy arrogance against them. And even against ones own Rabbi a person needs this boldness, in order to be strong to say whatever he needs to and not be embarrassed. On this it is said, “a timid person cannot be a learned person.” (LM 271)
It is incumbent upon every single Jew to study Halacha (Jewish law) every day without allowing a single day to pass without it. Even if he is held back for he didn’t have time, he should study at least one section of “Shulchan Aruch” no matter which one, even if it is not in the place he is holding during his usual order of studies. For a Jew must learn at least some law in Shulchan Aruch every single day, all the days of his life. If he is not held back due to extraneous circumstances, he should have a set study in Shulchan Aruch each and every day in order, from the beginning to the end. When he finishes he should go back and do it again. So he should accustom himself his entire life. For it is a very very great fixing of the soul. (SH 29)
SONG AND DANCE
When there are harsh judgments on the Jewish people, God forbid, through dancing and clapping ones hands, the judgments are sweetened (LM 10:1)
When one sings the words of prayer and the song resonates with great clarity and purity, he enclothes the shechina (divine presence) with luminous clothing (LM 42)
When we clap our hands during prayer it awakens the 28 letters that the world was created with which parallel the 28 joints in the hands. Through this we have power to purify the air of the nations, to dispel the impure air and replace it with the pure air of the Land of Israel (LM 44)
It is a great thing to hear music from a holy person playing on an instrument for the sake of heaven. Because through this, false fantasies are dismissed, the spirit of depression is dispelled, and the person merits happiness. Through this the memory is preserved, that is, the memory of the world to come, and a person is able to understand the hints that Hashem is constantly hinting to him everyday. Furthermore, through this a person can reach the level of the spirit of prophecy and divine inspiration, and he will be able to pour out his heart like water before Hashem. (LM 54)
LOVE YOUR FELLOW LOVE YOURSELF
Know! You need to judge every person favorably, even someone who is completely wicked, you need to search and find any little bit of good. By finding in him a little good and judging him favorably you actually bring him over to the side of merit and you can return him in teshuva (LM 282)
A person also needs to find in himself a little bit of good. Because no matter how low a person is, how can it be that he didn’t do one good thing in his entire life? (ibid)
Every single Jew has a point in them that is uniquely precious. And it is with this point that he bestows upon, enlightens, and arouses the heart of others. We all need to accept this arousal and this unique point from each other. As it says, “And they receive one from another” (Isaiah 3). (LM 34)
Every single Jew has in him a portion of God above. (LM 35)
PERSONAL REDEMPTION AND ENLIGHTENMENT
When a person knows that everything that happens to him is for the best, this is a taste of the world to come. (LM 4)
Know that the primary essence of exile is only our lack of belief. (LM 7)
Gan Eiden and Geihinom are literally in this world. (Ibid 22)
A Jewish person needs to always look at the wisdom within everything in order that it will enlighten him so that he can come close to God through each thing. Because this wisdom is a great light and it will enlighten all his ways. (Ibid 1)
Whoever breaks free from the lust for food can become a miracle worker. But someone who is stuck in this desire it is a sign that he is a liar. Even a Tzaddik who already freed himself from all desires and then falls back into the desire for food, it must be that something false left his mouth. It also shows that there is Judgment upon him from above and it is a sign of poverty. (LM 47)
Every single Jew is a portion of God above, and the essence of Godliness is in the heart. This godliness, which resides in the heart of a Jewish person, is infinite, for the light of its flame reaches infinity, that is, his yearnings and desires are without end or limit. (LM 49)
Just as God constricted his infinite light in creating the world, for due to the greatness of the light there was no room for creation, so too a person needs to constrict the infinite light of his heart in order to serve God in measure and in steps, for if the light would remain unconstricted it would be impossible to serve Him. So it turns out, in both cases, that this “constriction” of the light actually makes room for its own “revelation.” (ibid)
The Blessed Holy One constantly constricts his godliness from utmost infinity to the most finite center point of this physical world and he sends to each person thought, speech and deed according to the person and according to the time and place. He enclothes within the thought, speech and deed, hints, in order to bring the person close to his service. Therefore a person needs to delve his mind into this and expand his consciousness in order to understand what the hints are in their details which Hashem is sending to him in the thoughts, words, and deeds of this day according to the specific circumstances he finds himself in. In business or work and in everything that Hashem sends to him each day he needs to delve and expand his mind in it, in order to understand the hints of Hashem. (LM 54)
“A chidush (novelty) like me never existed in the world.” (quoted in CM)
“I am a river that purifies all stains.” (ibid)
“I am a beautiful and wondrous tree with great awesome braches, but below I am set firmly in the ground.” (ibid)
Rebbe Nachman would often tell his students about the great level that he reached in order to get them jealous and inspire them to serve Hashem like he does. One time someone responded to him, “Who can possibly reach the level of the Tzaddkim like yourself, certainly you were all created with really great souls.” Rebbe Nachman answered him in a stringent manner; “This is the main problem with you all, that you think the greatness of the Tzaddikim are due to their high level of soul, that is not true, every single person can reach my level and be exactly like me. It all depends on effort and honest work.” (sichos haran 165)
The world says that a person doesn’t need to seek greatness. I say that you must certainly seek greatness. Investigate and seek out only the greatest Tzaddik. (SH 51)
Conceptions of Godliness are only possible to grasp through many constrictions. Therefore a person should search very much for a proper teacher who is able to explain things and make these lofty concepts understandable, for this a person needs a tremendously great teacher who is able to explain such lofty concepts on a simple level enabling small-minded people to understand. The smaller a person is and the further away from Hashem he is, the greater teacher he must find, just as the sicker a person is the greater doctor he needs. Much prayer is needed to find a teacher like this, but one must never lose resolve and settle for mediocrity. (LM 30)
“The whole world needs me. You (my students) already know how much you need me, however, even all the Tzaddikim need me, for they too need to be benefited. All the nations of the world need me as well.” (quoted in CM) Our Rabbi of blessed memory already assured us during his lifetime, and designated two kosher witnesses on this, that when he passes away, when [people] come to his grave and give a pennace to charity (*) and say these then tehilim/psalms that we have recorded for remedy for nocturnal emission, Heaven spare us, then our Rabbi himself will span the length and width [of the universe], and will surely save this person. And he said, that he will pull him out of Gehinom/hell by his peyot/sidelocks, even regardless of how that person be, and even regardless of what happened, only from now on he must accept on himself to not return to his wicked ways, Heaven forbid. And the night before he passed away he said: "What do you have to worry about, since I go before you; and if the souls who did not know me at all, look forward to my tikunim/remedies, all the more so [should] you" etc. (And likewise even those who were not priveleged to know our Rabbi of blessed memory during his lifetime, when they come to his holy grave and rely on him and learn his holy books and accustom themselves to walk in his holy ways that are mentioned in his holy books, surely they have on what to rely. Fortunate are they! Fortunate is their portion! "And none of them that take refuge in Him shall be desolate" [Ps. 34:23], for he already revealed his mind in several terms, explicitly and by hint, that all that he is involved in with us is not only for us, but with "those who are here...and with those who are not here" [Deut. 29:14], as explained further below (see Sichot Haran 209).) (*) Printer's comment [Rabbi Natan]: I heard from Rabi Naftali z"l, who was one of the two witnesses who Rabbeinu z"l designated on this matter, i.e. Morein Harav Aharon z"l and Harav Rabi Naftali as mentioned, that Rabeinu z"l said it then in these words: "When they come to my grave and give a pennance to charity for my sake (he means, for remembrance of his holy soul, as commonly practiced), ..." and in Yiddish: "in vet gebin apruta tzedaka fun maynit wegin etc"/and will give a pennace of charity for me." (Chayei Moharan 225)
Rebbe Nachman said that all the teachings and sayings of his are not only for us. Rather, “for those who are here standing with us today and for those who are not here with us today” (devarim 29:14). In other words, it is for the generations that are yet to come. He spoke to us about this many times and he hinted to us in his words to make it known to the future generations… One time when he told us about passing on everything that happened with us and everything we heard from him to our children he said this verse with great passion like fiery coals, “You should make known to your children and your children’s children.” And he said, “Know and believe, if its possible to take one person out of the garbage dump, anyone who holds on to that person will come out as well.” (SH 209)
“My fire will burn until Moshiach comes.” (CM)
A Rav must have in him the two powers that there are in the torah, that is, “a drug of life and a drug of death” (Yoma 72), in order that it will be possible for those who come close to him to receive according to their own will, as in the Torah “the righteous will walk and the wicked will stumble” (Hosea 14). If he yearns for true service of Hashem he can receive from the Rav a straight path to serve Hashem, but if his heart isn’t pure, he can also find in the Rav something impure and be led completely astray. There are those who connect to the Tzaddik and become complete apostates. (LM 31)
Every Tzaddik needs to be both well versed in Torah and full of good deeds, for if he is not learned, our sages say, “an unlearned person cannot be a Chassid.” But a learned person alone isn’t anything, for it is possible to be a very educated and studious person and remain completely wicked, for “If he is not worthy it will be a drug of death” (Talmud Yoma 42b). Torah without good deeds is not only insignificant - it is detrimental. (Ibid)
“How could they not appose me, for I walk a new path, one that no man has ever walked before, nor any creature since the time the torah was received. Even though it is a very old path, nevertheless it is completely new.” (CM)
“There are those who are against me yet they don’t even know me at all. This is as it says in the Zohar when the torah states that Pharaoh said to the Egyptians, “Let’s outsmart the Jews.” Could it be that he went to each and every citizen to personally relate this message? Rather he entered it into their hearts.” (CM)
Since the evil forces see that the Jewish people are very very close to the end (to the messiah), and there are Jews nowadays who have tremendous yearning and passion for spirituality and godliness, such a thing that has never occurred in past generations, so the evil forces enter arguments between the tzaddikim, and they establish in the world many false leaders, and even between true tzaddikim the evil forces cause great arguments, until no one knows where truth can be found. Therefore, a person needs to plead very much from Hashem to merit to recognize and come close to the true Tzaddik. (LM2 44)
Rebbe Nachman revealed these 10 psalms to say in order to rectify the damage caused by passed sins especially those related to sexual impurity: 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150
- “You should constantly review my teachings until you know them by heart” (CM)
- “All my teachings are only introductions, [the main part is up to you to discover]” (SH 199)
- It is a great mitzvah to be happy always.
- If you believe that it is possible to break, believe it is also possible to fix.
- And know that a person needs to traverse a very, very narrow bridge, but the fundamental and most important principle is to have no hesitation or fear at all.
- This saying has been set to music in Hebrew as the song Kol Ha-Olam Kulo