Nachman of Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Bratslav, Nachman from Uman

Nachman of Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Bratslav, Nachman from Uman

Ukrainian Rabbi, Chasidic Leader, Great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, Founder of the Breslov Hasidic Movement

Author Quotes

True life is to delight in God. Some people achieve this even in this world; others not at all. Spiritual life contains the same multiplicity of gradations that exist on the level of physical life.

Wealthy people constantly travel from place to place, spending enormous sums in order to be able to boast about where they have been. In the same way, in this life you should visit all the holy places in the Torah. Then in your future life you will be able to take pride in having visited every place in our holy literature. For in the world to come you will remember everything you have ever learned.

When a person draws personal lessons and sees his own smallness and lowliness everywhere that he studies in any Torah work , this is a sign that he wants to do God's will.

When a person merely has one stray thought of lust or desire, it is sufficient to recite these two verses. However, some people are constantly plagued with lustful desires and find they cannot get rid of them. They must then bring themselves to tears when they take on the yoke of heaven: they should literally weep as they say the words "Hear O Israel" and "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom ".

When God helps with Hitbodedut, it is like a person talking to his friend.

When the bride is beautiful, love is perfect. But when the bride has some flaw or blemish, love cannot be complete.

When you imagine this scream in your mind, the sound actually rings inside your brain. You can stand in a crowd of people screaming this way and no- one hears you.

Whether you feel you are advancing or not, or even if you feel you are sliding backwards, always stay strong and follow King David's teaching: "If I ascend to heaven , You are there, and if I make hell my bed, behold You are there!" (Psalms 139:8) .

Try to go through all our holy books in the course of your lifetime, so that you will have visited every place in the Torah.

What about sin and evil? God's glory is not present there, for "I will not give My glory to another" (Isaiah 42:8) . There is a limit that prevents the glory from spreading there. Although "the whole earth is full of His glory", there is nevertheless a limit that prevents it from spreading to the "outside places", which are beyond the bounds of holiness - for "I will not give My glory to another".

When a person eats in holiness and purity, his physical face and the inner "face" that is his soul become radiant as a result. But if he eats without holiness, the food harms his heart causing him to lose this inner face, so that he falls into a "sleep". He may still imagine he is serving God, occupied as he is with Torah and prayer. But he is "asleep" in the sense that his devotions remain in the lower worlds and God has no delight in them.

When a person reaches the level of the land of Israel , he is worthy to be called "a man of strength and valor". Before one attains this level, "Let not he that girds his armor boast like he that removes it" (I Kings 20:11). However after winning the battle, he does indeed deserve to be called "a man of war".

When God is hidden with only one degree of concealment, it can certainly be hard to find Him. Yet with great effort and searching it is possible, because at least you know that God is hidden from you. However in the "concealment within the concealment", the very fact that God is hidden is itself concealed. The person has no idea that God is hidden from him. It is then very hard indeed to find Him.

When the slaughterer - the shochet - makes the blessing prior to the slaughter of an animal, he should have in mind to elevate the soul incarnated in the blood of the animal. The blessing of the shochet has an effect on the livelihood of the entire Jewish people.

When you just can't fall asleep, it's no use trying to force yourself to sleep. The more you try to force yourself, the more sleep will elude you. The same applies to many other things: it is not good to force yourself too much, because the more you try to force yourself, the stronger the opposing forces will become.

Who can say that he serves God according to God's true greatness? Someone who has even the faintest conception of God's greatness cannot understand how anyone could claim to serve Him. Even the highest angel cannot boast that he is able to serve God.

The vowels - the soul that animate s the letters - are formed through yearning and desire, whether for good or bad. The yearning for evil creates bad vowels, which make the letters join together and interact to produce bad effects. But if a person yearns to repent, good vowels - good souls - are created and the letters join and interact to produce good results.

Then why do we feel pain when we suffer? The pain that people endure when they suffer is only because their spiritual understanding is withheld from them and they cannot focus on the ultimate purpose, which is entirely good. It is then that they feel the pain and sorrow of their suffering. But when understanding is present and one keeps one's attention on the ultimate goal, one feels no pain and suffering at all.

There is no despair in the world.

Think only about the present day and the present moment. When someone wants to serve God, he may see it as a heavy burden. But if you remember that you have only today, it won't be such a burden. Don't push off serving God from one day to the next, saying, "I'll start tomorrow - tomorrow I'll pray with real devotion."

This is like a stubborn child, who can literally bang his head against the wall just to spite his mother. Similarly certain people are capable of throwing away everything, including all other desires, for the sake of one stubborn overpowering desire.

This is why we have to narrow our eyes to see a distant object. We have to limit our vision so that other things don ' t interfere, and we must focus on the desired object in order to strengthen our vision and avoid its being diffused. Then it is possible to see the far-off object.

Through prayer we have the power to channel God's providence in a way that goes beyond nature. Nature may dictate one thing but prayer has the power to change nature. This is "greatness" - "For what great nation is there that has God so near to them as HaShem our God whenever we call on Him?" (Deuteronomy 4:7) . Our greatness is that God hears our prayers and alters the course of nature through His providence. Thus Yehoram, king of Israel, said to Gehazi, "Please tell me the great things that Elisha did" ( II Kings 8:4) , for "Whatever Elisha did, he accomplished through prayer" (Megilah 27a). Thus prayer, which gives us access to the realm of miracles and providence, the very opposite of nature, is "great."

The way to escape the allure of wealth is through the purity that comes through guarding the Covenant and drawing closer to the Tzaddik, who is the very embodiment of purity and of whom it is written, "He who is good and walks before God will be saved" ( Ecclesiastes 7:26) . The Tzaddik possesses true wisdom and understanding, and knows how to escape this trap. Even the greatest of men need deep wisdom and understanding if they are to escape the pain and toil of earning a living. Most ordinary people suffer terrible bitterness all their lives because of this. They lose both worlds: this world and the world to come.

There are certain questions that trouble many people, such as how we can have free will if God knows the future. You must accept that it is beyond the capacity of the human mind to understand such things, because the answers lie on a level of wisdom so transcendent that the human mind is unable to fathom it. This wisdom can never enter the human mind, but it encompasses the mind from the outside. If a person could grasp this wisdom, he would no longer be human but an angel.

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Nachman of Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Bratslav, Nachman from Uman
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Ukrainian Rabbi, Chasidic Leader, Great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, Founder of the Breslov Hasidic Movement