Founder of the Breslov Hasidic Movement, Great Grandson of the Baal Shem Tov
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman
Founder of the Breslov Hasidic Movement, Great Grandson of the Baal Shem Tov
You may be in some place when suddenly you have a thought of Teshuvah and a deep longing for God. Stop then and there in that very place and take a moment to focus on the thought and the feeling of longing. Turn them into a prayer. Put your longing into words straight from your heart. Don't wait or move on, even if you are not in your usual place of prayer and study - even if you are going on your way - because if you move on, it could interrupt your train of thought.
You may feel you have not even begun to enter the gates of holiness. You may see yourself as still being coarsely materialistic and feel that your mind is confused. No matter what you try to do to serve God, it seems as if the evil forces will not allow you to succeed. You may start thinking that God is paying no attention whatever, as if He has no interest in your devotions. You keep calling out to Him, pleading with Him to help you. Yet you feel as far away as ever. It takes tremendous determination to overcome all this. The key is to ignore all the discouragement. The truth is that all this apparent rejection has no other purpose than to bring you closer. All the Tzaddikim have had to endure this, as we know from their personal testimony. They too felt that God had no interest in them, because they saw how long they had been searching, putting in hard work and effort, yet they were still far away. If they had not determinedly ignored these feelings, they would have remained where they were in the first place and would never have achieved what they did.
You may have succumbed to the desires of this world and sinned in many ways. You may have damaged your mind, leaving it weak and confused. But you still have some intelligence. With this alone you can overcome all desires. One grain of intelligence can stand against the whole world and all its temptations. Wherever you are, you can be close to God. You can approach God and serve Him even in the lowest pit of hell. It needs tremendous effort, or help from God - or both - in order to subdue the impurities in the mind until you want nothing in this world and everything is the same to you. Then, "When you walk it will lead you, when you lie down it will watch over you, and when you wake up, it will comfort you" (Proverbs 6:22).
You must accept all your troubles and suffering in life with love. You must understand that, considering all the wrong you have done, God is actually treating you very mercifully and sending you less suffering than you really deserve. If God were to mete out the full punishment for your transgressions, you would have to suffer much more, God forbid. In the verse, "Love your friend like yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), the Hebrew word for "your friend", RE-acha, can also be read as RA-acha, "your bad". In other words, you must lovingly accept your suffering and all the bad things that happen to you. Because "...like yourself!" - considering the way you are and considering all your bad deeds, nevertheless, "I am God" - "I am full of compassion and I am treating you with great mercy."
You must be very careful to cultivate a good memory and not fall into forgetfulness. What is a good memory? It means keeping the world to come constantly in the forefront of your mind, never forgetting it. It would be very proper for every Jew to make it a daily habit, as soon as he opens his eyes in the morning, before doing anything else, to recall that the world to come is the only true goal. He should do this as soon as he wakes up.
You must be very stubborn in serving God. And even if you feel that you yourself are far from God, be sure not to discourage others. Do the very opposite: strengthen them in every way possible. Speak to them with words that restore the soul. By doing so, you too will eventually come back to serving God.
You should always try to be happy and serve God with joy, and even if you sometimes fall short of your level, you can still encourage yourself by thinking of earlier times when you did have a taste of the light.
You should be able to feel another person's pain in your heart - all the more so when many people are suffering. It is possible to know another person's pain and suffering yet still not feel them in your heart. When many people are suffering, you should certainly feel their pain in your heart. And if you do not feel it, you should knock your head against the wall: you should strike your head - your mind and intelligence - against the walls of your heart! This is the meaning of the words: "Know this day and realize it in your heart." (Deuteronomy 4:39). You must bring the realization from your mind into your heart. Understand this well.
You should constantly lift up your heart to God in exactly the same way. Go aside and cry out to God. For everyone is in great danger in this world - as you know very well deep inside your soul. Understand these words very carefully.
You should force yourselves to pray with great devotion, powerfully binding your thoughts to each word. True devotion means listening attentively to the words you are saying. It is not advisable to try to pray using the mystical intentions of the prayers as found in the Kabalistic writings - and this applies even to people who are fit to study such works. Perfect prayer is when you say the words of the prayers with complete simplicity: Baruch Atah. "Blessed are You." Listen carefully to what you are saying: concentrate on the meaning of the words. It is ridiculous to say that one should not force oneself to pray. Quite the contrary: you should pray with all your might and put all your strength into each letter of the words of the prayers. As to the disturbing thoughts that occur during prayer: ignore them completely. Keep doing your part, going systematically through the service in order, paying no attention to any distractions. Turn your mind away from all such thoughts completely. The prayer service and limbs of the body. It is impossible to pray the entire service with complete devotion, but each person can say a certain portion of the service with genuine feeling. One person may recite the passages dealing with the Temple incense offering with great feeling. Someone else may pray best during the Psalms of Pesukey DeZimra, the "Verses of Song".This is because the physical human body has a spiritual counterpart, each of whose limbs corresponds to a portion of the prayer service. Each person is associated with a particular limb of the transcendental form. When he reaches the section of the service relating to his limb, he is aroused to great devotion.
You should reflect on the different situations and occurrences that God sends your way day by day. Each day has its own thoughts, words and deeds. They are all completely unique to that day. God "contracts" His infinite, endless Godliness in such a way that Godliness is present even in the innermost point of the finite material world in which man finds himself. Thus God sends to each individual the thoughts, words and deeds appropriate for the day, the person and the place. Within them are hints intended to draw the person closer to God's service. This is why you should pay attention to what happens to you and consider what it may signify. Think about the thoughts, words and deeds that God sends you each day in order to understand His hints to you to draw closer to Him at every moment. This applies to everyone, no matter who and in what circumstances.
Your wisdom disappears while you are angry.
When reciting Psalms and prayers, make sure you find yourself in everything you say. It is simple and easy to find yourself in all your prayers: you don't need to be clever. The Psalms in particular were written for the entire community of Israel and for each and every individual. All of a person's internal wars and struggles and everything else he endures are all expressed in the Psalms, which mainly relate to the war against the evil urge and its forces. These are the main enemies seeking to keep a person from the path of life and drag him down to the deepest hell if he is not on guard against them. The entire Book of Psalms is about this war. The foundation of all the different pathways to God lies in reciting Psalms and other supplications and offering our own personal prayers from the heart, entreating Him to draw us closer to His service. This is the only way to win the war. Happy is the man who persistently prays and entreats God at all times and in all situations, because he will certainly win the war.
When you look outside, what do you see? The market, wagons, horses, people running in all directions? Fifty years from now the market will be completely different, with different horses and wagons, different merchandise and different people. I won't be here and you won't be here. Then let me ask you now: How come you are so busy and preoccupied that you don't even have time to look up at the sky?
You cannot compare the life of a horse to that of a man. Just as there are enormous differences between life forms on the physical plane, so there are great differences in the quality of people's spiritual lives.
When someone asks his friend how he is and the friend says, "Not good", this can be an opening for trouble. Because God says: "You call this not good? I'll show you what not good is!" But if when his friend asks how he is, he answers brightly, "Good, thank God!" even though things really are not so good, God says: "This you call good? I'll show you what good is!"
When you make an opening in some pathway of service and with it give some charity, this charity opens and widens the entrance even further. For charity is the beginning of all beginnings and opens and widens all the gates.
You do speak with people? You should ask them: What? WHAT??? It is right to put this question to people who don't think about their purpose in life: "What?" Life is full of needless friction and arguments, distractions, obstacles, complaints, claims and counterclaims... You have many reasons and excuses as to why you are far from God. Even so, after all this, at the end of everything - what is going to be with you? What will you do at the very end? What will you answer the One Who sent you? You surely understand that you are but a stranger on this earth. All the days of the years of our empty vanity are "like a passing shadow and a scattered cloud". All this a man knows very well. If so, what do you think? WHAT??? Heed these words carefully and bring them deep inside your heart. Don't throw them behind your back. "Turn them and turn them over and over again" - so that you may gain your soul as your prize.
When someone wants to serve God or travel to the true Tzaddik, he is bound to face obstacles. Each person imagines that the obstacles he faces are greater than those facing others and finds it hard to withstand them. But no-one is ever confronted with obstacles that are beyond his ability to overcome if he really wants. The truth is that there is no obstacle at all, because God is present, albeit veiled, in the very obstacle itself.
When you start looking deep within yourself, you may think there is no good in you at all. You may feel you are full of evil: a negative voice inside you may try to drive you into depression. But you must not allow yourself to fall into depression. Search until you find some little good in you. For how could it be that you never did anything good in your whole life? When you start to examine the good you have done, you may see many flaws. Maybe you did what you did for the wrong reasons and with the wrong attitude. Even so, how could it be that your mitzvah or good deed contains no good at all? It must contain some element of good. You must search and search until you find some good point within you to give you new life and happiness. When you discover the good that is still inside you, you literally swing the scales from guilt to merit. This will enable you to return to God. The good you find inside you will give you new life and bring joy to your soul. Having found one good point, you must continue searching until you find another. Even if you think this good point is also full of flaws, you must still search for some good in it. In the same way, you must continue finding more and more good points.
When a person makes a start and tries to bring himself closer to God, he usually experiences a feeling of rejection. It is as if forces beyond his control are trying to prevent him from entering God's service. Yet in actual fact this apparent rejection is nothing but a way of bringing him closer. But it takes tremendous determination not to become discouraged when you see that the days and years are passing and in spite of all your efforts to draw closer, you are still far away.
When speech comes forth, it comes from the soul. The utterance comes forth and is heard by the ears, for "you must let your ears hear what you bring forth from your mouth" (Berachot 15). The utterance then begs and pleads with the soul not to leave it behind. As soon as the first letter comes forth - the Beit of the word Baruch, "Blessed" (opening word of the Amidah prayer) - the letter begs and pleads with the soul not to part from it.
When you want to develop new Torah ideas, you must concentrate on one subject. Turn it over and over in your mind, knocking and beating on the gate until it opens. Sometimes a thought may fly into your mind in a flash - but then it flies away. You must be a man of valor, pursuing it until it is recaptured.
When a person realizes that he is on a very low level and far from God, this itself is a reason to feel encouraged. Before this, he was so far from God that he did not even know it. Now at least he knows it, and this itself is a sign that he is drawing closer.
When the bride is beautiful, love is perfect. But when the bride has some flaw or blemish, love cannot be complete. The Torah is called a bride: "Moses commanded us the Torah, a heritage (morashah) for the congregation of Jacob" (Deuteronomy 33:4). The Talmud says: Read this not as morashah, "a heritage", but me-urasah - "the betrothed" (Berachot 57a; Pesachim 49b). "Moses commanded us the Torah, the betrothed of the congregation of Jacob. "