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

Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman
1772
1810

Founder of the Breslov Hasidic Movement, Great Grandson of the Baal Shem Tov

Author Quotes

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.

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.

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. "

When your friend says something incorrect, instead of aggressively jumping down to his throat, try correcting him graciously and gently. When you listen to another person telling his problems, be careful that they do not become yours. If you find yourself reliant upon another, your life is not a life. If you don't help your friend when he's in trouble, it's as if you caused it for him. With real faith you will not need to rely on friends.

When a person recognizes the wrong he has done and how grossly materialistic and impure he is, he can become so depressed that he is completely incapable of praying. He simply cannot open his mouth to God. This is because of the deep sorrow and heaviness that overcome him when he sees his overwhelming distance from God.

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. Some shochtim fail to concentrate properly on the meaning of the blessing, harboring improper thoughts. Such a shochet standing with his knife raised ready to slaughter the animal is no better than a murderer. What pain this living soul experiences at that moment. She cries with a bitter wail because this shochet's blessing will do nothing to elevate her from her incarnation. On the contrary, she will be thrown even lower than before with "no rest for the sole of her foot" (Genesis 8:9). Woe to such a shochet! Woe to the soul he has killed and betrayed into the hands of her enemies. This adversely affects people's livelihood, and the little that is available can only be acquired with great toil and effort. Such shochtim cause the soul to become enslaved by the physicality of the body, strength ening material cravings and desires. But when the shochtim are worthy, the soul is elevated and the grossness of the body is humbled and subdued. The body is the seat of animality, folly, darkness and death, forgetfulness, harsh justice and alien wisdom. In their place, soul and form are elevated. These are the roots of all that is truly noble in man - understanding, light, life, memory, loving kindness and Torah wisdom. Through them the world is blessed with abundance and prosperity.

Whenever one of our friends is suffering, physically, mentally or spiritually, we should say, "Without doubt I am the cause of this. Because of my sins, I myself am the barrier between the King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, and the world. For the Holy One, blessed be He, constantly desires to bestow blessings of goodness upon His children. But because of my sins, I am the barrier that is holding all this back. The solution is for me myself to plead with the King on behalf of my friend." When a person does this, he will certainly not succumb to arrogance. The root of arrogance is when a person prides himself on having qualities which his friend lacks. But when a person believes that the only cause of his friend's deficiency, spiritual or material, is the barrier that he himself has erected between his friend and the Holy One, blessed be He, Who wants to bestow blessings at all times, he will certainly not become arrogant. On the contrary, his pride will be broken and he will achieve genuine humility.

When a person refuses to allow himself to fall into despair but instead vitalizes himself by seeking out and gathering together his positive points, this produces melodies, and he can then pray, sing and give thanks to God.

When the sons of Jacob were about to journey to Egypt with Benjamin, Jacob said to them, " May the eternal God give you love " (Genesis 43:14). This expresses the very essence of Godly love, when He " gives you the love " - namely, when God puts His love in our hands. For God, it can be that even serious illness and other forms of suffering are expressions of His love, because certainly God sends everything He sends to a person out of love, even when He sends them severe pain and suffering. However, we ask that He should entrust His love to us and put it in our hands, because we do not understand His love and we are unable to bear it. May God put His love in our hands and give us love in our terms, because we understand love in the simple sense where it means healing from illness and the like.

Whenever you encounter distractions and barriers in your prayers and devotions, you must take a deep breath of patience and bear everything patiently. Do not allow yourself to become discouraged, depressed and apathetic. Breathe deeply and don't take it to heart. Continue doing what you have to do and try your best to ignore all the distractions and obstacles. This is the mark of true patience, which comes through faith, the growth-generating power.

When a person returns from the state of self-transcendence to normal consciousness, the conscious mind returns to the brain, which is the seat of the mind, the "vessel" of consciousness. But the limited human brain, the vessel, is unable to maintain the state of self-transcendence, because this is Ein Sof, limitless Infinity, which is the ultimate goal: all one, all good. As a result, the brain now feels the pain of the suffering, because it is in the brain that all sensations of pain and suffering are felt. Nerve passages extend from the brain to all the limbs in the body, and through them the brain is aware of pain in whatever limb is affected.

When the time comes for a person to rise from one level to the next, he must first experience a fall. The whole purpose of the fall is to prepare for the ascent. Try to understand this and you will realize how determined you must be in order to serve God. No matter how far you fall, never allow yourself to be discouraged. Remain firm and resolute and pay no attention to the fall at all, because in the end it will be transformed into a great ascent. This is its whole purpose. This applies to all the different ways one can fall. Each person always thinks that his own situation is so bad that this does not apply to him. People imagine it applies only to those on very exalted levels who are continually advancing from level to level. But you should realize that it holds true even for those on the lowest of levels, because God is good to all.

Wherever G-d is to be found, a different order prevails; something small and seemingly insignificant can hold and contain infinity.

When a person rises from level to level in this world, never ceasing to make fresh advances in serving God, so too in the world to come he will continue rising from level to level.

Author Picture
First Name
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman
Birth Date
1772
Death Date
1810
Bio

Founder of the Breslov Hasidic Movement, Great Grandson of the Baal Shem Tov