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

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

Author Quotes

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. "

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.

When things are very bad, make yourself into nothing. How do you make yourself into nothing? You close your mouth and your eyes, and you are like nothing! Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed by the evil urge. You are racked with confusion and negative thoughts, finding it impossible to overcome them. You must then make yourself like nothing. Anyone can do this. Close your mouth and your eyes and don't think about anything - as if you have no mind and no thoughts. You are completely nullified before God.

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 main thing is desire. Always long and yearn to come closer to God. Many people would like to serve God but not all have the same desire. There are many different levels of desire. Even in one and the same person, the intensity of his desire may change from moment to moment. The main thing is to yearn constantly for God - and in between, to pray, study and keep His commandments.

Author Picture
First Name
Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman
Birth Date
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Founder of the Breslov Hasidic Movement, Great Grandson of the Baal Shem Tov