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

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.

When a person sinks to these "filthy places", he is filled with doubts, questions and confusion. But when he starts examining himself and sees how far he is from God's glory and begins asking and searching, Ayeh? - " Where is the place of God's glory?" - this is the essence of the solution. He sees for himself that, having sunk to such places, he is far from God's glory. When he asks Ayeh? - "Where?" - this is his way to rise up and transform his fall into a great ascent. For the purpose of the descent is to lead to an ascent. Ayeh? -"Where is the place of His glory?" This alludes to the exalted glory of the highest utterance, Bereishit, which is the source of the life-force of these places. Therefore when a person searches in earnest, Ayeh? - "Where is the place of His glory?" - this itself brings him back and he rises to the highest glory, Ayeh, which because of its great concealment gives life to these places. Having fallen there, by then searching Ayeh? - "Where is the place of His glory?" - he returns and connects himself to this exalted place, injecting new vitality into his very fall, and he can then rise to the most exalted heights.

When we consider God's utter greatness - if we can form any conception of it at all - and think of our own smallness and worthlessness, how can we stand up and pray before Him? Even so, when we pray, we must cast our timidity aside and boldly ask God for everything we need. Only with bold assertiveness can we overcome the obstacles and barriers that stand in the way of our service of God.

Whoever becomes intoxicated is certain to do at least some damage in one way or another.

When a person sins, it makes a big difference if he comes to his senses at once and repents, in which case it is easy for him to return to his place because he has not yet strayed too far from the good path. For when a person sins, he turns from the straight path and enters a different, twisting pathway. A multitude of wrong turns branch off into ever deeper error and corruption. The person may stray so far and become so entangled that it is very hard for him to turn back and get off the wrong track.

When we give charity, our main task is to break our innate cruelty, turning it into kindness in order to give generously. This is the main service involved in the act of charity. When one who is kind by nature gives charity purely out of instinct, this cannot be called an act of service because even certain animals are kind by nature. The main task is to break one's innate cruelty and turn it into kindness in order to give charity.

Why do people shed tears when in pain? Tears draw down God's providence. This we learn from the rabbinic interpretation of the verse, "And the clouds return after the rain" (Ecclesiastes 12:2) - "This refers to a person's vision, which becomes weaker through tears" (Shabbat 151a). From this we learn that tears take away part of one's vision. The fact that tears weaken a person's eyesight and take part of it away means that the vision is drawn into the tears. And this is why people shed tears when in pain. When a person feels pain and suffering, it means he needs God's providence to be saved. This is why people cry, so as to bring down and reveal God's watchful providence. For the providence and vision are drawn into the tears. This is why "Hezekiah wept greatly" (Isaiah 38:3) when he fell sick. Through his tears he drew down God's watchful providence, which is the concept of "greatness" and prayer.

When a person stands in prayer, reciting the words of the prayers, he is gathering beautiful flowers and blossoms, like someone walking in a meadow picking lovely flowers and blossoms one by one until they make a bunch. Then he picks more, one by one, until they make another bunch, and he puts them together. So he goes on, picking and gathering more and more lovely bouquets. So it is in prayer: one goes from letter to letter, until several letters are joined together to make a syllable. One does the same to make whole words. Then one joins together two words, and goes on, picking and gathering, until one completes a whole blessing. Then one goes on picking more and more, and passes from the first blessing of the Amidah prayer - the blessing of the fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - to the second, which speaks of God's might. One then proceeds to the third blessing, which speaks of His holiness, and so on. Who can adequately praise the great splendor of the gleanings and gatherings one makes with the words of the prayer?

When words and cries don't help, cry deep in your heart without letting out a sound.

Why does Ezekiel stress that Abraham was one? Because Abraham based his whole service of God on the fact that he was alone. He looked on himself as the only person in the world - as if everything was up to him - and paid no attention whatever to all the other people who had turned away from God and who were putting obstacles in his way. Abraham paid no attention to his father or any of the other people who tried to stop him. He carried on as if he was alone in the world. That is the meaning of Ezekiel's statement: "Abraham was one." In the same way, anyone who wants to begin serving God can do so only if he thinks of himself as being alone in the world so that everything is up to him. He must pay no attention whatever to anyone who tries to hold him back - not even if it is his own father and mother or in-laws, wife and children. He should pay no attention to any others who try to mock him or entice him to give up or otherwise stand in his way. Just as "Abraham was one", so too he must look on himself as if he is alone in the world and everything depends on him.

When a person starts to serve God and draw close to a true Tzaddik, he is often filled with negative thoughts and inner turmoil. This is like a pot of water which initially seems quite clear, but as soon as it is placed on the fire and starts to boil, all the impurities begin to surface. Someone has to stand there constantly removing the scum and impurities. At first the water appears perfectly clear, but as it heats up, more and more impurity surfaces. At last, however, when all the impurity is removed, the water is truly pure and clear. The same is true of a person. Before he starts serving God, good and evil are totally mixed up in him - so much so that the evil and impurity are not even discernible. But when he starts trying to serve God and draw close to a true Tzaddik, he begins the process of cleansing and purification. Each time, more evil and impurities rise to the surface. Here too one must stand by constantly removing the dirt and impurities as they appear, until in the end the person is truly pure and clear. Initially a person is totally immersed in the material. When he starts to draw closer to God, it might seem as if it should be possible to remove all this filth and impurity at once. But his mind is so totally mixed up with this mire that if it were to be removed all at once, he could lose his mind with it as well. One must be very patient until little by little one becomes completely pure.

When you find yourself presented with two opportunities to do good - do the most difficult first.

With every step a person takes and every single word he speaks as he goes about his business, he should bear in mind that his goal is to make a profit in order to give charity. This is the comprehensive remedy for wealth. Giving charity expands and elevates the mind, which brings blessing and livelihood.

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