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
When a person wants to purify himself and return to God, they tell him "Wait!" (Yoma 38b-39a). It is true that he should hurry to free his soul and escape the darkness. But he should not allow himself to become discouraged and dejected if he sees that he is far from true prayer and other holy devotions. Waiting patiently is a necessary part of the process. In the end he will be worthy of making amends completely and everything will be rectified.
When you give charity to Torah scholars, the money becomes actual Torah. No sin can extinguish the merit of giving money to Torah scholars. For no sin can extinguish the Torah, and the money given to Torah scholars is actual Torah.
With happiness you can give another person life! There are people who suffer terrible pain but cannot express what is in their heart. They would like to speak about their suffering but they have no- one to whom they can explain what is really in their heart. This leaves them full of pain and anguish. When you come to such a person with a smiling face, you can literally give that person life. To give a person life is not an empty gesture. It is something very great.
When after a life devoted to worldliness a person feels an arousal to God, the attribute of Judgment rises to accuse him and does not permit him to follow God's ways. It does this by confronting him with an obstacle. But God loves kindness and hides Himself within the very obstacle itself. One who lacks good sense sees the obstacle and retreats at once. But one who possesses good sense examines the obstacle and discovers God within it.
When you have purified your mind, there is no difference between this world, the grave, and the next world. When you only desire God and His Torah, all are the same. In all three you can be attached to God and his Torah. However, if you are attached to this world, there is an agonizing difference. This world is spread before you while the grave is tight and narrow. But when you purify your mind, all will be the same.
Yesterday and tomorrow are man's downfall. Today you may be aroused towards God. Don't let yourself become discouraged because of what may have happened yesterday or what may happen tomorrow. No matter where a person stands, there are always reverses. Many people become discouraged as a result, and stop putting any real effort into their devotions. That is why you must "Repent one day before your death."
When people seek to purify themselves and keep the Torah, they often feel overwhelmed with confusion and frustration. They encounter great obstacles in their path and they are uncertain what to do. The more they want to serve God, the harder it seems. Know that all your efforts to do the right thing are very precious in God's eyes even if you do not achieve your goal. All your efforts are counted as sacrifices.
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. At times this applies even to prayer and devotion. You should certainly make every possible effort to sanctify yourself and attain true devotion. When something can be done today, don't leave it for tomorrow - because the world never stops for a moment. Man's world consists only of the present. Whatever you can do to serve God, do immediately and determinedly without delay. Who knows what obstacles you may face from the outside and from within if you leave it until later? But at times you may see that, despite all your efforts and determination, you simply cannot achieve what you want. Sometimes you must simply wait. Don't be discouraged because you are not achieving what you want. Don't let this push you off course. You must wait a little until the time is ripe.
You can crease and wrinkle my book any way you like when it comes to your own interpretations - as long as you don't violate a single paragraph of the Shulchan Aruch.
Take my advice and don't let the world fool you. No- one ever came to a good end by pursuing worldliness. Even those who hold the entire world in their hands end up badly, losing out both in themselves and for generations to come.
The greatest possible religious devotion is prayer. And yet, when we stand up to pray, we pray and we manage to complete the prayer!
The places that seem lowest of all and furthest from God actually contain the most exalted life force of all, albeit concealed: namely the "secrets of Torah". One who has fallen very far should therefore understand that in the very place in which he finds himself he can still draw close to God because of the exalted life force that is concealed there. When he succeeds in returning to God, exalted levels of Torah will be revealed through him. These are the "secrets of Torah".
The worst of all obstacles is the confusion caused by other people. You yourself may personally know certain individuals who act as self-appointed experts in philosophy or use science to mock at everything holy. Such sophistry can be extremely confusing to others as it teaches that all values are relative and therefore everything is permitted. Such ideas deter people from the path of life.
This world exists only to bring about God's eternal purpose. There is no need to be upset about whether or not you have money. Even with money, you could waste away your days. The world deceives us completely. It makes us think we are constantly gaining but we end up with nothing. People spend years working to make money, but in the end, when they come to the final reckoning, they are left with nothing in their hands. Even when someone becomes rich, in the end he is taken from his money. Man and wealth cannot remain together. Either the money is taken from the man or the man from his money. No- one has ever stayed with his money. Where is all the money people have been making since the beginning of time? People have always been busy making money - so where is all the money? It has all become absolutely nothing!
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 is in special need of God's love, God sends him an opportunity to show love to someone else. This is what makes it possible for God's love to be channeled to the person himself, because "Everyone who shows love for God's creatures is himself shown love" (Shabbat 151b). Thus it is written: "And He will give you love [i.e. He will give you the opportunity to show love to someone else] and [then] He will show you compassion" (Deuteronomy 13:18).
Talk over spiritual matters with your friends. Each Jew has his own unique good point. Thus when two friends have a discussion, each can benefit from the other's good point. Sometimes your friend's good point may shine to you during a conversation that is outwardly about mundane topics - because at times even mundane conversations may give rise to new ideas and inspire you spiritually. At times a person's good point may be veiled - and the words of the conversation become a kind of clothing for it.
The hard part of anything one has to do for God is the part left to one's own free will. These are the things that one has to decide for oneself without being explicitly commanded or asked to do them. It is then entirely up to oneself to do as one chooses.
The profit you can gain from this world is indescribable. You don't even need to lay out money to make a profit from this world. All you need to do is reach out and take advantage of the many opportunities God constantly provides for you to make a very great profit.
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.
Those who abuse language fall into forgetfulness, which is the death of the heart. Their heart dies within them and they never remember that the true goal of our life in this world is the eternal life of the world to come. Such people are dead even in their lifetime, because they have no conception of their true goal and purpose.
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". But know that in spite of this, even the "filthy places" and even idolatrous temples necessarily derive their life-force from God. But know that they receive it from the Hidden Utterance of Bereishit, "In the beginning" (Genesis 1:1). This utterance includes all the others, and all of them derive their vitality from it. The glory of the Hidden Utterance is concealed to the ultimate degree. It is from there that they derive their life-force. For it is impossible for the "filthy places" to receive their vitality from the revealed utterances, because "I will not give My glory to another". Only from the Hidden Utterance, which is concealed to the ultimate degree, can they receive vitality. It is impossible to understand this with human reason, and we are not permitted to delve into it.
When a person is patient and slow to anger, he fears nothing and lets nothing distract or deter him from his devotions. No matter what happens, he continues as best as he can, doing his part to serve God without worrying about anything or letting anything disturb him.
Teshuvah essentially depends on humility. One must make oneself into nothing, like a wasteland over which people trample: one must pay no attention whatsoever to opposition or abuse from others. One should train oneself to be silent and hear oneself insulted without answering back. Such a person is worthy of the name "wise" and will attain perfect Teshuvah, the "Crown" and summit of the Sefirot. This is the way to true and enduring glory - the glory of God.
The Hebrew letters are consonants: without vowels, they cannot be pronounced but remain like a body without a soul. Without the soul, the body is unable to move or do anything. 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.