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 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.
The secret of prayer is to be bold. We must have the audacity to ask God for everything we need - even if we need to ask Him to work miracles for us. Only with boldness and daring can we stand up and pray to God.
There are others who may appear to be observant yet display a certain sophisticated cynicism that can be quite as harmful as philosophy, if not worse. Most Jews are aware of the dangers of philosophy and avoid it, knowing that it can pull them down into the deepest pit. However there are many who are not on their guard against the kind of sophisticated cynicism that emanates from the mouths of people who seem to be observant and disguise their message in the language of truth, as if they are in possession of the absolute truth. These are the ones who can cause the most harm, confusing a person and holding him back from true service of God.
Through devotion to the Torah you can strip away all the veils and reveal God's presence even when the "concealment within the concealment" is most intense. At last the unremitting cry of the Torah is heard: "How long, thoughtless people, will you continue loving thoughtlessness?" (Proverbs 1:22). In the end you will be able to return to God regardless of where you have fallen.
What is free will? If you want, you do it, and if you don't want, you don't do it.
When a person knows that everything that happens to him is for his own good, this is a foretaste of the world to come. To be serene and patient regardless of what you encounter in life is the highest level of knowledge and understanding of God. Have faith that everything is for your ultimate good.
Teshuvah has three aspects: seeing with the eyes, hearing with the ears and understanding in the heart (cf. Isaiah 6:10). A person must use his eyes to look towards the ultimate goal and purpose of this world. He must concentrate on this goal with all his heart, resolving to travel there and nowhere else. And he must use his ears to listen carefully to everything that our holy sages said. Then he will be able to return to God.
The Israelite man was created to have dominion over the angels, and this is Israel's ultimate destiny. Each one must make certain that he attains his destiny and rules over the angels. But you must guard yourself carefully to ensure that you have the strength to stand firm in this dominion and not let the ministering angels cast you down out of jealousy. The way to stand firm is by binding yourself to the souls of Israel. This is accomplished by bind ing yourself to the true leaders of Israel, the Tzaddikim.
The secrets of Torah are never revealed to a drunkard.
There are people who draw close to God but later fall away. Even so, the short time they serve God is very precious in His eyes no matter what happens later.
Through prayer we have the power to channel God's providence in a way that goes beyond nature. Nature may dictate one thing but prayer has the power to change nature. This is "greatness" - "For what great nation is there that has God so near to them as HaShem our God whenever we call on Him?" (Deuteronomy 4:7). Our greatness is that God hears our prayers and alters the course of nature through His providence. Thus Yehoram, king of Israel, said to Gehazi, "Please tell me the great things that Elisha did" (II Kings 8:4), for "Whatever Elisha did, he accomplished through prayer" (Megilah 27a). Thus prayer, which gives us access to the realm of miracles and providence, the very opposite of nature, is "great."
What is there for you to be afraid of about dying? The world there is far more beautiful than here.
The Baal Shem Tov told a parable about a king who left a great treasure in a certain place, surrounding it with all kinds of illusory walls. When people came to these walls, they thought they were real and that it would be very hard to break through. Some retreated immediately; others broke through one wall but could not break through the second. A few broke through more walls, but no- one could break through them all. Until the king's son came and said: "I know that all these walls are pure illusions and the truth is that there is no wall at all!" He went forward confidently until he overcame them all.
The key to everything is the way you start. All beginnings are hard, because you need to swing things around from one direction to the very opposite. But once you have made a start, you will soon become accustomed to your new direction and it will no longer be so difficult. Therefore you must marshal all your strength and steel yourself to make an energetic start. You must begin each time with ever-renewed fire and passion for God. Start as if you had never begun before at all.
The seeming love and friendship that exist among the non-observant and the common mass of people are really empty: this is not true love. Each one is interested only in himself. Any expressions of love and friendship are purely in order to impress for some ulterior purpose, but in reality everyone is jealous of everyone else. However, the love amongst those who are honest, sincere and God-fearing, and particularly the love between the Tzaddik and his followers, is priceless. This is true love, the very essence of love. The love of the Tzaddik for his followers is very, very great: he desires their true good. If he could, he would give them all the good of all the worlds. He would like them to have even the good of this world, despite the fact that the good of this world is really not necessary since the main good is the enduring good of the world to come. Even so, the Tzaddik seeks the good of his followers even in this world, and wants them to have all the good things of this world - beautifully decorated homes, gardens and the like, if only to vex the wicked, who have all these things. How much more does the Tzaddik desire his followers' spiritual good! If he knew that they recited their prayers with the proper devotion and that God had joy from them he would certainly be very gratified. And the love which his followers have for the Tzaddik is also very great. Their love for him is strong and intense, and it too is true love.
There are people who sink very low indeed and fall into all kinds of doubts and even have questions about God Himself. Nevertheless, the whole purpose of their falling is for them to rise up afterwards. The fall is for the sake of the ascent.
Throw aside all wisdom and clever ideas and serve God with simplicity. Make sure that your deeds are greater than your wisdom, because the main thing is not study but its practical application. This obviously applies to most ordinary people's clever ideas, which are mere folly, but it even applies to genuine wisdom. When it comes to serving God, even a person whose head is filled with genuine wisdom should set it all aside and serve God simply and innocently.
What people do at the end, I want you to do at the very outset. People usually pray when they see that all other means have failed. But you should pray at the very outset, when trouble first strikes.
The best advice is simply to forget! As soon as something is over and done with, regret whatever you must and then push it out of your mind and pay it no further attention. Don't even start rehashing things that are over and done with. Understand this well, because it is a very important principle. In Torah study too, God gave us the power to forget so that we should always appreciate the Torah a s we did the first time we learned it. Since you forget, relearning or reviewing a lesson is like learning it anew, and you appreciate it as much as the first time.
The letter says to the soul: "How could you allow yourself to become separated from me, considering the great bond of love between us? See my precious beauty, my radiance, my splendor and glory! How could you tear yourself away from me and leave me? True, you have to continue with the prayer and gather more precious treasures and delights. But how can you separate yourself from me and forget me? At least see to it that, wherever you go afterwards, you never forget me or become cut off from me."
The solution is to make the whole prayer into one - to make it into a single unity, so that each individual utterance contains all the utterances making up the whole prayer. From the beginning of the prayer to the end it should all be one, so that when you reach the very last word of the prayer you will still be standing at the very first word of the prayer. This way you can pray the entire prayer and never be separated from even the first letter of the prayer.
There are people who sleep away all their days. Some have fallen into their sleep on account of lust and wrongdoing. There are other cases where truly good people of beautiful character fall because of food. A person may sometimes consume food that is insufficiently pure to be fit for human consumption, and his mind then falls into a kind of "sleep".
Thus one who is in need of God's compassion must show compassion for others, and this depends on deepening his Godly understanding.