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

What should a man do in this world? He must only pray and study and pray.

The best way to learn Torah is by studying fairly rapidly without analyzing every single detail. Study briskly and simply: seek to understand each thing in its own context without confusing yourself about how it relates to other subjects. If there is something you do not understand, it is usually best not to dwell on it for too long. Keep going. In most cases you will eventually come to understand it in the light of what follows. When you study, the main thing is to read the words aloud and in order. Understanding will then come of itself. Do not confuse yourself by trying to comprehend everything at once. You will have much difficulty and end up understanding nothing. Simply focus your mind on what you are studying, reading the words in their correct order and with enthusiasm. Understanding will come of itself. What you do not understand at first, you will comprehend later. Even if there are things you cannot fully understand, this is unimportant because broad knowledge outweighs everything else. By studying rapidly you will absorb a great quantity and you will be able to review each work many times. What you did not understand at first you will grasp the second or third time round, and eventually you will understand everything that it is possible to understand. By following this path you will complete many volumes and have a better comprehension than one who is overly precise. Such a person can become very confused and may even come to abandon his studies completely, ending up with nothing.

The life and workings of the body are governed by ten basic pulses. These in turn are vitalized by ten kinds of melody emanating from the soul. Negativity, anxiety and depression weaken the pulses, and this can cause illness. But when the melody of the soul is joyous, it strengthens the vitality of the pulses and brings health to the body.

The strength of the person's desire is created through being confronted with an obstacle. When an Israelite needs to do something in connection with his Judaism, especially when it is something important on which his whole Judaism depends, such as going to the true Tzaddik - he is sent an obstacle. The purpose of the obstacle is to increase his desire to accomplish his task. This is like showing a small child something he wants and then immediately snatching it from him and hiding it. The child runs after the person, pleading and wanting the thing even more. The child's desire for the object is increased by having it snatched away and hidden. Similarly, we are held back from what we want by obstacles whose only purpose is to increase our desire.

There can be no peace in the world until there is joy in the world. It's through pursuing peace that one comes to faith. The building of Jerusalem is dependent upon peace. Where there is no peace - prayers cannot be answered. Where there is peace there is no fear. Even wicked people can experience good if there is peace among them.

To come to complete Teshuvah you must pass through all the places where you were prior to your Teshuvah. When you encounter exactly the same temptations as you experienced before, you must avert your eyes and control your impulses in order not to repeat what you did earlier. This is the essence of perfect Teshuvah: there is no other way.

Whatever evil and suffering you endure, God forbid, if you just look at the ultimate goal - God's purpose - you will not experience it as suffering at all. On the contrary, by realizing the purpose of this suffering, you will be filled with joy at so much good. For the ultimate purpose is entirely good, all unity! And the deep truth is that there is no evil at all in the world: everything is good. Then why do we feel pain when we suffer? The pain that people endure when they suffer is only because their spiritual understanding is withheld from them and they cannot focus on the ultimate purpose, which is entirely good. It is then that they feel the pain and sorrow of their suffering. But when understanding is present and one keeps one's attention on the ultimate goal, one feels no pain and suffering at all.

The deeper you are sunk in some negative trait or worldly desire, the greater the shadow it casts over God's glory, causing His light to be hidden from you. But as you nullify these traits and desires, you also remove this shadow and the light of God's glory is revealed. When you succeed in nullifying the shadow completely, turning everything into absolute nothingness, then God's glory is revealed in all the world. There is nothing to hide the light and cause a shadow. And then, "The whole earth is filled with His glory" (Isaiah 6:3).

The main reason for the suffering of the Jewish People in exile is that they have fallen from Godly awareness, attributing everything to nature, chance and fate. This is why they experience pain and suffering. It has come upon them because they have learned from the nations among whom they live. They see the gentiles in their hour of ascendancy, while the Jews are lowly and despised. As a result the Jews have fallen under the influence of the nations and attribute everything to nature or chance. This is the only reason for their suffering, because if they had the Godly awareness to understand that everything is under God's providence, they would feel no pain at all. The truth is that the Jewish People are beyond nature. It is only when they sin that they become subject to the law s of nature just like the nations of the world, who are governed by nature and the stellar influences. The Jews then experience exile and suffering. The main reason for their exile and pain is that they lack Godly awareness and attribute everything to nature.

The study of Halachah is a great spiritual remedy. When a person sins, good and evil become mixed up. Each individual Halachah is a legal decision that makes a clear separation between what is permitted and what is forbidden, what is clean and what is unclean. When you study Halachah, good is once again separated from evil, thereby rectifying the sin. Every Jew should study Halachah every day. If you are under pressure and have no time, study at least one paragraph of Halachah on any subject, even if it is outside your regular study schedule. Learn at least one law every day of your life.

There is a way that everything can be turned into good.

To draw God's providence upon ourselves completely, it is necessary to break the appetite for wealth. This is achieved through giving charity. When a person gives money to charity, it cools his urge to acquire. He conducts his business affairs truthfully and honestly and is satisfied with his portion in life, having pleasure and contentment from what God has blessed him with. Since he is not desperate to become rich, he is free from the constant struggle to make extra profit. The burden of this struggle is the fulfillment of the curse: "By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread" (Genesis 3:19). When a person gives charity he is freed from this, and it is accounted to him as if he has brought an offering of incense to God.

When a person attains truth, it is as if God's own light is clothed in him, since truth is God's seal. Someone like this can rightly say, "God is my light and my salvation" (Psalms 27:1). Because God shines to him, he can find plenty of openings to escape the darkness and exile in which he is imprisoned. In reality many openings exist there. The Rabbis said, "If a person comes to defile himself, there are many openings for him" (Yoma 38b, Menachot 29b). If there are many openings through which a person can fall, it follows that there are also many openings through which he can escape. It is just that "the fool goes in darkness" (Ecclesiastes 2:14) : he simply does not see the exits, and he remains tied and bound, unable to escape. That is, until he succeeds in speaking to God truthfully. When he does this, the words radiate with light and God shines to him. It is only then that "the opening of Your words shines light; it gives understanding to the simple" (Psalms 119:130). For the shining words themselves - words of truth - show the person the opening. "It gives understanding to the simple" - because those simple people who are caught in darkness and cannot see how to get out will thereby understand and see the opening and then they can escape the darkness. "Saying to the prisoners, 'Go forth!' and to those who are in darkness, 'Be revealed!'" (Isaiah 49:9).

The destined future renewal of the world will come about through faith. When the world is renewed in the future, it will be governed through wonders and providence alone in a way that transcend s nature. For the future renewal of the world will come about through the land of Israel, which in its very essence depends on "the power of His works" (Psalms 111:6; see Rashi on Genesis 1:1) - namely, knowing that God created the world.

The main reason why people are far from God is because their minds are not settled and they do not pause to consider the purpose of their existence. But when a person is happy, his mind becomes settled and he is able to understand things clearly. Someone who is anxious and depressed finds it impossible to direct his thoughts where he wants. It is hard for him to calm and settle his mind. Only when a person is happy can he direct his thoughts wherever he wants and settle his mind.

The Tefilin are the sign of humility and attachment to God. The light of the Tefilin is a ray of the light of God's inner countenance. When a person achieves this humility, all his sins are forgiven and he becomes attached to the Tree of Life.

There is nothing in the world that does not contain Godliness, however hidden it may be. There are two levels of concealment. The first is simple concealment; the second is the "concealment within the concealment". When God is hidden with only one degree of concealment, it can certainly be hard to find Him. Yet with great effort and searching it is possible, because at least you know that God is hidden from you. However in the "concealment within the concealment", the very fact that God is hidden is itself concealed. The person has no idea that God is hidden from him. It is then very hard indeed to find Him.

To gain spiritual understanding and awareness, you must sanctify the seven "lamps" of your head: your mouth, nostrils, ears and eyes. Guard your mouth from speaking any falsehood. Sanctify your nostrils with the fear of Heaven, as it is written: "...he will scent the fear of God" (Isaiah 11:3). The way to sanctify the nostrils is through meekness and humility. You must be patient and not let anger burn inside you, even if people treat you badly. Use your ears to listen to the words of the Sages: believe in what they say. The way to sanctify your ears is through discretion and loyalty. If people tell you secrets, be sure to keep them and not reveal them to anyone. Lower your eyes and avert them from evil. Sanctifying the seven "lamps" of the head can bring you to complete spiritual understanding and awareness. Your heart will then burn with passion for God, because the activity of the mind generates heat and fervor in the heart. The more you occupy your mind with thoughts of Torah and devotion, the more your heart will burn for God. The deeper your understanding, the greater your fervor will become. This fervor purifies the heart, protecting it from becoming inflamed with evil desires, which merely pollute it. When a person's heart is pure, he will never be at a loss for words when he speaks to God. He will always find new words and new approaches. One who sanctifies the seven "lamps of the head" can attain awesome levels of perception of God. These heights of understanding are a blessing from God which is bestowed from above without any preliminaries and introductions. This is the gift of ruach hakodesh: Holy Spirit.

When a person discusses devotion with a friend, it creates "direct light" and "returning light". Sometimes the "returning light" comes before the "direct light", as when the recipient has certain mental limits that prevent him from accepting his friend's words. Even before the recipient receives the "direct light" from his friend, the friend already receives "returning light". Even if the intended recipient cannot accept his friend's words, the friend can be inspired by what he himself is saying. When his words come forth from his mouth and strike the other, the light is reflected back to the speaker just as when something thrown against a wall bounces back to the thrower. In the same way, when you speak to a friend, you can be inspired by the words that bounce off him even though he himself is unable to accept them. Had you told yourself exactly the same thing, it may be that you would not have been aroused in the least. But by addressing them to your friend, you yourself are inspired even if he is not, because your words are reflected back to you from your friend.

The essence of Judaism is to conduct oneself in pure innocence and simplicity, with no sophistication whatever. Make sure that whatever you do, God is there. Don't heed your own honor. If it enhances God's glory, do it. If not, then don't. This way, you can be certain you will never stumble.

The manner in which you sing, and your attitude towards music in general, is often an indication of your acceptance of the yoke of Torah.

The test of true repentance is when a person remains silent in the face of ridicule and abuse, patiently accepting all the insults thrown at him. This is how he slaughters his evil inclination, and then he will be worthy of God's glory.

There may be many things that you cannot do. Even so, you should long and yearn to fulfill them. The longing itself is a great thing - for God desires the heart.

True counsel springs from the depths of the heart. When the crisis of faith is so great that even wordless cries cannot help, one has to cry from the heart alone: "Their heart cried out to God" (Lamentations 2:18). The heart alone cries without our letting out a sound. "From the depths I call out to God" (Psalms 130:1) - from the depths of the heart. And from the depths of the heart comes guidance, for "like deep waters, so is counsel in the heart of man" (Proverbs 20:5). When shouts and screams no longer help because faith has collapsed, one must cry from the depths of the heart without letting out a sound. This is how true counsel is revealed, for "like deep waters, so is counsel in the heart of man." And through the true guidance and counsel that are revealed in the world (with each person knowing in his own heart what he must do) faith is able to grow, as it is written, "Counsels from afar, nurturing faith." Then everything can be rectified. For true counsel is a "wonder" - "I will acknowledge Your Name, for You have done wonders, counsels from afar...." This makes it possible to heal the "wondrous plagues" sent by God. Prayer also brings about "wonders", as it is written, "Awesome in praises [i.e. prayer], performing wonders" (Exodus 15:11). The same is true of ancestral merit: "In front of their fathers He performed wonders" (Psalms 78:12).

When a person draws personal lessons and sees his own smallness and lowliness everywhere that he studies in any Torah work, this is a sign that he wants to do God's will.

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Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav or Breslov, aka Reb Nachman Breslover or Nachman from Uman
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Founder of the Breslov Hasidic Movement, Great Grandson of the Baal Shem Tov