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

Thus one who is in need of God's compassion must show compassion for others, and this depends on deepening his Godly understanding.

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).

It is impossible to do anything unless you have desire. Even merely to say something, you must first have a desire to speak. Likewise, in order to do something, you must first have the desire to do it. Therefore when a person needs to perform some holy task, whether it is to visit the Tzaddik or any other holy mission, he is first given the desire to accomplish it.

Listen carefully to every word you say. Concentrate on the meaning of the words without letting your thoughts stray. Keep your mind focused entirely on the words of the service. Follow the order of the service, even if you feel no inspiration. Continue word by word, page by page, until God sends you true arousal. And even if you complete the entire service without any feeling, you can still say an extra Psalm or prayer with devotion.

Never let a word of wickedness leave your mouth. Don't ever say you will be wicked or commit a sin, even if you mean it as a joke and have no intention of carrying out your words. The words themselves can be very damaging. They can compel you to fulfill them even though you did not mean them seriously. This was what caused King Jehu's downfall, because he said, "Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu will serve him very much" (II Kings 10:18). When King Jehu said these words, he had no intention of committing idolatry. He said them only to trick the Baal worshipers, as explained in the following verse. Yet these words were his downfall, because he later came to commit idolatry. From this the Talmud learns that "a covenant is made with the lips" (Sanhedrin 102a). You should therefore be very careful about what you say.

One whose love of God is sufficiently strong becomes His dearly beloved child. God will show him abundant love and kindness, permitting him to explore the King's hidden store-chambers and even to understand what is beyond wisdom, including the deepest of all secrets, such as why the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper.

Repentance never comes to an end: it must be continuous. Even at the very moment that a person is confessing, it is impossible for him to say the words, "I have sinned, I have transgressed, I have rebelled." with perfect sincerity free of all extraneous motives. Thus he must repent for his earlier repentance and for the flaw in his previous confession.

Sometimes you may pray a section of the service with great devotion but suddenly the feeling vanishes and you find it impossible to pray properly. Don't be discouraged, because this is inevitable: it means you have left your part of the spiritual form. For the rest of the service, just try to say each word with perfect simplicity. Like a child learning to read. Sometimes you may make great efforts but find that you still cannot pray. No matter what, do not allow yourself to become discouraged. This is the most important rule of all. Force yourself to say each word of the service with complete simplicity, like a child who is just learning to read. Keep saying the words. In most cases God will then touch your heart with a flame and you will pray with great feeling. However, you should not make a test of this. Deep inside yourself you well know that you are very remote from true prayer, which is supremely exalted. Prayer is even above the study of Torah. How can you be worthy to serve God in such a lofty way? Do your part. Simply begin the words of the service - Adon Olam Asher Malach, "Lord of the world, Who ruled."

It is impossible to explain to someone else how you personally perceive God's greatness. You can't even explain it to yourself from one day to the next. Tomorrow you will not be able to recapture completely the understanding you had today. It is impossible to describe one's perceptions of God. They are so lofty - higher than high! They cannot be put into words.

Man is unique in his greatness. When a person does like this with his hands, a movement like this takes place in all the worlds! And when he does like that with his hands, a movement like that takes place in all the worlds!

Never think that you cannot make an enormous difference to this world.

One, who gives a penny to a poor person, is blessed with six "measures". However, one who speaks nicely to him, builds up his confidence, and treats him with dignity, is blessed with eleven "measures". Hospitality is a wonderful thing. Kindness draws those who are far away, nearer. It also sets a welcoming distance between ourselves and those (in our family) who are too near. Kindness in the first instance it bridges the gap. In the second, it creates space. Someone, who gives with joy, has a large and full heart. A kind person no longer needs the influence of his father's merit. When you want to become close to a Tzadic, go to a Tzadic who shows compassion.

See that you make your days very long. With every new day and moment, make sure that your time is longer, fuller and richer with added holiness. You must continually extend your days, filling them with greater holiness and purity. This is the secret of long life. When you start each new day, at first the day is very short. What you need to accomplish spiritually today may weigh heavily upon you. It takes great determination not to be discouraged as you feel the weight of the devotions you have to undertake today.

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