The Jewish Spirit Journal
A Journal of Jewish Mysticism and Spirituality
Vol. 1, No. 7 October 2003

SPARKS OF INSIGHT

1. Intentions for Dancing

The Maggid of Mezritch said, "How does one dance before the kallah (bride; here, understood as a symbol for the Shechinah)? When the shefa (flow of divine life-energy) descends, one jumps down to the floor; when the shefa removes, one lifts ones legs up." (Kerem Beit Yisrael, p.48)

2. Reb Maita

Rabbi Eliyahu Roth, was a great tzaddik. He was the aide and also a top disciple of Rebbe Shlomo of Zevill-Jerusalem. The following is taken from his biography. "His second marriage, which took place in Jerusalem, was to Marat Maita. ["Marat" is the female honorific equivalent to the male honorific "Reb."] The tzaddik, Rabbi Yehudah Horowitz, a relative of the bride, performed the ceremony. Rabbi Yehudah said about her, that "In view of her great hesed [kindness, compassion], it would be appropriate to call her "Reb Maita."'" (Ish Hasid Haya, p.163)

It has become the custom in certain Jewish circles to use the male honorific "Reb" for women. This non-traditional usage has disturbed me since I could not understand why people should not rather use the correct female honorific "Marat." Don't they know that there is a good female equivalent to "Reb"? In that light, this anecdote is interesting. [Though it may be relevant that in Kabbalah, hesed is a male trait.]

3. This World and God

Rabbi Noson of Nemirov said, "This world is nothing and it is impossible to attain it; Torah and divine service is real and it is possible to attain it. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.1, p.308, #706). This world is illusory and one cannot attain satisfaction from it; God is real and attainable.

4. Holy Beggar

My holy rebbe, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach used to refer to his hevra (followers) as "holy beggars." Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav created a story called "The Seven Beggars," in which each beggar represents a different aspect of a tzaddik or different kinds of tzaddikim. Rabbi Nachman said that he called them "beggars" because the great tzaddikim only reached their awesome spiritual levels because of their being "beggars," for they are always begging God to allow them to serve Him in truth. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.1, p.91, #231) Since Shlomo loved this language and took it from Rabbi Nachman, I would guess that that is how Shlomo attained his awesome levels: by prayer. Shlomo was truly a holy beggar.

Just as the light of the Torah was given to us by Moses, so will the Messiah give to us the light of prayer. (Rabbi Noson of Nemirov [Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.1, p.207, #479])

5. Becoming Angels

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav told his two greatest disciples, Rabbi Noson and Rabbi Naftali, that they would become angels in the next world; and he told them the names they would be called then. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.1, p.209, #485)

6. Hasidot

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav once said to his hasidim, "Why don't you turn your wives into hasidot?" Then it would be easier for a man to be a hasid and act piously. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.2, p.7, #14)

7. Smallness and Greatness

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav said, Don't let your smallness and your humility about your lowliness overwhelm your greatness, because everyone has so many points of virtue. (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.2, p.7, #14)

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Copyright 2004-2005, Yitzhak Buxbaum. All rights reserved.