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

TORAH TEACHINGS

1. The Importance of Devotion and Fervor

Rabbi Noson of Nemirov (Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav's great disciple) once explained the difference between a hasid and a misnagid (an opponent of Hasidism) by saying that it is like the difference between a hot and a cold knish: They have the same ingredients, but the hot one tastes so much better. Rabbi Nachman of Tulshin (a great Breslover hasid) said, "Even thin soup, when it's hot, is tasty; so too is even the least divine service good, when it's hot." (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.1, p.266, #611, 612)

2. Not a Moment Without Prayer

Rabbi Noson of Nemirov said, "Just as (in the famous folk saying) 'There is no moment without a mishap (ain rega b'lo pega), one must also fulfill this saying with the second meaning of pega, namely 'prayer.' And the two meanings go together. When you are constantly praying, you are saved from all mishaps and attain everything good." (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], p.292, #665)

3. Faith in Every Jew

Rabbi Noson of Nemirov was once talking about his faith in each and every Jew, and said, "I have faith even in Jews who don't appear to be religious (kasher)! More than that! Even when I hear someone speaking like an atheist, I believe with perfect faith that he's just saying it with his mouth, but in his heart he thinks otherwise! Because even great floods can't snuff out the innermost, innermost point, the spark in the heart of every Jew! Even if happens with him whatever happens!" (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.1, p.179, #408)

Rabbi Noson of Nemirov said, "I can justify and find excuses for someone who has transgressed eight hundred times everything in the whole Torah!"

(Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.2, p.136, #591)

4. You Too Can Be Great!

Rabbi Noson of Nemirov was once speaking to his followers about Abraham's burning heart, because Abraham was the first person to serve God day and night with self-sacrifice, to make known His name, blessed be He, throughout the world. During this holy talk one of those present almost moaned in pain, "Where can one get such a heart?" Rabbi Noson rebuked him, saying, "You too have a heart like that, but you don't fan the spark to make it blaze! Everyone has free choice and everyone, even the worst of the worst, even the lowest of the low, can reach the highest of high spiritual levels! That is what our Sages said, 'Everyone should say: "When will my deeds reach the level of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?"'"

Another time, Rabbi Noson was speaking to someoone about some topic and drew a proof from Isaac. The other person asked, "Why are you comparing me to Isaac?" Rabbi Noson replied, "Do you think that Isaac didn't have an evil inclination? If that were so, how did he become Isaac?" (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.1, p.176, #402, 403)

5. Hold the Stick at Both Ends

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav taught that one must hold onto the stick at both ends: One should yearn to reach the highest spiritual level, yet even a thousand times more so one must make sure to be joyful and fulfill "In Your name will they rejoice all the day," and be happy with where you are spiritually and rejoice in each and every good point you have attained! (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.1, p.182, #422)

6. I'll Show You!

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav taught: When someone meets his friend and asks him how he is, and he answers, "Not good," God, blessed be He, says, "Not good! I'll show you what not good is!" and He brings on him many more troubles (May God spare us!). But when he meets his friend and asks him how he is, and he answers joyfully, "Good! Baruch HaShem! (Praise God!)"-- although it is not good for him, God, blessed be He, says, "You call this good? I'll show you what good is!" (Siach Sarfei Kodesh [Breslov], vol.2, p.11, #32)

This teaching may seem slightly harsh but it is not so if one realizes that it is showing a karmic process, that if one sends out a negative vibration, one draws more negativity to oneself, while if one is positive, one draws good things to oneself.

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