Thursday, October 23, 2014

"God is Good for Everything"


From The Power of Prayer (Breslov Tehillim), Vol. III (Breslov Research Institute, in-progress)
Dedicated to the speedy refuah sheleimah of Eliezer Dovid ben Perel, Rabbi Dovid Zeitlin


Psalm 145
God is good for everything, and His mercies are upon all His works.”[1] God is good for everything—this alludes to prayer. A person who believes in God knows that He is “good for everything”—healing, sustenance, or whatever one needs. Therefore, he will direct his efforts primarily toward God, such as through prayer, and not be preoccupied with various strategies. One who doesn’t believe in God, however, will pursue all sorts of worldly solutions to his problems. For example, if such a person becomes sick, he will pursue all sorts of medical treatments. The herbs required may not be available locally, or the local varieties may be of inferior quality. However,God is good for everything. No matter which ailment needs healing, God is always available.

Prayer leads to universal peace. Thus, the verse concludes, “And His mercies are upon all His works.” When people turn to God as the ultimate power, Divine mercy will be drawn forth to all creatures. Consequently, all creatures will have mercy upon one another, and there will be peace among them. As it is written, “And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid. … They shall not harm or destroy” (Isaiah 11:6, 9), for there will be peace between them. Thus, His mercies are upon all His works. [In other words, God will instill mercy in the hearts of all creatures, and they will treat each other accordingly.] As our Sages teach, “Whoever shows mercy to God’s creatures is granted mercy from Heaven.”[2] This is borne out by the verse, “And [God] will give you mercy, and He will have mercy upon you” (Deuteronomy 13:18) (based on Likutey Moharan I, 14:11).


[1] This verse is usually rendered, “God is good to all.” However, Rebbe Nachman homiletically interprets it as translated here.
[2] Shabbat 151b.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Eizer L'Shabbos - Food for Tsfas


Received via e-mail from Eizer L'Shabbos:

Dear Friends;
Thanks every one for enabling us to distribute to hundreds of families for Succos. Whoever didn't contribute in our Succos Campaign can still contribute because head checks were written out to the suppliers for the next 3 months. Again Tizku L'Mitzvohs. Have a healthy winter.

Rabbi Binyamin Rosenberg
Click here to help.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Rabbi Nachman’s Yahrzeit



On the second day of Chol ha-Moed Sukkos (18th of Tishrei), Breslover Chassidim and others commemorate the yahrtzeit of our holy teacher, Rabbi Nachman ben Feige of Breslov, zatzal, by lighting a 24-hour candle and gathering with others in the Sukkah to share divrei Torah, sing niggunim, and participate in a se’udah / festive meal. In larger Breslov communities, this event is usually held in the Sukkah of the local Breslov synagogue. Various speakers discuss the Rebbe’s life and spiritual legacy, and say divrei hischazkus, words of encouragement based on Rabbi Nachman's teachings. The event concludes with a lively rikkud. It is also proper to study the Rebbe’s teachings more than usual on his yahrtzeit.

Reb Noson’s account of the Rebbe’s final months in Uman and his histalkus may be found in Chayei Moharan, sec. 185-229. In Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum’s English translation, “Tzaddik: A Portrait of Rabbi Nachman” (Breslov Research Institute), this material is presented in pp. 87-125. (Concerning the Yahrtzeit of a tzaddik, cf. Rabbi Chaim Vital, Likkutei ha-Shas, Berakhos 11.) The late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan also compiled “Until the Mashiach,” Breslov Research Institute 1985, a biography of Rabbi Nachman in English organized in the form of a dateline. After Rabbi Kaplan’s death, Rabbi Dovid Shapiro of Yerushalayim completed this work.


In Greater New York:

This year the yahrtzeit falls on Motza'ei Shabbos / Saturday night Oct. 11 through Sunday Oct. 12. Breslov shuls in Flatbush, Monroe, Borough Park, Williamsburg and elsewhere will host public events. (For more information, see the list of contacts on the "Breslov Shuls" page of this website, listed on the right sidebar.) However, be prepared: all these events will be conducted in Yiddish.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Two Teachings About the Sukkah



Two Teachings About the Sukkah
From the unpublished "Breslov Tehillim" (BRI)


Psalm 27

“Indeed, He will hide me in His shelter (sukkah) on a day of evil.” The sukkah shields a person on a day of evil. That is, when one falls away from Divine service, if he will only strengthen himself and not give up, he will find himself shielded and sheltered by an extremely lofty level of holiness: the aspect of the sukkah, which corresponds to the Supernal Mother.[1] This holiness will encompass him like a protective mother so that he does not fall, God forbid, when he comes to a place of danger. It is also understood from the words of [Rebbe Nachman] that when a person finds himself in a spiritual tailspin, in the very place he has fallen, the greatest holiness is concealed.[2] When he supplicates God and finds Him there, at that very hour he will attain the loftiest sanctity (LH, Rosh Hashanah 4:7).

Psalm 35

“All of my bones shall declare, ‘God, who is like You?’ ” The sefirah of Binah is the archetype of the mother; it is where the embryo is formed, as in the verse, “If (IM) you call to understanding (binah)” (Proverbs 2:3). [The word Im is homiletically related to EiM, meaning “mother.”] Binah is also an aspect of the mitzvah of Sukkah, as it is written, “You sheltered me (teSuKeini) in the womb of my mother (IMi)” (Psalms 139:13). When a person prays with intense concentration, and he puts all his force into the letters of prayer, this is an aspect of “All of my bones shall declare, ‘God, who is like You?’ ” This is analogous to the Sukkah, as it is written, “You encompassed me (teSoKhekheini) with bones and sinews” (Job 10:1). The letters of the prayers which one utters with all his might (KoaCh, which has the numerical value of twenty-eight) become the twenty-eight letters of the act of creation (i.e., the number of letters in the first verse of Genesis). Thus, his words are the very words of the Holy One, blessed be He, as in the verse, “I put My words in your mouth” (Isaiah 51:16). [Thus by virtue of prayer with intense concentration, one who prays becomes a “spiritual Sukkah” and an instrument of the Divine speech of creation] (LM I, 48).


[1] I.e., the sefirah of Binah/Understanding, which is the “mother” of the lower seven sefirot. Associated with the upper letter heh in the Divine Name YHVH, Binah also alludes to the ohr makif, or trancendent plane.
[2] Rebbe Nachman discusses this concept in Likutey Moharan I, 56. This is also related to the widely-discussed issue of the yeridah le-tzorekh aliyah, “descent for the sake of an ascent.” 

Breslov Customs and Practices for Sukkos



Compiled by Dovid Zeitlin and Dovid Sears

We have included a number of personal customs of various Breslover gedolim, in particular Rabbi Gedaliah Ahron Kenig, as well as a few general Breslov customs.

Esrog/Arba’ah Minim

The Rebbe greatly praised those who exert themselves to buy a beautiful esrog, adding that there are profound mystical reasons for this custom.

(Sichot ha-Ran 125. Reb Noson was mehader in this mitzvah, as mentioned in Yemey Moharnat, Letters 91, 269, 322, 437, and 472)

*

Nevertheless, Reb Gedaliah Kenig cautioned that a poor person should not spend beyond his means for an esrog. Often he would wait until Erev Yom Tov in order to buy an esrog after the prices had dropped.

(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchak Kenig)

*

Reb Gedaliah considered the beauty of an esrog to be more important than its yichus, since in any case there is no such thing as a vaday bilti murkav (ungrafted plant beyond any question), but only be-chezkas bilti murkav (presumably ungrafted plant) This was not an unusual attitude, but reflected the prevailing view of Yerushalayimer Poskim. Accordingly, one should look for a clean esrog with as many hiddurim as possible, even if it does not have a special yichus.

(Heard from Rabbi Dovid Shapiro. From a historical perspective, the issue of grafting became hotly debated in the mid-1800s in connection with esrogim from Corfu. Those from Eretz Yisrael were generally relied upon as bilti murkav and were praised by such luminaries as the Arukh HaShulchan and the Sdei Chemed. In the early 1900s, Rav Kook established the “Atzey Hadar” union to develop and promote esrogim mehudarim in Eretz Yisrael, which met with great success.)

*

Reb Gedaliah was more stringent about hadassim, and would often go to great lengths to buy the finest hadassim, which conformed to one of the larger shiurim of meshuloshim.
(Heard from Rabbi Yitzchak Kenig)

*

The minhag of the ARI zal for the Arba’ah Minim is to place one aravah (willow branch) on each side of the lulav with the three hadassim (myrtle branches) covering them, and to bind them together with leaves of the lulav. Rabbi Moshe Burshteyn of Yerushalayim remembered that Reb Avraham Sternhartz bound the Arba’ah Minim together according to the minhag of the ARI zal. Rabbi Michel Dorfman concurred.

(Heard from Rabbi Moshe Burshteyn and Rabbi Michel Dorfman)

*

Rabbi Noson Barsky, son of Rabbi Shimon Barsky, also bound the Arba’ah Minim like the ARI zal. His father probably did so, too, but this is not certain.

(Heard from Rabbi Shimshon Barsky of Bnei Brak. The Barskys are direct descendents of Rabbi Nachman.)

*

Nevertheless, most Breslover Chassidim follow the more common custom of placing the three hadassim on the right of the lulav and the two aravos on the left. Reb Elazar Kenig remembered that his father Reb Gedaliah used to tie the Arba’ah Minim with leaves of the lulav, simply tying knots, not making the leaves into rings; however, Reb Gedaliah did not arrange them according to the minhag of the ARI zal. Reb Elazar said that this probably reflected the general rule of avoiding doing things in public that are conspicuously different than the common practice.

(Re. the common custom, see Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein, Kitzur SHeLaH, Masekhes Sukkah [Ashdod 1998 ed. p. 322. Although the latter is a major early source of kabbalistic customs and hanhagos, it nevertheless instructs the reader to arrange the arba’ah minim according to the common minhag, not according to that of the ARI.)

*

Reb Elazar Kenig also pointed out that that in Likkutei Halakhos, Reb Noson sometimes darshans on minhagim of the ARI zal, while at other times he cites the local Ukrainian minhagim of his day. Thus, it is apparent that Reb Noson did not do everything according to the ARI zal.

*

Reb Avraham Sternhartz tied the top ring one tefach below the tip of the lulav itself -- not from the end of the shedra, as stated in Shulchan Arukh Ha-Rav, which is quoted in the Mishnah Berurah. Reb Avraham tied a total of three rings on the lulav, and two on the entire bundle. These were also Reb Gedaliah’s personal customs.

(Heard from Rabbi Dovid Shapiro and Rabbi Yitzchok Kenig)

*

Reb Gedaliah was particular to recite the berakhah over the Arba’ah Minim in the Sukkah, following the view of the ARI zal. Reb Noson also mentions this custom.

(Likkutei Halakhos , Rosh Hashanah 4:8; Umnin 4:18)

*

Reb Gedaliah performed the nanuim according to the minhag of the ARI zal. This is the common custom in most Chassidic communities. That is, while facing east, one waves the arba’ah minim to the right, left, front, up, down, and over one’s shoulder, over one’s back. Some turn while doing so. When waving the minim in the down position, one should nevertheless keep the lulav upright and not point the tip toward the ground. (These directions correspond to the six sefiros of Ze’er Anpin; see Likkutei Moharan I, 33, end.)

*

Reb Avraham Sternhartz used to perform the nanuim according to the minhag of the ARI.
(Heard from Rabbi Nachman Burshteyn)

*

In Reb Gedaliah’s family, the women were accustomed recite the berakhah over the arba’ah minim and perform the nanuim every day.

No’i Sukkah (Sukkah Decorations)

It is common for Breslover Chassidim to decorate the Sukkah, like the majority of Jewish communities. Most hang various fruits and other objects from the s’khakh, according to their family minhagim. There does not seem to be any kepeidah to refrain from hanging things from the s’khakh due to chumros.

(Heard from Rabbi Avraham Shimon Burshteyn)

*

Reb Gedaliah used to hang a pomegranate from the s’khakh, which he would save in the refrigerator until Pesach, and if it was still good, he’d use it in the charoses. (Pomegranates were not usually available in Eretz Yisrael at Pesach-time during those years.)

He also had a family minhag to take an onion and put a few feathers into it and hang it from the s’khakh, as a remez to the posuk: “Be-tzeyl kenafekhah yechesoyun . . . In the shadow of Your wings I take refuge.” (“Bet-zeyl” is similar to the word “batzel,” meaning “onion.”)

Another family minhag was to hang a magen Dovid from the s’khakh. (This predates the secular state of Israel and its choice of the magen Dovid as its symbol.)

(Heard from Rabbi Elazar Kenig)


Ushpizin

It is customary to invite the Ushpizin (“Holy Guests”) to the Sukkah before each meal, both by night and by day. There does not seem to have been any special nusach for inviting the Ushpizin, just what is stated in the nusach Sefard machzor.

(Heard from Rabbi Avraham Shimon Burshteyn. The first part of the commonly used zimun is derived from Zohar III, 103b.)

*

Like other Chassidim, Breslovers follow the order according to which the seven Ushpizin correspond to the seven lower sefiros: Avraham-Chesed, Yitzchak-Gevurah, Ya’akov-Tiferes, Moshe-Netzach, Aharon-Hod, Yosef-Yesod, and Dovid-Malkhus. This assumption is supported by Rabbi Avraham b’Reb Nachman’s remarks connecting the day of the Rebbe’s histalkus, which is the fourth day of Sukkos, to Moshe Rabbeinu, the fourth of the Ushpizin.

(See Kokhvei Ohr, Chokhmah u-Binah 35, with note 43, ad loc. Neither Siddur ARI Rav Asher nor Siddur ARI Rav Shabsai specifies the order of the Ushpizin. However, Siddur ARI Kol Yaakov redacts the Ashkenazic order, which mentions Yosef fourth instead of Moshe. Siddur Tefillah Yesharah-Berditchev and Siddur Ohr le-Yisrael, both of which were popular in the Ukraine, similarly follow the Ashkenazic order. Nevertheless, virtually all Chassidim today mention Moshe as the fourth of the Ushpizin. This reflects the view of the ARI zal and Siddur SheLaH, as cited in Likkutei MaHaRICH, vol. III, Seder Chag ha-Sukkos, p. 684.)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Balancing Act



Rebbe Nachman, z”l, explains that the letters of the word for obstacles, meniot, can be rearranged to be read as ne’imut, which means pleasantness. The natural barriers and obstacles of our material existence help to balance us and enable healthy spiritual connection, whose “ways are ways of pleasantness.”

Reb Nosson, z”l, uses this concept to explain why there is a mitzvah to eat on the day before Yom Kippur. Our sages explains that one who eats on the ninth of Tishrei and fasts on Yom Kippur, which is the tenth of Tishrei, is considered to have fasted through both days. The pre-fast meal is what enables us to access the intense light of Yom Kippur in a balanced way, so that it can transform our entire year.

Dear God! Please help me eat well on the day before Yom Kippur and fast on Yom Kippur. Show me how to eat as a Jew should and connect to the light and vitality of the holy fast. Help me make use of the natural barriers that You have provided to properly access the immense spiritual beauty of Your world.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Rosh Hashanah Uman Emergency Clinic


Uman Emergency Clinic

Dear Friends of Nachal Novea - Breslev Tsfat,

With Rosh HaShanah fast approaching, we are turning to you to help with the Uman Emergency Clinic (www.umanclinic.org) which provides a critical service for the over 30,000 people that come to Uman for Rosh HaShanah.

This appeal is urgent because we are very dependent upon private funding for this critical service. The importance of public safety and health for this type of event is obvious to all Jews, as the Torah tenet states, "Saving one life is like saving the entire world."

For full details, visit our website www.umanclinic.org. All donations are tax-deductible. Any questions can be directed to info@nachalnovea.com. Please spread the word to your family and friends.

Wishing you and your family k'tivah v'chatima tovah and may we merit to see the geula shleima this year.

Nachi Klein & Avigdor Landesman
Directors of the Uman Emergency Clinic and United Hatzolah Galilee
Tsfat, Israel