Monday, February 28, 2011

Simply Tsfat Comes to Flatbush

Breslov's premier music group, Simply Tsfat, will be doing a house concert on Sunday evening, March 6 / Rosh Chodesh Adar II, at 1484 East 17th St (between Aves. O and N), Brooklyn, NY. This even is a benefit concert for Eizer L'Shabbos, which provides needy families of Tsfat with food packages for Shabbos and Yom Tov.

The music begins at 6:30 pm.

Light refreshments served.

Contact: 917-319-4656

Cover: Free of charge. (Due to space limitations, this will be a men's event.)

But everyone is encouraged to donate generously to Eizer L'Shabbos, which performs a service that is essential for the survival of many poor Jewish families in the Holy Land.

PLUS this event will also celebrate the release of a new Simply Tsfat CD, "You Dee Best!"

CDs will be available on the premises.

Hachnosas Sefer Torah - Breslov of Flatbush

We recently received this updated invitation from Moshe Berlin of Breslov of Flatbush:

Please save this date:

Sunday, March 13, which is the seventh day of Adar, Moshe Rabbeinu's yahrtzeit.

We are making a Hachnosas Sefer Torah. Please come and share in the mitzvah, and write a letter in the Torah.

Letter-writing will take place from 12:pm am until 4:00 pm. at:

Home of Moshe Berlin
3207 Ave J
Brooklyn, New York 11210
(between East 32 Street and New York Ave)

We will dance with the Torah and celebrate until 6:00 pm, after which all are invited to share in a Se'udas Mitzvah. We will have a full band with music. Please tell your friends.

Don't miss it!

Sponsored by:

Breslov of Flatbush
1909 New York Ave (between Aves. K-J)
Brooklyn, NY 11210

Contact: 917-202-9465

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kestenbaum Auctions Rare Letter From Reb Noson


R. NOSSON OF BRESLOV: Autograph Letter Signed in Hebrew by Reb Nosson of Breslov, written to Reb Meir (Mirkis of Teplik). One page. Brown ink on coarse paper. Minute holes along folds, portion of text along right side very faint due to waterstain. 4 x 7 inches. Date: Motza’ei Shabbath, Parshath Lech-Lecha, 1842


In this highly personal and emotional letter written to a close chossid, Reb Meir Mirkis of Teplik, Reb Nosson empathizes with the plight ailing R. Meir, expressing concern for the recipient's welfare and sends advice and blessing for a full recovery from sickness. The key sentence in the letter - central to the philosophy of Breslov Chassiduth as a whole, reads: "Joy is the remedy for all sicknesses." ("Simchah hi refu'ah lechol ha-tachlu'im.")


You know that our only strength is (our ability to pray) and I have raised my hands to God, to help you from His Holy Place... a complete and speedy recovery from Heaven, a cure for the soul and a cure for the body. But, my beloved friend, my request of you is that you strive with all your might to gladden your soul. Joy is the remedy for all sicknesses

Be strong and courageous, and trust in God who will not forsake you and all will be transformed to good. The One who creates cures will cure you and make you well and restore your health, with added might and strength, until you will have the strength to study Torah, to pray and do good deeds your whole life, with lengthy days and good years.

[These are the] words of your true friend for eternity, who awaits for His salvation all day, and [wishes to] hear good news from you quickly.

Nathan of Breslov

Biographical Data:

Reb Nosson Sternhartz (1780-1844) of Nemirov and later Breslov, was the devoted, chief disciple and right-hand man of Reb Nachman of Breslov - the most pivotal figure of the early Chassidic Movement. Following Reb Nachman's death in 1810, Reb Nosson became the leader of the Chassidim of Breslov. It is safe to say that without Reb Nosson's total devotion to preserving, developing and expanding the Breslov movement after its founder's early death, Reb Nachman’s legacy would have been utterly lost. Reb Nachman himself is said to have foretold, "Were it not for Reb Nosson, not a page of my writings would have survived." Besides his committment to the dissemination of Reb Nachman's seminal work Likutei Mohara'n, Reb Nosson authored Likutei Halachoth, a commentary on the Shulchan Aruch based on the teachings of Breslov Chassiduth, Likutei Tephiloth, and more. It was Reb Nosson who was responsible for making Uman, the Ukranian town in which Reb Nachman is buried, a focal point of Breslov Chassiduth.

Concerning the recipient of this letter:

Reb Meir of Teplik was one of Reb Nosson's closest disciples (see Avaneha Barzel, Sichos VeSipurim MiMoharanat no. 47), and many Breslover Chassidim were guided by him (Gidulei Hanachal Mem. 2). Reb Meir was first introduced to Reb Nosson by Reb Shaul of Teplik, who was known for his enthusiastic davening and hisbodedus. Afterwards, Reb Nosson raised Reb Meir to a high level of devotion (ibid. no. 58). "All those Chassidim who were disciples of the Rebbe's disciples, particularly those who were followers of Reb Nosson and did as he instructed them ... all of their hearts burned to serve Hashem and so, were Tzadikim Gemurim, such as...Reb Meir of Teplik" (see Kochvei Or, Anshei
Moharan, Pesicha no. 32). Further details concerning Reb Meir and his descendants in relation to Breslov history is available upon request. Additionally, research-work is available in regard to Reb Nosson's activities around the time this letter was written.

This letter does not appear in "Alim LeTerufah," and has remained with the Mirkis family for 170 years. For the past many decades it has lain undisturbed in a bank-vault.

Auction-estimate: $40,000-60,000

Forthcoming Auction:
February 24th, 2011

Kestenbaum & Company
Auctioneers of Rare Books, Manuscripts,
Graphic & Ceremonial Art.
242 West 30th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10001
Tel: (212) 366.1197
Fax: (212) 366.1368

Fine Judaica:
Printed Books, Manuscripts,
Autograph Letters, Graphic & Ceremonial Art
Featuring the Distinguished Collection of
the late Alfonso Cassuto of Lisbon

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Breslov Eikh she-Hu: Breslov The Way It Is: Customs and Practices, Past and Present

Compiled and Annotated by Dovid Sears and Dovid Zeitlin


The Breslov Center / Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma
New York / Tzefas

WEB VERSION: Adar I, 2011


Le’ilui nishmas Leib ben Yitzchok Ya’akov Sears, a”h
Yartzeit: 30 Shevat, Rosh Chodesh Adar

Le’ilui nishmas Gittel bas Yitzchok Sears, a”h
Yartzeit: 5 Adar

Le’ilui nishmas Yosef ben Shmuel Zeitlin, a”h
Yartzeit: 18 Menachem Av


This work has been divided into two parts, the first of which we are posting on the Breslov Center website. This consists of customs and hanhagos tovos, good practices, suggested by Rebbe Nachman and Reb Noson. The second part is more lengthy and consists of customs that are (or once were) prevalent among Breslover Chassidim.

The customs in Part II come from various sources: some from the Baal Shem Tov, in whose family circle the Rebbe was born and raised; others are generic Ukrainian Chassidic minhagim; customs from other places to which Breslover Chassidus spread, especially Poland and Eretz Yisrael; as well as personal minhagim of various Breslov leaders. We are still working on this part of the project.

In the meantime, though, we would like to make Part I, which is the most important material, available online. This is the kind of project that can go on forever. But we hope we will be able to make the whole book available a little earlier than that.

Adar I, 5771 / 2011


The conclusion of the blessing before lighting the Menorah is “le-hadlik ner Chanukah,” in keeping with the custom of the ARI zal. The initial letters of these three words spell the Divine Name “NaCHaL” (literally “river” or “brook”). Reb Noson homiletically relates this to the “Nachal Novea Mekor Chokhmah (A Flowing Brook, the Source of Wisdom),” a euphemism for the Rebbe. (The initial letters of this phrase from Proverbs 18:4 spell the name “Nachman.”)
(Cf. Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar Chanukah, chapter 4, which explains that this Divine Name brings about an outflow of the supernal light of Binah to Ze’er Anpin; Reb Noson relates this to “Nachal Novea Mekor Chokhmah” in Likkutei Halakhos, Betziyas ha-Pas 5:27; ibid. Kiddushin 2:3)


Shabbos Chanukah was one of the three fixed times during the year when the Chassidim used to come to the Rebbe during his lifetime. In commemoration of this, many Breslover Chassidim today travel to Uman for Shabbos Chanukah. However, the only time of year when it is obligatory for a Breslover Chassid to come to the Rebbe is Rosh Hashanah.
(Note Part II on this topic that some Breslover leaders disapprove of leaving one’s family on Chanukah.)

Hoshanah Rabbah

Hoshanah Rabbah is one of the five times of the year that Breslover Chassidim are particular to daven together ki-vasikin, following the custom of the Baal Shem Tov.

Rosh Chodesh

There is an oral tradition that Rebbe once reprimanded one of his close followers for neglecting to go to the mikveh prior to Shacharis on Rosh Chodesh. Therefore, Breslover Chassidim are particular to do so.
(Avaneha Barzel, no. 6, p. 22)

Kiddush Levanah

The Rebbe was not machmir about waiting until the globe of the moon is fully visible without any clouds at all, but told his followers to recite the berakhah as soon as they could see the moon, even if thin clouds were present.
(Chayei Moharan 483; also see Orach Chaim 426:1)


Reb Noson mentions that singing and dancing at the end of Kiddush Levanah is an expression of simchah, which is the main tikkun for the diminishing of the moon. That is, simchah accomplishes the tikkun ha-malkhus.
(Likkutei Halakhos, Rosh Chodesh 3:4)

Shacharis of Shabbos and Yom Tov

The Rebbe said that one should recite the words from “Nishmas”: “And You have saved us from many evil and faithful diseases” with special kavanah, because if, God forbid, we were not delivered from them…
(Chayei Moharan 536. See Avodah Zara 55a that illnesses are called “evil” due to their mission, which is to inflict suffering, and “faithful” because they depart when they are commanded to do so, whether or not the person has done teshuvah.)

Other Inyanei ha-Se’udah

The Rebbe once told Reb Noson that if one intends to be kovei’a se’udah at a second location after beginning the meal at home (such as to join a gathering of chaveirim and to bentch there), one should wash a second time without a berakhah before continuing one’s meal at the second place. He commented: “When Jews go to eat, they always wash their hands first…”
(Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh I, 729, citing a ms. of Rabbi Shlomo Wexler. However, this is a hiddur mitzvah; see Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 164:1.)


The Rebbe greatly praised the custom of singing zemiros at each of the Shabbos meals with simplicity and joy. Reb Noson was so overawed by the Rebbe’s holiness and deveykus on Shabbos that he quotes the words of Chazal, “If you have not witnessed this, you have never seen anything good in your life” (Sukkah 51a).
(Sichos ha-Ran 155, 169)


Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender said that it is customary for Breslover women to pray immediately after reciting the blessing over the Shabbos candles: “May it be HaShem’s will that the light of our holy Rebbe should shine in all the worlds.” In Yiddish: “Yehi ratzon az der heiligeh Rebbe’s ohr zohl shienen in aleh ‘olamos.”
(Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh II, 631)

Erev Shabbos

The Rebbe urged his followers to recite the weekly sedra “sh’nayim mikra ve-echad targum” on Erev Shabbos specifically.
(Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh I, 11; II, 535. The custom of reviewing the weekly sedra before Shabbos is mentioned in Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 285)


The Rebbe and Reb Noson mention that one should also be diligent to cut one’s fingernails and dispose of them in an appropriate manner (optimally by burning them, or if that is too difficult, by burying them, or flushing them down the sink or toilet). Kabbalistically, these practices are related to the tikkun of the klippas nogah (the “glowing husk” in which good and evil are commingled).
(Likkutei Moharan I, 19:5; Likkutei Tefillos 19; cf. Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 260:1; Rabbi Chaim Vital, Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, ‘Inyan Rechitzas Panav, 64d. The Gemara defines a “chassid” as one who burns his fingernails; Niddah 17a).


After chatzos ha-yom, one should wash one’s entire body in hot water and immerse in a mikveh in honor of the Shabbos. After immersing in the mikveh, one should don Shabbos clothes. Reb Noson mentions these preparations in Likkutei Tefillos.
(Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 260:1; Rabbi Chaim Vital, Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, ‘Inyan Rechitzah).

Pidyon Nefesh

The Rebbe said that one should give a pidyon nefesh to a tzaddik as frequently as possible, even when one does not have a specific problem.
(Chayei Moharan 539)


In general, the Rebbe did not approve of hitting children. He once saw one of his followers slap his son and exclaimed, as if in surprise, “A kindt shlugt men . . . Does one strike a child?”
(Bi’ur ha-Likkutim, cited in Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh I, 489; cf. Avanehah Barzel, pp. 49-50, para. 4)

Bar Mitzvah

The Rebbe stated that as soon as a bochur reaches the age of Bar Mitzvah, he should don both the Tefillin of Rashi and Rabbenu Tam.
(Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh II, 29. Rabbi Pinchos of Koretz stated that wearing the Tefillin of Rabbenu Tam is a segulah for cheshek to study pnimiyus ha-Torah; see Imrei Pinchos [Bnei Brak 2003] vol. I, Sha’ar Seder ha-Yom 38.)


The Rebbe wanted the Bar Mitzvah bochur to put on Tefillin for the first time on the morning of his thirteenth birthday, and not earlier. (If the birthday falls on Shabbos, he should don Tefillin on Sunday, not on Erev Shabbos.)
(Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh II, 30)


The Rebbe greatly urged his followers to seclude themselves, preferably in the fields or forests, for at least one hour a day in order to meditate and express themselves in their native tongue before HaShem. The best time for this is at night, while most people are sleeping. If there is one spiritual practice central to Breslover Chassidus, it is hisbodedus.
(See Likkutei Moharan I, 52; ibid. II, 25, 95-101, et al.)


However, if one finds it impossible to practice hisbodedus for a full hour, one should do so even for a shorter time—even in a private corner of one’s home or under one’s talis—rather than let a day pass without hisbodedus.
(Sichos ha-Ran 274, 275)

Likkutei Tefillos

Breslover Chassidim are accustomed to recite a portion of Reb Noson’s Likkutei Tefillos (based on Rabbi Nachman’s teachings in Likkutei Moharan) every day, whether a little or a lot. Reb Noson once said, “Now that my prayers have come into the world, people will have to give an account for each day they failed to recite them!” He also said that these prayers emanate from the “Fiftieth Gate” (i.e., the transcendental level).
(Kokhvei Ohr, Anshei Moharan, 24, 25 [Jerusalem 1983 ed., p. 77]; also cf. Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh I, 395-397. English translations of Likkutei Tefillos include The Fiftieth Gate, The Flame of the Heart, and Entering the Light, all published by Breslov Research Institute)

Tikkun HaKlalli

The Rebbe stated that the ten psalms of Tikkun ha-Klalli are a powerful remedy for the spiritual damage caused by nocturnal emissions, particularly when recited on the same day. Reb Noson understood from his remarks that in addition, these ten psalms are an effective remedy for all sins when recited in a spirit of teshuvah.
(Likkutei Moharan I, 29, 205; ibid. II, 92; Sichos ha-Ran 141; Parpara’os le-Chokhmah on Likkutei Moharan II, 92. In English, see Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, Rabbi Nachman’s Tikkun, Breslov Research Institute.)

Limud Shulchan Arukh

The Rebbe encouraged his talmidim to study all four sections of the Shulchan Arukh systematically, with all the nosei keilim. However, if this is not possible, one should learn the Shulchan Arukh (Mechaber and RaMA) with minimal commentary. In any event, one should learn at least one halakhah per day, even if it is not part of one’s regular seder ha-limud. The Baal Shem Tov similarly stressed the regular study of halakhah le-ma’aseh.
(Sichos ha-Ran 29. Re. the Baal Shem Tov, see Rabbi Aharon Hakohen of Zhelikhov, Kesser Shem Tov II, 423)

Birkhas HaMazon

The Rebbe concluded the first berakhah with the words “hazon be-rachamav es ha-kol.” This was the minhag of the Baal Shem Tov and his family. Most Breslovers follow this custom today.
(Oral tradition. Cf. Likkutei MaHaRiCH, Seder Birkhas ha-Mazon, citing Tola’as Yaakov. This was also the nusach of the Manistricher Chassidim in Uman; Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Rabinowitz, Ehrkei Yehoshua, Kuntres Perach Shoshanim 40. Some old Yerushalayimer Chassidic families have this custom, too)


In Likkutei Moharan I, 231, the Rebbe stated that during Pesukei de-Zimra, in “Vayevarekh Dovid,” when one recites the phrase “u-tzeva’ah ha-shomayim lekha mishtachavim . . . The heavenly hosts prostrate themselves unto You” (Nechemiah 9:6), it is a favorable time for one to add a personal prayer. According to Kitzur Likkutei Moharan (ad loc.): “[At this moment] one may pray for everything, for then all the angels prostrate themselves and render homage to God, may He be blessed. Therefore, it is good to entreat that HaShem command them to transmit whatever one needs. For example, if one needs healing, one should meditate that HaShem command [the angels] to invest the spiritual powers of healing into one’s bread and water, etc.” Cf. Likkutei Moharan II, 1, re. the role of the angels in the transfer of shefa’, etc.
(This kavannah is also mentioned in Yesod Ve-Shoresh Ha-‘avodah 3:5. We thank R. Dovid Friedman of Brooklyn for this source.)


The Rebbe also stated that when reciting Psalm 148 during Pesukei de-Zimra, one should recite these words with special fervor, for one is calling upon all aspects of creation and charging them to praise Hashem.
(Likkutei Moharan I, 232)


In “Yishtabach,” the conclusion of the berakhah is “Melekh Yachid Chei ha-’Olamim.” This phraseology parallels that in the opening berakhah of Pesukei de-Zimra: “Barukh she-amar . . . Yachid Chei ha-’Olamim, Melekh meshubach…” Reb Avraham Sternhartz attested that this was the Rebbe’s custom, which has been followed by Breslover Chassidim ever since.
(Heard from Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Kenig and other Breslov communal leaders; cf. Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh II, 119.)


The neshamah of Rav Sa’adia Gaon once appeared in a vision to the Rebbe and told him to perform nefilas apayim during “Tachanun” on his left arm, both during Shacharis and Minchah. However, it is unclear if this was a hora’ah for others. Therefore, some Breslovers follow this practice, while others do not. Still others take an in-between position, leaning on both arms during Shacharis to avoid being conspicuous.
(See Chayei Moharan 448; cf. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 131:1, as discussed in Mishnah Berurah s.k. 4-6, citing ha-GRA; similarly, Chayei Adam 32:33, who adds that if one wears Tefillin during Minchah, he should nevertheless lean on his left arm)

Tzedakah Before and During Shacharis

The Rebbe taught: “One should give charity before praying in order to be saved from foreign thoughts. Thus one will daven properly, without veering to the right or left (i.e. toward chesed or gevurah). Rather, one will prepare his words with balance (mishpat, the principle that intervenes between chesed and gevurah).”
(Likkutei Moharan I, 2; cf. Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 92:10)


Reb Noson darshans on the relationship between the korbonos and tzedakah and how the ru’ach nedivah, spirit of giving, breaks the idolatry of wealth. Therefore, reading the passages that describe the korbonos and giving tzedakah are both part of davening.
(Likkutei Halakhos, Aveidah U-metziah 3:3, citing Likkutei Moharan I, 13)


In Sefer ha-Middos, the Rebbe stated that before davenning, one should give tzedakah and bind himself to the tzaddikim of the generation.
(Sefer ha-Middos, “Tefillah” I, 33)


He also said that upon reaching the words in Pesukei de-Zimra, ‘Vi-ha-osher vi-ha-kavod mil’fanekha, ve-atah moshel ba-kol . . . Wealth and honor are before You, and You rule over all,’ one should again give a coin to tzedakah in order to internalize the spirit of charity. (This custom is not unique to Breslov, but is mentioned in the Shulchan Arukh and elsewhere.)
(Likkutei Moharan I, 67:7; cf. Likkutei Halakhos, Choshen Mishpat, Aveidah u-Metziah 3:3; cf. Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 92:10; Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, ‘Inyan Tefilas ha-Shachar. Rabbi Chaim Vital states in the name of the ARI zal that one should give three coins of any denomination, first two separately, and then the third. Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz states that if all Jews would give tzedakah at this point in Shacharis, Moshiach would surely come; Imrei Pinchos [Bnei Brak 2003] Vol. I, Sha’ar Seder ha-Yom 79.)


The Rebbe greatly praised tzedakah, “which brings a spirit of peace and love into the world in abundant measure. “
(Likkutei Moharan I, 57:7, 67, et passim.)


The Rebbe encouraged his followers to give tzedakah “with both hands,” adding that when one does so, his prayer will be heard above.
(See Sefer ha-Middos, “Tefillah” I, 45; “Tzedakah” I, 27)

Reb Gedaliah Kenig understood this simply to mean that we should give generously. However, because of this remark, many Breslover Chassidim are accustomed to actually hold the money they are giving with both hands.


The Rebbe urged his Chassidim to buy the finest Tefillin they could afford, written by a truly pious scribe.
(Chayei Moharan 511)


The Rebbe instructed his followers to don Tefillin of Rashi and Tefillin of Rabbenu Tam every day. Reb Noson expounds on this in Likkutei Halakhos.
(Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh IV, 194; Likkutei Halakhos, Tefillin 5:27-32; ibid. 6:16; also see Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 34:1-2; Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar ha-Tefillin, 9. The differences between the shittos of Rashi and Rabbenu Tam, as well as Shemusha Raba and Ra’avad, are presented with diagrams in Rabbi Avraham Yitzchok Sperling’s Ta’amei ha-Mitzvos, p. 19)


The Rebbe told his followers that it is beneficial to declare before davenning: “I hereby bind myself to all the tzaddikim of the generation.”
(Likkutei Moharan I, 2:6, 9:4; Sichos ha-Ran 296. Similarly, in many Chassidic circles such declarations or kavannos have not been uncommon. For example, see Rabbi Meshullam Feivish of Zabarazh, Yosher Divrei Emes II, 33; Rabbi Yechiel Michel of Zlotchov, Toras ha-Maggid mi-Zlotchov, Tefillah 3, p. 320; Rabbi Menachem Nochum of Chernobyl, Me’or Einayim, Beshalach [end], in the name of the Baal Shem Tov; ibid. Yismach Lev, Berakhos 2 [end]; Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, Imrei Pinchas [Bnei Brak 2003], Sha’ar Parshiyos u-Moadim, Elul, 424; Rabbi Chaim of Chernowitz, Be’er Mayim Chaim, Vayetzei (s.v. vayachalom); Rabbi Chanokh Henikh of Alesk, Lev Same’ach, Hakdamas ha-Mechaber le-Derekh ha-Tefillah; Rabbi Aryeh Leib Tzintz, Kometz ha-Minchah, Vayikra; Rabbi Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak of Alexander, Yismach Yisrael, Be-ha’alosekha; Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak of Lendov, Emes le-Ya’akov, Bereishis; Rabbi Shaul Brakh of Kashau, Giv’as Shaul, Va-eschanan; Rabbi Eliezer Zusia Portugal of Skulen, Kedushas Eliezer, Tzava’ah 4, Minhagim Tovim; et al.)


The Rebbe explained that this is because the tzaddikim elevate the prayers of the entire Jewish people, conveying each prayer to its proper heavenly gate.
(Likkutei Moharan I, 9:3)


It has become customary for Breslover Chassidim to recite the following verbal formula before each prayer service (as well as before performing any mitzvah or religious practice, such as immersing in a mikveh, studying Torah, lighting the Chanukah Menorah, etc.):

Hebrew: Hareini mekasher ‘atzmi le-khol ha-tzaddikim amitiyim she-be-doreinu, u-lekhol ha-tzaddikim amitiyim shochnei afar, kedoshim asher ba-aretz hemah, u-be-frat Rabbenu ha-Kadosh, ha-Nachal Novea Mekor Chokhmah, Rebbe Nachman ben Feige—zekhusam yagen ‘aleinu ve-’al kol Yisrael, amen.

English: I hereby bind myself to all of the true tzaddikim of our generation, and to all true tzaddikim who rest in the dust, “holy ones who are interred in the earth” (Psalms 16:3), and in particular our holy master, the “flowing brook, source of wisdom” (Proverbs 18:4), Rabbi Nachman ben Feige—may their merits shield us, amen.

(Oral tradition, although this nusach has been published in numerous Breslover texts over the years. The reference to those who “rest in the dust” is based on Likkutei Moharan 65:5.)


The Rebbe also instructed us to follow the hanhagah of the ARI zal by stating prior to davenning: “Hareini mekabel ‘alai mitzvas ‘asei shel ve-ahavta le-re’akha kamokha—Behold, I accept upon myself the positive commandment to ‘love your fellow Jew as yourself.’ ” Thus, one becomes united with all of Klal Yisrael. He also explained: “Through love and peace, it is possible to speak words of prayer. This is because speech is essentially bound up with peace, as it is written, ‘I shall speak of peace…’ (Psalms 122:8).”
(Likkutei Moharan I, 239; cf. Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar ‘Olam ha-’Asiyah 1:3:2; Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, ‘Inyan Birkhas ha-Shachar, beginning. Re. the essential unity of all Jewish souls, see for example, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Tomer Devorah, chap. 1, s.v. “le-she’aris nachalaso,” and earlier sources. This is also one of the foundations of the derekh ha-Baal Shem Tov, as discussed in Toldos Ya’akov Yosef, Kedoshim, et al. The Rebbe discusses this in Likkutei Moharan I, 260, et al.)


It is proper to make this declaration prior to each of the three daily prayer services.
(Heard from Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Kenig)

Praying Early

The Rebbe taught that one should daven early in the morning to the best of one’s ability.
(Sichos ha-Ran 31. Cf. Alim Le-terufah 26. This was the prevailing attitude during the first generations of the Chassidic movement; e.g., see Tzava’as ha-Rivash 16, regarding the Baal Shem Tov, and Imrei Pinchas 389, regarding Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz. In general, the Rebbe encouraged us to not postpone davenning, but to attend to all the tefillos as soon as possible.)


The Rebbe held that because of the greatness of tefillah, one should daven all tefillos promptly. One never knows what obstacles might deter him later.
(Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh II, 172; accordingly, Breslover Chassidim try to daven Minchah before the shekiah.)


The Rebbe did not approve of drinking coffee or tea before shacharis. He personally did not even drink water before praying in the morning. This has become common practice among Breslover Chassidim.
(Sichos ha-Ran 277; Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh IV, 504; cf. Zohar II, 215b, III, 141b; Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 89:3, 4; Be’er Heitiv, Orach Chaim 89:11; also Si’ach Sarfey Kodesh II, 1-57, in the name of the Baal Shem Tov. Nevertheless, Reb Noson acknowledges that drinking water is permitted according to halakhah; see Likkutei Halakhos, Birkos ha-Shachar 3:5. According to most authorities, even tea or coffee is permitted if one is weak. Certainly this applies to a person with health problems, who is even permitted to eat, as stated in Shulchan Arukh, ad locum.)


The Rebbe stated that one should not be overly concerned with the requirement to go to the bathroom before davenning, but one may rely upon the ruling of the RIF (based on Berakhos 14b) that it is enough if one feels capable of walking one parsah (a little less than a mile) without attending one’s needs. Thus, one will not delay his prayer unnecessarily.
(Sichos ha-Ran 30; Chayei Moharan 52; cf. Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 92)


He also said of certain Chassidic leaders of his day, “The tzaddikim are making a mistake by praying after the z’man tefillah.”
(Chayei Moharan 487; Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 89:1. Many of these Chassidic masters made lengthy spiritual and physical preparations and then davenned at great length, causing them to miss the z’man tefillah. Therefore, this applies all the more so to those of us who may delayed by oversleeping or by procrastinating before coming to shul.)


The Rebbe stated that (minimally) one should immerse in the mikveh on days when Tachanun is not said.
(Sichos ha-Ran 185)


Reb Noson discusses the importance of heeding Takanas Ezra by immersing in the mikveh prior to davenning after one has experienced a seminal emission on the previous night. Although this is not halachically required, Chassidim and anshei ma’aseh are careful to do so.
(See Likkutei Halakhos, Hekhsher Kelim 4:16. When a mikveh is unavailable, showering under a total of nine kabim of water removes tumas keri. This usually takes about five minutes standing under the water.)

Tikkun Chatzos

The Rebbe greatly stressed the importance of reciting Tikkun Chatzos. He ruled that Chatzos begins six hours (sixty-minute hours, not sha’os zemaniyos) after nightfall (tzes ha-kokhavim), and lasts for two hours.
(Likkutei Moharan I, 149; ibid. II, 67, 101; Sichos ha-Ran 301; cf. Magen Avraham, Orach Chaim 1:4, citing the Zohar, Vayakhel; ibid. 233:1; Machatzis ha-Shekel on Magen Avraham, ad loc.; Rabbi Chaim Vital, Pri Eitz Chaim, Sha’ar Tikkun Chatzos, 4; Mishnas Chassidim, Masechtas Chatzos, 1:1; Rabbi Noson Hanover, Sha’arey Tziyon, Sha’ar 1, citing Eitz Chaim, Drush 6, Drushei ha-Laylah; Siddur ARI Kol Yaakov, 4a; Tzava’as ha-Rivash 16, concerning the Baal Shem Tov; Siddur ARI Rav Shabsai, 5a; Siddur ARI Rav Asher, 9a; similarly Bekhor Shor, Berakhos, 3a; Teshuvos Chasam Sofer, Orach Chaim, no. 199; et al.)

Awakening From Sleep/Modeh Ani

The Rebbe taught: “As soon as one awakens from sleep, as soon as he opens his eyes, he should remind himself of the World to Come.”
(Likkutei Moharan I, 54)


The Rebbe once said: “At the beginning of every day, I surrender my every movement to God, as well as those of my children and all those who depend on me, beseeching that all of my actions be in keeping with God’s will; and this is very good. Thus, I have no worries as to whether or not things go right, because I am completely dependent upon God. If He has something else in mind, that is what I, too, desire, since I have already asked that I only perform His will…”
(Sichos ha-Ran 2; ibid. 238, end)

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Lost Jewel

From Tales From Reb Nachman (Artscroll / Mesorah)
Retold for children and illustrated by Dovid Sears

A long time ago, there was a poor clay-digger. Every few days he went to the mountains. There, he dug clay and piled it onto his wagon. When the wagon was full he drove to the village. The potters in the village bought his clay and turned it into jugs, dishes, and urns.

One summer day, while working in the mountains, the clay digger found a beautiful stone. He put it into his pocket and continued filling his wagon. The next morning, he took the stone to a jeweler in the village. The jeweler peered through his magnifying glass, and smiled. He shook his head and said, "This is not an ordinary rock. It is a very rare and valuable diamond. No one around here is rich enough to buy this diamond. If you want to sell it, you must travel to London, the city of the king."

But London was far away, and the man didn't have enough money for the trip. He sold his horse and wagon and everything he owned, but he still didn't have enough money. So he went begging from house to house. Finally he collected enough money to travel as far as the sea-coast.

When he arrived, he found the port city teeming with people. They were buying and selling everything from candlesticks to false teeth. The smells of fish and fresh bread and salty sea-air fought for his attention. The ragged beggars in the marketplace also fought for his attention, but by that time he had no money left.

The man searched until he found a ship going to London. He asked to see the captain. Soon, he was greeted by a giant with a thick moustache. The captain was dressed in a blue velvet coat with brass buttons, and a long sword was swinging from his belt. When the clay-digger went to shake the captain's hand, he noticed that two fingers were missing.

"I don't have any money right now," the clay-digger said. The captain scowled as if was going to throw him down the gang-plank.

"B-But I do have this," the poor man stammered.

When the captain saw the jewel, his eyes lit up. "You can pay me later! " he said, clapping his new passenger on the back. The captain took him aboard with great honor and gave him a special first-class cabin, with all sorts of luxuries.

The cabin had a window that overlooked the sea. The traveler would sit there happily with his diamond near him, watching the sunlight flicker on the waves. One day, he sat down to eat, putting the diamond on the table where he could admire it. Soon he fell asleep. A waiter came along and cleared the table. Then he shook the crumbs - and the diamond - off the tablecloth and into the sea.

When the man awoke, he realized what had happened. He became so upset that he didn't know what to do. "The captain will kill me if I don't pay my fare!" the man thought. Finally, he saw that nothing could be gained by worrying. So he forced himself to be happy, as if nothing had ever happened.

The captain used to speak to the traveler for a few minutes every day. When he came the next morning as usual, the man acted very happy, so the captain wouldn't suspect that anything had changed.

In the course of conversation, the captain asked his passenger for a favor. "I know that you are very wise and honest, " the captain began. " I want to buy a shipment of grain and sell it in London for a great profit. But if the officials discover that I have such a large amount of money, they will think I stole it from the king's treasury. Let me buy the grain in your name, and I will pay you well for helping me."

This sounded good to the traveler and he agreed. When they came to London, the captain bought a warehouse full of grain. He then went straight to the tavern with the other officers. After hours of drinking whiskey and wine, they began to quarrel. The drunken men reached for their swords - and during the fight, the captain was killed.

The grain that the captain had bought was worth many times more than the diamond. And now it belonged to the clay digger. He sold it all to a grain merchant and returned home a rich man.

Hashem never really gave the diamond to the poor man in the first place -the proof is that it didn't stay with him. He was really supposed to get the grain - the proof is that it did stay with him. However, he deserved to receive what Hashem wanted to give him only because he continued to be happy.

© 1987 Mesorah Publications

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Empowered Woman

From Lazer Beams:

Uman Experience and Ark 18 together with Breslev Israel are sponsoring an amazing women's retreat to Rebbe Nachman's holy gravesite in Uman, Ukraine from March 3-6, 2011, with an option of an additional two days of touring in the Ukraine. "The Empowered Woman" is your chance to fill your batteries before Purim and Pesach.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Breslov Chants and Melodies: Rabbi Ephraim Kenig

Breslov Chants and Melodies: Rabbi Ephraim Kenig

More than a decade ago Rabbi Ephraim Kenig of Tzefat, well known as the Baal Musaf for the first day of Rosh Hashanah in Uman, recorded traditional Breslov chants and melodies for the Shabbos table, which we posted on our old web site. Reb Ephraim learned these melodies from his father, Reb Gedaliah Kenig, a prominent Breslov leader of the last generation. The plan was to release these recordings as a cassette and / or CD. We're still waiting for this to happen. But in the meantime, the songs are still available online:

Azamer Bishevachin

Viy'hei Ra'avah

Menucha V'eSimcha

Ma Yedidus

Me'yin Olam Haba


Yom Shabbos Kodesh

A short video of an introduction to Breslov Chassidus given by Reb Ephraim Kenig may be seen here