Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Rabbi Nachman ben Feige

People often wonder why Breslover Chassidim refer to the Rebbe as "Nachman ben Feige," after his mother -- in keeping with the Rebbe's wishes. No doubt that this, like almost everything related to Rabbi Nachman, has more than one level of meaning. Perhaps it is due to his mother's greatness -- she was called "Feige HaNevi'a" or "Feige the Prophetess" by her illustrious brothers Rabbi Boruch of Medzibuzh and Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sudilkov (author of Degel Machaneh Ephraim).

Another reason, though, is suggested by Reb Noson in Likutey Halakhos, Hilkhos Birkhas HaShachar ("Laws of the Morning Blessings") 3:26:

"Throughout the Book of Kings we find regarding all kings of the House of David that the name of the king's mother is always mentioned. For Malkhus / Kingship is the aspect of the "name"; as it is written, 'And David made a name (i.e., gained reknown)' (II Samuel 8:13). For the main kingship of the House of David, from which Mashiach will come forth, is in order to express the "name of the glory of [G-d's] kingship" [as in the second line of "Shema," which is Zechariah 14:19; also see Zohar I, 12a and 18b].

"The sovereignty of David-Mashiach is Malkhus of holiness, which is G-d's kingship -- and this is G-d's Name. For Malkhus is the aspect of the name, as we have said. Therefore, all of these kings are mentioned along with the names of their mothers in particular, because the main revelation of the 'name of the glory of [G-d's] kingship' in this world, at this time, is through the 'Secondary Name' [or 'nickname,' i.e., A-D-N-Y] specifically. And this corresponds to the mother's name."

That is, the mother's name alludes to the Shekhinah, the "feminine principle" in G-d's animation and governance of the universe, which is an aspect of Malkhus. (This corresponds to the Name A-D-N-Y, while Y-H-V-H corresponds to the sefirah of Tiferes.)

Maybe this sheds light on Rabbi Nachman's statement: "In Avraham's day, the Shekhinah was called 'Sarah'; in Yitzchok's day, the Shekhinah was called 'Rivkah'; and in Yaakov's day, the Shekhinah was called Leah and Rachel... " (Chayei Moharan 563; also see Zohar I, 112a, and III, 187a).

Although Reb Noson discusses the mothers of kings (which seems to allude to tzaddikim such as Rabbi Nachman, who were descendents of the House of David) and the Rebbe speaks of the wives of the Patriarchs (which seems to allude to the foremost tzaddikim of every generation), the common denominator is their bond with the Shekhinah.

Thus, the tzaddik personifies in miniature a universe of harmony and wholeness; the unification of Tiferes and Malkhus; or in the language of the Zohar, the unification of the "Holy One, blessed be He" and the Shekhinah.