Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Treasure Far and Near

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

A Jewish villager once dreamed about a treasure. In his dream the treasure was near a bridge in the city of Vienna. The very next morning, the villager packed his knapsack with his talis and tefillin, some clothes and a bit of food. Then he began the long, long walk to Vienna.

For many days and nights he trudged through forests and fields, valleys and towns.

When he arrived at last, the soldiers who guarded the city wouldn't let him near the bridge. So day after day, he stood by the side of the road, trying to think of what to do.

One afternoon, a soldier walked up to him and asked, "Why are you standing here?"

The villager was silent for a moment. Perhaps we could be partners, he thought. After all, half a treasure is better than none! So he told the soldier about his dream.

"Only a Jew cares about dreams!" he laughed. "For three nights in a row, I dreamed that in a certain village there was a certain Jew - and he named the man's village and his name - who had a treasure buried in his cellar. But do you think I believe in such foolish things?"

The villager simply thanked the soldier and began the long journey home. For many days and nights he trudged through forests and fields, valleys and towns. Finally, he came to his own little house. Without even sitting down for a cup of hot tea, the man went down to his cellar and started digging. Sure enough, he uncovered a huge treasure. He was able to live comfortably and do many good deeds for the rest of his days.

Later, when people asked him about his long journey, he said, "I really had the treasure all along. But to find it, I had to go to Vienna!"


In our desire to come closer to Hashem, the treasure we are searching for is inside of ourselves. But most of us can't find it alone. First we must go to a Torah sage who can show us how to discover it.

© 1987 Mesorah Publications

Monday, October 17, 2011

Living in the Present Moment

(c) Dovid Sears

Translations by Dovid Sears

One of the lessons of Rosh Hashanah and the festivals is that G-d is present everywhere and in every moment and situation, and that his kingship extends over all. In the words of the Tikkuney Zohar, “Les asar panui miney … There is no place devoid of Him.” An offshoot of this idea is that we may connect to G-d wherever we are and in every moment of our lives. Therefore, we are presenting some Breslov teachings on this theme.

Sichot HaRan 288

Rebbe Nachman

Yesterday and tomorrow are a person's downfall. Today you may be aroused toward G-d. But yesterday and tomorrow pull you away.

No matter where one stands, one suffers reversals. The man who dwells upon yesterday and tomorrow surely will fall away.

The Talmud says, "Repent one day before your death." "Before your death" is your entire life. During your entire lifetime, you may only be worthy of attaining "one day" of teshuvah -- one day of returning to G-d.

This one day is more precious than any treasure. "For what does man gain from all his labor?" Nothing remains of your life other than this one day of teshuvah.

"Repent one day" -- even one day "Before your death" -- during your earthly sojourn.

Forget about yesterday and tomorrow. Today is everything.

Sichot HaRan 51

Rebbe Nachman

It is written: "When you walk, it will comfort you; when you lie down, it will watch over you; and when you awaken, it will comfort you" (Proverbs 6:22).

"When you walk" on this earth, the Torah "will comfort you." "When you lie down" in the grave, G-d and the Torah "will watch over you."

"When you awaken" in the World to Come, "it will comfort you." When you have purified your thoughts, there is no difference between this world, the grave, and the World to Come. When you desire only G-d and His Torah, all are the same. In all three, you may connect to G-d and His Torah. One who is attached to the things of this world will experience a great difference between this world, which is a wide, open place, and the grave, which is a cramped place.
However, if you purify your mind, all will be the same.

Likkutei Halachot, Matanah 5

Reb Noson

Every perceptive person understands that time does not exist. The past is gone, the future has not come, and the present is like the blink of an eye. Thus, the life of a man is only this instant in which he stands.

Consider this, and in whatever circumstance you may find yourself -- even in the depths of Hell --you will be able to cleave to G-d in each moment.

It is written: "See, now, that I, I am He..." (Deuteronomy 32:39).
"See, now," precisely. Through the paradigm of "now," you are able to see that "I, I am He," and begin anew, in each moment, to cleave to G-d.

Likkutei Halachot, Basar B'Chalav 4

Reb Noson

Let all thoughts of yesterday, or even of the immediate past, leave your mind. Instead, you should imagine that you are like a newborn child that came into the world on this very day and hour in order to perceive G-d. As the Torah states: "I have created you today!" (Psalms 2:7)

Although you may think that you have attempted to make a fresh start and sought to encounter G-d thousands and myriads of times without success -- even if you have fallen again and again, down to the very depths -- nevertheless, you must pay no attention to all this.

This hour and this moment in which you stand never existed before. Who knows what can be attained now?

Every day, constantly, G-d in His goodness renews the process of creation, and no instant can be compared to another. Because the heavenly constellations constantly change from one second to the next, every set of circumstances is unlike those that existed a moment earlier or a moment later.

Imagine what transpires from one second to the next in the supernal worlds, which are without limitation or number! Thus, the Tikkunei Zohar(95b) states: "The garment of one day is unlike the garment of another day," as the Arizal explains (Eitz Chaim, Heichal Adam Kadmon, 1:5).
All of these endless cosmic transformations are for the sake of man, to enable him to serve G-d.

This is the reason for everything.

Thus, there is no "proof" from one day to another. Despite what happened in the past, the present moment is entirely new -- created expressly for the sake of humankind. As the Sages state: Each person is obliged to say, "For my sake the world was created." (Sanhedrin 37a)
Right now it is possible to draw near to G-d, if you begin in the here and now.

A Calm, Settled Mind

Rebbe Nachman

The reason why the world is far from G-d, and does not seek to come close to Him is only because people lack yishuv ha-da'as -- a calm, settled mind.

They do not allow the mind to rest. The main thing is that one must strive to attain yishuv ha-da'as, and ask, "What is the end result of all worldly desires and pursuits, whether internal or external, such as honor?" Then, to be sure, one will return to G-d.

However, sadness and melancholy prevent one from directing the mind. Then it is difficult to attain mental focus. This requires simchah - joy - and a positive disposition. For simchah is the "World of Freedom," as the verse states, "They shall go forth in joy..." (Isaiah 55). Through simchah, one becomes liberated and leaves the state of spiritual exile.

To attain simchah, one must find in oneself some good point, as it is written, "I shall sing to my G-d with all my strength (bi-odi)..." (Psalms 146:1). That is, with whatever good point I possess still (ode) [as stated in the lesson "Azamra," Likkutei Moharan I, 282].

By connecting to simchah, a person liberates his very being and consciousness. Then it is possible to attain a calm, settled mind. Even in the supernal worlds, this accomplishes a great unification. (Likkutei Moharan II, 10 (abridged)

A Glimpse of The World to Come

Reb Levi Yitzchak Bender

Reb Isaac Krasenstein once wrote a letter to his son, Reb Hirsch Leib, in which he stated, "My son, what can I tell you? If you wake up every night to recite Tikkun Chatzos, and then learn one teaching from Likkutei Moharan followed by the corresponding prayer from Likkutei Tefilos -- surely the words of our Sages will be fulfilled in you: 'Your World to Come you shall experience here and now, in your physical lifetime!' " (Siach Sarfei Kodesh, Vol. V, 269).


Rebbe Nachman

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi ascended to the Palace of the Mashiach and asked: "When are you coming, master?"

The Mashiach replied: "Today... if only you would listen to His voice!" (Psalms 95:7) (Sanhedrin 98a).

This is a fundamental principle in serving G-d. One should place nothing before his eyes except this day and this hour -- just as in earning a livelihood and attending to one's physical needs, one should not worry from one day to the next.

When one first wishes to enter into Divine service, the task may appear to be extremely onerous. It may seem impossible to bear such a burden. However, if one considers that this is the only day one must do so, the work no longer seems so difficult.

Additionally, one must not put things off from day to day, saying: "Tomorrow I will begin, tomorrow I will pray with mindfulness and enthusiasm, as is proper..." for all that a person has in the world is this one day and this one hour in which he stands. (Likkutei Moharan I, 272)

"This World" and "The World to Come"

Reb Noson

Rabbi Yaakov said: This world is like an antechamber before the World to Come; prepare yourself in the antechamber, so that you may enter the banquet hall. (Avos 4:16) Prepare yourself in the antechamber … That is, in order to perceive the light of G-d in the World to Come, you must find this light within the constraints of this world in every day and every moment! (Likkutei Halakhot, Birkhat Ha-Rei'ah V'Sha'ar Berakhot P'ratiyot 5:11)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

TZADDIK Magazine is back!

(Click on image above)

Andy Statman's Latest

Breslov Center co-founder Andy Statman has just released his first double-CD "Old Brooklyn" (Shefa), produced by Edward Haber. The music is pure Statman -- brilliantly conceived and executed; full of heart, but not without humor; rooted in tradition, yet as adventurous as it gets!

His core group consists of renowned fiddler Byron Berline; guitarist Jon Sholle; bassist Jim Whitney; and drummer-percussionist Larry Eagle.

Guests include Ricky Skaggs, Bela Fleck, Bob Jones, Bruce Molsky, Paul Shaffer, Lou Soloff, Art Baron, and Marty Rifkin.

We wish him great success with this milestone project.