By Dovid Sears
I have been reading a wonderful book lately, “The Quest for Authenticity: The Thought of Reb Simchah Bunim” (Urim 2008) by the late Rabbi Michael (Mickey) Rosen. In the second chapter (“The Holy Rebellion,” page 34), he quotes a well-known anthology of teachings from the Polish rebbes called “Siach Sarfei Kodesh” (not to be confused with the Breslov collection that shares the same name), 5:22, no. 8:
“R. Simcha Bunim once asked the Yehudi, ‘The ultimate goal is for a person to know that one is nothing (ayin). But what sort of goal is it to know that one is nothing, when in fact one is indeed nothing!’ And our teacher replied, ‘The seal of God is truth [Shabbos 55a], and if man really knows that he is nothing, then he is attached to the truth, and therefore attached to God whose seal is truth. And that is the ultimate goal: to be attached to the truth.”
The author adds that other sources indicate that R. Simcha Bunim asked this question of the Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin, who was the teacher of both the Yehudi and R. Simchah Bunim. It is the Chozeh who replies: “For via this (knowing that one’s service is nothing) one is attached to the truth.” (Rabbi Rosen cites Hashavah LeTovah 121: “The seal of God is truth, and if a person thinks that he has attained something himself, that is false.”)
Thinking and speaking the truth is essential to connecting to the Divine quality of truth, as we see in many rabbinic works, especially those of the Chassidic masters and the Lithuanian Mussar masters. In this spirit, we plan to create several postings during the next few weeks on the subject of truth from the Baal Shem Tov and from Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. May they enable us to arrive at the truth along the path of truth.