Friday, August 30, 2013

BRI: Free Rosh HaShanah Booklet + Send A Kvittal Service


From Breslov Research Institute:

In preparation for Rosh HaShanah, we are happy to share a free booklet (available in Hebrew or Hebrew/English) which includes several of Rebbe Nachman’s lessons on Rosh HaShanah with commentary by Chaim Kramer. 

Also, before we leave for the journey to Uman, we have set up a free “Kvittal” or note submission form service for you to fill out. We will be bringing these Kvittals for you to Uman and Rebbe Nachman”s gravesite. Feel free to include your names and any specific prayers/needs that you have. Even if you can’t join with us, we are happy to include you on this great pilgrimage.

May we all be written and sealed in the book of the true Tzadikim for a year of good life and peace, Amen!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Kinship of All Creatures: Two Stories



A Chassidic Ecology Lesson
In everything, even in the minutest circumstance which we created beings reckon as nothing and do not take at all into account, there is a divine intention, a divine will; and divine providence arranges the circumstances that will enable this intention to be realized in a certain way.

One day in the summer of 5656 (1896 c.e.) I was strolling with my father (Rabbi Sholom Dov Ber, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, 1860-1920) in a field in the country resort of Bolivke, near Lubavitch. The crops were almost ripe, and the grain and the grass were nodding in a gentle breeze.”Behold Godliness!” said my father. “Each movement of every single sheaf of grain and blade of grass was included in the Primal Thought of the partzuf of Adam Kadmon (Primordial Reality)—in Him Who watches and gazes until the end of all the generations; and divine providence brings this thought to realization for the sake of a certain divine intention.”

As we walked on, we found ourselves in a forest. Deep in contemplation of what I had just been told concerning divine providence, and overwhelmed by the tenderness and the earnestness of my father’s explanation, I plucked a leaf from a tree as I passed by and held it in my hand. As people often do and without taking particular notice, I tore off little pieces from the leaf every so often as I walked on, ensconced in thought, and tossed them to the ground.

My father now said, “The Ari says that not only is every leaf of a tree a creature with divine vitality, which the Almighty created with a certain end as part of the ultimate purpose of creation; but, moreover, every leaf contains the spark of a soul that descends to this world for the sake of a tikkun, in order to attain restitution.

“Just see how ‘man is always liable for damages, whether awake or asleep’ (Bava Kamma 26a). The difference between being awake or asleep is to be found in the inward faculties of seichel and middos, in the person’s intellect and in his emotional attributes. The external faculties are to be found in a sleeping person, too; only his inward faculties are confused—which explains the presence of the paradoxes to be found in dreams. And where does the difference between one who is awake and one who is asleep become apparent? In the faculty of vision. One who is asleep does not see; one who is awake can see.

“When a person is awake, he sees Godliness; when he is asleep, he does not. But ‘man is liable for damages whether he is awake or asleep.’ Just now we discussed the subject of divine providence—and quite without thinking, you plucked a leaf, held it in your hand, played around with it, turned it around, squashed it, tore it up in little pieces and scattered it in different places. How can a person be so light-minded in relation to a creature of the Almighty? This leaf is something created by the Almighty for a particular reason. It has a God-given vitality; it has a body, and it has life. In what way is the leaf’s ‘I’ smaller than your ‘I’?

“True, the difference is a big one. The leaf is  tzomei’ach  (vegetation) and you are medaber  (a human being, endowed with the power of speech), and there is a great difference between the two categories. Nevertheless, one must always remember the mission and the divine intention of every created thing—what is the task that the tzomei’ach has to fulfill in this world, and what is the task that the medaber has to fulfill in this world” (Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of Lubavitch,  Likkutei Dibburim I, 4a: 4 [Brooklyn, NY: Kehot, 1987], trans. Rabbi Uri Kaploun).
                        
A Walk With Rav Kook
Rabbi Aryeh Levin of Jerusalem (1885-1969) recounts a similar experience. As a young Talmud scholar, Reb Aryeh left his native Lithuania in 1905 and came to the city of Jaffa in the land of Israel. He sought out his future mentor, Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, who received him with great warmth. Once, while they were walking together in the fields engaged in Torah discussion, Rabbi Levin picked a flower. At this Rav Kook remarked, “All my days I have been careful never to pluck a blade of grass or a flower needlessly, when it had the ability to grow or blossom. You know the teaching of our sages that not a single blade of grass grows here on earth that does not have an angel above it, commanding it to grow. Every sprout and leaf of grass says something meaningful, every stone whispers some hidden message in the silence, every creation utters its song!”

Rabbi Levin concludes, “These words of our great master, spoken from a pure and holy heart, engraved themselves deeply in my heart. From that time on, I began to feel a strong sense of compassion for all things” (based on Simcha Raz,  A Tzaddik In Our Time [Jerusalem: Feldheim, 1976] pp. 108-109).[1]






[1] An almost identical story is told about Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz (1886-1948) and one of his students. “Don’t you know,”  he asked the youth, “that the whole creation sings a song to the Creator—every plant, every blade of grass?  When you pulled that leaf off the tree, you cut off its song in the middle” (Yonoson Rosenblum, Reb Shraga Feivel [Brooklyn, NY: Artscroll / Mesorah, 2001] p. 232).

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting Ready for Rosh Hashanah - Rabbi Ozer Bergman

One of the things we learned from our ruminations about Uman and LSD is that a big part of our spiritual—excuse me, Jewish—mission is getting along with our fellow Jews. (Of course, Rebbe Akiva put this a bit more succinctly when he said “Love your fellow as you love yourself” [Leviticus 19:18] is a major principle of the Torah [Bereishis Rabbah 24:7].)

But loving people—even if you don’t like them and even if you can’t stand them—and inter-acting civilly is not the last step. It’s the first step. The real power of love is much greater. Pardon the cliché, but the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.

As you know, Rosh Hashanah is Yom HaDin, Judgment Day. We pray to be written in the Book of Life, for a sweet, happy and healthy new year. But that judgment thing, you know, just won’t go away. Fortunately, God also wants us to come out with a good verdict. So we have to give Him some good reason to make it come out right.

Each of us has the ability to influence the verdict. In fact, you are one of the judges. You are not the chief justice, but your opinion will not only be heard, but it will factor into the final decision. Rebbe Nachman teaches, “On Rosh Hashanah one must be wise and think only good thoughts, that God will be good to us ….” (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #21).

That means, don’t just wish for a good year, and don’t just hope for happiness and good fortune, but “be wise.” Think about what is good, what would truly be good if it happened, if it existed. “Think only good thoughts” about how you, and others, can be better at living a more wholesome Jewish life, for example. Focus and concentrate on how and in what ways “God will be good to us.”

Don’t be selfish and use your wise thinking only on you and yours. Think about your friends, neighbors, local, city, state and federal governments. (I’m not a big fan of politicians, to put it mildly. 

This recommendation is not for their sake, but ours, per the Mishnah [Avot 3:2], “Pray for the welfare of the government.”) Think wisely about the material misery of so many across the globe, but think even more wisely about the decline of morality and of civilization which need to be reversed.

Our individual efforts to “think only good thoughts” will have a positive impact, but only to a limited degree. The reason? Because as strongly as you or I focus on bettering the world, we are acting singly. We can mitigate the judgment only to our individual limits. But what if we thought together? What if we were so in love with one another before Rosh Hashanah that we agreed on which were the best, or most necessary, points to “be wise” about and we focused on them together?

Yeah, that would be pretty cool. Now, maybe it’s too close to Rosh Hashanah 5774 to do something globally, maybe not. But certainly, it’s not too late to discuss with some friends and fellow shul/synagogue/chaburah-goers about which “good thoughts” to think and in what ways we want “God to be good to us.” Ditto, for folks, spouse and siblings.

Uniting in peace and love, even as a small group, creates a mind much greater in scope, with much greater power. The Rebbe teaches (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #62):

When thought is intensely concentrated and focused, it can exert great influence. All faculties of the mind, conscious and unconscious, down to the innermost point, must be focused without distraction. When many people do this without distraction, their thinking can actually force something to happen. (See there for a caveat!)

A final word. We usually think of “good” in material terms, “more” and “better,” “bigger” and “faster.” When Rebbe Nachman says “good” he means an eternal good beyond our comprehension—but within our ability to live. 

© Copyright 2013 148west.com/O. Bergman 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Bridge


Musings on a story Rebbe Nachman once told
Dovid Sears

The Rebbe once gave over a parable about the spiritual quest (a translation of which we posted awhile ago on this website here). In brief, an impoverished chassid has a dream that a treasure lies buried near a certain bridge in a faraway city. Upon his arrival there, a guard questions him, laughs at what he hears and remarks that he too had a dream about a treasure—buried under the kitchen stove of a Jew who happened to have the same name as our protagonist. The latter goes home and finds the sought-after treasure. The moral of the story is that each of us possesses the divine truth or perception we seek within ourselves; the role of the tzaddik is to help us to bring it to light.

The Breslov version of the story appears in Kokhvey Ohr (“Maasiyos u-Meshalim,” p. 26), as preserved by Reb Avraham b’Reb Nachman of Tulchin, which is accepted as a highly-reliable mesorah. (This is not one of the Rebbe’s famous mystical stories, puplished as “Sippurey Ma’asiyos,” but one of the many other stories he told to his chassidim, some of which were original while others were not.) But to a Breslover ear, accustomed to hearing about the primacy of hiskashrus li-tzaddik and the tzaddik emes as personifying the “universal mind” (sekhel ha-kollel), “collective mind” (moach ha-kollel), and all-inclusive soul, [1] this story seems a bit out of character. It seems more consistent with the teachings of the “Yid Hakadosh” and his disciple Reb Simcha Bunim of Pshis’cha, which play down these “larger than life” portrayals of the tzaddik and his mystical powers and emphasize instead his role as spiritual facilitator.

And in fact, it appears in the lore of that school of Polish Chassidus, too. In Rabbi Michael Rosen’s study of Reb Simcha Bunim, “The Quest for Authenticity” (Urim 2008), the same story is cited in the Introduction (pp. 22-23, based on Maamarei Simcha, no. 30). The poor chassid is also mentioned by name in this version: Reb Isaac ben Yekelish of Krakow.

 But maybe there is no contradiction.

After reading about the primacy of hiskashrus li-tzaddikim in the Rebbe’s works, many new mekuravim ask, “Which tzaddik was the Rebbe connected to?” Perhaps to the Baal Shem Tov, his illustrious great-grandfather, who likewise did not have a living teacher but was mentored by the spirit of Achiyah HaShiloni. Or perhaps he was mekushar to himself—like Moshe Rabbenu, who personified that all-inclusive soul.[2]

Thus the Rebbe states that “Moshe” exists within every one of us, and the consciousness Moshe represents exists within every limb of the body; “Moshe” represents the essence of each neshamah and all neshamos collectively; this is what animates everything in one’s being, body, and sphere of influence. [3]

This essence is the “treasure” we need to discover. But in order to succeed, we must search for that master teacher, the external “Moshe,” who can show us the esence of who we are—because the master teacher has actualized the potential that we all share.[4]

Maybe this is another ramification of the Rebbe’s famous declaration, “I can make you a ‘guhter yid’ [in this context, a tzaddik] just like me!”[5] Because ultimately, there is no “you” and “me.”

This is the symbolic meaning of the bridge in our story: as the Zohar states, the tzaddik is like a bridge in that he binds together “heaven and earth.”[6] He combines all worlds and all that they contain. The bridge also denotes overcoming the sense of division; it is the link between “you” and “me” and all appearances of separateness.

Thus the parable need not be read as an import from Pshis’cha, but may serve as a key to understanding the Rebbe’s nearly-ubiquitous theme of hiskashrus li-tzaddik emes. The meaning of “emes” (truth) would be that the tzaddik is one with that essence, which is the truth of existence.[7]

Accordingly, the tzaddik emes is not really external, but internal. And that’s the “treasure under the kitchen stove.”

*

When I repeated this dvar Torah a little while ago, someone responded by saying, “Tear up the floor!”

That’s what hisbodedus is all about. 



[1] For a fuller description of these concepts, see Rabbi Chaim Kramer’s “Crossing the Narrow Bridge: A Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman’s Teachings” (Breslov Research Institute, Chapter 17 (“Tzaddik”), pp. 312-359.
[2] See Likutey Moharan I, 34:4, about the “common point” of the tzaddik, which includes all good points.
[3] See Likutey Moharan  II, 26; also ibid. II, 39 re. how the “leader of the generation, like Moshe, must illuminate even those on the lowest spiritual levels; and ibid. II, 72, re, how Moshe, who personified the collective da’as of all Israel, was able to transmit higher levels of consciousness to every individual through his gaze alone.
[4] Cf. Rabbi Chaim Vital in the name of the Arizal on the verse “Six hundred thousand souls are those at my foot” (Numbers 1:21)—that all six hundred thousand souls of Israel were but parts of Moshe’s soul (Sha’ar HaPesukim 2:3).
[5] Chayey Moharan, Part II, sec. 230. Also see Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender’s explanation in Siach Sarfey Kodesh, Vol. IV, sec. 72.
[6] Zohar III, 257a.
[7] See Likutey Moharan I, 51, where the Rebbe states that the terms emes (truth), echad (one), kadosh (holy) and tov (good) are four ways of describing the same reality. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Teshuvah: Returning to God


Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum of Azamra.org:

There is a way that everything can be turned into good.

Alim LiTerufah 113

* * *

God's greatness is unfathomable: that is why Teshuvah has such power. No matter how far you may have fallen - be it to the lowest depths - never despair, because you can always return to God. With just a little effort you can turn even your worst sins into merits. No matter where in the world you fall, you can easily come back to God. This is because of His unfathomable greatness. Nothing is beyond His power. Just never give up! Keep crying out, praying and pleading to God at all times.

Sichot Haran #3

* * *

Sometimes a sin can make a person so bitter that he repents completely.

Likutey Halachot, Birkat HaReiach 4:2

* * *

Stop then and there!

You may be in some place when suddenly you have a thought of Teshuvah and a deep longing for God. Stop then and there in that very place and take a moment to focus on the thought and the feeling of longing. Turn them into a prayer. Put your longing into words straight from your heart. Don't wait or move on, even if you are not in your usual place of prayer and study - even if you are going on your way - because if you move on, it could interrupt your train of thought.

Likutey Moharan II, 124

* * *

The Path of Teshuvah

Every person must minimize his own glory and maximize God's glory. For one who pursues glory attains not God's glory but only the glory of kings, of which it is said: "The glory of kings is subject to investigation" (Proverbs 25:2) . For then everyone investigates who he really is, asking: "Who is he and what is he to be given such honor?" People challenge him, saying he is not fit for this honor.

But when a person flees from honor, minimizing his own honor and maximizing the glory of God, he attains the glory of God. No-one then investigates to see if he deserves it, for "The glory of God is to hide the matter" ( ibid. ) - it is forbidden to question his honor.

The only way to attain God's glory is through repentance. And the true sign of a person who has returned to God is the ability to hear himself insulted and remain silent. He endures even the most murderous abuse with patience, thereby reducing the blood in the left side of his heart (seat of the animal soul) and annihilating his evil inclination. Such a person is worthy of a share in God's glory.

Before a person returns to God, he has no being. It is as if he has not yet been created, because it would have been better for him not to have been created at all. But when he purifies himself in order to return to God, he puts himself in order and prepares to become a being. This element of preparation for becoming - coming into being, as it were - explains why the Divine Name associated with repentance is Ehyeh , "I shall be".

When a person wants to purify himself and return to God, they tell him "Wait!" ( Yoma 38b-39a) . It is true that he should hurry to free his soul and escape the darkness. But he should not allow himself to become discouraged and dejected if he sees that he is far from true prayer and other holy devotions. Waiting patiently is a necessary part of the process. In the end he will be worthy of making amends completely and everything will be rectified.

Repentance never comes to an end: it must be continuous. Even at the very moment that a person is confessing , it is impossible for him to say the words , "I have sinned, I have transgressed, I have rebelled." with perfect sincerity free of all extraneous motives. Thus he must repent for his earlier repentance and for the flaw in his previous confession.

Even when a person knows that he has repented completely, he must still make amends for his earlier repentance. For what he achieved then was good only in proportion to his perception of Godliness at the time. Now, after his repentance, his perception has undoubtedly been heightened. Compared with his present perception, his earlier perception turns out to have been grossly materialistic. He must therefore repent for his earlier levels - because he degraded the true exaltedness of the Creator to the level of the material. Happy is the man who achieves true Teshuvah.

Teshuvah has three aspects: seeing with the eyes, hearing with the ears and understanding in the heart (cf. Isaiah 6:10 ) . A person must use his eyes to look towards the ultimate goal and purpose of this world. He must concentrate on this goal with all his heart, resolving to travel there and nowhere else. And he must use his ears to listen carefully to everything that our holy sages said. Then he will be able to return to God.

Teshuvah essentially depends on humility. One must make oneself into nothing, like a wasteland over which people trample: one must pay no attention whatsoever to opposition or abuse from others. One should train oneself to be silent and hear oneself insulted without answering back. Such a person is worthy of the name "wise" and will attain perfect Teshuvah, the "Crown" and summit of the Sefirot. This is the way to true and enduring glory - the glory of God.

Likutey Moharan I , 6

* * *

Humility

Be totally honest when you speak to God. Accustom yourself to talking so honestly that your heart is aroused and the words start pouring forth with fire and passion.

As you draw closer to God you will see your own smallness and insignificance in comparison with His greatness, and you will be filled with humility. Until now you cast your sins behind your back and ignored them. But as you start to acknowledge them frankly, you will feel deep shame at having rebelled against the Master and Ruler of the Universe, Source of all the worlds.

At first this humility will not actually be discernible on your face, because sin weakens a person's mental powers, preventing them from radiating on the face. Before repenting , his mind is so weakened that he has no conception of the true gravity of sin and the greatness of the One he sinned against. But as he returns to God and puts aside his folly, gaining wisdom and understanding, his shame becomes increasingly visible on his face.

The Tefilin are the sign of humility and attachment to God. The light of the Tefilin is a ray of the light of God's inner countenance. When a person achieves this humility, all his sins are forgiven and he becomes attached to the Tree of Life.

Likutey Moharan I, 38
* * *

The Power of Psalms

Everybody wants to revere God's Name but not everyone is able to repent. Sometimes a person feels no arousal whatever. Even one who is aroused to repent may not reach his unique gate of Teshuvah, and even if he does, it could be that the gate is closed. This is why not everyone attains repentance.

But through reciting Psalms, even one who feels no arousal can be inspired to repent. The Psalms can take him to his unique gate and open it up, thereby bringing him to Teshuvah.

For this reason King David called himself "the man who raised the yoke... the sweet singer of Israel " ( II Samuel 23:1) . Our sages explain that David called himself "the man who raised the yoke" because he elevated the yoke of repentance through his own Teshuvah. David was a great Tzaddik and should not have sinned, but God caused him to sin in order to teach everyone the way of Teshuvah. King David was the prime exemplar of Teshuvah and his pathway is set forth in the Psalms, which he wrote with such a spirit of holiness that everyone can find himself in them and thereby return to God.

Likutey Moharan II, 73
* * *

God hides in the obstacle

When after a life devoted to worldliness a person feels an arousal to God, the attribute of Judgment rises to accuse him and does not permit him to follow God's ways. It does this by confronting him with an obstacle. But God loves kindness and hides Himself within the very obstacle itself. One who lacks good sense sees the obstacle and retreats at once. But one who possesses good sense examines the obstacle and discovers God within it.

Likutey Moharan I, 115

* * *

Revisiting the past

To come to complete Teshuvah you must pass through all the places where you were prior to your Teshuvah. When you encounter exactly the same temptations as you experienced before, you must avert your eyes and control your impulses in order not to repeat what you did earlier. This is the essence of perfect Teshuvah: there is no other way.

Likutey Moharan II, 49

* * *

Be a new creation

If you want to return to God you must make yourself into a new creation. You can do this with a sigh!

Man never stops breathing - releasing the stale air and drawing in fresh air. Our very lives depend on this. The physical air we breathe has its root above. There is the good air of the Tzaddik and the evil air of the sinner. The Tzaddik constantly draws air from the holy, the sinner draws air from impurity.

Therefore, when a person wants to repent, he must make sure to stop the bad air from coming into him. The way to do this is with a sigh, which is a long, deep breath in and out. The sigh begins when you draw in extra air. This is similar to what happens just before a person dies: he draws in extra air and then the spirit leaves him. Every exhalation is the death of the moment that has passed, in preparation for the birth of the new moment. Thus when you take a deep sigh, you release yourself from the bad air of the sinner and bind yourself to the pure air of the Tzaddik in order to receive new vitality.

This is Teshuvah, returning from impurity to holiness in order to gain new life. The very body is renewed, because "Sighing breaks a person's whole body" ( Berachot 58b) , and therefore the body is remade.

Chayey Moharan #37

* * *

How precious is a sigh!

How precious is the sigh of a Jew! The very sigh brings fulfillment of his needs.

For the world was created through the breath, which is the life spirit: " . and through the breath of His mouth all their hosts" (Psalms 33:6) . The renewal of the world will also be through the breath: "You send Your spirit, they are created, and You renew the face of the earth" (Psalms 104:30) . The breath is also man's vitality since his life depends on breathing. "And He breathed in his nostrils the spirit of life" (Genesis 2:7) .

The essential vitality of all things thus depends on the breath. Whenever something is lacking, the main lack is in that thing's vitality, which is the life-spirit keeping it alive. A sigh is a long breath - the long breath of patience. Therefore when a person is patient and sighs over what he lacks, he draws life spirit to that which is lacking, because the main lack is the absence of the life spirit.

But from where does one receive the life spirit? Know that we receive the essential life spirit from the Tzaddik and leader of the generation. This is because the main life spirit is in the Torah, for "the spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (Genesis 1:2) and the "waters" are the Torah. Since the Tzaddkim are attached to the Torah, therefore the main life spirit is with them.

When one who is attached to the Tzaddik and leader of the generation takes a long, deep sigh, he draws life spirit from the Tzaddik, who is attached to the Torah, where the spirit resides. Thus the Tzaddik is called "the man who has the spirit in him" ( Numbers 27:18) - because he knows how to relate to each and everyone according to his spirit.

Likutey Moharan I, 8

* * *

Providence and nature

God shows us great kindness by governing the world with individual providence and through the laws of nature. When people are good, God deals with them providentially, in a way that goes beyond nature. However if God were to oversee the life of an undeserving person in accordance with His providence, no good could ever reach him. Nevertheless out of kindness, God leaves this person to the laws of nature, and as a result , through the law of averages, things may then go well for him.

If God's only way of running the world were through providence, rewarding good deeds and punishing sin, this could lead to a total breakdown of providence. For if God were to see someone acting im­properly and dealt with him in anger, He might cast him out completely. Instead, God abandons him to nature, and when he improves his ways, He deals with him providentially.

But in actual fact we are quite unable to understand what is "nature" and what is "providence", because the truth is that even the laws of nature are really God's providence. However, the human mind is unable to grasp the paradox that what appears to be the law of nature is really God's providence.

Likutey Moharan II, 17

* * *

I have strayed like a lost sheep

"I have strayed like a lost sheep: seek out Your servant" (Psalms 119:176).

When a person sins, it makes a big difference if he comes to his senses at once and repents, in which case it is easy for him to return to his place because he has not yet strayed too far from the good path. For when a person sins, he turns from the straight path and enters a different, twisting pathway. A multitude of wrong turns branch off into ever deeper error and corruption. The person may stray so far and become so entangled that it is very hard for him to turn back and get off the wrong track.

God's way is to call a person the moment He sees him straying from the path of good sense, asking him to turn back. He calls each person in the way most suited to him. To some He beckons with a hint. To others the summons is literally a cry. Some people kick, and He must strike them in order to call them. For "the Torah cries out before them: 'Fools! How long will you love foolishness?'" (Proverbs 1:22, Zohar Shemini 36a) . The Torah is God's voice calling and begging those who sin to return to Him.

As long as a person has not strayed too far from the right path, it is easy for him to return because he still recognizes the voice. This is because only a short time has passed since he was close to God and heeded His voice, the voice of the Torah. He has not yet forgotten it or strayed too far along those other devious paths. Similarly, when a sheep strays from the path and the shepherd immediately calls it, as long as the sheep has not yet strayed too far, it still recognizes the shepherd's voice and immediately responds.

But once the sheep strays far from the path, it forgets the shepherd's voice and no longer recognizes his call. The shepherd also gives up searching because the sheep has been lost for such a long time . Similarly, when a person has been going in the wrong direction for a long time , having strayed far from the true path into all those corrupt, devious and confusing pathways, it is hard for him to repent.

But know that sometimes a person journeys so far along those corrupt and devious paths that his very wandering brings him close to his original place and it only needs an easy test to bring him back to his starting point . But when God calls him and arranges the test, the person does not recognize the voice and feels no need to return. That is the difference between young and old people. One who is still young and has not grown old in his sins can return more easily, because he is still closer and has not forgotten the voice that calls.
This is the meaning of the verse, "I have strayed like a lost sheep: seek out Your servant" (Psalms 119, 176) . "I have strayed like a lost sheep": I have strayed from the good path like a lost sheep that has strayed from the road. This is why I beg of You: ".seek out Your servant, because I have not forgotten Your commandments". Hurry and search for me as long as I still remember the voice of the Torah and mitzvot. Hurry and search for me immediately, because I have not yet forgotten Your mitzvot: I still recognize the call of the mitzvot of the Torah. That is why I beg You to take pity on me and search me out quickly, as long as "I have not forgotten Your mitzvot" and still recognize the voice of the call of the Torah and the mitzvot.

For when a person grows old in his sins, it is very hard to seek him out as he has already forgotten and no longer recognizes the voice of the Torah and the mitzvot. We must therefore beg God to hurry and bring us back to Him before we completely forget the call of the Torah and mitzvot. This was King David's prayer: "Search out Your servant, for I have not forgotten Your mitzvot."

Likutey Moharan I, 206

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Returnity: The Way Back to Eternity


Received via e-mail from Rabbi Tal Zwecker:

Returnity - The Way Back to Eternity
Selected Teachings from the Chassidic Masters on Teshuvah (112pgs SoftCover)

The holy Rav Menachem Nachum Chernobler, author of Me’or Einayim, once said that he firmly believes, with complete faith, that any awakening to do teshuvah that exists in the world until Mashiach arrives (speedily, amen) flows from one source: the great awakening of the holy prayers of the Ba’al Shem Tov, may his merit shield and protect us.


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