Tuesday, February 18, 2014

“Great Atheism is Coming to the World.”

Rebbe Nachman’s Vaccination
Sichos HaRan 32-37

Translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom (Breslov Research Institute), pp. 133-139. Footnotes have been omitted for this online version.

32. Strengthen yourself in faith, completely avoiding all speculation. Do not engage in philosophy, but believe in G-d with innocent faith. It may seem that the average person is very far from philosophical involvement, but many embrace it to some degree. Everybody philosophizes. Even young children often have confusing theories. You must carefully remove all speculation from your heart. Cast it away and do not think about it at all. All you need is a pure faith in G-d and in the true Tzaddikim.

We have received the Torah through Moses our teacher, and it has been transmitted to us by the awesome Tzaddikim of each generation. There is no question as to their integrity and they can be relied upon without question. All one must do is follow in their footsteps, believing in G-d with innocent simplicity, and keeping commandments of the Torah as taught by our holy ancestors.

When a person is sincere and unquestioning, then he can be worthy that G-d illuminate him with the aspect of Desire (ratzon), which is even higher than Wisdom (chokhmah).

The attribute of Wisdom is actually higher than Faith. Still one must avoid the wisdom of speculation and rely on faith alone. Faith has great power, and when one follows its path, he can achieve Desire, a level even higher than Wisdom.

When one is worthy of Desire, he feels a great longing and yearning toward G-d. This feeling becomes so intense that he does not know what to do. And he cries out…

But there is a philosopher in every man’s heart. He is the Evil One, who raises questions in one’s mind. We must humble him and eject him, strengthening ourselves in faith and emptying the heart of all questions.

There are sins that lead a person to skepticism. This can also result from the fact that a person was not conceived in holiness, especially if he himself is guilty of similar sins. All these things are detrimental to one’s faith.

One should therefore be very much ashamed of the fact that he has doubts regarding belief. Such questions are not a sign of intelligence, but an indication that he was conceived in an unholy state, or that he himself is guilty of such sins. It is these things that cause one to doubt the essence of our faith. Such doubts should therefore cause one to have great shame and heartbreak.

“G-d’s glory fills all the earth” (Numbers 14:21), for “the whole world is filled with His glory” (Isaiah 6:3). A person must realize this, and remember that these doubts are divorcing him from the living G-d and uprooting him from the Life of all life. We need not describe the great shame a person should have because of such doubts. But with heartbreak and shame, he can expel and destroy all these questions.

Faith is a very strong thing, and it can greatly fortify your life. If you have faith, then you have a source of comfort and inspiration even when troubles strike. You realize that all troubles are ultimately for your good and are an atonement for your sins. You know that G-d will be good to you in the end, both in this World and the next.

The faithless skeptic, on the other hand, has nowhere to turn when troubles strike. He is utterly alone, without comfort or inspiration.

It is impossible to put everything into writing, but an intelligent man should be able to build upon this himself.

The main thing is innocent faith. With it, one can have a portion both in this world and the next. Happy is he who has such faith, for he shall never be moved (Psalms 122:6).

There are souls conceived in absolute holiness. When such a holy soul comes down to this world and is not tainted with sin, it results in a person with perfect faith. Such a person never has any doubts.

Others can express their skepticism in such a man’s presence, but his faith is in no way disturbed. Like a eunoch, who is not aroused by lewd conversation, he is totally oblivious to all doubts. His ears are deaf to all their speculation and confusion.

Even one who is not endowed with such an extraordinary soul can realize that the average person’s questions are mere foolishness. Upon close examination, their questions turn out not to be questions at all.

Many people are disturbed by questions for years, not realizing that their questions are actually answers. It is only their lack of intelligence that makes them seem like questions in the first place.

They have questions like those one might ask a child: “If we have a broken window, why replace it with a pane from the next window if a bird can then fly through the remaining empty frame?”

Such a question actually includes its own answer. But a child does not realize this and considers it a very difficult question. He will ponder it and not know what to reply.

But the question itself is really very foolish. The question about the bird is really the answer to the first foolish question. The reason why we do not use the adjacent pane is precisely because it leaves a space through which a bird can fly.

A young child does not have enough intelligence to realize that the answer is included in such a question. For this very reason, the question seems very difficult to him.

The same is true of many people. A foolish question enters their mind, and they have no idea that this question actually includes its own answer. It seems like a difficult question, but only because of their lack of intelligence. Understand this well.

Consider all this and be strong in faith. Flee from this foolishness and confusion, and cast all questions and doubts from your mind.

33. Another time when the Rebbe was discussing faith he remarked, “The world considers faith a minor thing. But I consider it an extremely great thing.

“The main road to faith is empty of all sophistication and speculation. It is the innocent faith of the most average religious person.”

34. Faith is like charity. The Torah says of Abraham (Gen. 15:6), “ And he had faith in G-d, and He counted it as charity.”

Through faith one is worthy of children. The Hebrew word for faith is AeMUNaH (alef-mem-vav-nun-heh). Turn the letters into numbers, and the Gematriah is BaNiYM (beis-nun-yod-mem)—children (102).

35. The Rebbe said, “Great atheism is coming to the world.”

Many times he told us that the world’s many sins are resulting in great disbelief. Happy is he who is strong in his faith.

The Rebbe said that the fact that he is predicting this will not prevent this G-dlessness and confusion from increasing.

Thousands of years ago, Daniel and others predicted that this would happen in the days before the Messiah. They said (Dan. 12:10), “Many will purify themselves and be refined, and make themselves shining white. The wicked will be evil, and only the wise shall understand.”

It has already been predicted that there will be great temptations before the Messiah’s coming, where “many will purify themselves and be refined, and make themselves shining white” in faith. Fortunate indeed is one who resists these temptations and remains firm in his belief. He will be worthy of all the good promised to us by the prophets and sages of old.

Knowing full well that this has already been predicted, it would seem ridiculous for one to succumb to any temptation to abandon his beliefs. It would seem obvious that every Jew would have enough intelligence to remain firm. But still it is a great trial. Many will fall away, and for this reason it is written that “the wicked will be evil” (ibid.).

The Rebbe said, “ Still, I am revealing this for the sake of the few faithful who will remain strong in their belief. They will certainly have great conflicts. But when they see that this has already been predicted, it will give them additional strength and encouragement.”

36. The Rebbe also said, “There will come a time when a simple religious man will be as rare and unique as the Baal Shem Tov.”

37. Atheism is called a burden.

In the verse (Deut. 1:12), “How can I alone bear your encumberance and your burden,” Rashi explains that “burden” refers to the fact that there were nonbelievers among the Jews in the wilderness.

When a person travels to a Tzaddik, he casts aside this heavy burden. Travelling to a Tzaddik is an act of faith, the opposite of disbelief.

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