(Painting by Megan Duncanson)
Sichos HaRan 51
From Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (Breslov Research Institute), pp. 158-161 (with correction, p. 160, lines 4, 5 and 6).
Footnotes have been omitted for this online version.
The World Only Exists to Bring About G-d’s Purpose
This world only exists to bring about G-d’s purpose.
Do not be concerned with wealth. Even with it your life can be in vain.
The world deceives us completely. I t makes us think that we are constantly gaining, but in the end we have nothing. People spend years earning money, but are left with empty hands. Even one who attains wealth is taken away from it.
Man and wealth cannot endure together.
Either wealth is taken from the man, or the man is taken from his wealth. The two do not remain together.
Where are all the riches accumulated since the beginning of time? People amassed wealth since the beginning — where is it all? I t is absolutely nothing.
No man serves G-d according to His greatness.
If you have some conception of G-d’s greatness, you will not understand how one can claim to
serve Him. The highest angel cannot say that he truly serves G-d.
The main thing is desire. Always yearn to approach G-d.
Many want to serve G-d, but not all have the same desire.
There are many levels of desire, even in one person. At every moment his desire can change.
The main thing is to yearn for G-d. With this, you can pray and study and keep His commandments.
[But according to G-d’s greatness, all service is nothing. It is all like it has never been. Everything is mere nothingness before the immensity of G-d.].
Sophistication is nothing, for you must only be sincere.
It is forbidden to be foolish, even in your sincerity. But sophistication is totally unnecessary.
It is not good to be old.
There are pious and righteous elders, but to be old is not good. You must remain young, renewing yourself each day and making a fresh start.
Only one thing improves with age. The Talmud teaches us that a pig becomes stronger as it grows older (Shabbos 77b).
Do not be a fanatic.
Serving G-d is not fanaticism. Those who pursue worldly goods are the true fanatics.
The world will consider you a lunatic i f you abandon all worldliness in your quest for the G-dly. This is said to be fanaticism, and even this is not necessary.
For you can serve G-d with restraint.
Take my advice and do not let the world fool you.
It may try to deceive you, but it will never let things end well for you.
Every man ends up badly in this world, even those who acquire all it has to offer. The harm is not only theirs, but also destroys many future generations.
Even the nations of the world need to know this.
If the world is nothing, then what can you do?
To know what to do, you must have help from on high.
However, Israel needs no further help, for the Torah has already taught us.
The world says that you should not seek greatness. But I say that you should only seek greatness.
Seek out the greatest possible Tzaddik. When you seek a Rabbi, choose only the greatest Tzaddik.
The passions that destroy man do not really exist.
One must eat and drink but it is a necessity. The body must be sustained. One must likewise beget children. This is all necessity and not desire. It can be accomplished in holiness and purity.
Your mind can withstand any temptation.
It is written (Dan. 2:21), “G-d gives wisdom to the wise.” Every man has the potential of wisdom. It is this potential that must be used.
This potential alone can overcome all temptations. But G-d also “gives wisdom to the wise,” and this can grant you even greater strength.
You may have succumbed to desire and sinned in many ways. You may have blemished your intellect, making it confused and weak. But still you have some intelligence, and this alone can overcome all desires.
One grain of intelligence can overcome the world and all its temptations.
Wherever you are, you can be near to G-d.
You can approach G-d and truly serve Him even in the deepest pit of hell.
The Rebbe remarked that for this one needs tremendous effort or G-d’s help. Sometimes one needs both.
There are impurities in the mind, and these must be subdued. When you do this, you will not want anything in this world. Everything will be the same to you.
It is written (Prov. 6:22), “When you walk it will comfort you, when you lie down it will watch over you, and when you will wake up, it will comfort you.”
“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 future world, “it will comfort you.”
When you have purified your thoughts, there is no difference between this world, the grave, and the next world. When you only desire G-d and His Torah, all are the same. In all three you can grasp onto G-d and his Torah.
But if you grasp at this world, there is an agonizing difference. This world is spread before you, but the grave is a tight cramped place.
But purify your mind and all will be the same.