Thursday, July 30, 2015

Rabbi Chaim Kramer: Why Would Someone Convert To Judaism?

From Breslov Research Institute:

What is it that compels a non-Jew to join the ranks of the Jewish People? After all, the media takes a joyride by demonizing Israel and the Jewish nation. Why make a conscious decision to become a Jew?
Many teachings found in our writings actually marvel at the qualities it takes to make such a bold step.
Nowhere in Chassidic discourses can we find the abundance of material addressing this idea as in the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

Read the whole article from Rabbi Chaim Kramer's

Monday, July 27, 2015

“Shema Yisrael”

Otzar Nachmani # 230
Collected Talks of Rabbi Nachman Burstein, zatzal
Translated by Dovid Sears

Dated: Tuesday, Parshas Beshalach 5763 / 2003
[Reb Nachman Burstein writes:]

On the previous Shabbos, Parshas Bo, my grandson entered into the bris of Avraham Avinu, a”h, at the Breslover Synagogue in Me’ah She’arim [Jerusalem]. And on that very day a chiddush, a novel insight, occurred to me, through the kindness of Hashem.

It is customary that as soon as the infant is brought to the bris, he is transferred to his father’s arms, and while holding the infant, the father calls aloud, “Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad!”

This corresponds to the well-known teaching of Reb Noson that the entire celebration and purpose of a Jewish wedding is that another Jewish soul should come to the world and declare every day, morning and night, “Shema Yisrael…!”—thus to magnify and sanctify the great Name of the Blessed One.

This is why the father calls out in public, “Shema Yisrael…” while holding the infant, specifically. In this manner he shows that the child was born in order to say “Shema Yisrael…” And since the child is still unable to speak these words himself, his father does so in his place.

“Mesirus Hatenu’os”

Photo by Boogie ("Everybody Street")

Otzar Nachmani , sec. 219
Collected Talks of Rabbi Nachman Burstein zatzal
Translated by Dovid Sears

The following describes a Breslover practice that reflects the acknowledgement of hashgacha pratis (divine providence) in every detail of our lives. Please see the sources in Sichos ha-Ran that the author cites. This strengthens a person’s ability to “go with the flow” in all aspects of daily life. DS

I heard from many Breslover Chassidim, and in particularlar from Reb Yankel Melamed (Rabbi Yaakov Kalmanovitch of Yerushalayim), zal, that it was customary to “give over” all of one’s movements and gestures to Hashem (“mesirus hatenu’os,” a practice the Rebbe describes in Sichos ha-Ran # 2 and # 238)—right after reciting “Modeh Ani” in the morning and washing their hands, etc.

This was the nusach [i.e., the basic verbal formula, more or less]: Ribbono shel Olam! Master of the Universe! I cast my burden upon You, and rely upon You alone. I entrust all of my movements this day, and all those of my children and whoever depends on me, as well as all of my conduct and all aspects of the entire day—that everything should be according to Your beneficent Will, in keeping with the view of our holy Rebbe, “tzaddik yesod olam,” the “flowing brook, source of wisdom,” Rabbeinu Nachman ben Feige, may his merits shield us, amen.

On Shabbos they would add “the entire Shabbos,” and on Yom Tov, “the entire Yom Tov.”

I also remember that the chassid, Reb Shmuel Shapiro, zal, used to recite the “giving over” of his movements before praying Ma’ariv. He would combine it with the prayer cited by the Bi’ur Halakhah (additional glosses of the Chofetz Chaim on Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chaim, sec. 3, re. the three prayers of thanksgiving) in the name of the Talmud Yerushalmi, that it is good to recite before Ma’ariv: May it be Your Will, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that just as I was in darkness and You brought me into the light, so may You bring me from darkness to light… (see there for the full prayer).

Monday, July 13, 2015

Keep Dancing!

Otzar Nachmani #231
Collected Talks of Rabbi Nachman Burstein, zatzal
Translated by Dovid Sears

People often ask in amazement, “What’s with you Breslover Chassidim? You dance every day after davenning Shacharis and Ma’ariv. Today isn’t Purim or Simchas Torah, what are you celebrating?” We reply: There are many reasons for these rikkudim (dances).

1) Our Rebbe [Rabbi Nachman], of blessed memory, writes in Likutey Moharan (Lesson 10, “Vi-eileh ha-Mishpatim”), that through dancing and clapping hands, heaven’s harsh judgments are “sweetened”; see there at length. And many other lessons in Likutey Moharan discuss clapping hands during prayer (Lessons 4, 45, and 46). Therefore, we fulfill our Rebbe’s holy teachings. Indeed, Chazal state that [since the destruction of the Holy Temple] each day is more accursed than its predecessor, may the Merciful One save us (Sotah 49a). So it is urgently necessary that harsh judgments on the world be mitigated. That’s why we clap our hands during prayer, and right afterward, we dance: so that the harsh judgments on the world will be sweetened, as our Rebbe taught. Thus, all Breslover Chassidim fulfill his words in simplicity every day, including on Shabbos and Yom Tov and even during the Three Weeks [of mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple], except for the Nine Days. We believe with a whole heart that this truly has a great effect, and surely nullifies many harsh decrees on the world; Hashem derivers gratification from this (so to speak), and the divine wrath is assuaged.

2) Another reason for the rikkud after davening in the morning is so that we will begin the day bi-simchah—with joy. For our Rebbe said, “Mitzvah gedolah lihiyos bi-simchah tamid, it is a great mitzvah to be happy constantly!” And dancing makes a person happy.

3) By doing so, we demonstrate to Hashem that we are happy to get up in the morning and pray with a minyan—and we express this joy in a rikkud in honor of Hashem. This is also an expression of thanks for the kindness Hashem has done for us by restoring our souls that had been entrusted to His care during sleep.