Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Purpose of Life

Selections from Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum’s “The Essential Rabbi Nachman
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5767 - 2006-7 All rights reserved

The purpose of Life

If a person doesn’t focus on the purpose, what is the point of his life?

Likutey Moharan
I, 268

Make a profit from this world

The profit you can gain from this world is indescribable. You don’t even need to lay out money to make a profit from this world. All you need to do is reach out and take advantage of the many opportunities God constantly provides for you to make a very great profit.

Likutey Moharan
II, 55

Each mitzvah creates a lamp

Each mitzvah that a person does in this world creates a lamp with which he can explore the treasure house of the King after he dies. This is the ultimate bliss of the life to come.
Likutey Moharan I, 275

Reward of the world to come
We call the reward in the world to come “good” because there is simply no other term to describe it. Yet even the word “good” is quite inadequate, because this reward is far beyond good. Still, the only way to explain it to people is by calling it good, although in truth, “no eye has seen it, other than God” (Isaiah 64:3) .

Sichot Haran

Israel‘s destiny

Israel was created to have dominion over the angels, and this is Israel ‘s ultimate destiny. Each one must make certain that he attains his destiny and rules over the angels.
But you must guard yourself carefully to ensure that you have the strength to stand firm in this dominion and not let the ministering angels cast you down out of jealousy. The way to stand firm is by binding yourself to the souls of Israel . This is accomplished by binding yourself to the true leaders of Israel , the Tzaddikim.

Likutey Moharan
II, 1

From level to level

A person must long to attain the highest possible level. And he must not allow himself to fall from even the smallest level.

Siach Sarfey Kodesh

When a person rises from level to level in this world, never ceasing to make fresh advances in serving God, so too in the world to come he will continue rising from level to level.
Siach Sarfey Kodesh 1-85

In this world it is completely impossible for a person to know where he is holding . Not knowing where one stands is one of the main tests in life.
Likutey Halachot, Yoreh Deah, Shavuot 2:17

Free will

Everything you see in the world—everything that exists—is there for the sake of free will, in order to test people. The entire world and all that it contains were created to give man free will.

Sichot Haran
#300; Chayey Moharan #519

What is free will? If you want, you do it, and if you don’t want, you don’t do it!

Likutey Moharan
II, 110

Man is unique in his greatness. When a person does like this with his hands, a movement like this takes place in all the worlds!

And when he does like that with his hands, a movement like that takes place in all the worlds!

If you could turn a person inside out, you would see that thousands upon thousands of worlds depend on every single sinew of his body.

Chayey Moharan

The hard part of anything one has to do for God is the part left to one’s own free will. These are the things that one has to decide for oneself without being explicitly commanded or asked to do them. It is then entirely up to oneself to do as one chooses.

In all acts of devotion, something is always left for the individual to decide for himself without being instructed one way or the other. He must make his own choice. It is in the area where free will comes into play that the main work lies. There is always room for doubt about what God really wants, since He has given no instructions as to what to do.

Chayey Moharan

Different kinds of life

Even if a person dies at the age of eighty, he may still have had a short life if he failed to improve himself and spent all his years on vain pursuits.
We only need to live a little—as long as we live right!

Chayey Moharan

In this world many people of little substance are considered great while genuine merit is unrecognized. There are many different kinds of life. Some lead very troubled lives though this may not always be outwardly apparent. There are different degrees of troubled lives.

One person’s suffering is never quite like another’s. Even the life of a person who does not endure actual suffering may not necessarily be comparable to that of somebody else in a similar category, because the various forms of life differ markedly from one another.

You cannot compare the life of a horse to that of a man. Just as there are enormous differences between life forms on the physical plane, so there are great differences in the quality of people’s spiritual lives.

True life is to delight in God. Some people achieve this even in this world; others not at all. Spiritual life contains the same multiplicity of gradations that exist on the level of physical life.

Chayey Moharan

Have you looked up at the sky today?

When you look outside, what do you see? The market, wagons, horses, people running in all directions. Fifty years from now the market will be completely different, with different horses and wagons, different merchandise and different people. I won’t be here and you won’t be here.

Then let me ask you now: How come you are so busy and preoccupied that you don’t even have time to look up at the sky?

Kochvey Ohr


All the pleasures of this world are like sunbeams in a dark room. They may seem solid, but when a person tries to grasp hold of a sunbeam, he finds nothing in his hand. The same is true of all worldly desires.

Sichot Haran

Doorway to life

For a Tzaddik, death is just like going from one room to another.

Sichot Haran

What is there for you to be afraid of about dying? The world there is far more beautiful than here.

Chayey Moharan

What’s there to do?

What should a person do in this world? He must only pray and study and pray.

Sichot Haran

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Now Available as Kindle Book

David Sears, The Vision of Eden: Animal Welfare and Vegetarianism in Jewish Law and Mysticism (first ed. Orot 2003).
Cover art: Jan Breughel the Elder
Index: Rossinna Ippolito

The newly revised 2015 Meorei Ohr edition is now available for single copy or bulk purchases through Amazon. It includes significant new material, updated statistics and industry-related data, expanded notes and a number of corrections.

The Amazon page is here.

Bulk orders at wholesale rates may be made by retailers via CreateSpace here.

On Hosting Torah Scholars

The following are three excerpts from Rabbi Nachman Goldstein of Tcherin’s Otzar ha-Yirah (Subtitle: Likutey Eitzos Hameshulosh), which is an expansion of Reb Noson’s Likutey Eitzos. The first two excerpts (found in the section “Hakhnosas Orchim,” 1-2) are taken from Likutey Moharan, while the third is a synopsis of ideas from Likutey Halakhos. This third teaching seems to shed light on those from Likutey Moharan, which imply that the Torah thoughts of true sages during their travels bring about various purifications. These spiritual benefits extend even to those who show them hospitality.
Translated by Dovid Sears

Likutey Moharan I, 28:
By welcoming true talmidei chakhomim (Torah scholars) into one’s home, one merits to attain faith and to destroy heresies. In this manner, we may elevate and rectify the “fallen” Torah teachings of unworthy scholars—those whom [the Zohar calls] “shedin yehuda’in” (“Jewish demons”). From them derives all opposition to those who fear G-d. Thus we merit to overcome all opponents.

Likutey Moharan I, 209:
Showing hospitality to Torah scholars accomplishes the perfection of prayer. For every person is guilty of “bad prayers,” which then confuse him when he stands up to pray a proper prayer. However, showing hospitality to a Torah scholar is a tikkun (spiritual remedy) for all this.

From Otzar ha-Yirah, “Tiltul u-Nesiyos la-Derakhim” (3):
There are “fallen” Torah teachings, which are in the category of “the air of the world” [i.e., the profane, as contrasted with the sacred]. However, they also contain hidden good—“holy sparks” of the Torah of Truth. And it is necessary to extricate the good within them and elevate it to the realm of holiness. This reflects the principle: “If you find a pomegranate, eat the inner contents and discard the husk” (Chagigah 15b).

This is the spiritual root of all the arduous journeys that people must undertake, when they are compelled to travel on the road and wander about and endure various hardships while they are away from home.

When one is on the road, it is as if he is in the “air of the world” [i.e., the realm of the profane]—for he is away from his established dwelling place [which has been sanctified by Torah, prayer and mitzvos]. But if he is worthy, he can extricate the hidden good in the “fallen” Torah teachings mentioned above, which are an aspect of the “air of the world,” and from them he builds structures of holiness.

This is the secret of the travels of the Children of Israel in the desert with the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the Aron (Holy Ark) and the Luchos (Tablets); and there [in the desert] they were commanded all of the mitzvos of the Torah. This is why their journeys are written in the Torah—for all of their journeys actually created Torah.

This indicates the lofty level of showing hospitality to Torah scholars, as our sages have taught (see Berakhos 10a, 63b; Midrash Shmuel 18). When such a guest is traveling, this only occurs so that he may extricate the “fallen” Torah teachings. Afterwards, when he enters the home of his host and finds a resting place, he completes the “building” of wondrous spiritual structures, which are made out of the good that he collected and refined from the fallen Torah while he was on the road.

Thus, his journey was truly like that of the Holy Ark—for wherever a tzaddik goes, the Shekhinah (Immanent Divine Presence) and the Torah accompany him. For this reason alone did he set forth on his travels [i.e., to complete the Torah by refining and elevating the good contained in the fallen Torah teachings].

Therefore, whoever shows hospitality to such a guest actually provides a resting place for the Shekhinah and for the tzaddik, as well as for the Torah teachings that the tzaddik extricated. So it is that by showing hospitality to Torah scholars, one [has a share in] perfecting and elevating the fallen Torah teachings (based on Likutey Halakhos, Hil. Birkhas ha-Mazon 5:5-6; ibid. Hil. Shutfim 2:7).

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Close Call

Otzar Nachmani
, sec. 98
Collected Talks of Rabbi Nachman Burstein, zatzal
Translated by Dovid Sears (unedited)

[Rabbi Nachman Burstein writes:]
Rabbi Yankel Melamed, of blessed memory (whose yahrtzeit is 9 Shevat), told me that there was a time when the Breslover Chassidim used to go for hisbodedus to the cave of Tzidkiyahu HaMelekh in Yerushalayim. It once happened that a group of Breslovers went there to seclude themselves, to pray and supplicate and cry out to Hashem “seventy cries” [like a woman giving birth; see Likutey Moharan I, 21, 36; II, 2], as is the way of our brotherhood. But afterward, when they wished to leave, they couldn’t find their way back to the cave’s entrance. The more they searched, the more they became lost in the cave’s interior. (As Rashi remarks on II Kings, chap. 25, this cave extends to the plains of Jordan, which Tzidkiyahu HaMelekh traversed in his flight from his palace by way of Jerico, where the second mouth of the cave is located).

Thus, they went farther and farther away from the entrance, wandering around in the lightless caverns for hours in search of a way out, until the day began to wane and it started getting dark. The darkness of night in a cave is far greater than its darkness by day. Thus, it was utterly impossible to detect the opening. Now they were in actual danger, since no one else knew where they had gone, and calling for help would be to no avail; the sounds could not be heard outside, but merely echoed within the walls of the caverns. Moreover, there were small children with them, and the group had no candles to light. They also had neglected to take food or water with them, since they had merely planned to spend an hour or so in hisbodedus, not more. Therefore, the danger steadily increased.

Suddenly they heard Reb Yonah Lebel, zal, calling loudly to the rest of the group, “If this is how it is, let us all cry out to the Almighty! Nobody can help us—so scream, scream all together! Hashem hoshiya, ha-Melekh yaneinu bi-yom koreinu! May Hashem save us! May the King answer us on the day we call!” (Psalm 20)

Immediately they all began to scream loudly in unison, “Hashem hoshiya, ha-Melekh yaneinu bi-yom koreinu!” They repeated this verse over and over again, entreating mercy, as well as other verses of supplication. Then they began to recite the names of tzaddikim, each individual according to what he could remember (as the Rebbe states in Sefer ha-Middos, “Tzaddik,” that reciting the names of tzaddikim has the power to alter the laws of nature).

Together, they recited Tikkun ha-Klalli with deep emotion and tears. After this, Reb Yonah began to cry out already hoarse from supplication, “Shema Yisrael!”—and the others repeated his words, as if this were the end. The little children wept, and cried for their mothers.

At this point, their deliverance began to break forth. About fifteen minutes before dusk, one of the group who had ventured far into the cave started screaming, “Over here! With Hashem’s help, I’ve found the way to the cave’s entrance! Everyone come to me and don’t delay, because the sun is about to set!”

However, due to the many windings of the path out of the cave, it was hard for them to tell where he was; so they called for him to raise his voice, so that they could reach him by heading in that direction. He did so, and they drew nearer to him, until all together at last, they beheld the mouth of the cave. There, they broke into dance and fervent rejoicing in gratitude to Hashem for their deliverance.

Beside the entrance, they stood and prayed Minchah with great happiness. And so they emerged from the cave without mishap or harm, healthy and whole and in high spirits, through Hashem’s kindness.

Reb Yankel told me that one member of the group had not believed that they would get out alive, because that had previously heard about people who had disappeared into the cave without a trace. However, Chazal taught us: “Even if a sharp sword should be against your neck, do not despair of God’s mercy” (Berakhos 10a)! And the Rebbe cried, “Kein ye’ush iz gohrnit fahrhand’n … Absolutely nothing is hopeless!” Thus, they emerged in peace, in fulfillment of the verse, “And they cried out to Hashem in their dire straits, and from their distress He brought them forth” (Psalms 107).

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Appeal for Breslov Minyan of Flatbush

Received by e-mail from the Gabbai

The Breslov Shul in Flatbush, located at 1909 New York Avenue, was established nearly seven years ago.  I have been involved in the Shul for most of the duration since its onset. Thankfully, I never had to write a letter like this, and hope I do not have to in the future. The Shul is under the leadership of Rabbi Ahron Berlin. It is an " open house" for all Jews who need and desire a place to daven. No individual is ever refused the opportunity to daven, receive an Aliyah, or have a seat. The Shul welcomes all people. It is a friendly Shul whose doors are always open to the public.  
The only income the Shul generates is from the sale of seats for Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur, as well as selling Aliyot throughout Succot. But even people who do not buy seats for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are never refused a seat during these Yomim Tovim, and throughout the entire year. 
The Rabbi has informed me that the bills in the Shul are exorbitant now, due to the rent, electricity, heat (especially during these cold months), food, paper goods some other staples, as well as general upkeep.  Currently, the Shul is in the red by about  $8,000. (And the Rav does not take a  salary). 

The Shul cannot function or continue in its current state. 
I am aware that some of our friends and mispallelim contribute a check once in a while. However, unfortunately this will does not suffice. If we as a  family want this Shul to stay open, we need EVERYONE to reach into their pockets and write a check, or go on the Shul website to donate via credit card. Every dollar counts, but the more that you can give, the more this will relieve the dire situation we are in.
Rabbi Lazer Brody asks why should someone who is not doing well in Parnasah should give charity: It does not appear to make sense, as the individual will have less money.
He answers that giving Tzedaka is above nature -- and when one does that, Hashem sends down a special “SHEFA" that the donor will get it back ten-fold.  Please help us now before it’s too late! 
Visit our website and donate:
If anyone has noticed, the Shul is named after Rav Nachman of Breslov.  Rav Nachman said many times "Whoever invests in me has never lost!" 
This is investing in your local Shul where we all come, are greeted with a warm smile, receive a hot drink, and a beautiful D'var Torah from our wonderful Rav.
You will be investing in Rav Nachman of Breslov, Z.Y.A. 
Thank you,
Yisroel Plaut

Memories of Rabbi Yaakov Kalmanovitch (“Reb Yankel Melamed”)

Yahrtzeit: 9 Shevat

By Dovid Sears

Rabbi Yaakov Kalmanovitch, better known as “Reb Yankel Melamed,” was a well-known Breslover Chassid in Yerushalayim who passed away during the 1990s at an advanced age. He earned his nickname because for much of his life he worked as a teacher (melamed) of young boys, especially at the Eitz Chaim Yeshiva. One of his pupils was my teacher, Rav Elazar Mordechai Kenig, mara d’asra of the Breslov kehillah in Tsfat. In his old age, Reb Yankel would spend the months of Elul and Tishrei in the Kenig home, where he slept on a day-bed in the one room that served as dining room, living room and library. He was the Baal Shacharis in the Breslover kibbutz in nearby Meron on Rosh Hashanah for many years, and also led part of the Yom Kippur service in the Breslov shul on Rechov Yud-Alef in Tsfas. I was zokheh to meet him during that period. Reb Yankel was a “chassidisher yid” to his bones, with a crusty Yerushalayim personality, a razor-sharp sense of humor, and his awesome expression while davening was something I will never forget.  

He’aras ha-Ratzon

In 1990, I went to Uman for Rosh Hashanah (my third trip and second Rosh Hashanah there), and continued on to Tzefat for Yom Kippur. Among other things, I wanted to confer with Rav Elazar Kenig (hereafter “Reb Luzer”) in Tzefat about a family crisis (which B”H fulfilled the words that Jewish folklore attributes to Shlomo HaMelekh, “Gam zeh ya’avor… This too shall pass”). I remember pacing the cobblestone streets of Tzefat in the orange lamplight with Reb Luzer and my friend Reb Shlomo Aharon Gottlieb for over an hour, discussing the problem from various angles. Reb Shlomo Aharon eventually departed, and Reb Luzer and I slowly made our way to his house on Rechov Chasam Sofer.
As we entered the dining room, I saw an elderly Chassid lying on a stained sheet on the day-bed beside the table. Reb Luzer greeted him warmly, calling him “Rebbe.” The old man responded in turn, somewhat mischievously calling Reb Luzer “Rebbe,” and with effort sat up and adjusted his clothing. I recognized him as Reb Luzer’s childhood teacher, Reb Yankel Melamed, who had the Rosh Hashanah shacharis prayer in Meron the one year I had attended them (1988). Reb Luzer helped him to the table, while Rebbetzin Kenig served the honored guest supper.

 “Reb Yankel,” my teacher continued, “here is a Jew who just came from Uman, and he has a problem. I can’t do anything with him. Maybe you make him bi-simchah!” With these words, Reb Luzer departed, leaving me alone with Reb Yankel Melamed.

            “Reb Luzer is a groiser tzaddik (a great holy man)” Reb Yankel commented, preparing to eat his repast. Then he looked at me fixedly. “Obber zein rebbetzin is gohr gresser . . . But his wife is much greater!”

 Deliberately, the elderly Chassid lifted a spoonful of what we call “Israeli salad” to his lips, spilling half of it on his clothes, closed his deeply lined, bloodshot eyes, and fervently recited a brochah. Then he slowly placed the food in his mouth, chewed it and swallowed, as I watched in silence. The next few spoonfuls were consumed with equal deliberation and mindfulness, until at some point he took cognizance of me again. Perhaps just to make conversation he commented, “The Rebbe says that when one eats he can experience a he’aras ha-ratzon (awakening of the deepest inner will of the soul)…”

            “I know, I know,” I replied. “But I am a coarse person. What does the Rebbe mean by ‘he’aras ha-ratzon?’ “

             Reb Yankel looked at me in undisguised contempt (at least, that’s how I interpreted it).

Again, he lifted a spoonful of Israeli salad to his lips, stopped for a moment, rolled his eyes heavenward, and suddenly emitted a deafening Breslever krechtz: “OOOYYYYYY!!!!!!

So that was he’aras ha-ratzon!

I was surprised the plaster ceiling didn’t fall down.

 Without further ado, I thanked him, left the room, and hurried out of the house and down the dark alley into the street. As I entered the yellowish lamplight, I saw Reb Luzer waiting for me in the shadows of a nearby doorway.

            “Reb Luzer, what did you do that to me for?” I exclaimed.

            “What did Reb Yankel Melamed tell you?” he asked.

            “He gave me a lesson in he’aras ha-ratzon!”

            Reb Luzer couldn’t help chuckling. Then he became silent. So did I. In the distance, a baby was crying; otherwise the streets were still.

            “Do you hear that baby crying?” Reb Luzer mused. “That’s how you have to cry to Hashem…

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rebbe Nachman on Hospitality

From Sefer Alef-Beis (Sefer ha-Middos), “Hachnossas Orchim”

Translation by Moshe Mykoff, The Alef-Bet Book (Breslov Research Institute), pp. 11-12

Source references and remazim from Hebrew edition published by Kollel Zvi la-Tzaddik (now BRI), based on the research of Rabbi Noson of Breslov, Rabbi Nachman Goldstein of Tcherin, and Rabbi Tzadok of Lublin, with explanatory comments (see there). For further study, see Tiferes ha-Middos (2 vol.) by Rabbi Nachman Yosef Vitriol. 

Part A:
1. An inhospitable person strengthens the hand of evil-doers so that they do not return to God. (See Isaiah 3-12.)
2. [The people of] a city where hospitality is not practiced will turn to immodest behavior, and this will bring murder into their midst. (See Proverbs 2:13, 19; Psalms 25:4; Jeremiah 23:14.)
3. Hospitality brings a woman to be blessed with children. (II Kings 4:13, 16, re. the Prophet Elisha and the Shunamite woman; also the example of Avraham Avinu and the angelic guests: see Berakhos 53b.)
4. Receiving guests is like receiving the Shabbos. (See Shabbos 119a, with Rashi; Tikkuney Zohar, Tikkun 6, end, and Tikkun 47.)
5. When a person welcomes a Torah scholar into his home, it is like he brought the daily sacrificial offerings. (See Berakhos 10b.)
6. Hospitality is even greater than arriving early at the House of Torah Study and receiving the Shekhinah (Divine Presence). (See Shabbos 127a.)
7. Jews who have no rabbis in their midst are like Kuttim (Samaritans). [This seems to be included in this chapter as if to say that Jews who don’t welcome Torah scholars into their homes will become like the Samaritans, who reverted to heresy. DS] (See Pesachim 51a.)

Part B
1. Hospitality earns a person the fearful-respect of others. (See Bereishis Rabbah, Vayera, 48:14.)
2. Hospitality is a segulah (a charm or wondrous cure) for returning a woman’s menses [so that she can again bear children]. (Bereishis Rabbah, Vayera, 48:17; ibid. 56:5.)
3. The prominence of the leaders of the generation is strengthened by God’s holiness. This [prestige] brings everyone to value the mitzvah of hospitality and causes those who study the Torah to have the law accepted as they understand it. (See Shemos Rabbah 25:8.)

The “Burned Book” (Sefer ha-Nisraf)
From Chayei Moharan, sec. 574 
Translated by Avraham Greenbaum, Tzaddik (Breslov Research Institute), p. 440

There is a tradition that the Sefer ha-Nisraf included, among other things, a discussion of the greatness and holiness of the mitzvah of hospitality. It also dealt with the greatness of the mitzvah of preparing the bed for the guest. 

(As for the nature of the lost book and the circumstances surrounding its burning, see Chayei Moharan 169, 170, 172-177.)

Update on Rabbi Rosenberg’s Condition

We are happy to say that Rabbi Rosenberg is no longer in the hospital, but recovering at home from what the doctors described as a “mini-stroke.” He is taking blood thinners and other medications, and seemed to be in good spirits when we spoke with him over the phone. Although initially he could not move his hands and was unable to speak clearly, he is now back to normal. However, he must rest and cannot travel to America to raise funds again for at least three months, according to his doctors’ orders.

If any supporters of Eizer L’Shabbos could help relieve his burden of debt at this time, it would be a tremendous help to both the needy of Tsfat and a great source of relief to Rabbi Rosenberg, and would no doubt contribute to his speedy recovery. Donations may be made online here.

Checks may be mailed to Eizer L’Shabbos, 5014 Sixteenth Ave. Suite 319, Brooklyn, NY 11204

Please visit the Eizer L’Shabbos website:

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This Wednesday Night Only - Rabbi Ephraim Kenig, shlit"a

We are honored to announce a special class this Wednesday night, January 14th , to be given by Rabbi Ephraim Kenig, shlit"a, of the Breslev community of Tsfat.

"The Meaning of Golus (Exile) and Yetziyas Mitzrayim (Leaving Egypt) Today"

8:00 PM followed by a brief Q & A session

Men and women are invited (separate seating).

The shiur will begin on time, iy"H. 

Rabbi Kenig will speak in Hebrew, and Rabbi Yaacov Klein will translate to English. 

Maariv at 9:00

Rabbi Kenig will speak with people privately before the class and after Maariv (see below).

Congregation Sheves Achim / The Flatbush Minyan
1517 Ave. H (off East 16th St, across from Q Train)
Brooklyn, NY

Those who wish to speak privately with the Rabbi may do so at the shul between7:00-8:00, or following Maariv (after 9:15). 

To make an appointment, please call Rabbi Yaakov Klein: 917-856-5664

We thank the Mara d'Asra of Sheves Achim, Rav Meir Fund, shlit"a, for kindly hosting this guest lecture, and the Breslov Center of NY, for arranging and promoting it. 

RAV EPHRAIM KENIG was born in Jerusalem in 1950 and learned at the renowned Etz Chaim Yeshiva. He is the son of Rabbi Gedaliah Aharon Kenig, zt”l, one of the foremost leaders of the Breslev Chassidim of the previous generation and founder of Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma Institutions in Tsfat. 

Rav Ephraim is well known as the Baal Musaf for the first day of Rosh HaShanah in Uman, where his tefilos pierce the heavens. He is also the brother of Rav Elazar Mordechai Kenig, shlita, spiritual leader of the Breslev Tsfat community. He is the Rosh Yeshiva and CEO of all Nachal Novea educational institutions and learning programs. Many of those who have witnessed the power of his leading of prayer services attest to having undergone a transformative experience in deveikus and tefilah.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sunday, Special Workshop: Money & Spirituality

Does money really make the world go ‘round? Is it the root of all evil? Are money and spirituality two mutually opposing forces?
You probably think of money many times throughout each day—every time you pay a bill, cash a check, or read news about the economy. But, how often do you think of the spiritual side of wealth?
Now, you can learn to think about money and wealth in a whole new way
See here for this new class by Rabbi Tanchum Burton at

Breslov Hospitality

(Photo by Miriam Skokovskii)

Otzar Nachmani, sec. 19
Collected Talks of Rabbi Nachman Burstein, zatzal
Translated by Dovid Sears (unedited)

[Rabbi Nachman Burstein writes:]
One of the prominent Breslover Chassidim (I don’t remember whom—this should be clarified by conferring with other Chassidim) once gave a public talk about the mitzvah of hachnosas orchim (showing hospitality to guests), in light of Chazal’s teaching that hospitality is “greater than receiving the face of the Shekhinah (Divine Presence)” (R. Yehudah, in the name of Rav, Shabbos 127a). Thus the Rebbe once told his daughter [after extolling the loftiness of this mitzvah], “A guest—a little more challah and a little more tablecloth!”

That is to say, one should exert oneself for a guest as much as possible, with a cheerful demeanor and with happiness, to provide for his needs, so that the guest will experience a pleasant atmosphere in one’s home.  

This reflects what Chazal state about a Jewish slave, in connection with the verse, “for it is good for him with you” (Deuteronomy 15:16)—“ ‘with you’ [i.e., like you] in food and drink and nice bedding” (Kiddushin 22a). When you serve the meal, give the guest the best portion and provide more than enough for him to be sated.

Nevertheless, one must not discuss with a guest the need to break one’s desire for tasty foods (ta’avas akhilah), and how one should be content with a bare minimum (as in the sixth chapter of Pirkey Avos), and such things. Rather, one should worry about the guest’s material needs in food and drink, that they should be healthful and kosher without the slightest question. (As the Rebbe states in Sefer ha-Middos, “The tikkun of the body takes priority over the tikkun of the soul.”) This is not the time to be worried about the guest’s spiritual condition!

On the contrary, it would be proper to speak with him in a positive way about the spiritual advantages of eating, and how at such times one may experience an “illumination of desire” (he’aras ha-ratzon—the deepest desire of the soul for Hashem, which transcends reason; see Likutey Moharan II, 7); and how through eating in holiness the Jewish people bring about a unification of the Holy One, blessed be He, and the Shekhinah [i.e., the transcendent and immanent aspects of Divinity], as the Rebbe states (Likutey Moharan I, 62). One should speak of such things and not, G-d forbid, interrupt the guest’s eating with negative words about the desire for tasty foods. 

Similarly, when it comes to the guest’s sleeping arrangements, one must prepare for him a comfortable bed with nice bedding, with clean sheets and blankets, out of concern that he should sleep well all through the night. The guest must not feel unwelcome. All the more so, one must not awaken him to recite “Tikkun Chatzos” (the midnight lament over the destruction of the Holy Temple and the spiritual decline of the Jewish people), for this would be tantamount to a theft that cannot be repaid (see Shulchan Arukh, Choshen Mishpat, “Gezeilah”). Doing so would be proper only if the guest asks his host to awaken him at midnight to recite “Tikkun Chatzos”; only then may the host agree to disrupt his sleep.

And despite this, there were great Breslover Chassidism who refrained from awakening guests, even when asked to do so; if the guest awoke of his own accord, well and good. However, if a guest came to stay with him specifically so that his host would wake him up at midnight, so that he could engage in divine service, per their prior arrangement, that was all right.

If the host wants to discuss matters such as breaking one’s desire for tasty food and drink, or being content with little, etc., he should do so at another time, when that person is not his guest. However, when the other is his guest, the host should give him the best food and lodging he can provide. Indeed, he should arouse the guest’s desires with good foods and delicacies, and ask him frequently if the food is sufficient, and tasty enough—perhaps he would like a little more to eat; thus he will make the guest’s stay in his home all the more pleasant, as if the Shekhinah were there before him.

Some of the Breslover Chassidim of old would don their best clothes, even their Shabbos garments, in honor of the guest, and light candles as if they were “receiving the face of the Shekhinah.”

It is told of the tzaddik and chassid Rabbi Michel Tulchiner, zal, a grandson of Reb Noson, zal, that for him, the mitzvah of hospitality stood at the very heights. He would prepare for his guest large loaves, so that the guest would not be embarrassed to eat a lot. He would personally arrange the guest’s bed and lie down for a moment to test it for comfort. He even had a special closet for bedding with new sheets designated for his guests, whenever they were needed. He would sharpen the knives for the guest, so the latter could slice the bread easily; at times, he would personally cut thick slices for the guest, in case the other might be embarrassed to do so, not wanting to appear to be a glutton. (Heard from Rabbi Itche Meir Korman, who had stayed with Reb Michel in Tulchin; and also Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender).