Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ecology According to the Baal Shem Tov

Drawing by Hyman Bloom

If you think that the "Torah of the Baal Shem Tov" stopped in the eighteenth century, that idea is debatable. For a discussion of Judaism, Chassidism and the global environmental crisis, please see a new essay by Rabbi Sears on Canfei Nasharim's blog here.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Free “Shavuot With Rebbe Nachman” Booklet

BRI is proud to present a free Shavuot study guide. The booklet contains almost 200 pages of  Breslov Torah and prayers. We hope that the booklet enhances your Simchat Yom Tov.

Click here to download.

The Mikveh of the Fiftieth Gate: A Shavuos Teaching

Likutey Moharan I, 56, sec. 7
Translated by Dovid Sears
This is a difficult excerpt from a complex lesson, but well worth studying, especially in preparation for the coming Yom Tov.

The holiday of Shavuos represents an extremely great and exalted level of consciousness, which is supernal loving-kindness and great compassion; for the extent of compassion depends upon the extent of divine perception (da’as). This is because at the Giving of the Torah, the Holy One, blessed be He, appeared as an Elder full of compassion” (Rashi on Exodus 20:2).[1]

“Elder” refers to one who possesses a composed mind (yishuv ha-da’as; see Kinim 3:6; Zohar III, 128b). This determines the extent of compassion, as we have stated. Thus, Shavuos [which commemorates the time when God was revealed as an “Elder full of compassion,”] is characterized by supernal loving-kindness and great compassion.

This is also the paradigm of the mikveh of Shavuos,[2] which is the aspect of the mikveh of the Fiftieth Gate—the highest gate of the Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding,[3] the aspect of supernal loving-kindness and great compassion.

Therefore, the mikveh saves from all troubles, as it is written, “The Hope (Mikveh) of Israel, Who saves her in a time of trouble” (Jeremiah 14:8).[4] For it is supernal loving-kindness, which saves from all troubles. This is why the mikveh purifies from all impurities, as it is written, “And I will sprinkle upon you purifying water, and you will be purified” (Ezekiel 36:25).[5] For “there is no suffering without sin” (Shabbos 55a). Thus, the mikveh, which delivers from all trouble and all suffering, purifies from all forms of impurity and all sin.

This is the paradigm of MaN (Aramaic: manna),[6] which corresponds to the aspect of “exalted consciousness”; because the manna is the aspect of da’as.[7]

This corresponds to “an open statement (ma’amar pasu’ach), extended trustworthiness (ne’eman pashut)” (Shabbos 104a).[8] An “open statement” is the aspect of revealing da’as, for speech is the medium through which da’as is expressed; as it is written, “Da’as and understanding are from His mouth” (Proverbs 2:6).

In Egypt, da’as was in exile, as it is written, “However, I did not make Myself known to them by My Name YHVH (Exodus 6:3); thus, speech was also in exile. This is the aspect of [Moses’s description of himself as] “difficult of speech and difficult of language” (ibid. 4:10).[9] However, when they left Egypt, when da’as went out of exile, speech came forth and “opened up.” This is the meaning of an “open statement”: speech opened up and revealed da’as.

Through the revelation of da’as, the perception of God’s trustworthiness spreads forth and it becomes apparent that He is trustworthy—He promises and He acts. This is the aspect of “extended trustworthiness”: His trustworthiness spreads forth. In Egypt, where da’as was in exile, His trustworthiness did not spread forth, and it was not apparent. Accordingly, Rashi explains the verse: “ ‘However, I did not make Myself known to them by My Name YHVH’—I was not known by My true quality.” Since higher consciousness was not revealed in Egypt, His trustworthiness was not apparent; for loving-kindness depends upon da’as, as we have said.

This is the aspect of ANOKHY (Exodus 20:2),[10] the initial letters of which our Sages interpret to mean “Yehiva Kesiva Ne’emanim Amareha . . . My giving, My writing, Her statements are trustworthy” (Shabbat 105a).[11] [The initial letters of “ANOKHY” corresponds to this phrase.] Through the Giving of the Torah, the “statement” [i.e., holy speech] was opened and da’as was revealed, and through this, God’s trustworthiness spread forth. This is the aspect of “ne’emanim amareha . . . her statements are trustworthy,” corresponding to “extended trustworthiness (ne’eman pashut), an open statement (ma’amar pasu’ach),” discussed above.

This is also the aspect of MaN (manna), which is an acronym of “Ma’amar Ne’eman (a trusted statement),” corresponding to “an open statement (ma’amar pasu’ach), extended trustworthiness (ne’eman pashut).” For the manna embodies the paradigm of great da’as. Therefore, “the Children of Israel ate the manna for forty years” (Exodus 16:35)—because “at the age of forty, one gains understanding (binah, as in the Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding)” (Avos 5:21).


1. In the Kabbalah, the term “elder (zaken)” is related to the sefirah of Keser, which transcends all harsh judgments and is the source of the Thirteen Divine Attributes of Mercy. These Thirteen Attributes are symbolized by the beard, which in Hebrew is “zakan.” The word zakan is related to zaken, “elder.”
2. A mikveh is a natural body of water or man-made pool that meets certain halakhic requirements, which enables a person or object to regain a state of ritual purity (taharah). This water is symbolically related to the “river that came forth from Eden,” mentioned at the beginning of Genesis.
3. Our Sages state that the world was created through “Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding,” all but one of which were revealed to Moshe Rabbenu (Nedarim 38a). The Zohar and other kabbalistic works relate these Fifty Gates of Binah / Understanding to the fifty times that the Exodus is mentioned in the Torah (see Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Shiur Komah, Hakdamah, Parshah 92). Thus, there is a deep connection between the revelation of the mysteries of creation and the Exodus, which culminated in the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, when the entire nation attained prophecy. According to the Arizal (see Sha’ar ha-Kavannos, Shavuos, Drush 1), the mikveh into which it is customary to immerse on Shavuos morning is related to this awesome level of the Fiftieth Gate—which ultimately will be made available to all Israel with the proliferation of da’as in the Messianic Age.
4. The word mikveh also can mean “hope.” Thus, the verse from Jeremiah, which refers to God as the “Hope of Israel,” may be understood homiletically to allude to the mikveh in which one immerses to attain purity.
5. That is, just as God will purify all humanity through water in time to come, when divine knowledge will fill the world, so the mikveh purifies even today.
6. The word “MaN” is spelled “mem-nun.” In context of this lesson, these letters are an acronym for “mikveh nun,” the Mikveh of the Fiftieth Gate.
7. By eating the manna from heaven during their forty years in the desert, the Children of Israel attained higher levels of consciousness. The manna was the ideal food, possessing none of the spiritual or even physical problems associated with ordinary food.
8. The Gemara renders each letter of the Hebrew alphabet interpretively. This cryptic phrase is what it has to say about the letters mem and nun. The Rebbe goes on to elucidate this idea in keeping with his teaching about the exile and redemption of consciousness (da’as).
9. This refers to Moshe’s speech impediment, which was only manifest during the period of Egyptian exile. After the Exodus, the Torah never again mentions this problem. This implies that Moshe stuttered because holy speech in a transpersonal sense was in exile in Egypt. With the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, speech was rectified (Zohar II, 25b).
10. This is the first word of the Ten Commandments, which begin ANOKHY / I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of Egypt…” (ibid.).
11. The letters of the word ANOKHY, when read backward, are an acronym of Yehiva Kesiva Ne’emanim Amareha . . . My giving, My writing, Her statements are trustworthy.” This interpretation suggests that with the word ANOKHY,” God gave His approbation to the words that followed. The emphasis on the trustworthiness of God’s word in this interpretation of the Talmudic Sages lends support to Rebbe Nachman’s lesson.

Moshe Entered the Mist

Moshe Entered the Mist Likutey Moharan I, 115
Translated by Rabbi Moshe Mykoff
Annotated by Rabbi Chaim Kramer
© Breslov Research Institute

In this online version, we have presented the translation in bold and the commentary in non-bold typeface, except for headings.

Vayaamod Ha’am Meirachok (The people kept their distance) and Moshe entered the mist where God was.” (Exodus 20-18)

The verse quoted from Exodus refers to the Revelation at Mount Sinai. The Israelites heeded God’s command and kept their distance from the mountain while Moshe ascended and entered the mist to receive the Torah. This lesson speaks about ascending and entering into God’s service, symbolized by receiving the Torah.

When a person who has spent all his days in materialism afterwards becomes inspired and wants go in the ways of God, the attribute of judgment then denounces him and prevents him from going in God’s ways. It also arranges obstacles for him.

Attribute of judgement … obstacles:
“Taste and see that God is good” (Psalms 34:9). That is, all that is good can be found wherever one finds God and comes close to Him. When a person has lived a materialistic life and then wishes to return to God, the attribute of judgment contests his benefiting from any good. “After all, he has not been good! Why should he be allowed to taste and enjoy anything good (God/spirituality)?” This is why even when people want to serve God, they encounter obstacles.

Yet, God “is one who desires kindness” (Micah 7:18), and He hides Himself, as it were, in this obstacle {see below}. Thus, someone who is wise will look at the obstacle and discover the Creator there. As we find in the Yerushalmi (Ta’anit 1:1): If anyone should ask you, “Where is your God?” answer him, “In the great city of Rome.” As is said, “One calls to Me from Seir’’ (Isaiah 21:11) . But someone who is not wise, when he sees the obstacle, he immediately retreats.’

Seir” is the domain of Esav, under whose descendants, Edom/Rome, the Jewish people are exiled. God says that the prophet calls out to Him from the darkness of exile in Seir/Rome, asking when the Final Redemption is to begin. God’s answer appears in the next verse (v. 12): The time is at hand, provided the people of Israel repent (see Rashi). The Talmud Yerushalmi (loc. cit.) learns from here that even in Rome—the darkest exile, in which it seems that holiness and spirituality can never be found—even there, God is present. When a person asks, “Where is God?” answer him, “He is right next to you. No matter how dark it is where you are, God is there, waiting for you to return to Him.” This is the meaning of what Rebbe Nachman says, that because of His desire to do kindness, the Creator hides Himself in the very obstacles which He places before anyone seeking to come close to Him. All a person has to do is persevere and truly look for God in wherever he is at that moment!

Rebbe Nachman discusses this passage from Ta’anit in a number of lessons. See Likutey Moharan I, 33, and II, 12.

Now, an obstacle corresponds to cloud and mist. This is because a cloud and a mist are darkness, [and] ChoSheKh (darkness) connotes an obstacle. As is written (Genesis 22:16), “and you did not ChaSaKh (hold back).”

ChoSheKh ... ChaSaKh:
God’s angel called out to Avraham and praised him that he “did not chasakh (hold back)” Yitzchak from being sacrificed to God. The word chasakh connotes holding back, much as an obstacle holds a person back from serving God. Its root is the same as the word choshekh, the darkness or obstacles to vision created by clouds and mist. These are the dark and confusing moments of life, when a person feels that God is hidden from him.

Reb Noson explains often that, in reality, the main obstacles to spiritual development are obstacles of the mind, mental blocks. A person has awesome inner strength, he says, but his mind becomes “cloudy,” confused and distraught because of his many problems. These obstacles of the mind are always the greatest opposition one finds to fulfilling his desire to serve God (Likutey Halakhot, Birkhat HaPeirot 4:4). Reb Noson writes that in his attempts to visit the Holy Land, he encountered awesome and numerous obstacles. Yet, the greatest of these obstacles were those of his own making—i.e., his own doubts and confusion (Yemey Moharnat II, 25).

This is the explanation of the verse:

The people kept their distance—For when they see the mist, the obstacle, they keep their distance.

This is because most people lack the da’at (holy knowledge) to realize that God is in the obstacle. Rather than seeing past the mist, they keep their distance.

and Moshe—He corresponds to the da’at (holy knowledge) of all Israel.
The Ari teaches that Moshe Rabeinu was the personification of da’at (Eytz Chaim 32:1). Because he possessed holy knowledge, he knew to continue searching for God despite the obstacles.

entered the mist where God was—In other words, into the obstacle, which is precisely where God is hidden.

Reb Noson appends the following:

We heard more on this from [Rebbe Nachman’s] holy lips. He added an explanation of the earlier point, that God Himself hides Himself within the obstacle. He said:

God “loves justice” (Isaiah 61:8), and He also loves Israel. Yet, his love of Israel is greater than His love of justice (Zohar Ill, 99b).

The passage from the Zohar quoted in the text discusses Rosh Hashanah as a day of judgment. It teaches that even though justice demands a properly adjudicated judgment, and “God loves justice,” nevertheless, God’s love of Israel is greater than His love of justice. Therefore, He commanded the Jews to sound the shofar on Rosh Hashanah using a ram’s horn. This recalls how Avraham, at God’s bidding, selflessly offered Yitzchak on the altar, and then, again at God’s bidding, replaced him with the ram that had become caught in the nearby thicket (Genesis 22). Sounding the shofar thus arouses God’s mercy so that He overrides justice and invalidates the prosecutor’s arguments.

We can see from this that when a person overcomes obstacles to his spiritual development, he draws mercy into the world. Thus, overcoming obstacles not only brings him knowledge and enables him to draw closer to God, but also mitigates decrees as a result of his good deeds (Rabbi Nachman of Tcherin, Tefilot v’Tachanunim I, 11).

Therefore, when the attribute of judgment denounces someone who is not worthy of drawing closer to God and prevents him from entering the path of life, so as to draw closer to the true tzaddik and the true path; and [what is more,] God Himself loves justice—when this occurs, God is obliged, as it were, to agree to arrange obstacles for him so as to keep him from the path of life. [These obstacles are] commensurate with what he deserves based on his evil deeds, in accordance with judgment and justice. For the Holy One cannot disregard the judgment, because God loves justice, as mentioned above.

However, since in truth God loves Israel, and that love for Israel is greater than the love for justice, what is the Holy One to do? For He is obliged, as it were, to agree to the obstacles which keep the person from the truth, because of the judgment and the justice that is upon him—for He loves justice. This notwithstanding, the ultimate truth is that God's will and desire is that this man nevertheless draw closer to Him. This is because, as mentioned, He loves Israel more than justice.

Therefore, God grants permission for obstacles to be arranged for him. But He Himself hides Himself, as it were, within the obstacles. And one who is wise will be able to find God within the obstacles themselves. For the truth is that there are no obstacles whatsoever in the world.

How can Rebbe Nachman say that there are no obstacles, when there is hardly a Jew alive incapable of personally attesting to their existence? The person who wants to purchase Tefillin but finds himself without money to do so, he knows about obstacles to spirituality. So does the person who works to comprehend some difficult Torah insight, but for whatever reason finds it beyond him. Or what about the obstacles to our spiritual development which we create for ourselves through laziness, anger, hard-heartedness and the like; not to mention those from parents, children, friends, etc., of which the Rebbe himself often spoke (see Likutey Moharan II, Foreword)? When Rebbe Nachman says that “there are no obstacles in the world,” he means the following: Consider the purpose of these obstacles. Seemingly, they are intended to distance the person from God. But if God hides Himself in the obstacle, expecting the person to find Him there, they do not accomplish their purpose. Only a person who backs off when he encounters the obstacle will be defeated. The person who truly seeks will no doubt say to himself, “Can this be an obstacle to drawing close to God if God Himself is right next to me?” Therefore, in truth—for those seeking God—there are no such things as obstacles.

In the very force of the obstacles themselves, God is hidden. Thus, specifically through the obstacles themselves one is able to draw closer to the Holy One, for God is hidden there, as mentioned above.

Specifically through the obstacles themselves:
Although it might seem so, this is not at all a superfluous comment. Previously, Rebbe Nachman explained that a person who is wise will find God in the obstacle. He will know that God is hidden there and will look for Him despite the “clouds” and “mist.” What the Rebbe adds and emphasizes here is that precisely because God is hidden there, the obstacle itself becomes a vital key and vehicle for drawing closer to Him. This is similar to the relationship which man's soul has with his body. In order for the soul to develop and reunite with God on a spiritual level higher than the one it had at its origination, it must be challenged and tested. The stage for this testing is this world and the soul's entry into it via the physical body with all its accompanying needs, attachments and desires—all of which seem to present obstacles to spiritual development. “Using the body as a medium, the soul is able to form structures in the physical world that reveal Godliness concealed beneath the surface. These activities bring Godliness into the soul itself, benefiting it when it eventually leaves this world and returns to the higher spiritual realms” (Under the Table, Tsohar Publishing). The same came be said of all the obstacles in which God is hidden, waiting to be found.

“Specifically through the obstacles themselves” can also be understood in light of what Reb Noson writes about opposition to the tzaddik (see Lesson #114, note 10). He explains that this opposition conceals the tzaddik’s great light, making it possible for the common person to draw close to the tzaddik without being overwhelmed by a light that is too great for him. As a result, anyone who so desires can benefit from the tzaddik by virtue of this concealment. In the same way, obstacles to spiritual development protect the person who seeks to come close to God, so that he is not suddenly overwhelmed by the great light of the Holy One. Rather, the “clouds” and “mist” help him create vessels with which to gradually absorb and benefit from that light.

Thus, this is the meaning of “and Moshe entered the mist”—the obstacle—“where God was.”

The Purpose of the Commandments

Rabbi Noson Sternhartz, Likutey Halakhos, Arev 3:8
Translated by Dovid Sears

The purpose of the soul’s descent to this world is to give birth to ratzon: the deepest will and desire of the soul for G-d. The beginning of Divine service and the end of Divine service is this. The main thing is ratzon.

Indeed, the very essence of the soul is desire, or ratzon. The three levels of nefesh (the vital soul), ruach (the seat of emotions), and neshamah (the seat of intellect) commonly are given the summary term ”nefesh.” The word nefesh literally means “desire,” or ratzon. For example, it is written, “If this is what you desire (nafshichem)…” (II Kings 9:15) [From this verse we see that the root of the verb “to desire” is nefesh.] This is because the soul has its source in the Supernal Desire—the desire, so to speak, of the Creator for creation. The ultimate goal and destiny of the soul is to return to the place from which she was hewn and to become incorporated into the “desire of desires.” This is the paradigm of the soul of Moses, the “universal soul” that includes all souls and constitutes their very essence. [That is, Moses attained this ultimate spiritual level. This empowers all other souls ultimately to do so, as well.]

However, the soul finds herself garbed in a physical body in this lowly World of Action, far from her true home, confused and beset by physical desires and fears. Faced with a host of moral and spiritual challenges, she is in grave danger. Due to her state of estrangement and the “fallen desires” concealed within worldly passions, she may lose touch with her inherent holy ratzon.

Therefore, G-d took pity on upon us and gave us His holy Torah and commandments, which the Zohar calls “613 pieces of advice” (Zohar II, 82b). By performing these commandments, we spiritually refine and sanctify our bodies, as well as this entire World of Action.

This is because each commandment proceeds from the Divine Will.

It is G-d’s will and desire that each commandment be performed in a certain manner, under a certain set of circumstances. For example, tzitzis (fringes) must be spun of wool or flax, and worn specifically on the corners of our four-cornered garments. This principle applies to all commandments.[1] By performing the commandments with our physical bodies and with the physical things of this world, we sanctify those parts of our bodies and those aspects of the physical world that are spiritually related to the commandments in question.[2] Thus, through the commandment, we remind ourselves, in this world and in this body, to yearn for G-d with intense ratzon. Then the World of Action becomes incorporated into the Divine Will, which is its supernal root and its ultimate destiny. This is alluded to by the Kabbalistic principle, “The last in deed is first in thought.”[3]

This is G-d’s greatest pleasure and delight (so to speak): when through our performance of the commandments we accomplish the unification of the most remote and estranged aspect of the World of Action with the highest level of ratzon. This is brought about by the performance of the holy commandments, which are discrete expressions of the Divine will, that we must fulfill specifically through physical actions involving the physical things of this world.

The perfection of ratzon takes place when desire is elevated from this material world, far from G-d; for the desire of the soul is strongest and shines most brightly when it must traverse the greatest distance.

[1] See Likutey Moharan I, 33, 34.
[2] For an in-depth exploration of this concept see, Rabbi Chaim Kramer’s Anatomy of the Soul (Breslov Research Institute 1998).
[3] Rabbi Shlomo Alkebetz, from the Sabbath prayer Lekha Dodi (“Come, My Beloved”), based on Sefer Yetzirah 1:1.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Eizer L'Shabbos - Shavuos Campaign

Received by e-mail from Eizer L'Shabbos of Tsfat
Dear Friends

I would like to thank to everyone who helped us in the past.

Shavuot is rapidly approaching.This year we have two days in Eretz Yisrael. For poor families, it's extremely difficult. The children and the parents would like some dairy products, as is customary. Our goal is to provide at least 200 packages. The cost is around $20,000 US. We are $12,000 short. If with Hashem's help we are able to give more, we will do it. The phone doesn't stop ringing...

CHAG SOMEACH! GUT YOM TOV, and a healthy summer!

Rabbi Binyomin Rosenberg

Please help Eizer L'Shabbos continue its important work. Tax-deductible donations can be sent to:

Eizer L'Shabbos
5014 16th Avenue, Suite 319
Brooklyn N.Y. 11204

Converting the Targum to Holiness

An excerpt from Likutey Halakhos

The reason why we remain awake on Shavuos night is in order to overcome and break the power of sleep, which is an aspect of Targum [Aramaic, which is the language closest to Hebrew. The kabbalists draw a correspondence between Targum/Aramaic and the “Klipas Nogah,” or “Glowing Husk,” which is a mixture of good and evil, and stands between the realms of the holy and the unholy]. We must subjugate its evil element and elevate the good it contains to the Holy Tongue. Indeed, this brings perfection to the Holy Tongue. By so doing, we merit to attain Shemiras HaBris [a euphemism for the transformation of the sexual urge to holiness] and to receive the Torah anew. This is the paradigm of receiving the Torah on Shavuos. Therefore, it is customary on Shavuos to sing “Akdamus,” which was composed in Aramaic. Similarly, on the second day of Shavuos, prior to the reading of the Haftorah, we sing “Yatziv Pisgam,” which also was written in Aramaic. All this is related to our elevation of the good within the Targum to the Holy Tongue (Otzar HaYirah, “Pesach-Sefirah-Shavuos,” sec. 86). 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Nichum Aveilim to Rabbi Jonathan Rietti and Family

The Breslov Center offers its heartfelt wishes of nichum aveilim to Rabbi Jonathan Rietti of Monsey and his brother and sisters in England for the passing of their beloved father, Robert Rietti, a"h. The niftar was a prominent actor and a proud Jew, widely respected in the professional world and in his community. May he be a melitz yosher, a heavenly intercessor, for his family and for all Klal Yisrael. 

For one of the many obituaries that appeared in the international media about Robert Rietti, see here.

Getting Ready for Shavuos

There are many preparations we make for every Shabbos and Yom Tov, spiritually and physically. Here’s some advice from Reb Noson on how we can prepare to receive the “light” of Shavuos, this year and every year!

From Likutey Halakhos, Minchah 7:54, as found in the Rav of Tcherin’s Otzar ha-Yirah (AKA Likutey Eitzos Hameshulosh), “Shalom vi-Achdus: Atzas Shalom,” sec. 15.
Translated by Dovid Sears

All true Torah chiddushim (novel insights) are constrictions and wondrous spiritual vessels, by means of which the Infinite Light is drawn down [to be available to the human mind in this world of limitation] in a measured way, as is appropriate.

However, the prerequisite for this is that many Jewish souls join together in love—because the Divine Light needs a multitude of vessels. For this can only be achieved when thousands and myriads of souls join together in love, “as one person,” to the point that they are capable of collectively receiving this great light in a measured way. It all depends on the revelation of light and its manner of elicitation.

This is the “secret” as to why the Torah could not have been received [at Mount Sinai] until 600,000 Israelites assembled there in love and peace.

Our sages state on the verse, “And Israel camped there…” (Exodus 19:2, noting that the word “camped” is written in the singular)—“like one man with one heart” (Rashi, ad loc.). Similarly, our sages comment on the verse, “Return, Hashem, to the myriads of thousands of Israel” (Numbers 10:36)—“the Shekhinah does not rest on lest than two myriads and two thousands (22,000)” (Rashi, ad loc.). For everything is in keeping with the light that is drawn down, according to the gathering of many Jewish souls in love and peace.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Kinus This Sunday

A kinus will be held in memory of the prominent Breslover Chassidim Rabbi Meyer Wasilski and Rabbi Dovid Zeitlin, zikhronam leverakha, at the Breslov Shtiebel of Borough Park, beginning at 8:00 pm this Sunday evening.

Rabbi Yitzchok Ber of Teplik

Otzar Nachmani, sec. 208-209
From the collected talks of Rabbi Nachman Burstein, zatzal
[Also see R. Noach Sternfeld’s “Giduley ha-Nachal,” (Meshekh ha-Nachal: Jerusalem 1984), os yud, sec. 90, about R. Yitzchok Ber]
Translated by Dovid Sears, unedited

[Rabbi Nachman Burstein relates:]
Reb Yitzchok Ber of Teplik (who previously had lived in Terhovitz) used to spend the entire day in avodas Hashem. He prayed with deep deveykus (cleaving to G-d) and fervor, almost to the point of hispashtus ha-gashmiyus (the soul leaving the body; cf. Tur-Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 98)—to the point that he no longer sensed anyone near him.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Bender told how Reb Yitzchok Ber once when he came to the blessing “Ha-bocher bi-amo Yisrael bi-ahavah (Who chooses his nation Israel with love),” and wanted to recite immediately, “Shema Yisrael…” But due to the intensity of his deveykus and self-negation, he fainted, and his family had to revive him.

I also heard from Reb Levi Yitzchok that Reb Noson once told Reb Nachman Tulchiner, “Reb Yitzchok Ber davens with mesirus nefesh (self-negation)!”
[Re. mesirus nefesh in prayer, see Likutey Moharan I, 26 and 80; re. mesirus nefesh in thought, see L”M I, 193; DS.]

And Chazal state (Ta’anis 8a, in the name of Rabbi Ami): A person’s prayer is not answered until he “places his soul in his palm” [i.e., he puts his heart into his prayer completely; see Rashi, ad loc.).

Reb Levi Yitzchok spoke many times about Reb Yitzchok Ber’s great efforts in serving Hashem, beginning at chatzos (midnight), continuing through Minchah (the afternon prayer); during this time he was constantly occupied in Torah study and prayer and divine service. Then, it was impossible to speak with him at all. His holiness was so awesome that he was able to say every person must be holy the way Tefillin are holy – of which Chazal state in Berakhos 6a: It is written in the Tefillin of the Master of the Universe, “And who is like Your nation, Israel?” Thus, we find that the Holy Blessed One “boasts,” so to speak, in His Tefillin about the holiness of the Jewish people. So if, G-d forbid, any Jew were to blemish the holiness of the Jewish people, contrary to the divine will, this would effect the Tefillin of the Holy Blessed One—it might bring about a p’sul (invalidating defect) in the letters of these words, “And who is like Your nation, Israel?” For he would diminish, as it were, the pride that Holy Blessed One takes in them.

[Rabbi Nachman Burstein adds:]
I heard in the name of the Rav of Berditchev—or perhaps it was a different tzaddik—that he once overheard someone speak disparagingly about another Jew. The Rav reproached him, “Chalilah, chalilah! (Heaven forbid!) Don’t speak this way! For this would invalidate the Tefillin of the Master of the Universe, in which it is written, ‘And who is like Your nation, Israel?’” According to a different version of the story, he said, “Would you render invalid the Torah, Heaven forbid? Because each Jew corresponds to a letter in the Torah…”

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New Edition of Alim le-Trufah

We are happy to announce that a new edition of Reb Noson's letters," Alim le-Trufah: Michtevey MoHaRNaT," has been published, which contains numerous corrections and twenty letters that have never before been published! This is a milestone in Breslov publishing history. The new sefer should be available in Breslov and other book stores in Israel and America. To order a copy online, please check with Rabbi Moshe Yaakov Rosen of Everything Breslov here. (If he doesn't have the new sefer yet, he probably has it on order from the publisher.)

Breslov Lag ba-Omer Celebrations

There will be a celebration in honor of the Hilulah of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, iy"H on Wednesday night after Maariv at the home of Mr and Mrs Jack Klein, 19 Briarwood Road, Monsey, NY. The public is invited to share in the refreshments, divrei Torah, rikkudim and bonfire. Rav Elazar Mordechai Kenig, shlit"a, of Tsfat is expected to attend the event.

On Thursday Evening at the Breslov Shtiebel of Borough Park, there will be a public se'udah in honor of the Hilulah of Rabbi Shimon. Minchah will be at 7:00pm, followed by the se'udah, featuring several speakers and culminating in a rikkud outside the shul: Cong. D' Chasidei Breslov, 5504 16th Ave, Borough Park (Brooklyn). Anyone who would like to be mishtatef in the cost of the Seudah, please contact R' Shlomo Yitzchok Lichter at or call: R' Yitzchok Alter Fisch 917-577-0668 or R' Shlome Yitzchok Lichter 718-496-2810

Other Lag ba-Omer events locally will be held at the Breslov Shuls in Monsey (on Main Street), Monroe, and Williamsburg. We are sorry that we don't have more details at this time.