Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Baal Shem Tov’s Nesia to Eretz Yisrael

Breslover Chassidim are accustomed to retell this story during the “Baal Shem Tov Se’udah,” which is the last meal of Acharon shel Pesach (AKA “ne’ilas ha-chag”). This was a common custom among many Chassidim in Europe, and a few such as the Skolye Chassidim still tell the story. This version is based on the Breslov mesorah.

Dovid Sears

Reb Levi Yitzchok Bender, the central figure in the Meah Shearim Breslov kehillah after World War II until his passing in 1989, used to retell the story every year on Acharon shel Pesach. He always said that he retold the story the way he received it personally from Rabbi Shimshon Barsky of Uman, a grandson of Rebbe Nachman and a leading mashpiya during the late late 1800s-early 1900s. However, Reb Levi Yitzchok also said that once someone asked his teacher Reb Avraham b’Reb Nachman if Reb Shimshon’s version was accurate. He answered, “S’iz doh nuschos ... There are many versions!” (Heard from Rabbi Avraham Shimon Burshteyn). Like all oral traditions, there are a few differences over this detail or that. Yet these differences are relatively minor.

We have put together this brief outline so that at least something will be available in English for those who wish to tell the story during the final hours of Acharon shel Pesach. This is not an “official” version, but we hope it will be good for starters.

Beginning the Journey
The Baal Shem Tov experienced intense gagu’im to travel to Eretz Yisrael—until at last the time came. (This mystical understanding of traveling to Eretz Yisrael is echoed by Rebbe Nachman’s statement, “With every step, I’m going to Eretz Yisrael,” and his teaching that “all tefillos and avodahs ascend through Eretz Yisrael.” Just as Eretz Yisrael was the goal of the Exodus from Egypt, so in a mystical sense it represents the goal of the spiritual quest of each individual and the Jewish people collectively. See the Breslov teachings in the Tcheriner Rov’s anthology, Otzar HaYirah, “Eretz Yisrael.”)

The Baal Shem Tov took his only daughter, the tzaddekes Udel, and his chassid Reb Hirsch Sofer, as companions for the journey.

It was very unusual to go to Eretz Yisrael in those days, and extremely difficult—unlike today. But he trusted in Hashem and left home with only enough money to reach the next town. (It is well-known that the Baal Shem did not keep even a small coin overnight, but lived from day to day, trusting completely in Hashem.) He was confident that Hashem would make a way for him.

(When Rabbi Shmuel Breines tells the story in the Breslov Shtibel of Borough Park, he often stresses the importance of bitachon, total reliance upon Hashem. Two sources of inspiring teachings about bitachon are Rabbi Avraham ben HaRambam’s Sefer HaMaspik: Shaar HaBitachon, or Rabbenu Bachya Ibn Paquda’s Chovos HaLevavos: Shaar HaBitachon. A quote or two from such sources can help make the story more meaningful.)

Day by day and week by week the threesome traveled from one town to the next, heading toward the port city of Istanbul on the Black Sea. Somehow the Baal Shem Tov received enough money to keep traveling, until they arrived in Istanbul on Erev Pesach.

They had neither provisions nor money for lodgings. But the Baal Shem Tov was sure that everything would work out satisfactorily. They found an inn in the Jewish quarter of the city and took lodgings on the ground floor, where the horses were stabled. Udel went to shore to wash clothes for Yom Tov, while her father and Reb Hirsch went to a nearby Beis HaMidrash.

At the same time, a wealthy childless couple from Germany arrived in Istanbul. This couple had been following the Baal Shem Tov from town to town in order to obtain his brochah, and only caught up to him now. Bi-hashgochah pratis, they wound up at the same inn, where they rented a large suite of rooms, and bought matzos, wine and food for Pesach. Then they went in search of the Baal Shem Tov. They found a Jewish girl washing clothes at the sea-shore—Udel, of course—asked her if she knew the whereabouts of the Baal Shem Tov, and learned that the Baal Shem Tov was none other than her father. Overjoyed, they took Udel back to the inn and instructed the servants to bring the possessions of the tzaddik and his daughter and disciple from the stables to their rooms upstairs.

Knowing nothing about this, the Baal Shem Tov and Reb Hirsch davened, and came back after Maariv to find everything prepared for the sedorim and for Yom Tov. The Baal Shem Tov displayed no surprise at this, but proceeded to conduct the Seder without indicating that anything unusual had happened. Only after he had completed the Seder, did the Baal Shem Tov turn to their host and hostess and declare, “I know why you came here. Know that your wish has been fulfilled, and you will have a child this year!”

However, no sooner had the words escaped his lips than the Baal Shem Tov’s face clouded over, and he closed his eyes; he was experiencing aliyas ha-neshamah, an ascent of the soul to the upper worlds. His daughter Udel had seen this before, but now she was terrified—her father seemed to be in a state of gesisah mamash, his life seemed to be hanging by a thread. In heaven, the Evil Accuser demanded: This couple had been fated to remain childless. By what right did the Baal Shem force the Ribono shel Olam to change all of creation for the sake of this man and woman? The Gemara states, “The tzaddik decrees and Hashem fulfills” (Shabbos 59b), and the Baal Shem Tov’s blessing would surely bear fruit. However, in such matters there is a price to be paid. The heavenly court ruled that in exchange, the Baal Shem Tov would lose his Olam Haboh, his place in the Afterlife.

Then Baal Shem Tov suddenly opened his eyes, the color returned to his face, and with great simchah declared, “Now I will be able to serve Hashem without any p’nia, without any thought of future reward!”

At this, the Evil Accuser insisted that the heavenly court restore his Olam Haboh—to let the Baal Shem Tov serve Hashem with such absolute selflessness was too much!

Disaster AvertedAt this point, Reb Avraham b’Reb Nachman would roll up his sleeves and say, “Un in di ma’aseh iz doh noch a ma’aseh . . . And in this story there is still another story...” (Heard from Rabbi Avraham Shimon Burshteyn, in the name of Rabbi Itche Meyer Korman).

Although Baal Shem Tov’s purpose was to go to Eretz Yisrael, his journey, like all of his actions, contained many other mysteries and purposes. (See Likutey Moharan I, 42. Reb Noson adds that this is not only true of the tzaddikim, but even of ordinary Jews. Everything we do reflects Hashem’s hidden plan for creation. See Avaneha Barzel, p. 88, which is translated in “The Tree That Stands Beyond Space,” p. 57.)

The Sultan of Istanbul was a tyrant who had a special enmity toward the Jewish people. Yet the Jews had influence and power in the city, and the Sultan had to resort to underhanded means to hurt them.

On that Erev Pesach he called together his royal ministers for a secret meeting. He proposed that a pogrom be carried out the next morning, in which the mobs would be incited to kill every Jewish man, woman and child in Istanbul. His ministers were sworn to secrecy about this plan on penalty of death.

Yet one of the royal ministers was a righteous gentile and friend of the Jews. Risking his life, he hastened to warn the leaders of the Jewish community of their great peril. After discussing the matter, they decided to send emissaries to the Sultana, the widow of the previous Sultan who had treated his Jewish subjects with kindness and respect. Perhaps she could intervene. In the cover of night, the emissaries made their way through the city’s streets toward the palace of the Sultana.

Their long trek took them past the very inn where the Baal Shem Tov and his companions were concluding the Seder. Through an opened window, they could hear the Baal Shem Tov singing with fervor “Le-oseh nifla’os gedolos levado … To the One Who alone performs wonderous miracles!” One of the emissaries remarked wryly to his friend, “If that Jew only knew what we know, he wouldn’t sing those words so sweetly!”

(A contemporary Breslover, Rabbi Shimshon Barsky of Bnei Brak, remembered an interesting detail here. When his father Rabbi Noson Barsky told the story, according to the version of his grandfather and namesake, Rabbi Shimshon Barsky of Uman, and he described how the Baal Shem Tov sang “Le-oseh nifla’os gedolos levado,” he used to sing the well-known niggun of the Baal Shem Tov—thus demonstrating how the Baal Shem Tov actually sang these words. He did so when mentioning the song both while the emissaries were on their way to the Sultana and on their return.)

Arriving at the palace, the emissaries begged the guards for permission to obtain an audience with the Sultana, but were refused admission. Yet they persisted until the Sultana heard the racket at the door and asked who wanted to see her at such a late hour. Learning that they were representatives of the Jewish community on an urgent mission, the good-hearted Sultana admitted them and listened to their tale of impending destruction.

Given the urgency of the situation, she asked the emissaries to remain in her home while she set out in the night to intercede with her son. Arriving at the royal palace, she woke up the Sultan and announced, “Tonight your father came to me in a dream! And he revealed to me that tomorrow our family will be utterly wiped out! My heart palpitated with dread—that’s why I hurried here. We must consult the royal chronicles to see if we can find a reason for this evil fate…”

The Sultan sent for the royal record book and in his mother’s presence saw inscribed therein the slaughter of the Jewish community scheduled for the next morning. “Now, my son, I know why I had this terrible dream!” the Sultana said. “Don’t you know what happens to all those who start up with the Jews? Don’t you know what happened to Pharaoh and Haman and the rest of their enemies? You must call off this pogram, or my dream will surely come true!”

Thus, the Sultan tore up his cruel decree and only then did his mother return home to inform the emissaries of her success. As they made their way through the Jewish quarter, they passed the same inn and were surprised to hear the same man repeating the words “Le-oseh nifla’os gedolos levado.” But now he did so with the greatest merriment.

After the morning prayers, the community leaders informed the kehillah that a great miracle had occurred. Because of Hashem’s mercy, the Jews of Istanbul had been saved from certain death. In recounting the highlights of the story, they didn’t fail to mention the Jew who sang of Hashem’s miracles at the end of the Seder, and how if he had known what was going on, he wouldn’t have been able to sing.

At this, the Baal Shem Tov (still incognito) remarked, “Mir dacht zokh az der Yid mit zein zingen 'le-oseh nifla’os gedolos levado,' hott ehr mevatel geven di gezerah . . . It seems to me that by singing ‘Who alone performs wondrous miracles,’ this Jew nullified the heavenly decree.”

The Sea Voyage
On the first day of Chol HaMoed, the couple from Germany bade farewell to the Baal Shem Tov. They wished to lavish upon him various gifts in their gratitude for his brochah, but the Baal Shem Tov refused to accept anything beyond the kindness they had already shown him. Only one thing did he request—that they provide him and his companions with tickets for the next ship to Eretz Yisrael. They happily did so. And the next ship was leaving that day.

Before boarding the ship, the Baal Shem Tov told his daughter and Reb Hirsch that he had the power to go to the Holy Land in a more expedient way: he could toss his gartel on the waves of the sea, and they could walk across it to their destination. The only condition was that they would have to focus their minds on a certain Holy Name without breaking their concentration for even a second. The tzaddekes Udel answered that she was willing to do so. However, Reb Hirsch feared that he would not be able to maintain his concentration; so they traveled by ship.

The Great Storm
The ship quickly traversed the peaceful waters, among its passengers the Baal Shem Tov and his daughter and disciple. However, in the middle of their voyage, the sky suddenly darkened and a mighty storm struck. The powerful winds cast the ship on the turbulent waves, until it seemed that they were about to either capsize or be dashed to bits.

The Baal Shem Tov said, “The sea will be stilled only if I cast my writings overboard—or if my daughter is willing to take their place. Only then will the storm subside.”

There are different versions of what happened at this point. Reb Levi Yitzchak’s mesorah from Reb Shimshon Barsky was to preface this part of the story with the words: “Anderer zoggen..." ("Some say…”). Then he would go on to state that Udel agreed and was actually cast into the sea. However, with this act of mesirus nefesh, she received a heavenly communication: she was destined to have a grandson who would write “shennerer ksavim,” i.e., even greater writings than those of her father. She lifted up her hands and called to the Baal Shem Tov and told him this. Udel was immediately retrieved, and the precious manuscripts were cast into the waters.

(As a humorous aside, I heard from Rabbi Avraham Moshe Wasilski of Williamsburg that whenever Reb Levi Yitzchok told the story and described how Udel was cast into the sea, Rabbi Nochum Yitzchok Frank would interrupt the story to protest, shouting “Sheker! S’iz nisht shayakh! Es kennisht zein! Lies! It isn’t possible! It can’t be!”)

Another version states that she merely considered jumping into the sea, either mentally or even verbally, but did not actually do so. Suddenly she had a heavenly communication about her grandson, and told her father that they could cast the manuscripts into the sea after all. Immediately they did so, and the storm stopped as suddenly as it had began.

The Cannibals
After this ordeal, everyone on the ship was worn out, physically and emotionally. So they headed for next island they sighted, and anchored offshore in order to set their feet on dry land again for a little while. The passengers disembarked and began to stroll along the shore and among the verdant trees, to recover from their distress.

The Baal Shem Tov and his companions walked until they found a nice shady spot to rest. However, they soon discovered that they had company. Out of the forest emerged a group of cannibals brandishing knives and spears. In a few moments, the cannibals had tied up the threesome and cast them on the ground.

Reb Hirsch, quaking in terror, asked the Baal Shem Tov, “Rebbe, please do something and save us from these savages!”

However, the Baal Shem Tov was silent.

“Why don’t you answer me?” Reb Hirch exclaimed.

“Because right now, I don’t know anything!” the Baal Shem Tov replied. “Do you know anything?”

“Nothing at all,” Reb Hirsch stammered. “Just the alef-beis…”

The cannibals surrounded them, grinning malevolently. In a moment they would start getting ready for dinner…

“If you know the alef-beis, say it!”

Reb Hirsch began: “Alef!” And the Baal Shem Tov answered, “Alef!”



As they prounced the names of the holy letters, the Baal Shem Tov suddenly regained his supernatural powers. In the distance, a bell began ringing, the sound coming closer and closer. Alarmed, the cannibals hastily fled. Soon a carriage came into view, and the people inside freed the prisoners.

Reb Gedaliah Kenig mentioned that Reb Avraham Sternhartz’s mesorah included the detail that as the cannibals were preparing to kill the Baal Shem Tov and his companions, suddenly they heard the ringing of the ship’s bell, and this is why they fled.

Rabbi Shimshon Barsky of Bnei Brak, however, remembered that according to his grandfather’s version of the story, the bells that scared off the cannibals were those of the carriage, and the “people” in the carriage were actually malakhim, angels send by Hashem to save the Baal Shem Tov, Udel, and Reb Hirsch.

(When Rabbi Shmuel Breines of Borough Park tells the story, he often digresses here to remark on the power of “temimus u-peshitus,” simple whole-heartedness and faith in Rebbe Nachman’s teachings. See Otzar HaYirah, “Temimus”)

In any case, those in the carriage transported them back to the shore, where they joined the other passengers returning to the ship. The wind filled their sails and the began to travel rapidly—straight back to Istanbul, in time for Acharon shel Pesach.

The Secret of Success
Rebbe Nachman once discussed how his great-grandfather the Baal Shem Tov and the saintly Rabbi Naftali Katz, author of “Semikhas Chakhomim,” both attempted to reach Eretz Yisrael, without success. Yet Rebbe Nachman managed to overcome all obstacles and reach the Holy Land. Why did he succeed where these great figures did not?

Rebbe Nachman explained: “Eretz Yisrael is the aspect of ‘gadlus de-gadlus’ (a sublime level of expanded consciousness). And it is known that every spiritual ascent must be preceded by a decent. Since Eretz Yisrael is ‘gadlus de-gadlus,’ it must be preceded by ‘katnus de-katnus,’ a most extreme descent. Those who came before me were unable to cast themselves down to such depths…”


In the merit of the tzaddikim, who sacrificed themselves on behalf of the entire Jewish people, may we too be worthy of reaching the ultimate spiritual goal.

Other Versions of the Baal Shem Tov’s Nesia

About ten years ago, Rabbi Yehoshua Yosef Kornblit of Yerushalayim published a “
Baal Shem Tov Haggadah” with excerpts of various teachings relating to the text. I have often used this Haggadah, along with Rabbi Alter Tepliker’s Breslov Haggadah “Ohr Zarei’ach,” but didn’t notice that at the very end, he includes a few variations of the story of the Baal Shem Tov’s attempted journey to Eretz Yisrael.

If you can’t find a copy of this excellent Haggadah, you could try contacting Rabbi Kornblit, who lives at 15 Batey Varsha. The phone number given in my edition of the sefer is 02 (or just 2 from chutz la’aretz) 371-059. However, you probably need to add another digit before the 3, since Israeli telephone company switched to seven digit phone numbers in the interim. I’d suggest adding a 5, although I’m not sure.

The basic story as found in the sefer “Adas Tzaddikim” is much the same as our Breslov version (although not surprisingly, it doesn’t include the part about the Baal Shem Tov’s daughter Udel’s rescue in the merit of her future grandson Rebbe Nachman‘s writings). In that version, the cannibals are called “Haidamaks,” which is probably a just a loose usage of the term, and they seem to be pirates rather than man-eating natives. After Reb Hirsh Sofer and the Baal Shem Tov call out responsively the letters of the alef-beis, a bell starts ringing and a mysterious elderly captain comes to the rescue with a group of soldiers, and they scare off the pirates. In this account, the ship makes it back to Istanbul on the Seventh Day of Pesach. As for the old captain—he was none other than Elijah the Prophet.

Another retelling of the story in the sefer “Ginzey Yisrael” similarly ascribes the rescue of the Jewish community of Istanbul to the Baal Shem Tov’s singing “Le-she nifla’os gedolos levado,” but neglects to mention the emissaries and the intervention of the Sultan’s mother.

Zera Baruch” describes how Reb Baruch of Medzibuzh would honor the Baal Shem Tov’s deliverance with a communal meal on Acharon shel Pesach and retell the story of his grandfather’s life from the day of his birth until his sea journey. There, he emphasizes that the underlying purpose of this journey was the final redemption of the Jewish people. For the Baal Shem Tov possessed the “nefesh” of Dovid HaMelekh, while the Ohr HaChaim HaKadosh possessed the “ruach” of Dovid HaMelekh. And if the two tzaddikim had finally met, the Baal Shem Tov would have received the “neshamah” of Dovid HaMelekh and thus been empowered to bring about the ge’ulah sheleimah.

Rabbi Kornblit also cites the sefer “Ohev Yisrael” to the effect that the Apter Rov, who lived in Medzibuzh after the passing of Reb Baruch, would also conclude Pesach with a tisch that extended into the night in honor of the Baal Shem Tov’s miraculous rescue.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Chad Gadya: “One Kid Goat”

Reb Noson Sternhartz, Likutey Halakhos, Rosh Chodesh 6:19
Translated by Dovid Sears
From The Breslov Pirkey Avot, Breslov Research Institute

The singing of Chad Gadya (“One Kid Goat”) at the conclusion of the Passover Seder is a most amazing thing. The song’s basic theme is the perversion of justice. Each creature acted unjustly: the cat ate the kid goat unjustly; then along came the dog that ate the cat, and although the cat unquestionably deserved this, the dog had no right to bite the cat—for who appointed the dog to pass judgment on the cat? Similarly, the water, fire, etc., took vengeance on one another. All this was brought about by God, for each [as a victim] deserved its fate; yet each [as an aggressor], when considered alone, acted unjustly. Thus, each was subject to retribution afterward.

In truth, the nature of cosmic justice is beyond mortal understanding, for “God’s designs are profound” (Psalms 92:6) and it is forbidden to question them at all. This paradox is addressed by the Mishnah: He saw a skull floating on the surface of the water. He said to it: “Because you drowned others, they have drowned you— and those who drowned you in the end will be drowned.” No doubt [the victim] deserved to drown according to divine justice; nevertheless, the [murderer] behaved wrongfully. Therefore, those who drowned you in the end will be drowned.

This is why we mention this theme of Chad Gadya on Passover. Since the first Passover preceded the Giving of the Torah, we had not yet received the perfection of judgment. Chad Gadya teaches us that as long as judgment remains imperfect, it is impossible to fathom divine justice. Therefore, we are forbidden to harm anyone else, although according to his deeds he deserves it. We may not carry out this judgment, for “judgment belongs to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 1:17), and the ultimate perfection of justice is brought about only by God directly.

As we say at the conclusion, Along came the Holy One, blessed be He, and slaughtered the Angel of Death… which teaches us that the perfection of justice will be revealed in the end, when God slaughters the Angel of Death, and “the spirit of impurity will be removed from the earth” (Zechariah 13:2). However, at present it is impossible to understand the ways of divine justice, and it is forbidden to question them when we are confronted with such enigmas. Rather, we must believe that God’s reasons are profound, that it is impossible to understand them at all, and that everything reflects great kindness.

© Breslov Research Institute

Monday, April 11, 2016

The Inaugural Women’s Mission to Uman (June 22 through June 27)

Breslov Research Institute
Breslov Campus


The Inaugural Women’s Mission to Uman
June 22 through June 27

Join Us & Be Uplifted

Tour Leader BreslovCampus’s Chaya Rivka Zwolinski

With a Special Breslov Shabbos for Women
Hosted by Chaim & Gitta Kramer,
Founders of BRI

We’ll visit
  • Rebbe Nachman’s Tziyun in Uman, Ukraine
  • Reb Noson in Breslov
  • The Baal Shem Tov in Medzhibozh
  • Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev
  • Sofievka Park
Experience Powerful Prayer, Sunday Breakfast with Chaim Kramer, Tikkun Haklali by the Tziyun, Uplifting Song & Dance, Hitbodedut in Sofievka, Tikkun Chatzot, Rebbe Nachman’s Stories, and much more.

We’ll Stay in the Brand-new, Comfortable, Clean and completely renovated BRI Uman Educational Center

Delicious Food, Luxury Bus, Great Accommodations

*Itinerary may be slightly altered if required

CALL 347-271-9539 OR EMAIL

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Eizer L'Shabbos - Kimcha D'Pischa 5776

Received via e-mail:

Dear friends of Eizer L’Shabbos:

We are so grateful to you for enabling us to provide Purim Seudos for over 400 families.

For Pesach we’d like to give 1000 families food vouchers which will enable them to buy in the supermarket all their Pesach needs. Pesach is around the corner, we really need your help, and we can’t turn anyone down. The phone doesn’t stop ringing from early morning to late at night.
Pesach, when the average family is struggling to make Pesach, the poor in Tzfas in which every Shabbos is a struggle are in desperate need for your help. You can sponsor a family for $180. Every dollar counts and will be a huge help.

In the merit of giving tzedakah may we be zoche to the final redemption and we should be able to eat from the korban pesach!

Click here to donate.

Kimcha D'Pischa for Anash Boro Park

We are raising money to be able to help 
Anash Boro Park 
with money/Food items for pesach.

If you can help 
Please click on the link below to donate or contact 
Ren Leizer Trenk 718-435-1870
Reb Nechemia Weiss 347-276-6309
Reb Shlome Yitzchok Lichter 718-496-2810

Please click here if you wish to donate.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Prayers For the Month of Nisan

Selections from
Entering the Light
End notes have been omitted from this online version.

The Tzaddikim Build the Mishkan
From Reb Noson’s Likutey Tefilot I, 70

“Draw me close (maskheini)—after You we shall hasten!”

Your great and holy glory, arouse and awaken!

Master of the Universe! Glorious King, Whose glory fills the entire universe! In Your abundant kindness, You gave us in every generation true tzaddikim, with whom Your glory resides. And in Your great mercy, You made known to us that there is no orphaned generation. Even in these generations, You have shown us wondrous kindness and given us great and awesome true tzaddikim. Holy and awesome are their names, for all holy glory resides with them! They are the Mishkan (“dwelling place”) of Your Glory, upon whom the holiness of the indwelling of Your Godliness is drawn forth and rests constantly. For they are truly humble, making themselves like the dust upon which the entire panorama of creation stands; and everything is elicited from them.

These tzaddikim are the “foundations of the world,” the very foundation of all creation, and all beings need to draw near to them, to receive their life and continued existence from them. Upon them everything stands, and all Jewish souls are “branches” extending from them and drawn toward them, receiving all life and bounty from them; for they give life to all, and they possess the “gravitational force” to draw Godliness to them, and to draw all humanity to them—to bring them all near to You, may You be blessed forever!

Master of the Universe! Master of the Universe! Lord God of Truth! You know these true tzaddikim, who possess this power. You know their greatness (Gedulah), their strength (Gevurah), their beauty (Tiferet), and their enduring might, as well as the tremendous power they possess to pull the entire world to themselves, to their holy teachings, and to their wondrous ways and advice. How much everlasting benefit already sprouted forth from this! The tikkun of all the worlds and the Complete Redemption that is destined to come all depend on this; for the arrival of the Mashiach depends on our coming close to the tzaddikim. Yet You know, Master of the entire world, the vast array of forces amassed against us, which strive with all their might to tear us away and distance us from coming close to the tzaddikim, for the “repelling force” constantly fortifies itself to create a rift and estrange us from the tzaddikim.

Master of the Universe! Lord God Who fights our battles! Lofty and holy One, Who performs mighty deeds, in constantly new ways! Mighty One Who wages our wars! You know the fierce and awesome battle that goes on constantly, from generation to generation, between the “gravitational force” of the true tzaddikim, who possess the ability to draw the entire world to themselves in order to bring them closer to the Creator, may His Name be blessed forever – and the “repelling force” that continually fortifies itself against the “gravitational force,” in order to cut us off and distance us from the tzaddikim and from God. How many souls have fallen in this war and lost both worlds, due to the “repelling force” that estranged them from the true tzaddikim! And as for us, “orphans of orphans,” what has taken place and what can be done? Who will wage war on our behalf, to conquer and destroy the “repelling force” that opposes the “gravitational force” of the tzaddikim?

Master of the Universe, “O God, the mighty and strong, O God, strong in battle!” We cast our burden upon You, that You will battle for us! O God, “take up our fight and wage our war,” for “You are exalted forever, O God,” and “Forever Your hand is uppermost!”

Have mercy upon us, and save us in the merit of the true tzaddikim, who possess the “gravitational force,” and enable the “gravitational force” to muster its strength to such a great and awesome degree that it will overcome and utterly defeat the “repelling force,” which seeks to cut us off from the tzaddikim and from God. All of the obstacles, estrangements, tricks to divert and thwart us, doubts, and all the various disputes and thorny questions, as well as all evil desires and traits, all barriers in the world—they all come from the “repelling force.” Make them all fall away and vanish completely before the power of the “gravitational force” of the true tzaddikim, until we and all of our children and all children of Israel – indeed, all creatures in the world – are brought close to the true tzaddikim. Then “they will cast away their false gods of silver and gold” and all of their passions, in order to follow and run after the true tzaddikim. May we all merit to draw near to the true tzaddikim with the greatest closeness, and hear their holy teachings, study their holy books, and completely fulfill all their holy words, advice, and even casual remarks, in truth and simplicity – until we return to You in perfect teshuvah, speedily, sincerely, with a whole heart, “with joy and a good heart from the abundance of everything!”

Enable us to destroy and nullify all evil desires and evil traits. May we succeed in nullifying the ego entirely, to the point that we attain true humility and embody the paradigm of “dust of the earth.” Then we, too, will possess the “gravitational force,” and draw down Your Godliness and holiness upon us. Thus, we will bring the entire world to Your holy faith, Your true tzaddikim, Your service, and Your holy Torah, which You revealed to us through Moses, Your prophet, and through all true tzaddikim of every generation.

In Your great mercy, give us the privilege of contributing tzedakah generously to worthy people in need, particularly the true tzaddikim and their children. Help us to give them tzedakah with the greatest honor and respect, and to provide for all of their needs with dignity. May we give all our charitable contributions to true tzaddikim who are truly humble, exemplifying the paradigm of dust; and through this, may our tzedakah produce “fruit” immediately, as it is written: “Sow for yourselves righteousness (tzedakah), and reap according to [God’s] kindness.” Through tzedakah, cause all goodness to sprout forth: “goodly bounty and blessing, compassion, life, and peace,” “children, life, and sustenance,” and all good things forever!

In Your great mercy, protect us and save us so that we may never stumble through unworthy poor people. May none of our charity be distributed to an undeserving person, whose life is devoted to destroying Your world and not to improving Your world. Rather, may we generously give charity to worthy poor people and true tzaddikim. Help us for the sake of Your Name, have pity on us in Your abundant mercy, and enable us to attain all this right away!

Help us to flee from honor to the utmost degree. Instead, may we draw upon ourselves glory from the side of holiness, for the sake of Your Name – glory elicited from the true tzaddik, who possesses the “gravitational force” by which he erects the “Mishkan” constantly. All sacred honor rests with him; and all elders of Israel, leaders, and officers, from the greatest to the smallest, receive their honor from him.

Grant us sacred honor such as this, through which Your great glory will be revealed, magnified, and sanctified in the world, constantly. “Rule over the entire world in Your glory” speedily, and let Your glory fill all the earth. As it is written, “Declare among the nations His glory; among all peoples His wonders. They shall recount the glory of Your dominion, and they shall speak of Your might. Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, Who alone performs wonders! May the name of His glory be blessed forever, and may His glory fill all the earth, amen!”

Beyond the Illusion of Nature
From Tefilot HaBoker, Tefilah 7, by Rabbi Ephraim ben Naftali

Master of the Universe! Grant me the trait of holy alacrity, so that I never become lazy in the performance of any mitzvah, God forbid. Rather. May I fulfill all of the words of Your Torah and Your mitzvot with eagerness, and not pay attention to worries over livelihood. Rather, may I believe that You will surely sustain me, and that the God Who watched over me until now like a shepherd will not abandon me. Through my alacrity, may my mind and soul be energized, and may I minimize the time wasted in sleep due to laziness. Instead, may I always serve You diligently and enthusiastically, and whenever it is possible to snatch a bit of Torah, or to perform a mitzvah, may I do so right away, without any procrastination or laziness.

Imbue in me the realization that time does not exist – for the gist of Divine Providence consists in knowing that God transcends time and space, and that He watches over the entire universe through His Providence, and what we take to be nature is an illusion. Through this, may we attain higher consciousness and awareness, and through our faith, may we privileged that You relate to us in wondrous and miraculous ways, utterly beyond the laws of nature. May we elicit the full manifestation Your Divine Providence from the spiritual plane known as the “World to Come.”

Let us receive the Shabbat in a joyous frame of mind, “with wealth and honor, and with the fewest possible sins.” For everything is elicited through the holiness of Shabbat—by virtue of our belief that God created all of the words, bringing them into being yesh me-‘ayin, “something from nothing”; and that everything reflects Divine Providence; and that nature has no autonomy whatsoever—for we know that the laws of nature, too, operate according to Divine Providence. And we believe in all of the miracles that You performed for us and for our Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, truly believing in all of them. And we remind ourselves of our Exodus from Egypt every day, in order to enlighten us with the realization that everything reflects Divine Providence.

Thus, may I be privileged to receive the holiness of Shabbat ha-Gadol, which immediately precedes the holiday of Pesach. Through this, may You put an end to all of our sufferings, destroy our oppressors, and eradicate evil forever!

Revealing Divine Providence
From Tefilot HaBoker, Tefilah 7, by Rabbi Ephraim ben Naftali

May it be Your will, O Lord Our God, to perform miracles and wonders for us, in fulfillment of the verse, “As in the days of your Exodus from Egypt, I will show you wonders!”

Protect us from all harmful forces. May they be deprived of any ability to damage us, physically or spiritually. Save us from all forms of darkness, and shine upon us a glimmer of Your holy light, from which all other lights derive, both physical and spiritual. Enable us to transmit the holiness of Passover Night to the entire year, and thus be protected from all darkness and harmful forces, as well as all affliction and harsh judgments, which might overpower us due to our many sins and transgressions. Illuminate us with Your Infinite Light, and fulfill in us the verse, “And the darkness of night will shine like the light of day!” Watch over us with Your Providence, and remove all harm and harsh judgments from us, as well as from Your entire nation, Israel, forever.

Allow us each year to nullify the chametz from our homes and domains on the day before Passover by burning the chametz. Through this, may we eradicate all idolatry and evil from the world, in fulfillment of the verse, “For they came forth from the fire, and the fire shall consume them.”

Subjugate the “Luminaries of Fire” and reveal and strengthen the holiness of the “Luminaries of Light.” These are the true tzaddikim who reveal Divine Providence to the world, and subjugate and cancel all harsh judgments produced by the Luminaries of Fire, which are bound up with nature. You have already made known to us through Your true tzaddikim that the power of nature is elicited primarily from the paradigm of fire, which represents the full force of harsh judgment. And when one declares, “My power and the strength of my hand [made for me this wealth],” God forbid, this is elicited from the power of fire, which was created on Motza’ei Shabbat (Saturday night) by Adam, as our Sages of blessed memory declare. Thus, the power of nature derives from fire. However, in truth, nature itself reflects Your beneficent Providence. Our main task is to incorporate nature into Your Providence, and in so doing, to restore the paradigm of fire to the holy. Then we will perform all of the commandments with the warmth of holy fire, which consumes all fires from the side of klippah.

Through this, all idolatry and evil with be nullified and fall away, and we will merit to perform the ceremony of Havdalah (“Separation”) every Motza’ei Shabbat, and recite the blessing over fire. All harsh judgments will be nullified, as well as the Other Side and all idolatry, in fulfillment of the verse, “And the House of Jacob will be a fire; and the House of Joseph, a flame; and the House of Esau for straw.” They will be nullified and consumed by the fire of holiness.

We will attain all of this by burning the chametz on every Erev Pesach. Then we will merit to eat the matzah in holiness and to reveal Divine Providence, as we declare during the Passover Seder, “This matzah we eat—because the dough of our forefathers did not have time to rise before the Supreme King of Kings, the Holy One, blessed be He, was revealed to them, and redeemed them!”

Master of the Universe! You know that it is impossible for human beings of flesh and blood to be truly on guard against even the least speck of chametz throughout the days of Passover. It is only that in Your great kindness You watch over us, which makes it possible for us to succeed in our vigilance concerning the least speck of chametz throughout the days of Passover. By remaining steadfast in not eating chametz, we will nullify the illusion of nature completely, remove from ourselves all harsh judgments, and eat matzah in holiness and purity. Then we will attain true knowledge of God, and bring down a full manifestation of Providence upon ourselves and upon all Israel; and through eating matzah during the seven days of Passover, we will imbue ourselves with the holiness of the Exodus from Egypt every year. Divine Providence will be revealed until we realize that nature, too, operates according to Your beneficent Providence, and the natural order has no autonomous existence.

As a result, materialist philosophy will be refuted and negated, along with the Other Side and all forms of idolatry to which it gives rise; all enemies and antagonists will be put to shame. We will witness miracles, and believe in Your miracles: in the Exodus from Egypt, and in the crossing of the Reed Sea. We will know that all of this came about because You revealed Your Unity and Oneness in the world, and we will perceive that everything operates according to Divine Providence, utterly beyond the laws of nature.

Then after Passover we will be able to eat even chametz—for it will have been revealed that nature, which is an aspect of chametz, is entirely a manifestation of Your Providence alone. This is the essence of higher consciousness, which nullifies all sufferings and harsh judgments, and brings about the downfall of all evil regimes that dominate us in our exile. The “two tears” will fall into the Great Sea, and put an end to the wicked, while accomplishing miracles for our good.

We will sing a new song of thanksgiving to You for our redemption and the liberation of our souls: a song of Providence, a song of wonders and miracles. “From God this came about; it is wondrous in our sight!”

May we be privileged to drink the Four Cups on Passover night in holiness and purity, and to elevate our minds in sanctity, until we depart from foolish consciousness, impoverished consciousness. Through our drinking in holiness, may we be given the merit to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt all the days of our lives, in fulfillment of the verse “In order that you remember your Exodus from the land of Egypt all the days of your lives.”

Let us give thanks and praise unto Your great Name for the miracles and wonders that You performed for us in the past, and which You will perform for us in the future. By drinking the Four Cups, may we banish sleep and the lack of higher consciousness, which is comparable to sleep, and nullify all poverty and oppression, both physical and spiritual. May we be worthy of “wine that brings joy to God and man,” and speak holy words and sing songs and praises that come forth from sublime perception.

Reveal Your Providence over us, abolish the darkness, and grant us light, until “night shines like the day.” Correct the deficiency of the moon, and “may the light of the moon be like the light of the sun.” Remove all poverty and lack from our midst, and elevate our minds until we merit to speak holy words, in fulfillment of the verse, “And your palate is like vintage wine; it goes to my Beloved in righteousness, causing the lips of sleepers to speak.” Thus we will open our mouths in holiness, and we will sing, exalt, and praise You constantly.