Monday, August 29, 2016

Simchah / Joy

Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, The Essential Rabbi Nachman (Azamra Institute):
 Simchah / Joy 
It is a great mitzvah to be happy always!
Make every effort to maintain a happy, positive outlook at all times. It is a natural human tendency to become discouraged and depressed because of the hardships of life: everyone has their full share of suffering. That is why you must force yourself to be happy at all times. Use every possible way to bring yourself to joy, even by joking or acting a little crazy!
Likutey Moharan II, 24
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If you are happy, the whole world benefits .
Rabbi Noson of Tiveria, Netiv Tzaddik 71
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A happy front
Even if you are upset and unhappy, you can at least put on a happy front. At first you may not feel genuinely happy in your heart. Even so, if youact happy you will eventually attain true happiness and joy.
Sichot HaRan #74
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Good humor
Rabbi Nachman once observed: Having a sense of humor is good on three conditions:
1. You do not insult others. 2. You are not vulgar. 3. You do not present yourself in a good light to the detriment of others.
Siach Sarfey Kodesh 1-13
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Finding the good points
You must search for the good in yourself.
When you start looking deep within yourself, you may think there is no good in you at all. You may feel you are full of evil: a negative voice inside you may try to drive you into depression. But you must not allow yourself to fall into depression. Search until you find some little good in you. For how could it be that you never did anything good in your whole life?
When you start to examine the good you have done, you may see many flaws. Maybe you did what you did for the wrong reasons and with the wrong attitude. Even so, how could it be that your mitzvah or good deed contains no good at all? It must contain some element of good.
You must search and search until you find some good point within you to give you new life and happiness. When you discover the good that is still inside you, you literally swing the scales from guilt to merit. This will enable you to return to God. The good you find inside you will give you new life and bring joy to your soul.
Having found one good point, you must continue searching until you find another. Even if you think this good point is also full of flaws, you must still search for some good in it. In the same way, you must continue finding more and more good points.
This is how songs are made! In essence, music is made by sifting the good from the bad. The musician has to find the “good spirit”—the good air—and reject the bad. A musical instrument is a vessel containing air. The musician produces the sounds by causing the air to vibrate. His task is to move his hands on the instrument in such a way as to produce good spirit, “good vibrations,” while avoiding the “bad vibrations”—the dissonant winds of gloom and depression.
When a person refuses to allow himself to fall into despair but instead vitalizes himself by seeking out and gathering together his positive points, this produces melodies, and he can then pray, sing and give thanks to God.
When a person recognizes the wrong he has done and how grossly materialistic and impure he is, he can become so depressed that he is completely incapable of praying. He simply cannot open his mouth to God. This is because of the deep sorrow and heaviness that overcome him when he sees his overwhelming distance from God.
But finding your good points can give you new life. Even if you know you have done wrong and caused damage and that you are far from God, you must search until you find the good that is still inside you. This will give you new life and make you truly happy. You are certainly entitled to feel the greatest joy over every good point you find in yourself, because each good point comes from the holy soul within you. The new life and joy you will gain from this path will enable you to pray, sing and give thanks to God.
Likutey Moharan I, 282
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True humility
A person should never let his own smallness, insignificance and humility cover up his true greatness. For sometimes a person downgrades himself to excess and forgets that he still has many amazing attributes.
Siach Sarfey Kodesh 1-34
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A settled mind
The main reason why people are far from God is because their minds are not settled and they do not pause to consider the purpose of their existence. But when a person is happy, his mind becomes settled and he is able to understand things clearly.
Someone who is anxious and depressed finds it impossible to direct his thoughts where he wants. It is hard for him to calm and settle his mind. Only when a person is happy can he direct his thoughts wherever he wants and settle his mind.
Joy is the world of freedom—“for you shall go out with joy ” (Isaiah 55:12). Through joy we become free and leave our exile. When a person maintains a happy, joyous attitude, his mind and thoughts become free and he is no longer in exile. He can then direct his thoughts as he wants and settle his mind so as to focus on his goal and draw close to God.
Likutey Moharan II, 10
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Join the dance
Sometimes a group of people happily dancing together take hold of someone who is standing miserable and depressed on the outside. They pull him into the dance circle despite himself, forcing him to rejoice with them.
Similarly, when a person is happy, his pain and sadness may move to the sidelines . But a higher level is to pursue the sadness itself and “pull it into the dance circle,” turning it into joy.
If you truly set your mind to it, you will find that even amidst your worst troubles and suffering there is always a way you can turn all your sadness into joy. True joy is when you forcibly transform your very sadness and depression into happiness.
Likutey Moharan II, 23
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The difference between broken-heartedness and depression
Having a broken heart and being depressed are two quite different things.
Depression is rooted in the unholy “other side” and God hates it. But being brokenhearted and contrite over one’s sins and shortcomings is very dear and precious to God.
It would be very good to be brokenhearted all day. But this could easily throw most people into gloom and depression. You should therefore set aside some time each day for heartbreak. Seclude yourself with God for a given time and break your heart with regret over your sins. Then be happy for the rest of the day.
Sichot HaRan #41
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Being gloomy and depressed is like being angry with God for not satisfying one’s desires. But someone with a broken heart is like a small child pleading with his father or crying out and complaining to him for being distant.
Sichot HaRan #42
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After heartbreak comes joy. Being happy later on is a true sign of having a broken heart.
Sichot HaRan #45
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Hold onto the good times
You should always try to be happy and serve God with joy, and even if you sometimes fall short of your level, you can still encourage yourself by thinking of earlier times when you did have a taste of the light.
A number of blind people can all take hold of one sighted person and follow him trustingly. A blind man trusts his stick and follows it even though he sees nothing. How much more should you follow your own self - because the light did shine on you previously, arousing and inspiring you to serve God.
Maybe you feel you have fallen and that your eyes and heart are closed. Even so, you should still hold onto those earlier days. Just as you were aroused and encouraged to serve God then, strengthen yourself now by following the sense of arousal you felt then. God will soon help you and His light will shine on you again.
Likutey Moharan I, 222

Monday, August 1, 2016

Tisha BeAv

Tisha be-Av is one of the five times during the year that Breslover Chassidim daven together ki-vasikin. The Kinnos are recited with kavannah until the late morning. The recitation of Kinnos is taken seriously, as are all the laws of Tisha B’Av.

A Prayer for Moshiach

By Rabbi Noson Sternhartz
Likutey Tefillos I, 142
Translated by Dovid Sears, “Entering the Light” (Breslov Research Institute)

Our God and God of our fathers: have mercy upon us, and confer merit upon us, and speedily send us our righteous Moshiach. He will fix this broken world, as well as all of the worlds from the highest to the lowest, for they all depend upon this lowest World of Action (Olam ha-Asiyah). Have pity on him and on us, and send him speedily and in peace, that he may bring everything to perfection, with the most awesome and wondrous tikkun (rectification).

Enlighten us with true perception, and open our eyes and hearts to Your Torah. Thus, may we be privileged to understand all the words of the Torah lucidly, according to their truth, so that no question or doubt will remain in our minds concerning any law or path among the laws and paths of the Torah. Rather, may everything be clarified beyond any shadow of a doubt, even those questions and doubts about which the great tzaddikim of former times declared "teiku." The Moshiach will straighten out them all, untangle them and make them understandable to us, and rectify the paradigm of "teiku" that includes all of the uncertainties in the world—both those that perplexed the great sages of Israel concerning the laws and paths of the Torah, and those that have perplexed everyone, from the greatest of the great to the smallest of the small.

So many of us yearn with all of our hearts to return to You! However, the paths of return and the paths of Torah are hidden from us, and our hearts are torn by doubts and deep uncertainties about which course of action to take. This is especially true of me, as I stand before You today. You know all that I have been through, and how many doubts and conflicts have bothered me about so many things. These confusions are greater than ever today, in so many areas of my life and in so many ways. My soul is so disturbed that sometimes it seems more than I can bear.

Master of the Universe, Master of the Universe! Almighty God of truth, "great in advice, and mighty in deed!" (Jeremiah 32:19). Have compassion on the Jewish people and upon me, and send a wondrous illumination from the World of Rectification (Olam ha-Tikkun), for which our righteous Moshiach will serve as the spiritual channel. Then "teiku" will be transformed to the most wondrous tikkun, and all questions will be resolved and all doubts clarified, even the subtlest "doubts of doubts"—and we will constantly receive perfect, good, and true advice about everything in the world.

In Your compassion, teach us the proper way to mourn and lament over the destruction of the Holy Temple at all times, particularly every night at the exact moment of chatzos, and during the three summer weeks known as "between the straits (bein ha-metzarim)." On the Ninth of Av, the bitter day when both Holy Temples were destroyed, may we recite the Book of Lamentations and kinnos (elegies) sincerely, with a broken and humble spirit, and pour out our hearts like water before You. Let us "put our mouths to the dust—perhaps there is hope" (Lamentation 3:29), and strike our heads against the walls of our hearts, due to our suffering and travail, as a nation and as individuals. How many years have passed since the devastation of our holy city and Holy Temple! How has the glory of the "House of Our Life" been removed! The trouble of each day is worse than the day before, especially now, when harsh and cruel decrees have been issued against our people, beyond our ability to endure. Our lives hang in the balance; our hearts are filled with dread at the thought of the harsh decrees that those that hate us wish to carry out against us, God forbid.

God of mercy, give us the emotional strength to empathize with the plight of the Jewish people, as well as to face our own spiritual dilemma. Give us the courage to break our hearts before You, and pour forth our supplication like water before You in complete sincerity, admitting the greatness of our sins and transgressions, and the “stiff-necked” behavior (Exodus 32:9) that has prolonged our exile and caused all of our grief.

"Let us raise our hearts to our hands unto God in heaven" (Lamentations 3:41). Let us resort to the art of our holy ancestors, and cry and wail bitterly; let us wander the streets and alleys and market places, supplicating the One Above "until He looks down upon us from heaven" (Lamentations 3:50), until He awakens His mercy upon us, and speedily consoles us, and delivers us from our afflictions and sufferings, collectively and individually.

May God enlighten us, even now, with a ray of the light of our righteous Moshiach, thus to mitigate all harsh decrees, and end all of our grief and travail. May He constantly shine upon us the light of truth, and constantly heal us with new and wondrous tikkunim, and answer and elucidate for us all doubts and questions and quandaries. May we constantly receive the right advice, according to the highest truth, so that we will return to You in truth, speedily and with a whole heart, thus to engage in Torah and prayer and the performance of commandments and good deeds, all the days of our lives. Guard us and save us from all sin and transgression, so that we never veer aside from Your will, neither to the right nor the left (cf. Deuteronomy 5:29). May Your compassion be aroused on behalf of Your children, and may You speedily bring us our righteous Moshiach, and redeem us completely, with the final and eternal redemption.

Then the paradigm of "teiku" will be transformed to "tikkun" to the ultimate degree of perfection; that is, the letter nun from the word kinnos (elegies) will be transferred to the end of the word teiku, thus to convert "teiku" to "tikkun." All lamentations will cease throughout the world, and be remade into vessels of divine perception.

O Merciful One, Master of Deliverance, Master of Consolation! We beg You, console us from all of our afflictions, and help us to accomplish our work in this world. Spread forth upon us Your "Tent of Peace"; prepare for us good advice, and save us speedily for the sake of Your Name. Grant us the knowledge of absolute truth. Save us from the many doubts and confusions and uncertainties that interfere with our ability to serve You. Confer upon us perfect and true advice at all times, so that we may return to You in truth, and become the people You want us to be, now and forever, amen sela.

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