Friday, December 30, 2011

Chayei Nefesh / An Exploration of the Role of the Tzaddik

Rabbi Gedaliah Aharon Kenig (1921-1980) of Yerushalayim was the leading disciple of Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz (1862-1955), Rav of Kremenchug and Uman, and a major link in the Breslov mesorah (chain of transmission). Reb Gedaliah published some of his mentor’s oral traditions as “Tovos Zikhronos,” together with Reb Avraham’s writings on the issue of traveling to Meron for Rosh Hashanah when one cannot go to Uman, and “Yerach HaEisanim,” the Rav of Tcherin’s chiddushim (original teachings) on the first 23 lessons in Likutey Moharan, as related to Rosh Hashanah. He also published “Likutey Even/Tefillos HaBoker,” chiddushim on Likutey Moharan and original prayers of a disciple of Reb Noson, Reb Ephraim ben Naftali. In addition, Reb Gedaliah authored several major seforim of his own (the publication of which we still await); but the only one he published during his lifetime was “Chayei Nefesh,” a ground-breaking study of the nature and role of the tzaddik in response to the critique of the Chassidic viewpoint attributed to Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin in “Nefesh HaChaim.”

Almost 25 years ago, Rabbis Dovid Zeitlin and Dovid Sears translated Chayei Nefesh to English—their first translation effort—although only the first half was made available online via the original Breslov Center website. Today this translation is being edited by the publication arm of Nachal Novea Mekor Chochma (umbrella organization of the Breslov community in Tsfat, Israel, founded by Reb Gedaliah and led today by his son, Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Kenig). When completed, this new version will be published together with a brief biography of the author.

However, in the meantime, we are making available the unedited version of the first half of the book on this website in two parts. May it serve as a source of deeper understanding and insight to all students of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s teachings, particularly on this key subject.

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