Sunday, January 22, 2012

Remembering the True Goal

(c) Dovid Sears

Remembering the True Goal
Reb Noson, Sichot HaRan (English: Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom) #51
Newly translated by Rabbi Ozer Bergman
(c) Breslov Research Institute

This world has no purpose but to draw one towards the eternal goal.

Do not be concerned with whether or not you have money, because either way, your days will pass. The world deceives us completely. It makes a person think that he is constantly profiting, but in the end there is nothing. People spend years in business, but are left empty-handed.

Even one who attains wealth is taken away from it. A person and money cannot endure together. Either the money is taken from the person, or the person is taken from the money.

There has never been an instance of a person remaining with his money.

Where is all the money that people have been making since the beginning of time? People have always been making money—where is it all? It is really absolutely nothing.

“And serving God? I don't know of anyone who can claim that he serves God according to His greatness. Anyone who has an inkling of God's greatness—I don't understand how he can claim to serve God! Not even the highest angels can boast that they truly serve God. The main thing is desire. Always yearn to approach God.

Many want to serve God, but the degrees of desire are not the same. Even an individual's level of desire is constantly fluctuating. The main thing is the will and longing, to yearn for God. From this one prays, studies and keeps His mitzvot.”

(In fact, however, according to God's greatness, all these practices are nothing. They are merely “pretend,” because relative to God's greatness they are a comedy, a farce.)

Sophistication is worthless; only artlessness and simplicity [have value]. Even in one's artlessness, it is forbidden to be foolish. But sophistication is totally unnecessary (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom, #19).

It is not good to be old (cf. Alim l’Terufah ##210, 255, 276, 350); even to be an old chassid or an old tzaddik is not good. You must renew yourself each day, always making a fresh start. There is something that improves with age—the Talmud teaches that a pig becomes stronger as it grows older (Shabbat 77b).

Reckless abandon, too, is unnecessary.

“I don't consider serving God fanaticism. On the contrary, those who pursue worldly goals and are distant from serving God are the true fanatics. Nevertheless, even what society considers fanaticism—totally abandoning all worldly pursuits to involve oneself solely in Divine worship—is also unnecessary. One can be a kosher person without fanaticism (see Likutey Halakhot, Nikhsey HaGer 3:1).

“Take it from me: Do not let the world fool you. Do not let it deceive you, because no one ever had a happy ending from this world. Every person, even those who acquired all it has to offer, met a bitter fate. The harm and loss is not only theirs, but also of future generations.

“Non-Jews, as well, need to know this: If the world is nothing, what can one do? To answer this, one must have help from on high. But Israel needs no further help, for the Torah has already taught us (see Likutey Halakhot, P’ru u’Revu 3:34).

“The world says there's no need to seek greatness. But I say that you should seek only greatness. Search specifically for the greatest possible tzaddik.” It is already elaborated in his works the necessity for seeking the greatest tzaddik and teacher (see Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #30).

Concerning the passions that unsettle a person: Eating and drinking are bodily necessities. One must likewise beget children This is human necessity, not desire. These are not extravagances, just needs that have to be accomplished in holiness and purity.

The human mind can withstand any temptation because the Blessed Holy One “gives wisdom to the wise” (Daniel 2:21). Every person has the potential of wisdom, but he must develop it. The innate potential alone, without that which God later adds, is sufficient to enable one to withstand all temptations.

One may have succumbed to desire and sinned in many ways. One may have blemished his intellect, making it weak and confused. But one still has some mind, and this alone can overcome all desires. One grain of intelligence can overcome the world and all its temptations.

And wherever one is, one can be near to God. Even if one finds himself in the pit of Hell, God forbid, he can approach God and truly serve Him (Likutey Moharan, Lesson #6; Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom, #302).

Rebbe Nachman said, “For this one needs either God's mercy or tremendous effort or both,” before meriting the settling of the dregs of the mind. Then he will not want anything in this world. Everything will be the same to him.

“When you walk, she will guide you; when you lie down, she will watch over you; when you awake, she will comfort you” (Proverbs 6:22). For “when you walk, she”—the Torah—“will guide you.” “When you lie down”—in the grave”—“she will protect you,” for God and the Torah are in the grave as well. Finally, “when you awake” in the World to Come, “she will comfort you” (Avot 6:9). When one desires only God and His Torah and nothing else, everything is the same to him. Whether he is in this world, the grave or the World to Come he clings to God and His Torah.

But for someone attached to this world, there is a significant difference. This world is broad and spacious; the grave is tight and cramped. But for one with a purified mind, with all the dregs removed, all will be the same.

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