Tuesday, February 10, 2015

“To Elicit Peace,” Part 1

Based on Likutey Moharan I, 14 (“Lehamshikh shalom”)
SUMMARY of main points of the lesson, as presented in the commentary “Orach Mishor,” vol. 2 (end of lesson)
By Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Bar-Lev
Translated and annotated by Dovid Sears
Le-zekher nishmas: Dov Ber ben Yitzchak Yaakov, a”h (yahrtzeit: 29 Shevat)
Avi mori Leib ben Yitzchak Yaakov, a”h (yahrtzeit: 30 Shevat, R”CH)

This is an “unofficial” translation of an excerpt from Rabbi Bar-Lev’s commentary on Likutey Moharan, of which only two volumes were published before the series was discontinued more than a decade ago. May we be privileged to see the remaining volumes of this excellent and much-needed work completed and published “bi-shaah tovah u-mitzlachas.”

Recently I have been thinking about the issues of war and peace, as well as violence and nonviolence in the broader sense. I hope this will be the first of several postings from the many Breslov teachings on these subjects. May the study of the heiliger Rebbe Reb Nachman’s teachings on peace help to bring actual peace to the world, both “peace in the bones” and “universal peace,” as this lesson describes. DS

Text of Orach Mishor in bold, with explanatory remarks in brackets [DS]

1.      By fully accomplishing the tikkun (repair, or perfection) of Hashem’s kavod (glory, honor, or illumination), there is elicited the wondrous peace that will characterize the future age.

Peace will spread throughout all the worlds—that is, all worlds will combine and be incorporated within one another, the lower into the higher, until they all become absorbed into the blessed Divine Unity.

[The kabbalists speak of “four worlds,” or levels of creation, parallel to the four letters of the Essential Divine Name Y-H-V-H: Asiyah, the World of Action, which includes the entire physical universe, is the level of the Ophanim angels in the Prophet Ezekiel’s “Merkavah” vision, corresponding to the lower letter heh (H) in the Divine Name Y-H-V-H. Yetzirah, the World of Formation, is the level of the Living Angels in Ezekiel’s vision, corresponding to the letter vav (V). Beriah, the World of Creation, is the level of the Divine Throne in Ezekiel’s vision, corresponding to the upper letter heh (H). And Atzilus, the World of Emanation, is the level of the “man seated on the throne,” corresponding to the letter yod (Y); this is the all-encompassing level of absolute unity.]

There will be peace and completeness [sheleimus, which is related to shalom, peace] throughout all the worlds, such that predatory animals, which are by nature angry and cruel, will also be perfected and show compassion toward one another. As it is written, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall recline with the goat … they shall neither harm nor destroy…” (Isaiah 11:6-9).

[Thus, we see that in Rebbe Nachman’s view, peace is fully attained only when Hashem’s kavod is perfected. As long as honor is misconceived or misplaced, conflict and disharmony will ensue. But when we set aside our own preoccupation with honor and nullify ourselves to God, peace will proliferate. Thus, our sages (Shabbos 10b) teach us that “Shalom (Peace)” is one of God’s Names.]

2.      The principle tikkun of kavod is when it is elevated to its “source,” which is yirah [holy awe or fear]. That is, one merits to feel Hashem’s glory with a whole heart, until one comes to experience religious awe (yiras ha-romemus). As it is written, “To fear the glorious and awesome name [Hashem, your God]” (Deut. 28:58).

[The Rebbe implies that the elevation of glory from its fallen condition—i.e., when honor is attributed to powers other than God—leads to an experience of religious awe, yiras ha-romemus. This is not fear of punishment or any sort of ego-related fear, but a powerful sense of God’s infinite and unknowable nature, the “mysterium tremendum.” Thus yirah is described as the “source” of kavod, which by contrast is associated with Divine manifestation; as the verse states, “The kavod of Hashem rested upon Mount Sinai” (Exodus 24:16).]

3.      This tikkun is made when those who were estranged from Hashem draw closer to Hashem and recognize his kavod. When this occurs, “the Name of the Blessed One is elevated and esteemed above and below” (Zohar, Yisro), and God’s glory is greatly increased. Therefore, each person must endeavor diligently to be mekarev those who are distant so that they too may serve Hashem. And this is a great tikkun for the spiritual blemish of wasted seed, God forbid.

[Failure to recognize Hashem and unite with Hashem in thought, speech and action goes hand in hand with chilul Hashem—disgracing the Divine Name. In this world, things are recognized and summoned by a name. Therefore, when people who were estranged turn to Hashem, this is a kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of the Divine Name. The paradigm of “wasted seed,” whether though nocturnal emissions or willful immorality, as elements of holiness that are “out of place,” parallels those who are spiritually estranged. Therefore, enabling others to return to Hashem is a tikkun for this spiritual blemish. Reb Noson expounds on how the ultimate tikkun of sexual immorality is the task of Mashiach, in particular (e.g., Likutey Halakhos, Tefillin 2:12).

Reb Noson also states that bringing others closer to Hashem is greater than all other forms of divine service put together (see Otzar ha-Yirah, Geirim 12).]

4.      It is only possible to bring geirim (converts) or baalei teshuvah (penitents) back to Hashem through the Torah. Every person, and a talmid chakhom (Torah scholar) in particular, must engage in Torah study with great sanctity—to the point that one’s Torah study illuminates the spiritual root of the souls of all Israel. Through this, both the sinners of Israel and converts will be awakened to return to Hashem—even if one has never set eyes on them, and they are miles away from him, they come to return in penitence or to convert.

[The Rebbe (sec. 3) indicates that this is because of the principle that every Jewish soul corresponds to a letter in the Torah (Zohar Chadash, Shir ha-Shirim 91a). As for the connection to the souls of future converts, it is written that all Jewish souls were present at the Giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai; however, the mazal, or “destiny,” of all future converts was also present at that time (see Maharsha on Shabbos 146a; also cf. R. Elchanan Wasserman in the name of the Chafetz Chaim, Chayei ha-Mussar, Vo. II, pp. 157-158). Hence, studying the Torah in a spirit of sanctity illuminates all souls of Israel, including those of future converts.

Another implication of the Rebbe’s words here is that when we study the Torah with holy intention, we get in touch with our own essence.]

After this, it is necessary to work with them, to lead them on a straight path, so that they depart from all evil traits and desires that had taken root in them. Thus, they will come to a complete teshuvah, and perceive the Divine Glory fully. This too is accomplished by the sanctity of the Torah, for the Torah cleanses the soul of a person. Thus, the kavod of Hashem is made complete.

[We see from this that true spiritual perception depends on undergoing a purification process (also see Likutey Moharan I, 4; I, 21; I, 52, among many other lessons that address this issue). Lacking such purification, spiritual experiences inevitably will be incomplete, or erroneous.]

And through this, one will merit to transmit to his son a pure and refined soul, [so that] his son will be a talmid chokhom. However, when one does not study in this manner, his son will not be a talmid chokhom.
            [The Rebbe (sec. 4) quotes the Gemara in Nedarim (81a): Why do Torah scholars             not have sons who are Torah scholars? Because they (the fathers) did not recite          the blessing for the Torah first (techilah).” The Rebbe interprets this to mean            that the fathers failed to study in a manner that would illuminate the souls of all        Israel, which are called “first (techilah) in thought” (Bereishis Rabbah 1:5); see    there in the lesson.]
5.      The main way by which one may merit to come to Torah study such as this is through humility and self-abnegation to the ultimate degree. One must guard against all things that commonly lead to feelings of self-importance. These are three things: wisdom (chokhmah), power (gevurah) and wealth (ashirus). One must destroy feelings of pride that accrue from these three sources; rather, one must be humble and self-effacing in all of them.

One should belittle himself before those who are his superiors; before those who are his peers; and before those who are his subordinates. Beyond this, he should belittle himself even in relation to his own spiritual level—knowing that whatever level he has reached is not due to his own power at all, but is a gift from Heaven. He should consider himself to be absolutely nothing.

This was the level of Moshe Rabbeinu, of whom the verse states, “And the man Moshe was more humble than everyone on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). 

Through this, one may merit to receive the Torah as a gift.

To the degree that each person negates his sense of self-importance, he will merit to receive a “scintillation” (hisnotzetzus) of the light of the Torah. Thus, through his Torah study, he will cause those who were formerly distant to draw near and rectify the kavod of Hashem completely, until he attains yiras ha-romemus (awe).  

6.      Essentially this tikkun depends upon binding oneself (hiskashrus) to tzaddikim, who fear Hashem [i.e., those who have already attained yiras ha-romemus]. Every person must nullify his sense of self-importance and subjugate himself to the complete tzaddikim, and honor them whole-heartedly. In so doing, he will bring about the tikkun of kavod, and fully attain yirah. And to the extent that one merits to honor the tzaddikim whole-heartedly, he will come to know that by doing so, he has rectified his share in the honor of Hashem.
            [Re. hiskashrus le-tzaddikim, our sages (Sifri, parshas Ekev) expound on the verse: And to cling to him (Deuteronomy 11:22): Is it possible for a human to ascend above and attach himself to fire? Has it not been stated that God is a consuming fire? (ibid. 4:24)  And in Daniel 7:9, it refers to the Divine Throne made of sparks of fire…” Rather, [it is as if God said,] Attach yourselves to the Sages and their disciples, and I will consider it as if you had ascended above. Rashi in his commentary (Deuteronomy 11:22) concludes, And I will consider it as if you had attached yourself to [Me].” For more on this issue, see Rabbi Gedaliah Kenig’s Chayei Nefesh, chap. 14, and throughout.

As the Baal Shem Tov taught on the verse (Psalms 118:20): “This is the gate to Hashem; tzaddikim (zeh ha-shaar la-Shem, tzaddikim…”—that is, tzaddikim are the ‘gate’ to Hashem (Butzina diNehora, “Tehillim,” p.184).

Why do we need this factor of hiskashrus le-tzaddikim, which is ubiquitous throughout Breslov teachings? To put it simply, the tzaddikim have actualized the potential that we all possess; and indeed all souls are one (see for example, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero, Tomer Devorah, chap. 1 [middah 4: “she’eris nachalaso”]. Thus, the tzaddikim are “part” of us, and we are “part” of them. Through the conscious effort of hiskashrus, we may be “energized from above” to become tzaddikim ourselves, and reach the spiritual goal for which we were all created.]

Part 2 of this summary will go one to discuss inner peace and universal peace.

If anyone would like to inquire about sponsorship of the remaining unpublished volumes of Rabbi Bar-Lev’s commentary on Likutey Moharan, they may write to the author, c/o Rechov Ezra 4, Bnei Brak, E. Israel, or phone: (972) 03-579-0876

Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Bar-Lev is the son of Rabbi Simcha Bar-Lev, a prominent Breslov teacher and disciple of Rabbi Gedaliah Kenig, zatzal. Reb Yitzchak Meir’s uncle is Rabbi Yechiel Bar-Lev, author of Yedid Nefesh series on the Zohar, various kabbalistic works, and Talmud Yerushalmi. 

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