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Bouncing Back—and Forward

by Ozer Bergman

Dvar Torah for Parshat Netzavim-VaYelekh

Bouncing Back—and Forward

“You are standing here today… (Deuteronomy 29:9). Rashi comments: “Like ‘today’ which is, which gets dark and which shines, [God] has shone on you in the past and will shine on you in the future. The curses and the suffering [of Deuteronomy 28] maintain and sustain you.* They help keep you going with [God].”

Ooyyyyyy! Finally. Finally! The last Shabbos (aka Shabbat) of the year. You made it. There were certainly a good number of ups-and-downs, emotional, physical, maybe even spiritual. It’s most likely that some of those downs were avoidable. Review what happened, see if you can avoid your mistake in the future, do teshuvah (return to God) and then—forget about it! Don’t let the past haunt your future. Doing so ruins and deprives you of upcoming mitzvahs. What Rebbe Nachman would do is forget the past and not let it disturb his future (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #26).

I hear some of you. “Hey, Ozer! Did you forget? Rosh HaShanah is also called Yom HaZikaron, the Day of Remembering, not of Forgetting.” No, I didn’t and correct, it is. What we need to remember is the future, the goal towards which Creation is moving. That means we need to forget the stuff that might keep us from the goal.

Using memory selectively is part of what it takes to be resilient and Rebbe Nachman was a model of resiliency. He once said that even if, God forbid, he would commit the worst crime in the Torah, it wouldn’t throw him, at all.** He would be a kosher Jew just as he was before, on the same level. How? By doing teshuvah.

The Midrash (Tanchuma, Netzavim #1) teaches us that a Jew’s natural response to tragedy is surrender and prayer. The Likutey Moharan (II, Lesson #7:3) tells us that the biggest tragedy is a Jew weighed-down by his not living according to the Torah. So we need to be resilient, we need to know what lessons to learn from our past, and move on to being bigger Jews.

We have to quickly move “today” from its darkness to light. But we also have to know that we can’t force things. Reb Noson writes that this concept “ready and waiting” can’t be satisfactorily spelled out in writing. On one hand, one has to be nimble and quick to do any mitzvah comes his way. After all, you’re alive only now. No one knows what obstacle may suddenly materialize, getting between you and the mitzvah.

On the other, it happens that there’s something you must do for your Jewishness, but it’s eluding you. Don’t be discouraged. Stay patient. Use the waiting time to build up your thirst for your immediate goal, the mitzvah, and the long-range goal, closeness to God. Reb Noson tells us that this was Rebbe Nachman’s modus operandi, doing what mitzvah he could as soon as he could,*** and longing for the mitzvah that he couldn’t yet do. Worked for him. It’ll work for us. Amen.

Based on Chayei Moharan (Tzaddik) # 431 and #453

agutn Shabbos!
Shabbat Shalom!

© Copyright 2011 Breslov Research Institute

*By toughening us up when we survive them and by making us smart enough to avoid to them in the first place!
**We really have to think about this a lot more to better understand what he meant.
***Reb Noson reports that when Rebbe Nachman had this-worldly business to attend to, he never procrastinated and would take immediate care of it immediately.

Bonus story:
The Rebbe said, “For me, Rosh HaShanah is the most important thing. Right after Rosh HaShanah I begin listening very carefully for the knocking on the wall, to wake us for next year’s selichot (penitential prayers). “For time does not exist at all. For the year passes, gone in a wink of an eye” (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #215).

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gershon wynschenk September 24, 2011 - 10:27 pm

dear reb ozer
i am disabled and seriously sofek sh’yaish bo b’sacana physically mentally ill after abuse,verbal and esp. s and p, and p’m ha-b. i feel anger toward my n.j[g-ish]dad for doing it to me and other g-yim for telling years before that to be oiver the brit. after yeaers of patience, and seeing everything for the good, davening with true cav., lkearning lishma sand above all doing chesed for reform disabled beyond my capacity like lifting a wheelchair ch\arger etc,and being forced,on shabbos ! noch! to put the extension lead on floor, pick it up etc., this drove me mad and stopped my yishuv daas where now i havew doubts about the aibister.
Please give me a bracha for yishuv daas and simcha and get me away from people who make me a victim.
Shavua Tov
Gebenshter Yohr

Man from other side of world January 2, 2013 - 3:15 am

To Gershon,

I cannot understand how a “Yid” like your ‘tate’ could abuse a person such as you, especially in your condition. I am not a Rebbe but saw no public response and thought I should.

Your father is wrong, and I encourage you to just find out what you can from social services to seek living options.

Gershon Wynschenk May 23, 2019 - 11:55 am

BSD Chay Iyar Lag BaOmer 5779 [2019]

Dear Man from other side of world
Was getting confused in my description of events , between abuse by my non-Jewish father in my childhood at the age of 7 , circa 1966, making me lift the bed , and 5lb[2.267 kg] weights ,and later in adulthoodhood,1987-91, sexually and physically abused me, after having been further abused and made choizek of in secular diasabled college, etc 1976-8, to be over the brit , sleep out , etc.and and by a Jewish disabled resident in a previous care home and the 2000’s, who asked me to lift the wheelchair charger etc.


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