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Every Minute Counts

by Chaim Kramer

After Rebbe Nachman passed away in 1810, Reb Noson devoted the rest of his life to publicizing and explaining the Rebbe’s wisdom to new generations of followers. Gifted with a phenomenal memory, he compiled several biographical books detailing Rebbe Nachman’s life experiences, conversations, and advice. He began expanding the corpus of Breslov literature with the writing of his own magnum opus (Likutey Halakhot), prayers based on the Rebbe’s lessons (Likutey Tefilot), and the Shemot HaTzaddikim (Names of the Tzaddikim), and sent hundreds of letters to his children and followers explaining the Rebbe’s teachings.

Not long before his passing, Reb Noson said, “The ShaKh was able to write as much as he did because he knew a Holy Name that caused his quill to move more quickly than a man could write. I did not have that Holy Name, but I was able to write as much as I did because I zealously guarded my time” (Siach Sarfey Kodesh I, 726).

Guarding his time was the key to Reb Noson’s tremendous productivity. He did everything with the greatest speed. Undressing and dressing in the mikvah, he was quicker than anyone else. When he wrote, his pen seemed to fly across the page. Even when traveling, Reb Noson spent all his time in the coach immersed in prayer and Torah study.

Above all else, he remembered what others tend to forget: he never let the day of death pass from his mind. Always mindful of the takhlis, the ultimate goal, he took great care to watch his every moment, never wasting or killing time. He accepted all that came his way as a test in serving God, and never allowed anything to stand between himself and his devotions. Regardless of what happened to him, and no matter how much suffering and embarrassment he was subjected to, he remained steadfast in his desire to serve God as best he could.

About three weeks before Reb Noson passed away, his watch broke. Right away he sent it to his son, Reb Yitzchok, in Tulchin, asking him to make sure it was repaired and returned to him in Breslov immediately. In his letter to Reb Yitzchok, Reb Noson emphasized how much he needed his watch. Even as he was nearing his end, Reb Noson was still zealous about each and every second!

From “Through Fire and Water: The Life of Reb Noson of Breslov”

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