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Lighting Up the World

by Chaim Kramer

After Rebbe Nachman’s passing, his main disciple, Reb Noson, busied himself with raising funds to publish the Rebbe’s writings and encouraging the chassidim to join the new Rosh HaShanah kibutz in Uman. Though he did not think of himself as a dynamic leader like the Rebbe, he also began sharing Rebbe Nachman’s teachings with others. He wrote:

“At that time I was simply unconscious of the fact that even now it would still be possible to enlighten Jewish souls and inspire them to true service of God the way I had learned from the Rebbe. But although ‘I was asleep, my heart was awake … the voice of my beloved was knocking’ within me (Song of Songs 5:2). The Rebbe’s holy words were imprinted on my heart, they were hot as burning coals, a fire blazing in my bones … I could not keep it inside me” (Yemey Moharnat I, 82).

In the first year after the Rebbe’s passing, Reb Noson took every opportunity to speak to the young men in the town of Breslov about the purpose of this world and serving God, explaining the depth and greatness of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings. For much of that year, however, he did not see any great fruits from his efforts. Some of the young men improved in their studies, but not in a way that gave him any sense of achievement. One young man in particular was regarded by the community as exceptionally diligent, but Reb Noson saw that he was hardly learning at all. Nevertheless, he spoke to that young man more than the others.

By the summer, Reb Noson’s entire year of effort began to take effect, and this young man threw himself into his studies with all his strength. He kept it up for six straight years, finishing the entire Shulchan Arukh. Other disciples also attached themselves to Reb Noson, and Reb Noson realized that with persistence and dedication, he could continue the Rebbe’s path into the future. He concluded:

“Every soul that came a little closer helped me see that my words were making an impression. Every little improvement I saw gave me added encouragement, and I remembered how the Rebbe had said that we would have the merit to light up the entire world” (ibid. I, 83).

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

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