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Nip It in the Bud

by Yehudis Golshevsky

Breslover chassidim would say that it’s best to be quiet about the good that you do. Letting other people know about your accomplishments leads only to pride, and pride is the enemy of serving God.

Reb Noson was very careful to trim any harmful pride that he found growing within the hearts of his students. Once his close disciple, Reb Nachman of Tulchin, traveled a long, hard journey to supervise a printing of Likutey Halakhot, Reb Noson’s magnum opus. Besides the arduousness of the trip, Reb Nachman faced many overwhelming obstacles and dangers as he finished printing the books and smuggled them over the border.

After hearing about his harrowing adventures, the Breslovers felt that Reb Nachman deserved special distinction for having somehow managed a virtually impossible feat. “Perhaps we should begin calling him ‘Rebbe Nachman’ as a way of showing our vast appreciation?” they suggested.

Reb Nachman was in the room when they presented their idea to Reb Noson, who immediately rejected it. “Is it really so simple in your eyes?” Reb Noson asked. “I don’t understand this attitude at all. Don’t you know that every good point—even if it is as fragile and apparently insignificant as an eggshell—is priceless? Surely every good deed is worthy of endless praise. So why should you call him ‘Rebbe’ because of this particular good turn that he’s done?”

Reb Noson facetiously added a rhyme in Yiddish: “Leig em uffen tisch chappin a schmitz—That makes as much sense as laying him on the table and slapping him up!”

Reb Avrohom, the son of Reb Nachman of Tulchin, explained why Reb Noson had made such a strong point, and had even made a joke about the idea: “Reb Noson knew that this request—made in my father’s presence—was very unhealthy for his spiritual well-being, so he nipped it in the bud!”

Based on Siach Sarfey Kodesh VI:571, III:284

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