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Out to the Field – Getting my bearings

by An Aspiring Breslover

Continued from last week here:

Likutey Moharan I:24 – Week 1

In addition to feeling a personal need to work on the trait of simcha (joy), I thought it would be most opportune to learn Likutey Moharan I:24, which deals with this topic, during the month of Adar given its thematic connection. Reading Rabbi Chaim Kramer’s introductory background to this lesson inspired me to jump right in:

“This lesson [Likutey Moharan I:24] was given on a Friday night during the summer of 1803. A large number of Rebbe Nachman’s followers unexpectedly came to be with him for Shabbos. While delivering the discourse, the Rebbe was in such a state of awe and emotion that those present could not understand him at all. Only afterwards was the letter written down by the Rebbe himself as he had given it. So great was his fervor when he spoke at the meal that Shabbos night, that the Rebbe had to cover his face with a kerchief. Even so, those who managed a glimpse from the side could see that his face shone as brightly as a burning flame. This lesson was composed, word-for-word by Rebbe Nachman, hence the designation leshon Rabbeinu.”

Immediately upon reading this, I realized that my progress through the lesson was going to be extremely slow going. I have found that learning leshon Rabbeinu lessons are at least twice as hard as those lessons which the Reb Noson wrote down after hearing them from the Rebbe. In addition, I was somewhat concerned that the lesson would be too Kabbalistic for a simpleton like myself and not give me the real advice I was looking for. I then noticed the Rabbi Kramer’s footnotes addressed my concern by providing a statement from Reb Noson:

“You, the reader, must know and believe that whatever is written in this this lesson can be brought about by every single Jew, whenever he performs a mitzvah with joy. The Torah was not given only to those who can rise up to the heavens. Rather, it is very close to us…. Whatever levels the Rebbe mentions apply always – every day, week, month, year – to the Jewish people in general and to each and every single Jew in particular.”

My concerns were further alleviated when I opened up Eternally Yours to Letter #160 (I make it a practice to read one letter a day). There I found the following advice from Reb Noson:

“His [the Rebbe’s] whole wish and goal was that you should live his teachings in practice and fulfill them according to their simple meaning. He wanted people to understand what was implied in his words and to constantly glean advice for themselves. Whatever is happening with a person at any time: day or night; when he lies down, or when he gets up; when he is walking on the way; young, middle-aged or old; from his beginning to his end; in his person matters, in domestic matters, in his behavior towards his wife, his children, those close to him and those distant from him, with his friends and with his enemies, God forbid – there is absolutely nothing about which we cannot find sound advice and direction for ourselves in the Rebbe’s words. And this applies whether a person is down, God forbid, or up: on every level and in every place that a person can reach in his life.”

Reading this, I felt as if Reb Noson put his hand around my shoulder and reassured me. He has helped me get my bearing and given me real guidance on how to start learning and living this lesson. Next week I hope to report back how I started taking my first steps doing just that.

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