Home Uman Q&A: How do I apply Likutey Moharan teachings without estranging myself?

Q&A: How do I apply Likutey Moharan teachings without estranging myself?

by Ephraim Portnoy

I feel like I’ve been through an inferno after spending all that time reading Rabeinu’s words, what does he mean, how do I apply his concepts, without estranging myself from, myself, society, from the world even from my loved ones.

If you ever feel that the Rebbe’s words are putting you through an inferno, then take that as a sign that you do not properly understand what the Rebbe is saying. If someone ever gets the feeling that application of the Rebbe’s concepts will estrange him from himself, society, the world, or his loved ones, we then know for certain that these are not the Rebbe’s concepts at all.

Go back and read the Rebbe’s words again. If you get those feelings again, then realize that you are not reading them right.

For example if I lose my temper I wait to lose money, now I am not only paranoid but guilty as well. How does lesson 69 help me beat anger, it just makes me feel worthless?

The Rebbe does not want us to be waiting to lose our money after we lose our temper. We are never supposed to feel paranoid or guilty. The Rebbe certainly wants us never to feel worthless.

The example which you gave plays out throughout LKM. Why does the Rebbe tell us what we can lose or gain from any particular thing? Isn’t it bad enough that we are struggling with that issue itself? Why do we also have to worry about this additional thing that we can lose?

I would like elaborate on three concepts which will shed light on this matter. Each of them is true, but not all of them will necessarily speak to you the same way.

On a very simple level, we have to understand that every person perceives the world differently. What inspires one person might not even speak to someone else. In order to get ourselves to do the right thing, we have to learn to speak to ourselves in the language which we understand as individuals. The Tzaddikim understood this concept, and therefore in order to help us they revealed to us how although a specific concept which we are supposed to be careful about we might not find so important, but there is another connected idea which we do care about. For example, one person may care more about his temper, while a second cares more about his money. If the second one wants to prevent himself from losing his temper, it won’t help to tell himself that anger isn’t good. What speaks to him is his money.

On a deeper level, Reb Nosson, in Likutey Halachos, Rosh Chodesh 5, elaborates on the concept which we mentioned earlier which is making prayers out of what we have learned from the Rebbe. In summary, Reb Nosson describes the greatness of lengthening such prayers by adding details to it. In our example, instead of just saying, “Hashem! Save me from my temper!” you would be able to say “Save me from my temper so that I don’t lose the money which you are trying to send me.” See Reb Nosson inside for an explanation of why this is important.

To go even further, let’s understand what the point of Chassidus really is: to see Hashem in everything and every situation that we encounter both within ourselves and with what we come across. On a deeper level, the Torah of the Tzaddikim, the followers of the Baal Shem Tov, and the lessons of Rebbe Nachman in particular, are built in such a way with just such a structure and lingo in order to help us realize Hashem everywhere.

When we start viewing the world as a product of Divine Providence, it becomes much easier for us to actually overcome our shortcomings. We realize that we are not fighting ourselves, and we aren’t fighting the world. We are realizing Hashem everywhere, and when we see Him we don’t see those reasons to be angry anymore (at least not in the same way).

In our example, when the Rebbe says that a trial of anger is sent from Hashem whenever He wants to give us money, on one level the point isn’t the anger or the money- it’s realizing that money, and every way it comes to us, is sent from Hashem. Anger, and every way it becomes aroused in us, is also sent from Hashem. Although as believing Jews we already know that, by revealing to us the secrets of the Torah which show the connection between the two, the Rebbe provides us with extra help in realizing that the world is really operating on a much deeper than we perceive it.


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Miriam March 4, 2014 - 10:24 am

This was very helpful. As much as I might pray about what I read, the concept of “they believed in Hashem and in Moshe His servant”, requires that we also have a human being to teach us. And often it is davka because I prayed for help, that the right teacher comes along to illuminate me. Thank you for making yourself a clear receptacle to illuminate the Rebbe’s teaching.


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