This Thursday Night – Friday (Asarah B’Teves) will be the Yartzeit of Rebbe Nachman’s main disciple – Rebbe Noson. His life is chronicled in Chaim Kramer’s masterpiece “Through Fire & Water” available at www.breslov.org/bookstore/ This was the second or third Breslov book I ever read and as many others can attest to, it changed my life and helped me get a real taste of what Breslov is truly about. If someone were to ask me: “What book really describes what it means to be a Breslover Chassid?” I would point them to this book or better yet “bible”.
Anyhow Chaim Kramer in Through Fire and Water finishes off Rebbe Noson’s life story with these words:
Reb Noson felt that he had nothing of his own, but that all his vitality was channeled to him through the Rebbe. If Rebbe Nachman was Moshe, and “the face of Moshe was like the face of the sun” (Bava Basra l75a), then Reb Noson was his Yehoshua, and Yoshua’s face was like the face of the moon” (ibid.). The moon has no light of its own, only what it receives from the sun. The Breslover Chassidim could only ever have one Rebbe. Reb Nosson’s role was to be his main follower, and to show others how to follow Rebbe Nachman – through carrying out his teachings in practice in order to come to ‘eternal good. It is impossible to gaze at the sun without being blinded, but one can look at the moon and enjoy its reflected light.
As principle follower, Reb Noson “gives” Rebbe Nachman to all. NoSoN means “he has given!” To spread the Rebbe’s teachings, Reb Noson faced endless obstacles and unremitting opposition. His every step was weighed down by trials and tribulations. But his unflinching trust in God, his unwavering faith in Rebbe Nachman, his unbending willpower, his refusal to let his difficulties overwhelm him – all enabled him to build an everlasting Chassidus. As Reb Noson put it, “Isn’t it true, Yankel? God always helps one to finish!” Reb Noson’s legacy remains for us for all Jews in all the generations – until Mashiach comes, speedily in our days, Amen (Tovos Zikhronos #8, p.l41).
I was privileged a few years ago to put together a Seudah in the merit of Rebbe Noson and we were spellbound by our guest speaker – Rabbi Pinchus Bunker. If you understand Yidish, this is an absolutely unforgettable speech that you may want to listen to year after year. Enjoy!