In the second sichah in Sichos HaRan, Rebbe Nachman provides us with very useful advice on how to live happily. It is important that we follow this advice if we want to fulfill Rebbe Nachman’s instruction to be happy always.

The advice is to cast ourselves upon HaShem and to rely on Him. Now, this does not sound like such an original piece of advice. We know we are supposed to rely on HaShem. We believe in Him that He gives us life and provides all of our needs. What is Rebbe Nachman trying to tell us?

He goes on to explain how he fulfills his own advice. Each day, he gives over all of his actions to HaShem, that everything should be according to His will. Then, he does not worry at all about whether his day went well or not. This does not refer only to how a person does in business. Even in spiritual matters, a person should give everything over to HaShem. A person who does so and then finds that he did not concentrate properly during tefillah or checked his phone every five minutes during the time he was supposed to be learning Torah, does not need to worry that he did not act according to HaShem’s will. He must take responsibility for his actions and understand that HaShem was showing him his true place so that he can strive to do better, but he need not worry that he caused any damage.

Rebbe Nachman once said “If you believe that you can cause damage, believe that you can repair”. This is sometimes understood to mean that just as you did damage, you can also repair, i.e. to do teshuvah. However, this is not what the Rebbe said. This only applies to someone who believes he can do damage. But, in truth, if he gives over all of his actions to HaShem and relies on Him that He is directing everything and whatever happens is according to His will, then he knows that he cannot actually cause damage, because even the things he did which were not perfect were according to HaShem’s will.

The key to doing this is humility. When a person goes out and does what he does in the world, he believes that he is the one doing it. This is true in worldly matters and also in spiritual matters. When he has a “successful” tefillah he thinks to himself how he maintained his concentration throughout. When he is distracted, he blames himself that he didn’t try hard enough. In either case, he is being arrogant because he thinks it depends only on him. In truth, both the “successes” and the “failures” are from HaShem and they are both for the person’s good. The person who relies on HaShem that everything is from Him, everything, even his spiritual lacking, is truly humble and is also happy and worry-free.

 

Naturally, this all refers to how we look at what happened after the fact. Before we act, we must believe that we have free choice, and we are compelled to act in the way that the Torah demands of us. A person cannot intentionally sin and then say that this was HaShem’s will and he is not responsible. He must do his best to act appropriately, but once he does that his responsibility ends and the rest he can cast upon HaShem. He need not worry as he walks to shul Friday afternoon how he will manage to keep every paragraph in the Shulchan Arukh on the Laws of Shabbos. He need not be stressed that he might have missed a minuscule crumb of chametz in his Pesach cleaning. He must only do what he can, leave the rest to HaShem, and be happy always.

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Shaul Mizrahi
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Shaul Mizrahi is involved in the transcription and publication of the classes of Rabbi Tzvi Aryeh Rosenfeld z"l and their translation into Hebrew. He also translates other works related to Rebbe Nachman's teachings.

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