Simplifying Our Lives

Rebbe Nachman remarked: “My achievements came mainly through simplicity. I spent much time simply conversing with God and reciting the Psalms”….The Rebbe yearned to serve God like the simple, common people. He often said, “Ay! Ay! SIMPLICITY!” (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #154).

The Rebbe wanted us to make every attempt to simplify our lives and our devotions to God. Thus, Reb Noson wrote: The Rebbe’s desire was for us to serve God simply, to the very best of our ability, each and every day. He said that our main goal should be to do good and serve Him without any sophistication whatsoever. Every good and holy thing can be done with absolute simplicity. We should study Torah, pray, recite Psalms and other prayers, and perform mitzvot, all with the utmost simplicity and sincerity, and with great joy (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #19). The Rebbe loved and praised the simple acts of people: reciting the Psalms, singing zemirot at the Shabbat table, and so on. He would deride those who thought themselves too smart and clever to act simply. Until he became terminally ill, the Rebbe himself would sing a lot at the Shabbat table (Likutey Moharan II, 104).

Every word of Psalms recited is a mitzvah, every word of Torah study is a mitzvah, every song sung at the Shabbat table is a mitzvah. The more we do, the more we accomplish. Simplicity, therefore, is the foundation for all our devotions. With it, we can be constantly occupied doing mitzvot and good deeds. Without it, our deeds are always subject to the philosophical reasoning and equivocations of our minds. If we are always “thinking” and trying to figure out if we are doing the right thing, as opposed to actually doing it, then we cannot accomplish much – we are too busy “thinking.” But, if we approach the mitzvot and good deeds with simplicity, we can always find something to do.

Taken from Crossing the Narrow Bridge: A Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman’s Teachings