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The Knowing Daughter

by Yehudis Golshevsky

Rebbe Nachman’s eldest daughter was named Adil after his grandmother, the righteous daughter of the Baal Shem Tov. The name itself was created by the holy Baal Shem Tov, an acronym of the aleph-dalet-lamed initials of the verse “From His right hand came a fiery law to them” (Deuteronomy 33:2). The original Adil was a kind of “right-hand” to the Baal Shem Tov, in many ways more like a disciple than a daughter.

Rebbe Nachman’s relationship with his daughter Adil was also special. He would often confide in his eldest daughter, sharing teachings and insights with her that he sometimes withheld even from his close students.

Once Rebbe Nachman told her, “There once was a famous Tzaddik who spent a long time praying before a cat.” When she expressed her surprise, he continued:

“When this famous Tzaddik would pray in his private chamber, he sensed that the door was being pressed upon from the outside. So he thought to himself, ‘It must be that my Chassidim want to see how I pray!’ And he would whip himself into greater heights of fervor. He was just unaware of one important fact: it wasn’t people behind the door, but the cat, who was sharpening her claws on the other side of the doorframe. How terrible.”

Rebbe Nachman concluded, “All that … just for the cat!” Adil was astute enough to grasp Rebbe Nachman’s intention: that Divine service should focus on God alone, and not the opinions of others.

Adil was intimately familiar with the ways of her father’s followers, and could often be relied upon for a definitive opinion about what should be done when others were unsure. One time, the Chassidim were conducting a gathering where Torah thoughts and inspiration were shared, and the women in the next room were having a hard time determining whether the men had already started the Grace after Meals.

Adil smiled and said, “With my father’s followers, you will hear the bentching!” A moment later, the women heard the men begin the Grace after Meals with voices raised in passionate prayer … just as she had told them.

Based on Or HaOrot I, pp. 183-185

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