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We Must Strive to Know Hashem

by Shaul Mizrahi

In Sichah 3, Rebbe Nachman talks about the greatness of HaShem. He says there are so many great things that happen in the world and we have no knowledge of them at all. Therefore, it is impossible to really know HaShem. However, we are not supposed to just give up and say that we can never know Him. We are supposed to strive to know Him and through our efforts come to the conclusion that we don’t know. Rebbe Nachman calls this the height of knowledge. However, this ultimate knowledge that we do not know Him is actually unattainable. When we reach a point where we know that we do not know HaShem, this is only with regard to a particular point. From there we have to move on to another point and strive to reach the knowledge that also with regard to the new point we do not know HaShem.

How can we keep struggling to know HaShem when we know we are doomed to fail? The key is humility. Rebbe Nachman says in Likutei Moharan II, 72 that a person’s principal greatness is his humility. In fact, he learns this from HaShem about Whom Chazal said that His greatness is found in His humility. So, as we continue to try to understand HaShem’s greatness and we find only that we do not understand, but we keep trying and do not give up, we grow in our humility. This is itself an increase in our understanding of HaShem since as we grow in our humility, we acquire more understanding of HaShem’s greatness, which is His humility.  

This is the connection to the end of the Sichah where Rebbe Nachman discusses the power of teshuvah and how one should never despair. This does not appear to be related to the beginning of the Sichah, but for teshuvah as well, the driving force is humility. When a person makes a mistake, it is easy for him to rule himself a failure and give up. To admit the mistake and try to being again requires great humility, especially when he has made the same mistake hundreds of times. If he understands that HaShem does not expect him to be perfect but only that he try his best, he will not give up and will keep trying. He understands HaShem’s humility which allows him to exercise his own humility, to try to move ahead despite his shortcomings. Specifically through this process of falling and getting up, he comes to a greater knowledge of HaShem.

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