Whenever the world seems upside down and inside out; and when everybody’s yelling, but nobody’s listening; remember the story by Rebbe Nachman called The Tainted Grain.

Once upon a time, a king told his prime minister, who was also his close friend, I see in the stars that whoever eats any of the grain that grows this year will go mad. What should we do?

The prime minister replied, We must put aside enough of the good grain so that we won’t be forced to eat from this year’s rotten harvest.

But the king didn’t like his friend’s plan. He said, If we do that, we’re going to be the only ones who will be sane, everyone else will be mad. Then, they’re going to think that we’re the mad ones.

It’s impossible for us to put aside enough good grain for everyone. Therefore, we too must eat this year’s tainted grain. But here’s what we can do. We’ll make a mark on our foreheads so that at least we know that we’re mad. I’ll look at your forehead and you will look at mine and when we see the mark, we’ll know that we’re both mad.

What is the lesson for us? Each of us has to look for signs in each other that help us recognize who they really are, and who we really, are beneath all of the craziness of this mixed-up world.

We need to remind each other why we’re here living this life, living in this world.

We need to remind each other, with whispers and shouts, about our holy mission.

We need to remind ourselves who we really, truly are.

May you have a day of remembering the truth about who you really are.

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Today’s mini lesson is dedicated to Nesa Rachel bas Chanah Chayah Sima. May she have a refuah shleimah. 


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Chaya Rivka Zwolinski

Chaya Rivka in her own words: What do we want? To feel less pain and more optimism. To be happy and lead meaningful lives. This all requires healthy relationships. If we learn, share, and live his teachings, Rebbe Nachman gives us real, practical tools to improve all our relationships—with G-d, with ourselves, and with each other. Chaya Rivka Zwolinski “discovered” Rebbe Nachman in her late thirties and credits his profound wisdom with helping her make a 180 degree-turn in life. She loves sharing Breslov teachings with women in her classes and workshops. Chaya Rivka has written books; writes articles for Breslov.org, BreslovWoman.org, HealthyJewishCooking.com, and numerous other publications; is a consultant to Breslov Research Institute; and is the director of curriculum and program marketing at BreslovCampus.org. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, NY.

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