Guidelines in navigating oneself to the maximum in using Rebbe Nachman's teachings
Tuesday, June 6, 2023
Likutey Moharan lesson 24 006-6 - The Faith found in the Holy Assembly - the Intellects, etc.
Thursday, June 1, 2023
Parshat Naso – The Service of Joy
This week's Parsha, at least in the Diaspora, is Parshat Naso. It is the longest Parsha of the Torah, which is befitting after receiving the Torah on Shavuot, a new beginning, which is marked by the biggest Parsha of the year, and also one of the most powerful sections of the Zohar of the year, the Idra Rabba, and also one of the longest sections of the Midrash Rabbah of the year also.
In the Parsha, we delve into the profound concept of joy, Simcha, and its significance in performing mitzvot. The Parsha offers a detailed account of the work divisions among the Levites and their essential role in the service of the Tabernacle. Among the various duties assigned to them, we encounter a specific verse that sheds light on the importance of infusing joy into our observance of mitzvot. This verse states "Avodat Avodah" (BaMidbar 4:47), emphasizing the idea that the Levites carried out their tasks with a sense of joy and delight. Rashi explains that the Levites employed music and song to enhance the sacrificial service, connecting joy to the performance of mitzvot. This elucidates the notion that the experience of joy is an integral part of fulfilling commandments and engaging in spiritual practices.
Rabbeinu Bachyey on the Torah has a very, very extensive piece on this wording, “Avodat Avodah”, the service of another service. He shows that this doesn't only apply to the service of the work of the Leviim in the Temple for the sake of the Korbanot done by the Kohanim, which is how Rashi interprets based on the sages. This word Avodah also refers to every mitzvah in the Torah. Every mitzvah is called an Avodah service. But here - in the expression of “Avodah Avodah” - there's a hint to another service behind every other service you. What's the idea?
The mitzvah connects you to Hashem and it's a service. To put on your tefillin in the morning is a service. To say Kirat Shema twice a day is a service. To give tzedakah is a service. Learning Torah is a service. And just like in the case of the Avodat Avodah of the Leviim, it was the accompaniment of singing and playing music for the sake of another mitzvah, which was in that case the sacrifices of the Kohanim, so too does this apply for every mitzvah. There's Avodah, e.g. putting on tefillin, doing Yom Kippur, doing Shabbat, tzedakah, Talmud Torah etc.. However, if you do this mitzvah with joy, which is like the second Avodah of the Leviim, then that's considered another mitzvah. If you put on tefillin, you get a mitzvah. You put on tefillin with joy, it's a hidden second mitzvah within the mitzvah of the tefillin. Thus, if you do it with Simcha, you get another reward. It's another level, another dimension.
The idea of joy in mitzvah observance is further explored in the teachings of Rebbe Nachman. The Rebbe suggests that by engaging in these acts of devotion with a joyful heart, we not only fulfill our obligations but also cultivate a deeper connection with God. The true essence of joy lies in our ability to perform mitzvot wholeheartedly, recognizing that each act is an opportunity for spiritual growth and elevation.
Simcha has the power to elevate and sanctify the physical aspects of our lives. By consciously attaching a mitzvah to our everyday experiences, we can transcend the confines of the material realm and infuse holiness into even the most mundane activities. Reb Noson teaches that joy has the potential to bring personal redemption. When we approach life with a genuine sense of joy and enthusiasm, we open doors and create opportunities for positive change and transformation.
An inspiring anecdote involving two great Chassidic masters and brothers, Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk and Rabbi Zushe of Anipoli, exemplifies the problem-solving power of joy:
There was a time in their life that they went traveling incognito, undercover, no one knew who they were. They did this purposely, as many tzaddikim went on a self-imposed exile. They came to a village where there was a nighttime curfew at 9pm, and they arrived at quarter to nine. It was late, and they didn't have enough time to set up their lodgings. By 9 p.m. they found themselves still on the street. The police saw them and arrested them. No one knew who they were, so there was no one to defend them.
They were put in a cell - a giant room with mattresses all around, and in the middle there was the pot of relief, the toilet. The halacha states that in the presence of the stench and the toilet. You cannot daven.Rabbi Elimelech was very sad and very broken. Rabbi Zusha, the older brother, was always the happier one. He saw his brother was broken. He said to him: “why are you so sad, my brother? What's wrong?” Rabbi Elimelech said: I can't daven, and we have to do the Evening Shema. I can't even open my mouth now for any words of holiness!”.
Rabbi Zusha said: “Just the opposite, my tzaddik brother who's never missed Arvit in his entire life. Hashem now wants you to fill the mitzvah like this. The halacha says that when you're in such a situation, what do you do? You have to say in your heart - Master of the Universe, I want to do your Will but the situation doesn't allow me to do so. I can't. So let it be considered, as if I did this mitzvah. And halacha says, you are rewarded as if you did the mitzvah, because you did your best.”
They both got excited about this, and they started dancing at the opportunity they had to do the mitzvah like this. All the inmates, Jews, non-Jews, criminals, innocent people were just looking at them. They started to grab everybody's hands and they made a giant dance circle around the toilet. The warden of the jail heard the singing and the noise and asked, "What's all this noise? They told him: “it's because of the toilet”. He said, “Oh, really? Because of the toilet, they're happy? I'll fix that”. He opened the cell and ordered to have the toilet removed. They removed the toilet and after five minutes past the stench got out and they were able to daven.
Despite finding themselves imprisoned unjustly, these two righteous individuals managed to find joy in their dire circumstances. Their radiant spirits and unwavering trust in God's plan allowed them to transcend the physical limitations of their confinement. This remarkable story serves as a powerful testament to the profound impact of joy on our spiritual well-being and the potential it holds for altering our external circumstances.
The connection between joy and mitzvah observance extends beyond personal transformation. When we perform mitzvot with joy, we also have a positive impact on those around us. A mitzvah performed with a joyful heart has the power to inspire others and attract divine blessings. Joy is contagious, and when we radiate joy in our actions, we uplift the spirits of those who witness our dedication and enthusiasm. By infusing joy into our observance of mitzvot, we create an environment that encourages others to join us in fulfilling God's commandments and experiencing the profound joy that comes with it.
Furthermore, joy in mitzvah observance allows us to strengthen our relationship with others. When we approach our interactions with a joyful heart, we cultivate an atmosphere of warmth, love, and unity. Joy serves as a bridge that connects us to our fellow human beings, fostering meaningful connections and building strong communities. It is through joy that we can create an environment where individuals feel seen, valued, and supported, promoting a sense of belonging and togetherness.
While joy is a fundamental aspect of mitzvah observance, it is essential to acknowledge that it is not always easy to maintain a state of constant joy. Life is filled with challenges, setbacks, and moments of pain and sadness. However, even in the face of adversity, the Jewish tradition teaches us to strive for joy. This does not mean denying or suppressing our emotions but rather finding a way to navigate through them with a sense of faith and trust. Rebbe Nachman encourages us to look for the hidden joy within every situation, recognizing that even the most challenging experiences can lead to growth and spiritual enlightenment.
In conclusion, Simcha, or joy, is not merely an emotion but an essential component of performing mitzvot and engaging in spiritual practices. It enhances our connection with the Divine and has the power to transform our lives from within. By cultivating joy in our hearts and infusing it into our observance of mitzvot, we unlock the potential for personal growth, spiritual elevation, and even miraculous outcomes. May we strive to approach every mitzvah with a joyful heart, embracing the transformative power of Simcha in our lives.
For a video presentation of this article CLICK HERE!
(This article also appears on the BRI breslov.org website: https://breslov.org/parshat-naso-the-service-of-joy/)
To help needy families in Jerusalem with upcoming Shabbat expenses, CLICK HERE!
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Likutey Moharan lesson 24 006-5 - Tzadok HaCohen's Faithful House etc.
Wednesday, May 24, 2023
The Spiritual Journey of Pesach and Shavuot: Embracing the Infinite Light
We are approaching Shavuot. The significance of this holiday is intertwined with the preceding events, starting from 40 days before Purim.
The Megillah describes the Jewish people reaffirming their acceptance of the Torah, known as Kabbalat HaTorah, during the Purim miracle.
While their initial acceptance at Mount Sinai was out of force, the acceptance after Purim was driven by love.
Shavuot, therefore, represents the culmination of our spiritual journey, aiming to draw closer to Hashem, improve ourselves as Jews, and facilitate a connection between the entire world and the Divine.
Reb Noson, in his discourse – Likutey Halakhot, Orach Chaim, Nefilat Apayim #4 – elaborates on the difference between the spiritual light experienced on Pesach, particularly the first night, and the light or influence encountered on Shavuot, especially during the day.
The key difference lies in the concept of Keter, a Kabbalistic term denoting the crown and an energy level above others.
Rebbe Nachman further explains (Likutey Moharan lesson 24) that Keter acts as an interface between Hashem’s Infinite Light and our finite nature. Although we are limited beings in a finite world, our goal is to experience Hashem’s Infinite Light, an apparent contradiction.
However, through the in-and-out format, an intermittent connection between the finite and infinite, we can touch the Divine while existing in a physical, corporeal reality.
Reb Noson reveals that the experience of perceiving the Infinite Light requires a specific condition: being pushed backward.
This pushback, termed in the Zohar as “Betisha” or “Me’akev”, creates boundaries or walls that propel a person to wait and develop vessels to truly perceive the Infinite Light.
When a Jew serves Hashem with joy and fulfills mitzvot, enhancing them with Simcha, it propels them forward, activating blessings, including Birkat HaSechal, the blessing of the intellect.
This blessing nurtures a person’s desire to understand and connect with Hashem, realizing that the more they strive for comprehension, the more they recognize their lack of comprehension, leading to a deepened level of faith.
Rebbe Nachman explains that the Keter acts as an interface between Hashem’s Infinite Light and our finite nature.
Although we are limited beings in a finite world, our goal is to experience Hashem’s Infinite Light
The setbacks encountered by every Jew are not indications of unworthiness or abandonment by Hashem, Heaven forbid, but rather the necessary preparations to perceive the next spiritual level.
These setbacks, experienced during the 49-day Sefirah period, play a significant role.
Mourning for Rabbi Akiva’s students and the challenges of the Sefirat HaOmer period itself create a sense of restraint and setback, fostering the development of vessels for perceiving the Infinite Light.
These vessels enable the internalization of wisdom and intuition beyond the revealed aspects of Torah, allowing for a deeper understanding of Hashem and His presence in the world.
Pesach represents a high spiritual light, bestowed freely upon individuals regardless of their current level.
It serves as a gift from Hashem to help people break free from their personal Egypt, the spiritual bondage and limitations they face.
However, this light does not encompass the Keter, the bounce-back or setback necessary for internalizing the Infinite Light.
After the first day of Pesach, this light recedes, and the countdown of the 49-day Omer begins, leading to Shavuot, the 50th day.
Shavuot surpasses Pesach in terms of light, although it may not provide the same elevated experience or spiritual high.
On Shavuot, one internalizes the Keter, absorbing the Infinite Light in a way that is sustained, deepening a person’s understanding of Hashem and enhancing their connection to Him.
This internalization enables individuals to integrate the Divine Wisdom into their being, aligning their thoughts, emotions, and actions with the Divine Will.
In conclusion, the journey from Pesach to Shavuot represents a spiritual progression, where setbacks and challenges during the Sefirat HaOmer period prepare individuals to absorb the higher light of the Keter on Shavuot.
While Pesach grants a temporary gift of light to help break free from limitations, Shavuot offers the opportunity to internalize and sustain the Infinite Light, allowing for a deeper connection with Hashem and a greater understanding of His presence in the world.
With blessings for an amazing, uplifting and rewardingly happy Shavuot light and experience,
(This article also appears on the BRI Breslov.org website: https://breslov.org/the-spiritual-journey-of-pesach-and-shavuot-embracing-the-infinite-light/)
To see a video presentation of these concepts: https://youtu.be/vBDmZDAlOIc
For more on Likutey Moharan lesson 24 CLICK HERE!
To help needy families in Jerusalem for the upcoming Yom Tov and Shabbat expenses, please CLICK HERE
Tuesday, May 23, 2023
Likutey Moharan lesson 24 006-4B - The Establishment of King David's Malkhut (cont'd) - with insights on Shavuot and Sefirat HaOmer
More insights into the Kingdom of David vs. the Kingdom of Shaul etc. (and some connected insights into Sefirat haOmer and Shavuot)
To donate or sponsor a class: www.paypal.com/paypalme/meirelkabas
Thursday, May 18, 2023
The Census of Joy which Breaches through the Keter
In this week’s Parsha, the census of the Jewish people in the desert is discussed. After the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was erected, there was a command to count the Jewish people a month after Rosh Chodesh Nisan and then again a month later, in the month of Iyar.
The census of the Jewish people had specific requirements. It included all males from the age of 20 and up, excluding the tribe of Levi, which consisted of the Kohanim (priests) and the Levi’im (Levites). The counting was not done through a head count but through the collection of a half-shekel coin, known as the “Beka la’gulgolet” in Hebrew. Each person from the age of 20 and above would give a half-shekel coin to the 12 tribe leaders, along with Moses and Aaron, and this served as their representation in the census.
Reb Noson delves into the significance of the half-shekel coin used for counting. He explains that the half-shekel coin collected in the census and other instances where the Machatzit Hashekel was used went towards the Tabernacle, particularly for the sacrifices and the Ketoret (incense offering). Initially, before the Tabernacle was erected, the silver collected from the half-shekel coins was used to make the silver bases of the Mishkan, which supported the pillars and extensions. But once the Mishkan was completed, the silver collected went towards the daily communal sacrifices, the Korban Tamid (daily offering).
Reb Noson further explains that the purpose of sacrifices and the Ketoret is to bring joy. The act of offering a sacrifice is meant to bring a person closer to Hashem, and there is no greater joy than that. The Ketoret, which was part of the daily sacrifices, is explicitly associated with joy in the verse from Proverbs, “Ketoret YeSamach Lev” (The Ketoret brings joy to the heart).
Therefore, the half-shekel coin used for counting the Jewish people already contains within it the energy of joy, as it goes towards the joyous act of sacrifices and the Ketoret.
Now, the census of the Jewish people was specifically from the age of 20. The number 20, represented by the Hebrew letter Kaf, is associated with the concept of Keter (the highest level in the spiritual spheres). The Zohar states, “Ein Keter Belo Kaf” (There is no Keter without the letter Kaf). Keter is a level that is above the other spheres and is associated with the infinite light of Hashem. While Keter is generally inaccessible to finite beings, every Jew needs to have some interaction with Keter in order to perceive Hashem and come closer to Him.
The interaction with Keter involves being pushed backward or experiencing setbacks. This is because in order to perceive the higher levels of Hashem’s light, a person needs to be pushed back and experience challenges. These setbacks are actually a means of bringing a person closer to Hashem. Rebbe Nachman teaches that the pushing back is the greatest level of drawing a person close to Hashem. It builds vessels within a person, allowing them to absorb and understand the infinite light even though it is beyond their intellect.
Counting the Jewish people from the age of 20 was a way for Hashem to introduce them to this concept of withstanding the setbacks and challenges associated with connecting to Keter. The struggles and obstacles faced in life, especially in one’s spiritual journey, are not to be seen as hindrances but as opportunities for growth and getting closer to Hashem. By accepting setbacks with joy and seeing them as a stage of growth, a person builds the necessary vessels to perceive and understand the infinite light of Hashem.
Additionally, the census through the half-shekel coin symbolized the readiness of the Jewish people to connect with Keter. By performing mitzvot with joy and gratitude, a person can handle the intensity of the light of Keter. The exclusion of the tribe of Levi from the census is noteworthy. The Levites had a special role in serving in the Tabernacle and bringing the light of Keter into the world. Their purpose was to be a conduit for this divine light, and therefore they were counted separately, starting from their birth.
This is also the concept of the term used for the monetary counting – Beka LaGulgolet. Beka means the half-Shekel coin, but it also means to “crack through” the Gulgolet. Gulgolet means skull, but in the Kabbalah also corresponds to the Sefirah of Keter. Meaning, through the half-Shekel coin/joy in the mitzvot we “crack through” the Keter.
In our present times, without the physical Temple, the joy derived from prayer and performing mitzvot helps counter the challenges of connecting to the lofty level of Keter. Through joy and gratitude, we can cultivate a connection to the divine and navigate the setbacks and obstacles on our spiritual journey, ultimately drawing closer to Hashem.
Based on Likutey Halakhot, Orach Chaim, Nefilat Apayim #4.
For an audio presentation of these concepts CLICK HERE
This article also appears on the BRI Breslov.org website: CLICK HERE TO VIEW
Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov
To help needy families in Jerusalem for Shabbat expenses, please follow this link: SHABBAT SUPPORT
Tuesday, May 16, 2023
Likutey Moharan lesson 24 006-4 - (a brief summary of lesson along with new insights), the Kingdom of David vs. the Kingdom of Shaul (the 3 categories of Amalek attack) etc.