Rebbe Nachman gives wonderful advice to those who have difficulty making progress in Torah, as I explain in this lesson which I gave at our Chut Shel Chesed English-speakers Kollel in Jerusalem last week; you'll find here guidance and encouragement if you're having a rough time getting into Gemara:
Here is a priceless gem: Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach of blessed memory, one of the greatest storytellers that ever lived, tells a story about a banker on the verge of bankruptcy who was saved by Rebbe Nachman of Breslev.
We are facing challenging times. But all we have to do is listen to our holy Rebbe Nachman, may his sacred memory illuminate our lives, and never give up! There is no such thing as despair for a person with emuna.
Here's something special for your Shabbat table: in the clip below, Cantor Ushi Blumenberg and I are on the banks of the Bugg River in Breslev, Ukraine, where Rebbe Natan composed his famous Oz VeHadar niggun. Here's the story behind it and here's the niggun. Shabbat Shalom and a wonderful New Year!
Baruch Hashem, we're now preparing for Succoth, which starts this coming Sunday night, Sept. 27, 2015. Rebbe Nachman's yahrtzeit comes out on the 18th of Tishrei during Chol Hamoed. With this in mind, here is one of my favorite melodies from this past year, which I was humming the whole time I was by Rebbe Nachman's holy gravesite in Uman this past Rosh Hashana. It's called, "Rebbe, Rebbe".
A Breslever custom is to say a hitkashrut prayer before every mitvza, where we bind ourselves to all the true tzaddikim and particularly our own rebbe, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, osb"m.
Yehudah Green turned the hitkashrut prayer into a beautifully stirring melody named "Rebbe, Rebbe." Here, Chassidic singer Duddy Knopfler with the Meshorerim Choir sing a moving rendition, which I'm sure you'll enjoy as much as I do. Below are the lyrics in Yiddish transliteration, in Yiddish and in English translation. Enjoy and have a wonderful New Year!
Rebbe, rebbe, mir villen zich mikasher zein Tzu dir
Hinneni mikkasher nafshi, ruchi venishmasi lenishmas adoni mori urabi
Im shaar hatzadikim veha'avos hakdoshim ve'im shaar hatzidkanios vehaimahos hakedoshos
If you haven't yet read Six Days to the Top, you have no idea of what you are missing in finding success and fulfillment. Do yourself a big favor and pick up a copy. It's very inexpensive, and Breslev Israel will be happy to send it right to your front door.
Lazer with security forces in the holy city of our Patriarchs Hevron, during a day of Emuna Outreach lectures at the Machpela Cave
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev explains that a person's quest for peace must be threefold - between him/herself and G-d, between him/herself and the Jewish people as a whole, and within him/herself.
In order to develop a harmonious approach to life as a whole, one must develop the ability to find Hashem's presence everywhere and in everything. That way, a person can feel love for Hashem regardless of the situation - whether things are good or seemingly bad.
If a person doesn't love G-d, he or she won't feel love for a fellow Jew. Therefore, the love of G-d is a prerequisite for ahavat Yisrael, the love of fellow Jews. Ahavat Yisrael leads to peace and unity; peace and unity among our people will hasten the redemption, soon and in our time, amen.
Rebbe Nachman teaches that the reason people are far from Hashem is because the lack self-composure. In other words, they never pause to ponder where their lives are going and what they're doing in the world. He urges people to stop and think: what is the purpose of lust and bodily appetites and all the amenities of this world? Once one asks himself such a question, he stands the chance of finding the truth.
A hedonistic society is a society that is far from truth. It takes a hedonistic society to acquiesce to outright tyranny. "Let me enjoy my round of golf, my all-you-can-eat steak dinner, my box seat to the playoffs or my mahjong game. Don't confuse me with the facts - I don't want to hear..." The hedonistic society doesn't let truth get in the way of indulgence; that's why Washington, DC bends to Cuba and Iran yet bashes Israel. Hedonism, though, leads to decay - decay first in national values and then in national preparedness. Ultimately, the hedonistic society is destroyed - a hard, cold undisputable historical fact. Not even that concerns the hedonist, because he cares solely about his immediate gratification with no regard for the future.
The emuna battle here in Israel is to remove our people from the clutches of hedonistic influence and return them to their roots as Torah-observant Jews with the awe of Heaven shining from their faces. We live meaningful lives for we live with the light of truth, that same truth the Creator revealed to two million of our people on top of Mount Sinai on the 6th of Sivan, almost 3327 years ago. In that respect, no matter who is elected here or whatever government comes to power, we focus on Hashem and His Torah, doing our best to do His will. If we don't, we too are liable of falling into the trap of hedonism, Heaven forbid.
In light of the above, we commend the courage of Admiral Bill Gortney, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) who revealed that North Korea has mastered the ability to miniaturize its nuclear bombs so they can be fitted onto their latest mobile KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which are capable of reaching the continental United States.
The hedonists conveniently forget to tell their people that North Korea is Iran's ally. North Korea has helped Iran build nuclear weapons (yes, hedonists - they already have it), while Iran has helped North Korea develop intercontinental ballistic missiles. Both are a threat to New York City, Los Angeles and all points in between.
It therefore takes a super-hedonist and a narcissist as well to appease a tyrannical enemies bent on destroying the hedonist himself.
I pray that America wakes up before it's too late. The clock is ticking. For those of you who are asking, Israel is still the safest place on earth for a Jew. Come home to the Land of Emuna.