Wednesday, May 23, 2012

BRI Shavuos Booklet

Please see the English booklet on Shavuos compiled by Breslov Research Institute.  The booklet includes excerpts from Kitzur Likutei Moharan, Chayei Moharan, Sichos HaRan, and Likutey Tefillos.

The Importance of Hisbodedus

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Distinguishing Between One's Good and Bad Points

ל"ה - הלכות השכמת הבקר א:יא

All the blessings that are said during birkas hashachar hint to the concept of finding the good points within oneself.  We praise Hashem and request that He help us find within ourselves these good points in order to awaken us from our spiritual sleep and downfall.  This corresponds to the blessing, "Who gives the rooster the ability to distinguish between night and day."  One's good points parallel the 'day', and his bad points corresponds to nighttime and darkness.  By finding the good points within oneself we separate the bad and thus distinguish between the day and the night.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Rebuilding Yerushalayim and Tefilah

ל"ה - הלכות ערלה ד:ג

(Painting by Margarita Levine)

Once a person is able to subdue his three principle inclinations for sexual immorality, food, and money, which correspond to the three years of the orlah when the fruit of such a tree is forbidden to be eaten, he then merits the concept of rebuilding Yerushalayim.  This relates to complete fear of God, which depends on one's heart.  Therefore, after the first three years of orlah one must bring the first fruits to Yerushalayim, which are a concept of complete fear that a person merits because he cast away his evil urges.    He succeeds to cast away his evil urges because he did not partake of the orlah fruit.  And, by rebuilding Yerushalayim one merits tefilah.  On the fourth year all of one's fruits "shall be holy and will give praise to Hashem." (Vayikra 19:24)  "Holy and will give praise" refers specifically to prayer, which consists of praise to Hashem.  A person merits prayer by helping to rebuild Yerushalayim and subduing his three main urges.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Chol HaMoed and Teshuva

קל"ה - הלכות חול המועד ב:א

Yom Tov is a concept of teshuva, as is known.  How is this known? - because we all go through the same motions.  The ways of teshuva are as such:  when a person first starts to repent he is uplifted and brought close to Hashem.  And, then afterward he is seemingly distanced from Hashem, and the person has a tremendous downfall.  He falls to distant places.  When this happens he needs to strengthen himself with all of his might, and should not allow himself to fall again, Heaven forbid.  If he is able to keep himself from falling, his first downfall becomes the catalyst for an ascent.  He merits to uplift holy sparks, which are an aspect of lost items veiled in lowliness.  Through teshuva he is able to return and ascend to holiness even more than before.  

This is an aspect of chol hamo'ed, which is right after the closeness and holiness of the first days of the festival.  This time is synonymous with a person's descent from holiness when a person must be cautious.  Even though a he is now in a state of "coming forth," because he fell and descended from his holiness to a state of chol, nevertheless he must sanctify himself with the holiness of mo'ed, which is a concept of the prohibition of doing labor on chol hamo'ed.  However, labor is permitted to be done on chol hamo'ed only if one will suffer a financial loss.  A person must know and strengthen himself, for doing such labor is not a complete descent from the sanctity of the mo'ed, Heaven forbid, for it is also a time of mo'ed and Yom Tov.  In such a case, a person is prohibited from falling from his place except to prevent a loss.  

Thus, when a person sanctifies his descent with the holiness of chol hamo'ed, he then returns and uplifts himself to the holiness of Yom Tov more than before.  This corresponds to "a descent is the catalyst for the ascent."  And this relates to the last days of Yom Tov, which radiate even more light than the first days of the festival, This is a concept of the splitting of the sea on the seventh day of Passover and the great feats the Jews saw at that time, as Chazal says in the Mechilta, "What the maidservant saw at the sea was more than Yechezkel ben Buzi." (Shemos 15:2) 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Philosophy and Idol-Worship

קל"ה - הלכות קריאת התורה ד:א

The first generations that existed in the world expressed kefirah (apostasy) by practicing their idol-worship (avodah zara).  And, since the time that man's inclination for idol-worship was eliminated [during the time of Ezra HaSofer], the inclination to learn philosophy has strengthened itself.  This is the kefirah of scientists.  Through their backward wisdom they bring kefirah into the world.  The truth is that idol-worship and philosophy are one.

Replacing Ash with Glory

ל"ה - ארבע מינים א:ב

The gravity of our sins, which has made the Shechina weep, has driven the radiant light of spirituality out of the world.  So, we must repent and weep over our sins and shortcomings.  And, then Hashem has pity, and replaces the אפר (epher- during Tikkun Chatzos one puts ash on his forehead where he places the tefillin), the ashes of destruction, with פאר (pe'er - the tefillin are known as pe'er), the glory of reconstruction.


ל"ה - הלכות מנחה ז:ב

The time for mincha is when dusk falls.  It seems that everything is getting only darker, with no chance of light again.  Yet, the work of creation also began at a time when everything was dark - and then came light!  The time for mincha is a time of severe judgments, corresponding to the times in life when a person feels that there is no hope - that his evil characteristics are gaining the upper hand, and he has no chance of victory.  But, the truth is that one can always call out to Hashem even then.  The true tzaddikim, who labor constantly to reveal Godliness in the world, show that we always have the abililty to seek Hashem.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Perfect Faith In Oneself

ל"ה - הלכות נחלות ד:ג

(Painting by Marc Chagall)

One must have perfect faith in Hashem - believing that He is the Creator of everything, that He controls and watches over everything, and that He has the power to change the course of events in any way He wishes and bless us with everything good.

And, just as one must have perfect faith in Hashem, so too must one have perfect faith in oneself.  One must have perfect faith that Hashem listens and attends to every single word spoken by every single Jew - even the lowest of the low.  Every single Jew has the power to accomplish what he needs through praying to Hashem truly and sincerely, as it is written, "Hashem is close to all who call Him." (Psalms 14:18)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Today's Choshen Mishpat

ל"ה - הלכות יין נסך ג:ד

(Franklin's Printing Press built in late 1600s)

The invention of the printing press has given us the ability to publish more and more of the writings of the tzaddikim, whose teachings provide us with the guidance we need to fulfill the Torah in practice and attain true spirituality.  The printing press gives us the means of printing and distributing many, many books at a minimal price so that everyone in search of Godliness can find an antidote to his personal malaise.

(Courtesy of the Temple Institute)

The printing press bears comparison with the breastplate of the Kohen HaGadol, which was studded with twelve precious stones, each of which was engraved with the name of one of the Twelve Tribes of Yisrael.  When a Jew needed advice or an answer to a question he would sanctify himself and pray, and then draw near to the Kohen HaGadol.  The letters engraved on the stones of the breastplate would then shine to him one after the other, spelling out the answer he hoped for. (Yoma 73b)  The Twelve Tribes constitute klal Yisrael as a whole.  Each Jew requires a different approach to his problems and a unique solution.  In our times, the ideas and answers each one needs are supplied by the many books produced by the printing press, the letters of which correspond to the letters engraved on the breastplate of the Kohen HaGadol.  The letters shine and radiate when one approaches them properly for results.

Lag Ba'Omer Publication from BRI

The Breslov Research Institute has released a free English/Hebrew booklet for Lag B’Omer. The booklet called: “Lag B’Omer with Rebbe Nachman of Breslov” contains Rebbe Nachman’s prologue to Likutey Moharan called “L’chu Chazu” which deals with the uniqueness and connection between Rabbis Shimon Bar Yochai and Rebbe Nachman, as well as the special prayer written by Rebbe Nosson to be said especially on Lag B’Omer.