Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Power Of The Chanukah Lights

???????????????????????????????Through the mitzvah of lighting the Chanukah candles, God’s honor radiates forth, and is uplifted and magnified in the world… —Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Chanukah is often a presented as a “not very important” holiday. Common wisdom has it that Chanukah only receives attention because it occurs in the same season as non-Jewish holidays.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Continue reading The Power Of The Chanukah Lights

Hisbodedus–Bridging The God Gap

671473_43252177Every individual knows her own personal pain and sorrow and the distance that separates herself from God. —Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

How can we make the distance between us and God less? Each of the following is a vital step towards connection:

Learning Torah in general and the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov in particular

Sharing what we’ve learned with others (and vice versa)

Doing mitzvos and good deeds

The first, learning, is one way to begin to commune with and understand your deepest, truest, self. We need to know who we are(and who we are in a larger context), in order to connect with others. Continue reading Hisbodedus–Bridging The God Gap

Joy–Your Spiritual Task

993146_14870546To find joy is the hardest thing of all. It is harder than all other spiritual tasks…Put all your energy into being happy. — Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

The Rebbe tells us that, if need be, we should force ourselves to be happy.

Of course, this advice is not politically correct. From today’s psychological viewpoint, forcing yourself to be happy is wrong. It’s denial. Better to be miserable. Continue reading Joy–Your Spiritual Task

Jealousy–Don’t Eat Your Heart Out

912880_58851456Someone recently mentioned that there are people who “get high off your misery.”

Could she be right? Are there people who enjoy seeing others suffer or fail?  Sadly, yes.

Fierce competition, which may lead to schadenfreude, is embedded in the Western consciousness. Certainly, it’s part of our popular culture, and finds a home in spectator sports, academia, and the media. Even Especially in political opinion pieces written by some of our most esteemed journalists and pundits.

Of course, this all trickles down to everyday life.

Just as sad is the fact there are also people who feel miserable when someone else succeeds, even someone they consider a friend. Jealousy consumes them. They metaphorically “eat their heart out,” whenever a friend receives revealed blessings or achieves spiritual or material success. Continue reading Jealousy–Don’t Eat Your Heart Out

Holy Dance Of Happiness

Wildly Dancing Children by Emil NobleAt a Jewish wedding and other happy times, while the band plays an upbeat melody, the guests form a circle and dance.

Once in a while they might spot a downcast person standing in the corner, perhaps unable to chase her personal troubles from her mind. The others will reach out and grab her, pulling her to her feet and forcing her to join them in their joyful dance. As her feet move faster and faster, she claps her hands and begins to smile at the other smiling faces. She’s transformed.

It is very good to set one’s dark bitterness and suffering aside and be happy, even for awhile.

But Rebbe Nachman of Brelsov tells us there is something even greater than setting our sorrow aside (although this is indeed an admirable achievement): Pursue and grab hold of your “sadness and sighing”. Bring them—against their will—into the circle dance of happiness and “introduce them to joy” so that they are actually transformed into joy.

Gloominess and depression are persistent tricksters, rooted in the side of evil, but happiness is holy. So if you want to lift those stubborn shysters up into the side of holiness, you may have to force them, dragging them with you into the holy dance of happiness.

Based on Likutey Moharan Tinyana (II), Lesson 24

Fairytale Forest - SunburstRegardless of where a person has fallen, she should never despair and believe that she cannot cry out to God. In His greatness, God has the power to turn everything to good.

—Rebbe Nachman of Breslov