For Asarah B’teves—The Fast of Teves and Reb Nosson’s Yartzheit
Sponsored by the Schulman Family in memory of and appreciation for Reb Nosson on his yartzheit.
“…in generation after generation, there exists a shepherd who embodies the concept of “Moshe, the faithful shepherd.” This shepherd makes a mishkan. And know, the little schoolchildren receive their pure, untainted breath of their mouths from this mishkan. –Likutey Moharan 282
The true tzaddik of the generation takes all the nikudos tovos, the good points, he collects from each individual person, and with this accumulated good, builds a mishkan for Hashem. This sanctuary is the source of the breath of innocent children, who’ve never been tainted by sin. With this pure breath of goodness, young schoolchildren begin their first study of Torah.
As she learns, this child inhales and exhales goodness. She connects to the Tzaddik. This child pours her pure self into Torah learning and receives even more inspiration (both definitions apply.)
This child is each and every young child.
This child is also the psycho-spiritual concept of the inner child. Your inner child.
And though you recognize the term, don’t be fooled—psychology’s inner child is a mere doppelganger for the true inner child. First brought to Westerners’ attention by Jung, the distorted secular concept of the inner child has been employed in self-limiting, decadent, or destructive ways by new-age therapists ever since.
Your Inner Child
One way to get in touch with your spiritual inner child is to begin learning and practicing Azamra. Start with seeing the good in others, and don’t judge them negatively. It’s not enough to not think negatively about others—don’t speak negatively of them either. Actively seek out their good points. Make it a project.
Give them the respect you crave yourself.
Another important and deep way to get in touch with your inner child is to search out the good points in yourself. The good points are the mitzvos you do. The mitzvos you do come from the point inside you which receives its nourishment from the Source as well as receives its breath from the Tzaddik.
This tender, innocent, self, the goodness inside, is your true inner child.
What if you can’t find your inner child?
Maybe it seems that a lifetime of clutter is clogging you up with its noise, harshness, despair, anger, scheming, hate, or jealousy. Maybe it feels like you’re a pack-rat and all these bitter remnants have forever crowded out your inner child. Maybe it feels she is lost forever.
That is an illusion created by the yetzer hara.
On the skin-deep level, the weight of all that baggage is designed to make you give up searching for her. The yetzer hara wants you to say: Look, I am filled with despair alternating with jealousy and scheming. My emunah is weak and I pray perfunctorily. Half the time, I’m faking it. Inner child? Nah. Good points? Nah. Bitterness is weighing me down and I can’t even lift my head to talk to Hashem.
Rebbe Nachman reveals however that the obstacles in our life also exist for a deeper and higher purpose—they are actually there to increase our yearning for spiritual growth. The Rebbe encourages us: Don’t give up. Seek your good points. Focus on them. Find your inner child. She’s in there.
It may not be all the time, but if you look, I guarantee you that she’s active more often than you think she is.
Who Is She (Who Am I)
She’s the one that lights the Shabbos candles. Prays. Gives charity.
She’s the one that is truly grateful when someone helps her and she’s also the one who helps others, too. She’s the one that appreciates what she has, both her spiritual and material gifts. She says the Shema and concentrates on the meaning. She seeks inspiration from the Tzaddik’s teachings.
The inner child is the one that manages, perhaps often, perhaps not so often, to control herself and not speak badly of another; the one that refuses to listen to gossip. She forgives. And forgets. She’s genuinely happy (really) for someone who is blessed with success (no matter the type of success.)
She’s able to talk gently, encouraging someone who is suffering. She follows through on her promises. And makes dinner for those who depend on her. She doesn’t condemn, she builds.
She has moments, perhaps often or perhaps not so often, where she’s so filled with kindness and love that everything else is forgotten, and all the unhappiness and twisted stuff is blotted out.
If you can find one of those moments—in a day, in a week, in a month—then you have found her. Feed her a diet of Chassidus, music, joy, dancing, and prayer to make her grow strong. She’ll eventually become a habit, take over, lead the way.
A Loving Sanctuary
You and I are not perfect, but we can try and emulate the Tzaddik. We can look at Rebbe Nachman’s relationship with Reb Nosson. We can look at the relationship of his Chassidim to each other. Rebbe Nachman teaches that the whole world talks about friendship and love, but they don’t really mean it. But true love exists. The love that exists between the Tzaddik’s followers is real.
The whole world tries to tear someone else down. The Tzaddik’s followers try to build someone else up.
The whole world gossips behind each others’ backs. The Tzaddik’s followers turn away and leave the room.
The whole world believes that the darkness within them is within everyone else, too. The Tzaddik’s followers believe that the nikudos tovos within them is within everyone else, too.
The Rebbe says: “Only those who are honest, fear Hashem, and who are able to feel the specialness of their being close to the true Tzaddik know and understand true love.” (Chayey Moharan)
With true love you can build your own, personal sanctuary. You build it for Hashem out of your good points and the good points of others. Your sanctuary, built with love, will reveal the glory and honor of Hashem in this world, and revealing the glory and honor of Hashem is the entire purpose of Creation. When you align with the purpose of Creation, you are at peace.
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