Go with the flow


It’s very fashionable to speak about the energy of the universe. Religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, or practices such as meditation and yoga glorify a certain mental state which lacks drive and attains personal and universal energy.

Of course, any truth can be traced back to our Torah, and the same is true here. Rebbe Nachman (Torah 52) says that the only way to attach ourselves to our deepest root-soul, and become etched in the universe, is via self-nullification (ביטול). What does that mean? Are we supposed to be ascetics and reject any pleasure the world has to offer? Of course not, our sages say that Heaven will hold us accountable for not partaking in the enjoyments our beautiful world has to offer. What it means is that we need to negate our lower self (the נפש), which is always craving to satiate itself, even at the expense of itself and others. It’s ok to enjoy this world, but when we interface with the world via the נפש, we aren’t aligned with the universe, because the self is so inflated.

How do we attain this ביטול? With hisbodedus (setting aside time to be alone and speak to Hashem in our mother tongue). It’s a bit ironic! By closeting ourselves from the world (ideally late at night and in an uninhabited place), we can actually connect most to the world. We need to stand, sit or walk alone with Hashem, asking in detail to be freed from each and every aspect of our lower self. He will respond by releasing us from the burden of those unquenchable desires which deny us the vision to see beyond ourselves and connect with the universe. It’s not so complicated. We just need to practice it. We’ll be shocked at first to see the results. Because once we can quiet that ego-state, we will start to hear our neshama (soul) talking. Then we can follow our personal truth and unify with the ultimate truth. Try it. Go with the flow!


Stay here!


It was about 10 months since Reb Nosson met the Rebbe. He was on fire in his avodah, spending practically every minute of his time learning and davening. He was already accustomed to leaving the village alone at night and pouring out his heart to Hashem. His family’s anger with his new customs was somewhat subsiding, but they were urging him to make a living. He succumbed to their pressure and agreed to travel to Berditchev to buy some merchandise to sell. Of course, “on the way”, he stopped in Breslov to take leave of the Rebbe.

The Rebbe walked with Reb Nosson up the mountain overlooking the Bug River and they got into a long conversation.

bug river

They started talking about some ideas, later recorded in Torah 52, how the philosophers are mistaken, thinking that the world must exist. But their error stems from an undeniable fact, in that Hashem must exist. So once Hashem created the Jewish people, who can literally unify themselves with Hashem, then Hashem was forced (so to speak) to create the world for them.

Asked Rebbe Nachman, how does one nullify himself to such an extent that he is one with the Creator? Through Hisbodedus. By means of personal prayer, we can neutralize one by one every single physical appetite and completely unite with Hashem. The Rebbe went on to teach that this is best done at night, alone and outside the city.

Recording this incident, Rav Avraham Chazzan writes that when Reb Nosson heard these words from the Rebbe, he totally lost all desire for this world and he yelled out, “Ahhaa! Gevalt! I’m gonna run through the streets of the city and marketplace and scream this out! What are they thinking!?” It seemed that Reb Nosson lost his mind and he was seriously about to run and scream it. Rebbe Nachman grabbed Reb Nosson’s coat and said “Stay here! It won’t work at all”!

There’s so much to say about this holy story, but I wanna share two ideas. The first from Rav Avraham Chazzan himself, and the second a personal one.

Reb Nosson had recently been engrossed in a world of hisbodedus. He realized on his own that the best way was late at night, outside the city. He had been living this reality for quite some time, so when he heard the Rebbe’s words, the validation pierced his soul with such deep truth that he couldn’t bear any other reality. Like it says, that when we recite the words of the sacrificial offerings, all the light and bounty of those offerings that were sacrificed throughout history are drawn down by our mere words. So too, all that avodah that Reb Nosson did over the past few months was drawn down into him by the Rebbe’s words and he literally lost his mind!

I sometimes feel like Reb Nosson. I want to go out in the streets and scream out, “Don’t you see it? Don’t you realize what’s happening?” But more often I feel hopeless and helpless. How am I gonna make a difference? There’s so much corruption and uniformity on so many levels that I just want to give up and crawl into my little box and be left alone.

How I long for a rebbe who could grab me, shake me out of my insanity and say “Stay here! Stay here!”