This world

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“The Rebbe, of blessed memory, declared: Look! Everyone says there is this world and the World to Come. Now, we believe there is a World to Come. And it is possible that an Olam Hazeh exists in some universe. But here it looks more like hell, because everyone is full of great suffering – always!”

“The Rebbe also said: There is no Olam Hazeh at all!”

(Tinyana 119)

Doesn’t sound so Breslov, does it? But Rebbe Nachman did indeed say this. In fact, says Reb Nosson, he discussed this idea often. The truth is, it’s hard to argue. People are experiencing so much suffering within their family, or with health and financial problems. Mental health is so hard to maintain nowadays and addictions are rampant. We’re really in bad shape, so what do we do?

There is another lesson that I think helps.

In Torah 4 the Rebbe says that “When a person knows that everything that happens to him is for his own good, this is an aspect of the World to Come”. (This is based on the passage in the Talmud (Pesachim 50a) that quotes the verse, (Zachariah 14), “On that day, Hashem will be one”. The Talmud asks, “is He not one now”? And answers, “now when something good happens, we bless ‘[He] is good and bestows good’ and when something bad happens, we bless “the true Judge”. But in the World to Come we will only bless ‘[He] is good and bestows good'”).

According to this lesson, we can say that, in fact, there really is no Olam Hazeh at all, meaning there is no good life here. Everyone everywhere is always suffering. But if a person recognizes that every one of his experiences is for his own good, then he lives in the World to Come. He lives in an alternate reality. He is drawing from the World to Come and living in that world right here.

This exercise takes faith. Like the Rebbe said above, “We believe there is a World to Come”. Faith creates possibilities and new realities. Don’t live in hell. Believe there is a perfect master-planner who only does good for you. It hurts so much and we don’t understand His reasoning, so it’s damn hard to believe. But when we do, we are one with the World to Come.

Another lonely day

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I was debating whether I should share the following words from Rebbe Nachman because I’m confident that they will be misunderstood. But I’m struggling and I hear how everyone else is struggling too, so I hope it can be a source of encouragement.

In the last words of a seemingly depressing Torah he said the following (תנינא קי״ט):  “Everybody says there is a world here and a next world. The next world we believe in, and maybe even [the good of] this world exists in some other place, but it seems that this world is ‘hell on earth’ and everyone is merely suffering all the time”. He then said “[The good of] this world doesn’t exist at all!”

What did he mean by that? Is this the Rebbe Nachman who was all about joy?

Earlier in the piece he describes that even the wealthy people that we all envy have constant worry, anger, pain, and depression. There’s no way around it. Like Job said “Man was created to exert himself”. Upon which the medrash asserts “Happy is he who exerts himself in Torah”.

You see, the sad truth is, we just can’t do it on our own! If we attempt to go about life and depend on our own efforts we are guaranteed frustration and despair. The only way to enjoy life is by genuinely relying on God. If we depend on Him sincerely when there’s nothing left in the bank, or we cry out to Him honestly to please ‘handle it’ for us when we’re ‘at wit’s end’, then we can have relief from the burden and anxieties of daily life. But if we stubbornly insist on being in control, then not only do we usually complicate the issue even more but we are left defeated and disheartened.

So why do we refuse to surrender to God? Well, since we don’t exert ourselves in Torah, we are too afraid to give Him control. Some of us don’t believe that we can do it and some of us even don’t believe that He can do it. But if we would steadily devote ourselves to Torah study, then we would learn techniques of true faith in God and have relief from the loneliness of this miserable world.