When a person begins serving Hashem, the way is that they show him rejection. It seems to him that he is being rebuffed from on high and they are preventing him from entering l‘avodat, into the service of, Hashem. In truth, all distancing is nothing but being brought near. (Likutei Moharan I: 48:1)
Rebbe Nachman is encouraging us in our service of Hashem. We need to understand what the Rebbe means by avodat Hashem. To truly serve Hashem means that our praying is no longer a distracted recital of words by rote, and our Torah study is more than simply attending an occasional shiur, lesson. It means completely immersing ourselves into our devotions, focusing more on each mitzva we perform and striving to perceive its deeper meaning in our mind and heart. It also means seeking closeness with Hashem in every aspect of our life. This leads to greater awareness that Hashem is always with us, because “the whole earth is filled with His glory” (Isaiah 6:3), which should lead us to true awe and love for Hashem.
In his above teaching, “they” refers to the spiritual forces Hashem sends as obstacles, which appear to us as rejection. “It is the case … that as soon as a person wants to follow the path of the upright, he is beset by judgments…” (Likutei Moharan I: 87). While this may sound rather disheartening, Rebbe explains that Hashem “hides within the obstacles, and anyone with insight will be able to find Him within the very obstacles” (Likutei Moharan I: 115).
While these obstacles may appear to us as a sign of Hashem’s rejection of us, G-d forbid, reality is that He is always with us, even hiding within the obstacles themselves! The Baal Shem Tov once asked, since everything, including that which to us appears to be “not so good,” is from Hashem, how is it that we experience pain and suffering? He answered that “whenever it become necessary for a person to endure rejection or suffering or the like, Heaven deprives him of his awareness of G-d, and at that moment he feels that suffering!” (Rabbi Eliyahu Chaim Rosen, as cited in LM II: 48 [n. 3], BRI)
In the midst of the confusion and darkness, we must believe that these obstacles are simply a test to determine if we are truly committed to serving Hashem. While they may appear as rejection from Hashem, G-d forbid, these obstacles placed by Hashem can increase our desire to serve Him.
The main point is that when we experience obstacles in our service of Hashem, we must remember and believe that all distancing is nothing but being brought near!
Based on Likutei Moharan Volume XIV, Breslov Research Institute.