Intro: How to Find Your Way in Darkness – Rav Dror

Reb Natan in Likutei Halakhot says:

When we fall into hard times, many of us make the mistake of thinking that when we experience darkness, it’s because of our sins, mistakes, and failures. But the truth is that when people are experiencing darkness, it is because the Creator turned off the light. If the Creator would want to turn on the light, even the darkest hour will shine like the brightest day.

For that, you need faith. Because it is very, very easy for a person to fall into sadness and depression, to self-blame, to self-hatred, and to not recognize the hand of the Creator in what one is going through.

It is very easy to praise the Creator (Hashem), and to recognize His G-dliness when we experience miracles and wonders, and happy things in life. But when something hard is happening in our life, the natural thing to do is to blame ourselves instead of recognizing the G-dly Supervision of the Creator in our life – making the hours even darker…

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How to Find Your Way in Darkness – Rav Dror

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The Real Work

Spiritual awakening begins with inspiration coming from the outside. Then, once you are already on the road, the real work begins. Keep at it and inspiration will come from within.

Reb Natan, Likutei Halakhot III: 152c

Believe in Yourself!

Reb Natan tells us:

Even a drop of good is never lost! Never! Our Sages teach, “If you’ve searched and succeeded in finding, believe it” (Megillah 6b). Why, believe it? If I’ve found, then I know it. What’s the point in believing? But, this is the point. No matter how much you seek the good, you may think you haven’t yet achieved or attained any. You might feel yourself even more distant from your goal than you were before you started. With this in mind, our Sages specifically taught, “believe it!” Believe that you’ve found some good, even if you can’t see it! (Likutei Halakhot, Birkhot HaPeirot 5:1,2).

From Crossing the Narrow Bridge, by Chaim Kramer

What is free will?

What is free will? It is the ability to choose to do whatever you wish to do, whenever you wish to do so, in any kind of situation. Knowing that you have this power, you can take any idea or suggestion that you hear and apply it for your benefit. As Reb Natan explains, free will is the most amazing power in the entire world. The overall rule is that the entire world was created only for the sake of free will. (Likutei Halakhot, Birkhot HaShachar 5:74).

Adapted from Rebbe Nachman and YOU, by Chaim Kramer

Our Unique Path for Serving Hashem

We each have a G-d-given and individualized path for serving Hashem. No two people are alike. Hashem doesn’t create the same thing twice. We are each unique and need to find our specific path in avodat Hashem (service of Hashem). Rabbi Natan speaks about this:

“Rebbe Nachman spoke at length about the great differences between the tzaddikim of the previous generations — the talmidim (students) of the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch. One would travel across the country speaking in public. Another remained at home. One would pray before the congregation slowly and with loud cries, while another prayed in a whisper. This one devoted his time to Torah study and this one to tzedaka (charity) and saving Jewish lives. Nevertheless, they all learned from one Rebbe, and there was a great love between them. Each served Hashem according to the root of his soul and it was impossible for them to be alike. G-d’s great delight is that He has so many tzaddikim and good Jews in the world, each one giving Him special pleasure not found in the next. This is the meaning of the verse: ‘Israel, in whom I am adorned’ (Isaiah 49:3). Jews are composed of such a spectrum of colors. G-d does not make the same thing twice. Each individual has his own path according to the root of his soul in the Supernal Will.”

Rabbi Avraham Azulai writes, “Every single soul has its own unique portion in the Torah” (Baalei Bris Avraham, Introduction). We are each unique and special in Hashem’s eyes. We each have a specific path through which we will understand the Torah. Specific portions and aspects of the Torah will appeal to particular individuals, based on each person’s root soul. We each have our particular mitzva, in which we excel. May we have the merit for Hashem to help each of us find our unique path in serving Him.

Based on Likutei HalakhotChoshen Mishpat 2, Shomer S’khar 2:10, by Rabbi Natan of Breslov and In All Your Ways: Collected Discourses of  Rabbi Yaakov Meir Schechter

Three Blemishes — Three Weeks

During these Three Weeks, we are mourning the destruction of the First and Second Temples, over the exile of our people from the Land, and over the empowerment of the evil kingdoms of the world, the epitome of which is the seed of Amalek. This is why there are Three Weeks, for we are mourning over these three points that were blemished on account of our sins — the three mitzvot upon entering the Land of Israel, namely, eradicating the seed of Amalek, appointing a king, and constructing the Temple.

Due to our many sins in the past, for which we have still not fully repented, we have been unable to fully eradicate the seed of Amalek. Now, the filth of Amalek spreads and intensifies every day. We have been unable to reveal the glory of Hashem in the world. Our influence has diminished to the point that we still have no king. Most importantly, the Temple, the crown of our heads, has been destroyed due to our many sins, and due to our failure to fully repent, it has still not been rebuilt.

The main tikkun (rectification) during these Three Weeks corresponds to t’shuva (repentance). We cry and mourn during these Three Weeks over our failure in the past to properly fulfill the three mitzvot Hashem commanded of us when we entered the Land of Israel. We also cry and mourn over the fact that we have still not fully repented for them.

May we, during these Three Weeks, properly and completely repent for our three failures and merit complete rectification, through which we will finally and completely eradicate Amalek, welcome the coming of our true Mashiach, and see the rebuilding of our Temple, speedily in our days! Amen.

Based on Likutei Halakhot, Orach Chaim I, Shabbat 7, by Rabbi Natan of Breslov

Gratitude to Hashem

“If everyone would heed the true tzaddik, follow in his path, and steadfastly believe in Hashem — in particular, that everything that happens is for our ultimate good; if everyone would constantly give thanks and praise to Hashem, whether under good circumstances or not, as it is written, ‘In Hashem (expressing G-d’s attribute of loving-kindness) I will praise His word, in Elokim (expressing G-d’s attribute of judgment) I will praise His word,’ surely all the troubles and all the exiles would be completely nullified and the complete redemption would take place!”

Rabbi Natan of Breslov, Likutei Halakhot, Laws of Unloading and Loading, 4

This is a fundamental lesson that we must never forget, but should be engraved in our hearts! Rebbe Natan promises us that if we will express gratitude in all situations, our suffering and exile will be nullified and we will merit the complete redemption.

Since our present exile and its accompanied suffering all stem from Israel’s needless crying in the desert, as discussed in Still Cryingwe must uproot and remove any blemish of ingratitude and self-pity. We must replace these bad character traits with thanks for, gratitude to, and praise of Hashem.

T’shuvat hamishkal (equivalent rectification) is using the principle of measure for measure in rectifying a misdeed. In order to rectify needless crying and self-pity, we must go to the opposite extreme and actually thank Hashem for our troubles! This is not a simple task, but does manifest our emuna that there is no bad at all, since Hashem does everything for our ultimate good.

We must strive to focus only on Hashem’s goodness in everything that happens to us. May we merit to reach such a level in emuna that we can express gratitude to Hashem in all situations.

Based on The Garden of Gratitude, by Rabbi Shalom Arush