You Can Find Yourself

Don’t be afraid, go ahead and ask yourself, “Where am I?” Begin your journey on the road back to G-d. Leave your sordid past behind; clean up your act from here on in. Granted you’re full of deep shame over the promiscuous deeds of the past and you committed the worst transgressions, nonetheless, lend your ears to G-d’s pleas of, “Where are you?”

Then with a resolute heart respond to the challenge by replying, “Here I am, G-d, I’m ready to come back to You!” That’s all it takes. G-d is ready to forgive you and accept you back, because He is concerned about your welfare and seeks your return.

You may feel lost, but you can find yourself, by looking for G-d. Just take your focus off the mundane, and focus on what’s really important in life, by heeding the call of the ages of, “Where are you?”

Adapted from Where Are You: Based on the Teachings of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov and of His Student Rabbi Nossan of Breslov, by Mohorosh HaKodesh Breslov

Silence

Through humility, one merits t’shuva (repentance). For the essence of repentance is when a person hears oneself being ridiculed, and holds one’s peace and remains silent.

Rebbe Nachman, Likutei Moharan I: 6

Never Give Up!

You may fall to the lowest depths, G-d forbid. But no matter how far you have fallen, it is still forbidden to give up hope… There is absolutely no place for despair… The main lesson is that even from one’s failings and declines, one can easily return to Hashem. Nothing is beyond His power. The most important thing is to never give up, but to continue to cry out to Hashem. (Rebbe Nachman, Sichot HaRan 3)

Many people feel these words apply to all other Jews, “but not me. I have gone too far away from Hashem. With the amount and severity of my sins, for me, there is no way to repair this.” Nobody should ever fall into such despair and loss of hope.

A person should continue to daven and cry out to Hashem in personal prayer. No matter how far a person has strayed, Hashem’s loving-kindness and mercy are greater. Every person must remember these words, and can return in complete repentance to Hashem.

Based on Rebbe Nachman’s Soul

 

Even a Wayward Child is still a Parent’s Child

A confusing thought may enter your mind, but if you stand firm, Hashem will send you another thought to encourage you.

Similarly, you may imagine that you are no longer one of Hashem’s children. But if you do your part, Hashem will eventually send you thoughts of encouragement… Therefore you should pour out your thoughts and troubles before Hashem, just like a child complaining to his father. (Sichot HaRan 7)

Rebbe Nachman says it is a great merit if a person is able to come before Hashem and pour out one’s heart, just like a child coming before one’s father. What happens when a wayward child comes crying before his father, showing remorse and regret, and promising to improve? It is only natural for the father to have a certain amount of compassion and pity.

When we feel in our heart that we have done so much wrong, that we have turned away from Hashem, G-d forbid, how can we still feel like a child before Hashem? Rebbe Nachman says that we must seek consolation in the fact that Hashem calls us His children, “You are children of Hashem your G-d” (Deuteronomy 14:1). For good, or otherwise, we are still His children. Even a wayward child is still a parent’s child.

Based on Sichot HaRan 7 and Rebbe Nachman’s Soul

 

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

Hashem Has Not Forgotten Us

We enter into the month of Av, still in exile, still without our Temple, and still weeping. The Beit HaMikdash was so much more than just another building. Our Temple was a microcosm of the entire world! As King David says, “How shall we sing Hashem’s song in a foreign land?” (T’hillim 137:4) Our people have suffered so much since then, to name only a few, the Inquisition, the pogroms, the Holocaust, and now the annihilation through assimilation.

In order to continue forward, we must strengthen our emuna that Hashem has not forgotten us and that we are still deeply connected to Him. After so long and so much pain and suffering, we may begin to doubt our status with Hashem.

Rebbe Levi Yitzchak admits that we are still in exile, thrown out of Hashem’s House, and kicked out of His Land. Although it appears as if we have lost Hashem’s love, yet, deep down inside, we know He still loves us. How do we know? Because we have never stopped receiving Hashem’s love letters.

Deep within the darkness of this long exile, our souls still cry out to Hashem, responding to the daily call from Him that has never ceased, “Return, My wayward children” (Yirmiyahu 3:24). How do we know that Hashem is still calling out to us to return to Him? We just need to look around us to see how many of our people are returning to Hashem — from ba’alei t’shuva, to converts, to those born and raised within the fold.

Although it may appear as if, G-d forbid, Hashem has forgotten us, He is still calling us. Hashem has never stopped sending us love letters to return to Him, and our people are responding! As we enter another month of Av, may we strengthen our emuna in Hashem and help those who may still be living in the darkness of this long exile to hear Hashem’s call, “Return, My wayward children!”

Based on Sparks from Berditchov, Based on the Teachings of  Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berditchov, by Yaakov Klein, Parshas Matos

No Sins, No Pain And Suffering

“There are no tribulations without transgression” (Shabbat 55a)

This is the central principle of emuna, of Judaism, and of the entire world. Nachmanides writes in his commentary to the Torah, Parshat Bo:

A person does not earn a share in the Torah until he believes that every thing or event in life is a miracle! Nothing is the product of nature or natural course, whether on an individual or collective scale. The reward of one who fulfills the mitzvot is ultimate success, while the punishment of a transgressor is eventual doom, all by Divine edict.”

We must first believe that everything in life is the product of the Creator’s specifically made decree for each of us in order to, then, believe that there are no tribulations without transgressions. Without such emuna, we lack a genuine connection to Hashem, G-d forbid.

David HaMelech states, “Hashem is righteous is all His ways and magnanimous in all His deeds” (T’hillim 145:17). He also says, “Hashem is just; my Rock in Whom there is no injustice” (ibid, 92:16). Whoever thinks Hashem torments His creations for no reason has a tremendously flawed sense of emuna.

Knowing that Hashem does everything for a specific purpose — that Hashem is loving, just, and compassionate — leads us to the proper conclusion that our own transgressions are the cause for our suffering! Hashem knows how terribly our transgressions blemish our souls; therefore, He sends us tribulations in order to cleanse our souls.

We must believe that our hardships and difficulties in life are not punishments, but soul corrections, sent from our loving Father in heaven. These soul corrections are for our ultimate good and stimulate spiritual growth! With this proper emuna, when we are faced with life’s challenges and sufferings, we can do some real soul-searching, which leads to t’shuva, repentance, which allows Hashem to no longer need to “correct” us.

Based on The Garden of Emuna, by Rabbi Shalom Arush, The Levels of Emuna