Listen to the Tzaddik
Continuing our translation of the Ohr HaDaat newsletter, issue #108
The Cripple is a man who is trapped in the world of desires and in the world of hugely powerful, confused feelings. Rabbenu tells us that you need to have an aspect of ruach hakodesh, or Divine inspiration, to know how to guide a person like this. If you come and tell him the unvarnished truth, he’ll have nothing to do with it, inasmuch as he’s so far from it, he couldn’t live his life according to its dictates.
Rabbenu tells us that that the faithful assistant, who is the Tzaddik, knows how to lead the person in a roundabout way. He turns him around, then turns him around again, and each time he takes him a little further away from the place where he’s stuck. The moment we get closer to the Tzaddik, he starts spinning us around in all different direction. This means all the things we have to go through, all the ups and downs.
We don’t always listen to the Tzaddik
But for as long as we stay close to the Tzaddik, he can use this back route to slowly take us out from everything that’s going on inside of ourselves, whether it’s fantasies, lusts or feelings. The assistant helps the Cripple, but we see that the Cripple doesn’t always listen to the assistant, which means that we don’t always listen to the Tzaddik. Sometimes, the Tzaddik tells us things and we don’t listen to them. Not because we don’t want to listen to them, but because we can’t listen to them.
For example: Rabbenu says in Likutey Moharan that the ikker (essence) of teshuva and of spiritual rectification is when a person hears himself being shamed and insulted, but stays quiet. Anyone who reads this lesson, or who hears a shiur about this lesson, will certainly agree with Rabbenu that the ikker of teshuva is to hear yourself being insulted, but to stay silent.
But what happens at the time of the test itself? A little while ago, I was dealing with a couple’s shalom bayit (marital harmony) problems. I saw that the husband was like a burning ball of anger when he was dealing with his wife. When she left the room, I asked him: ‘What about Rabbenu’s lesson, that says you should hear yourself being insulted and stay quiet? True, she doesn’t always speak to you so nicely, but that isn’t the end of the world. Stay silent, and you’ll see that everything will pass.’
‘Rabbenu wasn’t talking about my wife…’
I said to him: ‘Don’t you want to fulfill Rabbenu’s teaching, about the ikker of teshuva being when you’re insulted but stay quiet?’ He said to me: ‘Rabbenu wasn’t talking about this sort of situation. He wasn’t talking about my wife. That lesson is true – but it doesn’t apply to my wife.’
This showed me that we still find it very hard to accept this point of truth in our hearts. On the intellectual level, of course we agree that this is ‘truth’, and that we need to stay quiet when we’re being insulted, and that this is a very high level. But when it actually comes down to it, it’s so very difficult to put it into practice, which is why the Tzaddik leads us in roundabout ways.
What this means is that we’re lead through all sorts of situations and experiences in our lives whose sole purpose is to dislodge us, very slowly, from the places where we find ourselves stuck in all sorts of fantasies and futility.
It takes 70 years to internalize these teachings
A person with even just average intelligence could understand every Breslov teaching within a month – but it’ll take him 70 years to to actually implement them all. All our life is really just about being ‘spun around’, where we experience all sorts of things and all sorts of difficult tests in order to dislodge us from the place where we find stuck. We see in the story that the Cripple and the assistant travel to a place where they need to do business, and that they journey all day long. When night falls, the assistant (who is really the Tzaddik) says: ‘Let’s stay overnight here, and in the morning we’ll continue.” The Cripple insists upon going against the assistant and the wagon driver’s will, and says: “I’m not prepared to stay here under any circumstances. We will continue to journey onward!”
‘Day’ is when things are going great for us
‘Day’ refers to those times of mochin deGadlut, or expansive thinking, i.e. those times when things are going right for us, and ‘night’ is smallness and constriction. For as long we’re in ‘expansive thinking’ mode, we’re hand-in-hand with the Tzaddik. If a person wakes up for netz (the sunrise minyan), toivels (dips) in the mikvah, and feels Hashem’s light while he’s praying, he feels as though everything is going to plan and that everything is good.
But Hashem created the world so that: “There was night, and there was morning”. After these times of ‘day’ come the times of ‘night’.
Rabbenu tells us here the advice we need for when night time arrives: stay here overnight. This means continue with your avodat Hashem (service of God), but know that you can’t stay at the same level, and feel the same vitality that you did during the day time, which is the of mochin deGadlut. Accept that this is the reality, and no-one is going to come to you with complaints. Act with moderation.
We don’t want to accept the reality of our constrictions
A person doesn’t agree with this, and it’s like the Cripple who says: ‘I’m not going to stay here overnight!’ We have an internal fight within ourselves that we don’t want to accept the reality of the ‘constriction’ and of the ‘hiddenness’ that we find ourselves in….
When we get to this time of ‘night’, when the constrictions begin, a person either starts to blame himself, or he starts to blame his wife, or his parents, or his children – and if everyone is actually OK, then it must be the Prime Minister’s fault, and so on and so forth.
Why are there 7 billion people on planet earth? So that there will always be someone you can find to blame.
In the heart of men there’s a lot of opposition towards these times of smallness; it’s very difficult for a person to accept this reality that this is really the will of Hashem, and we have to learn how to serve Him also in these times of smallness. Rabbenu emphasizes this point a great deal, so that we shouldn’t err and that we shouldn’t get confused, inasmuch as a person can fall completely if he fails to understand that now, this is really the will of Hashem.
Serve Hashem a little, but with happiness
So, serve Hashem a little, but with happiness. This is all that you can really do. These are called the ‘times of night’, when a person’s soul is in a state of smallness and constriction. A person needs to know for as long as it continues that this is wonderful, this is the best it could be. Our souls want it to always be ‘day time’, we always want to be lit-up, because this is our greatest happiness and enjoyment.
But at the same time, we also need to know how to accept the times of smallness. We need to smile and tell HaKadosh Baruch Hu: You know that I want to serve you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without a break, But what can I do? In this world, there are difficulties. I’m going to do the best that I can, given the circumstances I find myself in.’ Rabbenu tells us in Likutey Moharan that this takes a great deal of daat (spiritual knowledge, experiential wisdom) for a person to act like this, and to not become extremely frustrated and start blaming himself, and to not start arguing with his wife, and with his parents, and with his children, because now he’s in a time of smallness.
Now, you find yourself in a time of smallness – so serve Hashem however you can! Rabbenu says that the Cripple doesn’t agree with what the assistant tells him, and he says: ‘We’re going to continue to travel, even at night!’ This is what a person wants, when they don’t understand what’s going on. He says: ‘I want to serve Hashem at night, as well, in the same way that I served Him during the day. I’m not willing to back down.’
Because the Cripple insisted upon this, the bandits came upon them, and the Cripple was left alone. When a person doesn’t know when it’s the correct time to ‘give up’ and back down, this can cause him to have an even greater spiritual fall.
To be continued….