Advice on: Tzaddikim

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Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s advice on Tzaddikim

Continuing our translation of Etzot HaNachal, a compendium of advice culled from Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s, shlita, teachings on Likutey Moharan. This week, we’re up to:


  • The Tzaddik doesn’t say anything from himself.
  • You have some sort of kooshia, (difficulty) or question about the Tzaddik?

Cry out to Hashem! Go to the field and cry –

“They want to split me off from the Tzaddik! They are disconnecting me from the Tzaddik! They are tearing me away from the Tzaddik!”

Go and cry and weep, spread out your hands and tear your hair out from your head – “What do you want from me?! Ribonu shel olam, until I finally got to the Tzaddik, it’s going to end with them turning me away from him?!” Start to cry out terrible cries, Hashem will listen to my voice when I call.

  • Because Eliezer stifled and silenced the kooshiot that he had about Avraham, he merited to have some awesome spiritual insights.
  • Amalek begets kooshiot about the Tzaddik, and this is even worse than the Egyptians.
  • The Rebbe tells us in Likutey Moharan I:63 that it’s totally impossible to understand the Tzaddik in any way.

The Rebbe says that just as Hashem reveals Himself and then conceals Himself, so the Tzaddik also reveals and conceals, and that it’s impossible to understand anything about the Tzaddik.

A person needs to know that he has nothing in common with the Tzaddik, just as he has nothing in common with Hashem Yitbarach. He has no pertinence to the Tzaddik.

  • The Tzaddik is to be found in other worlds, in the worlds that are totally concealed from us.

He reveals himself a little bit to the world, but there is no real grasp of the Tzaddik. In two [seconds] he will cover his face, in two [seconds] he’ll fly away. He flies away, because we don’t know where he is, and we don’t know what he wants, and what he’s really saying to us, or what his real intentions are.

  • The very second that a person experiences some sort of mental ‘diversion’ away from the Tzaddik, then immediately his brain starts to work, to find a billion justifications and vindications every single second….

At the beginning, Korach was a real tzaddik. He was responsible for the moving the Ark, he used to fly through the air.

But the moment that he had some sort of diversion of daat (understanding) away from the Tzaddik – some sort of issue with the Tzaddik – why is the Tzaddik doing this, and why is he doing that?! So then he already lost his siyatta di shmeya (Divine providence), and he got dragged after it.

  • The Rebbe says, you have a problem with the Tzaddik? Hashem, listen to my voice when I call out – start to cry out!

The Rebbe says that a person’s mind goes around and around, and bends him away from the Tzaddik – why did the Tzaddik do that?! Why did the Tzaddik do this?! And his mind starts to revolve around more, and more, and more kooshiot. And keeps turning it over and over again, why did the Tzaddik do this, and why did the Tzaddik do that?!

And all the time a person has yet more difficult questions about the Tzaddik, and each day the issues just expand and become even stronger. And his brain is constantly whirring round and around. And every day, each difficulty just brings another difficulty in its wake. If three issues already entered his head, each difficulty will just multiply itself.

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  • We need to pray on Lesson 63[1], that we’ll stand up in the test of the Tzaddik suddenly ‘disappearing’ away from our grasp, so we no longer understand him.

That we should pass this test, so that we won’t have difficult questions about the Tzaddik. We need to recite the whole prayer on Lesson 63 every day, the prayer that was written about this lesson.

  • Yaakov Avinu nullified himself to Yitzhak Avinu, and so he didn’t have a single difficult question about the Tzaddik, even when he didn’t understand him.
  • By way of our believing in Moshe, we merited to have tremendous spiritual revelations by the Sea of Reeds.
  • The generation of the Flood lost their way because they didn’t want to go to the Tzaddikim who could help them to become rectified.

  • In the episode of the striking of the rock, Hashem wanted to teach us that the shefa, the plenty that we have, comes in the merit of the Tzaddikim.
  • I had the merit that the Tzaddik rebuked me!

Whether it was justified or not justified, the point is that the Tzaddik got angry at me, and he scolded me, and so he sweetened all the judgments for me.

  • A person seeks to attain some honor or some importance, from being close to the Tzaddik, but coming close to the Tzaddik is something else entirely.

It’s the opposite of honor, it’s the opposite of any notion of importance, and from all of these types of notions.[2]

  • A person who wants to be honored because he’s close to the Tzaddik, and that people should know that he’s important, ultimately, this person will leave, and will become someone who is totally ‘anti’.

He will turn into such a critic and persecutor, that no-one will be able to calm him down, and this will continue for year upon year. 24 hours a day, he will only want to talk against the Tzaddik, and no-one will be able to restrain him.[3]

  • If you discover those tzaddikim in every generation who are from the aspect of Moshe, and you listen to their voice, then you will immediately be helped by enormous miracles and wonders.
  • The Tzaddik doesn’t speak lashon hara (evil words) about even a single person, so it’s possible for him to be shown the nation of Israel’s transgressions.

As soon as he sees that someone is committing a sin, he starts to weep. Someone is travelling on Shabbat! – he starts to cry. And this is how he returns this person in true teshuva (repentance).[4]

  • Nobody knows what happened in his previous reincarnations, and what he came down here to rectify.

Regardless of what else he might try to do, he can only receive his spiritual tikkun (rectification) via the True Tzaddik of the generation.

  • The Rebbe (Rebbe Nachman of Breslov) writes that a person needs to start over from scratch, every single day.

A person needs to come to the Tzaddik as though he’s never been by him before, and not like he’s a regular who already knows everyone, and is known, because he’s been there so many times, already. We have to start each day totally afresh.[5]

[1] Rebbe Nachman’s main pupil, Rabbi Natan Sternhartz, wrote a number of prayers associated with the lessons in Likutey Moharan.

[2] See Lesson 1:63 in Likutey Moharan.

[3] Ibid.

[4] See Lesson 2:7 in Likutey Moharan.

[5] See Likutey Moharan 1:62.

  • You can see more of Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s Advice posts HERE.
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