We are pleased to present a recording of the class of the webinar series on Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom (Sichos Haran)
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Topic: Rebbe Nachman — The Holiness of the Esrog — Sichos HaRan 121-127
Putting energy into prayer, living in faith and not getting into debt, people who fall away, the holiness of the mitzvah of Esrog, the times before Mashiach comes, and more.
Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, Chapter 121
The Rebbe once lectured us to pray with energy and devotion. He emphasized that we must force ourselves to pray with all our strength.
He said, “You put as much energy into your prayers as I did when I was pulling up the anchor.
“Once I was on a ship, and an emergency arose when the anchor had to be lifted immediately. All the passengers were forced to pull the anchor rope with all their might. I went through the motions of pulling with all my strength, but I was really not using any energy at all. I was really only pretending. I was being coerced, as I acted as if I was pulling with all my might.
“The same is true of the energy and devotion you put into your prayers.”
The Rebbe was telling us that we were far indeed from actually putting all our energy into our devotions.
I heard that the Rebbe once said, “Have faith for G-d’s help. Otherwise you will travel and wander, just like many people do for their livelihood.”
The Rebbe was speaking of those who must support a family. In most cases they do not have an ample livelihood. They often lack clothing and other necessities.
One person may lack a simple garment. Others may lack fine clothing and mansions…
Wait for G-d’s help and do not press the hour. Do not try to take care of all your needs at once, but wait until G-d shows His mercy.
The Rebbe said, “If I did not have patience when I needed something, I would press the hour and demand it immediately. I would then have to borrow money and become a debtor. I would be forced to wander and travel, trying to earn money to pay it back. I would be just like the many others who are forced to go from place to place because of this.”
Realize this and live accordingly. Every man has much that he lacks. Even the wealthiest nobles have their wants. It is best to be satisfied with a minimum, and run your household with what you have at the time.
You may imagine that our wife and children need clothing, for example. They may need it very badly, but still, do not press the hour and buy on credit. Wait until the right time comes, and you can pay for your needs.
It is better to endure privation than to fall into debt. This is even true regarding food. How much more certainly is it true about clothing and housing.
It is better to be in debt to yourself than to the storekeeper. It it better to be in debt to your family and owe them clothing.
It is written (Ps. 145:15), “They eyes of all are to You, and You give them their food in its time.” In all such matters, you must wait for the proper time.
The Rebbe once spoke about those who are religious for a while and then fall away. He said that event the short time that they are religious is very dear to G-d, no matter what happens later.
It is written (Cant. 4:9), “You have heartened Me with one of your eyes.” G-d is speaking to the Jewish people, recalling the time they accepted the Torah.
The Midrash asks why the verse says “with one of your eyes.” It answers that the other eye was already looking at the Golden Calf.
Even when they accepted the Torah, they already lad plans to stray. Still, the short time they were close to G-d was still very dear to Him. He therefore said, “you have heartened Me with one of your eyes.”
The Rebbe once asked us, “Have you ever heard me lecture you about religion?”
He said, “I cannot lecture people in this manner. For every word of such moralizing is immersed and washed in tears. Etlichs vort fun Mussar is bei mir Favashin mit trehrin. Because of this I cannot lecture people about religion.”
At first it was very difficult for us to understand what the Rebbe meant. It seemed to us that his every word was a religious lesson, literally burning with fire.
It was true the he did not openly lecture us like many sermonizers, but still, he every conversation dealt with devotion to G-d. All of his words were literally like burning coals, and whoever was worthy of hearing them was literally filled with fiery inspiration.
It is impossible to describe the holy fire of the Rebbe’s words. Even his most casual conversations were filled with holiness and purity. But when he presented a lesson or spoke of devotion, his every word would scintillate and sparkle. It would blaze like flames, flashing like a roaring fire.
You would only have to listen carefully, and sincerely heed his words. Every word would literally fly into you like a bolt of fire. You would feel yourself being drawn to G-d and bound up with Him in a wondrous fiery bond.
There were many such times when we felt that we were standing before the awesome Holy Splendor itself. We felt that we no longer had free will. It was as if we were powerless to go against G-d’s will and the we would never again be separated from Him. The Rebbe’s words drew us so strongly to G-d that we were sure that we could never oppose His will by transgressing even the most minor commandment. But experiences such as these are totally beyond description.
Even today, you can become involved in the Rebbe’s published works. If you study them sincerely and probe their depth, your heart will certainly be drawn to G-d by the Rebbe’s holy words. For all his words are like burning coals.
On Succos 5570 (1809) the Rebbe spoke about the Esrog, saying that the mystery of the Days of Awe require one to have a beautiful Esrog. This was discussed earlier.
Esrogim were impossible to find that year and the community had already resigned itself to do without one completely. There was not an Esrog to be had in the entire land until just a day before Succos. Then, in His own miraculous ways, G-d made it that the needed Esrogim reached several nearby towns. These fetched premium prices, and in some communities were sold for as much as fifty Rubles and more.
Here in Breslov, the Rebbe was able to obtain a particularly beautiful Esrog. He was so overjoyed that he asked us to bring musical instruments and play for him, making it an occasion of celebration. For three continuous days he was so inspired by the Esrog that he did not feel his terrible illness at all. His joy was so great that it literally restored his health.
He continued speaking about this Esrog even after Succos. He said that we had no idea how precious was the commandment of Esrog and how high its level. The fact that Jews spend more money for the observance of this Mitzvah than any other is not without significance. It shows that this Mitzvah is precious beyond all measure, even though we might not be aware of it.
Even if people knew the true greatness of the Esrog, they would not behave differently. The Jews are a hold people. They are very wise and not easily fooled. They spend much money for Esrogim, and this is certainly not without good reason.
The Rebbe spoke about this at length, emphasizing the importance of the Esrog.
On Saturday night, right after the Sabbath of Repentance (Shabbos Shuvah) 5570 (1809), the Rebbe spoke about the Messiah.
It is a well known fact that many people were saying that the Messiah would come that year. The Rebbe, however, did not agree with this.
The Rebbe said, “When the Messiah is ready to come, more than one person will cry out about faith. Many Tzadikiim will raise their voices, just as I do today. They will scream until they tear our their throats–ein reisen die keili–and it will not help.”
Regarding the Messianic age, it is written (Isa. 4:3), “And it will be, that he who is left in Zion, and he who remains in Jerusalem, ‘holy’ shall be said to him.” The Talmud teaches us that the angels will chant “holy, holy, holy” before the Tzadikim, just like they do before G-d.
This is the plain meaning of the verse. For the Tzadikim who remain faithful before the Messiah’s coming, will deserve this, and much more. So difficult will it be to remain firm in faith and not be misled by every one’s mistaken beliefs in the pre-Messianic era.
At that time many who call themselves religious leaders will preach falsehood. A group like ours, where people gather together thirsting for G-d’s word, will certainly no longer exist. There will remain some truly religious individuals, but they will be very widely scattered.
The Rebbe then quoted the verse (Ex. 17:14), “write this as a record in a book.” In days to come, let people know that there was one who already predicted this. Then they will know and be encouraged in their faith in G-d and the true Tzadikim.
The Rebbe was once speaking about Elul, the month before Rosh Hashanah. He spoke of the custom of reading from the Tikuney Zohar with its own special melody during this month, and the fatigue resulting from spending many late hours in the House of Study.
He said, “This practice results in many lofty things and does much to correct the transcendental worlds.”
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