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Topic: Rebbe Nachman — Sichot Haran 153 — When the tzaddik acts like a simple person – Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom
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Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, Chapter 153
In chapter 78 of the second part of Lekutey Moharan, the Rebbe speaks of the simple ways of true Tzadikim. Sometimes a Tzadik must become a completely average individual and act like a Prustock or simpleton.
The story of this lesson is very wondrous. All the details cannot be put into writing, but I will record as much as possible.
It was Shabbos Nachamu, the Sabbath after Tisha B’Av, in Uman during the last months of the Rebbe’s life. He had just moved into new quarters, where he would eventually pass away. His new apartment was spacious and airy, looking out on a bright lawn, and the Rebbe enjoyed it very much. However, the house belonged to…
The Rebbe moved into the apartment just before Shabbos Nachamu. Many of the Rebbe’s old followers gathered around him that Sabbath, along with many new ones. A very large group had come especially to be with the Rebbe.
On Friday night, the Rebbe left his private room and came into the large chamber where the people were gathered. He was very weak and scarcely had enough strength to speak. He immediately said the Kiddush, and then sat down to the table. He did not return to his room, as was his usual custom after Kiddush at such a gathering. He appeared very faint, and began speaking in a very feeble voice.
The Rebbe said, “Why do you come to see me? Don’t you realize that I know nothing at all now? When I have a lesson to teach you, then you have some reason to come to me. But why have you come now? Don’t you see that I know nothing at all? I am just a simple prustock—a common simpleton.”
The Rebbe continued like this for some time, repeating over and over that he knew nothing and was an average person, a common prustock.
He said, “The only thing that inspires me is the fact that I was in the Land of Israel.” He continued in this vein, saying that he knew absolutely nothing, that he was a common prustock, and that his only inspiration came from his stay in the Holy Land.
In the midst of his talk, the Rebbe began to explain how he himself was inspired by simple actions on the way to the Holy Land.
He said, “There is much simplicity in the world. There is the simplicity of the ignorant. The is the simplicity of a sage when he shirks from his studies. All this simplicity is sustained through that of the Tzadik. Even the nations of the world need sustenance…”
All this is explained in the above lesson. In the same lesson, the Rebbe also alluded to his new apartment. He said:
Jews sometimes come to a place…
They conquer the area and sanctify it, making it a Jewish place. It then enters into the category of the Land of Israel.
Others would then be able to say, “You are thieves.”
But it is written (Ps. 111:6), “The strength of His deeds he tells his people, to give them the inheritance of the nations.”
We have the power to conquer all the world and sanctify it with the holiness of Israel.
For G-d “created it, and willed that it be given to them. With this same will, He took it from them and gave it to us.”
All this is included in the above lesson, which the Rebbe then completed.
The Rebbe was very joyous, and told us to sing Azamer BeShevachin even though he had not yet washed his hands for the meal. [His usual custom was to sing it after breaking bread.] During this period the Rebbe was very weak, and usually did not sing at all. But he was so joyous this time that he told us to sing right then and he himself joined the singing.
After breaking bread, the Rebbe spoke with us at length with true grace and joy. The entire atmosphere was awesome and wonderful. The Rebbe was in a very joyous mood throughout the meal, speaking and conversing with us at length. He encouraged us in many ways at this meal, and some of what he said has already been published.
Suddenly, the Rebbed cried out from the depths of his heart, ”Gevalt! Zeit eich nit meyeish! Never give up!
“There is absolutely no reason to give up! Kein yiush iz gar nit far-handin!”
It is utterly impossible to depict the Rebbe’s intonations and gestures and the limitless encouragement he put into these words.
The Rebbe described his great joy, saying how his happiness was combined with awe. He said, “Today I rejoice with trepidation. Ich bin heiut frum freilech.”
That Sabbath eve was one of indescribable grace, beauty, holiness, awe, and joy. It is beyond our ability to put it into words. The skins of all the rams of Nevios would not suffice to record it. For we then saw G-d’s wonderful salvation and awesome miracles. We could perceive how G-d always has mercy on His people.
At first G-d seems hidden and eclipsed, but this itself brings us to acceptance. At first the Rebbe actually knew nothing, but this ignorance brought about a great revelation.
We actually know nothing of such things. What the Rebbe called ignorance was a perception that plumbed the most profound depths and mysteries. For he himself said, “My ignorance is even more unique than my knowledge.”
Even in the little our minds could grasp, we say awesome wonders that are beyond our power to describe. Above all we say G-d’s salvation. For He had mercy on us and revealed these great things to inspire and encourage us.
You cannot imagine what it was like to sit there before the Rebbe. Every word seemed to be addressed to each one of us personally, as if the Rebbe was speaking to each one in particular.
We were able to use his words and inspire many others. G-d was with us here too. The Rebbe’s words still live, and are an inspiration to many people. What can I say? “His mercy is great to us, and G-d is true forever.”
“The next day was Sunday and I wrote down Friday night’s lesson. I brought my manuscript to the Rebbe and he grasped it feebly in his hands. The Rebbe was standing near the window and looking out. He was so weak that the manuscript slipped out of his hand and drifted out the window in the garden. I went and lifted the manuscript from the ground, returning it to the Rebbe. He looked at it and read it from beginning to end.
The Rebbe then remarked, “What did you write here? This is what I myself discussed. Vas hast-ti da oif geshriben? Das hab ich mir azoi geshmuest.” The words endure.
Look carefully in the lesson discussed here in Chapter 78 of the second part beginning with the verse (Deut. 3:23), “And I prayed to G-d…” You will be able to understand this entire account and your soul will derive everlasting pleasure.
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