Sichot Haran 173-175 – How to Do a Pidyon Nefesh? – Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom

Watch the recorded class on Sichot Haran 173-175, discussing Rebbe Nachman's attainments and the Pidyon Nefesh (a soul redemption).

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Topic: Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom:

Sichot Haran 173 -175 — How to Do a Pidyon Nefesh

Audio Recording:

      How to Do a Pidyon Nefesh - Yissachar Berg

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Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, Chapter 173

I heard the following conversation that the Rebbe had with Reb Shimon when he returned from over the border.

Reb Shimon had been away and had not seen the Rebbe for more than three years.  I do not know the exact details, but something happened in Medvedevka that caused the Rebbe to become very angry at him.  The Rebbe said, “I am banishing you to the other side of the Don River.”

G-d caused the Rebbe’s words to be fulfilled.  A short time later, Reb Shimon traveled to the vicinity of the Don River, some hundred leagues from Medvedevka.  This is deep in Russia where Jews are a miniscule minority, less than one in a thousand.  They were even a smaller minority many years ago when this happened.

Reb Shimon traveled to this area intending to remain for a short while.  But G-d willed that the Rebbe’s words be fulfilled, and Reb Shimon was forced to remain there for several years.  What happened during this time would consume many volumes.  Reb Shimon lived among gentiles during this time and was subject to untold difficulties and temptations.

While Reb Shimon was away, the Rebbe moved from Zlatipolia and settled here in Breslov.  By the time Reb Shimon returned, the Rebbe had already lived here two or three years.

The Rebbe told Reb Shimon, “I have advanced as much between the time you left and today, as I advanced between the day I was born and the time you left.”

The Rebbe constantly rose higher and higher, from one level to the next.  What he meant was that he had advanced through as many levels during the three years of Reb Shimon’s absence as he had advanced from his birth until that time.  This should give you some idea of the Rebbe’s greatness.

When Reb Shimon left, the Rebbe had already been in the Holy Land.  He had already gone through years of self-discipline.  Even before reaching the Holy Land, he had attained an awesome level of greatness and a most wonderful perception into the deepest mysteries.  He was already on a level that had never before been seen or heard.  Then, after a traumatic journey, he was able to reach the Holy Land and return in peace.

It was in the Holy Land that the Rebbe attained what he did.  He himself said, “What I perceived before coming to the Land of Israel was literally nothing.  I am ashamed of the limited scope of my teachings before then.”

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After returning, he elevated himself from one level to the next every day and every hour.  When Reb Shimon left him, he had already been back from the Holy Land several years.  Just try to imagine the high level that he stood upon at that time.  After all this, Reb Shimon was separated from him for a little over three years.  The Rebbe could still say that he advanced as much during those three years has he advanced from the time he was born until Reb Shimon left.


This same Reb Shimon also told me that shortly before the Rebbe moved from Breslov, he told him, “Look at me today.  You know how much I struggled and toiled to achieve what I did up until now.  I can now accomplish this much in a single day.”

At a later time, the Rebbe told him that he could accomplish that much in a single hour.

Still later, he said that he could do it all in a single moment.

Understand well how far this brings us.  When the Rebbe said this to Reb Shimon, he was already worthy of his great attainment.  He had already said this his previous perception and devotion were nothing compared to what he attained now.  And even this previous level was very great and deep.

This had already occurred many times.  The Rebbe had already attained an immeasurable level before going to the Holy Land.  After his return, he was literally ashamed of his previous attainments, saying that they were absolutely nothing.  After that he continuously elevated himself from one level to the next.  From our earlier accounts it can be understood that he reached an immeasurable height, so lofty that it cannot be expressed in words or thought…  After all this, one is able to comprehend a little of this awesome greatness.

I also heard that the Rebbe once said, “When you are worthy of complete knowledge, then you can accomplish in a quarter hour of devotion what another can attain only after seventy years of struggling and toil.”


Before his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the Rebbe said:

I do not understand how Tzadikim make a Pidyon or Redemption and intercede on behalf of another.

There are twenty-four heavenly courts.

When one presents the Redemption, he must know in which court the person is being judged.

If one does not know this, he may intercede and bring the redemption to one court, while the person is actually being judged in another.

I must therefore know precisely in which court the man is being judged, and what particular intercession and redemption is required by that particular court.

I know all twenty-four courts.

I can appeal a case from one court to another, through all twenty-four courts.  If I do not agree with the judgement of one court, I can ask that it be rejudged in another.

Going from one court to another is certainly beneficial.  No matter what the final outcome, the sentence is still set aside and delayed.  Because of this delay, the sentence can be reduced because of some merit on the part of the defendant.

Even if this does not help, I can still appeal directly to the King.

This takes great wisdom and effort, and no else in this generation can do it.  No other man has ever known how to do this correctly.  It is a major task to frame each petition in the precise number of words and to give proper respect to the King.  For it is certainly impossible to send too many cases directly to the King…

The Rebbe also said, “I do not understand how they claim to make a Redemption.  This is impossible, unless one knows exactly how the Cohen Gadol (High Priest) dealt with the Banished Goat.”

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