True tzaddik

I have to admit, I woke up this morning feeling a little despairing about the state of the world.

In particular, I was feeling upset at how so many of us are chasing after ‘broken cisterns’ that really can’t help us resolve the real and difficult problems in our lives, instead of returning to God:

“For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the spring of living waters, to dig for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that do not hold water.” – Yirmiyahu 2:13

It seems to me that a huge part of the problem is that so much of the ‘Torah’ we’re being taught, especially in the English-speaking world, is coming from a woefully superficial place.

It’s being taught by people who barely read the Gemara, barely know any of the Arizal’s kabbalistic ideas, barely spend any time learning the commentaries like Ketzot HaChoshen, or delving into the Zohar, or turning up obscure midrashim (or even, really reading the ones that aren’t so obscure and already translated into a nice gold-embossed Artscroll volume.)

In Sefer HaMiddot (Tzaddik, #151), Rebbe Nachman makes it very clear how we’re going to get Moshiach and geula, redemption.

There, he writes:

The coming of the Moshiach depends on drawing close to the Tzaddik.

Next, he explains (Tzaddik #152):

The primary fulfillment of the soul comes through drawing close to the tzaddikim.

Which is why I’m currently feeling so frustrated with what’s going on in the orthodox Jewish world, because there are all these ‘talking heads’ who know a bit of Torah, and who give entertaining classes, and who are coming up with no end of ‘daas me’ about what it’s going to take to really get geula and Moshiach.

Who really don’t know what they’re talking about.

Because if they did, they would focusing far more of their efforts on explaining that:

The coming of the Moshiach depends on drawing close to the Tzaddik.

Recently, I read Part 2 of the interview with Rav Michael Goll, where he was talking about the power of Lesson 65 in Likutey Moharan, to draw people closer to the true tzaddikim and out of all the superficial confusions and beliefs they’re stuck in.

I decided I can do no better than to copy out an abridged version of it below, and trust Rabbenu to start doing his thing. So here it is:


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Abridged version of Lesson 65:

The Master of the Field

Know: There is a field where beautiful and pleasant trees and grasses grow. It’s impossible to depict the indescribably beauty of this field and its foliage….These trees and grasses are the holy souls.

But, there are many, many naked souls that move and wonder about outside the field, waiting for and anticipating rectification, so that they will be able to return and enter their places. Even a great soul, upon which many souls are dependent, sometimes finds it difficult to return if it has left.

All of these souls seek and anticipate the Master of the Field, who is able to deal with what they need in order to be rectified….

Anyone who aspires to take it upon himself to be the Master of the Field must be dauntless and courageous, a fighting spirit, a sage, and a very great tzaddik, for one has to be a great person at a very high spiritual level.

Someone might only be able to complete the task with his own death, but even for this, one needs to be very great. There were many, many great people who would not be able to accomplish it, even with their own deaths.

Only someone who is great and outstanding at an extremely high level can complete the task within his lifetime. He must endure much suffering and difficult experiences, but by virtue of his greatness and exaltedness, he is able to overcome them all, seeing to the needs of the field.

And when he successfully rectifies these souls, and brings them inside [the field], it is then very good and appropriate to pray, for then prayer is perfected….

…the concept of ‘oneness’ is itself an aspect of the ultimate purpose, as written: “On that day, God will be One and His Name One” (Zechariah 14:9)…oneness is absolute good….

Even the troubles and suffering and other ‘bad’ events that befall a person are surely not bad at all, but great good, from the perspective of the ultimate purpose. Certainly, all suffering comes intentionally from God, for one’s own good, whether to remind one to repent, or to atone for one’s sins.

Hence, suffering is great good, for God’s intention is certainly only for the good.

So, if one looks at all the ‘bad’ and suffering that befalls a person from the perspective of the ultimate purpose, which is God’s ultimate intention, one will not suffer at all. On the contrary, one will be filled with joy from looking at the great good of the ultimate intention of these difficult experiences…

The real pain that a person has from the difficult experiences that befall him is only because spiritual awareness has been withheld from the person… For when one possesses spiritual awareness (daat), and looks at the ultimate purpose, one doesn’t experience suffering at all….

….one must completely close one’s eyes from the illusions of this world, covering one’s eyes and shutting them tightly, not looking at all the desires of this world and its follies. Only then, will one be able to see and perceive this ultimate purpose, which is absolutely good.

Suffering then comes to an end, for suffering is essentially on account of one’s distance from the ultimate purpose.


Ad kan, from Rebbe Nachman and Likutey Moharan, Lesson 65.

No-one wants all the suffering and darkness to continue on a second longer.

But I can’t see how superficial Torah and ‘wrong’ ideas about what’s really required to get us out of the spiritual hole we’re all in right now is actually going to help.

Rabbenu tells us loud and clear:

The coming of the Moshiach depends on drawing close to the Tzaddik.

And I guess, that’s what we have to start praying for, that more people will hear these words, and take them to heart.

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