Monday, March 16, 2009

Question & Answer With Rabbi Micha Golshevsky - Motivating People


A Simple Jew asks:

Jaime Escalante was successful motivating inner-city high school students in his class by beginning the year with the announcement that they all were all starting with A's and it was up to them to maintain these grades.

Tanya, on the other hand, begins by telling us that we are not tzaddikim, and that if we struggle tirelessly our entire life we may not even become beinonim.

At the end of the day, how are we come to grips with a realization that the majority of us will remain in the category of being a rasha v'tov lo? Wouldn't it be psychologically healthier for us to concentrate on the teaching of Azamra and focus on our good points?

Rabbi Micha Golshevsky answers:

We must understand the Tanya in proper perspective. First of all, as is well known, the Tanya has always been learned by many Chassidic groups, and is considered by many to be the best explanation of the essentials of Chassidus. It is easy to understand why many refer to it as the Tanya Kadisha. It is the Tanya Kadisha for us all.

Yet we find in the Ba'al HaTanya's introduction that the Tanya was written for his Chassidim when he was no longer able to give them each a personal audience. After listing some potential problems with a written work, as opposed to Torah received orally, he explains why he wrote the Tanya despite such problems, "I speak to those who know me well--all of 'anash' [a common acronym which refers to the Chassidim of a particular group]..." He continues to explain that the Tanya was written as way to give those close to him a private audience and contains the answers to all the questions in avodah that he received from his Chassidim. This relatively short collection of very deep Torah gives over the Ba'al HaTanya's advice to overcome all the impediments of avodah which his Chassidim confronted and often asked about.

In light of this, I would answer your question quite simply: The Tanya was written primarily for the Ba'al HaTanya's Chasidim. By and large, they had a positive outlook and did not require much chizuk--unlike people who are emotionally broken or in a low spiritual state for whatever reason (including inner city high school kids.)

For those who came to the Ba'al HaTanya for advice, the best way to begin the sefer was precisely as he did. Of course, not everyone is in such a positive state, and perhaps the Tanya was not really written for them. Indeed, many people will tell you that the Tanya never “did it for them." It is plausible that lack of chizuk is one reason why.

But then again, people may claim that as a Breslover, I should not be voicing an opinion regarding the Tanya and maybe they are right. To head off such a claim, I would like to point out that Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh essentially agrees with this view.

As I glanced at his book, “Transforming Darkness into Light” I was riveted by a discussion of Breslov vis-a-vi Chabad starting on pg. 126. He points out that the Tanya is subtitled Sefer HaBeinonim for a reason. Although in a certain sense the Tanya comprises its own Sefer HaReshaim in Igros HaTeshuva, there are actually three stages of Chassidus of which the Tanya is the middle tier. Each of these stages corresponds to a different aspect of the Ba'al Shem Tov's famous teaching regarding evil: the first stage of overcoming evil is hachna'ah, submission. Only after attaining submission can one proceed to the second step of havdalah, separation. Finally, one attains works on hamtakah, sweetening.

Rabbi Ginsburgh notes that Chassidim say that the Chassidic “Book of the Wicked” is Rebbe Nachman's Likutey Moharan, while the book of the Righteous” is Noam Elimelech. The Tanya is of course the “Book of the Beinonim.”

Rabbi Ginsburgh then explains: “The approach of Breslov is the underlying bedrock of the spiritual life.” In his opinion, through the teachings of Rebbe Nachman one subdues the evil within and sets the stage for the next step of "separation."

Although I think that is demonstratably true, I was surprised that Rabbi Ginsburgh takes such a dismal view of Breslov's ability to help one after it he attains the level of submission. He writes that Breslov enables people who are not yet emotionally mature come to a state of chizuk so they can "move on" to Tanya; relegating Breslov to domain of "spiritual adolescents." Strangely, in order to support this thesis, he implies that hisbodedus is to help people internalize that Hashem is always with them but not really meant to be a path to "face and rectify" the evil within (havdalah).

This is clearly incorrect since Rebbe Nachman writes that hisbodedus enables one to slowly overcome his character defects, one at a time, until he merits true unity with Hashem. Clearly hisbodedus is in itself a way to focus on and correct character defects.

In any event, this thesis is clearly flawed since there were many Breslovers who became exceedingly great ovdei Hashem. Many people who have never learned Chabad have progressed to "separation" and "sweetening" through the deep advice found in Breslov, especially diligence in properly balanced hisbodedus.

It is true that Breslov has its share of spiritual adolescents, but so does Chabad. Just as Chabadniks will surely explain that the spiritually immature are not really following the Ba'al HaTanya's advice, Breslov's immature do not truly follow Rebbe Nachman's path. Most of those who remain immature in both Breslov and Chabad are people who "do their own thing," without meaningful hadrachah or balance. Such people are often not learning much (or doing much...)

Getting back to your question, Rabbi Ginsburg postulates that the Tanya, as the “Sefer HaBeinonim,” is for those emotionally mature people who can begin to face the darkness within and are “ready to know the full extent of their darker side.”

And there is your answer. Tanya was only meant for those who already have enough chizuk to face the fact that his goal is to achieve the level of a beinoni. To a person with an abundance of chizuk this is a very beneficial attitude since it saves him from falling into arrogance. Of course this path can be very detrimental for someone who is not yet able to face his negative side for whatever reason; especially if he is sensitive. But after attaining an abundance of chizuk we are enabled to face and work on our spiritual failings with a healthy mindset. As mentioned above, this is one reason why many people begin learning Tanya and feel it is "not doing it for them." They lack the necessary chizuk for whatever reason and they are not on the level to learn Tanya.

It is not surprising that many of those who require the powerful chizuk of Breslov find all they need in its path and do not leave it. Interestingly, Rebbe Nachman says that the Torah that can reach the most distant person is actually the highest Torah.

Many people who find what they need in the deep wellsprings of Breslover Chassidus decide to focus the most on the highest Torah of chizuk, hisbodedus, and Rebbe Nachman's powerful advice to advance slowly but surely and reach very high levels.

Yet one need not be a "card carrying Breslover" to benifit from Breslov Chassidus. Indeed, Rebbe Nachman actually recommended that when one finds a misnaged "in need" that we give him Rebbe Nachman's eitzos without saying his name. He said, "What do I care if he unknowingly serves Hashem in my koach?"

Chazal tell us that Torah has two properties. It is either an elixir of life or a potion of death. Breslov helps us access the elixir of life aspect hidden in all genuine Torah. Every derech is enhanced through the yesodos of Breslov. Many Chassidim of all stripes get their vitality by learning their particular seforim in light of the hakdamos found in the Breslover seforim. I know people in Chabad, Ger, Slonim, and Ruzhin and many other groups who do not go to Uman and are not noticeably Breslov but their foundation is essentially Breslov. They learn Breslov and this truly sweetens their life and all the other Torah they learn. The same is true regarding Litvisher who learn mussar and Sephardim who learn Ben Ish Chai or anything else. As Rebbe Nachman said: Breslov stands for "lev basar," a heart of flesh.

Hashem should truly grant us a heart of flesh and enable us to truly connect to Him, heart and soul!

30 Comments:

At March 16, 2009 at 10:17:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Yehonasan said...

Would that we would merit to learn the Torah of the Baal Shem Tov in its unified state, instead of in pieces.

 
At March 16, 2009 at 10:44:00 AM EDT, Anonymous avakesh.com said...

The Torah in its totality is the sam hachaim (Yoma 72). In different stages of life and avidah, sometimes concurrently one needs to swim within it, up amd down and on different levels and approaches, all of them, in order to move forward.

 
At March 16, 2009 at 12:19:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what are the hakdamos of Breslov that are not found in other seforim?

 
At March 16, 2009 at 3:15:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Old Fashioned Breslover said...

Thanks for another insightful posting, Rabbi Golshevsky. It is unimaginable how a person of Rabbi Ginsburgh's great knowledge and intelligence and spiritual stature could fail to appreciate the heilger sefer Likkutei Moharan, which is so full of lichtigkeit and depth and just the right blend of hisorerus and hischazkus!

"Punishment":

He must stay after school one hour a day for a week and learn Likkutei Moharan and say the prayer from Likkutei Tefilos corresponding to whichever lesson he picks. Then we'll all go out to the "feld" to make hisbodedus and finish with a Chassidisher rikkud -- even a Chabadske niggun will do fine, just to be democratic. That should be a perfect tikkun!

 
At March 16, 2009 at 11:55:00 PM EDT, Blogger Crawling Axe said...

It’s a well-known idea that Tanya is meant for everyone and was meant for everyone. Read the next line after the one you quote.

 
At March 17, 2009 at 12:18:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Shoshana said...

Oy. I would like to know if R. Golshevsky has spoken with R. Ginsburgh in order to prepare for this post? Let's be careful about our comments regarding R. Ginsburgh based on information to which he may not have been privileged or had an opportunity to comment on or respond to.

 
At March 17, 2009 at 12:23:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Shoshana said...

Sorry, the url is
http://www.chabad.org/
multimedia/media_cdo/
aid/460068/jewish/
Likutei-Amarim.htm

 
At March 17, 2009 at 7:46:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Avakesh wrote: "The Torah in its totality is the sam hachaim (Yoma 72)"
I don't know about that. Rashi says there that zachah means to learn lishmah and in order to fulfill the Torah.
Surely one who learns even the Torah in it totality but is not l'shmah and does not yearn to merit l'shmah has not attained the aspect of sam chaim.
Conversely, one who is involved in Torah with all his strength, is preoccupied to know its sode and makes this the ikar of his life (see Rashi in Shabbos 88b) has attained the Sam Chaim aspect of Torah--always assuming he learned l'shmah or at least in order to get to the level of l'shmah.
This is irrelevant to whether one has attained the totality of Torah since each day we learn l'shma in the above manner is imbued with sam chaim.

 
At March 17, 2009 at 8:03:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Avakesh wrote: "..different levels and approaches, all of them, in order to move forward."
Yet not everyone who moves forward treads many paths. If I can share a favorite story:
A certain simple person asked the Chofetz Chaim, "What need is there for Chasidim and Misnagdim? For that matter why are there so many different types of Chasidim, each group of which has a different focus? Wouldn't it be better if we all followed one path...in avodas Hashem?"
The Chofetz Chaim replied, "Before you ask me regarding the many groups in our nation why not inquire of the Czar of Russia why he maintains so many different types of soldiers. He has infantry, cavalry and gunners. In addition, he has a separate air force and a navy.
Why so many different groups? Surely it would be much easier to maintain one type of soldier with one commanding officer over them all?
The answer is that since the Czar must fight his enemies in different settings it follows that he needs different types of troops to overcome his various challengers...
Similarly in the Jewish people's collective battle against the forces of evil, every group of Chasidim and misnagdim are different types of soldiers in Hashem's army. We wage a milchemes mitzvah against the yetzer and each group helps to overcome our collective enemy in a unique way. Some fight primarily with Torah while others with their prayers... The main thing is that each group focus their hearts on Aveinu Shebashamayim!" (From Chafetz Chaim Al Hatorah, pg. 256.)
Some people serve in several different capacities while others stay in one division. The main thing is that each person--whatever his path-- remembers to focus his heart on Avinu Shebashamayim!

 
At March 17, 2009 at 8:50:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Yehonasan wrote: "Would that we would merit to learn the Torah of the Baal Shem Tov in its unified state, instead of in pieces."
Regarding the Rashi in Shabbos brought above (...one who is involved in Torah with all his strength and is preoccupied to know its sode...) the Ba'al Shem Tov explains: someone who learns Torah must understand with simple faith that each and every word of Torah has sodos pnimi'im. He must toil with all his strength until he grasps these secrets. This kind of learning purifies the one who learns so that Torah is a sam chaim for him. But one who does not believe that the Torah is filled with deeper significance has turned the Torah into an inyan gashmi and it is for him a sam maves.
If one learns chasidus but forgets Hashem he becomes a "professor of chasidus." The chasidus does not shine for him and is an inyan gashmi for him which gives him no chiyus d'kedushah (until and unless he does teshuvah.) Conversely a simple person who hears a vort here and there but really works on his Chidushei Harim, Beis Avraham or whatever it is while and learns as much niglas Hatorah as he can believing simply that every word of Torah is filled with deeper significance that he yearns to grasp is way ahead of the "professor."
Since one can learn chasidus and "lose touch" what is the solution?
I believe that it depends on the person. Like the Chofetz Chaim's mashal above, I believe that some require one path while others are better off with another path.
I think that it is pretty well known that Chabad chasidus simply does not talk to some and ceases to help many others. What should they do? What should the young man who stayed at my house a few months ago do? Although he learned in a chabad Yeshivah through high school, he feels an antipathy to the Chabad Chasidus for whatever reason. Shouldn't he work on a different path that "talks to him" despite the possibility that it is somehow less complete than Chabad? He is absolutely unwilling to see or hear any Chabad Rabbi since he has "been there and done that," but he is somewhat open to a different path.
Remember, I discussed primarily people who are weak and require chizuk.
Hashem should help us all learn Torah and stay connected to the aspect of sam chaim!

 
At March 17, 2009 at 9:19:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Anonynmous wrote: "what are the hakdamos of Breslov that are not found in other seforim?"

Excellent question! Probably at least as hard to answer as the one frequently posed by "misnagdim": "What novel concept is in Chasidus that is not in earlier or later sifrei Mussar and Machshava?
As I am sure you realize this is a very very long answer which really emerges only from a careful study of a genuine path of Chasidus, since virtually every concept emerges from an earlier source. Similarly, the answer to your question can only emerge from a careful study of Likutei Halachos or at least Otzar Hayirah (Breslov).
If you want to learn the absolute minimum in the most succinct manner possible please get hold of Alim L'Trufah (Eternally Yours" in English) and learn a couple of letters a day. This takes no more than five to ten minutes a day. By the time you get to the middle of the first volume (around an eighth of the way through the small Hebrew sefer,) you will definitely start to discern a glimmering of what this is about.
Meshivas Nefesh (or the abridged English version of Restore My Soul) will give a drop in the bucket but without the rest of Otzar Hayirah you can easily miss it completely.
Hashem should help us learn these seforim and live them!

 
At March 17, 2009 at 9:52:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Old Fashioned Breslover: Thank you for your kind words.
Although I have not read much of his printed works, I am very impressed with Rabbi Ginzburg. He is clearly a tremendous force in kiruv and a Gaon in Chasidus and Kabalah. We should all merit to make tireless efforts for the klal yet be completely immersed in Torah like he is! Truly a gavrah rabbah.
By the way, I have heard that he has learned through Likutei Moharan, albeit not b'iyun. It is easy to misunderstand the avodah aspects of Likutei Moharan if one has never studied Likutei Halachos or at least the powerful seforim that explain this very deep work.
As the Beis Yisrael of Gur once said, "Every page of Breslov is like several pages of sifrei Chabad."

 
At March 17, 2009 at 10:19:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Crawling Axe: Not sure which line you mean. "L'chol echad v'echad..." or "um'i sheda'ato ketzara..." Either way he was clearly discussing "anash."
Of course it is true that the Tanya is for everyone as I wrote at the very beginning of the post.
However, for one not yet able to deal with the realities brought in it or who just can't get into it, the time for Tanya has not yet come. Rebbe Nachman explains that just as one cannot feed steak to a baby, one cannot give over concepts to a person who is not yet on the level to grasp or accept them.
Now although I wrote that we all need the Tanya I mean that we need the deep concepts brought in the Tanya. Is someone who has seen the Maharal and the deeper works of the Ramchal the Gra etc. terribly lacking if he has not learned the Tanya? I would say no. May be wrong of course but that is my understanding. If you disagree please provide sources. For example give questions in avodas Hashem not answered in the above seforim. After all, the Tanya was written to answer questions in avodas Hashem, as the Ba'al Hatanya wrote.
But the Tanya is definitely the best summary of the essentials necessary for Chasidus.

 
At March 17, 2009 at 10:44:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Shoshana wrote: "Oy. I would like to know if R. Golshevsky has spoken with R. Ginsburgh in order to prepare for this post? Let's be careful about our comments regarding R. Ginsburgh based on information to which he may not have been privileged or had an opportunity to comment on or respond to."

Aderabah. You have described exactly my feelings when I saw his sweeping generality regarding Breslov, relegating it to the emotionally immature. Did he consult with any of the many great Breslover Chasidim regarding this before presenting in public as absolute fact? He could have spoken to Rav Ya'akov Meir Shechter, a noted gaon in nigleh, nistar and Chasidus. Big poskim have been amazed at Rav Ya'akov Meir's halachic acumen, while the greatest mekubalim are awed by his incredibly deep grasp of every element of Kabalah. In addition, many great Rebbes have been astounded by his deep insight into "their"--and virtually every other--chasidus. There are many many other greats that could have been consulted regarding this "chidush."
It is with deep regret that I wrote even one word of censure regarding the words of this gavrah rabbah but I felt that I had no choice. If I misunderstood something or was mistaken I beg his forgiveness. I appreciate his candor regarding the importance of Breslov and definitely welcome any comment or clarification he may wish to make.

 
At March 17, 2009 at 11:59:00 AM EDT, Blogger Itzchak Nissim said...

Hello R. Golshevsky,

I must admit that I found this article very very interesting. After reflecting a bit though, I always come to 1 conclusion. I have a natural bias to Rav Nachman even though I was quite connected to Chabad before. It's almost as if the interest that I had excited me because it made me feel an immature feeling that boils down to : "My Rebbe is the best". I want to deeply get rid of that and as I read through all these posts, that message is somewhere hidden in different ways, any thoughts ?

 
At March 17, 2009 at 3:36:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rabbi Golshevsky- in your response to my question about hakdamos of Breslov being essential for learning other Chassidus ... although you provided me seforim to learn the hakdamos of Breslov, I am merely asking what are the "hakdamos". I have seen it mentioned on this site more than once about the hakdamos of Breslov. while I realize these concepts may be found elsewhere, I would like to know what the general ideas are that are so helpful. background in Kabalah, inyanim in avodah etc..

 
At March 17, 2009 at 5:24:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Itzchak Nissim: Shalom u'veracha.
I am glad you found the piece interesting.
I am sorry that it struck you as though I am trying to immaturely claim that we are better than the rest or something like that, chas v'shalom. In truth a Breslover can just as easily become a "professor" as anyone else. Rav Avraham ben Rav Nachman once said about two big ovdei Hashem that were involved in an altercation, "They both have no hisbodedus." Since it was well known that both ovdim spent few hours a day in hisbodedus, someone who heard this statement wondered what this could possibly mean. when asked about this Rav Avraham explained, "Yes they spend time sequestered, but they are doing hisbodedus about their fight and how much each is correct and his opponent is mistaken. This is not genuine hisbodedus since it does not strengthen one's connection to Hashem at all..."
I am not the type of person who feels as you described. I strongly believe that every path is important for kelal Yisrael (as the Chofetz Chaim's mashal I brought above demonstrates.)
I do not believe that what you fear is objectively true and I am sorry for any line that gave you that impression.
Yet there is an important message which I wished to impart which might have been what confused you. To put it in the words of Rav Tzvi Meir Zilberberg: "People who need Likutei Moharan must not be prevented from receiving the special chizuk this sefer affords."
I would go even further and say that Breslov has a lot that can enhance other paths. I have seen this time and time again by all sorts of people who were part of many different paths. I do not believe that this means Breslov is better, since where you get to depends very much on how hard you work on your chosen path. Rebbe Nachman said that all holy seforim are important for us to learn (except chakira etc). I have always understood that to mean that each sefer give a valid path to connect to Hashem. But the more chizuk one has, the more one appreciates every little good and the more one works to attain this good through whatever path works best for him l'fi shoresh nishmaso. If he does hisbodedus by pleading with Hashem to help him attain his spiritual goals, he is strengthened even more.
Hashem should help us renew our connection to Him every instant of every day.

 
At March 17, 2009 at 5:29:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Anonymous: I see what you mean. There are many types of hakdamos. Some of them are the tried and tested eitzos of Rebbe Nachman (of which you can possible find one or two here and one or two there but nothing even approaching the shleymus in the Breslover seforim.) Yet what I was discussing was the eitzos for chizuk that strengthen one and enables him to keep working as hard as he can to connect to Hashem with joy--no matter what! This is a very deep limud a little of which can be accessed in the seforim I recommended. Believe me the letters which condense some of both and how to live and enrich life with them) are well worth the 5 minutes a day...

 
At March 17, 2009 at 8:38:00 PM EDT, Blogger bahaltener said...

av Avraham ben Rav Nachman once said about two big ovdei Hashem that were involved in an altercation, "They both have no hisbodedus." Since it was well known that both ovdim spent few hours a day in hisbodedus, someone who heard this statement wondered what this could possibly mean. when asked about this Rav Avraham explained, "Yes they spend time sequestered, but they are doing hisbodedus about their fight and how much each is correct and his opponent is mistaken. This is not genuine hisbodedus since it does not strengthen one's connection to Hashem at all..."

This story is pretty questionable, and it doesn't really explain the background if what happened there and what was meant by it. I've heard serious Breslovers who criticized someone for quoting this story altogether.

 
At March 18, 2009 at 2:31:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Bahaltener: The sichah is brought in Siach Sarfei Kodesh (Breslov)III:463. It does not say give the circumstances, but clearly when one's hisbodedus is primarily to show how right he is instead of searching for the truth, he is not connected to Hashem at all. Sadly this person is one with with his pronounced ego: the opposite state from bitul.
Hashem should help us truly search for the emeser emes!

 
At March 18, 2009 at 12:58:00 PM EDT, Blogger bahaltener said...

The sichah is brought in Siach Sarfei Kodesh (Breslov)III:463.

Siach Sarfei Kodesh are criticized on their own for being not reliable enough.

Some background to that story (as brought by Reb Moshe Binenshtok at least) indicate that these were Reb Shimshon Barsky and Reb Getche. Both were Breslover mashpiim, and a statement that they didn't have hisboydedus because they had some disagreement is way off.

Just to point, that Reb Avrohom ben Reb Nachman himself had disagreements with other Breslovers, it doesn't mean that he didn't have hisboydedus, isn't it?

 
At March 18, 2009 at 3:41:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Bahaltener: Thank you for the background; I was not aware of who he was speaking.
Yet even if that is true I don't think that Rav Levi Yitzchak (or the gentleman who transcribed Siach Sarfei Kodesh from his words) got it wrong.
Although perhaps Rav Avraham was discussing one particular day or a short period.
In addition, he may have meant that according to their level this was not hisbodedus.
As Rebbe Nachman writes true hisbodedus leads to being truly subsumed in Hashem. It is plausible that they lost their levels for a time, because they were unable to search for the truth as a result of this altercation.
Remember the Ba'al Shem Tov told the Degel that a Jew can fall from the highest place to the lowest in an instant. Of course he need not remain in a low place...
Even if this story never happened (which I highly doubt) the lesson is still true since l'fum tza'arah agrah. According to Chazal anyone who works less will receive less. Those who use hisbodedus to overcome their negative will merit to be one with Hashem. Those who do rise to the challenge of facing the bad and their hisbodedus is made up of begging Hashem to show that they are so right etc are on the wrong track entirely. In Breslov we would tell them: time to "reboot" and start again!
Hashem should help us all leave the forty nine gates of impurity and until we are redeemed from our personal Mitzrayim!

 
At March 18, 2009 at 5:36:00 PM EDT, Blogger bahaltener said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At March 18, 2009 at 5:39:00 PM EDT, Blogger bahaltener said...

Yet even if that is true I don't think that Rav Levi Yitzchak (or the gentleman who transcribed Siach Sarfei Kodesh from his words) got it wrong.

Hard to know. Siach Sarfey Koydseh was transcribed indirectly, through several steps, and not even directly from the words of R. Levi Yitzhok Bender.

Although perhaps Rav Avraham was discussing one particular day or a short period.
In addition, he may have meant that according to their level this was not hisbodedus.


I just noted, that there is a problem with bringing such stories, because it's unclear what was exactly meant, why it was said etc. While it sounds derogatory enough.

Don't forget also, that Reb Avrohom ben Reb Nachman was sometimes quite extreme and radical in different aspects (because of his personality), and could state things which can be easily taken much further then they are meant to. What I've heard from older Breslover chasdim is, that there is no point in quoting such stories, even if these things were really said.

Even if this story never happened (which I highly doubt) the lesson is still true since l'fum tza'arah agrah... In Breslov we would tell them: time to "reboot" and start again!

This is correct, the lesson is valid. I just didn't like the story itself.

 
At March 19, 2009 at 9:17:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Bahaltener,Bahaltener. I am saddened by your personal slur on the honor of Rav Avraham ben Rav Nachman. You can see any person in a negative light, yet Rabeinu is not complimentary about someone who mixes and takes sides (certainly in a personal manner) in altercations between tzaddikim.
Since you feel the lesson is valid, why isn't telling a story about it a good way to illustrate it? Rav Bender did so and I am merely following in his footsteps.
The entire "Tzefas-Yerushalayim thing" had two sides to it but a blog is not the place to discuss it (since the whole thing is largely irrelevant today.)
The first three volumes of Siach Sarfei Kodesh were printed under the direct guidance of Rav Bender (who encouraged Meshech Hanachal to print them since he felt they served a unique purpose in preserving the mesorah of Breslov as he heard it.) Those who were close to Rav Bender are very pleased with Siach Sarfei Kodesh (others are not but why does that invalidate them? What happened to eilu v'eilu?) I am fairly certain that if I found you a tape of Rav Bender telling the story (or the like) this will not make a difference to you. (Sigh.) This is exactly how I feel when other people speak against other greats in Breslov-whether in this generation or earlier ones. There is always a plausible sounding reason.(Hashem yishmor.)
Hashem should grant us to be truly connected to Him until we merit to see and express the good in every Jew, especially tzaddikim.

 
At March 19, 2009 at 11:29:00 AM EDT, Blogger bahaltener said...

Talmidim of Reb Levi Ytzchok Bender himself found contradictions in SSK to what he said. You can ask Rav Vasilski about it. This is just to note, that this is not a question of liking, but the question of the level of authenticity.

Regarding the story - I pointed out a simple thing, that not every story should be said, especially if no explanations are provided because the context is unknown, and the story can be easily misunderstood.

Regarding Reb Avrohom ben Reb Nachman - he was a great tzadik and oyved, and with that it was recognized even by his contemporaries, that his style of avoydo wasn't for everyone because of its at times extreme expression. And this is not a slur to his honor. One just has to be aware about this nuance, especially when hearing similar kind of stories.

 
At March 19, 2009 at 12:53:00 PM EDT, Blogger bahaltener said...

in altercations between tzaddikim.

I generally don't like to get involved into such altercations between tzadikim. But this story forces the reader to do so. That's why I think such stories haven't much point if they aren't preceded with detailed context and explanations.

 
At March 19, 2009 at 10:22:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Bahaltener: Unfortunately, I was mistaken above since you did not delete the comment I felt was insulting. I meant this: "Don't forget also, that Reb Avrohom ben Reb Nachman was sometimes quite extreme and radical in different aspects (because of his personality) and could state things which can be easily taken much further then they are meant to."
First of all, If you had just said the end it would have been much less insulting, although a bit strange. You write: "they are meant to," I wonder by who? The story teaches an important lesson; why not just learn it from the story? What need is there for background (except maybe a small qualification which you could have made.)
I believe this is a slur on Rav Avraham ben Rav Nachman a huge oved and tzaddik. I know that some did not hold from his path (they learned from a different cheider) yet Rav Bender and many others did. If Rav Bender told over a story why should you imply that what happened was an uncalled for outburst based on his personality instead of just learning the lesson from the story?
What do you believe people will think if they are told that in order to merit true change one must sincerely search for the truth? I believe that Rav Avraham ben Rav Nachman's words were carefully said and apply to us today. The fact that he was a very determined oveid of rare mettle only makes his words more valuable.


As far as your other points: Since the story has a clear message that illustrates a point I think it is
important and I don't believe it needs to be qualified. Nevertheless, perhaps I am wrong and I should have at least qualified that the statement of Rav Avraham, by explaining that he did not mean they had no hisbodedus at all, ever.
But the truth is that it is up to us. If we have an "agenda" then no spiritual work will help us overcome it until we are willing to work on it. It we are misboded about our agenda (everyone should see how right I am etc etc) we will certainly gain much less than we could have from our hisbodedus. Or worse. Hashem yismor.
As I wrote earlier, the first three volumes came out under Rav Levi Yitzchak's direct guidance. They read virtually all of volume three to him and received many corrections. Although there may be contradictions, these are most likely to be found in the later volumes. As a whole I believe that the set is very well received. It is not an immutable guide but is a wonderful treasure house of Torah and mesorah.

 
At March 19, 2009 at 10:58:00 PM EDT, Blogger bahaltener said...

Micha Golshevsky: The story teaches an important lesson; why not just learn it from the story? What need is there for background

You are perfectly entitled to your opinion, whether it worth to tell such kind stories or not. I hold it doesn't worth it. As they can easily sound like slur too (here for example to the honor of Reb Shimshon Barski and Reb Getche).

Siach Sarfey Kodesh has a lot of material that can give chizuk and inspiration - no doubt. Such kind of stories like this one aren't the main focus there.

It's just the question of what we take as indisputable in our mesoyro. Reb Moshe Kramer said, that if someone doesn't like some materials in SSK he doesn't have to accept them as being enforcing anything, since it's not Chayey Moharan or something of such level of valid authenticity.

 
At March 20, 2009 at 8:14:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Bahaltener: That at least is correct. (Would have been a perfect comment above...)

 

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