Friday, December 05, 2008

Question & Answer With Yossi Katz - Sefer HaMiddos

A Simple Jew asks:

Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz once said:

"Each and every aphorism of Sefer HaMiddos (the Aleph-Beis Book) requires study and serious analysis. They are the very basics of the Torah and wondrous morsels of wisdom; insights and revelations filled with intelligence and the knowledge of G-d which the Ancient of Days had concealed."

Compared with Likutey Moharan, Likutey Halachos, Sichos HaRan, Likutey Eitzos, and Sippurei Maasios, to what degree is Sefer HaMiddos routinely learned by Breslover Chassidim today?

Yossi Katz answers:

Out of all the Breslover seforim that were mentioned I would definitely have to say that Sefer HaMiddos is studied the least. I am not aware of any Breslov groups or leaders who specifically recommend studying Sefer HaMiddos in any kind of specific "routine." Although Breslover Chassidim do believe in studying all the seforim on a constant basis and striving to finish them as many times as possible. It is my opinion that the reason for this is not because of any disrespect for Sefer HaMiddos, for as you quoted in the name of Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz, "Each and every aphorism of Sefer HaMiddos (the Aleph-Beis Book) requires study and serious analysis."

I do not believe there is a Breslover that would disagree with that statement. In my opinion the reason for this is because it is often very difficult to apply the statements in the sefer in any kind of practical way, which is something so central to Breslov Teachings. I will give one quick example based on just randomly opening the sefer, "When one is building a wall and his kippah falls off, know that this is a bad sign G-d forbid for his children." (Bayis, Chelek II, VI) In contrast to the other seforim, if one has enough Seyata D'Shmaya, he can live his whole life, or long periods of time based on a sole lesson in Likutey Moharan, or Halacha in Likutey Halachos.

For those interested, about a year ago, Rabbi Vitriol of Williamsburg put out a beautiful version called Tifferes HaMiddos with expanded references based on Midrash, Shas etc... This work as well as other Breslover Seforim can be purchased through Rabbi Gorelick 845-807-2783.


At December 5, 2008 at 8:41:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I may hazard a guess:

I think another reason Sefer Hamiddos is a less studied book is because it's not really part of the Rebbe Nachman-Reb Nosson mesorah axis. I believe it was compiled by R' Nachman during an earlier part of his life. The mesora of Breslov Chassidus from generation to generation of its manhigim seems to trace its descent from Likutei Moharan and its offshoots, including its direct descendant Likutei Eitzos, which was compiled by Reb Nosson.

At December 5, 2008 at 9:53:00 AM EST, Blogger Neil Harris said...

Thank you for this informative posting. I've been learning Sefer HaMiddos a little bit each Shabbos night for over a year.

At December 5, 2008 at 11:57:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to comment on what yehupitz wrote.
In the introduction to Sefer Hamiddos R' Nosson explains that near the end of his life, R' Nachman dictated the contents of the Sefer to R' Noson. Throughout Likutei Halachos, R' Noson comments on a few passages from the sefer.
It would seem that Sefer Hamidos is part of the mesorah

At December 5, 2008 at 12:40:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard specifically that in Reb Shicks followers they the kids memorize sefer hamiddos.

I find it to be Burst of pure Rabbeinu Hisorerus.

I have copies that actually have it broken down into a monthly cycle.

Many a time have I pulled out my pocket version to grab two minutes of pure rabeinu on the elevator.

I actually understood that section in Sefer Hamidos to refer if the Kippah etc. Is Rabeinu teaching us How heaven reveals things to us within our everyday world.


At December 6, 2008 at 9:38:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rabbi "Vitriol" publishers the sefer hamidos. I love it!

At December 7, 2008 at 4:37:00 AM EST, Blogger Avraham said...

Rabbeinu Z"L wanted that his talmidim should know Sefer Hamidos by heart. In the last generations Breslovers were known to carry pockets sized sforim on them at all times. A Tehillim and a Sefer Hamidos. They constantly reviewed Sefer Hamidos and knew it by heart!


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