Friday, June 05, 2009

Question & Answer With Yitz - Charting Likutey Moharan

A Simple Jew asks:

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov said that his teachings were made up entirely of complex linkages known as bechinos. Has anyone gone through all the lessons in Likutey Moharan and made a chart that visually displays the connections between all these bechinos?

If not, would you imagine that such a chart would help a person better navigative the intricacies of this sefer and aid his understanding?

Yitz of A Waxing Wellspring answers:

Until recently I really would have thought 'yes' .. but now, where I'm holding, I think when someone tries to learn Torah as if its the same thing as learning information, we're missing the essence of what it is to learn Torah. Part of not charting it out is forcing yourself to make it a part of you.

There will always be those people who argue for charting it out, and when it does happen, I think it will be a good thing, but it will also be a sad thing, just as the writing down of the Mishnah was. It means that people wont have to work as hard to attain it and so, it's value has been somehow cheapened. Yes, there's nothing stopping someone from learning it without the charts, ie. the old fashioned way, but how many people do you know that memorize the whole Mishnah rather than keep it handy on their iPhone/PocketPC. (or people who do the Daf without Artscroll because they really want to work for it.)

The other downside of the chart is mistaking the ability to understand the sefer at a glance with the deep relationship that only develops with time. When people see it and think it makes sense, think they get it, it's significantly less interesting. This is the same sort of problem people have with traditional Judaism when they want to return, they think they know what it is, when what they think they know is a bunch of superficial observations.

It's easy for me to describe this because I see how guilty I am of these things on a daily basis.


At June 5, 2009 at 9:02:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Bob Miller said...

"Part of not charting it out is forcing yourself to make it a part of you.'

I disagree. For many sincere Jews, a conceptual roadmap in some form is a great help. It's not sufficient but it may be necessary. Then, understanding can and should be deepened further.

This reminds me of the knocks against translations, ArtScroll books, etc., as crutches. Not every Jew is self-sufficient enough to proceed without some form of assistance like this.

At June 5, 2009 at 10:24:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I thought I addressed exactly your point in my answer? I agreed with you that when it will be charted it will be a good thing. If you didn't notice that point, please reread and tell me what you think.


At June 5, 2009 at 11:16:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Yehonasan said...


I agree. I think it's only when we are in a fallen state of consciousness that we see Torah as separate pieces of information.
On the other hand, if we are not of the Bnei Aliyah at that time, not meditating on the Alufo shel Olam in every word, then that is when maybe a chart connecting ideas can help by reminding us that all of this is supposed to be connected in an absolute unity to the ultimate Unity.

There's a chart made by the RaMChaL, in his handwriting, of the Toras HaNistar charted out in a tree with branches connecting concepts, on pp 288-289 of Kitzur HaKavanos LeRaMChaL (Freidlander ed).

At June 5, 2009 at 11:44:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Bob Miller said...


I realize you don't condemn the use of such charts.

However, you said "I think it will be a good thing, but it will also be a sad thing, just as the writing down of the Mishnah was."

We all know about yeridas hadoros. Until we manage to reverse that, or it is reversed for us, I don't see the practical point of our being sad about it.

Manufacturing companies have had the problem that old-time machinists and other skilled employees retire or leave, or are unavailable in the first place. The companies try to cope by using expert systems and programs, which (they hope!) capture the needed knowledge in a way that enables newly hired employees to do their jobs successfully. These companies don't have the luxury of bemoaning their need to offset the declining quality of the labor pool. They have to get the job done by any means available.

At June 7, 2009 at 2:08:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Yaakov said...

i find likutey moharan to be a mamish gevaldig work. i just open it up and turn to a page and's not only very rich and deep with all kinds of insights and connections...the ruach, the ruach of it inspires one to daven, to learn more, to feel more deeply connected to am yisroel, the tzaddikim and haKodesh BH.

it is truly an amazing, wondrous work that is certainly connected to and min hashamayim.

a scholar of it once said it helps to read it like a poet.

a poet of the soul, for sure.

At June 9, 2009 at 10:54:00 AM EDT, Blogger Avraham said...

See "Mesilat HaKesharim" by
R Bezenson on
"How To Learn Likutey Moharan".
(He has some nice charts in the book)


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