A Life of Faith
Jan29

A Life of Faith

Reb Aharon of Kiblitch, a Breslover chassid known for his great trust in God, lived a truly meager material existence. His “bad mazel” was notorious in his town. Reb Aharon leased the rights to fish along a section of the river in order to provide food for his family and maybe earn some extra cash. People joked, “His mazel is so hard, the fish know when he’s coming and get out of his way!” Even after he died, Reb Aharon’s family...

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Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Snow…
Jan21

Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Snow…

Many of the Breslover chassidim who lived in Uman in the twentieth century were meticulous about practicing hitbodedut in the fields and forests at night, in fulfillment of Rebbe Nachman’s advice. Led by R’ Elyakim Getzel, a descendant of Rebbe Nachman, a group of ovdim (devotees) would gather at midnight and go down to the river to immerse, breaking the ice to use the river as a mikvah. Their greatest worry was finding the hole in...

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Patience!
Jan15

Patience!

Rebbe Nachman’s teachings shed light on so many different areas of our lives, it can be hard sometimes to distill exactly what his “main message” comes down to. One confused novice asked an experienced chassid to provide a single key that would help unlock the full spectrum of Rebbe Nachman’s pathway for him. “What should I focus on, practically, that will serve as the frame into which everything I learn will fit?” The chassid gave an...

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New Realities
Jan08

New Realities

Eight years after Rebbe Nachman passed away, Reb Noson lost all his money. He had been raised with means and had married into a prominent, well-to-do family. The transition from a life of abundance to a life of poverty in the Ukraine was difficult to bear. Every time his family needed money, he sold another cherished object. Eventually he had to sell off his set of metal silverware – a valuable commodity in those years – and replace...

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Reb Noson’s Last Will and Testament
Jan01

Reb Noson’s Last Will and Testament

Rebbe Nachman once said of Reb Noson, “If not for Noson, not a shred of even one of page of my teachings would have been preserved!” The day of Reb Noson’s passing, the tenth of Tevet, hints to the greatness of the task that he undertook. For the fast of the Tenth of Tevet commemorates not only the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, but the passing of Ezra the Scribe. It was Friday and Reb Noson was very ill. He asked those who were...

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Forge On!
Dec18

Forge On!

Reb Noson explains that Chanukah is a time when the spiritually ill — really, all of us — have a chance to recover. When the king hears that his trusted servant is sick, he goes to visit his faithful aide. Seeing the monarch at his bedside, the sick man wants desperately to get up to serve his king, yet the king demurs. “I came here only to encourage you. I don’t want you to get up. Just enjoy my attention and make sure to rest so you...

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Return To Sender
Nov20

Return To Sender

Once, a young Jewish man from Tulchin became enamored of the new works of the secular Haskalah (Enlightenment movement) and decided to pursue their worldview. Unfortunately, soon after the advent of the Haskalah, it became clear that such an immersion nearly always led to the abandonment of Jewish observance in any form. After a period of time, this young man dropped mitzvah observance entirely and was far from Torah. Not...

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The Dust of Mitzvot
Nov13

The Dust of Mitzvot

Rebbe Nachman said that a poor person is closer to God because he recognizes how much he has to rely on God for his every need. In fact, it would be a good thing if his followers were not wealthy. “Still,” Rebbe Nachman continued, “in each generation there will be a few of my people who will be wealthy enough to help others.” R’ Moshe Yuroslovski was such a man. He distributed enormous sums to charity, as well as to the printing of...

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Showdown in the Synagogue
Nov05

Showdown in the Synagogue

A secular Jew worked as a scribe in the government office in Uman. He was known as “der Deutschel,” meaning, someone of German descent. Somehow, one Shabbat he found himself in the kloyz, the Breslover synagogue in Uman, during Mussaf. They were just reciting the prayer that begins, “A crown will be given to You, Hashem our God.” This prayer is the climax of the service and is recited with fiery devotion, even a kind of ecstasy, in...

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The Loyal Messenger
Oct29

The Loyal Messenger

There was once a king who wished to send secret messages to a fellow monarch, but the only route passed through a hostile neighboring kingdom. The enemy king was always on guard, fearing a conspiracy between his allied neighbors. The king’s first messenger was exceedingly wise. He passed through the enemy kingdom and never blew his cover; no one suspected a thing. The second messenger was less adept. He was questioned and almost...

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Remedy for Pride
Oct23

Remedy for Pride

“You can overcome your arrogance by praying for someone else” – Rebbe Nachman of Breslov R’ Yudel, one of the Rebbe’s close students, wondered about this teaching. It seems like the opposite should be true. Wouldn’t praying for my friend feed my ego and make me feel even more prideful? After all, aren’t my prayers answered because I’m important? Rebbe Nachman explained his teaching with a parable: Once there was a prince who angered...

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The Good Points
Oct01

The Good Points

A chassid once approached Rebbe Nachman, z”l, with a heartfelt question. “Rebbe, I feel like such a lowly person. The negative way that I see myself permeates my life and I have a hard time being happy. How can I be free of it?” “It is forbidden for one’s confidence in self to falter for even an instant.” Rebbe Nachman responded. “You need to learn to vitalize yourself by focusing on your good points. Think about it for a moment:...

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Dance Of A Lifetime
Sep18

Dance Of A Lifetime

Once there was a simple tailor. He purchased a burial plot in the local cemetery and spent time there every day, reciting the entire Book of Psalms. Naturally, he said the words with great fervor, since he was in the place most suited to remind him that this world is only a temporary stop on the long journey. Reb Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye, one of the Baal Shem Tov’s greatest students, once passed by the cemetery, close to the tailor’s...

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Dance Of A Lifetime
Sep11

Dance Of A Lifetime

In Teplik there lived a man named Feivel who was a sincere servant of God. Without fail, he would get up every night at midnight to recite the Tikkun Chatzot and mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. The sad state of the world and the all discord and dismay that fill it are a direct consequence of the loss of the Temple and the deep connection with God that once gave it vitality. After reciting Tikkun Chatzot, Feivel would feel so...

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The Right Way To Rebuke
Sep04

The Right Way To Rebuke

Reb Michel Zlotchover arrived in Koretz to give a rousing lecture to inspire the local Jews to improve their ways. But his powerful discourse and sharp words hit the simple folk hard. They saw how far they were from genuine closeness to God and fell into a kind of collective despair. Reb Pinchas of Koretz was present during the speech. When Reb Michel finished, Reb Pinchas took the visitor to task. “Why do you rebuke them so harshly?...

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Borrow the Joy!
Aug27

Borrow the Joy!

Reb Aharon of Kiblitch was a very happy person. He was so filled with joy that other chassidim envied him. Despite his poverty, he was always happy. No surprise, then, that he was accomplished at bringing joy to a heavy heart. Usually only a few words from him were enough to transform gloom to joy. He would often dance, celebrating his spirituality. When asked how he could always dance with such enthusiasm, he replied, “Well,...

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