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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True Breslovers
Aug21

True Breslovers

On his first trip to Israel as a teenager in 1958, Gedaliah Fleer was introduced to three leading Breslover chassidim who were living examples of Rebbe Nachman’s teachings. Reb Moshe Burstein, a close disciple of Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz, was a true servant of God. Although he worked a full day in the Ministry of Religion, he devoted many hours to prayer and Torah study and only slept about three hours a night. Though Reb Moshe had...

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Strong Like A Lion
Aug17

Strong Like A Lion

Once, when Reb Nosson, z”l, ran into Reb Meir of Teplik, z”l, he took the opportunity to ask Reb Meir about another man from Teplik. The fellow townsman had recently started coming to learn with Reb Nosson, and he wanted to know more about him. Reb Meir answered in an offhanded manner—it was clear that he didn’t think much of the man. Reb Nosson protested, “Listen to me. If you view people in a critical manner you will end up...

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You Are Bigger Than Your Mistakes
Aug14

You Are Bigger Than Your Mistakes

The students of the Baal Shem Tov were often ridiculed for their allegiance to their rebbe. But they stood strong, committing themselves to serve God. One student of the Baal Shem Tov would eat only on Shabbat. He would secretly refrain from food and drink for the rest of the week as he immersed in study and prayer. Once, during such a fast, he felt extremely ill. He felt as though he would expire if he didn’t put something in his...

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Finding the Good
Aug07

Finding the Good

Once, when Reb Nosson, z”l, ran into Reb Meir of Teplik, z”l, he took the opportunity to ask Reb Meir about another man from Teplik. The fellow townsman had recently started coming to learn with Reb Nosson, and he wanted to know more about him. Reb Meir answered in an offhanded manner—it was clear that he didn’t think much of the man. Reb Nosson protested, “Listen to me. If you view people in a critical manner you will end up...

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Klap Freilich!
Jul31

Klap Freilich!

Wedding are such joyous affairs. Yet today’s weddings are fairly tame compared to the way they used to be. In prewar Europe, the average Jewish wedding was an all-night event. Musicians were hired to play a full program of lively tunes and people would dance happily for many hours. The joyous atmosphere was infectious. Reb Noson once attended the wedding of a very distant relative, although he usually didn’t attend the affairs of...

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Passion for the Truth
Jul24

Passion for the Truth

The lack of truth and honesty in the world distressed Reb Noson no end. One morning he was so upset, he was unable to pray with his usual joy. He prayed apathetically until he reached the verse “Who protects truth for eternity.” These words ignited the rest of his prayers with enthusiasm and joy. He explained the deep encouragement he found in this verse through a parable: A nobleman had a resplendent garden with every species of...

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