Temper, Temper
May14

Temper, Temper

When Reb Noson heard that his son was having a hard time controlling his temper, he gently encouraged him, “My dear son, for God’s sake, have mercy on yourself and on your family, and refrain from acting out in anger. If you don’t let anything anger or irritate you, you will be happy in this world and in the next! “Anger and resentment can cause so much damage, may God protect us. Our Sages teach that the furious person gains nothing...

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Never Despair!
Apr30

Never Despair!

Never despair! Rebbe Nachman declared. But is it enough to just steer clear of despair? Breslov chassidut rests on something deeper than just avoiding the negative…we’re meant to hold fast to the power of hope. Through trust and hope, it’s possible to never despair. In fact, it’s our duty to be, as Reb Nosson would say, a “prisoner of hope”—holding tight to its vital force no matter what. Reb Nachman of Tulchin would say, “When we get...

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Breslov Story: Avoid the Blame Game
Apr23

Breslov Story: Avoid the Blame Game

It’s human nature to look for an external cause when something goes wrong. People often blame their personal problems and communal struggles on the government’s policies…on local and foreign anti-Semites…sometimes even on other “confused and self-hating Jews.” After all, whatever is bothering me is probably someone else’s fault, right? Reb Noson dismissed that attitude. “Don’t ‘blamers’ realize that whatever the Jewish...

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We Can Bring Mashiach!
Mar26

We Can Bring Mashiach!

We Can Bring Mashiach At the Pesach Seder, we recall our miraculous redemption from Egypt and also look forward to the future redemption, when we will be redeemed from our present exile. The Haggadah contains many hints to this future redemption, including the words of Hallel, the singing of “Next Year in Jerusalem” at the end of the Seder, and the allusions in the songs found in the back of the Haggadah. Once someone asked Reb Noson:...

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Wiping the Slate Clean
Mar19
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Prayers that Move the Heart
Mar12

Prayers that Move the Heart

Reb Noson was truly humble, but nevertheless gave high praise to his own Likutey Tefilot, the book of prayers he composed at Rebbe Nachman’s recommendation. The Rebbe said that nothing gives pleasure to God like taking Torah and turning it into prayer. Reb Noson did this literally, by composing beautiful and inspiring prayers based on each of the Rebbe’s lessons in Likutey Moharan. Reb Noson said, “People say that the famous work of...

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Cruelty to Compassion
Mar04

Cruelty to Compassion

One of the main mitzvot of Purim is to give gifts to the poor. Breslover chassidim would point out that Rebbe Nachman taught that giving charity is an avodah, it’s a form of Divine service that requires an investment of effort, at all times. (Likutei Moharan II:4) It’s the door that opens all doors in Divine service, and needs to be undertaken with focused attention. This obviously applies even more on Purim when we have an obligation...

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Holy Labor
Feb26

Holy Labor

Many Breslover chassidim were willing to work at menial jobs so they could earn a living with their own hands rather than be dependent on the generosity of others. The working men among the Breslover chassidim often cited Rebbe Nachman’s words in Likutey Moharan: “When one works as is fitting …” The Rebbe meant that while there is something noble in work itself, it’s also necessary to approach one’s livelihood with the right...

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Sing to God!
Feb12

Sing to God!

Reb Moshe Breslover provided a glimpse into the depth and beauty of Reb Noson’s Divine service. “Once I was traveling to Uman with Reb Noson. Our covered wagon served as a kind of traveling beit midrash for prayer and Torah study. Reb Noson would always cover his face with his tallit while praying. Although he usually prayed loudly and joyously, on this occasion he seemed preoccupied and intoned the prayers in a still, pained voice...

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The Merit of a Mitzvah
Feb05

The Merit of a Mitzvah

Reb Aharon of Kiblitch had been feeling fine when, suddenly, he fell ill. Fever and weakness quickly followed, and his health began to fail. Reb Aharon’s situation deteriorated so rapidly that his family was afraid it would soon be the end, and so did everyone else who saw him. Many heartfelt prayers were offered, but none seemed to help. His life-force continued to ebb until it became obvious that the end was near. Reb Aharon had...

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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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