Rachel Imeinu (our matriarch) asked her sister Leah Imeinu for some of the mandrakes that Reuven, Leah Imeinu's son, had given his mother. Leah Imeinu responded, "Isn't it enough that you have taken my husband? You also want to take my son's mandrakes?!" Rachel Imeinu answered, "Alright. Tonight he [Yaakov] will lay with you." (Genesis 30:14-15)
Rachel Imeinu said, "Tonight was supposed to be my turn. I'll trade it for your son's mandrakes." Because she undervalued laying with the tzaddik, she did not merit being buried with him. (Rashi)
Rebbe Nachman said, "There are two groups of people I have great pity on; those who are able to draw near to me, but don't, and those who are close to me, but don't follow my advice. For I know that when the time comes for them to be laid out on the ground with their feet to the door [awaiting burial], they will take a good look at themselves and regret very much that they were not worthy of drawing close to me or following my advice.
"For then they will know that had they followed me and taken my advice, there is not a single level in the world to which I would not have brought them. But it won't help then."
In Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #7, Rebbe Nachman teaches that taking advice from someone "is an aspect of marriage and union." The nature of the union depends upon the nature of the person giving the advice.
Yaakov Avinu (our patriarch) and Rachel Imeinu had been married seven years at the time of the episode of the mandrakes. She knew him intimately and certainly had tremendous appreciation of Yaakov Avinu's greatness. She was near desperation in her desire to bear children from Yaakov Avinu (Genesis 30:1). In fact, her desire for the mandrakes, according to all commentators, was to facilitate having children. Nonetheless, the trade cost her dearly.
For no matter what Rachel Imeinu gained from the mandrakes, she lost an opportunity to receive from Yaakov Avinu, an opportunity that may have produced a Yissakhar (ibid. vv.17-18), someone who always has the right suggestion at the right time (Likutey Halakhot, Pesach 9:13). What did she forfeit by not being buried with Yaakov Avinu? She lost the opportunity to "look at his head," to gain and grow from his Torah, his spiritual greatness (see Anaf Yosef on Bava Batra 58a).
What of us? Do we turn to Rebbe Nachman for advice in charting our path in life, in dealing with temptation, davening (prayer) or the mundane; or do we seek solutions elsewhere because we undervalue his insight? "Everything I prescribe is helpful as a tikun (remedy) for both the past and the future, for after [one's] death and for the Messianic era, for the Resurrection and for the Future Life" (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom #185).
Do we seek his Torah by making time to study his works and by "sneaking it in" when we have free time, or do we undervalue it and spend our time on unnecessary pursuits? For example, Rebbe Nachman said that Likutey Moharan is the beginning of the Redemption. "I very much want people to study it. They must study it so much that they know it by heart, because it is filled with guidance and has the power to stir people to God in a way nothing else can" (Chayei Moharan/Tzaddik #346).
How often do we try strengthen our tie to him by cogently sharing his teachings with others or by spending time with others attempting to follow his path? Rebbe Nachman needs us, because he can't do anything without us (Chayei Moharan/Tzaddik #330).
Sooner, but preferably later, each of us will be on the way to his own funeral. While there is still time, when it can still help, let us heed the Rebbe's advice, so we'll have no regrets later. Amen.
Copyright © 2002, Breslov Research Institute
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