It’s Really Just All Bark

Hold On!
Meshivat Nefesh #6

Guards at the Gate

When I was young, my sister’s friend had a Weimaraner—a big, athletic and energetic dog with a serious bark. Her name was Woofer (of course), and the family lived in the upper story of a two-family house. Whenever we’d ring the bell to the main entry, we could already hear the dog barking upstairs, sounding like the Hound of the Baskervilles.

I still remember the first time I went to their house. I always liked dogs, but when I heard the dog barking furiously upstairs, even I got nervous. They buzzed us into the entry, and then our friend opened their door upstairs so that we could come up into the house. Of course, what looked and sounded like a mad dog came racing down the stairs before we could even get on the first step, making straight for me.

Woofer landed on me before I even had time to call up for help, nearly knocked me over…and proceeded to lick my face with the greatest enthusiasm. Sometimes the bark isn’t only worse than the bite, it’s really just all bark.

Rebbe Nachman taught that as we grow spiritually—as we head up the stairs to the next level—we can feel suddenly attacked by old behaviors and states that we thought were already non-issues. He tells us to hold on and set aside our fear; the barking dog of an old habit only waits at the door as a test. It’s guarding my way into the next level, and I can’t allow myself to get scared and run. That barking dog is going to turn out to be a friend, because it forces me to confront my past and my fears of unworthiness which are necessary to my continued growth and change. Just because it’s barking doesn’t mean that it’s going to bite me.

(Based on Likutei Moharan I:22)

Author: Yehudis Golshevsky

Yehudis in her own words: When I first began learning Rebbe Nachman’s teachings with my husband and other teachers, I felt as though I had come home to the personal and vital relationship with G-d that I’d always sought. Today, a large part of my inspiration comes from helping other Jewish women discover their own spiritual potential through the meaningful teachings of Breslov Chassidut. Yehudis Golshevsky has been teaching Torah classes to women and working in Torah publishing for nearly twenty years. She’s a graduate of Yavne Teacher’s Seminary in Cleveland and holds a degree in Judaic Studies from SUNY at Buffalo. Currently, Yehudis is a contributor to Breslov.org and “Pathways”, the Breslov Research Institute’s weekly publication. Since 2006, she’s been taking women’s groups to Uman and other sites in Ukraine for prayer and study. Yehudis lives with her family in Jerusalem.

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