Continued from last week here:
Likutey Moharan I:282 – Week 7
In addition to going to Uman for Rosh Hashana and spending an hour a day in hisbodedus, a Breslover chassid is required to learn halacha every day. In the book A Day in the Life of a Breslover Chasid, Rabbi Yitzchok Breiter (1886-1943) summarized the Rebbe’s directive about a learning halacha:
Every day of your life without exception make it a fixed practice to study at least a small portion of the Shulchan Aruch. This way you will rid yourself and the world as a whole of all kinds of doubts about God and of spiritual and physical conflict. Study the Shulchan Aruch in order, from beginning to end. Keep up this practice every day of your life. If you are unable to study the Shulchan Aruch in the original, study one of the concise versions each day. If you are under duress and have no time, you may study any law in the Shulchan Aruch even if it does not follow your regular course of study.
Why, though, did the Rebbe speak so strongly about learning halacha?
Aside from the reasons the Rebbe gave in Sichos HaRan #29 and other places in Likutey Moharan, it seems to me that there are two other reasons.
The first is that when a person follows the Rebbe’s advice to spend an hour in hisbodedus each day, he might come to the mistaken notion that all other things are really just of secondary importance since they do not give him the feeling of connection to Hashem that hisbodedus gives him (even learning Torah and performing mitzvos). He may even conclude, “Why do I need all the stress from having to abide by those confining rules governing every aspect of my life? Life is hard enough as it is. Let me just spend time in hisbodedus each day! This is all I need to get in touch with my soul.” Following the Rebbe’s direction to learn halacha every day serves as a counterbalance to this way of thinking; it keeps him within the bounds of Judaism and prevents him from flying off in pursuit of his own form of spirituality.
The second reason is connected to the Rebbe’s lesson Azamra. The Shulchan Aruch (or Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that I learn) is essentially “The Big Book of Nekudos Tovos“. Each halacha a person learns and keeps is another nekudah tovah that he can identify in himself! If a person opens up the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch to the beginning, he can see how he can start identifying his nekudos tovos from the moment he wakes up. Perhaps this was what Reb Nosson was hinting to by explaning the Rebbe’s lesson of Azamra through the medium of the halachos of arising in the morning (Likutey Halachos, Hashkamas HaBoker 1).
Having made this connection between Azamra and the Rebbe’s directive to learn halacha every day, I began to refer to my daily learning of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch as “Azamra Yomi” since it helped me be able to pick out even more nekudos tovos in myself and others.
I will be away on vacation after Tisha B’Av, so I will tell you more about how I continued to live with this lesson once I return towards the end of the month.