Q: How to deal with the dark aspects of things and people?

Q: Excuse the way I am going to describe this but I have run into a problem and that is how to deal with the dark aspects of things and peoples pertaining to what is going on in the Middle East. How does Breslov deal with Islamists, The Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Ahmadinijad etc? To a lesser extent the same question with how do I deal with my thoughts pertaining to the modern Progressives who seem to be so against Israel.

A:

In order to be practical let’s put the politics aside and make this a more generic kind of question because my political views are not necessarily yours and Rebbe Nachman’s Torah in it’s true form is 100% truth, so I don’t want to mix the two.

There is a first basic distinction I would like to make when looking at something or someone. If someone commits a sin, they are not to say the sin was not a sin etc… They are to say that they indeed did bad and must do tshuva/repent BUT that should be done during their hitbodedut session and not at the present time. Right now I must move on with life and continue to live in a state of Simcha. So what we are saying is look at the good and look away from the bad (besides for Hitbodedut) NOT that bad doesn’t exist at all. Rebbe Nachman’s Lesson Azamra is teaching us that yes there is bad but let’s look, concentrate and focus on the good of the person or ourselves and this actually has the power to influence us to the side of good.

The laws of judging favorably have nothing to do with this whatsoever for Rebbe Nachman always warned about deviating from Halacha and was not trying to invent any new Halachos. Rather there are times when one must judge someone favorably;  did they do a certain sin? We must assume that they are innocent.  And there are times when Halacha dictates the opposite as well. What we are talking about is the person, if he is Jewish he has a Jewish soul and we are taught to look for the intrinsic good in him even if he is a complete evildoer, for there is no Jew who has never done at least one good deed and EVERY Jew can always repent even a second before his passing.

However, there are certain people who are completely evil and therefore we are powerless in bringing rectification to them and influencing them to the side of good such as Amalek and the 7 Nations who lived in the Land of Israel during the time of the Jewish conquest of the Holy Land. It is certain that Amalek lives on in different forms even today. Who they are is hard to judge but we know they exist and when we see people like  Ahmadinejad it is hard to believe that he is not from that camp. There would therefore be no mitzvah whatsoever to look for the good in people like these of whom we suspect belonggimg to the camp of Amalek. We should not be fooled by the modern notion of talking to these people and convincing them of the truth as they are intrinsically evil.

Even still I do believe Rebbe Nachman would tell us to turn to God in prayer about such dangers and to try to live our lives simply and happily by looking at the good in our ourselves  and those around us. We should not get trapped by the ugliness of the politics of today.

Author: Yossi Katz

Yossi Katz currently lives in Lakewood, NJ where he runs the BRI American Office. He studied in Beth Medrash Gevoha, as well as the former Breslov Kollel of Lakewood headed by Rabbi Shlomo Goldman.

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  1. chaim kramer from breslov research has a great book: “this is my land: rebbe nachman, history, conflict and hope in the land of israel”. in this book he goes all the way back to creation, the origin of ishmael, edom etc as it relates to today’s problems. also, lazer brody has a good post about the current situation “the end of moderate islam” where he says that what’s happening now is the closeness of mashiach. he often speaks of anti-semites as ‘sticks’ in the hands of Hashem to get us to do teshuvah.
    i think reb yossi’s suggestion is excellent and essential: turning to Hashem in prayer and teshuvah is always what has saved the individual as well as am yisrael.
    re dealing with ‘progressives’, yishai fleisher recently did a shalom t.v. interview with someone from meretz. he was very gracious with him and yet made his points. a very interesting example of how to speak with ‘progressives’ while remaining gracious. we see that the closer we are to torah the more peaceful we are in any situation. look at our great rabi akiva with the romans! he could laugh while others cried looking at the destroyed temple mount because he saw the fulfillment of the prophets.

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