From Bitter to Sweet

Our sages tell us that the sweet-smelling incense used in the Temple contained one powerfully bitter component, the chelbenah or galbanum. Reb Nosson explains that this inclusion teaches us how essential it is to Divine service to know how to transform the bad into good. The one evil-smelling ingredient is necessary for the recipe; without that eleventh spice, it’s not the incense.

We do this on the personal level by taking our knowledge of our own flaws and setting it against the “other ten”—our good and strong points. Instead of using our assets to highlight our failures—“I’m a good person…how could I have done such a terrible thing?” we reverse the dynamic.
“I’m a person with plenty of negative inside of me…what a miracle that I was able to do such a good thing today!”

When we look at ourselves that way, we convert the “mar” of every bitter flaw into myrrh, the sweet smelling incense that G-d loves so much.

Now that the month of Marcheshvan is almost done, it’s time to change the bitter into sweet.

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 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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