A Chassidic Maaseh (#27)
Jun03

A Chassidic Maaseh (#27)

A Chassidic Story (#27) Reb Mendel of Bahr once related the following: When I was young, there was a period when I was davening (praying) with particular passion and fervor. One day, while I was davening, the thought struck me: How do I dare daven to God, when I am so filled with sin?! This thought broke my heart. For the longest time I couldn’t rid myself of it. I thought it was a good thought, right thinking. Then, a while later I...

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A Chassidic Story (#24)
Dec31

A Chassidic Story (#24)

A Chassidic Story (#24) Reb Shneur, the grandson of Reb Nachman Kosovar, told the following story about his grandfather and Reb Yudel of Tchidnov who was the rabbi of Ludmir. Reb Nachman built a shul (synagogue) in Ludmir, right near a stream. The mikveh (ritual bath) was adjacent to the shul. One Shabbos morning, before beginning the prayers, Reb Nachman and Reb Yudel went to the mikveh. Reb Nachman did everything very quickly. Reb...

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Dvar Torah: Parshat VaYishlach
Dec08

Dvar Torah: Parshat VaYishlach

Dvar Torah for Parshat VaYishlach “[Yaakov] got up that night … and crossed Maavor Yabok … Yaakov remained alone. A man wrestled with him until dawn” (Genesis 32:23–25). Considering some of the people Yaakov Avinu (our Patriarch) had to contend with, I would have thought that wrestling with an angel would be a piece o’ cake. I would have been wrong. Angels are actually pretty tough characters. They have no body, so they never get...

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A Chassidic Story (#21)
Nov27

A Chassidic Story (#21)

A Chassidic Story (#21) Since Yitzchak Avinu, champion of yirat Shemayim (Divine awe), is the hero of Parshat Toldot here’s a story and a half about the Rebbe Reb Zushia and yirah. For a certain stretch in his life, the Rebbe Reb Zushia constantly prayed that he be granted genuine yirah, from the innermost point of heart and mind, yirah as powerful as that of an angel. Well, God answered his prayer. The Rebbe Reb Zushia was taken over...

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Sukkot Joy
Oct11

Sukkot Joy

Apropos of Sukkot, an abridged rendition of Likutey Moharan II, Lesson #81 When a person cheers himself with the joy of mitzvah, and the joy is so great that it reaches down to his feet—i.e., he dances for joy—this concept is called “we will bring home a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12). The feet are Netzach and Hod, the prophets. They ascend to the concept of the heart through the heart’s joy, because the joy elevates them. This is...

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A Chassidic Story (#15)
Oct08

A Chassidic Story (#15)

A Chassidic Story (#15) This story is one of my personal favorites. It’s human in many ways: the innkeeper’s desire to help both at the story’s beginning and end; in the protagonist’s tenderheartedness and his desire to celebrate Shabbat as best way possible. There’s a deep current of mystery running throughout and—it’s a fish story. The compiler of Shivchei HaBaal Shem Tov heard this story from both the Toldot Yaakov Yosef of Polnoye...

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Proud to be Jewish

Dvar Torah for Rosh HaShanah Proud to be Jewish We’re on the threshold of Rosh HaShanah, the Day of Judgment, when we’re scrutinized, weighed in the balance and then written down for a good year (hopefully), all in less time than it took to read this sentence. Rosh HaShanah is two days long not because God needs that much time to figure out what to do for you or because that’s how long it takes some people to complete reciting their...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Matot
Jul21

Dvar Torah for Parshat Matot

Dvar Torah for Parshat Matot Based on Likutey Halakhot, Sheluchin 5:17 “Moshe spoke to the Israelite tribal heads, saying: ‘This is the word God has commanded’” (Numbers 30:2). Rashi comments that when any mitzvah was introduced, the tribal heads had the privilege to be the first to learn about it, directly from Moshe Rabbeinu. Rashi also tells us that Moshe Rabbeinu’s prophecy was qualitatively different—and greater—than that of all...

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Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Jun23

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Reb Noson zal (of blessed memory) once commented that before he became a chassid (disciple) of Rebbe Nachman zal, he was far from being diligent in his Torah study. “I very much wanted to study a lot. But what happened was, everyday I would come to the beis hamidrash (study hall) and there was some obstacle. So instead of starting off strong, I would only be able to learn briefly. Before I knew, there was something else. And then...

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Dvar Torah for Purim
Mar03

Dvar Torah for Purim

Dvar Torah for Purim Based on Likutey Halakhot, Tefillin 6:23 “In the first month, Nisan, of the twelfth year of King Achashveirosh’s reign, he cast pur—which is a goral (lots)—in front of Haman, from day to day and from month to month, the twelfth month, Adar” (Esther 3:7). The holy holiday of Purim is named after pur, a form of divination. While it may have involved a throw of the dice, it wasn’t a crapshoot. There was a tremendous...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Terumah
Feb03

Dvar Torah for Parshat Terumah

Dvar Torah for Parshat Terumah Based on Likutey Halakhot, Terumot u’Maasrot 3:8 “Fifty loops you will make on one awning, and fifty loops you will make on the edge of the other awning…The loops are to be parallel one another, one corresponding to the other” (Exodus 26:5). Take a guess. What is it that optimizes the vocation of kedushah (holiness, sacredness)? Is it hanging around, doing this and that and waiting for a miracle?...

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Giving Charity
Jan17

Giving Charity

The importance of giving charity is not so much the mitzvah itself (although that is very important) or the poor person having your gift (also important), but your learning to be generous even when you don’t want to be. How can you open the door to God if you can’t open the door to your...

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Q&A (0002)

Question: I keep getting opinions from some Orthodox Jews that weight training for a Jew is considered goyish, and that it is stupid for Jews to train in this way. I know that ancient Greeks trained this way at times and their ways were certainly not ours. However in the context of today, is it improper for a Jew to go to a gym and train with weights? Answer: Shalom! Bodybuilding is certainly not your typical Jewish activity. The...

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Q&A (0001)

At the insistent pestering of a dear friend who goes by the moniker “The Great Nudnik,” your friends at Breslov Research Institute will, with God’s help, begin posting many of the questions that we have received and the responses we have given. All the original correspondents/questioners benefited from the answers. We pray you will too. Question: I heard that Rabbi Nachman spoke of “acts of madness” as a way to get closer to Hashem,...

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HaModia article

This article originally appeared in the Erev Sukkos 5771/2010 edition of the English-laguage version of HaModia. It is posted here with their kind permission. Since I wrote it on the Sunday before Rosh HaShanah, less than 24 hours before my pilgrimage to Uman, prior to packing for my flight to Odessa, I thought of titling the article Breslov in a Hurry. Fortunately I, and Mrs. Birnhack HaModia’s editor, realized that a more...

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45th Day (Friday, 14 May)

Week of Malkhut, Third Day Major sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship; minor sefirah: Tiferet/Splendor There’s a time to be frugal and a time to be lavish. For my family and myself, we don’t have to a tent made from crocodile skin, imported from the Far East. It’s enough if our tent is decent quality canvas from wherever—frugal. But when it comes to making a tent for God—the Mishkan—then whatever it costs to import the finest giraffe...

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