Sweet Charity
Aug27

Sweet Charity

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught… Giving charity involves making judgments, and proper judgment is reached by finding the balance between sternness and kindness. When a person gives charity before praying, it helps him also find the balance in his prayers so that they “hit their target,” right on center. (Likutei Moharan I:2) What does this mean to me? Giving charity is like weighing out scales of justice: one takes from “his...

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Peace on Earth
Aug23

Peace on Earth

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught… When there is peace below, there is peace on high. And when there is peace on high, a sense of abundance and satiety is revealed in the world below. (Likutei Moharan I:39) What does this mean to me? In the original lesson, Rebbe Nachman speaks about the relationship between conflict and the feeling of deprivation, but the dynamic that he describes sounds counterintuitive. In our world, we believe...

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Sharing the Love
May31

Sharing the Love

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught… There is a natural tendency to seek conflict and to compete and vie for victory with others. Where does this attribute come from? From the vital energy—blood—with which one has not yet served G-d… And the Holy One found no better vessel to contain blessing for the Jewish people than peace. When the potential for conflict exists, the potential of peacemaking also exists alongside it. (Likutey...

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A Little Help from My Friends
Mar14

A Little Help from My Friends

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught… In order to transform the world, so that it turns away from crass materialism and focuses on serving the One G-d, we need peace. In every generation, the extent to which people turn to G-d in prayer depends on the degree of peace that reigns among them. (Likutey Moharan I:27) What does this mean to me? One of the points of the lesson cited above is that peace—the unification of holy purpose among...

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Peace in the Home
Jan07

Peace in the Home

  Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught… “It is only when a man shines the light of his faith out towards his wife that he finds her heart inclined toward him, to meet him halfway.” (Likutei Moharan II:87) What does this mean to me? In the original lesson quoted above, Rebbe Nachman explains the spiritual root of why relationships either fail to materialize or go awry. In this particular lesson, Rebbe Nachman focused...

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I Lit the Chanukah Candles. Now What?
Dec06

I Lit the Chanukah Candles. Now What?

OK. I lit the Chanukah candles. Now what? One of the many beautiful things I like about Chanukah, is that it’s so easy. Don’t have to build a sukkah, get rid of all my cake and bourbon during pre-Pesach cleaning, try to stay awake all night as on Shavuot. I don’t even have to worry about a possible hangover as happens to some the day after Purim. Just show up and light a candle. Even I can do that! But in some ways, for some people,...

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United Hebrew(s)
Feb09

United Hebrew(s)

“Israel camped there, opposite the mountain” (Exodus 19:2). As one person, with one heart (Rashi). A few weeks ago, I was asked to write something about Rebbe Nachman’s teachings concerning shalom and Jewish unity. As you may recall, there was some sort of turmoil concerning internecine feuding in a city here in the Holy Land. There had been a bit of genuine unpleasantness between fellow Jews that was worsened and blown out of...

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RIP DOWN ALL HATRED!
Jan12

RIP DOWN ALL HATRED!

In one of his lessons (LM II, 73), Rebbe Nachman points out a secret message concerning Tehilim (Psalms) and teshuvah (return to God) that is hidden in the first verse of Sefer Shemot (Book of Exodus). The letters of the words TeHiLIM and TeShUVaH are embedded within a reference to the Children of Israel who descended to Egypt (see Parashah Pearls on this page). Tehilim, as we know, is King David’s personal outpouring of the heart,...

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A Midrash for Monday
Jul11

A Midrash for Monday

A Midrash for Monday “Therefore proclaim: Behold! I [God] am giving [Pinchas] My covenant of shalom!” (Numbers 25:12). Great is the shalom that was given, because the world runs only on shalom. The entirety of the Torah is shalom, as it is said (Proverbs 3:17), “Her ways are way of pleasantness and all her paths her shalom.” When someone arrives from a journey, we welcome him, “Shalom.” In the morning, as our day begins, we hail one...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Behar/Shavuot
May12

Dvar Torah for Parshat Behar/Shavuot

Dvar Torah for Parshat Behar Based on Likutey Halakhot, Areiv 3:30 “God spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying” (Leviticus 25:1). This week’s Torah-reading starts with a mention of Mount Sinai, and because we are preparing ourselves to receive anew the holy Torah given at Sinai, let’s talk about how we can get ready. Fill in the blank: The most necessary “thing” I need to be a better Jew is ____. If you said ratzon—interest, desire,...

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Another answer to the question…

On this verse, “God spoke to Moshe on Mount Sinai, saying” (Leviticus 25:1), Rashi brings the following question of our Sages. “mah inyan shmitah etzel Har Sinai?” “What does the Sabbatical year have to do with Mount Sinai?” I would like to answer the following: “Israel encamped [vy’yichan] there, opposite the mountain [Sinai]” (Exodus 19:2). Rashi comments: As one person, with one heart. So, just as receiving the Torah called for a...

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One Nation
Apr06

One Nation

“Speak to the entire congregation of Israel…that they should take for themselves, each man a lamb according to their fathers’ homes, a lamb per household. And if a household is too few for a lamb, then he should take one with a neighbor near-by his house, according to the count of souls…” (Exodus 12:3–4). Words like “congregation,” “fathers’ home” (i.e., tribe) and “household” are too rare in our discussions and may be...

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Dvar Torah for Parshat Pinchas

Based on Likutey Halakhot, Shavuot 2:35 and Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #96 “Therefore, proclaim, Behold! I [God] give [Pinchas] My covenant: Peace” (Numbers 25:12). We know that God acts measure for measure. How, then, does a spear-toting, tribal-head killing “zealot” (a loaded word, if ever there was one!) get rewarded with God’s covenant of shalom, peace?! A question like this tells us we need to re-examine our definitions and premises....

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48th Day (Monday, 17 May)

Week of Malkhut, Sixth Day Major sefirah: Malkhut/Royalty-Kingship; minor sefirah: Yesod/Foundation When it comes to crimes against the government not all misbehavior is the same. There are misdemeanors and there are felonies. But most kings and kingdoms, the smart ones, realize that their subjects will make mistakes: give in to temptation, scoff at certain laws, etc. Although every lapse indicates a buried disregard for the majesty...

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41st Day of the Omer (Monday, 10 May)

Week of Yesod, Sixth Day Major sefirah: Yesod/Foundation; minor sefirah: Yesod/Foundation What’s the foundation of the Foundation, eh? Good question. I’ve discovered that quiet itself is foundational (Zohar 3:115b). When I reach that inner-stillness I feel the strength to carry out my resolutions because that inner-quietness can overpower all the outer-noise. And that strength of my convictions gets carried by my words. I’m able to...

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36th Day of the Omer (Wednesday, 5 May)

Week of Yesod, First Day Major sefirah: Yesod/Foundation; minor sefirah: Chessed/Kindness A few days ago I mentioned that I realized that certain central components of my being determine the quality of my thinking and behavior. If a certain appetite takes control, just about any behavior or belief that indulges the appetite can be rationalized. The appetite becomes a god, a relentless, demanding god. So it’s a real chessed (kindness)...

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