G-d’s Chanukah Gift To You!
Dec18

G-d’s Chanukah Gift To You!

The Chanukah lights have somewhat unusual rules attached to them. One may not derive personal benefit from them—to read by, for example—but it’s actually a mitzvah to simply gaze at them. Reb Nosson explains that the lamps of Chanukah allude to the powerful light of mitzvot that fills the home of every Jew. With every good deed that we do, we are able to access the most lofty spiritual light and forge an eternal connection to G-d. We...

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Lighting the Night
Dec11

Lighting the Night

Chanukah always begins on the twenty-fifth day of Kislev. We light the menorah to celebrate the triumph of the eternal flame of Torah over the forces of spiritual darkness and materialism. One day’s worth of oil burned for eight days, defying nature, just like the survival of the Jewish people defies reason. As Mark Twain famously pointed out, the Greeks are long gone along with the rest of the great powers of antiquity (except China...

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Trust In G-d
Dec06

Trust In G-d

The deeper works explain that Kislev is the time to develop deep bitachon, active trust in G-d. The word kesel, meaning security, is the root of the name of the month. During this month, the Jewish people beat impossible odds: our ragtag army of untrained soldiers against the most powerful army in the ancient world, armed with the best weaponry and strategy. What could a soldier of antiquity do against trained elephants? Yet, in some...

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Essential Advice
Dec06

Essential Advice

The tribe associated with the month of Kislev is that of the youngest of Yaakov’s children, Benjamin, Ben-Yemin—the “son of the right-hand side.” Rashi explains that the land of Israel embodies the aspect of the “right hand side,” and that one implication of Binyamin’s name is that he was the child of Yaakov’s re-entry into the land and that he expresses the essence of the land. Reb Nosson explains that the main place to receive...

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Nip It in the Bud
Dec06

Nip It in the Bud

Breslover chassidim would say that it’s best to be quiet about the good that you do. Letting other people know about your accomplishments leads only to pride, and pride is the enemy of serving God. Reb Noson was very careful to trim any harmful pride that he found growing within the hearts of his students. Once his close disciple, Reb Nachman of Tulchin, traveled a long, hard journey to supervise a printing of Likutey Halakhot, Reb...

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Accentuate The Positive!
Nov28

Accentuate The Positive!

The letter associated with Kislev is samech, the circular letter that has a numerical value of sixty. Reb Nosson explains that samech alludes to nullifying negativity. We learn this from the general rule that applies when non-kosher food falls into a pot of kosher food. If there is sixty times as much kosher food as the volume of the non-kosher matter that fell, its taste is nullified and the kosher food can be eaten. (If possible,...

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Speaking Before the King
Nov27

Speaking Before the King

Rebbe Nachman tells a parable: Once there was a lord who had a very competent clerk in his employ. One day he sent this clerk to oversee a distant city within his fiefdom. When the clerk arrived at his post, however, he didn’t mention the lord at all, and people got the impression that the clerk was in fact the lord. Whenever they needed something from him, they would fall at his feet and show him all kinds of honor. They would...

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Waking Up
Nov23

Waking Up

The Chasam Sofer taught that the first day of the month of Kislev has great significance because it always falls out exactly forty days after the festival of Sukkot. It is a miniature Yom Kippur, and so it has the power to help us change our negative habits and patterns. Teshuvah—genuine repentance that returns us to our Source—entails facing our frailties and reframing how we respond when they tend to get in our way. For that, we...

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Your Personal Support System
Nov23

Your Personal Support System

The letter associated with the month of Cheshvan is nun, a letter that appears to be bent. Our sages explain that it alludes to getting up persevering despite sustaining a shock or fall, since the letter nun is the initial of the word noflim—“the fallen.” King David said, “G-d supports all of the fallen”—the embracing letter samech of the word for “supports” (somayach) is already there, waiting to pick up the bent-over nun of the...

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Return To Sender
Nov20

Return To Sender

Once, a young Jewish man from Tulchin became enamored of the new works of the secular Haskalah (Enlightenment movement) and decided to pursue their worldview. Unfortunately, soon after the advent of the Haskalah, it became clear that such an immersion nearly always led to the abandonment of Jewish observance in any form. After a period of time, this young man dropped mitzvah observance entirely and was far from Torah. Not...

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Grant Me A Heart Of Flesh
Nov17

Grant Me A Heart Of Flesh

The name of this month, Cheshvan, can also be read choshen, the breastplate that the High Priest wore over his heart. The breastplate symbolizes having a feeling heart imbued with holiness and caring, which is the foundation of our humanity. Rebbe Nachman said that we are called Breslover Chassidim since the word Breslov can be rearranged “lev basar”—“a heart of flesh.” The most important organ is the heart. The High Priest covered...

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The Dust of Mitzvot
Nov13

The Dust of Mitzvot

Rebbe Nachman said that a poor person is closer to God because he recognizes how much he has to rely on God for his every need. In fact, it would be a good thing if his followers were not wealthy. “Still,” Rebbe Nachman continued, “in each generation there will be a few of my people who will be wealthy enough to help others.” R’ Moshe Yuroslovski was such a man. He distributed enormous sums to charity, as well as to the printing of...

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Showdown in the Synagogue
Nov05

Showdown in the Synagogue

A secular Jew worked as a scribe in the government office in Uman. He was known as “der Deutschel,” meaning, someone of German descent. Somehow, one Shabbat he found himself in the kloyz, the Breslover synagogue in Uman, during Mussaf. They were just reciting the prayer that begins, “A crown will be given to You, Hashem our God.” This prayer is the climax of the service and is recited with fiery devotion, even a kind of ecstasy, in...

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The Loyal Messenger
Oct29

The Loyal Messenger

There was once a king who wished to send secret messages to a fellow monarch, but the only route passed through a hostile neighboring kingdom. The enemy king was always on guard, fearing a conspiracy between his allied neighbors. The king’s first messenger was exceedingly wise. He passed through the enemy kingdom and never blew his cover; no one suspected a thing. The second messenger was less adept. He was questioned and almost...

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Remedy for Pride
Oct23

Remedy for Pride

“You can overcome your arrogance by praying for someone else” – Rebbe Nachman of Breslov R’ Yudel, one of the Rebbe’s close students, wondered about this teaching. It seems like the opposite should be true. Wouldn’t praying for my friend feed my ego and make me feel even more prideful? After all, aren’t my prayers answered because I’m important? Rebbe Nachman explained his teaching with a parable: Once there was a prince who angered...

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Making Life Worthwhile
Oct23

Making Life Worthwhile

A Sacred Time – Tishrei #4 The tribe associated with the month of Tishrei is Efraim. Reb Nosson, z”l, explains that the name Efraim means to be fruitful or multiply. The deepest kind of fruitfulness is in focusing on one’s good points so that they truly shine, and then they spark even more positive growth. Even the smallest good point forges an eternal connection with G-d. During the silent prayer of the Amidah, we describe G-d...

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