What a Tikkun!

One of the great things about living within our particular Breslov community is a kind of shared spiritual language rooted in Rebbe Nachman’s teachings. There’s something inexpressibly relieving about running into a friend who, after asking me how I’m doing, understands exactly what I mean when I smile, raise my eyebrows, and nod in a world-weary way, “Ovrim!

Ovrim in Hebrew means, “crossing over,” but what it really means in local Breslov-speak is: “I am currently going through some rough stuff, but isn’t that what it means to be an Ivri? Like Avraham, with Hashem’s help I will also cross over to the other side and not lose faith. I will transcend this.” [For more on the subject, see Likutei Moharan I:64. And make sure that you use BRI’s version, because it is quite a complex lesson.]

Or imagine some minor (let’s keep it light, although this applies to the majors as well) calamity. The mirror shatters; the pan of three chickens falls to the floor five minutes before Shabbos; the electricity cuts out for no apparent reason and will not resuscitate; Yanky has just knocked out his two front teeth for what seems like the fifth time (or is that only because he’s the fifth boy?); or, worse yet, they all happened at the same time. What do we cry out? Eizeh tikkun! “What a tikkun!”

What a what?

What a tikkun.

The calamity was heaven sent to rectify my soul, and instead of moaning over my mini-tragedy, I can just affirm the truth: this is my personal tikkun. This is an integral part of the path that my soul needs to take in order for it to fulfill its ultimate purpose.

I’m speaking lightly, but of course this is true of the biggies as well…it’s just not right to make light of someone else’s tragedy, so I leave it for you to consider on your own. However, I retain full rights at all times to make light of my own catastrophes, minor or major (G-d forbid), and laugh until the last day, as Reb Nosson so memorably teaches about that woman of valor, each brave Jewish soul. He actually said that most personal angst is remedied when one considers how minor this will seem forty years after one’s funeral, but not everyone is quite ready to use this as a stress-relieving mantra.

In any case, this is supposed to be a post-Uman post, even though we returned ten days ago so I’m tardy, but you’ll see, I have a good reason.

I’ve heard many times that every trip to Rebbe Nachman’s gravesite in Uman rectifies one incarnation. (Based on the number of times I’ve been and the fact that I will, with Hashem’s help, return there again, I must not have a good history.). Nevertheless, it’s the sort of idea that I never saw brought in any reliable source, and so I’ve never taken it very seriously.

However…I do have to admit that every single journey is so clearly its own tikkun, so maybe there’s something to the principle? One trip, we lost our bus; another, we were tested with a Shabbos break-in (sleeping gas included); on another, my clothing didn’t arrive (in a Ukrainian heat wave, and I had all of the cooking to do); most recently, I lost my voice completely and could not teach or sing (tragical!).

By the way, with each of these tikkunim (and others quite serious that are not mentioned here), we also saw great revealed miracles. Nevertheless, it’s always something different, always something that involves a very deep and necessary lesson for all of us (and somehow I feel for me in particular, but maybe this is self-absorption), and always makes me feel like I am involved in some cosmic reality show called, “Tikkun by Design.”

So the tragedies are not tragedies, they are slowly (and sometimes quickly and radically) chipping away at the edifice of unrectified me, and hopefully I will not have to do another go-round but will finish it all out this lifetime.

On returning from this most recent journey, I came home at about 4:30AM to find: my oldest and youngest sons awake and having a party; that same youngest son dressed in a pink turtleneck of my mother’s and a pair of pastel blue wooly tights; a house in a state of bewildering chaos (more than the usual bewildering chaos); and when I asked if Tatty is available somewhere beneath all the laundry to help me carry up the luggage, my oldest son says with melting tenderness, “Maybe you should sit down, Mama.”

At which point I received the news that another son had been in the hospital since the prior Friday night (it was now Monday), and hence no Tatty.

What a tikkun!

Thank G-d, everything is well, and clearly the tikkunim are ongoing, for my own individual and the collective ultimate good. My thought to go on for today, though, is how good it is to remember that this is indeed a world on the path of tikkun (that’s what the Kabbalists say, too). And, also, that none of this is likely to matter to me forty years after my funeral.

“When a person knows that everything that happens to him is for his good, this is a foretaste of the ultimate future…” (Likutei Moharan I:4) Not only is it good, but as Rebbe Nachman said, G-d is constantly running the world better and better.” Apparently, the tikkunim are adding up.

Ovrim!

Author: Yehudis Golshevsky

Mrs. Yehudis Golshevsky is a graduate of Yavne Teacher’s Seminary in Cleveland and SUNY Buffalo. She is a Breslov Chassidiste who lives with her very patient and forgiving family in Jerusalem and has taught Breslov Chassidus (and many other subjects) and worked in Torah publishing for nearly twenty years. Recent projects include the new Holocaust history textbook, “Witness to History;” Erez Moshe Doron’s commentary on The Exchanged Children; content and curricula for Project Derech of Toronto; translations of Rabbi Berland’s lessons and prayers for shuvubonim.org; editing of the stories for Daf Digest and Mishnah Berurah Digest; and editing of the weekly translations of Rav Itche Meir Morgenstern’s shiurim for Toras Chochom. In her spare time, she does battle with foreign bureaucracy and general pin-headedness in Ukraine so that she can have the privilege of bringing other women to Uman and other kivrei tzaddikim. She also likes to joke around—just ask her students.

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18 Comments

    • Thanks for the chizuk, Raquel!

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  1. wow. what a story. i didnt realize you just got back….and i hope your son is ok. what a lesson. but here is my question: how many tikkuns need to happen before we “run out”? i feel like if we say it 100 times a day, for good and bad, at some point I will use all my tikkun points and now im stuck with seemingly bad events ad situations. It’s a wonderful and inspirational coping skill for the mind body and soul…but we can’t guarantee that we have an unlimited amount of tikuns upstairs that transform each challenge into a “tikkun”?

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    • Hi Sarah,
      Boruch Hashem, everything is good.
      Now, about “running out” of tikkunim, I don’t see what you mean. Every time that something doesn’t go your way (we call this yesurim, even if it’s minor), it’s an opportunity to do the positive mitzvah of expressing faith, and of being “matzdik Hashem’s din,” justifying Hashem’s system of justice. You never “run out” because whether or not a person acknowledges that his troubles are a tikkun, they still are. It is just a lost opportunity to let them slide without realizing that they are a way that Hashem is intimately involved in his life. When we realize it’s a tikkun, we are involved in a relationship. When a person suffers without this awareness, it still refines his soul but the relationship aspect is lacking.
      There is a difference of opinions among the Rishonim as to whether even the suffering that is self-inflicted (like we did something foolish and “brought it on ourselves”) is still a tikkun. I, personally, like to go with the opinion of the Mabit and others who say that, as long as a person accepts the suffering as a tikkun and makes an effort to change his ways, it also counts. And that’s the kind of stuff that is self-inflicted. Certainly the things that are really outside of our control are all a tikkun. So go on and say it, no matter how many times a day!

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  2. Thank you for another fabulous article. I love when they come out before shabbes (and I’m able to read them or print them to read on shabbes) with so much to think about and quieter time to think. I love the idea of “Tikkun by Design!” But really, when I’m able to get out of myself and my ‘why me-ing’ when I am faced with challenges and focus on all things from Hashem being good and thanking Him for what I am going through, the difference is astounding. Small steps. Glad you are back safely and your son is okay. I love the image of your baby dancing around in that outfit! ;-)

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    • Thank you for the great compliment!
      I also love the idea of Tikkun by Design; sometimes I’m less agreeable in the execution, though.
      About my youngest in that outfit… I was really tired, admittedly, but when I walked in and saw him with his very long hair all wild, I was really confused. “Who’s the little girl?” I actually thought for a second. He looks a lot like one of my girls, but he’s seven years younger… I also hadn’t slept for about a week.

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  3. thank you Yehudis, for this post, such an important thing to remember,and i love the lightness and the hummer. it helps put things in perspective.refua shlema to your son

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    • Bruchah t’hi, and I hope to see you in class soon.

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  4. Shalom Yehudis!
    Thank you so much for these insights! Coming out of shabbas, sometimes I feel like it is hard to imagine taking on the week, but now I know, ovrim, ovrim….ain yai’ush ba’olam klal…and, we are in it together! blesssings, sheva chaya

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    • I will always accept blessings with great pleasure!
      Yes, it’s not simple. And when I fall away from this perspective, this mochin d’gadlus, it’s a big disappointment. But that itself is also a big tikkun. I hope to be up for a visit one of these days; maybe we will do a Rebbe Shimon run?

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  5. thank you for another amazing post, Yehudis. you really counter two discouraging attitudes that i find so easy to fall into when facing challenges:
    1- it’s a punishment for something, if only i was better at…., than this wouldn’t be happening to me. i guess surrendering to a tikkun doesn’t necessarily contradict this, but it lowers my unproductive feelings of guilt, and helps me get past defensive feelings to get on with the challenge i’m facing.
    2-there’s a purpose to my inconvenience/ discomfort/ pain etc…it’s not for someone’s perverse pleasure of seeing me suffer, it’s all for my good
    thank you for sharing the right, simchadik attitude to face the unexpected with!
    -rochel

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    • That first point is a very hard attitude to get over, because when we are self-critical (and a healthy dose of self-criticism is also necessary), we skirt along the edge of the perpetual punishment attitude–but it’s not only unproductive, it’s also false. So #1 and #2 are actually rooted in the same basic belief: that Hashem is good, He means for my good, and He is not seeking to see me suffer but rather to help me find completion.

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  6. Dear Yehudis,
    one of the things i admire about you (and also appreciate so very much about Breslov Chassidut) is the genuinely positive outlook on this world you convey thru your teachings. after every class i’ve had with you, either in person or via the web, i feel enlivened by the inner teachings of the Torah and glad about the choice i make every day to live a Jewish life.
    todah rabbah Yehudis.
    p.s. where are the current Shir haShirim classes to be found on the web?

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    • Dear Katie,
      Those are some of the most encouraging words I’ve ever been privileged to hear in all the years that I’m teaching. Thank you so much for them.
      I’ve been very bad about uploading the shiurim because of connectivity issues that are a little beyond my control. We’ve started a new series on Sichos HaRan, and I hope to send out the first two later tonight, b’ezras Hashem.
      The Shir Hashirim classes have been challenging; not all of them recorded well, and I’m very behind. Please daven for me that I manage to put them up!
      Yehudis bas Chava Ida

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  7. Yehudis:
    Thank you as always for being such a wonderful teacher and friend. Hashem should bless you with continued strength and ability to transform the world.
    What an amazing lesson, so bashert, to read it when I did, and rereading it again and again. I just had a conversation with a friend about this last night, and the struggles to not feel personally attacked, the struggle to feel Hashem’s embrace even in the depths of very difficult challenges. Was wonderful to get your email, so thank you, and a responding one is one its way. I miss hearing your shuirim and would love to be able to hear them again soon. I see from the above post that this has been a challenge. Davening for success so that Torah can be spread.
    Chaikie

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  8. Please do post your shiurim. I assume they are in English adn there is so little Breslov stuff in English, especially for women. I am lucky because I understand Ivrit but most of my friends in England have no sources of inspiration or role modelling. We are desperate for this. May Hashem give you the ability to do this.

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  9. I haven’t checked your posts in a while, but I always happen upon your posts exactly when I need them Baruch Hashem! I’m glad to hear your son is doing okay, and I’m cracking up at the thought of Isaac running around in your mother’s clothes.
    PS – I don’t know if you got my email but Baruch Hashem I’m a kallah! :)

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  10. My first born daughter Oshra was born on the first day of Pesach the week of parashat Shmini. Be’ezrat Hashem we are going to celebrate her Bat-Mitzva this days, while looking around to find some idias to talk about, i found this articles that bring the wisdom of rav Nachman, thanks for having all this articles of wisdom Esther Cohen

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