People often ask, “What is it like to be a Breslover Chassid or a student of Rebbe Nachman?” While Rebbe Nachman strongly encouraged us to follow his advice, even if only sometimes or somewhat, Rabbi Yitzchok Breiter z”l did suggest a daily routine that we can all find to be very helpful.
A person has to be quick in serving God. A person has to be alert and ready every hour, every day to do as much as possible. Deeds are the main thing: study much, do many mitzvot, pray long and pour out one’s heart before God. One must do as much as possible in every way. Even so, don’t panic. You will find many kinds of devotion in the sacred literature and think, “When will I be able to fulfill even one of these devotions, let alone all of them?!” Don’t panic. One shouldn’t rush and try to grasp everything at once. He has to go slowly, step by step without getting into a tizzy and trying to do and accomplish everything immediately. If he is over hasty he will become totally confused. When there is fire, God forbid, people panic and rescue needless items.
1. Binding yourself to the Tzaddik
At the beginning of the evening, say: “I want to serve God with truth, faith and joy. I hereby bind myself in my every thought, word and action all through the day to the True Tzaddikim, and in
particular to the True Tzaddik, the ‘flowing brook, the source of wisdom – Nachal Novea Mekor Chochmah’ [the first letters of the Hebrew words spell out NaChMaN], Rabbi Nachman the son of Feige, may his merit protect us.”
Before each prayer, say: “I hereby bind myself in my prayer to the True Tzaddikim, in particular etc.”
2. Ma’ariv – The Evening Prayer
Pray at a steady pace with all your strength and concentration, joyously and in a pleasant tone. Be careful to pronounce the name of God properly: Adonoy. Say all the names of God with awe and reverence. The evening prayer sweetens all harsh
judgments and gives us the strength to stand firm in spite of spiritual setbacks, darkness and other obstacles, for “He guards His people Israel forever.” See Likutey Halachot, Tefilat Arvit 4.
3. K’riat Shema before Going to Sleep
Say the Shema and the other passages recited before going to sleep at a steady pace and with joy.This helps to make amends for all the things you may have done wrong during the day, especially immoral thoughts etc. “When someone recites the Shema before going to sleep, the destructive spirits keep away from that person” (Berachot 5a).
4. Make a Reckoning
Thank God for all the good He let you do today, and admit to everything you did wrong whether in thought, word or action. Ask God to forgive you and remove your sins, and help you do things the way you should from now on. Tzaddik #587.
5. Chatzot – Midnight
Get up to mourn over the destruction of the Temple and the concealment of the light of the True Tzaddik. Mourn over your own sins and shortcomings, all of which are holding up the rebuilding of the Temple. See yourself and your personal situation and experiences in the words of the Tikkun Chatzot, the Midnight Lament. Ask God to bring about the Redemption and save the Jewish People collectively, and to protect your soul from the evil inclination which keeps on attacking you. The time for Chatzot begins six hours after nightfall, regardless of the time of year, and lasts for two hours. Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 1; Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #301; Likutey Moharan I:149 and II:101. For the time of Chatzot, see Magen Avraham on Orach Chaim 1:2 and 233:1.