Dvar Torah for Parshat Pinchas

Based on Likutey Moharan I, Lesson #30

“Moshe spoke to God, saying, ‘Let the Omnipotent God of all souls appoint a man over the community … Let God’s community not be like sheep without a shepherd.’ God said to Moshe, ‘Take Yehoshua son of Nun, a man of spirit, and lay your hands upon him.’ … Moshe did as God ordered him” (Numbers 27:15–17, 22).

“Each person must seek out a suitable teacher … one who can elucidate and give him to understand … perceptions of Godliness. This is something that requires a very, very great rabbi.”

Rebbe Nachman talks often about the concept of tzaddik. He explains what it is, why it’s important to a person’s Jewishness and to the Jewish people’s Jewishness. He tells the tzaddik wannabe that he’s undertaking a difficult project and he tells pretenders that they’re asking for trouble. He stresses that a Jew absolutely must have a rebbe who is a genuine tzaddik.  He teaches, though, that it is so very hard to find a genuine tzaddik, and why. Not only that! He warns us ordinary folk that we have to be careful not to select, or even endorse, someone who is unqualified to serve in that capacity.

Although the tzaddik needs us, we need the tzaddik more. Here are renderings of some selections from Reb Noson’s Likutey Tefilot, prayers he wrote based on Rebbe Nachman’s teachings.

Master of the Universe! You know that only the greatest tzaddikim can give us an inkling of understanding Godliness because our spiritual state is low and pathetic. We need a guide and leader who is beyond outstanding. The patient is so sick! He must have the greatest doctor!

When we were in Egypt, slaves of slaves, morally corrupt and spiritually diseased, on the 49th rung of degradation, you sent Moshe Rabbeinu to save and redeem us. Now it’s even worse. Only someone Moses-like can possibly do the job of saving us. But not only are we not privileged to attach ourselves to someone like that, You seem angry at us because You took from this world people we thought were candidates!

What are we going to do now? Especially someone like me, so spiritually diseased, crushed and broken. From head to toe I’m full of holes, wounded over and over. Won’t anyone have pity on me? Won’t anyone stand up for me? (Likutey Tefilot I, #30)

Please protect me, and save me, so that I don’t attach or affiliate myself with the wrong kind of rebbe, one whose behavior isn’t 100% what it should be, who talks the talk more than walking the walk. Help me to avoid his teachings, to not add his confusion to mine. In addition to everything else, following his advice sucks holiness out of my income which can lead to who-knows-what!

Better to help me any and all tzaddikim whose teachings are 100% unadulterated holiness, whose teachings stem from good ruach*, prophecy ruach, holy ruach. (Likutey Tefilot I, #54)

Omnipotent God of all souls, Ruler of Above and Below, Who holds in His hand the souls of the living and the dead: Pity me with Your brand of pity: Grant me a good and proper ruach, one that is for a sacred  life. Let me bring into myself, from genuine tzaddikim, a ruach of real life, one that is sacred.

These tzaddikim are what life is about! They make life worth living! Grant me the privilege of carrying their name, of being associated with them, to do them favors, run their errands, assist with their projects. Let me be attached to them like a branch to a tree, so that I share in their growth. Allow me to spend as much time with them as I can. (Likutey Tefilot I, #66)


agutn Shabbos!

Shabbat Shalom!

© Copyright 2011 Breslov Research Institute

* Ruach can mean breath, spirit or wind.

Author: Ozer Bergman

Ozer Bergman is an editor for the Breslov Research Institute, a spiritual coach, and author of Where Earth and Heaven Kiss: A Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman's Path of Meditation.

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