Even if you are not Jewish, I highly recommend taking the time to read some of his teachings, because, although they were written in the middle of the 19th century, the message of Rabbi Nachman’s teachings are still applicable today.
If you want to skip this little introduction to who Rabbi Nacham is and why he is special…you can go directly to the first chapter that I have posted. “Easy Money, Chapter 1“…otherwise keep reading.
Rebbe Nachman, a great grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Hasidic Judaism, breathed new life into the Hasidic movement by combining the esoteric secrets of Judaism (the Kabbalah) with in-depth Torah (Old Testament) scholarship. He attracted thousands of followers during his lifetime and his influence continues until today. Rebbe Nachman’s religious philosophy revolved around closeness to God and speaking to God in normal conversation “as you would with a best friend”.
Rebbe Nachman lived at a time of controversy between Hasidim and more traditional Orthodox Jews, known as Misnagdim (opponents) for their opposition to hasidism. It was also a time of friction between Hasidim and proponents of Jewish emancipation. During his lifetime, Rebbe Nachman also encountered opposition from within the Hasidic movement itself, from people who questioned his new approach to Hasidut. Many within the Hasidic movement felt that Rabbi Nachman’s teachings deviated from classical Judaism and from the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.
The reason that I chose to write about this particular Rabbi (spiritual leader) is because I feel that his influence set the stage for a different understanding of God and our relationship with Him.
In fact, the primary commandment (or mitzvah) that Rabbi Nachman stressed was the mitvah to be happy.
If you have read any of my other posts, you might know that I was once an “Orthodox Jew”, but because I felt that there was too much contradiction within the community and logic did not override ritual…I made a very difficult decision (which took a lot of guilt and pain to come to) to discontinue my affiliation with “Orthodoxy”.
However, I still hold ancient text…particularly the Old Testament (the Torah) as very vital pieces of knowledge that must not be ignored, but learned and interpreted in relation to one’s personal experiences.
Rabbi Nachman was possibly the first Hasidic teacher to understand the threat of those that did not believe that a God existed. He understood that people could be easily convinced that there was no God because (according to Kabbalah) God had to withdraw his proof of existence to make room for creation. This is a kabbalistic concept which is a little hard to understand, but the idea is that in order to make room for something other than God (creation), God had to retract himself. Accordingly, in the space where God contracted Himself, there is an absence of God and, if one allows him/herself to go to this space….God will not be found.
So, Rabbi Nachman constructed his teachings in a way to bring the concept of God and spirituality close to the heart of people – where it could be felt the most. As opposed to teaching fear and submission, Rabbi Nachman went with the theory that everyone must develop their own personal relationship with God which must include praying in one’s own words and native language about personal hopes and dreams. Rabbi Nachman suggested that talking to God should be done in the wilderness to achieve complete quiet and isolation from the outside world in order to develop the utmost closeness with the Creator.
For this reason and many others, if you ever have the opportunity to read any of his translated work, please do….It is enlightening and thought provoking and I wouldn’t say this if I, myself, haven’t felt comfort in his words.
Everyday from today, I am going to try a provide you with a chapter from some writings based on the teachings of Rabbi Nachman. I have been reading these teachings lately and they only confirm how I feel and I feel like they need to be shared with everyone….especially those of you who are going through a rough spot in life.
Continue to “Easy Money, Chapter 1“, if you are interested in reading some of Rabbi Nachman’s teachings translated into English
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Life is full of controversy so here is a thought to live by: