I had quite a few comments and emails basically asking the same question: why does the truth matter?
Why stir things up?
Why ‘break things down’, when it’s so very uncomfortable and ‘unpleasant’, to see what’s really hiding under all these stones we’re flipping over.
I had a long car drive yesterday, and I was listening to Yosef Karduner’s ‘Simple Talk’.
The first song on the album basically answered the question in a very powerful, very simple way.
You can listen to it here:
It’s basically a passage from Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, (Likutey Moharan Lesson 7, Part I) that Yosef Karduner set to music.
Here’s a little of what the song says, in English:
Know: That the ikker (main point) of galut (exile) is really only due to a lack of emuna.
Because the ikker of the geula (redemption) depends upon emuna….
Help us to understand about this lack of emuna…
It’s impossible to get to emuna, other than by way of truth.
And it’s impossible to get to truth, other than by way of drawing close to the [true] tzaddikim and following their counsel….
For the advice of the [true] Tzaddik is totally truth.
The true Tzaddikim give us the true advice, of how to rectify ourselves and the world, and how to see things, and how to get close to God and develop real emuna.
When we follow that ‘true’ advice, things start to work, and things start to get sweetened, and we get geula the sweet way, instead of with all the suffering and pain, God forbid, that comes from clinging on to all the klipot, and the lies that fuel them.
Rabbenu’s advice is very simple:
Do an hour a day of hitbodedut, try and judge yourself over every thought, word and action, dance and clap to sweeten the harsh judgments, and work on really developing emuna that ein od milvado, there is only Hashem.
Prayer is what fixes the world.
Hitbodedut, Tikkun Haklalis, talking to God, sincere shmoneh esrei, dancing and clapping and singing – this is what is really fixing the world.
Plus developing a connection to the TRUE tzaddikim, so we can follow their TRUE advice for how to give God what He really wants from us.
If we don’t know who is a true tzaddik, and who at least might be what Rabbenu refers to as ‘Jewish demon Torah scholars’, we can be following the wrong spiritual path all of our life – with the best of intentions – and never get to where we so very much yearn to be.
I.e. in a world of true peace, harmony and emuna.
(Look at Likutey Moran Lesson 12, Part I, for more on these ‘Jewish demon Torah scholars. They are connected to the klipa of Lavan, that Hava shared some interesting thoughts about HERE.)
To those that say ‘who are we, to be engaged in this process of birur?’
Rabbenu says this (Lesson 5, part I, Likutey Moharan:)
Each and every individual must say to himself, ‘The entire world was created only for me’ (Sanhedrin 37a).
“And since the world was created for me, it is my responsibility to look after and have in mind the betterment of the world at all times, to fill the needs of the world and to pray for its inhabitants.
People are suffering all over the place, and that can and will intensify until the world of lies finally falls, and we have geula.
And each of us has a part to play, in dismantling that ‘world of lies’ – particularly the inner world of lies, that tells us we are such big tzaddikim, and that we never get things wrong, and that the problem is only and always in everyone else.
To those who ask ‘how do we know which path is correct, to bring geula?’
Take a look at Likutey Moharan Lesson 20, Part I, where Rabbenu expands in more detail on the ‘story’ he brings in the book ‘Tzaddik’ (in English translation), in the section called ‘New Stories, No. 209’.
It’s a story of many people sitting around someone who is ‘lying on the ground’, apparently teaching Torah to those who are sitting in a circle, surrounded by more and more circles of people.
This is an allusion to a spiritual leader, or ‘Tzaddik’. This ‘Tzaddik’ then dies, and here is what happens next:
After this, they all started to run and I ran after them. I saw two palaces – very fine, beautiful buildings. Sitting there were two commanders.
They all ran to these two commanders and started arguing with them. “Why did you deceive us?” They wanted to kill them.
The commanders fled outside. I saw them and their nature was very good in my eyes. I ran after them and I saw in the distance a beautiful tent (ohel). From there, they cried out to the commanders: ‘Turn back and seek out all the merits you have and take them in your hands, and go to the light which is hanging there. There, you will accomplish everything you want.
They turned back and took their merits – there were bundles of merits there and they ran to the light. The commanders came and threw their merits to the lights. From the light, sparks fell into their mouths.
Then the NOR, lamp, turned into a NahaR, river, and everybody drank from the river, and creatures were formed inside of them. Whey started to speak the creatures came out of them and I saw them running and returning. They were neither men nor any kind of animal – just creatures….
…In the meantime, there was an order to kill the commanders and they cut off their heads.
Meanwhile, the sequence of events returned to what it had been before…
…They ran to the commanders – everything happened as described before – except that now I saw that the commanders did not throw their merits to the light.
They simply took their merits and went to the light and broke their hearts, and began to beg and make entreaties before the light, and sparks fell from the light into their mouths.
They entreated more, and the light turned into a river, and the creatures were formed etc.
They told me, “These ones will live” – because the first ones deserved to be killed for throwing their merits to the light and not making entreaties, like these latter ones.
We see from here that ‘doing mitzvahs’ – while it’s wonderful and good – did not achieve the end result by itself.
Because people get puffed-up with pride and arrogance when they are doing a bunch of mitzvahs, and then they start demanding ‘Moshiach NOW!!!’ and thinking that God has to give it to them, because of all the mitzvahs they are doing.
That approach fails, and the ‘commanders’ have their head cut off and everything has to go begin over again, from scratch.
That second time, there’s another Tzaddik teaching circles of students, who also dies.
But now, the ‘commanders’ – the students that take over the leadership of the movement, and who are also trying to get to geula and Moshiach – try a different approach.
They are still doing mitzvot, and keeping Hashem’s Torah.
But they know that THIS isn’t what bring the geula, directly.
What brings the geula is ‘breaking their hearts’, and begging and entreating ‘the light’ – i.e. Hashem.
I.e. hitbodedut, judging ourselves, reciting Tikkun Haklalis, everything we highlighted above as Rabbenu’s main advice, or etzot.
In Lesson 20, Rabbenu explains a little more.
There, he says this:
“Moses was meant to take his dominion of might (i.e. staff) that he earned from his mitzvot and good deeds, and ‘gather the people’, for when people are gathered, there are evil ones among them, and the staff of might is meant to subdue their evil.
Then, ‘speak to the rock in their presence’….pouring out one’s words and prayers with supplication, like a pauper and a beggar.
‘To the rock’ refers to the Supernal Heart…
But Moses did not do this….'[H]e struck the rock twice…’ meaning that he struck the Supernal Heart, as one who grabs something forcefully and without consent, for he sought in the power of his good deeds…
“These were the waters of strife.”
For this reason, one should never pressure oneself for anything, but beg with supplication.
If God grants it, good, and if not, not.
All these ‘false messiahs’ started off with very beautiful intentions.
Rabbenu himself says about them:
I saw them and their nature was very good in my eyes.
But they were following the wrong advice, the wrong etzot, and it ended in disaster, both for them, and the people who were following after them.
So now, here we are again, trying the whole thing again, and this time, we need to proceed with maximum humility, maximum prayer, and to know that ‘doing one more mitzvah’ isn’t what’s going to bring Moshiach, especially if we’re trying to force the issue, and ‘assert ourselves’ against Hashem.
Prayer, hitbodedut, Tikkun Haklali, dancing and singing, mesirut nefesh and recognising that really, we are just spiritual paupers and beggars – this is what succeeds, where that other path failed.
It’s the difference between this:
L’chatchila Ariber (Niggun of the Rebbe Maharash): The tune and the name of this melody represent Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch’s famous adage on dealing with challenges:
“The world says, ‘If you can’t crawl under an obstacle, try to climb over,’ but I say, ‘At the outset, one should climb over!'”
And it makes all the difference in the world.