Two weeks ago I posted about the new Haredi Hasidism – Zilberstein, Erlanger, Morgenstern, Kluger, and Schwartz. For those who want a taste of this new movement there is a new pamphlet put out for Elul 2013 by Rabbi Chaim Kramer’s Breslov Research Institute. They are edited to be readable and edit out the original oral style. Here are some selections, read them and let me know what you think. Educators, why do you think people are turning to this?
Elul: Returning to HaShem Here is the pdf.
Rabbi Morgenstern works with the Breslov emphasis on prayer and overcoming hindrances. Rabbi Kluger works with the Breslov idea of confession amplifying it into a form of self-therapy in conversation with God.
ENTERING INTO THE AVODAH OF TESHUVA -Yitzchok Myer Morgenstern
Every Jew wants to repent and achieve every good and holy thing, but the moment he looks toward others around him he falls into doubt. When we pay too much attention to those around us, we lose our inspiration because living inspired is considered unusual.
a person must instead focus on the holiness of the tzaddikim of his generation, not just his normal acquaintances, and not even just the tzaddikim of his generation but the greatest tzaddikim of all the generations.
Even when a person feels inspired to serve Hashem, nevertheless the sitra achra interrupts him and tries to tempt him away from his purpose with all sorts of nonsense. The person strays blindly after these temptations …
Yet if a person is not sufficiently the master of his own appetites, the sitra achra quickly overwhelms him when he descends to do the avodah that draws him, like a predator rising from the depths.
The main purpose of our existence is to understand and know Hashem wherever we find ourselves. When we do this, we uplift and reveal Hashem’s presence from within the lower worlds
The first step in the process of genuine repentance is simplicity, as Rebbe Nachman said many times. One must be wary of stoking the heart into a state of burnout, because an overabundance of oil will quench the flame altogether
The most elementary level of approaching dveikus is through the letters of Torah study and prayer themselves, since Hashem enclothes Himself in countless garments until He is actually enclothed by the holy letters that we can read black on white. Even though this garment is relatively coarse, nevertheless we must begin by seeking dveikus at this level. We must contemplate them in the manner of accepting upon ourselves the yoke of heaven—this is the avodah of bearing the yoke of Torah and prayer expressed through the letters.
one can then rise to the next level of feeling love and awe of Hashem.
When one stands to pray, he must forget about everything, and only think of Hashem alone and bind himself to the letters of Hashem’s Torah and prayers. He must forget himself and all that he lacks.
Even so, one must be sure not to jump levels or abandon the path of simplicity, because this provokes the sitra achra. The Komarna Rebbe taught that true dveikus completely destroys all of the klippos and rectifies one’s soul through all of its former incarnations going all the way back to Adam HaRishon.
During this month of Elul we must learn to be “experts at running”—to rise to the level of the greatest of tzaddikim through full repentance—and at the same time we must be “experts at returning”—to move slowly and gradually in accordance with our level, so that the sitra achra does not cause us to fall.
ASERES YEMEI TESHUVAH – A TIME TO REPENT – Avraham Tzvi Kluger
TESHUVAH FROM WITHIN
Every year during Elul and the Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, we try our best to do teshuvah, to improve in areas in which we are deficient and undertake to do better the next year. Yet often, after the year has passed, we find ourselves in the same place, trying to correct the same issues we’d dealt with the previous year.We wonder, “Where did all my resolutions go? What happened with my sincere teshuvah?”
True repentance is the rectification of the root of sin. It is tackling the underlying problem, the thoughts and emotions that caused the sin, as it it written, “The evil one shall abandon his way and the wicked one his thoughts, and he shall return to Hashem, and He shall have mercy on him.” We must correct the faulty mindset that led us to sin,
sin, is also a result, an external symptom indicating something faulty inside a person. Undertaking to improve one’s behavior without addressing the underlying cause of that behavior is like a sick person taking a painkiller instead of healing the illness itself. What we need to change is our general attitude and perspective in life
To repent means to change one’s inner essence.
RETURNING TO OUR TRUE GOAL
The general root cause of all sin is that a person forgets his true purpose in life and makes his own desires his purpose.
The cause of sin is that a person forgets the purpose of his creation and becomes caught up in the trivialities of this world,
As part of the teshuvah process, we are required to confess and express our repentance in words so that it emanates from the soul into our practical lives; the internal change should become something distinct and tangible that we could indeed put into practice. As we said, there is also a deeper kind of confession, the inner implication of this mitzvah. We can use the power of speech to reveal hidden roots in our soul.
Our holy sefarim extol the importance of intimate and natural conversation with Hashem, in the manner one talks to a friend. With time, a Jew learns to discern Hashem’s messages and answers in the form of thoughts that surface in his mind, thus enabling him to conduct a “conversation” with the Ribono shel Olam. We need to become accustomed to expressing ourselves naturally and openly to Hashem, even for a few short moments, on a regular, everyday basis and gradually develop a natural, open relationship with the Ribono shel Olam.
Through this intimate conversation and close connection with Hashem, we will be able to discover deficiencies that we couldn’t have identified on our own. Unwittingly, people tend to fool themselves, as they are afraid to face their shortcomings. Acknowledgement of one’s true situation could lead a person to despair, for he would think he is undesirable to Hashem in this way, chas veshalom. That’s why he will try to evade it. But when we maintain a close, regular relationship with Hashem, His closeness and love becomes so clear and tangible to us that even when we become aware of our most severe weaknesses, it is still evident to us that Hashem is with us,
Let us take the example of a woman who is habitually late for candlelighting on erev Shabbos. Somehow, she always finds herself rushing to complete last-minute chores after the siren signifying the imminent approach of Shabbos has sounded. Even If she resolves firmly to begin ushering in Shabbos on time, she will, in fact, remain with the same mindset and with the same challenge, and it is doubtful that she will be able to keep to her commitment.
The first basic step of her repentance would be to acknowledge and clarify for herself that her true foremost goal in life is to do Hashem’s will and reveal His honor. This clarity and true desire will help her withstand her challenges. Her priorities have changed; her inner desire has been revealed and her external desires have become less significant. On Erev Shabbos, she will repeatedly remind herself, “Ribono shel Olam, all I want is to do Your will.” This will give her the strength she needs to drop some of her expectations and greet Shabbos on time and in a relaxed frame of mind.
If she is accustomed to talking to Hashem, she can try to pinpoint the specific cause of the problem so she can solve the root of the issue. She might find a quiet moment and open up to Hashem: “Ribono shel Olam, what is really going on? Why am I always so pressured on Friday and cramming in more and more things to do?” She would pause for a moment to allow her thoughts to flow freely, and then express her thoughts: “What is really pressuring me on Friday?” After another moment of calm, she will realize, “I’m pressured because I want to make sure I am measuring up as a good and efficient balabusta. I do not like to admit it, but I’m not really so concerned about kevod Shabbos; it’s more my perfectionism that drives me. I want the Shabbos meals and the house to be just so.” But then she will become aware of inner thoughts that have been concealed even from herself, and she will express them in words: “Actually, I can’t really say that I don’t care about kevod Shabbos. I do care.
it is a relief to finally have the problem in front of her in plain view. It’s like having a load taken off her chest. She can now reframe the thoughts that were the root of the problem. She now realizes that she has to prepare for Shabbos the way Hashem wants. The following Friday, she will easily detect her pressure for perfection and be able to find within herself the true desire to do Hashem’s will. Now, with Hashem’s help, she is able to live with the correct mind-set and embracing the right goals.
As a second example, let us take a woman who often feels slighted by a neighbor’s or sister-in-law’s attempts to correct her or give her advice about her children’s chinuch or home-related issues, and finds herself talking lashon hara about them. Resolving not to speak lashon hara will achieve little.
But if she regularly talks to the Ribono shel Olam in a natural fashion, she will be able to solve the root of the problem together with Him.
She will then “listen” to her thoughts and discover deeper levels inside herself: ” I feel she looks down on me, underestimates my skill and understanding – and I can’t take that!” Then, with help of Hashem, she will try to pinpoint the source of the problem: “I really shouldn’t care so much what others think about me. You, Ribono shel Olam, know me best, and You know the truth. What do I care what my neighbor thinks about me?” With this new awareness, she will be able to change her inner reaction to her neighbor’s criticism, and thus reach true repentance.
This is an English translation of the chapter Aseres Yemei Teshuvah from the sefer Oscha Avakeish – taken from the shiurim of Harav Avraham Tzvi Kluger, shlit”a. The Hebrew sefer was published by Mechon Pe’eir Yisrael, Beis Hamidrash Nezer Yisrael, Beis Shemesh.
The pamphlet has discussions of Rav Nachman’s teachings on repentance and a nice write up of the Breslov customs for Elul from Dovid Sears. The essay by Nisson Dovid Kivak, and important Breslov teacher of the aforementioned new Hardi Hasidim was not appropriate for an excerpt. But the pamphlet has a great piece by Rabbi Elazar Mordechai Kenig from Breslov of Tzfat, an important voice of 21st century Breslov.
TESHUVA AND DESIRE –Elazar Mordechai Kenig
The foundation of our Divine service is ratzon/desire. Our ratzon/desire to come close to G-d and to please Him should always be strong. It may be the case that in general we desire to do what G-d asks of us and yet one should know that not all desires are equal. In a matter of a few minutes, we may experience tremendous differences and distinctions in our ratzon/desire. Nonetheless, the guiding principle is constantly to desire and yearn for G-d.
Reb Noson says that it is impossible to describe in writing the greatness of our ratzon and yearning to do the Will of G-d. He explains that the entire reason the soul is compelled to descend from the upper worlds into this physical world is only for the sake of ratzon. Only here can we merit to attain complete and perfect desire for HaShem and His Torah.
Moreover, without material desires, we would be overwhelmed by our innate desire for G-d – we wouldn’t want to be here at all. The desire of the soul to return to her source is so all-consuming that existence within a body would be impossible even for a short time. Therefore, G-d created us with a need to sustain ourselves through eating and drinking. This allows the soul to exist in the body, despite its innate and intense desire for G-d.
THE MITZVOS AND DESIRE
Reb Noson explains that it was out of G-d’s loving-kindness, that He gave us the 613 mitzvos of the Torah. The mitzvos purposefully involve material things. The essence of every mitzvah is that it is an articulation of the Creator’s Will.
Since the 613 mitzvos are an expression of G-d’s chesed, loving kindness, through their observance we can experience G-d’s love and desire for us, His people. In this light, we can understand that the Torah and mitzvos were not given in order to make our lives burdensome. Rather, the opposite is true. We should rejoice in them, since G-d gave them to the Jewish people in order to benefit us.
Therefore, a person needs to be very careful not to fall into selfishness and physical desire. If
he does, he creates a blemish in the Ratzon D’Kedushah, Holy Desire. This is why it is important to make do with a minimum of material things in this world, in order to prevent blemishing Holy Desire. Through simplicity and wholeheartedness, a person can fulfill G-d’s Will even through physical things, by using them according to the laws of the Torah.
Anger, too, flows from one’s blemished desires. When we are worthy to elevate all our desires to G-d’s ratzon, then we live in tranquillity, without anger or jealousy. We know that if G-d wants to give us something, He will give it; if He gives it to someone else, this, too, is His Desire. With this awareness, we can experience all of the other person’s pleasure and happiness without jealousy. Hate, anger, and jealousy all come from blemished desire.
Even when one stumbles by not acting according to G-d’s Desire, there is a spiritual remedy: teshuva -repentance, or return. The first step of teshuva is regret. One realizes that he would have been better off if he had not acted a certain way. He acknowledges that he really has no desire for what he did. Through teshuva, a person can repair anything.
Rebbe Nachman, tells us that it is forbidden to despair. Our misdeeds originated with blemished desire and now through teshuva and increasing our desire we can actually come to an even stronger desire for G-d.
When a person realizes that this world amounts to nothing, he will not be drawn after worldly materialism and cravings. Then even whilst feeling very distant from HaShem, it is in this distance, a person can begin to long and yearn for G-d. Through regret and teshuva, a person has the power to repair all blemishes.
Rest of the pamphlet- Elul: Returning to HaShem