|Art by Ben Goossens|
Rebbe Nachman said he knew the roots of every Jewish soul. At first he said that he knew them in the written Torah, but not in the Oral Torah. He later said that he knew the root of each Jewish soul in the Oral Torah as well. He knew how to provide each person with a remedy [tikkun] based on the place where his soul was rooted.
There were many things he told us to do. These did not involve deep intentions or the unification of the transcendental worlds through Yechudim. The things he told those close to him to do were simple acts of piety.
Rebbe Nachman told his followers not to fast at all unless he prescribed it. He might tell one person to fast for a certain interval. He might tell another person to stay awake one night and abstain from eating animal products for 24 hours. There were many whom Rebbe Nachman told to fast on erev Rosh Chodesh. He told many people to study 18 chapters of Mishneh every day. He prescribed many courses of study, a different one for each person.
There was one course of study, however, that he prescribed for all, and that was the daily study of the codes. Rebbe Nachman said that even when one has no time, he should still study at least one law in the Sulchan Aruch each day, no matter where that law might be. He said that this is an important obligation for every Jew.
Another practice that he universally prescribed was for us to seclude ourselves in prayer each day [hitbodedot]. He told us to express our thoughts before G-d and ask that He have mercy and allow us to achieve true devotion. This secluded prayer was to be in the language we normally spoke.... This is already discussed at length in Rebbe Nachman's printed works.
Rebbe Nachman would look at the root of a man's soul and prescribe the practice necessary to correct each blemish. Each person then required a specific practice. Most of the practices seemed very simple. However, they were all prescribed on the basis of awesome hidden mysteries and were very far from simple in their effect. Rebbe Nachman did not reveal any of these mysteries. He simply prescribed a routine and did what was necessary with it. He said "Everything I prescribe is helpful as a remedy both for the past and the future, as well as after death, in the Messianic Age, during the resurrection, and in the Future Life."
Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom
translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan