Thursday, September 14, 2017

One Small Step - One Giant Leap

Art - The Garden of Melancholia: Mike Worrall

from the writings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan

There was once a tzaddik who became very depressed and melancholy. This depression caused the tzaddik great difficulty, and it became worse and worse. He fell into lassitude and heaviness, where it was literally impossible for him to move.

He wanted to make himself happy and uplift himself, but it was impossible for him to do anything. Whenever he found something that would make him happy, the Evil One would find sadness in it. Therefore it was impossible for him to do anything to make himself happy, since in everything he found sadness.

He pondered G-d's kindness that "He did not make me a heathen" and realized that this could be a source of great joy, without any sadness.

{The main thing is to make a small beginning. G-d said "Open for Me like the eye of a needle, and I will open for you like the gates of the Temple" [Shir HaShirim Rabbah 5:3]. Thus, no matter how low a person is, if he makes even a single motion to serve G-d, it is something very great on high, and it can bring him back completely. [Likutey Halakhoth, Tefillin 5:43]  The main thing is to make the first move. If one begins even a little bit, one can go very high}

When a person tries to find joy in something that he himself did, it is possible to find sadness in every joy. No matter what he does, he can find shortcomings, and he will not be able to uplift himself and be happy. But in the fact that "He did not make me a heathen" there is no sadness. This is from G-d, G-d made him the way He did, and had pity on him, not making him a heathen. Since this was G-d's deed, there are no shortcomings in it, and hence there is no defect in this rejoicing. No matter what, there is an unimaginable difference between him and an idolator.

The tzaddik began to make himself happy with this. He rejoiced and uplifted himself little by little, continuing more and more, until he came to such a level of joy that he was on the same level of joy that Moses experienced when he went on high to receive the Torah. Through this uplifting and joy, he was able to fly many miles into the supernal universes.

He saw himself, and he was very far from the place where he had been originally. This bothered him very much. He felt that when he descended, he would be very far away from his original place. When it was discovered that he had disappeared, people would consider it a great wonder. The tzaddik did not want such publicity since he always wanted to "walk modestly with G-d". [Micah 6:8]

The joy came to an end, since joy has a limit. Therefore, joy begins automatically and ends automatically. When joy begins to end, it ends little by little. The tzaddik therefore descended little by little, coming down from the place to which he had flown during his time of joy. He eventually returned to the place from which he had ascended. He was very surprised, since he was in exactly the same place where he had been at first.

He realized that he had returned to the exact same place where he had been at first. Looking at himself, he realized that he had not moved at all, or if he had moved, it had been at most by a hairsbreadth. The hair on the head is the gate to the intellect. In Hebrew, the word sa'ar (hair) and sha'ar (gate) are the same. Therefore, if a person improves himself by a hairsbreadth, it can bring him back completely. Similarly, if a person strays from G-d by a hairsbreadth, it can do much damage [Likutey Halakhoth, Choshen Mishpat, Nezikin 4:3]

He had moved so little, that no one other than G-d could measure it. The tzaddik was very surprised at this. Here he had flown so far, through so many universes, and at the same time, he had not moved at all. This showed him how precious in G-d's eyes is even the slightest motion.

When a person moves himself even a hairsbreadth in this world, it can be considered more than thousands of miles, and even thousands of universes. This can be understood when we realize that the physical world is no more than the central point in the midst of the spheres. This is known to masters of astronomy. Compared to the supernal universes, the entire physical universe is no more than a dot.

When lines extend from a single point...
When lines extend from a central point, the closer they are to the point, the closer they are to one another. The further they extend from the point, the further such lines get from each other. Therefore, when the lines are very far from the point, they are also very far from each other. This is true, even though near the central point, they are extremely close to each other.

If one imagined lines drawn from the earth to the upper spheres (the orbits of the planets around the earth: a relativistic geocentric view of the universe) one would see that even if one moved a hairsbreadth, the movement would be reflected as a motion of thousands of miles in the upper spheres. It would be in the same ratio as the spheres are higher than the earth. The spheres must be very huge, since there are stars without number, and each star is at least as large as our planet.

This is all the more certainly true when one considers the supernal universe, compared to which, even the highest astronomical spheres are like nothing. Therefore, the distance between these extending lines in the supernal world is without measure. A movement of less than a hairsbreadth, so small that only G-d can estimate it, can consist of a passage through thousands of universes and thousands of miles in the supernal worlds. How much more so is this true when one travels a mile or more to serve G-d.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I wonder how this story would if the tzadik had converted to Judaism instead of being born a Jew!

Mikki Freedman said...

Then he certainly could have found happiness that the Creator of the world found purpose in creating him altogether and guiding him to the Truth!!