Once there was a child. A child who was happy, innocent, spontaneous and full of life. A child for whom the long arm of ‘physical appearances’ had not yet reached him, and his soul was still clean and free from all of the social norms.
HaRav Israel Asulin
Once there was a child. A child who was happy, innocent, spontaneous and full of life. A child for whom the long arm of ‘physical appearances’ had not yet reached him, and his soul was still clean and free from all of the social norms and external requirements which program the individual how to live.
He was a special creation with no masks.
He was free from the human demand to show at any given moment a different face, to don a smile when requested or a mature and understanding expression or a serious and important face or a listening and attentive face or a cute face or a learned expression…
He was free from all of these things. Free from all obligations or dictations to smile or be serious, to spread a smile across his face or to just smile with his eyes, to speak quickly or to leave the words inside…
Once there was a child and he was real, this child. It’s not a song or a story, this is me and you; this child who walked with spontaneity and satisfaction under the stars above, and he was the same as the way he felt in his heart. He smiled and laughed when he was happy. He cried when he wanted to cry, and shed tears when they came to him. He wanted everything that he felt a desire for, and he was not influenced by all of the demands which stop a person so much from being.
However here, as we all know, a sad change happened in the story.
The child grew up and the masks of life changed their form and color. Blue masks, clean and pure which only contain a young child and his pure desires, were exchanged for multi-color masks, loud and bold, which flicker upon them many different large and demanding personalities; parents, friends, relatives and teachers. All types of giant figures pinching your cheek, sometimes with angry expressions, and always expressing different types of “hey” while waving a raised, firm finger; a discouraging and reprimanding “Hey, hey, hey”, or a demanding and lacking patience “Hey!”, or a piercing “Hey!!”, or a “Hey” which is diminishing.
There, like a dwarf at the feet all those giants and their demands, something changes in our child. New rules take control of his life, pulling him out of the Garden of Eden of innocence. Rules which say ‘give and take’ or ‘don’t be different or just be like this’… ‘God help you if you’ll escape or forget!!’
The child stares at the changing screens, and slowly internalizes that the game of life is changing and he goes from a life of true fun to a state of emergency of survival in a monstrous situation.
Suddenly they don’t just love him because that is him and he is so sweet; suddenly in order to merit some love he needs to stand up to a heavy list of tasks. Suddenly they are not amazed at him the way he is, because he’s so special… in contrast, they reprimand him for who he is and require him to change to fit into the molds and he has no clarity if he wants to keep living…
So what if the molds are greater than his strength and abilities? – He should stretch himself and fit into their measurements! What if the mold is constricting to his spirit and will? He should constrict himself and choke himself into it…
There’s nothing that can be done, that’s life. The exterior reality demands of a person to put on a show non-stop. Somebody needs to always set up a display window which is fitting and proper, even if the ‘inside’ is completely different.
Thus each and every one of us became two, the ‘true self’ and the ‘external self’.
The external self took the place of the child, took control of him, distanced him from existing, blocked him from expressing himself, guarding all of his strengths and talents that God forbid he should not be revealed and cause embarrassment…
With every additional harnessing of the external self for the social dictates, the true self was pushed more inside, to more hidden and secretive depths. In the end he was buried in hidden depths, like a bottle of pure oil which accumulates its light and hides it in the darkness.
The years passed by, we grew up and became teenagers and afterwards adults and then elderly. However inside, below all of the layers, the child remained.
The child is a child. Thus, as he is, pure, full of innocence and vitality and desires. He is sobbing in a small and cruel dungeon, there they pushed him with no mercy. He is restricted in the darkness. Dried out, hungry and thirsty. Crying with no words about the long years of ‘being what I am not’. Living according to what is considered ‘yes’ in the eyes of others. Yearning for the moment when he will return to shine his light. Desiring to return and to be himself.
Has it ever happened to you that you melted in front of a pure and charming child who set his eyes upon you? Immediately you wondered about yourself- what just happened to me?! You are used to being stiff and distant. This is not fitting for you, to sigh with warmth at the cheek of some child, and gently caress in wonderment…
What’s happening to you? Why is your soul coming out all of a sudden?
You soul is revealed from within.
Suddenly, for a moment, the reflection of your inner child is revealed and your spine tingles, burning inside of you the same pure truth of truths.
Like a Jew in captivity who suddenly sees Jewish faces peeking in from the other side of the bars, the will is awakened inside of him to be free. Just the same way the child inside of you shakes in his dungeon, when suddenly the face of a gentle and pure child appears in front of his small window, reflecting himself like a clear reflection.
Because the child who causes you to melt so much, only comes to awaken inside of you your small child. Your reality. The purity of your true good point. It’s not the child that you see on the outside, the son or the grandson or the nephew or the neighbor; it’s the inner child knocking on the walls of your heart, pleading for life.
And you, the grown up- who serves everyone except for yourself- lift your eyes onwards, to the child outside. You smile to him and enjoy his sweetness. You don’t know that inside you have a soft and delicate child, waiting to cry from within you his cry. To smile from within you his smile. To pour out from your eyes his tears. To be silent through you his silence. To say from your mouth his words. To do his actions with your hands…
He is good, the true you, and he is a Jew, and clean and pure and sweet and fitting and beautiful and noble and beloved.
Just return to him already.
“Seventy names God called the Jewish people… he is called a youth as it says ‘Israel is a youth and His love’. He is called gentle as it is written ‘I was a son to my father, gentle and singular before my mother.’ He is called a child as it is written ‘a child of delights’. They are called straight because they walk with a straight heart in the ways of God. They are called innocent as it says ‘and the wholehearted will remain in it.’” (Midrash Shir Hashirim)
There is no need to look outside, to yearn for what does not exist or what cannot be obtained; everything is inside of you!
All that you need is to understand that you have inside a child and he is the true part of you. He is actually the most ‘you’. Even though you tried to deny his existence and to silence his voice, he was always there, screaming in anger about his stolen freedom. Waiting for you to return to him and redeem him from being ignored and trampled for so many years. Waiting for you to remove the handcuffs which restrain him and to bring him to freedom.
Just as in the Holy of Holies, above the Ark of the Covenant, there were the two faces of the Cherub, faces of children. So to in the Temple inside of every Jew, in the holiness of every soul and every home, there are the faces of pure cherubs, the faces of children!
When you’ll understand that you have a child like this inside, you will then want to reveal him anew.
The essence of a child is the foundation of hope and renewal. “Child” means constant rebirth. Invigorated renewal moment after moment. Every single moment is new, natural and fresh. “I will be born” is referring to the future. “Child” means giving birth in the present. Always new. A reality that does not get old, rather it is renewed constantly.
“The child is poor and wise, this alludes to the Tsaddik- who sustains himself with a little bit. A child, he is in his own eyes as if he is still a child.” (Avodat Yisrael, Pirkei Avot Chapter 4) “Rebbe Simcha Bunim of Psischa would say, according to the verse ‘Better is a poor but wise youth than an old and foolish king’ (Ecclesiates 4:13) – that the main thing is for a person to be new all the time. Because for this reason the evil inclination is called an ‘old king’- because he makes everything old. The good inclination is called a poor child- because he is a child and renews every day like something new. The good inclination is also called poor- as a sign of submission, and from this comes the happiness and renewal.” (Siach Sarfei Kodesh, first part, paragraph 186)
Once, when you were small and scared, you gave up on the child. You thought there was no need for him and you put him into the cellar of rejection and denial. However, today you understand that in those same cellars you also imprisoned yourself- your curiousness and your renewal, the creativity and the vigor, the humility and the simplicity, the innocence, the trust and the vitality itself.
Today you want to return to your child. To be friends with yourself, with your spirituality. Today you agree to receive the child the way he is, with the embarrassing things he does and with the desires that he wants; and if you will be wise to return to the child, then you will finally find in your life the pure joy of life, the happiness of a child.
You are an adult, but live your blessed adult life with the child inside of you. Live your life, child inside, be who you are. Go already towards your part of the Torah, whatever that may be, however, it should be yours. Fulfill the commandents of God according to your natural feeling. Don’t be embarrassed and shut down. Don’t be afraid, you’re right. Don’t be suspicious. Cry when you feel pain. Laugh when you are happy. Experience what you are going through, give it words and say them. Sing the song that your heart is singing. A simple song, which never ends, which expresses the sound which wants to say: ‘It is never too late, it is never closed.’ Breathe your precious breath- the candle of Hashem, the soul of a man.
Zechariah the prophet already prophesized about the days of the future redemption (Chapter 8): “Thus said Hashem, Master of Legions: Old men and old women will once again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with his staff in his hand because of advanced age; and the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.” It will come a day like this of deep redemption, a day when elderly men and women sitting in the streets of the holy city of Jerusalem, will also be like young boys and girls playing! The child in them won’t be thrown and chained in dark basements. They will live their lives with renewal and vitality, with eternal clinging to their true internal roots. The child in them stands up and lives.
Be ready. Exact. Truthful. Real. Be open. Be a child, like this, simply… strive to get there.
 The internal chamber in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem
 A collection of Breslov teachings and stories