Parshat Vayakhel 5782

Parshat Vayakhel 5782💡
Our prayers make an impression. Everything good we do makes a difference.👏
I heard a powerful story💥 this past Shabbos morning, a version of a story I heard years ago from my Rabbi, which has stayed with me ever since.🤔 In his Shabbos morning drasha, the Rav of a local shul here asked why the Torah always calls Betzalel, the main builder of the Mishkan, by his grandfather’s name, as well as his father’s name? He explained that it was in the merit of the self-sacrifice of his grandfather, Hur, that Betzalel merited the divine wisdom to build the Mishkan. He the n told a story which took place in the early days of the State of Israel, in Tel Aviv. There was a young man who was raised in a very secular home. He had become observant when he grew up, much to the disapproval of his family. They asked him, what happened?🤔💔 He told them that when he was walking down a certain city street one day, he was asked by an old man standing outside a shul to help make a minyan. At first he refused, having never set foot in a shul before. However, in the end he agreed to the old man’s request. Eventually, something about the shul and the way the men prayed with sincerity made an impression on him, and he began to go the shul on his own. The rest was history, as they say. As he was telling this over to his family, his father spoke up and said, ‘that’s not the real reason.’🧐 His father told them that his father, the young man’s grandfather, who had come from Europe, was one of the founders of that little shul where his grandson had started to learn and pray years later. His grandfather used to sit in the shul everyday, praying and crying over how far his son had drifted from Judaism since coming to Israel. The boy’s father then turned and said to him, he didn’t win with me, but now I see how his prayers have helped you.
Our prayers matter. Everything we invest in our children and our loved ones matters. It has an effect, even if we might not see the immediate, positive results. Shabbat Shalom🕯️🕯️

The Twelve Steps

This quote comes from the 8th Step in the 12 Step program.  True healing comes about when we can forgive others and acknowledge our mistakes.  

Trusting in a Higher Power and knowing everything happens for a reason, and is ultimately for our best, can help us let go of our resentments and bad feelings.

Just like when my daughter spilled her entire hot chocolate on herself and on the floor this morning after she got dressed 😬.  Everything worked out.  We got out on time, she looked great when we said goodbye, and it was easy to clean up.  If only I had that perspective in the moment.  That a Higher Power is right with me, rooting me on, and guiding the way 💗🙏.

Parshat Ki Tisa 5782

Parshat Ki Tisa 5782💡💡


I am Hashem who heals you.❤️
I’ve had very little time to stop and write something this week. However, I just wanted to share a short idea which gave me strength and encouragement in the past few days. Rebbe Nachman teaches in Likutei Moharan🔥, 78th Torah, that our speech, our words have tremendous power to help us come closer to Hashem, to believe in Him more, and to help us in times of need. Our words of Torah and tefilah come with us wherever we go👏. He says that just like the mother bird watches over and takes care of her chicks, so to our good words and prayers accompany us.
We say in the daily prayers, “Because You are the King, the faithful Healer, and you are merciful.” There is a new Eitan Katz song🎻 that came out recently on this prayer. The song has been stuck in my head since I heard it the first time💥. I felt the past few days that the more I say these words the more I feel them and believe in them. May we all merit the healing that we need.

Parshat Tetzaveh 5782💡

This weeks parsha deals almost exclusively with the service of the Kohanim. One of the special vestments of the Kohen Hagadol, Aharon, was the choshen,❤️ a special breastplate that he wore during the service in the Mishkan. On the choshen were inscribed the names of the twelve tribes. Aharon Hacohen carried the Jewish people on his heart always💖. We too can walk in the path of Aharon Hacohen, we too can carry others in our hearts. In our prayers and in our actions. But Rebbe Nachman teaches an important point. In the 34th teaching in Likutei Moharan🔥, it is taught that pain and shame cause a person’s heart to break. When your heart is broken it is hard to carry others in your heart ❤️. The pain and shame cause us to make distance in our relationships and fall into unhealthy behaviors. How do we find healing for our broken hearts💔, so that we can give to others? It is taught in the 12 step program that part of the healing process is trying to heal our relationships and making amends🤗. Healing and recovery is achieved by connecting to others who support this process and love us unconditionally. Supporting our growth and seeing our good👍. Finding a support group, good friend, or counselor can help😃. We can heal our broken hearts 💗 and start to develop deep and loving relationships with others.🙏
Shabbat Shalom🕯️🕯️

Joey Rosenfeld on Brokenness

A friend of mine sent me this quote recently, while he was listening to Joey Rosenfeld’s interview on the Meaningful People podcast. I think it is a very powerful insight which complements my last article about the beauty of a broken heart. Joey Rosenfeld is a brilliant young teacher and therapist living in St. Louis, Missouri. Shabbat Shalom, Moshe.

I think everybody is broken. But I don’t think being broken is a symptom of not being good enough. I think being broken is, the word I like to use is constitutive of being human. Meaning it’s the very birthplace of being a human being. Just as Hashem, as we’re taught, created the world with acts of concealment and then shattering, so too our experiences come about with concealment and  shattering. The goal is not to be perfect. The goal is to own our brokenness, own our imperfections and find a way to serve Hashem not in spite our imperfections, but specifically through our imperfections. That way, we are bringing the world back up to G-d, so to speak. This is a pre-condition to the human experience. The question is, to what degree do we recognize our brokenness. In a clinical sense, to what degree does our brokenness interfere with our ability to function. 

Mindfulness According to Rebbe Nachman 9- A Broken Heart

What does it mean to have a broken heart?  Is having a broken heart the same thing as sadness?  What is the difference between them?  We touched on the subject of sadness in the first article in this series- Mindfulness According to Rebbe Nachman.  Let us explore what Rebbe Nachman teaches us regarding these questions.

Rebbe Nachman teaches in the book Sichos HaRan (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom) that a broken heart and sadness are not the same thing whatsoever.  A broken heart is in the heart, while sadness comes from the spleen.  Sadness comes from the other side (which is a reference to the evil inclination, the side of impurity), and Hashem despises it.  However, a broken heart is very beloved and precious before God.  Nevertheless, Rebbe Nachman says, a person is in danger of falling into sadness if they walk around all day with a broken heart.  Therefore, a person needs to set aside a certain amount of time each day to have a broken heart in personal prayer, but the rest of the day, he should try to be only happy.  Why is sadness so shunned in Hashem’s eyes?  Hashem despises sadness because it is the evil inclination’s greatest weapon.  More than the evil inclination wants us to sin against God; he wants us to be sad and downtrodden.  When we are sad, we lose our willpower and our faith in ourselves.  Rebbe Nachman explains that sadness comes over a person when they are angry and upset with Hashem, they have complaints over the fact that he is not doing their will.  On the other hand, a broken heart is like a child who pleads before their father and cries because they have grown distant from their father.  Their broken heart causes them to strive to come closer to Hashem.  Rebbe Nachman also reveals how we can tell if we were able to have a broken heart: after a broken heart comes joy.  That is a sign if a person had a broken heart, when they experience happiness afterwards.  (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, teachings 41, 42 and 45)

Recently I asked a Breslov teacher, who teaches in a community I am a member of, a personal question: When someone goes through a difficult challenge, or a difficult event in life, sometimes there is a feeling of anger, why did this happen?  Why did Hashem do this to me?  I do not understand why it is good for me.  (I asked him) How can we find healing for these questions?  How can we heal this wounded place inside of us, which sometimes feels angry with Hashem?  He answered: I do not know how to heal completely this place in our souls.  However, someone who regularly makes time for personal prayer, they seek to live a life of faith in Hashem, and they work on thanking Hashem for all of the blessings and good things they have in life, it is harder for them to be angry with Hashem.  This is because they know and feel that Hashem wants the best for them and even does for them many kindnesses.  As a result, it is easier to believe that even what seems in our eyes to be against our will and not good, there is something good hidden inside this difficulty.

Life is difficult; there are many challenges.  We all experience this in our lives, each person in their own way.  Sometimes we feel broken by the difficulties and pain we experience in life.  The Kotzker Rebbe famously said that there is nothing more complete than a broken heart.  When we admit to ourselves and admit it before God- I feel so broken over this, it is so painful, I do not know what to do, please help me; we open a space in our hearts and our souls for healing.  Why is there nothing more complete than a broken heart?  Because this world is imperfect.  This world is not our final goal; it is temporary.  Our Sages describe this world as a world where the truth is hidden.  The aspect of completion, I believe, is when we recognize that only Hashem can help us, only He is perfect and complete and only He can heal our broken hearts.  We open ourselves to healing the broken places inside when we go beyond this imperfect and confusing world.  We turn to Hashem.  We have the power with our prayers to plead with a broken heart before Hashem for help and for healing.  We can ask him to help us always feel that He is a loving father and our best friend, He is always by our side.  There is nothing more complete (in this world) than a broken heart.

‘It is very good when a person can pour out their words and their heart before Hashem, pleading for compassion like a son who is longing for their father… How good is it when someone awakens their heart with supplications until they cry and shed tears before their Father in Heaven.’ (Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, 7th teaching)

You can also read this article on the Lost Princess Initiative website!: lpitorah.org/the-wholeness-of-a-broken-heart/

Mindfulness According to Rebbe Nachman 8- Shabbat

Every week we have an opportunity to connect to a space in time that is unique, special and different from the other days of the week, Shabbat.  Every week on Shabbat, we can return to our essential selves and to our eternal connection with God.  We can leave behind the struggles of the week, the pain and the anxiety of the week and enter a space of healing.  We have the space and the time to connect with family and friends, and reflect upon what truly matters in life.  Shabbat is an incredible opportunity to be more conscious of spirituality.  There is nowhere to run to, nothing to chase.  A feeling of peace descends upon the world.  Let us explore a little bit what makes Shabbat such a special day.

Shabbat gives us true freedom.  Rebbe Nachman teaches that a person needs to be very careful to be happy and good hearted on Shabbat, because the spiritual levels and the holiness of Shabbat are very great and precious.  By being happy on Shabbat our fear and awe of Heaven is completed, meaning that our awareness of God is elevated and connected to true knowledge.  During the six days of the week, it is possible to have all kinds of fears that are foolish.  The feeling of servitude that we sometimes experience during the week causes this foolishness.  When a person feels enslaved, their mind is not free.  Their mind is confused.  However, on Shabbat we become free of this servitude.  When a person is free and not in the exiled state of servitude, then their mind and knowledge are complete.  The main aspect of this freedom that we experience on Shabbat is through delighting and being happy on Shabbat.  Through this state of happiness, someone can leave their exile.  By rejoicing on Shabbat, we are able to rectify all of our fallen fears as well, because when we have true knowledge we see that there is really no reason to be afraid of this thing or this person.  Being happy on Shabbat gives us true knowledge, and this enables us to be truly free. (Likutei Moharan, 17th teaching, Part Two)

Shabbat is also the aspect of teshuva, returning to Hashem, as the verse says “and you will return to Hashem, your God.” (Devarim, Chapter 30, Verse 2)  In the future, when we merit the final redemption, we will merit a day that is completely like Shabbat, a day of complete teshuva.  We will reach higher and higher levels of the knowledge of Hashem.  We will repent on our previous levels of spiritual knowledge and perceptions, because we will know that there are so many new levels we still have not obtained.  The sages call Shabbat a taste of the World to Come, because every Shabbat we connect in a deeper way to holiness, to Hashem and His Torah.  Reb Noson adds that from this we see Hashem’s tremendous love for His people.  In His mercy, He gave us this amazing gift, which was hidden away in secrecy, Shabbat.  Therefore, we need to try to receive this wonderful gift with love and great joy, because through the gift of Shabbat we can all merit to return to Hashem, no matter what we have been through during the week.  For many people it is hard for them to return to Hashem due to the battles they have with the evil inclination.  Every day the evil inclination tries again to knock us down.  This causes people to become dejected and to stop trying to come closer to God and to their true essence.  The main help and salvation that we have is the power of the holiness of Shabbat, which is so awesome.  Therefore, we need to connect ourselves to the holiness of Shabbat every day of the week; we need to carry it into the six days of the week. (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Shabbat, 7th teaching)

Rebbe Nachman also teaches that Shabbat is so holy and elevated that even our eating on Shabbat is different.  He says that the main way that we honor Shabbat is through our eating, because eating on Shabbat is very precious and it is actually only spiritual.  Therefore, it is a great mitzvah to eat well on Shabbat, to eat special meals and special foods that we enjoy.  Our service of eating on Shabbat also helps us to rectify any aspect of desecrating the Shabbat we might have done mistakenly. (Likutei Moharan, Teaching 277, Part One)

The holiness of Shabbat gives life and meaning to the six, mundane days of the week.  All of the challenges, pain, and anxieties of the week fade away as we light the candles and accept Shabbat with the special prayers of Kabbalat Shabbat.  The holy Arizal (Rav Yitzhak Luria ztz” l) and his students in the city of Tzfat introduced these prayers, about 500 years ago.  Many times I have thought to myself at some point during the day of Shabbat, ‘Thank God, I feel so far away from where I was on Erev Shabbat!’  In those moments, I feel so much more connected.  Connected to Hashem, myself and to my family.  I feel a feeling of happiness and peace inside.  Shabbat heals us with true faith.  God’s kingship over the world is revealed on Shabbat and we feel the healing of His presence in our lives.  We can merit to obtain this faith, knowledge and consciousness every week on the awesome day of Shabbat.

“By keeping Shabbat a person draws upon themselves the light of Mashiach; also by doing teshuvah (a person draws upon themselves the light of Mashiach).” Sefer HaMidot, the Book of Traits, Mashiach, 5th teaching

(The inspiration for this article came from Chapter 2 of The Story of Our Lives, by Yaakov Klein, and from a series of classes on Shabbat by Joey Rosenfeld)

Mindfulness According to Rebbe Nachman 7- Lag B’Omer

There is a lot of interest today in a part of the Torah which is becoming more and more revealed in our time, Penimiut HaTorah, the inner light of the Torah.  What does the inner light of the Torah mean?  What does it mean to learn the inner light?  Is this part of the Torah for everyone?

Rebbe Nachman explains, in lesson 33 in part one of Likutei Moharan that the inner light of the Torah is Hashem’s presence.  Hashem put his light inside the Torah.  It is the Godliness which is found inside the Torah and it’s middot, the character traits taught by Torah and the specific details of each mitzvah.  In the inner light of the Torah Hashem’s presence can be felt and discovered.

Rebbe Nachman also teaches in Likutei Moharan, in the 7th teaching, part two, that a true tsaddik, a true leader like Moshe Rabeinu has mercy on the Jewish people.  He is always trying to help them correct their ways and return to Hashem.  The heaviest burden that a person can carry is the burden of sin.  The Jewish soul, due to its special holiness, cannot bear this burden.  The tsaddik helps the Jewish people have true knowledge and awe of Heaven, and this helps them leave behind their sins.  The only reason a person falls into sin is due to foolishness, they lack knowledge that Hashem is the King and He rules over everything.  They do not feel, experience His presence in that moment of sin.  The tsaddik reveals to the Jewish people the true knowledge of Gd.  He is also able to reach each person, on whatever low level they might find themselves on, and show them that no matter what, Hashem is still with them and close to them.  He strengthens them not to despair, in any situation.

Yaakov Klein explains this concept in his incredible new book, The Story of Our Lives, an elucidation of Rebbe Nachman’s famous tale- The Lost Princess.  The tsaddikim make it possible for every Jew to connect to the awesome, inner light of the Torah.  That is their task and their mission.  The tsaddik’s entire mission is to help Jews escape the cycles of lowliness and sin mentioned above, by granting them access to the inner wisdom of the Torah. (The Story of Our Lives, pages 239-240)

During this month of Iyar, we have one of the most special days on the Jewish calendar, Lag B’Omer, the celebration of the yahrzeit of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai.  It is such an incredible experience to be there on Lag BOmer.  Rebbe Shimon was one of the great sages of the period of the Mishna, and the author of the Holy Zohar.  Why do we celebrate the passing of this great Tsaddik?  Why does his celebration drawn so many thousands of Jews, of every different type you could imagine, to the small town of Meron in Northern Israel? There are certain tsaddikim who are so great that any Jew can connect to them, because these tsaddikim are connected to the souls of all of the Jewish people.  They are like the root of the tree, while we are like the branches.  They see every single person’s soul, and they see what their special purpose is in the world.  One of these exalted tsaddikim was Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai.  He reveled the inner, hidden light of the Torah that was hidden away since it was given to Moshe at Mt. Sinai.  We are celebrating the awesome light of the Holy Zohar that he revealed in the world.  His book, the Zohar, is a powerful revelation of true knowledge and true faith in Hashem.  Rebbe Shimon said that through his work, the Zohar, the Jewish people would leave the exile.  The light of his book, the Zohar, heals the Jewish souls from the suffering of exile and helps them hold on strong until the final redemption. 

At the beginning of Rebbe Nachman’s magnum opus, Likutei Moharan, before the first teaching, after the introduction, there is short teaching about the greatness of Rebbe Shimon Bar Yochai.  The teaching explains that through the light of Rebbe Shimon the Torah will not be forgotten from the Jewish people.  Through the light of the Zohar the Jewish people will leave the exile.  Why did Rebbe Nachman choose to begin his book with this teaching?  In the book the Life of Rebbe Nachman (teaching 189) the connection between these two great tsaddikim is explained further.  Rebbe Nachman on his way from Breslov to Uman at the end of his life, after revealing this teaching about Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai, stated “and now there is ‘the source of wisdom… a flowing stream.’”(Proverbs, Chapter 18, Verse 4)  Rebbe Nachman revealed that he came into the world to continue the light of Rebbe Shimon in a new way.  He came to shine the light of the Zohar for our generation and show every Jew how much they are precious and holy.  He wants to help every one of us rectify what we need to rectify in our lifetime.  He revealed the practical advice that comes out of the teachings of the Zohar and other kabbalistic works.  Rebbe Nachman, just like his great-grandfather the holy Baal Shem Tov, is revealing the inner light of the Torah to every single person on their level.  This is the greatness of the true tsaddikim.  There is no person, not matter what they might have done, whom they cannot help return to Hashem.  Rebbe Nachman famously said, “my fire will burn until the coming of Mashiach’.  His fire warms our souls in the darkness of the exile that we still find ourselves in.  His fire also illuminates our eyes to understand how to serve Hashem even in these challenging times.

Through the powerful inner light that these great tsaddikim make accessible to us, we are able to live with more emunah (faith) and more mindfulness.  They reveal to every person on their level a deeper knowledge, that Hashem loves us deeply and He is right with us!

You can also read this article on the Lost Princess Initiative website: https://lpitorah.org/rebbe-nachman-rebbe-shimon-and-the-joy-of-lag-baomer/

Inspired by the new book, The Story of Our Lives, (https://lpitorah.org/the-story-of-our-lives/) and a class about Rebbe Nachman’s fire by Joey Rosenfeld

Mindfulness According to Rebbe Nachman 6

Fear.  Fear is something I believe that we all struggle with on one level or another.  Fear prevents us from being composed, from being in the moment, and from making good decisions.  It clouds our mind and our judgment.  When we are afraid and anxious, we are certainly not mindful.  We are not able to be our best selves; we are not true to who we really are.  How can we find healing from our fears, how can they be rectified?  Is it even possible to correct them and elevate them?

Rebbe Nachman teaches in Likutei Moharan that personal prayer heals us from our fears, specifically by trying to make a daily accounting of our actions.  How do we elevate fear to its lofty source, to the fear of Heaven?  By judgement.  When a person speaks out their heart before Hashem and judges their own actions, in every area of life, they are able to elevate all of their fears and rectify them from their fallen state.  We naturally have an attribute of fear inside of our souls.  However, when we are afraid of other people or of something that might happen to us, then our natural, healthy fear and awe of Heaven has fallen.  Rebbe Nachman explains that when we do not try to account for our actions and ask for forgiveness, from Hashem or from another person, we are judged from Heaven.  The judgement is ‘clothed’ in something that happens to us or in an interaction we have with someone.  It could be someone yelling at you at the store, at the bank, etc.  In everything that happens to us, there is a message.  However, when people judge themselves, they make an internal accounting, in a loving manner, then the judgement is sweeten and removed.  We do not need to be awakened by Hashem to look at our actions.  Then, says Rebbe Nachman, we do not need to fear anything, because the judgement has been nullified.  This is how we can rectify fear and elevate it. (Abridged Likutei Moharan, 15th teaching, part one)

In personal prayer we find healing from our fallen fears.  We see from this teaching that the healing is simple in a way, but it takes time and dedication.  Little by little, we elevate the fear inside of us to true knowledge, to knowing that Hashem sees us, and He is lovingly helping us to improve and correct ourselves.  We can begin this avodah (work) of elevating our fallen fears back to Hashem by simply telling him each day, in personal prayer, what we are afraid of and why.  This I believe is part of the internal accounting that Rebbe Nachman is teaching us.  Being honest with Hashem what we are afraid of.  We can ask Him for help in whatever matter troubles us, and ask Him in general to heal us from our varied fears and anxieties.

Another tool that Rebbe Natan reveals in a letter to his son, in the book Healing Leaves, is to not let ourselves think too much about our fears!  We have the power to focus on something more positive.  “Do not be drawn after sorrow too much.  Teach yourself to not focus on your sorrow, remove it from your heart.  Especially the unnecessary fears and sadness that you have from what you are going through, everything is foolishness!  The main thing is remove them from your heart.  Put on a happy face and pretend as if you are happy.  Through this advice, you will actually become happy in the end.  Try as much as possible not to spend time thinking thoughts of sadness and fear.  A person has the free choice to distract himself from these types of thoughts.  When you distract yourself from them, they will go away.” (Letter 121)

As we approach the amazing holiday of Pesach (Passover), the light of freedom and deep faith shines again in the world and illuminates our souls on a personal level.  Rebbe Nachman teaches in the book of Advice that just like the Jewish month of Tishrei is a time of returning to Hashem (teshuva), so too the month of Nisan, the month of Pesach, is a time of teshuva.  The Sages teach that just as we were redeemed from Eygpt in the month of Nisan, we will also merit our final redemption in the month of Nisan.  Therefore, Rebbe Nachman teaches, that the redemption will only come from our teshuva, from our sincere return to Hashem. (Advice, Teshuva, 19th teaching)  An aspect of teshuva that we can work on during this month of redemption is trying to set aside a daily time to introspect and take an accounting of our actions and feelings, especially our fears.  This is a special time of year where there is a spiritual awakening from above, and it is an opportune time to work on this advice.

May we all merit the light of true freedom this Pesach, and may we all find healing from the fears that cloud our lives and hold us back bringing our unique light into the world.

Mindfulness According to Rebbe Nachman 5

Being in the moment.  I think it is one of the hardest things to accomplish these days and in our generation.  There are so many worries and so many distractions.  How is it possible in our reality today to be mindful and live in the present?

Rebbe Nachman teaches based on the verse in Tehillim, “today if you will hear His voice” (Tehillim, Chapter 95); this is truly a great principle in serving Hashem.  A person should focus only on the day they have in front of them, only focus on today.  This is also true in matters of work and taking care of errands and different tasks.  This same is true, as Rebbe Nachman stated, in matters of serving God and connecting to God.  When a person wants to truly enter the service of Hashem, it can seem to them that it is a heavy burden, and that it is impossible to carry something so large.  However, when someone thinks to himself or herself that they only have this day, then it will not be such a large burden.  This will also help a person not to procrastinate and push things off, saying, ‘tomorrow I’ll start, tomorrow I am going to pray with intention’.  This is true with every mitzvah.  A person only really has this day of life and this moment that they find themselves in, because tomorrow is a completely different world.  “Today if you will hear His voice”, today specifically.  Understand this very well. (Likutei Moharan I, Teaching 272)

We also find in the letters of Rebbe Nachman’s main student, Reb Nosson z”l, that he encouraged his students to fulfill this teaching every single day.  “Be strong and courageous, my beloved student, throw upon Hashem all of your burdens and He will provide for you.  Do not worry the worry of tomorrow.  These words that I write to you should be new every day- do not think ahead from one day to another, rather everything that you find you have strength to do each day- do it!  Be careful from now on to walk with what Rebbe Nachman z”l taught: ‘Today if you will hear His voice’, today specifically.” (Reb Nosson’s letters, Healing Leaves, Letter 42)

The advice we learn here is trying to be focused on the day that we have in front of us, both in physical and spiritual matters.  What are my goals for today?  What is my priority right now?  What can I do right now that is good and productive?  This does not negate the need to make time for reflection, as I have written in previous articles, thinking about the day that has passed.  Reflecting and praying about the issues we face in life.  It also does not negate the need for recreation or taking a trip.

A powerful example I believe of someone who was blessed with many talents and skills, but was not able to live in the present and use his talents for a good purpose, is the sophisticate in Rebbe Nachman’s powerful story of the Sophisticate and the Simpleton (the Chacham and the Tam).  Despite the incredible depth of Rebbe Nachman’s Stories, which are considered an even higher revelation than his teachings in Likutei Moharan, they also contain in them many understandable hints and important lessons for life and serving Hashem.  The sophisticate and the simpleton grow up together in a small town, both the only sons to their fathers.  Their fathers were both wealthy.  As children, they loved each other and were good friends.    As they grew up their fathers both ran into financial troubles until they became destitute.  Due to their difficult situation, the fathers told their sons that they do not have the means anymore to support them, and that they need to learn to work and care for themselves.  The simpleton learned to be a shoemaker.  The sophisticate felt that this type of work was too simple for him, and he decided to travel the world and spend time figuring out what profession he would like to learn.  After working as a servant in a few simple jobs and traveling to Warsaw, the sophisticate says to himself, ‘I’m still not ready to choose a profession and get married; I’ll have time for that in the years to come.  Right now I prefer to wander from country to country, and to satiate my desire to see the world.’  The sophisticate goes on to learn to be a goldsmith, as well as a jeweler, and a doctor (all in a record amount of time).  However, his accomplishments only increase his arrogance.  Everyone he looks at is below him.  It is as if nobody else exists.  The sophisticate used the blessing of his wisdom and sharp mind to wander the world.  He used his amazing intelligence for no true purpose.  He disconnected his knowledge from trying to be a better person, help others, and grow closer to God.  He was never happy with what he had accomplished; he was a perfectionist.  He was never able to be happy and in the moment.  He was not focused on today!  His accomplishments and the blessings of each day were never good enough for him.  He was completely the opposite of the simpleton, who was always full of joy, appreciative, and happy with his lot in life, despite being very poor.  The simpleton was always happy and in the moment, even though the quality of his work was not the best and incomplete.

In a class I heard recently about this story, Rav Ofer Gisin, a Breslov teacher, said that we could all learn an important lesson from the story of the sophisticate.  We all need to try to limit as much as possible those moments of ‘surfing’, wandering the world like the sophisticate, in whatever form that might be.  We lose today when we use our time and our talents for something that has no true purpose.  This is really a big challenge in today’s world, when there is so much media and information at our finger tips every moment.  It is so easy to get lost.  However many times, it completely takes us out of today, and all that we truly have are the blessings of today.