From “The Essential Rebbe Nachman,” by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
Connecting to the Tzaddik, Part 1
It is very good to attach yourself to a true Tzaddik. In the upheavals at the time of the coming of the Mashiach, God will “grasp the ends of the earth and shake the wicked from it” (Job 38:13) . But one who is attached to a true Tzaddik will be able to cling to him so as not to be cast off with the wicked. By holding onto the Tzaddik he will remain firm. (Sichot Haran #22)
Those who draw close to a true Tzaddik have a taste of the Garden of Eden. For “the Tzaddik is the gardener of the garden” ( Zohar II, 166b) . (Sichot Haran #252)
Heed the wise
One who ignores the words of the wise can go mad. The main reason people are mad is because they refuse to follow good advice.
If a madman were to listen to sane people, he would definitely not behave like a madman. His madness might convince him that he needs to go about in torn clothing and roll in the dirt. But if he were to follow the advice of one of greater intelligence who tell s him that this is unnecessary, his madness would disappear.
The root of madness lies in not wanting to listen to the words of the wise. Understand this well. (Sichot Haran #67)
Anyone who listens to me and carries out everything I say will certainly become a great Tzaddik, come what may. The main thing is to throw aside your own ideas completely and do only as I say: fulfill everything to the letter. Obviously, the more you study, the more successful you will be. (Chayey Moharan #320)
The true teacher
Everyone must search very hard in order to find a true teacher who can help him attain great wisdom and Godly perception. This requires an outstandingly great teacher who has the power to explain this deep wisdom in terms comprehensible to the simplest people.
The lower a person's level and the further away he is from God, the greater the teacher he needs. Thus when the Jewish people were on the lowest of levels in Egypt , sunk in the forty-nine gates of impurity, they needed the greatest rabbi and teacher of all: Moshe Rabbenu. For the lower down and further away from God a person is, the greater the teacher he needs. He needs a master craftsman who has the ability to bring the supreme wisdom of Godly perception within the grasp of one as lowly and far away from God as himself. The sicker the patient, the greater the doctor he needs.
One should therefore never say, “It is enough for me if I attach myself to someone respectable and God-fearing, even though he may not be on an outstanding level. First let me simply be like him!” This is a mistake. On the contrary, the more a person recognizes his own lowliness and great distance from God, the more he should search out the greatest and most outstanding doctor for his soul and strive to draw close to the greatest possible teacher. For the lowlier the person, the greater the teacher he needs. (Likutey Moharan I, 30)
Benefit of the Tzaddik after death
The true Tzaddik can greatly benefit even a person who has died and gone to the next world, as long as that person is sufficiently worthy to come to the Tzaddik to rectify his soul.
Be aware that the main obstacle encountered there by one who is undeserving is that he is not permitted to come to the true Tzaddik to be purified. He is simply pushed aside and led on the wrong track by all kinds of confusing doubts, as if the Tzaddik has no power at all. Even there , just as in this world, there is great opposition to the Tzaddik among the destroying angels and evil forces .
The most important thing is to be constantly aware of this so as not to let yourself be deceived there. Stay firm in wanting to go to the true Tzaddik and nowhere else, and then you will certainly be permitted to do so. (Chayey Moharan #309)
Seeing as I am going before you, what do you have to fear? (Chayey Moharan #225)
Pity in the world to come
Nobody likes to be pitied. In this world we see how people feel pity for those who are hungry, thirsty or suffering in some other way. People react with pity when a person lacks clothes or shoes. No-one wants to be the object of others' pity. In order to avoid it, people chase after worldly success.
Someone with clear spiritual vision can also understand the pitiful state of certain souls in the world to come. Some souls there are literally naked, but it is impossible to show them any pity. For in this world when a person lacks clothing, other people can collect money and buy him a coat. But in the world to come when someone lacks “clothing”, there is no way to help him – because the clothes needed there are Torah and good deeds, which cannot be given as charity. However, one who is attached to the true Tzaddik can run to him to get a spiritual garment with which to clothe himself.
In the world to come, many people will be left outside. They will cry out bitterly, “Give us something to eat!” People will offer them food and drink saying, “Eat! Drink!” But those outside will say, “No! No! We cannot use such food. What we need is the food and drink of Torah and devotion!” Others will be left outside naked. They too will cry: “Give us some clothes to cover ourselves.” People will come to them saying, “Here are clothes.” But they too will answer: “No! Such clothes are completely useless to us. We need mitzvot and good deeds in order to cover ourselves.”
Happy is the person who eats many chapters of Mishnah, drinks many Psalms and clothes himself in good deeds in this world! (Sichot Haran #23)
To be continued.
(Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is the director of Azamra
. “The Essential Rebbe Nachman” is available for purchase online here