Rebbe Natan’s Tip for Success
There are so many sublime ways and teachings of tremendous tzaddikim - how do we know which to use in any particular situation? Rebbe Natan gives us a tip for life!
Learning from the Successful
Humanity can be divided into two types: those who believe in quick, drastic change, and those who don’t.
Those of the first type will pay thousands of shekels for a diet that promises them they will lose 50 kilos in two weeks, for the program that will make them perfect parents in a month, for courses to learn to speak English like an American in two months, to make millions in three months; to become an expert therapist in half a year, to become an international real estate dealer in seven months, and to become a Mashiach within a year.
Those of the second type have already given up on all that.
They have already tried and failed; they have been bamboozled again and again and they no longer believe in change at all! And you will not make them budge from their stance, because they have tried everything already and they know it all… They are not pessimists; they are simply optimists with experience…
If we act on the basis of our gut reactions, we will probably be among those who start off gullible and end up disenchanted. But someone who wants to really succeed must learn from the successful. True, there are only a few such people, but they are those who have indeed managed to make deep and essential changes in their lives and sometimes in the entire world.
They have found the third way, and they are the third type of people…
Their way is not very tempting; it is somewhat hard to sell it to people because it doesn’t promise quick, effortless change. It is, though, a way that demands that you do only what is in your power to do, but with much work and effort, and it promises you very small changes. That is why you won’t see thousands standing in line for it.
But if you want real changes – this is your only option!
The only way that really works is not to look for the easy and quick way, for the flashy things, for the grandiose promises –
Rather, look for the small stuff, what you have the power and ability to do, but persist in those small things day after day, week after week, for days and years, and over the time, add more and more small stuff.
The Person Behind the Scenes
That is the great secret of Rebbe Natan, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev’s disciple!
Who hasn’t heard about Rebbe Nachman of Breslev? One of the most special great people in Jewry, who lived over two hundred years ago and who has placed his stamp on almost everything in our generation. No – not only the holy tziyun – his grave site – which attracts tens of thousands of people, and not only his name, which can do wonders, but about a way of life – live and breathing, which nurtures and enlivens tens of thousands in our generation and influences millions!
Behind the scenes of this great beam of light there is a much less famous figure, who is actually the one responsible for this revolution. That is Rebbe Natan.
Rebbe Nachman had great disciples who were already Chassidic leaders in their own right. Rebbe Natan was among the youngest of the disciples, and yet he merited to do more than all the others. Rebbe Nachman said about him that he is the person who can understand him better than anyone else, and that it is he who will have the merit of bearing his light forward; thanks to him, Rebbe Nachman’s teachings will be in existence and remain known until the coming of the Mashiach.
So, the question is asked, what was so special about Rebbe Natan?
And another question can be asked about Rebbe Natan: He was close to great Chassidic leaders and was much loved by them. He grew up in the home of great people and saw majestic figures in his life. What caused him to prefer Rebbe Nachman, who was young and controversial, to the famous tzaddikim that he knew, and to tie his soul forever to his?
True, we know that Rebbe Natan was the most tamim (whole) of all and most devoted of all, but what was the inner drive for all this? And the main thing: What of this story belongs to us?
A Life-changing Sentence
One may understand this by learning of a wonderful exchange that took place between the disciple and his teacher at the beginning of their relationship, a conversation that was to change Rebbe Natan’s life and the whole world with him.
Rebbe Natan was coping with a difficult problem. He was holy and a diligent Torah learner, and a great servant of Hashem. But his demands of himself were in keeping with his level of holiness. He knew he must find a solution to his problem. And that is what caused him to seek succor from the generation’s tzaddikim.
And therefore, although he saw greatness and holiness, Torah and service of Hashem, he knew in his refined soul that that was not what would cure him; that was not what would bring about the hoped-for change.
When he first met Rebbe Nachman, the young Rebbe placed his hand on the disciple’s shoulder and said to him: “Accustom yourself to speak with the Holy One, Blessed Be He, as one would speak to a good friend…”
Rebbe Natan describes this moment as the turning point: he understood that his cure rested with this tzaddik, of all the tzaddikim. With his sharp insight, Rebbe Natan understood that this was the answer to all his difficulties.
True, it is not a difficult way involving asceticism and extreme piety, but precisely because of that – because it is so simple and so applicable – it is the most powerful piece of advice, for every person, on every level and in every situation.
From now on that was the way of Rebbe Natan regarding anything he heard from Rebbe Nachman.
Even when Rebbe Nachman spoke of high spiritual levels that Rebbe Natan had no connection with, he knew that he could speak about it with Hashem, and he translated it into personal prayers, simple conversations with the Creator of the World, just like one would confide in a good friend.
Every way of behavior that Rebbe Nachman gave him – even if it was very difficult, he was not afraid and he did not tie himself up in knots over it; he simply discussed it with the Creator.
Rebbe Natan understood that direct speech with the Creator is the key. That is the true wholeness. That is the tool that connects all the sublime ways and holiness and teachings of all the tzaddikim to any person, in any situation and anywhere the person might be.
Never Was There Such a Novel Idea
The Tenth of Tevet, which, besides being a fast day for all, is also the yahrzeit of Rebbe Natan. The day of the passing of this tzaddik is a good time to connect to his soul’s special power.
He was a giant, a gaon (great in Torah learning) and a very holy man, on a level we cannot grasp, but still, he was the one who showed us the way to connect from any place we might be to all the levels and all the holiness. He is the one that paved the way for us to hitbodedut, and to the prayers that he wrote in the book Likutei Tefillot (Hebrew) (in English: The Fiftieth Gate).
This holy book shows every Jew that the teachings of Rebbe Nachman are close to him and belong to him as well. “It is in your mouth and your heart to do it.” It doesn’t matter whether you can or cannot observe this or that – you can always pray, you can do everything and achieve anything by way of praying.
Rebbe Natan said that people will have to pay for every day they didn’t say Likutei Tefillot.
And when they asked him: “You really said so?”, he replied: “I said and I didn’t say.” In other words, one should pay for all the transgressions, but in Heaven the person will be shown that if he would have prayed regularly, he would have been saved from a great many sins, and so it comes out that he pays for every day that he did not say Likutei Tefillot.
Likutei Tefillot was a novelty – a whole book of prayers that you should do what is written in your Rebbe’s book. And those prayers are only a small part of Rebbe Natan’s prayers, and they are the essence of his way!
Now is the time to begin something new with the wonderful way of Rebbe Nachman, handed down to us by his great disciple, Rebbe Natan: to pray in our own words for everything, and especially for the healing and correcting of our souls in the way of the soul-healer, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev.