Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF A BRESLOVER CHASSID
By Rabbi Yitzchak Breiter
At the beginning of the evening, say: "I want to serve God with truth, faith and joy. I hereby bind myself in my every thought, word and action all through the day to the true Tzaddikim, and in particular to the true Tzaddik, the "flowing brook, the source of wisdom - Nachal Novea Mekor Chochmah " [the first letters of the Hebrew words spell out NaChMaN], Rabbi Nachman the son of Feige, may his merit protect us."
Before each prayer, say: "I hereby bind myself in my prayer to the True Tzaddikim, in particular etc."
Pray at a steady pace with all your strength and concentration, joyously and in a pleasant tone. Be careful to pronounce the name of God properly: Adonai . Say all the names of God with awe and reverence.
The evening prayer sweetens all harsh judgments and gives us the strength to stand firm in spite of spiritual setbacks, darkness and other obstacles, for "He guards His people Israel forever."
Say the Shema and the other passages recited before going to sleep at a steady pace and with joy. This helps to make amends for all the things you may have done wrong during the day, especially immoral thoughts. "When someone recites the Shema before going to sleep, the destructive spirits stay away from that person" ( Berachot 5a) .
Thank God for all the good He let you do today, and admit to everything you did wrong whether in thought, word or action. Ask God to forgive you and remove your sins, and help you do things the way you should from now on.
Get up to mourn the destruction of the Temple and the concealment of the light of the true Tzaddik. Mourn over your own sins and shortcomings, all of which are delaying the rebuilding of the Temple . See yourself and your personal situation and experiences in the words of Tikkun Chatzot, the Midnight Lament. Ask God to bring about the redemption and save the Jewish people collectively, and to protect your soul from the evil inclination which keeps attacking you. The time for Chatzot begins six hours after nightfall, regardless of the time of year, and lasts for two hours (see Magen Avraham on Orach Chaim 1:2 and 233:1) .
When you wake up, say, " Modeh ani lefanecha . I give thanks before You." and immediately think of the world to come. Pray to God to help you do everything you do today in holiness. Bind yourself to the Tzaddik anew, as you did in the evening.
Try to get up before dawn to study, pray and meditate. This will bring you to perfect faith. The light of truth and wisdom will shine on you and you will be able to enter all the gates of holiness. When it gets light in the morning, lift up your eyes and look at the heavens.
Don't eat, drink or talk before you pray. If you can't avoid talking, be brief. This way your prayer will be acceptable. You must put all your strength and concentration into the words of the prayers. Your soul yearns to pour out her words before her Maker. Do not distract yourself with anything that might diffuse or weaken that willpower.
Immerse in the mikveh every day. This is the way to sanctify yourself and rid yourself of the impurity caused by your sins. You will be able to come genuinely close to God and be free of all troubles, physical or spiritual. For "God is the hope, mikvah , of Israel . He saves them in times of trouble" (Jeremiah 14:8) .
Pray early in the morning at a steady pace as explained in #2 above. Don't interrupt to talk to anyone from the beginning of the service until the end. Use a prayer book and don't look about you. Answer " Amen, yehei Shemei rabbah " in the Kaddish, Barchu and the Kedushah joyously with all your strength and concentration. This way you will bring the light of the Seven Primordial Days to shine anew on yourself and the whole world every day. This is what we pray for in the first blessing before the morning Shema: "Shine a new light on Zion and let us all be worthy..."
Every day of your life without exception make it a fixed practice to study at least a small portion of the Shulchan Aruch. This way you will rid yourself and the world as a whole of all kinds of doubts about God and of spiritual and physical conflict. Study the Shulchan Aruch in order, from beginning to end. Keep up this practice every day of your life. If you are unable to study the Shulchan Aruch in the original, study one of the concise versions each day. If you are under duress and have no time, you may study any law in the Shulchan Aruch even if it does not follow your regular course of study.
Do your utmost to spend at least an hour every day in personal prayer and meditation. Express yourself in your own words in the language you understand best. Talk about all the things you are going through. Admit your sins and transgressions, intentional and unintentional. Speak to God the way you would to a close friend. Tell Him what you're going through - your pain, the various pressures you are under, your personal situation, that of the others in your home, and also that of the Jewish people as a whole. Talk about everything in full. Argue with God in whatever way you can. Press Him. Plead with Him to help you come genuinely close to Him. "Open your mouth wide and I will fill it" (Psalms 81:11) . Cry out; shout, groan; sigh and weep. Give thanks to God for all the love He has shown you in both spiritual and material matters. Sing to God and praise Him. Then ask for whatever you need, spiritually and materially.
Have faith that the satisfaction that comes to God from such conversations by even the lowliest of all people is more precious to Him than all kinds of other devotions, even the devotions of the angels in all the worlds. Even if you can't open your mouth at all, the very fact that you stand there and put your hope in God, lifting your eyes upwards and forcing yourself to speak even if you only say a single word the whole hour - all this endures forever.
Study from them every day. This way you will be connected with his holy wisdom and you will have the strength to follow the ways of the Tzaddik and bring the whole world back to God.
Every day say at least ten Psalms. Any ten Psalms you say have a great power to repair . See yourself and what you are going through in the words of the Psalms. Apply all the expressions of praise and thanks in the Psalms to your personal situation: say them as thanks to God for all the love and kindness He has shown you all your life.
Recite a portion every day. Make up your own prayers as well: pray to be able to fulfill those teachings of the Tzaddik that you have studied. Such prayers give God great delight.
Make fixed times each day for Torah study. Study joyously. Never interrupt your study sessions for anything that is not absolutely essential. The purpose of your study should be to attain perfect faith. Try to draw practical guidance from your study material as to the right way to serve God. Develop your own original Torah ideas in accordance with the basic ideas and teachings of the Rebbe. Through this you will come genuinely close to God and draw others closer as well.
Eat in a respectful manner and without undue hurry. Avoid getting angry or talking about things that are not necessary while you eat. Study Torah at the table. Say the blessings after food joyously and with all your strength and concentration. This will bring you an illumination of Ratzon : Favor. You will experience a deep yearning and desire to follow the way of God. When you satisfy your material needs , and indeed in whatever you do, have in mind that it should be in accordance with God's will and that your purpose is to bring about the unification of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His Indwelling Presence through your eating, your other pleasures and all your activities.
The way to work and run your business activities honestly and with faith is to strengthen your belief in God's control over every detail of creation . Know and believe that our livelihood comes to us not because of the natural chain of events but through the Will of God. He could , if He wanted, give us a living without any intermediary causes. The reason He gives us our living through natural means is to test us to see if we can withstand the trials we encounter in having to deal with these means, and whether we can stay firm in the belief that livelihood does not depend on natural means but on God's will alone.
Whatever money you are blessed with, regardless of how it came to you, whether through your own work, as profit or as a gift etc., give a portion to charity to further all causes connected with the Rebbe, such as supporting his descendants and other followers engaged in God's service, print ing the Rebbe's books so that they can be distributed inexpensively among all sections of the Jewish people , or support ing study halls in the Rebbe's name etc. As a beginning it would be good if you could contribute a minimum terumah of two per cent of your income, with the eventual goal of giving a tenth of the principal and subsequent annual income.
This is the fundamental activity because through it all Jews will be brought to the true path. That is our ultimate goal, the goal for which all the worlds were created. This activity must be "holy of holies" for all followers of the Tzaddik and they should selflessly devote all their energies to it. They should constantly seek ways of expanding these activities and spreading the Rebbe's teachings further and further afield in order to inspire every Jewish soul to come to God.
Sanctify your eyes by not looking at evil; your ears by listening to the words of the wise; your nostrils by taking the long breath of patience no matter what, showing love to the person you wanted to be angry with; and your mouth through speaking words of Torah and prayer, holding back from saying anything forbidden. This will bring you Divine inspiration and holy thoughts.
Always be happy. Turn any sadness and sorrow into happiness and joy. Accept everything in life with love. Never fall into despair. Liven yourself up and keep happy with the thought of your spiritual good points. See the hidden benefits of even your worst problems. Even if you take a hard fall , trust in the power of the Tzaddik and each time try to make a completely new start, as if you had never started in your whole life and never failed. Have faith that every fall was only sent to make you start anew. If you really make a determined effort to start again each time, God will help you not to fall into such situations any more. Get into the habit of serving God with a happy tune, a dance, clapping your hands etc. Be especially happy when you study and pray.
Examine your every thought, word and action for hints from God to inspire you to return to Him in truth and to put fresh effort into your devotions. If people put you down or insult you, keep quiet. This will subdue the evil in your blood and atone for your sins, which will be turned into merits.
Love every Jew like your own soul, especially followers of the true Tzaddik. Discuss the true purpose of life with them. Do this every day so as to benefit from their good point. For every Jew has his own unique good point quite unlike that of any other.
Pray as explained above (#2) . The Minchah Prayer lifts up all the day's devotions to God and gives you fresh energy to serve God anew tomorrow. Thus the sages said, "With [the afternoon sacrifice], complete all the offerings of the day" ( Yoma 33a) and "When the sun goes down he becomes clean" (Leviticus 22:7) .
All the followers of the Tzaddik must come together in one place on Rosh Hashanah and pray as one with the Tzaddik. This illumines them with an amazing light from the Tzaddik and brings about a great repair. On Rosh Hashanah the followers of the Tzaddik are very close to him. They can attain more on Rosh Hashanah than through the whole year. As the Rebbe said, "My whole mission is Rosh Hashanah." The light of the Tzaddik shines on his followers and on the whole world for all the generations. Don't let anything stop you from coming to the Rosh Hashanah gathering. The only valid reason not to come is a life-threatening situation of the kind that would suspend the laws of Shabbat. Any other obstacle, such as work or money problems, the effort involved, what people might think, must be broken and overcome. Nothing is greater than the Rosh Hashanah gathering.
Every day of your life, yearn, pray and make a practical effort to live in Eretz Yisrael, or at the very least to walk four steps there. Through this you will achieve patience and be able to advance from level to level, attaining complete holiness. This is the ultimate holy victory a person wins in this world.
May God help us to go in the ways of the true Tzaddik in truth and faith and to draw his light on ourselves and the whole Jewish people , so that we will attain redemption, physical and spiritual, quickly in our days. Amen. Amen.
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5767 - 2006-7 All rights reserved