2) You should feel so happy when you do a mitzva that you don't do it merely to receive a reward in the World to Come. You want God to send you another mitzvah, and this will be the reward of the first one, because your joy is in the mitzvah itself. Someone who attains this degree of joy will be able to know what decrees have been passed against the world, whether the decree has been sealed yet or not, and against whom judgement has been passed. And through this he will know how to pray for the world, because after the decree has been sealed the Tzaddikim have to clothe their prayers in story form (5:2).
3) If you pray with intensity and with great awe and love you will be able to experience this joy (Ibid. 3).
4) When people dance and clap their hands the harsh judgements are sweetened (10:1).
5) It takes determination and boldness to press forward in your quest for holiness in the face of all the obstacles created by arrogant people. The main source of strength is in joy: `For the joy of the Lord is your strength' (Nehemiah 8:10) (22:9).
6) The way to come to joy is through Torah and prayer. The main thing is prayer. You should always pray to attain the level that is hidden from you. And when it is revealed, you should pray to achieve the level that is still hidden. This is how to rise from level to level. It is the way to find joy, which is the source of spiritual strength. You need to be strong in order to draw closer to the true Tzaddikim. They are the epitome of holiness, and with their help you can develop perfect faith (Ibid.).
7) Joy is the `radiant countenance,' `truth' and `faith.' Depression is a form of idolatry. It is a `dark countenance' and `death.' How joyous we are depends on our purity and how close we are to the true Tzaddikim, who are the joy of all Israel. If you are joyous you will be able to bind yourself to God and `see the pleasantness of the Lord' (Psalms 27:4). The light of the countenance of the King of Life will radiate upon you (23).
8) Through carrying out the mitzvoth in joy it is possible to reach the ultimate goal of all things. For there is a light which is beyond ''soul,' `spirit' and `breath.' This is the Light of the Infinite, which it is possible to `reach, yet not reach.' Happy is he who chases after his thoughts in order to reach such a vision (24).
9) The joy of the mitzvot is the perfection of holiness. It has the power to free all the vitality and holiness which have been caught in the husks and to elevate them. The Shechinah itself is thus released from the kelipot (Ibid.).
10) Don't be depressed. The root of depression is in the husks, which are at war with all that is holy. They are the epitome of severity and harshness. Whenever depression takes grip, the Shechinah, which is the joy of Israel, goes into exile. The strength of the forces of holiness and the destruction of the kelipot depends upon joy (Ibid.).
11) We are taught that the incense which was burned in the Holy Temple had the power to free the holy life-force from the husks and elevate it, thereby spreading joy. Because of this you should recite the passages in the prayer book which deal with the daily incense offering with great concentration (Ibid.).
12) It is a wonderful thing when people dance for joy for the sake of a mitzvah! There are times when it is a mitzva to drink wine on Shabbat and Yom Tov, or at a wedding or other religious celebrations. If you drink on such occasions your intention should be for the sake of Heaven. Drink moderately and not to excess, and with the purpose of experiencing the true joy of Israel, which is to rejoice in God, who chose us from all the nations. As your joy begins to radiate, it will spread to your legs and you will literally start to dance for joy. This will banish the forces of the Other Side, which grip the legs. The force of severity and harsh judgements will be broken, and then you will be able to receive blessings. The fire with which we dance is `a fire offering, a sweet savor to the Lord' (Numbers 28:8). But when one dances in the heat of the evil inclination, it is a `strange fire' (Leviticus 10:1) and the wine which he drinks is the `wine of drunkenness,' which gives a hold to the forces of the Other Side. But dancing with holy intentions has as much power to sweeten the harsh judgements as a redemption. (41).
13) Man's image-making faculty is the source of all temptations. It is one of man's animal aspects. If it becomes dominant, it is because of depression, which is a `broken spirit, an evil spirit.' Forgetfulness gains a hold, and one forgets one's purpose and fails to bear in mind the reality of the World to Come, both as a general concept and as one which gives memory to every detail of the day. We have to fight back. We should aim to be constantly happy so as to break the power of the image-making faculty. Then we will be able to remember the World to Come every day and at every moment (54:5).
14) The music of one who is truly God-fearing can help you to be happy. It has the power to break the force of fantasy. This will sharpen your memory: you will be able to center your thoughts on the World to Come and to understand the hints which God sends you constantly each day in order to draw you closer to Him. Music and joy can inspire you with the spirit of prophecy ruach hakodesh, the holy spirit (Ibid. 6).
15) Music and joy can help you to pour out your words like water before God. When you are constantly happy it is easy to express yourself in words before God and meditate well (Ibid. 6).
16) If you are joyous, it will bring you to new horizons in Torah. Joy is a vessel with which to draw upon the wellsprings of the Torah's vitality and freshness (65).
17) The holiness of the Land of Israel has the power to break the force of anger and depression (155).
18) A person who examines and judges himself over everything he does thereby frees himself from the harsh judgements which were weighing upon him. He will be so happy that he will literally dance for joy. But when a person is under the weight of some harsh judgement, it is hard to dance (169).
19) The main reason for immorality is because of depression. The way to be pure is through joy. If you are happy, God will help you to keep yourself pure (Ibid.).
20) Crying is good if you cry out of joy. Contrition and regret for your sins are also good if they stem from joy in the sense that you experience the joy of God's presence so intensely that you feel sorry for ever having rebelled against Him and you burst into tears out of joy (175).
21) When you confess your sins, you must specify each sin exactly. You should confess about everything you did, and the confession must be in words. Thinking alone is not enough. You must also go into all the details. Many people have a lot of barriers against this. The way to overcome them is through the joy of fulfilling mitzvot. When you go to a wedding or some other happy occasion you should work yourself up into such a mood of joy that you dance and dance. When you are happy it is easy to confess, and it will make amends for all the damage you did with your sins (178).
22) Fasting brings joy. The more you have fasted, the greater the joy (Ibid.).
23) Be very careful not to fall into depression and lethargy. They are the `bite of the serpent' (189).
24) When you are happy, it gives strength to the angels who receive the blessings contained within the food you eat, and it humbles the evil spirits, preventing them from sapping more energy than they should from the food. This gives protection against the impure emissions which can sometimes be caused by eating if the holy angels lack the necessary strength. The source of their strength is in joy (II, 5:9,10).
25) If you put so much effort into a holy task that you literally sweat you will be able to experience true joy (6).
26) Depression is like a sediment which covers the heart of the Jew and stops it from burning with passion for God. But the true leaders blow with their holy spirit until they remove this sediment of depression and kindle the hearts of Israel with passion for God (9).
27) When a person is depressed, his intellect and his mind go into exile. This makes it very hard for him to concentrate his mind on teshuva, returning to God. The main reason why people are far from God is that they do not stop to consider what the main purpose of their existence is. But when someone is happy his mind becomes settled and he is able to understand things clearly. Joy is freedom. When a person fills his mind with joy, his intellect becomes freed from its exile. He can control his mind and intellect however he wants so as to concentrate on his goal and return to God (10).
28) Once a person decides to be pure and devote himself to serving God it is a very big sin if he allows himself to be depressed. Because God hates depression (48).
29) Try to be as happy as you possibly can. Search for your good points in order to make yourself happy. If for nothing else, you can be happy with the thought that you are a Jew and God did not make you a non-Jew. If you genuinely realize the true implications of this you will find joy without limits. And nothing will be able to spoil it, because God Himself made it so. Get into the habit of saying out loud and with all your heart: `Blessed be our God who created us for His glory and separated us from those who are in error etc.' No matter what you may go through you will always be able to take heart from this and be happy all your life. There may be times when the only way to make yourself happy is by doing something silly or making jokes. There are so many troubles that people have to go through physically and spiritually trying to make a living, etc. etc. that in many cases the only way they can make themselves happy is by doing something silly and acting a bit crazy. The whole vitality of body and soul depend on being happy. And in the worlds above as well great unifications are brought about through the joy of the spirit (Ibid.).
30) It is a great mitzva to be happy at all times. Be determined to keep away from depression and aim to be happy constantly. Happiness is the remedy for all kinds of diseases because many illnesses are caused by depression. You must be resourceful in order to make yourself happy. Often you must do something a little bit crazy in order to make yourself happy (24).
31) Try hard to turn your very depression and worry into joy. If you really set your mind to it, you will easily find that even amidst the worst troubles and suffering there is an opening which you can use to convert all the depression into joy. True joy is when you drag your darkness and depression even against their will and force them to turn into happiness (23).
32) When someone is happy all day it is easier for him to spend an hour or so with a broken heart, talking to God and pouring out his heart like water before Him. After a broken heart comes joy. The test of whether your heart was really broken is if afterwards you feel joy (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom 45).
33) You should constantly center your thoughts on contemplating the root of all things. This is the source of all that is good and all joys. You will feel an overwhelming joy, because when one contemplates this root which is wholly good then everything good and joyous is merged into one and radiates with abundant light (II, 34).
34) What a great thing it is when you study Torah or carry out a mitzva with such joy that you literally dance for joy. This is the remedy for saying something bad. You will be blessed with wealth and children and your faith will be strengthened (81).
35) To find true joy is the hardest thing of all. It is harder than all other spiritual tasks. You must literally force yourself to be happy all the time. Put all your energy into it. Use every kind of ploy. Often the only way is by literally doing something crazy (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom 20).
36) Most important of all, you must be happy while you are praying. Be sure always to pray with joy. The same applies to carrying out the mitzvot. You should be especially joyous on Shabbat and Yom Tov. Even on weekdays it is a great mitzva to be happy always (Ibid. 155, 299).
37) Depression can make a person forget his own name (43).
38) Someone who is himself happy can give heart to somebody else. It is a great thing to bring joy to the heart of your fellow Jews. Most people are full of pain and worry and all kinds of troubles, and they find it impossible to speak out what is in their hearts. Someone who comes with a smiling face can literally give them fresh life. This is a very great thing. When you make another person happy you are literally giving new life to a Jewish soul (Ibid.).
39) Joy gives protection against the death of little children (Ibid. 34).
ADVICE from RABBI NACHMAN
Online English translation of Likutey Etzot
A compendium of Rabbi Nachman's practical teachings on spiritual growth and devotion.
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5766 / 2006