(see also Pesach; Omer and Shavuot, and Succot)

1) The joy we have on the three major festivals can give us a share in the Inner Light of God. This brings new life to the soul and the mind, through which we gain our perception of God (30:6).

2) The truest joy comes from fulfilling the mitzvot, God's commandments. The more a person forms some estimate of the true greatness of God, the greater the joy he is able to feel with every mitzvah he performs. He begins to realize how privileged he is to perform the will of the Holy One, blessed-be-He, who alone is, was and will be to all eternity. The joy of all the mitzvot we perform throughout the year is collected together, as it were, on the three festivals. This is what makes up the joy of the festival. All the good points of all the mitzvot performed throughout the year are joined together and concentrated in the festival, and the joy becomes truly palpable. If we make an effort to search for the holy joy which is to be found in performing the mitzvot on the other days of the year, then this `festival joy' will be accessible to us every day of the year. But on the actual festivals themselves, the joy is something special. The Torah itself commands us: `and you shall rejoice in your feast' (Deuteronomy 16:14). The joy of the festivals themselves is made up of the joy of all the mitzvot of the whole year. There are no limits to this joy (Ibid.).

3) One of the ways of breaking your pride is by honouring the festivals fittingly and celebrating them with joy and delight, with delicacies and fine clothes, whatever you can afford (135).

4) When you celebrate the festivals fittingly it is equivalent to going to visit your Rav and receiving his teachings. This is true even if you are physically miles apart! It works the other way around also. The more you bind yourself to the Tzaddik, the more you can experience the holiness of the festivals. Through this the forces of holiness are released from the grip of the kelipot, the husks, and restored to their true position. The power of evil and the rule of the heathens is thus overturned and destroyed (Ibid.).

5) On the festivals we should return to God out of joy. On each of the festivals the world is brought to judgement, as our Sages have taught (Rosh Hashanah 16). A time of judgement is a time for returning to God. Through repentance the forces of holiness are released from the hold of the kelipot and the final redemption brought nearer (Ibid.).

6) When a person is walking along and suddenly slips and falls so that everyone laughs at him and makes him feel embarrassed, it is a sign that he was not as joyous as he should have been on the festivals (235).

7) There are many different ways of honoring the festivals: with fine food and drink, with beautiful clothes, with pure and holy thoughts, with joy and open-heartedness, and so on. Through honoring the festivals you can attain to the knowledge of God and you can draw this knowledge down into the heart, which is the seat of passion and desire. The three main desires which are the root of all others are the desire for riches, the sexual appetite and the impulse to eat. Each one of the festivals has the power to counter one of these desires. Pesach counters the desire for wealth, Shavuot the sexual instinct, and Succot the impulse to eat excessively. It is because the festivals have these special powers that one should be so careful to celebrate them with the proper respect. This is the way to be freed from these desires. Every Jew has the task of subduing and refining these aspects of his character. When he succeeds, he is open to experiences which are truly prophetic, and he can attain genuine prayer and true healing, and see the sparks of Mashiach. In the end he will come to rule over the angels, which is the very purpose for which the Jew is created and the ultimate destiny of Israel (Likutey Moharan II, 1).

8) The festival days cry out, proclaim and reveal the Will -- God's Will, which rules over all. There is no such thing as the `inevitability of nature.' Every festival commemorates the awesome signs and miracles which God performed on our behalf, all of them contrary to nature. Pesach commemorates the going out of Egypt. Shavuot recalls the giving of the Torah. And on Succot we remember the clouds of glory with which we were surrounded in the wilderness. Through these awesome signs and wonders it was revealed that everything comes about through the Will of God alone. There is nothing inevitable about nature at all. Only you must take care to direct your ear and heart to the holy message which is thus proclaimed. The more carefully you attend to this message the greater the festival joy you will attain. The way to attain this joy is through acts of charity and kindness (see Tzedakah). This is why we should give generously to charity before every festival in order to experience the true joy of the festival (4:6).

Online English translation of Likutey Etzot
A compendium of Rabbi Nachman's practical teachings on spiritual growth and devotion.
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5766 / 2006