1) The soul of the Jew is actually formed through the yearning and desire which he feels for God and his good intentions to serve Him. No matter what his level, each individual has a desire to reach a higher level. It is through this yearning that his holy soul is formed (31).

2) But in order for his soul to come from potential to actual existence he must express his yearning and longing in words. This is the means by which he will make his desire into a reality and accomplish what he wants. This is why it is so important to speak to God every day and articulate your desires and good intentions with your lips. You should speak about your inadequacies and shortcomings and how you yearn for God to help you in them. You should plead with God. Beg Him to take pity on you and satisfy your yearning and longing for Him. This is the way to succeed in making the potential into an actual fact and achieving what you need to accomplish (Ibid.).

3) The letters of the written Torah are without vowels. It is through speaking them aloud that we give them a shape whether for good or for evil. The yearning which a person has for goodness for God gives shape to the letters of Torah for good. The Torah becomes an elixir of life, and such a person brings good into the world. Conversely a person's bad desires give the opposite shape to the letters of Torah, and for him it becomes an elixir of death, for `sinners stumble in them' (Hosea 14:10). This brings evil into the world (Ibid.).

4) The yearning and longing for something holy are themselves very precious. They are the means by which the soul is brought into being, and it reaches completion through speech. The soul that is thus created can even enter the body of a wicked person and bring him to return to God. On the other hand the desire for something evil can cause great damage. The soul that is brought into being by evil desires can at times even find its way to a Tzaddik and this can cause him to sin, God forbid (Ibid.).

5) A person may be totally unable to study Torah whether because he is an ignoramus or because he is without a book, on a journey or in the desert, etc. But if his heart burns with desire and yearning to learn, the very desire and longing he has are `learning from a book' (142).

6) When a person has any desire except to do what God desires, it gives strength to the forces of the Other Side. A man must nullify his own will to the point where he has no will and desire for anything except what God desires whether that he should have wealth and children or not, God forbid. It should be the same with everything else he wants. He should desire only what God desires. This makes God alone the King (177).

7) The main thing is the will and desire. It may be true that everyone wants to serve God. But not all desires are equal. There are many gradations and distinctions. Even in one and the same person at different times and even from moment to moment there are all kinds of differences. The main thing is that a person should have the desire and the longing. He should yearn for God... and meanwhile pray... and learn... and carry out the mitzvot (Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom 51).

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