Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum



Man's mind is his very essence. Wherever your thoughts are, that is where you are - all of you.

This is why it is so important to avoid all evil thoughts, because otherwise that is where your place will be.

You must force yourself to think good thoughts in order to be worthy of know ing God. Then your place will be with Him and you will be merged with Him. The greater your perception of God, the more fully merged with Him you will become, and then you will attain eternal life.

Likutey Moharan I, 21

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Guard your thoughts

Guard your thoughts very carefully, because thought can literally create a living thing.

The higher a faculty, the further it can reach. You can kick something with your foot, but you can throw it even higher with your hand. With your voice you can reach even further, calling to someone far away. Hearing reaches further still - you can hear sounds like gunfire from a very great distance. Vision reaches even further: you can see things high in the sky.

The higher the faculty, the further it can reach. Highest of all is the mind, which can ascend to the loftiest heights. You must therefore guard your mind and thoughts to the utmost.

Sichot Haran #46

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Wisdom is the root of everything

Wisdom is the root of all things: "You made them all in wisdom" (Psalms 104:24) . Every person must therefore guard his mind against alien ideas. Fulfillment in life can come only through the pursuit of true wisdom - the wisdom of Godliness, the Torah. Compared to this, all other systems of wisdom are sheer emptiness; they are not wisdom at all.

When a person is born, his understanding is in a state of contraction. It only begins to develop when he starts using it to think about how to serve God. But when a person admits alien thoughts and ideas into his mind, the holiness of his mind and soul is diminished in direct proportion to the space they occupy. All kinds of negative character traits develop from this alien mentality and cluster around it.

This is why one must be so careful to protect one's mind and not admit alien thoughts and ideas. To achieve true repentance and make amends for all your sins, make a determined effort to expel all alien thoughts from your mind. The conscious mind is a manifestation of the soul, and thus when a person sanctifies his mind and thereby his soul, everything is elevated and returns to its source. This is the essence of repentance.

It is not sufficient merely to guard yourself against alien ideas. Constantly try to bring new vitality into your mind as this will revive and refresh your soul. For the mind is a manifestation of the soul.

Likutey Moharan I, 35

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Truth and the need to win

A person who always wants to win the argument is very intolerant of truth. The truth may be staring him in the face, but because he is determined to win at all costs, he ignores it completely.

If you want to find the real truth, you must rid yourself of the urge to win. Then you will be able to see the truth if you wish.

Likutey Moharan I, 122

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Each one has his limits

Our sages teach that "It is forbidden to gaze at what is above and below, what is before and what is after" ( Chagigah 11b) .

Each and every person has his own unique "above" and "below" where he may not gaze, depending on his level.

Some people's intellect stops at the stars and the limits of the physical world, and they are therefore forbidden to delve any further. The mind of those engaged in philosophy and science reaches only as far as the stars. Beyond the stars they know nothing. Even concerning what is under the stars, they are often wrong and have major disagreements among themselves about everything.

Each person has a point where his intellect ends. He is not allowed to go beyond this, because for him anything beyond this is "what is above and below" . Here he must depend on faith alone.

Sichot Haran #224

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The faith of our fathers

Believe in God with pure, simple faith without trying to understand things philosophically. Most ordinary people may appear to be far from philosophy yet almost everyone is sunk in it to some degree. Even young children often have confusing theories.

Cleanse your mind and heart of philosophy. Cast it aside and pay no attention to doubts or questions: all you need is pure faith in God and the true Tzaddikim.

We received the holy Torah from Moses our Teacher. It has been handed down to us by outstanding Tzaddikim in every generation. We can rely on them without resorting to philosophical theories. Our task is to follow in their footsteps and believe in God with pure, simple faith, observing the Torah and its commandments as taught by our ancestors.

When a person is sincere and unquestioning, he can attain holy desire, which is even higher than wisdom. It is true that wisdom is higher than faith, but one must avoid sophistry and speculation, relying on faith alone. Faith has the greatest power. When you follow the path of faith, you can attain desire, which is even higher than wisdom.

One who attains desire experiences tremendous longing and yearning for God. The feeling becomes so intense that he does not know what to do, and he cries out...!!!

But there is a philosopher in man's heart. This is the Evil One, who puts doubts and questions into the heart. We must overcome this philosopher and drive him out, strengthening ourselves in faith alone.

Sichot Haran #32

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Questions and answers

Within the bounds God has set for man's intelligence it is a great mitzvah, a positive duty, to sharpen the mind and understand as clearly as possible whatever the human mind is capable of grasping. However, there are certain questions (such as the paradox of man's free will and God's foreknowledge) the answers to which are beyond the capacity of the human mind to understand. Only in time to come will the answers be revealed. On no account should one delve into these questions.

It is said of those who speculate on such questions, relying on their own intelligence: "None who go to her return" (Proverbs 2:19 ) . It is impossible to solve these questions through reason. We must have pure faith. Even when it comes to the questions which do have a solution , there are times when the paths of the mind become blocked and one is unsure how to answer the non-believer who casts doubts in one's heart. The remedy then is to study the codes of Torah law. If one still finds oneself confused and unable to answer these questions, one should rely on faith alone. The main thing is to have faith.

Likutey Moharan I, 62

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We believe in God with faith alone, not because of philosophical analysis .

We believe that He created the whole universe, that He sustains His universe and that in time to come He will renew it.

Philosophical works pose what appear to be extremely difficult questions while providing very weak answers. On further enquiry anyone can challenge the answers, which will be of no avail, merely generating more questions.

But the truth is that all their questions are nothing. They are mere vanity and striving after the wind. It is best to avoid such works completely.

Sichot Haran #40

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Fear and awe vs. philosophy and science

The only way to start serving God is through fear of His retribution for wrongdoing. Without this fear it is impossible even to take the first step. Very few people are able to devote themselves wholly to God out of love alone.

One can also serve God through a sense of awe at His supreme greatness and power. This is a higher level of fear, but it is also very hard to attain. For most people the pathway to serving God starts with simple fear of His retribution.

The study of philosophy can never bring a person to God. On the contrary, it fills his mind with doubts and questions that simply reinforce his innate evil impulse.

Man is naturally drawn after worldly temptations. Only through fear of punishment can he control his material desires and walk in the ways of God. Philosophy raises doubts and questions, strengthening man's natural inclination to turn away from God. This is why a person can never become Godly through the study of philosophy. Certain philosophical works may contain some good thoughts but they provide no benefit. The usual end result is great confusion, with the person losing much more than he gains.

We are fortunate that Moses our Teacher showed us the right way. The Torah begins without any philosophical proof: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1) . We must believe in God through faith alone without demanding philosophical proof. Fear of retribution is the main gateway to true devotion.

All new ideas and inventions come from above

All scientific discoveries and inventions come from above. Without inspiration from above, they could never be discovered.

When the time comes for an idea to be revealed to the world, the necessary inspiration is granted from above to some thinker or scientist. A thought enters his mind and is thus revealed. Many people may previously have sought this idea but it eluded them. Only when the time comes for the idea to be revealed does the inspiration come to the discoverer.

The same is true when a person sees new ideas and interpretations in his Torah studies. They would never have occurred to him if the ideas were not granted from above.

The place from which a person's inspiration derives depends upon that person. One who pursues secular wisdom draws his inspiration not from the holy side but rather from the unholy "other side". All wisdom comes from on high, each concept emanating from its proper place. Each idea has its own place. There are thousands and thousands of different levels. All discoveries, sacred or profane, have a root above, each in its own particular place.

Sichot Haran #5

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Kabalah begins where
philosophy and science end

The true wisdom of the Kabalah begins where philosophy and science end. Philosophers and scientists can speculate only within the limits of the physical world. Their knowledge may reach as far as the stars and galaxies, but beyond that they know absolutely nothing. Even their theories about the physical world end in great confusion, as they themselves admit.

The wisdom of the Kabalah begins where their wisdom ends - beyond the physical world. The Kabalah includes the entire physical world as part of the World of Action ( Asiyah ), the lowest world. But the Kabalah then goes beyond the World of Action to the Worlds of Formation ( Yetzirah ), Creation ( Beriyah ) and Emanation ( Atzilut ).

Even the World of Action has its own interior spiritual level, of which the scientists and philosophers have no knowledge at all. The Kabalah is concerned with the spiritual root of the World of Action and beyond. Thus the Kabalah begins where scientific knowledge ends.

The philosophers and scientists think that all knowledge ends with the stars, but the entire system of the Kabalah deals with worlds and levels that are beyond the stars.

Yet even one who gains some understanding of the Kabalah, the true wisdom, must recognize that in the transcendental worlds there are likewise levels beyond levels, high above high, without end or limit, for "His greatness is unfathomable" (Psalms 145:3) .

Sichot Haran #225

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One dead soul

If one dead soul were permitted to visit the philosophers and scientists as they sit theorizing, it would be the end of all their theories.

Sichot Haran #226

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The song of the Tzaddik

God created the world out of love - in order to reveal His love - for without the creation, to whom would He show His love? Accordingly He brought about the entire creation from the beginning of the highest spiritual world of Atzilut down to the end of the center point of the material world, all in order to manifest His love.

When God wanted to create the world, there was no place to create it because everything was infinite. He therefore "contracted" the infinite light to the sides. As a result of this contraction, an empty void was formed within which time and space - the finite world - were created, as explained at the beginning of the Eitz Chaim of the ARI.

The empty void

This empty void was essential for the creation of the world, because without it there would have been no place to create the world. However, it is impossible to grasp or understand the "contraction" that brought about the empty void. This will only be possible in the future. For we have to postulate two opposites: existence and nothingness.

This is because the empty void came about through the contraction of His Godliness from there, with the result that Godliness is not present there, as it were. For if this were not the case, the void would not be empty; everything would have been infinite and there would have been no room to create the finite world at all. Yet the real truth is that even so, Godliness is most certainly present there because nothing at all exists without His vitality. Due to this contradiction it is impossible to grasp the concept of the empty void. This will be possible only in time to come.

And know that there are two kinds of atheism. There is the kind of unbelief that arises out of alien systems of wisdom, of which it says, "Know what to answer the non-believer" ( Avot 2:14 ) . For there is an answer to this kind of unbelief since it derives from alien wisdoms that arose out of the superfluities caused by the breaking of the vessels. A person who has fallen to this kind of unbelief should certainly flee and make every effort to escape, and indeed if he does seek out God he will find a way to be saved. For since these wisdoms derive from the breaking of the vessels, various holy sparks and letters broke and fell there, and he may therefore find Godly intelligence there in order to resolve the challenges posed by the kind of unbelief that derives from alien wisdoms.

However there is another kind of atheism based on wisdoms that are not wisdoms at all. It is only because they are so deep and hard to grasp that they have the appearance of deep wisdom. For example, a person might posit a false Talmudic argument which he imagines is exceptionally deep but, lacking the necessary scholarship, he fails to realize that his line of argument is untenable. Similarly, the philosophers pose various problems and questions that are in truth devoid of all wisdom. The problems are intrinsically non-existent, but because it is not within the bounds of the human mind to unravel them, they appear genuine.

The truth is that it is impossible to resolve these problems because the questions posed by this brand of atheism derive from the empty void, where Godliness is not present, as it were. This is why the questions that derive from the empty void cannot be answered in any way, because it is impossible to find God there. For if one could find God there it would not be empty and all would be infinite. For this reason it is said of this atheism, "None who go to her return" (Proverbs 2:19 ) .

Why Israel are called the Hebrews

Israel alone transcends all wisdoms including even the atheism that derives from the empty void, because we believe in God without speculation or sophistry but only with complete faith. For God fills all the worlds and encompasses all the worlds. Thus He is present within all the worlds and at the same time He encompasses all the worlds... Therefore even the empty void came about through His wisdom. The ultimate truth is that His Godliness must be present there , but it is impossible to grasp this or find God there.

Thus the people of Israel transcend all the philosophical problems and atheistic ideas that derive from the empty void, because they know that it is impossible to solve them. This is why the people of Israel are called the Hebrews, from the Hebrew root OVeiR , to pass over and transcend.

But know that certain outstanding Tzaddikim who are in the category of Moses have been obliged to investigate these philosophies in order to extricate and elevate the fallen souls that have become sunk in them. Through their great sanctity these Tzaddikim had the power to release these trapped souls.

The melody of faith

And know that it is through his melody that the Tzaddik who is in the category of Moses elevates the souls which have fallen into the atheism that derives from the empty void. Every wisdom in the world has its own unique melody and song; even atheism has its own special song. And faith too has its own unique melody and song. The faith in the light of the Infinite is supreme above all other wisdoms and beliefs in the world, and the song of this faith is beyond all other melodies and songs in the world.

And in time to come, when God "will turn to all the nations a pure language so that all will call on the name of HaShem" (Zephaniah 3:9) and all will believe in God, the verse, "Come, sing from the summit of Amana" (Song of Songs 4:8) will be fulfilled . The "summit of Amana" is the supreme faith ( Emunah ) in the Infinite One, which is the summit of all faith. Only the Tzaddik of the generation - Moses - attains this supreme faith and its melody. Thus it is through the melody of the Tzaddik who is in the category of Moses that all the souls that have fallen into the atheism deriving from the empty void are able to ascend and emerge, for his melody is the "summit of faith", which is supreme.

Likutey Moharan I, 64

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By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
© AZAMRA INSTITUTE 5767 - 2006-7 All rights reserved