Breslover chassidim quote their Rebbe as having stated, "My fire will burn until the coming of the Mashiach." And indeed, a blazing fire seems the most appropriate metaphor for the teachings and personality of Rabbi Nachman.
His fire is the fire of searing, uncompromising faith, with no room for doubt. A simple and wholehearted faith not founded on cold and alien intellectual proofs, but rather embodied in an all-consuming flame, completely opposed to rationalistic philosophy.
It is the fire of enthusiasm and joy that spreads throughout a person's limbs, to the point where he is roused to dance and sing - but also the fire of profound sadness and consuming bitterness, as revealed implicitly in Rabbi Nachman's frequent warnings against it.
It is also the fire of prayer, which occupies a most central place in the teachings of Rabbi Nachman - far beyond the set prayer service. His prayer is a continual outpouring of his heart, an ecstatic torrent, a total position of entreaty before the Holy One. It is an experience that the set prayer service cannot contain; to the point where Rabbi Nachman senses a need - as communicated to his disciple, Rabbi Natan - to compose a collection of prayers giving expression to the boundless petitions of the supplicant.
Finally, it is the fire of discord. Both the teachings and the very personality of Rabbi Nachman are hedged with controversy. Dispute as a phenomenon and the attitude towards it occupy a considerable portion of Rabbi Nachman's teachings - not only as a reflection of the situation in reality but also as a vital element in the process of bringing the world to its ultimate perfection.
In this series of shiurim we shall attempt to discover the nature of this fire, to seek its roots and to follow the developments that emanate from it. We shall address the range of subjects mentioned above, examining each in its own individual light.
Some shiurim will summarize a subject; others will address particular teachings that are central to Rabbi Nachman's thought.
The central sources that we shall consult are Likutei Moharan Kama and Tanina, Sippurei Rabbi Nachman, Sichot haRan, Chayei Moharan, Likutei Tefillot and Shivchei haRan.
Anyone interested in delving into this bibliography will find it in concise form in Avraham Green's work, "Ba'al haYesurim."
In general we shall quote the sources in full, in order that the reader will be able to review and evaluate them for him/herself.
Rav Itamar Eldad is a boger of Yeshivat Har Etzion' s Hesder Program.
Questions regarding this specific shiur may be addressed to [email protected]
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