A treasury of sayings, teachings, parables and stories by the outstanding Chassidic sage, mystic and visionary, Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810), whose message of faith, hope, courage, simplicity and joy is essential to each one of us and essential to the whole world.
Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
THE ESSENTIAL RABBI NACHMAN
Know it in your heart
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“Know this day and consider it in your heart that HaShem is G-d in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other” (Deuteronomy 4:39 ).
The only way to know G-d is through complete faith. Only faith can bring you to true knowledge and perception of G-d’s greatness: “And I will betroth you to Me with faith , and you shall know G-d ! ” (Hosea 2:22).
Many passages tell us to know G-d: “Know this day and consider it in your heart … ” (Deuteronomy 4:39 ) . “Know the G-d of your father” (I Chronicles 28:9) . “Know that HaShem is G-d” (Psalms 100:3) . These verses teach us to know and be mindful of G-d’s presence at all times and not to forget Him for a moment.
Great kings constantly remind their subjects that they have a ruler. Soldiers in particular are trained to know who their king and master is – “In order that His fear should be on their faces” (Exodus 20:17 ) – so that they should serve their master unconditionally . Subordinates are constantly told, “Know that you have a lord and master.” The intention is that they should keep this in mind and never forget it, in order not do anything against his will.
The same is true of the Kingdom of Heaven . We are told: “Know the G-d of your father!” Know it and don’t ever forget it! “Know this day and consider it in your heart, that HaShem is God!” “Know that HaShem is G-d!”
We need to be reminded time and time again. Everyone knows in general terms that “HaShem is G-d”. However, the distractions and temptations of this vain world cause many to forget it much of the time. This is why the Torah reminds us: “Know that HaShem is G-d!” “Know the G-d of your father!” That is to say: Bring this knowledge deep within yourself until it is bound tightly in your mind and heart at all times. This is the meaning of “Know this day and consider it in your heart that HaShem is G- d.”
Perfect knowledge is when you bind your mind to your heart so that you know in your heart that “HaShem is G-d.” When you bring this knowledge into your heart, you will be filled with deep awe, fear and reverence of G-d and you will not sin.
Each person’s knowledge and awareness of G-d are unique to himself according to the horizons of his heart. Our basic knowledge of G-d derives from what we have been taught by our holy forefathers, who struggled all their lives to divest themselves of all material attachments. They conquered all their negative traits and desires, releasing themselves from the root of evil. This was how they came to true recognition and understanding of their Creator.
They have left this good heritage to us and our duty is to accept it with the utmost joy. “Happy are we! How good is our portion! How pleasant is our lot! How beautiful is our heritage!” (Morning Prayers).
When the Torah tells us to “know” G-d, it is teaching us to bring this holy knowledge into our minds and thoughts and bind it in our hearts constantly at all times in order that “His fear will be upon our faces so that we will not sin” (Exodus 20:17).
Sichot Haran #217
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“And the way to sing the song of joy is by seeking the good in all people, especially in ourselves. Each good point is one more note in the song of life!”
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov