Holiness: Rabbi Nachman

In Rabbi Nachman writing “Advice” he shares the essence of holiness. There is a process to and individual achieving authentic holiness.

1) The essence of the holiness which every person must strive for is to observe the Covenant in purity. The way to achieve this is by sanctifying the way you speak. You must speak only words of holiness and keep yourself from any lapse into language which is not holy. Then whatever you say will be in `the Holy Tongue,’ and through this you will achieve the holiness of the Covenant (19).

2) You must sanctify your mouth, your nose, your eyes and your ears. You must guard your mouth against words of falsehood and anything else which falls short of holiness. You must develop your fear of Heaven in order to sanctify your nostrils. Your ears will be holy when you believe in the Sages and listen to their words. And you must close your eyes and shut out anything which is not good for you to see. The sanctity you attain will bring you perfect understanding, and you will have wisdom, which is God’s blessing, and ruach hakodesh, the holy spirit. Another way of sanctifying your nostrils, is if you are humble and patient and do not burst out in anger if someone insults you (The Hebrew expression for anger is a `burning in the nostrils’). The way to sanctify your ears is to be one who is `faithful in spirit and concealeth a matter’ (Proverbs 11:13) he is careful not to reveal a secret which there is no need to reveal (21).

3) One who is prepared to sacrifice himself for the sake of sanctifying God’s Name will attain peace, and through this the ability to speak holy words of Torah and prayer and to bind the thoughts in the mind to the words which the mouth is speaking. In order to pray with devotion, have in mind that you are willing to sacrifice yourself entirely in order to sanctify God’s Name. To achieve perfect prayer, you must pray with a spirit of total selfsacrifice (80).

4) It has been proved many times that even the most worthless of Jews, even the sinners of Israel are prepared to sacrifice themselves for the sanctification of God’s Name if someone tries to force them to violate the Torah. Each day you should remind yourself that you would be ready to give your life to sanctify God’s Name. This is the essence of Israel’s holiness. You will then attain peace and be able to pray with true devotion (Ibid.).

5) When you recite the Shema you should say the words in a spirit of total self-sacrifice for the sake of God’s Name. Picture in your mind the four death penalties imposed by the Beth Din stoning, strangulation, burning and the sword. You should imagine every detail so vividly that you can literally feel the pain of dying. Thought has a very great power. By imagining yourself dying you can literally come to feel the pangs of death. But be careful not to dwell on these thoughts for too long, because otherwise your soul could literally leave you, God forbid, causing premature death (195).

6) Self-sacrifice for the sake of God brings unity to the worlds above (260).

7) There are certain Tzaddikim who have a very great name and who are known very widely. Yet people hold them in contempt and talk against them. They suffer mercilessly because of this, but it is something they take on themselves in order to sanctify God’s Name, and because of it they can save thousands of Jewish souls from slaughter and death, God forbid (Ibid.).

8) Each person has something in his life which is more of a barrier for him than anything else. This is precisely the barrier he has to break in order to serve God. This is his task in life. It is his own way of sacrificing himself. Someone who is very afraid of dying must be more ready than anyone to give up his life to sanctify God’s Name (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom 57).

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

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