Rebbe Nachman: Sit Your Mind Down

Copyright (C) 1974 by Holy Beggars’ Gazette
Reprinted by permission.

San Francisco, Nisan 5734.

Transcribed by (Rabbi) Elana Rappaport (Schachter),
Reb Shlomo speaking.


Why is the world so far from G-d? Why aren’t they getting
closer? They have no Yishuv haDaat, no time to think. Yishuv means
to sit, and Daat means mind. When you want to think of something
you sit down, so your mind is more at ease. People never give
their minds a chance to sit. Why don’t they do that? Because if they
would sit down and give their minds a chance to think they would
ask themselves, “What do I gain by all my worldly endeavors?”

Then they would realize that they are not gaining anything from all
those worldly things. There are some kinds of desires which are
outside, like honor and success, which are not connected to me
physically, but are still connected to me. If people thought, “What
do I gain from this?” then probably people would get closer to G-d.

  Why do you lose control over your mind? According to the Baal
Shem Tov, according to Chassidus, the greatest sin in the world is to
be sad. So Rebbe Nachman asks what is so bad about being sad? He
answers that when you are sad, then you have no control over your
mind, and if you have no control over your mind, then you can’t get
your mind to sit down and think straight.

  Only when you are happy, when you are full of joy, can you attain
Yishuv haDaat. It says, “in joy and go out of exile.” It is not
enough to be happy.  You have to tie the joy to your mind.  It is
possible for every part of me to be joyous and my mind can still be
in exile, still sad. In other words, a free person is one who is master
over his mind, who can take hold of his own mind and pin it down,
to think, “What is happening to me? What is the purpose of my
life?” A slave is someone who is not a master of his mind, who can
not hold his mind. So the only way to get out of slavery is through
joy. How do you come to joy? What do you do when you are full of

The way to become happy is if you look at yourself and realize, “I
am not really as bad as I thought. “What makes us so sad is that we
look at ourselves, and we give up on ourselves. Rebbe Nachman says it
can’t be that your whole life you never did anyone a favor. So you
did one person a favor. Isn’t that enough reason to dance all your life
through all the streets of the world? He says it is impossible that
your whole life you never prayed once. So you prayed once. You
spoke to G-d once, what more do you need to prove that you have
at least a lot of good in you? Even if you never did anything good,
you are a grandchild of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Isn’t that the
greatest honor in the world? Even if that doesn’t help, you yourself
at one time stood at Mt. Sinai, you heard G-d’s voice, so why aren’t
you rejoicing? One way or another, at one moment in your soul life,
or even in your physical life, you must have done something good.
That is enough to make you happy, and from there you start to
become master over your own mind.

There is a special thing in the G’mora bedicha daata, a laughing
mind. Your mind not only has to be free, your mind has to be
laughing at you. Do you know what laughing means? It is a very light
thing, completely free, with no weight. It seems to me that the mind,
in order to think, has to go places. If it has too much of a load on it,
it can’t go, it is too heavy. Sadness is very heavy, but Rebbe Nachman
says when your mind is laughing then you are free to go wherever
you want.

Rebbe Nachman says that you should know that when you pray in the field
every blade of grass comes and helps you, and gives you strength to
pray. The little grasses of the field are called siach hasadeh, and prayer is called
sicha, so he says prayer is actually the same as the grass of the field.
It says in Torah to pray in the field, or “with the field”. He went out in the field in
order that all the grasses of the field would help him pray. Therefore
it says in Deuteronomy, and we say it in the
Shma, “if you deviate from G-d’s way then the earth will
not yield its produce.” What does it mean? He says it means that the
earth will not join you when you pray. If you are serving G-d and
going in G-d’s way, then even if you are not actually in the field,
since you need the field for your food and drink, therefore the field
is with you and helps you pray. The word “yivul”, produce, is
the same as the initials of “Yitzchak went out
in the field to pray.”

When a person goes after his own understanding and his own little wisdom
he can fall down to the lowest depths, and make a lot of mistakes,
and he can come to a very bad place. A lot of evil people have led the
world astray, doing things that didn’t seem bad, but they trusted
their own sense. Reb Nachman says the most important thing in
Yiddishkeit, in service of G-d, is to go in wholeness and with simplicity.
Everything you do you should do with a thought about whether G-d is there.
Don’t be overly clever and don’t think about your own honor. If you
think something will bring honor to G-d, then do it, and, if not,
don’t. If you think about whether it will bring honor to G-d, then
you will never go wrong.

    Even if you fall down into doubts, even if you doubt G-d, and
think that everything that has to do with G-d is wrong, it doesn’t
matter. Falling down is the beginning of rising up. There is no place you
can’t get out of if you stop thinking that the world begins and ends
with your mind. Do you know how much wisdom it takes not to be
too clever?

    This is one of the deepest Torahs of Reb Nachman. You have to
know that the root of the whole creation is kavod. Kavod can mean
heavy, weighty, honor, glory, shining, or the surrounding light which
is more than the thing itself, If I give kavod to someone, that makes
him more than he was before. Whenever the infinite part is shining,
that is kavod. Everything G-d created, He only created for His kavod.
Since everything was created to honor G-d, that means that G-d’s
kavod is the root and purpose of the creation. Although the creation
is One, still there are many parts to the One, and in each part of the
creation a different kind of kavad is manifest. The G’mora asks why
G-d used ten sayings to create the world when He could have created
the world in one saying. This is because the kavod which is manifest
in each part of the One is the root and source of a part of the creation
which corresponds to one of the ten sayings. Therefore it says “in His
palace everything is honor”, and “The world is filled with His glory”.
Each saying has its own kind of kavod, and, Reb Nachman says, each
kavod has a certain boundary, which is as far as that particular honor
can reach. Even though the whole world is filled with His glory, still
there is a place which the kavod manifest in the ten sayings can’t

  In fact, G-d did create the world in the one word, Beraishit, which
includes within itself the ten sayings which He said to add the details.
When I see animals I know G-d said, “Let there be animals,” so I see
G-d, but the one word Beraishit, with which G-d created the whole
world, is invisible, and its kavod is completely beyond visibility.

  There are people who disgrace G-d, who are completely out of touch
with giving Him honor. Where do they receive life from? Obviously
they receive their power of existence from G-d too, but it comes
from that hidden place. Sometimes I receive life from the level of the
ten sayings, but sometimes I lose contact with the ten sayings by
being full of doubts and not seeing G-d manifest in the creation. At
those times, when I have destroyed my own kavad, made it imposible
to myself, then I receive life from the word Beraishit, from the
the hidden word which is not manifest.

  How do I receive life from that higher source, that hidden saying?
I have to make my honor visible to myself again, by yishuv hadaat,
by finding that point of good, as Reb Nachman said before. When a
person falls into doubts and great confusion, then he begins to look
at himself, and he sees that he is very far from G-d’s kavod. Then he
begins to search for G-d and to cry out, “Where is G-d? Where is the
place of G-d’s glory?” That is the beginning of repentance, because
the essence of repentance is looking for and running after G-d’s
honor. As the person cries out “Where is G-d?” he makes G-d
manifest in the lowest depths, and in the very asking is the beginning
of his rising and touching the highest levels of G-d’s kavod. That is
why it says that falling down is the beginning of rising up.
The most important thing is not to give up. Even if you are in a
low place and you absolutely don’t see G-d, if, for just one split
second, you ask, “Where is G-d?” at the very instant of your asking
you are reaching the very highest level in the world. You are
penetrating and breaking open the hidden word which gives life to all
the other words. Reb Nachman says you have to realize that this is
the only advice and the onIy way, not only for those who are not so
holy, but even for the holiest people in the world. You are not
permitted to stand on one rung, you have to keep going, and before
you go higher you usually fall down.

    Remember what the Baal Shem Tov said? How does a mother
teach a baby to walk? If the mother would hold the baby’s hand all
the time the baby would never learn to walk. The baby has to fall a
hundred times, and then slowly, slowly, the baby gets up and walks a
step. When it can walk one step, the mother walks back two steps.
The more steps the baby can walk, the more steps the mother walks
back. So the more steps we can walk, the further back G-d stands, in
order to teach us to walk.

    Before Messiah comes, when we come to the end of the exile, the
hiddenness will be very strong. This will be the time when we will
really have to make G-d’s glory shine into the world. In order to
make His kavod shine, we really have to ask for Him. As much as
G-d was hidden since the creation of the world, it doesn’t compare
to the way He will be hidden before Messiah comes. Therefore,
before Messiah comes will be our biggest chance to break through
the great covering up of G-d. The whole world will be filled with
great intellectuals, all the people will give speeches and print books in
all the languages of the world, but woe to them! Woe to their souls!
A little boy who believes in G-d knows more than all of them. G-d
should save us from them. If they would at least speak the lie in the
name of lies it wouldn’t be so bad, but they will speak the lie in the
name of truth. The only thing you can do at that point is ask,
“Where is G-d?” If you ask where He is, you will find that He is

    G-d revealed Himself to us in the desert, because in the desert
there are no ways. In the desert you don’t know where to go, you
don’t know where you came from, you don’t know where your place
is, and you don’t know where G-d’s place is. It is completely
placeless, and there you start asking where G-d is, you get close to
His revelation. Only when you have absolutely no place in the world
and you really ask where G-d is, then G-d can talk to you.

    According to our holy tradition, if we hadn’t made the golden calf we
would never have had the tabernacle. That means that in a certain
way we brought G-d’s holiness closer to the world because of the
golden calf. After we made the idol we started asking, “Where is
G-d?” that means you don’t know where G-d’s place is, so G-d
reveals a place, which is the holy Beis HaMikdash, the holy
tabernacle. In the same way, before Messiah is coming we will ask,
“Where is G-d? Where is G-d’s place? Where is the place of His
Glory?” It will be such a strong asking, that, so to speak, G-d will
have to build the holy temple again.

by  Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach
Posted in: Personal Growth