Translated by Aaron Yoseph
The Rebbe tells us that there’s a great gift – the Attribute of Mercy – that a person can learn to look at life differently. This is what we learnt at Mount Sinai – to know that there’s Hashem – the mitzvah of Emunah. What is this? To know that whatever happens, it’s all from Hashem – it’s all for sure for the best, it’s all wonderfup precision Divine Providence. It’s all love, because Hashem is full of mercy. If I’m missing something, then I know to pray. This is the main mitzvah of Emunah. Every mitzvah has to have Emunah – every prayer – to know that Hashem heard me. The mitzvah of Emunah is in every mitzvah. This is why Rebbe Nachman said that his whole thing is Emunah.
When we live with this, we live in a continuous state of Shabbos. Without this, we can’t pray and we can’t serve Hashem with our lives. The great Tzaddikim taught us this, and the Rebbe shows us how it’s relevant to us – to get into this great daas, to know that everything is from Hashem. We have to go over this again and again, to remind ourselves of this. The root problem is that Hashem’s Malchus, the Shechina, the Divine Presence, needs to be elevated. Hashem created this world, and made everything, and He created this aspect called the Shechina, or Malchus. It’s completely united with Hashem, but He, as it were, separated it from Himself and sent it down into this world, giving us the task of re-elevating it. This is our way of bringing pleasure and delight to Hashem.
The Shechina can be in exile. When is the Shechina in exile? When we are lacking in Emunah. If we wake up in the morning and say Modeh Ani with kavono, with intent, we elevate the Shechina. When we say the morning blessings with kavono, we raise up the Shechina over the world. This isn’t any great level, it’s just living with simple Emunah. This is how we can live. When we eat, we bless Hashem Who gave us to eat. So to everything else – we can do it with Emunah.
But we forget. We get caught up in the news, in what other people are doing. Hashem is running the world. Hashem is the King of the Universe, not Obama! How do we raise up the Shechina again? The Rebbe says that this is the idea of teshuva. With this we change the whole situation. The Rebbe says that we have to confess before the true tzaddik. We’ve said how the main confession used to be in the Beis HaMikdash. We saw what the Rebbe meant by this – that we should confess with the daas of the Tzaddikim. A person can do teshuvah by himself, but when it comes to practical matters, we need to be shown how to do things. Teshuvah is to return to Hashem. Teshuvah by ourselves doesn’t work so well, “Have I done it right, or not? This is my nature, etc.”
The Rebbe teaches us that the purpose of confessing is to return to Hashem. “I’m not bad, I’m good. I don’t have bad middos, I’ve completely changed.” Keep on going, make progress every day. Teshuvah is a path, a way of life. It’s not a single event – “I did teshuvah. Now what?” It’s a continuous cycle. Don’t get angry or despair if you don’t see any progress. This is called doing teshuvah before a Talmid Chochom – meaning with the true Rebbe.
This is the power of the time when we say Selichos. We say Selichos now until Yom Kippur, to arouse Hashem’s mercy. We need this mercy in order to change. Everything by us is in disorder. We don’t feel well, this is bothering us, this one upset us… so we can’t change. When a person listens to the voice of the Tzaddik, he doesn’t pay so much attention to his own honor and comfort. If a person changes just a drop after traveling to the Rebbe for Rosh Hashana for twenty years – it was all worth it. Until we get out of focusing exclusively on ourselves, we can’t taste the sweetness of holiness.