Happy Birthday, Rabbenu!
Nissan is the month of Passover, the freedom month, when Hashem freed our forefathers from bondage in Egypt.
The first day of Nissan is a special holiday for Breslever Chassidim – it’s the day when Hashem sent earthwards the holy soul that would pave the way for Moshiach, our beloved rabbi and master, Rebbe Nachman
of Breslev, 236 years ago. It’s also a day when many make the journey to Rebbe Nachman’s holy gravesite in Uman, Ukraine (photo, right
Rebbe Nachman teaches that the beginning of anything has tantamount importance (see Likutei Moharan I:62). Therefore, the fact that Rebbe Nachman was born on the first day of Nissan – the beginning of the freedom month – carries a special significance.
“The daughter of Pharaoh” is the nickname that Rebbe Nachman uses when he refers to intellectual disciplines that aren’t rooted in Torah. Rebbe Nachman explains (ibid. I:35) that the holy nation of Israel has a holiness of intellect that can only be developed, enhanced, and optimized by learning Torah and Torah-related wisdom, the wisdom of holiness that the intellect and the soul thrive on.
Yet, when a person learns foreign intellectual disciplines, two things occur: One, the memory bank that was destined to contain the light of holy wisdom is now reduced and occupied by the spiritual darkness of the foreign intellectual disciplines. This hampers both the thought process and emotional stability, since the soul will be lacking to the degree that it is denied what it needs. Second, the foreign intellectual disciplines serve as a coat rack in the brain for terrible character traits. When the brain is filled exclusively with the light of holy wisdom, the negative character traits have nothing to attach themselves to.
In Kabbalic thought, matzah is symbolic of the purity of holy wisdom whereas chometz, the leavened bread and derivatives that we are not allowed to eat during Pesach, is indicative of the foreign intellectual disciplines that weaken the brain and lead to all sorts of nonsensical conclusions, such as the Darwin’s theory of evolution. The inner dimension of Pesach is therefore our intellectual liberty, the brain and soul’s freedom from the nonsense of the foreign intellectual disciplines, in addition to the body’s freedom from physical bondage. In fact, slavery of the mind is a far greater tragedy than slavery of the body.
We can now understand why Rebbe Nachman called the foreign intellectual disciplines, “The daughter of Pharaoh”. The outer dimension of Pesach is the celebration of our bodily liberation from Pharaoh. But, freedom isn’t worth much if the freed individual maintains a slave mentality. Therefore we need the inner dimension of Pesach as well, to break the mental chains of foreign intellectual disciplines, so suitably termed “The daughter of Pharaoh”.
As a birthday present to Rebbe Nachman and as a continuation of the above concept, we’ve prepared an enjoyable 3-minute film entitled, “Family Album,” which we invite you to see:
(We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams