Wherever our thoughts are, that’s where we are. (Likutey Moharan I, 21)
In the final war before Mashiach, the forces of Holiness and the forces of impurity are scrambling for the upper hand. The two annual summit conferences are now officially in session. You are invited to listen in.
The Devil’s Workshop
Bad Angel #1:(speaking to the Devil) Yo, boss man. Look what’s going on down there. Rav Arush is up to his old tricks again. He just sent some of his students to France where they sold 400 of his books. Did you hear me, FRANCE! We broke our backs, in France, to achieve a 75% rate of intermarriage? Then to make matters worse, on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, Rebbe Nachman’s birthday, Rav Arush sent the Yeshiva to do a 6 hour hisbodidus in Beit Shemesh and Rabbi Brody and Rabbi Nechama to pray at Rebbe Nachman’s gravesite in the Ukraine. But what’s really worrying me, is that Rav Arush made travel arrangements for the whole Yeshiva to fly to Uman for this upcoming Rosh Hashana.
Satan: You idiot. He sends them to Uman every year!
Bad Angel #1: I know boss, but I don’t trust them. Rav Brody is almost done translating Rav Arush’s latest book The Gate of Gratitude into English. Do you know how many Jews read English? If the Jewish people start expressing their Gratitude to Hashem for all he has done for them, we’re going to need a bigger weapon to deal with this. It looks like they are really close to bringing Mashiach.
Satan: Angel #1, where is your emuna? We don’t need any new weapons. Mashiach hasn’t come yet has he? My workshop is buzzing with activity these days. We have a superb arsenal which hasn’t changed in millennium. Just leave the thinking to me. We’re going to stick to the strategy that the Torah itself tells us will keep the Jewish people far from Hashem.
Bad Angel #2: Nu, what’s that Boss?
Satan: You have absolutely no chance of succeeding as an Angel of Destruction, unless you become a Torah Scholar.
Bad Angel #2: What? Me learn Torah?
Angel #1: Hey don’t you know that the Torah can be either an “elixir of life” or an “elixir of death” for the Jews. A good destructive angel must know a lot of Torah to defeat the people of Israel.
I’ll give you an example: It says clearly in Sefer Mesilas Yisharim (The Path of the Just) that the best thing is to keep the Jew racing from one thing to the next (that’s why they appropriately call themselves the ‘human race’). You must keep their thoughts spinning like a draidel so that they habitually go into a state of auto-pilot.
You must keep mounting pressure and stress upon them to distract them from their Holy work. Once they are stuck in a habitual pattern of thought and behavior – that’s when you ambush them – that’s when you bombard them with thoughts of sadness, doubt, immorality and fear. The Torah promises us that Hashem’s presence will surely leave them if you can make them sad. Sadness: that’s our real ace-in-the-hole.
Both Angels (together): Gotcha boss. Don’t worry we won’t let you down.
Satan (continues): Before closing, let’s review our mission statement, methodology and goals.
Mission statement: To destroy hope, faith, joy, love and all feeling for Hashem.
Methodology: a.systematic and comprehensive exposure to impurity through media and technology; b.a dehumanizing work-ethic: c. a degrading value-system and an atheistic educational system.
Goals: Demolish their powers of concentration and attention b. Eradicate their ability to think purposefully c. Compel them to form harmful judgements about themselves and others d. induce a state of mindlessness so that there is “no one there” to fight against all of the above.
Summary: this will not only chase Hashem away but it will lead to mental, physical, and Spiritual deterioration. As their overall quality of life diminishes, there will be a progressive numbing of all feeling for Hashem. They will no longer be able to recognize the Truth.
Inside Yeshiva Chut Shel Chesed
Let’s join the meeting in progress:
Rav Arush: Gentleman. I do not claim to be a Prophet, and by no means should we alarm people, but I sense that in Heaven an unfavorable decree awaits our people.
Rabbi Brody: Tell us my beloved Teacher, what are we to do?
Rav Arush: Our Teacher Rebbe Nachman of Breslev says that: “The only reason why people are far from G-d and don’t come closer to him is because they don’t have yishuv ha-da’at, calmness and clarity (of mind), and they don’t sit and think…” about the true purpose of life. If we will teach people how to achieve mental composure, they will certainly see the Ultimate Truth; they will come back to Hashem and the decree will be reversed.
Rebbe Nachman tells us that a person has the ability to direct his thoughts where he wishes, and even if, God-forbid, his thoughts should wander into anger sadness or fear, the Torah provides many ways for him to re-channel his thoughts back to Emunah and an awareness of Hashem’s greatness. Then he will be a mentsch and you will be able to fill him with Torah. People ask me why we need to spend so much time strengthening our Emunah in personal prayer at the expense of Torah learning. Emunah actually strengthens our Torah learning. I remind them of what King David wrote in Psalms: that his “cup was overflowing” (with love for Hashem and the Torah). King David was on a level where he could hold all the Torah that was poured into him because he was an intact vessel to receive Hashem’s wisdom in its purest form, but Rebbe Nachman knew that in our generation our cups have many cracks and holes; and so it’s not enough to just pour Torah learning into us. First we must seal our cracks and plug up our holes. It says derech eretz kodem l’Torah. Before we can receive the Torah we need to be mentzchin (intact healthy people).
All service to Hashem begins with a calm settled mind; how else can we achieve what the Rebbe implores of us in his very first lesson: to awaken ourselves to be ever-mindful of the G-dliness inherent in every aspect of Creation.
We shall build a grand Yeshiva that teaches Torah in 70 different languages, the likes of which the world has never seen. It will not be like other Yeshivas. With Hashem’s help, we shall spread our message to the four corners of the globe. Hashem will certainly be with usin this so that we will speedily see the defeat of the forces of evil; the return of sanity and decency to our world; the final Redemption of our people and the rebuilding of our Holy Temple. Amen.
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Zev Ballen, LCSW has been a practicing psychotherapist for 32 years. He is licensed in Israel and the State of New York. Zev has the endorsements of prominent Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Shlita, Reb Yitzchok Fagelstock, Shlita, The Kasaner Rebbe of Forshay, Shlita, Rav Shalom Arush, Shlita, and Rabbi Lazer Brody, Shlita. He resides with his family in Jerusalem where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time practice. You can write to Zev Ballen at: firstname.lastname@example.org call him at: 845-362-8600 (US line) or 054-840-9499 (Israeli line).