16 Sivan 5779 / Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | Torah Reading: Shelach Lecho
 
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Even if a person possesses true wisdom, he must nevertheless cast aside all wisdom and sophistication and serve God with complete innocence and simplicity…

 



“The Essential Rebbe Nachman”, Part 4

Rebbe Nachman on Simplicity
 
No sophistication is needed in serving God – only simplicity, sincerity and faith.
 
Simplicity is higher than all else. For God is certainly higher than everything else, and God is ultimately simple! (Sichot Haran #101)
 
The greatest wisdom is not to be wise
 
Even after all the wisdom and sophistication – even if you possess true wisdom – you must cast aside all wisdom and sophistication and serve God with complete innocence and simplicity, with no sophistication whatever.
 
The greatest wisdom of all is not to be wise at all. The truth is that no- one in the world is wise, for “there is no wisdom and no understanding … before God” (Proverbs 21:30) . The main thing God wants is the heart. (Likutey Moharan II, 44)
 
The King's beloved child
 
Throw aside all wisdom and clever ideas and serve God with simplicity. Make sure that your deeds are greater than your wisdom, because the main thing is not study but its practical application. This obviously applies to most ordinary people's clever ideas, which are mere folly, but it even applies to genuine wisdom. When it comes to serving God, even a person whose head is filled with genuine wisdom should set it all aside and serve God simply and innocently.
 
Sometimes it may even be necessary to behave in a way that seems foolish in order to serve God and carry out His will. We may have to roll around in mud and mire for the sake of serving God and keeping His commandments. This applies not only to explicit mitzvot. Anything that God wants us to do is also called a mitzvah. Sometimes one has to throw oneself into the very mud and mire to perform a certain deed that will be pleasing to God.
 
One whose love of God is sufficiently strong becomes His dearly beloved child. God will show him abundant love and kindness, permitting him to explore the King's hidden store-chambers and even to understand what is beyond wisdom, including the deepest of all secrets, such as why the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. (Likutey Moharan II, 5)
 
The essence of Judaism
 
When a person follows his own mind and clever ideas, he can fall into many pitfalls and errors and come to great evil. Tremendous damage has been caused by such people, like the infamous great villains who, through their intelligence and cunning, have led the entire world astray.
 
The essence of Judaism is to conduct oneself in pure innocence and simplicity, with no sophistication whatever. Make sure that whatever you do, God is there. Don't heed your own honor. If it enhances God's glory, do it. If not, then don't. This way, you can be certain you will never stumble.
 
Be careful to act with true innocence and simplicity but not foolishly. Sophistication, however, is quite unnecessary. Simplicity, innocence and faith can bring you to the highest level of joy. (Likutey Moharan II, 12)
 
Don't be too stringent
 
Don't follow excessive stringencies in your practice of the Torah. “God does not rule over His creatures with tyranny” (Avodah Zarah 3a) – “The Torah was not given to ministering angels” ( Berachot 25b).
 
Our rabbis have taught that it is proper for each person to choose for himself one mitzvah to observe with particular care in all its fine details (Shabbat 118b). Yet even with your chosen mitzvah, you should not be excessively strict to the point of folly. Don't let it make you depressed. Simply try to keep the mitzvah carefully in all its finer points, but without excessive punctiliousness.
 
As for the other mitzvot, simply follow the essential laws without adding extra stringencies. If only we could keep all the mitzvot of the Torah according to the simple interpretation of the law without seeking to go beyond it!
 
There is no need to look for extra stringencies: this is foolish and confusing. The essence of serving God is simplicity and sincerity. Pray much, study much Torah and carry out many good deeds without seeking out or inventing unnecessary restrictions. Simply follow the path of our forefathers. “The Torah was not given to ministering angels.”
 
There is nothing that you absolutely must do or else… If you can, you can. But if you cannot: “God exempts a person under duress” (Bava Kama 28b). (Sichot Haran #235)
 
 
(Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum is the director of Azamra. “The Essential Rebbe Nachman” is available for purchase online here)




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