This Torah teaching from Rebbe Nachman is just so important: Rebbe Chanina, the son of Chachinai, says, Haneor Balayla – if you’re up at night and you walk along your way alone, and you turn your heart to nothingness – l’vatala, means, if you translate it properly, to nothingness, to unimportant things, that means you are walking around with stupid thoughts. Then you, so to speak, just bring about your own death with your own hands, because you mamash deserve, G-d forbid, that you have no right to live. This is written in Pirkey Avos.
The simple meaning
Now the simple meaning of this is… Imagine that you want to get angry at somebody very much. But this person is not around. So you just make up your mind that if this person walked in the room now, you’d grab him and mamash tell him ‘where it’s at,’ what you think of him, and then you’d definitely throw him out – and never speak to him again.
Then something happens when this person walks in to the room, and suddenly you are not so angry any more. You just ask him, “Why did you do that?” in a soft way. The person will just say, “I really didn’t mean it,” and the whole thing will be forgotten.
Isn’t it crazy? This person didn’t utter one word, he just walked in to the room. What happened?
Everybody has an inside light and an outside light, a surrounding light. Your whole soul is not within your body. Just a little part of your soul is within your body giving you life. But the truth is, that the essence of your soul is beyond you, beyond your body. It’s just there. And this is a very great light, a very great light. So you might be angry at somebody, but the moment when they walk in and you’re standing in front of them, then the light of their soul is shining so much that you can’t be angry. You just can’t.
Your soul is really shining
According to our tradition, everything wrong which happens to you is only because your soul wasn’t shining in your surrounding light, because if your soul is really shining, then no evil can befall you, because evil can’t reach you.
How can you get to be on that level that your soul should really be shining? You can if you are learning Torah, if your insides are filled with learning, with Torah. Because the whole Torah is really one. One. If you learn one letter you’re really learning all the letters. If you learn one word, you’re really learning all the words.
A good friend
Do you know what a good friend is? What does it mean to love somebody very much? It’s very simple. If you don’t love somebody very much, you’ll say, “I love you.” That means right now, a few minutes after five on Tuesday, I said to you, “I love you.” And that’s it. So, it is sweet…. But then, sometimes you love somebody so much, you say, “I love you,” but it really includes all the eternities of the world. You can mamash hear the echo like you said it about 30 times before and after.
Learn the Torah on a high level
You know what it means to really learn the Torah on a high level? It means that while you’re learning, it’s not just this minute. All of you before, and all of you after, whatever happens before and after, is learning. This is only true with learning the Torah. You cannot say you’re taking a book on psychology and your whole eternity is learning this book. Because it’s just information, it’s not soul.
A holy soul
So if I’m on that level, then suddenly I’m on this tremendous eternity level, so then everything that goes around within time cannot reach me. It just can’t reach me. People cannot get angry with me. The little dog in the house wants to bark at me, but it just can’t, because it saw a holy soul.
Here it is appropriate to insert one of the stories written about Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach in the book; ‘Holy Brother’.
Rivkah Haut’s watchdog “Ginger” was an integral part of her family for over twelve years. A playful and devoted companion to Rivkah’s little girls, an alert and conscientious guardian of the Haut household, Ginger had but one minor flaw; she hated men.
“It was the most amazing thing,” Rivkah recalls. “Here was this sweet, gentle, loving playmate of my daughters, who became transformed into a rabid, vicious, foaming-at-the mouth animal whenever she saw a man. The mysterious metamorphosis never failed to astound us. In the presence of men, Ginger grew unrecognizable. She would growl menacingly and move to attack. Even my own husband, after twelve years of living together, couldn’t get within three feet of Ginger without fearing for his life. This scenario occurred all the time with men, without exception. The one and only time Ginger deviated from this behavior was when Shlomo Carlebach came to my home for a two-day visit.
“I was expecting Shlomo, but had forgotten to lock up Ginger, as I normally did before a man entered the house. When Shlomo suddenly appeared in the kitchen (my daughter had responded to his knock, unaware that Ginger was loose), my heart sank. I was sure that Ginger would surface momentarily, and accord Shlomo the usual warm welcome she typically reserved for men.
“Sure enough, within a minute Ginger materialized in the kitchen, and stood stock still looking across the room at Shlomo. What happened next I will never forget; I was so startled by what occurred that I think a dish slipped out of my hand and crashed onto the floor.
“What happened was this: Ginger didn’t snarl, snap, or bark. She didn’t growl or arch her back, readying for attack. Instead, she bounded over to Shlomo eagerly, her tail wagging swiftly and enthusiastically, her throat emitting low, husky whimpers of delight. She acted as if she were warmly welcoming a long-lost friend, but Ginger and Shlomo had never crossed paths before. Shlomo bent down to pat Ginger, talking gently to her, and they developed an instant rapport, becoming fast friends. Indeed, during Shlomo’s two-day stay at my home, Ginger stayed at his side constantly, rapturously devoted and completely in his thrall.
“In the twelve years Ginger lived with us, this situation never happened before and it didn’t happen again. I’m not mystically inclined, but the experience with Shlomo and Ginger defied rational explanation. I can only suggest that there was something so singular and extraordinary emanating from Shlomo Carlebach that the dog, with its special animal sense, picked it up and responded to it immediately.”
The simple meaning
The simple meaning is still very high, but this is just the simple meaning. It is dangerous to walk at night. And let’s even say; this world – this whole world is like a night.
If you are up at night, and you walk alone… do you know what it means to be alone? Imagine you ask someone…
“What do you mean when you say, ‘I walk alone? Isn’t there one G-d in the world Who is always there with you? “
“No, I cut myself off from G-d.”
“You walk alone? Have you ever heard of a Yiddele [Jew] walking alone? When a Yiddele walks, all the Yiddelach [Jews] are with him. Avraham is with you, Eliahu Hanavi walks before you, what do you mean, ‘alone’?”
“No, I walk alone. I cut myself off from everything holy in my heart. In my mind I cut myself off from the Torah, I’m thinking about everything stupid.”
I’ll tell you something very strong. Imagine if every Jewish boy or girl who would, G-d forbid, want to leave our religion, if, in their minds, they mamash would have to say good-bye to the Six Million Jewish people from the Holocaust before they left, because they’re walking with us all the time, and if they are, G-d forbid, breaking away from Yiddishkeit, so they would have to just walk over and say goodbye to the six million. I don’t think they’d have the heart to do it. If they would know they have to shake hands with Avraham Avinu, and say, “Listen, so far you were walking with me, zie gezunt, good bye.” And they would have the chutzpah to tell G-d, “You know, G-d, I don’t want to be the way You want me to be, I know more about You than You know. Because You think that I know that You think I’m a Yiddele. I’ll surprise you, G-d, I’m not.” It’s a bad scene, right?
Anyway, as Rabbi Chanina in Pirkey Avos says, if you cut yourself off from G-d, from all of Israel, and you’re learning things that are meaningless, then you mamash are hanging death upon yourself.
This is what the ordinary meaning of Haneor Balayla is.
It really is
Now listen to what Rebbe Nachman says, listen to this deepest depths in the world. This is one of the strong principles in Chassidus. There are two levels of lying, and there are also two levels of truth. Imagine if today is Tuesday, and it’s now 5:30, and we’re sitting here, and I will come up with a lie and say, “No, it is not Tuesday, it’s Friday. And we’re not in Yerushalayim, we’re in Hawaii, and it’s not 5:30, it’s 12:00 o’clock at night.” How much am I lying? Not too badly, because it could have been, it could have been that it’s really Friday. It could have been that we’re in Hawaii, and that it’s 12:00 o’clock. It could have been. It just so happens that it isn’t. But listen to this; if someone asks me, “Are you a Jew?” So I could lie, and say, “I’m not.” But then, instead, I tell the truth, “I am.” Listen to this: if I lie and I say, “I’m not a Jew,” how much am I lying? Is it that it ‘just so happens’ that I’m a Jew? I could have been a non Jew, but I ‘just so happen’ to be a Jew? If someone asks me, “Is there one G-d?” I would say, “Yes, there is.” Would I say, “Yes there is,” just because I don’t want to lie? Could I have said a lie that there isn’t, but I’m telling the truth that there is? Everybody in his right mind understands that this level of lying is a different thing. If G-d forbid, I say, “there is no G-d,” it’s not that there could have not been a G-d, and there is, it so happens that there is a G-d. It’s not that it so happens that there is a G-d – There really is one G-d! It’s not that it so happens that I am a Jew – I really am a Jew! If someone will ask you, “Is there such a thing as Shabbos?” It’s not that there could have not been Shabbos, but there is – There really is Shabbos.
You have to realize that the level of the truth of the Torah, of the mitzvas, of everything holy, is a different kind of truth. It’s not like Golda Meir was Prime Minister, but it could have been Shazar. It’s not this kind of level. It’s a different kind of level.
It is up to you
Now listen to this. Let me ask you something very, very deep. Ok, the truth is, there really is one G-d. What about the world? It is possible that there could have not been a world, right? G-d didn’t have to create the world. There could have not been a world, but it so happens that G-d did create a world. How does that sound? Do you say that the world is also on a G-d truth level? So this is what Rebbe Nachman says, this is one of the holiest things Rebbe Nachman says; to be on a G-d truth level – that is up to you.
What is your level of free choice? Your free choice is to either be on the level of, ‘Yes, I’m here. It so happens that I’m here. I also could have not been here, but I’m here.’ Or, I can mamash be here, I really am here.
Most of the people that we meet – it so happens that they’re here.
Let’s put it this way: The holy Bal Shem Tov, was it that ‘it just so happens’ that he was here? He really was here! Avraham Avinu [our forefather Abraham], he was mamash here! You can see his footsteps. He was mamash here.
But some people in the world, they ‘just happen’ to be here. But since you don’t want to lie and say they weren’t here, so you say, “They were here.”
You can go to Athens, hang around for four weeks, and see a lot of things, and maybe you forget you’re a Yiddele. Then, suddenly, you walk on the street and you meet somebody, you see him wearing a yarmulke and tzitzis and he will ask you, “Are you maybe going to Yerushalayim [Jerusalem]?” And suddenly, something will happen to you, and you remember, “Gevalt, I have to go to Yerushalayim.” You know what happened? You met thousands of people in Athens, and it’s nothing. This Yiddele whom you met (maybe he was Elijah the Prophet) he was really there. Not, ‘he could have not been there,’ he really was there. Really there.
Whatever you do can be on two levels. Imagine, if someone loves you, and you love them. You can say to them, “Do me a favor.” So sometimes some of the people do you a favor, but they could also not have done it. But then, if you are so close to somebody, you have free choice, right? But you really don’t.
You know, sometimes someone does you a favor, it’s ‘really there.’ It’s G-d’s existence.
G-d mamash gave us G-d existence.
When you are born, you’re just here in this world; it just so happens that you are here. But to reach this G-d level, this ‘really being here,’ this is your own free choice.
How can you sleep?
So Rebbe Nachman says, haneor balayla, you have to be up at night. How can you sleep? How can you sleep at night?
And I’ll tell you something even deeper: Night doesn’t have to do with time. Everybody has his own night.
Sometimes, you know, when it’s very dark in the light of your soul, in your little world, the first thing you realize is, “What’s wrong with me? I’m not even here yet. I’m just walking around, I’m not here.”
What do you have to do? You have to walk at night, mamash alone.
Nobody can do it for you
You can have all the biggest and greatest Rebbes, you can study all the books in the world, but to give you this G-d existence, this is just you alone. Nobody can do it for you, nobody in the world.
Annihilating yourself before G-d
How do you get on this level, to get to this holy G-d existence level, this truth existence? You have to be there and completely cleanse your soul, to annihilate yourself before G-d. How do you get this G-d existence? If you are completely, completely one with G-d.
What does it mean to be mamash a servant of G-d? That means mamash you’re completely annihilating yourself before G-d. And suddenly you’re living on a G-d existence level. It is a completely different level.
“Mitchayav benafsho” – this is just the deepest depth. The ordinary translation is that, G-d forbid, You are bringing about your own death. But Rebbe Nachman says it’s just the other way around. He says, “mitchayav benafsho” means he then gives his own soul the most, most existence in the world.
You know, ‘chayav’ means that, if someone says to you that you’re chayav, that means that you have to do it. It means mamash it’s there. “Chayav” means you have to, it has to be there. If I have to give you a hundred dollars, you say I’m “chayav.” I better put the hundred dollars on the table. It has to be there, it has got to be there.
This is just so deep. The truth is, when G-d created the world, G-d had free choice not to create the world, right? So G-d created the world, but the truth is, the way the world is, it could be or it could not be.
Now listen to this, I want you to put your soul into it, it’s heartbreakingly beautiful. What does it mean that G-d has ‘chosen’ us Yiddelach [Jews]? There’s a whole world, right? The world can be or can not be. But then G-d has ‘chosen’ the Yiddelach. When you’re ‘choosing’ something, it’s deeper than free choice.
I want you to know something very deep. When you walk into a store and buy a shirt. You decide to buy this shirt, so you have free choice to buy this shirt, right? But imagine if you have a chance not to be a Jew, G-d forbid, but then you decide, “I have got to be a little Yiddele [Jew].” This is reaching deeper than your free choice. It reaches so deep that you realize you cannot be without it.
‘Choosing’ means that this is deeper than free choice. This means it’s reaching in such a deep place… OK, you have a choice to be a Jew right now. You can walk out of here and do anything in the world. But the truth is that G-d has ‘chosen’ you and you have ‘chosen’ G-d.
If someone comes with a gun, sticks it in your back, and he says, “Listen brother, I want you to pray to an idol.” You know, you have free choice, you could lie down before an idol and pray. But you say, “Brother, I have no choice. Because I’m so much of a Yiddele, I believe in G-d so much, I can’t do it.”
The difference between us and the whole world
The difference between us and the whole world, on a very deep level, is that G-d has ‘chosen’ us. We Yiddelach are mamash here, right? Why were so many nations here and they left, and yet we are still here? Because we are mamash ‘here.’ The Romans could have been here or not been here. The Greeks could have been here or not been here.
To give the whole world G-d existence
G-d chose us Yiddelach. What’s our mission in life? To give the whole world G-d existence. We have got to turn on the whole world. What does it mean to prepare the world for the kingdom of G-d? Mamash, that G-d should shine in the world. If the world is on a G-d existence level, then it has to ‘be here.’
Let’s put it this way: A person who can kill another person, do you know what that means? It is not the person who is killed who is not here, it means that the person who kills isn’t really here. Because he is not part of G-d’s existence. Because if he would have been part of G-d existence, how can he kill? How can you do something to destroy the world?
The Bais Yaakov says, there are still forces in the world that say, “G-d, why did You create the world? Who needs it? The whole world is nothing, the whole world is a joke.” You see, people who hate, people who kill, they’re not killing this one person, or hating this one person. They are sinning against G-d’s plan, because they think, “Who needs the whole world.”
On an individual level
But now let’s not talk about the whole world, because Rebbe Nachman talks about just one person, on an individual level.
Maimonides really says, “I swear to you that any person in the world, the lowest person in the world, when he wants to become a servant of G-d, can be as holy as the High Priest in the Holy of Holies.” That’s on an individual level.
Avraham Avinu lifted up the world
When Avraham Avinu came to the world, suddenly there was one person in the world who was ‘mamash there.’ And because of this one person, suddenly the whole world was on a different level. Suddenly Avraham Avinu lifted up the world from that ‘free choice’ level of ‘being or not being,’ to the level of ‘mamash being’.
If you are mamash tied to your roots…
Rebbe Nachman says… you have to understand this very well because it’s very, very deep: You have a choice, to plant a tree or not to plant it, right? But then, when the tree is growing, does the tree have choice to run away from its roots? No. It can’t. It’s ‘really there.’ How can a tree be without roots, right?
Each time you do a mitzvah, each time you learn Torah, you are choosing to be a Jew. It’s not only that you’re choosing to do this one particular act. You are doing it because you are a Jew. That means that each time you do something, you are choosing to be a Jew, you are affecting your whole life.
We have to lift up the world
What is the purpose of us Yiddelach [Jews]? What is our purpose on the deepest level of the world? We have to lift up the world to a different level. We have to lift up the world so that the whole world should mamash ‘be there.’
Sometimes people ask me, “How do you know if somebody loves you?” The answer is very simple: If, in their presence you are ‘really there,’ if, in their presence, suddenly it’s not that you happen to be here, but you’re ‘really here,’ that means they’re giving you, for that moment, this holy G-d existence. That means they really love you.
Sometimes you meet people, and they cut you so short they don’t even let you have this ‘being or not being existence.’ They just want to wipe you out. They don’t even give you a fighting chance. And then there are some people who mamash give you this… ‘just utmost of existence.’ And you know what we Yiddelach have to do? We have to do this to the whole world.
What are you doing to an apple when you make a bracha [blessing] over it? Before, the apple was here, it could have not been here, but then you make a bracha and you say, “Little apple, I want you to know something; so far you were just an ordinary apple, but now you are mamash really an apple.”
Imagine, you are walking into a bakery and you buy two challahs [loaves of bread] for Shabbos. What happens to those two challahs? They are mamash there. They are mamash challahs for Shabbos. And suddenly, they are different and they taste different.
I’m thinking about it all the time: What do children need most? You see, old people are already accustomed to this kind of existence, this ‘being or not being,’ just hanging around existence.
But when children are born, they mamash know, their soul tells them, “You are only born in this world mamash to be completely here.” And they are waiting for encouragement so much, they are waiting so much.
Why do children need love so much when they are little? And they not only need someone to love them… they mamash need this michuyav hamitziut [real existing], they really need this kind of existence. They want to mamash know that they are mamash here.
Therefore the Gemara says that the first thing you do when a little boy or a little girl learns to talk is that you teach them Torah. Because the moment they can talk, their tongue wants to exist, and the tongue exists when you say words of Torah.
When a little boy can shukkle [shake] a lulov [the palm branch waived on Succoth], his hands want to exist, his hands want to shake the lulov. Because each time he is doing a mitzvah he is mamash existing.
On a very simple level, imagine if I feel the same before I’m putting on tefillin and after I’m putting on tefillin, then it was a very lousy putting on tefillin. Because each time I put on tefillin something has to happen to me, suddenly I am ‘mamash here’. Mamash here.
To feel it
So therefore Rebbe Nachman says, this is a very, very high level. Although I’m sure all of us have tasted it for a second, because it’s impossible not to – maybe on Rosh HaShanah you felt it, maybe one time when you were dancing with the Torah on Simchas Torah and you felt it, or maybe one time when you stood by the Holy Wall you really knew, “I am really here, there really is one G-d.”
Annihilate yourself before the Oneness of G-d
But to be on the level of feeling it all the time, and not only to feel it all the time, but to never cease to turn the whole world on to it, to give existence to the whole world, what do you do to get to that level? He says, for that, you have to mamash annihilate yourself before the Oneness of G-d.
If a person comes to you and he says to you, “I want you to know one very special thing, I am ‘really here.’ I am really on the level of michuyav hamitziut. I’ve got to be here because G-d needs me. But you? Look at yourself! I am telling you, who are you?” It’s a bad scene.
If you are annihilated before the Oneness of G-d, it doesn’t matter to you if it’s an Eskimo, a cockroach, or if it’s a little dog, because it is G-d’s Oneness. Because G-d created the world with this holy oneness. But it’s up to you to bring in this holy oneness, this most existing oneness.
Now we are coming to the crux of the whole thing. People talk so much about meditation today. This Torale [teaching] of Rebbe Nachman has changed the lives of thousands and thousands and thousands of people. This is what Rebbe Nachman says:
What does it mean to meditate? To meditate does not mean to just sit there… – I’m not, G-d forbid, knocking off any ways of meditation, I’m sure they’re very holy – but Rebbe Nachman says, what does it mean to meditate? Mamash, suddenly to become michuyav hamitziut. It means you are mamash, mamash ‘there.’ And to be mamash ‘really there,’ you have to annihilate yourself before the Oneness of G-d.
How do you annihilate yourself before the Oneness of G-d? You have to be alone. You have to be alone. Got to be alone.
It’s a very strange thing, you know, because G-d created the world in such a way that I am I, Michael is Michael, Barbara is Barbara. But the thing is, when you want to reach the oneness, you have to annihilate yourself, not to annihilate Michael, right? Everybody is ready to annihilate somebody else before the Oneness of G-d. But you have to annihilate your own walls. How do you annihilate your own walls? You mamash have to stand before G-d and ‘be there.’
Something in the air
Then he says something very strong. Why do you have to meet G-d at night? Because during the day, the ‘air’ is polluted. Not polluted with gas, you know, Rebbe Nachman wasn’t concerned with that. During the day the ‘air’ is polluted because everyone is running. You know what’s happening in the world? What are people doing all the time? They are thinking, “I have to run to make a few rubles [money].”
How low can you think? You think you’re here for a few rubles? If you think you’re here for a few rubles, you’re definitely not ‘here,’ right? Your only chance to be ‘really here’ is if you know that you’re here because G-d created you, and you have to do something in this world very deep and very holy. But if you run around all day long to make a few rubles, and who knows what you’re talking about and thinking about, then you’re completely out of it.
How can you walk around in an ‘air’ which is so polluted, which is so filled with that? And how can you mamash penetrate this ‘air’ and mamash be ‘here?’
So therefore Rebbe Nachman says, it has to be at night. Because there is something in the ‘air’ at night. At night there is something very special going on. At night, the lowest creature knows, deep down, “I’m here for something deeper than just making money.’ Why are stores closed at night? Because people basically know, “I’m not here to run a store.” Why don’t business meetings go so strong at night? Why? Because they really know, deep down, “I really shouldn’t go to a business meeting, I really should do something else.” Nebech, not that they know what they have to do yet, but there is something in the ‘air.’
You are afraid to annihilate yourself before G-d?
Our life level is always on the level of ‘being or not being,’ because until we reach the level of ‘G-d choosing us’ or ‘us choosing G-d,’ which is deeper than free choice, everything is still part of the ‘free choice’ level.
Many parents don’t want to send their children to Hebrew School. They say, “When they grow up, let them make their own choice.” They say, “We can’t send them to Yeshiva because they’ll become too Jewish and they won’t have free choice anymore.” You know why they say this? Because their whole life is on a level of free choice; ‘being or not being,’ maybe yes, maybe not. They have never tasted for even one second what it is to mamash ‘be there.’
Why do most marriages break up so fast? Because they could have married this girl or they could have married somebody else. OK, so they married this girl, but if it doesn’t work out they’ll marry somebody else. It’s all on a ‘free choice level,’ it’s never real. It’s not on a ‘G-d level’ because G-d is not on a level of, ‘He could be, He could not be.’ He really is!
You see, if someone says, “It so happens, I’m a Jew. But I could also have been a Zen Buddhist.” he might be a very holy person, but whatever his service of G-d is, it’s not on the level that it could be.
If you keep Shabbos, and you think, “It’s also possible for me not to keep Shabbos,” then it’s not Shabbos, it’s not ‘G-d Shabbos.’
This is tremendous, tremendous; mamash you have to annihilate yourself before this; to know mamash ‘This is it,’ it is deeper than free choice.
We are still holding on to a little bit of free choice, right? This is the last thing we have. We don’t realize that not having free choice is much deeper than all of this.
You know, if you wake up in the morning and you have free choice to put on tefillin or not to put them on, it’s very holy, but then, much deeper than this is that when you are putting on the tefillin, it’s deeper than free choice.
A place where people don’t walk during the day
Rebbe Nachman says so strongly that, not only do you have to walk alone, but, even during the night you have to walk in a place where people don’t even walk during the day. It has to be two things: It has to be at night – the time has to be at night – but also it has to be in a place where people are not walking during the day. Because it’s disturbing; you can’t reach the level of annihilating yourself before G-d if people walked there who don’t know what it is.
And then you’re all alone.
And then, mamash, you have to cleanse your heart of anything that is unimportant.
And then you have to daven [pray]; you don’t need prayers from the prayer book, because this is something else.
There are two levels of davening:
1. There is a level of davening when you pray from the prayer book. It is very, very holy, but this is only after you’re ‘existing,’ after you’re a Yiddele. After you’re ‘existing,’ you’re already part of everything holy, then you daven [pray] to ask for your needs.
2. But then there is a deeper kind of thing, that you mamash want to be in this world, you want to exist, ‘Give me a completely different kind of existence.’
Make up your own words
And there is nobody in the world who can tell you how to pray. Nobody in the world, not even Rebbe Nachman, not even Moshe Rabbenu, can tell you what to say. This is the deepest secret between you and G-d. There you have to make up your own words.
And sometimes, Rebbe Nachman says, you have no words; you just sigh. What a sigh.
Cleaned from arrogance
And then, he says something very strong. This is so true. If you ever reach the level of really ‘true existence,’ then you are completely cleansed from all the arrogance in the world. From any coarseness or any arrogance. Because if you ever tasted this ‘real existence,’ then you give existence to every person you meet…
What is arrogance? “I am better than you.” “I have four PhD’s, and you have only three.” It’s all nonsense, right? Then mamash you’re above all this nonsense.
Because, he says… listen to these words! The moment you are michuyav hamitziut, the moment you are ‘really there,’ then mamash you become one with the whole world. Not just one – you are just completely annihilated before the whole world.
One with your own soul
And the most important thing is that you are then really one with your own soul. What does it mean that your soul is part of G-d? You see, your soul is ‘really there.’ But you are created in a way that your whole soul is not shining into your body. That means your soul and your body are only on the level of ‘yes or no.’ It could be no.
But if you’re on the level of michuyav hamitziut, then your whole soul is shining into you, your whole soul.
And then, through you, you can lift up the whole world.
Questions and Answers
Someone in the class asks:
Question: You say that when you’re at that level to distinguish between degrees of learning. Wouldn’t it be the same thing, then, on that level to distinguish between traditions, customs, and religions? Say like I’m a Yiddele and you’re a Buddhist….
Rebbe Shlomo Carlebach: I’ll tell you something very, very deep. You see, many of our Jewish kids make a mistake in one thing. If you completely and to the utmost respect a Zen Buddhist for being a Zen Buddhist, that doesn’t mean that you have to become a Zen Buddhist also.
Us Yiddelach [Jews], most of our young people have so little pride and so little taste of their own religion.
I’ll tell you something very strong. I’ll give you a good example. I’m a man. But imagine if I would then say, “I met a woman, and I’m so much annihilated that I’ve got to be a woman also.” No. It is not like that. I’m a man and she’s a woman, and I’m not making myself smaller or bigger by this. I am I and you are you.
The truth is, I met a little Zen Buddhist. Let’s say I meet Swami Satchedananda, and I respect him a billion percent. And we are giving each other existence, he in his way and I in my way. But this doesn’t mean that therefore I have to say, “Maybe he is right.”
Question: But when you’re way up there, and you say Satchedananda, are you even thinking that he has another tradition?
Rebbe Shlomo: Sure, why not? Just like I’m aware that this is a man, and this is a woman. Because the holiness of the world is that everybody has to be what G-d wants him to be.
Question: But when you’re way up there, are you even thinking this is a woman?
Rebbe Shlomo: Why not?
Question: Well, I don’t know why.
Rebbe Shlomo: 100%, because if I’m saying no, then I’m not aware of G-d’s creation.
You see, on the contrary, the more this is real existence, then the more things are really shining the way they really are.
If you are aware of a woman before you reach holy existence, then you are only aware of a woman; “Ahh, it is a good thing for me, maybe I can do something,” you know, on a low level, which has nothing to do with that person.
But if you are on this high existence level, you’re mamash aware that this is a woman, that G-d made her into a woman, and that G-d made me into a man.
Question: Are you even thinking about that when you are up there?
Rebbe Shlomo: No, no, you see, I’ll tell you what. Most of us sadly enough are so coarse that the moment they think man and woman, they think something else. Listen, if I tell you this is an apple, this is a pear, it doesn’t affect you badly. So the same way, if I’m on that level of being completely ‘there,’ in awe before G-d’s creation, so then I’m aware that this is a woman, this is a man, this is a Zen Buddhist, this is a Jew. I’m therefore in touch with what everything really is, because this is the way it should be.
Question: Before you were talking about cockroaches. If you see a cockroach and you’re really high, you think “what a beautiful cockroach?”
Rebbe Shlomo: Right.
What do you think? It may be the highest.
Question: Maybe it is the highest, but I’m wondering if the highest is if you don’t say this is a beautiful cockroach.
Rebbe Shlomo: What else should I think it is? It really is.
Question: “This is a beautiful creature.”
Rebbe Shlomo: Oh, no, no. G-d didn’t make a creature, He made a cockroach. Why shouldn’t I be aware it’s a cockroach? Why shouldn’t I be aware of it? If I see a mountain and a valley, would I say, “I’m so turned on I don’t know which one is a valley, which is a mountain?” You see, if I’m on the level of michuyav hamitziut, really there, on the contrary, I’m really aware, not less aware.
You see, the sad thing is that in all Eastern religions, they always think that the less aware you are, the holier you are. But for us Yiddelach, it’s just the other way around.
Question: But could it be that if you’re on top of a mountain, you wouldn’t say, “What a beautiful mountain,” you would say, “What a beautiful place this is.” And if you are in a valley, you wouldn’t say “This is a beautiful valley….”
Rebbe Shlomo: But the thing is a valley, right?
Question: If He wants distinctions….
Rebbe Shlomo: No, no, listen, I’ll tell you something. Don’t be angry, but this sounds to me…
Question: Don’t be angry with me Shlomo, because I’ve been thinking about these kinds of questions so much it’s bursting out of me.
Rebbe Shlomo: First of all, you are my top holy man. But I’m just telling you what I think. Maybe I’m wrong, but you’re asking me. Right?
For me, to be mamash, michuyav hamitziut means that I am completely aware.
I’ll tell you something very strong. Do you think if I’ll talk to an Eskimo, or, let’s say I have some Chinese friends – there is something especially beautiful about Chinese people. So the more I’m aware of G-d’s creation, the more I’m aware that those people have something that maybe I don’t have. So if I say, “We are mamash one, I’m not Chinese and you’re not Jewish,” this is stupid. On the contrary.
The hardest thing is when you really are a little bit universal, and then sadly, we already start thinking that we have to cut everything out. It is not true.
When we talk about when Mashiach is coming, that the world will be one, does that mean that everybody will have the same face, the same nose? G-d forbid! You know, the holiness of G-d’s Oneness is that G-d’s Oneness will shine out of everybody, but everybody will be what they are.
Without telling you stories, it so happens I mentioned Swami Sachtananda because we are mamash soul friends. And it never happened that I am less of a Jew when I am in his presence, or he is less of a Hindu in my presence. On the contrary, mamash I am completely a Jew. It is only the little Jewish kids who hang around there, they don’t know where it’s at anymore. Because those Jewish kids, since their parents never gave them this real existence, so they are still ‘free choice’ Yiddelach. They’re hanging about, they never know where it’s at.
I don’t know if I made myself clear to you, but I really think you know.
I’ll tell you something very strong. This whole idea that women have to stop being women because it’s not holy, this is a very low kind of holiness. Listen, the Torah is the holiest in the world. Every word is holy. So maybe the Torah should never say, “This is a man. This is a woman.” Maybe the Torah should say, “Somebody Avraham. Somebody Sarah.” But this isn’t it. The holiness of the Torah is that the Torah says, “This is Adam. This is Eve. Man and woman. This was Sarah. This was Avraham.” If I ask Avraham, “Tell me the truth, are you a man or a woman?” Would he say, “Wait till later, I’m too high now, I’ll tell you later.” It doesn’t go. Avraham said, “I really am a man, G-d created me a man.” And Sarah will say all the time, “I’m a woman.”
You see, I’ll tell you something. You’re 100% right, because the way we are living in this world, the moment you say man and woman, you think of ‘something else.’ But if man and woman would first bring to your mind that G-d created the world in a most beautiful way, and that there is such a thing as men and women, and it would remind you of G-d and not of something else,… if I’m on that level….
When it comes to man and woman, we are so accustomed to the sad fact that if someone tells us, “man and woman,” right away, who knows what he’s thinking about….
That means, walls, right away. The way we are living, you think that if I say, “I’m a Jew and he’s a Zen Buddhist,” that means I make a long wall. Why? There doesn’t have to be any walls, and it doesn’t make me stop being a Jew.