Rebbe Nachman says…
This is just so deep. It says, ‘Haaretz hadom raglav.’ Haaretz, the earth which you’re walking on, hadom, is the silence, raglav, of my feet. The earth is the silence of my feet.
Halacha [the body of law in the Torah], every law of the Torah, is not called “law,” it’s called halacha, walking. Everybody says, “I want to be a halacha Yid [religious Jew].” Halacha doesn’t mean you’re connected only when you’re doing an actual Torah law. Even when you’re not doing it, you also have to be connected. And the not doing can be on the highest level. If you know that you can do better and you didn’t do better, that’s also being a halacha Yiddele, because at least you know you should be better.
There are two levels of walking. Imagine if you want to do teshuva [return to Torah Judaism]. You want to do teshuva so badly. You want to become a better Yiddele [Jew]. What is your relationship to G-d until you become better?
Imagine if in the middle of the night, you wake up and realize, “My whole life I never put on tefillin, but tomorrow morning I’ll put on tefillin.” You have to wait until sunrise to put on tefillin [that is Torah law]. Let’s say sunrise is at 4:20 a.m. What is your relationship to G-d from 1:00 a.m. until 4:20 a.m.? Or imagine you realize you’ve never sat in a Sukkah in your whole life, and it is now just August. What can you do, Sukkot is only in October. What are you going to do?
So this is what Rebbe Nachman teaches us, the deepest depth in the world; that while you’re waiting for it, you’re also doing it.
Running and returning
Rebbe Nachman says that I’m doing halacha [walking] in two ways: Running ratzo [running up to], and shov [returning back down], which means I’m looking at myself and I realize how far away I am. It’s a two way street, going back and forth… Going back and forth.
Walking on silence
Haaretz hadom raglav [The earth is the silence of my feet]. Now listen to this, this is the deepest depths of the world. Is there anybody more silent than the earth? You’re walking on the earth, and the earth doesn’t make any noise, even though you’re walking on the earth.
This literally, means you are walking on silence. What are you really walking on? What you’re really walking on is silence. On waiting. On waiting and waiting.
What’s the aleph [א]?
Rebbe Nachman says that everybody knows that an aleph “א” has a little yud “י” up there on top, and a little yud “י” below, and a little vav “” in the middle.
Now this is one of the top Torah teachings of Rebbe Nachman, just to give it to you in a nutshell. Aleph is very deep. It’s just way out.
A person has to know that first there has to be a little yud up there. The little yud up there, this is my doing.
Rebbe Nachman says that the upper yud is keter [the sefira ‘crown’]. This is the utmost waiting.
The vav in the middle, he says, is like when a person is put to shame, his face changes color. Your soul is changing, your heart is changing – all the changes you’re going through, mamash going from top to bottom, it turns you over a thousand times [the face changes color from red to white, to red, to white]. That’s the vav.
And then the little yud below is your silence.
You have to be mamash ashamed very deep. You know, friends, it is not that you’re just sitting there and waiting. It is not that you say, ‘You know, I went to a lecture last night and I heard a very important thing about Sabbath. It’s a ritual and a beautiful thing, and I think I like it, and I also think it’s also good for my children, because, you know, they must have something Jewish to hold on to. But – I don’t want to overdo it – it goes without saying. But I think the Sabbath would be a sweet thing to begin with. But since today is only Monday, so I’m waiting until Friday night.’ Waiting is not that you just don’t do anything. Waiting is that you’re turning over a thousand times; you are so ashamed you didn’t keep last Shabbos. You are so ashamed that I didn’t do it all this time, that mamash you are turning over a million times a second, Gevalt! This is the vav.
The vav is emet [truth]. Why? Because it goes from all the way up, to all the way down to the lowest, it has no end. The truth is, a vav has no end, it’s just a long line. This ‘being ashamed’ has to be with truth. Listen, if you say to G-d, “I feel kind of ashamed I wasn’t a better Jew, but You have to understand my circumstances.” Bobkes [it’s nothing]. You see, the thing is, it has to be real. It has got to be real.
The whole thing of an aleph is that there’s a little Yiddele [Yid, meaning Jew, is a similar word to yud, the Hebrew letter, י] up there, my little neshama [soul] is up there. My neshama knows so much. My neshama, this is my kavod, my honor. This is the deepest depths of me. This is what connects me to G-d. This is me before I was created. This is me after I was created. This is the deepest depths of me. What is my deepest depths? What is my real connection to G-d? Not the things have done, my real deep connection to G-d is all the things I want to do.
Listen friends, this is so deep. If someone asks you, “What makes you into a Yiddele [Jew]?” A Yiddele is not what you did yesterday. What makes you into a Yiddele is that you’re waiting for next Shabbos. What makes you into a tefillin Yiddele? It’s not that you put on tefillin this morning. What makes you into a tefillin Yiddele is that you’re waiting with great shame, “Gevalt, Rebono Shel Olam [Master of the world], this morning I put on tefillin, but it was nothing – my heart wasn’t in it, my soul wasn’t in it, I didn’t daven [pray] properly – but I am waiting for another chance tomorrow.”
But now listen to this: What is the lower Yiddele [yud י]? An aleph א looks like a little yud י(on top), a yud י (below), and a vav in the middle. What is the lower yud? The lower yud is my silence… listen to this, this is the deepest depths of it. What is my silence? My silence is that even while I didn’t do it, I know that despite everything, I am a Shabbos Yiddele, I’m a tefillin Yiddele.
If someone comes to you and says, “What kind of a chutzpah [audacity] is this, that you say you are a tefillin Yiddele? You never put on tefillin in your life.”
You say, “No. I’m waiting. I never davened [prayed] in my whole life, and yet I will say, ‘I’m the greatest davener in the whole world’.”
“How come you’re the greatest davener in the world, you never opened your mouth to daven?”
“Because I’m waiting to daven.”
A person has to give kavod [honor] to G-d, and a person has to give kavod to himself. What does it mean to give kavod to yourself, to honor yourself? It means that you’re in touch with that which is higher than you.
You know what it is? It’s really so deep friends. What is happening with most people? They mamash dishonor themselves.
We want so much respect it’s just gornisht [nothing], doesn’t go. Why do most of our children, nebech, no longer respect their parents anymore? Because the parents lost touch, they’re not honoring themselves anymore. What does it mean to honor myself? It means to wait, to wait to be better.
You know, children are real.
Why did Yitzchak honor his father so much?
If Avraham would have ever said a lie to Yitzchak, he would not have been able to tell him, “I’m taking you up to the akeida [altar, the binding of Isaac].” because Yitzchak would say, “Listen father, one time you lied to me, maybe this is a lie also.” So that means Avraham never told him a joke [He never said, “I was just joking when I promised you….”]. Maybe Avraham was laughing together with Yitzchak because Yitzchak is laughter [Yitzchak comes from the word Tzchok, laughter], but he was not just joking around.
Can you imagine how much Yitzchak respected Avraham that when he was told, “I’m taking you up to the akeida,” Yitzchak accepted what his father said.
And remember, Yitzchak was also a prophet. And the truth is, it is written that, after a prophecy is revealed to one prophet, then all the other prophets also know about it. It says in the Zohar HaKadosh; Yitzchak had a question to G-d, “If this is a prophecy, then why didn’t I know about it?” But this was part of the test. Can you imagine?
But what was so holy about Avraham? The holy Slonimer Rebbe said that Avraham was saying to G-d, “Ok, I’m not so much of a Jew, but maybe Yitzchak will be an emes Yiddele [a true Jew].” Can you imagine how much holy waiting he had?
The deepest depth of connection between parents and children is when the parents want so much to be emes a Yid [a true Jew]. But then they’re afraid, “Maybe I won’t make it?” So they pray so much, “Please G-d, at least let my children be an emese Yid.” Children know this. The first sign is if the parents want their children to be more of a Yid than they are. And that is because the parent wants to be more of a Yid himself.
This ‘more,’ this waiting, this is the high yud. This is the kavod.
Imagine if all parents were waiting to be better parents.
I’m still looking to find those parents who say, “I wish I would be a better father or a better mother.” Do you know how much their children connect to them? In the most unbelievable way.
But most parents say, “I’m the best father or mother in the world, I hope my children realize that.” That’s the end, there is no connection any more, no kavod. The high yud is missing, so it’s a cut off letter. Have you ever seen a letter where the top is missing? It’s meaningless.
The sun and the moon
Rebbe Nachman says, this is the secret of the sun and the moon. The sun is the high yud. It’s the greatest light in the world. The highest light in the world is; ‘I am waiting.’ Because do you know what kind of a Shabbos you have if you’re waiting for the Great Shabbos?
But then there is another little light, the little yud, and this is the moon. The moon represents that even while you are in absolute darkness, while you never kept Shabbos yet, you still know that you are connected to Shabbos. You are connected to everything holy. This is the moon. It’s a sweet little light, it doesn’t expel the darkness. It’s still dark, and there isn’t much you can do with it. It’s just there. Even if you never kept Shabbos in your whole life, you’re still a Shabbos Yiddele.
What’s the holiness of a Yiddele? How are we able to last so long in exile? Because we have the moon. How does a Yiddele exist in the darkness of the night? He knows; “All the mitzvas, every holy word in the Torah, even if I didn’t learn it yet, even if I didn’t understand it yet, I’m connected to it.”
Imagine if you can’t even read Hebrew and someone asks you, “Are you connected to every letter in the Zohar? Are you connected to every letter, every word in the Gemara?”
You will say, “I can’t even read Hebrew.” But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. Every word, every letter, you are connected to it.
Someone will ask you, “Do you know all the 613 laws?” You will say, “I barely know two or three.”
The truth is that you are connected to all of the 613 laws.
Someone will ask you, “Are you connected to Rabbi Akiva, to Rebbe Tarfon, to Rebbe Assi, to Abaya, to Rava?” And you will say, “I never heard of them.”
It doesn’t matter. This is the holiness of the moon. The holiness of the moon is that you’re connected to everything.
But you know what the most beautiful thing is? That this holy connection has so much power, that it makes you new all the time. If you walk around and say, “Gevalt, it’s so dark, I have no connection yet,” then you still have a little moon in your soul telling you, “Gevalt, Yid, you still have connection to everything.”
Then you become a new moon.
And after you become a new moon you realize, “Gevalt, I know so much more about Yiddishkeit.”
Then you realize, “Oy vey, I know so little.”
Then it’s a new moon again.