On Rabbi Nahman's Teachings
Aryeh Kaplan

If there is any one key point to Rabbi Nahman's teachings, it was a philosophy of unbridled hope and optimism. His battle cry was "There is no reason in the world to ever give up!"[1] Although he saw the world as a place of temptation, he taught his followers to be strong in faith, teaching them that "one must believe in oneself."[2] If a person is self-confident, he can walk through all temptation without fear; this is reflected in still another of his teachings, "All the world is a narrow bridge, and the main thing is not to be afraid at all."

An optimistic world outlook was evident in his teachings; he said that "the Master of the Universe is constantly improving his world."[3] Rabbi Nahman saw all inventions as coming from on high, fulfilling divine plan. War was a form of foolishness that would eventually be abolished, just like idolatry.

Another important teaching was that one should always reflect this optimism and constantly be happy. He noted that the power to forget was given in order that we should be able to forget our sins, and thus begin anew, serving God with joy. In yet another teaching he said that one should not be overly strict, since a more relaxed attitude is necessary if one is to truly draw close to God.[4].

[1] Likutey Moharan Tanina 78.
[2] Sihot HaRan 140.
[3] Likutey Moharan Tanina 48.
[4] Sihot HaRan 307.

Barnes and Noble link From: Kaplan, Aryeh. "The Concealed Light" in The Chasidic Masters. Copyright © 1984 by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan (Brooklyn, NY: Maznaim Publishing Corp.), p. 107. Used by permission of the Publisher.

Almost all Aryeh Kaplan books and many Bratslav books are available from Maznaim Publishing corp. Call or fax for a booklist: tel. 718-438-7680; Fax 718-438-1305.

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