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Rebbe Nachman spoke a great deal about the lofty spiritual level of the land of Israel.

After I wrote Rebbe Nachman on making aliyah to Israel, Rachel wanted to know where Rebbe Nachman specifically praised the greatness of the land. So here that passage is, in all its glory:

(It comes from #141 in Tzaddik, published by the Breslov Research Institute):

The Lesson “Nine Tikkunim” in Likutey Moharan, I, 20 speaks at length about the greatness of the Land of Israel and how the real victory in the war comes when we succeed in reaching there. When the Rebbe actually taught this lesson he started it by speaking about the Land of Israel, saying:

“Whoever wants to be a Jew – which means going from level to level – can only succeed through the Land of Israel.

“When he wins the war he is a called a ‘man of war’ but not before. For ‘let not the one who is putting on his armor boast like the one who is taking it off (I Kings 20:11).’ Only after winning is he called a ‘man of war’.”….

After he finished the lesson, when we were talking, I asked him: “What did you mean when you said that the Land of Israel is so great that this is the main victory?”

He took me to task for this and said: “I meant Israel quite literally with its houses and apartments” – i.e. in all his emphasis on the greatness of the Land of Israel, he meant quite literally the Israel Jews go to.

He wanted every Jew who wished to be a true Jew to go to Israel.

This is what inspired and encouraged me more than anything to overcome the innumerable difficulties I myself had and break through everything to get to Israel. Thank God for helping me to break through the obstacles and get there and back safely…

With regard to the main victory being getting to Israel in spite of the difficulties, there was a time when the Rebbe was speaking about the tremendous obstacles and danger he faced in Istanbul and the rest of his journey to Israel. He then said to us that we would be able to get to Israel easily – as if to say that we would not have to face obstacles and dangers like the ones he endured.

But we should still be prepared to suffer and undergo hardship in order to get there, because Israel is one of the three things attained through suffering.

Once, the Rebbe said there are people who imagine they have a great longing to go to Israel, but only if they can travel comfortably, not with discomfort and suffering. This is not perfect desire. Someone who wants to reach Israel should go there even if he has to travel on foot.

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As always, Rabbenu sums things up in a very clear fashion. Making aliyah is by no means an easy thing, or a ‘no-brainer’, even with the growing impetus for Jews to run away from the economic, social and anti-semitic fires burning all over the world. It requires an awful lot of mesirut nefesh, and awful lot of self-sacrifice across so many levels.

Moving here is one thing, and staying here is another. I’ve seen so many people move away, because they refused to take God’s cues to really dig deep and acknowledge their bad middot, their real relationship issues, their personal flaws, their ego problems.

You go from level to level, spiritually, in Israel, because at every turn God is challenging you to develop more emuna, more bitachon, to let go of more ego, more status, more assumptions about yourself and others. Every day, you have to deal with obviously crazy people going nutso in your direction; or rockets falling on your head; or the fact that you still don’t know what piece of meat is actually a pot roast. (On that score, if anyone can clue me in, I’d be grateful.)

But it’s still worth it.

Eretz Yisrael is only attained through suffering – but at least you get something to show for it, at the end of it all! Inside or outside of Israel, the ‘suffering’ bit seems to be a given at the moment. So, it’s not so much a question of ‘suffer or don’t suffer’, but a question of ‘suffer and acquire something of lasting, permanent benefit, spiritually – or not’:

“Whoever wants to be a Jew – which means going from level to level – can only succeed through the Land of Israel.”

5 replies
  1. Molly
    Molly says:

    Is there any historical information on why Rebbe Nachman himself never ended up completing his life in Israel? I’m assuming there was a conflict of nations that prevented his travel.

    Reply
    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      I’m not sure, but I will try to look into it and see if there’s something to write about it. I know the Napoleonic Wars were taking place at the point he travelled to Israel – he was nearly caught up in Napoleon’s siege of Acco, and barely escaped with his life.

      Reply
  2. reuven
    reuven says:

    After Rabbi Nachman had walked ‘dalet amos’ (2 meters) on Holy Soil, he declared that he had achieved what he had set out to do, and had reached the spiritual level he wished to achieve by doing so. In fact, when he got back, he told Rabbi Natan (his main student and the curator of Likutei Moharan) to remove almost all of the original teachings which he had prepared for the book, as he realised that his level following his trip to Israel was now so much higher than where he was holding when he had written all those teachings just a few months previously. He then practically rewrote the entire book.

    Rabbi Nachman came back because, firstly he achieved what he wanted just by being there for 5 mins, and secondly to continue the spiritual rectifications in Europe, and in Uman, in particular, which he had said was his legacy. Uman was (perhaps still is?) the polar opposite of Eretz Yisrael, being the seat of all Tumah in the world (it was the place, for example, where the ‘enlightenment/reform’ movement started as well as being the site of the cold blooded murder of over 40,000 Jews in the Chelmeniski massacres). Just like Moshe Rabbenu wanted to be buried opposite ‘Ba’al Peor’ – in order to deal with/prevent its Tumah from being spread into the world, Rabbenu was doing something similar (I think) by deciding to be buried in Uman.

    Reply

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