Often when I’m feeling a little down, I return to the Breslov books and just open them randomly, to see which bit of the book is going to ‘speak’ to me today, and give me some insights and chizzuk.
Usually, I do this with ‘Tzaddik’, but today I randomly opened up the biography of Rav Natan of Breslov, Through Fire and Water, and landed on this:
“For much of that year Reb Noson didn’t see any great fruits from his efforts….On his visits to Uman, he would display seforim in the main shul…While selling his wares, Reb Noson would talk about Rebbe Nachman’s teachings and serving God – without ever looking to see if anyone was listening. Many in the shul mocked him behind his back.”
I had no idea that Reb Noson was also trying (and failing…) to make a living from selling books about emuna…
Naturally, I wasn’t about to leave the ‘message’ there, so I carried on reading, and got to this a little further down the page:
“Reb Noson writes: Every soul that came a little closer helped me see that my words were making an impression. Every little improvement I saw gave me added encouragement, and I remembered how the Rebbe had said that we would have the merit to light up the entire world.”
That’s more like it! I would normally just stop there, but for some reason I turned the page and kept reading, and here’s what came up next:
“Until now, the thought of buying his own home had never entered Reb Noson’s mind…his income was barely enough to cover his expenses. For the first time Reb Noson now began to think about buying his own home. Despite his shortage of funds, he strengthened himself with faith and trust in God….two days before Sukkos, Reb Noson moved into his new house.”
THIS is why I love those books so much – what are the chances of opening up an 800 page volume to the two pages talking about:
- Feeling demoralized, and that all your efforts – to sell books and spread the word – are failing miserably
- Seeing that every word communicated, even without knowing who’s really listening to them, IS actually making a difference after all
- A guy with zero assets and not a lot of income being able to buy his own house within a couple of months
Someone once warned me off from reading too much into these things, but I am a staunch believer in God using every means to give us hints and messages, and the cleaner the ‘pipe’ the message is coming through, the more ‘on point’ it usually is.
Dear reader, things are starting to turn around…
That doesn’t mean all the trials and tribulations are going to finish in one go and we’ll just sit back and wait for the Moshiach street party.
If you’ve spent a lifetime running away from God, and running away from an honest accounting of who you really are, and what you’re really doing in the world (both good and bad) – your trials are only going to get worse, until you make some proper teshuva.
(On that note, the last few days I’ve heard more stories of harsh things happening to ‘difficult’ people than at any other point in my life. The ‘bad’ is starting to be paid out, and it’s frankly pretty scary.)
But for those quiet, thoughtful people who are reading this blog, and trying so hard to give God what He wants in the face of some enormous challenges, things are only going to get better from here on in.
Hang on, people!
I know from the emails I’ve got recently that so many of us have been dragged through our own versions of ‘fire and water’ in our service of Hashem recently. That’s why Rav Natan was writing for YOU, too: it’s going to turn around, and very soon we’re all going to be celebrating one big, huge chanukat habayit at a prime piece of real estate that’s just a little up the road from me…