Introduction- Entering into the Difficulty and the Negative Places
By Ron Weber
Translated by Moshe Neveloff
Edited by Gershon Weissman
If so, Rebbe Nachman reveals to us that we are actually good, and that also when other people do things which seem bad to us- deep inside of them they are actually good. So everything’s okay…
It sounds simple, no?
Everything is so deceptively simple yet nevertheless, we are surrounded by bad and suffer from it. We may behave with violence, sometimes even with cruelty. Even though deep inside everyone is good, behold there is a lot of suffering in the world.
It appears that what we see around us is exactly the opposite of the good point! The world is running in the opposite direction… even if we understand that the search for good is logical and correct, for some reason it’s difficult for us to achieve it. We lose sight of this goal, or we disregard the matter by saying “its spiritual nonsense which is not connected to my life.”
A person can ask himself, “If everything is so good and beautiful, why does everything seem bad?” “And if it’s so natural to find the good- why is it so difficult to see it?”
Wait a moment. We didn’t say that it’s natural. This is your internal truth, however it’s not natural. It’s not automatic. The automatic nature which is imprinted in us is in reality completely the opposite. The natural reality pulls us downward, nevertheless we can spread our wings and fly by free choice and by taking responsibility- but not as an automatic process.
Also when I was deep inside the teshuva process, and even when I read and learned Likutei Moharan (Rebbe Nachman’s main book of teachings), I still wasn’t really “connected” to the concepts. My friends would speak with me about ‘Azamra’, and it seemed to me to be natural and simple. What’s the problem? I asked. To see the good, big deal. I felt “okay” in general. It’s true, if people would ask me specifically about certain areas in my life, it seems that I would have admitted that the situation is not perfect, however I didn’t deal with this. I tried to see the good “in general.” I didn’t agree to give a place to the pain which was there under the surface, to the feeling of being stuck which accompanied me, which I tried to prevent and escape from in different ways.
Only after years when I began to do personal prayer and meet the difficult feelings inside of me, did I uncover through my daily personal prayer a wall of frustration, a feeling of lack of progress- I began to understand what they were speaking about. I understood that without ‘Azamra’, without seeing the little bit of good in everything, I’m lost. As much as a person deepens their internal search and are willing to face the difficulties- they must have something which gives balance to the process. They must search deeper to find hope even in a place which seems dark and lacking any chance.
As we go forward we’ll understand and contemplate a very basic point: “God has made the one as well as the other”, that means that if there is a possibility to find good in a certain place, the complete opposite possibility exists, like a reflection of the good. If there is a possibility to reach a great and amazing goodness, there must be also the possibility to choose exactly the opposite.
Rebbe Natan tells of a discussion which he had with Rebbe Nachman: “Once he told me- everything that you see in the world is only for free choice, because the entire world was only created for choice.”
All of the tests which we go through in life, all of the difficulties, all of the ups and downs- they have one purpose, to allow us to choose (how we will respond). To give us an endless amount of possibilities, where in the end we make the final choices which guide us in our lives to the safe shores of the good, or God forbid, break us over and over again because of a reality which seems to us hard and uncompromising.
The Ramchal wrote in his book “Derech Hashem”: “And nevertheless this needs to be by way of his free choice and will, because if a person was forced by way of his actions to choose completeness, he would not be called really a complete person, because he’s not the master, since he’s forced by someone else to buy it, and the seller is the master of his completeness, and the lofty intention would not exist.”
The Ramchal explains that if we were forced to choose the good, it would not be free choice. If the possibility of choosing the good was shining so much and so simple, without forces which oppose it- this would not be a real choice.
In order to allow us free choice, we were born with good points and great desires for good, and above this there are bad forces which cause hiddenness, they are our defense mechanisms and imaginations. Their role, as we’ll see further on, is to give an opposing weight, to allow the possibility as it were to choose the bad.
The negative aspects, the inclination to be dragged into negativity, the source of downfalls, the Creator ‘dressed’ so to speak on top of the nucleus of the good, above the tasty fruit of our truth, like the external peel.
Our natural inclination can be likened to going up the stairs of an escalator which is descending. If we stand still and stay in our place, we’ll descend instead of ascending; only if we ascend by our choice and by our effort will we succeed in reaching the top.
The Chazon Ish wrote in his book “Faith and Trust” that really all of the bad character traits can be condensed and included in one bad character trait, which is “letting life go on its natural path (out of neglect).” That means that the natural inclination is to sink, to go downwards, to see the bad and to identify with it (further on we’ll learn how this is connected to our childhood and to the sin of Adam with the Tree of Knowledge).
Therefore, in order to connect to our good, we need to straighten our view and examine inside ourselves all of the negative voices, the beliefs which try to “drag us downwards”, and to pass through them on the journey to our eternal truth. This truth is the fact that we are good and valuable from the moment of our creation, and all of the bad aspects are only an external covering or things which “stuck” to us throughout our lives, dust which needs to be shaken off from us.
I need to understand that I’m good, I’m the essence of good, and I’m on an incredible journey whose goal is to reveal this inside of me and in those surrounding me- to see the good also in them and to add goodness to their world.
 Ecclesiastes, 7:14
 The Life of Rebbe Nachman, paragraph 519
 Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato, of blessed memory, who lived in the 1700s in Italy and then Holland; he’s buried in Tiberias
 First Part, Third Chapter- About the Human Race
 One of the leading Rabbis in the land of Israel in the 20th century
 Chapter 4