Here we go, a new year, a new idea.
After spending several years translating other people’s articles on Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, I want to try a new idea this year, sharing a teaching each week on the weekly Torah portion or a special time of the year based upon Rebbe Nachman’s teachings.
A new year, a new idea- this is exactly what I wanted to discuss a little bit, the idea of renewal. Finding the strength and courage to try something new or trying again to obtain something which we might have given up on a long time ago. Starting over. After finishing the yearly reading of the Torah a few days ago on Simchat Torah, we are starting again this coming Shabbat, Parshat Bereshit. Bereshit tells of the creation of the world and the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but I’d like to focus on the first word- Bereshit, which means in the beginning. Beginning again.
Rebbe Nachman teaches in the final lesson which he gave during his lifetime, on Rosh Hashana in 1810, a few weeks before he passed away during the holiday of Succot, (Likutei Moharan II, 8th teaching) that through connecting to a great Tzaddik, by following his advice and teachings a person can merit complete faith, which he says is believing in the renewal of the world, meaning that G-d created the world from absolutely nothing and he continues to renew the world each day. The power and the inspiration to finding renewal, Rebbe Natan explains, can be found in the writings of the Tzaddik, who has the aspect of prophecy, a divine spirit, which we can connect to on our level and feel again vitality and rebirth through these teachings. This year and this day is a completely new creation, even though to our eyes it seems similar to yesterday or to just a month ago, when it was still 5778. However, everything is truly new. This means that just as this reality of renewal exists in the world all the time, so too, we can connect to this power of renewal in our lives, every day.
Many times we start off a new year with a lot of ideas and goals and fresh inspiration, and then at a certain point, due to obstacles or just the monotonous routine we might experience in daily life, we let those goals and new ideas slip away. We also get stuck in regrets about the past instead of trying to start again. That is exactly why renewal is so critical. It doesn’t matter if I wanted to learn something every day for a few minutes and I missed yesterday or the past week, right now I’m starting over, right now I can make a fresh start and go forward. This is also one of the powerful aspects of daily personal prayer or meditation- every day where we find ourselves in our lives and what we are going through is different, and every day the words and prayers we need at that time are new, we can express ourselves anew every day before G-d. This is a major principle which Rebbe Nachman teaches us- don’t despair, keep trying, keep starting anew!
(This article was inspired by a class from Rav Erez Moshe Doron on Likutei Halachot, Hilchot Shluchin, 5th lesson)