Closing reflections for a semester-long deep dive on the works of Rebbe Nahman of Breslov
I looked back over all my course posts from the semester. I remembered where I was when I wrote them, what I was worried about, what I was celebrating, what I was hoping for. I read the post I wrote when I was unable to enter the Arafel, after receiving bad news. I read the letter I wrote to Nahman, where I thanked him for arriving at the moments when I’ve needed him the most. I read about teaching nekuda tova to those who needed to find just ONE good thing about themselves – one nekud to change the word, the sentence, and the story. I read the unstoppable flood of words that poured out of me when I encountered Nahman’s wordless void.
The key takeaway that emerges for me, from the stillness at the center of the dancing circle – the message that appears with clarity when I emerge from the mystical forest…is to GET IN, GET REAL, AND GROW. Nahman wants us to engage with our pain, to be authentic, and to learn from everything. Every text we encountered somehow landed on one or all of these points for me. Face your meniot, don’t avoid them. Shatter the rock, shatter your heart, carry the broken pieces – it’s easier to bring them up the stairs when they’re broken. Bring your brokenness with you into the Arafel. Sigh deeply in your darkness. Find your way through that darkness to a forest. Once you’re there, interbreathe with the trees, surrender, and pour your heart out to God. Hold nothing back. When you get lost in that forest, find a guide who can help you experience your fear and your wonder in their fullness. Then emerge, changed into who you really are, who you were meant to be all along. If you forget who you are, find just one good point, and focus on it so you can become a better version of yourself. Do whatever it takes. If you lose your words, live the silence, or sing a song without them. Dance to that song. Bring your sorrow with you into the dancing circle. Be transformed.
I’m trying, my rebbe, to be as real as you were. To lean into my vulnerability. To learn from my meniot. To dance with my sorrow, to find wonder on the other side of fear, to enter the Arafel, trusting that God will find me there. To remember that being with myself is the path to becoming myself. I try to cleave to God when I feel desperately distant. I search for my own nekuda tova as I invite my counseling clients to find theirs. I hear your halavi teachings when I offer my own. None of us – not even you – ever fully live up to the lessons we share with others, but it’s worth trying. And that’s what you taught me to do, Rebbe Nahman: Get in. Get real. Grow. It’s always worth it.