Congresswoman Grace Meng Responds To Jewish Community

Songs like a prayer filled the air at the Beth Gavriel Center on Wednesday evening, January 8, where Chazaq and the Breslov Research Institute hosted a magnificent hilula in memory of Rav Natan of Breslov, also known as Reb Noson. Reb Noson was the chief disciple and scribe of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Reb Noson is credited with preserving, promoting, and expanding the Breslov movement after the Rebbe’s death.

Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, Chief Manager of Chazaq, welcomed everyone to this beautiful event. All the food and the event were for a z’chus for a r’fuah sh’leimah for an infant, Binyamin ben Leah, that he should have a r’fuah sh’leimah.

The first speaker, Rabbi Jonathan Rietti, well-known speaker, shared some of the main thoughts in Likutei Moharan that speak to him personally. He noted how he personally has been very influenced in his life by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s teachings, and how wonderful it is that now the teachings of Rebbe Nachman are translated into English. He began with the idea that “your thought was created to never rest.” We think even when we are sleeping. When you decide to move from one thought to another, you can let go of negative thoughts and confusion. The rule is that it is a tremendous illusion to think that it’s hard to stop anxiety, hatred, fear, and confusion. “In reality, a person always has the ability to switch to another thought. Any person can do this.” He shared the analogy that Rebbe Nachman uses: Your thoughts are the horse and you are the driver. When your thoughts carry you away to negative feelings, all you have to do is move the reigns a little. This will change the direction to the horse. Some ways to change thoughts include: learn a pasuk, get busy, and pick up a book.

Rebbe Nachman also teaches us to never say, “the good old days.” “We have to know that today is good.” Don’t fall into the trap of believing that the world is getting worse. The world is always getting better. “Don’t get trapped in the media.”

Rabbi Rietti explained that happiness truly exists in your thoughts. The Hebrew letters in “simchah” are the same letters in machashavah,” thought. The main human being is not your body; it is what you are thinking. He added the idea that “I’m always one thought away from changing the real me. This is the greatest imaginable liberation.” When I believe I cannot change, this is the yeitzer ha’ra. Hashem created the yeitzer ha’ra for us to not listen to it.” Rabbi Rietti imparted, “Don’t open the door to the yeitzer ha’ra. Close it.” In the world, everything is always screaming out that Hashem is here. “The more you close the door to negative thoughts, the more they will go away because there is no entrance.”

Hashem sends the yeitzer ha’ra to us to test us. He concluded, “I’m never imprisoned by my thoughts unless I imprison myself. Remember, I am always one thought away from changing my thoughts.”

Following this, Reb Yosef Karduner played some more uplifting melodies and songs with words from t’filah. The audience clapped and swayed along, and sometimes the men joined in the singing, as well.

Then Rabbi Chaim Kramer, sought after lecturer on Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, shared an elucidating shiur that was punctuated with the beautiful guitar-playing and singing of Reb Karduner. Rabbi Kramer began by explaining that the chariot with angels on it that Yechezkel HaNavi describes is really a person’s mind. “Your mind is a chariot for Hashem.” The yeitzer ha’tov and the yeitzer ha’ra share the root of the Hebrew word y’tzirah, which means creation. “You create your life with your thoughts. If you think good thoughts, you’re making a good creation. Everything is in your thoughts.” Rebbe Nachman taught that you always have to judge everyone favorably, and this includes yourself. “Think positively. Think good [thoughts]. When involved in thinking good [thoughts], you’re connected to the good. If you want to connect to Hashem, then think good [thoughts]. There is so much good in the world. So much that we can attach ourselves to.”

Rav Kramer added: “Look for ways to be happy. Do everything in your power to be happy.” He explained that one reason we are not happy is communication. A lot of joy in life is because of communication. It is important to communicate with your friend so that you are passing ideas and growing in knowledge. You should communicate what is in your heart to your friend. Rebbe Nachman tells us that every day you should speak to your rebbe, which means study his s’farim and teachings of Torah. He imparted that the main communication is to speak to G-d. “How can you develop a relationship with someone you never speak to?”

Communicate with Hashem; speak to Him. This is Rebbe Nachman’s main idea. Tell Hashem what is on your mind. Tell Him your joys and your difficulties. You are allowed to say to Hashem, “This hurts.” You have to know that everything is from Hashem, even your thoughts. In Rebbe Nachman’s s’farim, the main topic is emunah. This emunah starts with Avraham. Rabbi Kramer then explained the four legs of faith. The first leg is belief in Hashem. The next is the Torah, which is the book of life. It’s the manual we as a nation have. The third leg is faith in true tzadikim. A leader is someone who stands up for the Jewish people. He gave the examples of Moshe, David HaMelech, and Rabbi Akiva. “A leader puts his needs on line for the people. We have to have faith in what the tzadikim taught. They taught us what Torah and Hashem are all about. He then emphasized that the fourth leg is necessary for us to possess, in order to obtain the other three legs. The fourth leg is: You must have faith in yourself. You are created by Hashem. He put you here because He wants you. He wants us to realize that we are important. Each of us has something to contribute to someone else. We have to have faith that Hashem gave us the tools we need for our mission in life.

Rabbi Kramer taught: “When you turn on your heart, it radiates and affects those around you.” He said, “If you believe, you can repair.” Reb Noson taught that you must believe you can rectify anything you have in your heart. The Gemara teaches us that whoever repents out of love for Hashem has his sins transformed into mitzvos.

He ended by offering a beautiful brachah to the audience to always have all four legs of emunah and to learn to appreciate all the things that happen to us and to be joyous. This shiur can be viewed on TorahAnytime.