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Rav Nachman Shiur #13B: Speech III –"Peace and Warmth

By: Rav Itamar Eldar

 

In last week's shiur, we saw that the scattering of the sparks creates the situation of separation, dispute and contradiction that prevails in the world.  A person who seeks to gather the sparks into a single utterance must "make peace" between disparate things.

 

Rav Nachman continues:

 

It is impossible to speak through dispute.  For the essence of speech comes from peace, as it is written, "I shall speak of peace."  Therefore, each person – prior to his prayer – must accept upon himself the positive mitzva of "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," so that by means of the love and peace he shall be able to speak in prayer.  But where there is no peace and there is dispute, it is impossible to speak.  And therefore even if one party desires peace but the other party disagrees, then the peace cannot be complete.  It thus becomes impossible to speak and to pray, even though he himself is a man of peace, because they disagree with him… And behold, all utterances come from peace, as explained above.  Therefore, one who represents peace can know all the utterances of the whole world, like the Holy One, (who is called "Peace")  Who knows all the utterances of the whole world, as it is written, "He recounts to man his discourse" (u-magid le-adam mah siho).  For all utterances come from peace, and the (first) letters (of those words) comprise the word "shalom" – "U-magid (vav) LE-adam (lamed) Mah (mem) Siho (shin).

 

All utterances come from warmth, and one who has much warmth speaks a lot.  Likewise, one who is cold and lacks warmth cannot speak, for speech comes from warmth, as it is written, "My heart is warm within me, when I speak a fire burns, as I speak with my tongue." And this is the flame of the fire… etc." (Likutei Moharan Kama 239)

 

Love and peace are vital tools for speech.  For speech is a gathering of the voices scattered throughout existence, and this gathering requires mediation and the reconciliation of disparate things.  But first and foremost, peace is an expression of listening.  The mitzva of "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" is to give your neighbor the same attentive indulgence that you give yourself.  A person naturally gives himself the benefit of the doubt.  He is able to look at his own actions and recognize within them their deepest root, which may not necessarily be visible in their outer expression.  All of this is much more difficult to do in relation to the actions of others.  For this purpose one is required to listen attentively, to place one's faith in the other, and to look deeply and penetratingly.  One who accepts upon himself and adopts such a way of life will acquire the trait of listening - the ability to look at the bitter reality, but at the same time to gaze deeply and to find the good within it.  He will then find the meaning and significance that are concealed behind the act that appears so negative, to hear the voice of Hashem.  This process is analogous to the ability to concentrate deeply during prayer, as we saw in shiur #12.

 

Peace is a vessel that holds blessings, and as such, it is on the one hand capable of absorbing an infinite volume, while on the other hand sharply distinguishing and profoundly attentive.  For this reason, "One who represents peace is able to know all the utterances of the entire world," – because he himself is a vessel made to hold Hashem's blessing that will fall to him.  Peace enables a person to deepen his view and not to be distracted by the garments covering the essence of a thing – the garments that create division (or at least that give it expression).  Likewise warmth, which R. Nachman also mentions in the same context as being a necessary precondition to utter speech.

 

The warmest part of a person's body is the heart.  The further we move towards the extremities, the lower the temperature drops.  The heart is the center of what is going on – the pulse that beats within man and keeps him going.  (In the next shiur we hope to address a teaching about man's heartbeat.)

 

Warmth is an indication that man is speaking from the heart.  Speech that is not from the heart is like silence; it is letters devoid of any life-spirit.  And, as such, it cannot reach the root of things and gather the sparks waiting there to be redeemed.  The ability to redeem sparks depends on the depth that the speaker is able to attain.  Speech that does not emanate from the warmth of the heart cannot reach into the deepest heart of reality.  It is superficial, and as such it remains on the surface, unable to hew its way through the material and the garments that cover the heart beating within reality.  Both peace and warmth are tools given to man to use in looking at the heart of reality.  Warmth is the "engine" that allows him to dig deeply and look inside things, and peace is what allows him not to be distracted by the divisions and controversies that cover up the common heart that beats within all of reality as a whole.

 

The relationship between heat, cold, speech and controversy is also addressed in the following teaching:

 

"Know that there is a soul in the world, by means of which the explanations and clarifications of the Torah are revealed, and it is afflicted with suffering.  "You shall eat bread with salt and drink water in small measure," for that is the way of Torah.  And all the commentators of the Torah receive (draw) from that soul.  Now this soul – all its words are like coals from the fire, for it is impossible to receive and draw from the waters of Torah unless one's words are like burning coals – as it is written, "Are My words not thus, like fire?" When this soul falls from its level of "Are My words not thus, like fire?", and its words are not like burning coals, but rather are cooled – then it disappears.  The explanations of the Torah that it brings likewise disappear, and all the commentators of the Torah are unable to achieve any clarification of the Torah.  And then dispute arises amongst the righteous ones.  For the essence of controversy in the world comes from the disappearance of the clarifications of the Torah, for clarification is the solution to questions and arguments.  And this is represented by the Wilderness of Tzin, which is like a chilled utterance – there Miriam died, symbolizing the soul that suffers the bitterness of subjugation over the Torah, and then the well (be'er) disappeared, i.e.  the clarifications (bi'urei) of the Torah, and then "The nation quarreled with Moshe" – i.e., dispute arose…" (Likutei Moharan Kama 20:1)

 

We shall not address the interpretation of this teaching in this shiur; for the time being we shall simply note the principles relevant to our discussion.  The ability to draw the waters of Torah is given only to one whose words are like burning coals, and all Torah commentators and teachers are nourished by this. 

 

Again, it is the warmth that allows one to encounter the Supreme root and source of the bounty of Torah.  One who speaks words that are cold, that do not emanate from the warmth of the heart, that do not burn like coals, cannot be nourished from the Supreme bounty.

 

Parenthetically, it should be noted that R. Nachman introduces here a most important principle concerning Torah study.  In his view, the Torah is not a regular book that is treated or understood in one way or another by whomever reads it.  Torah study and innovation mean connection with the Supreme Source from which the Torah emanates, and therefore without an "open line" that exists by virtue of the tzaddik, whose soul suffers affliction and who facilitates a constant drawing from that Source, it would be impossible to have any new insight into the Torah.  Torah study, for R. Nachman, is not an intellectual matter, but rather an act of connection and drawing from the Supreme bounty! For this reason, R. Nachman explains later on in this teaching, one who seeks to explain some matter in the Torah "must first pour out his prayer before the blessed God, to arouse the heart of the Supreme One to shower him with words that are like burning coals, and then he can begin to explain…").

 

Therefore, when the soul of the tzaddik and his words become chilled (we shall not discuss here the reasons for this happening), it disappears and takes with it the explanations of the Torah, and then dispute and controversy enter the world.  So long as there is a connection to the Supreme root and source, there is no controversy, and all differences are nullified in the light and fire of the Supreme source, that is drawn into the fiery words of the tzaddik.  But when the Divine source disappears, the fiery words are silenced and reality is chilled, then we are dealing not with the level of the heart, but rather with the level of the garments.  And garments are full of controversy, contradiction, dispute and difficult questions.

 

In the final installment of this shiur, we will address how fasting, charity and humility help extract man from his silence and give him the ability to speak the letters imprisoned in the world.