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The text in bold-face presents the words of Likutei Moharan, and the text in regular font presents the commentary of Likutei Moharan Hamevuar, by Rabbi Yehoshua Gross.
Likutei Moharan: Prologue
“Go gaze upon the deeds of Hashem” (Psalms 46:9): a wondrous revelation of the secret of the greatness of the Godly Tanna, Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, may his memory be for a blessing.
Rabbi Shimon ben—“son of”--Yochai promised that because of him the Torah would not be forgotten by the people of Israel.
As is related in the words of our Sages, may their memory be for a blessing: “When our Sages entered the vineyard in Yavneh”—the study hall where they sat in rows, like vines in a vineyard (Rashi)--“they said: In the future, the Torah will be forgotten by the people of Israel. As the verse states, ‘Behold, days are coming, states Hashem God, that I will send a hunger into the land—not a hunger for bread and not a thirst for water, but to hear the words of Hashem’ (Amos 8:11). And the following verse states, ‘[People] will move from sea to sea and from the north to the east, wandering, seeking the word of Hashem—but they will not find it’ (ibid. 12). ‘The word of Hashem’ refers to halachah. ‘The word of Hashem’ refers to ‘the end of the exile.’ ‘The word of Hashem’ refers to prophecy. And what is the meaning of the fact that people will be ‘wandering, seeking the word of Hashem’? The Sages said: In the future, a woman will take a loaf of terumah bread to the synagogues and study halls to find out if it is impure or pure. But no one will understand.” (The Talmud discusses at length why the Sages will be unable to answer her question.) “But Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai said that it—the Torah—will not be forgotten. As the verse states, ‘For it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his—the Jewish nation’s--offspring’ (Deuteronomy 31:21)” (Shabbat 138b).
And the reason that the Torah will not be forgotten by Israel is, as explained in the Zohar: “With this work, the book of the Zohar, [the Jews] will emerge from exile” (Zohar, Nasso 124b).
Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai composed the Zohar. We see from this quote that the Torah will not be forgotten by the Jewish people because with its help the Jews will recall the words of the Torah and perform the mitzvot while in exile, and it will ultimately help them emerge from exile.
To sum up, our Sages thought that the Jewish nation would forget the Torah because they foresaw that the Sitra Achra—the “Other Side” of Evil—would gain so much strength at the end of the exile that it would be difficult for Jews to recall the words of the Torah and stay faithful to it.
But R. Shimon ben Yochai replied that through the teachings of the Zohar that he revealed the Jewish nation would not forget the Torah—even at the end of the exile.
And now, come and see and understand the wondrous secrets of our holy Torah. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai quoted the verse, “For it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his offspring.” That is because in truth this verse itself alludes to and conceals the secret that via the offspring of Yochai—that is, through Rabbi Shimon, son of Yochai—through him, the Torah will not be forgotten from the nation of Israel. This is because the end letters of the words in this verse are letters that, when rearranged, spell out the name Yochai.
And so the verse, “for it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his offspring,” hints and reveals specifically that “from the mouth of his offspring” is a reference to the mouth of the immediate offspring of the person alluded to in this verse—that being to the son of the Tanna Yochai.
This is because, through the immediate offspring of Yochai, who is alluded to in the words of this verse in their final letters (as mentioned above)--that immediate offspring being Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai—through him, the Torah will not be forgotten, for “with this … Zohar, [the Jews] will emerge from exile” (as above).
And know that the secret of Rabbi Shimon himself is alluded to in another verse, for know that the holy Tanna, Rabbi Shimon, corresponds to the verse that relates a dream of Nebuchadnezzar, in which he saw “an [eternally] wakeful, holy [angel] descending from heaven” (Daniel 4:10). The beginning letters of each word in this phrase, when rearranged, form the word “Shimon,” etc.
 A Tanna is an early Talmudic sage (pl., Tannaim). A later Talmudic sage is called an Amora (pl., Amoraim).
 Likutei Halachot (Hilchot Nezikin, 4:13), writes:
The entirety of the Zohar [consists of] rectifications and vessels [containing spiritual light] that [the Sages] drew down in their great and holy understanding. Through it, we attain Divine insights, which constitute all of the ways of the holy kabbalah that Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai and his students revealed.
Therefore, “with this … Zohar, [the Jews] will emerge from exile.” Then [the verse] will be realized, “As in the days of your coming forth out of the land of Egypt, I will show him wonders” (Michah 7:11).
In the Exodus from Egypt, the redemption came about through our teacher Moses, because at that time he revealed Divine insights to us in wondrous ways (cf. the beginning of Likutei Moharan I 30). Now as well, in this final exile, which is harder and more difficult, God will in His compassion redeem us by means of all of the secrets of the Torah that Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai and his colleagues revealed, which are vessels and constrictions that make it possible for us to apprehend Divinity. T hey bring about the essence of the healing of [our] soul and bring about its physical and spiritual redemption.
We still do not have any [real] knowledge and understanding of the secrets of the Torah that Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai revealed in the Zohar and Tikunim. Nevertheless, they [effect] a great rectification for our souls, for [Rabbi Shimon] made and prepared wondrous vessels and great rectifications for us via the ways of the holy Torah that he revealed. As a result, whoever wants to strive to seek God, be may He be blessed, may easily attain Divine insights by means of the ways, vessels and rectifications that [Rabbi Shimon] revealed.
In order to draw down Divine insights, a person needs a number of constrictions—“vessels” and “rectifications.” Due to the sin of Adam and the [spiritual] damage caused by [subsequent] generations, it is impossible to complete the rectification completely in one generation.
Thus, the greatest of the tzaddikim strive in every generation to draw down wondrous rectifications and leave a blessing behind them, so that it will be easy for the final generation to come to [God], may He be blessed, if they wish to seek Him.
And therefore after [we received the Zohar from] the Tanna Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, we received the writings of the Ari, may his memory be for a blessing, who revealed more wondrous rectifications. And in our own generations we [were sent] the great tzaddikim from the days of the Baal Shem Tov, may his memory be for a blessing, until now.
A spiritual seeker of Hashem can understand something of all of the mighty and powerful deeds of the great, select tzaddikim who have acted to bring about rectifications for us in every generation. That constitutes the essence of our life and hope, for we revive ourselves with the remnant of holiness that these great, true tzaddikim have left for us via their students.
 Chayei Moharan (passage 189) states:
At the time that [Rebbe Nachman] traveled to Uman, he stated: “Still and all, Hashem helps Israel always, and no generation is left orphaned. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai spoke [about this]. When a Tanna said, ‘In the future, the Torah will be forgotten by [the nation of] Israel,’ Rabbi Shimon replied, ‘No, for with this … Zohar, [the Jews] will come forth from exile, “for it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his offspring.”’”
[Rebbe Nachman went on to] speak about this verse, revealing the secret that was [subsequently] published at the beginning of Likutei Moharan I regarding the greatness of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.
I said to [Rebbe Nachman], “Rabbi Shimon certainly has pleasure from this”—i.e., from this wonderful original insight.
[Rebbe Nachman] replied: “Yes.”
Afterwards, he said, “Rabbi Shimon himself is something different, for Rabbi Shimon is ‘an [eternally] wakeful, holy [angel] descending from heaven.’ And at the present moment there exists a ‘river welling forth, a wellspring of wisdom’ (Proverbs 18:4).”
[The acronym of this phrase is “Nachman.”] And Rabbi Nachman had already been heard to describe himself as a river that purifies all stains.
Rabbi Nachman's Shir Na'im, Which Appears at the Beginning of Likutei Moharan
The following was written by our rebbe, may his memory be for a blessing.
A Pleasant Song contains many topics in few words, short but encompassing a great deal, speaking wonders in praise of our holy Torah and in praise of our teacher Moses, peace be upon him, with wondrous instruction and mighty inspiration to help everyone arouse his soul.
It tells of the greatness of the Creator, be He blessed, and the wonders of His creations, and it mentions the wondrous sweet pleasantness of the delights of the world-to-come and its pleasures for all who attain them, and of the song that will be sung in the future.
Conversely, [it speaks of] the bitter pain and blunted teeth that will be experienced by those pushed away from [these pleasures,] who will suffer a loss that can never be recompensed.
It arouses the sleeping, awakens the slumbering, strengthens the weary, informs man of the greatness of his ability: that each person has the power to attain all of these [wondrous achievements].
Like a shofar, [Rebbe Nachman] raises his voice to turn our hearts to [God], may He be blessed, to serve Him with a single accord.
This [describes] but a fraction of the ways of this poem.
And [Rebbe Nachman’s] holy name and the name of his father are spelled out in the first letter of each line of each stanza, in a doubled, tripled and quadrupled [arrangement].
נ None of the customs of [other] religions equal [those of] our religion.
ח With their human intellect, their sages contrived customs out of their hearts,
מ [But] Moses rose to the heights, [where] the cloud was his garment.
ן Consequently, the Necessary Existent spoke with [Moses] at any time, and [so] he separated himself from [his] wife.
נ [As for us,] we are disgraced, sickly and thrust away.
ח [But] we have taken good counsel from [Moses’] wisdom, [which] comes from [the realm called] “Nothingness.”
מ [Moses was] King in Jeshurun. [He was bonded together] with our religion like two brothers who are never separated,
ן [And] his soul and his pure body never moved apart from each other.
נ [The various nations’] spirits are many. So too are their perspectives many, and the differences in their [ways of] thinking.
ח Newly [and] recently have their devotions come about.
מ Their thoughts are not our thoughts, and our ways are not their ways.
ן Our spirit is one, and it does not turn to the multitude of their images.
נ My strong and intelligent spirit, why have you not taken pity on yourself? You forgot the one who raised you, fed you delicacies and clothed you in purple. Now you are trampled amongst the hooves of the sheep and amongst the feet of thick and coarse desires, and you are naked and bare. The wine of your banquet has turned into a banquet of tears.
ח Be strong and firm! Do not be like the great elephant or the camel that, even when a mouse pulls it by its nose, refrains from kicking out, all because of [its] foolishness, in that it does not know its own strength. Oh, my intelligent and strong spirit!
מ What will you do on the day of reckoning? And what will you reply to the One Who sent you forth? Ignore temporal revelries, for your body is weak and poor, and time passes, moaning, and perhaps your body’s [final] day has come.
ן [My soul,] pierce [my] heart of stone, and through [the fissure] illumine for me a little of your face, clear as the sun, beautiful as the moon. Do not be silent and still. Raise your sweet voice in song and praise, and open your mouth and bring forth your pleasant words before the Holy One, blessed be He. Raise your eyes to the heights and recall your ancient love.
נ Rivers, streams, channels of many waters and great and small seas,
נ Wondrous and various in their colors and in their taste and in their nature,
ח Each one [containing] small and great creatures, numberless species--
מ All of them praise and extol Hashem, be He blessed, with all of their limbs.
מ They bring words forth constantly and do not disobey their [angelic] guides.
ן Precious stones and pearls in [the waters’] depths sparkle.
ן Hidden in [the waters] are the lights of the containers [of these stones and pearls].
נ Souls [are] carved from beneath the Throne of Glory,
נ [Each] longing always to cling to its root,
ח To draw life and lovingkindness from the “kindnesses of David.”
ח [Such a soul] has not lost the gracious spirit [that comes] from the drops of the Garden of Eden.
מ [Amidst] the estates of [heavenly] palaces and tents of peace, each [soul] is distinguished and marked with an emblem of splendor.
מ “What has God done?” ask the angels, and they race on their missions like a comet,
מ Distanced and removed from all [earthly] delights, [from the human being,] whose ways are corrupt,
ן [From people who] remain hungry and disgraced, fated to be [hurled forth by] the Slingshot.
ן Let us return to Hashem and not be lost.
ן Let us lovingly accept the bad and the good, and clothe [our] eternal Father.
ב The creation of the [Holy] Land and its satellites, the many lands and countries around it,
ב [The creation] of human beings, each with his language and [mankind with its] religions,
ן [Each country with its] buds, flowers and its shoots--
ן [These] countries [will] fall [when they will be subjected to the Holy Land’s] winds.
ן [The Holy Land alone will] remain standing, surrounded by the spheres.
ש [But until then,] demons and spirits sail through the air.
ש They hear Hashem’s decree and they rule with the four powers of destruction: the ox, the pit, the tooth and fire.
מ They share three characteristics with angels and three with human beings.
מ They flee the holy covenant, of which is it said, “You shall surely circumcise.”
ח They use their various forms to strike, as [one strikes] with batons,
ח [Even as] spell-casters and wizards compel [these demons] with their vows, [employing] precise names.
ה The holy Torah protects us from all pollutions.
ה Charity protects from ugly deaths.
נ We have no prophecy.
ח The nations gnash [their] teeth at [us,] a singular nation. We have no understanding.
מ [The nations] deliberate on how to administer the bitterness of [our] sufferings.
ן We will bear the world until the Poor One will arrive.
ב A son will search in the treasuries of his father.
ן We will crown the beloved son with a coronet.
ש Then we will sing a new song.
מ Everyone will point with a finger of flesh [at] our King.
ח The Torah is sealed in the heart of everyone so as not to be forgotten.
ה Death will be swallowed up forever, like scented incense.
נ We will bring a heart of wisdom to understand the character of our body, the distances between its limbs and the arrangement of its anatomy.
ח The obligation to understand this aids in [our] knowledge of the Creator, Who forms all of these creations,
מ Who heals all illness, [Who will heal] a suffering man who is blind and lame, diseased and plagued, worried and pained.
ן [Then] we will eat only in order to sustain our spirits and to diminish the cravings of our nature.
“Where may [the source of] his wisdom be found? From it, we have taken good counsel.”
 This line is hard to interpret.
“[The person] whose ways are corrupt is distanced and removed from all [heavenly] delights.
“[Such people] remain hungry and disgraced, fated to be [hurled forth by] the Slingshot.”
 See Zohar, p. 191, Vayikra 25a, Tazria 48b, Shelach 172a.
 Chagigah 16a.
 See Zohar, Lech Lecha 95b and Tikunim 21 and 70.
Yaacov David Shulman
New! Jewish Spiritual Growth: The Step-to-Step Guide of a Hasidic Master