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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