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Sweet Torah from the R' Shlomo Carlebach Torah newsletter:

Rebbe Nachman on Joy

Ah, this is very beautiful. Listen to this…

If I look sad, what happens to the person sitting next to me? They feel a
little bit uncomfortable. Why do they feel uncomfortable? Even if they love
me a lot they'll overcome all those uncomfortable feelings and just say,
“You know, I got to stick it out, he's my friend. I've got to stick
around while he's crying.” But this doesn't go, right.

And imagine I'm sitting here and mamish laughing like the holy Ropshitzer
Rebbe. Laughing my head off. So everybody will feel so comfortable. Why?
It's very simple. Imagine if someone would let me look down into the abyss,
to the abyss of the abyss. It’s very uncomfortable, frightening.

So the truth is, when you see a person who is sad, at that moment you're
mamish confronted with nothingness. You see that this person is just
struggling between being and non-being.

Imagine if you see me standing with one foot on the roof, and the other
foot is just about, gevalt, you know, hanging down over the edge. I can Gd
forbid… You say, “Listen, do me a favor. You make me nervous, you may
be the greatest acrobat in the world, but just put your second foot on the
ground. I'm afraid to see it. Or if you want to do it, I just don't want to
see it.” So when someone is so sad…

You've got to realize, it’s the same thing with Gd. When I'm walking
around sad, you mamish make Gd uncomfortable. I mean, Gd says, “Listen, I
love you. I'm your Gd, I signed a contract on Mt. Sinai, I promised you,
I'll stick it out, I will be with you, but I really don't feel comfortable
with you.

I'll tell you something very very deep. Imagine, when you smile you're
filled with joy. Then when you look at somebody, mamish they look back at
you. When you mamish cry, they can't really look back at you. Mamish, they
try, but they can't look back at you. Like, to say, “We cried eye to
eye.” It just doesn't go. You can smile eye to eye, but you can't cry eye
to eye.

So, you know, we know this world is just a little mirror of heaven. You
have to realize, it's very beautiful when you cry, but it's not really. You
make Gd feel uncomfortable about it. It’s not so good.

Crying with being or crying with nothingness

It depends how you're crying, you know. You can cry with being, or you
can cry with nothingness. I'm not talking about crying in general. I'm
talking about atzvut, this dead kind of sadness.

Listen, On Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper we're crying all the time. It's
the holiest tears.

Imagine if someone will come up to you and say, “You know, I love you
so much, really I want to be the greatest friend to you.” crying while
he's saying it, you know, it will open your heart in a thousand ways. But
if someone comes and cries and says, “You know, I was in the beauty
parlor, sniff, sniff, and they treated me, boo hoo, and I overpaid five
dollars extra, boo hoo hoo.” You know, what do you feel then? Oy vey. And
even if this woman is your mother, right? And you really love your mother,
but you just can't stand it. You say, “Oy vey,” and you pat her on the

There is a very big difference between crying before somebody and crying
about something. If I'm crying before Gd, it's the holiest thing. Maybe
He's crying with me. But if I'm crying about something and I'm telling it
to Gd, it’s not so good. I got to cry before Gd.

G-d smiles back at you

But anyway, the most important thing is, you have to know; if you're
shining here below, Gd is shining.

He says, if you smile down below here, then Gd smiles back at you from

Something very holy going on between you and Gd.

Atzvus or merirus

The word sadness is not a good translation. The word Atzvus is, you're
sitting there moping away.

There are two kinds of sadness. There is merirus, which is bitterness,
which is living sadness. Bitterness is, ‘I wish I could do better.
Gevalt, why didn't I do better?’ It’s, 'I didn't do it right. Why
didn't I do better?’ Just knowing I didn't do good enough, I'm sad. This
is a living sadness. And then I walk out from there and I want to do

And then the deepest thing is, the Baal Shem Tov says, the difference
between merirus and atzvus says is very simple. If, after you cry, you see
another person, do you love them or do you hate them? If you cry, and it's
a living kind of cry, then every person looks so beautiful to you. You
think, ‘I'm not so beautiful, but he or she is so beautiful.’ I'm so
happy with them. But if you have this dead kind of sadness, then everybody
looks ugly to you.

You've seen sometimes you cry, you look out the window and see all those
disgusting creatures walking down the street. So with this kind of crying,
Gd can't look at you either.

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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