New Ideas in Serving Hashem: Potentially Wonderful as well as Possibly Dangerous

There’s a wonderful shtikl of Rebbe Nachman’s Torah in Likutei Moharan, Torah 171. This is in the section known as the “Toras Lashon Chaveirim,” meaning it was said over by those who heard Rebbe Nachman say it, in Breslov mesorah it is specifically referring to R’ Avrohom Peterberger z’l who heard these from R’ Nachman and wrote them down, rather than R’ Noson writing the Torah for R’ Nachman.

It starts by bringing a posuk from Daniel that says “Many of those who are sleeping in the dust of the earth shall awake, those for eternal life, and those to reproaches, to eternal contempt.” Rebbe Nachman explains that this refers to the process through which a person will be awakened due to new understandings in avodas Hashem that were not known until that moment. Through this, those who sleep in the dust of the earth will arise to one side or another, one for good or one for bad. This is explained through the other posuk “Tzadikim walk in them and the erring ones stumble in them,” meaning that the Tzaddik who receives this new understanding and insight in avodas Hashem will implement it and elevate himself and the world around him, whereas someone who engages in sins due to carelessness (Rebbe Nachman explains in a far earlier Torah that the word פשע refers to lack of emunah, so the weak of faith chas v’sholom) brings destruction to the world. The author of this specific Torah says that he heard that those who are on the negative side of this equation will get this new insight specifically to bring shame and spite to the world, and the world increases in lack from his reception of this new avodah.

From this we can understand various different ideas, and incidences we see in life. One way to understand this Torah is to say that sometimes a new insight in avodas Hashem will come to someone and instead of it uplifting them, it turns into something that removes them from life and the Torah, chas v’sholom. Someone can become introduced to the idea of P’rishus, and this will become a brand-new idea in avodas Hashem, and the ways it can be implemented in their own personal life is also a new idea, so they take it too far to the point of self-destruction, chas v’sholom. It is clear from sifrei Chassidus, including Mesilas Yeshorim though it is technically a Mussar sefer, that Hashem doesn’t want us to destroy ourselves; rather that we should grow and come closer to Him. When a new understanding leads a person towards the Tzad HaMoves (side of death), this is when it is in the aspect of negativity and bringing destruction to the world. When it leads to the Tzad HaChaim (side of life), such as when the new understanding elevates a person and makes them b’simcha, and helps a person to grow rather than to fall into the depths, then this is the positive side.

Our goal in receiving and innovating in the areas of avodas Hashem has to be oriented in such a way as we uplift ourselves and others, not casting ourselves or other to Gehenom. To get a new idea in avodas Hashem and then say that anyone who doesn’t do this is going to get punished or go to Gehenom, this is called stumbling severely; to do the opposite and choose to share it with others and increase in your own personal holiness along with that of your fellow Yidden, this is called walking with them, the Torah and new aspects of avodas Hashem. This isn’t a chiddush, we always have be dan l’kaf z’chus (judge to benefit of the doubt), this is in Pirkei Avos, along with many other concepts relating to how a person needs to view oneself and others as brought in Shas and various other places.

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