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The Dream of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

By the RANBaCH (Shlit"a) © 16th of Av, 5773 (July 23, 2013)



I dreamed that a man came to me.
“Who is your Rebbe?”
“My Rebbe has gone on to another transmigration.”
“Then, what has he taught you?”
“How to live in this world.”
“Then write it down.”

This attempt to understand Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s dream is being composed by Rabbi Aryel Nachman ben Chaim [i.e. the RANBaCH]; one of the Rebbe’s ardent admirers and student.

It has become my habit to read Rebbe Nachman’s works on the Sabbath. Often, while I read, profound teachings; sometimes, great mysteries are revealed. Many times, these teachings and mysteries are not even related to the subject of the text that I am reading. I must carefully remember them until I have completed Havdalah and can write them down.

First and foremost we must view this as more than an enigmatic “dream”. This is, as I have come to understand, a warning and prophecy. Unlike many prophecies, this one shows two outcomes for two periods in time comprising two similar circumstances. The different outcomes are based on the actions of those who lead the Jewish communities; both spiritually and socially.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (z”l) had a dream in the beginning of the summer of 5564 (1804). Let us begin by reading the entire dream before we delve into the meanings.This dream, as recorded by Reb Nosson, was as follows:
“There was someone lying on the ground, and around him people were sitting in a circle. Around the circle was another circle. And around that circle was another circle, and so on – many circles. Then around them were sitting yet more people in no particular order.

The one who was sitting in the middle – he was leaning on his side – was moving his lips, and all those around were moving their lips after him. After this I looked and he was not there – the one in the middle, that is. And all those sitting around stopped moving their lips. I asked, “What is this?” They answered me that he had become cold and had expired and he had stopped speaking.

After this they all started to run, and I ran after them. I saw two palaces – very fine beautiful buildings. Sitting there were two commanders. They all ran to these two commanders and started arguing with them. “Why did you deceive us?” They wanted to kill them.

The commanders fled outside. I saw them, and their nature was very good in my eyes. I ran after them and saw in the distance a beautiful tent. From there they cried out to the commanders: “Turn back and seek out all the merits you have and take them in your hands and go to the light which is hanging there. There you will accomplish everything you want.”

They turned back and took their merits – there were bundles of merits there – and they ran to the light. I ran after them and saw a gleaming light suspended in the air. The commanders came and threw their merits to the light. From the light, sparks fell into their mouths. Then the Nor, lamp, turned into a NaHaR, river and

everybody drank from the river, and creatures were formed inside them. When they started to speak the creatures came out of them and I saw them running and returning. They were neither men nor any kind of animal – just creatures.

After this they decided to go back to their place. But they said, “How can we go back to our place?” Somebody said: “We should send to the one who stands there holding a sword which reaches from heaven to earth.” They said, “Who should we send?” They thought they should send for the creatures, and the creatures went there. I ran after them and I him. He was terrifying. His stature reached from the heaven to the earth. In his hand was a sword reaching from heaven to earth. It had many blades. One of them was sharp – this was for killing. One of them was for poverty; one of them was for weakness. There were also many other blades for punishment.

They started pleading: “”All this long time we have been suffering at your hands. Now help us and bring us to our place.” He said, “I cannot help you.” They pleaded: “Give us the blade for death, and we’ll kill them.” But he did not want to. They asked for a different blade, but he did not want to give them a single blade. They went back.

In the mean time there was an order to kill the commanders, ad they cut off their heads. Meanwhile, the sequence of events returned to what it had been before – namely that someone was lying on the ground surrounded by circles of people, and so on. They ran to the commanders – everything happened as described before – except that now I saw the commanders did not throw their merits to the light. They simply took their merits and went before the light and broke their hearts and began to beg and make entreaties before the light. And sparks fell from the light into their mouths. They entreated more, and the light turned into a river, and the creatures were formed, etc.

They told me, “These ones will live.” – because the first ones deserved to be killed for throwing their merits to the light and not making entreaties like these latter ones. I did not know what this meant. They said to me: “Go to the room, and they will tell you the explanation of this.” I went, and there saw an old man. I asked him about the matter. He took his beard in his hand and said to me, “My beard is the explanation of what happened.” “I still don’t know,” I said. “Go to that room,” he replied, “and there you will find the explanation.” I went there and saw a room infinitely long and broad, entirely filled with writings. Wherever I opened I saw the explanation of the story.”
Let us begin to “unpack” this dream and try to come to an understanding.

There was someone lying on the ground, and around him people were sitting in a circle. Around the circle was another circle. And around that circle was another circle, and so on – many circles. Then around them were sitting yet more people in no particular order.

At this point we will not concentrate on the person lying in the center. This person is very important to the understanding of this dream, however, at this point it is more important to know what, and whom, the circles represent.

The circles represent the various branches of Judaism. The circles nearest to the center represent the tzaddikim, the rebbes, the rabbis and the righteous individuals. The next

ring are those who study the Torah, Talmud and the writings to gain understanding. The next ring are those who try their best to observe the laws and say their prayers daily. As we move to rings that are further away, they represent people who are less and less observant and educated in the writings. Finally, those who are sitting “in no particular order” represents the religiously unaffiliated, humanistic and secular Jews.

The one who was sitting in the middle – he was leaning on his side – was moving his lips, and all those around were moving their lips after him. After this I looked and he was not there – the one in the middle, that is. And all those sitting around stopped moving their lips. I asked, “What is this?” They answered me that he had become cold and had expired and he had stopped speaking.

We now turn to the person sitting in the middle. This man, as I interpret him, is the last of his kind; the “Last Great Tzaddik”. This does not mean that there are no learned Rabbis, or men who perform genuine acts of loving-kindness, however, this is the last man to embody all the traits of a great and original Tzaddik. This man was known in this transmigration as the Chofetz Chaim (Rabbi Yisroel Meir Kagan). The Chofetz Chaim died in 1933. This date is important, as we will see later. The people stop moving their lips because there are no new teachings to come. They can only repeat what they hear, and are unable to add or interpret the deeper meanings of the lessons. Therefore, they stop moving their lips.

After this they all started to run, and I ran after them. I saw two palaces – very fine beautiful buildings. Sitting there were two commanders. They all ran to these two commanders and started arguing with them. “Why did you deceive us?” They wanted to kill them.

In 1933, Adolf Hitler (may his bones be shattered and scattered to the far ends of the earth) becomes Chancellor of Germany, and throughout the rest of the year, consolidates power until he becomes the sole symbol of law for the German people. As I said previously, the date is important. Without the presence of a great Tzaddik in the world, the ability of great evil is free to ply its trade; without fetters. Anti-Semitism is given license and legitimacy by the government and runs rampant.

Again, I must stress, that it is the presence of a “Great Tzaddik” that keeps the evil in check, and does not mean that there are no worthy Rebbes, Rabbis or people performing tzaddakah. As we have seen, there are great people still in the world. However, these people are not able to stop the terror to come because they are not united in their cause, and often times are directly hindering the efforts of each other because of political, theological or personal differences.

Where are the 36 righteous souls of each generation? Because of the presence of such a great evil, many of the 36 righteous souls of the generations present during this period are quickly used to save lives, and to confound and hinder the evil early in its formation. This is to give the world the opportunity to take a stand and dispel it before it can consolidate its power. The rest of these souls have work to accomplish throughout the ensuing darkness; to ensure the survival of the remnant of the House of Israel.

As a child, who has lost a parent in a crowd, goes running through the crowd, from person to person, crying out in anguish and frustration, all the people run to those institutions that they feel can help.

The two palaces represent two distinct organizations: Secular and Religious. The one palace is the home of the rational, secular and political organizations: Political parties, social groups, trade organizations, etc. It is their belief that through negotiation, political activism, socio-economic sanctioning, and bribery, that a resolution to the problem can be obtained. Religious institutions take the opposite stance: Do not attract attention; do not “rock the boat”, pray and withdraw from society until it “blows over”. Both palaces view the situation through modern glasses; we are rational people living in a rational world. A rational world filled with rational people will not allow such a thing to happen. Both palaces are soon proven wrong. The people who sought their intervention are now lost in a sea of despair and blame the organizations for their plight.

The commanders fled outside. I saw them, and their nature was very good in my eyes. I ran after them and saw in the distance a beautiful tent. From there they cried out to the commanders: “Turn back and seek out all the merits you have and take them in your hands and go to the light which is hanging there. There you will accomplish everything you want.”

The commanders are the representatives and leaders of the two organizations, or palaces. Rebbe Nachman notes that: “I saw them, and their nature was very good in my eyes.” These people have tried, with all their heart and best intentions, to stop the coming storm. Their standing in the community, the great weight of responsibility and desire to save their people, has left them vulnerable to being used by Nazis; thus, the Judenruts are forced into being.

The “beautiful tent” is an allusion to the Mishkan in the Wilderness, where the presence of G-d dwelt among the House of Israel during the Exodus and until the establishment of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Mishkan in the Wilderness existed then and still exists today for the Jews of the Diaspora. This was well understood by Rebbe Nachman. This tent is inhabited by the Great Rabbis, the Chasidic Masters and the Kabbalists. Though their teachings and writings they give the commanders the answer to saving the Jewish people: Present yourselves before G-d, “the Light which is hanging there”. Unfortunately, the commanders misunderstand the answer.

They turned back and took their merits – there were bundles of merits there – and they ran to the light. I ran after them and saw a gleaming light suspended in the air. The commanders came and threw their merits to the light. From the light, sparks fell into their mouths. Then the Nor, lamp, turned into a NaHaR, river and everybody drank from the river, and creatures were formed inside them. When they started to speak the creatures came out of them and I saw them running and returning. They were neither men nor any kind of animal – just creatures.

The merits that they take are the works of the Jewish people, both spiritual and secular. The commanders throw these merits to the light. Metaphorically, throwing their merits in the face of G-d, as if to say: ”Here are all the things we have done for you and this world as you have commanded us, now do something.” The sparks that fell into their mouths are inspiration and the creatures are words that can be used to encourage the Jewish people and persuade and convince the governments and people of the world to act against injustice. The river is the speeches that the leaders take back to their people and present to the people of the world. Words are formless until the right intention is placed with them. Unless the intention is right, the words are meaningless and fall on deaf ears.

After this they decided to go back to their place. But they said, “How can we go back to our place?” Somebody said: “We should send to the one who stands there holding a sword which reaches from heaven to earth.” They said, “Who should we send?” They thought they should send for the creatures, and the creatures went there. I ran after them and I him. He was terrifying. His stature reached from the heaven to the earth. In his hand was a sword reaching from heaven to earth. It had many blades. One of them was sharp – this was for killing. One of them was for poverty; one of them was for weakness. There were also many other blades for punishment.

They started pleading: “”All this long time we have been suffering at your hands. Now help us and bring us to our place.” He said, “I cannot help you.” They pleaded: “Give us the blade for death, and we’ll kill them.” But he did not want to. They asked for a different blade, but he did not want to give them a single blade. They went back.

The “..one who stands there...” refers to the Moshiach. He is the one who stands ready to defend the Jewish people and punish the evil that stand against them. The creatures again refer to the words given to them by the light.

Many plead for the Moshiach to come, or, at a minimum, give them the power to destroy the evil. Unfortunately, their voices are muttled because their intentions were not righteous in their application. There are also those groups who do not believe in the Moshiach and further confound the pleas. Because of this, the Moshiach will not come, nor will he be able to assist them in any way. In Rebbe Nachman's vision, the “...one who stands there...” when asked to give them the blade for death “...did not want to.” is again the result of the peoples intentions not being right. Had the Moshiach given them the blade for death, or a different blade, they would not have known how to use, and not abuse, the power. Since their intentions were not right to begin with, their use of the blade would have lead to abuse. The evil would have been replaced by another evil brought by the Jewish people themselves, and in the process, spiritually destroying the House of Israel.

In the mean time there was an order to kill the commanders, and they cut off their heads. Meanwhile, the sequence of events returned to what it had been before – namely that someone was lying on the ground surrounded by circles of people, and so on. They ran to the commanders – everything happened as described before – except that now I saw the commanders did not throw their merits to the light. They simply took their merits and went before the light and broke their hearts and began to beg and make entreaties before the light. And sparks fell from the light into their mouths. They entreated more, and the light turned into a river, and the creatures were formed, etc.

This is where the interpretation ended for about a year. Originally, I thought it was to show that the outcome could have been changed with the right intentions. In my heart I hesitated to write further. I came to realize that the outcome could not be changed.

When I was notified of the death of Rabbi Yitzchak Kaduri on January 29, 2006, my thought process took a different course. I have come to the conclusion that the second part of the dream is another time period where similar circumstances would lead to very different results.

Make no mistake, the terror and darkness of the previous iteration of the dream will be no less traumatic; in fact it may be even more traumatic.
Daniel 12: 1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time; and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.”
They told me, “These ones will live.” – because the first ones deserved to be killed for throwing their merits to the light and not making entreaties like these latter ones. I did not know what this meant.

Again, we turn to Daniel:

Daniel 12: 8 And I heard, but I understood not; then said I: 'O my lord, what shall be the latter end of these things?'
They said to me: “Go to the room, and they will tell you the explanation of this.” I went, and there saw an old man. I asked him about the matter. He took his beard in his hand and said to me, “My beard is the explanation of what happened.”

The beard stands for wisdom. Wisdom is obtained through study. As we recite in the service

“Endow us with understanding and discernment, that we may study Your Torah with devotion. May we heed its words and transmit its precepts; may we follow its instruction and fulfill its teachings in love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah and make our hearts cling to Your commandments.

The beard also represents the law. By wisdom we come to adherence of mitzvot. Not because we fully understand them, but because we understand that the mitzov cannot be measured in its import. Therefore we must keep them all as it they were the most precious of jewels.

“I still don’t know,” I said. “Go to that room,” he replied, “and there you will find the explanation.” I went there and saw a room infinitely long and broad, entirely filled with writings. Wherever I opened I saw the explanation of the story.

The room infinitely long and broad references all the teaching of Judaism. The Torah, the Tanach, the Talmud, the Zohar, the Tanya; all the writings of the sages, rabbis and teachers of Israel. Everything we need to know and understand so we may “place our merits before the light and make entreaties…” is already written down for us. It is all there, so we may merit Moshiach – may he come soon and in our days (B”H).

As Hillel the Elder said:

"That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn."

Go And Learn!


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