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Rebbe Nachman of Breslov tells us something that is extremely useful to know as we navigate the ups and downs of our inner spiritual lives. He writes: “Every person in the world, no matter what spiritual level they are on, even if they are the lowest of the low, when they want to come closer to Hashem, they must raise themselves up from their present level to the next level up. Upon reaching the next level, they will be confronted with a completely new set of klipos – which are evil desires, confusions, fantasies, and deterrents to holiness – that they will need to overcome before fully attaining this next level. These klipos are the “husks” surrounding the next level that must be subdued and passed through before entering (much like the peel that surrounds a fruit). This is true for every single level, and that is why, when one goes up, they experience new obstacles, desires, and temptations.”

The Rebbe continues, “Many good people are very mistaken about this. Upon receiving new temptations, such as fantasies and evil thoughts, they conclude that they must have fallen from their level, since they previously were not confronted with these evil thoughts and feelings. However, these klipos were really always there, only they lied dormant until someone entered their level. It is at this point, when a person encounters their new level, that they wake up to attack. It is only because one went up to a higher level that they (the klipos) were aroused to attack, not because one fell down from one’s spiritual level. One must strengthen oneself a lot and never give up until they break through all these klipos anew” (Likutey Moharan 1:25).

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To know this spiritual law of nature is undoubtedly very helpful, but it is also extremely encouraging. Instead of becoming dejected because we think we have fallen from our previous spiritual level, we can now be encouraged by knowing that, in fact, just the opposite has occurred. The new temptations and disturbing thoughts, which we thought were behind us, are actually an indication that we have entered the next, higher spiritual level. The way to maintain this higher level is to battle these klipos anew by overcoming them.

May Hashem strengthen us as we progress from level to level, and help us to overcome the klipos we are sure to encounter.

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Rabbi Nosson Rossman is a rabbinic field representative for the Orthodox Union. He can be reached at nathanlrossman@gmail.com.