Have you ever tried explaining a Torah thought to someone but they just couldn’t grasp what you were trying to say? Or perhaps they understood what you were saying perfectly well but your words didn’t inspire them the way you had hoped? Rebbe Nachman tells us there is still a great benefit in articulating Torah ideas to another person.
In Sichos HaRan (#99) the Rebbe tells us the following:
“When you speak to a friend about fear of G-d (spiritual matters) this creates both Direct Light and Reflected Light. The information he receives from you is Direct Light. What you gain from him is Reflected Light.”
Continues Rebbe Nachman, “Sometimes the Reflected Light precedes the Direct Light. Your friend may have a weak intellect and not be able to grasp your words. However, you are still able to gain from the conversation. Since you gain something from your friend before he obtains anything from you, the Reflected Light precedes the Direct Light.”
What does that mean? Rebbe Nachman clarifies, “Sometimes when you speak to a friend about fear of G-d, he may not gain anything from your words. Still, you can receive from him as you can be motivated by your own words. The light of your words literally bounces off your friend and are reflected back to you. This is the concept of the Reflected Light, as brought in the sacred (Kabbalistic) writings.”
To illustrate, Rebbe Nachman explains further. “A ball cannot enter a stone wall and therefore bounces back from it. Likewise, when your friend does not gain anything from your words, they are reflected back to you. Thus, you are influenced by your own words.”
Continues the Rebbe, “These same words may have had no effect had you spoken them to yourself. But when you speak them to your friend and he is not inspired, they are reflected back to you. Thus, you are inspired by them. It is just like Reflected Light which comes into being when the Direct Light strikes a vessel, as brought in the writings.”
So let us keep this in mind next time we are wondering if we should bother attempting to influence our friends or family with words of Torah. You never know, maybe they will gain something from our words. And even if they don’t, Rebbe Nachman assures us that we will be inspired through the light of our words that reflect back to us.