Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

It cannot be put into writing how much Rebbe Nachman of Breslov emphasized G-d’s greatness. He stressed that it is beyond all measure. G-d does so many wonderful things that absolutely no one can really appreciate them.

We may speak of G-d, but we know absolutely nothing. It is said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that the goal of all knowledge [of G-d] is to realize that one knows nothing. But even this cannot be attained fully. Why? Because this goal pertains to every level of insight and perception of G-dliness. One may reach the level of realizing they know nothing, but only in a particular area and on a given level. There is still the next level, and this has not even been touched. The person does not know enough about the next level to even realize their ignorance. And no matter how high they go, there is still a higher level.

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Therefore, a person knows nothing, and still cannot perceive their ignorance. For there is always a degree of “not-knowing” on a level that lies beyond the person’s perception.

The Rebbe also emphasized the high level of teshuvah. You may fall to the lowest depths, Heaven forbid. But no matter how far you have fallen, it is still forbidden to give up hope. Teshuvah, says Rebbe Nachman, is higher even than the Torah itself – therefore there is absolutely no place for despair.

Even a person’s worst sins can be turned into something good. We are taught that sin can be transformed into merit (Yoma 86b). This idea contains deep mysteries, but the main lesson is that even from one’s failings and declines, one can easily return to G-d. Nothing is beyond His power. The most important thing is never to give up, but to continue to cry out and pray to G-d.

(Adapted from Sichos HaRan #3)

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