This column includes small doses of Rebbe Nachman’s wisdom, helping us to get through the week in a more spiritual way.
We’re all familiar with the phrase, “one day at a time.” According to Merriam-Webster, taking it one day at a time means, “to deal with each day’s problems as they come instead of worrying about the future.” The phrase is commonly used as advice when someone is thinking too far ahead or expecting issues to change overnight.
Rebbe Nachman knew about this concept over 200 years ago and he applied it in a most original way.
He says in Likutey Moharan (Lesson #272): “It is a cardinal rule in the service of Hashem that a person should look only at the day in which he presently stands because when a person wishes to enter into the service of Hashem, it seems to him as if it is a heavy burden, as if it is impossible for him to bear such a heavy load.”
He continues, “However, when a person considers that he has only that day, he will find it no burden at all.”
Let us consider how significant this simple idea is. If I look at an entire thick volume of Talmud as a whole, I will likely be inclined to think learning all of it is a vast undertaking that is beyond my ability. But if I focus only on the page I need to learn today, it suddenly becomes much more manageable in my mind. Tomorrow’s page will likewise be dealt with tomorrow.
Similarly, if a non-observant person is considering adopting a religious lifestyle, they may become overwhelmed by the thought of giving up non-kosher restaurants forever. But giving them up just for today is certainly manageable!
By viewing each day as a world onto itself and not worrying what the future may or may not bring, we make our service of Hashem much more manageable and increase the likelihood that we will be successful. “Today! if you heed His voice.” (Psalms 95:7)
Rebbe Nachman’s advice continues: “In addition, a person should not procrastinate from one day to the next, saying, ‘I’ll start tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll pray with more attention, and with the right enthusiasm.’ And likewise for the other devotions. For a person’s world consists only of the present day and moment – tomorrow is a different world entirely!”
May we all merit to heed Rebbe Nachman’s practical advice by focusing each day only on that day’s service of Hashem. Amen.