Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught: “Sometimes there are people who draw closer to Hashem for a certain amount of time and, afterwards, they fall away again. Even so, their temporary period of greater closeness is very precious to Hashem, even if afterward whatever happened, happened, G-d forbid” (Sichos HaRan 123).

I think it’s safe to say that most of us have felt at times closer to Hashem than at others. We all experience ups and downs as we travel along our respective paths of Torah and mitzvos. There are times of feeling great closeness to Hashem, whether they last for months at a time, or whether they last only for a few brief moments. Then, there are the times when we feel frustrated with our inability to live up to our potential and the negative feelings of helplessness and discouragement that come along with that.

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Rebbe Nachman is telling us that when we are feeling the latter, we should not make the mistake of thinking that those former periods of closeness weren’t real or genuine. Just the opposite! We should realize that those moments, however brief, are incredibly precious to Hashem. In fact, Rebbe Nachman tells us that it is precisely by remembering and reflecting on those past moments of closeness that we are able to draw the strength we need to get through the difficult times when we feel stagnant in our Jewishness.

“A person must constantly be happy and serve Hashem happily. If they fall from the level they were on, they must encourage themselves with the previous days’ successes when they experienced light and accomplishment” (Likutey Moharan I:222).

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