Photo Credit: Jodie Maoz

In Sichos HaRan (#32), Rebbe Nachman issues a very strong warning about the dangers of philosophical speculation: “Strengthen yourself in faith, completely avoiding all speculation. Do not look into philosophy, but believe in G-d with innocent faith.”

Continues the Rebbe, “It may seem that the average person is very far from philosophical involvement, but they do indeed embrace it. Everybody philosophizes. Even young children often have confusing theories.”

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Rather, says Rebbe Nachman, we must embrace faith. “You must take care to remove all speculation from your heart. Cast it away and do not think about it at all. All you need is a pure faith in G-d and in the true tzaddikim.”

While the non-Jewish world may need to engage in philosophical speculation in order to root out bad ideas, Rebbe Nachman assures us we need not do this. “We have received the Torah through Moses our teacher, and it has been transmitted to us by the great awesome tzaddikim of each generation. They can be relied upon without question. All one must do is follow in their footsteps, believing in G-d with innocent simplicity and keeping His Torah and commandments as taught by our holy ancestors.”

“But,” warns the Rebbe, “there is a philosopher in every man’s heart. He is the evil one, who raises questions in our heart. We must humble him and eject him, strengthening ourselves in faith and emptying the heart of all questions.”

Where does this skeptical attitude about matters of faith come from? Rebbe Nachman tells us, “There are sins that infuse a person with skepticism. This can also result from a person not having been conceived in holiness, especially if he himself is guilty of similar sins. All these are detrimental to one’s faith.”

“Therefore,” says Rebbe Nachman, “a person should be greatly ashamed of the fact that he has doubts regarding belief. Such questions are an indication that he was conceived in an unholy state or that he himself is guilty of such sins. It is these things that cause one to doubt the essence of our faith. ‘G-d’s glory fills all the earth’ (Bamidbar 14:21), for, ‘The whole earth is filled with His glory’ (Yishayahu 6:3). A person must realize this, and remember that his doubts are divorcing him from the living G-d and uprooting him from the life of all life.”

So as we dwell in our sukkahs this year, let us recall the message the sukkah is meant to impart within us. We leave the comfort of our homes and dwell in a temporary booth so that we may internalize the idea that we are completely dependent on G-d. And through internalizing this may we come to complete faith in Him and His Torah. Amen.

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