Tuesday, February 12, 2013

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Interview with Rabbi Ozer Bergman

Jornal Mitsvá is a Jewish site targeted at Brazil by Gilson de Arruda, sometimes in Portuguese in sometimes in English.  They periodically interview rabbis and other interesting Jews.  Their last interview was Rabbi Ozer Bergman, one of the primary translators of the seforim of Rabbi Nachman of Breslev.  We reprint their interview with permission…

Dear reader, here is a simple interview, but very informative with the Tzadik Rabbi Ozer Bergman who has done much to bring Jews closer to HaShem, and their contribution is large, such as editing Likutey Moharan of Rebbe Nachman's notable, of blessed memory and currently starting editing Likutey Halachos of Reb Noson, of blessed memory and still numerous articles published on the Breslov.org blog. Ozer Bergman is an editor for the Breslov Research Institute, a spiritual coach, and author of Where Earth and Heaven Kiss: A Practical Guide to Rebbe Nachman's Path of Meditation. If you read the whole interview, surely your day today will be wonderful and God willing, much better for all the life!

01. How can a person better apply the attribute of Chesed between others?

Two basic requirements are [1] respecting and genuine realization that your fellow human being IS you. He has your needs, fears, weaknesses and was created in the image of God. [2] You do not lose by giving, by being generous. Yes, right away you will be missing some resource, but you will get it back. But you cannot test this! It has to be done with sincerity, in order to help.

02. Reading Rebbe Nachman’s teachings and living for it, how is daily life of a Breslover?

Rebbe Nachman's teachings, encourage, heal, inspire and offer deep insight into life, the more is able to study and think about them. One prays to God to carry the idea(s) from the mind to the heart, and from there into the action. Sometimes the action as to come from within. Others time it needs to wait for the trigger from an outside event.

03. What do you consider to be the main negative traits prevent a person from serving the Almighty?

Haughtiness -- I **DESERVE** to have what I want, when I want it, how I want. Fear, sometimes of others, sometimes of the changes that will occur if I give more of myself to being Godly. Lack of recognizing how powerful one's acts and behavior are. Even though you may not be world famous, God knows who you are and He thinks what you DOES make a difference!

04. What is a proper attitude for us to have towards the problematic situations that arise in our lifes?

It may not turn out the way I want, but I have to trust in God to do my best to respond appropriately to the situation He has put me in. Sometimes the situation is unpleasant because of what I did (or, did not) do. It might by MY fault, not God's! :-)

05. What is the special quality about Tefillah among other mitzvos?

All mitzvahs connect a person to God, but tefilah is personal "intimacy," like loving husband and wife, as it were.

06. Reciting the Psalms, studying the Torah, my thoughts are visiting holy places. Despite the good intentions of someone,he needs to get closer to the Tzaddik, to better follow the path of G-d.This tradition remains today?

ABSOLUTELY! This is a very broad and deep topic, very misunderstood. Psalms, Torah etc., are like ingredients for a cake, but we need the Tzaddik to help us "bake" them to make the perfect cake. As Rebbe Nachman teaches, the Israelites brought all the materials for the Mishkan (Tabernacle), but Only Mose Rabbeinu was able to erect the Mishkan. We need the Tzaddik, an he needs us!

07. The Patriarch was visited by the angels. Nowadays, are we visited by the angels when are connected to Divine service?

Sometimes, but this is not so much a contemporary concern or focus.

08. What qualities do one need in order to successfully attain spiritual greatness to serve Creator?

The same as to win the gold medal for Portugal! :-)

And a lot of tefilah. A LOT!

Any and every person, no matter how smart or strong or musical -- or NOT! -- can become spiritually great. It takes dedication and recognizing what you can do -- and doing it.

09. Some people make goals for themselves and accomplish what they set out to do. But others continually fail to reach their goals. What is a key factor in succeeding to reach one’s goals (material as well as spiritual)?

Honest effort and prayer to succeed. But first, the goals must be realistic! One may have a goal that is currently too great. He (or she) must may need to make intermediate goals to reach the big one.

And no giving up, even after a few setbacks. Sometimes we think it will only take a month. Some goals take years. Some take a lifetime. It depends on the person.

10. There are times when I am among people who make fun of me because of the positive values I try to live by. I tend to feel hurt and rejected by their mockery. What should one person do about such situations?

Avoid associating with such people. Associate with like-minded people. When it cannot be avoided, silence is usually the best response to mockery from the insincere. It hurts? Who said God wants us to always have a fun-filled ride? The pain and humiliation is a test of "you will love Hashem your God, with all your heart, all your soul and all your *me'od*". What is "me'od"? What Hashem is *moded* -- MEASURES OUT to you. Love Him when He measures out pain. It is for YOUR benefit.

But to the mockers -- silence to their insults.

11. One’s devotion with G-d must never be limited by one’s emotions, yet if one thinks he is on the low spiritual level?

One can never reall know his spiritual level. Yet, if he thinks he is lowly [1] he should continue to try to improve, even if only by tiny increments and even if takes years and years; [2] he should know that the tiny, tiny improvement of someone lowly is considered in Heaven quantum leaps forward.

12. What is main focus when doing a mitzvah?

Doing what God wants because He wants/commanded it.

13. Likutey Moharan’s English version is completed now, published by Breslov Research Institute –– when it was published for the first time by Reb Noson there was great delight and approach God. Today, being that this Rebbe Nachman’s magnum opus is edited in a different time and in a universal language what is going to happen?

Nothing -- UNLESS PEOPLE STUDY IT, on a regular basis. A book on a shelf, even the holiest book, helps little if it is not studied and lived.

Interview held on January 30, 2012 by Gilson R Arruda with Rabbi Ozer Bergman, originally published at Jornal Mitsvá.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Reb Akiva,

Sincerely, I get frustrated and angry, really,
when I read a statement like this:

"04. What is a proper attitude for us to have towards the problematic situations that arise in our lifes?

It may not turn out the way I want, but I have to trust in God to do my best to respond appropriately to the situation He has put me in. Sometimes the situation is unpleasant because of what I did (or, did not) do. It might by MY fault, not God's! :-)"

I mean, I'm not blaming R. Bergmann but what he's saying completely contradicts what I've been told lately.

Me and my fiancé are not properly on our way to teshuva but reading "the garden of Emuna"(written by R. Arush) has done a HUGE difference in our lives and I'm sure religion will become more and more compelling to us. And it's really thanks to that book.
One of its major principles is that ANYTHING that happens to us and anything we think we do on "our own" is in fact completely Hashem's hand.

So of course there is free will but the basic statement of the book is to say that whatever you think you do or happens to you is a direct consequence of G.d's Will. Even if you possess free will, which is kind of" contradictory but that's how we Jews believe things are the way they are. It's also the title of this blog by the way..The book is all about explaining Emuna and how to implement it in our lives, almost 300 pages of "You think you're in charge, you think you decide about your faith but you're wrong, Hashem is the true decider. 1. Everything is decided by Hashem 2. Everything is for the very best 3. Everyting is done for your tikkun". The book is a little repetitive but it was a trigger of clinging to Hashem for me and my wife

So after having read the above now I'm thinking that R. Arush's book has some kind of failure, or perhaps it's the contrary. I'm completely confused right now. Any help out there ?

Yitzy rohatiner said...

Hi! I know this can be confusing, but a life with G-d is a life of contradictions seeing as He is Infinite... I can't quote you where, but I am sureee that R Shalom Arush says in there that things happen because of our actions or lack thereof as R Bergman said. He also says like you said, that at the same time, it's ultimatelyyy all G-d. But G-d still wants us to take responsibility for our actions!

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