the perfection of mankind
an introduction to the path of rebbe nachman of breslev
by Reb Gedaliah Aharon Kenig
Everyone desires to attain perfection. We have spoken about the name “Adam” as being the term for the perfected human being. Many have attempted to attain this level through many different exhausting ways, but few knew the secret of the right path. Fewer still were those who merited to actually travel the entire distance to reach perfection. Rebbe Nachman completely traversed the path to reach the ultimate goal—the perfection of Man. He struggled and toiled to reveal this secret to all of mankind and taught us how to attain it in the easiest and most practical way possible. And he did it in a way that is appropriate for every generation until the coming of Mashiach. Don’t think that Rebbe Nachman was interested in introducing a new sect or group to the world, among the many that already exist. Instead, he should be seen as a teacher for everyone, as one who knows how to direct the footsteps of humankind to attain the proper goal. He should be viewed as a personal guide to each one of us individually, to help us find our correct place in the world.
Reb Noson, the main student of Rebbe Nachman, referred to this in the beginning of his introduction to Rebbe Nachman’s stories. He wrote, “Whatever he was, his name has already been given, and it is know that he is Man—Adam (Ecclesiastes 6:10). In other words, the very name Adam, which was already given to the first Man in Creation, now can be ascribed to Rebbe Nachman—who merited to complete the Form of Man. Through his deeds and dedication to his family, students, and all of humankind, he showed that he embodies the true concept of Adam, the perfected human being.
Rebbe Nachman was born in 1772 in the Ukrainian town of Medzeboz, in the house where his great grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov had lived. He lived to the age of 38 ½ years and left this world in the year 1810, in the city of Uman. It is there that he is buried. I always say, and teach my friends to say, “Fortunate are you, Land of Russia, blessed is your earth that has resting within it the pure and hoy body of the Light of Lights, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, who illuminates the entire world with compassion.” He left behind blessing: Generations of straight and noble souls, students filled with the wisdom and knowledge of God—servants of HaShem, pure in their fear and love. He left books filled with deep yet simple guidance, as well as stories written in easy and simple language, yet containing the deepest secrets of life. All of teaching are intended to let us know how to remain strong and immune from evil in this complicated world, and how to benefit from the beauty of the Divine light hidden within it. All of this in order that Creation and Creator can be unified completely.
As students of Breslever Chassidim, our entire purpose in life is to follow in the footsteps of our Rebbe, so that we too may merit to be included in the name Adam—the perfected Man. So few have achieved it, yet a number of those who did, are buried in Tsfat and her surrounding area. In addition to them, Rebbe Nachman is the one who not only merited to attain this level himself, but with perfect intention he brought this goodness and blessing to us, to the Jewish people and all of humanity.