“Is attachment to tzaddikim idolatry?” This is the question answered by Chayei Nefesh, a book by Reb Gedaliah Aharon Kenig, a leading Breslever Chassid of the previous generation. He refutes the claim by those who use the famous holy work, Nefesh HaChaim, by R’ Chaim of Volozhin, foremost disciple of the Vilna Gaon, to prove their case.
Drawing from over 100 sources in traditional holy Jewish writings, what emerged was a work of profound scope on the anatomy of prayer, prophecy, and the role of the tzaddik, from the time of Adam until the Messiah. Presented here for the first time is an English translation of Reb Gedaliah’s work, known as Chayei Nefesh. In addtion, a short biography on his life is featured at the beginning of the book, as well as on the life of his teacher and mentor, Reb Avraham Sternhartz, zt”l, who led the previous generation of Breslev Chassidim in the Ukraine and Eretz Yisrael.
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David Sears –
The work that went into this book was immeasurable. And Rabbi David Zeitlin zal really deserves most of the credit for it, since it was his dedication to this labor of love that enabled us to complete the first draft. Another person whose mesirus nefesh should be mentioned is the late Mrs Miriam Hayum, who did all the original word processing for free. May it be a tremendous zekhus for her neshama. Reb Gedaliah zatzal wanted this volume to be available to all. May this English translation help to realize that goal.
Ozer Bergman –
If you’re in a hurry, here’s the review: Buy this book. Read it. Study it. Share what you’ve learned with friends and acquaintances. Encourage them to buy it and read it for themselves.
Now, if you have more time, you can read this:
Rebbe Nachman zal teaches that every new sefer speaks to someone. Even a mediocre work about a topic that doesn’t interest you, or a Torah biography about someone who doesn’t resonate for you, has some other neshamah as its audience. Every neshamah is the audience of Chayei Nefesh. It should be required reading for Breslovers and non-Breslovers alike. It shows clearly that hitkashrut, connection and affiliation with a great tzaddik is a primary fundamental of Judaism.
For one who cannot navigate the original Hebrew, this translation is a gift from Heaven. In easily readable English, it does justice to the original by presenting the content clearly and accurately. Even more, it transmits the soul of the author zal, so that the reader is touched by Reb Gedaliah’s own passionate faith in tzaddikim in general and in Rebbe Nachman zal in particular.
However long your connection to Breslov has been, or even If you aren’t a Breslover at all, reading and studying this sefer will fortify your own faith in tzaddikim as well as give you the tools to defend and teach this necessary component of Jewish faith to others.