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Keep it simple


This blog is making me a little crazy! On the one hand I really enjoy putting my thoughts into writing and sharing Rebbe Nachman’s remarkable ideas with the readers. But on the other hand I question how much of this undertaking is just to get positive feedback from my readers and bloat my ego?

I think I play these mind games more often than I’d like to admit. I could be a little hard on myself. In speaking to some people who I respect about it, they all encouraged me to keep blogging. Their different opinions and suggestions were very good too. But then I remembered a lesson from the Rebbe that really hit home for me.

Let me paraphrase the beginning of his famous lesson entitled איה : When someone follows their own cleverness, they can make many bad mistakes…The essence of Judaism is to serve God in simplicity and innocence, without any sophistication. We should simply examine everything we do and determine the following: Will it reveal the Glory of God? It if will, then do it. If it won’t, then don’t.

Serving God in simplicity and innocence (פשיטות ותמימות) is something Rebbe Nachman spoke about a lot. One of his famous stories was about this idea as well. Only after the Rebbe’s younger years of self abnegation did he come to understand that the ultimate devotion is that of complete simplicity.

What does it mean to serve God without sophistication?

When someone once asked the Rebbe what devotions he should have while reciting the Shma Yisroel, the Rebbe answered, “Isn’t it enough to have in mind that Hashem is our God and Hashem is one”? You see sometimes when we want to connect and have a ‘real’ prayer, we’ll close our eyes tightly, shuckle a lot and try to force ourselves to think of the most lofty things. That’s sophistication! The Rebbe taught straightforwardness. “Just try to think about the simple meaning of the words” (השתפכות הנפש י״ג).

So what does this have to do with my mind games?

Well, part of the sophistication that the Rebbe detested is ‘overthinking’ things. People who overthink things are slow to achieve their goals because they get side-tracked debating insignificant details. Let’s say it’s true that my ego inflates when someone tells me that my article changed their perspective. So what? Why should I stop writing? I have to stop worrying about having impeccable intentions and producing ‘the perfect product’. Will it reveal the Glory of God? It if will, then do it. If it won’t, then don’t.

P.S. The world has it all wrong! Everyone thinks their life is so simple now because we can do everything on our phones. It’s true that now we can accomplish so much in one place. But at the same time we’ve let ourselves become inundated with new tasks and tools that have made our lives super-sophisticated. Keep it simple!

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