I'm reposting this from last Chanuka, but with the Carr Fire burning, and the Mendocino Complex Fire burning, and with Portugal, Ireland and the UK burning, and Sweden burning, and Israel's south burning, it's probably even more relevant now than it was when I wrote it. Luminaries of fire - and the people who give them more power and influence - mamash destroy the world.
Someone asked me what I thought the message might be, that God was trying to send the Jewish people, by causing that terrible fire in Flatbush a couple of days ago. I told them I had no idea - because you have to be on an incredibly high spiritual level to even begin to guess at the real reasons for these things, and the people who are genuinely holding ‘there’ don’t rush their views into a Youtube shiur within 24 hours of the tragedy occurring.
But that discussion then brought me back around to pondering the notion of the ‘luminaries of fire and the luminaries of light’.
In Lesson II:67, Rebbe Nachman explains how the luminaries of fire get empowered in the world when the luminaries of light get diminished.
Who are the luminaries of light? They are the true Tzaddikim, and particularly the Tzaddik Yesod ha’olam (Tzaddik, the foundation of the world), the one true Tzaddik that is to be found in every single generation. Rebbe Nachman explains very clearly that when these Tzaddikim, and especially this true tzaddik: ‘becomes renowned and famous in the world, the eyes of the entire world are then opened…whoever becomes his follower…his eyes are opened and he becomes able to see.”
And what, exactly, does this person begin to see?
Rebbe Nachman explain that: “his eyes are opened and he sees and beholds himself, how he is holding in all of the traits…One also becomes able to see and behold God’s greatness in the world.”
In other words, when a person becomes the follower of a true tzaddik, or a luminary of light, he first starts to see himself honestly, and to understand just how many bad middot and negative character traits and behaviors he still needs to work on; and then, he also starts to recognize the hand of Hashem in the world, i.e. he starts to really internalize ein od Milvado - there is only God!
But when people don’t follow the true Tzaddikim, and instead chase after ‘luminaries of fire’ instead, then what happens?
“…when the luminaries of light are subdued, the luminaries of fire are empowered. And fires are caused in the world on account of the names of these ignominiously renowned people becoming great and enhanced, for this causes God’s name to disappear, the luminaries of light to become subdued and the luminaries of fire to become empowered….This is symbolized by the burning of the Temple.”
The lesson continues:
“…what was, is gone. For our Temple has already been burnt. However, now that God waits to return to us and rebuild our Temple, it behooves us not to hinder the Temple’s rebuilding, but rather to endeavor to build it….
“…by mourning over the Temple, one subdues the luminaries of fire, so that the luminaries of light…are empowered. Thus MiT’ABeL (mourning) is the acronym of ‘Lo T’varu Aysh B’chol Moshvoteykhem’ - (you shall not kindle any fire throughout your dwelling places), for by mourning, one subdues the luminaries of fire.”
There’s always so much to try to unpack in Rabbenu’s lessons, so again take all this with the caveat that I understand less than 1%, and that 1% is what I’m sharing here.
There’s a few key things that seem to be jumping out here, as follows:
1) The more we try to make ourselves followers of the true Tzaddikim, the more this will empower the good leaders, the ‘luminaries of light’ in the world, and weaken the ‘luminaries of fire’.
2) ‘Luminaries of fire’ are not just people like Oprah and all those other celebs, big-wigs and Hollywood A-listers getting burned out of their Bel Air mansions by the Thomas fire (which btw, is still burning and set to become the biggest wildfire in California’s recorded history).
‘Luminaries of fire’ are also all those suave rabbis and rockstar rabbanits who are full of themselves, and their own learning, and their own opinions and who frequently make some very harsh judgment calls against their fellow Jews.
It’s those people who magnify their own importance in the world, and who by so doing, minimize Hashem’s greatness. Luminaries of fire never talk about their own flaws, they never describe their own battles, they always have to come off as the clever know-it-alls who have an answer for everything.
If you want a no-fail short-cut to spotting a ‘luminary of fire’, anyone outside of Breslov circles who mocks and disdains Rebbe Nachman and his teachings is almost certainly a luminary of fire. And within Breslov itself, anyone who mocks and disdains Rav Berland is almost certainly a luminary of fire.
3) I’m inclined to think that some huge cosmic event was scheduled for the end of Chanuka, potentially involving a lot more fire and destruction than we’ve already seen - volcanoes simultaneously erupting, North Korean missiles being fired at mainland America, some huge, fiery ball of molten gases and metals coming a bit too close to planet earth - who knows what, exactly.
But as the ‘luminaries of light’ are getting more and more empowered, and more and more people are ‘opening their eyes’ to see what’s really going on in the world, on a number of levels, these decrees are being sweetened more and more.
4) This poor, holy family in NYC were another korban, and their deaths by fire - by the light of the Chanuka candles - has most certainly sweetened the ‘decrees of fire’ hanging over the Jewish people and the world.
5) The more we do our bit to empower the ‘luminaries of light’ and take down the ‘luminaries of fire’, the less these terrible tragedies will have to keep occurring.
6) We can do that, tachlis, by:
That’s a lot of hard work, I know.
But Lesson 67 seems to make clear that THIS stuff is what’s causing all the fires in the world.
Of course, no ‘luminary of fire’ is going to make those sorts of connections for us, because they don’t read (or understand…) Likutey Moharan and they don’t hold by Rebbe Nachman.
So if you really want to know where the truth lies, and what the message really is behind all these terrible fires coming to the world, you have to pray on it, and to ask God to really show you.
There is no other way.
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