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Seeking Advice from a Genuine Tzadik

When a person experiences difficulties in life, it is an opportunity to reach the spiritual root of the matter, and sweeten the harsh judgments there. The meaning of contraction (צִמצוּם) during these life trials—as Rebbe Nachman explains[1]—relates to a person who is stuck in a situation with no apparent way out.

If someone is in need of good advice, the first place he should turn to is a tzadik. It could be that he is troubled by some problem at home, or with his livelihood; in either case, he is in a state of contraction. This is a very straightforward explanation of what harsh judgments (דִּינִים) are. If you find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what to do, seek a tzadik who can pull you out of your predicament.

Shedding Light on the Situation

The only thing that can truly help is someone who has an inner insight into what is going on. There is always one particular insight that can free a person from the straits of his contraction. And if thetzadik can find it, he will have sweetened the harsh judgments at their source.

But, above any particular insight is the fact that a genuine tzadik also represents an all-inclusive mind.[2] The all-inclusive tzadik is able to solve all the “contractions” (צִמְצוּמִים) of all the people living in his generation.       

The reason why he can sweeten harsh judgments is because he already has each contraction “inscribed on him.” The tzadik knows about the issue already, and in some ways, was always waiting for this person to come to him to verbalize his hardships.

All-Inclusive Rectification

A Chassidic dictum states that when someone comes to ask for advice from a genuine tzadik, thetzadik needs to first find the same problem within himself. Even though the tzadik’s version of the problem exists in a much more delicate way, the tzadik should feel that he is not giving advice to another individual, but to an aspect of himself. Since he is an all-inclusive soul, he has the residual markings of all people on him; including this person before him now.

The fact that this person came asking for advice, naturally gives the tzadik great joy. It is this joy that enables the tzadik to give the correct advice, and ultimately achieve complete rectification.[3]

Adapted from Rabbi Ginsburgh’s class in the sukah of the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshivah, Jerusalem, 17 Tishrei 5773

[1] Likutei Moharan I 143.

[2] Indeed, the value of “an all-inclusive mind” (שֵׂכֶל הַכּוֹלֵל) equals “truth,” or “genuine” (אֱמֶת).

[3] [Editor’s Note: Private messages may be sent to Harav Ginsburgh by email to: HaravYGinsburghSecretariat [at] Although all email is delivered and read promptly by the Rav, most of the responses (when required) are stylized and sent out by the Rav’s secretariat. Because of the large amount of work for which the secretariat is responsible, we cannot promise a prompt response.]

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