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    Olam Qatan: Courses

    Reb Nahman's Universe: the Torah of the Void

    Rebbe Nahman of Bratzlav offers models for understanding the relationship between God, ourselves, and this world in which we may experience the absence of God. Using beautiful, almost musical language, he conveys a uniquely Jewish vision of universal spiritual teachings. 200 years ago Reb Nahman saw the coming of the modern world, and looked beyond it… in ways which may speak to us as seekers today.
    In this 7-week course we read from Reb Nahman’s teachings and tales in Hebrew and original English translations, discuss them in English and learn the Hasidic niggun attributed to Reb Nahman.

    Number 1 - The Disappearance of the Daughter of the King (the free introduction)
    "Where am I in the world?" asks the hero of the first of Reb Nahman’s tales, when he finds that he’s fallen asleep in the middle of his own story. Like the hero of the story, is it we who are responsible for the break between God and the Shekhinah (God’s Presence in the world)? Is it God? How might we go about redeeming the Shekhinah?
    Number 2 - The Desire/Design of My Heart (“Tzur Levavi”)
    We introduce the model in Lurianic Kabbalah which describes how God, as Infinite Light, had to make space for the creation of the world by first creating the Void, an empty space in which the divine qualities could then be revealed. Reb Nahman proceeds to describe how we, like God, create our own world within the Void, through the desire or design of our hearts.
    Number 3 - The Torah of the Void(five weeks)
    Expanding on the Lurianic model, Reb Nahman shows how both scientific materialism and the experience of alienation come from the Void. What then makes it possible to connect with the Infinite Light of God? Two things: simple faith, and the archetype of the Tzaddiq—the spiritual master within us and embodied in certain people. Reb Nahman describes how “the niggun of the Tzaddiq” unites all of the philosophies and faiths of the world and connects them to God.

    Number 3 - The Torah of the Void (first part)
    Basing himself on the Lurianic model, in the Torah of the Void Reb Nahman shows how “wisdoms which are not wise” come from the Void, and make way for both scientific materialism and philosophies of alienation. What then makes it possible to connect with the Infinite Light of God? Two things: the simple faith of Israel, and the archetype of the Tzaddiq “like Moses”—the spiritual master embodied in certain people which is a potential within each one of us.

    Number 4 – The Torah of the Void (second part)
    We proceed with the section in which Reb Nahman proposes that “controversy for the sake of heaven” has a role to play in making space for the creation of the world, although one must be careful not to speak too much. I propose that here, as when he speaks of the silence of the Tzaddiq, Reb Nahman is pointing to deep listening. I also present two short texts, from the Bahir and the Hasidic Maggid of Mezerich, which introduce the archetypal idea of the Tzaddiq.
    Ya’qub ibn Yusuf’s spiritual quest first led him to discover Reb Nahman’s “archetype of the Tzaddiq” 40 years ago, when studying with Reb Zalman Schachter-Shalomi in Canada. Pursuing this idea led him to research and write a Master’s thesis on “The Archetype of the Tzaddiq in Hasidic Tradition.” Continuing this quest has led him to the worlds of Arabic and Turkish Sufism. Ya’qub is the proprietor of Jerusalem’s spiritual bookstore Olam Qatan, at 54 Emek Refaim, (02) 563-7507.

    “Every human being is a micro-cosm (olam qatan),
    and the world as a whole is a macro-human being.”
    – Rabbi Yitzhaq of Acre (14th Century Kabbalist)

    Olam Qatan is a bookstore in Jerusalem offering spiritual and holistic books in English and Hebrew, and sponsoring lectures, workshops and other special events. We published a translation of the Diwan by Rumi from Persian into Hebrew, and more recently published the Hebrew translation of the popular anthology by Daniel Matt, The Essential Kabbalah. We are also a center for World Music, especially the new east-west music, oriental music and Jewish spiritual music coming out of Israel. Our favorite CDs and books can now be purchased all over the world. Welcome to the “small world” of Olam Qatan!

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