The Wheel of Transformation
upon the original translation of Aryeh Kaplan,
"Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom" (Breslov Research Institute)
often have discussed the prohibition against having anything at all to do with
philosophical works. This includes even philosophical works of the great
rabbis. Even these are not permitted, as stated in many places in our sacred
literature. Such things
are not the "portion of Jacob,"
and we have nothing at all to do with them. We believe that G-d created and
sustains the world and will renew it some day. For this we do not need
philosophy. Most books on religious philosophy ask questions that appear very
difficult while providing very weak answers. If one probes deeper, he can
refute the answer and render it completely useless. One with true wisdom will
realize that the questions themselves are nothing. They are mere "vanity
and striving after wind."
Therefore, it is best to avoid such books completely.
is very surprising that many people are drawn to philosophy, yet they have no
interest in such fascinating Kabbalistic works as the Zohar and the
writings of the Ari z"l. People seek wisdom, yet ignore these
sacred works filled with ideas that are "sweeter than honey and enlighten
the eyes." The truth is
that such people cannot endure such holy things because of their inborn evil
They still have free choice to overcome this nature, but the fact that it is
inborn makes it bitterly difficult. Fortunate is the person born in holiness.
favorite subject of the philosophers is the order of Creation. They may ask why
a star is worthy of being a star, or a constellation a constellation, while
other things are consigned to a lower realm; or why lower animals are not given
human faculties; or why the head is a head, and not a foot.
Questions like these are discussed at length in such books. But it is all
"vanity and striving after wind." For G-d is just and righteous,
and it is impossible to question His reasons.
world is a rotating wheel.
is like a Dreidle, a spinning top, where everything goes in cycles. Man becomes
angel, and angel becomes man. Head becomes foot, and foot becomes head.
Everything goes in cycles, revolving and alternating. All things interchange,
one from another and one to another, elevating the low and lowering the high.
things have one root.
are transcendental beings such as angels that have no connection with the
material. There is the celestial world, whose essence is very subtle. Finally,
there is the world below, which is completely physical.
three come from different realms, but all have the same root.
Creation is like a rotating wheel, revolving and oscillating. At one time
something can be on top like a head, with another on bottom like a foot. Then the
situation is reversed. Head becomes foot, and foot becomes head. Man becomes
angel, and angel becomes man.
sages teach us that angels were cast down from heaven. They entered physical
bodies and were subject to all worldly lusts.
Other angels were sent on missions to our world and had to clothe themselves in
physical bodies. We also
find cases where human beings literally became angels.
the world is like a rotating wheel. It spins like a Dreidle, with all things
emanating from one root. (The feet of some are also higher than the heads of
others; for in the transcendental worlds, the lowest of an upper world is
higher than the highest level of a lower one. However, in truth, everything
revolves in cycles.)
is why we play with a Dreidle on Chanukah.
is an aspect of the Holy Temple. The primary concept of the Temple is the
revolving wheel. The Temple was in the category of "the superior below and
the inferior above."
G-d lowered His Presence into the Temple; this is "the superior below."
The Temple's pattern was engraved on high;
this is "the inferior above."
Temple is therefore like a Dreidle, a rotating wheel, where everything revolves
and is reversed.
Temple refutes philosophical logic.
is above every philosophical concept. It is beyond all logic that He should
constrict Himself into the vessels of the Temple. "Behold, the heaven and
the heaven of heavens cannot contain You - how much less this
Nevertheless, G-d brought His Presence into the Temple and thus destroyed all
cannot explain how human beings can have any influence on high. It cannot say
how a mere animal can be sacrificed and ascend as a "sweet savor,"
giving pleasure to G-d. They explain that this pleasure is the fulfillment of
His will, but how can we even apply the concept of desire to G-d?
G-d placed His Presence in the Temple, and accepted the animal as a sweet
made the fact contradict philosophical logic.
logic is crushed by the Dreidle, the rotating wheel that brings the
"superior below and the inferior above.
potential and existence stands the power of Hyle.
Before each thing exists in reality, it exists in potential. Coming from
potential to actuality, it must first pass through the intermediate step of the
Hyle. All reality thus emerges from the Hyle.
Hyle is therefore the source of all Creation.
three categories of Creation - transcendental, celestial,
physical - all come from this one
root. As they interchange, they all revolve around this root.
letters on the Dreidle are Heh, Nun, Gimel, Shin.
Nivdal, the transcendental.
Shin is Shafal, the
Dreidle thus includes all Creation. It goes in cycles, alternating and
revolving, one thing becoming another.
means "dedication." This is the dedication of the Holy Temple,
"the superior below and the inferior above." This revolving wheel is
is also an alternating cycle. The superior [i.e., the mighty] are below, and
the inferior [i.e., the oppressed] above, as in the Temple.
the Jews crossed the Red Sea after the redemption from Egypt, they sang (Exodus
15:17): "You brought
them and planted them on the mount of Your inheritance, the Temple which Your
hands established." Redemption was for the sake of the Temple, the
revolving wheel. For when the superior are below and the inferior above, it
shows that all have one root.
is the meaning of the letters on the Dreidle: Gimel, Shin, Nun, Heh.
are the first letters of the verse (Psalms 74:2): "You redeemed the tribe
of Your inheritance, Mount Zion..."
-- You redeemed
Shin is Shevet --
Nun is Nachalasecha --
of Your inheritance
Heh is Har Tzion --
is the category of "You brought them, You planted them on the Mount of
Your inheritance." It is the aspect of the Holy Temple, symbolizing the
revolving wheel, which is the main concept of redemption.
is discussed further in the lesson delivered on the same Chanukah, on the
verses (Genesis 41:1), "And it came to pass at the end…" and (Isaiah
49:10), "With compassion He will lead them."
This lesson speaks of the superior below and the inferior above, as well as the
fact that Chanukah is the dedication of the Temple. The "surrounding
powers" discussed in this lesson are an aspect of the Dreidle, the
revolving wheel, since these surrounding powers encompass and rotate. Wisdom (chochmah)
here is the category of the Hyle. Study the lesson carefully, and you will
all this we can return to our original discussion. We have no need of
philosophy, which is anyway strongly forbidden. We must have faith in G-d,
that He created, sustains, and eventually will renew all worlds.
original translation ©
1973 The Breslov Research Institute
edited 2001 by The
Breslov Center for this website
For an extended
discussion of this teaching, the reader may wish to listen to "The Wheel
Versions 1 and 2, on the
Breslov Center audio page. Click "Listen" above.