Rav Nachman Of Breslov – The Heavy Weight Of Apikursos

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    “Eicha Esa Livadi Tarchachem U’Masachem V’Rivchem; How can I carry you alone, your bother, your load, and your quarrels (Devorim 1:12).’ Rashi says that Tarchachem means that they were nudges, and Masachem means they were Apikursim. Tarchachem clearly means Tircha, bothersome, but how does Masachem or heavy load come to Apikursis?

    Rav Nachman of Breslov answers that while intellectuals may consider people with emuna simple and naive, in a sense they are right. With emuna life becomes easier, as not everything must be explained and rationalized. Emuna is a great tool to lift the weight from you.

    However, an Apikores is constantly plagued by doubt and questions that nag him endlessly, leaving him no peace. This constant state of turmoil eats at him and becomes a huge burden on his own shoulders. This explains why Rashi says that Masachem means Apikursis, as there is no greater burden around.

    From Revach.net


    This is Not to say we don’t think, since we do and have many intellectual discussions. But when the truth is right in front of us, we can either accept it or fight it.


    Recently a rosh yeshiva said on a bochur who had told him that G-d is bad, this bochur is at least a maamin. He truly believes in Hashem. He just has teinis against Him.


    there is something wrong with the title of the thread.


    It’s interesting. There is a blog out there whose author claims to be an Orthodox rabbi who no longer believes in G-d. He says his agnosticism/atheism is psychologically liberating. I think that doubt is a big burden. At times it’s a necessary burden and even a worthwhile one; but a burden nonetheless. But I’m not sure that belief provides any more relief than does non-belief. Nor am I convinced that either one quantitatively resolves more conflicts/questions/doubts.


    As an “intellectual” I must disagree. For me skepticism and questioning everything, trusting nothing unless I can prove it satisfactorily to my own mind leaves me with the greatest peace of mind. When I do reach a conclusion about something I can be comfortable in knowing that I truly taxed my mind to determine whether it is correct or not. When I am unable to reach a conclusion, I have one more goal to work towards (learning and thinking enough to reach a conclusion about the unresolved issue)and am acutely aware that I am not and never will be perfect, but constantly striving for perfection; I am aware of my limitations, and try desperately to overcome them with hard work and scholarly growth.

    I take great umbrage at your equating intellectuals and skeptics with apikorsim. On the contrary, an apikores is likely just as bad as the pure emuna person: Both likely reach conclusions without regard for complete intellectual honesty and a healthy regard for their own limitations.

    Personally I can not even imagine having any kind of peace of mind if I just took other people’s word for something.


    WellInformedYid, the question is not if belief is less stressful than non-belief. The question is if non-belief is less stressful than doubt, and if belief relieves more stress vis-a-vis doubt than does non-belief. On a more parochial level, the article you cite has philosophical value if one buys into the “Pascal’s Wager” justification for belief (that the potential payoff of theism, both corporeally and possibly non-corporeally, vastly outweighs both the corporeal inconvenience of leading a theistic life as well as the potential incorporeal punishment for not doing so, thus necessitating transactional theism). That notion was not seriously pursued in Jewish thought and in fact seems to be rejected in the Talmud. Consider “All tihiyeh k’avadim hameshamshim et harav k’dei l’kebel pras. . .”

    tomim tihye


    You echo the sentiments of Chazal, that clearing doubts brings relief/joy. I don’t think they specified that relief depends on the outcome of the resolution, only that the doubts are resolved.

    The extent of the resolution of doubts probably determines the extent of the relief.

    After this ex-rabbi pledged his allegiance to G-d for so many years, I am skeptical that “Shema Yisroel” won’t resurface to threaten his psychological liberation.


    Equating intellectualism with apikursus is quite unfair and misguided, but understandable. Some intellectuals/academics/philosphers are apikorsim, but not all.

    The fundamental difference is Emunah. It is possible to both wonder and still believe that there is an answer that involves G-d. Those of us who do have questions and do not stifle them, but seek out the answers, are not apikorsim so long as we do not allow the doubt to lead to agnosticism.

    As with any other example of relating to people, things look different to the people on the outside. So to non-intellectuals, it is just as hard to distinguish between the type of intellectual pursuit as it is for them to join the discussion itself.


    Tomim, indeed I didn’t consider “Ein simcha k’hatorat hesfeikot.” Your diyuk seems most prescient in this discussion. BTW I’m not convinced, based upon that bloggers own writings, that he is in fact a non-believer. I think he might be going through a period of intense introspection, self doubt and self castigation.


    Many Rishonim believe the Mtzvah of “Viyudaas es Hashem” means to inquire beyond Emunah Peshuta. Chovos Halevovos is a good example.

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