The Music and Texts of Rabbi Josh Warshawsky: Ki Tzarich

Tales of The Hasidim Later Masters, Martin Buber, p.249-50

Rabbi Simcha Bunim teaches: Every person should have two pockets. In one pocket should be a piece of paper saying: "I am only dust and ashes." When one is feeling too proud, reach into this pocket and take out this paper and read it. In the other pocket should be a piece of paper saying: "For my sake was the world created." When one is feeling disheartened and lowly, reach into this pocket and take this paper out and read it.

1. What do these two phrases mean? Explain them in your own words.

2. What is the value of each of these phrases? What is Rabbi Bunim's intention with his instruction?

3. How is keeping each of these phrases in our pockets beneficial?

4. If you had a third pocket, what phrase would you keep in it?

Around the same time as Reb Simcha Bunim was teaching this teaching in Poland, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov was teaching in the Ukraine. His magnum opus was a collection of teachings called Likutei Moharan. - Rabbi Josh Warshawsky

Listen to the song below. The text of the song (the lyrics) is included just below the video. Try and follow along with the words as you listen. Think about the rhythm, tone, and other attributes of the song. How do they match the theme of the text?

כִּי צָרִיךְ כָּל אָדָם לוֹמַר: כָּל הָעוֹלָם לֹא נִבְרָא אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבִילִי (סנהדרין לז). נִמְצָא, כְּשֶׁהָעוֹלָם נִבְרָא בִּשְׁבִילִי, צָרִיךְ אֲנִי לִרְאוֹת וּלְעַיֵּן בְּכָל עֵת בְּתִקּוּן הָעוֹלָם, וּלְמַלְּאוֹת חֶסְרוֹן הָעוֹלָם, וּלְהִתְפַּלֵּל בַּעֲבוּרָם.

Now, each person must say: “The entire world was created only for my sake” (Sanhedrin 37a). Consequently, because the world was created for my sake, I must constantly look into and consider ways of making the world better; to provide what is missing in the world and pray on its behalf.

There are so many layers to this teaching. What stands out to me the most is the fact that not everyone has the privilege of being able to say “the whole world was created for me.” But if you do have the privilege of being able to say those words, it comes with the utmost amount of responsibility to do something about that. To find ways to change the world. To “fill up the holes in the world.” Rebbe Nachman teaches that there are holes in the world that each person is uniquely suited to fill up, and that only we can help the world in that particular way. - Rabbi Josh Warshawsky

5. Explain in your own words what "the world was created only for my sake" means.

6. According to Rabbi Warshawsky, why does a person have a responsibility to help improve the world?

7. Do you think Rabbi Warshawsky's justifcation is in line with or different from that of Rebbe Nachman's in each of these texts?

Rebbe Nachman references the set of texts below from the Talmud. In larger context, these two texts come from a discussion of how the courts should (or do) treat witnesses in important cases, including those that could involve the death penalty. The conversation deals with the inherent holiness of every individual and our need to protect that, but as you will see, it veers into other meaningful, related topics.

לפיכך נברא אדם יחידי ללמדך שכל המאבד נפש אחת מישראל מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו איבד עולם מלא וכל המקיים נפש אחת מישראל מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו קיים עולם מלא

Therefore, Adam the first man was created alone, to teach you that with regard to anyone who destroys one soul from the Jewish people, i.e., kills one Jew, the verse places blame on him as if he destroyed an entire world, as Adam was one person, from whom the population of an entire world came forth. And conversely, anyone who saves one soul from the Jewish people, the verse credits him as if he saved an entire world.

8. What is the over-arching message of this first text? Rephrase it in your own words.

9. How do you think Rebbe Nachman arrived at his conclusion based on this text? What specific points do you think he references or is inspired by?

ולהגיד גדולתו של הקב"ה שאדם טובע כמה מטבעות בחותם אחד כולן דומין זה לזה ומלך מלכי המלכים הקב"ה טבע כל אדם בחותמו של אדם הראשון ואין אחד מהן דומה לחבירו לפיכך כל אחד ואחד חייב לומר בשבילי נברא העולם

And this serves to tell of the greatness of the Holy One, Blessed be God, as when a person stamps several coins with one seal, they are all similar to each other. But the supreme Ruler of Rulers, the Holy One, Blessed be God, stamped all people with the seal of Adam the first man, as all of them are his offspring, but not one of them is similar to another. Therefore, since all humanity descends from one person, each and every person is obligated to say: The world was created for me, as one person can be the source of all humanity, and recognize the significance of his actions.

10. In ancient times coins were made by pressing a stamp into hot metal or wax, so that each looked the same. This process is contrasted with how God creates people. What are the contrasts that may not be listed here that you can think of?

11. The text says that each of us is copied from the first human being, yet none of us are similar. Do you think that's true?

12. How can a person say the entire world was created for themselves alone when each of us is created from the same human? Could you argue that he opposite is true instead? Why or why not?