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I learned a text of Rabbi Nachman that he explained that the moon is a like a mirror. He answered to the Apikorsim that believed there was human on moon. He then laughed at them telling them "The moon is like a mirror. The things people claim to see on the moon are actually reflections of things here on earth, but in fact, there is nothing of those beings up on there. These “intellectuals” therefore open their mouths in vanity."

Now how does it match with the moon as we know it to be a rock ? He's correct: There aren't any creatures over there, but the moon is not a mirror, is it?

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  • which text is that? Mar 9 at 20:13
  • compare or check with with Likutei Moharan 1:2 - [The letter Nun] .. is also the aspect of the moon. For the moon has no light of her own, only that which she receives from the sun (Zohar I, 238a). And this corresponds to Malkhut. It has nothing of its own other than what it receives from the [the letter] Chet, the aspect of wisdom/sun. Then, “the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun” (Isaiah 30:26). sefaria.org/Likutei_Moharan.1.2.6 Mar 9 at 20:17
  • He probably was responding to reports of people claiming to see life on the moon. He apparently accepted them as true, but came up with an alternate explanation to avoid the philosophical problems of extraterrestrial life.
    – N.T.
    Mar 10 at 2:11
  • Reb Nachman means that the boundary of any system is a mirror.
    – pcoz
    Mar 15 at 9:19

4 Answers 4

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Found the text you've referred to - Sichot Haran #218 https://www.sefaria.org/Sichot_HaRan.218.1-2?ven=Rabbi_Nachman%27s_Wisdom,_trans._Aryeh_Kaplan,_Jerusalem._Breslov_Research_Institute,_1973&vhe=rabenubook&lang=bi

וְהִתְלוֹצֵץ מְאֹד מֵהַמְחַקְּרִים, שֶׁאוֹמְרִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ בְּהַלְּבָנָה יִשּׁוּב כְּמוֹ עַל הָאָרֶץ הַזֹּאת. עַל שֶׁרוֹאִין שָׁם בְּתוֹכָהּ כְּמוֹ אִילָנוֹת וּשְׁאָר בְּרוּאִים שֶׁבְּזוֹ הָאָרֶץ, וְהָיָה מִתְלוֹצֵץ מִזֶּה, וְאָמַר שֶׁהוּא שְׁטוּת גָּדוֹל.

There were some “enlightened” people who claimed that the moon contained life like that on earth (cf. Sefer HaBrit 3:4). They said they could see trees and other terrestrial creatures on the moon. The Rebbe ridiculed this greatly, saying it is absolute foolishness.

כִּי הַלְּבָנָה הוּא כְּמוֹ אַסְפַּקְלַרְיָא שֶׁכָּל דָּבָר שֶׁעוֹמֵד כְּנֶגְדּוֹ נִרְאֶה בְּתוֹכוֹ. וְעַל כֵּן נִרְאֶה בְּתוֹךְ הַלְּבָנָה דְּבָרִים שֶׁבְּזֹאת הָאָרֶץ, אֲבָל בֶּאֱמֶת אֵין שָׁם דָּבָר מֵאֵלּוּ הַבְּרוּאִים, וְהֶבֶל יִפְצֶה פִּיהֶם שֶׁל הַמְחַקְּרִים.

The moon is like a mirror. The things people claim to see on the moon are actually reflections of things here on earth. These “intellectuals” therefore open their mouths in vanity (Job 35:16).


In the plain meaning of the text he z"l is saying these M'chakrim (probers/questioners/ skeptics) are psychologically and vainly projecting earthly things from their minds, onto the moon; in that sense it's "like a mirror."

As R' Nathan has said, R' Nachman's words are always extremely deep. Thus we could ascend above the most base level here, of allusion to the actual reflection of (sun and earth)light off the the moon's mineral surface (thus being like a (unclear) mirror, partly answering your question), to deeper meanings: probably allusion to topics in LM #1 (q.v. - Moshe and Joshua are like sun and moon) and the Zohar (the Moon, Malkhut has nothing of itself but what it receives from the above "male" Sefirot).

Another rule is R' Nachman is always talking about himself and levels he attained. The Earth, Eretz refers to the Tzaddik, Chai Olamim ("Life of the Worlds"), etc. (see Tikunei Zohar).

Also he was dealing with the Enlightenment and sophistries which he saw as very dangerous. Taking in all the above one might understand from this conversation, "You think with your sciences and modernism you have life. Really peace (Yeshuv also means settlement, c.f ישוב הדעת), life and wisdom is from Nachal Novea Meqor Chokmah (acrostic NaChMaN, as he mentioned) so delving in the others is laughable."

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  • 1) Where do you see that he speaks of people projecting their ideas ? To me, when I read the text, I understand that he agreed to these shapes, but he was trying to explain them 2) His words are extremely deep indeed, but in that case, he was not speaking with his talmidim, but with the philosophers and this was an answer to that question 3) There is another example of this kind of texts is in the Sia'h Sarfé Kodesh, it is written that he spoke with them, and said that the Emmet is that the earth does not spin How to handle this anyway ? Mar 20 at 10:30
  • @mikaelanonyme Take a step back and grasp the overall lesson. That section from #216 to 226 has a header "Distancing Oneself from Speculation, and Holding Strong in Emunah." If he z"l would speculate the moon is like a mirror literally reflecting earthly lifeforms (is this brought anywhere in Chazal?) he'd he engaging in the same kind of speculation he's saying to stay far away from. Your example from SSK comes to strengthen this: The earth spins? You don't know that. The Torah doesn't say it. It's just a theory. Could be a true theory. But the overall message is as stated in that header. Mar 21 at 2:59
  • why then did he say "The Emmet is like the second group" (in the SSK) ? That's clear that he was saying what he thought, wasn't he ? Mar 22 at 7:17
  • @michaelanonyme That's just the simple truth according to the Torah and common human perspective. "The earth stands forever" and "the sun runs its course light a strong man" (Ps. 19). It's a general rule that the Torah is given in human terms without necessarily regarding macro or micro scientific reference frames. Mar 22 at 15:55
  • See Likutei Moharan #30 and the intro there from Bekhorot 8b that the lesson launches from. The Athens philosophers asked R' Yehoshua b'Chananya "How do you harvest a bed of knives" - He replies "With the horn of an ass" - "Does an ass have a horn?" - "Well is there a bed of knives?" Possibly same thing here - They asked a stupid question, he gave them a "stupid" answer. Mar 22 at 15:59
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The moon is no more literally a mirror than the mist is when, lingering in front of your headlights on a misty day, it substantially hampers your visibility by accenting your headlights' beams when it refracts them every which random way.

Truly reflective surfaces, literal "mirrors", perceptibly reflect images even in poor light. Think of a closed window on a dark night, how it acts as a kind of mirror. Contrariwise, there are reflectors of light -- like mist & the moon -- that just refract the light with high intensity, but do not return to the viewer images on the other side of that refraction.

That said, I admire the beauty & depth of the answers you've received back.

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The answer is that the moon is not a mirror - however it is like a mirror. It reflects various things like a mirror does.

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The moon literally is (edit: a reflective surface, which mirrors are also, although to different extents, so such mystical comparisons are sometimes made without being scientifically exact as to the degree of reflection. Thanks for the good input @Jasper). It reflects the light of the sun. However, there is a mystical dimension to the idea as well.

Moses saw each of these forms in Malchut, the mirror that does not shine but only reflects. Source: Zohar Pekudei chapter 4 (https://www.zohar.com/zohar/Pekudei/chapters/4)

In Kabbalah, Malchut, the lowest sphere of the Kabbalah Tree of Life, is sometimes likened to the moon, although Yesod, the second lowest sphere, is sometimes likened to the moon as well, depending on the context, as well as different variations on Kabbalistic systems. Here is a picture I found online, I can't vouch for the colors or anything else on the website but it shows you the correct order the spheres. https://www.learnreligions.com/thmb/9nKbFQO91ttReQHKDml-jAcudck=/768x0/filters:no_upscale():max_bytes(150000):strip_icc():format(webp)/Kabbalah-tree-of-life-names-56a000e03df78cafda9f8e73.jpg. If someone knows a better graphic that is available to post online, I will edit it. Malchut is a feminine (receiving) aspect at the bottom. Malchut is like a mirror because it has no emanating light of its own, but receives and reflects. See:

"On one hand, malchut receives all that it has from the other sefirot and is described in Kabbala as "having nothing of her own"; thus, the Zohar compares malchut to the moon which has no light of her own". Source: https://www.chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/380807/jewish/Malchut.htm.

Now quoting from the teachings of the Holy Ari:

G‑d made the two great luminaries - the greater light to rule the day, and the smaller light to rule the night. (Gen. 1:16) The sun and the moon are first called "the two great luminaries," implying that they were originally the same size [i.e. they were both equally "great"]. But, the Sages tell us that the moon immediately protested over having to rule jointly with the sun, so G‑d diminished it, leaving "a greater light to rule the day, and a smaller light to rule the night."

Obviously, the Sages do not mean to tell us that the moon was petty or jealous in the conventional sense. Rather, what we are witnessing here is part of the process through which G‑d established the duality in Creation between male/female (or giver/recipient). He intended from the outset that there be a greater and a smaller luminary, one radiating and one reflective. Source: from Sefer HaLikutim, parashat Yitro, translated > and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsk, subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard, link here https://www.chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/378724/jewish/Meditation-Prayer.htm:

It receives all its light from "above" it, and then reflects it, similar to how a woman receives seed from a man. If you think of Hashem like a Projectionist shining light from a projector, then the screen that reflects the light is like a mirror. The physical realm of Malchut is only a reflection of the upper spiritual worlds. "As above, so below."

The moon also has two "sides" from our vantage point, one we can see from earth and one we can't. According to Shaar HaPesukim (Translated and adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from, subsequently published in "Apples From the Orchard"), Jacob's two wives represented the revealed world and the hidden world. https://www.chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/380173/jewish/Two-Names-Two-Wives.htm. That chapter does not make the connection to the two sides of the moon, but I've read it elsewhere. If someone can add a source for this in the comments, as well as Yesod in the sense of the "astral plane" discussed in a later paragraph, as well as clarify about Malchut having no light of her own, that would be great, the latter especially seeing as https://www.chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/379716/jewish/The-Many-Moons-of-Joseph.htm says "malchut [is] the source of the souls of the Jewish people", which could confuse the matter, although the souls still come from the core of Hashem originally, so not necessarily, and souls are sometimes likened to light but also sometimes distinctions are made, and different Kabbalists define terms differently. I also recall reading elsewhere (can't recall) that the source of Jewish souls is Tipheret, and others still have said Keter, so that could use clarification. My understanding is the Jewish souls originated from the highest aspect before it fell to the lowest, represented here as Malchut, but remembering the specific sources is difficult for me because of my bad memory.

It's crucial to note are many different Kabbalistic variations within Jewish Kabbalah, and terminology that is 100% correct in one system represents the concepts only vaguely, and with certain contradictions, in other systems. a Now quoting from Shaar HaPesukim:

It is therefore written, "And Jacob loved Rachel", the latter being also termed "the Revealed World", as is known. For the revelation of lights is from [Zeir Anpin's] chest down, for it is there that yesod of Imma ends. Leah's stature, in contrast, is from the chest [of Zeir Anpin]up, for there the lights are covered. She is therefore termed "the Hidden World".

The moon is also grey color, and silver is used in mirrors.

Lastly, a level of interpretation about Yesod, since the moon can correspond to Yesod also. Depending where on the scale from "macro" to "micro", universal to individual, you can talk about various aspects of the spheres, although all are different levels of the same concept. For example, on a macro level, Yesod corresponds to the world of Yetzirah, the world of the angels (although not all angels). But it corresponds to the tzaddik, and the covenant of circumcision. However in terms of a person's being and consciousness, it can also be representative of... I'm not sure the best word, but a mental plane, an astral plane... people use many different terms in english, some more accurate than others I'm sure. So when Rabbi Nachman says the moon is like a mirror reflecting people's own vanities, he could be referring to the moon as representing the mental/astral plane reflecting back people's thoughts, in this case their vain thoughts, or vain aspects of the aspects of their consciousness/spirit that correspond to Yesod and Yetzirah specifically. He could mean that they are seeing a mental projection of that aspect of themselves reflected back to them from the moon.

I hope this is helpful. I don't know if this was Rabbi Nachman's meaning of the moon being a mirror or not, but I've come across the concept of the moon being a mirror many times, and always in reference to the concepts here. It could mean something else also, but hopefully this gets you started. Edit. And a warm welcome to the site! Just saw this is your first post.

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  • Read maamar havikuach by ramchal first published in 1989
    – Dr. Shmuel
    Mar 9 at 2:34
  • Thanks Dr. I will look for it in english, or put it on the list for when my Hebrew gets much better. To clarify, do u recommend it in reference to my whole post, or any specifics? Should I understand the context to mean that this community tends to criticize Kabbalistic interpretations, so I may get pushback, or as something else? If thats what u meant, I had no idea such criticism existed here. I am new to this forum and stackexchange too. I actually made an account just to be part of this community, so the negativity is more upsetting. But as far as Kabbalah, I assumed it was accepted here. Mar 9 at 3:10
  • Beautiful thought, but doesn't answer the question as your "mirror" is different than that R Nachman is describing. Not voting down, because of the merit of the content, but by the weird rules of stackexchange, I am supposed to. Mar 14 at 20:50
  • @MichaBerger Appreciate that. I am new to stackexchange. I had thought of that though which is why I included, "I don't know if this was Rabbi Nachman's meaning of the moon being a mirror or not." I have no idea if that fixes the issue according to stack rules, or not. Mar 14 at 22:48
  • How can we use a lot of kabbalistic concepts to explain a simple sentance told to a simple person : in our very case, rabbi Nachman was speaking to Apikorsim, and so, in a language easily understood (he was not explaining mystical concepts) Considering that we are here in the breslav section, everyone may know that his words are known to be the "Emmet Laamito" Mar 20 at 12:02

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