I cannot find two famous saying attributed to Rebbi Nachman of Breslov.

  1. The whole world is a very narrow bridge...
  2. It is a great mitzvah to be happy constantly

Instead I have found

  1. A man must traverse a very narrow bridge... (I forget the exact location, I believe in likuteh morahan tinyana 8)
  2. A brief sicha extolling the value of relating to the shoresh of simcha (likuteh moharan tinyana 34)

Are these famous saying merely misquotes? Do they have other sources either in the works of Rebbi Nachman (or his students) or elsewhere?

  • 2
    Are you looking for a specific Hebrew wording? If so you should consider including what you are looking for in the question.
    – Double AA
    Dec 28, 2012 at 16:34
  • Other than the fact that the two attributed sayings have been famous songs for quite some time, is there a reason you tagged the question song-poetry? Or did you mean to also mention the songs in the question and forgot?
    – Seth J
    Dec 28, 2012 at 17:43

2 Answers 2

  1. R' Nachman's actual statement from Likutei Moharan II 48 is:

    וְדַע, שֶׁהָאָדָם צָרִיך לַעֲבר עַל גֶּשֶׁר צַר מְאד מְאד וְהַכְּלָל וְהָעִקָּר שֶׁלּא יִתְפַּחֵד כְּלָל‏


    "And know, a person needs to make his passage on a very, very narrow bridge, and the rule and the essence is to not be afraid at all." (*)

  2. Likutei Moharan II 24:

    מִצְוָה גְּדוֹלָה לִהְיוֹת בְּשִׂמְחָה תָּמִיד

(*) Regarding whether this is misquote: The context there is a person must be very persistent and get through the obstacles he is usually shown (outwardly, from Heaven, though H"Y truly and greatly desires our devotion) when he tries to enter the service of Hashem. In the sense that the Hebrew word for world, עולם *OLaM*, relates to concealment, העלם *heELeM*, this song adaptation does convey the original to some degree.

The popular song adaptation in Hebrew, כל העולם כולו גשר צר מאוד והעיקר לא לפחד כלל‎, was composed by Boruch Chait of The Rabbi's Sons. It has since been variously rendered in English as "The whole entire world..." etc. (in order to fit the notes of that melody).

  • 1
    For #1, you can see a video of Yosef Karduner singing his version of the song with the full quotation here.
    – Seth J
    Dec 28, 2012 at 17:41

Regarding the first quote "The whole world is a very narrow bridge..." I can only find "A man must traverse a very narrow bridge...". Perhaps the songwriter wrote the song based on those words which are attributed to Rabbi Nachman.

Regarding "It is a great mitzvah to be happy constantly". This is mentioned in Likuteh Morahan Tinyana 24

  • מצוה גדולה להיות בשמחה תמיד ליקו"מ תנינא סי' כ"ד

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