Fearing Hashem has traditionally been spoken of as a central tenet in pious Judaism. One who fears Hashem is showing respect for Hashem and is more likely to live a pious life and not step out of bounds.

Now obviously, the translation for "fear" is not exact and the word likely reflects more of a fearful "awe" rather than pure fear. (like an existential fear with regards to existence or something immense) "Fear" is just the word which stuck.

The point I am getting at is how does the central Breslov philosophy of worship through joy and love coexist with a philosophy of fear?

  • 3
    Note that the idea of serving God joyfully is not unique to Breslov. See for example: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/53166/8775. || Consider therefore asking how the ideas of joyfully serving God and fearing God in general are compatible.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 10, 2017 at 18:16
  • See Sefer Hayashar that explains lengthy that fear is consequence of love and not reciprocally
    – kouty
    Sep 10, 2017 at 18:22
  • I don't think the second verse of Shema is unique to Breslov: "You shall love the L-rd your G‑d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might." Sep 10, 2017 at 23:47
  • @Salmononius2 You're kind of validating my point. What comes directly after that in Deuteronomy? "Do not follow other gods, any gods of the peoples about you for the LORD your God in your midst is an impassioned God—lest the anger of the LORD your God blaze forth against you and He wipe you off the face of the earth. Do not try the LORD your God, as you did at Massah. " My point is that love tends to be expressed with an equal helping of fear. So for an entire philosophy to be built heavily around joy and love, I wonder how that rationale works.
    – user13783
    Sep 11, 2017 at 0:18
  • Fearing Hashem has traditionally been spoken of as a central tenet in pious Judaism Where?
    – Lee
    Sep 11, 2017 at 14:35

3 Answers 3


Rebbe Nachman in Sichos HaRan extolls simple fear of G-d. Like many others, he says you need both.

  • But how are the two not mutually exclusive? This doesn't seem to answer the question; it only emphasises the question.
    – mevaqesh
    Sep 11, 2017 at 14:21

The proper balance of fear and joy is not a new discussion. See Talmud Brachos 30b for a discussion with the following famous quote expounding a verse in Tehilim:

א''ר נחמן בר יצחק מהכא {תהילים ב-יא}  עבדו את ה' ביראה וגילו ברעדה מאי וגילו ברעדה א''ר אדא בר מתנא אמר רבה  במקום גילה שם תהא רעדה

The fact that Chassidim in general arguably chose to focus on one aspect while the Ashkenazi Yeshiva world had arguably been focused on the other approach led to a major conflict. That conflict still echoes today, but calling one more traditional than the other is only half of the argument.

(In fact, if you can get your hands on some of the texts of the old bans and polemics against Chassidim, see if today's Yeshiva and Chassidic approach haven't themselves turned into some sort of amalgamation of the two former approaches.)

  • And maybe (hopefully) that amalgamation is gilu biraada.
    – user6591
    Sep 11, 2017 at 14:10

The Shema says:

You shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart..."

How could you serve Hashem with all your heart if this did not include love?


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