Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rabbi Nachman’s Tikkun

Rabbi Nachman’s Tikkun, known as the Tikkun Haklali, is a group of ten psalms designated by Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav has having particularly effective powers to cure depression.  This book presents all ten psalms, an explanation of how they work in the over scheme of Breslov Chassidus, and the Tikkun Haklali generally. 

The cover with a single hand over the book is apt: since the primary “sin” this tikkun is supposed to heal is masturbation.  In Bratslaver thought and practice, there are few greater sins than masturbation.  Modern readers may find this disturbing or backward, but in normative, Rabbinical Judaism, the spilling of seed for anything but procreative sex is forbidden.  So, Rebbe Nachman’s cure fits well with this general orientation.

What rings a bit discordant to the more modern ear is not the spilling of seed, but the near manic fixation upon it; this stems back to many kabbalistic notions regarding semen, and its place in the human and divine scheme.  The depression brought on by masturbation is not only a personal, venal fault, but a way to put the universe off kilter, to destroy precious souls before they fully exist.  Semen also ties in with notions from Jewish folklore about Lilith and her use of sperm to create demon children.

All that said, I like to use Rebbe Nachman’s Tikkun, his cure, for any type of depression.  I see the spilling of seed not as a literal offense, but a symbolic one.  It stand for anything we waste, any effort or situation or person who we fail to fully appreciate and enjoy.  The cure is realizing this, then saying the psalms, and vowing not to take such things for granted again.

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