That Very Narrow Bridge

“This life’s journey is like crossing a very narrow bridge; the main thing is not to give in to fear.”

Rabbi Nachman of Breslov

The bridge in that well-known hasidic song is not a wooden stucture mounted on a trestle a few inches above the ground, a plank from which any fall would be gentle and uneventful. It is more like a catwalk suspended precariously high over a windy abyss, whose distant depths are occasionally visible but more often shrouded in gloom or fog,

Rabbi Nachman is not saying that the terror below is not real — he knows that it is, and that it is palpable — but rather that there is security in holding firmly onto the handrail of faith.

The abyss is radical doubt, despair in divine providence. The bridge is certainty, trust in divine goodness and truth; it is a pathway to the Infinite.

When abyss and bridge are no longer two, but one, there is no abyss, there is no bridge, and life’s journey is a broad highway to the One.

Give us the courage, H’, to look into the darkness, to find You in your absence. Show us there a radiance that is brighter than a thousand suns.

לֹא-תִירָא, מִפַּחַד לָיְלָה;    מֵחֵץ, יָעוּף יוֹמָם

@2012 Jonathan Omer-Man

 

 

9 thoughts on “That Very Narrow Bridge

  1. This is very heartening. Especially at this time of year, and — for me personally — during a time of major transition. Thank you for this!

  2. For me, the daughter of an airplane pilot, the concept has been “flying blind.” Thank you for the beautiful prayer for those of us who live not by belief but by somehow willing over and over, to trust.

  3. Reb Nachman’s bridge has been a source of strength for me and your lovely words deepen my conviction. Toda Raba.

  4. for me, more like a thin connecting chamber connecting Realities, Havayas as it were..

  5. It is so hard to believe in divine providence when bad things happen to good people — to bring that trust into your heart, when your heart is broken and is then a shattered keli that can not physically or emotionally hold that trust. Platitudes don’t do it when life kicks you in the butt.

  6. ‘not to give in to fear’ – is a beautiful translation of lo l’hitpachaid
    which was the actual text R’ Nachman taught per his student who recorded his teachings

  7. The walkway to my house is an elevated bridge, and my neighbor always grins upon his approach and quotes Rebbe Nachman’s phrase. I would love to consider the abyss as comfortably as I experience standing on the bridge that overlooks our garden. The day of your posting Shoshana’s and my daughter, Hadar Mayan, was born.

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