Luminaries of fire vs luminaries of light

Rebbe Nachman on real Jewish leaders.

Reposting this article on the difference between luminaries of fire and luminaries of light, from 2016. While so much has changed since then, sadly, so much really hasn’t. And Rabbenu’s wisdom is even more necessary, in these dark days where we really need the real ‘light’ of real tzaddikim to show us the path forward.


In Part 2 of Likutey Moharan, Lesson 67, Rebbe Nachman writes:

“There are luminaries of light and luminaries of fire, and they are antagonistic [i.e. opposing each other.]

When the luminaries of light are empowered, the luminaries of fire are subdued, and inversely, when the luminaries of light are subdued and diminished, the luminaries of fire are empowered.”


A little later on in that same lesson, Rebbe Nachman explains that:

“When someone who totally lacks God’s name becomes renowned – when his name becomes renowned and exalted – God’s name becomes diminished and disappears.

Then, pseudo-miracle workers and magicians become exalted, and things happen in the world against which only the names of demonic powers are able to protect…. “Fires are caused in the world on account of the names of these ignominiously renowned people becoming great and enhanced, for this causes God’s name to disappear, the luminaries of light to be subdued, and the luminaries of fire to become empowered.”


What is Rabbenu telling us here?

Firstly, he’s telling us that some of the rabbis, leaders and spiritual mentors in the world are the good guys – the ‘luminaries of light’, and that some of them are the bad guys, or the ‘luminaries of fire’.

This is a fact, however upsetting, and the sooner we come to terms with it, the easier it will be to spot the ‘luminaries of fire’ before they burn us up with their bad advice, false judgment and heretical ideas that are really the antithesis of emuna and serving Hashem.

Rabbenu is also telling us that when the ‘famous’ people in the world are essentially God-less heretics, that’s when these ‘luminaries of fire’ will come to the fore, and that’s when all the pseudo-miracle workers etc will start pouring out of the cracks to confuse us even more.


It’s hard to think of a more secular bunch of ‘elites’ than we have in the world today, whether in Israel or elsewhere.

Who talks about God these days, or includes Him in any policy decisions? Certainly not the politicians, pundits, academics and journalists in Israel, and certainly not the politicians, pundits, academics and journalists anywhere else, either. So that’s the situation we’re currently in.


But Rebbe Nachman is also telling us HOW we can spot who is a faker, and who isn’t:

A luminary of light does just that: they light you up. They exude spiritual light. They shine in the darkness – really literally as well as figuratively.

I remember a few years’ back one of the first times I went to see Rav Arush giving a shiur, his face was mamash shining, and I spent most of the night trying to figure out where the spotlight was…. There was no spotlight.

The same with Rav Berland. So many people describe meeting him in the same way: they were instantly struck by the light of holiness coming off him. It was enough to affect powerful spiritual changes in them without him even saying a word.


Luminaries of fire don’t have that light.

What they have instead is thunderous rhetoric, quick one-liners, heapings of blame, self-righteousness, arrogance, and often very quick tempers for anyone who dares to challenge them, take up too much of their time, or otherwise upset them in some way.

Luminaries of fire are scary people, once you peel off all the ‘fake nice’ that they go to great pains to cover it up with. 

They roast you for not being good enough. They blast you for not being tznius enough, or having enough emuna (or simply, for being a flawed human being.) They dole out judgment and advice with narrowed eyes and an obvious dislike (all carefully concealed).

Also, whatever ‘spiritual uplift’ they do possess, it doesn’t illuminate so much as completely burn you out.

Your rapt attention, your obvious devotion and respect – it’s all just fuel for the insatiable fire of their own ego and self-interest.


Before I knew all this, I used to occasionally have phone calls with a ‘luminary of fire’ that would leave me feeling very weird afterwards, like I’d just been mugged somehow, but couldn’t for the life of me work out how, or who’d done it.

It was the luminary of fire, taking all of my respect for them to build a bigger bonfire for themselves. There was some light, too, but it was so hot and uncomfortable speaking to them I subconsciously decided to keep my distance. It’s only when I overcame that reticence, to have the first ‘real’ conversation with them in all the time I’d been following them, that it became shockingly obvious that I was dealing with a faker, a luminary of fire, not a luminary of light.


Let’s end with this: Luminaries of light can hold their candle up even in your darkest hour, and give you a path out of despair.

Luminaries of fire can’t.

The only thing they can do is ‘explode’ in some way – at you, for being such a useless, worthless, imperfect sinner.

Fire is anger. Fire is intolerance. Fire is harsh words, and criticism and machloket.

May the luminaries of light be empowered again very soon, may God’s name be exalted and spoken about once again, and may we all have illumination instead of destruction in our lives.


Ad kan, from 2016.

Just so we’re all super-clear here, I am praying for our soldiers in Gaza every single day, and continuing to do the 1 out of 5 books of tehillim every day, for the soldiers to stay safe, and for the captives to be returned safely.

At the same time, though, it’s obvious that this war is a stage-managed production by ‘the Evils’, and they have no intention of ever letting our soldiers finish the job properly in Gaza.

The Evils love war, violence and destruction of human life – especially when it’s actually fundamentally pointless, and won’t end up with Hamas being eradicated, or anything even close to that.

There are open miracles going on right now, that are keeping the Jewish death toll so low – and may they continue!

But until we understand that both sides are being controlled by the Evils….we are leaving ourselves open to be played and manipulated into having even more Jews killed and wounded.

May Hashem bring all the soldiers and captives back safely. And may He bring all the Jews back to Him, because mass, sincere teshuva is the only way the problem of ‘Hamas’ really goes away permanently.

4 replies
  1. Simon
    Simon says:

    I have several questions at this time:

    I am reading that the Hebrew language didn’t have the letters yod, waw, and he as vowel letters (matres lectionis) until after the time of the Torah, and so it is being said that those letters were added later. No Hebrew inscriptions until much later had such letters. Do you know anything about this?
    Also, I keep thinking that the current service of God by the teachings of Nachman of Breslev and Eliezer Berland (and Shalom Arush) is not like the ‘original’ Israelite service 3500 years ago. Why do such things change?

    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      Your questions revolve around the whole idea of the ‘Torah she b’al peh’ – the oral Torah.

      Judaism was never ‘fixed’ the way other creeds that are just written down are kind of ‘fixed’ and stuck.

      Right from the beginning, Hashem handed down the ‘Oral Torah’ as the to unlocking the commandments and information in the ‘Written Torah’, and He gave that key into the hands of the real Sages and the True Tzaddikim, starting with Moshe Rabbenu and stretching on through the zugot, etc.

      The Tzaddukim (Sadduccees) main beef was that the ‘Rabbiners’ were abrogating power to themselves to decide and define Torah commandments.

      It’s the same argument that Korach made against Moshe, always updated for our times and dressed in different clothes, but essentially, always the same argument against needing a connection to a real Rabbi, and following the Torah she be al peh.

  2. Simon
    Simon says:

    (I will clarify that those letters I mentioned existed, but not as vowels like they do now.)
    I’m currently making a video game, and I play video games. I feel like that’s not ideal, but I don’t know.
    Are video games “bad”? I know that it’s a distraction mechanism..

  3. adelle
    adelle says:

    if I recall rabeinu gave over this torah after the berditchever was niftar and fires broke out all over breslov (they were afraid to tell rebbe nachman but he of course already knew). this torah immediately came to mind on lag ba’omer 2019 when moshav modi’in burned to the ground. “they” blamed it on lag ba’omer fires… and even then before I really knew about DEW and “their” agendas it seemed deliberate and that a narrative was being forced to conceal the truth. just from rabeinu’s torah, energetically it felt this was a warning of things to come. as we went through 2020, and then meron came around it felt to me that the moshav fire – displacement, population transfers, government handouts etc. was a precursor. and here we are after simchas torah and more displacement….

    may the light of the candles of chanukah bring a big tikkun and healing to cancel any harsh decrees and truly return each of us to our homes – ner ish u’beito. may the shechina return to her home in our rededicated mikdash very soon!!


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