There are no more wicked people
Updated: Jun 2, 2021
What the Rav said:
Rabbi Nachman teaches us in Lesson 282 that there is no such thing as a wicked person in Am Yisrael! There is no such reality. Even if you see a completely wicked person, from his head to his feet, you can’t see any Yiddishkeit in him at all, he is completely anti-Torah, anti-observance, G-d forbid, even if it seems to you that there was never a more wicked person than this since the creation of the world, you should know that the main problem is that this person simply lacks da’at, or spiritual awareness.
But a huge fire of holiness still burns inside of them! A raging fire of holiness and yearning for Hashem Yitbarach burns inside of every Jew, just that it’s covered over by mountains of dust. Their neshama is on fire for God, but it’s covered in a layer of dirt. These Jewish souls are like spiritual volcanoes; from the outside, a huge mountain covers the heat and the lava flowing just beneath the surface, but the moment the fire and the lava burst forth it consumes the entire mountain. The mountain explodes!
A spiritual mountain of dirt and rocks is currently resting on every Jewish soul, but the day will come when the fire will bursts forth, and consumes all of these mountains of sand and dirt.
Are there wicked people in Am Yisrael? It certainly seems that way. At least, on the surface.
How do we understand this? Do we ‘excuse’ what appears to be obviously wrong, things that go against Torah law, and things which appear downright evil?
I don’t think the Rav here is excusing anyone’s behaviour. Everyone will be judged appropriately in Shamayim and will have to pay for their actions – and, of course, teshuva can wipe away all sins.
But, it seems to me the Rav is not excusing the actions, but looking past them. Yes, there is a judge and there is a judgment. That cannot be escaped. But, fundamentally, a Jew is still a Jew. That means he has a holy, pure, Jewish neshama. He is, fundamentally, not a wicked person. Even though he does ‘wicked things’.
Why is this important? Because, through seeing the good (or some good) in every single Jew, even the most wicked, we can bring these people back to Hashem. This is Rabbi Nachman’s message in the lesson of “Azamrah” (Likutei Moharan 1:282).