The following is a translation of a talk given by Reb Gedaliah over a New York radio broadcast in 1979 on Rebbe Nachman's role in tikkun olam, repair of the world through the perfection of man.
Everyone desires to attain perfection. We have spoken about the name Adam as being the term for the perfect Man. Many have attempted to attain this level through many different exhausting ways, but few knew the secret of the right path. Fewer still were those who merited to actually travel the entire distance in order to reach perfection. Rebbe Nachman merited to completely traverse the path to reach the ultimate goal—the perfection of Man. He struggled and toiled to reveal this secret to all of mankind, teaching us how to attain it in the easiest and most practical way possible, appropriate for every generation until the coming of Mashiach. Don't think that Rebbe Nachman was interested in introducing a new sect or group into the world, amidst the many that presently abound. Instead, he can be seen as a teacher for everyone—one who knows how to direct the footsteps of mankind to come to the proper goal. He can be seen as a personal guide to each one of us individually, helping us to find our correct place in the world.
Reb Noson, the main student of Rebbe Nachman, referred to this in the beginning of his introduction to Rebbe Nachman's stories. He wrote, "Whatever he was, his name has already been given, and it is known that he is Man–Adam" (Ecclesiastes 6:10). In other words, the very name of Adam that was already was given to the first Man in Creation, now can be ascribed to Rebbe Nachman, who merited to complete the Form of Man. Through his deeds and dedication to his family, students, and all of mankind, he showed that he embodies the true concept of Adam, the perfect "Man."
Rebbe Nachman was born in 1772 in the Ukrainian town of Medzeboz, in the house where his great grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov had lived. He lived to the age of 38 1/2 years, and left this world in the year 1810, in the city of Uman. There, he is buried. I always say, and teach my friends to say: "Fortunate are you, Land of Russia, blessed is your earth that has resting within it, the pure and holy body of the Light of Lights, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, who illuminates the entire world with compassion." He left behind blessing: Generations of straight and noble souls, students filled with the wisdom and knowledge of God—servants of God, pure in their fear and love. He left books filled with deep, yet simple guidance as well as stories written in easy and simple language, but also containing the deepest secrets of life. They are all meant to let us know how to remain strong and immune from the evil in this complicated world, and how to benefit from the beauty of the Divine Light hidden in it, so that Creation and Creator can be unified completely.
As students of Breslever Chassidim, our entire purpose in life is to follow in the footsteps of our Rebbe, so that we too may merit to be included in the name Adam—the perfect Man. So few have achieved it, yet a number of those who did are buried in Tsfat and its surrounding area. In addition to them, Rebbe Nachman is the man who not only merited to attain this level himself, but with perfect intention, brought this favor and blessing to us, as well as to the Jewish people and all humanity.
TZADDIK Magazine archive, Shavuos 5761 / 2000