Guest Posting From Aharon Benjamin - Transition
Let's see, the question that was asked of me by 'A Simple Jew' was why I have recently began transitioning from Chabad to Breslov in terms of my personal observance of Judaism.
Well, first of all, it is not entirely accurate since a) I am still wearing my yellow Mashiach Pin b) I am still davening nusach Ari from the Tehillat Hashem siddur and c) I am still doing Chitas etc., so to say that I have "left Chabad" does not seem to be quite accurate to describe my situation.
On the other hand, it is true that recently I have taken a renewed interest in the teachings of Rebbe Nachman and I am soon considering going to Israel to look at some Breslov yeshivot for this reason.
How did this begin? For the past decade or so since I began my teshuva process, one area of life where I feel I have been having my biggest personal failing is in the area of achieving simcha / happiness / joy. This lack of simcha led me to try out over 10 yeshivot in Israel when I first started my teshuva process and eventually I decided to join Chabad since I was aware of Rebbe Nachman's teaching that a) one must be connected with a tzadik and b) one must be b'simcha! (Yes, I was loosely affiliated with Breslov before I joined Chabad in Tzfat.)
However, after many years in Chabad, I have found that I have continued to struggle with the issue of simcha. For ages, I have been trying to figure out why I cannot bring myself to be b'simcha, which has been an obstacle in my religious observance ever since I left Isralight (where I began my formal teshuva process about 13 years ago.) I have been trying natural supplements such as 5htp, tyrosine, omega 3's, vitamins etc. Recently someone sent me an email suggesting that I try doing some hitbodedut to alleviate my depression. I thought that was a funny suggestion, but I decided to give it a try, since it came my way from what seemed to be a sincere person, by Hashgacha pratis. That day, when I tried it, HaShem sent me some clear signs that this was the right thing for me to do.
My Rabbi in Toronto who was a Chabadnik, gave a class that day and he told a story. He said - once upon a time there was a chossid who had a Rebbe and everything was ok by him. One day he heard about another Rebbe who came to a neighboring town and who many people were making a big fuss about saying "this Rebbe is so amazing" etc. This Jew got curious and he thought to himself, that he would leave his Rebbe and go to be by this other Rebbe who everyone was making a big deal about. So he went. As the years went by, things started going wrong for this Jew (let's call him Yankel) - Yankel went to the new Rebbe and asked him, why HaShem was doing this to him. The (new) Rebbe told him, when you were by your Rebbe, HaShem was happy with you and all was good. But when you started making comparisons and saying maybe this other Rebbe is better than my Rebbe, then in the Heavenly court they also started making comparisons of your deeds against other people etc., and you have thus brought many judgments upon yourself! Yankel decided to go back to his original Rebbe, and things became better for him again.
When I heard my Chabad Rabbi tell us this story - on the very same day that I had returned to hitbodedut after abandoning it for about 10 years - I suddenly realized that - with all due respect to Chabad - Rebbe Nachman was really meant to be my Rebbe, all along. Since then, I have started dancing to Jewish music 3 times a week (as Rebbe Noton and Rebbe Nachman talk about how this is a derech to teshuva and simcha) and also before I was religious I was aware of the fact that exercise plays a significant role in feeling good and being healthy. I am also getting increasingly interested in niggunim and music, which is also something I have always loved, but have never had the discipline nor opportunities to develop skills in this area in my life. I am also interested in the Na Nach Nachma Nachman MeUman folks and hope to learn more about them when I make my next visit to the Holy Land.