Monday, May 21, 2012

Which path to go


אשכילך ואורך בדרך זו תלך איעצה עליך
I will make you wise and enlighten you in which path to go, I will advise you (Tehillim 32:8)

Flooded to capacity, my mind worked overtime to process all the thoughts racing through it when I returned home from spending Rosh Hashanah in Uman last year. Once my mind had calmed down somewhat, I sat down and wrote the following note to my roomate in the Uman about the conclusions I had drawn from my trip:

Dear ____

It was an absolute pleasure to be able to spend Rosh Hashanah with you in Uman!

Being in Uman by the Tzion far exceeded my wildest expectations. I truly sensed an incredible power there that shattered the hard casings surrounding my heart and really opened me up; giving me insight into the essence of my being.

I would not trade this experience for the world and I now have a tremendous sense of satisfaction that I was able to accomplish one of my own personal goals before I die. That said, despite all of this, I cannot see myself going to Uman every year as loyal Breslover Chassidim do in fulfillment of one of the Rebbe’s central directives. Additionally, I do not regard myself as a Breslover.  Though I am not sure if I will feel differently in a 6 months, a year, or two years from now.

After 10 years of desiring to go, I went this year with the intention that I was embarking on a once in a lifetime epic journey. Both then and now, I could not see going back every year and being away from my family every Rosh Hashanah.  My wife and kids certainly understood this year and were encouraging since they knew this would not be a yearly occurrence.

In Torah Daled (Likutey Moharan I:4) – which I have been learning/living now for over a month – the Rebbe says once a person comes to the tzaddik, he will reveal to the person the path connected to his shoresh neshoma.  One of the hasagos that I received very strongly at the Tzion in Uman was that was that the derech of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim and current Sudilkover Rebbe were much more connected to my shoresh neshoma.  This certainly doesn’t mean that I now regard Rebbe Nachman’s teachings as something only for other people and not for me.  Chas v'shalom, the Sudilkover Rebbe once told me that Breslover Chassidus is the form of Chassidus today most closely related to the derech of the Degel.

I certainly intend to continue learning and living Rebbe Nachman's teachings every day, however, I know now that they are more of an amazing source of inspiration for me rather than my sole path in avodas Hashem.  In addition, another reason I will continue learning Likutey Moharan is that it one of the four Chassidishe seforim that the Sudilkover Rebbe instructed me to learn everyday without fail.

Perhaps it is still too soon after returning from Uman and my head is still spinning and trying to draw conclusions prematurely.  Yet, you have often told me that it is very important for me to be myself, so I am very interested for your thoughts after reading this.

Thank you in advance for your advice.

In response, I received the following response:

Glad to hear that you found this experience to be so profound, and I feel the same way about sharing your company!

As for your question (if it is a question) -- by all means, "be yourself." Labels are not so important; pnimiyus is important.

The Rebbe once said that he had three types of Chassidim: those who come for "shirayim," those who come for Torah, and those who are "baked in his heart." Yes, Breslover Chassidim stress the last category; but all three are nevertheless called "Chassidim." You came to Uman for Rosh Hashanah and that's a heroic journey, whether you ever come again or not!

Chazak ve'ematz

28 Comments:

At May 21, 2012 at 2:36:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what were the other 3 seforim the Rebbe told you to learn everyday?

 
At May 21, 2012 at 2:46:00 PM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

The other three are:

Degel Machaneh Ephraim
Me'or Einayim
Tanya

 
At May 22, 2012 at 7:52:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Rabbi Micha Golshevsky said...

Firstly: Ashrecha v'tov lach! It took me many years to feel the indescribable ohr in Uman. Clearly, so many years of waiting and yearning formed awesome vessels to hold the light!

Secondly: Uman is an amazing opportunity to attain vast connection to Hashem--as you experienced for yourself--but who said it is central to Breslov? I know that Rebbe Nachman said that everyone who listens to him will go, but that doesn't mean it is one of the central things of Breslov; merely that Uman will help anyone who comes and wants connection.

Learning--and keeping--halacha are central to Brelov. So is hisbodedus--at least a little--and working to daven with kavanah. Learning chasidus, especially a little Likutei Halachos, working on joy and acting with derech eretz are also central.

And even if I am mistaken and Uman is central to Breslov, it is absurd to suggest that physically travelling to Uman is central for someone who cannot make it.

I know of several important rabanim who hold themselves Breslovers--one was in Uman every Rosh Hashanah for 17 years before becoming a Rov of a famous Litvish-bnei Torah shul here in Israel--who davened with their kehilah on Rosh Hashanah. Now if becoming Rov meant violating something clearly central to Breslov I don't think they would have taken the position.

Interestingly while many may argue on the perception of these rabonim, some of them send many congregants to Uman. People who certainly would not have gone otherwise. When these rabonim are asked why they don't go themselves, they explain simply: "If not for the Kehilah, I would be in Uman!" And sometimes ones status can change. I was delighted to see the rov of the litvish-bnei Yeshiva kehilah in Uman this year. After davening for six years with his community he found that he found a competent replacement and took his vacation then. He finally made it to Uman for Rosh Hashanah.

If one cannot go--due to his family or any other valid reason--he should not go. Rav Nosson actually relates to such a possibility, and suggests that this person should come to Uman some other time during the year.
Irregardless of whether one follows his advice, it is a pity to miss this once a year opportunity. It is an even greater pity not to yearn to attain this special connection, which is a pathway through Rebbe Nachman himself (as is clear from the Arizal on this subject.) Whether one can physically be there or not, why not yearn to make it to Uman? People who are unable to make it have noticed that longing for the ohr of Uman imparts a more illuminating year.

So perhaps yearning for Uman is central to Breslov.

 
At May 22, 2012 at 12:00:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

The real question is as follows, do you really consider yourself to be a Breslover? If yes, Reb Nachman said no one should be missing. Reb Nachman did not agree that Reb Aharon the Rav did not come one year because of his seemingly more important responsibilities.

One may say that it is impossible and then of course one should still a) yearn and b) Breslovers always still went to a kibbutz, be it in Boro Park and c) they should come to Uman during Chodesh Ellul.

But the question really is: is it really impossible? Reb Noson always explains that the ikar meniyos are only in our heads and not real and that tefilah is above nature.

I know many people who were threatened with everything from divorce to being cut off from their families and they went and are BH fine. It was all the Yetzer!

We need the emeser emes!

 
At May 22, 2012 at 1:00:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Eiver LaNahar said...

A thorny issue.

I daven that I should always be zokheh to go to Uman for R"H every year of my life!

The Rebbe once remarked, "I don't know how someone could believe in what I say, yet not come to me for Rosh Hashanah..."

Yet if someone does not go, he surely should not feel that he is no longer a chassid of Rebbe Nachman, chas v'shalom. We are human beings, and nobody's avodah is perfect. Far from it!

The Rebbe also taught "ki ein shum ye'ush ba-olam klal!"

 
At May 22, 2012 at 1:12:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Anonymous 2: I cannot see myself ever missing the amazing experience of Rosh Hashanah and in general I agree that obstacles are surmountable.
Nevertheless, although that is the rule,every rule has an exception as the Rashbam famously says.
I am glad your friends had siyatah d'Shmaya, but your experiential evidence surely proves nothing.
What about those whose marriage disintegrated due to forcing Uman on their families? Would you say they didn't daven enough? Or that the marriage was not great to begin wiht? But that's the point: the fool broke what remained of his marriage to with his callous lack of regard for his wife's feelings. What about her Rosh Hashanah?
I have a friend whose wife is from huge misnagdim. He learned in a prestigious kollel and was not known to be a breslover, although he was heart and soul. He was pained about not going to Uman but was not willing to have a divorce over it.
Eventually he got his wife to Uman on a trip (with other kivrei tzaddikim) and she felt such illumination that she happily sent him. Believe me this person is more Breslov than most I meet.
What would you say about someone who is ill and physically cannot make it without danger? Or someone who was inspired while serving time in jail? Should they also come because meniyos are always only in our head?
Rav Nosson himself said that if he didn't have a passport he would not go--even though he might have made it. After all, why not go? Didn't he merely need to daven harder?
The proof from Rav Aharon etc are arguably irrelevant. Today chizuk in Chasidus, especially for those who have no way to get it that is kosher for them can mean spiritual life or death--regardless of their official label.
Why can't one consider himself a Breslover and not go to Uman every Rosh Hashanah? Who is to say that he is less than one who goes? True he lost an opportunity, but perhaps his yearning is higher than another tzadik who goes but spends most of the time doing nothing much in Uman. After all, we should be doing teshuvah and avodah there. Uman was never meant to be a picnic.
When Rebbe Nachman was asked if someone should come to Uman when it is hard, he said not to. In general Rebbe Nachamn writes that one should NOT tell others to be moser nefesh.
One reason may be because the person doesn't have the zechus or the vessels to overcome the hardship in the correct manner. Why would you suggest that everyone must be moser nefesh? Do you want a din v'cheshbon on someone's marriage etc. chas v'shalom?

 
At May 22, 2012 at 6:47:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

You are taking the response the wrong way, firstly I gave examples of people who seemingly couldn’t go and yet they saw after the fact that it was all just meniyus. That was the point, not a blanket statement that everyone must go no matter what. I wrote “Reb Noson always explains that the ikar meniyos” and you quoted me as saying “Should they also come because meniyos are always only in our head?” This email in fact was not a response to your comments but a personal one to A SimpleJew whom I am friends with and he asked if he could post it.

Secondly, no one said you aren’t a Breslover if you don’t go but rather what did Rebbe Nachman expect of his Chasidim and the answer to this is that we must go. If it doesn’t happen – that is one thing BUT I MUST BE THERE. Breslov is unique because we LIVE in Ratzon/desire and we believe that if we really want something even if we don’t merit to do this, on some level we still got there. We don’t say – oh the Rebbe didn’t really mean for me to be there but rather the Rebbe wants everyone there, I didn’t merit to be there maybe this year but I tried and wanted to be there and I accepted the fact that this was the Rebbe’s will which Reb Noson so CLEARLY explains. This is a chidush and I think a lot of people don’t realize this unique quality of Breslov. I once heard a beautiful pshat from a leading Breslover about the statement that Rebbe Nachman said you can be a Tzadik exactly like me. How is this possible if I don’t have the keilim? Surely he was unique? Did any Chassid every reach that level included Reb Noson? But the answer was in the world of desire this is possible. True I may not get to his spiritual level but my yearning can be just as complete and intense even though I am sooo far from his levels. This is Breslov.

About Reb Noson and the passport – that is just as debatable since so many Breslovers did go with forged passports not to mention the many that risked their lives crossing the Polish Russian border many years ago.

You wrote “Why can't one consider himself a Breslover and not go to Uman every Rosh Hashanah? Who is to say that he is less than one who goes? True he lost an opportunity, but perhaps his yearning is higher than another tzadik who goes but spends most of the time doing nothing much in Uman. After all, we should be doing teshuvah and avodah there. Uman was never meant to be a picnic.”

I think you are misrepresenting the point here. We don’t go to Uman for chizuk – Uman is a Tikkun, if you weren’t there for better or worse you didn’t get it. If you were – you did. There are other mitzvos and there is so much we don’t understand about Uman Rosh HaShanah but there are countless stories passed down that prove this point over and over.

The yearning is to say what the Rebbe really means and strive for it, if we don’t get there we have to be mechazek but we don’t start off by saying that it is lav davka that the Rebbe wanted us there – I don’t feel this is the emerser emes. As far as telling people to be moser Nefesh, firstly I am not a posek or Rav and commanding anyone to go. The question really is what is a Breslover’s mindset even if it seems almost impossible for him to go and I think I answered honestly what I was mekabel from many leading Breslovers. Secondly, although Reb Noson does tell us that the Reb Nachman would say not to come, he explains that it was always Reb Nachman’s intention for him to realize that he really did want him to break the seemingly impossible meniyos – I believe Reb Noson is trying to teach us the lesson that we must go even if the Tzadik himself says not to – wow!

 
At May 23, 2012 at 10:59:00 AM EDT, Anonymous steve mcqueen said...

Fascinating reading list! I regularly learn LM, and just finished Degel Machane Ephraim (I started at parshas Bemidbar and spent a year on it). This year's learning project is Me'or Einayim. It would be a privilege to be chossid of any of them. Would love to discuss differences in approach between those seforim, but not time now!

I regularly travel to Ukraine for work, but have not taken the trip to Uman (yet). I have an instinct that it is better to learn the seforim than see the kevorim, but this post has me thinking again

 
At May 25, 2012 at 1:57:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

anonymous 2: Firstly, your second point is very well put. So is the last point you made. You are obviously yearning and really trying to live Rebbe Nachman's teachings. Ashrecha v'tov lach!
As far as your first point, [sigh...] I am sorry if I misunderstood your meaning and am glad you clarified yourself. I commented as I did to your first comment since, unfortunately, one who reads it will believe Rebbe Nachman wants him to go to Uman no matter what, even if threatened with divorce etc. You seem to say that the only criterion of whether one must be in Uman is if he is physically able to go.
As far as your point that the proof from the passport is debatable, you are mistaken. True, some Breslovers literally risked their lives to cross the Soviet border to make Uman Rosh Hashana. But that proves nothing at all.
Here is a short lesson in halacha: The general rule is that one should not risk his life to do a mitzvah as the Gemara learns from וחי בהם. The Beis Yosef (Y.D. 157) brings down the Nemukei Yosef in Sanhedrin that an adam gadol, Chossid with profound yiras shamayim who wishes to sacrifice himself even for a less important mitzvah which he sees the generation is lax about, may do so, so that people see and learn to love and fear Hashem. (He brings a couple of proofs to this.) Of course he is not obligated to do so. As far as one who is not on such a level, the Shulchan Aruch clearly forbids this, even for a very important mitzvah (in Hilchos Shabbos, Pesach, Yom Kippur...) As you likely recall, Rebbe Nachman said one should never bend his lessons to violate Shulchan Aruch.
On a simple level: Just like one cannot risk his life to keep Shabbos or fast on Yom Kippur, he certainly cannot risk his life to go to Uman.
I am not sure what the Breslovers who risked their lives (and some were shot dead at the border r"l) relied on. Perhaps they felt so strongly about this, that it was pikuach nefesh for them not to go. Or they were such ba'alei bitcach that they knew they would survive (very easy to err on this however.) Or perhaps they fit the criterion of the Ramban. Unfortunately, some may have misunderstood Rebbe Nachman. Simple folk who did not understand that Shulchan Aruch comes first. It's not as though they were infallible. Either way, the individual decisions of a few Breslovers--who were opposed by the majority and never said that others should follow their example--proves nothing.
Rav Nosson's clear statement and explanation of why he would not go to Uman without a passport is very compelling. After all, why wouldn't he go? It was certainly "possible" for him to sneak over? Apparently possible is not always correct. Yearn? Definitely. Go? Maybe. But sometimes one must reluctantly forgo this tikkun for now.

 
At May 25, 2012 at 2:02:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

You wrote: 'The yearning is to say what the Rebbe really means and strive for it, if we don’t get there we have to be mechazek but we don’t start off by saying that it is lav davka that the Rebbe wanted us there – I don’t feel this is the emerser emes."
I never said that Rebbe Nachman did not want us there. Nor did I say anything about the emeser emes.
All I wrote was on a practical level: that one should yearn no matter what,that some cases are seriously debatable and in other situations going is a obvious mistake. Like my friend who now comes every year. He probably would have had a divorce chas v'shalom if he had related seriously to your first comment and acted on its simple meaning without hearing your later explanation.
Sadly such things have happened. Presenting such extreme attitudes without qualification is very dangerous.
You wrote: "firstly I am not a posek or Rav commanding anyone to go."
In your first comment you are in essence telling people to go unless it is "impossible." They can disregard barriers--which are in their head--since tefilah can transcend nature. A simple reading implies one to go even if threatened with divorce. You may believe it is not giving direction, but it is.
You quote Rav Nosson's statement but it is not threatening or harsh. Although you didn't mean it that way, your first statement's compelling language is very threatening for someone who cannot--and should not--come. We need to be wary of making statements which distance good Jews for no reason.

 
At May 25, 2012 at 10:33:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

I could continue arguing each point but what would be the point of that, the Rebbe said that Nitzachon was to be avoided.

You write “Uman is an amazing opportunity to attain vast connection to Hashem--as you experienced for yourself--but who said it is central to Breslov?” Ummm… How about Reb Noson? I understand you are trying to be mechazek but your statement is misleading and I believe that there are much better ways to be mechazek. Uman is central to Breslov as just about every Breslov leaders says and there are others ways to be mechazek without compromising Reb Noson’s yearly calling. How do you know that the author’s yetzer horah isn’t fooling him? You may be depriving his Neshomo of it’s Tikkun! I wrote to him questioning whether he felt he was a Breslover or not, if he feels b’emes comfortably saying that he isn’t fine but we as Breslover Chassidim know what Reb Noson says and instead of coming up with our own rational need to concentrate on teffilah and ratzon. We also need to be practical and thoughtful about our obstacles but to believe that yes – with HaShem’s help if I want and daven enough I WILL MAKE IT THIS YEAR AND EVERY YEAR! If you don’t start like this, you have no chance my friend.

I feel that you are deluding from the simple temimusdikeh commandment that we as Breslover Chassidim have to do everything in our power to be in Uman for Rosh Hashanah no matter what. This is accomplished mainly through teffilah but it starts with a very strong stubborn mindset. We live in a generation devoid of idealistic beliefs and Mesiras Nefesh but the Breslovers of the past excelled in both of these traits. I am not shy to write what I feel was passed down to me by the leaders of Breslov today and believe that you are being oversensitive. If one is foolish enough to take a comment of an online blog written and misinterpret it, what shall I say. But I do feel that it is important for everyone to clearly know Reb Nosson’s commandment about being in Uman for Rosh HaShanah.

May HaShem help all who truly want to follow in the ways of Reb Nosson to be zoche to be in Uman for Rosh HaShanah this year and EVERY year until the coming of the Mashiach, Bimheira V’Yameinu Amen.

 
At May 28, 2012 at 5:43:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Ephraim said...

Reb Micha-

I'd like to address some of the points you made.
1) You write: "Uman is an amazing opportunity to attain vast connection to Hashem--as you experienced for yourself--but who said it is central to Breslov? I know that Rebbe Nachman said that everyone who listens to him will go, but that doesn't mean it is one of the central things of Breslov; merely that Uman will help anyone who comes and wants connection."
I find it shocking that you can write such a thing. As "Anon 2" pointed out, Reb Noson himself is the one that said that Uman Rosh Hashanah is one of the only three central pillars of Breslov, as quoted by Reb Avrohom B'Rav Nachman in Biur HaLikutim 61:61 and Parparot L'Chochma ibid.

2. You write: "And even if I am mistaken and Uman is central to Breslov, it is absurd to suggest that physically travelling to Uman is central for someone who cannot make it."
Was Reb Yitzchok Breiter being absurd when he wrote in Seder HaYom 26, "It's therefore necessary to break all obstacles and to come with the utmost sacrifice to the Kibbutz on Rosh Hashanah, if it's not Pikuach Nefesh which overrides Shabbos"?

3. You write about a Rov who took a position who wasn't able to travel to Uman "Now if becoming Rov meant violating something clearly central to Breslov I don't think they would have taken the position."
After spending many years in Breslov, I can testify that there are many good people who identify with Breslov who take amazing liberty in taking whatever they like out of Breslov while ignoring the Mesorah whenever it inconveniences their personal worldview. I don't believe that there is anyone who subscribes to the Breslov Mesorah would never take such a position.

 
At May 28, 2012 at 11:42:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Anyonmous 2 and Reb Efraim: One thing I do regret in my earlier post. I should not have written that Uman Rosh Hashanah is not central to Breslov. What I meant is that it is clearly not as central as simcha, halacha etc. I believe that someone who cannot make it to Uman due to barriers is no less Breslov than a Chassid who makes it, often because he he has less trouble than one who is beset with obstacles.
One who lacks barriers or finds his difficulties easily surmountable, will find it a simple matter to break those who do not succeed by merely quoting a few quotes. The poor man is crushed to pieces for his inability to overcome hard obstacles, that his friends words of chizuk have merely served to depress him. Unless you know the person very well and you feel that these words will help him, they should not be said.
I will speak more about this in a later comment which will also answer Reb Efraim's other points.
I will explain why I am always saddened by people taking this line with those who feel challenged to come.
I have met many people who had difficulty at home and felt they simply could not make it. One man had debts and felt that he could not take on more. I saw him and he looked as though he had lost a close relative r"l. When I told him what I had heard from Rav Berland, he was completely transformed. Instead of feeling miserable, he would do something constructive: he would work on yearning and hopefully make it a later year. This man (and many others) who subsequently made it every year, told me that I had literally given them life. I could see it on them. The diburim you quote are meant to encourage us, not to cause depression in someone who is faced with challenges. Instead of feeling depressed, let him yearn to get there.
I know that in Slonim we find that they depression due to a spiritual failing or whatever else is considered to be part of the tikkun, but I don't think you have any precedent to say that is a Breslover opinion.

 
At May 29, 2012 at 12:07:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Reb Efraim wrote: "I find it shocking that you can write such a thing. As "Anon 2" pointed out, Reb Noson himself is the one that said that Uman Rosh Hashanah is one of the only three central pillars of Breslov, as quoted by Reb Avrohom B'Rav Nachman in Biur HaLikutim 61:61 and Parparot L'Chochma ibid."
I didn't notice the words "only three central pillars" there. He says the only three clear things that everyone must do are these.
But of course we must wonder about this. Do you really believe that simcha or eretz Yisrael is less central? (I guess simcha did not make the list since it is not an action and he is discussing actions. For example, would you say shivisi is less important?) Rav Nososn told Rav Yitzchak to go to Eretz Yisrael at the end of his life (the custom for many older people during his time), despite his inability to make it to Uman for Rosh Hashanah. What about the three central pillars? Why didn't they force Rav Yitzchak to stay in Ukraine where he could easily make it to Uman? I guess Rav Nosson knew that there are exceptions.
Even later, although many Breslovers travelled to Uman from Eretz Yisrael each year, others did not. Were they all fake Breslovers?
Rav Yaakov Meir Shechter shlita, hasn't made it for many years. Is he also out of the pale of Breslov? Or I guess that all of those years he was definitely in a geder of pikuach nefesh. But that's not what I hear.
Doesn't Rebbe Nachman himself say ikar avodas ish hayisraeli many times? Like going to Eretz Yisrael for example. But this is not an avodah which everyone should DO at least not in Rav Nosson's times, so it is not included in the list.
Rav Nosson was saying that these three must be foremost in general for everyone. They are a chiyuv. But as I wrote earlier, there is an exception to every rule. I would say Eretz Yisrael is one exception and that there may be others (more about this presently.)
But I never meant it is the emeser emes for a person with obstacles to go or not go. Merely that if strong diburim cause one depression etc, he is not on the level to hear them and saying them over is not helpful. As Rav Nosson says clearly when discussing the Midrashic teaching that Hashem threw truth to the ground. Sometimes a person is not on the level to hear the truth (e.g. it depresses him.) Rav Nosson says that he must cast the truth away lest it depress him. I am not saying that therefore he shouldn't be misgaboer. Merely that if we see a yid struggling we should not hit him with strong diburim. Everything has a time and a place.

 
At May 29, 2012 at 12:11:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Reb Efraim wrote: "Was Reb Yitzchok Breiter being absurd when he wrote in Seder HaYom 26, "It's therefore necessary to break all obstacles and to come with the utmost sacrifice to the Kibbutz on Rosh Hashanah, if it's not Pikuach Nefesh which overrides Shabbos"?
Beautiful sefer which I used to love to learn through, but, after all, he was giving his opinion, which is certainly not binding on anyone.
I guess you are unaware that Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender told people not to take debts to go to Uman. Was he also not in on the mesorah? How about the many Jews in Eretz Yisrael who hold not to leave to Uman? Are they also beyond the pale?

 
At May 29, 2012 at 12:23:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Reb Efraim wrote: "After spending many years in Breslov, I can testify that there are many good people who identify with Breslov who take amazing liberty in taking whatever they like out of Breslov while ignoring the Mesorah whenever it inconveniences their personal worldview."
Agreed. I guess that's human nature, especially since it is not the way of Breslovers to make someone else's choices for him. As they would say in Uman, "You work on your yetzer hara, and let me work on mine."
Reb Efraim wrote: "I don't believe that there is anyone who subscribes to the Breslov Mesorah would [n]ever take such a position."
Not so sure of this, but you may be correct. How about a yid who has sent many yidden to Uman? Is he also to be censured?
I think both cases are debatable, especially if the Rav lives in Eretz Yisrael. I am fairly sure that one rav--the one who is in charge of the Litvisher shul--does this with unofficial sanction from a very well known, respected Breslover Gadol outside of the Yerushalayim are.

 
At May 29, 2012 at 1:56:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Minor correction: Rebbe Nachman did not call Eretz Yisrael the ikur. But Rav Nosson writes in Likutei Halachos that the Ikkur holiness of a Jew is in Eret Yisrael (Hilchos Birchas Hareiyah, 4:1.)

 
At May 29, 2012 at 7:40:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

All I can say is what I was mekable from the old temimusdikeh mesorah and that was the feeling and understanding that Uman was primary to Breslov and that one had to do everything in his power to be there. Reb Noson said he would crawl on knives to get there. If someone doesn’t make it – whether it was his “bechirah” or not, he can certainly still be a Breslover and has a mitzvah according to the Rebbe and Reb Noson to be mechazek himself with all of the other eitzos but I find no shame in pronouncing what I was mekabel for those who know Uman’s importance. Just because there may be some who take this the wrong way doesn’t mean that the Emes shouldn’t be said. As I told you originally this was a private email to a person who I know well and he posted it. If we give people a way out before they even start – many may never come especially because it takes such a strong mesiras Nefesh to make it.

 
At May 29, 2012 at 10:59:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Anonymous 2 wrote: "All I can say is what I was mekable from the old temimusdikeh mesorah and that was the feeling and understanding that Uman was primary to Breslov and that one had to do everything in his power to be there. Reb Noson said he would crawl on knives to get there. If someone doesn’t make it – whether it was his “bechirah” or not, he can certainly still be a Breslover and has a mitzvah according to the Rebbe and Reb Noson to be mechazek himself with all of the other eitzos but I find no shame in pronouncing what I was mekabel for those who know Uman’s importance."
I am sure that had your original comment had been softened in a similar manner--even if it was also strong--I would not have commented. As I wrote earlier, I have met people who were utterly crushed by being told such words. Just because they couldn't find it in themselves to overcome their tests (tests which the one telling them the mesosorah had not overcame themselves,) should we mar their chag or in some cases their year?
"As I told you originally this was a private email to a person who I know well and he posted it"
My first comment was also a private email which was posted with permission. I like to think (perhaps erroneously) that I would not have erred if it had been written as a post. And I can certainly understand if you mean that your comment was not really written for posting.

 
At May 30, 2012 at 11:07:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

“I know that in Slonim we find that they depression due to a spiritual failing or whatever else is considered to be part of the tikkun, but I don't think you have any precedent to say that is a Breslover opinion.”

Although once someone is on the Azamra path I would agree with you 100%, I would disagree before someone has complete Bitul to the Rebbe. As Reb Noson writes about being by the Berditchever Rav and being selected to be the one to buy bagels for a Seudas Mitzvah. He felt so worthless after that he fell asleep and dreamed of a Tzaddik teaching him how to hold himself while he fell spiritually, he would only later realize that this was Rebbe Nachman. I have heard from many greats in Breslov that until one feels a very strong feeling of being distant and perhaps lost from the derech to HaShem, he cannot throw away his own bias and perceptions enough to properly be mekabel the path of Rebbe Nachman. In this instance his depression may be completely necessary and it may be also be that someone may need to experience an Uman Rosh HaShanah and then a regular Young Israel Shul R”H or something similar before he feels enough at a loss to really become a Chassid. Of course only HaShem can guide him that way but this is still in my opinion a valuable point to consider.

 
At May 30, 2012 at 11:10:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

Secondly I am going to write a related very controversial point that in my opinion should be a topic for a new post. I have met very many Baalei Teshuva or Jews of more “modern” backgrounds (actually I can even think of Litvaks as well) who decide to become Breslover Chassidim or perhaps other types of Chassidim and the biggest hurdle they have to overcome when they say “family related problems” is their wife! Now I completely understand the challenge of leaving children with their wife and these ladies are not only to be commended for their extremely hard work and effort in allowing their husbands to go but are also complete partners in the spiritual/mitzvah venture. I am in no way belittling the challenge nor am I even saying that it is even fair. BUT I must say that us American Jews compared to the Chassidim have absorbed in my opinion a feministic hurdle that can almost completely hold back a man from following his spiritual path. I know and have observed with Chassidim from Birth that it is an expectation that they go to their Rebbe’s tisch every Friday night as well as participating in every other one of their Chassidus’s functions. Whatever the Rebbe says is followed and the man and woman have distinct yet very important functions. It is understood that the husband needs certain spiritual attachments outside of the house and this is not up for debate. Yet when it comes to these newcomer Breslovers a lot of their not going to Uman for Rosh HaShanah isn’t because the spouse can’t survive if she has to. They fail to understand the importance of Uman for a Breslover (it’s like Pikuach Nefesh mamash!) and because it’s “not normal” for my husband not to be home for Rosh HaShanah or the like they refuse to let him go. Had there been a nice sum of money on the line, just about any woman would agree but when it is something spiritual there is this modern notion that says based on equality or something else that the husband is not allowed to go.

 
At May 30, 2012 at 11:10:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

Now it isn’t only in regards to Uman that I have seen this but also with many other spiritual acts that a man feels he MUST do for his neshomo including even davening with a minyan or even serious chinuch problems. I find this to be a huge problem and something that can completely stop one from Jewish growth. Although decisions are to be made together and the husband must completely value his wife’s opinion, feelings and advice and many times may side with her over his own thoughts on the matter – there must be a point even in the 21 century where the husband does have the final say in spiritual matters. This is the distinct role of the male in a marriage and a marriage that does not work this way I am afraid to say is at least somewhat defective. Sorry for the controversy but I see this all the time and believe that my wife who I do leave with many small children and do feel terrible for would agree completely that there are certain things outside the house that a man MUST have to achieve proper growth. She WANTS her husband to become a Tzadik and realizes that this world is but a corridor to the world to come and is therefore willing to do something that might be completely unfair because it is the right thing to do – Asheis Chayil Mi Yimtzah! But this did not come naturally, although my wife is a true Ashes Chayil and I am sure people had much greater difficulty then me. Still I had to be very determined from the onset of my marriage that this is how I viewed an effective Jewish relationship. In other words I had to be a MAN. I am not telling anyone to force anything on their spouse Chas V’Shalom but just to start living like a man. Teffilah is the main thing but I believe there is also something to be said about the way we feel and speak about something that we truly believe in. We need on the one hand to be ready to give up everything for the opportunity to go to Uman or whichever spiritual matter and this includes bending backwards for our spouses despite how much we might love something less spiritually important. We must give it up for their sake. But also their must be a manly Ratzon, anyone who is familiar with the stories of Reb Noson’s determination and Emunah will see what it means to be a real man. It’s hard for me to pinpoint what exactly is appropriate in a marriage or not in this regards and Shalom Bayis is the most complicated subject. Reb Noson was asked why he didn’t write much about this subject in Likutey Halachos and he responded that in order to do such would take an even much bigger set of seforim then the current Likutey Halachos on just that topic alone! But I do leave the reader to ask himself one question: “are you really living like a real man in your marriage or not?”

 
At May 30, 2012 at 11:11:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

I will leave off with one story. I was learning weekly with a man whose mother was Jewish but father Christian. He grew up going to church and ended up marrying a more traditional Jew who was very anti-religious. After they had children, he started investigating religion to see how he was to raise his kids. He ended up loving Judaism and started off with Reform, moving on to Chabad and eventually Breslov. When I was learning with the guy he was literally on fire with his desire to become observant and loved Rebbe Nachman. His wife was not. I kept on telling him the importance of teffila, as well as Hamptain (Rebbe Nachman’s advice of waiting) and finally asked him if there was anything that he did that truly bothered his wife. He said that he was a certain type of therapist who sees female patients at night in a completely private setting and that it drives his wife crazy. I recommended that he find a way to either make his wife comfortable with the situation or even give up these late night appointments with the hope that she would see that her husband means religion for their better good. He refused and eventually became some kind of Buddhist that respects all religions but doesn’t impose religious practices on others, only focusing on internal ones.

May HaShem guide us in the right way, Amen.

 
At May 30, 2012 at 11:56:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

Reb Anonymous 2: Thank you for the Generally very incisive comments (although there is a lot we apparently do not agree on.)
You wrote: "Although once someone is on the Azamra path I would agree with you 100%, I would disagree before someone has complete Bitul to the Rebbe."
I don't know about that. How about Rebbe Nachman's words in L.M. II:48? (Rav Noson writes that Breslovers called this emphatic Torah "the letter.") Rebbe Nachman writes there: "Know! The moment one wishes to enter into avodas Hashem it is immediately a very big sin to be depressed chas v'shalom since depression is from the other side..."
And what about the famous quote in the anonymous response ASJ brings in his post about three types of Chasidim. Would you say the third type of Chosid must be depressed until he comes to bitul (if ever he does.)

 
At May 30, 2012 at 11:58:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

You wrote: "I have heard from many greats in Breslov that until one feels a very strong feeling of being distant and perhaps lost from the derech to HaShem, he cannot throw away his own bias and perceptions enough to properly be mekabel the path of Rebbe Nachman. In this instance his depression may be completely necessary..."
You are absolutely correct in this as Rav Nosson himself points out (don't have time to look for this now. Hardly have time to shoot off this quick reply.)
But how can we know who needs to be pushed into a place where he realizes how distant he is from Hashem to galvanize him to yearn? Maybe the guy who is "hit" with the strong diburim cannot hack it and will only fall into serious depression etc. In short, as I wrote earlier, sometimes you may be correct to take a strong approach but it doesn't work for everyone. I would even say that most often it doesn't help to repeat them to those who are challenged. Potentially such words can cause damage in this situation, something a Jew--especially a Breslover--should avoid if possible. If a person needs to feel how far he is, Hashem will bring him there without us shoving diburim down his throat (strangely you presently write this yourself but do not see that it contradicts taking a strong position.)

 
At May 30, 2012 at 11:58:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

You wrote: "and it may be also be that someone may need to experience an Uman Rosh HaShanah and then a regular Young Israel Shul R”H or something similar before he feels enough at a loss to really become a Chassid. Of course only HaShem can guide him that way but this is still in my opinion a valuable point to consider."
True. And sometimes his wife will only realize the importance of Uman to her husband when she sees how hard it is for him to lose out on the huge hisalus available there (including the simcha that he was zocheh to the tikkun obviously.)
But this will virtually Never help him if he shoves Rebbe Nachman's strong diburim down her throat. I guess my take on most of what you said (I am seriously timed out,) is that today marriage is a partnership for most, not a relationship where the husband is the arbiter even in spiritual matters. This should be bemoaned (except when the wife actually should be the arbiter like when the husband is much more material minded than she. For example, if a husband insists the kids go to a school which is inferior in Torah, must the wife listen to him?) The Arizal actually points out that things were changing already in his time and explains why women were acting more emancipated and felt less "under" their husband's authority even then. Not surprisingly, his reasons hold true today as well. So telling your average husband "In other words I had to be a MAN" is rarely helpful. It is likely to turn his relationship into a argumentative one. This is so complex it definitely requires a post of its own as you wrote. Suffice it to say that the foundation of keeping a good marriage despite disagreements is azamra. We do this by being dan l'chaf zechus, understanding our spouses opinion and feelings and respecting them. And then expressing our own points in a non-judgmental way. One must always see the best in his spouse and thinking about how to help him or her.
There is a world of difference between one who is a "Man" because he feels he should have the final say etc. Or one who guides most of the family's spiritual direction because he convinces his wife that this is really the best thing for them. In short her feelings for him are a reflection of his feelings for her. If he is sensitive to her, she will be sensitive to him. If not, not.
You are definitely correct that the main thing is tefilah. And i sounds like in your relationship you have managed to build a mishkan of mutual respect. Ashrecha v'tov lach! But shoving diburim down a spouses throat is almost always counter productive. Not surprisingly, this often causes shalom bayis problems. If one is sensitive to his wife's feelings and wants to stay to make her happy, but cannot because of what they will both lose and she "gets this" in a good way, she will allow him to go to Uman for them.
In short the strong diburim rarely help convince one's wife unless put in a very softened positive way and are not often repeated.
Of course if the woman sees Rebbe Nachman as her guiding light, the diburim probably will work. But that is not what we are discussing here. We are talking about someone who has trouble leaving his family.
As our sages say, be soft as a reed, not hard as a cedar tree. The wind blows the reed but after it settles down, the reed returns to its original position. It bent to the roaring wind so it was not uprooted by it. But the hard cedar resists the wind until it is completely uprooted.

 
At May 31, 2012 at 11:04:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous 2 said...

R’ Micha you seem to have some kind of bias from the start with these discussions instead of asking pointed questions to clarify what I meant:

As far accusing mean of shoving harsh words about coming to Uman, I originally wrote: “But the question really is: is it really impossible? Reb Noson always explains that the ikar meniyos are only in our heads and not real and that tefilah is above nature.” I later clarified that I meant to explain mainly that meniyos are mostly not real. That is what Rebbe Nosson explains frequently and I don’t find that to be shoving anything down anyone’s throat. It was meant for someone not coming because he believes in his meniyos and this was to show how Reb Nosson generally disagreed. This was Reb Noson’s simple advice, am I to hide it? Everyone can consider this themselves, I think it is far from calling someone up and telling them that they have no excuse and must be there this year, I am explaining what Reb Noson said about meniyos and that’s all. How can you hide what Reb Noson said from people? I don’t get it!

Secondly, as far as marriage goes I never once said that you should tell you wife harsh words and the only definition of being a man that I gave if you look closely was : “In other words I had to be a MAN. I am not telling anyone to force anything on their spouse Chas V’Shalom but just to start living like a man. Teffilah is the main thing but I believe there is also something to be said about the way we feel and speak about something that we truly believe in. We need on the one hand to be ready to give up everything for the opportunity to go to Uman or whichever spiritual matter and this includes bending backwards for our spouses despite how much we might love something less spiritually important. We must give it up for their sake. But also their must be a manly Ratzon.” Again I don’t understand why you judged this to be harsh words, I never said that. Actually if you would have asked me I would have explained that it is more of an internal determination and would agree the rarely does it have to do with harsh words, but it might have to do with crying to a spouse and pouring your heart out to them with how much you appreciate them and want to go because of your spiritual need.

In short, I believe because of your experiences that you are being judgmental. You are assuming outcomes without trying to clarify what the real point was. As I wrote a few times, the opinions I express I believe were not my own but rather those inherited from being around the Breslover greats. As in every Chassidus, Mesorah/story telling & Torah shel baal peh of the Chassidus is considered something essential to really getting the feel of what the Rebbe meant. Based on your comments I “feel” that perhaps you are using your own logic based on experiences rather than the mesorah which maybe you were never fully exposed to. Of course I don’t know but some of the things you wrote seem absurd to me and a few other Breslovers I bounced them off of based on all what we ALL felt. Why is that?

 
At June 19, 2012 at 7:40:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Micha Golshevsky said...

I never said to hide what Rav Nosson said. All I said was that, especially in this forum, your words needed to be tempered so they are not taken to apply in every case equally. Without qualification, your words can cause irreparable damage. I have seen several cases and heard about many more.
As far as people you have asked disagreeing with me. I imagine these few Breslovers who you say agreed with you will remain as anonymous as yourself, and therefore cannot be relied upon. And who knows how you presented what I wrote here.
Besides my slip--I should have written:"Uman is not the end all be all of Breslov" instead of using the word central--I stand by what I wrote. I made some very good points explaining my problems with what you wrote; all of which you sidestepped. Writing that this is the way it is and too bad because that is how you heard it is pretty weak.
Your other points are well said, but largely irrelevant to our discussion. I pointed out that you needed to clarify. Strangely, you apparently think people need to assume that a post is incomplete. They must have some special intuition that they need to ask an anonymous poster pointed questions to clarify what he writes as fact. Why is that?

 

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