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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Uman’

Breslov Hassidim to Spend Rosh Hashana in Israel

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

A flight to Uman from Israel was canceled today, the eve of Rosh Hashana, due to technical difficulties encountered before takeoff.

Everyone on the flight was sent home to spend Rosh Hashana in Israel.

Many Breslov Hassidim prefer to spend Rosh Hashana at the graveside of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in Uman, rather than with their families.

This year, one planeload will be spending the High Holidays with their families it the Holy Land.

We’re sure Rebbe Nachman would approve.

The Cult of Uman

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Disclaimer:My motivation behind this article is love for misguided Jews. I have no desire to needlessly upset people before the chag, but the troubling issue I raise in this article cannot be ignored. It represents the death of the Jewish mind, and every Jew who is drawn to this nonsense is another soul that has forsaken common sense and chochmah for a new age experience.

Craziness is contagious in the world of the non-thinker. Tragically, if someone in the Jewish world creates some new religious rite or practice, it doesn’t take long before the non-thinking masses get caught up in the hysteria. And then it spreads like a virus. Within a few years, it attains the status of an ancient tradition, particularly when there is money to be made.

In Israel we see this in the prevalence of miracle shrines such as Amuqah, or the infamous “wonder workers” of Jerusalem who allegedly manifest your “ayin horas” as bubbles in a pot, and then magically make them disappear. Not only does the latter ridiculous practice encroach on a myriad of prohibitions, it also takes the real but terribly distorted concept of the “evil eye,” ayin hora, (a philosophical concept relating to human psychology which chazal understand), and distorts it into a primitive spell that a shaman might cast onto a frightened native.

The modern cult of Uman is another prime example of this frightening phenomenon, where un-Jewish practices are given the status of mitzvah. I was initially going to avoid this topic, since it encroaches on the complicated halachic/hashkafic issue of visiting/praying at graves which I already addressed several weeks back in my article “Talking to the Dead.” I only reconsidered after being inundated on Facebook with more evidence of this troubling annual event. And the trip to Uman entails other problems as well.

Going To Graves

The basic issue regarding the phenomenon of Breslover chasidim traveling to Uman to pray at the grave of their deceased Rebbe relates to the obvious halachic question of the permissibility of praying at graves. As I noted before, this is a complex halachic issue that is the source of Jewish debate. What is not debated is whether praying to the dead is permitted. This act is a biblical prohibition related to necromancy. Without a doubt most of those who travel to Uman are actually praying to “Rebbe Nachman.” Some of them may actually try to convince you that they are praying there in his merit, or asking him to intercede, but their words betray their true intentions. Their motivations and expectations are such that it is clear that they have come to Uman to “speak” to Rebbe Nachman. Many of them will tell you this outright. They believe that he has the power (and indeed, that he has given his promise) to answer their prayers! These misguided Jews will tell you, that Rebbe Nachman informed his students prior to his death that he would answer the prayers of those who came to daven at his grave. “It’s all in Rav Nachman’s hands,” they explain.

On the web at breslov.com, one can find such views explaining the “custom”:

“Rebbe Nachman made a promise that no other Tzaddik in the whole of Jewish history has ever made. Taking two of his closest followers as witnesses, he said: “When my days are ended and I leave this world, I will intercede for anyone who comes to my grave, recites the Ten Psalms of the General Remedy – the Tikkun HaKlali (The 10 specific chapters in the book of Psalms are: 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150. For further details, see Rabbi Nachman’s Tikkun, Breslov Research Institute, 1984.) – and gives some charity. No matter how serious his sins and transgressions, I will do everything in my power to save him and cleanse him. I will span the length and breadth of the Creation for him. By his payos I will pull him out of Hell!” (Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom #141). “It makes no difference what he did until that day, as long as he undertakes not to return to his foolish ways from now on” (Tzaddik #122). This is avodah zarah (idol worship)!

Chief Ukrainian Rabbi Calls for Removal of Provocative Cross

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

The recent placing of a crucifix near the Uman grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov was an act of “clear provocation,” said Ukraine’s Rabbi Yaakov Bleich, who called for its immediate removal.

“Ukraine is not a Jewish country, and Ukrainian Jews respect Christian symbols like crosses,” Bleich told the Jewish Ukrainian news site Еvreiskiy.kiev.ua. “However, the cross raised in Uman, in the immediate vicinity of the tomb of Rabbi Nachman, is a clear provocation.”

Earlier this month, Hebrew graffiti was discovered on the crucifix, which was erected in recent weeks on the banks of a lake near the grave of the 18th-century founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement. The Hebrew message read: “To exact vengeance on the gentiles.” A further inscription on the crucifix’s leg reads: “Stop desecrating the name of God.”

Referring to an estimated 30,000 Jewish pilgrims expected to arrive in Uman for Rosh Hashanah, Bleich said: “They will not be able to pray there this year.” He told JTA the cross would prevent the pilgrims from performing tashlich, a prayer often accompanied with the ritual of symbolically casting off the sins of the previous year by tossing pieces of bread or another food into a body of flowing water.

Exacting Vengeance on the Gentiles?

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Once again we are treated to the sight of very religious looking Jews acting like a street gang. A statue of a cross with a figure of Jesus on it was defaced by a group of Breslover Chasidim in Uman. The cross was recently erected opposite the grave of the founder of this Chasidus, Rav Nachman of Breslov – located in the Ukrainian city of Uman. From JTA:

“To exact vengeance on the gentiles,” reads the message, which was scrawled across the torso of a figure of Jesus. A further inscription on Jesus’ leg reads, “Stop desecrating the name of God.”

This kind of thing would not surprise me if it were being done by extremists from a community that embraces an isolationist lifestyle. But although they are hardcore Chasidim who dress and look much the same as Satmar Chasidim – Breslovers do a lot of outreach. I would expect them to know how to behave in a more civilized manner. They must have had a socialization process that taught them that or they could not do outreach. And yet here they have acted in a completely uncivilized way.

So it comes as a bit of a surprise that a Christian symbol near their venerated Rebbe’s grave site was desecrated with graffiti. I guess their socialization process goes just so far. A statue of Jesus so close to their Rebbe’s grave site was too much to handle.

I don’t know why the Ukrainian Government chose that site for its statue. I don’t think it was a wise decision. But at the same time, I don’t think it was necessarily meant to ‘stick it’ to the Breslovers either. It was probably just not a well thought out plan.

I can understand why these Chasidim felt outrage. They consider the Breslover Rebbe’s gravesite to be so holy that make annual pilgrimages to it. Tens of thousands of Jews (mostly Breslover Chasidim) from all over the world visit it during Rosh Hashanah – one of the holiest times of the year. It is almost as though they were making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem’s Holy Temple. Seeing the sight of Jesus on a cross must have made them feel like they were seeing Avodah Zara in the Beis HaMikdash.

The outrage is understandable. But their expression of it is inexcusable. It is the kind of behavior that can bring tragedy upon the Jewish people. Uman is not Jerusalem. R. Nachman’s gravesite is not the Beis HaMikdash. The citizens of Uman are their hosts. Breslovers are guests. And the guests have just defaced the image of the god their hosts worship.

The more responsible Breslover leadership has apologized. Sort of. From JTA:

“We respect other religions, and don’t wish to damage symbols of other religions. But, unfortunately, not all of our coreligionists understand this. They could break or destroy the cross. That would lead to a genuine war between hasidim and Christians. We cannot allow that, so we request that the cross be moved to a different location,” said Shimon Busquila, a representative of the Rabbi Nachman International Fund…

It may have been a legitimate request. But it was made too late. If made at all it should have been made politely before the statue was vandalized. Nonetheless the deputy mayor of Uman agreed with it.

On the other hand the citizens of Uman were so outraged by the vandalism – that they will have no part of moving the statue. They promised retaliation against Rav Nachman’s grave if it is moved. I can’t say that I blame them.

I think the point to be made here is contained in the response made by Shimon Busquila: ‘…not all of our coreligionists understand this’.

That is exactly the problem. Why don’t they understand this? It is not enough for a leader to simply say that some of their co-religionists do not understand the consequences of being uncivilized – thereby damaging the property of their hosts.  Especially their religious symbols. No matter how upsetting it is to them.

The Chasidim who did this are taught to hate non Jewish religious symbols much more than they are taught to behave in civilized ways when encountering them. So when they get upset at the sight of one of those hated symbols, they react in ways that bring ill repute upon – and ill will against – our people. They do so without thinking or perhaps even caring about the consequences.

New Super-Size Kitchen for Jews in Uman for Rosh HaShanah

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Jewish volunteers have finished building a kitchen the size of a basketball court in Uman, Ukraine, where they plan to prepare 105,000 meals to serve an expected 20,000 Jews visiting and praying at the burial site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

The new kitchen, donated by philanthropist and entrepreneur Steve Bogomilsky of Florida, replaced a smaller setup used in previous years by volunteers and employees of Uman’s Hachnasat Orchim project: A giant dining hall with 15,000 seats will be available for Jews to eat before and during Rosh HaShanah.

Meshulom (Charles) Rubinfeld, who is heading the project in Uman, said the kitchen’s 37 ovens and 17 burners will be used to cook 18 tons of meat, 13 tons of chicken and 105,000 pieces of fish, along with 250,000 challah rolls.

The cattle and poultry were slaughtered in Ukraine by butchers from the Badatz, Israeli’s most stringent kosher authority, who flew in from Israel. Other ingredients, all Badatz supervised, were shipped in from Israel in four containers.

Rubinfeld  said the food will be served in seven meals, 15,000 plates per meal, before and during Rosh Hashanah, which begins Sept. 4.

All leftover food will go to Jewish and non-Jewish charities in Ukraine, said Rubinfeld, who is holding weekly meetings with local officials to increase cooperation and minimize friction between Uman residents and the Jewish pilgrims.

Jewish Money Changer Robbed in Uman

Saturday, August 3rd, 2013

On Friday, local Ukrainians robbed a Jewish money changer in his apartment in Uman, Ukraine, not for from the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, Hakol Hayehudi reported.

The robbers threw a brick at the money changer’s head, injuring him. He was taken to hospital for treatment, his condition is mild to moderate.

Breslov Jews Robbed of $50,000 in Uman

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Unknown assailants robbed $50,000 from Haredi Jews last week at the Uman headquarters of a nonprofit group that works to accommodate the tens of thousands of followers of the Breslover rebbe who will pour into the city for the High Holidays in September, Ukrainian authorities said.

The Ukrainian newspaper Segodnia reported that the money was meant to create better infrastructure for the pilgrims.

Natalia Taran, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry’s spokeswoman for the Cherkasy region in central Ukraine, was quoted as saying the assailants physically attacked at least one worker of the group helping the pilgrims.

The robbers took a safe containing the money after beating a local security guard.

Last week, the mayor of Uman ordered a halt to earthwork near the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman following protests by Haredim who feared that new earth brought in by contractors may contain human bones that would render the gravesite impure according to the Orthodox Jewish view.

Local Jews arranged for earth free of bone fragments to be delivered instead, according to the website.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/breslov-jews-robbed-of-50000-in-uman/2013/07/30/

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