Uman, Ashrenu!, Part 4
Uman is a Breslever birthday.
If you ask a Breslever Chassid how old he is, he’ll answer “eight” or “ten” or “sixteen”, dependant on the number of times he’s been to Uman on Rosh
Hashana. Everyone that participates in the Rosh Hashana gathering in Uman has a share in the Geula
, the full redemption of our people.
We’re required to do our job: to spend an hour in hitbodedut every day, to learn as much Gemara and Shulchan Aruch that we can, and to do our best to observe all of Hashem’s commandments. The Rebbe takes care of the rest. The Rebbe warned us of two things – not to miss a day of hitbodedut, and not to miss a day without learning Shulchan Aruch. Once we do what the tzaddik tells us to, we can then be happy for the rest of the day.
One of the most important parts of hitbodedut is thanking Hashem. Thanking Hashem opens up our heart to Hashem. You can’t be a Breslever Chassid with hitbodedut. There’s something else too – you can’t be a Breslever Chassid without learning Gemara as much as you possibly can.
Rebbe Natan got married when he was thirteen years old. He never violated the holy covenant in his life. He would guard his eyes even in a closed room. He knew the Gemara and Shulchan Aruch by heart and was a Kabbalist of the highest level. If Rebbe Natan were alive today, the biggest scholars and tzaddikim would like simpletons next to him. Yet, Rebbe Natan said to Rebbe Nachman, “Rebbe, put me in your sack and tie it up real tight so I don’t fall out!” Rebbe Natan’s entire aspiration was to cling to Rebbe Nachman. He begged Rabbenu to hold on to him tight. If that’s the case, how should we be begging Rabbenu?
The Rebbe made a promise in before he passed away, he called for two of his closest followers, Rabbi Aharon, the rabbi of Breslev, and Rabbi Naftali of Nemerov, and asked them to act as witnesses for an unusual vow. He proclaimed, "If someone comes to my grave, gives a coin to charity and says these ten Psalms (the Tikkun Haklali), I will pull him out from the depths of Gehennom. It makes no difference what he did until that day, but from that day on, he must take upon himself not to return to his foolish ways." Only the true tzaddik of the generation has the power to guarantee such a thing, just as Rebbe Pinchas ben Yair could guarantee to the villagers that the mice would stop eating their grain if they made teshuva and corrected their ways.
If we want Rabbenu to put us in his sack, we have to fulfill his advice. That means as much Torah as possible and an hour of hitbodedut every day.
Rabbenu had disciples that were the biggest tzaddikim and Kabbalists of the generation. Yet, Rebbe Natan – a youngster compared to many of the others – became Rabbenu’s leading disciple. People asked Rebbe Natan, “How did you do it? Why you and not so-and-so the great scholar or the big Rebbe?” Rebbe Natan revealed his secret and told us that he became Rabbenu’s leading disciple because he completely discarded his own intellect and plugged into the Rebbe’s holy wisdom. For Rebbe Natan, anything that he didn’t learn from Rebbe Nachman simply did not exist.
We too have the same privilege. We too can put our tiny brains aside and tap into the tremendous reservoir of Rebbe Nachman’s wisdom.
People protest and say, “I don’t need a go-between. I can get along fine with Hashem on my own. Such a statement is blindness and ignorance. That’s exactly what Korach, Datan, and Aviram thought. The world owes its existence to the tzaddik of the generation, who is actually a spark of Moshiach’s soul. Hashem had doubts about creating the world, for He knew that man would succumb to sin and bodily appetites. The soul of Moshiach promised Hashem that he would be the guarantor of mankind and that he takes responsibility for people’s penitence. That’s why we need to connect to the soul of Moshiach to make proper penitence.
The soul of Moshiach is the true tzaddik of the generation. Five different tzaddikim have had the soul of Moshiach and the capability of correcting other souls. The first was Moshe Rabbenu. The second was Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai. The third was the Ariza’l and the fourth was the Ba’al Shem Tov. The fifth was Rabbenu Nachman of Breslev, and he promised that he would be the tzaddik of the generation until Moshiach comes. Moshiach will be the sixth and final true tzaddik of the generation, may he come soon, amen.
Rabbenu left us a sign that indicates the truth of his words: he said that before Moshiach comes, people will begin longing for him. Who could believe that tens of thousands of people would flock to Uman every Rosh Hashana, and the number keeps on growing.
The true tzaddik of the generation is free of sin. Yet, Rebbe Nachman said that he suffered so many tribulations, that if he would have bitten into a thick tree, he would have felled it. So why did the Rebbe suffer so much? He knew that in the future, all types of people would clamor to do teshuva. Many of them would be rejected after the accusing angels would complain that this ex-con or this former womanizer doesn’t deserve the privilege of teshuva, just as the Heavenly voice rebuffed Elisha ben Abouya in the Gemara, tractate Chagiga 15a. Were it not for Rebbe Nachman acting as our guarantor, many of us would be rejected too. There’s not a single bit of teshuva in this generation that doesn’t owe a debt of gratitude to the true tzaddik of this generation, Rebbe Nachman! He is our source of spiritual credit. He writes checks for us when our own balance of credits is depleted. That’s why we need a connection with Rabbenu – he’s our spiritual lifeline. He connects each of us to Hashem and helps us attain our true soul correction.
On Rosh Hashana, the Rebbe handles the big life and death court case for us. He’s our guarantor. He makes sure that we make teshuva, especially on Rosh Hashana. Rebbe Nachman himself said that he can’t do the soul corrections for people that he can on Rosh Hashana.
People say, “I can’t leave my wife on Rosh Hashana.” If you’re wife can plead your case and defend you from the millions of transgressions you committed all year long, then by all means, stay home with your wife. But, people with life-and –death court cases give everything they own to get the best possible attorney to represent them, and that’s for one or two accusations only. What about a thousand? Or a million?
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Binder of blessed memory was on the wanted list in Communist Russia for teaching Torah. He knew that if he made the journey to Uman, he’d most certainly be caught. Anyway, he made the journey, was seized in Uman, and sentenced to death by a firing squad. Ultimately, he was saved by a miracle. After his release, people asked him, “Weren’t you afraid to go to Uman on Rosh Hashana?”
Reb Levi Yitzchak replied, “I was afraid not to go to Uman on Rosh Hashana.”
Rabbenu taught us that the more people that come to Uman, the more he receives the power to correct individual souls and the world in its entirety, to hasten the correction of the entire world, the coming of Moshiach, and the building of our Holy Temple in Jerusalem, speedily and in our days, Amen.
L’Shana Tova Tikatevu!
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