Before becoming a disciple of Rebbe Nachman
, Reb Yudel was a disciple of Rabbi Pinchas Koretzer, and had developed a small Chassidic circle of his own. By the time Reb Yudel met Rebbe Nachman, he had a broad knowledge of Kabbalah (which he had studied with his father-in-law, Rabbi Leib Trasteneitz). Rebbe Nachman directed him to pray according to the siddur of the ARI.
When Reb Yudel met Rebbe Nachman for the first time, he started speaking in the manner of prominent Chassidim. "Let the Rebbe show us the path of serving the Creator," he said. To this, Rebbe Nachman replied, "On the earth [you want] to know the way?" (Tehillim
67:3), implying that Reb Yudel could not achieve this as long as he was insufficiently detached from his worldliness.
Rebbe Nachman then exposed him to a profound fear of Heaven. Reb Yudel was unable to withstand the intensity of the experience. Confused, he retreated to the door of the room. He remained there, afraid of moving any closer to the Rebbe. Reb Nachman then smiled at Reb Yudel, easing his fear a bit. "Why are you afraid of me?" he asked. "I am human, just like you; only I am smarter than you." Calmed by these words, Reb Yudel moved closer to the Rebbe.
Then, once again, Rebbe Nachman exposed Reb Yudel to this profound fear and again he retreated in bewilderment. The same procedure was repeated a number of times, after which Rebbe Nachmand directed Reb Yudel to confess before him.
A strong bond was formed between the two men. Thus, in spite of his age and standing, Reb Yudel surrendered his position as leader of a group of Chassidim and became a lifelong follower of Rebbe Nachman. He moved to the Medvedevka area to be close to his mentor.
After Rebbe Nachman passed away, Reb Yudel continued to devote himself to Torah and prayer day and night. Reb Yudel was looked to as one of the leading figures in the Chassidus.
Reb Yudel passed away in 1838.