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The Ashram Rebbe    

The Ashram Rebbe

Yotam had gone to the Ashram to figure out what this whole “third eye” thing was about. He is a bright guy, cynical enough not to let any Guru pull the wool over his eyes…


We all know that G-d is everywhere, it shouldn’t take me by surprise to find Him peeking out in places where we might not expect it, like a cultish Ashram in Florida for instance.

This story starts a long time ago, probably many reincarnations ago, but I’ll start with what I know. When my little brother was about six he suffered from headaches. My eclectic and eccentric parents have a friend, a nice Jewish girl from the Bronx, who is posing as the goddess in an ashram (a retreat for the practice of yoga or other spiritual disciplines). They asked this guru friend what to do about Yotam (that’s my bro)’s headaches. She told them that his third eye was stuck open, and being so young and living in the city with so much stimulus he was taking in more than he could process, and hence the headaches. She offered to close it for him, and he figured it was a good enough idea, so he agreed. It seems that the headaches abated.
Fast forward about fifteen years. Yotam was in college, and at some point was reminded of this third eye story. Mom decided to call her old friend the guru about it. The question was if Yotam wanted to have it “opened” now. When the Guru was on the phone with my brother she told him that she would “open his eye” just for a minute to give him a peek, but when he was ready to live with it open he should come spend some time on the Ashram and learn more tools for living with this heightened level of intuition. In the moment that Yotam had that peek he did experience something, but didn’t quite have to words to describe it. The experience piqued his interest.
Fast forward again. Yotam graduated at the top of his Ivy League class, and was recruited for a management job for a big company in LA. He spent a few years making money and trying to figure out what he wanted to be when he grew up. Having saved up enough for grad school he left the job and embarked on a journey. It was time to head out to the ashram.
I need to give you a little family background here. My dad is a big Rabbi, like I said, eclectic and eccentric. A huge heart and soul, full of stories and niggunim, but not exactly what you’d call a Halachic type. We grew up with a lot of the light of Judaism, without a lot of vessels. For me this inspired a search that brought be to Israel and eventually to Breslev. When I was early on my path, and about twenty, my brother Yotam came to join me and my mother in Israel for the year preceding his Bar Mitzvah. A series of negative experiences with religion, and religious people (including me, I’m afraid) left him pretty burnt. At the end of the year he went back to the States to live with our Dad. For many years Yotam wanted little to do with me or my Judaism. Two years ago, strange twist of events landed me in LA for about eight months, where Yotam was living and working. I was pretty spiritually stranded over there, and found my little brother who had grown into a warm and funny, deep and dynamic young man to be a dependable friend and confidant. Our talks ranged and roamed to just about everything under the sun. Even though I’m quite observant, and he is more “underconstructionist” we found that on a personal level we understood and experienced life pretty similarly.
There was a time in my life that I traveled fairly often to Uman, taking groups of women on pilgrimages. Each time I was there I would pray for my family that they would merit to be there as well. My father is already an elderly man, and travel is difficult for him. When I would talk to him about making the trip he would laugh, and say, “Not in this incarnation, my dear daughter.”
I’m a tough cookie, and I don’t give up easily on what I want. I kept praying that he would make it there, but it felt like a real long-shot. You know, those prayers that seem like for sure it’ll never happen, but it can’t hurt to try? Like that. When I was in Uman I would make it a point to call my father, even though it was very difficult without a cellphone. I wanted him to at least make a little sound in Uman. You can image my shock when my father told me that he would be traveling together with my brother Yotam to Israel for a visit, and planned on flying through the Ukraine to allow them to visit the gravesites of Rebbe Nachman and the Ba’al Shem Tov. They went, said the requisite tikkun Haklalli, and then arrived in Israel. Even though they told me about their trip I had a hard time believing that it had actually happened! On a day to day level it didn’t show signs of having completely transformed their lives, but seeds were planted.
Ok, so Yotam had left LA and gone to the Ashram to figure out what this whole “third eye” thing was about. Yotam is a bright guy, cynical enough not to let any Guru pull the wool over his eyes, but there is such a thing as Kochos HaTuma, spiritual energies from the side of impurity, and a person who has honed their skills can experience things, and cause others to experience things that most of us don’t get. While after a couple of months Yotam decided that while he might have a pretty good intuition, he doesn’t have any magical powers. In his last private meeting with the guru before leaving the ashram, she told him that the spirit of an old Russian Rabbi from about two hundred years ago watching over him, and would like to join them. In Yotam’s words:
Ma told me that the spirit of some very old Russian rabbi was asking to join us, and for a moment I really felt the presence of someone old, wise, and reserved, but very loving. He felt as present as a living, visible person would be, only without the life or visibility. He seemed to have an intimate connection to Torah, solid as a mountain beneath him. It popped into my mind that it might have been Rebbe Nachman. I felt touched, and supported, and that was beautiful.
Like I said, I have been to Uman a bunch of times, but after hearing that, the first thing I wanted to do was run and book myself another ticket. Rebbe Nachman is as alive as any of us, and involved in the details of our lives, sometimes where we least expect him. The story doesn’t have “a ride off into the sunset… happily ever after” ending yet, but I wouldn’t expect anything less than a complete Tikkun for anyone that Rabeinu has gotten his hands on!

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  2 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  Wow! What a story!
Esther7/26/2010 3:59:38 PM
  wow, amen and hallelujah!!!!
yehudit6/16/2010 10:23:54 AM

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