13 Sivan 5779 / Sunday, June 16, 2019 | Torah Reading: Shelach Lecho
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Yitzie’s Story    

Yitzie’s Story

Yitzie, born into a Chassidic family, had gone completely “off the derech”. His marriage was in shambles and he’d fallen into really bad head-space, until Uman...


Yitzie’s Story, as told to Rabbi Lazer Brody
Hi, my name is Yitzie. I'm from New York State. I grew up “chassidish” but went totally of the path. I started working in the Big Apple and got involved in everything guys get involved in when the leave the shtetyl and go to Manhattan. You know…
Until this year at Shabbos Chanuka, I was still a chef downtown. I was on the train to the city to go to work. Suddenly, something came to my mind that I want to go to Uman for Shabbos Chanuka. I don't know why – it was so strange - no one ever told me to go. I have friends that are Breslev, but ME? “I would never go to Uman,” I told my friends. Like I was being pulled, somehow I decided to go for shabbos. I bought my ticket that night. 
I went to Uman for Shabbos and my whole life changed around. We had major obstacles on the way to Uman: I spent 3 whole days running from airport to airport and suffered from canceled flights - it was a mess. But we didn't give up. We got to Uman a half hour before candle-lighting on Friday afternoon.
After 3 days not sleeping and not eating normal, my friends went to daven mincha I haven't kept Shabbos for over 2 years. But I decided Shabbos in UMAN I have to keep. We finished davening and we went to our apartment to make the meal which I cooked actually. It was a very nice meal. And we went to sleep we were all tired after what we went through.
At 1am, I woke up and I saw my friend walking out from the apartment we rented. I asked him where he's going. “To the tziyun (gravesite),” he answered. “You want to come?” he asked me. It was 1 AM Friday night - I was tired but something told me get out of bed and go. So that's what I did.
I came into the shul that’s built over Rebbe Nachman’s tziyun and my friend told me to go up to the tziyun and tell Rebbe Nachman and what happened with you the past 3 days. “But before you go, please come to mikva,” he said.
I told my friend, “No way I’m going to mikva - I haven't been to a mikva for 10 years.” So I went to Rebbe Nachman's kever (grave) and started talking to him, just like this: “Holy Rebbe, I don't know why I'm here, but you sent me a invitation to come to you so here I am - after 3 days of traveling all over Europe, I'm here by you. What on earth do you want from me?”
I started telling Rebbe Nachman my story; not long ago, I got separated after 6 years of marriage. I went on telling him everything what's going on in my life. And in the end, I told Rabbenu Nachman, “I'm in your hands I will do whatever you want me to do but show what you want from me.”
Just as I finished, I sat down in front of the tziyun. My friend started singing Breslev songs. And I sang with him, full of joy that I hadn’t felt for a long time, if ever. Ten minutes later, someone sat down right next to me with a tikkun haklali and started saying tehillim. I had no idea who he was; my friend was standing in front of me singing away he had no idea what was happening behind him. Five minutes later, he turned around; I saw he was shocked! He signalled me that the person who's sitting next to me is somebody really big in the Breslev community. I had no idea - we finished singing and that “really big” person comes up to me and my friend and gives us blessings. He looked me in the eyes with the warmest smile I ever saw. His eyes were shining with happiness. Then from nowhere, he slapped me in the face (affectionately) a couple of times and he left.
My friend’s jaw was wide open. Lucky it was Chanuka in Ukraine and not summer in New York City, or else he’d have swallowed flies. He asked me you, “Don't you know who blessed you and slapped you? Man, you’ve hit bigger than the Lottery!” I had no idea who that person was. My friend almost screamed at me, as if I was some imbecile or something, “Don’t you understand, Yitz? That was RAV SHALOM ARUSH! He’s the voice of Rebbe Nachman in this generation! He’s the biggest Breslev mashpia (spiritual guide) – he’s spread emuna to millions of people. He wrote all those best-sellers about emuna and shalom bayit. He’s one of the biggest tzaddikim in this generation…”
I then told my friend that I told Rebbe Nachman that I don't know what you want from me, but I give myself over in your hands. My friend went crazy after I told him that. And he tells me, “Don't you see the minute You sat down, the holy Rabbi Shalom Arush sat down next to you?” My friend tells me then that Rav Shalom is a very busy guy and it’s almost impossible to get an appointment to see him. “And here – Friday night Shabbos Chanuka - he sits down next to you after you asked Rebbe Nachman what he wants from you? This is why he sent you a invitation, Yitz! Here is your answer: Hashem wants you should start learning Rav Shalom’s books and get close to Him!”
After Shabbos, I bought “The Garden of Emuna” and the “Garden of Peace”. I asked Rav Shalom which book I should start first (he didn't know that I was separated), and he told me “The Garden of Peace.
Saturday night we were ready to leave Uman; my friend begged me to go to the mikva before we leave. After this whole Shabbos, I decided to go after 10 years of not going. We left Uman and we went to Medziboz to the Baal Shem Tov’s gravesite. I don't know what happened to me but I started crying the second I stood there for 45 minutes straight. Maybe it was because the mikva washed my soul like never before.
I came back to New York a different person - no one recognized me. I started keeping Shabbos… keeping kosher…  I started listening to Rav Lazer Brody’s CDs, which gives me Rav Shalom’s teachings in English. That gave me a boost in everything.
It’s now 2 months later - I find myself talking to Hashem  every day and I thank Hashem for everything he did with me. Best of all, I'm back with my wife. “Garden of Peace” made me realize a lot of mistakes I made in the past. So I changed and I saw a big difference.
Hashem should bless Rav Shalom for everything he does. He’s a big inspiration to me and to others I'm giving out a lot of CD's. And I feel blessed that I too can now help spread emuna. It’s for real – just ask me, Yitzie: I now know the score.
(We invite you to visit Rabbi Lazer Brody’s award-winning daily web journal Lazer Beams)

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  4 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  I am most moved by this testimony
Girly4/15/2015 6:12:20 PM
  thank you so much for sharing your moving story!
dov stein2/23/2011 8:50:44 PM
  re'eh emunah!
Shoshanah2/21/2011 6:17:11 PM
  I loved this article!
Chana Jenny Weisberg- JewishMOM.com2/21/2011 9:52:50 AM

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