By Reb Yaakov Klein of the Lost Princess Initiative – The Lost Princess Initiative
I know that people feel very passionately about the subject at hand. I have listened to and processed many of the arguments on both sides, having been back, and forth, and then back again myself. At the end of the day, I don’t know whether there is a clear “right” or “wrong” on the Uman issue. As R’ Chaim Kramer put it, “I can’t tell you to go and I won’t tell you not to go.” To my knowledge, there is no prophet in this generation who can definitively tell us one way or another. A person who approaches the conversation with an open mind will find that there are plenty of fair points on either side. But without trying to answer The Question of “what is one to do” – something Rebbe Nachman himself always shied away from (see Chayei Moharan 430) – the reality is that by virtue of the varied opinions, propensities, proclivities, circumstances, and personal feelings on the matter, the “Uman-goers” have been divided into many camps this year.
When I reflect on the insanity of the current situation and the multifarious experiences centered around the issue of Uman 2020 within the Breslov world, I get the feeling that Rabbeinu HaKadosh is putting us to the test here, each of us in our own way – granting us all a glorious opportunity to put various facets of his teachings to work.
– Those who feel compelled to travel at all costs are being charged with “conquering Hashem” by not capitulating to His decree (Sichos HaRan 69 and Likutei Moharan 124), and doing their utmost to overcome any barriers that stand in their way. (Likutei Moharan Tinyana 46, 48)
– Those who travel only to be turned back are being charged with rejoicing in the knowledge that they tried their best and that the main thing is the desire. (Sichos HaRan 12)
– Those who feel that this is simply not the year to go to Uman must hold firm to the tzaddik’s declarations that “fanaticism is not necessary”, and that “even while acting with simplicity, it is forbidden to be a fool,” (Sichos HaRan 51) as well as his teachings against obstinacy. (Chayei Moharan 431)
– Those who have sacrificed to spend Rosh Hashana with Rabbeinu and indeed managed, with great personal difficulty, to arrive in Uman must try their best to judge favorably those that didn’t even make an attempt, seeking to find the good points even in what – from their perspective – represents a gross miscalculation. (Likutei Moharan 282.)
– Those stuck between borders, faced with lines of impassive soldiers with riot gear as their children cry for water, are charged with finding the presence of Hashem even in the dark clouds of their suffering. (Likutei Moharan 33, 115, 195)
– Those who endure unspeakable waiting times along their travels to the resting place of our Rebbe are granted an opportunity to fulfill the teaching of “Hamtein”, putting their Breslover patience to work. (Likutei Moharan 6)
– Those who will, for the first time in decades, be spending Rosh Hashana away from Rabbeinu’s kibbutz and far removed from the spirit of the Breslover chassidim, must try their very best to remain joyous within their situation (Likutei Moharan Tinyana 24), hold tight to their faith in Hashem’s hashgacha (Likutei Moharan 250), and think only positive thoughts on Rosh Hashana. (Sichos HaRan 21)
– Those who are utterly confused, frustrated, and angry over this issue and can’t seem to find Hashem in any of this are charged with putting the Rebbe’s lesson of “Ayeh” to the test (Likutei Moharan Tinyana 12) and allowing the tzaddik’s silent songs of faith to reveal Hashem’s presence within the void. (Likutei Moharan 64)
– Those who will be joining together with other Breslover chassidim in special minyanim throughout the world are given the opportunity to truly believe that – as Reb Nosson taught – wherever Breslover chassidim gather, Rebbe Nachman’s spirit hovers upon them.
– Those who have been subject to ridicule by those who can’t possibly understand the unique Breslover Consciousness are charged with remaining silent in their experience of shame (Likutei Moharan 6) and judging the bullies favorably. (Likutei Moharan 277)
– Those who find themselves in the strangest, most God-forsaken places along their journey toward the place of their yearning are given the opportunity to remember that wherever a person travels, there is something for him to fix in that specific place. (Sichos HaRan 85)
– All are charged with taking responsibility for the collective suffering of our world (Likutei Moharan 4), with calling out to Hashem in personal prayer to request the final redemption (Likutei Moharan Tinyana 25), and with dancing the broken-hearted dance of humility to sweeten the judgments (Likutei Moharan 10).
– All are charged with crying tears of hope and joy (Likutei Moharan 175), believing that no matter where we might end up this Rosh Hashana, that’s exactly where we were supposed to be – because this is all part of Hashem’s master-plan. Like puppets in the hand of the master Puppeteer, all we know is that in the end it will be good, because despite all outward appearances, Hashem is running the world “better and better” all the time. (Sichos HaRan 307)
– All are charged with feeling the sheer power of this particular tzaddik’s spiritual-gravitational pull on thousands of souls in our generation (Likutei Moharan 70) – to the point that many were compelled to make sacrifices that so infuriated others solely because this degree of commitment to a cause (something they are personally unable to fathom) makes them a bit more uncomfortable than they are willing to admit.
In sum, we are once again experiencing the realization of Rebbe Nachman’s promise that “I will make you into many groups.” (Chayei Moharan 319) But at the end of the day, no matter where you stand on this glorious spectrum of heated debate and sensitivity, we are all bound with the spirit of this singular tzaddik whose life-giving waters flow in a great many directions. So no matter where we find ourselves this Rosh Hashana, let’s hold tight to these teachings with great joy and unity, roaring like animals in the field – as Rabbeinu wanted – for a time when the light of Hashem and His tzaddikim will envelop the world in a wondrous blanket of illumination with the coming of Moshiach, b’mheira b’yameinu.