Processing Uman Rosh Hashana 2019

carlebach dylan

Shlomo Katz once said over that years back at a certain musical event Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and Bob Dylan were participants of a question and answer forum. The Master of Ceremonies asked Shlomo first, “What would be your dream come true”? Shlomo said “To meet every person in the world”. At that point Dylan piped up, saying “That would be my worst nightmare”.

Why did Shlomo Carlebach want to meet everyone he possibly could? I think it’s because he believed, with his deepest depths, that every single human-being on Earth has a unique aspect of God to reveal that no one else possibly can. Only I can bring out what I’m meant to, and only you can uncover the facet of God that you’re meant to. If that’s the case, then Shlomo wanted to see every face of God that’s out there. After all, we’re meant to attach ourselves to God, (וּלְדָבְקָה בוֹ), so wouldn’t we want to see as many angles of His presence as possible? That would certainly make the connection more relatable and easier.

On the other hand, with all his poetry, coolness and musical pioneering, Bob Dylan was small minded. He saw people as a burden and a nuisance to his chill, so he couldn’t imagine a worse idea than Shlomo’s fairytale dream.

Everyone who’s been to Uman will testify that there’s something totally unique about the Rosh Hashana experience there. Many say the brotherly love is on a level that can’t be matched. But it’s not just a coincidence. Rebbe Nachman told his followers to never stop reviewing Azamra (Torah 282), in which he teaches to search out and hunt for the good points in yourself and in others. The Rebbe himself was the master of this quality. He was always able to see the good. (Is it a wonder that he wanted everyone by him on Rosh Hashana, when we’re all being judged? With his ability to see the good in others, it’s only fair for Hashem to see that same good and judge us favorably). But this skill that the Rebbe developed is absolutely contagious in Uman. For some odd reason, we travel to one of the crummiest places in the world and we’re suddenly able to see the good in one another like never before. No one is ‘better than’ and everyone belongs, no matter what he looks like, where he’s from and what he did in the past. Finally finally, we can see each other with the Rebbe’s holy eyes, the eyes of Hashem Himself. What better day, the first day of the year, could there be to start anew and see ourselves and others as the one-of-a-kind Godly beings that we truly are?

Uman 2016 Revisited


With Rosh Hashana around the corner, of course, I’ve been thinking a lot about the annual kibbutz to Uman. I was recently reminiscing of my first trip to the Rebbe in 2016. I remember feeling blown away by the aura of unity and joy; It was unearthly. The experience touched me so deeply that my desire to prolong the feeling led me to learn what it’s all about. Thank God, when I returned to Israel, I still felt the longing and I started the never-ending journey of learning Rebbe Nachman‘s lessons straight from the source.

In retrospect, I’m very pleased that my interest in Uman led me to delve into the Rebbe’s books. I could have easily chosen a more cosmetic path, which I’m not certain would have had the same profound effect on me.

But I had another thought recently too. Maybe I’m wrong, (and if so I apologize), but I’d bet that at least half of the chevra the yearly pilgrimage to Uman on Rosh Hashana aren’t well-versed in the books of Breslov. So why did I think that by learning Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, I would uncover the mystery of Uman Rosh Hashana? Maybe the special feeling wasn’t sourced in his holy lessons, but rather in something else?

My friends, I tell you plainly, nearly three years after that first trip, that the amazingness of the Uman experience is solely a product of the most magnificent and awe-inspiring Torah lessons taught by Rebbe Nachman, and his admiring pupil Reb Nosson. The only thing that matches the glory of Uman is the brilliance of Toras Breslov. It’s nothing short of bewildering how his lessons can speak to the most simple unlearned people and simultaneously uncover for the greatest scholars the deepest secrets of Kabbalah. This was Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. A unique lover of all Jews – every single one – no matter where that person was holding, and an extraordinary desire to relate to that Jew and inspire him to desire a relationship with God in his every day life.

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