Klap Freilich!
Jul31

Klap Freilich!

Wedding are such joyous affairs. Yet today’s weddings are fairly tame compared to the way they used to be. In prewar Europe, the average Jewish wedding was an all-night event. Musicians were hired to play a full program of lively tunes and people would dance happily for many hours. The joyous atmosphere was infectious. Reb Noson once attended the wedding of a very distant relative, although he usually didn’t attend the affairs of...

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Passion for the Truth
Jul24

Passion for the Truth

The lack of truth and honesty in the world distressed Reb Noson no end. One morning he was so upset, he was unable to pray with his usual joy. He prayed apathetically until he reached the verse “Who protects truth for eternity.” These words ignited the rest of his prayers with enthusiasm and joy. He explained the deep encouragement he found in this verse through a parable: A nobleman had a resplendent garden with every species of...

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Longing for the Land
Jul17

Longing for the Land

For forty years, the Rabbi of Volochisk’s yearning to go to the Land of the Israel was the recurring theme of his conversation. There was once a prisoner sentenced to a very long time in jail. Although he had left behind a comfortable, well-furnished home, he became so used to his life in prison that when asked where his home was, he pointed to his cell. When this prisoner took a careful account of his life, however, he...

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Rebuilding from the Ashes
Jul09

Rebuilding from the Ashes

Once there was a devastating fire in the town of Breslov. Shortly after the conflagration, Reb Noson went with several other Breslovers to survey the damage. They saw a homeowner frantically digging through the ruins of his house. He was searching for anything that could be used in rebuilding his house. Any usable wood or metal was carefully set aside. Then the search continued. “Do you see?” Reb Noson asked his companions. “Although...

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“Take a Rendel”
Jul03

“Take a Rendel”

Two business partners worked hard to make it in the world. Eventually they separated, but remained good friends. One partner went on to great success and grew very wealthy. His former partner, though, lost everything. Lacking prospects, he decided to approach his old partner for help. The wealthy man’s compassion was aroused and he graciously agreed to support his old friend. They went on this way for years; sometimes the poor man...

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A River Of Tears
Jun26

A River Of Tears

In 1914, World War I had just begun and 20 million Russian soldiers were on the battlefield, falling like straw before the wind. Like most religious Jews, young Breslovers did their utmost to avoid the army, not only because of the dangers but also because of rampant anti-Semitism in the ranks. In Uman, many attempted to hide in the kloyz (Breslov synagogue), but it was hardly necessary since the authorities turned a blind eye on...

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Fanning the Flame
Jun19

Fanning the Flame

Once a man who was indifferent about serving God attended one of the Maggid of Dubno’s fiery sermons. Despite the Maggid’s inspiring words, this man still felt completely unmoved. Boldly, in front of a crowd of enthusiastic listeners, he challenged the Maggid to explain why he couldn’t reach him, too. Characteristically, the Maggid answered with an original parable: There was once a villager who visited the big city for the first...

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The Hired Gun (Part 2)
Jun11

The Hired Gun (Part 2)

(Recap: Chaim Katzav, the intimidating kosher butcher of Kiblitch, is dispatched to kill Reb Pinchas, the Breslov teacher – but is inspired to change his ways after hearing Reb Pinchas’ encouraging words.) With burgeoning hope in his heart and tears in his eyes, Chaim Katzav approached Reb Pinchas. “Can even I do teshuvah for my sins?” he asked. “I have sinned so terribly against you!” “Of course you can,” said Reb Pinchas. “Teshuvah...

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The U.S.-Israel Connection
May29

The U.S.-Israel Connection

Rabbi Zvi Aryeh Rosenfeld, a pioneering Breslov educator who spread Rebbe Nachman’s teachings in North America beginning in the 1940s, had a very deep love for the Land of Israel. While he reached out to Jews who were distant from God and taught many adults and children the basics of Torah and mitzvot, he would always try to strengthen his connection with the Holy Land. In addition to traveling to Israel over 50 times, he collected...

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The Hired Gun
May22

The Hired Gun

Reb Pinchas was teaching Breslov wisdom to the youth in Kiblitch, and many townsfolk were upset. The kosher butcher in Kiblitch was known as Chaim Katsav. He was also known as “Chaim She’yeish Bo” (Chaim Who’s Got It), because he was a giant of a man and extremely strong. Money meant everything to him, and he was easily swayed. The entire town feared him. Some parents decided to pay Chaim to take Reb Pinchas out the picture … by...

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Stories of Breslov Elders: The Silent Partner
May13

Stories of Breslov Elders: The Silent Partner

Reb Chaim Krassenstein of Kharkhov (a city in eastern Ukraine) was a Breslover chassid who lived in Russia before the Communist Revolution. Reb Chaim was a successful manufacturer, and his business made him quite wealthy. In the beginning he tithed his income, but as his wealth grew, he began to give 20% to charity. He would either send it to Uman (where the largest Breslov community lived at that time), or he would bring it there...

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Stories of Breslov Elders: Focused Prayer & Lag BaOmer
May07

Stories of Breslov Elders: Focused Prayer & Lag BaOmer

The crush of people who converge on Meron during Lag BaOmer is unbelievable. One needs a lot of “holy chutzpah” to withstand the crowds and get into the cave where Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son Rabbi Elazar are buried. Getting near the tombs is even harder. Rabbi Yaakov Meir Schechter recounts a fascinating experience he had that taught him what a regular practice of hitbodedut and cultivation of the quality of selflessness can...

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Stories of Breslov Elders: Too Easy
May01

Stories of Breslov Elders: Too Easy

When Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz was the Rav of Kremenchug, the head of the community once urgently knocked at his door. Some soldiers had arrived, demanding 50,000 rubles for the release of two Jews. If the community didn’t pay the ransom by evening, they would kill the hostages. “This certainly warrants my attention,” cried Rabbi Sternhartz. “It’s a great mitzvah to redeem a captive Jew!” He hurried to the home of one of the wealthy...

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I Give, You Give
Apr24

I Give, You Give

The legendary Polish Breslover chassid and tzaddik, R’ Ben-Zion Apter, lost his entire family during the Holocaust. Somehow he survived and immigrated to Israel, where he was a favored guest in the courts of many great Chassidic rebbes. In his later years, he would go to weddings and other celebrations to collect money for the poor, even though he lived in dire poverty himself. A skilled badchan (wedding entertainer), R’ Ben-Zion...

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Respect For All
Apr09

Respect For All

During the years of persecution that Reb Noson and his followers endured, Reb Noson’s opponents in the town of Breslov arranged for the local authorities to set up a boot factory to supply an army unit stationed nearby. The site they chose for the factory was Reb Noson’s house. In the weeks before Pesach, a group of non-Jewish workers converted the main room into a workshop, filling it with foul-smelling hides. There they worked and...

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The Taste of True Pesach
Apr02

The Taste of True Pesach

The grinding poverty suffered by ordinary people in Ukraine over a hundred years ago is hard for us to imagine. Pesach was especially difficult for the poor. So many expenses … where was the money supposed to come from? Reb Noson was no stranger to poverty. One year his family lacked the most basic requirements, such as matzah. As they drew water for Pesach, Reb Noson began to dance. He joyously proclaimed, “Thank God we have...

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