R’ Fishel Todd and R’ Don Channan had the merit of being in Uman this past week where they presented Semicha to R’ Yehuda Levinson a lawyer in TORONTO Canada. This event was probably the first time one has received Semicha there in at least 100 years. R’ Fishel felt it appropriate to write a few words that would help better depict the Uman Experience properly.
Dear Chabura, prior to our arrival in Uman we did not know what to expect. To begin with let me take the liberty of giving a little background about this excursion. In quoting R’ Chaim Kramers book called Crossing the Narrow Bridge Rebbe Nachman zt’l teaches: People travel to the Tazddik for Rosh Hashanah. The reason is as follows: Decrees pertaining to the entire year are issued on Rosh Hashana. As such, this is the main time for mitigating and sweetening any decree. The sweetening must take place at its source that is through the Tzaddik (Righteous person). So people then travel to Tzaddikim for Rosh Hashana to bring compassion for the entire year. Reb Noson once remarked, “Even if the road to Uman were paved with knives, I would crawl there-just so that I could be by Rebbe Nachman for Rosh Hashanah.”
This is the special day of the year when all ones yearnings for the year swell up from inside of us and manifest themselves in prayer and supplication in pleading with g-d to grant us only good and prosperity throughout the forthcoming year. As Rosh Hashanah approaches and the judgment is about to be rendered it is as well coupled with the faith that in the Rebbe (R’ Nachman) they have the best possible “defense attorney” one could hope to have. One arrives at the gathering with a mixture of awe and joy, with a reverence of the day and a gladness for having been able to cast his lot together with all those who have joined R’ Nachman’s gathering.
Upon our arrival we witnessed a city built for a few thousand swelling to one of containing 30 – 40 thousand (impossible to be exact on this). The initial reaction of this diverse crowd was a bit overwhelming especially with the diversity of people from all over the world focusing for the most part on our brief outline above. Once everyone found their places their focus was on teffilla and an out pouring of prayer and happiness focused on their “defense atty” to plead their case in the heavenly courts.
The groups ranged from the stall worth devoted Breslever Chassidim and their sons. Many from the holy land of Israel from varied backgrounds, many from the United States and English speaking countries including south Africa, Australia and South America displaying both sincerity and devotion to their goals for this journey. One will always find a meal as an American group sets up a kitchen facility that will rival the best meals in the world. This endeavor no doubt costed in the millions, but no doubt a priceless blessing from above was received in return. In addition there are many smaller such facilities catering to those who need a nourishing meal in an environment that causes one to concentrate on their spirituality. The gratitude for these facilities also had no measure.
There is a small makeshift marketplace where almost anything one could need there from fresh bread to an Israeli mini market to toy guns for the kids to play with (I bought 5 I think). In addition there is a place to purchase local phones and sim cards. Once the holiday began all took their places in a variety of minyans in almost any corner one could set up. The Kloize is the major home to thousands where there is two floors and make shift bleacher seats which had to be temporarily installed.
The next major center is the Burial place of R’ Nachman where many pray both inside and out. In the inner room there a benches where many say the Tikun Klalki is said. This is an arrangement of ten Psalms (16,32,41,42,59,77,90,105,137,150) revealed by Rebbe Nachman of Breslev which are conducive to purification of the soul and personal holiness.
Throughout the time there, there was many lectures and the more one wanted to raise themselves spiritually the more they could.
The more time we spent saying these Psalms the more spirituality one could feel in that special room. It was a meeting place to friends we knew from all over the world. The more time you spent there the more you could almost literally reach out with your hand and grab onto something that was as real as one can almost see. The sincerity that was displayed was mind boggling despite the conscription and limitation of space.
In addition, patience was a virtue, so all that had patience had an approach and ability to reach the actual gravesite and pour their heart felt pleas.
The friends we made and prayers we prayed made a lasting life time impression. This impression needs to be reinforced daily through our Hitbodedut (personal prayers).
One can only be amazed and inspired to walk in the nearby fields and see them filled with people from all walks of life doing their personal prayer… what a sight to behold…thousands praying in the fields of UKRAINE 200 years after the passing on of R’ Nachman zt’l. There is so much more to say and write about, but R’ Don and myself were touched to our deepest core in now being better able to relate to Hashem. We will continue to write about our experiences throughout the year.
Via the Shema Yisrael Torah Network