Today is the yartzeit of one of the greatest Jewish writers of our time, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan Za”l.
The Breslov community is particularly indebted to Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan’s translation of “Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom” was first published in 1973 on the initiative of Rabbi Zvi Aryeh Rosenfeld, who was the leading English-speaking Breslover teacher in the United States. It was a pioneering work, being the first reliable translation into English of any of Rebbe Nachman’s writings. It required not only a profound understanding of the subject matter itself, but also a unique approach in giving expression to such lofty ideals in a manner which would be both accurate and at the same time accessible to the general reader. This was Rabbi Kaplan’s first ever book and he would go on to thank Rebbe Nachman for showing him that he was a gifted and capable writer.
It was the publication of Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom that opened the way for the translation of other Breslover works. Subsequently the Breslov Research Institute was founded to undertake the translation and publication of Rebbe Nachman’s writings. Reb Chaim Kramer spoke with Rabbi Kaplan about starting the work on several projects, the first was “Outpouring of the Soul,” the second was “Rabbi Nachman’s Stories.” The idea then was to translate and publish the ten major works of the Rebbe, excluding the Likutey Moharan which was considered too difficult to bring down to a layman’s level. So they began.
Rabbi Nachman’s Stories was released in January 1983. Sadly, Rabbi Kaplan passed away right around then, he left over a manuscript of the Rebbe’s life which he gave to the Breslov Research Institute and it was named, “Until The Mashiach”, published in 1984.
Rabbi Kaplan’s writes in the preface of his first book, “Spending these months immersed in Rebbe Nachman’s works has been a source of inspiration that was, as Reb Noson would say, “beyond the power of words to describe.” It is my hope that they serve as a similar source of inspiration to those who read this book.”
May the many he inspired bring his holy soul much merit for all eternity, Amen.