Uman Uman Rosh Hashana!
This blog is all about sharing with others what turns me on. I’ve learned with friends on a one on one basis and a number of them have encouraged me to go wider and this is the format that feels natural for me.
What turns me on, and really all I am interested in thinking about, talking about and writing about is consciousness and our relationship with the Source. How to perceive what’s going on in our lives, how was the world created, why was it created, what’s our purpose and role in creation and where are we going from here.
My personal expression of spirituality is grounded in the wisdom of the prophets and the holy sages past and present. I learn from and with sages and I absorb their teachings and look to integrate their wisdom into my life. Sometimes this is a slow process and other times it’s a swift radical change. Sometimes I don’t have the choice. I believe that life is a constant lesson and our job is to keep our eyes wide open to learn from the wisdom flowing toward us. I look to share this wisdom because it brings me great joy and I enjoy sharing what I believe can bring joy to others.
I have a special connection to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. His teachings can be found in several places including http://www.breslov.org
For decades, the individuals at breslov.org have tirelessly worked on organizing and translating the teachings of Rebbe Nachman. Their efforts have provided me with the luxury of having these teachings organized and translated, ready to consume.
Rebbe Nachman, a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, breathed new life into the Hasidic movement by combining the esoteric secrets of Judaism (the Kabbalah) with in-depth Torah scholarship. He attracted thousands of followers during his lifetime and his influence continues until today through many Hasidic movements such as Breslov Hasidism. Rebbe Nachman’s religious philosophy revolved around closeness to God and speaking to God in normal conversation “as you would with a best friend.” The concept of hitbodedut is central to his thinking.
I’ve found that there is a general disconnect between many peoples understanding of what Breslov Hasidism is and what they imagine it to be. Unlike Chabad Hasidism, there are no “Breslov Houses”, and without an official leader over the past 200 years, many people connect to Breslov wisdom on their own through books. There are very few Breslov communities one can find and be a part of and the organizational infrastructure is sparse and centralized to a few locations around the world.
Many people think of Breslov as a movement of hippies in white na na Nachman hats dancing to techno music around spray painted vans. A movement of ex cons and social outcasts who have found a gateway to spiritual ecstasy.
As exciting as that may sound to some, there’s an important opportunity now to educate the masses in what Breslov is and how the teachings of Rebbe Nachman are more relevant and critical than ever, for everyone.
The wisdom and relevancy of the teachings of Rebbe Nachman, as well as the teachings which have come from his teachings are extraordinarily powerful and appeal to a very wide spectrum of the population within Judaism and beyond.
The teachings of Rebbe Nachman are deep and multi-layered and one can connect to them on many levels, each according to their own perspective and stage in life.
I’ve found the most beneficial way to learn and develop spiritually is through relationships with guides who have spent their lives clearing away their own chaff and refining the jewels of wisdom within. Witnessing firsthand the attributes and lifestyle of those who live the wisdom provides much more than simply reading a book on our own. Just like experiencing a Shabbat is necessary in order to truly understand its power and meaning.
So how can one who is interested in the wisdom of Breslov Hasidism take their connection to the next level? How can one who’s soul is thirsting for the truth and power in the words of Rebbe Nachman connect to an anchor of this wisdom? They need to develop a relationship with a guide. And this is what breslov.org is creating now through Breslov Campus. Direct access to the Breslov all-stars around the world from the comfort of your own home and office. It’s all about the Rebbe to them.
This is also what my soul brother Rav Dror Moshe Cassouto is building at http://www.emunahchannel.com and the new Emunah Center in Jerusalem. Rav Dror’s friendship, strength and daily videos continue to change my life and thousands of other lives around the globe in profound ways. It’s all about the Rebbe to him.
And this is also what my dear friend and guide in Jerusalem, Rav Baruch Gartner, is building through illuminating one on one psycho-spiritual video sessions which rock worlds and bring clarity, purpose and joy to so many of my friends and family’s lives. Last year in Uman, Rav Gartner said that he is just another monkey on the chain to the big Gorilla. It’s all about the Rebbe to him.
And then there’s Uman.
Next week I’m gonna leave my wife and three kids again for Rosh Hashana. I’m gonna leave them to fend for themselves while I fly to Ukraine for a week. On the surface this can seem like a highly selfish act.
Fortunately for me, my beyond generous and open minded spiritual gangster wife went to Barnard, drove a 1340 CC Harley Davidson low rider, and when asked for her hand in marriage said “as long as you are committed to achieving your spiritual potential”. She knows I plan to slay it out east and bring back a year of penetrating light for the bayis.
I’m fully aware that this sounds odd to most people but I believe I can connect with souls which have dropped their garb. I believe their spirits are still here. And I believe the influence they have over me only increases with their physical passing. So my connection to Rebbe Nachman is alive and well.
I believe Rosh Hashana is the day of judgement, and that what is decreed on Rosh Hashana impacts the upcoming year for my and my family’s lives – so I look at Rosh Hashana in Uman as more of a spiritual business trip than a family holiday like Sukkot, Pesach and Thanksgiving.
Maybe I’m extreme. Maybe I walk so far out from the norm to chase the light so I can bring it back for us. No one ever accused me of being normal – but I feel that my trip to Uman, to be with 40,000 brothers by the grave site of a sage whose wisdom I immerse myself in – and all my holy rabbis and guides, and brother’s who join me – I believe that’s the most normal and rational thing I can imagine.
Leaving my wife and kids for a week?
Would that be an issue if I was standing trial?
I am. And I’m representing them.
Would that be an issue if I was headed on a business trip to support my family?
I am. This is when health and wealth for the upcoming year is crystallized.
I leave for the most treasured purpose of all – to chase the light of my salvation, to make me a better person, to connect to reality – to alter reality – to channel blessings into my life, my family’s lives, to our people and the world. It’s better than bringing back diamonds and gold.
So does it have to be done in Uman on Rosh Hashana?
My business trip is in Ukraine. It’s where I feel most connected during Rosh Hashana and where I feel I can be most effective in accomplishing my objectives. Sometimes these questions are really more about the one asking them. Like they are looking for strength from your strength – a subconscious effort to accumulate ammunition to battle for their own highest good. And I’m happy to assist.
Every single year, I along with my guides and brothers I’ve brought with me have the most insane positive holy trans-formative spiritual life changing experiences there.
Leaving my kids? I cant wait to take them. I consider it every year. Taking my holy tzaddikim twins to Uman is going to be incredible. They are mad at me every year I don’t. Maybe next year.
The arrival in Kiev is a like a hostile takeover – Jews everywhere – young hasidim from all over the world with runny noses and DNA strand side locks holding onto their tati’s bekishes. Sephardi businessmen with gold rolexes reciting psalms. Disheveled yeshiva students, hands interlocked with Israeli hippies, singing and dancing – and robotic large men with broad shoulders and big hands in uniform stamping passports – the baggage claim – the exit to the buses and cars lined up for the 3 hour drive to Uman. The dancing and singing on the bus. The brotherhood. The excitement in the air.
The strange towns passed by – the open sunflower fields – the expansive forests traveled through by brothers long gone on cold winter nights to visit their tzadik. The history in those forests.
The mafia encounters along the way – the arrival in Uman – the heavy bags and the rocky dirt roads – the heavy flow of joyous brothers walking everywhere in every direction – in song and in awe – the energy is thick and building. The sounds of the shofar, holy beggars shaking cans and Breslov techno blaring in the streets.
The 3am mikvah. The magical sunrise. The all day prayer. The deep meditation in the fields. The pulsating energy radiating from the grave of the Rebbe.
The sweet feeling of togetherness that makes you just stop and smile.
I wish for you and bless you that you be granted in the approaching days of judgement, to be inscribed and sealed in the book of judgement for a good life.