All About Breslov
Who is Rebbe Nachman?
The Breslov movement was founded by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Rebbe Nachman was born in 1772 and passed away in 1810. He was a great grandson of the Chassidic master Yisroel Ba'al Shem Tov. Like his predecessors he was raised in a very spiritual atmosphere where the sole focus was serving Hashem. From his very first breath Rebbe Nachman dedicated his life to reaching high spiritual levels. His greatness was apparent even at a very young age. As time would soon testify he would soon create a fiery movement of spiritual revival, breathing new life into Chassidus, and reigniting the hearts of countless souls to draw close to their father in heaven.
Rebbe Nachman's endless service and countless acts of devotion allowed him to reach extremely lofty levels. He was imbued with deep esoteric comprehensions of the Torah and rare insights. He had the ability to relate to his spiritual contemporaries and to inspire the simple masses. Rebbe Nachman's stirring teachings soon began affecting many sincere and searching Jews and a following was formed. The last 8 years of Rebbe Nachman's life was spent in Breslov, Ukraine. Hence his movement was coined Breslov, and his chassidim Breslovers. Towards the end of his life Rebbe Nachman focused extensively on rectifying thousands of souls of the deceased.
What are Rebbe Nachman's teachings?
Rebbe Nachman taught his followers to pursue the same path their forefathers had taken since the very dawn of time. It was a path consisting of steadfast but simple devotion and raw faith. A glowing path of endless hope, vigor and joy, He taught that even the simplest people can be very righteous and can perform great acts of devotion. He revitalized countless souls, souls who had despaired due to the physical and spiritual onslaught of life. He gave them tools to face the vigorous challenges of those times which were particularly trying, harsh, and cruel. He stressed repeatedly the importance of developing a personal connection to Hashem by performing daily hisbodidus (personal prayer in one's mother tongue) calling out to Hashem, in gratitude and praise, and crying out for salvation. Rebbe Nachman emphasized that one should never despair and regardless of where one finds oneself the main thing is to always yearn for Hashem. Also very much stressed was the greatness of being happy. Rebbe Nachman revealed novel ideas on how serving Hashem can be done through singing, clapping, and dancing. Rebbe Nachman also expounded on the definition and role of a tzadik, and the importance of connecting to a tzadik.
Rebbe Nachman's Greatness and Influence
Though Rebbe Nachman had great lineage and could perform amazing miracles his greatness was due to his ability to touch countless Jewish souls inspiring them to draw near to their father in heaven with fire and passion.
Rebbe Nachman no longer exists physically, however tens of thousands of people find him very much alive in his teachings. As the Talmud explains that tzadikim are still alive in their passing. Through the extensive devotions of his students who dedicated their lives to spreading his teachings, thousand upon thousands of people now have access to Rebbe Nachman's fountain of wisdom. Aside from the Lekutay Moharan Rebbe Nachman's masterpiece, a large array of other Breslov sefarim exists today from both Rebbe Nachman himself and from many of his followers.
The main disciple of Rebbe Nachman was Rebbe Nosson Sternhartz of Nemirov. Rebbe Nachman claimed that Rebbe Nosson was capable of truly understanding his teachings in their fullness. It was Rebbe Nosson who Rebbe Nachman trusted in writing his Lekutay Moharan and compiling and printing his other works. Rebbe Nachman urged Rebbe Nosson to create new compilations and to continue to spread his light after his passing. Since Yehoshua's devotion for his leader Moshe Rabienu it is rare to find such commitment from a student to his master. The entire Breslov movement as we know it today is due to the selfless and endless efforts of Rebbe Nosson. He compiled, printed, distributed, and passed over Rebbe Nachman's teachings to the masses. The challenges Rebbe Nosson faced were many, and his goals unthinkable, yet he succeeded in shattering his obstacles creating an eternal flame for the Jewish people.
Since then there have been many outstanding Breslov chassidim each great in their own right. Their common denominator was one of humble service, and subservience to Rebbe Nachman. Most shunned away from positions of leadership. The stories of their devotions and accomplishments are great and astonishing.
The bulk of the Breslov movement was wiped out in Europe during the holocaust. During the half past century however a strong Breslov movement has sprouted in Israel and is spreading quickly throughout the world. It is one of the fastest growing Jewish movements of today. Many Breslov communities and institutions exist, mainly in Israel, but also in major cities around the world. Breslov outreach is strong and has influenced thousands of Jews to return to their faith.
The Breslov movement today encompasses people from all different backgrounds and walks of life. From very sheltered chassidim to open minded, colorful ba'alie teshuvah. What unites them is their commitment to follow Rebbe Nachman's teachings, and a burning desire for truth. Due to the distribution efforts from Breslov groups and motivated individuals more and more people are discovering Rebbe Nachman. Even people not overly familiar can be overheard quoting a pithy quote from Rebbe Nachman or one of his terse, educating parables. Many people are at least familiar with the Nanach movement and their colorful distribution efforts, dancing on cars, spray painting, and sticker and sefarim handouts. In such a hectic world with so much falseness and confusion, it is no wonder that throngs of people feel the need to flee the madness and so desire to return to Hashem. Many people find the guidance and inspiration they long for in the Breslov approach.
Breslov is very much noted for its massive annual pilgrimage to Rebbe Nachman's gravesite in Uman for Rosh Hashanah. Between 40,000 - 60,000 people now attend with the number growing every year. The attendees are extremely diverse, making the trip from all around the world. The mood is exciting and festive with music, food, dancing, and lots of inspiration. The strong feeling of unity is uncanny, the intensity of the holiday prayers unreal. Rebbe Nachman stressed the importance of visiting his grave especially for the Rosh Hashanah.
One of Rebbe Nachman's greatest accomplishments was the revelation of the Tikkun haklali. It is essentially 10 psalms from the Tehillim, which when read successively perform a very great rectification. The Tikkun Haklali is read by countless people all over the world, and many read it daily.