18 Tishrei 5782 / Friday, September 24, 2021 | Torah Reading: Sukkot
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HomeSpirituality and FaithSpiritual GrowthI Can’t Be BRESLEV!
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I Can’t Be BRESLEV!    


Breslev does NOT involve dancing on cars, nor changing any of your external dress or customs. The life changing advice is where it’s at, and the proof is in the pudding…


Hi there.  So I just finished my very first hitbodedut session!  It was easier and harder than I thought in some strange way!!!  May Hashem Bless me with the merit to keep at it! 


The question that comes up in my head, and again forgive me if it sounds disrespectful at all, but how do we know Rebbe Nachman was the true Tzaddik and the heir to Moshe Rabbenu?  And if he is no longer with us physically, how is he the tzaddik of this generation.  How do we avoid ascribing authority to a false Tzaddik.   

M.S., NY, USA 


Excellent questions!!! 


First thing - everything will get clarified with prayer. You cannot come close to Rebbe Nachman - Rebbe Nachman has to bring you close. Rebbe Natan of Breslev is very strong that we must ask Hashem every day to show you the truth and to come close to the true tzaddik.  


Secondly - you can only know this truth through EXPERIENCING it. A lot of that includes going to Uman - you just don't understand until you've been there. I personally have never had such experiences - the only place that comes close is the Kotel 


Then there are all the incredible things that happen by connecting to Rebbe Nachman, learning his books, etc. Too many stories for me to tell you, but the more you connect, the more you experience - and the more you don't just believe, but you KNOW.  


The definition of the true tzaddik is the tzaddik who can bring everyone, without exception, back to Hashem, and light the path for each one according to his soul root. As you experience this from Rebbe Nachman’s teachings, both direct and through his students like Rabbi Arush, it is easy to be convinced that this is the real deal man. 


In fact it's much like hitbodedut. The more you speak to Hashem in your own words, the more you'll see Hashem's Hand in your life, and the more you will start having a real, personal relationship with G-d. G-d stops being some abstract, and begins to become real in a way that’s hard to describe. You no longer wonder if you're talking to the air or the trees anymore, because the air and the trees don't send you the responses you’ve gotten... G-d has many messengers, and the responses through them start coming in loud and clear. 


Now, regarding the fact that Rebbe Nachman isn’t in this world anymore - Rebbe Nachman “lives” on in his teachings and his students, who form an unbroken chain. His advice is “the advice” until Mashiach – and those teachings are not dependent on him being in a physical body.  


However, Rebbe Nachman also explains, that for each generation there are "manhigei emet" - true leaders. And we must connect ourselves to BOTH the tzaddik (Rebbe Nachman) and the  manhig  of  each  generation. Rabbi Arush says you know that you’ve found a true leader if he helps you have stronger emuna, be more happy and come closer to Hashem. 


As for the third question about avoiding a false tzaddik or leader – once again, you must PRAY to Hashem and beg Him to help you. But if you don't pray, then you don't get assistance, and then you could fall for the wrong rabbi.  


I did that more than once and it's terrifying. BUT in the end those experiences gave me super feelers for fakers - so when I found Rabbi Arush - those same feelers now went flashing green instead of flashing red: “Wow, this is the real deal!” 


The Big Picture 


I totally get where you are coming from. I was in the same spot. Who even knew what a tzaddik was?! Sure, there are 36 of them hidden somewhere – but I didn’t know anything else. 


We are all a soul in a body. The problem is, that you and I have bodies that are so heavy and opaque, that it’s hard to find the soul, or hear its voice. Essentially, we end up a body with a soul. 


Tzaddikim are the opposite – they are SOULS with a body – they are so connected to the reality of their soul, and their bodies are so refined, clear and pure, that they can connect to their soul in a way we can’t. Then, when they pass from this world, they shed the body which limits them, and now they become even greater – as it says in the Gemara, “Rav Chama bar Chanina said: 'Tzaddikim are greater in death than in life. 


Let’s also be honest – it’s hard to reconcile Rebbe Nachman being the tzaddik of the generation, and “Breslevers” who dance on cars, which is what I think most people in America think of when they hear the word “Breslev. I was a closet Breslever for a long time for this reason, and I know many others. 


The reality is that these are just ploys by the Evil Inclination to hide the truth. After all, if the truth was so obvious, he wouldn’t have much of a job, would he? Much like people don’t want to become religious because they see Niturei Karta shaking hands with the Achmidena-nut-job on the media – when in reality, they hardly represent a speck of Torah Judaism, and we don’t even recognize them! 


So too, the Evil Inclination puts up this front of the guys in white dancing on cars. The reality? Rabbi Arush said it best when he asked, “Is it possible to call yourself ‘Breslev’ when you don’t fulfill the advice of Rebbe Nachman?!” Just look at Rabbi Arush himself – he is the pinnacle of a Breslever, and he wears a simple black and white jacket and pants (not even a suit!), and is about the most normal, sane human being I could imagine. There are umpteen numbers of us “normal  Breslevers  running around, and we represent the real majority of Breslev. It’s just a stigma – and an outright lie. 


Again - the more you learn, the more you try out. The more you try, the more you experience it - this IS the truth! Once you've tasted it, there is no turning back. It’s the Hungarian wine in Rebbe Nachman’s story – once you’ve tasted it, you can’t be fooled by a fake anymore. 


Remember – Rebbe Nachman’s teachings are for everyone – that’s why he is the true tzaddik! You don’t need to change anything external, your customs, or way of dress whatsoever. No one else even needs to know! (Although obviously it’s wonderful to share with others who might be open so they can benefit too). 


Don’t just believe me. Pray about it and keep learning and I hope that soon enough you’ll know it for yourself.  


MS wrote me back: 


I resonate with everything you're saying and I'm so glad to hear that the guys dancing on top of vans isn't real Breslev.  I was always drawn to the little I have read of Breslev teachings but I was like, “Come on, I can't be one of those guys!” 



Rachel Avrahami grew up in Los Angeles, CA, USA in a far-off valley where she was one of only a handful of Jews in a public high school of thousands. She found Hashem in the urban jungle of university. Rachel was privileged to read one of the first copies of The Garden of Emuna in English, and the rest, as they say, is history. She made Aliyah and immediately began working at Breslev Israel.  
Rachel is now the Editor of Breslev Israel's English website. She welcomes questions, comments, articles, and personal stories to her email: rachel.avrahami@breslev.co.il. 


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