Breslov is very much a “book-centered” Chassidus. Rebbe Nachman and his leading follower, Reb Noson, devoted themselves to preserving their teachings in writings which they and their talmidim (students) have disseminated widely ever since. In many ways, the spiritual “light” or presence of these tzaddikim lives on in their books, which contain both profound mystical wisdom and practical advice in dealing with virtually all situations in life. In addition to publishing and republishing “classics,” such as Likutey Moharan and Likutey Halakhos, later Breslover Chassidim penned commentaries and other original works of their own, up until the present day. Many have been translated to other languages, as well, and today even illustrated children’s books are available.
Everything Breslov presents the widest posible range of Breslov publications. We offer more than four hundred Hebrew and English titles, plus CDs, story and childrens' books. Explore the beautiful heritage of Breslover Chasidus and its many facets online. Browse through the various topics, whether you are interested in scholarly or light reading. Our website displays older editions of seforim that are unavailable elsewhere, as well as the latest publications from Eretz Yisrael.
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Who Was Rabbi Nachman?
Rabbi Dovid Sears
Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810) was a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov (Rabbi Yisrael ben Eliezer, 1698-1760), legendary founder of the Chasidic movement. He was born and raised in the Baal Shem Tov's house in the town of Medzhibozh, in the western Ukrainian region that used to be called Podolia. He grew up surrounded by many prominent figures in the Chasidic world, including his maternal uncles Rabbi Moshe Chaim Ephraim of Sudylkov (1740-1800), author of the classic Degel Machaneh Ephraim and Rabbi Barukh of Medzhibozh (1757-1810), the reigning Chasidic leader in the Ukraine.
His saintly mother was known as "Feige the Prophetess" due to her extraordinary spiritual powers. It is said that she knew certain Divine Names by which she could contact the soul of the Baal Shem Tov at will. His father, Rabbi Simcha, was the son of Rabbi Nachman Horodenker (1680-1766), one of the Baal Shem Tov's leading disciples. Rabbi Simcha was an ascetic who spent much time in the surrounding forests in study and meditation. Thus, Rabbi Nachman's emphasis on hisbodedus (secluded meditation and prayer) was part of a tradition he received from his holy forebears. No doubt he was initiated at an early age into the depths of the Baal Shem Tov's way of divine service, as well.
Yet Rabbi Nachman was an “original.” He declared that he received his Torah teachings from “a place no one had reached before.” At the same time, he spoke to all. With all their kabbalistic depths, his teachings are full of practical advice and inspiration, stressing the importance of simple faith, serving G-d with joy, starting anew in every moment, regardless of what may have happened in the past, and attuning one's mind to perceive divinity in every facet of creation.
Another theme that pervades Rabbi Nachman’s teachings is attachment to tzaddikim, those who have reached the highest goal and thus can enable the rest of us to get there, too. Rabbi Nachman even intimates that he will help others find their way back to God after his physical death. He compares this to a chain of rescuers trying to save someone sinking in quicksand. The first one pulls the second, who pulls the third, etc., until they have extricated the drowning man. So, too, even after his physical passing, the tzaddik can continue to benefit the living through his teachings and followers.
Prior to his passing from this world at the young age of thirty-eight, he predicted, “I have succeeded– and I shall yet succeed…” The survival and, in recent years, exponential growth of Breslover Chasidism has vindicated the Rebbe’s words. Today numerous yeshivos have been established in Rabbi Nachman’s name; his works are widely studied in both religious and academic circles; Breslover synagogues may be found all over the world; and several large Breslov communities have been established in Israel.
One of the greatest testimonies to Rabbi Nachman’s enduring influence is the annual pilgrimage to his burial place in Uman, Ukraine. Before his passing on the second day of Chol HaMo’ed Sukkos, 1810, he spoke about the importance of coming to him for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year – implying that this would be one of the ways he would complete the great task he had begun in the world. Today more than 25,000 Jews from all walks of life heed Rabbi Nachman’s call, and travel to Uman for “the Rebbe’s Rosh Hashanah,” to recite the ten psalms of his Tikkun Ha-Klalli (“General Remedy”) at his gravesite, and to discover what the Rebbe meant when he said, “My Rosh Hashanah is higher than everything . . . Gohr mein zakh iz Rosh Hashanah, my very essence is Rosh Hashanah!”
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