For the last 10 years, it’s fair to say that Breslov has been kind of on its knees.
When I started getting into it around 18 years ago, it was firmly on the way ‘up’ in the world.
The first time my husband went to Uman for Rosh Hashanah, I got grief and ‘Uman widow’ jibes from pretty much everyone.
Three years later – no-one batted an eyelid, and so many more people were heading out to Uman for Rosh Hashana.
Everywhere you went in Israel, people were ‘becoming Breslov’.
A lot of that meteoric rise was due to Rav Shalom Arush’s efforts, and the Garden of Emuna books – and also other Breslov mashpi’im, like Erev Moshe Doron, who was hanging out with a lot of the Israeli celebs at that time.
And then… it crashed.
The machloket over the Rav, and all the disgusting persecution and lurid media slanders ripped Breslov to shreds.
(It would take 10 years to understand that the people “within Breslov”, within Meah Shearim, who have been persecuting the Rav actually descend directly from very interesting families, and are close related to apparently ‘secular’ judges and politicians and big-wigs in Israel….Who could ever have guessed what was really going on, back then?)
But the point is – the fire came out of the engine, the Tzaddik HaDor kind of went into hiding, in a whole bunch of ways – and so much of ‘cool Breslov’ evaporated.
For at least the last five years, people have been ‘Breslov’ because they mostly really engage with Rabbenu’s teachings, and for sincere spiritual reasons.
And in the Rav’s community, Shuvu Banim, that goes double and triple, because on top of the lack of real ‘support’, the ongoing financial grind, as the government has literally tried to close the community’s institutions down by making it a criminal offence to donate money to the Rav… there has also been so much shame and humiliation involved in trying to be ‘sincerely Breslov’.
So many people just lapped up the media lies.
So many people believed the couple of former Shuvu Banim crazies who basically ‘imploded’ spiritually, and then tried to blame all of their own problems and bitterness on the Rav and other people – instead of looking inwards, taking responsibility for their own actions and mistakes, and making some real teshuva.
And let’s not even talk about dawn raids by the police, gabbaim being rounded up and incarcerated for days, the non-stop controversy and difficulties involved with trying to remain attached to the Rav, in myriad ways.
Point is: being Breslov has not been ‘cool’ nor ‘fun’, the last few years.
And even more so when they shut down Uman as a ‘holiday’ destination, first during Covid, and now with the war.
The same pattern is now going on with Rabbenu and Uman:
You don’t go for the ‘amazing experience’, the fun, the dancing on the streets all night, the seudat amenim in all the kivrei tzaddikim, the slaughtering of sheep for kaparot by the side of Pushkina St, like used to happen in the old days.
You go, with maximum expense, and maximum discomfort, and yes, with a bunch of fear, too – only because spiritually, you understand the imperative of going to Uman.
To put this another way:
Breslov generally, and Shuvu Banim specifically, have gone through a major ‘cleansing’ process, the last few years.
And what remains now (mostly….) are the people who are trying to sincerely serve Hashem, in the face of so many difficulties, and with a lot of mesirut nefesh.
The last year, you could see that so many people are just getting very tired.
Even with all the best intentions in the world, it’s not easy to keep standing on your feet for an hour singing and dancing, in a grubby outside courtyard on the edge of Meah Shearim, even when it’s hot, even when it’s cold, even when it’s blowing a gale and raining.
Yet people have been doing that every single night, for a a couple of years.
But it’s hard.
And recently, it was starting to feel like the air is coming out of the tyre, and the ‘energy’ is depleting rapidly.
Even with the best will in the world.
Which brings us up to the atzeret the Rav called yesterday, in Hevron.
It got postponed once – I think because of ‘security issues’, but not 100% sure of that – but yesterday, it was called for 9pm.
There were no buses put on that I could see – not least, because there is so little money for any of this stuff, as the State continues fleecing the Rav and the community out of hundreds of thousands of shekels every month in various ways, for the crime of…being the Rav.
But still, there were a good few thousand people who showed up yesterday.
And perhaps even more importantly – it felt like the fire has returned to the engine.
The Rav came around 10.30pm, and prayed with everyone for over an hour, standing at the podium, with a very strong voice.
He’s 85, and has a whole bunch of serious health issue.
By contrast, I spent the whole time sitting in the deckchair I’d brought with me from home – and I even feel asleep in the middle of the prayers.
Not because I was tired so much – I’ve been ‘feeling tired’ for months, for years – but because there was something so powerful going on, it took me out.
Stuff like that used to happen to me in Uman, by Rabbenu, as well.
I’d just be sitting there, then conk out – and it was always something very meaningful, spiritually, like ‘spiritual surgery’ was being done, somehow.
The Rav was praying that he gets to Uman for Rosh Hashana this year.
BH, that will happen.
(It looks like, it can only happen miraculously at this point…. but miracles can and do happen. Especially around the Rav.)
But the real point is this:
It felt to me like the Rav is starting to come out of the shadows again.
It felt to me, like the koach of Rabbenu’s teachings to operate in the world, and the koach of the True Tzaddikim to really fix things at their spiritual root, has come out of ‘hibernation’ mode, and is switching into something way more active and alive.
I came back feeling quite a bit more optimistic, about 5784.
Of course, there were still issues on the return journey from Hebron.
Too many psycho teenage drivers decided to make ‘two lanes’ where there was really only one, and the result was a total logjam backed up from the turning by Halhul.
Halhul is one of the most ‘radicalised’ Arab villages in the Gush….
It’s known to be full of terrorists and guns.
And dafka there, is where Shuvu Banim’s psycho teenage drivers managed to create a huge traffic jam.
We were stuck there for around 40 minutes, as Breslov chareidim with long payot walked the road together with bald-headed Arabs from Halhul in shorts, trying to figure out how to ‘un-stick’ the bottleneck.
One Arab started yelling at my husband to move his car to the side – and then my husband refused and started yelling back at him.
Are you crazy?!?!? I hissed at him from the passenger seat.
Really, you’re going to get into a fight with an Arab 10 seconds from Halhul, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a traffic jam where there is nowhere to drive away too?!?!
(There’s a reason we are also part of the crazy Shuvu Banim crowd….)
I’m not going to the side of the road just because some Arab is telling me to do that!
At that point…. I just started ‘binding’ the whole traffic jam to the True Tzaddikim….
And the Arab walked off, while another Arab stuck in a car next to us started to make small talk with my husband.
You went for a big pray in Hevron, yes?
He asked my husband, with a big smile on his face.
And just like that…. this weird ‘friendly’ vibe descended on all the Arabs and Jews stuck in a massive traffic jam by the terrorist nest of Halhul, in the middle of the night, caused by crazy teenage psycho drivers from Shuvu Banim.
I don’t know why, but the Arabs seemed amused, and even pretty happy about what was going on.
Some of them started playing their happy music and clapping loudly, kind of cheering all the cars on around them, as the traffic jam finally got unstuck by Arabs and Jews working together, to create some order on the road.
This is how peace comes to Israel….
I thought to myself, as the ‘party vibe’ continued for another 10 minutes, and even my husband calmed down and stopped giving ‘the stare’ to other drivers.
(In his defense…. we just got a new car literally last week, for the first time in nine years….)
Who knows what was going on in Hevron last night, really.
Who knows where all this is leading.
But what I can tell you, is that something is moving again, in a way it hasn’t for a very long time.
And it seems that real, sincere, holy Breslov is starting to rise up from the ashes again.
And BH, it will pull everyone else up with it.
You might also like this article: