One of the tangentially really cool things about sending your husband to Uman for Rosh Hashana is that he always comes back with a few interesting stories. A few years’ ago, there was the near death experience story of the 70-something secular man who got a Heavenly reprieve once they found out he’d booked his first ever trip to Uman.
Another year, there was the ‘reincarnation’ story of the Moroccan guy who somehow knew Russian and had an intense spiritual experience in Uman that showed him he’d been there before, and had a huge amount of things to fix, this time around.
Then, there was the story of one of Rav Ovadia Yosef’s close assistants, who came to Uman for his first Rosh Hashana, heard a voice telling him he was ‘nothing’ by the grave of Rebbe Nachman, and then heard the same voice a few months’ later telling him his baby son was second’s away from drowning in the local pool – just in time for the father to find him, and save him.
My husband heard all these stories first hand, from the people who’d actually experienced them. This year’s batch were a little less supernatural as these things go, but still cool. My favourite two are as follows:
Dick Cheney and Rebbe Nachman
One of the guys staying in the same flat as my husband in Uman was a regular who’s been coming to Uman from Canada for years. One year – the year the Twin Towers came down a couple of days’ before Rosh Hashana – all flights to the Ukraine (and every where else) were cancelled from the North American continent, while the world was struggling to come to terms with the enormity of what had just happened.
Undeterred, the Canadian and 25 friends of his still showed up at Toronto airport, to see if they could get to Uman after all. After being told repeatedly there was no chance, and that no flights were leaving Toronto to anywhere, period, the group started singing and dancing, waiting for their miracle to happen.
Guess what? They got one.
Then US Secretary of Defence Dick Cheney was stranded in Kiev at the time the Twin Towers attack happened. The Americans were refusing all planes permission to land – even one carrying Dick Cheney – so the plane carrying him from Kiev was diverted to Toronto airport.
Once there was an empty plane standing on the tarmac at Toronto airport ready to fly back to Kiev, the ground staff figured they may as well let the 25 people bound for Uman fly out on it after all…
Rav Arush and his books
One year, Rav Shalom Arush showed up to Ben Gurion with a whole bunch of books to take to Uman. The check-in staff flat-out refused him permission to take them on the plane, and called the manager. All the while, the Rav didn’t argue, he just carried on praying. The manager came out, and immediately recognized him.
He told him: “Rav Arush! Your books saved my life!”
You can guess the rest of the story I’m sure….the books made the flight, no questions asked.
There’s always more stories to tell about Uman. If you heard one you want to share, drop me a line or share it in the comments section. And don’t forget to check out ‘The Stolen Light’, which has a whole bunch more amazing-but-true stories from people who spent Rosh Hashana in Uman.