When I first moved to Jerusalem, around 2 ½ years ago, I had very big plans to start up some sort of English-speaking ‘Breslev Beit Midrash’ for women.
I had my eye on the apartment we were going to buy that would be big enough and nice enough to house it; I had a schedule of events planned out in my head; and I nourished a big hope that God would be behind my enterprise, and it would take off.
None of those plans materialized. Instead, me and my husband hit such a ‘down’ patch in our life, finances and relationships that it took every scrap of energy we had just to keep going and not crack up.
Other things also contributed to the ‘Breslev Beit Midrash’ never getting off the ground. When I hit Jerusalem, a city of just under a million people, it turned out there were other English-speaking figures in the Breslev community and elsewhere that were greatly displeased that anyone other than themselves should be trying to give a class here.
I also got bogged-down in what I’ll call ‘outreach political-correctness’, which like all other forms of political correctness tries to suggest that there is only one right way of doing things. There’s only certain books you can teach, and only certain people are on the level to do it, and only certain individuals are meant to be doing that stuff, anyway.
We got that message loud and clear from certain quarters that had nothing to do with Breslov, and were even ‘anti’ Breslov, when we started up our failed ‘Meaning of Life’ project in the Old City. But we also got that message much nearer to home, when certain English-speaking Breslovers got extremely upset that other Anglos (not just me…) were trying to put some different sorts of classes and projects together.
It was a small part of my general disillusionment process with the Breslov fakers I often write about here on Emunaroma. I had so many other issues to deal with back then that until this week, I hadn’t even thought about the fall-out from that particular bit of disappointment and broken dreams.
Long story short: This week, I went to visit an alternative health lady I know who’s very plugged-in to God, about a certain issue I’ve been having that started mamash on the night of Shavuot, when we’re meant to stay up all night learning Torah.
She told me in no uncertain terms that my health issue was connected to me running away from doing the job I was meant to be doing in the world, and that I had to ask God to show me what that actually was.
I came home very thoughtful. All week, I’ve been trying to ask God what He really wants from me. Maybe, I should go back to work? (I’ve started looking…) Maybe, I should start trying to have guests again? (My husband invited a new family for Shabbat…) Maybe, I should start trying to teach Breslev-based Torah classes for English-speaking women again?
This last idea had me in tears again, because even if I wanted to, who would come!?! And where would I hold it? There isn’t enough room to swing a cat in my apartment, let alone host a class. And also, after seeing all the self-promotion that goes on in the English-speaking Torah world – where the biggest, nastiest and fakest egos are often billing themselves as the most knowledgeable, charismatic and ‘inspiring’ speakers – I am completely uninterested in ‘self-promoting’ in any way, shape or form. So it seemed that idea was really dead in the water, for a lot of different reasons.
As I was pondering all this, and asking God to show me what on earth He really wanted from me, I decided to go for a walk up to Mahane Yehuda, where I bumped into someone I’m friendly with.
Long story short: They asked me if I could teach a class on the Breslov perspective on the parsha of the week… We’re trying to arrange a really cool location for it, too, in Mahane Yehuda, and the first class is meant to be happening Sunday 8pm, November 27.
I’m still a little stunned by this turn of events, and also a little wary of getting too excited until it actually happens, BH, but in the meantime, it could be the Breslov Beit Midrash for Anglo women is back on the cards after all…
Breslov is for everyone – not just ‘rabbis’, not just people who’ve been to Uman, or who do hitbodedut every day.
Rebbe Nachman’s teachings can revive anyone’s soul, whatever their background. We all have Torah in our souls somewhere, we’re all a spark of Hashem. We don’t need ‘inspiring’ speakers to dazzle us with their novel Torah, and show us how clever and pious they are. We need people to show us that each of us is also holy, and a letter in the Sefer Torah.
We need people who will encourage us to pick ourselves up off the floor again, and carry on. We need people who have also passed through fire and water in their pursuit of truth, and who can help other seekers to make it through in once piece.
Rebbe Nachman can do all that and more.
I will keep you posted.