Rebbenu’s Promise

What is it about a Rosh Hashanah in Uman that some are willing to spend almost all the money in their possession to experience, and to even come back to again and again?

4 min

Ilya Neyman

Posted on 05.09.23

What is it about a small Ukrainian town in early autumn that attracts tens of thousands of Jews from all over the world? Why is it that about the only thing that these, mostly men, have in common is a willingness to be on one, two, and sometimes three airplanes just to get here, stay for several days and then get back on one, two, or a few planes to get back home? From children to the very elderly. White, black, and all colors in between. Many wearing kippot and some even without. What is it about a Rosh Hashanah in Uman that some are willing to spend almost all the money in their possession to experience, and to even come back to again and again?


If you had a certain sickness, G-d forbid, and there was a rumor of a certain country, with a certain province, with a certain village where a very special doctor lived who held the cure to your condition…would you not be willing to travel halfway around the world to be seen by him?


In truth we are all “sick” in a way and each one has problems. Some have health difficulties, some have marriage problems, some are plagued by depression, some are chased by fears, some can’t seem to make a decent living no matter the effort they seem to put in and many have a combination of the above in their bag of experiences. 


All things taking place in the physical world are rooted in the spiritual realm first, so to address any “problem” here one must perform a “root treatment” to get to the “spiritual root” of the issue “there”. Difficulties in life are often the product of “Divine judgements” called “Dinim“.  In the country of Ukraine, in the province of Cherkasy, in the town of Uman is buried a 38 and a half year old body belonging to an extraordinary “Doctor of the Soul” by the name of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev. This special, unique visionary made a promise the likes of which has never been seen before or since:


“Bear witness to my words: When my days are over and I leave this world, I will still intercede for anyone who comes to my grave, says these ten Psalms (16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, 105, 137, 150 known as the Tikkun HaKlali), and gives a penny to charity. No matter how great his sins, I will do everything in my power, spanning the length and breadth of the creation to cleanse and protect him. By his peyot (sidelocks) I will pull him out of hell!” 


“I am very positive in everything I say. But I am most positive in regard to the great benefit of these ten Psalms.”


He said the above in the presence of two witnesses – Rabbi Aharon of Breslev and Rabbi Naftali of Nemirov, among his closest and most famous students.


In the two hundred plus years since he transcended his body, countless individuals have cashed in on his blessing.


If you could sum this phenomenon, it’s as if Rebbe Nachman “cracked the code” and found a way to help people who would come into his proximity. His influence and powerful teachings of Truth have continued to expand across the globe to this day as dedicated students (and teachers in this generation) continue to propel his teachings and message forward to a broader and wider audience.


There is so much more to add, enough to fill a whole book (there are several on the topic) as to why specifically Rebbe Nachman and Rosh Hashanah, but to paraphrase one of his closest students, the legendary Rebbe Natan of Breslev – when a person comes up High after his physical life is complete and they (the Heavenly court) conjure up a sentence of another lifetime (called a reincarnation – or a “gilgul” in Hebrew) he implores not to agree under any circumstance, for even the cleansing of Gehenom (hell) is preferable to another lifetime where the circumstances may be quite challenging. However, he continued, if they promise that in the next life you will be given the chance to come to Uman even once for Rosh Hashanah, accept the offer! A whole lifetime is worth it just to make it there even one time.


Rosh Hashanah is the “Head” of the new year, a Rebbe is the “Head” of the Jewish people (Rosh Bnei Yisrael) acronym of R.B.Y and one who is gifted with this knowledge to “crack the code” is able to “sweeten the judgments” and turn them into “mercy”.


There are thousands of amazing, miraculous, wondrous stories regarding the experiences of many who have made the trip. I will share with you one from last year:


B”H I met a guy on my flight into Kiev from Monsey NY. He was there the previous year for Rosh Hashanah and davened by Rabbeinu for a son. B”H his wife became pregnant and the due date was…. Rosh Hashanah!. He did hitbodedut (personal prayer) during a previous week before last year’s Rosh Hashanah and actually told Rebbe Nachman he wanted to come again to Uman to say ‘thank you’, but how can he do that if the baby would be born then? He asked if Rabbeinu could arrange so that he can come for Rosh Hashanah again this year (which was last year now) with gratitude. Right afterward his wife had a regular doctor’s appointment and when they did the sonogram the doctors became alarmed and said she needs to be induced immediately! A baby boy was born a week and a half ago on Wednesday (last year) and the bris was the following Wednesday and right afterward he hopped on the plane (the very next day after the bris) and we met on flight from Vienna to Kiev! B”H! This was one of the very last flights before the Shabbat and the commencement of the holy day! Tzaddik Yesod Olam.

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