Why Uman?

People ask, "Why must I leave my family and go to Uman for Rosh Hashana? Rabbi Nissan Dovid Kivak gives a simple, straightforward explanation that anyone can relate to…

3 min

Rabbi Nissan Dovid Kivak

Posted on 08.05.18

Translated by Aaron Yoseph


The world was created for us to get to know Hashem. A person should be in touch with his innermost truth – with what he really wants, and express this to Hashem. He should pray to Hashem sincerely, from his heart. “Ribono Shel Olam, I don’t want to live my life like a robot – learning and praying without feeling, without coming close to You. And I don’t want to sin or descend into all the filth and nonsense of this world, either. I want to be close to You and to get to know You. Help me be close to and learn from the tsaddik who can teach me how to live – who can teach me who I am, and how to live with vitality and simcha. The tsaddik, who can rebuke me in a way that brings me back to life, and fills me with hope and aspiration. The tsaddik who can fill my heart with a joyous melody – a melody of Emunah and being close to You. The tsaddik who teaches us to be grateful for all we have and to look for the truth…"


Not believing in teshuvah may be the worst sin there is. We may picture Hashem as being angry – but this is wrong. Hashem is total compassion , and He created this world to demonstrate His love and mercy.


The way to get vitality is by talking to Hashem, to come close to Him through prayer. Tell Hashem everything you’re going through, and how it makes you feel, and how you’d like things to be. This is the bulldozer that can clear any path. This has the power to fix the past, and to also pave the way for the future.


This is the whole thing – to say a sincere word to Hashem.


But there’s a question. Surely there’s only one thing we really need to ask Hashem for – to be close to Him. So what place is there for praying for anything else? If we had this, we’d have everything, so why not just get straight to the point?


Our truth is what we need right now – what’s on our mind, what’s troubling us, and what we wish for and are striving to get to. In our prayers, we need to ask for what we need and want. This is our truth. If we don’t ask for it, and ask for only loftier things, we aren’t being truthful. After we pray to Hashem for a few minutes about what’s most urgent and pressing to us, then we may be able to jump up and pray for the ultimate truth. But, pretending we’re holding there all the time when we aren’t, isn’t truthful and our prayers won’t be sincere.


On Rosh Hashanah, the main focus of our prayers is on the ultimate truth – crowning Hashem. This is beautiful. This is the big picture. Afterwards, though, we need to know what to do in life. We need to know about the details.  R' Nosson says that once we pray enough about something, we’ll know what we need to do.


After the Rebbe tells us about the importance of prayer, he acknowledges that practically, it’s hard for us to pray. We have all sorts of extraneous thoughts and obstacles that come to confuse and distract us whenever we stand up to pray. We’re worried about this, we’re worried about that. Our phones are constantly ringing. We haven’t got the patience or peace of mind to pray. We need to finish and get out quickly – even when we don’t have anywhere in particular to go to or anything we need to do. Our minds are racing, we feel like there’s no time to pray.


So how can we get back into prayer? Who can slow us down and help us find the truth?


Erev Rosh Hashanah by Rebbe Nachman in Uman is a unique experience. The crying, the longing. The Rebbe builds us up there. He teaches us how to do hisbodedus and how to pray – and that can stay with us for the whole year. What's more, he's right there with us. That's why we must be in Uman for Rosh Hashanah. The Rebbe will make sure that each of us gets as close as we can to Hashem. What could be better?

Tell us what you think!

1. me



You can be by rebbe in jursalme

2. me


You can be by rebbe in jursalme

3. Miriam


why leave Eretz Yisrael to go there?

I understand how coming from outside Israel to Uman would be an incredible experience but why should those who merit to live in EY leave it to visit a special grave outside when there are many special ones here? The drop in spirituality from leaving is strong and you leave part of your soul here until you return. The thought of it makes me so upset, I could never leave the Land Hashem gave us. Did Rabbi Nachman never give different instructions for those living in Israel vs those outside?

Thank you for your comment!

It will be published after approval by the Editor.

Add a Comment

next article

Let’s make the next Uman pilgrimage start from Uman and end, once and for all, inside the Holy City, in our Holy Land, with our Holy Rebbe.