Uman: The Ultimate Cleansing

I literally saw a wash of colors cascade down behind my closed eyes from my crown to my heart. It felt like yet another rinse cycle in Hashem’s gigantic washing machine...

3 min

Channa Coggan

Posted on 05.08.18

I wanted to find out what the fuss was all about.


My son, the Breslever, had been to Uman three times. The idea of going had simmered inside me for a while. Recently, I took the plunge.


As our group sped along the forest-lined road to Uman, I felt an invisible yet steel-like tracker-beam affixed to my heart, drawing me to Rebbe Nachman. I’d not felt this before our arrival to any other gravesite (We had been to six others already).


We arrived in Uman on a Friday afternoon, a few hours before Shabbat. At the tzion (gravesite), I lit candles, inserted money into a charity box, and went into the women’s section. It was large, capable of holding 200+ women. At the far wall, a small chunk of Rebbe Nachman’s grave jutted out, providing a place for four women to stand or sit next to it. I grabbed a prayer book off the bookshelf and sat down on a bench.


The Ba’al Shem Tov had commented on the pasuk in Psalms 37:29 (“The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever,”) that the gravesites of the righteous bear the holiness of the Land of Israel. I hereby bear witness to the fact that I felt it. Being inside Rebbe Nachman’s tzion felt like being in Israel!


I started to say the vidui (confession). The confession needed to be a complete rundown of transgressions for each letter of the alphabet, not just the single word written in most machzorim (Yom Kippur prayer books).


Fast forward to 4:30 a.m. Shabbat morning: I was back at the tzion with a multilinear Tehillim (Book of Psalms) borrowed from a friend. I grabbed a copy of the Tikkun Haklali (General Remedy) from the bookshelf and went to sit down on a bench.


I took my time. First, I read each of the 10 Psalms in Hebrew. Then I used the multilinear book to read the psalm in English.


In Psalm 77, I came to the passage: “I remember my melody in the night; I talk with my heart; and my spirit searches” and I paused, stunned that Asaph, the author of these words knew exactly how I felt. For I’d been treading water, ever since my novel was published. Perhaps from before that, even.


I want to get back on track, Hashem! But how? What do you want me to do?


I completed the rest of the General Remedy and put the pamphlet back on the shelf. Since there was an opening next to Rebbe Nachman’s grave, I walked over and started a heartfelt hitbodedut (personal prayer) session.


After some initial “thank you’s”, I began asking for mercy and lovingkindness to break through the blockages, for something was blocking the shefa (Divine light and abundance). I could feel it!


Suddenly and in a gift of Divine inspiration, I realized that my maternal “branch” from which the branches of my unmarried children sprouted had “infected” them. Since I was their mashpiah (influence), the blockage had passed through me onto them. Who could say that their current unmarried status was not due to me?


Boom! When this thought hit the tears started flowing. I don’t cry very often so to feel tears flow was on the one hand a shock and on the other hand a release. I don’t know how long I cried, or how long I stayed by the grave before returning to the bench. Afterwards, I felt a door open to my heart and out popped the most extraordinary treasure:


Always, I had thought of myself as my father’s daughter, without a thought to my mother. More than that. I shunned anything that symbolized softness and vulnerability: feminine colors (pink!), feminine clothing, feminine ways of holding myself, or of talking.


Yet at that moment of encounter with my true inner self, I realized that I am very much my mother’s daughter: I have her subtle sense of humor, her writing talent, her music appreciation, her spiritual depth.


As if this wasn’t enough, just then a door to my deepest desires opened and out popped a desire that had been locked up inside my heart for many years: I wanted to remarry!


What a morning! I felt that my heart had been put through two wash cycles in Hashem’s gigantic washing machine. Now that the caked-on gook had been removed, Hashem poured in a fabric softener of love and support so that I could shine in all my brightness.


But wait! There’s more:


After Havdalah, we returned to Rebbe Nachman’s tzion for the pidyon hanefesh, a method of annulling harsh decrees while helping one secure fertility, health, livelihood, marriage, and general success.


I closed my eyes while our trip organizer said the verses. When she said my Hebrew name, I literally saw a wash of colors (yellow, green, white, silver, blue) cascade down behind my closed eyes from my crown to my heart. It felt like yet another rinse cycle in Hashem gigantic washing machine!


How wonderful!


Upon hearing my enthusiastic reminisces after I’d returned home, my Breslever son said, "Now do you understand why I go to Uman every Rosh Hashana?"


Yes, I do!

Tell us what you think!

1. Dassie


Amazing, very inspiring.

I'm not Breslov either, but I would also really like to daven at Rebbe Nachman's kever one day, b'ezrat Hashem. Thank you for sharing such a moving experience.

2. Dassie


I'm not Breslov either, but I would also really like to daven at Rebbe Nachman's kever one day, b'ezrat Hashem. Thank you for sharing such a moving experience.

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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.