Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Breslover Joke from Rav Yaakov Meir Schechter

Last night my routine was interrupted  by a phone call from a relative requesting that I speak at Sheva Berachos in Meah Shearim. There were relatives of the Chasan and Kallah who would be attending who only understood English and none of the participants was fluent in English. I took the bus and got off just before Kikar Shabbat and wandered into the dark streets of Meah Shearim looking for the apartment. 

When I found the typically small Meah Shearim apartment with all the wall lined with seform, it turned out that the host and all the non-family guests were all Breslover's. Their native language was Yiddish - including one man who was sitting next to me from Boro Park - who had as much difficulty speaking in English as I did in Yiddish. Despite the language barrier these chasidim succeeded in making everyone comfortable and provided the appropriate atmosphere of singing and dancing - and eating.

When it came time for me to speak - they asked me who I was and  what I did? When I mentioned that I was a psychologist one of the guests  asked, with a twinkle in his eye, whether I would you like to hear a joke? I of course asked to hear it. I was curious to know what this member of an alien culture considered a joke that I could comprehend and appreciate.

He said he wanted to tell me something he heard in the name of  Rav Yaakov Meir Schechter
 - a Breslover who is known as a tremendous tzadik. He devotes himself to others - especially those who are not the most successful members of society. 
"Rav Schechter said that if all psychiatric medicines were in liquid form they would have the halachic status of chamar medina (a national beverage)."


  1. Good thing you are only a psychologist

  2. should I laugh or cry?

    I think laugh. Baruch Hashem that people don't have to suffer. Hashem gives us a pill and we are cured from our tzar.

  3. Breslover Rabbis Lazer Brody and Shalom Arush are against the use of psychiatric medications in nearly all cases (especially with children.) R' Lazer Brody is especially vocal is speaking out against widespread Ritalin use, and often gives advice for how to cope with ADD or other problems without using medications.

    If this was such an alien culture, why do you think they asked you to speak at the Sheva Berachos?

    1. Because he is Litvish, and the Alien Chassidim are very curious to learn more about those people that come from that strange planet millions miles away called Litvak.

  4. Some might say the same thing about Breslov books! :)

  5. the joke is just a joke

    some psychiatric meds are addictive and counterproductive , eg anti-depressants

    R' Nachman himself suffered from some kind of depressive ailment, and his writings are an attempt at therapy for depression.

    1. Eddie, I think you're unnecessarily reading into the joke that the Breslovers approve of psychiatric drugs. I wouldn't do that. The joke can be interpreted as pro-, anti-, or neutral.

      As for Rebbe Nachman suffering from "a depressive ailment," that's pure speculation. I think a secular academic nearly 200 years after Rebbe Nachman's death may have made such speculations, but I wouldn't put any stock in them. That said, Rebbe Nachman did believe that sadness is very harmful and that one should do everything possible to be joyous always.

    2. did it work or was it also counterproductive?

  6. Nice to see such a talmud chacham with a good sense of humor

  7. If a million people tell a lie, with a straight face, does that make it true?

    1. Why not? that goes on all the time and its believed. Its called 'Changing the Facts on the Ground" or "rewriting history".

  8. Now that I think about it, such a thing exists already. Its called whiskey. Its chamar medina AND cures most psychiatric problems. Then again, you could use wine too. Also not recommended for children.

  9. Recipients and PublicityMarch 15, 2013 at 7:38 AM

    Will they all still be laughing when the following report that is gathering steam pricks their silly bubbles?:


    "עדות נגד הרב החשוד שתקף מינית: "דחף יד לחזה"
    מאת: מערכת וואלה! חדשות
    יום שני, 11 במרץ 2013, 8:20
    רב שעומד בראש קהילה חסידית גדולה חשוד שתקף מינית נשים ונערות ונמלט לחו"ל. פרקליטו נסע לשכנעו לשוב. אב מהקהילה סיפר על תקיפת בתו לכאורה: "הוא חיבק ונישק"

    עדויות חדשות נחשפו היום (שני) בגלי צה"ל על מעשיו לכאורה של רב שעומד בראש קהילה חסידית גדולה, החשוד כי תקף מינית נשים ונערות בקהילתו. לפי הדיווח, הרב, בן יותר מ-70, שמקורב לחברי כנסת, שרים וקצינים, נמצא בחו"ל לאחר שברח בעקבות החקירה נגדו. עורך דינו יעקב ויינרוט נסע לפגוש אותו כדי לשכנעו לשוב לישראל.

    אב לשתי נערות מהקהילה, שטוען כי בנותיו הותקפו על ידי הרב, סיפר: "הבת שלי, בת 15, באה וסיפרה לי אחרי שבוע שזה קרה. היא הייתה הולכת בלילות להתחזק. החדר היה חשוך. הוא חיבק אותה, דחף לה יד לחזה בלי שום חציצה. הוא התקשר אליה ואמר 'אני אוהב אותך'. היו ליטופים, נשיקות בפנים אפילו עם הלשון". האב סיפר כי האירוע עורר אצל אחותה הגדולה זיכרון דומה. הוא הוסיף כי לדעתו מדובר בעשר עד עשרים נשים ונערות שנפגעו.

    הפרשה החלה כשאחד החסידים הציץ בחלון ביתו של הרב, שם הוא נוהג לקבל את הנשים ל"טיהור", לכאורה, וסיפר על כך לחסידים. "הוא ראה את הרב עירום, ואת החסידה עירומה, עוסקים בחסידות", סיפר האב. החסיד שהעיד על המעשים קיבל איומים והטיפול בפרשה הגיע לידי המשטרה. בשלב זה החקירה הועברה לידי היאחב"ל.
    and, this from Ynet News:

    "2 men allegedly attack hasid on rabbi's orders

    Published: 03.05.13, 15:41 / Israel News

    Aharon Yaakov Richter and David Avraham Shem Tov, followers of Rabbi Eliezer Berland, were indicted Tuesday of allegedly beating Itay Nachman Shalom, a former follower of the rabbi's, after he accused the rabbi of making inappropriate sexual advances.

    The indictment, filed with the Jerusalem District Court, said the two were acting on the rabbi's instructions to "Break the bones of the renegade hasid." (Aviel Magnezi)"

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