Saturday, July 26, 2008

Breslov II - Dispute in Tsfas over growing influence of Breslov

YNET reported

Storm: They hurt Rabbi Nachman

Haredi world in turmoil over pamphlet published by Rabbi Yermiah Cohen of Safed, in which he accuses idolized Rabbi Nachman of Breslav of insanity, attacks his followers, calling them 'sinners and those who cause the masses to sin.' Counter attack follows swiftly

Over the years, numerous controversies and heated arguments have rocked the hassidic world. In time, the assorted haredi sects learned to get along with each other, more or less. Apparently, however, old resentments die hard, as evidenced by the latest scandal involving Breslav hassidism.

The first shot was fired by Rabbi Yermiah Cohen, head of the Or HaYakar Yeshiva in Safed, with the publication of a pamphlet attacking Rabbi Nachman of Breslav, who passed away 196 years ago, at age 38. The reaction was immediate. By last night, the walls of haredi neighborhoods were plastered with blistering condemnations of Rabbi Cohen, signed by the heads of the Breslav community in Safed, as well as other leading rabbis.

“How can we stand still when God’s angels are insulted and His words are scorned and His prophets are defamed with words of vanity, lies and slander,” read one such notice.

Another sign was even harsher. "Evil has descended from the north. Soul-searing blasphemy, profanity and pollution against God and His messenger emanated from a man of evil deeds known as Yermiah Cohen of the city of Safed. Let the lips that dared to haughtily and scornfully utter lies against the world's righteous ones be silenced."

'Sinners who cause the masses to sin'

Even in the early days, Breslav chassidism was controversial and susceptible to attacks from major hassidic personalities. In his pamphlet, Rabbi Cohen repeats the old accusations.

He notes that in the past, "Breslav chassidim were insignificant. They barely managed to bequeath their master's teachings to their own children and were saddled with excommunications and ostracisms. It was said about them that 'it is a good deed to repulse, hunt and confound them'. Also, their books were burned and trampled."

Rabbi Cohen even quotes from one excommunication attempt, attributed to the Savraner Rebbe, in which Breslav chassidim are referred to as "sinners and those who cause the masses to sin".

In the pamphlet, Rabbi Cohen scorns the newly religious who embrace Breslav and describes how "even before each newly religious individual opens his eyes, he discovers that his hands are full of multicolored booklets".

He criticizes the chassidic custom of traveling to Uman for Rosh Hashanah and claims that they "waste a lot of money… for naught".

In addition, he accuses Rabbi Nachman of Breslav of insanity and quotes incessantly from Rabbi Nachman's writings as proof. Rabbi Cohen cynically writes that should one "choose to defend (Rabbi Nachman), what can be said? That (Rabbi Nachman) was righteous but somewhat arrogant? One can only say: He did not err intentionally. Rather, mental sickness caused him to hallucinate."

With respect to the behavior of Rabbi Nachman's followers, Rabbi Cohen remarks, "an outsider can see how ludicrous it all is".

'Once it starts, it becomes more extreme'

According to one rabbi of the Or HaYakar Yeshiva, when Rabbi Cohen realized that Breslav hassidism was growing and gaining momentum, he decided to confront the phenomenon. This rabbi claims that Rabbi Cohen's discourses "were not meant for general consumption. It was in the framework of an internal course in the Yeshiva. Also, it was only addressed to certain specific students and not everyone."

The Or HaYakar rabbi explained to Ynet the reasoning behind the attack on Rabbi Nachman.

"There is the paved road which is clear: Torah study and other paths that have been accepted for years. But all of the sudden, this type of awakening? Seclusion, less learning, and once it starts, it becomes more extreme. The student no longer carries standard religious texts but only one of Rabbi Nachman's works. This is not the paved road that the head of the Yeshiva and his teachers received. Each person does what they want in their own homes, but either you are here and continue in the path or you are not here."

The rabbi is well aware that Breslav is the most widespread chassidic sect in Safed. “There are many of them. Some are crazy or insane,” he avowed. When asked if Rabbi Cohen is now concerned about walking around the city, the Or HaYakar rabbi replied negatively. “Although there were students who thought about guarding or remaining on alert, as far as he himself is concerned, he walks around freely.”[...]


  1. I am a resident of Safed. I remember two years ago when this Rav Cohen first reared his head over Breslov. I did not know much about the details, nor did I inquire to know exactly what was going on. I only found out about it when I saw a letter that was signed by all of the community leaders in Safed giving an exhortation to the tzibbor not to get involved. I found that prudent and did just that.

    The only thing I did do was discuss the issue with an acquaintance of mine. The issue being that Safed is normally a city that is respected for its internal unity between different groups. This even includes the relationship between religious and secular. He maid a point that was almost prophetic. Actually it was extremely prophetic.

    He said that Safed is very close to the Lebanese border and who know what kind of fall out can occur from this machlokes. 16 days later city was targeted by the Hizbolla.

    Now the question that I have for the moderator of this blog is what is the point in discussing this issue which does not have much relevance in circles outside of the Safed locality. In otherwords, this is not about Chareidi versus MO, conversion, kiruv, the age of the universe, kiruv or prosyletizing. In otherwords this lacks any sort of national importance as far as the Jewish people as a whole are concerned.

    In fact I think that the whole thing is a bit sensationalized. This is not like what is happening in Beit Shemesh. There is no violence occuring or traffic being blocked. Nor is anything at stake as far as resources are concerned, such as; how some mikva is to be constructed, who will get what school building, housing, nothing at all. This is about one man who is not even a community leader, with a few of his followers.

    Or am I to assume, based on another recent post about Rav Nachman that the moderator himself finds Breslov to be a threat to Klal Yisrael?

  2. Breslav is the most widespread chassidic sect in Safed.I think Chabad is Bigger.

  3. What does this moderator have against Breslov? And why is he bringing secular websites to make his point? Is this da'as torah?

    Breslov has a mesorah for over 200 years. The current rabbanim are talmidei chachomim no less than in any other group. Rabbi Yaakov Meir Shechter is accepted as a Gadol even in Litvish circles. Alot of seforim on hashkafa today carry a haskomo from Rabbi Yitzchok Meir Morgenstern. Rabbi Moshe Kramer is a member of the hanhalas eidah hacharedis.

    They all are talmidim from the previous generation of gedolim, and so on, going back all the way to Reb Nachman and Reb Nosson. If someone has a problem with them, why not take it up with the Rabbonim.

  4. The old machlokes agains Chassidim began with the Vilna Goan, againt the Baal Shem Tov.
    Time has proven that Chassidus is a derech of Avodos Hashem. We have lists and list of great Admorim who were huge Torah giants.
    The Vilna goan, in his time was of the level to be able to say what he did, having been the "Goan", but a man of this stature, needs to be censored!
    I promise he cannot even understand one page of L'ketue Hamoran. The famous mekubal of past, R. Cheshin was a Breslov Chassid, his son R. Tzvi who is a Breslov Chassid, was requested by the past Meir Rosh HaYashiva to be a one of the Rosh Hayeshivot of Meir.The previous Rosh Hayashiva stated that in the past 40 years he has not seen such an illui. What does this Illui do, he learns, and "understand" R. Nachmans Torah.
    The Steipler use to learn from R. Nachmans Torah, and there are many many others.
    I don't know if this man is a Rav, be he is over on M'diorysas on starting fueling hatred between yidden in this golus, when we know that sinas chinum is the reason the beis Hamikdash is still in ruins.
    Maybe he should study the words of chaza'l, the ones we teach our cheder children.
    Ein Tov, min ha Shtikah, (Many times it is better to keep one's mouth shut)....i.e. you have a problem....fix yourself first!

  5. Shalom,

    I just noticed that after making my anonymous post, you do not post anonymous posts. Also, you do not post posts that are "attacks" on people, (not sure why since your post here is an attack on thousands of Breslov Chassidim) but that is your choice.
    Anyway, for your information. This Cohen of Sfas like most Baalei Motzei Shem Rah, they speak lies, and in fact with a little bit of research, one would find out that as the Chofetz Chaim said, the Breslovers are the only chassidim who follow the Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Nachman said that one had to learn all of shas and shulchan Aruch each year.
    I Don't think that he would be interested to know what G'dolei Yisroel said, (i.e. one's that could understand some of his Torah), but you for yourself may be interesed: The Steipler, the Chazon Ish etc.....

    Rabbi Avraham of Kalisk: "They say about him that is holy...he has a special place in my heart...he has wisdom and knowledge of Hashem.."

    Rabbi Avraham Chaim from Zlatshov, author of the "Orach L'Chaim": "A man who is the great of the greats... and i'll describe him, and name him, and still won't know him...the great Rabbi...the holy candle...miracle worker of the generation."

    Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, author of "Chazon Ish": "The light of lights of truth..." Rav Ben Tzion Apter said that here and there the Chazon Ish would speak to him about the strenght and greatness of Rebbe Nachman and each time would say "tell over a teaching of the Rebbe."

    Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter, the Admor from Ger, after finishing up the Seder on Pesach eve would learn from Likutey Moharan. Rabbi Aharon of Belz: "The level of this book (Likutey Moharan) is indeed very great...Breslover Chassidim are sincere Jews."

    Rabbi Uri, the 'Seraph of Sterlisk, when he was about to give a lesson at his table, he would say to himself: "Uri, Uri - how can you give a lesson when Likutey Moharan exists in the world?"

    Rabbi Yitchak Gelbach was a student of the great Rav Elchonon Wasserman (a student of the Chofetz Chaim) and said that Rav Elchonon used to push his students to draw close to Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

    Rabbi Elya Lopian on Rebbe Nachman's books: "These are real books of ethics."

    Rabbi Eliyahu Klatzkin of Lublin: "Any praise you praise Rebbe Nachman with is just the tip (of his full praise) because Rebbe Nachman level of wisdom is very high and limitless."

    Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, author of "Michtav M'Eliyahu", quotes from Rebbe Nachman in his books. In a letter to his children, he encouraged them to learn Breslov works in order to merit fear of Heaven.

    Rabbi Eliezer Shulevitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Lomza: "Whoever is searching out the truth, eventually reaches Breslov".

    Rabbi Ephraim Zalman Margolius of Brand, author of "Mateh Ephraim": "A holy man who understands mysteries...who knows the hidden...deciphers the concealed...reveals the secrets of the Toarh, Talmud, and Agadot...and his words stand on the high levels of the world, they are wisdom and a collection of hidden secrets..."

    Reb Baruch of Mezibuz: "The heels of his feet and his shoes are higher than the heads of those who speak of him."

    Rabbi Baruch Sorotzkin, Rosh Yeshiva of Telz: "Breslover Chassidim are the true Chassidim."

    Rabbi David Widenfeld, the Gaon of Tschebin: "Rebbe Nachman was the most brilliant of the Rebbe's".

    Rabbi David Shperebear, Av Beit Din in Rashvou: "In Likutey Halachot (by Reb Nosson) are concealed all Chassidic works."

    Rabbi David Isaac of Sekalie: "He was the holy of Israel"

    Rabbi David Moshe of Tschertikov's personal Likutey Tefillot was thick from tears.

    Rabbi Chaim of Sanz, author of "Divrei Chaim" on Likutey Moharan: "My book is for Shabbat." He also said "today there is no (real) Chassidism, and if (knowing this) you are still searching for Chassidism, go to Breslov."

    The Admor, author of "Tzemach Tzedek":"By my father (Rabbi Chaim of Kosov, author of "Torat Chaim") the book Likutey Moharan never left the table."

    Rabbi Chaim of Kransi, student of the Ba'al Shem Tov: "The stuborness could be seen on him, even when he was an infant."

    Rabbi Chaim Sinoni (of the great leaders of Yemen): "Those who learn Rebbe Nachman's works will be convinced that the ethics taught there are great and will be cut like from an arrow to cry" (In his last years, he used to give out Rebbe Nachman's book to his students.)

    Rabbi Chaim Phalagi: He would quote from Rebbe Nachman's works and from Tikkun HaKlali.

    Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Mir: "Through (learning) Likutey Moharan, the mind is opened." He also said "We work on trying to solve problems (in scripture) and they (Breslover Chassidim) work constantly on 'fear Hashem and love Him all your days.'"

    Rabbi Elazar Shapiro of Munkatch, author of "Minchat Elazar": "When the whole world begins to be concerned with and learn 'Sipurey Ma'asiot' (Rebbe Nachman's Stories) - Mashiach will come." He requested that "Hishtapchut HaNefesh (Outpouring of the soul)" be constantly printed.

    Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager of Viznitz, author of "Imrei Chaim", said that the book, Likutey Moharan, never left his table. Additionally, he said "this book (Sipurey Ma'asiot) belongs to the Kabbalah."

    Rabbi Chanoch Henich of Radzin, the "Tchelet": "Rebbe Nachman - why wouldn't they oppose you? Behold, to the ones on a low level, you show them they are close to Hashem and to the great ones, you show that they are still far...of course they will oppose you."

    Rabbi Yehuda Horowitz of Dzikov sent his students to listen how Breslover Chassidim recite "Laminatzeach mizmor", "Min hameitzar", and other prayers before Shofar blowing.

    Rabbi Yehuda Horowitz of Sczuczyn: "They (Breslover Chassidim) are the real Chassidim."

    Rabbi Yehuda Tzadka, Rosh Yeshiva of Porat Yosef, told a story: A student and his friend laughed at what Rebbe Nachman wrote - that if a person looks at Likutey Moharan with an honest eye, all the difficulties in his heart will be resolved and he will repent completely. The same student promised his friend that even if he learns all of Rebbe Nachman's books in order to get a good grade by producing good work, he won't repent ever. He delved into Rebbe Nachman's works and slowly changed his ways until he became a real Ba'al Teshuva and left the University. Rabbi Tzadka ended the story saying "you see how great the power of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is?!"

    Rabbi Yehuda Leib, the Sfat Emet, on his death bed requested that 'Sippurey Ma'asiot' be read to him. He then said that the last story hints at the Geulah.

    Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum of Satmar: "Rebbe Nachman saw in a vision all the problems this generation would encounter with faith...these days, one cannot be strenghted if not by these books because in them you find real faith." He also said: "You cannot be sincerely Jewish without learning the books of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov." & "The author of Likutey Moharan was completely pure and therefore existed by him the concept of 'and Yosef's brothers were jealous of him'." & "We can see that Rebbe Nachman has more holy presence (resting on him) than other Tzaddikim." Once on Shabbat, he said: " Who can strenghten us?! Rebbe Nachman can strenghten us in such a situation!"

    Rabbi Yechiel Yehoshua from Biali: "Rebbe Nachman is the Rebbe for this generation."

    Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak, the Chozeh of Lublin: "Rebbe Nachman is the great light...a holy man...miracle worker of the generation." About Likutey Moharan: "Likutey Moharan speaks for itself...the words are true and straight. They don't need approval from anyone else."

    Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, the Steipler Gaon: "This book (Likutey Moharan) stirs me to fear of Heaven. And, I see that if there is a day that I don't learn this book, I feel lacking in Heavenly fear."

    Rabbi Yitzchak of Vorky - when Likutey Moharan was brought to him, he was filled with tremendous joy, donned his Shtreimel, and went to greet the book. It was like Simchat Torah for him.

    Rabbi Yitzchak Meir of Ger, author of "Chidushei HaRim", took 'Sippurey Ma'asiot' and studied it until he got to the story of 'The Seven Beggars', when he said "until this point, I understood something. From here on - I don't know anything anymore."

    Rabbi Yeruchem Levovits, author of "Chochmah & Mussar": "Breslov books are like fire."

    Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzera: "The praised Tzaddkim will take out the Shechina from exile." The 'Baba Sali' also said that his son, Rabbi Meir Abuchatzera, appeared to him in a dream and said to his father: "all the Tzaddikim, here in Heaven, go to hear lessons from Rebbe Nachman."

    Rabbi Yisrael Alter of Ger, the 'Beit Yisrael': Everywhere a Breslover Chassid comes, their Rebbe is with them. They are alive and liven up others.

    Rabbi Yisrael of Koznitz, author "Avodat Yisrael": "Rebbe Nachman is a man who lives the Torah and is the light of the Torah, the great constellation of the Torah...his name is great.." On Likutey Moharan: "(the book contains) wonderful words...everyone according to their own ability finds wonderful things in it. The words are as precious as pearls...and can enter deep and deeper."

    Rabbi Yisroel Meir HaCohen, author of "Chofetz Chaim": "If you wish to draw close to Chassidism, draw close to Breslov. They keep and follow the Shulchan Aruch."

    The son of the Chofetz Chaim acustomed himself to praying with Breslover Chassidim in Warsaw.

    Rabbi Yissochar Dov of Vadislav: "One can clearly see that from all the different factions of Chassidism, Breslov Chassidim stayed original, just like in the days when Chassidism was founded." One time he sang a Breslov tune for an extended amount of time in great awe, after which he said "due to the baselessness of the generation, everyone should be a Breslover Chassid."

    Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, the Rabbi of Israel, said to his students: "Believe me, if I knew that the world would listen, I would scream from one end of the world to the other (saying): 'whoever wants to be a valid, righteous, truly G-d serving Jew, should carefully and quickly become close to Rebbe Nachman of Breslov." He also said: "Any truly good and real person was also grabbed up by Rebbe Nachman."

    Rabbi Meir Abuchatzera regularly had books of Rebbe Nachman on his desk. One time he gave his daughter 'Likutey Etzot' (Advice) and said: "Whenever you need advice with anything, look in this book."

    Rabbi Nachum of Chernobyl, student of the Ba'al Shem Tov, author of "Meor Eynayim": "He has beautiful eyes". Once he saw Rebbe Nachman while the latter was still a youth and was frightened from the G-dly fear which rested on his face and said "the passuk: 'that fear shall be on your faces' is seen by him indefinitely."

    Rabbi Moshe Mordechai of Lelov: "One page of Likutey Moharan contains the essence of many pages of books of Chabad." About Reb Nosson, he said: "He embodied the most brains from anyone in Chassidic history."

    Rabbi Tzvi Aryeh Malik, student of the great Maggid: "I investigated him and I did not find any (reason for) disagreement...according to my findings, we all have to be embarassed before him . To say "and he is wiser than all men" is not even the whole praise to say about him."

    Rabbi Tzadok HaCohen from Lublin wrote a commentary on 'Sefer Ha'midot' and said of the book: "This book is my life."

    Rabbi Shalom Moskowitz of Shatz: "Every word which Rebbe Nachman uttered is the deepest of the deep...full of wisdom, ethics, wonderful and awesome advice for a person to fulfill his purpose in the world."

    Rabbi Shlomo Mazvil told over that his saintly father came to him in a dream and said to him: "In the upper world, when a Breslover Chassid arrives - there is a huge uproar. They are very viewed with great importance..." He requested that his granddaughter be matched up with a Breslover Chassid.

    Rabbi Shimon, Mashgiach of Yeshivat Chachamei Lublin: "Likutey Moharan is a commentary on Tikuney HaZohar". He also said: "Rebbe Nachman of Breslov was a very great and awesome person."

    Rabbi Shimon Betzalel, Av Beit Din of Tarna: "(Rebbe Nachman is) The light that lights up the world and its inhabitants...holy splendor...gladdens Hashem and people."

    Rabbi Shnuer Zalman, author of the "Tania": "A very great man...hero of war."


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