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My Studies:

The Baal Shem Tov, aka "the Besht," (zt’l)

The Baal Shem Tov (zt’l) was Rabbi Yisroel ben Eliezer. He was born in 1698 in Podolia. He was the inspired founder of Chassidus, Hasidic Judaism. All Jews owe him a debt of thanks and respect.

After the death of the Baal Shem Tov on May 22, 1760, in Medzhybizh, Ukraine, several Chassidic schools or movements emerged. Each of these had a different emphasis but all a shared the Rebbe's philosophy of reinvigorating the Jewish people.

Of Chassidus, Rabbi Mendy Hecht wrote

A. Chassidism is the Judaism-revolutionizing, Moshiach-bringing movement that swept across and overtook classical Judaism in the early-to-mid 1700s. It was founded by Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov.

B. Chassidism is to Judaism what a second kidney is to the man who only has one, or what color is to black-and-white photography—an enhancement. An improvement. A dramatic betterment of the status quo.

C. Chassidism came to Jewry when Jewry couldn’t have possibly needed it more. Like a doctor whispering a fainted man’s name in his ears, the Nation of Israel, devastated by the Cossacks and the false messianism of Shabbatai Tzvi, received a wake-up call when G-d whispered “Israel Baal Shem Tov” into its collective ear. During his lifetime, the Baal Shem Tov recorded an out-of-body experience in which he returned to Heaven to ask Moshiach when he would come. Moshiach responded: “When your wellsprings will spread out,” meaning: when your teachings change the Jewish world. Chassidism is thus a cataclysmic, cosmic development, laying the groundwork for the arrival of Moshiach itself.
       For more by Rabbi Mendy Hecht go here.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (April 4, 1772 - October 16, 1810, burial place: Uman, Ukraine) was a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov. Rebbe Nachman was the founder of Breslov Chassidus. He was among the greatest Jewish sages and reformers of all time. I consider Rebbe Nachman to be my primary rebbe and spiritual guide.

The great wisdom of the Baal Shem Tov's Chassidus has been reinvigorated several times by inspired tzaddikim. Among these, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov combined the esoteric secrets of Judaism with serious Torah and Talmudic scholarship. He brought direct and intense love of the Eternal and his fellow Jews. In this work Rebbe Nachman followed in the footsteps of the Besht (i.e. the Baal Shem Tov). Rebbe Nachman promised that his fire would continue to burn until the coming of HaMashiach and today its intensity is increasing throughout Israel and the Diaspora. Like Hasids generally, his followers are known for their ecstatic dancing and religious ecstacy, piety, and knowledge. Rebbe Nachman attracted thousands of followers during his short lifetime and far more since his passing. He taught:

The Misnagdim (opponents of the Chassidim) say that the main thing is to study Torah.
The Chassidim say the main thing is prayer.
But I say: Pray and study and pray -- Siach Sarfey Kodesh 1-87

Today there are hundreds of Chassidic dynasties or schools with roots reaching back to the Baal Shem Tov. Each of these contributes to the spreading forth of the Wisdom of the Besht. Among these is Breslov Der Alte Weg Chassidus.

Rabbi Yisroel Ber Odesser

Rabbi Yisroel Ber Odesser (1888-October 23, 1994) is also known as the Saba, or "Grandfather" by the Na Nachs (i.e. his followers). Nanach's believe that Rebbe Nachman of Breslov revealed his true and hidden name (and identity) to the Saba through a miraculous document known as the Petek. That name is Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman. This name is regarded as "the Song of Universal Redemption." I dicuss the Petek and the Nanach Name HERE.

The Nanachs are quite controversial! There is good reason for this! The stress they place on the Saba and the Nanach recitation leads many Nanachs to be overly critical of non-Nanach rabbis, and indead other Jews. To many non-Nanachs, Nanach appears to be rabbi worship and superstition.

My opinion: I believe the Petek was miraculously delivered to the Saba in 1922 as he claimed. All theories to the contrary seem far less viable to me, given the known facts and the power of the Nanach recitation. I believe the Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman name was revealed by Rebbe Nachman in part, at least, in fulfillment of his promise that, "My fire will burn until the coming of Mashiach." I also believe that being normal zealous human bings, some of his followers go too far in their views.

I will say however that there is power in this name and that its recitation does draw one into a more present spiritual consciousness. I will also say that the propagation of the Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman recitation has drawn many more people, Jews and non-Jews alike, to Rebbe Nachman's wisdom than all other Breslov methods. Because of Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is finally coming to be known in the West. THIS is a wonderful result of Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman whatever else one may choose to say.

Rabbi Aryel Nachman ben Chaim

I am a member of Der Alte Weg Chassidus, which is to say, the Old Way Chassidus of the Besht. Our Rebbe is the RANBaCH, Rabbi Aryel Nachman ben Chaim, founder of the House of Seven Beggars.

Like the Besht, our Rebbe is offering a new way to observe the old ways of our ancestors for this generation. His classes, and even his Shabbat services, are available online. The Rebbe is reaching to those Jews who feel they have no place in the Judaism of their pasts. He is offering the freedom of joy expressed by the Besht, by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, and so many of the other great tzadikim. He invites everyone to come to Table.

Please note that is completely independent. The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of anyone else. Please refrain from making assumptions. If you have any questions, comments, or corrections drop me a line or use Facebook Wall.

As always your questions, comments, and corrections are sincerely invited.

Shlomo's Live and Recorded Classes:

Chassidic Resources

Azamra Breslov Music

Non-profit books of Rebbe Nachman

Other Good Sites:

House of Seven Beggars
The Breslov Research Institute.
Chut Shel Chessed Jewish Resources

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