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B"HThe original piece was written by "nanach oi!" While it is an excellent overview contrasting one view of the Breslov Na Nach sect and Christianity, I want to branch out to greater Breslov and incorporate a bit of my knowledge concerning both groups. The orignal piece can be read here.
Often Na Nach and sometimes even Breslov has been accused of being a cult. It's not true. A cult is a group with a leader brainwashing it's members to their disadvantage. Na Nach is not a cult simply because it has no living leader. While some Breslov sects do have a living leader, these act more as guides to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman (with a couple of exceptions we need not go into here). To be Breslov (including Na Nach) a Jew merely needs a commitment to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman. These teachings can also greatly assist non-Jews.
If one were to investigate the leader of Breslov one would have to go to Uman and talk to Rebbe Nachman in his tomb (we do recommend this).
Breslov (and Na Nach) does not have any other characteristics of cults like secrecy and abuse of members, enforcers, etc. There is no central Breslov headquarters nor is there any central brain behind the organization except Rebbe Nachman. Organized Bresvlov groups like Breslov Institute, ‘Chut Shel Chessed’ (a ‘Thread of Kindness’),
The second big accusation of those opposing Na Nach is that they take drugs, which is not true. In fact officially Na Nach is opposed to the use of drugs And as a Na Nach I can tell you that it is not part of any Na Nach activity, formal or informal.
The third, and final accusation is that Na Nach is like Christianity. This is what I will write about here. What are the similarities and differences between these two religions? Similarities; (1)Simple, unquestioning faith and belief that there is a true tzadik and (2) attachment to the true Tzadik [i.e. righteous leader]. Differences; everything else (the list is too long to mention for this article)Even in the similarities there are great differences. Rebbe Nachman teaches that we should have unquestioning faith which in turn leads to knowledge, whereas the Christians teach to have faith which leads to ignorance. The belief in the Tzadik is different too because Rebbe Nachman is actually the tzadik yesod olam whereas Yachker (the "J" guy) was not. (this too is an issue of faith)
Before you continue reading this article I ask that you realize that just because a goy [i.e. non-Jew] or a heretic does or believes something it does not mean automatically that it is not Jewish to do such a thing. One has to distinguish between light and darkness between the Righteous and the wicked and the difference, even though very very great is not so easy to see as one might expect at first. The wicked practice many things that appear to be the same as the righteous yet it is only a case of a monkey imitating a man. Sometimes it is a pretty good imitation and then one seeking the truth will see a monkey (an evil person) do something imitating a man (a righteous person) and then see a man do the same thing and say "hey, monkeys do that" The truth is that the man did it first and in fact it is a human thing to do. So it is in this case.
Simple Unquestioning Faith
Rebbe Nachman and Breslov in general (I mean early Breslov in particular) teaches simple faith without any sophistication at all (even Torah sophistication). Even though a person might be a great genius in the Torah, still they should serve G-d with the ultimate childlike simplicity. This is emphesized a great deal in Rebbe Nachman's teachings. Serve G-d without any sophistication whatsoever. Sing and dance and recite tehillim [i.e. the Psalms] like a child before his father. Just because Christians teach this too it does not make it any less Jewish to do so. In fact this is true Judaism. All the righteous saints in Judaism practiced with simplicity and attained their great heights through speaking to G-d simply and wholeheartedly and through making music before G-d and practices like this. The way to become great in Judaism is to be simple. No one is "smart" before our heavenly Father. The sad thing is that this simplicity has been lost. The happy thing is that Rebbe Nachman teaches us how to get it back. We are in a very thick exile now, of body, mind and soul and the way to get free is through simple faith in the sages and through simple practices. When we were freed from the Egyptian exile it says the G-d heard Israel's cry, it does not say that He heard their prayer. Do not underestimate the cry of the Jew to our Father in Heaven (even a small silent cry from the heart, without a voice); it is very much more powerful then the most sophisticated prayer. In fact one of the main purposes of the prayers that the sages composed was to open our hearts to cry to G-d. Rebbe Nachman teaches at length about the extreme importance of simple faith. He is Unique in this.
Attachment (closeness) to the Tzadik
This is another unique teaching of Rebbe Nachman. He is very explicit about the supreme importance of this and all of his books are filled with this concept. The teachings of Reb Nasson (his main studen t) are abundant on this topic. Almost every single Torah is filled with this idea. Rabbi Shmuel Horrowitz sums it up really well in his pamphlet entitled "Attachment to the true Tzadik" where he calls it the foundation of all Judaism, the main goal of Judaism, healing, forgiveness of sins and many other wonderful things. All the mitzvot depend on this and it is more important then all the mitzvot. (He adds that if we merit to do any mitzvot, it is a great good) But if one works on his attachment to the Tzadik, to love him and to be called by is name, then one will as of course do all the mitzvot with great joy. Still the mitzvah of attachment to the Tzadik even excuses a person of the mitzvot. For example Avraham Avinu was excused of the mitzvah of hosting guests because he made a Brit Mila at that time. And so we are pardoned all the other mitzvot for the sake of drawing close to the true Tzadik (the tzadik is called the "Holy Brit"). Of course, the main way to draw close to the tzadik is through performing the Mitzvot (another major difference). This is a paradox and Reb Nosson explains that we will not fully understand this paradox until the Final Redemption. The fact remains is that the main and most essential mitzvah that by far is the single most important mitzvah that outweighs all the other mitzvot together is "Attachment to the true tzadik". And through this we will receive all of our salvation, collective and personal. Remember that the sin of the golden calf was r eally just an argument against Our Teacher Moshe. The People fully believed in G-d, but their sin was that they thought that they can reach G-d in their own way, without the Tzadik. Rabbi Nachman says that it is impossible to attach to G-d without the Tzadik when there is a tzadik to be found in the world. And thank G-d Rebbe Nachman is to be found in the world. Drawing oneself too close to a leader is only dangerous if it is a false leader, sticking close to a true leader can only be of benefit.
The Importance of Chanting Na Nach
Now it can be understood why it is so important to chant "Na Nach Nachma Nachman MeUman" because by doing this one becomes attached to the Tzadik. Just saying his name with love already attaches one but saying it in the form of single double triple and quadruple makes a much much stronger attachment (in the same way as going back over a stitch while sowing creates a stronger bond) and attachment to the tzadik is the main mitzvah.
If all of this doesn't sound Jewish to you. Maybe you should reexamine your idea of Jewish. If you think that this is not Breslov and that Rebbe Nachman would never say such things then maybe you should pick up some books of Breslov and read them for yourself, almost every torah he talks about these things in great detail.
Posted by nanach oi! at 6:13 PM
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