Benefits versus costs in an Uman Rosh Hashanah

Tens of thousands in Uman on Rosh Hashanah leave children without parents and an orphaned holiday table. Is it worth the spiritual price?

Uzi Baruch,

Flash 90

As it does every year on Rosh Hashanah, this year the disturbing spectacle will repeat itself once again: Dozens of worshipers in the synagogue determined to engross themselves in the holy day's prayers, will find themselves contending over and over with the throng of fatherless children who disturb and disrupt the flow of prayer.

That's right, Father is in Uman. Father wants to ascend to a higher spiritual plane. Father wants to achieve complete return to the Creator and be a better Jew. Father wants to access the blessing of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who promised tremendous spiritual abundance to anyone fulfilling his command to visit his grave on Rosh Hashana.

"Run, Daddy, run!", the family sends father straight to the belly of the plane for the New Year holiday. Far from wife and children, far from the Land of Israel. Out of sight; out of mind.

My intention is not to dispute or repudiate the statements attributed to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who according to Breslov tradition encouraged his followers to travel to Ukraine for Rosh Hashanah and to recite the holiday prayers at his grave.

I have no intention of resolving the controversy about the correctness of this tradition. I want only to raise awareness and public consciousness of the price involved - the high spiritual and moral costs to the families traveling to Uman on Rosh Hashanah and from those around them.

Because ultimately every value in our lives is subject to a hierarchy of priorities. It is clear that a woman about to give birth will not go to Uman for Rosh Hashana. If so, why is there no thought expended on the education of children who remain in Israel on the holiest days of the year bereft of parental authority?

Why is it that not one of the ecstatic travellers bothers to check how his family's orphaned holiday table looks? Why is it that not one of the travellers to Uman bothers to examine the collateral damage associated with the excursion?

Every year there is a recurring claim that the spiritual damage inherent in the trip to Uman exceeds the benefit. The conditions for traveling to Ukraine do not always coincide with what is expected of a Torah scholar who wishes to ascend spiritually on Rosh Hashanah and without going into details, let me quote our Sages who said "a hint to the wise is sufficient."

Want to go to the graves of the righteous? Are you interested in attaching yourself to Rebbe Nachman's grave? Go in the month of Cheshvan. From now on: Uman, Uman, Cheshvan, Cheshvan!

And no, I am not anxious about the fate of the prayers of those who remain in the Land of Israel on Rosh Hashanah. It is known that the book Likutei Moharan was written only after Rabbi Nachman visited Eretz Israel.

In this book he praises the Land of Israel and its spiritual power. It is clear to me that the prayers of those remaining in the bosom of their family in the Land of Israel will be recited with sincere piety before the Lord of All and that He will reward the devoted fathers with complete forgiveness and a sweet and good year.

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