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5 Tammuz 5773 - June 13, 2013 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Ha'admor Rabbi Nachman of Horodenka, zt"l

In honor of his yahrtzeit, 2 Tammuz (5525)

Rabbi Nachman was among the greatest of the talmidei chachomim and ovdei Hashem who would gather to learn in the kloiz in Brod. Rabbi Nachman himself relates that during this period he would immerse himself daily in the freezing waters of the river. So cold were they that no one else was able to enter at all and, following the tevilloh, Rabbi Nachman himself would have to lie against the burning walls of an oven for a full hour before he felt the warmth returning to his bones.

This means of serving Hashem came to a close when Rabbi Nachman had a dream. In it he was told that there are two types of doctors: one who heals with bitter-tasting medicines and the other with sweet, soothing balms. "The second method is better than the first," he was told.

Upon awakening, Rabbenu interpreted his dream as a signal for him to go to the Baal Shem Tov. The latter's avodoh was not through self-affliction and fasting. Rather he healed the sickness of the soul with sweet balms.

Rabbi Nachman became a close disciple of the Baal Shem Hakodosh, who in turn loved and held him in high regard. In his humility, Rabbenu would sit at the end of the table at which the Baal Shem learned with his talmidim.

Once, the Baal Shem Tov started recounting the praises of R' Nachman to the others seated around the table. R' Nachman, unable to hear what the Rebbe was saying, moved closer but still could not comprehend. As he inched nearer still, the others were surprised, thinking he wanted to hear his own praises more clearly. The Baal Shem understood and he explained, "See his greatness and extreme humility! Rabbi Nachman requested of Hashem that he should never hear people praising him so he would not fall into haughtiness. Hashem has answered his tefilloh and he simply cannot hear what I am saying. Thinking that I am speaking divrei Torah, he is trying to move closer to listen and understand.

"Furthermore," continued the Baal Shem, "I can prove this to you. You'll see now I'll begin to talk divrei Torah and he'll hear from his regular place at the end of the table."

And so it was. Chassidim who related this incident would add the words of Rabbi Nachman himself, brought in the sefer Tzofnas Pa'anei'ach (pg. 21) that "a person should never aspire that others praise him, but rather that they should disgrace him and through this he'll know what he needs to rectify."

Rabbi Nachman's implicit faith in Hakodosh Boruch Hu is illustrated in many anecdotes. "Gam zu letovah" was his motto.

Once, when the government sent soldiers to enforce a harsh gezeiroh against the Jews, the Baal Shem Tov requested that his talmid daven for its nullification. Rabbi Nachman answered, "If Hashem did this, then surely it is good."

On one occasion R' Nachman was on a journey to Mezhibuzh to his Rebbe, accompanied by his close friend, the Toldos Yaakov Yosef of Polnoa. The winter snows slowed down their travel a lot more than they had planned. Friday morning came and they were still on the road. What was more, a large, slow-moving carriage of a gentile poritz was in front of them. The Toldos Yaakov Yosef began to tremble in fear, "Oi vey," he moaned. "At this rate we could choliloh still be on the roads when Shabbos comes in. What will be?"

Rabbi Nachman, however, remained calm and placated him with his usual refrain: Gam zu letovah. His words did not help and the Toldos Yaakov Yosef continued worrying.

After about an hour's ride, they came upon a large convoy of farmer's wagons that would have been impossible to pass. Seeing the poritz in his grand carriage, the farmers made way for him. The two Yidden kept close to the poritz and rode through as well. Immediately after, they reached a crossroads where the poritz turned onto a different route. Seeing this, the two of them realized that Hashem had sent them the poritz to clear the way. The rest of the journey finished uneventfully as they arrived in Mezhibuzh in good time for Shabbos.


Rabbi Nachman had a burning desire to travel to Eretz Yisroel and be able to serve the King of the world in His palace. As long as the Baal Shem Tov was alive though, he could not bring himself to part from him. Only after the histalkus of the Baal Shem Tov, when standing at the tziyun, did R' Nachman make his decision to go to Eretz Hakodesh.

Rabbi Pinchos of Koritz zt"l noted that as long as Rabbi Nachman was in Poland, the wicked Czarist rulership of Russia could not conquer the country, despite several attempts. On the day that R' Nachman crossed the river Dniepr, the Russians invaded Poland beginning a harsh time for the Yidden.

After an arduous journey, R' Nachman and his entourage arrived in Tiveria on erev Succos. The Sephardic community there helped them to rent temporary rooms, until the chag would be over and they could make more permanent arrangements.

With what joy did R' Nachman and his talmidim spend the yom tov of simcha! In the Holy Land for Succos? Their ecstasy knew no bounds.

The winter that followed their arrival brought with it a drought. Famine was setting in.

Until then, the Turkish ruler had been kindly disposed to his Jewish subjects in Eretz Yisroel. But the arid conditions gave his antisemitic advisers the opportunity to persuade him that the misfortune was an evil Jewish plot.

The Pasha was convinced by his friends that the Jews were controlling events with "black magic" and that the new Ashkenazic Rabbi had brought the drought upon them all.

Calling one of his Jewish courtiers, the Pasha informed him in no uncertain terms, "You have three days to bring the rains down. Tell your Ashkenazic Rabbonim, if they wish to save themselves they should cause the rains to fall. Failing that I will expel them from Tiveria."

The Jew made his way to R' Nachman and repeated the Pasha's dire warning.

Rabbeinu's reply had not changed. "Gam zu letovah," he placated the man, "Have no fear, the Name of Hashem will yet be sanctified here and the goyim too will witness the yeshuas Hashem."

Donning his coat, R' Nachman made his way down to the cave where the grave of Rabbi Chiya and his sons lies just outside the town. Overhead the sky was clear with not a trace of a cloud in sight.

A number of Arabs who had a hand in issuing the edict, jeered at the sight of Rabbenu dressed in a coat in such hot, dry weather.

One of them even dared to threaten that if the Rabbi's prayers were not answered, he would trample him with his mule on his return.

Together R' Nachman and his talmidim poured out their hearts to HaKodosh Boruch Hu to have mercy on them and publicize His power to do miracles.

When they finished, the heavens had not changed and the sun burned as fiercely as before. Nevertheless, with firm bitochon, they marched confidently back towards the city. As they did so, a soft wind began to blow, getting progressively stronger. Before long it had brought a few wispy clouds and by the time they were back in Tiveria the sky had turned from blue to gray. The rains began to fall.

At the entrance to Tiveria, the Pasha fell at the feet of R' Nachman, humbly thanking him. R' Nachman was carried to his home and the kiddush Hashem was complete. In the sefer Tvor Ha'aretz, it is told that from then on the gentiles and their rulers were always respectful of Tiveria's Jews, a fact which served to ease the hardships of coming to Eretz Yisroel in those times.


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