Monday, September 21, 2015

Abba Richman's Photos of Uman

One of the special treats of going to Uman for Rosh Hashanah is seeing old and dear friends -- and for me, Abba Richman is at the top of the list. 

Abba is a wonderful photographer (and book designer), whose 2014 Uman photos may be sampled here

We look forward to seeing the new ones from this past Rosh Hashanah. And we wish Abba a refuah sheleimah for the cold he caught this year -- an inevitable hazard of all those planes and crowds -- and which I inherited once we got back to New York... DS

On another website, Abba writes:

"I was born in the UK and have been living in Israel since 1967. I studied Graphic Design and Photography at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. 

"My waking hours are spent in front of a computer (far too much) photographing for a living (trying to), photographing for pleasure (not enough), teaching photography (love it) and as a volunteer Magen David Adom Medic/Ambulance driver (sorry, no pictures). 

"There is nothing to be invented in the visual world, it's all there and been photographed a million times. I don't photograph glorious sunsets, fantastic landscapes, flowers, pets or beautiful things (or people). I find myself again and again looking at ordinary everyday things, at rubbish,  backyards, at the man in the street, looking at things really close up and trying to find beauty in their colour and form. Sometimes I find that beauty, more often I don't. Now and then I am satisfied with what I have photographed, occasionally very satisfied, and sometimes well, I just start again and keep on looking.  In my search I constantly thank God for giving me the eyes to see. 

"I live in Efrat a small township near Jerusalem, with my wife Liliana. We have six children and 16 grandchildren."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Reb Noson’s Yom Kippur

From “Otzar Nachmani,” Vol. I, sec. 61-62
Translated by Dovid Sears

The first volume of a collection of transcribed “sichos” – Chassidic teachings in the form of anecdotes and oral histories – has been published by the sons of the late Rabbi Nachman Burstein, zatzal. Reb Nachman was a “chad bi-doro,” a unique figure in the Breslov community of Yerushalayim. A master story-teller, baal menagen and singer, baal tefillah and respected talmid chokhom, Reb Nachman brought a special warmth and “chassidishkeit” into Breslov. This wonderful little book is a tribute to the memory of this great teacher and friend to several generations of Breslover Chasidim. He is sorely missed.

Reb Noson’s Yom Kippur
Reb Noson used to say, “The Rebbe’s zakh (mission, task) is Rosh Hashanah—and mine is Yom Kippur.” Concerning this, the Breslover Chassidim explain that the culmination of the Rebbe’s tikkunim comes about through Reb Noson, for without him we would have no way to receive the Rebbe’s light, or his tikkunim and spiritual advice. As the Rebbe attested of Reb Noson, “If not for him, you wouldn’t have even a page of my book” (Chayei Moharan 370). 

The entire matter of the Rosh Hashanah gathering in Uman that has endured from generation to generation, following the ascent of the Rebbe, of blessed memory, from the body was due to the great effort and self-sacrifice of Reb Noson, as described in various sources. Therefore, he declared, “My task is Yom Kippur”—since what was decreed on Rosh Hashanah is sealed on Yom Kippur.
Moreover, it is a day of beseeching forgiveness (selichah). Thus, just before his death Reb Noson was heard to repeat again and again the phrase “chanun hamarbeh lis’lo’ach (gracious One, abundant in forgiveness”)—the gematria (numerical value) of which is “Noson.” (See Reb Avraham b’Reb Nachman, “Chokhmah u-Binah”: Chanun=114, hamarbeh=252, lis’lo’ach=134; Total=500. Noson=500) For his mission was Yom Kippur—to increase in supplication, defending and finding merit in others and interceding for their good, as well as in encouragement and restoring the soul, even of those who had fallen to the lowest levels, as he stated. Therefore, Reb Noson greatly desired that his disciples come to him for Yom Kippur, when he would undertake what he would undertake… (Reb Nachman states that he heard this from Reb Itche Meir Korman, Reb Levi Yitzchak Bender, and Reb Elyah Chaim Rosen). 


Once before Yom Kippur, Reb Noson urged the wealthy philanthropist Reb Abaleh of Tcherin to spend the holy day with him, as well as to attend the seudah hamafsekes, the last meal before the commencement of the fast, with him and other guests. For it was known that during this meal, Reb Noson was accustomed to speak with all those present at his table and deliver the most profound teachings, expressed with fiery intensity and passion, regarding the holiness and awe of the holy Day of Judgment. (See the Introduction to “Yemey ha-Tla’os.”) Knowing that the food served by the wealthy included various delicacies, Reb Noson added, “Aye, you serve large fish and I serve small fish—but that’s nothing (nisht geferlach). The main thing is that you should come to me for the holy day!” (Reb Nachman Burstein states that he heard this from Reb Itche Meir Korman and Reb Levi Yitzchak Bender.)

 (And the Breslover Chassidim point out that Reb Noson mentioned fish specifically because it is customary to serve fish on Erev Yom Kippur, as mentioned in the Tur, Orach Chaim.)
 This is an appropriate place to quote the manuscript of Rabbi Moshe Glidman, of blessed memory (also known as Reb Moshe Chenstekhover—who attended Reb Avraham b’Reb Nachman, particularly during the latter’s final months, with great self-sacrifice, as described elsewhere). He writes the following sichah in his notes, which is relevant to our subject: Once someone mentioned in Reb Noson’s presence the words of the Rav of Berditchev, “When the holy Days of Awe approach, one’s shoulders tingle from terror and fear of the Day of Judgment.” Reb Noson commented on this, “This is how we already must tingle [from awe], to the point that we won’t notice any difference when this tingling comes.”

[Reb Moshe] adds that the Rav of Berditchev further remarked, “When the night of Erev Yom Kippur arrives, even the fish in the sea tremble in fear of the Day of Judgment!”
 We also read: Once Rabbi Avraham b’Reb Nachman of Tulchin sat together with the local Breslover Chassidim on Erev Yom Kippur at the seudas ha-mafsekes. When they finished the meal, he told them the above story with dread and fear of Heaven, and a great awe fell upon them all. They recited the Grace After Meals with intense concentration and reverence. 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Rabbi Avraham Yehuda Jakubowicz zatzal

We are saddened to announce the passing of Rabbi Avraham Yehuda Jakubowicz (pronounced “Yakubovitch”) of Toronto, one of the most loved and respected Breslov elders. 

He was 93 years old, and leaves a family of bnei Torah v'anshei maaseh.

Rabbi  Jakubowicz, of blessed memory, was born in Toronto, where his parents had emigrated from Poland after World War I. As a youth, he studied at Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim in New York. He also had close family ties to the Modzitzer Rebbe (the Imrei Shaul), and through Modzitz he met the devout Polish Breslover chassid, Rabbi Baruch (“Beirich”) Rubinson, zatzal, one of the leading members of the post-World War II New York Breslov kehillah. He once remarked, “From the day I came close to Rebbe Nachman I have been happy!”

He also had a close relationship with the Breslover kabbalist Rabbi Shmuel Horowitz, zatzal, who penned most of the letters subsequently published in “Michtevey Shmuel” to him.
Rabbi Jakubowicz was renowned for his hachnosas orchim, and his home was open to guests of all sorts, including Gedoley Breslov such as Rabbi Elya Chaim Rosen and Reb Noson Zvi Kenig, zikhronam levrakha. He was also a co-founder of a tzedakah organization for the benefit of poor families in Eretz Yisrael.

May he be a meilitz yosher for his family and for all Klal Yisrael.