Tormented Master: A Life of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (Judaic Studies Series)

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The Rebbe tracks Schneerson's remarkable life from his birth in Russia, to his student days in Berlin and Paris, to his rise to global renown in New York, where he developed and preached his powerful spiritual message from the group's gothic mansion in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

This compelling book demonstrates how Schneerson's embrace of traditionalism and American-style modernity made him uniquely suited to his messianic mission. Many of our ebooks are available through library electronic resources including these platforms:.

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More about this book. Also available as an audiobook. One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for Supplemental data: www. Chapter 1 [PDF].

Rabbi Arthur Green Lecture Series: Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav

That is the question that Samuel Heilman and Menachem Friedman, two leading Jewish social scientists, have had to tackle in their groundbreaking study of Menachem Mendel Schneerson. This well-written presentation, based on exhaustive scholarship, will stand as the definitive statement about the life and times of a highly influential religious leader. This is as full and reliable an account of the life of this towering spiritual leader as we are likely to get. Overall, it examines a mystery that compels the reader's interest.

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I am grateful to the authors for a profoundly human biography that will hopefully spur a whole new literature on the rebbe as man rather than angel and as person rather than saint. The Heilman-Friedman book is generating the most controversy. Written for a lay audience, it frames Schneerson's mission, and that of the Chabad movement he led, as motivated by Messianism, here defined as the attempt to hasten the Messianic era through human actions.

An outstanding book, strongly recommended for all interested in studying Schneerson and his beliefs.

Elia, Library Journal. They would combine their considerable talents and learning to bear on arguably the most fascinating, perhaps even the most successful, late 20th century Jewish religious leader. They have done an admirable job. They deploy this approach in a narrative that is extraordinarily smooth in its literary style and transforms what could have been a dry and jargon-ridden sociological foray into a highly readable and occasionally even gripping exploration of the inner workings and theological complications that have animated the Lubavitcher 'empire' in the recent past.


Heilman and Mr. Friedman are the perfect guides to tell this story. This name will never disappear, because my followers will always be called after the town of Breslov. His move brought him into contact with Nathan of Breslov, a year-old Torah scholar with whom he would be intimately associated for the next eight years. Nathan became the Rebbe's scribe, recording his formal lessons as well as Nachman's magnum opus, Likutey Moharan. After Nachman's death, Nathan also recorded many informal conversations he and other disciples had had with Rebbe Nachman and later published Nachman's works as well as his own commentaries on them.

Rebbe Nachman and his wife Sashia had six daughters and two sons.

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Two daughters died in infancy and the two sons Ya'akov and Shlomo Efraim both died within two years of their births. The surviving daughters were Adil, Sarah, Miriam, and Chayah.

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Sashia died of tuberculosis in Rebbe Nachman soon became engaged to his second wife name unknown , but he too soon contracted tuberculosis, the sickness that would soon take his life. In May , a fire broke out in Bratslav, destroying the Rebbe's home. He then moved to Uman, Ukraine , where he died of tuberculosis October 16, at the age of In his short life, Rebbe Nachman achieved much acclaim as a teacher and spiritual leader, as well as provoking great controversy.

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He is considered a seminal figure in the history of Hasidism. His contributions to Hasidic Judaism include the following:. This general restoration, when taught, could override the spiritual harm caused by many sins, or by one sin whose ramifications are many. It consisted of Rebbe Nachman reciting ten specific Psalms, in the following order: Psalms 16, 32, 41, 42, 59, 77, 90, , , and If someone comes to my grave, gives a coin to charity, and says these ten Psalms [the Tikkun Ha-Klali ], I will pull him out from the depths of Gehinnom hell!

Rabbi Nachman's Wisdom It makes no difference what he did until that day, but from that day on, he must take upon himself not to return to his foolish ways Tzaddik This vow spurred many followers to undertake the trip to Rebbe Nachman's grave. Some even did so during the days of serious Communist persecution against Hasidism after the Bolshevik Revolution.

Nachman lived at a time of bitter controversy between Hasidim and more traditional Orthodox Jews, known as misnagdim for their opposition to Hasidism. It was also a time of friction between the Hasidim and proponents of Jewish Enlightenment Haskalah. However, he also encountered serious opposition from within the Hasidic movement itself, from people who questioned his new approach. The Shpoler Zeide saw Rebbe Nachman's teachings as deviating from classical Judaism and from the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov as well, leading his fellow Jews down the dangerous path of messianism.

Although he clearly taught the concept of the Tzaddik ha-Dor, his defenders claim that Rebbe Nachman never claimed that he himself was the Messiah. Toward the end of his life he said, "My light will burn until the coming of the Messiah"—indicating that the Messiah had not arrived yet. However, the Encyclopedia Judaica and other secular academic sources claim that Rebbe Nachman did see himself as the Messiah. Some academics, as well as his contemporary critics, have postulated that Rebbe Nachman was influenced by the teachings of Sabbatai Zevi , the popular messianic claimant of the seventeenth century.

As evidence, they note that Rebbe Nachman's thinking on tikkun olam, the kabbalistic healing of the universe, bears similarities to the teachings of Sabbatai Zevi.

Tormented master: A life of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (Judaic studies series)

Nachman's defenders counter that this teaching was widely held both before and after the advent of Sabbatai, and Rebbe Nachman himself is on record as denouncing Sabbatai as a false Messiah , declaring "may his name be obliterated. Given his teaching on the messianic potential of the Tzaddik ha-Dor , it is easy to understand how such a claim would cause alarm among those who feared a new outbreak of Jewish messianism.

The Breslov Hasidic movement founded by Rebbe Nachman weathered strong opposition from virtually all other Hasidic movements in the Ukraine throughout the nineteenth century, yet at the same time experienced tremendous growth in numbers of followers from Ukraine , White Russia, Lithuania and Poland. After the Bolshevik Revolution , Communist oppression forced the movement underground in Russia.

Thousands of Hasidim were imprisoned or murdered during the Stalinist purges of the s, and many more were killed by the Nazis who invaded Ukraine in The movement regenerated itself in England , America , and Israel by those who managed to escape Russia. On the last Rosh Hashana of his life, Rebbe Nachman stressed to his followers the importance of being with him for that holiday in particular.

Nahman of Bratslav

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