Friday, October 21, 2005

Adventures in Uman

Must read Yedidya Meir's of Haaretz humorous, long account of his pilgrimage to Uman:

Opening paragraphs:

When a Jew comes to Uman for the first time, what does he say? He says: What, is this all there is? A small hill with two and a half streets, seven-eight neglected buildings and one grave site. Even Tel Aviv's annual Taste of the City food festival is bigger. But the energies, if you will forgive the word, hit you from the first minute. And the fact that they cover such a congested area only intensifies them. At the top of the narrow path, dragging our baggage at 7:30 A.M., tired from the tribulations of the trip, a professional Bratslav Hasid approaches us. "Happiness, bro!" he says, turning to me, "here's a pamphlet that will help you find a decent match before the coming New Year." But I'm married, I tell him, I already have a child. "Happiness, bro!" he says, without missing a beat, and immediately whips out another pamphlet, called "Domestic harmony and respecting the wife, in which the virtue of respecting one's mother-in-law will also be explicated."
Everyone here is a great tzadik, a saintly person, who wields spiritual influence. While continuing to look for our apartment, I ask one of the group in despair whether anyone has even been updated about our arrival. "Our Master is updated about your arrival," a passerby interjects. For real. "Our Master" is Rebbe Nachman, of course. He looks after everyone here. It is a simple faith. Back in Israel, when I told a Bratslaver friend, totally sane, that the Bratslav World Center was flying a group of journalists, among them me, to Uman for Rosh Hashanah, he remarked, in all seriousness, "It is not simple. Our Master sent you an invitation." And, after a brief pause for thought, he added, "And at his expense, too."..........

Closing Paragraph:

The Bratslav people are innocent and simple. They don't understand much about public relations (the fact is that instead of flying in Gadi Sukenik or Yaakov Eilon - the news anchors of Channel 2 and Channel 10 - they flew me in). Nevertheless, Rebbe Nachman has very high ratings. No sooner had we landed back in Israel and got into a taxi when the phone calls started from programs that wanted to interview "people who came back from there." When Amit Segal, from Army Radio, who was also in Uman, went on the air on Razi Barkai's program ("Nu, Segal, did you prostrate yourself?"), I got a call from Israel Radio's parallel program, "It's All Talk," anchored by Ayala Hasson, which also wanted to put a Bratslaver on the air. I was a bit nonplussed. I spoke like a witness to a terrorist attack - not that I'm making any comparisons. What can I tell you, Ayala, it was a huge blast. I didn't really succeed in explaining what goes on there, what everyone is looking for there and what is so moving there. But as I was being interviewed I was already being bugged by a new Bratslav acquaintance whom I met there, in calls waiting: "Happiness, bro, I heard you on the radio," he told me immediately after the interview. "I can hear in your voice that next year you'll be with us again."
posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 10:26 AM

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