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Jewish Studies Bratslav/Breslev Hasidism
by
Ariel Evan Mayse

Introduction

The theology and history of Bratslav Hasidism are inextricably bound up with the life of its founder, Nahman ben Simhah (b. 1772–d. 1810). He was the great-grandson of Israel Ba’al Shem Tov, and was born and raised in his illustrious antecedent’s town of Medzhibozh (Pol. Międzyboż). From an early age Nahman aspired to intense levels of piety and yearned for mystical experiences. He was married shortly after his thirteenth birthday, the traditional age of religious maturity, and lived with his wife’s family in a small village for the next five years. There Nahman enjoyed the freedom of the countryside while maintaining his commitment to rigorous asceticism. Throughout the 1790s Nahman led a small group of devoted disciples, but felt deeply ambivalent about his public role. In 1798 he left his family and embarked on a year-long pilgrimage to the land of Israel, a formative moment in his theological development and maturation as communal leader. After his return he began to function as a rebbe (Hasidic leader) in earnest, and became embroiled in bitter conflicts with two prominent masters: his uncle Barukh of Medzhibozh (b. 1756–d. 1811), and Aryeh Leib of Shpola (b. 1725–d. 1812). Nahman’s criticism of their opulent and populist style of leadership reflects the different understandings of Hasidic leadership emerging in the early 19th century, but was also fueled by competition for followers; the older leaders resented Nahman’s attempts to establish himself as a rebbe within their territorial boundaries. Two important events made 1802 a watershed year for Nahman. The first was his move to Bratslav (Bracław), where he enjoyed support of the city’s Jewish community and increased his circle of followers. The second was meeting Nathan Sternhartz of Nemirov (b. 1780–d. 1844), who became his scribe and closest disciple. Nahman lived and taught in Bratslav until a few months before his death, at which point he moved to the small town of Uman. He was buried there after his death from tuberculosis on 16 October 1810, and his grave is now the most important site of Hasidic pilgrimage in Europe. Sternhartz became the leader of the Bratslav Hasidic community after his master’s death, spreading Nahman’s teachings and shepherding the community during its initial stages of growth. After nearly a century of intense mistreatment by other Hasidic groups, followed by persecution by the Soviet authorities and then the Nazis, Bratslav Hasidism has been reborn in North American and Israel and is now a strong and vibrant community numbering with thousands of followers.

General Overviews

Nahman’s life and teachings attracted the attention of a few scholars in prewar Europe, but the academic study of Bratslav Hasidism has blossomed during the late 20th and early 21st centuries in the United States and Israel. Hillel Zeitlin wrote the first biography of Nahman in 1910, which he followed with a series of articles throughout the 1930s. Zeitlin was himself inspired by Nahman’s religious teachings, and his studies are written in a style meant to engender similar feelings in the reader. His intellectual biography and perceptive readings of Nahman’s thought are of lasting academic value despite his sympathetic interpretation. Zeitlin’s work on Nahman was later collected and published by his son as Zeitlin 1952. Samuel Abba Horodetzsky also approached Bratslav Hasidism uncritically and romantically, but his studies lack the originality of Zeitlin’s. His work is of limited academic use, though Magid 2002 includes his interesting comparative study of Nahman and Friedrich Schleiermacher. Two Israeli scholars forged new ground and set the tone for the subsequent study of Bratslav Hasidism. Joseph Weiss was the first to examine Nahman’s teachings through the lens of modern scholarship. His pioneering studies range from biographical research about Nahman’s life to bibliographic notes regarding the formation and printing of his written works. Weiss also devoted special attention to the mystical and existential aspects of Nahman’s thought. Weiss 1974 is a posthumous collection that represents the fruits of his efforts. Mendel Piekarz published extensively on the literature of early Bratslav Hasidism and was the first to study contemporary Bratslav communities. Piekarz 1995 is a revised edition of his collected essays. Building upon the work by Weiss and Piekarz, Green 1992 paved new methodological ground in his biography of Nahman. This important study was published in 1979, and though Green has been criticized for focusing too heavily on Nahman’s psychological struggles at the expense of the mystical elements of his thought, this work remains the best biography. Kamenetz 2010 compares and contrasts the life and writings of Nahman with those of Franz Kafka, another creative and conflicted Jewish thinker. Magid 2002 pairs essays by contemporary academics with newly translated foundational studies by earlier scholars of Bratslav Hasidism. Mark 2011 brings together the studies of an important contemporary Israeli scholar of Bratslav Hasidism.

  • Green, Arthur. Tormented Master: A Life of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav. Woodstock, NY: Jewish Lights, 1992.

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    Landmark intellectual biography of Nahman. This study examines all areas of his life and teachings, with a special attention given to the psychological aspects of his spiritual journey. An excellent point of departure for students. Also available in Hebrew as Ba’al ha-Yesurim (Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2001).

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  • Kamenetz, Roger. Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav and Franz Kafka. New York: Schocken, 2010.

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    Creative if eclectic literary biography exploring parallels in the lives and thought of these two interesting figures. The author’s personal account of his own pilgrimage to Nahman’s grave in Uman is spliced into the narrative.

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  • Magid, Shaul, ed. God’s Voice from the Void: Old and New Studies in Bratslav Hasidism. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.

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    Collection of articles on Nahman’s life and teachings, including contributions by, inter alia, S. Magid, E. Wolfson, D. Roskies, and Y. Travis. Also included are first-time English translations of classic studies by S. Horodetzsky, Zeitlin, and Weiss.

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  • Mark, Zvi. Hitgalut ve-Tikun be-Ketavav ha-Glui’yim ve’ha-Sodi’im shel R. Nahman mi-Bratslav. Jerusalem: Magnes, 2011.

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    Hebrew articles examining all aspects of the Bratslav Hasidism, including Nahman’s biography, mystical teachings, and stories, and the remarkably heterogenous nature of modern Bratslav communities.

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  • Piekarz, Mendel. Hasidut Bratslav. Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1995.

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    Foundational collection of articles examining Bratslav Hasidism from the time of Nahman to the late 20th century. Includes chapters dealing with Nahman’s biography, the evolution of Bratslav literature, structural and thematic analysis of Nahman’s stories, and the renaissance of “neo-Bratslav” communities. Updated from the first edition in 1972.

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  • Weiss, Joseph G. Mehkarim be-Hasidut Bratslav. Edited by Mendel Piekarz. Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1974.

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    A collection of insightful Hebrew articles exploring Nahman’s thought and works from historical, philological, and psychological perspectives. An important chapter in which Weiss identifies and compares two devotional typologies, i.e. mystical Hasidic groups with those whose ideology is more grounded in simple faith (Bratslav), is translated in Magid 2002.

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  • Zeitlin, Hillel. Rebbe Nahman Bratslaver: Der Ze’er fun Podoliya. New York: Farlag Matones, 1952.

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    An updated and expanded version of a short Hebrew work from 1910, this Yiddish monograph was the first major biography of Nahman by someone outside of the fold. Includes analysis of Nahman’s teachings and descriptions of Bratslav Hasidism after 1810. Assembled from earlier articles and posthumously published by the author’s son, Aaron Zeitlin.

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Bibliographies

The literature of Bratslav Hasidism is quite immense, including academic studies, popular books, and the vast number of internal publications produced by the Hasidic community. Scholem 1928 is the first attempt to identify the different primary sources of Bratslav Hasidism, pinpoint the date and place of their publication, and clarify their relationships to one another. Kenig 1969, assembled by an important leader of the Bratslav community, is far more comprehensive in both depth and scope. Berger 1971–1972 is a dated but useful literature review of English. All of these bibliographies have since been eclipsed in Assaf 2000, now updated to include the primary and secondary literature until 2006.

  • Assaf, David. Bratslav: Bibliografiya Mu’eret. Jerusalem: Merkaz Shazar, 2000.

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    Over eleven-hundred carefully annotated entries make this remarkable bibliography an invaluable resource for the study of Bratslav Hasidism. Since publication the author has prepared a list of updated entries covering scholarship up to 2006, available on the author’s website.

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  • Berger, Abraham. “Rabbi Nahman: A Bibliographical Excursion.” Jewish Book Annual 29 (1971–1972): 73–78.

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    Brief but comprehensive guide to the scholarship and primary sources of Bratslav Hasidism until 1971. Good introduction to the basic literature for students with little background.

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  • Kenig, Naftali Tzevi. Neveh Tzadikim. Benei Berak, Israel, 1969.

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    Extensive bibliography of the literature of Bratslav and its formation. Also includes valuable biographical information about the leadership and social structure of Bratslav Hasidism in the century after Nathan’s death. Assembled by an important leader of the Bratslav community in Israel with access to documents and internal histories not available to others.

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  • Scholem, Gershom. Kuntres Eleh Shemot. Jerusalem: Azriel, 1928.

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    Early attempt to catalog the literature of Bratslav by one of the preeminent 20th-century scholars and bibliographers of Jewish mysticism. Addenda and corrections published in Kiryat Sefer 6 (1928–9): 565–7.

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Primary Sources

The study of early Hasidic texts is complicated by the fact that most are Hebrew transcriptions of oral sermons originally delivered in Yiddish. Furthermore, the teachings of Hasidic leaders were often written down only by their disciples, sometimes long after the master’s death. However, it is a bit simpler in Nahman’s case. Although he did not write down the majority of his teachings, his homilies were transcribed within his lifetime by Nathan Sternhartz of Nemirov, who was his scribe and closest disciple. Scholars generally accept Steinhartz’s claim to have faithfully and painstakingly recorded his teacher’s words. The style of Nahman’s homilies is defined by creative associations, in which he frequently links together obscure biblical and rabbinic passages through highly imaginative linguistic plays, numerical equations, and inventive conceptual interpretations. They can also be difficult to grasp without background knowledge of the kabbalistic concepts upon he was drawing upon. As is often true of oral discourses captured in writing, some of Nahman’s longer homilies are structurally repetitive and have frequent digressions. Yet his imaginative teachings express a remarkably nimble and vibrant theological vision, and their ideas have captivated both academics and adherents alike.

Most of Nahman’s works have now been printed, although Bratslav tradition recalls at least one book written by Nahman that he commanded to be burned. There has clearly been a significant degree of internal censorship within the Bratslav community. Sections of his teachings (and in some cases entire works) have been witheld from public knowledge. For example, there has long been a legend of a cryptic secret scroll telling the process of messianic redemption, supposedly passed down in each generation to one of the elders of the community. This text was recovered and published by an Israeli scholar, and it is possible that there are other such manuscripts. With the exception of Yemei Moharnat, Nahman’s works may be found at either Breslev.org or Breslev.eip.co.il, but electronic versions can be unstable and contain errors. Excellent scanned versions may be found online.

Primary Sources by and About Nahman

The earliest and most important literature of Bratslav Hasidism may be loosely divided into two basic categories. The first is made up of the various collections of Nahman’s teachings, such as Nahman of Bratislav 2001, Nahman of Bratislav 2009a, Nahman of Bratislav 2009b, and the compendium Sternhartz 2009b. This category also includes biographical works describing his life and times, like Sternhartz 2009a and Sternhartz 2009c.

  • Nahman of Bratslav. Likkutei Moharan. Jerusalem: Netzah Yisrael, 2001.

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    An anthology of Nahman’s sermons as transcribed in Hebrew by his disciple Nathan Sternhartz. This text is the foundational work of Bratslav Hasidism. The first part was published in Nahman’s lifetime and the second within a year of his death. New versions include useful indexes and helpful commentaries. A popular, more accessible condensation was published shortly after its first printing.

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  • Nahman of Bratslav. Sefer ha-Middot. Beitar Ilit, Israel: Mekhon Even Shetiyah, 2009a.

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    This small book is one of the few texts by written by Nahman himself. Composed during his youth but published only after his death. Short, pithy statements on ethical conduct arranged alphabetically. Text available online.

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  • Nahman of Bratslav. Sihot ha-Ran. Beitar Ilit, Israel: Mekhon Even Shetiyah, 2009b.

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    Like Likkutei Moharan, these teachings were meticulously written down by Sternhartz and are considered a reliable primary source of Nahman’s thought. The passages are generally shorter and simpler than those found in Likkutei Moharan. Frequently reprinted along with Shivhei ha-Ran. Text available online.

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  • Sternhartz, Nathan of Nemirov. Hayyei Moharan. Beit Shemesh, Israel, 2009a.

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    Important account of Nahman’s life from c. 1799 until his death. Describes the Hasidic community that surrounded Nahman, provides context for many of the teachings in Likkutei Moharan, and records oral traditions and memories that would otherwise have been lost. Also contains a less polished account of Nahman’s journey to Israel than appears in Shivhei ha-Ran.

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  • Sternhartz, Nathan of Nemirov. Likkutei Etzot. Beitar Ilit, Israel: Mekhon Even Shetiyah, 2009b.

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    A topical collection of short passages taken from Likkutei Moharan, arranged alphabetically. Reprinted frequently, and later editions include additional material. Text available online.

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  • Sternhartz, Nathan of Nemirov. Shivhei ha-Ran. Beitar Ilit, Israel: Mekhon Even Shetiyah, 2009c.

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    Sternhartz’s description of the intense, ascetic piety, and spiritual struggles that characterized Nahman’s early life. Included also is a lengthy recounting of Nahman’s formative journey to the land of Israel. Text available online.

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Nathan Sternhartz’s Written Works

Into the second category of early Bratslav literature we may place the works of Sternhartz, which are based on Nahman’s teachings but are not direct transcriptions of his words. These include Sternhartz 2000, a collection of his personal letters (Sternhartz 1965), Sternhartz 1982, which is composed of polemical tracts against the Jewish enlightenment, and Sternhartz 2009a, his autobiography. However, the most important of Sternhartz’s original books are Sternhartz 1999 and Sternhartz 2009b, two extremely creative and valuable works applying Nahman’s abstract theological teachings to more concrete aspects of religious life (see Studies of Nathan Sternhartz’s Original Works).

  • Sternhartz, Nathan of Nemirov. Kinat Ha-Shem Tzeva’ot. Jerusalem, 1965.

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    Short but fierce book against the haskalah written at the end of Nathan’s life. Addressed to a Hasidic readership, warning them of the dangers of philosophical investigation. Text available online.

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  • Sternhartz, Nathan of Nemirov. Makhnia Zedim. Jerusalem: Agudat Meshekh ha-Nahal, 1982.

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    Biting anti-Enlightenment tract, extolling the virtues of pure faith and religious study over modern philosophy and secular education.

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  • Sternhartz, Nathan of Nemirov. Likkutei Halakhot. Jerusalem: Agudat Meshekh ha-Nahal, 1999.

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    Nathan’s multi-volume companion to the Shulhan Arukh, the classic compendium of Jewish law. A unique document which both paraphrases and restructures the homiletical, mystical teachings in Likkutei Moharan into a commentary on this legal code.

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  • Sternhartz, Nathan of Nemirov. Alim le-Terufah. Jerusalem: Mehkon Breslav, 2000.

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    Important collection of Nathan’s letters. In addition to some additional theological teachings, these letters also include useful historical information about Nathan’s life and Bratslav Hasidism in the first generation after Nahman’s death.

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  • Sternhartz, Nathan of Nemirov. Yemei Moharnat. Beitar Ilit, Israel: Mekhon Even Shetiyah, 2009a.

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    Nathan’s autobiography. The first part describes his life until c. 1835, and the second recounts his own difficult pilgrimage to the Land of Israel in 1822. Text available online.

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  • Sternhartz, Nathan of Nemirov. Likkutei Tefillot. Beitar Ilit, Israel: Mekhon Even Shetiyah, 2009b.

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    Over 250 prayers written by Nathan, which transform the teachings of Likkutei Moharan into personal supplications. Published in two parts and subsequently printed together, often with an index cross-referencing these prayers to the corresponding passages in Likkutei Moharan. Text available online.

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Primary Sources in Translation

The number of Hasidic texts that have been translated in full is still rather small, but the burgeoning interest in Bratslav over the past four decades has encouraged projects whose goal it is to open up Nahman’s teachings to those outside of the Hasidic community. Many are complete translations of the foundational works of Nahman’s thought. These include Greenbaum 1983, Greenbaum 1987, Kaplan 1973, and Mykoff 1986. These books are a valuable resource for students without the skills to read the sources in the original Hebrew and Yiddish. Such translations should not be confused with the many books and pamphlets by contemporary leaders of Bratslav Hasidism, like as the works of Shalom Arush 2008 and Eliezer Schick 1980, which are interpretations of Nahman’s teachings and not primary sources (both cited under Modern Bratslav). Bell 2000 and Saar 1990 are partial translations that select from and rearrange primary sources. With the exception of the academically oriented studies of Jacobs 1976 and Lamm 1999, the translations should be used with caution since they are intended to inspire their readers more than to produce scholarly translations.

  • Bell, Yitzchok Leib, ed. Healing Leaves: Prescriptions for Inner Strength, Meaning and Hope. Based on translation by Yaakov Gabel. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute, 2000.

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    Short, popular adaptation of Alim le-Terufah that excerpts passages and arranges them by theme. First published in Hebrew.

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  • Greenbaum, Avraham, ed. Advice. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute, 1983.

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    Useful translation of Sternhartz’s Likkutei Etzot with relatively few annotations or supplementary notes.

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  • Greenbaum, Avraham, ed. Tzaddik (Chayey Moharan): A Portrait of Rabbi Nachman by Rabbi Nathan of Breslov. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute, 1987.

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    Translation of the Hebrew text with some minor structural changes, accompanied by some valuable references to other Bratslav literature. Includes sections originally censored by Bratslav leaders.

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  • Jacobs, Louis. Hasidic Thought. New York: Behrman House, 1976.

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    Offers lucid translations of select teachings, accompanied by brief commentary.

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  • Kaplan, Aryeh, ed. Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom: Shevachay haRan, Sichos HaRan. New York: Sepher-Hermon, 1973.

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    A well-crafted but at times non-literal translation of Shivhei ha-Ran and Sihot ha-Ran. Kaplan’s valuable footnotes provide references to biblical, rabbinic, and mystical works alluded to in the text, as well as to similar passages elsewhere in the works of Bratslav Hasidism. Text available online.

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  • Lamm, Norman, ed. The Religious Thought of Hasidism: Text and Commentary. With contributions by Allan Brill and Shalom Carmy. New York: Yeshiva University Press, 1999.

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    Presents a representative sampling of teachings from Likkutei Moharan and Likkutei Etzot. Organized according to theme, with extensive selections on the subjects of prayer, the tzaddik, religious faith, and overcoming sadness and feelings of being rejected by God.

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  • Mykoff, Moshe, ed. Likutey Moharan. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute, 1986.

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    The entirety of Likkutei Moharan translated into fifteen bilingual volumes with additional footnotes and extensive commentary (fourteen volumes currently available).

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  • Saar, Eliyahu, ed. Prayers of the Heart: Likutey Tefillot. Jerusalem: Agudat Meshekh ha-Nahal, 1990.

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    Partial translation of Likkutei Tefillot intended as a devotional work. Rearranged according to subject and accompanied by minimal footnotes.

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Nahman’s Tales

Among Nahman’s most significant and interesting contributions are the stories he told over the last four years of his life. Beginning in 1806, Nahman related a series of imaginative tales that display a remarkable degree of literary creativity and freedom. These stories incorporate motifs and characters common to multicultural folklore throughout eastern Europe, such as princesses, kings, giants, dwarves, and witches. The tales are also richly symbolic, and their structures and language reflect layers of deeper kabbalistic significance. The stories vary in length, from just a few pages to long, nested narratives spanning several dozen folios. It is unclear how many tales Nahman may have originally told, but thirteen were collected and printed as 1815 Sippurei Ma’asiyot (The Tales). This book is one of the canonical texts studied by Bratslav Hasidim even into the early 21st century, and in addition to Likkutei Moharan and Sihot ha-Ran, these stories are an invaluable primary source for the study of Nahman’s thought. Nahman’s tales differ from more conventional Hasidic stories in several respects. Most Hasidic stories are relatively simple anecdotes about the spiritual powers of a certain rebbe, generally told by members of the community to one another. In contrast, Nahman’s fantastic tales were told by the rebbe himself and feature a wide variety of other characters and themes drawn from outside of the Hasidic world. Like other Hasidic stories, his are didactic and are meant to convey spiritual lessons to the listeners/reader; but these educational goals are expressed through tales which are complex literary creations in their own right.

Text and Translations

Nahman originally delivered his stories in Yiddish, but ever since the first printing in 1815 the tales have been published bilingually, with Hebrew on the top of the page and the Yiddish on the bottom. All traditional editions such as Nahman 2001 maintain this format, and translations into other languages generally take both versions into account. The Buber 1988 rendering into German is first modern translation of the tales, which opened them up to a Western audience that could not read them in the original. Buber’s work may even have been read by intellectuals such as Kafka. His version of the stories is a creative retelling, and he modified them heavily. Steinsaltz 2010 accomplishes a similar task for a contemporary reader, though his translations are less heavily interpreted. Band 1978 remains the most reliable and even-handed academic translation of the stories to date. Koenig 1978 and Kaplan 1983 are both translations from within the Bratslav community.

  • Band, Arnold J., ed. Nahman of Bratslav: The Tales. New York: Paulist, 1978.

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    Excellent translation of the stories, with helpful literary analysis and interpretive notes for each of the tales included at the end of the volume.

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  • Buber, Martin, trans. The Tales of Rabbi Nachman. Translated by Maurice Friedman. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1988.

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    English rendition of Martin Buber’s heavily adapted and interpretive translation into German. Originally published in 1906, this creative retelling of the tales helped awaken popular interest in Nahman’s thought.

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  • Kaplan, Aryeh, trans. Rabbi Nachman’s Stories (Sippurey Ma’asioth): The Stories of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. Jerusalem: Breslov Research Institute, 1983.

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    Clear but non-academic translation. Includes a running commentary with references to rabbinic and kabbalistic sources, as well as later Bratslav interpretations of the stories.

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  • Koenig, Ester. The Thirteen Stories of Rebbe Nachman of Bratslav. Jerusalem: Hillel, 1978.

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    An early, very literal Bratslav translation published as a response to infelicitous English adaptations.

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  • Nahman of Bratslav. Sippurei Ma’asiyot. Beitar Ilit, Israel: Mekhon Even Shetiyah, 2001.

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    Standard bilingual printing of the text including the commentaries of several important later Bratslav Hasidim. Text available online.

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  • Steinsaltz, Adin. The Tales of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. Edited by Jonathan Omer-Man. Translated by Yehuda Hanegbi, Herzlia Dobkin, Deborah French, and Freema Gottlieb. New Milford, CT: Maggid, 2010.

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    Relatively faithful rendering of six tales by an important Israeli religious and cultural leader. Includes several insightful essays interpreting the stories. Updated and expanded from original 1979 edition, also available in Hebrew and French.

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Studies and Interpretations

Interpreting Nahman’s fantastic tales is a difficult venture that has been approached from a range of different disciplines, including historiographical, literary, linguistic, and theological perspectives. Dan 1990 was among the first scholars of Hasidic thought to treat the stories seriously, and in an appendix Green 1992 (cited under General Overviews) examines the stories as a psychological reflection of Nahman’s spiritual struggles. Scholars disagree about the language in which the tales were originally transcribed. Piekarz 1995 (cited under General Overviews) maintains that the Yiddish text is only a translation of the original Hebrew, and Niger 1985 argues for the opposite. Roskies 2002 approaches the stories as a valuable window into the eastern European Jewry’s culture and language, both oral and written. Elstein 1984, Wiskind-Elper 1998, and Schleicher 2007 interpret the stories as works of literature and use the tolls of modern literary theory to elucidate and analyze the tales. Traditional Bratslav commentators such as Nahman 1902 study the tales as theological works such as the homilies in Likkutei Moharan, treating their folkloristic motifs as a garment for kabbalistic symbolism.

  • Dan, Joseph. Ha-Sippur ha-Hasidi. Jerusalem: Keter, 1990.

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    Devotes an entire chapter to the analysis of several stories. Underscores not only how Nahman’s tales weave together both folk traditions and Lurianic kabbalah but also emphasizes their literary creativity and argues that analysis of the stories should go beyond simply identifying their sources of inspiration.

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  • Elstein, Yoav. Pa’amei Bat Meleh. Jerusalem: Bat Hen, 1984.

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    Full-length structural and literary analysis of “The Tale of the Lost Princess,” the first story in Sippurei Ma’asiyot.

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  • Nahman of Tsherin. Rimzei Ma’asiyot. Lemberg, Ukraine. 1902.

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    Important commentary written by an elder of the Bratslav community. Explains the tales in light of their kabbalistic symbolism. Since initial publication in 1902 it has been included in most editions of Sippurei Ma’asiyot.

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  • Niger, Samuel. “R. Nahman of Breslev and his Sippurei Ma’asiyot.” In Bleter Geshikhte fun der Yidisher Literatur. By Samuel Niger, 109–177. New York: Yiddish Culture Congress, 1985.

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    Discusses the deep connection between Hasidism and Yiddish folk culture and storytelling tradition, and the contributions Hasidism made to the preservation and evolution of Yiddish language. Argues that the tales must have been written in Yiddish since they were intended for a more popular audience than Nahman’s formal homilies, and because Sternhartz claimed to have written them word for word.

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  • Roskies, David G. “The Master of Prayer: Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav.” In God’s Voice from the Void. Edited by Shaul Magid, 67–102. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002.

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    Analyzes the stories within the contexts of Nahman’s life, the tradition of Yiddish storytelling, and broader European romanticism. Also highlights their existential and kabbalistic components from a literary perspective.

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  • Schleicher, Marianne. Intertextuality in the Tales of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav: A Close Reading of Sippurey Ma’asiyot. Boston: Brill, 2007.

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    Applies modern literary theory to each one of the stories. Introduction includes a masterful literature review, and the author’s insightful analysis is accompanied by a full translation interspersed with commentary.

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  • Wiskind-Elper, Ora. Tradition and Fantasy in the Tales of Reb Nahman of Bratslav. Albany: State University of New York, 1998.

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    Insightful literary study of the stories, focusing in particular their role of their romantic and fantastic elements. The chapter on Nahman’s self-image in the tales is crucial for understanding their relationship to his other teachings.

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Nahman’s Thought

Certain key themes are repeated throughout Nahman’s teachings. These include the immeasurable power of prayer, the necessity of simple faith, the value of joy and overcoming sadness or depression, the positive role played by obstacles in one’s religious journey, intense messianism, and the singular spiritual abilities of the tzaddik ha-dor, the greatest sage of the generation. Many of Nahman’s ideas were quite controversial. This is especially true of the supreme role he attributed to the tzaddik ha-dor, understood by scholars as referring to Nahman himself, which excluded and undermined the claims to leadership of all other Hasidic leaders. In contrast to the psychologically oriented studies of Green 1992, Weiss 1974 (cited under General Overviews), and Biale 1996, Mark 2009 argues that previous scholars have incorrectly downplayed the mystical dimensions of Nahman’s thought. Rapoport-Albert 1979 examines the relationship between spiritual and psychological elements of his teachings. Nahman also emphasized the value of certain rituals, such as hitbodedut (solitary mediation, Mark 2009), vidu’i (confession, Rapoport-Albert 1973), and frequently reciting a selection from the book of Psalms known as the Tikkun Kelali (general repentance, Liebes 1993). Elstein 1983 examines the importance attributed to stories and storytelling in Nahman’s theological teachings. As demonstrated in Fishbane 1998 and Smith 2010, music and dance are accorded a central place in Nahman’s thought, both as tools for achieving mystical ecstasy and ways of mending a fractured cosmos.

  • Biale, David. “Between Melancholy and a Broken Heart: A Note on Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav’s Depression.” Graven Images 3 (1996): 107–111.

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    Psychological study of the manner in which Nahman’s struggle with depression is reflected in his creative spiritual teachings.

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  • Elstein, Yoav. “The Idea of the Story in R. Nahman of Bratslav.” In Ma’aseh Hoshev: Iyunim ba-Sipur ha-Hasidi. By Yoav Elstein, 143–172. Tel Aviv: Eked, 1983.

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    Provides the theological context for Sippurei Ma’asiyot by analyzing the importance of the act of storytelling in Nahman’s works.

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  • Fishbane, Michael. “The Mystery of Dance According to Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav.” In The Exegetical Imagination on Jewish Thought and Theology. By Michael Fishbane, 173–184. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998.

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    Argues that dance occupies a special place in Nahman’s thought as a technique for achieving mystical experiences and a catalyst for cosmic change. Dance and body movements can bring one to a state of ecstatic joy, allowing for higher states of consciousness. Also includes a brief survey of older Jewish literature on the subject.

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  • Liebes, Yehuda. “Ha-Tikkun Ha-Kelali of R. Nahman of Bratslav and its Sabbatean Links.” In Studies in Jewish Myth and Jewish Messianism. By Yehuda Liebes, 115–150. Translated by Batya Stein. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

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    Study of the messianic implications attached to reciting the tikkun kelali, a collection of ten biblical psalms selected by Nahman, accompanied by short petitionary prayers before and after. This ritual is primarily intended to remove the impurity brought on by masturbation or nocturnal emissions. The most commonly reprinted book in the Bratslav Hasidic community.

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  • Mark, Zvi. Mysticism and Madness: The Religious Thought of Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav. London: Continuum, 2009.

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    Study of the mystical elements of Nahman’s thought. Shows how his teachings build upon and reinterpret earlier Jewish traditions. Devotes special attention to themes of madness, depression, language/silence, song, prayer, and hitbodedut. Mark’s work is based on close textual interpretations of Nahman’s teachings within the context of earlier Jewish thought.

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  • Rapoport-Albert, Ada. “Confession in the Circle of R. Nahman of Braslav.” Bulletin of the Institute of Jewish Studies 1 (1973): 65–96.

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    Explores the ritual of confession of Hasidim before Nahman as both an initiation rite and a regular practice. This ritual, found only rarely in other Hasidic groups, was given intense theological justification in Nahman’s teachings. Confession was among the practices for which Bratslav Hasidim were criticized and ridiculed, and was abandoned within Nahman’s lifetime.

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  • Rapoport-Albert, Ada. “‘Self-Depreciation’ (qatnuth, peshituth) and Disavowal of Knowledge (eyni yodea) in Nahman of Braslav.” In Studies in Jewish Religious and Intellectual History: Presented on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday. Edited by Siegfried Stein and Raphael Loewe, 7–33. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1979.

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    The spiritual vacillation between states of expansive and constricted consciousness was an important theme in all early Hasidic teachings, but this is especially true of Bratslav. Nahman uses these terms from Lurianic Kabbalah to argue that even the greatest of leaders must cultivate simple faith at times. This theological concept is manifest in the religious and psychological life of Nahman.

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  • Smith, Chani Haran. Tuning the Soul: Music as a Spiritual Process in the Teachings of Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav. Boston: Brill, 2010.

    DOI: 10.1163/ej.9789004183810.i-232Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Excellent study of the relationship between music and mysticism in Nahman’s thought. Highlights his portrayal of the ideal Hasidic leader as a spiritual musician. While not a work of musicology, it is written by a scholar and professional musician who is attuned to the subtler issues.

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The Land of Israel

Nahman’s voyage to the land of Israel was a turning point in his career as a Hasidic leader. In the spring of 1798 he left his family and traveled to Kamenets-Podolsk, perhaps motivated by a wish to atone for the Frankist cell that had flourished there earlier in the 18th-century. Nahman then announced his desire to visit the grave of his maternal grandfather, Nahman of Horodenka, in Tiberias. Nahman traveled to Istanbul with his comrade Simeon, where he concealed his identity and behaved in a curious, childlike manner. Eventually they sailed to Haifa, disembarking in the fall of 1798. Nahman immediately declared his wish to return to Podolia but remained in Israel for a number of months. He initially avoided the Hasidic communities that had been established in Israel in the 1770s but did meet with Abraham of Kalisk in Tiberias and showed him an uncharacteristic measure of deference. He also visited the grave of Simeon bar Yohai in Meron but did not travel to Jerusalem. On the eve of war between the Ottomans and Napoleon, Nahman and Simeon left aboard a Turkish warship they mistook for a merchant vessel. They arrived home in 1799 after narrowly escaping being sold into slavery or murdered. Bratslav tradition sees Nahman’s voyage as replete with religious significance. By acting like a child in Istanbul, Nahman was entering into the state of katnut (diminished spiritual consciousness) necessary for attaining gadlut (expanded consciousness) after arriving in Israel and then returning to Europe as a Hasidic leader. Furthermore, the arduous journey itself reflects what is a recurrent theme in Nahman’s teachings: obstacles and difficulties are an essential part of the spiritual path. Buber 1951 attempts to frame Nahman as an early, spiritually minded Zionist. Cunz 1997 and Rapoport 1971 examine the descriptions of the pilgrimage in Bratslav sources. Rose 1970 is the first scholar to frame Nahman’s journey as a rite of passage, and Verman 1988 emphasizes its esoteric and mystical elements. The second chapter of Green 1992 (cited under General Overviews) deals with the psychological motivations and repercussions of his journey. Chapter 5 of Mark 2009 (cited under Nahman’s Thought) examines the place the land of Israel in Nahman’s mystical teachings. Schweid 1979 argues that Nahman’s pilgrimage demonstrates that his conception of the land of Israel is grounded in physical space, in contrast to the general trend of spiritualization found in many diaspora thinkers. In response, Goshen-Gottstein 2012 suggests that while Nahman does indeed recognize the physical space of Israel, his mystical teachings portray the land of Israel first and foremost as a spiritual state.

  • Buber, Martin. “Israel’s Land: Habitation of God: The Zionism of Rabbi Nahman.” Commentary 12 (1951): 345–353.

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    Evocative but ideological rereading of Nahman as a proto-Zionist in keeping with the author’s own spiritual and political message.

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  • Cunz, Martin. Die Fahrt des Rabbi Nachman von Brazlaw ins Land Israel (1798–1799): Geschichte, Hermeneutik, Texte. Tubingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1997.

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    Careful textual analysis of the passages in Nahman’s entire corpus that discuss his voyage to Israel, including his later reflections on merit of the journey. Includes well-annotated translations of relevant writings.

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  • Goshen-Gottstein, Alon. “Eretz Yisrael in the Thought of Rabbi Nahman of Breslav.” In The Tent of Avraham: Gleanings from the David Cardozo Academy. Edited by Nathan Lopes Cardozo, 88–126. Jerusalem: Urim and the David Cardozo Academy, 2012.

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    Argues that the land of Israel is a deeply spiritualized concept in Nahman’s thought. He uses the term to describe a Hasidic leader and his teachings, as well as the spiritual state that can be entered into through ecstatic prayer and intense body movement. While this does not mean Nahman totally ignored the land of Israel qua physical locality, the spiritual definition should be seen as primary.

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  • Rapoport, Ada. “Two Sources Describing R. Nahman of Bratslav’s Journey to the Land of Israel.” Kiryat Sefer 46 (1971): 147–153.

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    Compares the two different accounts of Nahman’s journey published by Sternhartz in Shivhei ha-Ran and Hayyei Moharan. Concludes that Shivhei ha-Ran is the earlier of the two, and that the version in Hayyei Moharan was written after Sternhartz’s own pilgrimage to the land of Israel in 1822.

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  • Rose, Neal. “Erez Israel in the Theology and Experience of Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav.” Journal of Hebraic Studies 1.2 (1970): 63–84.

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    Drawing on the methodology of Mircea Eliade, argues that the land of Israel is at the center of Nahman’s religious world, including his conception of prayer, his eschatology, the reasons for commandments, and the cosmic role of the tzaddik.

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  • Schweid, Eliezer. “The Return to the Physicality of the Land of Israel: The Land of Israel in the Teachings of R. Nahman of Bratslav.” In Moledet ve-Eretz Ye’udah: Eretz Yisrael ba-Hagut shel Am Yisrael. By Eliezer Schweid, 93–105. Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 1979.

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    Emphasizes the novelty of Nahman’s treatment of Israel as a physical location, as opposed to the general trend of diaspora thinkers who conceived of it in purely spiritual terms. Argues that Nahman’s understanding was in part a response to the Frankist and Sabbatian heresies.

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  • Verman, Mark. “Aliyah and Yeridah: The Journeys of the Besht and R. Nachman to Israel.” In Approaches to Judaism in Medieval Times 3. Edited by David Blumenthal, 159–171. Atlanta: Scholars, 1988.

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    Compares the journey of Nahman to that undertaken by his great-grandfather fifty years prior. Underscores the esoteric elements of Nahman’s odyssey, including the descriptions of supernatural incidents along the way, the aura of mystery surrounding his motivations, and the messianic implications of his trip.

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Messianism

Scholars continue to debate the extent to which early Hasidism was driven by messianism. However, Nahman’s explicit messianic aspirations were ardently clear. He accorded himself and his family a special role in the process of redemption that he predicted would begin in 1806, and seems to have considered himself the tzaddik ha-dor, the unique spiritual leader of his generation mentioned frequently in his teachings. Weiss 1974, Piekarz 1995 (both cited under General Overviews), and Liebes 1993 (cited under Nahman’s Thought) all highlight the recurrent emphasis of Nahman’s messianic message. Dan 1999 and Zeitlin 2002 focus on the central place accorded to the theme of messianism in Nahman’s mystical teachings. Siff 2010 argues that Nahman’s attitude toward transcribing his homilies shifted from opposition to endorsement, revealing his self-understanding as leader whose written ideas could bring redemption even after his own death. Green 1992 (cited under General Overviews) argues that these hopes were dashed with the premature death of his beloved son in 1806. However, new documents revealed in Mark 2010 have demonstrated that his messianic strivings were far from crushed, and on at least two occasions Nahman described his vision of the redemption in great detail to his closest disciples.

  • Dan, Joseph. Modern Jewish Messianism. Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 1999.

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    Chapter eleven describes Nahman’s vision of himself as a messianic leader for his own community (also common in other Hasidic groups), as well as for the entire world. Connects his messianic self-image to Bratslav Hasidism’s unique ability to endure as a cohesive group without a rebbe. Neither he nor his students chose another leader after him, and instead his disciples continue their relationship with Nahman through his teachings.

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  • Mark, Zvi. The Scroll of Secrets: The Hidden Messianic Vision of R. Nachman of Breslav. Translated by Naftali Moses. Brighton, UK: Academic Studies, 2010.

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    Remarkable study of a text once assumed to have been lost. Several handwritten manuscripts of two different talks given Nahman after the death of his son that describe a peaceful process of messianic redemption by a young messianic leader who brings the entire world under his rule through wisdom and song. Updated translation of the Hebrew (Ramat Gan, 2006).

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  • Siff, David B. “Shifting Ideologies of Orality and Literacy in Their Historical Context: Rebbe Nahman of Bratslav’s Embrace of the Book as a Means for Redemption.” Prooftexts 30 (2010): 238–262.

    DOI: 10.2979/prooftexts.30.2.238Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the evolution of Nahman’s attitude toward the written word. Nahman once opposed circulating his teachings in written form, but as it became clear that he would not live to realize his messianic dream, Nahman began to espouse writing them down in order to preserve and propagate his ideas even after his death.

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  • Zeitlin, Hillel. “Messiah and the Light of the Messiah in Rabbi Nahman’s Thought.” In God’s Voice from the Void. Edited by Shaul Magid, 239–262. Translated by Alyssa Quint. Albany: State University New York Press, 2002.

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    An impassioned study of Nahman’s messianism and his self-description as a redemptive mystical figure whose influence and power would span generations. This idea is crucial for understanding why Bratslav Hasidism did not choose another leader.

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Nathan Sternhartz and Bratslav Hasidism After 1810

Other Hasidic groups refer to the Bratslav community as the toyte Hasidim (meaning “the dead Hasidim”) because unlike most other Hasidic groups, they did not appoint another leader after the death of their founder. While this is perhaps unsurprising given the intensity of Nahman’s charismatic personality and his messianic aspirations, it is remarkable that Bratslav Hasidism has endured since the early 1800s without any formalized central leadership. Nathan Sternhartz became the de facto leader of the community after Nahman’s death and was responsible for disseminating his teacher’s ideas. Although his claim to leadership was contested, and it is not clear to what extent he was accepted by Nahman’s oldest and closest disciples, none of the other students were able to marshal the same support. Bratslav Hasidism has been led by local elders and scholars since Sternhartz passed away in 1844, with each community functioning as an independent group with its own teachers; unlike all other Hasidic groups except modern Chabad/Lubavitch, there is no central authority to which all Bratslav Hasidim are beholden. The Bratslav community was already a flashpoint of controversy during Nahman’s life, but their struggle intensified with his death. In the 19th century they were bitterly persecuted by other Hasidic groups, including the Savraner Hasidim in the 1830s and Tolner/Chernobyler Hasidim in the 1860s. Terrible descriptions of Bratslav Hasidim being beaten and harassed were recorded by maskilim (proponents of the Jewish enlightenment). In Ukrainian Hasidism the rabbinic leadership was deeply involved in the economic workings of the communities, and the vitriolic conflict was in part due to territorial spats and financial competition. There were also genuine ideological disputes between the groups as well, and there are accounts of Nahman’s controversial teachings being banned and even burned. Kramer 1992 is the most comprehensive biography of Sternhartz’s life and times. Rapoport-Albert 1975 explores the unique case of Sternhartz’s stewardship of Bratslav Hasidism after Nahman’s death without supplanting his deceased master as its ultimate spiritual leader. Piekarz 1995 (cited under General Overviews) argues that Bratslav Hasidim were suspected of Sabbatian and Frankist heresies. Assaf 2010 chronicles the various waves of persecution of Bratslav Hasidim in the 19th century, and Mark 2004 uses Bratslav sources to carefully reconstruct the motivations for one such controversy in the 1830s.

  • Assaf, David. “‘Happy are the Persecuted’: The Opposition to Bratslav Hasidism.” In Untold Tales of the Hasidim: Crisis and Discontent in the History of Hasidism. By David Assaf, 120–153. Translated by Dena Ordan. Waltham, MA: Brandeis University Press, 2010.

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    Analysis of the persecution of Bratslav Hasidism at the hands of other Ukrainian Hasidic groups, focusing primarily on the 19th century.

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  • Kramer, Chaim. Through Fire and Water: The Life of Reb Noson of Breslov. Edited by Avraham Greenbaum. Jerusalem: Bratslav Research Institute, 1992.

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    Useful though romanticized biography of Sternhartz published by the contemporary Bratslav Hasidim. Must be read critically, but includes valuable internal sources not available to other scholars.

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  • Mark, Zvi. “Why Did R. Moses of Savran Pursue R. Nathan of Nemirov and the Bratslav Hasidim?” Zion 69 (2004): 487–500.

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    Argues that Moses of Savran (d. 1838) persecuted the Bratslav community after being rejected as a potential suitor for Nahman’s daughter. Based on internal traditions recorded by Bratslav literature.

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  • Rapoport-Albert, Ada. “The Problem of Succession in the Hasidic Leadership with Special Reference to the Circle of R. Nachman of Braslav.” PhD diss., University of London, University College London, 1975.

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    A study of the transition between leaders in early Hasidism, focusing in particular on Sternhartz’s unusual role as the leader of a Hasidic community without ever accepting the role of rebbe.

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Studies of Nathan Sternhartz’s Original Works

Nathan Sternhartz was a prolific author, and his works together with the teachings of Nahman are the most important texts of Bratslav Hasidism (see Primary Sources). Feiner 1999 analyzes Nathan’s anti-Enlightenment pamphlets in their historical context, and Frieden 2009 explores some literary aspects of Nathan’s account of his master’s journey to the Holy Land. However, in addition to transcribing Nahman’s homilies and writing biographies of his master’s life, Nathan was an innovative theological thinker in his own right. Two of his books stand out for their importance and creativity. The first is Likkutei Halakhot, an eight-volume treatise in which Sternhartz weaves Nahman’s ideas into a running commentary on the Shulhan Arukh, the major 16th-century compendium of Jewish law. For many years this remarkable text was untouched by academic scholars of Bratslav, despite its central place in the Bratslav canon, and is only in the early 21st century starting to be the subject of sustained attention. Goshen-Gottstein 2003 argues that Sternhartz hoped to translate Nahman’s theological teachings into an inspired life of religious praxis by applying it to the daily rituals demanded by Jewish law. In contrast, Horen 2011 examines the concept of the tzaddik as a leitmotif common to all of Sternhartz’s works and suggests that he wrote Likkutei Halakhot primarily in order to promote this idea. Piekarz 2004 recognizes that in this work Sternhartz cements his image of Nahman as the spiritual leader par excellence, and reiterates that Likkutei Halakhot is a unique window into the evolution of Sternhartz’s spiritual worldview over the forty years during which it was written. Sternhartz’s other major original work is Likkutei Tefillot. Like Likkutei Halakhot, the composition of Likkutei Tefillot was in part motivated by Sternhartz’s desire to incorporate Nahman’s theoretical homilies in a concrete religious praxis. However, in this work Sternhartz creatively transformed them into poignant supplicatory prayers. Translating Likkutei Moharan into a liturgical handbook follows Nahman’s own request that his teachings be turned into prayer. The introduction reveals that the prayers in Likkutei Tefillot are the results of an introspective process that Sternhartz recommends all readers to undertake themselves: one should study one of Nahman’s homilies in great depth, think about how it is relevant to his life, consider how far he is from the ideas hidden within it, and then pray to be able to reach the spiritual heights described therein. Likkutei Tefillot also represents an important step in turning Nahman’s teachings into a corpus that is not only authoritative but canonical; here we see Likkutei Moharan approached as a closed text filled with infinite meaning. Rubinstein 1975 analyzes the composition of Likkutei Tefillot as a bibliographer, and Wineman 1982 reflects upon the work’s theological and pedagogical purpose.

  • Feiner, Shmuel. “Sola Fide! The Polemic of Rabbi Nathan of Nemirov Against Atheism and Haskalah.” In Mehkerei Hasidut. Edited by David Assaf, Joseph Dan, and Immanuel Etkes, 89–124. Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik, 1999.

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    Analysis of Nathan of Nemirov’s sustained confrontation with the early proponents of the Jewish Enlightenment in Ukraine. Identifies which of their books Nathan might have read, examines his theological reasons for opposing their philosophical ideas, and contextualizes his struggle within the emergence of eastern Europe ultra-Orthodoxy.

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  • Frieden, Ken. “Neglected Origins of Modern Hebrew Prose: Hasidic and Maskilic Travel Narratives.” AJS Review 33 (2009): 3–43.

    DOI: 10.1017/S0364009409000026Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Literary study of Nathan’s account of Nahman’s pilgrimage to the land of Israel, comparing it to descriptions of similar journeys written in the early 19th century. Challenges and nuances the regnant assumption that all Hasidic texts have extremely poor Hebrew style.

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  • Goshen-Gottstein, Alon. “Halakhah as a Mirror for the Spiritual Life: R. Nathan of Nemirov’s Likkutei Halakhot.” In Masa el ha-Halakhah: Iyunim bein-Tehumi’im ba-Olam ha-Hok ha-Yehudi. Edited by Amihai Berholtz, 257–284. Tel Aviv: Sifre Hemed, 2003.

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    Describes the ways in which Likkutei Halakhot transforms Nahman’s abstract theological teachings into a grounded spiritual practice embodied in the lifestyle of Jewish law. Includes a number of excellent case studies illustrating his point.

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  • Horen, Roee. “Judaism as Viewed through the Prism of Faith in the Righteous—A Study of the Works of R. Nathan of Nemirov.” Kabbalah: Journal for the Study of Jewish Mystical Texts 24 (2011): 263–304.

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    Argues that the Likkutei Halakhot was not intended primarily as a systematic commentary to the Shulhan Arukh, but rather a mystical tract emphasizing the need for absolute faith in the tzaddik, a basic tenet of Bratslav Hasidism.

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  • Piekarz, Mendel. “R. Nathan of Nemirov through the Lens of His Book Likkutei Halakhot.” Zion 69 (2004): 203–240.

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    Analyzes Likkutei Halakhot as a work representative of several stages of Sternhartz’s intellectual development, especially valuable because it contains his theological reflections on current events taking place in the author’s lifetime.

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  • Rubinstein, Avraham. “The Book Likkutei Tefillot: and Publication” Alei Sefer 1 (1975): 139–156.

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    Thorough bibliographical description of the complex process of writing and publishing this unique liturgical composition, contextualizing it within the timeline of Sternhartz’s career. Also offers select case studies that illustrate the relationship of the prayers to the original teachings they are based on.

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  • Wineman, Aryeh. “Liqqutei Tefillot: The Metamorphosis of Torah into Prayer.” Conservative Judaism 35.3 (1982): 43–49.

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    Prayer, both liturgical and spontaneous, occupies a central place in Hasidism, and in Nahman’s teachings in particular. Likkutei Tefillot is based on Sternhartz’s own liturgical adaptation of Likkutei Moharan. Argues that such prayers are different than theoretical teachings, and though still didactic, their message is experiential and emotional rather than intellectual. Nahman’s own spiritual struggles are mirrored in this work but are made relevant the average person.

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Later Bratslav Sources

The literary sources at the heart of Bratslav Hasidism are undoubtedly the books of Nahman and Sternhartz, but the traditional canon includes important works by later Bratslav leaders as well. These consist of commentaries and interpretations of earlier books (Nahman 1994 is the first commentary on Likkutei Moharan, now printed in the back of many editions and studied widely), and also of material never before printed, either because it was hidden in manuscript or passed down orally within the Bratslav community until the turmoil of the 20th century. The hagiography and traditions in these works, such as Avaneihah Barzel 1988, should be treated carefully and cannot always be taken as fact, but neither should these valuable texts be marginalized or dismissed. In many cases, such as Bender 1988, Hazan 1967, and Hazan 2009, it is the only non-polemical information about the Bratslav community during the hundred years after Sternhartz’s death available to scholars. There are also thematic collections of earlier sources that bring together teachings from Nahman and Sternhartz on a single theme. These popular compendia, such as Bezhilianski 2009, open Bratslav Hasidism to a wider audience and made it more accessible to those without the time or interest required to comb through all of Nahman’s lengthy sermons.

  • Avaneihah Barzel. Jerusalem: Agudat Meshekh ha-Nahal, 1988.

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    Valuable stories about Nahman and his circle. First printed in 1934, a revised and corrected edition has since been printed in the first volume of Siah Sarfei Kodesh.

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  • Bender, Levi Yitzhak. Siah Sarfei Kodesh. Jerusalem: Agudat Meshekh ha-Nahal, 1988.

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    Eight volumes of transcribed oral traditions which had been passed down for several generations, printed for the first time. Editor Levi Yitzhak Bender (1897–1989) was an important twentieth century leader of Bratslav communities in Europe and Israel.

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  • Bezhilianski, Moshe Joshua. Hishtapekhut ha-Nefesh. Beitar Ilit, Israel: Mekhon Even Shetiyah, 2009.

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    Collection of teachings from earlier Bratslav sources on prayer. The author, also known as Alter Tepliker (d. 1919), was an important leader of the community in Uman. Translated into English by Aryeh Kaplan as Outpouring of the Soul: Rabbi Nachman’s Path in Meditation (Breslov Research Institute, 1980). Text available online.

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  • Hazan, Abraham. Yemei ha-Tela’ot. Jerusalem, 1967.

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    Account of Nahman’s persecution at the hands of the Savraner Hasidim told from the perspective of the Bratslav community.

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  • Hazan, Abraham. Kokhevei Or. Jerusalem: Agudat Meshekh ha-Nahal, 2009.

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    Collection of legends and stories about the relationship between Nahman and Sternhartz and his students and the history of Bratslav Hasidism. First printed in 1895 and 1932, subsequent editions have included even more material. Written by the son of Nahman of Toltshin, in turn a disciple of Nathan Sternhartz.

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  • Nahman of Tsherin. Parparot le-Hokhmah. Jerusalem: Torat ha-Netzah, 1994.

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    The first commentary to Likkutei Moharan, written by an elder of the Bratslav community. Includes material that had been transmitted orally, and describes the context of the teachings. Also includes commentary on some parts of the Talmud and midrashim according to Nahman’s teachings. First published in 1905, frequently reprinted and included in subsequent editions of Likkutei Moharan.

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Portrayals of Bratslav Hasidism in Non-Hasidic Literature

The Jewish writers of eastern Europe, many of whom were secularist proponents of the haskalah (Jewish enlightenment), often chose to set their novels within the traditional Jewish society they had rejected. Some authors were deeply critical of a community that they saw as backward, corrupt, and primitive. Others remained fascinated by the religious world, and though they rarely returned to a traditional lifestyle, they presented a romanticized image of this Jewish world to their Westernized brethren. The controversial and polarizing figure of Nahman commanded the attention of many haskalah writers. Perl 1997, analyzed in Shmeruk 1999, caricatures Hasidism as a theologically and morally bankrupt movement headed by charlatans. His criticism is directed with particular vitriol at a thinly veiled portrayal of Bratslav Hasidism. Der Nister (Nister 2008) offers a more balanced portrayal of Bratslav Hasidim, whom he depicts as extreme but highly moral pietists. Ross 2009 explores the ways in which secular authors retold and reinterpreted Hasidism in order to make it speak to modern readers. Horowitz 1968 demonstrates that Nahman’s stories influenced Franz Kafka and S. Y. Agnon, two great Jewish writers of the 20th century.

  • Horowitz, Rivka. “The Messenger Delayed.” Moznayim 27 (1968): 173–183.

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    Demonstrates that S. Y. Agnon and F. Kafka were influenced by Nahman’s works. While Agnon’s Hebrew style reflects biblical and rabbinic literature (not that of Hasidic books) many motifs favored by these two writers are found in Nahman’s stories. These include spiritual vacillations, nullifying the self, not knowing whether the experienced reality is in fact true, masquerade, and the protagonist’s difficulty in accomplishing his perceived task.

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  • Nister, Der. The Family Mashber. Translated by Leonard Wolf. New York: New York Review Books, 2008.

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    Novel set in late 19th-century Berdichev that features a Bratslav Hasid as one of its central protagonists. Recounts the piety and persecution of the Bratslav community. Translated from the Yiddish.

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  • Perl, Joseph. Joseph Perl’s Revealer of Secrets: The First Hebrew Novel. Translated by Dov Taylor. Boulder, CO: Westview, 1997.

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    Clever pseudepigraphic satire that lambasts the Hasidic leaders for being charlatans and cheats. Author’s critique was at least in part aimed at Nahman and his followers.

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  • Ross, Nicham. “A Literary Paraphrase of The Life of R. Nahman (Hayyei Moharan): Y. L. Peretz and a Modernist Distortion of the Bratzlavian Legacy.” In Samkhut Ruhanit. Edited by Howard Kreisel, Boaz Huss, and Uri Erlih, 295–336. Beer Sheva, Israel: Ben Gurion University of the Negev Press, 2009.

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    Demonstrates the ways in which the structure, themes and motifs of Hayyei Moharan inspired one of Yiddish author Y. L. Peretz’s stories. Peretz’s retelling is an excellent example how fin-de-siècle authors creatively adapted earlier religious literature to speak to more modern secular problems of identity and tradition.

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  • Shmeruk, Hone. “Things as They are and Things as They are Imagined in Revealer of Secrets.” In Ha-Keriyah le-Navi: Mehkerei Historiyah ve-Sifrut. Edited by Yisrael Bartal, 144–155. Jerusalem: Merkaz Zalman Shazar, 1999.

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    Analyzes the aspects of Perl’s lampoon that targets Nahman and demonstrates the ways in which the author’s novel draws upon Nahman’s writings.

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Bratslav Hasidism in the Soviet Union and During the Holocaust

The short descriptions in articles printed in the Yiddish and Hebrew newspapers and brief anecdotes scattered among memoirs reveal that in the first half of the 20th century there were significant and active communities of Bratslav Hasidim throughout Jewish centers of Ukraine and Poland, including Berdyczow, Lodz, Lublin, Uman, Warsaw. However, relatively little information is available about the social and religious lives of these communities. This is especially true of the tumultuous period between 1917 and 1945. It is clear from the accounts in Gershoni 1970 and the letters printed in Altshuler 1980 that they were already being persecuted by the Soviet authorities well before the Nazis’ invasion of Ukraine. Yet as the Nazis pushed deeper into the Soviet Union in 1941, Bratslav communities that had been shielded from the initial stages of the German death machine were slaughtered. Bingel 1959 offers a bitter description of the liquidation of the Jewish community of Uman during the Holocaust. Ida 2004 explores how an ornamental chair believed to have belonged to Nahman and daringly smuggled out of Ukraine under the Communists now functions as symbol of continuity in Bratslav.

  • Altshuler, Mordechai. “Bratslav Hasidim in the Soviet Union During the 1930s.” Micha’el 6 (1980): 37–68.

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    Letters written by Bratslav Hasidim that describe the hardships they were enduring in Soviet Ukraine.

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  • Bingel, Erwin. “The Destruction of Two Communities in Ukraine: The Testimony of a German Officer.” Yad va-Shem 3 (1959): 283–299.

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    First-person testimony of a German army officer given in August 1945 that describes the brutal annihilation of the Jewish community of Uman in 1941.

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  • Gershoni, Aharon Eliyahu. Yehudim ve-Yahadut be-Brit ha-Mo’etzot: Yahadut Rusiyah mi-Tekufat Stalin ve-ad ha-Zeman ha-Aharon. Jerusalem, 1970.

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    Devotes a section (pp. 129–134) to the persecution of Bratslav Hasidim under the Soviet Union, who exhibited a remarkable level of faith years after others had given up. They maintained a strong sense of community despite the lack of centralized leadership, continued to journey to Nahman’s grave, and suffered in order to given their children a religious education.

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  • Ida, Batsheva Goldman. “The Birthing Chair: The Chair of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav, A Phenomenological Analysis.” Ars Judaica 6 (2004): 115–132.

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    Nahman’s ornately decorated chair was carefully smuggled out of the Soviet Union in the 1930s and is now housed in the Bratslav synagogue in Jerusalem. This provides the modern Bratslav community with a sense of continuity and a physical connection to their departed leader. This is a richly illustrated study examining the chair’s importance as a ritual object.

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Modern Bratslav

The second-half of the 20th century has witnessed an unexpected revival of Bratslav Hasidism. After the Holocaust communities established themselves in metropolitan areas across the United States, but the critical mass of Hasidim are now Israel. The largest traditional group lives in the ultra-orthodox Meah She’arim neighborhood of Jerusalem, with a somewhat smaller community in Safed. Bratslav Hasidism was historically a demanding and elitist spiritual path with a relatively small following. The communities in Meah She’arim and Safed have continued in this vein. However, modern Bratslav is also defined by several “neo-Bratslav” schools. These groups are primarily made up of ba’alei teshuvah (newly religious individuals raised outside of the orthodox world) and led by charismatic leaders. They have also absorbed a large influx of Sephardic Jews. Though they see themselves as authentic representations of Nahman’s religious message, they reject some (or all) of the strictures of traditional Hasidic life. Bratslav outreach began in the 1970s with the efforts of Levi Yitzak Bender (see Later Bratslav Sources). The most important contemporary neo-Bratslav schools are firstly, followers of Israel Odesser (d. 1994), who claimed to have found a secret note from Nahman enjoining people to recite the formula na, nah, nahma, nahman me-uman in order to hasten the messianic redemption; secondly are students of Eliezer Schick (1940–), leader of communities Israel and the United States. His written works number in the thousands (including books and smaller pamphlets), which he distributes widely to spread the tenets of Bratslav Hasidism; thirdly, there were followers of Shalom Arush (1952–), also a prolific author whose books are translated into many languages. Relationships between these groups and the traditional Bratslav communities range from restrained respect to antipathy. Neo-Bratslav Hasidism also has a significant following in the national religious and ultra-orthodox (haredi le-umi) camps, who emphasize Nahman’s mystical teachings about the land of Israel. Sheleg 2000 offers some general observations about this pheonomenon, but Nahman’s influence on Jewish nationalism has yet to be fully studied. Piekarz 1995 (cited under General Overviews) includes an important chapter on neo-Bratslav, focusing in particular on the messianic group surrounding Schick. Mark 2011 offers a broad overview of modern Bratslav. Arush 2008 and Schick 1980 are examples of the more popular forms of neo-Bratslav literature. Shatil 1993 and Wiener 1969 are first-person accounts from individuals who spent time living as a member of a newly religious Bratslav community. Witztum, et al. 1990 studies mental illness among some Israeli ba’alei teshuvah. Baumgarten 2012 explores the complex spectrum of modern Bratslav identity, demonstrating that its membership is much less clearly defined than it is in other Hasidic groups.

  • Arush, Shalom. The Garden of Emuna: A Practical Guide to Life. Translated by Lazer Brody. Jerusalem: Chut Sel Chessed Institutions, 2008.

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    Example of the popular teachings of one important neo-Bratslav leader with a sizable following in Israel and America. Widely read and translated into many languages, including French, German, and Yiddish.

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  • Baumgarten, Eliezer. “Between Morocco and Uman: Ethnic Identities among Breslav Hassidim.” Peamim 131 (2012): 147–178.

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    Study of the complicated identity of Bratslav community at the beginning of the 21st century. Many new members do maintain some of their previous identity, something not true of other Hasidic groups with many newly religious followers. This variety of expression is possible because Bratslav lacks any defined hierarchy, central leader, or norms of behaviors.

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  • Mark, Zvi. “Contemporary Renaissance of Braslav Hasidism: Ritual, Tiqqun and Messianism.” In Kabbalah and Contemporary Spiritual Revival. Edited by Boaz Huss, 101–116. Beer Sheva, Israel: Ben Gurion University of the Negev Press, 2011.

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    Brief survey of the theological and sociological distinctions between the various modern schools of Bratslav Hasidism.

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  • Schick, Eleazer Shlomo. A Voice Calls Out to God: Based on the Works of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov and his Holy Disciple. Translated by Kalman Duvid Serkez. New York: Mesivta Heichal ha-Kodesh, 1980.

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    Short book of teachings inspired by Nahman targeted at a popular English readership. Emphasizes the core values of traditional Bratslav Hasidism, including the importance of prayer and the need to believe in the leader, and the leader’s connection to the imminent arrival of the messiah.

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  • Shatil, Jonathan. Pesikholog be-Yishivat Bratslav, Mistikah Yehudit: Halakhah le-Ma’aseh. Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University Press, 1993.

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    The author, a professional psychologist, recalls his experience studying in the Bratslav school in Jerusalem for men interested in becoming religious. Describes the student body, daily life, curriculum, teachers, and interviews with students. A unique window into modern Bratslav.

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  • Sheleg, Yair. Ha-Dati’im ha-Hadashim. Jerusalem: Keter, 2000.

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    Explores the connections between individualism, New Age spirituality, and the diversity of newly religious Jews in Israel. Some of those associated with neo-Bratslav communities have become more spiritual without adopting an orthodox lifestyle, while others have returned to more traditional patterns of observance.

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  • Weiner, Herbert. “Bratzlav: The Dead Hasidim.” In 9 ½ Mystics: The Kabbalah Today. By Herbert Weiner, 179–205. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1969.

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    Popular but illustrative account of author’s experiences in contemporary Bratslav community in Brooklyn.

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  • Witztum, Eliezer, David Greenberg, and Jacob T. Buchbinder. “‘A Very Narrow Bridge’: Diagnosis and Management of Mental Illness Among Bratslav Hasidim.” Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 27 (1990): 124–131.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-3204.27.1.124Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Interesting study of psychological maladies among the newly religious Bratslav Hasidim of Jerusalem.

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Pilgrimage to Uman

The reasons for Nahman’s decision to relocate to Uman in the spring of 1810 remain mysterious. Piekarz 1995 (cited under General Overviews) argues that this move, undertaken shortly before his death, was primarily driven by Nahman’s desire to engage with and combat early proponents of the Jewish Enlightenment. However, Green 1992 and Y. Travis in Magid 2002 (both cited under General Overviews) suggest that Nahman was more interested in uplifting the souls of Jews who had been slaughtered in the Gonta massacres of 1768. Such rituals (tikkunim) performed for the sake of the spirits of the departed have long been a part of the mystical dimension of Judaism. Nahman’s grave in Uman was transformed into a site of pilgrimage beginning with the year after his death. Rosh Hashana, the New Year and a day of judgment in the Jewish calendar, figures prominently in Nahman’s mystical teachings. It was a time in which all of his disciples would gather together to spend the important holiday with their master, and according to Sternhartz he requested that his followers continue to visit his grave on Rosh Hashana after his death. Bratslav tradition even remembers Nahman as having promised salvation to anyone willing to undertake the pilgrimage. Mark 2010 and Wacks 2003 explore the earliest roots of the custom in Bratslav Hasidism. The journey to the grave of a departed leader is more than a formalistc ritual for paying respect to their master but also an intense mystical experience through which the student can continue his relationship with his teacher; this notion is already found in medieval Kabbalah. The number of pilgrims during Nathan’s lifetime was small but consistent, and this continued until the Soviet authorities made travel to Uman nearly impossible. For a number of years before the fall of the Iron Curtain it was the custom of Bratslav Hasidim in Israel to visit the grave of Shimon bar Yohai in Meron. By the 1980s small groups of Bratslav Hasidim from America and Israel were granted the right to travel to Uman by the Soviets, and the collapse of the USSR opened up the passage to Uman with unprecedented access. Accurate demographics are impossible, but the annual number of pilgrims is now in the tens of thousands of people. Bratslav women also make the pilgrimage to Nahman’s grave, though they are discouraged from doing so on Rosh Hashana and generally gather there on other auspicious dates. Akao 2007 describes the relationship between these travelers and the local Ukrainian population, and Madrikh 2012 is a handbook to help travelers navigate the journey. Pilgrims now include not only traditional Bratslav Hasidim but also fellow travelers from neo-Bratslav communities, secular Israelis whose interest has been piqued by Nahman’s teachings, and New Age spiritual seekers of all varieties. Goshen-Gottstein 2011, Weinstock 2011, and Mazursky 2006 are travelogues which describe this phoenomonon from the perspective of a participant. Schwarz 2012 explores the possibility of taking part in the pilgrimage virtually, afforded by new technology.

  • Akao, Mitsuharu. “A New Phase in Jewish-Ukrainian Relations? Problems and Perspectives in the Ethno-politics Over the Hasidic Pilgrimage to Uman.” East European Jewish Affairs 37.2 (2007): 137–155.

    DOI: 10.1080/13501670701430347Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The transformation of a small town into the largest site of Hasidic pilgrimage has been complicated, straining relations between the Ukrainians and the Hasidim despite the economic benefits. Describes the logistical difficulties inherent in absorbing so many travelers, Jewish efforts to restore historical locations, and how local Ukrainians have reacted to the influx of pilgrims whose numbers have steadily grown since the fall of Communism.

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  • Goshen-Gottstein, Alon. “Uman, Uman, Rosh ha-Shanah! Thoughts about Spirituality.” Akdamot Journal for Jewish Thought 27 (2011): 145–164.

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    Personal reflections upon the author’s pilgrimage to Uman. Frames the trip as a collective journey in which feelings of community are an integral part of its power. Also includes broader discussion of the nature of spirituality and religious experience.

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  • Madrikh Uman: Rosh ha-Shanah 5773. Jerusalem: Va’ad Olami de-Hasidei Bratslav, 2012.

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    Guide published each year by an international organization whose goal promotes the pilgrimage to Uman. Includes logistical information such as maps, times of prayer at the different synagogues, and important contacts for the travelers.

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  • Mark, Zvi. “The Righteous in the Devil’s Gullet: A Holy Man in an Impure Place: On the Pilgrimage to R. Nahman of Bratslav’s Grave in Uman on Rosh ha-Shanah.” Reishit-Iyunim be-Yahadut 2 (2010): 112–146.

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    Comprehensive analysis of the journey on Rosh Hashana from the modest group of devoted disciples during Nahman’s time to the myriads of people who now make the pilgrimage. Includes discussion of the pre-Hasidic kabbalistic background, as well as the role and image of the saint in Nahman’s teachings.

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  • Mazursky, Paul, dir. Yippee: A Journey to Jewish Joy. DVD. Waltham, MA: National Center for Jewish Film, 2006.

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    Humorous documentary about the gathering in Uman which illustrates the great variety of different individuals who undertake the pilgrimage, from traditional Bratslav Hasidim to secular Israelis.

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  • Schwarz, Ori. “Place Beyond Place: On Artifacts, Religious Technologies, and the Mediation of Sacred Place.” In Was 70 CE a Watershed in Jewish History? On Jews and Judaism Before and After the Destruction of the Second Temple. Edited by Daniel R. Schwartz and Zeev Weiss, 115–126. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2012.

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    Explores the effects of modern technology, such as camera phones and live Internet broadcasting, on the pilgrimage to Nahman’s gravesite. These new avenues of communication allow for individuals to experience prayer and community virtually, even while not physically present at the sacred space.

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  • Wacks, Ron. “The Journey to Rabbi Nahman for Rosh ha-Shanah: Challenge, Test and Repair of Faith.” In Be-Rosh ha-Shanah Yikatevun. Edited by Amnon Bazak, 97–115. Alon Shevut, Israel: Hotsa’at Tevunot, 2003.

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    Explores the importance accorded Rosh Hashana in Nahman’s court during his lifetime. His students traveled great distances to spend this holiday with their leader, and the pilgrimage to his grave is an extension of this practice.

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  • Weinstock, Moshe. Uman: ha-Masa ha-Yisraeli le-Kivro shel Rabbi Nahman mi-Bratslav. Tel Aviv: Miskal Yedioth Ahronoth, 2011.

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    Popular travelogue describing the trip to Uman, including the phenomenon of Israelis not affiliated with a Bratslav community who undertake the journey as fellow travelers.

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Contemporary Reflections of Bratslav Hasidism in Literature, Art and Theology

Over the past forty years Bratslav Hasidism has become an increasingly visible presence in Jewish communities in both Israel and America. Nahman’s teachings are now available to those outside of the Hasidic community, a shift largely endorsed by the traditional Bratslav Hasidim themselves. While American Orthodox theologians have been reticent to embrace Nahman’s teachings, liberal Jewish thinkers such as Green 2003 have turned to his works as an engine for revitalizing modern Jewish life. Nahman’s influence on culture and religion is even more pronounced in Israel, where his teachings are becoming increasingly popular. His teachings were an important source of inspiration for A. I. Kook (b. 1865–d. 1935), an important religious Zionist thinker and mystical theologian. Ben-Harosh 2007 compares the attitudes of Nahman and Kook on the subject of Jewish secularism. Rosenberg 2012 is the first installment of a new series published from the notes of an important Israeli rabbi from weekly classes offered at his yeshivah (seminary). Elbaum 2007 is a fascinating spiritual autobiography by an Israeli author inspired by Nahman’s theological struggles. Nahman’s status as a more broadly defined cultural figure in contemporary Israel is the subject of Dimui: A Journal of Literature, the Arts, and Jewish Culture. Horen 2010 is a collection of essays about Nahman’s tales by modern Israeli religious intellectuals. Ushpizin 2006 and Yaesh 2012 reflect different aspects of the newly religious Bratslav Hasidim in Israel.

  • Ben-Harosh, Yonatan. “Between the Song of Silence and the Holiness of Quiet: The Attitude toward Heresy in the Teachings of R. Nahman of Breslev and R. A. I. Kook.” Akdamot 19 (2007): 121–142.

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    Compares the relationship of these two mystical thinkers to the issue of secularism: for Nahman it is a purely internal spiritual failing, whereas for Kook it is a necessary stage in national evolution. Both share the paradoxical belief that secularism is a misappropriation of an attitude emerging from an essentially holy source.

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  • Dar, Giddi, dir. Ushpizin, 2004. DVD. Los Angeles: New Line Home Entertainment, 2006.

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    Popular film about a newly religious Bratslav couple in Jerusalem. Written by and featuring an Israeli actor and singer who himself became a Hasid along with his wife after having been non-observant for a number of years.

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  • Dimui: A Journal of Literature, the Arts, and Jewish Culture 19 (2001).

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    Features articles by a wide variety of Jewish intellectuals on the place of Nahman and his teachings in modern Israeli culture. Includes poetry, fiction, and visual art, in addition to short academic studies by senior scholars of Hasidism such as Y. Liebes and R. Elior.

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    • Elbaum, Dov. Masa ba-Halal ha-Panui: Otobiyografyah Ruhanit. Tel Aviv: Am Oved, 2007.

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      Spiritual autobiography by an Israeli writer born and raised in the ultra-Orthodox world. Each chapter explores theological questions according to one of the ten sefirot, an ancient Kabbalistic symbol for the different powers united within God. His quest and spiritual struggles are deeply influenced by Nahman’s teachings.

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    • Green, Arthur. Seek My Face: A Mystical Theology. Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 2003.

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      Work of modern theology by an important American scholar of Hasidism, liberal rabbi, and leader of Neo-Hasidism. Notes in his introduction that Nahman’s teachings are one of his major sources of spiritual inspiration.

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    • Horen, Roee, ed. Ha-Hayyim ke-Ga’agu’im. Tel Aviv: Miskal Yedioth Ahronoth, 2010.

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      Modern interpretations of Nahman’s tales by contemporary Israeli intellectual, cultural, and religious leaders. Includes contributions by, inter alia, Haviva Pedaya, Shalom Rosenberg, and Menahem and Hadassah Frumen. Introduced by Shimon Gershon Rosenberg (Rav Shagar).

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    • Rosenberg, R. Shimon Gershon. Shiurim al Likkutei Moharan. Edited by Netanel Lederberg. Alon Shvut, Israel: Institute for the Advancement of Rav Shagar’s Writings, 2012.

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      Highly creative and systematic commentary to Likkutei Moharan by an important Israeli religious leader who used modern philosophy and literary theories to find new meaning in traditional sources. First volume in a series edited and published posthumously.

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    • Yaesh, Meny, dir. God’s Neighbors (Ha-Mashgihim). DVD. Israel Film Fund, 2012.

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      Portrays the darker side of violence and drugs in the newly religious Bratslav community in a suburb of Tel Aviv.

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    LAST MODIFIED: 10/29/2013

    DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199840731-0041

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