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Aug 30, 2012

The Benefit Of Going To Uman According To Rav Shteinman

Every year right about at this time of the year, a couple of weeks before Rosh Hashana, the public debate about going to Uman for Rosh Hashana heats up. Should you go, shouldn't you go, the Ukranians are anti-semites and killed so many jews we shouldn't give them our money, there are tzaddikim both alive and dead in Israel, etc.

I look at the pilgrimage to Uman as an adventure. people like exciting adventures, and this is one masked in religion, so it excites people and it is socially and publicly excusable. of course for a Breslaver it is perfectly ok anyway, as that is what Hassidim do - they go to their rebbe, even if he has been dead for hundreds of years. The debate is really around the thousands of non-Breslavers who go.

I see the repeated debate as really an people making excuses. I don't go because I don't want to go. The need to go ask rabbonim if it is a good or bad thing is really just for someone who really feels guilty about not going and is looking to assuage that guilt. So he asks a rav if going to Uman is a good thing or a bad thing. Put it this way - if you werent going to go anyway, why do you need to ask if the other guy should or should not go? That's his business, his shaila, his decision, his psak - not yours. So people ask, or seek out the rabbonim being quoted against, and that way they no longer feel like they are wrong for ignoring a tremendous chizzuk event.

This year Rav Shteinman was asked his opinion on the matter. His answer was, reportedly, along with a backhanded compliment, "What's so bad about them going to Uman? It wont do any harm. Just the opposite - with such a large crowd, there will definitely be a minyan of people davening properly..."

Did he mean:

  1. most people in Uman don't daven properly?
  2. most people in general, in shuls all over the world, don't daven properly?

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  1. There are plenty more reasons not to go than to go:
    1. It's chag. You are supposed to be with your family on chag.
    2. It's costly. If you have an extra few thousand for a trip to Uman, give some to tzedaka (one of the 3 surefire ways to achieve teshuva) and save the rest.
    3. It sometimes results in chullul Hashem. Each year there are certain unsavory incidents in Uman.
    4. It supports anti-Semites. There is no reason to provide a huge boost to their economy each year.
    5. There is no proven spiritual benefit to davening in Uman rather than in Yerushalaim. In fact there is clear precedent for "going up" to Yerushalaim to daven (at least for the shalosh regalim) and no precedent for Uman.
    6. On average, it exposes you to unnecessary danger. I think a few years ago there was even one murder there. Still minor, but totally unnecessary.
    7. I'm not sure if it is possible to have proper davening at what amounts to a huge frat party :-)

    1. Excellent list, Mark. I would add only the spectacle of people (who present themselves as authentic Jews) having a "rebbe" who's been dead for over 200 years. So I certainly disagree with Rafi's neutrality on this issue.

  2. On average, it exposes you to unnecessary danger. I think a few years ago there was even one murder there. Still minor, but totally unnecessary.

    "Minor" for you perhaps, Mark, but definitely not for the bar-minan!

    1. I didn't write that very well, did I? The "minor" was supposed the be modifier on danger, but the murder example got in the way.

  3. Im pretty sure he meant 2. It's a "known" psak that people are "reciters" and ot doing "prayer"

  4. After clicking on the link and reading the Kikar Shabbat report, one sees that the sheila asked to Rav Steinman concerned students of a certain Yeshiva. Perhaps that Yeshiva is not a standard Yeshiva, maybe the bochurim there are more difficult students. So his response then would not necessarily be the same for others. Also, perhaps those who wanted to go were bochurim, who would not be leaving their families alone by doing so.

    So we should not infer from this (assuming it was reported correctly in the first place, which is not always the case) a general endorsement of the practice by R. ALS.

  5. ELUL = Ani L'Uman V'Ishti L'Azazel....

  6. The zionists think that modern day Israel is a, as told to me by a religious zionist, "it's a little bit not galut".

    The truth is it is still 100% galus until Moshiach comes.

    If you want to see a preview of the achdus when Moshiach comes: go to Uman.

    1. The questions to ask then is: Is Eretz Yisroel inherently "Eretz Yisroel" or not? Is it holy or not? is it currently only a piece of land like any other or is it still holy? is there any benefit in physically from being in Eretz Yisroel or not? Eretz Yisroel is Eretz Yisroel with or without the Moshiach. The Galut concerns Am Yisroel not Eretz Yisroel. Eretz Yisroel is not in galut, Am Yisroel is in galut. Eretz Yisroel is exactly where is is supposed to be. If Yerushalayim is in galut, then so is Uman. The question that begs a response is: which is greater; Yerushalayim or Uman? which is greater the Kotel or the Ochel of the rebbe. Where would Rebbe Nachman rather have been buried on the Har ha Zeytim or in Uman? which land has more martyrs and kedusha in its soil, Yerushalayim on Uman?


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