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Sep 11, 2013

A good word about going to Uman

I am not a big fan, to put it lightly, of the mass exodus to Uman for Rosh Hashana.

That being said, yesterday someone (who goes, and went, to Uman) gave me the best reason I have heard to date positive about going to Uman.

He described a scene where a very well-respected and important rosh yeshiva was together with someone not religious, maybe traditional, who would normally be thought of maybe as a gang member - a tough-looking character. The two of them were friendly with each other, chatting and davening together. In Israel they would not be seen near each other, probably would never be caught in the same room with one another, definitely not in a chummy and friendly way. When asked about it, the rosh yeshiva said that here we realize that the difference between us is negligible compared to the differences between us and God.

That is a beautiful sentiment.

I don't know why you have to go to Uman to get that sentiment, but if that is the experience people who go to Uman have, that they can look at their brethren as not enemies but as brothers in a similar boat, then maybe it is worth it.

Why go to Uman for that sentiment? Why not think of other Jews, in Israel as well as anywhere else, even the kind you normally do not associate with, as brothers of some sort? Maybe because in Israel it is religious Jew against non-religious Jew, while in Uman (or elsewhere) it is Jew against non-Jew.... but you don't have to consider life in Israel to be me against you. You don't have to go to Uman, or Moscow, or New York or Portland or London or wherever, to find a common ground with the other - you can have that attitude in Israel as well.. Just saying.

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1 comment:

  1. Sometimes you have to go to a place where 'no one knowns your name' in order to get past the boundaries we build between ourselves here at home. Here, some people's actions and movements are carefully scrutinized, but perhaps hardly anyone follows them to Uman where they can be virtually anonymous. Normally, most people are always worried about the image they project and would never dance with a Breslover for instance at a traffic light. In Uman, you are 'free'. 'No one' will know that you did extra spiritual things, like cry while davening - something the vast majority of us would not be able (or want to) do here.
    With regard to accessibility, I think that the some top rabbis seem to be much more protected with 'bodyguards', but I am still surprised that some others who I'd expect to be, are incredibly approachable and available.


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