NO SIGN OF WAR IN UMAN: Thousands Travel For 34 Hours To Daven At Kever Of Rebbe Nachman On Rosh Hashanah

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With a fierce debate continuing to rage over whether Breslov chasidim should be traveling to Uman for Rosh Hashana amid a deadly war, YWN spoke with M.M., a chasid of Rebbe Nachman who recently made the long and arduous journey to the famed city.

M.M., who requested that only his initials be used in this story, said that this is his 26th consecutive year of going to Uman – he’s been going since he was 12 years old – but it’s not his first time overcoming significant obstacles to get there.

“Prior to this year, the most challenging time to get to Uman was in 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks,” M.M. said. “The skies were completely closed, making it literally impossible to get anywhere near the country.”

But on Shabbos afternoon following the attacks, flights resumed, and immediately after the zman, M.M. hitched a ride to the airport, bought a ticket, and hopped on a flight to Warsaw. Once in Poland, he took a taxi to the Ukrainian border, walked into the country, and then taxied to Lviv before finally reaching Uman just hours before Rosh Hashana began.

“What I noticed that year was the incredible ruach of the davening. Everyone who was there had to put in tremendous effort. And you felt it in the davening,” M.M. said.

He says that the same is expected this year.

Like thousands of others making the trek to Uman this year, M.M. obtained a temporary residency card, similar to a “green card” in the U.S. to make it easier to get into the country.

On Tuesday, M.M. and his 3 teenaged sons began their lengthy trek to Uman, taking a flight from Newark to Frankfurt, Germany, and then took a connecting flight to Krakow, Poland, where hundreds more Breslov chasidim were also attempting to reach the burial place of their Rebbe.

“Once in Krakow, we could really feel the Uman vibes,” M.M. said. “There were thousands of people, taxis and buses all lined up to bring people to Uman. The excitement could be felt in the air. And despite the long trips everyone had taken just to get to Krakow, there was an unbelievable nachas ruach. Everyone was just calm, relaxed, and smiles adorned everyone’s faces.”

M.M. and his travel partners traveled 2.5 hours from Krakow to Lizhensk, where they davened by the kever of R’ Elimelech, before taking another 2.5-hour trip to the Ukrainian border.

There are several options for those who want to cross the border into Ukraine. One could take a train into the country (Breslov chasidim have chartered a bunch of trains to help people get in), enter by foot (the fastest option), or drive in. Because it was raining, M.M. and his family chose the latter option, with the process of simply getting in taking over 2 hours.

Once inside the country, they took an 8.5-hour trip to Uman, stopping about halfway through in Mezhibuz, where they – and thousands of others heading to Uman – grabbed the opportunity to daven at the kever of the Baal Shem Tov.

“As we drove through Ukraine, it was evident how happy the Ukrainians were that we were there. It provided them a sense of normalcy,” M.M. said. “Even more, it was a tremendous kiddush hashem. The Ukrainians saw that we come each year because of our deep connection to Rebbe Nachman, not to take a vacation or party.”

M.M. and his family are now in Uman, eagerly waiting for Rosh Hashana with Rebbe Nachman.

“There are thousands and thousands of people here and the kol torah is unbelievable. There are huge tents set up where people are learning at all hours and the bais medrash is packed with people learning and davening,” he said.

But, what about the war?

“Those who are saying Breslov chasidim are crazy for going to Uman should know this: While there is of course a serious war going on, it’s not around here at all,” M.M. said. “I’ve been here 3 times in the past month and I haven’t seen a single tank.”

“I traveled for 34 hours and the only ammunition I saw was from NATO troops in Poland,” he continued. “The war isn’t anywhere near here. Worrying about the fighting while in Uman is like being in New York and concerned about a fight going on in Detroit.”

“Contrary to what the news says, apart from one single attack on a nearby ammunition depot in the early days of the war, Uman has been completely quiet and life has gone on as usual,” he asserted. “Additionally, the people who live here are not pro-Russia and they don’t pose a threat to us.”

M.M. also insisted that even if it were dangerous to be in Uman this year, Breslov chasidim would have made every effort to be there for Rosh Hashana.

“If the streets of Uman were filled with knives, we would walk on those streets to get to be with Rebbe Nachman on Rosh Hashana,” he said. “If you were never here for Rosh Hashana, you wouldn’t understand it. But if you were, you’d do the same.”

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


33 COMMENTS

  1. Bless these souls, to those who wish them harm like reality and kach …..it is important to know the world is free for us to travel….May Hashem bless all who go to Daven and pray in the most awful holes in the world…diminish these filthy animals and come back safe…we love and pray for you

  2. “..finally reaching Uman just hours before Rosh Hashana began.” He will give Din-v’cheshbon after 120 for taking such a risky journey arriving hours before Yom Tov.

  3. @147
    Today is erev shabbos. Tomorrow is shabbos. Sunday is erev yom tov.
    There is an 11 PM curfew in Ukraine.
    It takes close to 2 days to get there.
    When do u think is a good time to show up ?
    Last minute?

  4. Chevra
    Why the need to judge to harshly or at all.
    Your not giving Tochacha that they would accept. Most likely, their Rav told them to go.

    Are you saying that you know better than their Rav? There will always be a difference of opinion. Why can’t we just let them be in peace? If anything, daven for their well being.
    You don’t think they should go? So don’t go yourself, but don’t judge them for doing what they think is correct.

    Your literally condemning them for a difference in opinion.

    And if you say that it’s against Halachah. There are many Halachos that have differing opinions.

    70 Panim Latorah.

    Why not just live and let live?

  5. Look at Devarim 18. This is דֹרֵשׁ אֶל-הַמֵּתִים (“seeking after the dead”), which the Torah calls תוֹעֲבַת ה (“something abominable to Hashem”) and תוֹעֲבֹת הַגּוֹיִם (“among the abominations of the gentiles”). It cannot be called temimut (innocence, purity), because the Torah goes on to contrast such behavior with REAL innocence and purity before G-d, saying: תָּמִים תִּהְיֶה עִם ה’ אֱלֹ-יךָ.

    I have heard excuse-makers quote Mishlei וְעַל כָּל־פְּשָׁעִים תְּכַסֶּה אַֽהֲבָֽה (“Love covers all crimes”), but the Torah actually says that asking things of the dead is one of the sins that caused Hashem to wipe out the nations of Canaan. When the Mashiach comes, he is going to put a hard stop to all this nonsense. And believe me, there will be frum Jews gunning for him for doing so.

  6. there is a lot of fake news about this war, in actuality uman is safer than walking on the streets of Brooklyn after 1200 pm because of all the criminals and no bail revolving doors here. i applaud for their emunah and not falling for disinformation.

  7. Ari Knobler, you are not a believing Jew, you are a Protestant. Going to pray at the graves of ancestors and of tzadikim is one of the most ancient known Jewish practices, and anyone who condemns it is rejecting Judaism altogether. Yosef prayed at his mother’s grave, Kalev went to Me’aras Hamachpela to pray. Yirmiyahu went there and also to Har Nevo, not to pray to Hashem in the merit of those buried there, but specifically to ask the deceased themselves, the Avos and Moshe, to intercede for the Jewish people in their time of trouble! If you have a problem with Yirmiyahu, then your religion is not Judaism.

    In addition, the Zohar says explicitly that your pronouncement is wrong. It says explicitly that when the world needs rain we should take a sefer torah to the cemetery and inform the nefashos of those buried there of our predicament, and ask them to intercede for us. They then go to Chevron to awaken those buried there, and together they ascend to the higher worlds and inform the neshamos there and they all pray to Hashem to have mercy on us here below, and give us rain.

    And the Zohar explicitly rejects your claim that this constitutes דֹרֵשׁ אֶל-הַמֵּתִים . It says that is not what the pasuk means at all. דֹרֵשׁ אֶל-הַמֵּתִים means resha’im, who are considered “dead” even when they are technically alive; but tzadikim are המתים אשר כבר מתו, those who are “dead” only in the technical sense that they have actually died, but in reality they are alive, and therefore we may ask them to pray for us just as we could while they were physically alive.

    Elsewhere the Zohar says that a tzadik who has passed away is present in all the worlds, more than when he was alive. The Tanya explains that this is because he is no longer constrained by the body’s physical limits, and is therefore better able to intervene on behalf of those who are connected to him by learning his torah.

  8. The question is – does the Rav know the fact to judge. As MM says:

    > I haven’t seen a single tank

    Maybe he needs to read up on missiles. Unfortunately, they come before the sound and barely seen …

    They should stay away from any critical infrastructure, such as power stations, dams, bridges, factories, government buildings that can be bombed. Please pass this information along.

  9. TheReality who are you to pasken, you know the war is in the other side of Ukraine? you know that there is checkpoints on both side of uman only allowing Jews in? first know what’s going on then pasken

  10. Knobler, please provide sources.

    But before you do, please answer the very common custom to use the words at a levayah, lo aleinu, that “the niftar or nifteres be a meilitz yoshor etc.” Also דורש אל המתים?

    Back to the topic at hand:

    דורש אל המתים as it pertains to visiting the grave of anyone – not only a tzaddik – is a lengthy discussion.

    Some say that one may not directly address the person buried there while others (the Minchas Elazar for one) says that you may.

    Before you assert that a large segment of the frum population don’t know what they are doing, please provide the various sources on both sides of the aisle for an honest discussion.

  11. Reality: The Ukraine is a war zone. Is davening in UMAN a “yaharog v’al ya’avoer? Last time I learned the halacha the answer is: No. So putting oneself in “sakona” to me seems not only foolish but anti-halacha.

    In my humble opinion, you want to go to Uman, purchase at $250,000 bond so that in the event you need to be rescued, others won’t have to pay for you.

  12. It has always been Usur to go to Uman. Of course a person can go to a Tzadiks kever to daven. That is not what they are doing. They are going to Uman to be with Rav Nachman. They actually compare it to a living Tzadik for Yom Tov. They also think that Rav Nachman is their savior. Here is a quote from their website. “Rebbe Nachman is truly the secret of Redemption and that only he can extract our generation from the depths to which we’ve sunk.” Clearly this is complete apikorsis and has nothing to do with Chassidus or Judaism. This year just proves that they have nothing to do with Judaism by encouraging thousand of people to go to a war zone. Insanity. 

  13. Live and let live.
    What a bunch of hateful jealous comments. These Yidden are already there, at this point, so wish them well. Instead of eyen horas, bentch them. Get out of your selfish bitter lives and give others a Bracha instead. Most of them went with the intention of coming closer to the Rebono shel olam. They went for Ruchnios reasons. Hopefully with siyata dishmaya they’ll accomplish that.

  14. Someone who goes to Uman this year is showing two things:

    1) They lack common sense. There is a war going on, and this is not something you need to sacrifice your life for

    2) More importantly, their lack of taking others into account, ignoring the very real possibility that their wives and children could be left without a husband and father, with all the difficulty that entails, or the pain their death would cause their parents, shows cruelty (unintentional, but still cruelty) and profound lack of regard for others. To hear “There is a war going on, the State Department says that you should provide DNA samples and write a will before you go, you very well might die” and still see no issue with going shows a level of narcissism that boggles the mind. You aren’t doing a mitzva, but rather an aveira. At a certain point a person needs to tune out the noise of “UMAN ROSH HASHANA!!!!” and “What will all my friends say when (if) they come back and I didn’t go” and think critically about what he is doing.

    So many of the comments here reek of that lack of critical thinking or regard for others “It’s like people in New York worrying about a fight in Detroit”. No, it’s a war, where one side has missiles capable of hitting New York from Detroit, and has no qualms about firing missiles at anyone. “My mother is scared” Then don’t go!” what part of your mind thinks that going to Uman supersedes Kibbud Av?! “The people here aren’t Pro-Russia” Guess what else they aren’t, they aren’t Pro-Jews either. And the idea that them being pro-Russia would change the situation one way or the other (It wouldn’t) is laughable and again, shows that those going aren’t thinking clearly. The issue is that it’s not just them being affected, but their families as well.

  15. Wow watching these videos why would you not want people to be there ?? You don’t like yidden davening ?
    You don’t like yidden dancing and being happy ?
    You don’t like yidden doing Chessed giving for food for people??
    What do you see that you need to such comments and hate
    Maybe you just don’t like yidden ??
    It’s time for achdus you don’t need to understand everyone and their way we all have our own derech in avoda
    Why the hate we are all one family

  16. Dear gossipers,
    everybody here is mad.i know this might sound hypocryticial but i felt the need to tell you something:you are all bored lacking in knowledge and extremely stupid.all day you guys message loshon hora and shtel rubbish dieus on things you all have no idea about.i mean you all quote pesukim from the torah but lets be honest you have no idea what the heck youre on about you just like hacking at people just because youre bored.i mean who gives if people are or are not doing the right thing by going to uman i personally am happy for them that they went and happy for those that didnt go cuz of the war but what on earth what you say makes no diff what so ever they wont even see it you just feel the need to make yourself feel better by pushing others down and talking trash here all day long!GET.A.LIFE!!!!!!
    warm regards

    a person who thinks youre all mad

  17. shnayzin123: Very well. Here are some sources:

    (י) לֹֽא־יִמָּצֵ֣א בְךָ֔ מַעֲבִ֥יר בְּנֽוֹ־וּבִתּ֖וֹ בָּאֵ֑שׁ קֹסֵ֣ם קְסָמִ֔ים מְעוֹנֵ֥ן וּמְנַחֵ֖שׁ וּמְכַשֵּֽׁף׃ (יא) וְחֹבֵ֖ר חָ֑בֶר וְשֹׁאֵ֥ל אוֹב֙ וְיִדְּעֹנִ֔י וְדֹרֵ֖שׁ אֶל־הַמֵּתִֽים׃
    דברים י״ח:י׳-י״א

    (ו) וַיִּקְבֹּ֨ר אֹת֤וֹ בַגַּיְ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מוֹאָ֔ב מ֖וּל בֵּ֣ית פְּע֑וֹר וְלֹֽא־יָדַ֥ע אִישׁ֙ אֶת־קְבֻ֣רָת֔וֹ עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃
    דברים ל״ד:ו׳

    שלא יהיה מקום קבורתו נודע לאחד מהאנשים והנה עשה זה השם יתעלה כי אולי אם נודע מקום טעו יעטו הדורות הבאים ויעשו ממנו אלוה
    רלב”ג ביאור המלות על התורה, דברים ל״ד:ו׳

    והתניא לא יהלך אדם בבית הקברות ותפילין בראשו וספר תורה בזרועו וקורא ואם עושה כן עובר משום לועג לרש חרף עושהו
    ברכות י״ח א:ו׳-ז׳

    אבל הקב”ה אינו כן אם בא על אדם צרה לא יצווח לא למיכאל ולא לגבריאל אלא לי יצווח ואני עונה לו מיד.
    תלמוד ירושלמי ברכות ט׳:א׳:י״ג-כ״ב

    אֲנִי מַאֲמִין בֶּאֱמוּנָה שְׁלֵמָה, שֶׁהַבּורֵא יִתְבָּרַךְ שְׁמו לו לְבַדּו רָאוּי לְהִתְפַּלֵּל, וְאֵין רָאוּי לְהִתְפַּלֵּל לְזוּלָתו.

    וְלֹא יִפְנֶה אָדָם לְבַקֵּר הַקְּבָרוֹת
    משנה תורה, הלכות אבל ד׳:ד׳

    עוד ראיתי תשובה ע”ש מהר”ר חיים פלטיאל על הנודרים לילך לב”ה קצת היה נראה כדורש אל המתים דכלב שנשתטח על קברי אבות התפלל לשם במקום קדושה כדי שתהא תפילתו נשמעת וכדכתיב באברהם אל המקום אשר עמד שם אלמא שהמקום גורם. א”נ מי שביזה את המת ולכבודו משתטח על קברו זה מצינו אך נשים ובני אדם שאינן יודעין זה לא ידעתי הליכתן למה
    ב”ח, יורה דעה רי״ז:נ״ח:א׳

    דביה”ק הוא מקום מנוחת הצדיקים והתפלה נתקבלה שם יותר אך אל ישים מגמתו נגד המתים אך יבקש מהש”י שיתן עליו רחמים בזכות הצדיקים שוכני עפר ויקיף הקברות ויתן צדקה קודם שיאמר התחנות. ואין לילך על קבר אחד ב”פ ביום אחד:
    משנה ברורה תקפ״א:כ״ח

    ותישמר שלא תלך לבית הקברות כלל וכלל. (נ”א: ששם מתדבקין הקליפות מאד וכל שכן בנשים), וכל הצרות והעוונות באים מזה
    אגרת הגר”א ט׳

  18. Again, Ari Knobler, the Zohar explicitly rejects your position. That automatically makes you wrong. If you think you are smarter than the Zohar then I am not interested in your religion.

  19. Knobler, you don’t criticize those who go to the kever of the Chofetz Chaim or the many Litvish gedolim.

    You only bark when you hear of chassidim going to Rebbe’s kevorim.

    Why is that? Because your rabid issues and complaining is not about going to kevorim, but rather you havecan issue with chassidim and their rebbes.

    There is a name for that. It is called sinas chinom (anti-semitism). You aren’t interested in honest discussion. One cannot reason logically with a rabid dog howling at the moon.

    Milhouse answered you logically and correctly, but you continue to howl because thecsinas yisroel is in your dna. I question your yichus when I see the genes of Eisov soneh l’Yaakov and Amalek.

  20. Chasidim believe that bederech klal the Rebbe is asleep as the well known vort of the Gaon as why kevurah comes before and after death. Can not explain it to you but it is close to the truth. May we all have a good inscription.