Uman in Rosh Hashana – What about the Downside?
Every year, preceding Rosh Hashana, there is a major pilgrimage by tens of thousands of Jews from around the world to the burial site of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. Rebbe Nachman made great mystical promises to those who come to his grave, especially for Rosh Hashanah.
There are known valuable effects to the trip in increased Kavanah in prayer, Chizuk from speeches, dancing, and opportunities for religious growth. But what about the downside?
Breslover Chassidim are very pleased to see the yearly gatherings become bigger and bigger, but along with higher quantity comes lower quality. People come to Uman for all sorts of reasons, not all of them positive. Good friends are important.
The announcements issued by Breslover rabbis against women arriving in Uman for Rosh Hashana imply more than they can say openly. Are Ukrainian police effective in preventing destructive incidents en route? Should young men still be sent abroad without genuine supervision?
Many rabbis, including the late Rabbi Ovadyah Yosef, have seen these pilgrimages leaving the land of Israel as disrespectful to the Holy Land. It is one thing to go to Uman from Williamsburg, both in the Diaspora; quite another to go from Jerusalem.
Here is Rabbi David Bar-Hayim on the topic:
And then there are the dangers of anti-Semitic violence, not all of them reported.
Look before you leap; is visiting Uman for Rosh Hashana the right move for you?
With Heaven's help, Yehuda Segal