Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
RABBI NACHMAN'S GRAVE
I want to remain among you. And you should come to my grave.
Chayey Moharan #197
There is nothing I need to do for myself in this world at all. I came into the world only to bring Jewish souls closer to God. But I can only help someone who comes to me and tells me what he needs.
Chayey Moharan #307
Rabbi Nachman chose as his resting place the old Jewish cemetery of Uman , Ukraine , where the martyrs of the 1768 Uman Massacre were buried.
Prior to his death, Rabbi Nachman urged his followers to come to his grave to pray. He also made a promise that no other Tzaddik in the whole of Jewish history had ever made. Taking as his witnesses Rabbi Aaron, Rav of the town of Breslov , and Reb Naftali, his second closest disciple after Reb Nosson, Rabbi Nachman said:
"Bear witness to my words. When my days are over and I leave this world, I will still intercede for anyone who comes to my grave, says these Ten Psalms and gives a penny to charity. No matter how great his sins, I will do everything in my power, spanning the length and breadth of creation , to save him and cleanse him."
A few months after Rabbi Nachman's passing, Reb Nosson led the first pilgrimage to his grave. The Rebbe's widow arranged for the construction of a small structure over the grave, which became a focal point for regular visits by Breslover Chassidim and many others for 130 years.
During the Nazi invasion of Russia in 1941 a hand grenade exploded at the gravesite, completely destroying the structure built over it. After World War II the devastated cemetery and surrounding area were designated for suburban housing. However, the plot of land containing the grave was acquired by a Breslover chassid, who designed a house with an exterior wall and window alongside the grave in order to discourage anyone from building over it later. The grave was covered by an unmarked slab and enclosed in the private yard attached to the house, which later passed into the hands of gentiles.
The Breslover Chassidim who remained in Russia after the war knew the location of the grave and continued to visit it even in the darkest periods of communist repression. From the 1960's and particularly in the late 1970's and '80's Rabbi Nachman's grave in Uman became a magnet for steadily increasing numbers of visitors from Israel, Europe, North America and other parts of the world.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union and the establishment of Ukraine as an independent republic in 1991, control of the gravesite was acquired by the Breslover Chassidim, who replaced the old house with a new Beit Midrash and facilities for the tens of thousands who visit annually and particularly for Rosh Hashanah.
By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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