by Reb Akiva at Mystical Paths
As many of you know, I am a Chabadnik while my friend and occasionaly co-blogger R. Nati is a Breslever. As he prepared to depart for Uman for Rosh Hashana (to the tziyon of his Rebbe, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev), he very much wanted me to join him and worked hard to convince me to do so.
There's a tagline of a Chabad chassidic story, of an encounter between a shaliach of a Chabad Rebbe sent to spend some time with another chassidic rebbe and an offer of that rebbe to join his chassidus and be a close chossid, 'the chossid is a chossid but he's not thine (yours), the rebbe is a rebbe but he's not mine' [naturally it rhymes in Yiddish].
The path of Breslev on Rosh Hashana is one of great yirat Hashem, awe and fear of Hashem the One True Judge. One prays with great intensity for judgment for the good and allocation of shefa (the bounty of blessings from above) for the year. One approaches the gates of prayer with the largest minyan (prayer quorum) possible, as well as prayer together with tzaddikim, and at the kever of a tzaddik - especially the rebbe - if possible. This way, though one's tefilot (prayers) may not be worthy when the gates of prayer open for the group (in the merit of the holy rebbe, or the holy tzaddikim, or the righteous or meritorious among the group) your prayers will be able to slip in. This is the awesome day of judgment, who shall live and who shall die, who shall receive easily and who shall struggle.
The Chabad focus on Rosh Hashana is different. As the story told by Rav Solevechick, zt"l goes, he had a cheder rebbe when he was a child who was a Chabad chossid. He used to say he remembed every year as Rosh Hashana came from his youth when his teacher would come in Elul and tell the children, "kindelach (children), do you know what's coming? Rosh Hashana? And do you know what's so special about Rosh Hashana? It's coronation day!!! On Rosh Hashana, WE get to crown the King of kings! And who crowns the King of kings? Moshe the butcher, Berel the baker, Shlomo the shoe maker. We do kindelach!" For Chabad, Rosh Hashana is the awesome day that is the very purpose of creation, for a king without subjects is not a king. So on Rosh Hashana we fulfill the very purpose of creation by declaring Hashem our King, the King of kings. It's coronation day, an awesome day with an awesome responsibility - to crown the King of kings and accept His authority over us as his loyal subjects. As we fulfill our awesome responsibility, we trust in Hashem to fulfill His and take good care of His people, forgiving our transgressions and granting our requests for a good year.
So which path is right?
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא