Friday, September 26, 2008


How to Approach Rosh Hashanah?

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?

Both are.


  1. Which path is right ? I've been asking to myself for years now... Someone wrote once -I thinnk this Rabbi Dovid Sears in qn intersting post on A Simple Jew's blog- that Breslev is a giluy qnd Chabad is a hesber; qn explqnqtion of this giluy... SO else told me that Chabad is a shov whereas Breslev is ratzo. I personnaly feel that in a Ratzo I'm clother to Chabad and in a Shov, when I fall, I'm gettting clother to Rabbi Nahman...

  2. The "Us"
    Some of us are so burned and broken by the fires of denomination that divide us
    For only the "us" matters, and the branches upon the path are merely side-splinters taking us from physical points of origin unto the main-line
    Of which the line is that - a line - and not a point
    The line has two directions: one toward the Living G-D, and one away from Him
    The minhag must be framed in righteousness...for anything that contradicts HaTorah is in error...and yes, there are many minhagim, just as there are many faces of Yehudim, in many lands and with many tongues
    The "us" is right.
    The "us," meaning that when the sun sets at any corner of this tiny world, at different times...that the candles will be lit, and we will say the words that praise the never-dying, ever-living Name of the Living G-D.
    The "us," who will serve Him with one heart, one accord, in righteousness...always striving to righteousness.
    The "us" is a "coat of many colors," for all tongues are truly holy when they cry out in love and submission to the Living G-D.

    The "us" is right.
    The minhagim are but different colors in the coat.
    And the coat is "us." It is how we place this coat upon our shoulders, remembering that there is not one color, but many, and this coat must be donned.
    One G-D. One Torah. One people, klal Yisrael, in a mission, a holy mission! Our task: that we might lead all mankind toward Him.

    Remember the "us."

    a small, unimportant Jew

  3. Nonsense! No Jew is unimportant!

    L'shana Tova

  4. With two posts being removed, it doesn't appear that being a Chabadnick is very popular or acceptable. I for one am a Breslover and find fundamental problems with Chabad.

    It also bothers me that Rabbi Akiva's posts are more concerned about Finances than anything else. I for one am no longer interested in reading this blog and would rather his blogs be taken elsewhere. I think they have diminished from the essence of Rosh Hashana, from the time of Elul. It may be that since Rabbi Akiva has just made aliyah that he is actually still "stuck" in the galut.

    Good bye, you've lost a reader.

  5. Baruch: (though you'll probably never see this)

    This blog has a wide range of readers. Occasionally we receive comments which we find unacceptable for various reasons. Comments that disparage Torah, Judaism, Hashem, tzaddikim or generations of gedolim. We also receive comments espousing other religious perspectives - ones in direct conflict with Judasim.

    When we find those, we remove them. Simple as that.

    Sorry you didn't find the financial posts interesting. As a once in 75 years meltdown that's going to completely change the world, I do. Granted it's off topic from our general focus.

  6. Comments that disparge Torah? I defend Torah all the time. You eliminate comments that go against your opinions that match the rabbinical replacement of Torah. What chillul haShem.

  7. Shiloh - Your position differs significantly from the Judaism of today, and your last sentence is exactly what I described, the disparaging of tens of generations of rabbaim, gedolim and tzaddikim.

    If you wish to follow the Karite literal interpretation, that's your business. But comments _disparaging_ mine will not be accepted here.

  8. Akiva, we do differ. Judaism of today, I believe will be corrected somewhat in the future. One may not understand why, this is fine. I believe that we have much to learn from our sages, but I do not believe that everything they have said or taught is from haShem, nor without motives. I choose not to blindly follow anyone without seeing what is behind the decision. With the different groups, we will have rather huge differences in opinion etc. But in the end Akiva, we can argue, get angry with each other etc, remember, we have to still stick together as we are in some troubling times, as you have wrote. None of us knows, we have clues, of what is about to unfold. So lets relax. Shavua Tov.


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