Rebbe Nachman was born in the town of Medzhybizh, Ukraine. His mother, Feiga, was the daughter of Adil (also spelled Udel), daughter of the Baal Shem Tov, founder of Hasidic Judaism. His father Simcha was the son of Rabbi Nachman of Horodenka (Gorodenka), one of the Baal Shem Tov’s disciples, after whom Rebbe Nachman was named. Rebbe Nachman had two brothers, Yechiel Zvi and Yisroel Mes, and a sister, Perel.[2]

Rebbe Nachman told his disciples that as a small child, he eschewed the pleasures of this world and set his sights on spirituality.[3] He paid his melamed (teacher) three extra coins for every page of Talmud that he taught him, beyond the fee that his father was paying the teacher, to encourage the teacher to cover more material.[4] From the age of six, he would go out at night to pray at the grave of his great-grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov, and immerse in the mikveh afterward.[5]

At the age of 13, he married Sashia, daughter of Rabbi Ephraim, and moved to his father-in-law’s house in Ossatin (Staraya Osota today). He acquired his first disciple on his wedding day, a young man named Shimon who was several years older than he was.[6] He continued to teach and attract new followers in the Medvedevka region in the years that followed.[citation needed]

In 1798-1799 he traveled to Israel, where he was received with honor by the Hasidim living in Haifa, Tiberias, and Safed. In Tiberias, his influence brought about a reconciliation between the Lithuanian and Volhynian Hasidim.[7]

Shortly before Rosh Hashana 1800, Rebbe Nachman moved to the town of Zlatopol. The townspeople invited him to have the final word on who would lead the Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayer services. The man chosen to lead Neilah, the final prayer service of Yom Kippur, did not meet the Rebbe’s approval. Suddenly the man was struck dumb and forced to step down, to his great embarrassment. After the fast ended, Rebbe Nachman spoke in a light-hearted way about what the man’s true intentions had been, and the man was so incensed that he denounced Rebbe Nachman to Rabbi Aryeh Leib of Shpola, known as the “Shpoler Zeide”, a prominent Hasidic rabbi and early disciple of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz, who was a leading figure in the first generation of Hasidut. Thus began the Shpoler Zeide’s vehement campaign against Breslov Hasidism.[8] During this time he visited many synagogues, including the Great Synagogue in Dubno in Volhynia (now Rivne region), with the largest one in Ukraine and the graves of relatives in the same city.

Additional Info

Rabbi's NameRabbi Nachman
Orthodox Religious Traditional ValuesAshkenazi
AffiliationBreslov
NusachAshkenez

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