Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Na-Na-Nachman

The Na-na-nachers are a break off from Breslov. Their leader was a Rabbi Yisroel Odesser ZTL, who was a Tzadik, but a bit naive. He found a letter to him written by Rav Nachman way after Rav Nachman was niftar (the letter was obviously a prank) saying that, basically, the solution to all our problems is if people go around saying na-nach. I'm serious. Sigh.
The letter had to be a prank. It was written after Rav Nachman was niftar. And it makes zero sense.

Orthodox Jews who believe without any evidence that a letter supposedly written by a long-ago niftar rebbe with a message that makes no sense according to Torah values (Torah and Mitzvos are what nurture the world - not a na-nach chant) is authentic and should be followed blindly, are already sufficiently off that spray painting Har Hamenuchos is not a great jump from where they already are to begin with.

The grandson of the person who authored the prank letter to Rabbi Odesser claims that his grandfather actually told Rabbi Odesser afterwards that it was a prank, but he (Rabbi Odesser) would not believe him. The whole thing is due to a practical joke that got out of hand.

So we have someone that admitted they pranked Rav Odesser. But it really doesn't matter what did happen. What matters is what did not happen - namely, Rav Nachman writing that letter.

The kids you see are usually baalei teshuva, or potential baalei teshuva who were brought back by the na-nachers

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History and our own observations show that otherwise intelligent people can believe all kinds of crazy things. You think all suicide bombers are idiots in all other aspects of their lives as well? They're not. You think crazy cults and wacko religions don't have otherwise intelligent people believing in them? They do. As bizarre as this sounds, intelligence never stopped someone from believing stupid things.

This is because, on a simple level, believing is not the same as thinking. People believe what makes them feel good, or what they were brought up to believe, or what others around them believe, or what’s easiest to believe in terms of not having to be considered an outcast in society, etc, and then their Negiyus causes them to intellectually believe they’re making sense. Shochad yaavir ainei pikchim ---- totally.

On a more theological level, ain adam choteh ela im kein nichnas bo ruach shtus - they Yetzer Horah is adept at causing people to be stupid -and either acting or believing in stupid ways. Our vulnerability to stupidity is part of Hashem's way of keeping our Bechirah intact. If we would always make intelligent decisions, we would never sin. So Hashem, in order to even the playing field, so to speak, created a vulnerability to nonsense in the human being, just enough to make it an even choice for him to accept or reject it.

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The na-nachers are not sufficiently organized to produce "required" beliefs. I have heard this certain Gilgul thing from a number of them, but it is not an officially required belief - developed kind of like the various Moshiach movements within Chabad.

The meditation thing is not part of their beliefs. The constant repeating of nananachman is because they claim that a letter written by Rav Nachman to Rabbi Odesser (written after Rav Nachman was niftar) said that if they repeat this phrase good things will happen in the world. That letter is their only "shitah", it is just a paragraph long and it doesn’t mention anything about meditation or mantras.

The Satmar Rav ZTL did hold from the writings of Rav Nachman ZTL, and quotes them occasionally. However, the catch here is that the Satmar Rav also held that all Chasidic Seforim were meant only for the talmidim of the Rebbes at that time and although the custom-tailored directives that these seforim contain are extremely useful for us as well, we should not take the advice and the direction in them as if it were literally meant for us. "Following" the seforim of Breslov in that context produces results that would be a lot less shocking than those that you probably envision right now.

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About their Haskama from Rav Moshe, read the Haskama. It says they should print Rav Nachman's seforim and things like that but in no way does it say anything remotely close to the posthumous letter of Rav Nachman not being a fake or that any of the things this group thinks or does are anything but.

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