Saturday, March 19, 2011

Brisk - the Learning Experince of a Lifetime!

Yom HaKipurim. A day which is like Purim. Chazal explain that Yom Kipur really plays second fiddle to Purim. That is how important the holiday we celebrate today is. It is therefore a wonderful opportunity to have a beer and to do Teshuva - ad d’lo yada yada yada.

Of late I have been reflecting on my Hashkafos and have had a profound epiphany! I am here today to apolgize. Yes my friends I sincerely regret promoting false ideologies. I have seen the light. I am doing Teshuva and returning to my Chasidic roots.

Torah U’mada? What’s that?! Feh! Centrist Orthodoxy? Only if your soft in the Kishkes.

What kind of Chasidus have I chosen? There’s only one. The Chasidus of love - Breslov.

Na Nach Nachma Nachman MeUman! (I’ve always wanted to say that - I've been grafitti-ing it all over Chicago.)

As many of you know my ancestor is the famed Chasidic Rebbe - R’ Shimon Yaroslover. He was a Talmid Muvhak of the Noam Elimelech and later the Chozeh. But what people don’t know is that he was also a Yankees fan.

People also don’t know R’ Shimon’s great grandmother’s second cousin’s great niece on her mother’s side was married to the nephew of the fourth cousin three times removed from Rebbe Nachman’s twin brother’s wife. So I guess were related. At least through marraige.

Yes, I said twin brother. Rebbe Nachman had an identical twin named Rebbe Nachman. Very few people know about him except for my friend Abie. He knows everything!

Why did their parents name both sons Nachman? Silly question. What’s the matter with you?! They were identical twins! Of course - they should have identical names!

That’s why I’m here. To make you think.

Anyway they also had a brother named Daryl another brother named Larry. The family doesn’t really like to talk about them much though.

The Breslov boys lived in a red brick building at 770 Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights section of Uman.

Little known fact: Uman is the original home of Smucker’s Jelly. Or is it R. Kelly? I forget which. But that doesn’t matter right now.

Speaking of being happy - a precocious Bachur in Kletzk once said: Mitzvah Gedolah Lehiyos B’Simcha? (Translation: What - Me worry?!) To which his Rebbe responded: Don't worry - Be happy! ...and smile for Pete’s sake. He’s been smiling ever since and is B’Simcha Tamid.

Although many people think Rebbe Nachman actually originated that phrase - he actually stole it from that Bachur in Kletzk.

Here is another little known but very interesting fact about Uman. 73% of the people in Uman have the name Nachman. Many of them women. And every single one of them lives in Uman!

Wow! How many people can say that today?!

Anyway, where was I...? Oh, yeah. Breslov is famous for two things. Don’t ask me what they are because I don’t know. I am however partial to their music. That is something I do know about.

Every time I hear one of their famous Nigunim I start jumping up and down like a kangaroo. This makes my wife crazy! She hates when I do that. But I can’t help it. It is a sublime supernal experience reserved only for those who are drunk on the Chasidus of Breslov. Or at least just plain drunk.

What most people also don’t know is that all of the Breslover Nigunim were composed by Rebbe Nachman’s lesser known twin brother, Rebbe Nachman. It is said that Rebbe Nachman was one of the best singer-songwriters of his era. It is a marvel of modern technology that all of his songs have survived intact to this day. (I think they used a combination of embalming fluid and ketchup to preserve the original vinyls. It least that's what I read in Ynet.)

Rebbe Nachman (the other one) is - by the way - the role model for popular singing star and performance artist ‘Lady Nana’.

And it is Breslov that gave baseball the expression: Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey, goodbye! In fact is was the other Breslover Rebbe’s great great great great grandchildren who recorded the more popular ‘cover’ version of the original Breslover tune. It topped the charts in 1970 and is now a staple at Sox games.

It is a little known but amazing fact that Breslover music is also the inspiration for many of today’s brightest singing stars. And they don’t even know it. And probably never will. Even if you tell them. Many times.

I believe (and I could be mistaken) that the Nigun for R’ Abish Brodt’s famous Od Yeshoma was taken directly from Breslov’s happy Zemira ‘Oy Gevalt’ sung every year at the Rebbe’s Tish on Tisha B’Av right after Eicha. (This is yet another clever innovation of Breslov - to have a Tish on Tisha B’Av. Makes sense - no?)

Breslover music is so very powerful. It was in fact the Rebbe’s other brother, Larry that coined the phrase ‘Music hath powers to soothe the savage Bres… lover’. But I digress.

Now that I am a proud Breslover Chasid, I was asked by the current Rebbe, Reb Daryl, to participate in a Breslov music video. How could I say no to the Rebbe, may he live Biz ah Hundert Und Tzvantzig Yahr! Pooh pooh pooh.

I could not resist. The video can be seen above in its entirety. I am the one with the handlebar mustache - wearing bright red pants and holding a lit firecracker. (Don't ask.) Sit back relax and enjoy.

If after watching this inspirational video you are moved to become a Chasid of the Breslover Rebbe (the other one) – think again because you probably have another ‘think’ coming. And then perhaps another one after that. And then one more.

Then call me. I can be reached at (718)555-Larry. Please state your name, rank, and serial number when you call… and hold on to your hat! You are in for an experience you will soon forget!

And don’t forget to say Asher Yatzar.