There exists among the talmidim or students of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov those who believe that Rabbi Y'isroel Ber Odesser (AKA Saba or "Grandfather" to his talmidim; 1888 – October 23, 1994) was granted a special favor and a holy mission. Not all Breslovers agree with this sect. Those Jews who do, are often referred to as "Nanachs." Their sect is founded on the following revelation to Saba known as the Petek (or note). As discussed elsewhere on this site, Nanachs believe Saba was given this Song of Universal Redemption through the Petek:
Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman
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Rebbe Nachman of Breslov (Hebrew: נחמן מברסלב), also known as Reb Nachman of Bratslav, Reb Nachman Breslover (Yiddish: רב נחמן ברעסלאווער), Nachman from Uman (April 4, 1772 – October 16, 1810), was the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement.
Rebbe Nachman, a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, breathed new life into the Hasidic movement by combining the esoteric secrets of Judaism (the Kabbalah) with in-depth Torah scholarship. He attracted thousands of followers during his lifetime and his influence continues until today through many Hasidic movements such as Breslov Hasidism. Rebbe Nachman's religious philosophy revolved around closeness to God and speaking to God in normal conversation "as you would with a best friend." The concept of hitbodedut is central to his thinking.
Rabbi Yisroel Dov Ber Odesser (Hebrew: ישראל דב בער אדסר) (approx. 1888 – 23 October 1994), also known as Reb Odesser or Sabba ("grandfather" in Hebrew), was a Breslover Hasid and rabbi who claimed to have received a "Letter From Heaven" sent directly to him by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, who had died 112 years earlier, revealing to him a new remedy for relieving the world's suffering and illness. This remedy is the song and name Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman, which he revealed in his old age to newfound followers throughout Israel. His following developed into the Na Nach movement. Some controversies surround the origin of the Letter, Rabbi Odesser's bold claims regarding Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman, and his position in the Breslov movement.
It is believed that the Petek was a "Letter from Heaven" sent by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov of blessed and holy memory to Yisroel Dov-Ber Odesser. In time the talmid became a rabbi known fondly as Saba or Grandfather to his own talmidim. The Petek was gifted to Saba in 1922 while he was a student at Rabbi Me'ir Ba'al HaNess' yeshiva in Tiberias, Israel.
The Petek (in English) reads as follows:Very hard it was for me to descend to you
My precious student to tell you that I benefited
Greatly from your service and upon you I said
My fire will burn until
* משיח וועט קומען
Messiah will come
be strong and brave
In your service
Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me'Uman
And with this I shall reveal to you a secret and it is: Full and heaped up from line to line
* (פצפציה )
(Pay, Tzaddi, Pay, Tzaddi, Yud, Hay)
And with strong service you will understand it and the sign is
The 17th of Tammuz they will say that you are not fasting
* האש שלי תוקד עד ביאת המשיח
do not say the name with your mouth.
How the Petek was given:The 17th of Tammuz is one of the four major fast days for Jews. On this day we mourn the loss of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. In the year 5682 (1922) yeshiva student Israel Ber Odesser (student of the Chassidus Rabbi Israel Karduner of blessed memory) of Tiberias (a town on the banks of the Sea of Galilee), awoke at midnight to practice Hitbodedut as was his custom. As the night moved toward morning he inexplicably became very hungry. Despite the fast requirements, he quietly uttered the traditional blessings and ate some food in secret. He then went to the ritual bath (mikveh) in preparation for his morning prayers.
As he uttered his Shacharit prayers the normally joyful talmid could not free his mind of what he had done, eating on the solemn fast day. As the day progressed guilt overcame him and he felt utterly fallen. Others noticed his unusual seriousness and began to suspect something was wrong. Perhaps, they assessed, his embrace of Chassidic teachings had driven him mad! One heard such tales...
The young man was miserable. How could he, a pious Jew who had been so blessed, do such a thing? For days he could not find forgiveness for his transgression despite his earnest prayers of repentance. Had he disgraced the name of Rebbe Nachman? Worst yet, had he disgraced the Name of HaShem!?
After a few days of this, an odd thought entered his mind. It didn't seem like his own thought, but one that came to him from another. The thought suggested that he go to his room, open his locked bookcase, and pick up any book that caught his eye (no particular one was specified). This, the thought assured him, would reveal his answer and produce great joy.
Israel Ber Odesser was skeptical of the thought. How could that be? Was he going mad as some of his fellow talmidim suggested? It made no sense. But eventually the thought convinced him and he went into his room, unlocked his book shelf, and took a volume at random.
Opening the book he found a slip of paper: the Petek. As he read the words the Light of God flowed through him and he knew that he had been forgiven and that Rebbe Nachman had intervened with the Heavenly Court on his behalf.
No one knew that he had eaten that morning, he kept it secret between himself and HaShem out of shame. His bookshelf was always securely locked, so no one could have inserted the note -- and into only one random book? Who knew when and if the note would have been found? No, to Israel Ber Odesser this had to be a divine occurrence! The message of the Petek filled his heart with joy and he began dancing and singing the song he had received: Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me'Uman
Rebbe Nachman's masterpiece, the Likutay Moharan (11:8) reveals (based on the Tikkunay Zohar) that in the End of Days a new song will be revealed that will fill the universe with light and joy and renew it. Many scholars and others who have studied the Petek have concluded that this song, Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me'Uman, is the foretold Universal Song of Redemption, and that through it, Rebbe Nachman's promise that his fire will burn until the coming of Messiah is true. Saba had been chosen to renew it.
Time will tell, but for many who have been blessed to receive this Song, the Light of HaShem that flows from the Ayn Soph is perceived, if dimly.
Is the Petek true? Why don't all Breslovers accept it? See my post here for my thoughts.
For more information on the Petek and Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me'Uman I recommend the book The Letter From Heaven published by Keren Rabbi Israel Dov Odesser Zatzal (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for purchase information) or visit Nanach.org
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