Page 79 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 29

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RABB I N A H M A N :
A B I B L I OG R A P H I C A L E X C U R S I O N
On the Occasion of the 200th Anniversary of His Birth
By A
brah am
B
erger
I
n
h is
l i f e t im e
,
Rabbi Nahman of Braslav was buffeted by crisis
after crisis, spiritual and physical. His older colleagues, Shneur
Zalman, the founder of Habad Hasidism, spoke of him as a man
courting
nisyonot
(temptations). To this day we are searching
for adequate keys to his enigmatic personality, his paradoxic
insights and his poetic visions.
When Rabbi Nahman died in 1810 at the age of 38, the chair
from which he had delivered his discourses remained vacant. His
hasidim would acknowledge no successor. After the Communist
Revolution, the chair was dismantled and smuggled out piece by
piece and is now housed in the Braslav yeshivah in Jerusalem. To
this very day, many of the faithful from Russia and abroad
manage to make pilgrimages to Nahman’s grave at Uman in the
Ukraine.
Heeding Nahman’s remark that his “little fire” will glimmer till
the coming of the Messiah, his hasidim still display extraordinary
zeal and tenacity in publishing and republishing his works as well
as those of his disciples, and commentaries, anthologies and devo-
tionals based on Nahman’s teachings.
Nahman’s major works (Holy Writ to his hasidim) are: 1)
L ikku te Moharan
(Discourses, Ostrog-Mohilev, 1808-1811); 2)
Sippure Maasiyot
(Ostrog, 1815), thirteen tales in Yiddish and
Hebrew; 3)
Sefer ha-Midot
(Mohilev, 1811), an ethical encyclo-
pedia; and 4)
Sihot ha-Ran,
table talk originally printed with the
Sippure Maasiyot
and then published separately.
All were edited by Nahman’s chief disciple, Nathan Sternharz
of Nemirov (died 1845), who also wrote
Shivhe ha-Ran
(In Praise
of Rabbi Nahman), originally published with the
Sippure
Maasiyot.
Sometime after 1824, Nathan wrote
Hayye Moharan
(The Life of Rabbi Nahman). It was edited and published
(Lemberg, 1874) by Rabbi Nahman Goldstein of Chihirin, a
grandson of an early disciple of Nahman. Nathan was also the
author of
Yeme Maharnat
(Lemberg, 1876), an account of his
experience as amanuensis to his adored master.
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