Every year a large, large group of Chasidim decide that the best way to show their high level of piety and spirituality is to go to a Heaven forsake corner of the Ukraine and spend Rosh HaShanah at the grave of Rebbe Nacham of Bratzlav. Although I'm sure they see a great amount of positive things about this, the custom has elicited a great deal of criticism from elsewhere, especially within Eretz Yisrael. It is bizarre to think that people who are such a high madreiga would get a better spiritual high in the Ukraine. I wouldn not go so far as to label it as idolatry but is there not something fundamentally wrong about such a belief?
At any rate, the answer as to what kind of people abandon the spiritual centre of the universe to spend Rosh HaShanah in that same universe's outhouse was answered today in Ynet:
Trips to visit the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the Ukrainian city of Uman have long become a phenomenon crossing all sectors, common among celebrities and the average Joe alike, but this year, those waiting to boards the flight to Ukraine were privy to an unusual sight – Hasidim in veils.
Some Hasidim were wearing a scarf under their traditional hat, with nothing but the slimmest of slits for their eyes, while others made original use of airlines' sleep masks. The move, Yedioth Ahronoth reported, was meant to "protect" their eyes from immodest views, i.e – women.
Yes, probably jealous of the burka babes of Beit Shemesh, these Chasidim have decided that the world around them is too full of tumah to allow them to innocently walk around with unshielded eyes. A belief that their personal sanctity will be enhanced by their making a laughing stock of themselves seems to have afflicted many in the group.
Nutbars, that's what I call 'em.
I recall years ago hearing a Paysach Krohn story in which he mentioned a particular tzadik who never wore his glasses when he went walking outside because "there are certain things a tzadik shouldn't see". I never liked that explanation. First of all, how is the tzadik supposed to know how the world works if all he ever sees of it is a fog? And what's more, how can the tzadik give good advice to his students if he has no idea about how the real world works?
Perhaps this is all part of the view that God is really a great trickster who is looking to trip us up every change He gets. According to this set of beliefs, He planted fake dinosaur bones to tempt us with thoughts of kefirah. Does wearing the veil mean we are now to believe that he gave us good vision only in order to make us stumble into hirhur? Perhaps in addition to the veil we need to incorporate earplugs as well. After all, just because you don't see the woman in the commercial blaring over the loudspeaker doesn't mean you can't hear her.
It seems that every week another ultra-Orthodox group tries to outdo the rest with a humrah that is presented as putting one on a higher level but which only serves to increase the ridicule with which this group is viewed. I would just like to know why it's never a competition to see who can give the most tzedakah, or can help the most unfortunate in society.