Now maybe I'm too much of a rationalist but I felt I had to challenge him on that. I noted that Yerushalayim, not Uman, is the centre of the world. Unlike much of the last 2000 years, including the years in which Rebbe Nachman, z"l, lived we have access to our spiritual centre up to the Kotel itself. If we are looking for the one place on Earth where a connection to the Ribono shel Olam is strongest it's right there in Israel. If Rebbe Nachman was alive today would he insist his followers stay in Uman instead of making aliyah to be closer to God? Why go to Uman when you could go to Israel?
My friend (I think he still is) smiled and said that I was indeed being rational and logical which is fine except that in matters of spiritualism rationalism and logic simply don't lead to the right conclusions.
Me, I think crap is crap no matter how much incence you blow around it.
Look at all our holy writings. Has there been any land imbued with holiness other than Eretz Yisrael? Are we advised to seek out God anywhere other than Yerushalayim? If we choose to elevate ourselves are we told of any other place in the world where we can maximize that elevation other than Israel?
What's more, the choice is between a grave and the site of our holy Temple (may it be speedily rebuilt). Yes, Rebbe Nachman was a great and influential man with an amazing legacy but he was just a man and we are talking about a piece of land upon which the Shechinah once manifested itself. How can one compare the two?
Fortunately it doesn't seem that I'm alone in thinking that this pilgrimage represents a certain abandonment of specific Jewish principles in the name of a spiritual high:
An Israeli rabbi has come out against the increasingly popular custom of married men traveling to the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslav in Uman, Ukraine for the Rosh Hashanah holiday without their families. There is no justification for leaving one's family to take the trip, Rabbi Ratzon Aroussi told Arutz Sheva.
“We must extend blessings to every movement that brings Jews back to Torah, each in his own path, particularly in these days of repentance,” he said. “However, we must speak the truth: the unity of the family is above everything else. It is a very precious thing in halakhah [Jewish law].” He quoted a passage from the Talmud in which a rabbi told his student, “If you have a family, stay with your family.”
The same spiritual benefits can be had in Israel, he continued. “Do we not have tombs here? The forefathers of our nation are buried here, why go abroad? What about the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Rachel's Tomb, the tombs of the great and mighty of our nation... ?”
Rabbi Aroussi, the rabbi of Kiryat Ono and a member of the Rabbinic Council of the Chief Rabbinicate, explained that visits to a chassidic leader on holidays can be problematic for the same reason. “The spiritual connection to the Admor [Torah leader – ed.] is important – but not at the expense of your home,” he declared.
“Whoever leaves his family and goes to his rabbi or 'admor' (Chassidic leader, ed.) for the holidays, whether in the Holy Land or even more so, outside the land, is violating halakhah,” he stated. Those who wish to connect to their spiritual leaders on the holiday “should take care to bring their families with them, but G-d forbid that they should leave their families,” he added.
Rabbi Aroussi stated that a one-time trip to visit the tombs of rabbis buried outside Israel would be permissible, “because it is a trip undertaken for a holy purpose, in order to kindle the flame of faith.” However, such trips should not be taken on an annual basis, he added, and not on the holidays.
Or am I just missing something here?Israel is the centre of our universe. There is no comparison between the holiness in our Land and the tumah which envelopes the rest of the world. To volutarily bypass an opportunity to be in Israel in order to go somewhere else for inspiration would seem to me to miss the whole point of how one should become Jewishly inspired.