"I look up and see a new soul"
On 10 Elul 5562 (September 7, 1802), Rebbe Nachman moved from Zlatipoli and arrived in Breslov. Immediately upon his arrival, he said to Reb Yudel: "I see a soul in the Ukraine near Breslov" (referring to Reb Nosson) and went on to speak about the greatness of this soul that would draw close to him without mentioning who it was.
The distance from Nemirov to Breslov is about nine miles, a journey of some two hours in the days of horse-drawn coaches. This posed a great oppurtunity for Reb Nosson and Reb Naftali to travel to see Rebbe Nachman. This would be the beginning of what Rebbe Nachman later hinted about Moshe needing Yehoshua, his loyal student, to pass on his Torah to Israel (Reb Nosson being Yehoshua). Kabbalistically, their relationship corresponds to the connection between the Sun and Moon - Chochmah (Wisdom) and Malchut (Kingship).
Breslov was an industrial city in which many merchants passed through. Likewise, those from Nemirov also came. Rebbe Nachman was greeted warmly and wished good luck by them. Several townspeople and others would gather in his home to hear words of Torah, Heavenly fear, and G-dly service. When the merchants of Nemirov returned from Breslov, they spoke of the wonders they saw by this "new" Tzaddik whom arrived in Breslov... of his "different" ways, such as that he does not discuss business matters at all, and every conversation has a purpose, and of the vanities of the world. They also mentioned his superior G-dly service.
"Now it is possible for me to be a good Jew"
Reb Nosson listened to everyones experiences by Rebbe Nachman and realized that this is what he is looking for. At that point, he said "Now it is possible for me to be a good Jew".
In the week of Parshat Ki Tavo, Reb Nosson told his childhood friend, Reb Naftali, that Rebbe Nachman has settled in Breslov. Rav Lipa had already visited with Rebbe Nachman and spent the Rebbe's second Shabbat with him. On Motzei Shabbat of Parshat Nitzavim, the first night of Selichot before Rosh HaShana 5563, Rav Lipa returned to Nemirov and went to the synagogue. He recited the Slichot with in a strong voice with deep feeling, arousal and concentration which was unusual.
After the Tefillah, Reb Nosson asked Rav Lipa his soul's question: How do I get to that? Rav Lipa answered immediately: This is just a little from what I heard lately in the Beit Midrash of the Rebbe. At that moment, Reb Nosson made up his mind to travel to Breslov. That same day, Sunday, Reb Nosson and Reb Naftali with another Chassid, Reb Zalman Der Kleiner, hired a coach to Breslov. Reb Nosson was very happy, as his father had gone to Berditchov on business and this removed a major obstacle for him. He figured that if he left right away, he would able to return before his father realized he had been gone. Reb Nosson was excited; he thought that now, with Rebbe Nachman so close by, he would perhaps be able to at last find a mentor, one who would help him discover himself amidst his sea of inner turbulance.
The time had now come for the teacher to meet the student... the Sun to meet the Moon. Reb Nosson entered the Rebbe's home and looked at Rebbe Nachman. Immediately, he was struck with fear... He remembered this figure... It was the person he had seen in his dream on the top of the ladder...
Rebbe Nachman said to him: "We've known each other for a long time, but we haven't seen each other recently!" Reb Nosson understood immediately that Rebbe Nachman was the mentor he had been looking for all these years. Rebbe Nachman then said, "Now I am no longer alone".
The Rebbe spoke with them at lenght, and in the course of the conversation he told them three stories. In the stories he hinted about the new way they would be conducting their lives: how they would relate to the Rebbe, the relationship between the Rebbe and student, and about Rosh HaShana. He mentioned the greatness of Rosh HaShana and said, "What can I say? There is nothing greater than this, then to be by me for Rosh HaShana!" He stressed and warned not to miss it under any circumstances. Each person should come to him without exception!
Obviously, the aura of Rosh HaShana had already settled in the Rebbe's house, as it was a few days away. Reb Nosson and Reb Naftali yearned to stay with him for Rosh HaShana and so returned home for the week in order to be able to come back for Rosh HaShana.
The first of the obstacles was Rabbi Naftali Hertz, Reb Nosson's father, whom returned back to Nemirov after his dealings in Berditchev. When he was told about Reb Nosson traveling to the Rebbe in Breslov, he was greatly pained. Why was his son who was brilliant in his own right traveling to Chassidish Rebbes? And now, to the Rebbe of Breslov?! He encouraged his daughter-in-law to try and convince Reb Nosson to drop his new way and to do everything in her power to prevent him from further traveling to Breslov.
Reb Nosson already decided that no matter what happened he is traveling to the Rebbe for Rosh HaShana. He would not pay attention to his father's opposition or warning.
Reb Nosson traveled to Breslov for Rosh HaShana, dispite his family's warnings. He hired a coach to Breslov and told the coach not to come to the house and rather should wait for him at the city entrance. Several other Chassidim joined him in the coach. Amongst them were Rav Lipa, and Reb Zalman 'Der Kleiner'. They arrived in Breslov at mid-day Friday, Parshat Nitzavim. Reb Nosson and Reb Naftali entered and stood in front of Rebbe Nachman. He spoke to them for a whole hour. In this conversation he said, "I am going to lead you on a path which no one has traveled on before. It's an old path, yet a totally new path." He also said, "I have three types of Chassidim (followers): The first group are those who come to grab shirayim. The second consists of those who come to hear Torah. The third group are those who are inscribed on my heart..." And turning to Reb Nosson and Reb Naftali, the Rebbe added: "I want you to be among those who are inscribed on my heart."
His First Shabbat by Rebbe Nachman's Table
Reb Nosson and Reb Naftali prepared themselves for their first Shabbat by Rebbe Nachman. That Friday evening, they sat by the table and experienced a sense of G-dly awe of which they never experienced before. However, when Rebbe Nachman and the Chassidim began singing Aishet Chayil, Reb Nosson was preoccupied with his own thoughts. He knew how strongly opposed his father and father-in-law were to Chassidism, and especially to the followers of Rebbe Nachman, who were widely ridiculed among the Mitnagdim (opposers). His family had been expecting him back home for Shabbat! Yet when he was with Rebbe Nachman he felt such a powerful arousal to G-d: he knew he should stay there for months! What was he to do? As Rebbe Nachman sang Aishet Chayil, he repeated the verse "She spreads out her palm to the poor and extends her hand to the destitue". Reb Nosson felt that the Rebbe was spreading out his hand to strenghten him. The Rebbe also repeated several times, "She does not eat the bread of laziness", and Reb Nosson felt he was talking to him directly, hinting that he should be careful not to be weak and lazy. The Rebbe's custom was to recite Kiddush, wash and break bread, and then sing Azamer Bishvochin. The Rebbe would sing the opening words of each verse and his followers would finish the verse. Reb Naftali, being musical, was so stirred and moved by the tunes, was hardly able to stand and felt as if he would expire. He took out a cloth to tie around his head. The Rebbe continued singing. When the Rebbe came to, "We invite now at the new table," he repeated the phrase several times. Reb Nosson recalled how the Rebbe had said that afternoon that he would lead them on a new path, and he and Reb Naftali responded louldly: "And with a good lamp (the Rebbe) that will radiate upon our heads!" The Rebbe continued and got to the phrase, "To strenghten the weak". Reb Nosson felt as if the Rebbe was speaking directly to him and telling him to be strong because a he will have to bear a lot. This was Reb Nosson's way all his life - strenghtening the souls of the weak.
A Fire Burns in Breslov
Rebbe Nachman had ignited a fire inside Reb Nosson's heart. Now he was unable to rest. He got up, left the house, and went to the edge of the city. When he arrived at the Bug River which flows on the outskirts of Breslov, he looked into the water. His heart was full of fire, as he just left the Beit Midrash of his new Rebbe. He hoped that this fire would be everlasting, as he waited for this since he can remember. With a strong heart, he cried out loudly:
"Master of the Universe! A fire burns in Breslov! Light this fire in my heart!" For many hours he stood there unable to return to his senses. He stood there until sunrise. His heart had transformed into a strong flame for his Father in Heaven and all the gates were open to him. Reb Nosson lived in Breslov for the rest of life... and from Breslov he lives on.
Click for Part I