Friday, October 30, 2015

Until the Mashiach Rabbi Nachman’s Biography: An Annotated Chronology

Until the Mashiach Rabbi Nachman’s Biography: An Annotated Chronology, is a work by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, most known for his books on Jewish meditation.  He was one of the figures who started the movement to bring meditation to the front and center of Jewish practice, and in a sense, much of Jewish meditation practiced today can look to him as their forefather.  He died quite young in 1983 at 48, but left behind an impressive array of writings.

He was also one of the first  to translate Rebbe Nachman into English, and had an early association with the Breslov Research Institute.  He helped spread the Rebbe's ideas to a wider audience and is one of the reasons Breslov has grown so much in the last forty year.

This work is a rather dispassionate look at the Rebbe's life, death and legacy.  Kaplan appears to have combed through the Rebbe’s work and that of his followers to provide a nearly day by day account of the Rebbe’s life.

Instead of a dry rendition of the Rebbe life we would suspect, we instead see how dynamic a world Rebbe Nachman inhabited.  He was always on the move, traveling here and there to his far flung communities.  We get a picture not of a man sitting at his study, writing books (all things he did do) but a traveling man creating a divine community.  This community, he believed, was a harbinger of the coming of the Mashiach (hence the title of this book).

For anyone who wants to read about the sweep of Rebbe Nachman’s life without psychoanalysis of his complex personality (as in Arthur Green’s fine book) this is an excellent treatment.  A better illustration of the birth and growth of Breslov Chasidim I do not know.

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