Why does Breslov Attract crazies?

No, the question is not my question. However, Mispachah magazine had a positive feature article on Breslov Hasidus two weeks ago. This article was followed by a bevy of published letters critical or nasty toward Breslov. Among the letters was one that claimed that they get all the crazies.
So this week, the noted Breslov author and teacher Ozer Bergman blogged a letter that he sent in defense of Breslov to Mispachah. He writes as follows:

Lastly, insofar as “crazies” (a word that may be accurate, but is certainly loathsome) are concerned, may I suggest two reasons why there seems to be a preponderance in Breslov. First, since so many communities insist on keeping them out, lest those meshugaim spoil their sheine image, the “crazies” go to the only place open to them—Breslov. Second, nowadays when a bit of nevuah has been bestowed upon the insane, perhaps the “crazies” intuit that of all the rebbes and all the seforim, only Rebbe Nachman is great enough to heal them. for the full letter – see here

I am not sure most of us would have used the same line of defense.

5 responses to “Why does Breslov Attract crazies?

  1. As a formerly Mod-O chavrusa put it, having become Breslover himself,

    The strength of Breslov is that anybody can become Breslov, but the weakness of Breslov is that _anybody_ can become Breslov.

  2. Len Moskowitz

    If I recall correctly, Ozer used to be called by his English name (Owen), and grew up in the Far Rockaway/Five Towns mostly-Modern Orthodox community of the 1960 and 70’s that was home to Rabbis Miller, Rackman, Wurzburger, Freifeld, Bulman, Pelcovitz, Chait, Klaperman and others.

    He’s certainly been on a long, strange journey.

  3. Huh. My old chavrusa also came from that area. R’ Wurzburger was his childhood rav. Is there something in the water?

  4. Eiver LaNahar

    I remember Owen Bergman in the heyday of Far Rockaway. He was a seven foot tall tragic poet and novice blues harmonica player, with a taste for Guinness Stout.

    Then one day a heavy-set dude named Jesse dropped by the White Horse Tavern with a stack of books called “Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom,” and Owen bought one.

    There was a record of Brendan Behan on the juke box, as we started to read (I was looking over his shoulder)… (Juke box: ” ‘Tis love and whiskey / makes old men frisky / ’tis love and porter / makes young men decay…”) The first page said that you can’t remember the vision you just had the other day, due to its unique and ephemeral nature. We both related to this instantly. Thus, Owen became “Ozer,” and Ewen became “Eiver,” and today we limit ourselves to two “l’chaim”s at the Shabbos evening meal.

    • Why is everybody always pickin’ on me?🙂

      Jon B’s chavrusa has it right about the strength/weakness of Breslov. It’s oft mentioned in certain Breslov circles. Ditto for my blog-posted defense re: “crazies.”

      But no, Jon B., nothing in the water. I and my brother (also a Breslover) left Woodmere well before Reb Weinberger shlit”a arrived.

      I’m only 6′ 5″, it’s my brother who’s the Guiness aficionado, Reb Chaim Kramer did not supply me with my first “Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom,” but, alas, tragically, I am still a novice harmonica player.

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