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Three Lions of Breslov

by Gedaliah Fleer

Rabbi Zvi Aryeh Rosenfeld visited Israel every summer. One time, he took along his student Gedaliah Fleer to meet some of the prominent Breslover chassidim in Jerusalem.

The first person we visited was Reb Moshe Burstein, a true servant of God. Although he worked a full day in the Ministry of Religion, he devoted many hours to prayer and Torah study and slept only about three hours a night.

Reb Moshe invited me to accompany him to Meron for a Shabbat. In those days, the trip from Jerusalem to Meron took close to five hours. I spent the entire trip asking him questions about Rebbe Nachman and his teachings. Reb Moshe pretended not to understand my questions. Although he had studied the entire Talmud with Rabbi Avraham Sternhartz, he was not interested in publicizing the extent of his knowledge. He preferred to stay out of the limelight and serve God with simplicity and joy.

I also met Reb Gedaliah Koenig, who was renowned for his deep and encyclopedic knowledge of the Chassidut and Kabbalah. The moment we were seated in his house, he and Rabbi Tzvi Aryeh began discussing some difficult points in the Likutey Moharan. I realized there was much more to Rebbe Nachman’s teachings than I had assumed.

The third leader was Reb Yitzchak Gelbach, who also had a deep, encyclopedic knowledge of the entire Talmud. He worked in the central post office and was very down to earth. When I tried to ask him some of my questions about Breslover Chassidut, he answered me in a surprising way. “Those are good questions. Are you sure you want to know the answers?”

“Why, of course,” I stammered.

“You have to understand what I mean. You see, you’re asking questions that most people your age don’t even think about. You must know that every piece of information you learn, especially in the area of Kabbalah, obligates you to act on it. Here’s what I suggest. I’ll answer one of your questions, and if you can come back to me and tell me how you used what I told you to become a better Jew, you can ask me another question.”

I smiled. “It’s a deal.”

I met with these three individuals almost every week throughout that summer. By the time Rosh HaShanah came around, I considered myself a Breslover chassid.

From “Against All Odds”

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