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The Empty Chair

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The Empty Chair

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The Empty Chair
Finding Hope and Joy
Timeless Wisdom from a Hasidic Master Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
By Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
Adapted by Moshe Mykoff Jewish Lights Publishing, 2009, 117 pages
ISBN: 978-1-879045-67-5

Reviewed by Israel Drazin - May 31, 2011

Rabbi Nachman, one of the leaders of a Chasidic group, lived a short life (1772-1810), only thirty-eight years, when he died of tuberculosis. He was the great grandson of the founder of the Chassidic movement, Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov. He was given the title "Rebbe," which is just another way of saying "Rabbi," but the Chassidim use Rebbe to distinguish their spiritual leaders from other rabbis. This is similar to the current practice among some Orthodox Jews of calling their rabbis "Rav," instead of "Rabbi," hoping to imply that their rabbi is more exalted than the common rabbi.

The Empty Chair is a collection of brief statements and aphorisms that Moshe Mykoff collected from the Rebbe's writings. Mykoff states that Rebbe Nachman "advocates conscious awareness, binding heart to mind, and empowering oneself with Faith, Simplicity and Truth."

The italics and the capital letters are in this quote. Some readers of the aphorisms may see them as being unclear and obscure as this quote, with readers giving them their own meaning if they can, while some readers may interpret them as rather simple lessons. But the Rebbe's followers read deep mystical meanings in them. The following are some examples. The quotes and capital letters are in the original.

See also my reviews of The Seven Beggars and The Lost Princess for other information about Rebbe Nachman and his teachings.


Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of seventeen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides. The Orthodox Union (OU) and Yeshiva University publish weekly chapters of Drazin and Wagner's book Let's Study Onkelos on www.ou.org/torah and on www.yutorah@yutorah.org. His website is http://booksnthoughts.com.

The views expressed in this review/article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Jewish Eye.
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