My ancestor Rebbe Nachman of Breslov
In Likutey Moharan I:164 Rebbe Nachman of Breslov reveals through a parable his approach to revealing the deep hidden mysteries of the Messiah and his Kingdom. Jacob Frank had tried to reveal these mysteries openly but both the Jewish and Christian communities of the 18th century were not ready for Torah observant mystical Jews to maintain their Jewishness within the Catholic Church. In the end Frank was forced to call his followers, who had received open baptism, to silence and to observe their Jewish customs secretly and privately and to appear as Gentiles to their fellow Catholics. As a result of this approach the Frankists were assimilated into the Gentile culture within a few generations.
Other groups such as those led by Reb Moshe ben Zalman the son of the Alter Rebbe and some of Rebbe Nachman and Rav Nosan of Nemirov's children and grandchildren [including Rebbe Nachman's daughters Udil Auerbach (Della O'Brien) and Chaya Zaslavski (Catherine Lavin)] also were baptised (though more quietly) and took Gentile names and occupations but within a few generations their descendants also had lost their Jewish identity. Rebbe Nachman once said: “My daughters have ru’ach hakodesh (holy spirit), which is close to prophesy. And I’m not talking about Sarah at all!” (Chayei Moharan 583). Rebbe Nachman taught his followers that they must always honour and respect his daughters as they were “precious trees that would give forth rare and goodly fruits.” He also wrote "Be careful with my offspring, make sure they stay within the Hasidic movement." In recent times members of the Breslov movement have sought to trace some of the Rebbe's lost descendants. He had five daughters Udil, Sarah, Miriam, Feige and Chaya.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslov while respecting Frank, as did the Baal Shem Tov, realised that this model of Frank would not work as the majority of the Jewish people were not ready to receive the Messiah's identity and that the Church was not ready to receive them with their full Jewish heritage in tact. He realised he would have to water-down the strong Messianic medicine and conceal it in stories and allegories. In Likutey Moharan he spoke of the Jewish people as a Healer and of the Universal Church as a great physician or doctor. However the Jewish people wanted their medicine in the form of folk medicine not the strong drugs and therapies that the Universal people (Catholics) offered.
Hillel Zeitlin a leading Breslov scholar stated that the person of the Messiah and the messianic salvation was at the heart of Rebbe Nachman's concerns. Others have commented that Rebbe Nachman was not just concerned with individual salvation but also national or Jewish salvation and also universal salvation. His famous Universal tikkun was for all people. This was a Catholic or universal reparation which would repair for the damage caused by Sabbateanism and its p'gam habrit (defiling the covenant). This defiling refers to all sexual impurity not just masturbation as seems to be the rather unbalanced obsession of some Hasidim. This universal Marian reparation alludes to the ten sefirot and the ten types of song found in the Psalms. This alludes to the Magnificat of the Virgin Mary in Hebrew with its pattern of nine echoing phrases and the hidden tenth referring to the voice of the Virgin which also mirrors or echoes the nine revealed decrees of Genesis 1 and the tenth hidden one which is the Divine Word and Voice and its echo on Sinai with the ten commandments (words).
Yehuda Liebes a leading Israeli scholar on Jewish mysticism in his studies on the influence of Jacob Frank on Rebbe Nachman comes to correct conclusions that the mysterious journeys and stays in certain places in Rebbe Nachman's life is connected with Rebbe Nachman's 'tikkun ha Kelali' ( universal reparation) which is connected with the Frankists. Yehuda Liebes writes: "R Nahman's journey to Kamenets on his way to the Holy Land, as well as his journey to Lvov, seem to have some connection with his endeavours to amend the Frankist heresy." However like Gershom Scholem and others, Liebes lumps Frankism with Sabbateanism and thus in my opinion misunderstands both Frank and Rebbe Nachman. Jacob Frank was a former Sabbatean who led many Jews out of Sabbateanism in which they had become morally and spiritually impure. This came about by an emphasis on the mysterious 'Eleh' (Goddess of the Zohar) and realising that the only one who could remedy or repair (tikkun) such spiritual pollution was the Lady of the Zohar who Frank came to realise was the Lady of Czestochowa. Those devoted to Her were able in union with her to perform complete or universal acts of reparation.
Frankism was a Marian movement and Frank stated that they chose Catholic Poland because it was a nation that best understood "the Mother". It was the hidden Frankist or Zoharist leaven that spread in the rest of the Catholic Church that led to a new Marian Age in the history of the Church and world that led to the proclamation of the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception (in 1854) and Assumption (1950). This in a sense was a renewal or revival of the earlier Marian mysticism of the Middle Ages going back to St Hildegarde and St Bernard of Clairvaux and its manifestation among the Rhineland mystics of Catholicism and the Ashkenazi Hasidim of Judasim coming forth from the noble Davidic families found among both the Jewish and Catholic communities (as well as the Muslim). It was from among these Davidic families that the mystical Book of the Zohar was revealed and would influence the Zoharists (Frankists). Just as their ancestors David and Solomon were led astray by sexual and sensual lust and impurity so some of their Davidic descendants the Sabbateans and the Occultists were led astray.
Frank's followers were divided between those who openly embraced the Catholic faith and hid their Jewishness and those who remained as religious Jews who hid their Catholicism. Rebbe Nachman was one of those hidden followers of the ideas of Frank and his concept of tikkunim for those fallen into the depth of sin, while not agreeing with Frank's open embrace of the Roman Catholicism of their day. Rebbe Nachman alludes to Jacob Frank as the 'choice silver of the tongue of the Tzadik' in 'Likutey Moharan 29:11: Rabbi Moshe Mykoff translation of the Likutey Moharan states; "And this is: That one, too, has found bat maZleh- this corresponds to 'noZlim from LeBaNon'- from the LiBuNa (whiteness) of the mind...All this is alluded to in the words (Proverbs 10:20) "keseF nivchaR leshoN tzadiK' [the last letters of which spell FRaNK.]" So here in "Likutey Moharan" Rebbe Nachman in a hidden way, reveals that Jacob Frank is a true messenger of the Hidden Tzadik. Here we see clearly Jacob Frank described as the one that has found devotion to the Daughter of Destiny (the Mystical Miriam, the Lady of Sorrows who is the lady of Czestochowa) and the way of sexual and intellectual purity flowing (nozlim) from her. It is through devotion to this mysterious Lady that sinners find a way to repair for their past and the damage it has done.
Frank and Nachman taught a general reparation for the generations that had fallen into sexual depravity of the Sabbateans. Thus they offered a spiritual way that was a forerunner of Pope John Paul II's 'Theology of the Body'. John Paul II offered a spiritual way and reparation for the modern generations who have also become morally and spiritually depraved. Rebbe Nachman also went to the Frankist Catholics in order to encourage them to continue following the true teaching of Frank rather than the distorted version being spread by the Prague Sabbateans who had joined with Eva Frank and were leading some of the Frankists back into Sabbatean errors.
Rebbe Nachman and Jacob Frank cannot be understood correctly without really understanding what tikkun (reparation) achieves. The concept of confession is also very important in this spiritual reparation. The Tzadik does not just do tikkun (reparation) for himself but on behalf of his followers, on behalf of all Jews- both religious and secular and for all men tainted with the sin of Adam. He associates the Sabbatean sin with this original sin of Adam. The Sabbateans were from the Mystical cream of the Jewish people and scholars but they like Adam and Eve fell through a desire for sensual delight of experiencing knowledge. Yehuda Liebes writes: "R. Nahman's messianism entails an act of tikkun, and this is the general meaning of 'ha-tikkun ha-kelali'. This name aptly describes R. Nahman's approach in general, since he perceived his mission as the tikkun of man...and the tikkun of his community, as well as that of the whole Jewish people from all their sins; both their wordly sins, which were first and foremost sexual, and the numerous doctrinal sins of his generation that had ravaged traditional Jewish structures ("the Enlightenment"). But above all, he was concerned with the tikkun of the original sin..."
Yehuda Liebes in his work "Studies in Jewish Myth and Jewish Messianism" also believes that Rebbe Nachman was influenced by the writings and teachings of Jacob Frank. He lists a number of parallels in their writings. "I shall ...remark on the several other parallels, beginning with those between R. Nahman and Jacob Frank, who, I believe, had a profound influence on R. Nahman. During his youth, in the years of his Hitbodedut...R Nahman may have come across Frankists who had remained Jews, of whom there were many in Podolia." (Yehuda Liebes in 'Studies in Jewish Myth and Jewish Messianism')
Rebbe Nachman spent a mysterious hidden 8 months in Lvov among the non-Jews. He saw that among the Gentiles of Europe are the descendants of those Israelites who worshipped the golden calves and that part of his role is to do tikkun (reparation) in order to restore the unity of the two Houses of Judah and Ephraim. Likutey Moharan I:164 also alludes to this mysterious stay of Rebbe Nachman in the Gentile Catholic city of Lvov for 8 months. Not only was he visiting literal Catholic medical doctors but he was secretly meeting with the hierarchy of the Ukrainian Catholic Church and other Frankist Jews. After this he burnt his previous writings and hid his teachings in stories and in the mystical language of the Zohar. Some stories were hidden and were not revealed to the general public such as the "Story of the Armour" which was part of the universal reparation because of its obvious drawing on Pauline themes in the New Testament.
In the end both approaches bore some fruit by causing Hasidic Judaism and Catholicism to draw closer due to the hidden input of the Frankist mystical ideas in both faiths. We now await a time when the Church will be ready for a Jewish ordinariate or community in its midst that is fully Jewish and fully Catholic so that Israel's heritage may find its place in her midst once again. The true depth of Rebbe Nachman's teaching will be brought to light when it is unveiled by Catholic Jewish Breslov Hasidim in the future time of peace when the Jewish people are re-grafted to the Olive Tree.