Breslev Chassidut is centered around the great “light of lights,” Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, who was born in 1772 in the Ukrainian town of Medzboz (in the region then known as Podolia). He was the great-grandson of the holy Baal Shem Tov—the legendary founder of the Chassidic movement, who lived in Medzboz, and is buried there. Since Rebbe Nachman’s passing in 1810, his resting place in Uman, Ukraine has been visited by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, largely because of his unusual promise: “Whoever comes to my gravesite and recites the ten psalms of the Tikkun HaKlali, and gives even as little as a coin to charity in my name, then, no matter how serious his sins may be, I will do everything in my power, spanning the length and breadth of creation, to save and repair him. By his very payos [sidelocks] I will pull him out of the lowest pit of hell. Only now, he must take upon himself not to return to his foolishness.”
Although Rebbe Nachman’s promise is effective any time a person recites the Tikkun HaKlali at his gravesite in Uman, Rosh HaShanah is the focal point of the year. This is when Rebbe Nachman intercedes in the upper worlds on behalf of the Jewish people and the entire world on the “birthday” of all humanity, to sweeten all harsh judgments and hasten the redemption. Traveling to the tzaddikim to spend Rosh HaShanah was something always strongly emphasized by Rebbe Nachman. This was especially true during his final days, when Reb Noson understood that Rebbe Nachman wanted this pilgrimage to continue even after Rebbe Nachman’s own physical demise. After Rebbe Nachman’s passing in the early 1800s, it was Reb Noson who established the practice of gathering at his gravesite in Uman on Rosh HaShanah, which continues until today. This Rosh HaShanah gathering has grown to tens of thousands of people annually, which is not to mention the nonstop flow of men, women and children, from everywhere in the world, who visit his gravesite during the rest of the year.