By: Rabbi Ari Enkin
It’s time to address the widespread practice among Israeli followers of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov of leaving Eretz Yisrael to spend Rosh Hashana at his gravesite in Uman each year â€“ and I really will try to be balanced. A number of authorities insist that this annual pilgrimage, including all other departures from Eretz Yisrael simply in order to visit gravesites, is without halachic support. It is also argued that doing so is an insult to all the tzaddikim who are buried in Israel. Furthermore, the money used to finance such trips could be better put towards charitable causes. As Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook once said: “are we without graves in the Land of Israel that you travel to the Exile?!” Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, and Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv have all ruled likewise.
Â Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach was deeply disturbed that there were people who leave Eretz Yisrael for reasons that are not halachically justifiable. When he was invited to his grandson’s Bar Mitzvah outside of Eretz Yisrael in the year 5731, he wrote that he does not see sufficient halachic grounds to leave Eretz Yisrael in order to attend. He was also of the opinion the Kohanim should be especially meticulous about leaving Eretz Yisrael since the land outside of Eretz Yisrael is considered to be impure.Â
Other authorities find justification for leaving Eretz Yisrael for the Uman pilgrimage and other tomb-touring excursions arguing that it is can be no worse than leaving Eretz Yisrael for business which is permitted. So too, there are authorities who hesitantly allow one to leave Eretz Yisrael to visit the graves of rabbis and others who one was close to. Yet other authorities explicitly permit one to leave Eretz Yisrael in order to visit the graves of all holy rabbis, calling it “a great mitzva”. Among the reasons for this is because when the Gentiles see that Jews regularly visit and maintain these sites, they are less likely to be vandalized or tampered with.  It is permitted to leave Eretz Yisrael Israel to visit one’s living rabbi.
While the Israeli Breslov leadership is in rampant denial, it might just be that Rabbi Nachman is not too thrilled with those who leave Eretz Yisrael for Uman at Rosh Hashana. So too, although Breslov leaders today would rather you not know it, the founding fathers and first disciples of Rabbi Nachman felt that the annual Rosh Hashana pilgrimage to Uman was never intended for those living in Eretz Yisrael â€“ only for those already in the Diaspora. It would also be remiss not to recall that in his famous eulogy for the victims of the earthquake that devastated Tzfat in the year 1837, the Chatam Sofer declared that the earthquake occurred because people turned Tzfat into a center of pilgrimage to the detriment of Jerusalem. And that was regarding a city in Eretz Yisrael!Â
You want to go to Uman for Rosh Hashanah? Fine. Go. Enjoy. Really! Â I have no problem with it at all. Klal Yisrael has far bigger headaches to deal with. But please, if you want to leave Eretz Yisrael for Uman on Rosh Hashana, as well as encourage others to do so, please cut the arrogant and condescending attitude as if doing so were halacha l’moshe m’sinai and that there is some kind of spiritual advantage to praying in a Ukrainian cemetery on Yom Tov rather than in Eretz Yisrael.
And most nauseating of it all â€“ please donâ€™t break out in ecstatic dancing at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Friday nights at the conclusion of Lecha Dodi singing “Uman Uman Rosh Hashana” for an entire Â month beforehand. Can there be anything more sacrilegious than this? An idol in the Temple perhaps? Â Dancing around a Golden Calf in the shadow of the tablets of the Ten Commandments? Please, a little respect for those of us who for some reason only practice ancient and pure Jewish values without the trimmings of 18th Century European clothing, failed messiahs, and occult-resembling customs.
And please, buy my books: http://torahmusings.com/books#arienkinÂ (only 25$ including shipping!)
 Az Nidberu 12:28; Doleh U’mashkeh p.360. See also Mishpetei Tzedek 74
 Mishpat Kohen 147.
 Pri Ha’aretz, YD 3:7; cited in Bishvilei Haparasha p.493.
 Mishpat Kohen 147.
 Sdei Chemed, Eretz Yisrael 1; Aseh Lecha Rav 2:54.
 Aseh Lecha Rav 2:53,54.
 Torat Moshe;Emor