BTW: By "other groups," this ONLY means HALACHICALLY LEGITIMATE groups.
Groups that deny the chain of tradition from Har Sinai, nullify fundamental halachah by weaseling fake loopholes, groups that deny the Divinity of Torah, or even hold the belief in Hashem Himself is optional...these ideologies deserve no respect whatsoever.
Having said that, treating the bamboozled adherents themselves of these groups with respect is derech eretz. The vast majority of them were not raised with authentic Torah knowledge, and are fed cunning lies & distortions to get them to believe in these halachically illegitimate ideologies.
They're simply flailing over the stumbling block placed before the blind. They need help & outreach more than censure.
But respecting these extremely damaging & anti-Jewish ideas? No way. Never.
However, there are groups which developed over time; there are varied traditions set by real tzaddikim.
And those should not be tangled with.
Since the creation of Bnei Yisrael, we have been split into different groups according to Tribe.
When we crossed the parted Yam Suf, we crossed in different pathways according to Tribe — a Divine message that Hashem Himself wishes for us to be varied yet united.
It's like different jewels in one setting.
For example, a pearl necklace often has diamond and/or gold fixtures or gold clasps. Not only is a gold clasp more practical than a pearl clasp, the necklace is all the more beautiful for its gold (or diamond) accents.
I think we've all seen beautiful pieces of jewelry that combine diamonds with gold and amethysts or emeralds or rubies or sapphires.
A bracelet is simply so much more exquisite for the combination of precious stones and metals.
Likewise, bnei Yisrael.
"IF One Means It in TRUTH..."
I asked him, "Moshe — vi azoi iz dartun dem Rebin's zach [How is the matter of the Rebbe over there]?"
He answered me, "Dem Rebin's zach is da zeir chashuv — ob memeint mit a emes [The matter of the Rebbe is extremely important — if one means it in truth]...."
In order to appreciate this objectivity & integrity, it's important to know how deeply immersed in Breslov ideology Rav Bender was.
First of all, Rav Bender was not born into Breslov. He was born in Poland to parents who were not Breslovers at all. He only delved into Breslov at age 17 after having been impressed with the ideology. He moved to Uman against his parents' wishes.
So he chose it when he hadn't needed to.
And out of his own free choice, Rav Bender developed an unswerving dedication to the path of Rebbe Nachman.
For example, Rav Bender advised doing a whole session of hitbodedut ONLY on the appreciation for Rebbe Nachman and what he gave us, promising that one could enjoy hours just on that alone.
Rav Bender also literally risked his life & endured a terrible prison sentence that almost ended in execution — all for saying a quick Tikkun Haklali at Rebbe Nachman's grave site.
It was worth it to him, no regrets.
On page 158 of Vol. I, Rav Bender waxes:
We should be so happy over having come close to the Rebbe. This opens the heart and frees the mind...The treasure we have is worth more than all the wealth of the world.
On page 456 of Vol. II, Rav Bender states:
It is incumbent upon us to believe in the words of the Tzaddik [Rebbe Nachman of Breslov] about everything, in every bit of what he says.
At the same time, he also stresses Rebbe Nosson's passion to listen to all tzaddikim (i.e., probably not just Rebbe Nachman & probably not just the Breslover tzaddikim) — "to listen to all that they say."
(Rebbe Nosson/Natan Sternhartz was Rebbe Nachman's prime disciple & transcriber.)
But Rav Bender's fiery devotion to Breslov, to Rebbe Nachman himself, is prime.
3 Lessons Learned from This Brief Yet Revealing Exchange
It cannot be that this is a figment of Rav Bender's imagination because in the depths of his being, it's clear that Rav Bender felt that Rebbe Nachman's way was the best & most effective way to fulfill Torah.
(Also, Rav Bender was remarkably self-aware. If he describes this as an after-death visitation and not a mere dream, we can be sure he really knows that it is.)
So this brief message from the World of Truth tells us 3 things:
- (1) The path of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov is indeed a legitimate path of Torah Judaism. It's zeir chashuv — very important — in the World of Truth.
- (2) It's not the only path. (Else Rav Tchunstchover wouldn't have said it's "very important;" he would've declared it considered the "real way" or "the best.")
- (3) But the clincher is: You need to mean it mit a emes — with Truth. You have to be sincere. You have to really mean it.
And I'm going to risk extrapolating that lesson to apply to other halachically legitimate groups (Lubavitch chassidus, Satmar chassidus, Yemenite, Litvish, the mussar movement, the Ben Ish Chai of the Sefardim, etc.):
Each one is very important in Shamayim...but you must memeint mit a emes — you have to really mean it.