Speak to God, Tel-Aviv, Israel, 2006

Speak to God, Tel-Aviv, Israel, 2006

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Ozeri met this young man in Tel-Aviv, at the entrance to Shuk Ha-Carmel (Carmel Market), a busy, open-air mall. The man is a member of the Bratslav sect of Hasidic Judaism. Bratslavers follow the teachings of Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav (1772 – 1810), who encouraged followers to cultivate an intense, personal, joyous relationship with God. This man’s sign reads “Daber Im Hashem,” or “Speak to God.” (Literally, the phrase means, “Speak with the Name.” “The Name” is a euphemism for God’s name, which is too holy to pronounce in everyday speech.)

You can see some Hebrew letters on this man’s large white yarmulke. It’s the beginning of a mantra used in meditation by some members of the Bratslav group. The complete mantra is “Na Nach Nachma Nachman Me’Uman,” and it refers to the name of the sect’s founder and his burial place in Uman, Ukraine. The phrase has become very popular in recent years and can often be seen on signs, bumper stickers, yarmulkes, and graffiŒti throughout Israel.


Sample Texts:

הִלֵּל אוֹמֵר, הֱוֵי מִתַלְמִידָיו שֶׁל אַהֲרוֹן–אוֹהֵב שָׁלוֹם וְרוֹדֵף שָׁלוֹם, אוֹהֵב אֶת הַבְּרִיּוֹת וּמְקָרְבָן לַתּוֹרָה.

Hillel said, “Be like one of Aaron’s students, loving peace and pursuing it, loving people and bringing them to the Torah.”
– Pirkei Avot 1:12


רַבִּי יִשְׁמָעֵאל אוֹמֵר, הֱוֵי קַל לָראֹשׁ וְנוֹחַ לַתִּשְׁחוֹרֶת, וֶהֱוֵי מְקַבֵּל אֶת כָּל הָאָדָם בְּשִׂמְחָה.

Rabbi Yishmael would say:
“Be yielding to your elder, be pleasant with the young, and greet every person with joy.”
– Pirkei Avot 3:16


Faith is not only in the heart; it should be put into words.
– Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav