This is Laurel and Hardy in a way you’ve never seen before.  This Hebrew song has a great beat.  It is a song about dance that many Hasidim sing and dance to.  But the beat is so catchy that it has spread to many occasions.

Weddings, Bar-Mitzvahs and Bat-Mitzvahs – celebrations of 12 and 13 year old boys and girls – are occasions that this song is often heard at.  The idea of a Laurel and Hardy dance to the beat of this music is ridiculous but it is hilarious.

Uman

The words to this song in Hebrew tell of a recent phenomenon which has spread like wildfire in Israel and abroad.  It is not an easy phenomenon to explain.  Every year, many thousands of people go to the grave of a Hasidic Rabbi.   His name is Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.  His grave is located in Uman, a town in the Ukraine.  The Ukraine only became independent in 1991, it had been part of the Soviet Union.  So, it was out of reach for nearly anyone who wanted to visit the grave.

However, in the last few decades, the custom to visit this particular Rabbi’s grave has spread like wildfire.  The main time of the year when people visit is the Jewish New Year.  Part of this recent tradition to visit this Holy Rabbi’s grave is based on the thought that a prayer service on the Jewish New Year at his grave serves as a super special time for spiritual healing and elevation for the past and future.

Prayer at Graves

Although some people think it rather eery to pray at graveyards, it is not a new custom at all.  Many Talmudic sources discuss the idea to visit graves of Holy people, and there are instances in the Bible too.  The “good” spy, Caleb went to pray at our forefather’s tomb in Hebron in order to not be influenced by the “bad” spies.

However, a differentiation must be made between prayer at the graves and prayer to the Holy people at the graves.  The Jewish concept seems to be one of prayer AT the grave and not prayer TO the Holy people at the grave. The Jewish concept of prayer is to pray to G-d, not to pray to intermediaries.