''Bringing Rebbe Nachman Home''
In light of the current interest regarding bringing Rebbe Nachman's remains to Israel, we would like to give our readers a number of facts.
1. First of all, what was the wish of Rebbe Nachman himself regarding the place of his burial?
To this question he said, "My place is only in the Land of Israel," and in addition, "I want to remain amongst you." (This means to be buried in a place where the maximum amount of Jewish people can visit his grave daily).
2. What is the ruling according to Jewish law regarding moving the remains of a righteous person from outside of Israel into the Holy Land? Furthermore, is there a precedent for this in the Torah itself?
The answer to this question is that it is a great mitzvah to move the remains of a righteous person from outside of Israel into the Land. This explains the insistence of our forefathers, Jacob and Joseph, concerning not being left outside of Israel. It also explains the great longing of Moses our teacher, regarding both coming into the Land and of being buried in Israel as well. In regards to this particular case of Rebbe Nachman himself, the two greatest Halachic authorities of our time - Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Shlita and Rabbi Moshe Feinstein of blessed memory, were both asked this question. Both answered that it is permitted and there is no reason whatsoever not to do so.
3. What efforts have been made in our times to actually accomplish this?
The first formal request to the government of Israel to bring Rebbe Nachman's remains was made by Rabbi Yisrael Ber Odesser. Rabbi Odesser, who passed away in 1994 at the age of one hundred, was the elder of Breslov in our times. He is also the founder of the largest non-profit organization in the world for printing the books of Rebbe Nachman. At the end of Rabbi Odesser’s life, he made a formal request to both Prime Minister Rabin and President Herzog, to make this event happen. The procedure began, and finally culminated when the Prime Minister of the Ukraine visited Jerusalem. At the time, the Ukrainian Prime Minister agreed to the request of President Herzog and committed himself that Rebbe Nachman would be given back to the State of Israel. Unfortunately, the process has not yet been completed. Today, we are working to bring all the factions together, to make this dream become a reality.
4. Is there anything new in the news regarding this issue?
The answer is that just recently, the Prime Minister of the Ukraine visited Israel and this issue was brought up by Prime Minister Olmert, President Shimon Peres and Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni. Olmert has committed himself to "do everything he can to make this happen." Peres has acknowledged the importance of this issue, and has said that he favors it. And finally, the Foreign Minister and her office have also given their support to the initiative.
It is sincerely our hope that the Jewish people will unite around this crucial issue at a time when the entire nation is under threat and fighting for its survival. In honor of the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, may we all merit to see all our fellow Jews return to the Land of Israel together with the holy redeemer, speedily in our times.