Na Nach: Happiness is the Truth

Na Nach is a subgroup of Hasidic Judaism that follows the teaching of the 18th-century (1772-1810) Ukrainian Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, as interpreted by the 20th century Rabbi Yisroel Bar Odesser, who received a miraculous letter from Nachman in 1922, over a century after his (Nachman’s) death.

Breslov Hasidism, among other things, encourages simple, joyful living, with lots of singing and dancing and direct, informal relationship to God. The letter Rabbi Odesser received from Nachman included a line that read Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman. The phrase is a kind of mantra based on Nachman’s name and it became the basis of Odesser’s worship and that of his followers, who enter an ecstatic state while chanting the phrase.

Na Nachs are out and about in Israeli cities dancing and singing in the streets spreading the joy. They may seem nutty, and many Israelis find them so, but I say, bring on the joy.

If you’re lucky enough to encounter some Na Nachs, you’ll know them by their large, betasseled yarmulkes, which are embroidered with the holy phrase. You’ll also know them because they are dancing and singing with wild abandon in the streets. They often drive a van around with music blaring, stopping periodically to dance around it.

Here’s a video of Israeli recording artist Itzik Dadya singing in the streets of Tel Aviv with a group of Na Nachs: