About the Yeshiva

   Yeshivat “Shuvu Bonim” was founded in 1978 (5738) in Bnei Brak by Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlit”a. From its inception, the yeshiva’s goal has been to follow the path of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, a path that is built around community life.
   Prior to the establishment of the yeshiva, Rabbi Berland was involved in intensive outreach activity for nearly ten years. During this period he brought thousands of estranged Jews back to Torah observance. At first, he would give informal talks and lectures throughout the country. Rabbi Berland would not be put off by a lack of mitzvah observance but would go anywhere that people were willing to hear what he had to say. He would go to discos, to community centers, to universities and to kibbutzim.
   At that time, a number of students of the Rabbi began to develop into a group. They were individuals who aspired to strengthen Rebbe Nachman’s path and infuse their entire lives with greater meaning and depth. This led to the establishment of the Yeshivat Shuvu Bonim in Bnei Brak. Two years later, an additional branch was opened in Yerushalayim. In 1982 (5742), the two branches fused into a single institution when the original yeshiva in Bnei Brak moved to Yerushalayim. They moved into the old “Chayei Olam” yeshiva building that had been liberated during the unification of Yerushalayim. “Shuvu Bonim” renovated the structure and expanded it.
   As the years passed, many new students who were from religiously committed backgrounds, members of the Chareidi and National–Religious communities, joined the ranks of the yeshiva (today they are nearly 30% of the student body). Over the years, the original nucleus has developed into a community that is characterized by its profound attachment to Rebbe Nachman’s teachings.
   Rebbe Nachman of Breslov’s teachings are incredibly broad and deep. They are characterized by their ability to open gateways of spiritual development for every person, on whatever spiritual level he may be. Whether he has “fallen into the depths of hell,” or whether he has “risen to the highest heights,” Rebbe Nachman’s teachings can help him to draw closer to G-d’s way and elevate himself further.
   The central pillars of his teachings include: the need for continuous spiritual renewal; the constant joy that springs from faith; the appreciation of the inestimable value of every single mitzvah; the importance of heartfelt and intense prayer; the need for secluded meditation and opening up one’s heart before G-d; making a spiritual accounting of his behavior and attaining intimate self-knowledge; the development of a high level of personal sanctity; acquiring love for every Jew; and strengthening oneself through developing a deep understanding of the operating principles of the spiritual plane.
   The yeshiva’s students, under the close guidance of Rabbi Berland, aim to work both to maintain lofty levels in their own Divine service and personal sanctity and to continue to reach out all Jews, no matter what level of observance they may be on. Their concern for their fellow Jews finds its expression in a way of relating to them that is permeated with genuine warmth and love. Their philosophy is that while it is important to constantly strive to attain the highest of spiritual levels, it is equally important to share the Torah’s teachings with those who may have never had the opportunity to taste their sweetness, and to do it in an atmosphere of joy and warmth. Every single person is encouraged to reach the highest level that he can attain in his Torah knowledge and in his faith and awe of G-d.
   The main tools that Rebbe Nachman specified for achieving these spiritual goals include: 
1. Hisbodedus. This is an hour a day which one spends talking with G-d, that is, praying to G-d in the language and style that he finds most natural for self-expression (which may not necessarily be Hebrew). During such prayer, a person should open his heart and express all of his yearnings and desires, coming to an awareness of his desire to achieve a closeness to the Divine and of the many obstacles he faces, both externally and internally. Of course, such prayer should also include elements of praise, of thanks for all the good that he sees in his life. The ideal time for offering such a prayer is considered to be late at night, when all is quiet, and the ideal place–the forests and fields outside the city, where people circulate less, as it helps one detach from the pressure of prevailing opinions and thoughts. However, one can certainly do hisbodedus at any time and in any place where one can seclude himself for a while. With regards to this particular element of one’s spiritual life, Rebbe Nachman said, “It is the highest and greatest level of all.” 
2. Speaking with a friend about the purpose of creation and our function within it.
3. Spending a significant period of time every day with one’s teacher or another mentor and learning Rebbe Nachman’s works, for they include the above ideas and explain them according to concepts that are based on the teachings of the Tanach, Kabbalah, the Zohar, Chassidus, Talmud, Midrash etc.
4. Waking up for chatzos (midnight), and reciting the Tikkun Chatzos prayer. Chatzos is the way one shares the sorrow of G-d and His exiled Presence over the spiritual and physical destruction of exile and the collective troubles of the Jewish people. This element of practical advice is so important that Rebbe Nachman described it as, “The main task of a Jew.”
5. Praying the morning prayers with maximum concentration, at sunrise, and focusing on every single word.
6. Studying Torah intensely—with the intention of acquiring a broad knowledge of all areas of Torah study, primarily by studying Gemara and works that deal with practical Halacha
7. Dancing, and any other ways of expressing happiness and thanks to G-d. Learning how to relate positively to every success and improvement, no matter how small.
   Rabbi Berland was able to create a vibrant community from people who, for the most part, were completely estranged from Jewish observance. He helped his students develop into worthy Jews who have dedicated themselves heart and soul to upholding Rebbe Nachman’s path of Torah, prayer, and love of their fellow Jews. Together, with G-d’s help, they hope to transmit this path to their children through a rapidly growing network of educational institutions.
   Nearly 1,500 men, women, and children make up the Shuvu Bonim community. Recently, the yeshiva’s name was changed to “Yeshivat BreslovNechamat Tzion.”
   It is possible to contact the Yeshiva via email.

Copyright © 2001 Breslov Institutions, Yeshivat "Shuvu Bonim",
All Rights Reserved.

Home Lessons given by the Rav HaRav Levi Itzchak Bender, zt"l.