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Poster Commentary
"If you believe breaking is possible, believe fixing is possible."Rabbi Nachman of Breslau
Poster design:Art Paul


by Erica Brown

Objects break. Hearts break. Some things can be repaired, and others cannot. But, Rabbi Nachman (1772–1810) reminds us, in the same way that breaking is an inevitability, fixing is also an inevitability. We know the former is true; we don’t always believe the latter.

Rabbi Nachman knew a thing or two about brokenness. His Hasidic tales often circle around characters who face their darkest moments and search profoundly for redemption. He authored a quote that became a famous Jewish song: “The entire world is a very narrow bridge. The key in crossing is not to be afraid. Only someone who has seen fear and overcome it could write these words.

In a world of fear and brokenness, Rabbi Nachman brought healing through his stories and his wisdom. He has become an iconic figure in the universe of Hasidic thinking, and today, thousands of people make pilgrimages to his grave in Uman in central Ukraine, usually around the High Holidays. People go there believing that the journey will “fix” their brokenness.

Rabbi Nachman also wrote that it is a great mitzvah to be happy. A mitzvah is not always easy. Confronting your brokenness is the beginning of the road home. It is where healing begins.

Conversation Guide


Rabbi Nachman of Breslau wrote of a world that is broken. Here, however, he offers a glimmer of hope—by looking beyond the brokenness, one can begin the process of fixing and healing.

What examples of “breaking” can you think of that “fixing” seems possible? Can all broken things be fixed? Can something broken ever be put back together perfectly? 

How does Rabbi Nachman’s statement explain the process of return and repentance that we engage in before the High Holidays? What types of relationships do we seek to repair and fix?  Can broken relationships ever be completely fixed?

Is there a link between these words and the quotation of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotzk: “There is nothing more whole than a broken heart.” How are the messages similar—and different?



Each image calls out to us to examine it, to note our thoughts and feelings, and relate these impressions to the quotation. Often clues in the artwork suggest meaning and invite interpretation.

Graphic designer Art Paul offers a fragmented portrait to illustrate this quotation.

How does the image present the quotation? Was this how you interpreted the quotation without the image?

Why do you think the artist chose a broken face, and not any number of other broken items? 

What feeling is conveyed by the fragmented, pieced-together face?

How is the concept of fixing addressed in this illustration?


Copyright© 2012 Harold Grinspoon Foundation

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Masters Series©2012, Art Paul, Quote: Rabbi Nachman of Breslau,

Harold Grinspoon Foundation, West Springfield, MA