Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5532, Shabbos HaChodesh, Torah reading, Tazria; (April 4, 1772):
Rabbi Nachman was born (Chayay Moharan 25b #3). Others say that he was born a year earlier in 5531 (March 16, 1771, Sabbath and Rosh Chodesh Nissan; Torah reading, Vayikra). See Kochavey Or, Sichos VeSippurim 1 p. 128a, where the second opinion is supported. Rabbi Nachman was born in Medzeboz (Ibid.) in the house which had belonged to his great-grandfather, the Baal Shem Tov (Nevey Tzaddikim p. 11).
His father was Rabbi Simcha, son of Rabbi Nachman Horodenker. Rabbi Nachman Horodenker lived with the Baal Shem Tov and was one of his closest disciples. Rabbi Simcha was brought up in the Baal Shem Tov's house. He followed the ways of the Tzaddikim of old, spending prolonged periods in seclusion.
Rabbi Nachman's mother was Feiga, a granddaughter of the Baal Shem Tov. Her mother was Adil, the Baal Shem Tov's only daughter. It was said that Feiga had divine inspiration (Chayay Moharan 27b).
After his marriage to Feiga, Rabbi Simcha spent an extended period away from home. Worried about him, Feiga used her ruach hakodesh to locate him. He then returned home and it was afterwards that Rabbi Nachman was born (Nevey Tzaddikim p. 10; Manuscript p. 14).
His two uncles from his mother's side were Rabbi Baruch of Medzeboz and Rabbi Ephraim of Sudylkov, author of the Degel Machaneh Ephraim. His uncle from his father's side, Reb Shimshon, accompanied Rabbi Nachman Horodenker to Israel (see below, p. 41).
Rabbi Nachman had two brothers. One was Rabbi Yechiel Zvi, who later lived in Kremenchug (see letter in Chayay Moharan 36a, #65). This brother was most probably named after Rabbi Yechiel Ashkenazi, his grandfather, and husband of Adil (the Baal Shem Tov's daughter, see above).
The other brother was called Rabbi Yisroel Mes (the Dead). A long story involving the reason for this strange name is brought in the Manuscript p. 14. It also appears in a somewhat different form in the Introduction (Meiras Eynayim) to Sefer HaBaal Shem Tov; see also Shemos HaTzaddikim.
There are two conflicting traditions regarding who was the eldest of these three brothers. In Nachal Novea, we find a tradition that Rabbi Nachman was the eldest. In the Manuscript (Ibid.), however, we find that Rabbi Yisroel Mes was the first born.
Rabbi Nachman also had a sister named Perel (Yemey Moharnat p. 134b). In Yemey Moharnat p. 132a, she is identified as the widow of Reb Pinchas Meir. She is also mentioned in Aveneha Barzel p. 18, as having visited Rabbi Baruch while Rabbi Nachman was in Lemberg (see below, p. 152).
During this year the first partition of Poland took place, transferring nearly a third of Polish territory to Russia, Austria and Prussia, and about a quarter of a million Jews passed under the sovereignty of these countries.
Shabbos, 8 Nissan, 5532, Shabbos HaGadol, Torah reading, Metzora; (April 11, 1772):
Bris milah of Rabbi Nachman. He was then named Nachman, after his grandfather, Rabbi Nachman Horodenker. It was on that same day that a cherem was executed against the Chassidim. The text of this cherem was signed by Rabbi Eliyahu, the Vilna Gaon, and distributed in a pamphlet Zamir Aritsim (see Bais Rebbe p.14; other sources say the cherem was executed shortly after that Pesach. It is possible that the reference in Bais Rebbe is to the letter from Vilna included in Zamir Aritsim and dated 8 Iyar, Cf. Igros Baal HaTanya, p. 178, note 16).
Thursday, 19 Kislev, 5533; (December 15, 1772):
Rabbi Dov Ber, the Magid of Mezritch, died (Chachmey Yisroel p.153).
Wednesday, 12 Tishrei, 5537; (September 25, 1776):
Rabbi Avraham "the Malach," son of the Mezritcher Magid and father of Rabbi Shalom Shachneh of Probisht, died (Chachmey Yisroel p.154).
As a child, living in the house of the Baal Shem Tov, Rabbi Nachman heard tales regarding the great Tzaddikim from the sages who came to visit his great-grandfather's grave, and from them he learned the way to serve God (Sichos HaRan #38).
Once a group of Tzaddikim intended to journey from Medzeboz to visit Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonnoye, one of the Baal Shem Tov's closest disciples. The young Rabbi Nachman asked them to take him along, but they said the journey would be too much for him. As they sat in the coach ready to leave, Rabbi Nachman put his foot on the step of the coach and would not remove it. Rabbi Chaim Krasner then agreed to take responsibility for him (Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Bender).
Adar 5537; (February 1777):
A large group of Chassidic leaders set out on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. They included Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, Rabbi Avraham Kalisker, Rabbi Yaakov Shimshon of Shepetevka, and Rabbi Shneur Zalman, author of Tanya and founder of Chabad Chassidus. They all passed through Medzeboz to pay respects to Rabbi Baruch (Or HaGalil p. 100). It is most probable that Rabbi Nachman, who was then about five years old, saw them at this time.
As a very young child, Rabbi Nachman tried to imagine God's name before him at all times. This distracted him from his studies, earning him punishment from his tutor (Shevachey HaRan #12; Cf. Shulchan Arukh, Orach Chaim 1).
He also found it very difficult to understand the Mishnayos which he was studying, but he cried and prayed to God until he was able to understand them (Shevachey HaRan #8).
When the Rebbe was six, he had already made up his mind to forgo all enjoyment of this world. He would no longer even derive any pleasure from his food (Ibid. 8). In the winter, when it was extremely cold, he would pray at the grave of the Baal Shem Tov, and then immerse himself in the freezing outdoor mikvah (Ibid. 9). Yet he managed to keep his service of God well hidden. Once, when he came to the synagogue with wet peyos, everyone wondered why he had washed his hair on such a cold morning (Ibid.).
Around this time, there was an occasion when he wanted to greet the Sabbath wholeheartedly. After much preparation he cried for several hours until he was convinced that he had perceived a light of the holiness of the Sabbath (Shevachey Moharan 3a #2).
During this period, while he was searching for the path to the complete service of God, he began collecting the material which later became his Sefer HaMidos (Nevey Tzaddikim p. 48; also see Introduction to Sefer HaMidos).
His parents would give him small amounts of money for candy and the like (Nevey Tzaddikim p. 13). The Rebbe, however, would give this money to his teacher, three coins for each additional page of Gemora that he taught him (Shevachey HaRan #4). He would also donate much money secretly to charity (Ibid. #3).
Everything he did as a child was completely hidden (Ibid. #5). Outwardly he behaved like any other child his age (Ibid. #2).
He spent a great deal of time praying alone, often in a small room in the attic of his house (Shevachey HaRan).
He would recite all the optional prayers in the various prayer books that were available at the time. He would also pray in his native Yiddish (Ibid.). Furthermore, after eating, he would add extra thanks and praises in Yiddish besides the required blessings (Shevachey Moharan 3b #8). Although he felt that God was not listening to him, he never gave up (Shevachey HaRan #2).
Thursday, 7 Teves, 5540; (December 16, 1779):
Rabbi Zvi, son of the Baal Shem Tov, died (Chachmey Yisroel p.156).
Shabbos, 15 Shevat, 5540, Shabbos Shirah; (January 22, 1780):
Rabbi Nathan of Nemirov, the foremost disciple of Rabbi Nachman, was born. His father, Reb Naftali Hertz of Nemirov (Yemey Moharnat 6a), was very wealthy, owning large stores in Nemirov, Berdichov and Odessa (Kochavey Or p. 9). His mother was the daughter of R. Yitzchok Danziger (Tovos Zichronos p. 113).
Publication of Toldos Yaakov Yosef, the first Chassidic work ever to be published.
Rabbi Baruch left Medzeboz and settled in Tulchin (Chachmey Yisroel p. 210; Cf. Letters of Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk; Igeres HaKodesh p. 2; see below, p. 72).
Rabbi Nachman immersed himself in study in his father's house. He completed the Talmud, the Shulchan Arukh, the Zohar and all the Mussar books which he found there (Shevachey HaRan #7).
Whatever he desired to do in serving God came only with great difficulty. He found it very hard to remain alone in a room for several hours in secluded prayer, but overcame all obstacles and forced himself to do this (Ibid. #4). He was very easily angered, but this too he overcame (Ibid. #22). He fell many times in his devotions, but always lifted himself up again (Ibid. #5; Sichos HaRan #48). He was able to overcome all the obstacles and serve God with the utmost simplicity. Each day he would begin completely anew (Shevachey HaRan #6). He often accepted each day's undertakings with a vow (Ibid. #5).
When he was young, he was terrified of death. Nevertheless, he overcame this fear, and actually prayed that he would die a martyr's death (Sichos HaRan #7).
Before he was bar mitzvah, Rabbi Nachman was already finishing his Sefer HaMidos (Nevey Tzaddikim p. 15).
Under the influence of Alexander Koller and other admirers of Moses Mendelssohn, the Court of Vienna ordered that no Chassidic or Kabbalistic writings should be admitted to Galicia.
Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh Nissan, 5545, Shabbos HaChodesh, Torah reading, Vayikra; (March 11, 1785):
Rabbi Nachman's bar mitzvah. His uncle, Rabbi Ephraim of Sudylkov gave him a special blessing, quoting the verse (Psalms 2:7) "I have given birth to you today" which alludes to the bar mitzvah (Shevachey HaRan #3; according to the opinion that he was born in 1771, however, his bar mitzvah was on Thursday, March 24, 1784).
A short while later he married Sashia, daughter of R. Ephraim of Ossatin (Shevachey HaRan #3; Chayay Moharan 25b). Her brother was R. Zvi of Tcherin (Kochavey Or p. 36). His wife's name is found in the end of a letter, dated Parshas Emor 5567, at the beginning of Alim LeTerufah (see Appendix, letter #2). He had a nadan (dowry) of three hundred rubles (Chayay Moharan 26b). The wedding was in Medvedevka. On the wedding day Rabbi Nachman spoke to a number of young men about serving God, and it was then that he attracted his first disciple, Rabbi Shimon the son of Reb Ber (Ibid. 25b). Rabbi Shimon later said, "I abandoned all the renowned leaders, and followed this young boy" (Aveneha Barzel p. 37).
After his marriage Rabbi Nachman moved into his father-in-law's house.
OSSATIN Reb Ephraim, Rabbi Nachman's father-in-law, lived in the village of Ossatin (Chayay Moharan 25b). This village was on the outskirts of Medvedevka (Sichos HaRan #17), not far from Smela (Shevachey HaRan #20) and Alexanderevka (Kochavey Or p. 66), on the bank of the Tyasmin River.
Thursday, 20 Iyar, 5546; (May 19; May 7 Julian, 1786):
An ukase of the Russian Senate forbade Rabbinical courts to decide disputes between Jews. It also restricted the extent of Jewish trade.
5547; (1787) approximately:
Rabbi Nachman"s first child, a daughter, named Adil, was born about a year after his marriage.
Sunday, 21 Adar, 5547; (March 1, 1787):
Rabbi Elimelech of Lizhensk died (Chachmey Yisroel p.164).
Although the journey from Ossatin to Medzeboz was more than two hundred miles, Rabbi Nachman made it a point to visit his parents and to be by the grave of the Baal Shem Tov quite often (Chayay Moharan 25b). If he wished to speak to the Baal Shem Tov and could not reach Medzeboz, he would go to Smela, to the grave of Rabbi Yeshaya of Yanov, one of the Baal Shem Tov's great disciples, author of Tzavo'as Rivash, and send a message through him to his great-grandfather (Shevachey HaRan #20). He would also make him a messenger to his other grandfather, Rabbi Nachman Horodenker, who was buried in Tiberias, in Israel (Chayay Moharan 31b). He would go very early in the morning, when no one could see him (Aveneha Barzel p. 25).
Rabbi Nachman also traveled often from Ossatin to Medvedevka. The trip was through mountainous country. On one such journey together with Rabbi Shimon, the wagon they were traveling in began to overturn and it was only Rabbi Shimon's quick actions which saved them from probable death (Aveneha Barzel p. 36).
In Ossatin, Rabbi Nachman spent much of his time praying alone in the forests. He once said that after such devotion, he saw all the world like new (Chayay Moharan 26a). He would ride into the forests on a horse and pray by himself for hours (Shevachey Moharan 3a), or he would take a small boat on the river and pray in the rushes (Sichos HaRan #17).
He would also pray by himself in bed, under the covers, at night. Once, when he was doing this, he was seen by a young boy, who later grew up to be Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchok, the Rabbi of Tcherin, one of his followers (Aveneha Barzel p. 31; also see Sichos HaRan #68, 275).
At this time Rabbi Nachman was deeply engaged in the study of the Kabbalah. When he began, he found it extremely difficult, but would cry and pray to God until the meaning was clear to him (Shevachey HaRan #18). In his youth, he already knew the entire Zohar and the writings of the ARI (Sichos HaRan #28; Shevachey Moharan 14b). In the same period, he went through all four sections of the Shulchan Arukh three times, the third time according to its Kabbalistic significance (Sichos HaRan #76).
It was during this time that the young Rabbi Nachman began his struggle to subjugate his sexual desires. He had many temptations in this matter (Shevachey HaRan #6; see also Likutey Moharan I, 257, which is related to one specific example; see Nevey Tzaddikim p. 207). He did not avoid temptations, however; rather he welcomed them, confident that he could overcome them (Shevachey Moharan 3a).
He began by redirecting all his lusts into the desire for food (Shevachey HaRan #6; Chayay Moharan 22a, #2). But the Baal Shem Tov appeared in a dream and indicated to him that if he wanted to see the Patriarchs, he must cast away this desire as well (Ibid.). He then discarded his appetite for food, and ate almost nothing (Shevachey HaRan #21). Very often he would fast from Sabbath to Sabbath, sometimes twice consecutively. He once fasted like this eighteen times in a single year. This occurred before he was twenty years old (Shevachey HaRan #19).
All this was done in utmost secrecy. Except for his wife, no one knew of his fasts, and he made her swear not to reveal his secret (Ibid. #9).
During this period he also indulged in acts of self-mortification (Ibid. #24). He would sigh a great deal in order to subjugate his physical powers (Sichos HaRan #67; Cf. Likutey Moharan I, 8). He would imagine his own death, and how he would be mourned (Sichos HaRan #90).
At first, Rabbi Nachman was extremely strict in many practices, even where the law does not require it. He was so careful regarding attending his needs before prayer that he literally placed himself in danger (Sichos HaRan #30). He was so stringent on Pesach that he avoided drinking even well-water, for fear it had come in contact with chometz. But he eventually realized that this type of stringency was not basic to serving God (Ibid. #235).
Being a great-grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, young Rabbi Nachman found himself treated with excessive reverence. However, he did not welcome this kind of attention (Nevey Tzaddikim p. 18). He would have preferred to have gone somewhere where he was not known, and to have hidden himself completely (Chayay Moharan 26b). Since this was not possible, he disguised his practices even while in his father-in-law's house, gaining the reputation of an ignoramus and playing with youngsters his own age (Aveneha Barzel p. 23 #9).
Once, one of the great disciples of the Mezritcher Magid visited Reb Ephraim's house and tested Rabbi Nachman in his studies. The youth acted as if he did not know anything, and the older Rabbi slapped him across the face. Later, he found Rabbi Nachman praying fervently in the woods, and understood that he was a great Tzaddik. He asked Rabbi Nachman's forgiveness, but the latter replied that he would only forgive him if the Rabbi promised not to reveal his discovery during the Rebbe's lifetime (Ibid.).
Rabbi Yekusiel, the Magid of Terhovitza, became one of Rabbi Nachman's most prominent disciples. Rabbi Yekusiel was an older man and a leader in his own right, being Magid over eighty-four communities in this area (Chayay Moharan HaShmotos 46a). When Rabbi Nachman moved to Ossatin, he found himself in the Magid's territory, and the Magid therefore heard of him. Rabbi Yekusiel had been one of the great disciples of the Magid of Mezritch (Nevey Tzaddikim p. 26). He was also a close friend of Rabbi Nochum of Tchernoble (Chayay Moharan HaShmotos). Rabbi Shneur Zalman (author of Tanya) received a haskama from him for his Siddur (Ibid.).
Around this time, Rabbi Nachman prayed that he might see miracles and was answered three times. One was that his devotions outside would no longer be disturbed by a roadside cross which stood on the route he used to take. The cross suddenly fell. The second was that fish would come to him from the river without the use of a net. And the third was that he would see the soul of a dead person (Chayay Moharan p. 26a #7).
His fame began to spread after he visited Alexanderevka with his father-in-law. His father-in-law had yahrzeit for his father, and Rabbi Nachman read Mishnayos for the sake of the dead. His father-in-law fainted and then said that he had seen the dead man standing next to the young Rabbi Nachman (Kochavey Or p. 66).
Thursday, Rosh Chodesh Iyar, 5548; (May 8, 1788):
Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk died (Pri Etz l"Ashkavta DeRebbi).
Tuesday, 20 Tammuz, 5549; (July 14, 1789):
In Paris, the storming of the Bastille marked the culmination of the French Revolution.
5550; (1790): approximately:
Around this time, Rabbi Nachman's mother-in-law died, and his father-in-law married a woman from Mohelov. At the wedding, Rabbi Nachman was given a little wine, and revealed wondrous things, astounding everyone there. Among the people in Mohelov was the great Tzaddik, Rabbi Yissachar Dov of Zaslov, known as Reb Ber ben Reb Binim, one of the close disciples of the Baal Shem Tov. Reb Ber said that Rabbi Nachman would be most remarkable (Chayay Moharan, Ibid. #5).
Rabbi Nachman remained in his father-in-law's house in Ossatin for a short time after this. But his father-in-law's second wife took away his room, and he moved away, settling in nearby Medvedevka (Ibid.).
It was around this time that he gave his very first lessons, a few of which were later printed in Likutey Moharan (Nevey Tzaddikim p. 39). Also, his second child, a daughter whom he named Sarah, was born around this time (for we find that she was married around the year 5563, at which time she would have been about thirteen, as was the custom at the time). 1. Adil was married at the end of 5560, fifteen years after Rabbi Nachman's bar mitzvah. Assuming that she was about thirteen at the time of her wedding, as was the custom in those days, her birth can be set at around 5547. From this we see that Rabbi Nachman's grandmother, Adil, the daughter of the Baal Shem Tov, must have died before this, since his daughter was named after her. 2. Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchok was older than Rabbi Nathan, as stated in the Manuscript p. 8. Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchok saw this as a young boy. Rabbi Nathan was eleven years old when the Rebbe left Ossatin for Medvedevka. Therefore, it must have taken place in Ossatin. 3. This Siddur was first published in 5563 in Shklov, but because of numerous printing errors the copies were not distributed. No copies of this edition are known to exist; see Igros Baal Tanya U-Vnei Doro, p. 123 note 7. See also Shaar HaKollel Introduction. The Magid"s haskama was printed in the Shklov edition. MEDVEDEVKA
5551; (1791) approximately:
After Rabbi Nachman set up residence in Medvedevka, the townspeople agreed to support him with the sum of one rendel a week. He lived there mostly undisturbed, and people began to become attracted to him (Chayay Moharan 26b).
Medvedevka was the city in which Rabbi Nachman had been married (Ibid. 25b). The Shpola Zeida had lived there with his father-in-law, a shochet in the town. He had spent eight years there and most probably was remembered by the city elders (Chachmey Yisroel p. 209.)
Iyar 5551; (May, 1791):
Poland was declared a constitutional monarchy.
Friday, 10 Elul, 5551; (September 9, 1791):
Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz died (Ibid. p. 170).
Rabbi Nachman was twenty years old. By this age, he had overcome his physical desires completely (Sichos HaRan #71). Once his mother asked him why such great things were attributed to him and he answered, "I am truly totally devoid of evil" (Shevachey Moharan 3b).
Rabbi Nachman's third daughter, Miriam, was most probably born during this year (as she was married in 5565).
Rabbi Nathan of Nemirov became engaged to Esther Shaindel, the daughter of Rabbi Dovid Zvi Ohrbach, Rabbi of Sharograd and Kremenetz. Rabbi Dovid Zvi was the son of Rabbi Aryeh Leib, Rabbi of Stanislav and a relative of Rabbi Nachman Horodenker (Yemey Moharnat 6a; Nevey Tzaddikim p. 28; Shem HaGedolim HeChadash, Daled 28; also see Aveneha Barzel p. 4).
11 Av, 5553, week of Shabbos Nachamu; (July 20, 1793):
Rabbi Nathan was married in Sharograd (Yemey Moharnat, Ibid.).
The second partition of Poland took place as a result of the Confederation of Targowice (Terhovitza). Russia annexed the Ukraine where Rabbi Nachman was living.
Tuesday, 14 Av, 5553; (July 23, 1793):
Rabbi Chaim Krasner died. He was a major disciple of the Baal Shem Tov and a close friend of Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz (Chachmey Yisroel p. 175).
This was a period of intensive fasting for Rabbi Nachman. He now hid his fasts so that even his wife was not aware of them. Only his attendant knew, and he was sworn not to divulge this (Manuscript p. 12; Sichos HaRan #60). This attendant would eat all Rabbi Nachman's food, so that no one would realize that he was fasting (Manuscript, Ibid.). Once Rabbi Nachman hemorrhaged from the mouth in the middle of a fast, but he told his attendant not to reveal this to anyone (Sichos HaRan, Ibid.). Another time he became so faint that he had to lie in bed with his feet raised (Ibid.). He did not prepare light foods with which to break his fast, and once was in severe danger (Ibid. #61).
Eventually his mother realized that her son was hardly eating anything at all. When she inquired, he replied that he was nourished the way that (Ecclesiastes 7:12) "Wisdom nourishes its possessor" (Shevachey Moharan 3b).
During this same period, the mystery of the "Table" was revealed to him (Ibid. 27a).
One of his earliest disciples was Rabbi Chaikel of Medvedevka. After he became a follower of Rabbi Nachman, he practically lived in his mentor's house. He was one of the few who learned about Rabbi Nachman's fasts (Manuscript p. 12). Rabbi Chaikel had a son by the name of Reb Leib of Medvedevka (Yemey Moharnat p. 98b). Rabbi Chaikel was a wonderful singer and the Rebbe asked him to become his regular cantor (Manuscript, Ibid.). Rabbi Nachman said of him that he knew the source of song in its divine roots (Biur HaLikutim, Introduction). It is also related that Rabbi Chaikel performed a miracle through which he made an individual rich (Kochavey Or p. 41). Another time the Rebbe showed him the soul of a dead man (Ibid. 56 #34). Rabbi Chaikel's faith in the Rebbe was so strong that he once held a snake by its head only because the Rebbe had told him to (Aveneha Barzel p. 46 #73).
In Medvedevka, Rabbi Nachman prayed alone in the mountains and fields (Sichos HaRan #62; see Outpouring of the Soul p. 42). When he had used up his dowry, he became very poor. He nevertheless had faith that even in the fields God would provide him with the necessities of life (Chayay Moharan 26b).
Many of the great Chassidic leaders visited Rabbi Nachman in Medvedevka. Rabbi Yekusiel, the Magid of Terhovitza, brought his close friend Rabbi Nochum of Tchernoble to visit him. Rabbi Nochum said that the Rebbe had (Samuel I, 16:12) "beautiful eyes" (Chayay Moharan HaShmotos 46a). He also said that he could literally see the fear of God on the Rebbe's face (Sichos HaRan #68). He once met Rabbi Aharon of Tetiev (Tovos Zichronos p. 24). Rabbi Aharon was a grandson of the Baal Shem Tov, a son of Rabbi Zvi.
In Medvedevka, Rabbi Nachman began to achieve a reputation as a miracle worker. He later said that he knew all twenty-four courts of Justice on High, and he also knew to which one a pidyon must be brought (Sichos HaRan #75). A man once came to him with his sick wife, and the Rebbe told him to quickly bring twenty-four pidyonos (Chayay Moharan 14a; Cf. Likutey Moharan I, 215).
By this time, the Rebbe also knew how each Jewish soul was rooted in the Torah (Sichos HaRan #85). He could not sleep at night, because the six hundred thousand letters of the Torah would pass before his eyes (Ibid. #76, 90). In Medvedevka the Rebbe's following began to grow (Chayay Moharan 26b).
Rabbi Meir of Medvedevka practically became a member of the Rebbe's household. He was very wealthy, but did not have any children. The Rebbe told him that he would have children but would lose his great wealth, which in fact happened (Kochavey Or p. 46, #2).
The Rebbe's brother, Rabbi Yechiel, also became one of his followers during this period (Shevachey Moharan 4a #1).
Another person who joined his following was Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchok, later to become Rabbi of Tcherin, who had seen the Rebbe when he was still a child. Once there was a fire in Medvedevka, which Rabbi Shmuel Yitzchok had predicted to the Rebbe (Chayay Moharan 34a).
Another early follower was Reb Avraham Peterberger. He wrote down many of the Rebbe's lessons before Rabbi Nathan became a follower (Biur HaLikutim, Introduction; Nevey Tzaddikim p. 27). Whenever we find in Likutey Moharan that something is in "the language of the companions," this means that it was written by Reb Avraham Peterberger (Ibid.). There are a number of lessons in Likutey Moharan said during this period, which were written by Reb Avraham (see Shevachey Moharan 16a; Ibid. 27b ).
During this period, people from Dashev began to become attracted to the Rebbe (Chayay Moharan 26b). Dashev was some one hundred and thirty miles (210 km.) from Medvedevka.
This came about through one of the disciples of the Mezritcher Magid, the saintly Rabbi Leib of Trastenitz (Nevey Tzaddikim p. 21; Cf. Chayay Moharan HaShmotos 46b). After he died, he appeared to the Rebbe, and asked him to attempt to attract his children (Kochavey Or p. 26). At this same time, he revealed to the Rebbe part of lesson 196 in Likutey Moharan I (Parparaos LeChokhmah, ad loc. This occurred a long time before his pilgrimage to Israel, as recorded in Chayay Moharan 15a).
In the city of Dashev, there was a group of people dedicated to serving God (Nevey Tzaddikim, Ibid.). They were led by Rabbi Yudel, the son-in-law of this saintly Rabbi Leib, and a disciple of the great Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz (Chayay Moharan HaShmotos, Ibid. #3). Rabbi Yudel was extremely poor (Alim LeTerufah 163), but very wise (Tovos Zichronos p. 4). He was already an established Kabbalist (Chayay Moharan HaShmotos, Ibid. #4).
Another was the Tzaddik, Rabbi Shmuel Isaac. He would pray like an angel (Nevey Tzaddikim, Ibid.; Cf. Tovos Zichronos p. 31). He was also very strong (Tovos Zichronos #4), and very poor (Alim LeTerufah, Ibid.).
Among that same group was Rabbi Dov of Tcherin. For several years after his marriage, he lived with his father-in-law in Dashev, as was the custom. When this period ended, the couple returned to his father's home near Medvedevka. Before Rabbi Dov left Dashev, Rabbi Yudel had warned him not to go to Rabbi Nachman. However, Rabbi Dov became very depressed in his father's home, since he could not have any children. He met with Rabbi Yeshaya Shalom, one of the Rebbe's early followers, and thus first came to meet the Rebbe (Kochavey Or p. 24; Cf. Nevey Tzaddikim 23). The Rebbe told him that in order to have children, he must give a certain amount to charity. When he replied that he was dependent on his father and could not give charity, the Rebbe told him that faith was just like charity (Ibid. note 5; see Shevachey Moharan 27a; Sichos HaRan #34).
Rabbi Dov also wanted to rise at midnight for Tikkun Chatzos, but it was extremely difficult for him, and he almost became sick in the attempt. The Rebbe told him that, in his case, three a.m. would be considered midnight. This was just one of the directives which the Rebbe gave him to balance Rabbi Dov's burning desire to serve God (Kochavey Or p. 25 #21).
Afterwards, Rabbi Dov found it necessary to travel to his father-in-law's house. Once there, he could not help but tell Rabbi Yudel of his relationship with Rabbi Nachman. Impressed by their friend's obvious spiritual development, the entire group went to visit the Rebbe. On the way, they stopped off in Terhovitza, and inspired some of the students of Rabbi Yekusiel, the Magid of that town, to join them on the trip (Ibid. p. 26; Nevey Tzaddikim pp. 23, 24, 34).
We see that Lesson #73 was said as soon as Rabbi Nachman returned from Israel (Chayay Moharan 32b), and this is in "the language of the companions." This would indicate that it was written by Reb Avraham Peterberger, and he must therefore have become one of the Rebbe's followers in Medvedevka before the Rebbe's pilgrimage to Israel.