Odesser claimed to have discovered a “letter from Heaven” that was sent by Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, who’d died more than a century earlier. In the letter, Nachman said that anyone who suffered from a beleaguered heart (basically, the equivalent of modern depression) would only have to repeat these syllables–“Na, Nach, Nachma, Nachman Me-Uman” (Nachman from Uman)–and his pains would be healed. Odesser, who had been “sad and distraught” for a while, according to his biography I Am Na Nach Nachma Nachman, tried this.
And, apparently, it worked. Odesser dedicated the rest of his life to spreading the Na-Nach message (he died in 1994, at the age of 108). His followers travel throughout Israel in brightly-colored vans, blasting electronic music and dancing in the streets as a way of fulfilling Nachman’s entreaty, “it’s a big mitzvah to be happy.”
In some circles, the Na-Nachers are known for bringing together secular and religious Israelis in sudden fits of dancing and joy. In others, they’re regarded as vagrant hippies. Surprisingly (or perhaps not so surprising, given the strangeness of Israeli politics), a brand-new Na-Nach political party was started.