First, Rav Ofer Erez has just started a new, dedicated website at: www.ofererez.co.il - and I highly recommend a visit, if you understand Hebrew.
Discovering Rav Erez's classes and books definitely counts as one of notable highlights of my spiritual journey. He's one of the best spiritual educators I've ever heard, and his insights and lessons have helped me through some very rough patches, the last few months.
Now, what's with the mafia kingpin?
Well, a couple of years' ago, a book came out in Hebrew called 'The Stolen Light', which took the Breslev community in Israel by storm. It was an amazing collection of true stories, from people who were in Uman for Rosh Hashana.
One of the stories in the book tells the tale of Bardogo, the mafia kingpin who survived an assassination attempt, had a clinical death, and then met Rebbe Nachman in the Heavenly Court who told him he'd get a second chance if he turned over a new leaf, and made teshuva.
Bardogo came back from the dead - literally - and enrolled in a Breslev yeshiva.
The book is full of uplifting, eye-opening, mind-boggling Uman stories, and now it's available in English, here (clicking the link will take you directly through to the book's entry on Amazon.)
I should tell you now, that I had the privilege of translating it into English, but even if I hadn't, I would still recommend the book highly. (I translated it for free, so you can tell I was keen on it.)
Enjoy, and as I discover more 'Breslev gems', I'll let you know (and feel free to let me know if there's a life-changing site or book that you want more people to know about, too.)