When my dad was here a few weeks ago, we got into a bit of an argument sparked off by an ‘internet personality’ rabbi who happens to be a baal teshuva, and who has made a name for himself by having a go at anything and anyone in the Jewish world that he doesn’t agree with.
This ‘rabbi’ has crossed so many lines, halachically, in his personal attacks on others, and in his attacks on many different branches of Judaism, and particularly chassidut, that are clearly coming from a place of complete ignorance.
Rather than have a bit of humility and admit he doesn’t know everything about yiddishkeit, he prefers to spout off long screeds full of sinat chinam and lashon hara, and to try to sow strife and to turn Jew against Jew – and then whenever he’s challenged on what’s he’s said, he claims to have been misunderstood, misrepresented, or taken out of context.
But that’s a lie.
What he’s saying is very clear.
It’s a typical gaslighting technique to tell other people they didn’t really hear what they heard, or that they didn’t understand something in the right way, when they obviously did, and sadly, this ‘rabbi’ is an expert gaslighter.
So now, my dear dad decided to email this ‘rabbi’ directly with the following question, and here’s how he responded (I’m blanking out the name, to avoid unnecessary machloket while still addressing the fundamental point and problem):
THE EMAIL MY DAD SENT:
Shalom aleichem Rabbi [NAME].
Hope you are fully recovered from your journey.
Could you please clarify the following. I told my daughter and son in law that according to you from your lectures that the Breslav worship "AvodaZara" and is a cult religion.
They dispute that it is not true. They want to know on what basis and proof do you draw your conclusions. Can you please name Gedolim who support your opinion.
Toda rabba vekol tuv
THE EMAIL THE ‘RABBI’ SENT BACK:
Their main speaker today (the most popular) rabbi shalom harsh says in his searches that you can't connect to HaShem without connecting first to rabbi Nachman, and he is the only one that can connect you to HaShem.
Without him nothing will help you not your teshuva not your learning torah nothing only rabbi Nachman can save you.
Similar to J.c in Christianity
If this is not a Voda Zara what is??
My dad sent this email to me, to see what I thought, and so this is what I think. First, this is what I sent back to my dad:
MY EMAIL TO MY DAD:
Thanks for this Dad.
You asked Rabbi [NAME] for Gedolim who support his opinion, and he just gave you more of his opinion. Who are the Gedolim who agree with him? Surely if it's that clear cut, there must be some big names that agree with him that he can quote in support. Can you please go back and ask him for other Gedolim who are saying this?
Also, see this explanation by Rav Ofer Erez of the whole idea of hitkashrut to the tzaddikim, which is explicitly explained by the Arizal as a good thing, (amongst other very big rabbis).
Rabbi [NAME] is sadly not a very knowledgeable person, which is why he attacks a lot of what he doesn't understand about the deeper aspects of yiddishkeit. Xtians got the idea of binding to the tzaddik from Judaism, and we need to reclaim it. The same thing happened with the idea of moshiach - the xtians 'took' that idea and then Jews shunned it for centuries. But really, it's the basis of OUR religion and the geula, and we need to understand the concepts properly, in their original Jewish context.
MY DAD IS GOING TO BE WAITING FOR THOSE TORAH SOURCES AND NAMES OF GEDOLIM A REALLY LONG TIME...
Let’s be clear, Rabbi [NAME] is not going to come back with any names of Gedolim who support his opinion, because Gedolim actually know the deeper aspects of the Torah, and understand what’s going on here, and why.
If you watch Rav Ofer’s clip (it’s only 2 mins or so, and it has English subtitles) he explains that the Arizal brings down in his book Shaarei HaKavanot that we should formally bind ourselves to the tzaddikim three times a day.
All the big kabbalists are binding themselves to the true tzaddikim, including Rebbe Nachman, three times a day.
Does this make them ‘xtians’, or idol-worshipers?
Rav Ofer also explains that the Rahash – who is considered to be the ‘Shulchan Aruch’ in terms of kabbalistic practices and kavanot, and is universally accepted as the last word in these matters, states that the halacha is to bind ourselves three times a day to the Tzaddikim.
He also explains that the Ben Ish Hai (not a Breslover, last I checked….) stated that all the words of the Arizal should be considered as though they were said by the Divine presence itself.
So Rabbi [NAME] is basically arguing against the Arizal, the Rahash, the Ben Ish Hai and all the Jewish people’s leading kabbalists.
For sure, he doesn’t even know that, because as I told my dad, Rabbi [NAME] has made a big reputation for himself online by attacking other Jews. Sometimes, we applaud his attacks and think ‘good, someone had to say that!!’ when it comes to the more clear-cut subjects. And then we think that he must be coming from a good place…
As Rabbi Nachman explains in his tale of The Cripple, ‘the talkers’ at the end of days are the ones who go around taking each other out with all their vituperative attacks on other Jews, and this is what paves the way for Moshiach to come.
Rabbi Nachman makes clear that the only people who talk negatively like this, with a shameless disregard for halacha and Torah law, are actually powered by demonic forces who are working night and day to prevent the Moshiach from coming.
When someone has a taste for lashon hara, and for sinat chinam, and for seeing their fellow Jew with an evil eye, and for trying to stoke conflict between Jews, they are always on the look-out for fresh ‘controversies’ that are easy to ignite. And Breslev is an easy target, especially for ignorant and arrogant people who think they know everything, when clearly, they really don’t.
For sure, Rabbi [NAME] has zero interest in really learning the deeper Jewish sources behind the practice of binding to the true Tzaddikim. For sure, he’s going to either try to evade the issue by ignoring my dad’s email completely, or coming back with more of his ‘opinion’ as opposed to any solid Jewish sources or Gedolim who actually support his position.
And this is how these fake, ‘rockstar’ rabbis manage to fool so many Jews that they are the real deal, while all the time they are leading them further away from Hashem and causing huge problems for the Jewish people.
Again, to make this point crystal clear: when a rabbi is ‘fake’, they don’t refer to Gedolim who agree with their controversial positions (because the Gedolim don’t…) and they don’t have a real grasp of halacha, which is why they fall back on their own over-sized personalities and superficial arguments that sound correct to the uneducated masses, but really aren’t.
(Can you imagine what sort of trouble this 'rabbi' could be sparking off between me and my dad right now with his comments, if I hadn't spent years researching how these people operate?)
Let the world of lies fall soon!
And in the meantime, give fakers like Rabbi [NAME] a wide berth. God makes it very clear that He can’t dwell with an arrogant person, and if God isn’t the one who’s powering all of these ‘conversations’ and blog posts and ‘Torah’ lessons, you know who else has stepped into the vacuum to provide the script.
UPDATE: Here's a small selection of the literally hundreds of quotes and stories out there from leading rabbis and rebbes of the last 200 years, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, Chassidic and Litvak, who had only the highest praise for Rebbe Nachman and Breslov chassidut.
Were all these enormous tzaddikim wrong, or somehow didn't understand that Breslov was meant to be some idol-worshiping cult? Was Rav Ovadia Yosef z'tl, the undisputed halachic authority of our generation, somehow misled, when he appeared with Rav Berland in public on two seperate occasions, that Rav Berland was really worshipping idols?
I mean, seriously? We're expected to take the opinion of the slander-spreading, strife-mongering Rabbi [NAME] (who I checked out very thoroughly now, and guess what? He doesn't even have smicha! He's a self-appointed 'rabbi' who spent a few years reading some gemara in Monsey and now he thinks he knows everything) - over the words of some of the biggest sages that ever lived?!
How can anyone with even half a brain cell begin to suggest such a thing? Oy, what a lowly generation we live in. Here are the quotes:
Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, author of "Chazon Ish" called Rebbe Nachman: "The light of lights of truth..." Rav Ben Tzion Apter said that here and there the Chazon Ish would speak to him about the strength and greatness of Rebbe Nachman and each time would say "tell over a teaching of the Rebbe."
Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter, the Admor from Ger, after finishing up the Seder on Pesach eve would learn from Likutey Moharan. Rabbi Aharon of Belz: "The level of this book (Likutey Moharan) is indeed very great...Breslover Chassidim are sincere Jews."
Rabbi Yitchak Gelbach was a student of the great Rav Elchonon Wasserman (a student of the Chofetz Chaim) and said that Rav Elchonon used to push his students to draw close to Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.
Rabbi Elya Lopian on Rebbe Nachman's books: "These are real books of ethics."
Rabbi Eliyahu Klatzkin of Lublin: "Any praise you praise Rebbe Nachman with is just the tip (of his full praise) because Rebbe Nachman’s level of wisdom is very high and limitless."
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, author of "Michtav M'Eliyahu", quotes from Rebbe Nachman in his books. In a letter to his children, he encouraged them to learn Breslov works in order to merit fear of Heaven.
Rabbi Eliezer Shulevitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Lomza: "Whoever is searching out the truth, eventually reaches Breslov".
Rabbi David Widenfeld, the Gaon of Tschebin: "Rebbe Nachman was the most brilliant of the Rebbe's".
The Admor, author of "Tzemach Tzedek": "By my father (Rabbi Chaim of Kosov, author of "Torat Chaim") the book Likutey Moharan never left the table."
Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Mir: "Through (learning) Likutey Moharan, the mind is opened." He also said "We work on trying to solve problems (in scripture) and they (Breslover Chassidim) work constantly on 'fear Hashem and love Him all your days.'"
Rabbi Elazar Shapiro of Munkatch, author of "Minchat Elazar": "When the whole world begins to be concerned with and learn 'Sipurey Ma'asiot' (Rebbe Nachman's Stories) - Mashiach will come." He requested that "Hishtapchut HaNefesh (Outpouring of the soul)" be constantly printed.
Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager of Viznitz, author of "Imrei Chaim", said that the book, Likutey Moharan, never left his table. Additionally, he said "this book (Sipurey Ma'asiot) belongs to the Kabbalah."
Rabbi Yehuda Leib, the Sfat Emet, on his death bed requested that 'Sippurey Ma'asiot' be read to him. He then said that the last story hints at the Geulah.
Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum of Satmar: "Rebbe Nachman saw in a vision all the problems this generation would encounter with faith...these days, one cannot be strenghted if not by these books because in them you find real faith." He also said: "You cannot be sincerely Jewish without learning the books of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov." & "The author of Likutey Moharan was completely pure and therefore existed by him the concept of 'and Yosef's brothers were jealous of him'." & "We can see that Rebbe Nachman has more holy presence (resting on him) than other Tzaddikim." Once on Shabbat, he said: " Who can strenghten us?! Rebbe Nachman can strengthen us in such a situation!"
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak, the Chozeh of Lublin: "Rebbe Nachman is the great light...a holy man...miracle worker of the generation." About Likutey Moharan: "Likutey Moharan speaks for itself...the words are true and straight. They don't need approval from anyone else."
Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, the Steipler Gaon: "This book (Likutey Moharan) stirs me to fear of Heaven. And, I see that if there is a day that I don't learn this book, I feel lacking in Heavenly fear."
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir of Ger, author of "Chidushei HaRim", took 'Sippurey Ma'asiot' and studied it until he got to the story of 'The Seven Beggars', when he said "until this point, I understood something. From here on - I don't know anything anymore."
Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzera: "The praised Tzaddikim will take out the Shechina from exile." The 'Baba Sali' also said that his son, Rabbi Meir Abuchatzera, appeared to him in a dream and said to his father: "all the Tzaddikim, here in Heaven, go to hear lessons from Rebbe Nachman."
Rabbi Meir Abuchatzera regularly had books of Rebbe Nachman on his desk. One time he gave his daughter 'Likutey Etzot' (Advice) and said: "Whenever you need advice with anything, look in this book."
Rabbi Tzvi Aryeh Malik, student of the great Maggid: "I investigated him and I did not find any (reason for) disagreement...according to my findings, we all have to be embarassed before him . To say "and he is wiser than all men" is not even the whole praise to say about him."
Rabbi Shalom Moskowitz of Shatz: "Every word which Rebbe Nachman uttered is the deepest of the deep...full of wisdom, ethics, wonderful and awesome advice for a person to fulfill his purpose in the world."
Rabbi Shlomo Mazvil told over that his saintly father came to him in a dream and said to him: "In the upper world, when a Breslover Chassid arrives - there is a huge uproar. They are very viewed with great importance..." He requested that his granddaughter be matched up with a Breslover Chassid.
See more here: http://www.breslev-midot.com/eng/hillulat_moharahn_2005.asp
One of the things that hasn't ceased to amaze me is the 'pick and choose' approach so many orthodox bloggers and journalists have taken to covering what's going on with Rav Berland, and the awful miscarriage of justice that's occurred with his false prosecution and imprisonment.
BH, I'm writing up some more stuff for the book, some of which I'll post up here before condensing it for inclusion in Volume II of One in a Generation, which I hope to get finished soon.
Perhaps you could understand that secular journalists who have made a notorious name for themselves by falsely accusing all sorts of men in Israel of attacking women, and who have been repeatedly caught making up negative stories about Chareidim, would have no qualms about telling open lies about people like Rav Berland.
There was a certain secular female journalist who made up a whole story about a 5 year old apparently being violated in a synagogue in Modiin Illit which caused an enormous scandal in Israel - until it was checked out, and was found to be a complete fabrication.
Which then caused another type of scandal about terrible journalism and deliberate slander of the chareidi community, which few outside the orthodox world even noticed.
A month after this female journalist's story was found to be completely false, she was back with another story 'proving' that the chareidi world was as bad as she said it was - i.e. the false accusations against Rav Berland.
Then there is Channel 2 anchor Moshe Nussbaum, who has also built up a steady reputation for sacrificing truth on the altar of pushing his own ideology and opinions. A little while back Bibi Netanyahu wrote this on his Facebook page (as reported HERE) about Nussbaum and the Israeli media generally:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today described the Israeli print and broadcast media, almost in its entirety, as “fake news” and “liars.”
Amnon Levy we already know about, from THIS over on the Rav Berland website.
But what continues to amaze me is the attitude of so many apparently 'orthodox' bloggers and journalists out there, who will happily quote Rav Yekutiel Fish, shlita, until the cows come home on any subject - except his outspoken support for Rav Berland.
Or, who will happily post up videos from Rav Matityahu Glazerson on any subject, except those that happen to mention Rav Berland favorably, or show him in a positive light.
Or who will eagerly glean the last word from tzaddikim like Rav Dov Kook, especially when it comes to 'geula' matters - except when a video shows up where Rav Dov Kook and Rav Berland are together, talking about imminently bringing the Moshiach and redemption.
Or, who report on every Rabbi and Rebbe's visit to each other - but fail to mention how so many of the nation's leading rabbis and admorim have welcomed Rav Berland publicly, with open arms.
Then, they fall strangely quiet on the subject (at best...). At worst, they start spewing awful lashon hara all over the internet about how 'they've never heard of any rabbis supporting Rav Berland', etc, and then link to slanderous statements from obvious apikorsim to support their position.
Or take the apparently 'frum, chareidi' journalist on Kikar Shabbat who worked hand-in-glove with one of Rav Berland's main persecutors, YTC, to write one negative, knocking and false story about the Rav and his community after another.
Take this story, for example:
It's talking about how a number of Breslov rabbis apparently 'deleted' shiurim connected with Rav Berland, as a result of the scandal engulfing the community. One of the yeshivas the piece mentions is Chut Shel Chessed, Rav Shalom Arush's organisation.
The shiurim deleted happened to be those given by one of Rav Berland's extended family members who at that point was engaged in spreading the slanders against him.
That piece of information changes the whole picture - and the writer knew it.
We don't expect anything different from 'loony left' publications like Ha'aretz, who are still running poisonous pieces today, which if you read them carefully, all mention the same person and his opinions as the only source of their information.
But surely frum, 'orthodox' journalists and bloggers shouldn't be in the same malicious, untruthful and chareidi-bashing boat as the people who are reporting for Ha'aretz, Army Radio and Channel 2?
And if they are, what does that mean about who these people really are, and what they really stand for?
That's why Rav Eliezer Berland, and the libel surrounding him, really is the last test before the Moshiach comes, as Rav Glazerson, Rav Dovid Chaim Stern and a few others have clearly stated.
It's really bringing out people's true colors, and regardless of whether they call themselves 'orthodox', honest, open-minded, truthful, it's actually providing a litmus test of a person's true character that can not be faked.
So I guess it's a very good thing, ultimately, and a very necessary part of the process leading up to Moshiach and geula. And it's only going to continue and strengthen from this point on.
The truth will out.
A reader asked me to re-post details of how to get to Rav Berland's shul, to daven with the Rav, in Jerusalem.
The shul, called the Beit HaRav is a makeshift place attached to the Rav's building. The arrangement began while the Rav was still under house arrest and is continuing for the foreseeable future.
You can get to it on Ido HaNavi Street, across from the Meah Shearim road. The Rav davens vatikin (at sunrise), and usually does mincha and maariv together at the latest time for mincha.
There is a women's section, but women daven outside the building. There is seating (for women) but it's limited and squashy, so come early.
Click HERE to buy the book and to learn the true story of Rav Eliezer Berland in English.
Around seven years' ago, Rav Shalom Arush suddenly started warning everyone that war with the Arab states surrounding Israel was imminent.
I remember being glued to the shiur of his English-language translator, Rabbi Lazer Brody, as Rabbi Brody said: 'All-out war is imminent'. What sparked this off was the threat of millions of Arabs trying to cross the border into Israel as part of an organised march.
At that time Rav Arush said that people were completely underestimating the impact of what millions of Arabs trying to surge into the country could achieve, even if they were unarmed and apparently 'peaceful'.
In the event, nothing came of this and Rav Arush later explained that a number of the nations' tzaddikim had got together and managed to cancel the decree, or at least to push it off to some in the future.
Tomorrow, Seder night, the first night of Pesach, Hamas is trying to arrange for a million Gazans to try to 'rush' the border with Israel. Again, this could be something, it could be nothing, but given the 'atmospheric stress' nearly all of us are picking up at the moment, I can't help feeling something is around the corner.
Yesterday night, I woke up at 4am to find a gale blowing around - winds of over 50 mph were blowing around Jerusalem and are still going, although now they are more like 30 mph. Doors were slamming, washing was trying to fly away, trees were bowing and bending - and I suddenly felt a huge sense of panic.
Not so much because of the wind, more a feeling that 'something' is going down.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Who knows. In the meantime, I went to find Rav Arush's comments on the war of Gog and Magog from seven years ago, and I'm reprinting them below, as they seem as timely as ever.
And I hope this time of harsh judgment will pass as uneventfully as all those that have come before it.
Rabbi Shalom Arush: The Final Struggle of the Gog-Magog War
It’s no longer a dream: all of our contemporary spiritual leaders have expressed that this is the final generation before Moshiach. Just as in a hand-to-hand combat situation, when a fighter gets the upper hand and is close to defeating his enemy, then the enemy summons all of his strength in one final effort to overcome. If the fighter withstands the enemy’s tremendous final effort, then he wins, but it’s not easy.
The fighter is the Nation of Israel, the Jewish people all over the world. The enemy is the Yetzer Hara, the Evil Inclination (EI). The people of Israel are fighting for emuna, for truth, for the values of Torah. The EI is fighting tooth and nail against emuna, against any mention of Hashem’s name. The EI knows that only emuna (faith in the Sovereign Power G-d) can bring Moshiach; once Moshiach comes, the EI is finished. Therefore, he’s using all his forces to try and destroy emuna.
You don’t have to wait in dread for the war of Gog and Magog to begin – it has already started.
The prophecies lead us to believe that Gog and Magog is a physical war; we live with a daily threat from not only Iranian missiles, nuclear attack, and Qassam missiles. We can’t even trust that a tractor or a bulldozer isn’t being operated by a suicide bomber. Iran is open declaring that it wants to wipe Israel off the map; Hamas controls Gaza and the Hizbulla has a free hand in Lebanon to do what it pleases. The term powderkeg is an understatement.
In effect, Israel is safer than Europe or the USA. Consider 9/11 in New York City, the murder of Ilan Halimi in Paris, and the subway bombings in London, together with a tremendous resurgence of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Jews around the world aren’t safe either. Worse than anything, thousands of Jews have been exiled from their homes within Israel itself, and thousands more are now being threatened with exile. This far surpasses our darkest nightmares.
Yet, despite the physical threats, Gog and Magog is a spiritual war; nuclear weapons might be able to destroy a Jewish body, but the Jewish soul, a tiny spark of Hashem, lives on forever. Gog and Magog is a global assault to destroy emuna, the pure and complete faith in Hashem.
By destroying emuna, Gog plans to sever the Jewish soul from the Creator, Heaven forbid. When a soul is severed from the Creator, it withers, and dies a spiritual death. The death of a soul is a far greater tragedy than the death of a body.
These are the most difficult times in over 3300 years of Jewish history. Never has there been so much assimilation. Assimilation kills 100 times more than international terror. It used to be confined to the USA and Europe, but now, it’s even hit Israel. Not long ago, I got a call from a broken-hearted mother whose daughter fell for a handsome classmate in Hebrew University – only, the classmate was an Arab. The daughter is now living in an Arab village near Ramalla, and her kids could conceivably grow up to be shahidim, suicide bombers.
This period is so difficult, with so many tests in emuna that the Talmudic sages said Yete velo achimena, let Moshiach come, but we don’t want to be a part of the generation that receives him.
Intermarriage, divorce, unbearable emotional and financial problems – just thinking about the problems of this generation is enough to give anybody a migraine.
There’s only one way to overcome the final onslaught of the EI – each of us has to add the light of emuna to the world. The Lubavitcher Rebbe once said that a little bit of light can defeat a whole lot of darkness.
The Torah in Parshat Vayishlach says that Jacob sent “Malachim” to Esau. Malachim has a double meaning in English, both “angel” and “messengers.” Rashi interprets that Jacob sent actual angels, for he had angels at his disposal.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches (Likutei Moharan, II:1) that Hashem created the Jewish soul so that it could reign over the angels. This is the ultimate purpose of Jacob’s descendants, that by their prayers, their ability to rule over their own bodily urges, and their good deeds (since each good deed creates an angel of holiness), they rule over the angels.
Where did Jacob get angels from? Jacob reached a tremendous spiritual level, and thus achieved a tremendous control over the angels in his lifetime. But even so, as the holy Zohar teaches, Jacob didn’t trust his own ability. He, like all other subsequent tzaddikim – all descendants of Jacob – cried out in prayer to Hashem. This principle is the underlying theme of this series.
With everything that tears my heart, one thing hurts me more than anything else: Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that when Israel was in exile in Egypt, even worse than their bodies, their power of speech was in exile. That means that they couldn’t pray. They couldn’t talk to Hashem. In other words, they were in deep spiritual slumber.
I am fighting to keep my emunah each and every day. Despite the headlines in the news, the atrocities perpetrated by our enemies, the atrocities perpetrated by our co-religionists, and my own failings, I cling with faith to Hashem. I realize the yetzer hara is testing me, and this is what I remind myself when I feel like slipping back to old habits.