Firstly, there are a few Breslev zealots in Meah Shearim, and it's by no means a widespread phenomenon. I'm very sorry if that's the impression anyone got from yesterday's post.
The four main leaders of Breslev Meah Shearim in the previous generation, Rav Levi Yitzhak Bender, Rav Shmuel Shapira, Rav Hersh Leib Lippel and Rav Binyamin Zev Cheshin were all huge tzaddikim in their own right, and very welcoming of outsiders. All four of these leaders also approved of, and backed, Rav Berland and his outreach work to the hilt.
It's only when these leaders died, in 1988 and then 1989, that the small group of Breslev zealots in Meah Shearim started acting against Rav Berland in a much more open and agressive way.
The people who were 'against' Rav Berland and his outreach efforts were also 'against' the Breslev leaders' outreach efforts, albeit in a much quieter way.
For example, when Rav Dov Ber Odessa personally encouraged the 3rd President of the State of Israel, Rav Zalman Shahar to come and pray in the Breslev shul, the President was verbally attacked in the shul by the Breslev zealots.
When Rav Levi Yitzhak started giving shiurim in Hebrew, as opposed to Yiddish, primarily to the students Rav Berland was bringing to his Thursday night shiur, the Breslev zealots padlocked Rav Levi Yitzhak's house, to prevent the shiur from happening - and Rav Bender told the students to break down the door with crowbars!
The following is an excerpt of the last recorded shiur that Rav Levi Yitzhak Bender gave at the end of his life, in 1989, (translated from the Yiddish) where he alludes to the simmering machloket being stoked by the Breslev zealots against Rav Berland, and makes a plea for unity:
In the last couple of years before he passed away, Rav Levi Yitzhak Bender could see that the faction of Breslev extremists in Meah Shearim were doing everything in their power to try to bring Rav Berland down, and to challenge his ascendancy within Breslev, and it pained him greatly.
Rav Bender’s path was always to try and strengthen and uplift others, and he stayed away from any hint of machloket or communal politics. But as his physical strength started to wane towards the end of his life, Rav Bender departed from his usual circumspection to make a very unusual and powerful plea for unity.
‘LOVE AND UNITY BETWEEN US IS LACKING!’
Rav Bender began: “It says about the meraglim (spies) that: "All of them were leaders of the Children of Israel." However, when they realized that they wouldn’t be the leaders in Eretz Yisrael, they made such a terrible storm with their evil speech, that they caused the entire nation to remain in the desert.
“It’s impossible even to imagine how much Rebbe Nachman could reveal to us and influence us if only all the Breslov Chassidim would be united as one…. By us this is missing! I see it, and others see it as well, love and unity between us is lacking!”
Rav Bender continued: “When I begin to speak about the topic of love, people don’t understand what I’m referring to, they have no idea what I’m talking about, but we need to know that this is what’s lacking, this is what’s lacking by us!!!...Even if I don’t agree with the other person I still need to love him!
“We have to be very careful not to lose or even lessen the love between all the Breslov Chassidim. When I‘m talking about how we need to hold ourselves together in unity, people have no idea what I’m talking about! It seems to them that I’m talking in a different language!’
“I cannot speak about the specifics, because our way is not to interfere in the other person’s life… So, I speak in a general manner, but from my words one must take specific meanings… the power of Rabbenu is so strong, but it could be so much more awesome, so much more beautiful and even more beautiful - and it all depends upon: ‘If we are holding ourselves together in unity!!!’
“Rabbi Nachman said: ‘I judge everyone to the side of mercy, apart from an argumentative person.’
“We see in the Torah that Aharon HaKohen and Miriam the prophetess spoke disparagingly about Moshe Rabbeinu (BaMidbar 12:1)…They spoke lashon hara, they argued against Moshe Rabbeinu, and Hashem immediately punished them…Both of them certainly had pure intentions, nevertheless they caused machlokes and they were punished!
“And Moshe Rabbeinu himself wasn’t so bothered by their speaking against him…[but] for the sin of speaking lashon hara there is always a punishment. Whether the punishment will occur immediately or be delayed – this is a decision made Above, but certainly a punishment will come!
“Hashem has mercy on us. We have Rebbe Nachman, a merciful Rebbe, a true merciful leader! Rabbenu judges everyone favorably. Nevertheless, WATCH YOURSELVES! Watch yourselves with this one point, because about this he is not silent. You will get punished for this [the sin of speaking lashon hara] no matter how great you are!
“We have no idea about the secrets of the arguments between the tzaddikim, therefore, DON’T GET INVOLVED! It seems like they are arguing but in reality, they are working together... All of a sudden, a third person gets involved and gives his opinion ‘this one is good, that one is bad…’ He is messing up the whole thing!”
At this point in the lecture, someone in the audience asked Rav Bender: “Are you talking about the machlokes that is happening today in Breslev?” referring to what was occurring with Rav Berland and his followers. Rav Bender replied:
“We cannot be specific, so we are speaking in general terms… Even during the times of the machlokes about whether Rosh Hashana should be in Meron or in Yerushalayim, Rav Shmuel Shapira, ztl, never opened his mouth against another person. He did what he thought was right and went to Meron but before he would leave he would come and depart from me with love and friendship.
“He would give me his pidyon and I would give him mine. We were one soul! He would go to Meron and I would stay in Yerushalayim, we separated but we constantly prayed for each other… And he returned from Meron with love and friendship.
“This is the true way! Because with words of argument each person hurts the other and it can lead to forbidden speech… May Hashem help us that we live long and begin to listen to Rabbenu…He wants from us only one this: Stick together! Each of you must be filled with love for the other and go in the way of truth.”
Another commentator queried how Y.T.C. could be publicly named by the Milkman, Rav Chaim Cohen. The answer is that there are categories of people who it's not only permitted to speak against, it's required to speak against them. Top of this list is people who go around spreading lies in order to cause severe machloket, or argument and dissension.
There will be much, much more to say about everything that's going on around Rav Berland over the coming weeks. BH, I will put some more stuff together and post it up.
The sad truth is that there are some very troubled people in the world, and there is no Jewish group, however 'frum' or pedigreed, that does not have its own share of mentally-ill crazy people. If we don't recognise the problems that are going on all around us, and call a spade a spade, we simply aren't going to be able to break free of all the evil and machloket that is tying us all up in knots and preventing the coming of Moshiach.