Last week, the local Chabad shlichim in my area arranged a communal seder - for free - for 120 people. That’s an awesome achievement, by any measure. Where do they get their strength from, their energy, their ahavat Yisrael to keep doing this stuff?
It can only be from the late Lubavitcher Rebbe.
As I was thinking about this, I started to ponder how much you can tell about a person by the rabbi they follow. Rebbe Nachman teaches that you can see the ‘imprint’ of a person’s rabbi on their follower’s ‘face’ in some way, with a true student resembling their rabbi more and more.
This is certainly true when a person is doing their best to follow a true Tzaddik and holy person, and sadly, if we’re following a yucky ‘controversial’ apikorus-type rabbi, that will also rub off on us, too.
And if a person doesn’t follow any rabbi? Well, that tells its own story.
YOSHKI ALSO DIDN'T BELIEVE IN HAVING A RABBI
Yoshki, the founder of xtianity notably didn’t follow rabbis. the Talmud relates how when he tried to interrupt his teacher, Rabbi Yehoshua, in the middle of his prayers, the Rabbi gestured to him to wait until he was finished, but Yoshki got offended and stalked off.
The Talmud then recounts that Yoshki ‘set up a brick and started worshiping it’. There are different explanations for what that actually means in practice, but one very strong explanation is that this meant that Yoshki started worshipping himself as the last word, and the ultimate ‘opinion’ on every subject.
This has sadly been a xtian trait ever since. Even today, so many xtians and ex-xtians have perfected the art of slagging off our true rabbis and true Tzaddikim (who xtians like to term ‘Pharisees’, but a Pharisee was just that generation’s ‘haredi’ rabbi) as being ‘backwards’ and ‘corrupt’ and people no-one should listen to.
The argument is always the same, although 2,000 years have passed since Yoshki first came out with it. “Don’t be scared to think for yourselves!!” he used to yell at his disciples, as he encouraged them to break one Torah law after another.
“Eat rice on Pesach, you don’t have to follow the rabbis or halacha! Hardly anyone actually believes in the Shulchan Aruch, it’s not binding on any Jew!” he’d inform all his eager disciples.
But then occasionally, someone would stand up and challenge him: “Er, esteemed rabbi yoshki, that’s not what Rabbi Akiva up the road in Bnei Brak is saying….”
“Him?? That’s just Jewish replacement theology,” rabbi yoshki harrumphed. “You don’t need any rabbis! They are mostly nearly all corrupt erev rav that no-one properly xtian….er, Jewish, needs to listen to. You just need to be a good person, and stop worrying so much about all those petty laws and rules that just bring everyone down and ruin their Pesach.
“Now, let’s all go over to mine to bake our own soft matzahs for Seder - and guess what! No-one needs to wait between eating chicken and drinking a glass of milk, either! That’s another outdated ‘law’ those pathetic, Pharisee-haredim came up with when they had nothing better to do! They are teaching you the Torah of exile!
“So chicken enchiladas with cream sauce it is for Seder night! I can’t wait!!”
XTIANS HATE RABBINIC JUDAISM
King Shlomo himself taught us there is nothing new under the sun, so it’s really no surprise that xtians, and so many of the Jews who grew up in xtian environments in the West still have such a distaste for ‘rabbinic Judaism’, and are still firmly committed to ‘worshipping the brick’.
They absorbed that arrogant, completely un-Jewish outlook in galut, in exile, and sadly they are continuing to bring it into every aspect of their Yiddishkeit.
Something else xtians love (apart from being able to eat chicken enchiladas with cream sauce on Seder night) is ‘Armageddon’ type prophecies where the whole world dies a yucky, violent death - except them and the people who think the same way they do.
Sadly for me, I went to a xtian school and I read through the book of Revelations more than once. Poor me, that I had to go through that.
So this ‘Armageddon obsession’ struck me with all the recent ‘Nibiru’ stuff that was going on online with WSO and a bunch of the other ‘xtian-inspired’ sites out there. The basic idea, again perfected by xtianity and its adherents over two millennia, is this:
Come up with a terrible prophecy, the more gory and dramatic the better, where billions of people are going to die awful deaths, because they aren’t ‘good enough’ and don’t believe the same things that you do.
If you can also find a way to disparage and tarnish the reputation of our real Tzaddikim and holy rabbis while doing this, preferably by dismissing them all as erev rav, or as ‘people who are scared to think’, or people who are somehow ‘practicing another religion’, then you get extra bonus points.
Next, hype-up all this ‘end of the world’ stuff unceasingly for as long as you can keep it going.
Never mind that the prophecies don’t materialize, never mind that the dates come and go and the world keeps turning. The point is just to keep everyone scared and panicked, because then you can control them and keep dragging them down your own particular path to ‘salvation’.
The Catholic Church has been beating this same drum for two millennia, to great effect.
But it’s not the Jewish way.
Orthodox Jews have never been encouraged to seek out ‘prophecies’ and predictions of the future, and in fact we have a number of very strict laws specifically forbidding us from trying to divine what the future holds for us in tumah-dik ways.
But xtians?!? And the Greeks and Romans that inspired them?!? They just lurve their oracles, and their ‘signs’, and their fortune telling stuff. Before any big undertaking, Kings and leaders would usually nip up to the local pagan Temple, sacrifice a bull or two to some dark side force and then ask for a ‘message’ from the other side.
Today, people are still doing this sort of thing notably via séances and Ouija boards, where the messages from the evil spirits involved in all this stuff are spelled out, letter by slow letter, to the unwitting audience.
Facilitated communication from the forces of evil.
Of course, it’s only the old-fashioned Pharisee-Haredim who have a problem with dabbling in all this ultra-tumah-dik stuff. All the more ‘enlightened’ people who aren’t ‘scared to think for themselves’ have absolutely no problem with it.
THE DARK SIDE FORCES ALWAYS BEGIN BY ATTACKING THE REAL RABBIS
Is Niribu / the Star of Yaakov still out there? I think it is, yes.
But it’s impossible to really know what’s going on or when anything may or may not occur, as that information is solely in the keeping of our true Tzaddikim, like Rav Berland and Rav Dov Kook.
I know, I know, the xtian-minded folk who hate Pharisee-Haredi ‘rabbis’ won’t like that idea at all.
But it’s the truth.
Our history if full of ‘false messiahs’ who started their careers by attacking the true Tzaddikim. It began with Korach, continued with Yoshki and Shabta Tzvi, and is still thriving in the midst of all those ‘alternative’ Jewish movements who like to claim you don’t need to listen to rabbis or obey Torah laws.
Just set up your brick and worship it! Don’t let anyone else tell you what to think! You’re as good as Moshe Rabbenu, all those rabbis - and the people who are following them - are just erev rav anyway, don’t you know?
It’s the olam hafuch, the backwards, upside-down world.
May God right it speedily, and may the Jewish people finally rid ourselves of all these yucky xtian-inspired ideas about our true rabbis and Tzaddikim that are definitely doing more than anything else to keep the fires of sinat chinam burning, and to hold-up the geula.
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.
It was only when I was talking to Alizah, the fiction editor over on Sasson, that the penny dropped.
We were discussing the new writers’ workshop that BH is almost ready, which is basically an online interface that will enable participants to upload their work, and have other writers critique it - in a careful, helpful way - to help the author polish their piece.
Alizah was explaining that a good critique always starts by praising the good in the piece, then includes some points where things could be improved, then ends with more praise of the good in the piece.
And that’s when the penny dropped about why I’ve been feeling pretty so low about continuing to write for Emunaroma, and so bizarrely upset about life, and that I should just give up now and go work in Shufersal, or something.
The story begins last year, when my husband and I offered our services - for free - to translate a really awesome Breslov book that we wanted to help get out to the English-speaking public.
Neither of us were paid for the work we did, and both of us worked really hard to get it ready, to the best of our collective abilities. It was literally a week away from being sent to print when in swooped ‘the sponsor’.
The sponsor had also read the book in the original Hebrew, and also loved it, and also wanted to do whatever he could to get the book out there to the wider public. There was just one problem with this plan: he wanted the book to be professionally edited by someone who could make everything read like something from Artscroll and Feldheim.
Because this is what the English speaking frum book reading public wants! More suave, wordy stuff that loses the heart and soul of what’s really being said and is technically a million percent accurate - but so bland and lifeless you just want to dig some hole for it already, and say kaddish.
I had huge misgivings. I did a lot of hitbodedut about it. Maybe, this was just my ego? (Very likely…) Maybe, this was just sour grapes that someone was being paid a lot of money to improve on something I’d poured my heart and soul into for free? (Could be…)
At the end of the day, I really want the book out there, and I really want it to sell well. The person who wrote it richly deserves that, they really do. So I made an agreement with the middleman that the ‘professional’ can and should look at it, and could and should tweak it, but that me and my husband would have the last word on the changes, to make sure the essential flavor wouldn’t be lost in translation.
What can I tell you?
Clearly no-one told the sponsor or the other editor.
The whole process was extremely challenging from day one, as I was increasingly given the impression by both these individuals that they were ‘rescuing’ the book from my extremely poor writing and editing.
I am the first to admit that grammar and punctuation are not my forte, and I always get my own books edited to catch the typos and mistakes, and I’m very happy to hear suggestions on how the work can be tightened up and improved.
But from the first second, the editor that was brought in to ‘save’ the book was out to impress on me that he was the professional here, he knew better than me how the book should read and sound (despite having zero Breslov tendencies and even being mildly ‘anti’ a lot of the deeper kabbalistic ideas being expressed in the book) - and that me and my opinions were basically surplus to requirements.
Dear reader, I did so much hitbodedut about what was going on, and how I was feeling about it all, because I know I have an ego, and I know that having two writers working on one project is always tricky.
But until Alizah’s comment, I hadn’t realized just how poisonous and toxic working with this person really was for me, and just how problematic that man’s approach to life - and to me! - actually is.
He didn't say one nice word to me the whole time.
The last two weeks, I have been inexplicably moody, miserable and on a trigger-hair with my husband and kids. I have been feeling like my writing absolutely sucks. I have been feeling so lowly and pointless - which is all helpful, and from God, I know - but because I didn’t know where all this stuff was coming from, I literally started to think I was going a bit mad.
Shabbat, I did a six hour prayer-a-thon to try to get the cloud to lift a bit, and to figure out what was going on and why I’d run out of energy, hope, and the will to live.
I didn’t realize it then, but now I can see 100% what just happened:
I got tangled up with someone who was out to prove their own ‘brilliance’ at my expense; who went over my head to the sponsor every single time we had a disagreement where right was on my side; who continually and consistently trashed and belittled all the hard work and effort me and my husband had put into the book; and who clearly has a lot of work to do on their bad middot.
The whole thing just reminded me again of how awful these types of people really are for the mental and physical health of those around them.
It’s been so long so I got blind-sided by a full-on narcissist that I’d almost forgotten how they suck out all your will to live and leave you so moody and lost in the world because interacting with them is just one big competition to prove to you how terrible you are, and how great they are.
And in the meantime, now that the penny has dropped, I am feeling so much happier and healthier again.
So if you’re having a bizarre chronic health issue, or some bizarre mood fluctuations and a feeling like life is not worth living, take it back to God and ask Him to show you which poisonous individuals in your environment may by sparking off the problem.
Because for sure, you’ll find them.
I've been having a lot of internal battles the last few days, not least about which direction my writing is going in, and whether blogging is the best use of my time. While I'm trying to sort it all out, I'm re-posting some good things from the last 3 years of Emunaroma, including this one from December 2017, which is really speaking to me still, wavering as I am between continuing and giving up.
I don’t think it will shock most of the people reading this blog if I confess to having being completely stressed out of my brain for the last three months.
Even before my mother-in-law unexpectedly passed away the day after Rosh Hashana, Elul 5777 had been a really crazy month, and then when my mother-in-law died, the craziness kind of went up a whole other level, and has stayed there for three months’ solid.
Every week there has been something ‘significant’ to deal with, and by last week, I had got so jumpy and grumpy and irritable that I was even yelling at my poor husband in my sleep. Baruch Hashem, I knew I had Uman coming up, so I was really hoping that Rabbenu would work his magic and return some equanimity to me, so I could stop being a mega-stressed pseudo-psycho.
But last week, suddenly Uman looked like it might not happen after all. My mum sent me a text on Friday telling me about the general strike (what general strike?!) that was going to shut down Ben Gurion all day Sunday, the day me and my family were meant to fly out. My adrenals were too exhausted for me to stress any more, about anything, but I decided I should still do a longish hitbodedut on Shabbat, and then leave the outcome entirely in God’s hands.
If He wanted us to fly out, great. If not, great - what else was I meant to do, at this point?
Motzash, we learned the general strike was reduced to a half day, and that our late afternoon flight would be leaving as scheduled. Cue the next obstacle: strikers causing huge traffic jams by the exit out of Jerusalem just as we needed to head off to the airport. I heard about that while I was out getting some last minute bits for Uman, so I rushed home, corralled my family to get ready now!!! and by some open miracle, both my teenagers managed to get changed and ready within 20 minutes.
So, we get to Uman, and after a balmy, dry 10 degrees all of Shabbat, on Sunday the snow and ice showed up - as did ‘Boris’, our Ukrainian cab driver. I’ve been to the Ukraine so often now that the completely crazy way people drive over there doesn’t really faze me anymore. My husband climbed into the passenger front seat, me and my two girls squished in the back. I looked for a seat belt - I had the ‘belt’ but no buckle could be found - so I gave up and went to sleep, because I was exhausted.
I woke up twice: once when Boris refueled the car with petrol, and another time when he refueled himself with a beer - behind the wheel! This is the traditional Ukrainian way.
My husband later told me that the visibility during that night-time drive was around 2 metres as there was driving snow, and that Boris was going at Grand Prix speeds. I couldn’t really see any of that from the back as it was dark and the windows were all fogged up, but apparently my husband was praying very sincerely for a good 2 hours, until Boris safely delivered us to our hotel.
And man, what a hotel! The first time I went to Uman, 8 years’ ago, there were two showers for 60 women - both located directly opposite the front door. There were power cuts every couple of hours, I had to bring my own toilet roll, there was no mobile phone access, and a lot of the locals were still getting their water from the local well on a sled. It was SO primitive.
The last couple of years, Uman has developed in a no less than miraculous way, and the clearest sign of that was that the new hotel we’d somehow managed to book was actually almost like a real hotel! There were single beds, not bunk beds, a nice (looking….) shower, a door person and a front desk person who both tried to be helpful.
Me and my husband were completely stunned by all this, and my kids were thrilled to be going to a ‘real’ hotel for a change.
We arrived at 2am, so we lit chanuka candles, then went straight to bed. The next day, even before I got to the Kever, I had an urge to do some ‘writing hitbodedut’ in the room before everyone else woke up - and out came a huge list of things that I’ve been mega, mega stressed about over the last couple of months.
No-wonder I’ve been so tense and highly strung!
Once I realized that I’m not just turning into a psycho, and that I truly have been under some immense pressure and stress recently, I felt so much better. But my davening seemed a bit flat the rest of the day, tell you the truth. I went to the Kever 3 times with my kids, recited some Tikkun Haklalis, did some more hitbodedut etc.
But no big revelations hit me this time, and I have to say I felt a bit disappointed. We were leaving at 5am the next morning, so I turned in for the night at 9pm - and at 11pm a new group of loud, crazy secular-looking women from Ashkelon stormed the hotel and tried to turn it into a disco.
This sort of thing happens a lot in Uman, because avodat hamiddot is one of Rabbenu’s favorite things. So I swallowed the loud screams, the ululations, some annoying woman’s really loud, horsy laugh - all of it. But then when they started playing trance music right outside my door at ear-splitting levels and screaming along with it, my patience evaporated and I went into ‘I need to go to sleep now!’ psycho mode.
I opened the door to yell at them to ‘sheket!!!’ and my eyes nearly fell out of my head. Some 20-something woman was literally dancing in the corridor holding a massive i-Phone and just wearing her underwear.
I thought I’d got to the point where nothing in Uman could shock me, but man, I was wrong. I shut the door, stunned. Then opened it up again to yell at them to be quiet, because the thought struck me that if I didn’t manage to shut them up, my husband might have a go instead.
Who wears their underwear in a hotel corridor filled with chareidi men?! In the middle of a freezing Ukrainian winter?! And then starts playing music from their i-Phone loud enough to fracture your skull?!
The mind boggles.
God helped me by sending a couple of other Israeli guests who also came out to yell at them in a much better way than I ever could, and peace returned…For two hours. Then the screaming and beatbox started up again. Again I went out to yell at them and one of them told me:
“Who goes to sleep when they come to Rabbenu?!”
Well, I do.
And this time they finally took the hint and quietened down.
I asked my daughters the next day if they’d heard the crazies in the middle of the night. One of them had slept like a log, and the other one told me: “Yes! I went to join them because I was so bored.”
So now, we get in the car with ‘Sergei’ - a solid lada type car this time, nothing fancy. And I said goodbye to Uman feeling as though I hadn’t really achieved so much this time around, except maybe stop feeling like a stressed-out psycho. Which shouldn’t be under-rated, I admit.
Two minutes into the drive, I started to realize this was going to be a pretty bumpy journey. It had snowed overnight, and now icy sleet was raining down and covering the snow drifts with black ice.
Our driver was really good, but it was pitch black, and they aren’t set up to clear the streets so fast or so efficiently in Uman. BH, we left 5 hours to get to the airport, so we thought we’d still manage it OK, even in the really bad driving conditions. (Boris had taken three hours, but clearly he’d been speeding like a fiend).
20 minutes into the drive, I noticed a bunch of lorries left by the side of the roads, emergency lights blinking, and I started to worry a little. 30 minutes later, we started to hit huge queues of jack-knifed lorries buried in snow drifts all over the highway - and that’s when I started to pray my socks off, as I’ve never seen that before.
When our side of the motorway got blocked by three parallel lines of lorries - all stalled in their tracks - I was convinced we’d just lost all hope of making our flight. But I figured without Sergei, who neatly reversed back, crossed the dual-carriageway barrier, and started driving at 80 km and hour on the other side of the motorway.
Long story short, we all prayed extremely intently for two hours solid, and somehow or other, we got to the airport just in time to make the flight.
That return trip taught me a great deal about the power of perseverance, and of not giving up in the face of truly overwhelming circumstances.
It taught me about the power of prayer. And it taught me that when things get far too scary to deal with, you can always pull your hat down over your face and manage things that way, too.
The bizarrest thing of all is that after two days of no sleep, and two really crazy trips to and from Uman, you’d think that I’d be feeling even more stressed and antsy. But the truth is, I feel better than I have done in months.
Rebbe Nachman has pulled it off again.
In the meantime, I’m waiting to see what other presents we brought home from Uman. There’s a lot ‘pending’ in my life at the mo, which I hope will move forward soon. If Rabbenu could get us to Borispol airport in the pitch black, on the other side of the road, when even snow ploughs had given up the ghost and pulled over to the side of the road, then anything is possible.
I will keep you posted.
When we were reading Parshat Zachor last Shabbat, I kept wondering to myself who Amalek is today. After all, Rav Ofer HERE says that since World War II and the holocaust, when the Germans proved themselves all too worthy of the name ‘Amalek’, Am Yisrael has been continually engaged in the battle against Amalek.
Rav Ofer says it has to be that way right now, because before each time the way the world was being run spiritually changed in some massive way - like when the Torah was given, when King David was crowned King, when the Second Temple was rebuilt - the Jews first had to battle Amalek.
In a moment, I’ll bring a bit more of the really interesting evidence pulled together by the renegade genius Immanuel Velikovsky about who Amalek actually was in biblical times, but before I do that, this is what Rav Natan of Breslov has to say about Amalek (taken from THIS article on the Breslov.org website):
Reb Noson writes that Amalek corresponds to burning lust, the strife between husband and wife, between a person and his community and the hatred directed against the true tzaddikim (Likutey Halakhot, Minchah 7:20).
Given all the controversy going on at the moment against the true Tzaddikim, I found that pretty darned interesting. But there’s more:
“The Torah writes, [Amalek] smote the hindmost among you” (Deuteronomy 25:18). Our Sages teach: “[Amalek] separates the tails and throws them high (Tanchuma, Ki Taytze 10).
WE ARE ALL STILL FIGHTING AMALEK TODAY
After reading Rav Natan’s words, I can see that we really are all up to our necks still fighting Amalek today.
But now, let’s turn our attention to who Amalek actually was in the past. There’s some interesting details about the nation of Amalek that have always puzzled many people.
On the one hand, most historians have always been careful to portray ‘Amalek’ as a bunch of wild Bedouin tribesmen who were wandering in the desert when they happened to cross the path of Am Yisrael, on the way to receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Yet in Parshat Balak, when the evil Bilaam is trying to curse the tents of Jacob he actually comes out with the following blessing instead: “…his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.”
Agag, as we know from the time of the prophet Samuel, was a name used by the Amalekite kings, so this Agag mentioned by Bilaam would appear to be a forerunner of the ‘Agag King of the Amalekites’ who ended up being drawn and quartered by the Prophet Samuel a few hundred years’ later.
In that same parsha, the Torah tells us about Bilaam: “And when he looked on Amalek he took up his parable and said: ‘Amalek [is] the first of the nations, but his latter end shall be that he perish forever.”
HOW DID AMALEK GET TO BE 'THE FIRST AMONGST NATIONS'?
How come the Torah is referring to this rag-tag bunch of travelling murderous Bedouin as ‘the first of the nations’? And what is the big deal for Am Yisrael to have a king that is higher than the Amalekite King Agag, if we’re talking about a bunch of itinerant desert-dwellers?
Get ready for this next piece of info, because when I read it, it completely blew me away.
CHAOTIC 'WEATHER' AND MATAN TORAH
As we know the Torah was given amidst what you’d probably call some ‘extreme weather’ activity. The whole world was in an uproar as Hashem had caused one miracle after another to happen by way of the proto-planet Venus coming in a little too close for comfort towards Planet Earth.
(I wrote a whole big post about how God has frequently used comets to fight for the Jews, which I might re-post after this goes up, BH, to give you more context and background, but it was basically another ‘Nibiru’ show, just 3,300 years ago.)
So, the whole world was in chaos, and as our sources teach us, just as the sea split for Am Yisrael in Egypt, so every other body of water in the whole world also split at the same time. Can you imagine what sort of forces were in play on the planet at that time, what sort of Heaven-sent winds and hurricanes must have been gusting about, for every body of water to split?
(As an aside, Rav Berland recently taught that the reason Yitro converted was because the water in his cup also split at that time. 3,300 years ago, everyone was going on about ‘electro-magnetic forces’ and near misses with comets causing all the weird weather, earthquakes, sea-splitting, comets showers etc. But when Yitro saw that the water in his cup also split, he said:
“This is only God’s doing!! No comet would cause the water in my teacup to split!” And he immediately decided to convert.)
So anyway, there’s the hurricane to end all hurricanes going on, there’s hundreds of volcanoes exploding all over the planet, huge tidal waves and tsunamis flooding all over the place, massive earthquakes, the whole of the world is literally upended and held above the heads of Am Yisrael before Matan Torah….
And it affected every single nation and country on the planet, not just Egypt.
AMALEK DWELLED IN WHAT WAS THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
And one of the places it happened to effect severely was the Arabian peninsula, where the Amalekites had recently been living. When the sea split by the Sea of Reeds, Arabia also got pounded by terrifying forces of nature, cities crumbled, comets fell - and the Amalekite survivors packed up and decided to try their luck in Egypt.
This was back before CNN, so everyone just thought that other places must be doing better than their neck of the woods was. The Amalekites crossed the path of Am Yisrael en route, and because they had zero fear of God and hated the Jews tremendously, they started a war with Am Yisrael just when the rest of the world was poised to convert en masse and to recognize Hashem in the world, after the terrifying experiences they’d just gone through.
After Joshua defeated them on the battle ground, the Amalekites then headed off to Egypt, as per plan A - and became the infamous Hyksos rulers of Egypt, or ‘shepherd-kings’.
According to Velikovsky,
“In the history of Egypt the most frequently mentioned names of the Hyksos kings is Apop….Agag I appears to be Apop I, and Agag II was Apop II…who reigned…some four hundred years later.”
We know who ‘Agag II’ was: he was the Amalekite king who King Shaul went to battle, but who he failed to kill, as per the instructions of Hashem, as delivered via the Prophet Samuel. Shaul let Agag live, and during that additional time he managed to father a child who would become the ancestor of Haman, the next ‘big name’ in the nation of Jew-hating Amalekites.
Velikovsky brings a lot of supporting evidence for this idea in his book ‘Ages of Chaos’ Volume I, but if Amalek went on to become the Hyksos rulers of an Egypt that was left completely ruined by the aftermath of the 10 plagues and the Exodus, that would certainly explain why Bilaam referred to them as ‘first amongst nations’.
The last bit of the puzzle, for now, is who actually got rid of the Hyksos kings after they’d ruled Egypt for 400 years, and how Amalek and the Jews fit into this picture.
Again, what you are about to read is mind-bogglingly awesome:
Egypt was liberated from the Hyksos by King Shaul and the Jewish people!
Let’s piece all the bits together, first from the Egyptian ‘historical’ side of things, and then from the Torah-true side of things. There’s a document called the Sallier Papyrus I which documents how the last Hyksos King called Apop II (Agag II) sent a humiliating demand to a native Egyptian prince called Seknenre, who ended up being arrested.
Something called the ‘Carnavon tablet’ then tells the story of how Seknenre’s son, Kamose, rebelled against the Hyksos with the help of some foreign troops. Now, Egyptian monuments never praised foreigners or outsiders, so the story of how the Hyksos was beaten is phrased very oddly by an Egyptian noble and eye-witness to the battle:
“’One’ besieged the city of Avaris” - the capital city of the Hyksos Pharoahs. “’One’ fought on the water in the canal [riverbed] of Avaris…’One’ fought in Egypt…’One’ captured Avaris.”
Who is this ‘One’ who did all these things on behalf of the native Egyptians, and finally put an end to the Hyksos rule of ancient Egypt? Let’s go over to book of Samuel, where we’ll pick up some very interesting clues:
Samuel I 15: 2-3:”Thus says the Lord of Hosts, I remember what Amalek did to Israel, how he laid in wait for him on the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy everything that they have!”
So then King Shaul went and gathered: “two hundred thousand footmen, and 10,000 men from Judah” and marched off to do battle. A little later, Samuel tells us: (I 15:5) “And Shaul came to the city of Amalek, and laid in waiting in the stream.”
Again, notice how far from being impoverished Beduin, the Amalekites have a proper city of their own, and notice how at least some of the fighting being described by Samuel occurs ‘on the water, in the canal of Avaris’.
Later on, in Samuel 15:7-8, the prophet tells us that: “Shaul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive.,,”
King Shaul is the ‘one’ described in the Carnavon tablet by the Egyptian eye-witness!
There’s so much more to say about all this, and I hope to share more of how the events described in our Torah truly do appear in the annals of history in future posts.
In our upside-down world, the chronology used for the Middle East is all based on Egyptian sources, which for various reasons is wrong. So every time archaeologists discover something that is clearly referenced in Tanach, they usually tack on some guff about it their find describing something depicted in our Torah, but at the wrong period of time.
There are so many examples of where this has happened, but take a look at THIS story, about finding the remains of Sdom and Gomorrah, for a recent illustration of the problem.
All those atheist archeologists and Middle Eastern historians and Egyptologists and anthropologists are simply continuing the time-honored tradition of Amalek, albeit not always consciously, of trying to hide God’s presence in the world.
But our Torah is true! The Amalekites existed then - and went down in secular history as the Hyksos rulers of ancient Egypt - and they still exist today, as the people who deny and denigrate our true Tzaddikim and stoke strife between Jews.
And so the battle continues.
As has been going on all year, I'm going into Purim completely unprepared.... I moved house two days' ago, so even just finding my Megillot is a bit of a task (and let's not even talk about getting my oven working or figuring out the hot water.)
But Baruch Hashem, other people are a bit more organised, so here's a quick round-up of some other Purim pieces you may like to read:
hOver on www.ravberland.com, the Rav tells us about the correct mindset we should have going into Purim, HERE.
Over on www.ofererez.com, Rav Ofer tells us that before Hashem is about to make a big spiritual change in the world, the Jewish people first have to go through another test with Amalek. Read that HERE.
Over on the soulfoodie blog, you'll find this:
And then on Sasson, there's a very nice selection of poems, stories and non-fiction pieces about Purim, including:
The recipe for survival that was concealed in my mother's kreplach
V'ne'hafochu - A fish story
And BH, things really ARE starting to turn around in the world for the good this Purim, 5778.
One of the commentators on the last post, Mike, has never heard of Rav Stern, Rav Kook of Tiveria or Rav Arush. He also - correctly - wanted 'proof' that these people really did say what they are quoted as saying.
Ah, if only people would be this discerning and careful when they read things on Ynet and Arutz Sheva too!
I responded to to Mike in the comments section, but it struck me that many new readers from abroad may also not know who these rabbis are, or how to find the original sources (most of which are in Hebrew.)
So I'm re-posting my comment here for them too, to make it super-easy new readers to understand just how 'big' these rabbis actually are, and to see / hear / read their comments about Rav Berland, etc, first-hand.
Thanks for the nudge, Mike!
Rav Chaim Dovid Stern is known as the 'mekubal of Bnei Brak' and is one of leading rabbis of the generation. Mishpacha interviewed him here 4 years ago: http://www.mishpacha.com/Browse/Article/4464/Spiritual-Currency
(See an excerpt of the Mishpacha story, giving some of Rav Stern's achievements in the Torah world, below)"
This video (above) is on YouTube, and shows Rav Stern very clearly praising Rav Berland (this was filmed last year, and is in Hebrew with English subtitles).
Rav Stern is not only a rebbe for chassidim. He unites thousands both in Israel and around the world, likely because of his multifaceted affiliations. He is Hungarian-born, but he grew up among the giants of the litvishe community and was personally nurtured by the Chazon Ish. At the same time, Rav Stern is fully proficient in chassidic Torah and the esoteric world of Kabbalah; 40 years ago he received an endorsement of his enormous powers of tefillah from the Beis Yisrael of Gur zy”a. Yet he combines chassidus with the Torah of his rebbi muvhak, Rav Yechezkel Levenstein ztz”l, his mentor from the time he was a bochur in Ponevezh. (In fact, the shiurim of Ponevezh rosh yeshivah Rav Dovid Povarsky that were prepared for publication are based on Rav Stern’s notebooks from yeshivah.)
Rav Dov Kook is also one of Israel's leading kabbalists, and you can see his wikipedia entry (in Hebrew - there isn't one in English) here:
Above, you can see the video of Rav Kook speaking about Rav Berland.
Below, this is Rav Kook's hand-written note where he says Rav Berland is a gilgul of Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol, (who you'll recall was excommunicated and then re-instated by the Beis Din of his time).
Plus you can hear a recording of Rav Kook's nephew giving over the message from Rav Kook re: the Breslov chassidim and Rav Berland here:
Rav Shalom Arush has sold literally millions of copies of book about emuna, and is one of the best-known rabbis in the world today, both in Israel and in the English speaking world. Here's his wikipedia page (in English):
You can see a full English translation of the statement that Rav Arush put out together with Rav Shaknazi where he said 'woe to anyone who believes badly about Rav Berland, even in his heart', plus also download a PDF of the original statement in Hebrew, here:
To make it super-easy for you, on the left you can see the original statement, and on the right is the English translation of the last big, where he says 'Woe' to anyone who believes these falsehoods.
(If it's too small to read, just click the link above and it will bring it up much bigger.)
Plus, if you scroll back to the post called 'Anatomy of a Smear', you will see that Rav Arush - together with a bunch of other leading Rabbis within Breslov - signed on the recent statement decrying the 'false beis din' that was recently convened by Rav Berland's persecutors within Breslov.
Other rabbis who have come out in support of Rav Berland
The list is growing longer by the day, but here's a few more rabbis who have publicly come out in support of Rav Eliezer Berland:
1) Rav Shimon Badani
Following the passing of Rav Ovadia, z'tl, Rav Badani took over as the spiritual 'head' of Shas.
He's a member of Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah, the head of the ‘Torah Ve Chaim’ kollel in Bnei Brak and a very senior Sephardi Posek in Israel.
Below, you'll find Rav Glazerson's video around Rav Badani's statement that anyone speaking lashon hara about Rav Berland will 'inherit Gehinnom'.
Rav Yitzhak Dovid Grossman
Rav Grossman has been a staunch supporter of Rav Berland over the years. You can see his Wikipedia entry here:
And here's just one of the instances of Rav Grossman's involvement in the Rav Berland story, which dates back to when Rav Berland's persecutors in Meah Shearim tried to get Rav Shechter embroiled in another false 'machloket' with Rav Berland and Shuvu Banim, two years' ago:
(You can hear Rav Grossman's own statement (in the original Hebrew) HERE.)
Rav Grossman said as follows:
Rav Yitzhak Meir Morgenstern, and Rav Mota Frank
In Feb 2017, the Rav's persecutors within Breslov Meah Shearim again tried to embroil the Rav and his community in a contrived scandal, by paying Arabs to smash up the Breslov shul in Meah Shearim, which they then tried to blame on Shuvu Banim, Rav Berland's yeshiva.
You can see the full story for yourself, HERE.
In response to that, Rav Yitzhak Meir Morgenstern and Rav Mota Frank put out the following statement:
When news of this terrible chillul Hashem reached the ears of Rav Yitzhak Meir Morgenstern, shlita, he immediately put out a statement decrying the terrible actions of the Breslov zealots, Rav Mota Frank when hearing this urged his followers to do everything they can to start publishing books – including in English – that tell the true story of who the Tzaddik and gaon Rav Berland really is.
Here is Rav Morgenstern's biography, from the Hebrew wiki and a very brief English translation:
He is a Chasid of Ger from birth. He learned in the Yeshivas of Lucerne and Gateshead. He is married to the daughter of R' Yosef Lubinsky from Antwerp (known as the Chantshin Rabbi). He moved to Yerushalayim after his marriage and learned with R' Eliezer Shlomo Schick and R' Nissan Dovid Kivak. He is also close to R' Tzvi Hirsh Rosenbaum (Kretchnifer Rabbi-Siget).
If you click HERE, you'll find an interview Mishpacha did with Rav Mota Frank in 2016, and below, is a clip of Rav Berland officiating at Rav Frank's recent wedding of his son.
There are so many more Rabbis who have come out publicly in support of Rav Berland, incluiding Rav Yekutiel Fish, Rav Chaim Perachia HaKohen (the 'Milkman'), Rav Elazar Mordechi Menzer.
And many, many more who support the Rav 'behind the scenes' but who are not speaking out either because Rav Berland himself has asked them not to, or because they are concerned about reprisals from the Rav's persecutors, who have been working hand-in-hand with the Israeli police and anti-religious media to sow trouble and dissension for anyone they believe is supporting Rav Berland and his community.
But the truth will out.
You can get 'One in a Generation': Rabbi Eliezer Berland, from Haifa to Uman on Amazon HERE. (There are some miniot going on with Amazon at the moment, but they will be sorted out soon, BH, and we are also working on a much cheaper option so you can order the book direct from us. I will keep you posted, BH, but the Kindle option is still working for Amazon.
Gosh, so much is going on at the moment, isn't it? It really feels like the world is gearing up for another plunge into madness....Or not. Because there's been so many ups and downs over the last few years, who knows what's really going on.
In the meantime, I received the following long question from David, where he asked a lot of pertinent things which require a response. So here it is!
The first thing to say is that I’m also very pleased that finally a grown-up discussion is occurring around the whole subject of Rav Berland, so thank you, David, for asking your questions in a respectful way.
I’ll do my best to answer them.
The first point to make is that there is an ocean of difference between the coverage of Rav Berland in America and abroad, and the coverage here. While there are also no shortage of Hebrew-language sites spreading false coverage, lies and anti-religious propaganda in Israel, the main difference is that there are also a growing number of sites and people who are telling the other side of the story.
In English, almost no-one is covering the other side of the story, both due to limitations with understanding Hebrew, and also because of other, more sinister reasons. So let’s see what we can do to try to put as many of the facts on the table, in English, as we can.
Your question is very wide-ranging, so I’m going to break it up into chunks, and respond to each point as we go along.
1) The ‘unfortunate videos’
There are two types of ‘unfortunate videos’ that I think you’re referring to. One type are the forged videos of the Rav ‘confessing’ to things he never did (see the clip below) which were laughably passed off as genuine, and played all over secular news sites in Israel.
There may well be other forged videos of this type too. These videos are being put together by the 4-5 men associated with Breslov chassidut in Meah Shearim, who have been behind the whole slanderous campaign against Rav Berland right from the start.
They have started up their own website - ‘breslevemet’ - and they have been feeding the media and the Israeli authorities fake information and forged videos, ‘confessions’ and manufactured accusations for years.
UPDATE: I wrote this before I got sent the latest ‘forged videos’ put out by this bunch of crazy people, where they are posing as students of the Rav trying to ‘crown him’ as Moshiach on Thursday. The idea is to then go around all the batei din with this new ‘evidence’ to get the Rav and his students excommunicated (again!) for being ‘a false messiah and his followers’.
Again, this is really just proving the point about the sort of calculating duplicity that’s going on with these videos. (Click this image to go through to my blog post where you can play the actual video itself).
Then, there are is the genuine video footage of Rav Berland touching a woman’s throat, and on a separate occasion praying next to a woman while holding her hand. Again, Rav Berland’s persecutors put this footage out, together with all the lurid headlines and awful stories being associated with them.
So let’s look at each video in turn.
The woman who was videod with the Rav touching her throat is called Klara Hammer, and if you go HERE you can see a first-hand interview with her (if seeing women in videos isn’t a problem for you) where she very clearly explains that she went to Rav Berland after doing 7 rounds of chemo for life-threatening throat cancer.
The doctors had given up on her, but she went to the Rav as her last hope to save her life three years’ ago- and today she’s healthy!
There is a clear inyan halachically that a blessing can sometimes only take effect when the person being healed is touched in some way. This is clearly what the Rav is doing. If a person has a problem with the Rav touching a woman in public like this - when he’s clearly being video-taped, and when it’s outside, and when he’s surrounded by tens of people - then the obvious question to ask is how else was he meant to have tried to convey his healing blessing, if he could see that touching Klara Hammer’s throat was the only way it was going to take effect?
Would it have been better to do it indoors, not video-taped, away from where other people were standing around? Surely that would be far more problematic, for a number of reasons? But it would have avoided the Rav being criticized and pilloried for touching a woman.
That Klara Hammer’s throat cancer disappeared after getting a blessing from Rav Berland is an indisputable fact. (see video below).
THE WOMAN WHO LOST HER MIND
The second video doing the rounds shows Rav Berland holding the hand of a woman who’s had her face blurred out, while praying.
Why is this woman’s face blurred? Because otherwise, the viewer would be able to see that this woman was clearly demented and severely mentally-ill.
The back-story behind this video is that this woman literally lost her mind, went into severe psychosis, and her family brought her to the Rav for a blessing. The Rav was holding her hand while praying for her, presumably to reassure her, the same way you’d hold the hand of a frightened small child.
Again, after this occurred, the woman in question recovered her sanity and went back to lead a normal life.
So again, should the Rav have tried to dealt with this woman away from everyone else, in a closed room, with no video camera?
CASTING ASPERSIONS AGAINST TZADDIKIM
The people who are persecuting the Rav have an agenda to present him in a certain, extremely negative, light, and to turn everything into propaganda against him and his community.
It’s akin to someone taking against the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, z’tl, and sending stories out to secular news sites about how a big rabbi has been ‘caught’ giving money to young women in his home, and talking to all sorts of women he’s not married to, God forbid.
If you didn’t understand what was really going on in 770, if you hadn’t witnessed with your own eyes the tremendous miracles that were occurring there, and how so many people came back to Yiddishkeit as a result of their personal interaction with the Rebbe, that would sound really, really bad and not at all how’d you expect a ‘kosher’ Jew to behave.
The same sort of thing is going on here.
2) Is it out of place to question these things?
Absolutely not! If we see things we don’t understand, or that trouble us, we absolutely MUST discuss them and seek to gain clarity. To do otherwise is to give an opening to the many charlatans and unsavory characters out there who otherwise would play on our naivete.
But we need to be very careful about how we do this, and everything must be done according to halacha and especially the rules of lashon hara.
Tomorrow, I will re-post my ‘crash course on lashon hara’, BH, that covers the main points to be aware of.
The first thing to understand is that without FIRST-HAND EVIDENCE, i.e. things that you have witnessed yourself, heard with your own ears, seen with your own eyes, it’s absolutely forbidden to pass rumors off as fact to other people, and especially in a public forum.
In this case, the people persecuting the Rav have made up endless slanders and lies, used false names and false personas, paid people to make false claims against the Rav, forged videos of him ‘confessing’ to things he never did - and so many people gullibly swallowed it all whole, because why would someone lie about things like this?!
These gullible people then went around telling everyone ‘facts’ that were actually based on complete falsehoods, worked themselves up into self-righteous rages about things that never occurred, and condemned the Rav for things he never did.
The persecutors and the media then publicised all these statements as further ‘evidence’ to show that the Rav was indeed guilty of what they’d accused him of - and it’s all circular and all based on lashon hara.
So tread very carefully, keep asking God to show you what’s true and what isn’t and stick to the rules governing avoiding evil speech as stringently as you can.
But do ask respectful questions.
That’s the authentic Jewish way.
3) I read a lot in your blog that a lot of the haters have conspired and brought to Beth din many falsehoods. Would that include the Israeli court system? Would you posit that all of that - has been a charade and none of the testimonies nor his own TV interviews carry any weight?
So here, we come to a very fraught, sensitive topic, that is also for the most part completely lost on people who don’t live in Israel themselves.
Many of the Jews who don’t live in Israel have a rosy, unrealistic picture of how the State of Israel comports itself. It’s always the ‘good guy’, always in the right, always acting morally - and when it comes to fighting Arabs, there’s a lot of truth to this view.
But when it comes to fighting a Torah-true lifestyle, religious Jews and what the secular elites in this country call ‘religious coercion’, the State of Israel and the Israeli authorities fight very dirty.
I go into this in much more detail in Volume II of One in a Generation, but here are the basic facts:
THE TV INTERVIEWS
So, the clip of the Rav ‘confessing’ in court has been explained as something he had to do under duress, in order to effectively save his life and receive appropriate medical care. The forged clip of the Rav ‘confessing’ you can see is a complete (and very poorly executed!) fabrication put out by his persecutors within Breslov and publicized by the media.
What about his TV interview with Israeli journalist Amnon Levy, where he apparently confessed again?
Rav Eliyahu Succot was with Rav Berland throughout the 4 hour long interview with Amnon Levy. He stated very clearly that the footage was manipulated by Levy and his studio to have the Rav saying he had done something, when what he really said is that he HADN’T done anything.
Again, see THIS for more details of this particularly grimy example of immoral journalism.
Why would the completely secular Amnon Levy do something like that?
You’ll have to ask him. There’s a lot of journalists with biases and agendas these days, and the truth is always the first casualty of their need to try and brainwash the world into seeing things exactly the same way they do.
Without exception, all the false testimonies can be traced back to the same 4-5 people who are ‘anti’ the Rav within Breslov Meah Shearim - all men! These men persuaded some women to lodge false complaints, posed as women themselves on Facebook etc to make allegations, and basically made up story after story - in collusion with a number of journalists - that everyone knew to be completely fake, right from the start.
4) As an innocent bystander who would like to hear from the Rav, is it not expected that I should believe his own words that he himself says in the interviews? Would you expect from the audience otherwise? Would he expect from the audience otherwise?
This has been a very hard test for Am Yisrael.
The Rav was under serious threat of being re-imprisoned for months if he came out with any public statement explaining what had really happened, or protesting his innocence directly.
He may still be under threat from the courts, I don’t know. What I can tell you is that the Rav’s lawyers asked me to take things down from Emunaroma that they felt could harm the Rav vis-à-vis the authorities, and that I also received requests from other rabbis to not publicise their statements openly supporting the Rav, for fear of reprisals.
Under those circumstances, it’s very understandable why so many people, even upstanding, God-fearing people, have stumbled in this test.
But BH, now the time is hopefully right to address this terrible miscarriage of justice, and to put the spotlight back on the real guilty parties.
And in the middle of all this, it’s the small guys who just want to know the real truth, and who really just want to see justice being done who will end up making the most difference to what actually happens next.
Rav Berland’s case is a catalyst for huge, and hopefully hugely positive, changes to start occurring in the frum Jewish world, and elsewhere.
And answering your respectfully-posed questions here on Emunaroma is part of that process.
So thanks, David!
I've been going through my blog archives, and there's some really good stuff in there that I think would be good to re-post, so over the next few weeks, you may see some 'old' articles that I'm recycling, usually because they deal with things that are still relevant today.
Like most of the people reading this, the first time I heard about the Erev Rav in any ‘real’ way was from the autistics.
The more I read the autistics, the more I started suspecting other people of ‘being’ Erev Rav. Initially, it answered so many questions, cleaned up so many problems! I mean, the only reason that a Jew would or could act in such a horrible, disgusting way could only be because they must be Erev Rav….
Like many others, the Erev Rav quickly became a kind of obsession by me. And when I get obsessed with things, I research them as much as I can, and I try to bottom them out as much as possible. So, I threw myself into reading anything I could about the Erev Rav, including a document called ‘The Modern Erev Rav’, which brings together a lot of the sources about the Erev Rav in English.
By the time I’d finished going through that document, I had a very clear understanding of what sorts of things the Erev Rav did, and that the Vilna Gaon, amongst others, was telling me that I should cut them out of my life and avoid them as much as possible.
So over the next few years, that’s what I tried to do. (This was when I wrote that series on the Erev Rav over on www.breslev.co.il.)
As a result, I lost so many friends, stopped speaking to so many close family members, and even started suspecting my husband of being an Erev Rav (! - if you ever met the guy, you’ll understand just how crazy that particular statement is…) And then, I came to the ultimately disturbing conclusion that I myself must also be an ‘unfixable’ Erev Rav, because I also spoke lashon hara (sometimes…) and made trouble between people (sometimes…) and was obsessed with making a name for myself (sometimes…)
It’s axiomatic that when you follow God’s laws, and really try to give God what He wants, you see brachas and blessings from doing that. Dear reader, all I got from cutting all the supposed ‘Erev Rav’ people out of my life was heaping doses of heartache, misery and suffering.
Today, we are ALL 'Erev Rav' people
The more I tried to run away from ‘Erev Rav’ people, as the Vilna Gaon’s students suggested, the more I came to realize that in 2017, we are ALL Erev Rav people.
At the same time as this was going on, I realized that the secular world was also noticing the negative character traits associated with the Erev Rav, particularly the traits of lack of compassion and empathy for others and rigid thinking, and defining them as the basis of personality disorders, especially Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).
According to modern psychiatry, most of these personality disorders, but especially NPD, can’t be fixed. The person with NPD will stay permanently broken, egotistical and nasty. Again, I spent years and years going through all the literature on personality disorders, and measuring it up against my own experiences of difficult people, and it dovetails amazingly with all the ‘Erev Rav’ stuff.
Except, I came to the same problem with that stuff, too: I started to notice that I MYSELF sometimes acted like I had NDP, (especially after I went through the worst year of my life, when I got hit with so many traumatic experiences that my capacity to feel compassion or empathy for anyone else pretty much completely disappeared.)
Trauma is what makes people act like narcissists
Which is when the turning point happened, and I realized that TRAUMA is what makes people act like narcissicists, etc, and what makes people act like Erev Rav, etc.
So then, I started researching trauma, and C-PTSD obsessively, and again it was a perfect ‘fit’ for what I was seeing around me and experiencing in myself, and it convinced me once and for all that just as personality disorders CAN be overcome, so can Erev Rav traits.
Then, I started looking for proof from authentic Jewish sources that this was the case, and I hit the jackpot with various teachings from Rav Berland and Rebbe Nachman himself, a lot of which I bring down in the book Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav.
Jews don't believe in bad people, only bad actions
So, here’s where we currently stand:
It’s not a Jewish idea to call someone ‘bad’, anymore than it’s a Jewish idea to call someone ‘Erev Rav’. Xtians go in for that sort of global, meaningless ‘good and bad’ people rubbish.
By contrast, Jews talk about good and bad DEEDS, good and bad TRAITS, but we don’t give people labels like good and bad, because we understand that is something that only God is qualified to do, at the end of a person’s life, when all their merits and sins are weighed up together in the Heavenly court.
In that sense, the Erev Rav is a completely false paradigm. Who can claim to be qualified to call someone an ‘Erev Rav’ and to assume that person can never make teshuva and will be permanently consigned to an eternity in Gehinnom?!
People with pronounced ‘Erev Rav’ traits aren’t just left-wing politicians or corrupt journalists, you know. If we’re honest, then we’ll admit that each and every one of us know people, are related to people, talk to people EVERY SINGLE DAY that fit at least some of the criteria set out by RASHBI and the Vilna Gaon (amongst others) for the Erev Rav.
We’re not just talking about Shimon Peres here, we’re talking about your ‘Erev Rav’ mum, and your ‘Erev Rav’ kid, and your ‘Erev Rav’ spouse. Do you really want all these people to be permanently consigned to destruction and Gehinnom?
Lacking compassion for others is a key 'Erev Rav' trait
And if the answer is ‘yes’, then there’s an enormous irony here, because only people who have a severe lack of compassion and empathy for other people (which remember, is one of the key traits of the ‘Erev Rav’ as identified by our Sages…) would willingly go around accusing others of being ‘Erev Rav’, with all that entails.
That’s why the authentic Jewish approach is to talk about EREV RAV BEHAVIOUR, and not EREV RAV PEOPLE.
It’s a crucial, massive distinction.
Because people can always stop behaving like Erev Rav, but they can’t stop being Erev Rav.
God loves everyone
God is full of kindness and compassion for His creations. Does it really sound realistic to you that this kind, merciful Creator would create a category of person that can never, ever make teshuva, no matter what effort they make to improve, no matter how much suffering they go through?
Does that sound ‘right’ to you?
God can do anything!
We saw in the Torah so many times - including in this week’s parshat Korach - that God was going to destroy the Jewish people because of their disgusting behaviour, but didn’t because the Tzaddik of the generation, Moshe Rabbenu, prayed for them.
Which brings me to my last point for today (although I will be returning to this subject again and again, until we all start to really get what I’m going on about here):
If we really want all the horrible ‘Erev Rav’ type traits and behavior that are definitely flowering all over the place in our modern world to really disappear, we need to pray for other people, and also for ourselves.
Again, asking God for help, and really believing in God’s mercy and compassion and willingness to help out, and really building a genuine, personal relationship with God is something that people with pronounced ‘Erev Rav’ tendencies find very difficult to do.
That’s one of the reason’s why hitbodedut, personal prayer, is the fastest and most effective way of neutralizing a person’s ‘Erev Rav’ tendencies, because it goes to the very heart of the problem, namely that ‘Erev Rav’ people don’t really believe in God in any real way, and certainly don’t believe that He’s compassionate, kind and good.
SO TO SUM UP:
Continuing with the FAQs I've been getting about Rav Eliezer Berland, one of my correspondents sent back this, which I want to reproduce here because it really shows how the yetzer hara is fooling upright, God-fearing individuals into speaking, believing and spreading lies.
Thank you for your response. [To the question about the Breslov 'beis din''s psak against Rav Berland and his community.]
Thank you for your response, as it’s giving me an opportunity to demonstrate just how deceitful, conniving and frankly plain evil the people who are persecuting Rav Berland actually are.
You are obviously well-versed in the Halachot of Beis Din, so you must know that it’s against halacha for:
1) A judge to judge a case where he has a clear personal interest, or stated bias
2) To judge a case based on the evidence of only one side of things.
Betzalal Galinsky appeared on stage at a rally against Rav Berland that was held in Bet Shemesh last year, and was organised by Rav Berland’s main group of persecutors within Breslov, including Yom Tov Cheshin.
He’s known as an opponent of the Rav, and is clearly unfit, halachically, to ‘judge’ any matter involving Shuvu Banim or Rav Berland.
Zev Frank also appeared onstage in Bet Shemesh, and is also a known, long-time opponent of Rav Berland within Breslov, and again is consequently unfit, halachically, to ‘judge’ any matter involving him fairly.
None of the men in the ‘beis din’ convened by the Rav’s opponents sit on a beis din anywhere else; none of the usual, known Breslov poskim who give psak halacha were involved in this beis din, or were asked to be involved in this beis din.
Why not? This is a huge matter, after all, and not something that should be left to amateurs with no experience of judging on beis din.
How can a beis din ‘judge’ anyone without hearing both sides of the story? Rav Berland was not called to this beis din, he gave no evidence to it.
This ‘beis din’ contravened halacha in the two very serious ways set out above, at the very least.
I’m so sorry that someone as obviously refined and God-fearing as yourself has had the wool pulled over your eyes, because these are not ‘uninterested parties with no axe to grind’ and the ‘beis din’ they convened contravened a number of very important Halachot and made a mockery of the Shulchan Aruch.
Lastly, as I noted previously, two statements were fraudulently combined - this so-called ‘beis din’ statement, and a previous statement made about R’ Kramer that had nothing whatsoever to do with Shuvu Banim and Rav Berland, and that was signed by a number of genuine gedolim and God-fearing people.
This is not a new tactic, and it’s been used by the people persecuting Rav Berland and his community on many occasions before.
I’m very pleased you gave me the opportunity to help clear this up, as God forbid they should continue to make anyone else stumble in such damaging ways.
What’s really going on here?
This same process has been playing out for more than five years already, and each time it happens again, it’s giving more of the people who believed all the baseless slander and lies about Rav Berland in the past another chance to come to their senses and make teshuva.
Here’s how it works:
Rav Berland’s opponents within Breslov, particularly centred within Meah Shearim, cook up some new sort of contrived beis din scandal against the Rav and his Shuvu Banim community, either by:
What happens next:
You can basically split this into three reactions:
1) People who already have a personal animus against Rav Berland and his community, including figures within Breslov, the secular authorities and the media immediately seize on this ‘evidence’, puff it up, add more lurid (and completely falsified….) details and splash it all over the place.
2) ‘Neutral’ observers who unfortunately believe and accept lashon hara, or who are naïve enough to believe that everything they read online, and everything they are told by other people must be 100% true, believe these lies and start passing it off as ‘fact’ to others - in direct contravention of Jewish law.
3) Other observers who are aware of the laws of lashon hara, and / or who are aware that many people have an enormous vested interest in portraying orthodox rabbis and orthodox Judaism as ‘bad’ who either:
a) Keep their mouth shut and reserve judgment, as they don’t have enough first-hand information to really know what the truth is.
b) Fight against these lies with all their strength, as they have the core information required to make an informed judgment about what is actually going on here.
Analysing the latest smear campaign against the Rav
If you look through every single instance of a new slander being manufactured against Rav Berland and his community, you will see that people uniformly react in one of these three ways.
And so it is with this latest smear.
The Rav’s opponents convened a false beis din, put out a statement condemning the Rav and his community, and then spread that via their usual channels, including posting up statements on the walls of Meah Shearim, and getting the word out there via their established network of haters.
Next, misguided people like my correspondent unwittingly started spreading this false propaganda all over the place, adding more fuel to the fire.
Next, a real beis din, real rabbis, came out with a psak condemning the original mockery of a statement from the false beis din:
And then, the Rav’s own students - including such luminaries as Rav Shalom Arush, Rav Ofer Erez and Rav Shmuel Stern also put out a statement condemning the latest slander and falsehood:
The whole ‘case’ against Rav Berland was built on lies like this.
And each time it happens again, it gives the unwitting ‘neutral observers’ in group 2 the chance to make some real teshuva, and to admit that they were wrong, duped, mislead.
Volume II of One in a Generation will set out the whole story in far more detail, but in the meantime, I just wanted to dissect this latest smear, so you can see how the Rav’s opponents have been operating over the last 5-6 years in real time.
But the truth is starting to come out!
And I really hope that after this latest episode, more people will realize how they’ve been deliberately mislead by some very unsavory characters both within and without Breslov, and make whatever teshuva they need to make.