I just got sent this nice, short (8 min) video about Rav Dov Kook, which is a nice intro for readers who may not be so familiar with this Tzaddik of Tiveria.
While all this stuff with Rav Berland was going on, lots of people wanted to know why more rabbis weren’t coming out publicly in support of him.
While a very small percentage of rabbis were themselves taken in by the lies and slanders they were hearing, many of our true rabbis stayed quiet for a different reason: They knew that if they started trying to defend the Rav and pointing out the evil people behind this whole, terrible miscarriage of justice, they would be the next ones with their heads on the chopping block.
At the height of the persecution and slander of Rav Berland, around two years’ ago, some of his supporters tried to rally the generation’s leading Rabbis to begin publishing letters of support for the Rav, to try and redress the balance and inform the public about what was really happening.
One Rav who was asked to participate responded,
“They [the people who are persecuting Rav Berland] are Erev Rav, and it’s forbidden to get involved with them, or give them any strength or attention. If I come out against them, then tomorrow they will turn on me, and they will also start telling lies about me, too.”
This same concern was heard many, many times from other leading Rabbis in Israel.
In the clip that Rav Glazerson released three years’ ago called: ‘The appearance of Rav Eliezer Berland in Torah codes,” Rav Glazerson showed how the words “Eliezer Berland Tzaddik” appeared together with the words, “The arising of the Erev Rav against Judaism.”
Some notable apikorsim already came out with awful slanders against one of the Rav’s biggest defenders, Rav Chaim Dovid Stern, God forbid. Then another one of the Rav’s defenders, Rav Yitzhak Meir Morgenstern, had his synagogue demolished by the Jerusalem municipality shortly after positive statements that he’d made in defense of Rav Berland were publicized.
A couple of years’ ago, another very famous rabbi asked his son to contact me here, on Emunaroma, to take down a statement he’d made defending Rav Berland because he was scared of reprisals against him and his yeshiva.
And now, it seems to be the turn of the kabbalist and tzaddik Rav Dov Kook of Tiveria, God forbid.
Rav Kook warned his students before Shabbat that the Israeli media are planning a ‘blood libel’ against him, probably beginning this coming week, and he asked his followers to pray for him.
Dear readers, I’m asking you to please pay attention to the awful character assassination that is about to begin, and to work with me to expose how these erev rav types who just love to spread false gossip and rumours around, especially about the gedolei hador, really work.
I don’t have details of what they have cooked up against Rav Kook yet, but for sure it will be the same sort of unprovable stories, false witnesses, lurid headlines and scandalous lies that they have used to great effect against Rav Berland.
The media – sadly, including the so-called ‘chareidi’ media – starts all this stuff off to boost their ratings and get their audience to turn against the true leaders of the nation. Then, regular people who are either gullible and naïve, or who actually just love to gossip and to stir things up get involved, and start carpeting the internet with all this ‘fake news’ and slanderous lies, making out like it’s actually true because everyone is talking about it.
This is so, so contrary to how observant Jews are meant to deal with rumors and gossip, and I highly recommend you brush up on the laws of lashon hara before this next round of slander begins, so you don’t fall afoul of listening to it and believing, or spreading it further afield.
It’s such a hard test, not least because speaking lashon hara is one of the main tell-tale signs that you’re dealing with someone with pronounced erev rav traits. And so many of the people in the media, and in the Jewish blogosphere – including the so-called ‘frum’ Jewish blogosphere – sadly have a very big problem with this erev rav trait.
But don’t make their problem, your problem.
Don’t believe the lies, don’t get caught up in replying to, or posting up, scandalous comments with no factual basis, don’t visit blog sites and news sites where you’re being fed fake news and lashon hara 24/7, don’t give credence or respect to those journalists and bloggers who enjoy stirring up machloket against our true tzaddikim.
As time goes on, it’s becoming clearer and clearer which ‘side’ these people are really on, spiritually, and where they’re going to end up – for eternity! – if they don’t make teshuva pronto.
It’s a huge test, I know.
But I have a feeling that by turning on Rav Dov Kook, the Israeli media may have finally bitten off more than they can actually chew, and that more and more people out there will start to realise what’s really going on in this country, and with the media and the ruling elites generally, and will make some serious teshuva about believing lies they read or watched on the internet etc.
I certainly hope so.
UPDATE: Below, you'll find the Gemara's definition of an 'apikorus', or heretic. You can learn more about this definition for yourself HERE, and HERE.
A heretic may be distinguished from an apostate in that, although he holds beliefs which are contrary to currently accepted doctrines, he does not renounce his religion and often believes that he represents the true tradition.
Some identify the talmudic minim with the Judeo-Christians, others with unspecified groups who denied rabbinic authority and/or the belief in the coming of the Messiah.
In the Talmud the term apikoros refers to the *Sadducees (Kid. 66a); to those who denigrate rabbinic authority.
Kofer may be best translated as "freethinker." In Sanhedrin the kofer is identified as one who asks needling questions and points out contradictions between biblical texts (Sanh. 39a–b). The term kofer ba-ikkar in rabbinic literature refers to one who denies a basic and essential ikkar ("dogma"; on the various formulations of dogmas in Judaism see S. Schechter, Studies in Judaism (1896), 147–81). Maimonides defines a kofer ba-Torah as someone who denies either the divine inspiration of the Torah or the authority of the Oral Law and the rabbis who teach it, or one who maintains that the legislation of the Torah has been superseded (Yad, Teshuvah, 3:8)
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.
And he deliberately withheld that piece of information from his readers, because he had a false agenda he wanted to pursue, and he wasn't going to let a little thing like the truth get in the way.
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 information: YTC.
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.
Below, you'll find a Hebrew video that recently came out that sets all the information out about who the Rav's main persecutors are within Breslov very clearly. It's eye-opening and highly recommended.
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.
I’m doing my darndest to stay off news sites as much as possible at the moment, but even so, it’s hard to ignore the looming showdown on the horizon between the US and Russia in Syria.
While I’m not big on ‘conspiracy theories’, having been sucked into one too many paranoid delusions by crazy bloggers in the past, it does strike me as rather strange that whoever it is should have apparently used chemical weapons against civilians AGAIN in Syria.
I mean, you can do a much better job of killing people by sticking to conventional weapons and bombs, and the world is so hypocritical that it doesn’t care a hoot if 70 Syrian children got blown to pieces by a regular bomb (unless they could somehow claim that the Joos did it – and yes SOTT and all the other rabidly anti-semitic ‘alternative’ news sites, will definitely try to do that.)
But apart from when Jews kill aggressive Arab terrorists, no-one really cares when anyone else does it, or how they do it, as long as they don’t use chemical weapons.
So the question begs to be asked: with Trump publicly stating he wants US soldiers out of Syria just last week; and with the rebels fighting the Assad government on their last legs; and with a few more attempts at creating a real cease-fire in the pipeline – why, o why would whoever it is use chemical weapons at this point in the game?
Unless whoever it is was really, really keen on triggering World War III, but crazy as Trump and Putin honestly really are, even they aren’t itching for a direct confrontation. If they were, it would have happened by now, but both of them seem to be strangely reticent about being the one to hit the ‘start’ button on that particular bit of madness.
As I wrote about HERE, there’s been something strange rumbling on in the UK for weeks, also involving Russians and chemical compounds, and a whole bunch of things about that particular story also don’t add up.
Again, it just looks like another clumsy attempt by whoever is is to try and sow more discord in the world, and bring us a whole bunch closer to WWIII.
While I was pondering this, I was researching some stuff about giants – like real giants, as described in the Torah – which lead to the discovery that the UK has some ancient folklore traditions that ‘Gog and Magog’ was the giant-sized ancestor of the ancient, original inhabitants of the British Isles.
I know this sounds so bizarre, but while all of us in the geula-sphere have been trying to figure out the identity of Gog and Magog in today’s world, massive straw effigies of the giant GogandMagog have been parading in London’s Lord Mayor’s Show every year for the last 2,000 years…
When the US first became an independent country, King George (Gog) III was on the throne in the UK. The first president of the US, as we all know, was George (Gog) Washington. Gog and Magog. So Britain and the former British colony, the US, are collectively GogandMagog.
Who left the British Mandate of Palestine in such a deliberate mess that Arabs and Jews would be at each other’s throats for at least the next thousand years, barring Divine intervention and Moshiach? Britain.
Which brings me to another strange observation. A few months’ ago, I was walking through Ben Gurion airport when I noticed a massive picture ‘celebrating’ the State of Israel’s 70th year, and Zionism’s 120th birthday.
I couldn’t help but reflect that in yiddishkeit, both of these numbers reflect the end of an era, a set period of time, an allotment of life, that is now coming to a close. Until 120! To put this another way, it seemed a clear sign that ‘Zionism’ was on its last legs, which seemed to be compounded by the US decision to open up their embassy in Jerusalem on the State’s 70th birthday, which could lead to who knows what happening.
And then, there was the awesome video of Rav Berland and Rav Dov Kook coming together to ‘bring the geula’ on rosh chodesh Nisan, traditionally our month of redemption.
When you start to take all this together, and then combine it with all the absolute craziness, massive tests of emuna and general ‘I can’t continue on like this anymore’ vibe hitting everyone I know in their private lives…
And then add in the fact that mutation-causing UVC rays are now penetrating the earth’s atmosphere and actually hitting the earth’s surface for the first time in modern history, which could lead to all sorts of strange developments, perhaps including human beings growing wings before the whole planet gets flooded with water as part of the geula process, as we find being described in the deeper Jewish sources…
And never mind all the strange weather and geological phenomena everyone all over the world is experiencing right now, because that’s old news, right?
Then, it really does seem to be pointing in the direction of something about to kick off, very soon, that could potentially completely transform the whole world as we know it.
( See Sanhedrin 92a, 92b and 97a)
The last strange musing to share with you is that I read THIS article over on the Rav Berland website about the Rav and Rav Yitzhak Yosef calling for Israel to intervene to save human lives in Syria, which was a big part of the reason the Israeli government decided to go after him six years ago.
And then I went over to THIS article on Ha’aretz, which described some of the shock and surprise that even the lefties in Israel felt after hearing the Rav’s words. And I scrolled down to the bottom, and was amazed to find that one of the ‘chassidim’ that Haaretz decided to photograph that night was the man who two short week’s later turned ‘State’s witness’ against Rav Berland and started the whole slanderous campaign off against him.
The chances of him being photographed out of a crowd of 8,000 people are very small.
Did Haaretz know what was about to come, or is this just another small sign that God is running every detail of the world, and there is a tremendous harmony and unity hidden behind all the surface chaos, that occasionally peeks through in these small ways?
But we certainly live in very interesting times.
You know, I hadn’t realized just how cramped I was feeling, or just how suffocated, pressured and squashed I was in the small apartment we just left.
We moved into that apartment 3 ½ years ago to get away from our neo-nazi landlord who bumped up the rent after just three months, and mamash had storm-trooper tendencies, especially when it came to the cardinal sin of me hanging my washing up in ‘his’ designer house.
And for that first year, that tiny apartment was like a sanitorium, or a rest-home for broken and battered-by-life people. I didn’t mind that I couldn’t have guests, because I had no energy for guests. I didn’t mind that I didn’t feel like cooking up big feasts in the pokey kitchen, because I’d lost my appetite anyway.
Then the second year, I got some energy back and I tried to have guests (wedged awkwardly around our too-big table) and it was always a hassle, for a lot of reasons. The final straw came when we tried to do a sheva brachot for someone my husband used to learn with, and even after we moved the massive sofa and the rest of the furniture out of the salon, there still was scarcely any room to breathe.
That evening was so stressful for me that I told me husband ‘no more! We can’t do any more sheva brachot, we can’t invite any more people! This apartment really won’t let us.’
In the meantime, my kids supplied the lack.
Teenagers don’t mind sleeping piled all over the floor; they don’t mind squashing two people to a seat; they don’t mind that none of your plates match, or that everything is plastic. So for the last three years, pretty much the only guests we had in that house were aged 16 and under.
Every now and then I’d pine for a place where I could swing a cat, and not stub my toe on all the furniture blocking the path to my kids’ room, and where I could do an exercise routine without rapping my knuckles on the back of a hard wooden chair, or knocking all the ancient dust off my (low down) light shade.
But mostly, I just tried to grin and bear it. Because we were in a situation where I couldn’t see anyway to get out of it, and I knew the test was to work on my patience and emuna, and just try to accept God’s will.
BH, a couple of months’ ago, God finally threw us the key to get out of that particular prison, and I’m writing this from an apartment in a different part of town, that is costing us around the same in rent but is nearly twice as big.
It has two toilets!
It has a utility room, so I don’t have to worry about electrocuting myself with the washing machine every time I take a shower (and yes, I did actively worry about that at least once a month - more at the beginning.)
For the first time in years, both my sofas can be in the same room, which means there’s enough space for everyone to cosy-in on a Friday night. And you can actually walk around my table - all the way around it - which is also something that hasn’t been possible for 4 years.
When you rent, you can’t change much in the house to your taste. The first two years, I didn’t want to even paint the kids’ room a different colour (like they were begging me) because I didn’t want the hassle of changing them back to white when we left. Imminently.
Which we didn’t do.
So by year three, I painted one room duck-egg blue and the other pink with one wall of purple ‘natznatz’, or glitter paint. And on the one remaining white wall in that room, my daughter copied out - by hand! - all the words to her favorite song, and wrote it on the wall in permanent marker.
Hey, if you’re going to do something, do it the whole way.
Within two months of finishing her room, the pillar of cloud lifted and we got the signal that we needed to move on.
Thank God, we managed to find something to buy before we left Musrara, and it’s a lovely flat even though it definitely needs some work. So in the meantime, we are renting in a different neighborhood for a final six months, and all my pictures and mirrors are staying packed, and nearly all my books are staying boxed, because I don’t have the koach to do it all twice between here and August.
So I feel happy that the house test is hopefully nearly over, and also relieved that Hashem has taken us out of a very narrow place, and also a bit sad that the last few years have been so difficult, in some ways.
I know we all had to go through it all. I know my family is now much less spoilt and far more appreciative of our blessings. I got over my ‘toilet kooties’ (mostly…) and past my snobby arrogance about being a home owner (mostly…) and I tried really, really hard to see the good and to focus on the good of my situation (mostly…)
Sometimes it was easier than others. It took me years to realize why I’d hear strange male voices accompanying the single man upstairs in the wee hours of the morning. Once that particularly penny dropped, I was so grossed-out I had a ‘leave now’ urge pass over me for a good fortnight.
Then there was the fight between two families in my block - a chareidi version of the Crips and the Bloods, except they were fighting over a bike, not a person - which resulted in the police being called and a quite a lot of bad blood sloshing around afterwards. One of those families moved out a couple of weeks’ ago, shortly before we left.
Before my old neighborhood went mostly Breslov, it was mostly gangsters, and sometimes that vibe is still vibrating in strange ways throughout the walls.
But here’s some of what I’ll miss:
boys with massive payot and na-nach kippas playing football in the local migrash (court) next to my window. Apparently secular neighbors who quote the Zohar at you by heart. Conversations between old friends where one of them is a chassid on a motorbike with his tzitzit flying, and the other one is walking next to him in jeans and T-shirt.
The little neighborhood Nachmans setting the recycling bin on fire pretty much every Pesach, when they burn their chametz (it’s mostly accidental. I think.)
I’ll also miss the eccentric makolet man who sometimes asks me to hand him bottles of Arak to help him stock the shelf; and the Kotel being a 10 minute walk away, and strange this, the sound of the muezzin blaring away at 5.30 in the morning.
And of course, I’ll miss the madness and kedusha that is the Rav’s shteibel, where I routinely got run over by ladies with strollers, and kids with strollers, and even toddlers with strollers (when a toddler runs straight at you with their stroller and it’s a direct hit, it really hurts, let me tell you.)
It’s another new stage. Another new start. Another new house.
This time it struck me that while moving is really, really hard, when you’re stuck in a place of constriction and limitation, the hardships of moving are actually still an enormous blessing.
I just hope I can remember that when it takes PazGas another two weeks to send round a technician to hook up my gas burners.
The Sultan Knish blog has nailed it with this blog post explaining just how corrupt and rotten Israel's judiciary and police actually are.
As time goes on, it's going to become increasingly obvious that a 'fair trial' in Israel is an oxymoron.
On that note, I know many readers ordered the book on Amazon only to be told their order was cancelled. There have been so many challenges getting the book out, that I wasn't too surprised that we've hit another bump.
It's a processing error that may take another three weeks (!) to resolve - which is crazy as this is the 10th book I've put out via Amazon, and that's never, ever happened before.
In the meantime, you can get it on Barnes and Noble instead - with free shipping to the States! - and for a little bit cheaper, so it's all for the best, HERE.
If you ordered it from Israel, hang tight: we are working on a much cheaper option for people in Israel which will avoid high overseas postal charges, but it'll take a few more weeks for us to figure things out.
If you're in a rush, you can order the Kindle on Amazon HERE and then email me for a PDF that I can send you to actually print off and read.
But BH, more and more of the behind-the-scenes corruption in Israel is starting to ooze out of the woodwork now. We live in interesting times...Baruch Hashem we have our tzaddikim to guide us through them.
Last Wednesday, as the boxes started to mount up in the small apartment and as the floor space (and table space and counter space and every space…) started to disappear under cardboard, I asked my husband if we could go away for Shabbat.
Both the kids were out for Shabbat anyway, and there was nowhere to sit, or cook, anyway and the Rav was also doing his ‘big gathering’ in the North, that I felt like going to, for a change.
The husband, tzaddik that he is, agreed, so I rang around a few places and ended up booking Hotel Ron in Tsfat. Thursday, I continued to pack like a crazy person and around 8pm, we headed up North.
The Rav does his gatherings late, and the plan was to try to stick with the program as long as we could, then drive on to Meron and sleep in the car until day break, when we’d make our way to Tsfat.
Finding the location was an adventure in itself. Thanks to the ongoing persecution of a bunch of people who have taken it upon themselves to threaten every hall that hosts the Rav with bankruptcy and closure, these gatherings are happening in increasingly unusual locations.
The last time I went to one, in Beer Sheva, they put up a massive marquee last minute in someone’s tile warehouse. This time round it was a proper events hall - in the middle of an Arab neighborhood.
It’s hard to know who was more surprised, the local Arabs who suddenly had a whole bunch of Breslov chassidim descend on the hall (with their own refreshments, natch…) or the Breslovers who had to drive past a bunch of xtian effigies in glass boxes and huge light-bulbed crucifixes while trying to find the place.
Never a dull moment…
We got there around 11, the Rav showed up around 12 midnight, and less than an hour later, word went out that the gathering was re-locating to Meron. So, we got back in our car, joined the throngs of people driving off to Rashbi - and somehow managed to lose everyone.
I anyway was so knackered I fell asleep in the back of the car, but my husband tried to find everyone for a bit, before also falling asleep in the front. I woke up at 6am, went to do an hour of hitbodedut in the tomb, and ended up spending most of the time perched overlooking the beautiful greenery, wondering where all my ability to do six hour prayer sessions has gone, these days.
Life has been so busy for months, it’s hard to catch my breath.
The hotel said we could book in at 12pm, and it was only 8am, so I said to my husband: ‘Let’s go to Lake Montfort!’ We headed out, got lost, took a wrong turn - and ended up driving by Rashbi’s cave in the now Arab village of Peki’in. So of course we stopped!
The village seemed like it was deserted at that time of day, so we went and had a wander around, found Rashbi’s cave, and saw the massive Carob trees that are still sprawled all around it.
It was really cool. I’ve been wanting to see Rasbhi’s cave for years already.
Next stop was ‘Lake’ Montfort which was impressive for Israel, but about the size of a large puddle, for people who come from rainy Britain. Still, we walked around in the sunshine and enjoyed the view before heading off to Tsfat - which someone told me ages ago is one of the biblical cities of refuge.
And in many ways, it still feels like that.
After checking in, we went for a walk around the Old City, through the artist’s quarter and then down to the old Tsfat cemetery. I’ve been going to Tsfat for a decade already, and this is the most bustling and alive I’ve ever seen the old city there. It really seems to be going through some sort of renaissance.
The husband went for a dip in the Ari’s mikva while I went to do some praying by his grave.
There’s a lot going on at the moment, and I came with some heaviness of spirit and upset which very quickly lifted after an hour in the cemetery.
I heard someone talking about Chana and her 7 sons being buried in Tsfat, so I decided to try to find them. We were headed in completely the wrong direction when a couple of yeshiva boys with a guide to graves in their hands passed by. I asked them if they knew where Chana was buried and they gestured to the other side of the massive cemetery, and told us to try there, instead.
My husband gave me his quizzical half-eyebrow - finding a grave in Tsfat is not so easy, particularly if it’s not so well-known - but I told him let’s try anyway! If God wants us to find it, we’ll find it.
As it happens, God wanted us to find it.
As we got close to that side of the cemetery, where people are buried in the caves under the mountainous dips of Tsfat, we heard this gorgeous harmonizing coming from one of the caves. It was so beautiful, and the cave acoustics were amazing. We drew closer to see what’s going on, and my husband turned to me and smiled: the writing above the cave entrance proclaimed ‘Chana and her 7 sons’.
Who 2,500 years later is still being remembered and serenaded by Am Yisrael. Unbelievable.
We packed a lot into a day and a half, including praying in Meron, praying by the Arizal, finding Chana and her 7 sons, praying in Rav Yosef Karo’s shul, and visiting the grave of Rav Yehoshua ben Chanina, and Rebbe Nachman’s shamash Reb Shimon, who moved to Tsfat and was murdered by Arabs in the surrounding hills whilst doing hitbodedut.
It reminded me how much I’ve missed visiting the holy graves the last couple of years, caught up in a pace of life that’s been really, really crazy.
I got a lot of clarity in Tsfat, I got a lot of inner strength, and I got the energy to come back home and to carry on packing, and to carry on writing, and to carry on trying to shine light into the world, even when sometimes it’s hard and I’m tired of dealing with psychos.
Am Yisrael is so beautiful.
And we are so blessed to be part of this beautiful Jewish story, that is continuing to unfold in all of our lives, linking us back to our ancestors and forward to geula and Moshiach and true peace in our times.
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!
It’s so true that you sometimes only appreciate what you have when you don’t have it any more.
For three long years, I’ve been bewailing being stuck in my current apartment, the so-called ‘rented dump’ which was a third of the size of my old house in the village, and that has only one toilet.
And no bath.
That bath thing upset me so much the first two years because I have had some pronounced germ issues, and the thought of having to use the bath at the local mikvah was pretty challenging, to say the least.
Especially that (thankfully unique…) time when I got there and someone’s clipped toenails were still scattered around everywhere. I almost left… but couldn’t. I came home in such a bad mood, that this was my lot in life, having to bathe surrounded by someone else’s mouldy toenail clippings.
Uck uck uck.
So the bath was a sore point.
The one toilet was also a sore point, for similar reasons. In the West, it’s de rigeur to have a guest toilet for other people, and one you keep just for you. My germ issues loved this arrangement! To bits!
And then suddenly, there was one toilet for everyone: me, the rest of my family, my kids’ 15 girl-friends that would show up for Shabbos, my landlord, the charity collector who knocked on my door, the rare Shabbos guest.
Uck uck uck.
But after nearly four years of this, I have to report that most of my germ issues have reduced greatly, so there is a silver lining to that cloud.
But then, there were other issues like having just one working electric socket in every room. For three years, I had to literally wrap myself in electric cables to be able to print anything off, or to have a light on concurrent with my CD player.
We’d trail a cable across 20 metres of floor to plug in a radiator in during winter. And I’d trip over it every single time I walked around. That’s just how it is.
Then, there was neighbors’ insistence that I should sponga the outside stairs every two weeks, which I just couldn’t do. I have many talents, but housekeeping barely makes the list and sponga is completely off it.
The first time, it took me an hour, I soaked the bottom of my (long) skirt in bleach water, and I couldn’t figure out how to whisk all that water down the stairs and out the entrance fast enough to:
a) actually clean the stairs
b) prevent the dirty water from seeping under my downstairs neighbour’s door.
She came out with an extremely displeased expression on her face, and I could see this sponga thing was just not going to work.
So, I’ve always had one neighbor or other upset about the stairs - both on the rare occasions I tried to clean it, and the far more frequently occasions when I didn’t.
Then there’s the location. Musrara. So close to the Old City, Meah Shearim, Downtown - and the Rav.
So busy. So crazy. So intense. So lonely.
And yet now that it looks like I have to leave, at least for a few months, I’m starting to really appreciate what I truly have in my neighborhood. Even the crazies that have been driving me bonkers for three years.
People around here are alive, they’re real. And I have my place in the pantheon of neighborhood characters, I’m the crazy ‘English’ person that no-one can quite figure out.
They see me pop up at the Rav to read tehillim with my beach chair, then they see me wearing weird hats that no-one else within 5 miles of Meah Shearim would touch with a bargepool.
They hear me blasting out Gad Elbaz (occasionally….) and then hear my household blasting out Tyler Swift, and a few other things besides. I see the obvious confusion on their faces not infrequently, because whatever box they’ve got handy, they can’t quite fit my family into it.
So, we’re kind of famous around these parts, as the weird, semi-frum English family who are into the Rav but whose kids have blue hair.
Wherever we go next, we’ll be anonymous again.
So, the point of this post is that I’m understanding that because I didn’t appreciate my apartment, and because I also didn’t appreciate my neighborhood, at least for long swathes of time, I now have to leave, at least for a few months.
We’re still hoping to stay in Jerusalem, but nothing is coming up for rent remotely close to Musrara except places that are up four flights of stairs in the ‘gay’ area of town where you have to put your oven and fridge on the balcony as there’s no space for them in the kitchen.
And that’s too much of a stretch, even for me.
So dear reader, mea culpa for not appreciating my rented dump enough.
I learned my lesson, the hard way, the same way I always seem to learn my lesson.
But BH, that also means that hopefully when we return to Musrara in the Summer, I’ll have a renewed appreciation for this mad, crazy, intense and amazing neighborhood.
Where Breslov rebbes and crazy chilonim rub shoulders, where you see chassidim on motorbikes, payot flying, where your apparently ‘secular’ neighbor quotes passages of the Zohar by heart, and where every preconceived notion you ever had about life in Israel is challenged head-on.
I’ll miss you Musrara.
But BH, I’ll be back soon.