It was on my list to re-post this next anyway, and as usual it's perfect timing...
A crash-course in the laws of Lashon Hara
It’s known that the Chofetz Chaim believed that lashon hara, or evil speech, was the main cause of our long, bitter exile. The Chofetz Chaim stated on more than one occasion that as soon as the sin of lashon hara was fixed, the exile would end and the Moshiach would come.
Rav Chaim Dovid Stern stated that ‘Rav Berland is the last test before Moshiach.’
What does this test involve? Lashon hara, in all its many, soul-destroying forms!
How do we pass this test? By not engaging in any of the forms of evil speech that destroyed our Second Temple, and are keeping us in exile. Sadly, most of us don’t seem to realize how much of what we’re saying and doing, especially online, is directly contravening the laws of lashon hara in the worst ways.
So to fix that, I’ve put together this crash-course in Lashon Hara, based on the practical halachas contained in the book: Purity of Speech.
Basic background to Lashon Hara (evil speech)
Every time a person engages in Lashon Hara, they can transgress 17 negative and 14 positive mitzvot.
The Torah tells us we shouldn’t ‘peddle’ gossip to other people by passing on ‘juicy’ information - even when it’s true!
And that we also shouldn’t accept, or cause other people to accept, false reports.
These are mitzvot d’orayta, straight from the Torah.
THE DEFINITION OF LASHON HARA:
Lashon Hara is when someone speaks evilly about, or believes someone else’s evil report about another Jew. Specifically, the evil speech about another Jew does one of the following things:
AGAIN, THESE RULES APPLY EVEN WHEN THE INFORMATION IS TRUE. WHEN THE INFORMATION IS FALSE AND LIBELLOUS, THEN THE TRANSGRESSION IS MANY, MANY TIMES GREATER. AND WHEN THE PERSON BEING SPOKEN ABOUT IS A HOLY RABBI, THE SIN IS COMPOUNDED.
Many people think that if they’re just writing something on the internet, that’s not Lashon Hara.
This is completely untrue.
It’s just as forbidden to write negative information as it is to say it.
Also, if you write something anonymously, that still doesn’t get you off the hook. God knows exactly who you are, and you’re still accountable for what you wrote about another person, and any damage you might have done as a result.
Even if the information you’re passing along is well-known and already in the public domain, it’s still forbidden to talk about it.
RECHILUS, OR CAUSING HATRED TOWARDS A FELLOW JEW
There’s another category of Lashon Hara, or evil speech, that’s called Rechilus, which involves causing other people to hate another Jew.
THE DEFINITION OF RECHILUS IS:
Anything you say or write which causes people to start hating another Jew.
If what you’re saying / writing / passing along is going to cause someone else to have ill-feelings towards a particular Jew, or group of Jews, then that is rechilut, another very serious form of evil speech.
Even if you agree with the information, it’s still forbidden to repeat it.
HOW YOU FIX THE SINS OF TALKING LASHON HARA / RECHILUT
To make Teshuva for the sin of TALKING evilly about another Jew, you have to do the following:
If you don’t do these four things, you didn’t fix your sin, spiritually.
WHEN IS IT PERMISSIBLE TO TALK NEGATIVELY ABOUT A FELLOW JEW?
There are some, rare, instances when it’s not only permitted to talk negatively about a fellow Jew, but you are required to do so. (Before you jump off using this as a heter, please go and talk to a Rav who knows the detailed laws required. This is just a basic guide.)
You can degrade someone if:
Even if they meet these criteria, you can only talk negatively about them if the following 5 conditions are met:
BELIEVING LASHON HARA
This is where it gets even more interesting, because in some ways BELIEVING lashon hara is even more problematic than speaking it. To give a common example, believing that story in the Jpost or on Arutz Sheva is just as big a sin as if you actually wrote it yourself.
It’s forbidden to:
THIS APPLIES EVEN IF THE INFORMATION IS TRUE, AND IF THE 5 CONDITIONS FOR GIVING OVER INFORMATION FOR A POSITIVE OUTCOME HAVE NOT BEEN MET. WHEN THE INFORMATION IS FALSE, THE GRAVITY OF THE SIN OF BELIEVING IT IS COMPOUNDED MANY TIMES OVER
The only times it’s OK to listen to lashon hara is when:
SOMEONE IS ONLY CONSIDERED TO BE A ‘TRUSTWORTHY’ PERSON IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES IF:
And even when all these very difficult criteria are met, halacha still expects us to judge the person being spoken about favorably, especially if they’re a holy person.
A last, important, point to note is that it’s still forbidden to believe evil speech, even if it was repeated to you by a respected person, such as your rabbi, for example.
If all the conditions of passing information along l’toelet, for a positive purpose, as described above, have not been met by the ‘respected person’, then they are still transgressing the laws of lashon hara - and if you believe them and listen to them, and worse, pass the information on to others, than you are too.
HOW YOU FIX THE SIN OF BELIEVING LASHON HARA
To make Teshuva for the sin of BELIEVING evil things about another Jew, you have to do the following:
IF YOU ALSO PASSED THE INFORMATION ON TO OTHER PEOPLE, THEN A FIFTH STEP IS ALSO REQUIRED:
NB: The Chofetz Chaim describes a ‘baal rechilut’, one who repeats negative information about their fellow Jew, as a rasha, (evil person), because of the number of sins they transgress by speaking lashon hara.
[I had a pic of Rav Berland as the sandek at Rav Kook of Tiveria's bris here, but suddenly got nervous that I don't actually know who took it, and I don't want to get sued for thousands of shekels again, so I decided to remove it for now.]
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS OF THESE LAWS TO THE SUBJECT OF DISCUSSING RAV BERLAND
And you need to make some serious teshuva, including contacting Rav Berland to apologise to him.
THE GROWTH IN THE THROAT
In case anyone thinks this stuff is being exaggerated, and it’s not such a big deal because ‘everyone’ is doing it, a man went to Rav Chaim Kanievsky a couple of years’ ago because the doctors told him he had a cancerous growth in his throat.
Rav Kanievsky told him that the growth had occurred because he’d spoken badly about Rav Berland. The man got on a plane to Morocco, where the Rav was then staying, to go and apologise in person to him, for what he’d said.
I’ve heard many other similar stories being reported to - where the person involved is now publicizing what they did, and what happened to them as a form of teshvua - so please, be VERY careful when discussing Rav Berland.
The honest position for most people is:
Remember, Rav Berland is the last test before Moshiach. And avoiding lashon hara and rechilut, as set out above, is the way we’re all going to pass it.
One in a Generation: Rabbi Eliezer Berland is coming out on March 1, 2018, BH. We are working on getting a few hundred copies printed in Israel, which we'll be able to sell for much less than the print-on-demand arrangement we currently have on Amazon, so stay tuned. You can also get it as Kindle on Amazon for $3.99, again from March 1.
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!
Just a quick post before I go to bed.
I just got sent this video by a fellow blogger done by someone proclaiming Rav Berland as moshiach.
DON'T BE FOOLED!
This is being put out by Nachman Shalom and Yom Tov Cheshin, the two key people behind the Rav's ongoing persecution.
The plan is for Nachman Shalom to go around posting all these things up all over the internet pretending that they are coming from the Rav's students, and then Yom Tov Cheshin will go around all the batei din (again...) trying to get the Rav and Shuvu Banim excommunicated (again...) for acting like Shabtei Tzvi and his followers.
So please don't be fooled that these pronouncements are coming from Rav Berland or Shuvu Banim. It's just the next stage of the ongoing campaign against Rav Berland and his followers.
Please let as many people as you can know in advance, so they won't stumble into yet more slander and lashon hara about Rav Berland as a result.
Man, we live in crazy times.
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.
One of Rebbe Nachman’s followers was once asked whether he could recount any of the open miracles that Rebbe Nachman was reputed to have done. He turned to his questioner and told him:
“Me! I’m the biggest miracle of all. You had no idea what Rabbenu did with me!”
I have to admit that when I first heard that, I wasn’t so impressed. I mean really? What’s the big deal that now someone started eating kosher, or even grew some impressive side-curls? Lots of people do those things without Breslov, so how was that meant to be a proof of Rabbenu’s
These days, I have a different view.
Around three years’ back, at the time when I was writing The Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife, things seemed so very bleak. Me and my husband had been broken into a million pieces by everything we’d gone through, from the finances turning sour through to losing our home, through to having no-one to talk to - at all! - because we’d both turned into holier-than-thou martinets.
By God’s grace, we managed to hang on to our marriage, our kids and our sanity, but it was a very close call.
I look back at that awful, absolutely awful, time, and I wonder: How on earth did me and my family come through all that in one piece? And not only in one piece, with more equanimity and genuine simcha than we had before everything fell apart.
How did that happen?
Or more precisely, following the advice of Rabbenu, which includes talking to God for at least an hour every single day, knowing that everything that happens is 100% determined by Hashem and for our own good, and going to Uman every time you think you’re really going to crack up because you simply can’t take it anymore.
There’s other stuff in there too, like working on your bad middot, understanding that everyone, even the psychos, are just a mirror reflecting your own ‘uck’ back at you, and doing your darndest to have no despair in the world, even when really, you’re drowning in it.
All that stuff really, really helps.
But ultimately, it’s Rabbenu that got me through the last few years, and into a space where things are really starting to turn around, BH.
Yesterday, we signed on a house in Jerusalem.
We can’t move into it for another six months (long story…) so I have to go live somewhere else for a while, but who cares?
A home of my own in Jerusalem!
I had really given up on owning a house of my own anywhere, let alone the holiest city in the world. Let alone, one of the holiest neighborhoods. Let alone, a place where you can literally see Har HaBayit out your window if your apartment faces in the right direction. (Mine doesn’t).
But who cares?!
My husband sighed a big sigh today, and told me he couldn’t believe how far we’ve come the last three years, what miracles God has done for us.
There’s a mitzvah to publicise the nes¸ so let me end with this: Two days ago, after two months solid of wrangling with our seller, it really looked like our house was going to fall through. Her horrible lawyer wanted to put a clause in the contract that no person in their right mind would ever agree to, as it basically amounted to underwriting a blank cheque.
We’d given in on every other matter, so our hopes weren’t high that our seller and her horrible lawyer would back down, and for once, we simply couldn’t be the ones to compromise.
We really needed a miracle for things to move.
Luckily, we live in Musrara, so my husband nipped over to Rav Berland’s shteibel and amazingly managed to get near enough to his podium to ask him what to do, and whether to continue.
“Continue!” the Rav told him.
Although frankly, we couldn’t see how that was really possible.
The next day, all by herself, the seller came around and pulled the impossible-to-agree-to clause so we could actually close the deal.
We got the house.
But the biggest miracle is still me.
Baruch Hashem, I've had so little blow-back from all this stuff so far I think it counts as open miracle. Either that, or a lot more people are starting to wake up and to realize that they are being told a whole bunch of lies by a whole bunch of people across a whole bunch of subjects - and this is just one more of them.
I've had a few more questions asking for clarification, so here are my responses:
I just saw a psak din, signed by 4 people. They sat as a beis din, they are big talmidei chachomon, know choshen mishpat well, and know how to investigate stories and take testimony, and see if the testimony is reliable. These people have no personal axe to grind.
What most people don't know about the controversy surrounding Rav Berland is that is has been whipped about by a small group of extremely disturbed individuals within Breslov chassidut itself.
These people have been trying to get Rav Berland and his community 'ex-communicated' for many, many years already, and they have played the leading and main role in fabricating all the allegations against him.
In terms of this latest 'beis din' scandal, Rav Berland's detractors within Breslov have done this on many, many occasions before.
Their usual modus operandi is to work in 3 main ways:
1) Find upright people who are ignorant of the true situation, tell them a bunch of lies about the Rav and his community (which sound very convincing coming out the mouths of apparent 'rabbis' from Meah Shearim) and get them to condemn this behavior.
2) And / or then add the signatories of people who are known to be 'anti' Rav Berland to this condemnation from 'objective third parties'
3) And / or then fraudulently add forged signatures from 'named' rabbis whose signature carries weight, either by straight out forging the signature (as has happened with R' Meir Shechter), and / or by fraudulently combining a previous statement that was signed on by 'big' rabbis with this new 'psak din'.
In this case, Rav Berland's opponents within the Breslov community in Meah Shearim used all three tactics - there was an old statement that was released when R Moshe Kramer was attacked by a creditor (who had nothing to do with Shuvu Banim) in Meah Shearim and had his shtriemel knocked off a few months back.
Many, many rabbis affixed their names to a public statement decrying this behavior. Rav Berland's opponents merely cut and paste their new 'psak beit din' together with these signatures, and then publicized it all over the place.
I hope this clears it up, and I'm very happy to answer more questions you may have, if I'm able to.
Do you know R. Berland, or was this based completely on research?
I have seen Rav Berland - from a distance - on a number of occasions now, but the bulk of the book was written before he returned to Israel, and was based solely on research and interviews.
Have you seen this website: breslevemet?
Ah, the infamous 'breslevemet' website.
Why infamous? Because this is one of the principle ways that Rav Berland's detractors use to get their horrible lies and slanders out there into the wider community, and lapped up by eager journalists who are only too keen to print something salacious, regardless of how absurd, outlandish or obviously fraudulent it is.
A careful reader of this website will see that the people behind the site make no bones about wanting Rav Berland dead, God forbid.
The site is full of lies, hatred, evil speech, forged 'psak din', forged videos, fake stories of big tzaddikim saying horrible things about Rav Berland... you name it.
This is the source of most of the lies - and it's so very slick and professional! You can see that the people who have devoted the best part of a decade to trying to take the Rav down, and to literally kill him, God forbid, are continuing to put a lot of time, effort and money into their endeavors.
Whenever any negative news 'surfaces' about Rav Berland in the more mainstream media, you can be sure that it will appear on this site first. And the journalists giving you their 'scoop' will never tell you that they are getting their slanderous, fraudulent stories from the same person, the same source every single time.
Above, you'll find a clip of the infamous 'rape confession' video that so many Israeli news sites rushed to serve up to their readers and viewers, along with the most lurid headlines imaginable.
Even today, so many people tell me things - that they are CERTAIN ABOUT!!!! 100%!!!! - based on this video.
But if you click this short clip, it will show you the 'forged' version that was concocted by the Rav's persecutors in Breslov, and the people who are behind 'breslevemet', and then it will show you the original clip, including what the Rav really said.
The Rav was convicted on the back of such patently false 'evidence' as this.
And 'breslevemet' if full of such forgeries and fakeries.
BH, if you reallly want to know the truth about Rav Berland, and what an enormous Tzaddik he truly is, read One in a Generation. You can get the book on Amazon HERE, and I'll let you know when it's also available via the Book Depository, if you want free delivery to Israel.
The truth will out, BH!
If you have a question about One in a Generation or about the scandalous persecution and incarceration of Rav Eliezer Berland, please email me, and I'll do my best to answer it if I can.
Someone did a search to find out who registered the 'breslevemet' domain. Does this name sound familar to anyone out there?:
I recently posted up about One in a Generation, the new biography about Rav Eliezer Berland in a public forum, and I got back a few comments that I thought should be addressed properly as FAQs (not least so I don't spend the next two weeks emailing the same things over and over again.)
If you have any additional comments you want me to try to address, drop me an email and if I can give you a bit more clarity, I'll do my best to answer, if I can.
Q: Are you part of Rav Berland’s community?
Before I started researching ‘One in a Generation’, all I knew about Rabbi Eliezer Berland is what I’d read in the media, same as everyone else.
But as a long-time investigative journalist who’s covered a lot of ‘fraudulent rabbi’ stories, there were a number of details about the investigation that just didn’t add up when I was reading the coverage.
So I started researching the story myself, and I came to the shocking conclusion that Rav Berland was actually the victim of a terrible campaign of slander and lies.
The more I researched, the more people I spoke to, the more interviews I conducted, the more I came to the conclusion that far from being the low-life that was portrayed in the media, Rav Eliezer Berland is actually a truly saintly individual.
Q: Why would anyone want to frame Rav Berland for a crime of this sort?
There are many answers to that question.
Some people within the old-school Breslov community always saw Rav Berland as an outsider, and felt threatened by the huge number of baal teshuvas (formerly secular Jews who return to religious observance) he was attracting into Breslov chassidut.
Over the years, the Rav also attracted a ‘lunatic fringe’ of people with severe mental and emotional problems who gravitated towards his unique brand of unconditional love and acceptance of the other.
These individuals frequently tried to ‘own’ the Rav - they’d try to enter into his apartment, jump into his car, follow him around to every event and gathering, and ultimately tried to force the Rav to do their bidding by all sorts of threats and violence. 4-5 of these individuals - all men - are behind the slanderous, false claims of abuse levelled at Rav Berland.
Then there’s also the ‘deep state’ aspect, where the Israeli Court system and police service is heavily influenced by a number of high-ranking individuals who have huge personal animus against anything they perceive to be connected to orthodox Judaism.
Q: There are a number of influential rabbis who have had no trouble at all with the police or Israeli authorities, so surely that argument doesn’t hold water?
If you look at the numbers of leading rabbis who have been hauled in for questioning for ‘racism’ and ‘incitement’ and ‘sedition’ over the last few years, you’ll find some impressive names there, including the late Rav Yitzhak Yosef, ztl, (Rav Ovadia Yosef’s son), the late Rav Yoram Abergel, ztl, the late Rav Uzi Meshulam, ztl, and Rav Y.Y. Pinto, amongst many, many others.
Rav Berland was high-up on the authorities list of ‘difficult characters’ for years, because of his continued visits to holy tombs in Palestinian-controlled areas that the Israeli government wanted to make off-limits after the failed Oslo accords.
While the authorities couldn’t get away with openly targeting every big rabbi, they have no qualms about pushing their 'anti-Torah' agenda whenever they are given even the smallest opening to do so.
There is a pronounced ‘anti-religious’ and ‘anti-chareidi’ vibe extant amongst Israel’s ruling elites, many of whom effectively control the country’s media, courts and bureaucratic functioning.
As the proceedings against Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu continue, more and more people within Israel itself are starting to wake up to the very corrupt practices found at every level of the Israeli media, police and courts.
Q: Why did Rav Berland plead guilty in court, if he was completely innocent of all charges?
The Rav was suffering from life-threatening cancer which the Israeli Prison Service was refusing to allow treatment for. The courts also refused to allow the Rav - who was almost 80 at the time this was occurring - to await trial under house arrest, as is the usual practice.
For month after month, the court kept postponing the trial that would categorically clear Rav Berland’s name, while his state of health steadily deteriorated.
Eventually, the Rav was told by his team of lawyers that it would be better to ‘confess’ to something small and arrange a plea bargain and reduced sentence - that would include being given permission to have his illness treated - than to die in prison.
Q: Is One in a Generation just part of a ‘white-wash’ attempt on behalf of the charedi community to hide more wrong-doing under the carpet?
No, absolutely not.
Twenty years ago, I lost my job on a Jewish newspaper for trying to write an expose on an orthodox ‘rabbi’ who was embezzling money from charitable funds, and doing a few other things besides.
Over the last two decades, I have consistently taken an uncompromising stance on tolerating any forms of abuse within the Jewish community, and have frequently written on these topics in a number of forums.
I don’t tolerate, or make excuses for any forms of abuse, full stop.
I wrote this book to get to the truth of the matter, and to try to publicize the terrible miscarriage of justice that has been perpetrated here. It’s the same principle and the same motivation that’s always underscored my investigative journalism.
And I’m also not ‘chareidi’ myself, so I have no personal reasons for trying to ‘white-wash’ anything within that particular community.
Q: Why is the book coming out in two volumes?
The first reason is that the sheer weight of material was becoming too much to actually print in one tome. Volume I is already 310 pages, and while it covers the first 75 years’ of Rav Eliezer Berland’s life, it’s still really only half the story.
Volume II will take an in-depth look at the people behind the slanderous campaign of lies that was waged against Rav Berland, and is much more explosive material, legally.
That book is being checked and double-checked by the lawyers before we can release it for publication, and that’s a very lengthy, involved process. We didn’t want to slow down the rest of the book in the meantime, so we decided to release the material in two volumes.
Q: When is Volume II due for release?
Hopefully sometime around the Summer. The story is still evolving - the people persecuting the Rav within the Breslov community are continuing to manufacture new lies and slanders all the time. But at some point soon, we’ll have to conclude the story at whatever point it’s reached.
I guess there could always be a Volume III, if necessary!
Q: Why isn’t the book available in Jewish bookstores?
The short answer is that it’s far too controversial for Jewish bookstores, especially at this stage when so many people are only going on the false accounts they’ve read about or seen in the media.
I hope that as more people start to know the true story, that will change by the time Volume II is ready, and we’ll have more distribution channels in the Jewish world. For now the book is available on Amazon, and it will also be available on the Book Depository site too, which has free shipping worldwide.
Again if you have a comment or question that you’d like me to address (that doesn’t involve an expletive…) please feel free to email me HERE. This is a very important topic, and I’d be very happy to try to answer your questions about it, if I can.
Oooh ah, if I told you about all the stuff that's gone on behind the scenes with getting this book out, that would be a tale in itself.
And I'm still pretty nervous about what stunt the crazy people who have been persecuting the Rav might try to pull when they find out that this book is about to hit the bookshelves....but in the meantime, it's finally ready to pre-order!
This is Volume I, and it fills in a lot of the background about who Rav Eliezer Berland actually is, and how he came to be the defacto leader of modern-day Breslov.
Volume II, when that finally sees the light of day, will cover the years of the Rav's exile and incarceration, and explain what's really being going on for the last five years, and why.
So, you can go HERE to pre-order it on Amazon, and the book itself should be sent out to you on or around March 1st, 2018 - aka, Purim day.
I thought that was very fitting, given just how upside-down the world is at the moment, and how this book is hopefully going to play it's own small part in righting it.
After March 1st, BH there will also be a Kindle e-book available, and possibilities to buy the book from the Book Depository (which has free postage to Israel) and also direct from the ravberland.com website, which I think is planning to offer cheaper prices for bulk buyers.
In the meantime, it's out! And you can pre-order it HERE.
Now things are probably going to get interesting.
It’s often happened to me that God gives me a tremendous flash of insight in my hitbodedut, or talking to God, sessions, that I then have to try to explain to other people in logical terms.
And I usually struggle to do that, as the insight I get in hitbodedut isn’t a linear argument or a progression of information, it’s a quantum leap from one place to a completely different reality.
My poor husband has been on the receiving end of this so many times that now he just mutters ‘bina yetira’ when I’m trying to explain why I’ve just done something else that doesn’t make any sense, logically, yet I feel 100% with every fibre of my being that it’s the right thing to do.
So with that intro, here goes the ‘logical’ explanation which really only partially describes why I pressed ‘delete’ on my blog, motzae Shabbat.
Why I pressed 'delete' on my blog
It started a little earlier in the week when two things happened:
1) I got sent links to a really good, in-depth expose of the crazy psychos who have been hounding Rav Berland for well over a decade, and it was frankly more than a little disturbing to see the lengths these people were going to, when it came to trying to hurt and disrupt the Rav.
2) The draft of One in a Generation, the biography of Rav Berland, finally passed through all the editorial checks and obstacles, and was put up on Amazon for pre-order just a couple of hours before Shabbat came in, here in Israel.
I’ve known for months already that this book marks a huge turning point, at least spiritually, in the ongoing battle between truth and lies in the Jewish world. Rav Kook from Tiberius told us all very clearly that everything that happens with Rav Berland is directly connected to the geula, the redemption of Am Yisrael.
So I knew the publication of the book would mark a big upswing in something, that would probably kick-off the next stage of geula. (I only found out after Shabbat that probably the exact same time the book went up on Amazon, that Israeli jetfighter got shot down by Iranian proxies in Syria…)
So anyway, I’ve been feeling pretty excited, but also pretty nervous about this book coming out, because while it’s going to be a game changer, I was anxious about the anti-Berland psychos targeting me and trying to cause me issues and damage the way they’ve been doing to everyone else who is publicly ‘pro’ the Rav.
This is a very big reason why so many people who are ‘pro’ the Rav are keeping shtum, because no-one really has the stomach to fight these people.
You’ll remember a few months back, I got sued for the enormous sum of 40,000 shekels for posting up a picture of Rav Berland in court which I thought was covered by ‘fair use’, seeing as my blog is not commercial and I was writing about the story.
Long story short, even with a lot of help from the lawyer husband of a friend, my own lawyer husband, and a lawyer I had to pay to deal with it, I still ended up paying out around 7,000 shekels, because these people are ruthless.
"Why do I feel so anxious?"
Shabbat morning, I had a huge amount of anxiety going on, and as I started to dig around, what came up is that I was very nervous about the ‘anti’ psycho brigade combing through four years of Emunaroma to find another picture they could try to use against me, or another careless use of words that they could use to try to use to damage me in some way.
I also realized that they may try to hack my site and disable it, the way they did to ravberland.com a few months ago.
Which is when God gave me my brainwave: If I deleted my archive myself, on my own terms, ensuring that I had copies of all my articles saved on a stick somewhere, then these people wouldn’t be able to use Emunaroma against me.
As soon as that idea popped into my head, I felt so, so happy and really relieved.
Which is when I realized some more things about why it would be good to make a new start here on Emunaroma. With God’s help, I’ve built up quite a big audience over the last few years, which is a huge privilege - and also a huge responsibility.
And I haven’t always managed to carry that responsibility appropriately. While most of the time I’ve very careful with my lashon hara, and with trying to see Am Yisrael with a good eye, I’ve had times when that’s not the case, and I don’t want those things ‘out there’ permanently, bringing who knows what judgments down on my head.
I want Emunaroma to be a positive blog, to spread light and God’s goodness in the world, and ranting on about nasty people is not the best way to do that.
Now, I’m not saying it won’t happen again, because it probably will. But at least I got rid of the backlog in the meantime.
Words are so powerful
Another reason I pulled the plug is because having a ‘big’ blog presence can lead to some serious ego and arrogance problems. Words are so powerful, and there’s something very spiritually corrupting about the idea that ‘XX thousand people are reading my blog!’
I wanted to do some ‘blog teshuva’ and humble myself, so God doesn’t have to send me other hard things to do that job for me.
Another reason why I pulled the plug is because the idea of a new start is just so appealing.
I’ve had many occasions over the last few years when I had enough of blogging, and being so caught up online.
The plus of blogging is all the tremendously awesome people I’ve met through doing Emunaroma, but as the pressures on my time have grown astronomically over the last few months, I’ve been spending so much time typing, and so little time living, that I felt a desperate need for a grand gesture to redraw the balance.
Pressing ‘delete’ showed God, and showed me, that there is so much more to me and to my life than my blog.
With that certainty, I can now carry on blogging happily, and I’m not worried now that I’ve blogged my soul to the devil, and I’m stuck posting things up for the next 50 years just to keep my audience happy.
I want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem
How different the world would look if people only blogged about things that were actually good to blog about, and not just out of a need to keep the audience coming back for the next installment.
So I’m hoping that by pressing ‘delete’, I will stop being part of the addicting internet problem, and make a small move in the direction of being part of the solution.
I can hope.
And the last reason I pulled the plug comes back to wanting what I write to be ‘real’ in some way, and not just virtual. Rav Ofer explained once that this world offers us fake ‘pleasure’ and fake ‘achievements’ to fool us into thinking there’s nothing else to aim for.
Every time hundreds of people read a blog post, that’s a really nice feeling. It gives me some real pleasure. But in the meantime, I feel like I want to be an author of books, real books, not just an author of virtual blog posts, however much I enjoy writing them.
The more time I spend online, the less time I’m writing real books. And real books is what I want to show my kids, and their kids, and what I want to fill my own shelves with.
A friend brought this point home to me last week when she emailed me an invite for her son’s bar mitzvah, then reassured me that she’d call to remind me too ‘because no-one really pays attention to things that are just on-screen.’
She is so right.
And I need to spend more time migrating my stuff off-screen and onto Amazon and the Book Depository.
All of these reasons sound reasonable, logical, possible. But none of them really capture the real reason why I pressed ‘delete’ on my blog, which is this:
Once I understood that this is what God wanted from me, I was happy to give it to Him.
In my own small way, it’s a korban I’m offering up to the Al-mighty, and I hope He finds its aroma pleasing.
And that’s why I know it’s going to lead to really good things happening, even though I can’t for one second explain what they might be.
Binah yetirah or crazy person alert.
You can decide, dear reader.
But in the meantime, I’m feeling happier about continuing to write for Emunaroma then I have been for a very long time.