But you should know something: getting the Rav out of prison isn't what's really going on here. As I've been writing the last few weeks, I can feel something huge coming down the pipe at the moment, and from the emails I've been getting from other people, and from the terrible stories I've been hearing of all the different hardships everyone seems to be experiencing in their private lives, I'm convinced that the 'something' really is on the way.
So how is this connected with putting our hands in our pocket to help raise money to cover Rav Berland's enormous legal fees?
It's like this. Do you remember that story of the Gemara sage who could see that his nephew was going to end up having to pay an enormous amount of money over the coming year, and who made every effort to squeeze it out of him via charitable donations, than via a terrible ordeal at the hands of the Romans tax collectors?
At the end of the year, the nephew turned to his Tzaddik uncle and asked him why he hadn't just told him upfront that giving all that tzedaka was going to save his life, because then he would have happily handed it over. The uncle replied: 'If I'd told you up front it saving your life, it wouldn't have mitigated the judgments hanging over you. You had to pay it over voluntarily as charity.'
I think the same thing is happening here, with Rav Berland's latest emergency appeal. The Rav has a number of wealthy backers who could cover this amount in a heartbeat, if he asked them to do that. So why isn't the Rav asking them to pay off his outstanding legal costs, instead of pleading with Am Yisrael to dip into their saving, take a loan or pay in stages (known as tashlumim) to donate 1,000 shekels to the cause?
Simple: We aren't paying this money across for him, for the Rav. We're paying it across for us. Tzedaka saves from death, mamash.
Even though money is tight in the Levy household at the moment, we happily paid across our 1,000 shekels for this appeal - and I urge you to do the same. Not for the Rav - for YOU!
I have no idea how that 'something' is going to manifest in the world, but charity really does save from death. The worst thing that happens is that you only participate in the enormous mitzvah of freeing a prisoner, or pidyon shivuim.
But like I said, I have the very strong feeling that something else far more momentous is going on at the moment. You can read the appeal post for yourself HERE, and you can go HERE to donate your 1,000 shekels (roughly equivalent to $260 US dollars.) On the donation form, you can type the names in you want Rav Berland to pray for, on the last day of Chanuka known as zot Chanuka.
I guarantee that whatever else happens, you won't regret it.