Authors Posts by Kalman Wiseman

Kalman Wiseman

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Rav Mordechai Sharabi was a famous kabbalist from the previous generation.
Rav Mordechai Sharabi, zt'l, the kabbalist and tzaddik of Mahane Yehuda.

‘RAV SHARABI SENT PEOPLE TO RAV BERLAND FOR BLESSINGS’ – MORE STORIES FROM RAV AVRAHAM HAJBEY

Following on from the last inspiring words from Rav Avraham Hajbey, shlita, one of Rav Berland’s oldest, but less well-known students, we’re pleased to share Rav Hajbey’s latest words of chizzuk (strengthening) and encouragement.

Rav Hajbey begins: “This story dates from my first years at the Shuvu Banim yeshiv. At that time, we were having a problem, whatever it was, with the Ministry for Religious Affairs. We’d appealed to them, to try to sort it out, and the clerk there who was dealing with our issue told us the following story, while he was enthusiastically helping us to sort things out for the yeshiva.”

The clerk told Rav Hajbey: “It was already a few years after we’d been married, and we still didn’t have any children. So, I went to see the kabbalist Rav [Mordechai] Sharabi, zt’l, who was very famous at that time for his blessings, and for the spiritual tikkunim (rectifications) he used to perform.

“Rav Sharabi told me that he couldn’t help me, as my tikkun was particularly difficult, and added that no-one in the world could really help me, either. Then he told me: ‘I’ve got just one piece of advice for you. Go to the Lederman Beit Knesset (synagogue) in Bnai Brak, where you’ll see a young avreich (Torah student) there who prays very loudly, and makes strange movements with all of his body – if you are fortunate enough to get a bracha out of him that you should have children, then you will be saved.”

Rav Hajbey continues: “We’re talking about a period of time when Rav Berland, shlita, used to go onto the roof of the Ponevezh yeshiva in Bnai Brak and pray out loud from 5am in the morning. The Rav’s actions were bothering some of the other students, so they went to the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Kahaneman, zt’l, and told him what was happening.

“Rav Kahaneman went to check out what Rav Berland, shlita, was doing, and after he saw the Rav’s dvekut (attachment to Hashem), he said that it was impossible to say anything bad about a person like this.

“There were a bunch of other very big Tzaddikim in that generation, like the Baba Sali, etc, but Rav Sharabi, zt’l, still sent this guy to Moranu (our teacher) Rav Berland, shlita, to get a bracha,” Rav Hajbey continues. “And just like the kabbalist Rav Sharabi said, Rav Berland gave him the run-around, and tried to get away from him. But as we know, when the guy insisted on getting a bracha, and wouldn’t budge, finally the Rav blessed him, and he went on to have children.”

CLICK THE VIDEO TO WATCH RAV AVRAHAM HAJBEY TELL HIS AMAZING STORIES ABOUT THE RAV: (Hebrew)

THE CLINICAL DEATH OF RAV MOSHE LEVI

Next, Rav Hajbey recounted a now-famous story of a clinical death that he heard 15 years ago, but which was subsequently widely publicized in the Hebrew speaking world as the video called ‘HaSof’ (‘The End’). We should mention here that Rav Hajbey has never even heard of that film, and that all of his recollections of what happened are first-hand, heard straight from the horse’s mouth when the person it happened to came to the Shuvu Banim yeshiva to tell over what he’d experienced.

CLICK THE VIDEO TO WATCH RAV MOSHE LEVI’S TELL THE STORY OF HIS CLINICAL DEATH: (Hebrew)

The person who experienced the clinical death, Rav Moshe Levi, told Rav Hajbee himself that after all the suffering he was going through Upstairs, in the Heavenly court, Rav Berland, shlita, suddenly appeared and stopped all the awful demonic forces that were approaching [Rav Moshe], in order to tear him to pieces. [Rav Berland] mollified R’ Moshe’s dead grandfather (who R’ Moshe explains in the video was extremely angry about his grandson’s lack of mitzvah observance), and told him that he would take care of his grandson.

R Moshe Levi told Rav Hajbey: “After that, Rav Berland gave his name, and told [my grandfather] that Hashem Yitborach had appointed him to rectify all these sort of souls, and that he would help me.

“From that time Rav Moshe Levi, who in the meantime had made teshuva, had no idea who had rescued him. One day, after R Levi had already made aliya to Israel from his home in Paris, and was learning in a yeshiva for baalei teshuva (religious returnees), he came to visit the Kotel. He got to the Kotel Plaza, and he saw a group of people there who included someone who he recognized as being the same Rav, shlita, that he’d seen in shemayim (heaven).

“Rav Moshe Levi told us that immediately when he saw Rav Berland, shlita, he turned on his heel and ran away, even though his friends tried to stop him. ‘I told them that I wasn’t prepared for meeting a Tzaddik like this,’ said R Moshe.

THE SPECIAL OPS UNIT OF THE IDF

Rav Hajbey heard the third story directly from his brother, who also heard it first-hand from the person involved. Rav Hajbey continues:

“We’re taking about a man who belonged to a special ops unit [of the IDF], who was involved in a number of top-secret missions. He didn’t give any names, and he wouldn’t reveal any details [of the missions], but he did say that the special ops he was involved in were top, top secret.

“At the same time that one of these top-secret missions was happening, Moranu Rav Berland, shlita, was staying in Tiberius. This special ops unit was passing through the city, and after hearing how holy he was, they decided to try to come and visit him.

“As soon as they entered the Rav’s room, he welcomed them very enthusiastically. [The soldier who was recounting the story said:] ‘My buddies picked me to speak on behalf of the group, because I was the only one who had any sort of connection to Yiddishkeit, out of the whole group of 12 special ops guys.

“They asked the Rav to give them some words of chizzuk (strengthening), and the Rav started telling them enthusiastically: ‘Don’t be scared! You should know that Hashem Yitborach is with you, and is travelling with you!’ Then, Moranu Rav Berland, shlita, went through all the secret missions they’d been involved in.

“They were shocked [that the Rav knew all this stuff], and the unit’s spokesman became very curious to know how the Rav could know things that even the people closest to them knew nothing about. [He told me brother]:

‘I asked Rav Berland how he know all those things. The Rav opened up a gemara, and told me: ‘A person who learn the gemara in holiness, they know everything, because everything is written there.’

“This soldier told my brother that such a holy awe fell on this platoon or army tough guys. They felt like they’d really experienced some sort of hitgalut elokut (Divine revelation),” concludes Rav Hajbey.

Rav Berland at Kever Yosef
Rav Berland at Kever Yosef 2012

RAV BERLAND’S FIGHT FOR KEVER YOSEF

This coming Motzae Shabbat is the 1st of Tammuz, the yahrtzeit of Yosef HaTzaddik. In a recent shiur, the Rav encouraged his followers to make every effort to visit Kever Yosef on the yahtzeit (you can hear the Rav’s comments about visiting the grave, plus some of the awesome spiritual rectifications and secrets associated with Yosef HaTzaddik (in Hebrew) by clicking HERE)

For many decades now, the Rav has been involved in an ongoing battle with the secular Israeli government to prevent them from closing down access to many of the Jewish holy places located in the West Bank, particularly Kever Yosef.

Here, we bring a brief history of the Rav’s close connection to Kever Yosef, which began more than 50 years’ ago, when Rav Berland made it a regular practice to visit Kever Yosef after the site was recaptured from the Jordanians in the Six-Day War in 1967.

“I would go there every day,” recalls the Rav. “At that time, there was a tremendous fear of the Jews. I lived in Bnei Brak then, and I’d get a bus on Jabotinsky Street to Kfar Saba that would cost me three liras. Then, I would continue on to the kever of Binyamin ben Yaakov, and I would spend an hour alone there, before traveling to Kalkilya by taxi with seven other Arabs. [The Arabs] often gestured to me as though they wanted to slit my throat, and I did it right back to them.”

The Rav continues: “I would walk for five minutes by myself through the Kasbah in Shechem, until I reached the kever of Yosef Hatzaddik. Today, I come and I see people with M16s, and I ask them why they need them…”

When Rav Yitzchak Ginzburg opened the Od Yosef Chai Yeshivah at the site of Yosef’s tomb in the 1980s, it looked like the Jews were back in Shechem to stay. The site was formally turned into a synagogue in 1997, when sifrei Torah were brought in.

Sadly, the secular Israeli government had other plans. Located as they were in the West Bank, and surrounded by hostile Arab populations, the Israeli government couldn’t accept that the spiritual benefit of enabling Jews to regularly visiting these tombs far outweighed the practical risks involved in using the IDF to secure these areas.

KEVER YOSEF AND THE OSLO ACCORDS

On December 12, 1995, control of the city of Shechem (Nablus) was handed over to Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian National Authority as part of the infamous Oslo Accords, but the State of Israel was meant to retain control of several religious sites now under PA jurisdiction, including Kever Yosef.

Under Oslo, the agreement made was that: “Both sides shall respect and protect the religious rights of Jews, Christians, Muslims and Samaritans concerning the protection and free access to the holy sites as well as freedom of worship and practice.”

But that’s not exactly what happened. On September 24, 1996, the Palestinians initiated a wave of riots throughout the West Bank to protest the opening of the new Western Wall Tunnels attraction in the Old City of Jerusalem. During the riots, six Israeli soldiers were killed at Kever Yosef and the local yeshivah located next to the tomb was ransacked.

KEVER YOSEF BECOMES A FLASHPOINT FOR PALESTINIAN TERROR

Although many Jews continued to try to visit and pray at Kever Yosef, the situation at this time was very tense and complicated. Thanks to the failed Oslo Accords, the surrounding town of Shechem was now under full PA control — yet the PA proved time and again that they weren’t interested in maintaining the safety of Jews who wanted to pray at the holy sites under their jurisdiction, despite that being a clear condition of the Oslo Accords.

As time went on, Kever Yosef came under Palestinian gunfire, and was also stormed by hundreds of Palestinians, prompting the Israeli army to step in and retake partial control of the site. Thanks to Oslo, this ancient and important Jewish holy site was now effectively too dangerous for Jews to visit.

Between 1999 and 2000, the IDF, Israeli Border Police and Shin Bet asked the government to evacuate Kever Yosef and forbid Jews from visiting it — in violation of the access rights that had been negotiated as part of the failed Oslo Accords.

When the second Palestinian intifada started in September 2000, Kever Yosef was again one of the key flashpoints. A Palestinian mob broke into the deserted tomb and burned the adjacent yeshivah to the ground. The Palestinians also painted the dome of the tomb green as a defiant indication of their desire to turn Kever Yosef into a mosque.

A photo of Yosef HaTzaddik’s tomb from the early 1900s.

SECULAR VS. SPIRITUAL

As the intifada continued, a large rift developed between the secular Israeli view and the spiritual/religious view of what should be done with Kever Yosef. Following the death of another Israeli border policeman, the head of the IDF’s southern command, Brigadier-General Yom Tov Samia, threatened to resign, and told then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak that keeping Israeli control over Kever Yosef was “patently illegal.”

Clearly, Samia hadn’t read the small print of the Oslo Accords which stipulated free and safe access for Jews to Jewish holy sites under PA jurisdiction. On October 7, 2000, Barak turned control of Kever Yosef over to the Palestinians. A few short hours later, the tomb was once against burned and pillaged by the Palestinians, and a resident of the nearby Jewish village of Elon Moreh, Rabbi Hillel Lieberman, was murdered when he went to check on the damage that had been done.

The Palestinians now continued the delegitimization of the tomb as a Jewish holy site that had been started years earlier by the secular Israeli politician Shulamit Aloni, and started claiming the site as a Muslim holy place with no historical connection to Judaism.

After intense international pressure spearheaded by the United States, which was concerned that turning Kever Yosef into a mosque would spark outrage amongst the Israeli public and lead to the Oslo Accords being abandoned, the green dome of the “mosque” was repainted white. But in the meantime, Jewish access to the site seemed to have permanently ended, at least as far as the secular politicians and IDF chiefs were concerned.

FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT TO VISIT KEVER YOSEF

But Rav Berland and his students at Shuvu Banim, together with other well-known Torah personalities like Rav Shalom Abergel, decided to fight back and keep visiting these holy places, no matter how dangerous they appeared to be.

Midnight visit to Kever Yosef, co-ordinated with the IDF in 2009

They understood that Israel’s greatest protection against Arab violence lay in prayer, and in maintaining a strong connection to the true tzaddikim. Rav Berland, and many of our other spiritual leaders including Rav Mordechai Gross, Rav Yitzchak Ginsburg, Rav Shalom Abergel and Rav Mor Golan, understood that if Kever Yosef or Kever Rachel were placed permanently off-limits to the Jewish people, as the Israeli government wanted, that would only worsen Israel’s security problems in the long run.

It’s mentioned in the holy books that in the merit of the bones of Yosef (which were brought from Egypt) the sea split and allowed the Jews to enter the Land of Israel. Furthermore, it’s brought down that it’s only in the merit of the bones of Yosef that the Jews can endure in the land.

THE STUDENTS KEEP VISITING

Although the media and the Israeli government went to great pains to portray the Rav and his students as putting their own and Israeli soldiers’ lives at risk with their clandestine visits to Kever Yosef, in truth, the Rav prepared meticulously for every single visit to the site, just as he had when taking groups of chassidim into the former USSR to visit the grave of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, in Uman.

Any risk the Rav took was always calculated, prayed about, and double and triple-checked with Shamayim (heaven). Over the years, the students at Shuvu Banim knew that they could only go to Kever Yosef when specifically directed to do so by Rav Berland. On those occasions, the Rav always promised them that nothing would happen and that they would see open miracles — and indeed, they did.

The students also understood that if they wanted to make the trip to Kever Yosef by themselves, i.e., not during the times when the army was escorting the public into Shechem, they first had to ask the Rav permission. Usually, the Rav would promise the students that they could make the trip safely, and that nothing bad would happen.

But there were times when the Rav specifically told his students not to go into Shechem alone. The only time a student from Shuvu Banim was seriously hurt going to Kever Yosef was when he disregarded a specific warning from the Rav to stay away.

KEVER YOSEF COMES BACK UNDER IDF CONTROL

In 2002, the IDF moved back into Shechem as part of Operation Defensive Shield. Rav Berland, his students and the other Rabbanim and visitors who had been fighting to maintain Jewish access to the site immediately requested that the IDF formally permit Jewish visitations to Kever Yosef again.

As many of the Rav’s students (and others, like the late Rav Shalom Abergel) were continuing to visit the site in any case, it can be assumed that the IDF found itself between a rock and a hard place. They unwillingly agreed to open the tomb up to Jewish visits one night every month at midnight, with the aim of preventing any more unauthorized clandestine visits.

If these “clandestine” visits hadn’t been happening, you can be sure that Kever Yosef and many of the other holy Jewish sites would have been desecrated, turned into mosques and placed permanently off-limits to Jewish visits without a peep of protest from the army or the government.

Indeed, a little while after the visits began, the IDF again closed the tomb to Jewish visits from October 2002. In 2003, a Breslov Rabbi named Aaron Klieger started lobbying the Israeli government about the ongoing desecration and vandalization that was occurring at Kever Yosef, but the IDF shrugged the matter off, claiming that guarding the site would cost too much money.

In the meantime, Kever Yosef continued to be used as a garbage dump by the local residents of Shechem for the next four years.

Yosef’s kever today, in the heart of Shchem (Nablus)

EVEN THE MKS START TO COMPLAIN

The state of the tomb deteriorated so badly that even some of the Knesset members began to be appalled by the situation. In February 2007, 35 MKs wrote to the IDF, asking them to reopen the site for Jewish visitors. In 2008, another group of MKs wrote a letter to the prime minister, asking that the tomb be renovated.

They wrote: “The tombstone is completely shattered, and the holy site is desecrated in an appalling manner, the likes of which we have not seen in Israel or anywhere else in the world.”

Initially, the Israeli government wanted the PA to cover the cost of the repairs. When that didn’t happen (and the Palestinians sent some people along to burn tires inside the tomb, instead), the renovation work was finally carried out by Jewish workers, funded by anonymous donors.

It cannot be overstated how little value the secular Israeli government officials and the IDF chiefs attribute to some of Judaism’s most holy sites.

REGULAR VISITS RESUME

In 2009, regular monthly visits to the tomb resumed under IDF protection. Rav Berland also instituted the custom of going to Kever Yosef on the night of Yesod she’b’Yesod, the 41st day of the Omer, each year. From humble beginnings, this annual visit to Kever Yosef has now become a very popular event. The IDF decided to give this visit its full support, and in 2016, more than 3,000 people came to visit Kever Yosef on this day, arriving on more than 60 buses. The visitors that year included some big names like Rav Shalom Arush, as well as the well-known Litvish posek Rav Mordechai Gross.

Thanks to the efforts of Rav Berland and the many other individuals who continued to press for Jews to be able to continue to visit Jewish holy sites in Palestinian-controlled areas, visits to Kever Yosef are now well on their way to becoming a mainstream event in the Orthodox Jewish world.

  • You can book a trip to Kever Yosef on a bullet-proof coach, co-ordinated with the IDF security forces, by visiting the following website: http://www.keveryosef.org/

Or, by calling:  02-999-9700 (the office is open between 9am and 1pm, Sunday to Thursday)

Rav Berland and the weight-less wheelchair
Rav Berland welcoming the weight-less wheelchair on stage

THE WEIGHT-LESS WHEELCHAIR

Anyone who’s ever had any experience of manoeuvring wheelchairs around can tell you that they are really, really heavy – and that’s often the case even when no-one is sitting in them!

The combined weight of a wheelchair, plus the full-grown adult who’s sitting in it, often requires  3-4 very strong men to lift it off the ground and carry it for any distance, or any length of time.

So, the accompanying clip is a small ‘peek’ into the many hidden miracles that are occurring around Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita.

In this short clip, taken when the Rav was praying together with the kehilla (community) in the small hall at the bottom of his apartment building that’s been turned into a temporary shul, you can see an amazing thing: A full-grown man in a wheelchair is being passed over the heads of the crowd around the Rav’s small podium.

Think how many people it takes to raise a chassan (bridegroom) or kallah (bride) on a chair at the wedding reception. Think how much effort’s required, and how there normally has to be at least 2-3 strong people continually bearing the majority of the weight.

Then, take a look at this clip and see how the wheelchair is being effortlessly passed over the heads of the young boys standing close to the Rav, and pulled up onto the podium apparently effortlessly by the Rav, shlita, himself.

Sometimes, it’s the smallest ‘invisible’ miracles that tell the biggest stories.

Some of the many, holy followers of Rav Berland, shlita
You can grasp some of Rav Berland's essence by way of his followers

IT’S ONLY POSSIBLE TO GRASP THE GREATNESS OF THE TZADDIK BY WAY OF HIS FOLLOWERS

Rebbe Nachman writes in Lesson 140, Part One of Likutey Moharan:

“It’s impossible to grasp the Tzaddik himself. He is beyond conception, above our understanding. Only by way of his followers is it possible to understand the greatness of the Tzaddik.

“His followers – who are men of deeds and perfectly G-d-fearing – can be observed; they can be grasped and understood.

“People are not as distant from them as they are from the Tzaddik himself. Therefore, whoever truly wants is able to know the greatness of the Tzaddik by way of his followers.”

Many of Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita’s long-standing followers and students could certainly be called ‘men of deeds and perfectly G-d-fearing,’ as per Rebbe Nachman’s words.

Some of them are more well-known to the English speaking public, including Rav Shalom Arush shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Chut Shel Chesed and best-selling author of the Garden of Emuna series. Here on the Shuvu Banim website, we’ve increasingly introduced you to others, like Rav Ofer Erez shlita and Rav Eliyahu Succot shlita.

But for for every one of the Rav’s followers who are publicly ‘men of deeds and perfectly G-d fearing’, there are many, many more behind the scenes.

Rabbenu tells us that the Tzaddik of the generation is on such a high spiritual level, it’s impossible for outsiders to really grasp what’s going on by him. He’s surrounded by mystery and strange events. Even in Rebbe Nachman’s own time, Rebbe Nachman himself was constantly surrounded by controversy and rumors, and even his own uncle, Rebbe Boruch of Medzibozh, publicly opposed him for a time.

Yet, his followers included some of the most G-d-fearing, sincere, learned and upright ‘men of deeds’ of his generation, who were kabbalists, Torah scholars and even ‘rebbes’ in their own right.

How can we explain this?

In Lesson 140 of Likutey Moharan, Rabbenu tells us:

“Whoever truly wants is able to know the greatness of the Tzaddik by way of his followers.

“This can be compared to a seal. The writing carved into it cannot be read, since the letters are backwards. Only by stamping and thus forming [the letters] on wax can we see the letters and pictures carved into the seal and understand what is written on the seal.”

If you want to grasp even a little of the essence of who Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, really is, all you need to do is take a look at his followers.

Some of the many, holy followers of Rav Berland, shlita
You can grasp some of Rav Berland’s essence by way of his followers

Rav Berland explains the real sin of the spies in Parshat Shelach
Parshat Shelach: Secrets of the Torah with Rav Berland. (Picture by R' Yehoshua Wiseman)

PARSHAT SHELACH: SECRETS OF THE TORAH WITH RAV BERLAND

“And he came unto Hevron” – Calev went there alone, and prostrated himself on the graves of the Patriarchs – Rashi’s commentary

All of Am Yisrael heard the prophecy of Eldad and Medad: “Moshe will die, and Yehoshua will enter [the land of Israel].” All of Am Yisrael heard this awesome prophecy, and this prophecy spread across the whole encampment. Eldad and Medad said: “Know, Moshe is going to die! The  moment that we touch the border of the Holy Land, Moshe is going to die!” And Yehoshua is going to be our leader [instead], and he’s the one who’s going to bring the people into the land.

All the people were panicking, some of them were trembling [from fright], everyone was sobbing – they said: “If we enter the land, then Moshe is going to die!”

Rav Natan explains that the controversy between the meraglim (spies) and Yehoshua Bin Nun boiled down to this. [The spies said]: “We love Moshe Rabbenu, we want Moshe Rabbenu [to live], we don’t want to part from him. We’re together with Moshe Rabbenu, and we want him to live, and not die. We don’t want to enter the holy land for one reason only, and that’s in order for Moshe to continue to live, and to continue to lead us. We don’t care that we’re going to stay in the desert, the ikkar (main point) is that Moshe should live.

‘YOU’RE TRYING TO KILL YOUR REBBE!’

The Ari HaKadosh says, (in Shaar HaPesukim, Parshat Shelach Lach) that this was the terrible argument between the spies and Yehoshua. The spies said to Yehoshua Bin Nun: “Here’s what’s going on: You heard the prophecy that ‘Moshe is going to die, and that Yehoshua will enter [the land]’ – and so you want to enter Eretz Yisrael, so that your rebbe will die.

“That’s simply what you want, you just want your rebbe to die, because you want to inherit him, you want to be the leader!”

This is what Yehoshua argued back: “Moshe is alive! Moshe is chai v’kayam (alive and present in the world), there is no such thing as Moshe dying, Moshe can’t die!” Yehoshua Bin Nun explained to the spies that Moshe Rabbenu, he’s going to live on forever.

TZADDIKIM LIVE FOREVER

Tzaddikim are eternally ‘alive and present in the world’, there’s no such thing as Moshe Rabbenu dying. There’s no such thing, as the RASHBI (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai) dying, there’s no such thing, as the ARI dying, there’s no such thing as the Baal Shem Tov dying. The Tzaddikim never die – Moshe Rabbenu is chai v’kayam. He descends and is revealed in every Tzaddik of the generation.

Moshe could be revealed in every one. The more refined and holy a person is, the more they can merit to have a revelation of Moshe, that the soul of Moshe will shine out of them.[1]

The spies argued back: “We love Moshe, and we’re not going to give up on Moshe. Yehoshua just wants to be the leader… OK, so he should go by himself, and he should take Am Yisrael with him – but we are not going to leave Moshe by himself. We are staying loyal to Moshe.”

THE SPIES HUMILIATED MOSHE IN THE WORST WAY

So, what was really the error the spies made? Rabbi Natan explains that the spies humiliated Moshe Rabbenu, and shamed him in the worse possible way.  Not only did they not heed his voice, when he told them to enter Eretz Yisrael, Rabbenu tells us that they also didn’t believe in the eternalness of Moshe Rabbenu.

They didn’t believe that Moshe Rabbenu was immortal, and that his words and his leadership was chai v’kayam – that it would last and endure for ever and ever. And that he could be revealed in each and every person at any moment. Because they wanted Moshe Rabbenu to stay alive, physically, because they wanted the ‘body’ of Moshe Rabbenu to stay with them, they made him corporal. The made the whole matter of Moshe materialistic, and turned Moshe Rabbenu into a body.

Rav Natan explains that it’s precisely because they argued that they wanted to stay with Moshe that they revealed their opposite intention, that they were really waiting for him to die, and to go away. They showed that they wanted to be parted from Moshe, already, and to get away from Moshe’s difficult leadership.

Moshe was serving Hashem with all of his strength. Moshe used to get up for chatzot (midnight), and prayed with the vatikin (sunrise) minyan. He did hitbodedut (personal prayer), he learned Torah day and night, etc. And they said: “We’ll stay with Moshe Rabbenu, we’ll be in the desert another 10 years, we’ll be in the desert another 20 years, until eventually we’ll get away from him, and then we can get up at 10am, or 12am, and have some fun.

“Right now there’s no choice, we have to suffer a little while longer. We already fell into the trap of Moshe Rabbenu, what can we do?” But really, they knew that Yehoshua Bin Nun would continue along Moshe Rabbenu’s path, and to continue leading like Moshe Rabbenu. They didn’t want Yehoshua Bin Nun, they wanted Moshe, they wanted to stay with Moshe solely because they were waiting for him to pass away.”

CALEV DIDN’T KNOW WHO WAS RIGHT

Rav Natan asks, what did Calev Ben Yefuneh do? Where was he, in all this controversy? Calev was silent. Calev didn’t know who was right, whether Yehoshua was right, or whether the spies were right.

The spies were arguing that they wanted Moshe Rabbenu to live, so they didn’t want to enter the land, and they were calling Yehoshua Bin Nun a murderer! That Yehoshua Bin Nun wanted to enter the land, and was waiting for Moshe to pass away.

Calev said to Yehoshua Bin Nun: “Yehoshua, what are these whisperings? Look what’s being said here: You’ve got 10 saintly people, Tzaddikim, with beards down to the ground, big, bushy payot…Do you hear what they’re telling you? How are you not scared to enter the land, if Moshe Rabbenu is going to die [as a result]?”

Yehoshua said to Calev: “I know that Moshe will live forever! Moshe is not dependent on a body, I don’t even see his body. I see Moshe’s neshama, his soul, and his neshama is immortal, and can be found in every place, and can be revealed in all the princes [tribal leaders of Am Israel], in Elidad ben Kislon, in Gadi ben Susi. In whomever the soul of Moshe Rabbenu reveals itself, I will heed his words.

“I’m telling you, that at the moment Moshe passes away, his neshama will be revealed[2] in someone else, because Moshe chai v’kayam!”

THE TRUTH IS REVEALED IN HEVRON

Calev didn’t know who was right: Yehoshua, or the spies. He found himself caught between a rock and a hard place. How was he going to figure out who was right? How could he clarify something like this? So, what did Calev do? He went to Hevron, to the tomb of the holy Patriarchs, and there the truth was revealed to him. What was he shown, there?

At the very moment that he prostrated himself on the graves of the Patriarchs, he saw that the Patriarchs are chai v’kayam – they live and endure in the world forever! He saw that Avraham was alive! That Yitzhak was alive! That Yaacov was alive!

He realized that what Yehoshua had been telling him was the truth: a Tzaddik never dies, he never passes away. RASHBI is alive, the Ari is alive, the Baal Shem Tov is alive. It was revealed to him that 400 years’ after he passed away, Avraham Avinu was talking to him, and telling him that Yehoshua was right, and that Moshe would exist forever. Yitzhak told him, Moshe will be around forever. Yaacov told him, Moshe will be around forever.

Rav Natan tells us, this is what was revealed to Calev at the tomb of the Patriarchs – that

Tzaddikim are not bound by their bodies, and it’s not what you see with your eyes. The Tzaddik is an eternal neshama, that will last forever and ever.

  • (Translated and) reprinted with permission from the Tzama Nafshi

Call: 052-763-9126 for more details.

[1] The Hebrew term is תתעבר בו – which translates literally as ‘will become pregnant in him’. This refers to the concept where a spark of a Tzaddik’s soul can be transferred to another person, to give them a particular spiritual quality, wisdom or strength.

[2] Again, the exact word in Hebrew is תתעבר, literally: to become pregnant in him

Rav Ofer Erez how to cope with difficult times
Rav Ofer Erez explains how to cope with difficult times

VIDEO: RAV OFER EREZ EXPLAINS HOW TO COPE WITH THE DIFFICULT TIMES

(If you can’t see the English subtitles, go to the YouTube page directly, and click on the square-shaped icon in the bottom right of the screen, to switch on subtitles / captions for this clip).

All of us are experiencing so many difficulties and challenges in the last moments before Moshiach is revealed. Sometimes, the spiritual darkness and concealment we find ourselves in can be so overwhelming, we feel like Hashem is pushing us away from Him, G-d forbid, and it can be very hard to hang on.

In the latest video clip from Rav Ofer Erez, shlita, with English subtitles, Rav Ofer explains what the point of all the darkness actually is, and how we can pass all the very difficult spiritual tests we’re currently experiencing.

Click the clip below to play: “Our job in the concealment.”

(Play time: 8 minutes 40 seconds)

If you’d like to see more video clips from Rav Ofer Erez, shlita, check out the BRESLEVTUBE channel on Youtube, which is continually adding new classes from Rav Ofer, on a range of Jewish topics.

Rav Berland at the brit of the miracle baby
Rav Berland is the sandek at the miracle baby's brit

THE BRIS OF THE MIRACLE BABY

A few days’ ago, we brought you the story of The Miracle Baby, where an avreich (Torah student) from Bat Yam had a baby boy, after years of trying, on exactly the day of the month predicted by Rav Berland in Holland, over two years’ ago.

The story was told by Nachman (Baruch) Sagiv, who witnessed first-hand the Rav’s blessing in Holland, and who concluded that we should all merit to be with the Rav, shlita, together at the brit.

The brit happened a couple of days’ ago at Rav Berland’s home in Jerusalem, with the Rav officiating, and a little while afterwards, the baby’s father called the Breslov Information Line to share the following words:

(Translated from the original Hebrew:)

“We’d been married for more than ten years, and all that time, we desperately hoped that we’d have a son, a ben zachor. In the meantime, we had three girls, but from the moment I got married I was waiting for the moment when I’d have a son.

“When Moranu (our teacher) Rav Berland, shlita, was in exile in Holland, our friends Pinchas and Nachman Sagiv went out to visit him there. I soon as I heard that, I was very anxious that I should also get a blessing, so me and my friend Aharon, who doesn’t have any children, asked them to mention us to the Rav, shlita, and asked him to give us a bracha.

Nachman (Baruch) Segev, at the bris

“All my friends were standing by the telephone in the Chatzot (midnight) kollel, when my friend Pinchas called from Holland, with the Rav was standing next to him. When the Rav gave me a bracha, he said these exact words: “Ben zachor on the 10th of Sivan”.

“A few minutes after the conversation finished, I came into the room, and my friends all told me what had just happened. Immediately, I believed in my heart that the blessing from Rav Berland would happen, shlita. It’s true I didn’t know exactly how things would play out, but I knew that something would come about as a result of receiving the bracha from the Tzaddik.

“The 10th of Sivan rolled around, and to our great joy the blessing of the Tzaddik happened in its entirety, exactly as he said – my wife gave birth to a son, a ben zachor. And that’s not all: For each of my wife’s three previous pregnancies, she gave birth in the 40th week. If this had happened with this pregnancy, two, the baby would have been born two weeks ago.

“But the 40th week rolled around – and nothing. We had to wait an extra two weeks, until my wife suddenly went into labor [on the 10th Sivan].

“When I told Rav Berland, shlita, how his bracha had been completely fulfilled, he responded: ‘Wow, what miracles Hashem is doing!’

“We truly merited to great things. What a Rav we have, who only walks in the paths of simplicity and innocence.”

You can hear the interview for yourself (in the original Hebrew) by calling:

In Israel:    02-800-8800

In the US:  1-845-640-0007

In the UK: 44-203-807-333

 

Rav Nachman Horowitz shares words of chizzuk about Rav Berland
Rav Nachman Horowitz, during his shiur.

RAV NACHMAN HOROWITZ: “RAV LEVI YITZHAK BENDER SAID…THAT RAV BERLAND IS ON AN INCREDIBLY HIGH LEVEL”

Rav Nachman Horowitz, shlita, is the grandson of the hugely well-respected Breslov elder from the previous generation, Rav Shmuel Horowitz, Zt’l. Rav Horowitz has recently started sharing more words of wisdom, strengthening and encouragement with the wider community, including many never-before-publicized stories about Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita.

Here, we share some of his most recent insights (translated and abridged from the original Hebrew shiur, which you can view for yourself by clicking the attached video clip.)

Rav Horowitz said:

“Once, my father [Rav Shmuel Horowitz’s son] told Rav Berland, shlita, that: ‘It’s forbidden for you to give up.’ He told him that he had to continue trying to bring all of Am Yisrael back in teshuva (repentance). “You display so much mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice)!” my father told him.

“On another occasion, Rav Berland said that the woman, the wife, is two times the man, but the way you accustom yourself to treating her is the way she’ll behave towards you. Whatever you invest in her, you’ll get that light back times two.”

Rav Horowitz continued:

“One time, I went with Rav Berland to the shiur (Torah class) of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Bender, Zt’l. En route, Rav Berland, shlita, said to me that a person who is sure that the whole of the geula (redemption) depends on them, they will make their daat (spiritual insight / wisdom) known about every matter and issue.

“But, the Rav continued to say, in the name of Rabbi Yechiel Michael of Zlotchov, it’s not a mitzvah to be an ‘expert’ like this, because this sort of behavior can lead to the worst form of arrogance. So, the Rav said, despite the fact that a person really is an ‘expert’, Rabbenu HaKadosh (Rebbe Nachman) helps him by giving him an infusion of humility.”

Another story:

“Yaacov Levi, one of the avreichim (Torah learners) at the yeshiva told me that once when Rav Berland, shlita, was abroad in chutz l’aretz (outside of Israel), he met a scientist who was part of a team that was developing nuclear weapons. Within ten minutes, the Rav had given him a formula for how to make a nuclear bomb.

“At the same time, the Rav asked the scientist: ‘Is this really ‘wisdom’, to kill millions of people? Rebbe Nachman had the wisdom to know how to bring millions of people back to life! You should aim that nuclear bomb at your arrogance,’ the Rav, shlita, told him.

“Rav Berland, shlita, explained that arrogance is such a tough thing to overcome, that even if they chopped a person into a thousand different pieces, each piece would still retain its arrogance. ‘But,’ continued the Rav, shlita, ‘Rabbenu has a nuclear weapon that can explode a person’s arrogance, without killing the person himself.’”

Another story from Rav Nachman Horowitz:

“The Rav nullified himself to the Holy Steipler (Rav Yaacov Yisrael Kanievsky, Zt’l), and used to ask him about every little point of Jewish law. On one occasion, Rav Berland told the Steipler that he’d found such a big Tzaddik (Rebbe Nachman), who could even take him out of gehinnom (purgatory). [Rav Berland asked the Steipler:] ‘Could you promise me that you could do something like that for me?’ The Steipler replied that he couldn’t promise him that, and that if he’d found a Tzaddik who could, he was obliged to draw closer to him.”

Rav Horowitz continued:

“Despite the Steipler’s own greatness, Zt’l, when he used to see Rav Berland, shlita, walking on the street, he used to raise himself up to his full height and stand up for him, even though he was then 80 years’ old, until Rav Berland disappeared from sight.

“Once, they asked Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Bender, Zt’l, what he thought about Rav Berland, shlita. He responded: ‘His students bring me their Kimcha dePischa (money to help observant Jews cover the costs associated with the festival of Pesach), and I’m overseeing all their money. If he can raise his students up to such high levels, it’s a sign that he himself is on an extremely high level.’”

Rav Horowitz ends:

Moranu (our teacher) Rav Berland, shlita, used to go to the fields for weeks at a time, to do hitbodedut (personal prayer). Once, the Rav left his house and started to walk through the fields that were on the Eastern side [of his home]. He continued walking through the fields, until he’d covered the whole length of Eretz Yisrael!”

Rav-Ofer-Erez
Rav Ofer Erez explains why connecting to the true tzaddikim is a mitzvah

RAV OFER EREZ EXPLAINS WHY CONNECTING TO TZADDIKIM IS NOT IDOL WORSHIP

As Rav Ofer Erez explains in this amazing video clip, many people outside of Breslov struggle to understand the concept of how to relate to the true tzaddikim.

Some people – even very learned Torah scholars – sometimes have the mistaken idea that connecting to the true tzaddikim is border-line idol worship. G-d forbid.

The truth is exactly the opposite: Binding ourselves to the true tzaddikim is something that the Arizal explicitly tells us to do, in his book Shaar HaKavanot, and the RASHASH explains that ideally, we need to be binding ourselves to the true tzaddikim three times a day.

(Viewing time: 2 minutes 45 seconds, in Hebrew with English subtitles)

Rav Avraham Hajbey giving a Torah shiur
Rav Avraham Hajbey, shlita, senior student of Rav Berland, shlita

EXCLUSIVE: Rav Avraham Hajbey explains why we have to go through so much suffering and hardship when we’re trying to live holy lives

“Rav Berland, shlita, told us that the waiting period we’d have to go through when following Rabbenu is very hard, so much so that it’s almost impossible to hold on, but…”

Rebbe Nachman of Breslov taught that the students of the Tzaddik are like the ‘seal’ of the Tzaddik. Just as it’s sometimes very difficult to read what’s written on a seal until it’s imprinted into soft clay, the same is true when it comes to recognizing the greatness of the Tzaddik. It’s sometimes much easier to grasp the light of the Tzaddik when it’s being reflected by his students.

While many of the students of Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, are already very well-known by the public and well-respected, there are also many other ‘hidden pearls’ – students who for various reasons have chosen to shun the limelight and continue their holy work in private.

One such ‘pearl’ who normally remains hidden from the public and from the media is Rav Avraham Hajbey, who is an enormous talmid Chacham (Torah scholar) in his own right, despite his very low public profile.

Recently, this ‘hidden pearl’ made a very rare public appearance. We are pleased to be able to bring you the following clip (in Hebrew) and the English translation of a recent, rare, Torah class that Rav Hajbey gave in public to the ‘Netzach Netzachim’ kollel, in Bnei Brak.[1]

Rav Hajbey has been close to Rav Berland, shlita, for many decades, and can usually be found learning Torah at the main Shuvu Banim in the Old City of Jerusalem, where he’s earned a reputation for his superlative, almost unmatched Torah scholarship. Here’s an excerpt of the shiur, transcribed and translated from the original Hebrew:

WHY DO WE WAIT EIGHT DAYS TO PERFORM THE MITZVAH OF CIRCUMCISION?

“’And On the eighth day, circumcise the flesh of the foreskin’,” begins Rav Hajbey. “From this commandment, we learn that Hashem Yitborach wants us to circumcise the newborn at the age of eight days old. Practically speaking, this is the only mitzvah that we are obligated to do at this age, with the rest of the mitzvahs only being obligatory once we reach the age of 13 years old.

“The reason for this is because the foreskin is an enormous klipa (covering; husk) of tumah (spiritual impurity) on the body, and it causes the neshama (soul) a lot of suffering, for as long as it’s left on the body. For this reason, we hurry to remove it.”

Rav Hajbey continues: “The question is then asked – ‘if the tumah is so enormous that we rush to remove it after eight days, and we don’t wait until the child reaches 13 years old, as with the rest of the mitzvot, if that’s so – then why are we even waiting for eight days?!’

HEAR YOUR DISGRACE, AND STAY SILENT

“Rebbe Nachman teaches (in Likutey Moharan 6) that the ikker (main point) of teshuva is when you hear yourself being disgraced and insulted, and you keep quiet. And now, we also need to understand how is accepting shame and insults and making teshuva connected? Rebbe Nachman brings the Gemara (Tractate Yoma) that explains that if one wants to defile himself, he’s enabled [from Heaven] to do that, and that if one wants to purify himself, he’s also helped [from Heaven]. And how is he helped to do this? They tell him that he has to wait!

“Because really, the ikker (essence) of humility is when a person knows that he is nothing by himself, and that everything he has is from Hashem. OK, really none of us are at that sort of level of humility yet, but until we actually get there, bezrat Hashem (with God’s help) we’re actually stealing Hashem’s pride (or ‘honor’) from Him.

“This pride is one of the garments of Hashem Yitborach. Whenever I want something that goes against Hashem’s will, I’m effectively stealing this pride / honor that otherwise should have been given to Hashem.

“In order to restore the pride / honor that I ‘stole’, in a manner of speaking, from Hashem Yitborach, I need to hear myself being insulted, ashamed, persecuted and disgraced – and to keep quiet, from the aspect of ‘hear yourself being insulted and stay silent’.

“And this is how it plays out, that if a person comes to purify himself (spiritually), and if he wants to make teshuva and return (to God), he’s consequently beset with miniot – all sorts of difficulties and problems. And a person should know that these miniot and these obstacles are coming from the holy side. Because if things went easily for a person, for example, as soon as he started learning Torah he’d immediately plumb its deepest secrets, it would be impossible for him to escape from the feelings of pride and conceit that would accompany such an achievement.

COMING CLOSE TO THE TRUE TZADDIKIM NULLIFIES PRIDE

“Rebbe Nachman teaches that the only possible way to nullify this sort of pride and arrogance is by coming close to, and nullifying yourself, to the Tzaddikim. In order for us to merit having Hashem come and perfume our steps, and to linger amongst us, a person first has to leave their arrogance and pride behind, because HaKadosh Baruch Hu can’t stand any hint of pride.

“Hashem gives us the present of having to wait, until we merit to know that everything that we actually of worthy of doing [in the service of Hashem] – it has nothing to do with us.

“For as long as a person is serving Hashem ‘by himself’, he’s also thinking that he’s achieving whatever he’s achieving ‘by himself’. But, when he starts to draw close to the Tzaddikim, he starts to understand that someone else’s merit is what helped him to achieve these things. From here, he can continue, and he can come to the awareness that he only attained everything he did because Hashem Yitborach helped him.

“In every generation there’s a Tzaddik who’s from the aspect of Moshe Rabbenu of the generation. Drawing close to this Tzaddik is a segula (supernatural spiritual aid) for nullifying pride and arrogance.

“Everyone was nourished in the merit of Rabbi Chanina Ben Dosa, who was the Tzaddik of the generation, both spiritually and materially. Because the Tzaddik is the only person who has merited to completely nullify himself to Hashem Yitborach, and by doing this he merits to receive the simple light.[2] The Tzaddik is the main [spiritual] pipe, and we can only receive from him [in turn]….

“In order to reveal that everything we are, and that everything we do, only comes from the hand of Hashem Yitborach, we need to wait for a very long time, because if everything went easily for a person, he would never, ever, understand that everything only comes from Hashem.

“And this is what Rebbe Nachman says (in Likutey Moharan, Part 2:48), that when a person first starts trying to serve Hashem, it seems as though he’s being pushed away. Really, that ‘distancing’ is only and entirely bringing him closer. In order to really and truly come close to God, we need a lot a humility, and that’s why first it seems as though we’re being pushed away.”

SOMETIMES, IT FEELS LIKE IT’S IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP WAITING…

Rav Hajbey continues: “Once, Rav Nachman Horowitz, shlita, told me that Rav Berland, shlita, told him that: ‘The waiting you have to endure by Rabbenu is so difficult, to the point that you sometimes feel that it’s impossible to keep hanging on. That’s because Rabbenu isn’t willing to let a person keep even the tiniest streak of pride.’

“I also heard directly from the Rav, shlita, myself that:

‘If a person hangs on, and continues to wait patiently, in the end Rabbenu will give him everything.’

“And this is the secret as to why we have to wait eight days before we circumcise a baby, and remove the spiritual impurity of the foreskin. These eight days hint to the seven bodies of water[3] that Rabbenu mentions in his Sipurey Maasiot (‘Rebbe Nachman’s Stories’), that include all the obstacles and all the difficulties that a person has to go through, until he gets to the eighth day, when he finally merits to achieve whatever he’s meant to achieve.

“Throughout this whole time, a person is prevented, practically, from passing through the gates of holiness, and he is forced to wait.

“Rebbe Nachman hints at this, when he tells us we have to wait to perform the mitzvah of circumcision. Hashem Yitborach tells us to wait, but in the end He releases us from our prisons, because ‘a prisoner cannot free himself from prison’.

“And in the meantime, we need to work on shedding our pride and arrogance, that usually expresses itself in our stubbornness and rigidity, and to understand that God is the one who is giving us everything, by way of our connection to the Tzaddik.”

[1] Thanks go to Rav Yaakov Selma, shlita, who videotaped this shiur and made it available to us to share with you.

[2] I.e., he receives the pure, collective ‘light’ of the Jewish people

[3] In the story of the ‘Burgher and the Pauper’, Tale #10