Dudu Elkayam worked with Rav Berland for many years as part of his legal team fighting the lies and slander against the Rav. In a rare, candid interview, we asked Dudu: “After you’d already succeeded in refuting all of the slanders and lies about the Rav, shlita, how do you feel that he suddenly decided to do a plea bargain?”
He responded: “I feel very bad about the situation, not because the Rav, shlita, pleaded guilty, but because I know that the Rav, shlita, is completely innocent,” he replied. “The Rav took something on himself that was really beyond our understanding. You could try to blame different people for what happened, all the lawyers, and say that they pushed him to make a plea bargain. Rachel Toran, Attorney Feldman and I were absolutely against making a plea bargain.
“After all, we had the information in our hands and it clearly showed that the Rav was completely innocent, beyond the shadow of a doubt. But from the moment that the Rav took this [the plea bargain] upon himself, we’ve been with him in his decision, and we submit ourselves completely to him.
Dudu Elkayam continues: “The Rav was up to date on all the details related to his case and the police investigation, and understood that after the 22nd of the month [November], from the moment that the court would actually start examining the evidence, there would be a 180-degree turn around in his case.
“The day before he made the plea bargain, I spoke with the Rav, shlita, who explained the situation to me in the following words: ‘Dudu, I’m pleading with you [to understand], that I need to take this upon myself.’ From the moment that the Rav told me this, I responded: ‘I’m sticking by you, and I’ll do whatever you decide. I’m with the Rav, and I always will be.’
“I didn’t say this because I’m a fanatic, or something. I only said this because I’m almost the only person, together with a couple of other individuals, who knows, definitely, the whole truth about the matter. I want to tell the community straight out – and I’m prepared to swear to this under oath and in front of witnesses, that
Rav Berland has admitted to things that he never did, and he did this deliberately. But from the moment that the Rav decided to do this, our understanding is too limited to grasp why he took this upon himself. If I believed in the Rav, shlita, before his plea bargain, my faith in him has only increased tremendously after the fact, because I know that he has taken things upon himself that are beyond my intelligence [to grasp], and beyond the understanding of all the nation of Israel. We simply can’t understand what’s going on.
“Anyone who searches their heart will understand that what I’m saying is the unvarnished truth, and is coming from someone who really knows the Rav, shlita. He’s innocent. They concocted a very terrible slander against him, that we successfully unpicked, we effectively overturned the whole case against him.
“[One of the things] that they were claiming was that the complainants against the Rav were scared to testify in court [which is why they had no witnesses]. We showed that the only thing they were really scared of was the witness stand. I asked Attorney Rachel Toran to ensure that every complainant would be obliged to come and testify. We had all the evidence required to show that the Rav was completely innocent, beyond even the shadow of a doubt.
“So, I have a storm of emotions raging inside of me, but I accept the decision of the Rav, with complete submission.
“The libels against the Rav, shlita, were very convoluted, and every action they took to smear and sully the Rav succeeded both in blackening his name and increasing the time he was being detained in prison. However, we knew – and the Rav, shlita, also knew – that the week after his trial began, he’d already be acquitted. We weren’t just working to get the Rav freed, we were also wanted him to be completely exonerated from all the charges.
“They were in a hurry to press charges and produce a bill of indictment because they knew that all the material they had was only good enough to blacken the Rav’s name, but wouldn’t stand up for a moment in court.
“Indeed, one of the recordings were publisized that was just some of the material we had, where you could hear Yom Tov Cheshin [one of the three main Breslev zealots behind the persecution of the Rav] mamash lamenting that they couldn’t find a single complainant to come and testify [against the Rav].
“Even the wife of [Itai] Nachman Shalom, the main false witness against the Rav, shlita, told Yom Tov Cheshin that she didn’t want to come and testify.
“She was the last complainant who they believed would be prepared to testify [against the Rav], and ultimately she also backed out. From our side, we really wanted her to take the stand, so that we could rebut all the web of lies that she and her husband had told. The police prosecutors themselves knew that their witnesses weren’t at all credible, and had even tried to co-ordinate their testimony by coaching them about what to say, which is completely against the law.
“Believe me, if this couple had got to the witness stand it would have been the biggest circus in town. But what can we do, that we’re dealing with a Tzaddik who took things upon himself to sweeten the judgments upon Am Israel?
“Counsel had nine secret files on those people who didn’t want to be exposed under any circumstances. I have no doubt that as soon as those files would have been opened, the whole web of false testimony [against the Rav] would have been destroyed. But, the Rav accepted on himself to be ‘burnt’ [lit: scalded]. Anyone who understands that the Rav is the true Tzaddik [of the generation] has to whole-heartedly go with his decision.
“The Rav sees things that we don’t see. We see things with our own eyes, but he sees things through the eyes of intellect, from one side to the other.
“Today, Attorney Rachel Toran gave me a message to transmit, and this was her words: “My heart is broken, because the Rav would have been found innocent. And more than this, Attorney Naama Elachdad went in to see the Rav and pleaded with him, with tears in her eyes, not to make a plea bargain, as he would certainly be going home the following week [after the trial began]. She said that the Rav lowered his face, and told her that he knew that, but that he was obliged to take this upon himself.
“The Rav possesses a level of truth that is above truth, but I’m going to write a book about the truth of what was really going on behind the scenes, because according to the Shulchan Aruch I’m forbidden to give up on the Rav’s honor, shlita. Anyone who reads the stories of Chazal, the stories about our true Tzaddikim and rabbis, can see that the Rav, shlita, is a very unconventional Tzaddik, and that the world can’t really contain him.”
- You can hear the interview with Dudu in the original Hebrew by calling the Information Line on: 02-800-8800, and then dialling: 18456400007. In the UK, please call: 0203-807-3333.
More about the plea bargain:
- “Often it is best for a person to admit to things that he didn’t do and to end the story.” Attorney Ephraim Dimri on the reasons that brought about the plea bargain of Rav Eliezer Berland shlit”a
- Until he gets a chance to prove his innocence he can sit 1 1/2 to 2 years in prison” – “It’s better to be smart than to be correct”