It’s time for setting the record straight Rav Eliezer Berland, aka Eliezer ben Etia.
With all the talk of Rav Berland’s imminent return to the Holy Land, the slanderous talk, or lashon hara has unfortunately also returned with a vengeance.
In some ways, I can understand what’s going on. In this world where the media is feeding us lies and half-truths 24/7 about absolutely everything, you can kinda understand why it’s so hard for people to accept that the media tells lots of lies about lots of things, lots of times.
The media is controlled by powerful people in the world, and every single one of those powerful people has a personal agenda, and a set of vested interests, and a view of the world that they want to disseminate to the masses.
That’s a fact.
And the media in Israel is no different from the media anywhere else in the world, and you could even argue that the biases, personal opinions and vested interests are even bigger here than elsewhere.
The point is this:
In 2016, no thinking person who is interested in the truth should automatically take anything reported in the press at face value, before checking and rechecking what they’re being told.
Which brings us on to the subject of this particular post, inspired by a phone call from a friend of mine who was still struggling to believe that the media actually tells lies, or that there are powerful figures in Israel who are so against orthodox Judaism, they are willing to stoop to the lowest of levels to smear some of our biggest Tzadikim, including Eliezer ben Etia, aka Rabbi Berland.
Again, in some ways I can understand the problem: God has created the world so that the forces of good and evil are always evenly balanced, in some way. What that means in this instance is that for every ‘good’ holy Rabbi who’s being framed and persecuted for political reasons, there’s at least one ‘bad’ unholy so-called Rabbi who truly is guilty of the most appalling deeds.
So how can we know who is who, or what we’re really dealing with: an appalling miscarriage of justice, or the rightful prosecution of terrible crimes?
That’s’ what I hope to share with you, in this post. It’s going to be pretty long, as I also want to bring snippets and quotes from other places to provide enough background, context and additional information for you to start seeing the huge holes in the web of lies that has been woven around Rav Berland.
1: Who is Rav Berland (aka Eliezer ben Etia)?
Many people, especially in the English-speaking world, only heard about Rav Berland three years’ ago, when he hit the headlines. But in Israel, Rav Berland has been known as a superlative Torah scholar, devoted communal leader, and holy Rabbi for 60 years’, already.
In his early years in Bnei Brak, he had a chavruta with no less a personage than the Steipler Gaon, and he was marked for greatness in the more mainstream Yeshiva world, before he discovered the teachings of Rebbe Nachman, and forged a new path in Breslev Chassidut.
You can read more about Rav Berland’s early years and impeccable Torah credentials here:
In the 1970s, Rav Berland started a fledgling baal Teshuva movement that attracted many secular Israelis to start to explore and learn about their religious background. This was back before the baal Teshuva movement was popular, and those early figures who started reaching out to less religious people were treated with a great deal of suspicion and hostility by certain elements in the mainstream ‘frum’ world.
But that didn’t deter Rav Berland, and he slowly but surely started to build a yeshiva and community for baal teshuvas that included such modern-day luminaries as Rav Shalom Arush, Rav Ofer Erez, and Rav Tzanani, plus many, many others – before they got ‘frum’.
You read more about the early beginnings of Shuvu Banim, Rav Berland’s yeshiva and organization, HERE.
Over the years, Rav Berland forged very warm ties with many religious leaders, across the whole spectrum of Jewish society, many of whom praised him in the highest of terms.
TO SUM THIS PART UP:
Rav Berland was a Torah prodigy, and was recognized as being a superlatively holy, spiritual person from a very young age, by some of the leading figures in the religious world, including the Steipler Gaon.
He gave up all that prestige and potential honor to follow his heart towards the path of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev, at a time when the frum world considered Breslev to be only for bona fide ‘crazy’ people.
A few years’ later, he again went against the tide of prevailing attitudes and frum public opinion to open a yeshiva for baalei Teshuva, and devoted his life to trying to bring more people closer to Yiddishkeit, and Rebbe Nachman. At times, his work necessitated huge amounts of self-sacrifice on behalf of his students, many of whom will happily tell you their own stories of how much Rav Berland put himself out on their behalf.
So far, this doesn’t sound like a person who’s got an abusive ‘power’ complex going on, does it?
So now, we’re starting to get into the meat of this post.
Eliezer ben Etia, and The Deal
Anyone who regularly reads ‘geula’ blogs, or the posts by the autistics will know that many figures in the Jewish world have been predicting terrible things for the Jewish people for the last decade or so.
But so far, thank God, those predictions have come to naught, despite all the wars, terrorism and intrigue Israel and the world has been caught up in. So what happened?
It’s now common knowledge among many in the Hebrew-speaking frum world that some years’ ago, there was a meeting of the three biggest Tzadikim in the country: The Baba Elazar, Rav Eliezer Berland, and the generation’s leading kabbalist (whose identify I’m not revealing out of respect to him – you’ll see why in a moment.)
These three giants each agreed to take some terrible form of suffering upon themselves, to atone for the sins of Am Yisrael, and let us have the geula the sweet way, without the terrible wars, deaths and suffering that would otherwise be required.
The Baba Elazar took it upon himself to be killed al kidush Hashem – and that’s what occurred a little while later, when he was shockingly stabbed to death in his own waiting room.
The Kabbalist took it upon himself to be exiled from Eretz Yisrael.
And Rav Berland took it upon himself to be slandered so terribly, that he would lose his good name (which is also akin to being ‘murdered’, in many ways.)
For some reason, the Kabbalist left Israel – but couldn’t cope with the ordeal of going into exile, and was forced to return. Undaunted, Rav Berland took on BOTH decrees: the decree of losing his good name, and also the decree of exile.
Years before he actually fled the country, Rav Berland was hinting to his students (and even telling them outright) that he would have to leave the country for an extended period of time, and that he would be persecuted for a number of years, in order to atone for Am Yisrael.
So many of his students heard him say this first-hand, that when it actually came to pass some years’ later, they already knew what was happening and why. This is one of the main reasons why Rav Berland’s own community have been 100% rock-solid behind him, the last three years.
The Rav’s ‘escape’ from Israel
If we next look at the truly bizarre course Rav Berland’s ‘prosecution’ has taken, we’ll also start to recognize that the whole situation is completely abnormal. For many weeks after the ‘news’ broke, the Rav left his home in Jerusalem, and was living in Beitar Illit, where he gave shiurim to hundreds of people, and received many, many visitors.
The Israeli authorities didn’t arrest him. Why not?
And why, if Rav Berland was simply a fugitive trying to escape justice, did he tell hundreds and even thousands of people where he was going?
If you take a moment to think about these questions, you’ll already start to see that the picture being painted in the media of Rav Berland doesn’t add up.
Later on, when the Rav left the country to go to Africa (again, HOW did he manage to escape being arrested at the airport, if he wasn’t receiving Divine assistance?) – we saw the same pattern again.
Within hours of him landing in Morocco, in Zimbabwe, in South Africa, in Holland, in South America, hundreds of people had been explicitly told about where he was staying and how to get messages to him, and even, how to fly out to meet him.
Again, does this sound like someone who is a) fearful of the authorities or b) simply trying to escape being brought to justice?
OR, does this sound like someone who knows he has a job to do, but also knows the parameters of that ‘job’ have been predetermined by Hashem, and who is determined to carry on serving Hashem, and his community, to the best of his ability?
When Rav Berland ‘disappeared’ from Holland – despite being under police guard – that was one of the clearest signs that he was still enjoying Divine favor, and able to pull off some out and out miracles.
When people truly are guilty of the terrible crimes being slanderously attributed to Rav Berland, they are very far away from God. God doesn’t do open miracles for people like that.
Throughout his three year exile, Rav Berland has continued to work miracles for literally hundreds of people, and you can hear many of their stories first-hand on the Knishta Hada hotline (mostly in Hebrew).
The reaction of other Tzadikim
As mentioned, there are unfortunately many scandals in the orthodox world, just as there are in every segment of society these days. Many years’ ago, I worked as a journalist on a Jewish paper, and I experienced my fair share of ‘bent’ Rabbis and the fall-out that came along with them.
Unfortunately, I’ve also had more recent experiences of very damaged individuals who are pretending to be Tzadikim. We live in a very mixed-up world, and not everyone who is a ‘Rabbi’ is a good, upright person.
BUT – when these ‘fake’ Rabbis are revealed for who and what they truly are, their support – especially amongst other religious leaders – usually dries up very fast. And even if they do continue to receive support, it’ll be ‘behind the scenes’ as opposed to being given in a public or open way. (It’s a separate post, but it’s useful to mention here that ‘birds of a feather flock together’ – true Rabbonim are normally connected to other true Rabbonim, and the reverse is unfortunately also true.)
Even after Rav Berland was publicly accused and went into exile,
ELIEZER BEN ETIA HAS ENJOYED UNWAVERING SUPPORT FROM SOME OF THE BIGGEST TRUE TZADIKIM IN THE COUNTRY.
Again, this point cannot be overstated. Tzadikim like Rav Shalom Arush, or Rabbi David Abuchatzeira, are at such a level of holiness that they can literally see straight through into a person’s Neshama.
They know if a person is telling the truth or lying, if they’re truly as good as they look, or not. Both of these Tzadikim – plus many, many more, including Rav David Kook in Tiveria, Rav Matityahu Glazerson, the Milkman plus Rav Elazar Mordechai Menser, have come out firmly in support of Rav Berland.
If he was truly guilty of the crimes he’s being accused of, this simply wouldn’t be the case.
Below, I’m bringing some of the more recent statements from these huge Rabbis, in defense of Rav Berland:
Click HERE to download an English Translation of the Knishta Hada newsletter put out by Shuvu Banim, that has many, many quotes from leading rabbis in defense of Rav Berland.
Plus some of the latest:
http://shiratdevorah.blogspot.co.il/2016/05/his-return-will-usher-in-redemption.html – Rav Kook speaking about Rav Berland’s return to Israel
http://rabbieliezerberland.blogspot.co.il/2016/05/listen-to-words-of-rav-aaron-boymil-all.html – ‘All the Gedolim are praying for Rav Berland’
“Don’t think that only Anshei Shlomeinu in Breslov are praying for Rav Eliezer Berland, Shlita. All of the bigAdmorim, Rabonim, and Tsadikim from the whole world are praying for the Rav, Shlita!
“From Rav Shteinman to the Belz Admor, to the Gur Rebbe until Rav Kanievsky, everyone is praying for Rav Berland, Shlita, and are always interested in what is happening with him. The gabbai of Rebbe David Abuchatzera, Shlita, called me personally last week and told me that the Rebbe wanted to know what’s happening with Rav Eliezer Berland,Shlita.
“The house of Rav Shteinman called and wants to know what’s happening with HaRav. The son of the Belz Rebbe himself called me to find out what’s going on with the Rav and said that his father wants to know. It’s not that Rav Eliezer Berland, Shlita, is alone in the world and only his chassidim are the ones that care about him.
“All the Gedolim of Israel from the whole world care about the Rav and are praying for him.”
If you’re casting aspersions against Rav Berland, aka Eliezer ben Etia, then you’re also casting aspersion against all of these Torah giants.
This is really the crux of the issue. There is no ‘middle way’ with Rav Berland and his Rabbinic supporters. Either, they are all huge Tzadikim that know something the rest of us don’t, OR they are all swindlers trying to deceive Am Yisrael.
I can only speak for myself, but my husband studies at Rav Arush’s yeshiva every day. We’ve seen Rav Arush in a number of situations, both our own and other people’s, and Rav Arush is 100% the real deal.
Ditto for Rav Ofer Erez, another one of Rav Berland’s old-time pupils and a staunch public defender of the Rav.
Who can dare to question the integrity of people like Rav Arush? Or Rav David Abuchatzeira? Or Rav Kook? Or the hundreds of other leading religious figures who have come out publicly in support of Rav Berland?
But that’s exactly what’s happening every time someone entertains the doubt that somehow, these Rabbonim either don’t know what they’re talking about, when it comes to Rav Berland, or that they’re also somehow ‘in’ on the whole thing.
“But why would people lie, like that?”
To people who live outside of Israel, it might seem strange that the people in authority here would view an elderly Rav like Rav Berland as being as big a threat as Hamas or ISIS. But when you live here – and you don’t believe everything you read in the media as being the gospel truth – it’s very easy to see how there is a whole swathe of the ruling elite who positively loathe religious people.
And religious people who are making more Jews religious, like them, are public enemy number one.
Because religious Jews aren’t going to vote for that ruling elite. And religious Jews have big families, which means they are going to ‘take over’ the country and turn it into Jewish Iran. And religious Jews (generally…) don’t believe in diplomacy, and land-for-peace, and ‘anything for an easy life’.
In the last 20 years, the baal Teshuva scene in Israel has exploded. That’s a very worrying trend for the ‘powers that be’, and they are very happy to do whatever they can to discredit Yiddishkeit, and its leaders, in any way they can.
Rav Berland is by no means the only Rav who’s recently been falsely persecuted by the authorities, and I highly recommend you go and research this issue for yourself.
In case you’re still in doubt, this link will take you to the story of the secular chief of police who was given the ‘job’ of framing Rav Berland. He came to Rav Arush in tears a few months’ back, wanting to know how he could fix his sin, because since then he’s gone through a divorce, been involved in a number or serious accidents, and has seen his life implode.
Click HERE to read that story for yourself, and hear the recording.
Rav Berland’s prophetic powers
Last but not least, I just wanted to mention that Rav Berland predicted the current intifada many months before it began, and has successfully been ‘ahead of the curve’ in a number of ways, even while in exile.
The people around the Rav have experienced many ongoing open miracles, including recently when the South African police came to arrest the Rav, turned his hotel complex upside down looking for him, but apparently couldn’t ‘see’ him as he walked down the stairs straight in front of them, and left the building.
Hundreds of other people saw the Rav leave, only the South African police couldn’t see him….
This is the same point I made earlier: God doesn’t do open miracles like this for people who are guilty of the crimes that Rav Berland is accused of.
If you want to read more true, first-hand miracle stories about the Rav, which have happened since he left Israel, I highly recommend you pay a visit to his website, and particularly the following links:
TO SUM UP:
We live in very confused upside-down times. It’s impossible for us to know who to trust, or who to believe, if we’re not talking to God every single day.
If we talk to God every day and ask Him to help us, He will clue us in about who the hypocrites in our midst truly are – and there are many of them, at all levels of religious and non-religious Jewish society.
But that’s not the only way we can know what’s true.
If we have a Rav ourselves that we KNOW is the real deal, 100%, kosher (and again, if you’re not doing hitbodedut every single day, I wouldn’t rate your chances of being able to actually know that with any certainty) – and that Rav is 100% behind Rav Berland, dayenu.
Because only someone who’s 100% connected to God can tell if someone else is 100% connected to God, which is where our emunat tzadikim really comes in.
You don’t have to believe me, because I’m nothing and no-one.
BUT – to not believe Rav Arush? To not believe Rav Kook? To not believe Rav David Abuchatzeira?
That’s a huge problem, spiritually-speaking.
So let’s end our defense of Rav Berland with this:
- Don’t believe everything you’re told by the media.
- Check into everything yourself – and if you don’t have firsthand evidence, proceed with extreme caution.
- Click on the links you’ve been given here, to help you fill out more of the picture
- Ask yourself if so many of our most holy Tzadikim would really risk their souls and reputations to publicly come out in defense of someone who was guilty of what Rav Berland has been falsely accused of.
- Think about whether you can honestly say that you know more about what’s going on than these holy Rabbis do – many of whom spent years learning with Rav Berland, many of whom are clearly the holy of holies in their own right, and many of whom are the most straight, upright, humble and tznius people you could ever hope to meet – about what’s really going on with Rav Berland.
- Ask yourself if God would continually do so many open miracles – both personally and communally – for a person accused of what Rav Berland has been accused for.
- For a deeper spiritual understanding of what’s really going on with Rav Berland, read THIS.
And then, pick your side.
On one side, Rav Berland, Rav Arush, Rav Kook and Rav Abuchatzeira et al.
On the other side: A bunch of low-life politicians, bent policemen, slanderous journalists and I don’t know who else.
There is no middle ground with this issue.
So, who’s side do YOU want to be on, when Moshiach shows up?