Well, it’s kind of hard to keep up with developments in some ways, isn’t it?

Every day, there’s fresh madness, fresh examples of something going on here that really just smells so very fishy. Take a look at this latest headline from Ha’aretz:

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In a sane world, this would lead to an immediate halt to any more OTT laws intensifying lockdown. And let’s remember, that 126 Israelis, on average, die each year just from flu, and that we are still no-where near that amount passing away from COVID-19.

(In the US, 40,000 die from flu every year, and in Italy, it’s 17,000. Keep remembering these numbers, to keep things in proper perspective and bring down your heart rate. The way things are going, way more people are going to die from stress and depression, than from COVID-19, God forbid.)

Instead, yesterday the Israeli government decided to totally ‘lock down’ the whole of Bnei Brak, and drafted in two battalions of the IDF to prevent citizens from entering or exiting.

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In other words, the State of Israel is now the proud owner of its very own Jewish ghetto.

From what I can tell, there are plans to also lockdown Elad, Modiin Illit, Beitar Illit, Meah Shearim, and Bet Shemesh too, which also have a high proportion of ‘uncontrollable’ chareidim.

If we look at this with secular eyes, it seems to clearly be part of the Israeli government’s ongoing war against chareidi society. I, for one, am confused as to how government spokespeople can come out so confidently to claim that ‘at least 38,000 people are infected with COVID-19’ in Bnei Brak, when only 8,000 tests for COVID-19 were conducted across the whole of the country over the last week.

We all know that saying: lies, damn lies and statistics.

But the statistics all over the world are helpfully suggesting that frum communities have the greatest incidence of COVID-19 – and at least in chul¸ no-one can argue that enormous numbers of chareidi rabbis are dropping dead in this pandemic.

Why do you think this is happening?

Let’s switch our glasses into spiritual mode, and peek at all this stuff through the eyes of emuna, and emunat tzaddikim.

SO many Israeli rabbis and kabbalists have come out in recent weeks to make it very clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is directly linked, spiritually, to the slander, persecution and imprisonment of Rabbi Eliezer Berland.

Rabbi Menashe Amon said THIS.

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Rabbi Amos Gweta said THIS.

Rabbi Ofer Erez said THIS.

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto said THIS, THIS and now THIS – each time, the message gets more and more explicit, the clues more and more obvious.

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On the Israeli street, Rabbi Daniel Freinter of Elad said THIS (in Hebrew).

And Rabbi Raziel Elul of Bat Yam said THIS (also in Hebrew).

In the meantime Rav Chaim Kanievsky also explained that COVID-19 is directly linked to the sin of lashon hara¸ and a severe problem with the mitzvoth bein adam l’havero.

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So now, let’s see what’s happening on the ground:

In Israel, the main centres of ‘anti-Rav Berland and / or anti-Breslov’ activity in the chareidi world are the cities being targeted by the State for the full ‘ghetto’ treatment.

Hmm.

Do you think that’s a coincidence?

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Now, let’s take a look at where COVID-19 is hitting hardest in the rest of the world.

Surprise, surprise, we see that the hotspots seem to be the frum neighborhoods which were either the centres of all the lashon hara and slander against Rabbi Berland (hereby defined as ‘Yeshiva World News Country’); and / or those kehillahs who seem to be strongly opposed, on idealogical grounds, to the idea of making aliya to Israel.

Making aliya is closely connected to people actually taking the whole concept of geula seriously.

I know SO MANY people who moved to Israel, at great personal cost, and with tremendous mesirut nefesh, or self-sacrifice, simply because they felt geula was approaching, and that God wanted the Jews back in the Holy Land.

So many of Israel’s biggest rabbis – again, including Rabbi Eliezer Berland – have been begging Jews in the diaspora to move to Israel for a number of years, and warning of a massive uptick in anti-semitism. Remember this, from the ravberland.com website, originally posted up on July 9, 2019?

Translated from a shiur given by Rabbi Eliezer Berland, the night of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz 5779

It’s forbidden to leave and go to chutz l’aretz (outside of Israel) for even a single second.

Every second that a person is in chul, he is transgressing an issur d’oraita (something forbidden directly from the Torah.)

And you will not return by the path that you came from, not to return to look at Mitzrayim (Egypt). Everything is called ‘Mitzrayim’! And it’s an issur d’oraita, every second that is spent in chul.

NO PRAYER IS ACCEPTED [THERE], NO TORAH ASCENDS THERE.

A person prays – they don’t hear him. And so, this is why there was a shoah, because people lost their yearning to make aliya to Eretz Yisrael.

Up until the point where they still had this yearning, their prayers still ascended.

But the day when they said, “it’s good for me here, it’s actually amazing for me, here,” – as it’s written in the Gemara, Tractate Shabbat 147b, about the 10 Tribes. [The 10 Tribes] received places that were better than Eretz Yisrael, so they didn’t want to return.

Yirmiyahu went to bring them back, but they received such wonderful, good locations [to live in] that they said, we’re aren’t coming back. If they don’t return, there is no olam haba (world to come).

They lost everything.

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But who’s been listening?

Instead of respecting these holy rabbis, which include the former head of the Lamed Vavnikim, Rav Yehuda Zev Leibowitz, z’tl, who said way back in 2010 that before Moshiach came there would be a catastrophe for the Jews in America.

And instead of taking people like Rabbi Shalom Arush seriously, when in 2008 he warned that:”Those who don’t come to Israel while they still can may be lucky to escape from the USA with a plastic bag  and a pair of pajamas”,  instead, the message was ignored and mocked, and the messengers were roundly attacked.

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Last year, someone put out a book called The Empty Wagon, which was one of the most disturbing anti-aliyah treatises I ever read in my life.

I only got half-way through the book before I literally had to throw it away, there was so much spiritual tumah radiating off it, it was making me feel physically ill.

I bought that book in a very frum bookshop in Golders Green, the heart of frum life in London. Apparently, it was so popular that the initial printing of 1,000 copies quickly sold out, leading to more reprints and to this book becoming a run-away bestseller.

The author of this reeking pile of lashon hara and slander against Eretz Yisrael even went so far as to state publically that Jerusalem is not the capital of the Jewish people, and also poured scorn on the idea that anyone should move to Israel.

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This comes from THIS interview, with Makor Rishon:

“[W]hen they were talking about moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we uploaded a clip of Rabbi [NAME – author of The Empty Wagon] (spokesman for Naturna) who spoke about it.” In the clip, [Rabbi NAME] can be seen watching the American President Donald Trump declaring Jerusalem as the “capital of the Jewish People.”

[Rabbi NAME] explains that “There is no political connection between Israel and Jerusalem. It’s just a holy city,” he declared, “The Jewish People have no capital, we never had a capital. The Jewish People are a religious community. We pray towards Jerusalem and treat it as a holy city, not as the political capital of the Jewish People.”

The clip has close to two million views on Facebook alone. Their page has 300,000 followers from around the world. Katz: “When [Rabbi NAME] is asked about politics in Israel, he asks: ‘Why don’t you ask me about politics in China or Taiwan? If I answer, that means I’m connected to them, and the truth is that I am not.”

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Well guess what?

Now so many of these anti-Israel, anti-aliya kehillas are totally connected to China, in a way that no-one could ever have foreseen, even just a short month ago.

Do you think that’s a coincidence?

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been discovering a great many things. One of the things I discovered is just how invested so many chareidi Jews actually are in property in chutz l’aretz.

Of course, I know that all sorts of Jews are doing this, not just frum ones, but frum Jews are meant to be the standard-bearers for yiddishkeit, and are meant to be more sensitive to putting emuna and Torah ahead of crass materialism.

So, when I start reading up about chareidi property barons in places like London and New York, who mamash have reputations for being the most shark-like, mafia-like nightmare slum landlords, that disturbs me terribly.

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Of course, people have to be able to make parnassa. After my own experience of going bust and losing my house when my husband was encouraged to quit his job to learn and pray full-time, I am a BIG believer in the man of the house holding down a job, as well as learning Torah.

But there’s a reason that the first question we’re asked when we pass away and approach the gates of Heaven is:

Nasata v’natata b’emunah? Did you deal honestly, with emunah, in your business?” (Tractate Shabbat 31a)

There is no way that slum landlords, millionaire bankruptcies, benefit fraudsters or money launderers can answer that question with a ‘yes’, no matter how much money they might be giving to charity.

You can’t build a mitzvah off the back of an aveira.

And also, if so many people are making their parnassa by mamash investing in bricks and mortar in chul, then it’s little wonder they are so resistant to moving to Israel. It’s very hard to transplant that sort of parnassa to a different country, to Israel.

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So, let’s recap, and then get on to what simple people like you and me can really do, to insulate ourselves from as many of these birth pangs of Moshiach coming, as possible.

RECAP:

  • The numbers of leading rabbis and kabbalists linking the slander, persecution and imprisonment of Rabbi Berland with the spread of COVID-19 is growing all the time.
  • If we want COVID-19 to stop (and more specifically, the awful hysteria around it, which is really what’s destroying the world and the economy) – we need to make teshuva about what lashon hara we might have said, or believed, or spread about Rabbi Berland, and also about Eretz Yisrael, especially if we put other people off from making aliya.
  • The communities and cities being most affected by COVID-19 are those who:
    • Have been spearheading the lashon hara against Rabbi Berland in the frum community;
    • Have been spearheading the lashon hara against Eretz Yisrael, in the frum world
  • (And I’ll add another category here, that Jewish property developers / slumlords in chul also seem to be highly represented amongst the ranks of those succumbing to COVID-19. See this, for a case in point, it’s the owner of ‘Crown Acquisitions’:

https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Trumps-friend-in-coma-from-coronavirus-is-a-Jewish-real-estate-mogul-623278

UPDATE:

Having done a bit more digging, it seems that physicians and politicians are also very highly represented amongst the ranks of people actually dying from Coronavirus. So, to get all our ducks in a row, your chances of having a serious problem with COVID-19, health-wise, seem to be much greater if you are:

  • An orthodox rabbi living in chul, and particularly one who is ‘anti’ Rav Berland or anti making aliya.
  • A property developer
  • A doctor
  • A politician or political figure – especially if you also happen to live in Iran.

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So now, how can we get through the next few weeks and months in as good a state as possible?

The answer lies in prayer, tzedaka and teshuva.

TESHUVA

On top of the specific teshuva required vis Rabbi Berland and Eretz Yisrael, all of us have so much work to do on our mitzvoth bein adam l’havero generally, too.

That means we have to stop speaking lashon hara about friends, acquaintances and family members; and that we have to stop acting so ‘holier-than-thou’, as though we ourselves have nothing left to work on and fix, (this especially applies to parents, and especially to parents of teens).

And we also to make an effort to stop stabbing other people in the back, and pulling them down, and embarrassing them, with all our little  put downs on social media and online, as well as the more ‘traditional’ verbal attacks.

Rav Pinto spoke in a very harif way on how each time we start degrading other Jews and speaking lashon hara and stirring up trouble and causing others pain, we are just feeding the bad angel that’s called COVID-19.

We all have that tendency to engage in one upmanship and verbal sparring. I unfortunately have that tendency in a very strong way, and I’m also really trying to get on top of it more, and to restrict what I say and write as much as possible.

(I’m still failing badly at it, but hey, God appreciates the effort.)

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TZEDAKA

Pesach is round the corner, and there are so many families in Israel, and probably also in your communities too, who are really going to struggle to even have the staples this year. So, if you are still one of the lucky ones who still has a job, or some income coming in, then please think about other people, and share your cash around as much as you can.

If we really are heading into a situation where the global economy is going to be totally wrecked, and money will end up being worthless (assuming you can even get access to your savings, before the banks all go bust), then now is the time to spend some of it helping others.

The kimcha de-pischa you do this year could literally save your life, and it will certainly give you a share in the world to come, whatever else happens. So dig deep, and get your spending priorities straight this year, by putting kimcha de-pischa in the #1 spot, however you can do it.

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PRAYER

Weeks ago, Rabbi Berland asked us all to start saying 7 Tikkun HaKlalis a day, until Pesach.

The Tikkun HaKlali has a miraculous power to fix things at their spiritual root, and to atone for sins that otherwise would require a huge amount of suffering or pain to pay down.

There are literally hundreds of stories of how reciting Tikkun HaKlali at a time of trouble lead to great miracles.

Last Friday, Rabbi Berland upped the amount for people to say to 12 a day.

Honestly?

That’s a lot for me to do. So I’ve been sharing them with my husband, and on some days, my kids are also saying a couple of them.

(Let’s give the credit where’s it’s really due, here: my husband is the one who is really making this happen, he often does 7-10 a day, and then I just kind of fill in what’s missing. Thanks, looove!)

And I am 100% sure that saying Tikkun HaKlali is keeping my family ‘insulated’ from most of the difficulties going on right now.

BH, when we’re home away from the Stasi, it’s actually pretty nice, most of the time, and we’re getting on fine with each other, which by itself is an open miracle.

You can’t have teens and parents together in the same space for approaching a month with no blood on the floor, at least metaphorically, without open miracles mamash.

And other people are finding that, too.

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I received the following from a reader, A, who will stay anonymous for obvious reasons.

We’ll end with this, but let me just emphasise that OF COURSE, we should all be keeping the diktats of Bibi 100% – even the really dumb, scientifically-unproven ones about covering our faces with scarves whenever we go out, and keeping the windows in our cars open – and ESPECIALLY the ones that prevent us from keeping mitzvoth.

That’s really, really important, if we want to stay safe during this whole COVID-19 pandemic, that’s killed 37 people, nearly all over 70, in the space of almost a month here in Israel.

Over to A…..

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Chapter One.

A lady was renting a room in our house, and we made breakfast together. Time was short, but we needed to say 7 tikkun klali’s since that is what the Rav said. So, we got the idea that she would read it line by line in English, since Hebrew was hard, and we would repeat after her. She read the whole thing seven times, giving me a chance to wash lettuce and cut cucumbers, garlic and tomatoes, warm the bread, and lift weights.

We kept on blessing her to have her own home with her own husband. She is very squished in the small room we gave her with all her clothes, books, and other stuff, on top of the things our children left in the room after they married and moved out.

After three days we had almost learned the verses in English by heart, and then that lady started having long telephone conversations with a man she really likes.

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Chapter Two.

The Rav asked for 12 tikun klali’s instead of 7 and my friend was too busy to help. So, for the next three days my routine changed: Woke up at 5:30, prayed, made aduki beans for my husband and oatmeal for my son, and started the tikkun in Hebrew. Each time took 13 minutes, so with periodic gasping for air it was done by 12:00.

And then the miracles became noticeable. Something we had prayed for with weeping twenty years ago showed up at our door.

Let me explain. We had no minyan anywhere near that farmhouse, and even if we did, there was no sefer torah even to borrow. We wished like crazy for a minyan. Any minyan. Which of course we got later in Israel, but not the kind we originally prayed for, which had become just plain irrelevant.

But the wheel goes around, and things again become relevant.

Before the Coronavirus happened the main minyan in our small town started at 7:30. When the police got a bad case of nerves because of the damn panic—umm, the pandemic—they locked up the shuls and people started praying with the minyan outside. After a while the cops closed the yard and told them to pray at home alone.

But they didn’t, because the minyan people showed up on our front porch at 6:00.

After the minyan, later that day, a panicked citizen came to my door, a scarf wrapped around his nose and mouth, and started talking to me in Hebrew, which was hard to understand with the scarf muffling the words. At last he opened the scarf and blurted out that we had to stop the minyan, because the police would give us a 10,000-shekel fine if we kept it up, and besides we were all going to die.

And we thought that was the end.

But early next morning, the minyan showed up on our porch and my husband was standing on the other side of the screen door in his tallit, answering my puzzled look by explaining he couldn’t get them to leave.

Later the guys promised to pay the fine, if we ever got one.

They even lent us a sefer torah. You want to see it? It’s standing in the storage shed with its corona-crown and crowning the top of our extra Pesach refrigerator.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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2 replies
    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      No-one is talking about ‘punishment’. This is just natural cause and effect. If people didn’t want to move to Israel when they could, then the natural consequence of that is that they aren’t here. There are many reasons, some of them justified, for why people didn’t / couldn’t move to Israel before all this happened. But as the Rav makes clear, it’s only when people lose the YEARNING to move to Israel that they unleash Divine retribution.

      All my family is in chul.

      Some of them want to move here, if things were ‘different’, if it was easier to figure out the money side of things, and if they wouldn’t have complications from extended family, or if their kids were a little younger. These are all solid considerations. The point is the YEARNING. As soon as someone starts slandering Eretz Yisrael, or saying that people don’t need to at least YEARN move here, they have crossed a line, spiritually.

      And they need to make teshuva for that, especially if they were in a position of influence or power, where other people were listening to their podcasts, or reading their books, or following their blogs, and got put off the idea of making aliya, or started justifying their own ‘lack of yearning’ as being somehow a good, or even acceptable, thing.

      In terms of what the Rav meant by that post – BH, all the Jews will get here soon, on boats. That would be an amazing outcome, and one that would personally make me very happy. I don’t care that people haven’t been living here up until now, I just want them to get here now, already, so they can be as safe as it’s possible to be. Israel has its own problems, and its own bent leaders and yucky people and anti-Semitism, for sure, but it’s God’s land, and on the plus side, it also has the largest concentration of real tzaddikim that you’ll find anywhere in the world, whose merit is protecting us all.

      Reply

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