Well, it looks like things are already moving.
This morning the bhol haredi and rotter ‘news’ sites carried a story that the former head of the Tel Aviv –Yaffo Beit Din, Rabbi Nissim Ben Shimon, had published a strong letter decrying the contravention of Torah law that occurred in the recent psak din handed down against Rabbi Berland, in Bnei Brak.
Before I translate the story, let’s back up and give some more background.
The cholkim, that small group of unfortunate people within Meah Shearim Breslov who have been part of the ‘anti Rav Berland’ movement for three decades, already, were the ones who instigated the Beit Din.
They are experts at playing on people’s innate prejudices and arrogance, and have a lot of unholy siyatta dishmeya in presenting people with exactly what they want to hear.
Hey, media people, you want to believe that all chareidim are abusers?! Here’s a great story for ya….
Hey, dati leumi people, you want to believe that all chareidi rabbis are corrupt and out of touch with reality? Here’s a great story for ya….
Hey, Litvak people, you want to believe that all chassidim belong to cults, with Rebbes who act like a modern-day Shabtai Tzvi?! Here’s a great story for ya….
And so on, and so forth.
So, more than 18 months ago, the Rav’s persecutors went to a Beit Din in Bnei Brak with pronounced ‘anti Breslov’ tendencies, and told them exactly what they wanted to hear.
There was only one problem:
The Beit Din was not conducted according to the halacha, on a number of counts, the most notable of which include:
- There was only the testimony of ONE witness to go on, the same false witness that also told the Israeli police exactly what they wanted to hear.
- Rav Berland himself was never called upon to testify.
- The verdict was delivered when the Rav was in prison, and couldn’t appear before the Beit Din.
There are more discrepancies too – I have a 3 page document from a first-hand witness that attended the proceedings in person, that lists them all, which I haven’t got around to translating yet – but these three alone should underline that whatever actually happened, that Beit Din in Bnei Brak was apparently not operating in accordance with basic halacha.
So then, the cholkim being the cholkim, they weren’t content with just perverting justice by one senior Beit Din, and then coercing two other senior Beit Dins to sign on to that pervasion of justice. They wanted even more dayanim and senior rabbanim to sign on to the psak din that they created out of whole cloth.
And that’s where they came unstuck.
Because some of those other dayanim and rabbanim actually decided to do their homework, and to ask for details of the judgement first-hand, from the people who were meant to have made it, before appending their signatures.
And that’s where the wheels have started to come off the bus, big time.
Because the more these sincere rabbanim started probing the judgment against Rav Berland, and asking for the information and facts it was based upon, the more it became clear that the initial Beit Din had not been operating according to even basic halacha.
Some of these rabbanim and dayanim felt so upset by what had occurred, they asked the original Beit Din to retract their ruling against Rabbi Berland, or at least to put out a letter clarifying how their Beit Din arrived at their conclusions – or else, they would put out their own letter, to inform the public of what had happened.
What can we say?
When people’s pride are on the table, and when their status is at stake, it can be very hard to back down from the tree, or to maneuver out of the corner you painted yourself into.
Admitting we made a mistake is one of the hardest things in the world, regardless of who we are.
And when we’re considered to be someone with status and influence, who is meant to be upholding Torah law for literally hundreds and thousands of communities across the world…. Well. Things get kinda complicated, really fast.
So, with that introduction out the way, here’s a free translation of what appeared on the bhol haredi website today, which you can read for yourselves in the original Hebrew HERE.
Over the last two weeks, the psak din written about the matter concerning the leader of the Shuvu Banim community, Rabbi Eliezer Berland, has been publicized. It was put out by a special Beit Din established on behalf of the central batei din undersigned by gedolei hadayanim in Israel.
It told the community to distance themselves and to guard themselves from him [i.e. Rav Berland]. This was after a year and a half of examining witnesses and complainants….
[Rivka note: As there was only one ‘witness’, it truly boggles the mind what they were actually doing for a year and a half. Let’s continue.]
Now, one of the previous Ravads (Rosh Av Beit Din) of Tel Aviv-Yaffo, and Ravad of the Badatz ‘Netzer Aharon’, haGaon Rabbi Nissim ben Shimon, has written a letter raising a number of questions about the published ruling.
In that letter…the dayan and gaon Rabbi Nissim ben Shimon writes that one of the askanim (people involved with the case – i.e. one of the Rav’s persecutors) turned to him, to ask him to add his signature to the psak din, and because of this, [Rav ben Shimon] decided to delve into the details of the ruling, to clarify and check the truth of the matter.
He said that it’s not his way to add his signature to a psak din that he hadn’t clarified himself.
Rav ben Shimon recounts that he turned to two of the dayanim who signed on the psak din, and asked to hear from them on what grounds they’d decided to put out the psak din, and they avoided telling him anything at all about the testimony and the proceedings that occurred at the Beit Din.
One of these two dayanim referred him to the third dayan, the gaon Rabbi Sriel Rosenberg, and in conversation with him, told him [i.e. Rabbi ben Shimon] that the psak was written on the back of “testimony from the mouth of one man, who testified what he testified.”
[Rivka note: this is the same, infamous, false witness that proved so useful to the Israeli police, too.]
In response to this, Rabbi ben Shimon told him that he couldn’t add his signature to this psak, that recounts that it was based on testimonies [i.e. in the plural, not just the say-so of one man. Apart from anything else, Jewish law requires there to be at least two witnesses.]
In response to this, the gaon Rabbi Sriel Rosenberg replied that: “I didn’t ask you to sign it.”
[Skipping a couple of pars, where it talks about the other rabbis who signed on to this psak din. You can go and read it yourself, if you want. The story then continues by describing how Rabbi Shimon Badani also originally appended his signature to the psak din – but then changed his mind, after hearing from Rabbi ben Shimon, what had really happened.]
After the clarification done by the gaon Rabbi Nissim ben Shimon, [Rabbi Badani] added his signature to his [i.e. Rabbi ben Shimon’s] letter. And then added in his own handwriting:
“I see the letter of the famous gaon and rabbi, and I’m flabbergasted. And according to this, I signed on the psak din, [against Rav Berland] which really pained me, and now I take back what I wrote. It’s fitting [for me] to worry about the yeshiva and the kollel, that it shouldn’t collapse, chas v’shalom.
[Rivka note: I think Rav Badani is saying that the shock of discovering that the proceedings that occurred in the Beit Din in Bnei Brak against Rabbi Berland weren’t done according to even basic halacha could be profoundly disturbing to many people in the Torah world – as indeed, it should be.]
The implications of this are enormous.
Here ends my free translation, although the story continues to describe how Rav Badani then showed up in Jerusalem a couple of days ago, together with Rabbi Yehuda Sheinfeld, to pay a visit to the Shuvu Banim community in Jerusalem, to strengthen them, and to explain why Rabbi Berland is being persecuted.
You can hear what he had to say in the video below (in Hebrew).
We’ll leave it there for now.
But things are certainly starting to move again.
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