Authors Posts by Yissachar Dov Berg

Yissachar Dov Berg



Secrets of the Torah with Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita (translated from the original Hebrew)

From Aram Balak King of Moav led me, from the mountains of Kedem

Bilaam used to do hitbodedut (personal prayer). Even Bilaam would walk around the mountains, as it’s written: ‘From Aram Balak led me, from the mountains of Kedem’. He’d go to the mountains of Kedem, and yell out to the mountains, he’d go to the hills, and cry out to Hashem with all his might. Yet despite all this, he remained Bilaam. Nothing helped him at all, he stayed ‘Bilaam’.

A person thinks that just because he’s doing hitbodedut, now he’s going to find a million dollars. When he’s doing hitbodedut, he wants to see the brachot (blessings) immediately. He wants to see his shidduch (marriage partner) already; to see the new apartment already, he wants to see the million bucks, he wants to have saving accounts for all his kids and his grandchildren.

He says: “I did an hour of hitbodedut, where’s Hashem?! Why isn’t Hashem answering me?!”


People don’t know what hitbodedut really is. He stands before God, and he says: “Ribonu shel olam, Master of the World – give it to me, already! Give me! Give me this! When are you going to give it to me?”

He takes a sack with him to his hitbodedut, and after his hitbodedut he says: “I want to see how this sack is going to get filled up!” It’s true that our eyes look to Hashem [for help], and that Hashem is happy about this – but this isn’t hitbodedut!

What is hitbodedut? The Rebbe told us, in Torah 52 [of Likutey Moharan] that a person needs to get to the stage of bitul (self-nullification), and it’s impossible to get to bitul except by doing hitbodedut. We only need to bitul ourselves [like this]:

“I’m not Moshe Rabbenu, I’m not Eliyahu Hanavi, I’m not Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, I have no idea what Breslov is, even, I have no concept of what Breslev really is – the opposite! I love eating, I love to drink like a non-Jew, God should have mercy on us…”

And then every hour of hitbodedut will be something else entirely. We need to do hitbodedut in order to get to bitul. Hitbodedut is only to know that I’m nothing, that I’m dust and ashes, because all the time, a person thinks to themselves: “I’m THE MOST wise, THE MOST clever, THE MOST successful, THE MOST learned, THE MOST popular.”

Twenty four hours a day, a person thinks to themselves “I’m THE MOST… THE MOST… THE MOST…” Each of us has our own proof about why we’re THE MOST successful, or THE MOST wise, or THE MOST smart. If it was possible to open up someone’s brain, and to peer at all their internal thoughts, then you’d see that they had a million thoughts every second why they were THE MOST, THE MOST…

So, now a person needs to do an hour of hitbodedut, and hour to calm down from all these arrogant thoughts, and to nullify themselves, to do hitbodedut (personal prayer), to relax a bit and to start to think that I’m not ‘THE MOST…’ in the world. There are other wise people in the world. There are other successful individuals, there are other people with deep understanding – and this takes a whole hour!

Hitbodedut, talking to Hashem, is simply an hour where we stop running after all these arrogant thoughts. Have mercy on your poor neshama (soul)! Poor thing, it can’t return to its spiritual root, and it doesn’t want all these thoughts. The neshama is Divine, and it doesn’t want to be listening to all this nonsense, it can’t bear hearing all this stupidity.


Give your soul some repose, an hour a day! Give your neshama a chance to speak, and then it’ll tell you: “Stop with all this stupidity, with all these thoughts. You can’t see what’s really going on, release me, already! Give me some breathing space! I want to nullify myself to Hashem, I want humility.”

The soul is Divine, and it only wants one thing. It want to become ayn, nothing (i.e. completely nullified to Hashem.]


Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, gave over the following shiur after the mincha (afternoon) prayers on June 26th, 2017:

“Parshat Chukat talks about Og, the King of the Bashan; Sichon, the King of the Amorites; Miriam the Prophetess, Miriam’s well, and the mey meribah (waters of strife).

Because its forbidden for a person to argue at all times!

“Moshe only argued on one occasion, and he wasn’t allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael. Why does a person feel they need to argue? If someone tells you: ‘stand here’ – so stand there! Soon, we’ll have a hall for 10,000 people (where they can come and pray). Afterwards, we’ll have one for 100,000, and so it will continue. It’s only going to increase and multiply.

“Torah lessons 54 and 55 in Likutey Moharan talk about grave-diggers. Lesson 54 about gravediggers talks about Avshalom [the song of King David], (and says):

‘Abba Shaul said, ‘I used to be a grave-digger. A cave once opened up beneath me and I was standing up to my nose in the eye socket of a dead person. When I stepped back, they said, ‘That was Avshalom’s eye.’[1]

‘This is the meaning of what Abba Shaul said: ‘I used to be a grave-digger,’ because Abba Shaul always endeavored to rectify the evil eye.’”

Rav Berland, shlita, continued:

“Lesson 55 talks about Og, the King of the Bashan:

‘The Talmud states, ‘Abba Shaul said, ‘I used to be a grave-digger. Once, I chased after a tzvi (deer) into the kolit (thigh bone) of a dead man. After chasing it for three parsah[2], I hadn’t caught up with the deer, nor reached the end of the thighbone. When I turned back they told me, ‘That belonged to Og, King of the Bashan’…[3] and no-one can rectify these sounds (kolot) for his grip is on the right side. Even Moshe feared him, until God promised him, ‘Do not fear him!’ as brought in the Zohar.

‘For this reason, a wicked person like Og is called a refugee, as written ‘The refugee arrived’[4] which refers to Og[5], for he wanted that Avraham would be killed, so that he could take Sarah. This is an aspect of ‘the wicked one watches the tzaddik’ – this is Avraham – ‘but God will not abandon him into his hand.’”

Rav Berland continued: “Both Avshalom and Og, King of the Bashan had an ayin hara (evil eye). Og had an evil eye towards Avraham Avinu. He complained that Avraham wasn’t behaving nicely, inasmuch as he rode on the donkey while Sarah walked on foot.”


[1] See Tractate Niddah 24b

[2] A biblical unit of distance

[3] Again, see Tractate Niddah 24b

[4] Genesis 14:13

[5] Midrash Genesis Rabbah 42:8


(The following was translated from Rav Ofer Erez’s Ka’ayal Ta’arog newsletter #20 for Tammuz 5777.)

Words of Wisdom, from Rav Ofer Erez, shlita

Every Jew has a Divine neshama (soul) that’s part of Hashem above. Our job is take the soul’s strength – our thoughts, our words, our feelings and our actions – and to use it to do the work of the neshama, namely Torah, prayer and good deeds.

But, if God forbid we use our soul’s strength simple to grasp the pleasures of this world, then it’s written in the holy book that this is the reason and the root of the geula (exile). Every nation in the world has its own particular bad midda (character trait), or bad desire, which is actually the essence of that particular nation.

For example, when Am Yisrael falls into the lust for money, this immediately causes the nation who’s essence is defined by ‘lust for money’ to rule over us – and this is the internal reason why America is ruling over us in the world, at the moment.

Rebbe Nachman teaches that the lust for money and the lust for niuf (fornication) are connected, and influence each other. In our generation, we are facing a very big test in regard to these two lusts, which is why America, whose essence is ‘lust for money’, rules over us, and makes decisions about what we can and can’t do.

We need to know that the only way to get free from being enslaved to the nations is by doing real teshuva about our spiritual descent into the lust for money and the lust for fornication, which is giving the nations of the world the strength to rule over us.

There are a few stages to this teshuva process.

THE FIRST STAGE (first point): That a person recognizes and acknowledges where he’s really holding, in relation to these lusts. This occurs when a person does hitbodedut (personal prayer) and asks Hashem to really, honestly show him where he’s holding vis a vis these lusts.

The second point: Is to come close to the true Tzaddik, about whom Rebbe Nachman tells us (in Likutey Moharan Part II 67):

“Everyone who comes close and is encompassed by the Tzaddik, his eyes are opened and he sees himself, how’s he’s really holding in all of the middot (character traits).”

THE SECOND STAGE: Is to do teshuva, particularly in the aspect of ‘leave bad and do good’, i.e. to immediately distance yourself from forbidden thoughts and sights, and to try to make do with as little as possible, according to your needs, when it comes to financial matters. And you should dedicate the rest of your strength to serving Hashem.

But the ikker (essence) of the tikkun (spiritual rectification) is that a person should never despair from crying out to Hashem, both when he’s succeeding in life, and also at those times when he’s failing (God forbid).

Rebbe Nachman says: A person who doesn’t despair from calling out to Hashem, and from praying to Hashem, even if he finds himself in the 50th gate of tumah (spiritual impurity), it’s certain that he’ll merit to achieve a complete and true spiritual rectification.

May it be His will that we should merit to this.


Throughout the long, difficult years of Rav Eliezer Berland’s exile outside of the land of Israel, the community was yearning for the day when they’d be able to celebrate their milestones once more with Rav Berland, shlita.

This past week, another significant milestone was celebrated with the Rav for the first time in over four years, as a group of young students from the ‘Nachmat Zion’ Talmud Torah came, with their teachers, to celebrate their end of year party at Rav Berland’s home in Morasha, Jerusalem.

Here, we’re pleased to share with you some pictures of the happy occasion:

Rav Berland, shlita, hands out Chumashim to the young students
Each young student gets personal attention from the Rav, shlita
The students are from the ‘Nachmat Zion’ Talmud Torah
After five hard years of exile, it’s so good to see the Rav back leading the Shuvu Banim community


Rav Binyamin Knepelmacher, shlita, is one of the biggest influential figures within Breslov chassidut today, and the maggid shiur (main lecturer) at the Sha’arei Torah yeshiva. Recently, Rav Kanfelmacher came to visit Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, at his home.

Rav Binyamin Kanfelmacher, shlita with Rav Berland, shlita

The connection between the two men stretches back many years, and includes a dramatic turnaround where Rav Kanfelmacher almost succumbed to a serious illness, lo alenu, before Rav Berland intervened.

Rav Shmuel Stern, another leading light in Breslov, head of the Nachalei Netzach educational institutions, and one of Rav Berland’s oldest students, takes up the story:

(translated from the original Hebrew account in ‘Lehavot Esh’):

Rav Berland praying at Rav Kanfelmacher bedside, in the hospital

“One of the times that I merited to really see the power of the Rav’s prayers, was in relation to a good friend of mine, Rabbi Binyamin Knepelmacher,” begins Rav Shmuel Stern. “While Rabbi Knepelmacher was on a trip to America, he suddenly didn’t start to feel too good. He came back to Israel, and then it was discovered that he had cancer. He actually lost consciousness for a couple of weeks, and the doctors gave up on him at that point, and called his family in to say their farewells to him.

“One night, the Rav showed up at the hospital with a few students, and I also had the merit of being part of the group that came to visit. He entered Reb Binyamin’s room, and saw him lying unconscious there. He started to recite the Tikkun Haklali next to him, very loudly, together with the rest of the group.

“The nurses came from all over the ward to see what was going on. The Rav told us to say the Tikkun Haklali together three times, and then as he was leaving he told Reb Binyamin’s children: “In another 24 hours, your father is going to wake up.”

“And so it was! After 24 hours, to the utter shock of all the doctors and his relatives, Rabbi Binyamin woke up, and started moving around. Hashem helped him to have a complete refuah shleima and return to his avodat Hashem.” [1]


[1] The Rav often used to ask his driver to take him directly to the bedside of a seriously ill person who’d been hospitalized. Whilst there, the Rav would recite the Tikkun Haklali, and on many occasions, the sick person would recover.


Due to very strong demand, the Shuvu Banim website staff have pulled out all the stops to get the rest of Rav Ofer Erez’s enormously important lesson about seeing the good in our fellow Jews subtitled with English translations.

We’re hoping that the rest of the video will be completed within the week, but in the meantime, you can now see the subtitles up to the half-way (30 minute) mark.

We hope to be bringing you more transformation Torah from Rav Ofer Erez, shlita, over the next few weeks and months, including forthcoming announcements of two of the Rav’s most popular books, which are being translated into English.

In the meantime, please subscribe to Rav Ofer Erez’s English YouTube channel, to ensure you don’t miss any new videos.

If you’d like to help spread more of Rav Ofer Erez’s (and Rebbe Nachman’s…) Torah and light in the world, check the sidebar for more details of how to donate to Rav Ofer’s ‘Ka’ayal Ta’arog’ outreach organisation.

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Prayer written by HaRav Eliezer Berland, shlit”a, for Lag B’Omer

Ribono Shel Olam, Master of the World, You who are full of mercy, open Your heavenly treasury and bestow a new light upon us on this holy and awesome day. The day of which the soul of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is revealed and shines with a new light. The light that opens all the heavens for us and brings down the comprehension of G-dliness for the entire year. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai rectified the sin of Adam HaRishon completely. He restored all of the lights—the hidden, primordial, and pure lights of the highest spheres—to their source. Even Moshe Rabbeinu needed Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, for when Moshe ascended to the heavens, to the place where the holy Tablets were hidden, the soul of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai manifested within him as he fought with the angels.

continue reading here…