Hair-raising words from Rav Ofer Erez shlit”a on the life and death necessity of participating in the Pidyon Shvuyim of our Rebbe Rabbi Eliezer Berland shlit”a. These are his words:
“I have sat a lot for the last three months with the talmidim of our Rebbe Rav Berland, who are involved with self-sacrifice with all his medical and legal needs. I also twice met, having long conversations, with the attorneys Amit Hadad and Rotem Tobol.
“From a legal standpoint, we’re found in a system that’s not very simple. The prosecutor’s office and court system are battling against our Rebbe Rav Berland in a way that’s not understandable. It’s also not understandable by a secular person, not a religious [person], nor a believing [person]. To the point that they don’t understand over what is the entire war; certainly, this isn’t simple. The attorney said to me that there was never such a thing as this, that for the sake of accusations such as these, to put a person under arrest. That the Rav is the age that he is, and his situation, that he sits in imprisonment for accusations that are on the border of hallucination and non-existence. It’s not understandable — their self-sacrifice in keeping the Rav imprisoned.
“I sat with the avreichim (Kollel students) who are involved with this day and night, and we’re talking about endless details and endless war. To the Rav, he has his [own] processes in a way that’s very composed, to the point that apparently, a number of times it appeared as if from the Rav’s perspective, that he didn’t want to be released. Today, it appears that our Rebbe Rav Berland wants to be released, and in addition his state of health is terribly serious.
“On Erev Yom Kippur, I spoke to the Rav in a very calm and composed way, and I asked him if he wants us to do all these [legal] processes. We know how much our Rebbe Rav Berland sacrificed himself for each and every one of us; therefore, we our obligated to do our [part].
“From a health standpoint, we are obligated to say every day 7 Tikkun Klalli’s and to pray for our Rebbe Rav Berland shlit”a. His state of health is not at all simple, but the Rav has spiritual powers that we don’t understand. Also from a health standpoint, there is a very big battle, mamash over every document and every medical report. There’s no logic in this, not from a Torah perspective, or from a secular perspective, and not of the [non-Jewish] nations of the world. Let’s say that they don’t hold that the Rav is a Rabbi, it doesn’t matter, but we’re talking about an 84-year-old Jew — our Rebbe Rav Berland has 26 different illnesses.
“Every day, dealing with conferences of different doctors from an assortment of specialties to take care of the Rav. This is a war, because there is someone who makes difficult every step that we take — in order to manage all of this, we need a lot of money. We need to emphasize that everyone who is involved at the moment with the affairs of our Rebbe Rav Berland doesn’t receive any salary. Everyone are volunteers and with very great self-sacrifice. Only, the costs of the attorneys and everything that accompanies [it] cost a very great [amount of] money.
“The final decision regarding expenditures is with the Rabbinic Council. I only hand over to them the information. They’re trying to save as much as possible, but most of the things our in the boundary of life and death or close to it. Therefore, in the gathering of the Rabbinic Council we decided to go out to the public and announce the fundraising campaign for Pidyon Shvuyim. [If the public] would hear the costs, they would be [astonished and certainly would do what was necessary] to present to our Rebbe Rav Berland the basic help.
“I can’t specify, but in one of the petitions, it said that every person in Israel [has the right] to basic necessities, but even this was lacking for our Rebbe Rav Berland. ‘Therefore, our illnesses he bore, and our pains he suffered, and we considered him plagued, stricken by G-d and tortured. He is desecrated through our rebellious sins, tortured through our iniquities, the suffering for [the sake of] our peace [came] upon him, and through his wound, we were healed’ (Isaiah 53:4-5). I don’t understand. This is above my comprehension, but in the little bit that we understand, we see that our Rebbe Rav Berland accepted on himself all the suffering of the generation.
“If people would hear details, they would understand that this isn’t in the bounds of mortal man what Rav Berland accepts upon himself and suffers — things that are very extreme and terrible. Any other person, the most courageous and strongest, couldn’t make it through one day of what Rav Berland has been going through throughout this entire period. Therefore to help with the matter of the Rav–this is a merit. Only in the future, will what’s being done here be revealed to us; mamash Sipurey Maasios — stories of ancient times — throughout this entire process.
“The Rabbinic Council set the contribution at 520 NIS for each family. Everything goes completely to efforts for the sake of our Rebbe Rav Berland. This is the mitzvah of Tzedaka [charity], Pidyon Shvuyim [redeeming captives], and Pikuach Nefesh [saving life] on the highest level possible.
“A small example. A medical question was raised — yesterday, at 7 in the morning, one of the people involved spoke to the two attorneys over a course of two and half hours on the telephone in order to see how to deal with this. We’re talking about conversations in the early hours of the morning, conversations at night. Seven lawyers in the office of Amit Hadad are dealing with the case of our Rebbe Rav Berland.
“In the last petition, they asked the opinion of five top-tier attorneys in Israel, besides the work of the Rav’s attorney. They read material of over 400 pages and said that it’s impossible to present a better petition than this. In the last two weeks, there were more than eight legal petitions just on the case of our Rebbe Rav Berland.
“The petitions for the sake of the Rav are mamash on harsh things. After surgery, they took the Rav out in handcuffs. Anyone with any intelligence understands that the only place that the Rav could flee is to the hospital. Mamash after surgery, they handcuffed the Rav to the bed; regarding this, there was an additional petition. The Rav suffered sharp pains in his hand, and they refused to allow him to be checked. We petitioned and revealed that his hand had been broken. By the way, after two weeks the cast became moistened, and they didn’t agree to switch it for him. The prisoners cut it for him and removed it. And these are just small details. There are things that are much more urgent.”
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