Shabbat Parshat Yitro 5784 – Receiving the Torah – with the Gaon and Tzaddik Moreinu HaRav Eliezer Berland shlit”a
“Torah from Sinai” – Also this Shabbat – the Shabbat of Kabbalat HaTorah (receiving of the Torah) – we merited to pray with the Gaon and Tzaddik Rabbi Eliezer Berland shlit”a. For nearly nine hours we merited to be in the presence of Moreinu HaRav shlit”a.
On Friday afternoon, the Rav came out to Mincha shortly before candle lighting (4:28 pm). Then came Kabbalat Shabbat with “Lecha Dodi” lasting over 42 minutes with unmatchable pleasantness. We must note that over a period of an hour and a half, throughout Minchah, Kabbalat Shabbat, and Lecha Dodi, nearly a thousand people – men, women, and children – stand under the open skies with drops of rain falling on Shabbat evenings. After Kabbalat Shabbat, which lasted about an hour, the Rav continued with Maariv and the Zemirot (songs) of Shabbat evening. After nearly two and a half hours, he returned to his holy home at 6:40.
On Shabbat morning at 4:30, the Rav shlit”a entered early for prayers, some two hours before sunrise. With Shacharit lasting some two hours, the Rav began with Tikkun Chatzot, the morning Zemirot, Korbanot, and Pesukei D’Zimra with great vitality, all the niggunim (melodies) with fervor, even though during this Shabbat, the Rav was feeling weak, and he sped up the niggunim slightly. Still the shortest prayer at Shuvu Banim lasts for many hours. Every niggun was 3-4 minutes. The Shabbat brought joy to the souls! The Rav stood for the Amidah at the minute of sunrise at 6:30, some two hours after having begun the prayers. Afterwards, the Rav shlit”a led the repetition of the Amidah.
The high point of the Shabbat was, of course, the reading of the Ten Commandments. Moreinu HaRav shlit”a began the Torah reading at 6:50 in the morning, as one by one, those with Simachot or Yarhzeit’s came up for their Aliyah. Then when they reached the Aliyah of the Ten Commandments, Moreinu HaRav shlit”a was honored to ascend to the Torah. After the blessings, the entire giant congregation – men, women, and children — were silent, and a bird did not chirp, nor did a baby cry. Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation spoke and God replied with a Voice – “Anochi.” There is no describing the exaltation and awe during the reading of the Ten Commandments. The reading of the Torah was concluded by the Bar Mitzvah boy Shmuel Izik Levit, who also finished the Haftarah of “Chazon Yeshayahu” with a clear and resonant voice.
Shortly before 8:00, they stood for Musaf. After Musaf, the Rav shlit”a continue the prayer in order, from “Kavei el Hashem” until the Tikkun HaKlali. After the completion of the Ten Psalms of Rebbe Nachman with a pleasing melody, the Rav shlit”a said Kiddush and gave over words of the Living God in which he spoke about David’s desire to conquer all the way to Rome, and about the mystery of the distinction between the verses, “Who will bring me to the besiege (matzor) city,” and in another place it is written, “Who will bring me to the fortified (mivtzar) city.” At 9:00 am, the Rav shlit”a entered his home after four and half hours of prayer.
At sunset, the Rav shlit”a came out for Mincha of Shabbat Kodesh, and afterwards the Third Shabbat Meal was held. For a number of minutes, the Rav shlit”a gave out Shirayim. After that, he began the Zemirot of the Third Meal in his holy way for some twenty minutes, and after this, he sang “Ya-h Ribon Olam” for about fifteen minutes. At the conclusion of the song, he said Zimun on a cup and began his weekly shiur on the book “Pele Yoetz,” in the section on the holiness of man. Before Maariv, they sang “Lamnatzeach Binginot” for a half hour (!). After that was Maariv with songs and niggunim, followed by Havdalah with the singing of “La’Yehudi Hayta Ora…” In Melaveh Malka, he gave over a shiur in “Chayei Moharan.” After this, he entered his home at 8:00 pm, after three hours that we merited to be together with him.
Below is a photo gallery from Motza’ei Shabbat (photos courtesy of the Whatsapp group: “HaRav Berland Tzaddik HaDor”):