“I was really shocked when I heard this, and I understood that Rav Abergel, ztl, was effectively telling me that Rav Berland, shlita, is a spiritual giant.” – Dan Ben-David
In Likutey Moharan 1, Lesson 215, Rebbe Nachman tells us:
“Know: there are twenty-four types of spiritual ransoms [pidyonot*], corresponding to the twenty-four courts of justice. For each and every court there is a unique corresponding pidyon to ameliorate its judgments. Therefore, a pidyon is not always effective, since not everyone knows all twenty-four pidyonot…
But know: there is a certain pidyon that includes all the twenty-four courts of justice and is able to ameliorate [the judgments of] all the twenty-four courts….But among the Tzaddikim, not everyone knows of this pidyon. Only one in a generation knows of it…”
*A ‘pidyon’ is a sum of money that a person gives to a notable Tzaddik, in order for the Tzaddik to ‘sweeten’ the spiritual judgments that are hanging over that person, which can cause them great suffering and ill-health. See here for more details about Pidyon Nefesh.
In this passage, Rebbe Nachman is revealing some enormous secrets about how the Heavenly realms of judgment operate, and how a pidyon given to the Tzaddik of the generation can sweeten the judgments in all 24 of these Heavenly courts.
Elsewhere in his writings (that are an exposition of the Holy Zohar’s teachings about the 24 Heavenly courts) Rebbe Nachman explains that each of these Heavenly courts is in operation for a certain hour every single day. Once that hour is up, the ‘judgment’ for that day passes along to the next court, or Heavenly beit din.
Rebbe Nachman also teaches that each court is responsible for judging different issues. So say, for example, someone commits a particular sin or transgression, it doesn’t automatically follow that they will be immediately ‘judged’ in Heaven on the matter. Rather, the judgment will be held over until the Heavenly court responsible for this particular matter reaches their hour to judge.
Now, there are very holy and pure Tzaddikim in Am Yisrael who have taken it upon themselves to try to ‘sweeten’ the judgments against the Jewish people that are being handed down on an hourly and daily basis by these Heavenly courts. But the matter is anything but simple!
Rebbe Nachman explains that while certain Tzaddikim understand the workings and secrets of one particular Heavenly court, and while other Tzaddikim may control even a number of these Heavenly courts, none of them can control ALL of the courts and prevent every kind of judgement from being passed. That is why a pidyon payment given to one of these holy Tzaddikim doesn’t always work to sweeten the judgments against the person, because the sentence was handed down by a court that this Tzaddik doesn’t have access to, and can’t control.
But Rebbe Nachman explains that there is something called a ‘pidyon Haklali’, or a ‘general pidyon’, that includes all 24 Heavenly courts. But here’s the thing:
Only one Tzaddik in every generation knows the secret of this pidyon haklali and has control over all 24 heavenly courts. Only when someone gives this Tzaddik his pidyon will he be guaranteed that the judgments against him will be sweetened and ameliorated at their root. Rebbe Nachman when saying this point brings a verse (Shemot 18) “And the name of the one is Eliezer”, that in every generation there is only one Tzaddik who can do this.
SO WHO IS THIS TZADDIK IN OUR GENERATION?
We’ve already covered this subject in other articles and in other recordings on the Shuvu Banim website, but recently we were given an exclusive interview by Dan Ben-David, that really set out the matter very clearly. Here’s the interview, in Ben-David’s own words:
“My name is Dan Ben-David, and I was a chassid of the holy Rabbi Yoram Abergel, ztl, for 20 years. My connection with him began in a very special, apparently random way, which afterwards convinced me that he had ruach hakodesh (a spirit of prophecy).
“It all started when I was invited to join one of the regular classes that the Rav Abergel, ztl, was giving in Petach Tikva, when everybody went up to get a bracha from the Rav, ztl, at the end of the class. As soon as I kissed his hand [a common respectful custom amongst Sephardim], Rav Yoram, ztl, said to me: ‘Thanks a lot.’ He didn’t say that to anyone else.
“Honestly, I had no idea what the Rav was talking about, but I didn’t have the courage to ask him what he meant.”
Ben-David continues: “Another month passed, until my curiosity got the better of me and I again decided to go to Rav Yoram’s class. This time, I was determined to find out what Rav Abergel, ztl, had meant. So, we got to the end of the class, and I again went over and lowered my head to get a bracha from the Rav, ztl, and once again, he said to me: ‘Thanks for everything you are doing.’
“This time, I dared to ask him: ‘What do you mean, honored Rabbi?’ He answered me: ‘Thank you for all the work you are doing trying to register children at Torani religious schools.’”
Ben-David explains what was going on: “At that time, I really was very involved in the holy work in saving young Jewish souls from the hands of the [secular] general school system, by encouraging them to register to attend religious, Torani schools instead. But there’s no way that Rav Yoram, ztl, could have known that by any natural means! After all, we’d had absolutely no prior connection before his class.
“I was shocked. There was no-one in that shiur who was close to me, or who even really knew who I was. From that point on until his painful demise, I regularly met with Rav Yoram Abergel, ztl, for a period of 20 years. On many occasions, I travelled around with him, and we also exchanged a lot of correspondence where I would write him questions, and he would give me answers.
“A year and a half ago, around six months before his untimely death, I went to ask Rav Yoram, ztl, a number of questions, and one of them concerned all the kerfuffle surrounding the Tzaddik and the Gaon, Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita. I don’t really listen to the news very much, and I didn’t really know very much at all about Rav Berland, shlita, or his ‘Shuvu Banim’ community. But there was so much ‘noise’ going on around him, the matter still came to my attention.
“So this is what I asked Rav Yoram Abergel, ztl: ‘Honored Rabbi, there’s a lot of things being said about the Rav Berland, shlita, with people saying all sorts of different things about him?’
“Rav Yoram Abergel, ztl, gave me a very big smile, and quietly whispered in my ear: ‘Rav Berland, shlita, rules over the 24 Heavenly courts.’
“Rav Yoram, ztl, answered me in such a way that I understood that he was telling me: You don’t have to hear any more to understand who he really is. I was really shocked by his words, and I understood then that Rav Yoram, ztl, was telling me that Rav Berland, shlita, is a spiritual giant.
“Everyone knows the depth of understanding that Rav Yoram, ztl, had in the Torah, and his greatness in the matters of pursuing justice and righteousness, and his love of the Jewish people. If he said this, together with all the other rabbis and Gedolei HaDor of Am Yisrael – then we really need to get the message, and stop casting aspersions about the Tzaddik and the Gaon, Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita.”
Dan Ben-David concludes: “Bezrat Hashem, we are waiting to hear good tidings in the near future, about Rav Berland, shlita, and for all of us and for all of Am Yisrael. Also, this coming Friday night (January 20th, 2017), the Rav will, BH, celebrate his 80th birthday. We wish him length of days, and many more good, pleasant years, both for him and for all of Am Yisrael.”