Rav Berland and the Dybbuk

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This is a true story that was adapted and translated for ravberland.com from the original Hebrew, HERE.

“I don’t really know how to begin the story, especially as the story I’m about to tell you concerns some truly awe-inspiring, amazing things, as you’re about to hear for yourselves.

“Hashem is truly running the world with enormous Divine Providence, davka in these days, when we’re busy with the whole subject of the geula (redemption)…

The timing of all the things I’m going to relate comes to show us that there is also a Tzaddik in the last generations, our generation, who is capable of exorcising dybukks and evil spirits.

The Remembrance Service

At the end of the Winter, 5778 (early spring time, 2018), I was invited to an azcara (remembrance service) in Pisgat Zeev, one of the Jerusalem neighborhoods, by Shmuelik Gabbai, who manages a security firm in Jerusalem.

The azcara was for the grandfather of one of the young men who work in his security firm, called Lidor. I got to the house, and I saw a group of people who appeared to be very far from Torah and mitzvoth. While someone was giving over some Torah, as part of the service, I found myself staring at another one of the young men there, who seemed very far away indeed.

He had a bunch of earrings in both ears, and tattoos on one of his arms.

After the service, he came over to me, and thanked me for coming. I felt there was a lot of hidden spiritual potential in this young man – and I even told him that. We exchanged a few words, and he told me that his name was Assi M, and that he was one of the better known characters on the Jerusalem scene.

He was a women’s hairdresser by profession, and that he’d been working in Pisgat Zeev for more than four years, already. Sometimes, he also got invited to sing at people’s events. After we spoke, we exchange phone numbers, and we used to meet up from time to time – and more so, during the hard situation I’m about to describe to you, when we used to travel together to Kever Shmuel and the Kotel.

The problem begins

Around the end of Tammuz 5778, (July, 2018), he called me while I was abroad, to tell me that one of his relatives had suddenly and very unexpectedly started to say some very bizarre, strange things that were completely out of character for her. We were talking about a completely normal teenage girl, here.

The other thing that was causing the family a tremendous amount of stress is that she’d completely stopped eating, and was also barely drinking anything, only water.

When Assi told me the sort of things she’d been saying, it suddenly became clear to me that we were dealing with a dybbuk, (the soul of a deceased person who has somehow taken over a live person’s body).

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There was no other connection to make between this girl, and the things she was saying, because we were talking about a teenage girl who had no connection to yiddishkeit. Yet, she’d been talking about the world to come, and talking about Hashem, and other things directly related to religious observance.

It’s important to stress that the girl was still speaking with her own voice, but this spirit had somehow entered her, and was controlling her and threatening her – and she was absolutely terrified of it. Assi immediately asked me what we should do.

Not everyone can handle these problems

I told him that not everyone would be able to take care of this sort of problem, but that Rav Berland would certainly be able to help him.

They’d never heard of the Rav, and they didn’t know any other rabbis, and they’d had the chance to learn anything about Judaism before. This problem of the dybbuk started to become known in the wider family, and one of their relatives recommended that they go to another, famous, rabbi.

They got in touch with him, and he told them that he would come and visit them at their home, in the course of the next few days. They were holding their breath, waiting for him to come, because the days were stretching out full of mental torture and suffering: the house had effectively stopped functioning.

A life-threatening situation

No-one in the house could bring themselves to go to work, because they understood that the teenage girl was now in a literally life-threatening situation.

The stress and anxiety was increasing by the minute, because she still wasn’t eating, and was barely drinking anything, and she was also barely sleeping. After a few days, this Rav came to their home, and he tried to do something, but nothing changed. Hopefully, he’ll receive a spiritual reward for his good intentions.

“What should we do?”

After this, the family wanted to go to Rav Berland, shlita, immediately, but he wasn’t receiving the public on that day, and he immediately left the prayer hall [attached to the bottom of his apartment building] at the end of the services. They were going out of their mind, and they turned to me, and asked me again: “what should we do?!”

I told them that I really hoped that the Rav would be speaking to the public again later on that day. While we were speaking, they brought up the name of someone else, who’d they’d been told could help them. Again, I told them that not everyone could deal with these sorts of issues. (I never told them directly that their relative had been possessed by the spirit of a dead person, because I didn’t want to scare them about what was really going on.)

They asked me again, “So, who can help us?!” and I told them that they really needed the Rav.

But they wanted to get helped immediately, so they asked me if I knew anyone else that dealt with these sorts of problems. I gave them the name of another big Rav, who is a famous mekubal (kabbalist), who I knew also had some experience with these types of issues.

They made a ton of effort to bring the young woman to his yeshiva. They explained what was happening, and he immediately recognized that they were talking about a dybbuk. He started doing some sort of tikkun (rectification) with shofars, to try to exorcise the dybbuk, where he’d periodically yell at the dybbuk to ‘leave her!!’ He repeated this a number of times, and kept slamming his hand down on the bimah.

After the rectification was finished, they returned home. On the day itself, the girl calmed down a bit, but by the following day, the weird behavior and bizarre conversation returned.

The girl is hospitalized

It seems that the spirit that had possessed her decided to ‘hide’ itself that day, because of the tikkun, but by the next day, everything went back to how it had been before. In those hard days, the family barely slept, and were really just going crazy from worry. The young woman was losing weight in a very alarming fashion, because she wasn’t eating, and still was barely drinking anything.

The family decided to take her to the local hospital. She was hospitalized for a whole week, but there was absolutely no improvement in her situation. So after a week, the family discharged her, and brought her back home.

It’s known that that doctors simply can’t deal with these types of problems.

The first day she came home, the Rav was again not seeing the public. The second day, finally, we had the merit of being able to get in to see the Rav, shlita. Assi’s cousin, Lidor, who used to work with Shmuelik Gabbai’s security operation, also joined us. By day, Lidor is a soldier, but he happened to have a day off.

The Rav agrees to help

The three of us went in, to see the Rav, shlita. We told him, briefly, about the girl, and what had happened to her so unexpectedly and so suddenly, and the sorts of things she was saying. We also told the Rav that the family had already tried to do a tikkun, to get the dybbuk out, with one of the generation’s leading kabbalists, and that it had only helped for a day, and then things had gone back to how they were before.

The Rav immediately said:

“I will get the dybbuk out. Come back tomorrow, Tuesday, with a pidyon.”

The following day, we returned with the pidyon money, and the Rav told us that he’d have to come to the house in order to exorcise the dybbuk. The Rav also changed her name. Assi asked the Rav again, a broken voice, “HaRav, you really are going to get it out of here?” The Rav replied:

“I swear to you, that I will get it out of her.”

The Rav continued: “I will come to you around 5am in the morning, after I return to Jerusalem. I will come past your house.”

As is commonly known, the Rav regularly gives shiurim and classes in homes and locations all over Israel during the night, beginning immediately after the evening prayers, and he only finishes around 5am. Then, he goes into the shacharit (morning) prayers together with his community, with melodies and songs.

At the morning services, the Rav usually looks like a man who’s just woken up from a good night’s sleep.

The last bit of hope

The Rav asked his gabbaim (attendants) to take the family’s address, and gave Assi an amulet, to put on the young woman without her knowing. The Rav came early Wednesday morning, and entered the home only with his closest attendants. The family were amazed by the Rav’s innate majesty and holiness, and it kindled the last bit of hope in their hearts.

The Rav sat down, and started reading from Likutey Moharan, part 1, Lesson 74, which talks about their being a judgment from a spirit of tumah (impurity), which Rabbenu then goes on to explain at length.

Afterwards, the Rav asked for a cup of water, which he recited the blessing over and drank a little bit of, then spilt some of the water on his clothes. Then he asked for the girl to be given some of that water to drink. She refused. The Rav started breathing very heavily, and his face became fiery, and then the girl agreed to drink.

Back to life

The Rav stayed in their home for half an hour, and the whole time he was telling over things, and reading from Likutey Moharan. The following day, in the afternoon, the family told us that there had been a marked improvement in the girl’s condition. The girl told them:

“I feel as though this Rav is bringing me back to life. This isn’t a Rabbi, this is an angel that Hashem has sent, to return me to myself.”

The next day, the Rav returned to the house at the same hour, around 5am, again recited stories, and stayed for half an hour.

The situation improves

Baruch Hashem, after that visit, the girl started to eat and drink a bit, and so began another significant improvement in her situation. This time, the girl told her family: “I feel that each time this Rav comes, he’s bringing me back to life.”

The next day, Friday, the Rav came back, again in the early hours of the morning, and gave over words of Torah. After the Rav had finished, the young woman said again: “I feel as though he’s bringing me back to life.”

The Rav returned on two more occasions, in order to encourage the family to start keeping more mitzvoth, even though the girl herself had actually come back to normal, after the third visit.

A blessing for the house

On the fourth visit, one of the family members asked the Rav to give him a blessing to find a buyer for his house, which had been on the market, unsold, for 8 months already. The Rav told him, “I’ll send you a buyer tomorrow, do a contract with them.” The following day, the man found a buyer for his house, and he made the contract with them.

It’s important to stress that Lidor, Assi’s cousin, was present at four of the Rav’s visits, and that as a result, he decided to take upon himself the mitzvah of keeping Shabbat, and also started wearing a kippa and tzitzit.

A few other family members also took it upon themselves to start keeping Shabbat, too, and to start praying, and a few other mitzvahs, too. Assi also signed up to go to Uman, after the Rav told him to go.

“How did the Rav do it?”

During the month of Elul, me, Lidor and Assi travelled to go and hear the Rav speaking in Givat Olga, and to ask him about how we could get more people to make teshuva, now that we’d seen God face-to-face, as a result of everything that happened with the dybbuk, and that we’d seen the true greatness of the Tzaddik.

The Rav gripped our hands, and told us: “I have two more places in the car, and I’m giving them to you, Assi and Lidor.”

I asked the Rav, shlita, about what had happened with the dybbuk, and the Rav came back to the subject during his class at Givat Olga, where he explained he had a megillat setorim, or hidden scroll, that had been passed down from one of the big Tzaddikim of previous generations.

There was a holy name written there, which enabled a person to exorcise dybbuks.

On the 13th of Elul, 5778, a Thursday, the family held a seuda hodaya (festive meal of gratitude), which the Rav attended, which lasted for an hour and a half, where they were just singing and thanking Hashem for all the good and miracles He’d done for them. During the meal, the Rav was again asked how he’d got rid of the dybbuk, and he answered that he’d removed it by reciting Lesson I:74 of Likutey Moharan.

In the meantime, this is only the beginning of the whole family strengthening their religious observance, and BH, there will be more good news to celebrate.

All that’s left for us to do is to say Ashrenu, Ashrenu! Fortunate are we, that we didn’t oppose such a light as this, and ashrenu again, that we believe in the Tzaddik.”

This is a true story that was adapted and translated for ravberland.com from the original Hebrew.



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