Rav Berland explains that Corona is happening because people are fighting against Hashem
Over the last few weeks, there’s been a sense that the Jewish community has started to make a profound cheshbon hanefesh¸ or personal accounting, about why we are currently in a situation where our synagogues are closed; our ability to interact with others has been severely curtailed; and our communities have been closed off to the outside world.
As Rabbi Aharon Stern, shlita, so poignantly said, after the decree to close all the synagogues in Israel was passed, “how hard is this day for Am Yisrael, it’s like when they destroyed the Beit HaMikdash. Thousands of synagogues all over Israel (and throughout the wider world) have been shut, and with deep weeping, we are forced to go and pray outside in the street.”
And since Rav Stern’s comments, even praying in the street has been outlawed in Israel.
In the following shiur given over from his prison cell, Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlita, explains why shemayim decided to close down all the synagogues.
Rabbi Berland begins:
“We can see with our own eyes that people are fighting with Hashem, they are fighting against Shabbat. They think that they are greater than Hashem. (They wanted to force stores and public transportation to remain open on Shabbat and now Hashem forcefully closed everything).
“There is none as holy as Hashem, for there is none besides You, and there is no Rock like our God.” (Shmuel 1, 2:2).
It’s impossible to fight with Hashem.
Hashem says do hitbodedut (self-isolation and cheshbon nefesh) an hour a day (but people are fighting with Hashem by not doing hitbodedut and now they are forced into isolation).
We hope that the Corona [lockdown] will be finished by August 31, so we can travel to Uman. If not, we also won’t be able to go to Uman.
Now, they closed down all the synagogues because everyone today talks lashon hara.
Today, all the synagogues are just for lashon hara. They are just a hornets’ nest of lashon hara. It’s written about Esav:
“[Y]our brother shall you serve, yet it shall be that when you are aggrieved, you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck.” (Bereishit 27:40).
They told me in Kfar Chassidim, when I was still a Litvak, when I was a 17 year old bochur, that “you may cast off his yoke from upon your neck” means that the 614th mitzvah will be devoured. There are 613 mitzvot, but ‘cast off’ – this equals 614. This is one more.
There is one more ‘additional’ mitzvah, and this is [the mitzvah] to speak lashon hara. (People have so-to-speak created for themselves a new Mitzvah – Lashon Hara).
Yes, sometimes, it’s permitted to investigate, if you’re making a shidduch (wedding match). You want to know if she was a good child, if she was kosher, if she’s going to listen to her husband. That she’s not a street girl, who spends her time wandering around the streets.
When it’s for a good reason, it’s permitted to investigate.
In these cases a person is allowed to suspect.
But it’s still forbidden to believe it!!
It’s for a good purpose, you want to hire a maggid shiur (senior Rabbi to give over Torah classes) at your yeshiva, so then it’s permitted to check and to investigate. But stam, just to talk lashon hara about a Jew?
Why are you doing that?
So, if you grab hold of this 614th mitzvah – the ‘mitzvah’ to speak lashon hara – so gomarnu, everything is over.
Now, they closed down all the synagogues for you. You can’t control the world. “[Y]ou may cast off his yoke from upon your neck.”
When a person takes a ‘mitzvah’ like lashon hara, which is just in order to be cautious and careful, when you’re engaged in shidduchim, and then you go and turn this ‘mitzvah’ into avodat Hashem (holy work)…
It’s like what Rabbi Natan Sternhartz says, when they offer you this new ‘mitzvah’ of lashon hara and machloket (causing division and strife between people) so no thank you.
This is what happened with Datan and Aviram, who spoke lashon hara about Moshe Rabbenu, and disputed him. So then, Moshe Rabbenu said:
Now I understand! You speak lashon hara, and so that is why you are subjugated!
It’s written, and they cried out. When we cry out, we are immediately redeemed. “And they believed in Hashem, and in Moshe His servant.” (Shmot 14:31).
As soon as they believed in Moshe, they were redeemed.
The moment that people know that Moshe is the Tzaddik HaEmet, the True Tzaddik, then immediately they are redeemed.
They could have said that Moshe is just a dreamer – but then they wouldn’t have been redeemed.”
You can hear Rabbi Berland giving over the shiur in the original Hebrew, HERE.
Rav Berland, shlita, is showing us the way we can immediately get out of quarantine, so that we won’t have to be ‘locked down’ until the end of August, G-d forbid.
The Rav reminded us about the terrible war that was waged against the sanctity of the Shabbat in Israel, when they fought to open all the cafes, businesses and recreational facilities on Shabbat.
The outcome of this is that now all of these places are shut – and not only on Shabbat.
The Rav also added that so many people, sadly including in the religious world, have been allergic to the idea of isolating oneself for an hour a day and praying directly to Hashem in their own words, and of doing hitbodedut every day, as Rebbe Nachman of Breslov strongly recommends.
The outcome of this is that now we are all in bidud (isolation, from the word hitbodedut).
It’s impossible to fight against Hashem.
The last thing to note is that Rabbi Berland circled around the painful topic of sinat chinam and lashon hara.
He explained that this is effectively participating in a war against Hashem, and also an indication of a big blemish in our emuna, and especially our emunat Tzaddikim, as it relates to accepting the concept of the Tzaddik Yesod Olam – the one unique Tzaddik in a generation who is the ‘foundation of the world’.
All of these things pivot around the central idea, that people are engaged in a war against Hashem.
But Hashem is showing us that it’s simply impossible to fight against Him.
When we accept Hashem’s decisions with emuna, and try to accept whatever He decides to do with love, and when we cry out sincerely for redemption and try to attach ourselves to the Tzaddik HaEmet who will lead us out of slavery – that’s when this difficult test will end.
 In November 2019, Tel Aviv decided to start operating public transportation on Shabbat. In October 2017, the Israeli High Court also decided to permit stores to open on Shabbat, going against 70 years of the ‘status quo’ in Israel, which kept Saturday as the day of rest, when all Jewish operated stores and businesses were legally required to close.