Rav Eliezer Berland’s eulogy of his brother, Rav Yechezkel Berland, z’tl
Translated and abridged from the original Hebrew comments.
(The video shows the Rav in Nehora on the 7th and last day of the shiva for his brother, Yechezkel.)
Yechezkel was totally mesirut nefesh, dedicated to Hashem. From day one, he was only engaged in chesed (kindnesses). He didn’t want to get married at all, he just sat and learnt 24 hours a day. He was the last one of his peer group to get married, he stayed a bachor (single man).
He said: ‘I want to learn 24 hours a day!” He learnt 18 hours a day, his diligence was ‘one in a generation’. None of his peers had such diligence [in Torah learning]. He was like the Steipler, like Rav Shach, he didn’t stop learning!
He didn’t want to get married at all until I forced him to, because I found a ‘one and only’. Your mother [addressing his brother’s children] was unique, Shoshana was unique in her generation. There wasn’t such yirat shamayim (fear of Heaven) like this, such devotion to Hashem, and to Torah.
I told him, you have to take this one! There won’t be another one like Shoshana until Moshiach will come. I forced him to get married.
They lived in poverty, there was no bread in the house, that’s how it was nearly, from the age of 20 until 76. Fifty-six years with no bread in the house. Shoshana used to go collecting eggplants and zucchinis in the fields.
She used to take my children for walks, to do hitbodedut, and she used to collect [vegetables], this was her food. She used to collect from the fields whatever was left over from the harvest, and she would make the food from that.
They didn’t have a penny, from the day they got married. When they got married, they went to live in Ramot Naftali, and also there they were starving for bread. Zvika Sheinfeld supported them and strengthened them. In the end, [Yechezkel] moved over to Nehora. I fought that he should stay and live in the city, but he didn’t want to.
His shmirat einayim (guarding of the eyes) was astounding. He never opened his eyes [on the street] in his life. He said: “I can’t guard my eyes in the city. Here I live in a moshav, in the fields, out of the city. Here, I can guard my eyes. I will hunger for bread, but I won’t come to live in the city!”
It’s impossible to guard your eyes in the city, it’s impossible to leave the house, it’s impossible not to fall down. When it came to guarding the eyes, he was also ‘one in a generation’. He never opened his eyes in his life, he never saw a woman. Until today, he didn’t anything – not a nurse, not a doctor, nothing.
He was the peak of shmirat einayim that could be in this generation.
Everything was with kedusha and tahara (holiness and purity) and with data (spiritual knowledge).
He was an ish halacha (man of halacha), he knew all of the laws. He went over the Shulchan Aruch many times, and he was very exacting in halacha. When he said that something was forbidden, he said this after he’d already looked for all of the leniencies and all the options, so it was forbidden.
He turned the whole of Nehora over to being observant Jews. When he arrived in Nehora it was the most secular city that could be, and he [changed it], and also he changed the nearby Moshav, Otzem.
All of them now learn Torah, keep Shabbat and have payot (side curls). He sent hundreds of Jews to yeshiva. He said: “I’ll never leave Nehora, I established it, I had that merit.” He only gave himself over to the public, and he didn’t think about himself for a second. He didn’t pay any attention to himself. He didn’t know that he existed at all, he hated this world, a ‘hatred as strong as death’.
He couldn’t stand this world, not even for a second, he just searched for ways to learn [Torah] in this word, and how to run away from this world.
And Hashem granted his wish that he should go away from the world at the age of 76, just like our father, who was also niftar (passed away) at 76…
[The Rav went on to give over a very deep Dvar Torah about techiat hameitim, the revival of the dead.]
Now we know that “death will be swallowed up for eternity” (Isaiah 25:8). [Yechezkel] is the last niftar of this generation, and now we’ll have techiat hameitim and we’ll see him alive and well.
He’s alive now, just we don’t have the merit to see this with our materialistic eyes. We know that he is alive, and that he will get up with us and come with us and go with us, together until 120.
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