Throughout the last three years’ of Rav Berlands exile, there were many indications from other leading figures and tzaddikim that the situation facing Am Yisrael was as bleak as indicated by Rav Berland himself. One such person was the kabbalist and Rosh Yeshiva from Bnei Brak, Rav Chaim Dovid Stern. In 2014, Rav Stern told his attendant that the previous year, he’d seen terrible decrees being made in Shemayim in relation to Israel’s enemies – so bad, that he’d even started telling the people who were visiting him that they didn’t need to worry about money any more, and that they should start giving all of their money away to tzedaka, because shortly there would be such a period of chaos and destruction descending on the world that money wouldn’t be worth the paper it was printed on.
Day after day, Rav Stern described how he could see how these decrees were gathering steam – until Rav Berland decided to take upon himself the terrible shame and criticism, and to leave Eretz Yisrael and go into exile abroad. According to Rav Stern, Rav’s Berland self-sacrifice is what cancelled these terrible decrees.
He continued that if there had been a tzaddik before World War II who’d have taken such harsh suffering upon himself, then there wouldn’t have been a holocaust. Unfortunately, none of the Tzaddikim who were alive at that time could have withstood such a difficult test. When Rav Stern heard from one of his yeshiva students how Rav Berland had been praying alone for hours in the African jungle, in places where no other person would come without an armoured jeep and a gun, Rav Stern said: “It’s because of his incredible kedusha! The animals don’t have any permission to harm him – not the animals, and also not the human beings!”
Over the last three years, Rav Stern has spoken out about Rav Berland on many different occasions. When he was giving a pep talk at the Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva to the students of Rav Shalom Arush, Rav Stern gave over the following serious warning: “Woe to whoever speaks ill of Rav Berland, for they will be punished severely. All those who dare to speak ill of this tzaddik should fear for their lives, for they will all, without exception, receive severe punishments from Above. I knew him 40 years ago, and the way he learned with the Steipler was unmatched by any other. He is entirely holy.”
On another occasion, he said: “The final test before Moshiach comes is Rav Berland. Anyone who talks against him, or who believes the rumours being circulated about him, won’t merit to witness the imminent redemption of our people.”
Around the time that Rav Berland was detained in Holland, on his way to Uman just before Rosh Hoshana, Rav Stern told Rav Shalom Arush that the people who were slandering the Rav and spreading rumors about him should make some serious Teshuva, if they wanted to avoid the terrible fate that would otherwise await them. Rav Stern said: “I believe that Rav Berland could even hold his hand in the fire, and not be burned! [because of his high level of holiness].” (That’s actually what happened in Johannesburg on one occasion, when the Rav was reciting havdalah together with his followers, and realized that some of them were struggling with serious doubts and confusion about where the truth lay, in relation to the false accusations that had been made about him. After he’d said havdalah, the Rav placed his hand in the flame of the burning candle, and held it there for a good while, without his hand being at all burnt. The Rav turned to his confused followers and told them: “Don’t let all the suspicions and the rumors burn you up!”)
Rav Stern concluded: “The whole subject involving Rav Berland’s exile is connected to the deepest secrets of the redemption of Am Yisrael.”