Rav Rubinstein’s story of the Mosque full of Arabs
Every week on a Thursday night, a very holy chabura (learning group) of young men and avreichim (Torah students) is taking place at the Nachalei Netzach yeshiva, situated in the Meah Shearim market.
Each week, a different person from the Breslov community comes, to share their stories, memories and insights about Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita. And each week, the group grows bigger and bigger, as more and more people are joining to receive some chizzuk about the true spiritual standing of the Tzaddik HaDor.
Last week, it was the turn of the very well-respected Breslov elder, Rav Dov Rubinstein, shlita, to address the group, and here’s a little of what he told them. (You can hear Rav Rubinstein’s story in the original Hebrew, by playing the video):
“There was a time when every single motzae Shabbat, we used to travel to Hevron. We would stretch the malevah malka meal out until just before dawn, and then we’d hit the road. These visits continued until the intifada began,” recalls Rav Dov Rubinstein.
“One time, Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, said that we should go to Halhul*, to visit the graves of Natan the Prophet, and Gad the Seer. On the way there, we came across some soldiers who tried to do everything they could to prevent us from passing through to Halhul. But Rav Berland still insisted on going, and wonder of wonders, in the end the soldiers let us pass. But, not before they’d told us: ‘We’re not taking any responsibility for you, and if you call us for help, we’re not coming.’
The Sheikh really likes the Rav
“So, we got to Halhul, and we prayed by the holy graves of Natan the Prophet and Gad the Seer for half an hour. And from that time on, we came back to Halhul to pray every single week. By some miracle, there was an Arab Sheikh there, who lived right next to the holy graves, who really took a liking to the Rav, shlita.
“He used to take him to the side and talk to him for many long minutes, but he had nothing to do with us, at all. Within five minutes of us getting there, he used to come down from his home, and open the gate for us. One night, the Sheikh didn’t show up. We were 12 people, including a group of Gerrer Chassidim who used to follow the Rav everywhere. After a quarter of an hour, the Rav found a barrel, and stood on it, next to a narrow window [next to the graves].
The terrifying sight
“The Rav managed to get inside, and then we all followed him in [through the window], one after another. It was pitch black inside, until the Rav managed to turn a light on – and then we had a ‘darkness’ of a different type to contend with, because the floor was packed full of sleeping Arabs who were stuffed in there like sardines.
“We were terrified, and we didn’t know what was going to happen next. But Rav Berland just started reciting the tikkun haklali, slowly, slowly, and out loud. One of the things that we still have no answer for, even to this day, is how it was possible that the Arabs could wake up one after another – and then simply just drop their heads back down, and continue sleeping. Not a single one of them stood up.
An open miracle
“The Rav, shlita, recited three tikkun haklalis in the space of a quarter of an hour, and didn’t even so much as throw a quick glance at the Arabs. We were petrified, and too scared to try to go back outside, until the Rav finished, then told us to go out in front of him. Then, he turned the light off, and also left the building. There wasn’t a soul outside – it was truly an open miracle.
Afterwards, we understood that the Sheikh had also been scared on our behalf. He knew that it was an Arab festival, and he didn’t want to open the place up to let us in. We told a lot of people in the yeshiva the story, and that evening, two avreichim returned to Halhul by themselves. They told us that the Arabs had now blocked that little window with stones.
“One time, the Arab Sheikh showed up with a book, and he gave it to the Rav, shlita, to read. Shortly afterwards, the Sheikh started running towards us, and he was saying: “I can’t take him anymore, I can’t take it! All week, I’ve been asking him the hardest possible questions, and he immediately gives me answers. I wanted to trip him up, and to hear him say at least one time “I don’t know.” So, I brought him a book written in a very high Arabic. Most Arabs don’t know how to read this book,” continued the Sheikh. “But the Rav just started reading the book out to me.”
- The chabura begins half an hour after the Ma’ariv, or evening prayers, held in the Beit HaRav with Rav Eliezer Berland, and refreshments are served. If anyone would like the zchut (merit) of supporting the chabura’s operations, or to sponsor it on the occasion of a yahrtzeit, or ilui neshama, or for a refuah shleima, should please contact the organisers on: 052-711-5687.
* Even then, Halhul had a reputation for being an extremely dangerous, radicalised Hamas town. The graves of Natan and Gad are actually located inside the town’s local mosque.