RAV NACHMAN HOROWITZ: “RAV LEVI YITZHAK BENDER SAID…THAT RAV BERLAND IS ON AN INCREDIBLY HIGH LEVEL”
Rav Nachman Horowitz, shlita, is the grandson of the hugely well-respected Breslov elder from the previous generation, Rav Shmuel Horowitz, Zt’l. Rav Horowitz has recently started sharing more words of wisdom, strengthening and encouragement with the wider community, including many never-before-publicized stories about Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita.
Here, we share some of his most recent insights (translated and abridged from the original Hebrew shiur, which you can view for yourself by clicking the attached video clip.)
Rav Horowitz said:
“Once, my father [Rav Shmuel Horowitz’s son] told Rav Berland, shlita, that: ‘It’s forbidden for you to give up.’ He told him that he had to continue trying to bring all of Am Yisrael back in teshuva (repentance). “You display so much mesirut nefesh (self-sacrifice)!” my father told him.
“On another occasion, Rav Berland said that the woman, the wife, is two times the man, but the way you accustom yourself to treating her is the way she’ll behave towards you. Whatever you invest in her, you’ll get that light back times two.”
Rav Horowitz continued:
“One time, I went with Rav Berland to the shiur (Torah class) of Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Bender, Zt’l. En route, Rav Berland, shlita, said to me that a person who is sure that the whole of the geula (redemption) depends on them, they will make their daat (spiritual insight / wisdom) known about every matter and issue.
“But, the Rav continued to say, in the name of Rabbi Yechiel Michael of Zlotchov, it’s not a mitzvah to be an ‘expert’ like this, because this sort of behavior can lead to the worst form of arrogance. So, the Rav said, despite the fact that a person really is an ‘expert’, Rabbenu HaKadosh (Rebbe Nachman) helps him by giving him an infusion of humility.”
“Yaacov Levi, one of the avreichim (Torah learners) at the yeshiva told me that once when Rav Berland, shlita, was abroad in chutz l’aretz (outside of Israel), he met a scientist who was part of a team that was developing nuclear weapons. Within ten minutes, the Rav had given him a formula for how to make a nuclear bomb.
“At the same time, the Rav asked the scientist: ‘Is this really ‘wisdom’, to kill millions of people? Rebbe Nachman had the wisdom to know how to bring millions of people back to life! You should aim that nuclear bomb at your arrogance,’ the Rav, shlita, told him.
“Rav Berland, shlita, explained that arrogance is such a tough thing to overcome, that even if they chopped a person into a thousand different pieces, each piece would still retain its arrogance. ‘But,’ continued the Rav, shlita, ‘Rabbenu has a nuclear weapon that can explode a person’s arrogance, without killing the person himself.’”
Another story from Rav Nachman Horowitz:
“The Rav nullified himself to the Holy Steipler (Rav Yaacov Yisrael Kanievsky, Zt’l), and used to ask him about every little point of Jewish law. On one occasion, Rav Berland told the Steipler that he’d found such a big Tzaddik (Rebbe Nachman), who could even take him out of gehinnom (purgatory). [Rav Berland asked the Steipler:] ‘Could you promise me that you could do something like that for me?’ The Steipler replied that he couldn’t promise him that, and that if he’d found a Tzaddik who could, he was obliged to draw closer to him.”
Rav Horowitz continued:
“Despite the Steipler’s own greatness, Zt’l, when he used to see Rav Berland, shlita, walking on the street, he used to raise himself up to his full height and stand up for him, even though he was then 80 years’ old, until Rav Berland disappeared from sight.
“Once, they asked Rabbi Levi Yitzhak Bender, Zt’l, what he thought about Rav Berland, shlita. He responded: ‘His students bring me their Kimcha dePischa (money to help observant Jews cover the costs associated with the festival of Pesach), and I’m overseeing all their money. If he can raise his students up to such high levels, it’s a sign that he himself is on an extremely high level.’”
Rav Horowitz ends:
“Moranu (our teacher) Rav Berland, shlita, used to go to the fields for weeks at a time, to do hitbodedut (personal prayer). Once, the Rav left his house and started to walk through the fields that were on the Eastern side [of his home]. He continued walking through the fields, until he’d covered the whole length of Eretz Yisrael!”