Although the venerable Rav Yisrael Ber Odesser (1888 – 1994) – known as the Sabba Yisrael – was about fifty years older than the Rav, they had a very close rapport. The Rav would stay at the Sabba’s house when he was in Jerusalem, and Rav Odesser would stay by the Rav when he was in Bnei Brak.
Rabbi Aharon Berlin recounted what he had heard from the Sabba about the Rav. “I used to go with the Rav when he would come to Jerusalem to pray at the Kotel and (Wailing Wall) we would pay the Sabba a visit at his home in Givat Shaul. He would tell us unknown stories, especially about his teacher, Rav Yisrael Karduner. One visit of my own to the Sabba really sticks out in my mind. We began to discuss the many recent baalei teshuvah (newly observant Jews), a movement which has just then began.
“The Sabba was very enthusiastic. ‘Rav Berland has a wondrous way of reaching out to baalei teshuvah!’ he exclaimed. ‘He has the power to inspire the entire world to teshuvah, (repentance)!’
“I told him Rav Berland’s astounding prescience before the outbreak of the Six Day War. It was before anyone knew anything. He told everyone that there were harsh judgments in heaven and danced all day to sweeten the decrees. He also sang the anthem of an enemy nation. All this in fulfillment of Rebbe Nachman’s teaching in Likutei Moharan that if one wants to sweeten judgments he should dance. In another place the Rebbe says that one who sings the anthem of the nation he wants to overcome with the right kavanah (spiritual intent) breaks their power.”
“But Rav Odesser was unsurprised, ‘I already told you, he has eyes that can see.’”
Hear the interview with Rabbi Aharon Berlin and the words of Rav Berland about Rav Odesser:
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