IT’S ONLY POSSIBLE TO GRASP THE GREATNESS OF THE TZADDIK BY WAY OF HIS FOLLOWERS
Rebbe Nachman writes in Lesson 140, Part One of Likutey Moharan:
“It’s impossible to grasp the Tzaddik himself. He is beyond conception, above our understanding. Only by way of his followers is it possible to understand the greatness of the Tzaddik.
“His followers – who are men of deeds and perfectly G-d-fearing – can be observed; they can be grasped and understood.
“People are not as distant from them as they are from the Tzaddik himself. Therefore, whoever truly wants is able to know the greatness of the Tzaddik by way of his followers.”
Many of Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita’s long-standing followers and students could certainly be called ‘men of deeds and perfectly G-d-fearing,’ as per Rebbe Nachman’s words.
Some of them are more well-known to the English speaking public, including Rav Shalom Arush shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Chut Shel Chesed and best-selling author of the Garden of Emuna series. Here on the Shuvu Banim website, we’ve increasingly introduced you to others, like Rav Ofer Erez shlita and Rav Eliyahu Succot shlita.
But for for every one of the Rav’s followers who are publicly ‘men of deeds and perfectly G-d fearing’, there are many, many more behind the scenes.
Rabbenu tells us that the Tzaddik of the generation is on such a high spiritual level, it’s impossible for outsiders to really grasp what’s going on by him. He’s surrounded by mystery and strange events. Even in Rebbe Nachman’s own time, Rebbe Nachman himself was constantly surrounded by controversy and rumors, and even his own uncle, Rebbe Boruch of Medzibozh, publicly opposed him for a time.
Yet, his followers included some of the most G-d-fearing, sincere, learned and upright ‘men of deeds’ of his generation, who were kabbalists, Torah scholars and even ‘rebbes’ in their own right.
How can we explain this?
In Lesson 140 of Likutey Moharan, Rabbenu tells us:
“Whoever truly wants is able to know the greatness of the Tzaddik by way of his followers.
“This can be compared to a seal. The writing carved into it cannot be read, since the letters are backwards. Only by stamping and thus forming [the letters] on wax can we see the letters and pictures carved into the seal and understand what is written on the seal.”
If you want to grasp even a little of the essence of who Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, really is, all you need to do is take a look at his followers.