BRUTAL AND SHOCKING ARREST OF BRESLOV LEADER RABBI ELIEZER BERLAND SHLIT”A DURING A DAF YOMI SHIUR – ANOTHER MEDIA STUNT
Early Sunday morning in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea Shearim, residents woke up to a brutal, violent and shocking scene:
In the middle of Rabbi Eliezer Berland’s regular pre-dawn Daf Yomi Gemara shiur, literally tens of heavily-armed police in full riot gear, stormed into the shul, stunning the large crowd of people who had gathered before the vasikin early morning prayers.
The police were in such a rush to storm up to the Rav, shlita, who recently celebrated his 83rd birthday, and to publically present him with an arrest warrant. Rabbi Berland has been giving the same shiur at the same time, and following the same daily routine for months.
It boggles the mind that the Israeli police felt they couldn’t wait an extra hour to arrest the Rav, and instead appeared determined to make the biggest entrance, and the most public spectacle, that they could in front of a large crowd of the Rav’s followers.
But the most shocking detail in this story is that the Israeli Police has been trying for months to collect ‘evidence’ against Rabbi Berland, shlita – as we’ll shortly hear more about from the Rav’s lawyers – without turning anything up.
Previously, the Rav had already gone in for questioning, and has been fully cooperating with the authorities. His attendants have made it clear to the police that if and when the police decide to bring the Rav to court they could be contacted and will cooperate fully and respectfully without the need for a public spectacle. So, there was absolutely no reason for the police to treat the Rav in such a brutal and disrespectful way. The police know the schedule of the Rav, they could have came a half hour earlier or an hour later when the elderly Rav is quietly alone at his home, or they could have simply called. But as the Ravs lawyer later explained in court “the main goal of the police is to put on a media show in order to present the Rabbi and his community in a bad light, because really they have nothing tangible against them.”
One of Rabbi Berland’s lawyers, Attorney Rotem Tubol, who is also representing other victims of the police’s brutality towards members of the Shuvu Banim community, explained that the Police, in a well-crafted media display were trying to gain public support, because their attempts to build a real case – with real witnesses, and real testimony, and real complaints – simply hadn’t succeeded.
This way, they could place maximum pressure on the community and hope that someone would snap from all the harassment, and start to play ball with them.
Attorney Rotem Tubol had the following scathing remarks to make about the complaints the police have filed against the Rav:
“We saw in the courtroom just how misleading the Israeli Police’s statements to the media actually were [about the charges they are bringing against the Rav], different than what they actually claimed in court. There was no ‘discovery of massive amounts of money’, as they said. They haven’t opened ‘tens, or even hundreds, of cases’, as the Police claimed to the media.
“It pains me that they came to arrest the Rav armed to the teeth, just to garner the media’s interest in the case. At the end of the day, he was arrested, he cooperated fully with the police, and then we found out that we’re talking about a very small number of matters, pertaining to small amounts of money.
“They didn’t seize any money, and there are no bank accounts (the Rav actually never had a bank account in his life), as the police misleadingly stated to the media. And all of the complaints that the police are trying to bring against the Rav have been known to them for a long time, already, and they chose not to investigate Rabbi Eliezer Berland.
“We learn from this that ultimately, the investigation is probably not going to lead to that ‘guilty’ verdict that the Israeli Police are trying to claim to the media.”
Outside the courtroom, journalists interviewed one of Rabbi Berland’s great-grandsons, Nachman, who expressed full confidence in the Rav’s innocence, and then had the following to say:
“The media and the police are trying to portray Rav Berland in a very negative way, but I know many other stories [about him], like the man from Kfar Saba who brought the Rav a pidyon. He had three broken disks, but he started walking again after the Dr’s gave him no chance.
[One of the journalists than asked him why the Rav was seen distributing a candy called ‘Mentos’.]
“The placebo – exactly as used to happen with the Baba Sali, and many other great rabbis who give blessings. Just like the Baba Sali used to bless the bottle of Arak – so this time, it could be something else. So this time, it could be a packet of Mentos, that my grandfather distributed,” he said.
“We believe that these types of rabbis can place their salvations within these types of things.”
[One of the journalists then started aggressively shouting at Nachman about the ‘200’ complaints that the Israeli Police had apparently claimed to have against the Rav, and continued to rant until someone else told him to be quiet, so Nachman could actually respond.]
“Where are all these 200 people? I want to see the 200 people who apparently said this. I don’t believe it. Maybe it’s the same ‘dozens of women’ they claimed about last time but in reality not even one showed up. The Police like to tell a lot of stories. First, it appears on the news, and there’s always the people who believe that side of things. And of course, the media always like to present the [negative] side, and then of course it turns out that all the media’s ‘suspicions’ end up being unfounded. But that part remains relatively unreported.”
As news of the shocking arrest spread around the chareidi community in Israel, Rabbi Sriel Rosenberg, the Av Beis Din by Rav Nissim Karelitz, Rabbi Yehuda Fisher from Beis Din of Badatz Eida Chareidis, and Rabbi Shimon Badani, the head of the Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah wrote a letter where they said:
“Everyone ought to be pained by the arrest of Rav Berland. If there are allegations and complaints it should be checked within the existing framework of our community (i.e. the Beis Din), and no other parties need to be involved. This is not the way. May Hashem place peace on us and all of Israel.”
Rav Badani then added next to his signature, “I have always said that when there are any legal matters, you have to go only to Chareidi Jews to find out the law.”
See the previous psak bais din about Rabbi Berland’s case.
This latest round of State-sponsored persecution against Rabbi Berland and the Shuvu Banim community is once again requiring a great deal of legal help and expertise – and lawyers don’t come cheap.
If you would like to help the Rav defray some of the cost of mounting his legal defense, you can donate to his legal fund HERE.
We will continue to update you as this matter unfolds.
Below, you’ll find a compilation clip, in Hebrew, of just some of the many people who have had their lives saved by doing a pidyon with Rabbi Berland: