The Rebbe of Amshinov says “Hold on Tight to Rav Berland”

Rabbi Eliyahu Meirav and Rabbi Ofer Erez recount the historic visit to the Amshinover Rebbe

A few months ago after a letter was issued by some Rabbi’s against the Tzaddik, the veteran students of Rav Berland, Rabbi’s in their own right, went to the Amshinover Rebbe for Advice.

Among these Rabbi’s were Rabbi Shmuel Stern Rosh Yeshiva of Nachalei Netzach Torah Institutions, Rabbi Ofer Erez head of Ka’ayol Taarog Outreach Center, Rabbi Michael Gol Rosh Yeshiva of Maginei Eretz, Rabbi Shlomo Elmaliach Kabbalist and Author of the acclaimed Ateret Shlomo on Eitz Chaim, Rabbi Moshe Tzanani of Shuvu Banim, and Rabbi Eliyahu Meirav Rosh Kollel Breslov Modiin and former Mayor of Emanuel.

The meeting lasted a few hours and some of what was said and the letter that was put out was already published in an article at the time.

Today we are pleased to present you with two video clips of the meeting, one begins with a the words of Rabbi Ofer Erez speaking about what was discussed. And the other with that of Rabbi Eliyahu Meirav. Rabbi Meirav also shares remarkable stories from the past, and the impact of the merciless persecution of Rav Berland, and the harsh situation in the world.

(Both videos can be found at the end of this article.)

For the sake of our readers we translated the words of Rabbi Eliyahu Meirav here:

“The message of the Rebbe of Amshinov was clear:  You have Rav Berland shlit”a and it’s forbidden for you to abandon him for a second.  Do everything according to his word, whether something big or something small.”

Rav Meirav relates: “One day I get a phone call: ‘The Rebbe of Amshinov is waiting for you.’

“‘Waiting for me?’

“In truth, my acquaintance with the holy Rebbe of Amshinov began many years ago when I was the Council Head of Immanuel.  To our grief, we experienced there a not-so-small controversy.  It was a difficult controversy with all sorts of personalities whose names I won’t mention at the moment.  [The Rebbe] helped us, he strengthened us, and the city got back on track.

“From then on, I had acquaintance with him, and I reckoned him to be a phenomenal man, really something unique.  I have a warm spot in my heart for this holy and pure Jew, who is an extraordinary servant of Hashem.  I heard from people who understand things that he is called ‘The Great Rebbe of the Generation.’

“Therefore, when they called and said that the Rebbe of Amshinov is calling me, I said, ‘What are you talking about?’

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“‘He’s calling you and several veteran talmidim of Rav Berland (our holy Rabbi!)  The Rebbe of Amshinov wants to speak to you words of encouragement.’  This was 12:00 at night.  We travelled to Bayit VeGan.

“At exactly 12:30 Standard Time, the Admor entered.  I paid attention that all the clocks by him remain at Standard Time [translator’s note: this was in the summer, when the time had already switched to Daylight Savings Time] — it’s known that he is a person who is above time.  We rose in honor of him.  His humility and lowliness are something phenomenal; he said to us, ‘You don’t need to rise,’ [himself] waiting for us standing until we sat down with him.

“The Rebbe of Amshinov began, saying: ‘Your community is going through things that aren’t simple.’  He said: ‘I came to strengthen you.’  The conversation took around two and a half hours.  Everyone was amazed about the [amount] of time allocated to us.  The Admor only receives people for a few minutes, especially after the catheterization that he went through.  There’s almost no reception by the Admor at all.  I emphasize this so that you understand the magnitude of the matter.  And if [he has time, it’s only] for a few minutes.  Here he had all the time in the world.  Also, all the instructions which he gave us, everything was exact and measured, very exact in his words.  With his permission, they videotaped and audiotaped so as to review what he said.

“The message of the Admor of Amshinov was clear:  ‘You have a Rav.’  He asked us if we can communicate with him [while he is incarcerate].  ‘Can you ask him questions?  Is this possible?  This is your Rav and you need to do everything according to his word!  Do this in your own ways, but this is your Rav, so don’t move from him!’

“This was the remarkable instruction which we heard from the Admor — Don’t do anything without him, learn from his books, form groups to talk about his words!

“He asked if there are books from Rav Berland in the revealed Torah.  We said that there were many books published with his teachings.  He asked if it’s possible to learn from his books in depth.  We answered that we have shiurim from the Rav in Kitzot HaChoshen and more.  This, however, still hasn’t been published.  The Rav wrote primarily about conduct necessary day to day.

“[The Rebbe said:] ‘Form groups and learn from his words.’

“He wanted us to cling to our Rabbi; to not feel, G-d forbid, that the Rav is far from us, and that in [his] place the Samech-Mem [the Satan] will be the leader.  I was a Litvak for several years and when I became a Breslover, one of the claims of my Litvak Rabbis, the Tzaddikim who I respect and appreciate to this day, was: you’re Breslov, and you don’t have any leader.  Therefore, the Samech-Mem will be the leader.  I heard this from the holy Rabbi Daniel Frisch [author of the Matok Midvash commentary on the Zohar].  I merited to learn with him chevrusa many years ago, still before I knew of Chasidus.  I would wake him up every night and we would learn Etz Chaim, when I learned in Ahavas Shalom.

“When the Breslovers started arriving at our Kollel in 5740 [1980 in the secular calendar], I started to become acquainted with Breslov.  They took me to a shiur of Rav Berland and the rest is history — The powerful blessing of the Amshinover is: You have a Rav.  You have a leader.  Continue to stick to his Torah.  Learn his books, talk about them.  Every question, big or small, ask him.  And [the Admor] also said to us some other things about general conduct.  He brought this down to this world.

“In other words, he said: don’t pay attention to anything.  Continue like normal as if nothing had happened.

“More than that, just the opposite, the Rebbe from Amshinov said: ‘Because you are found in such a difficult period that they’re oppressing you, and G-d desires the oppressed, you have to become twice as strong, to be bound in heart and soul to your Rav, and never to forget that your Rav is with you all the time.’

“He blessed us from time to time with the words: ‘May Hashem bless you and give you good counsel, and rectify you with good counsel, so that you can hold fast.’  [The Rebbe blessed us] with many words like this.

“I had several prayers of our teacher Rav Berland.  I took them out of my pocket and showed him.  I saw him study carefully the prayers and one prayer in particular, the prayer about the impure devices on which our teacher Rav Berland writes: ‘It’s revealed and known before You [Hashem] that we’re found in the worst generation.’  He read this prayer and I saw him really shake and tremble

“The Rebbe from Amshinov said: ‘[It] really is the worst generation, but only in that respect.  It’s impossible to say that we’re in the worst generation.  From the standpoint of the tests and what we are going through, we really are in terrible danger, but from the standpoint of the greatness of the generation — we’re in the generation of the Redemption.’  In this, [the Rebbe] wanted to strengthen us.

We are in the generation that we’ll certainly merit to see the face of Mashiach.

“Already 47 years since I did teshuva, there was nothing like this in the world; now everyone is terrified, and I’m not talking specifically about this disease (covid).  The world is in fear in every place.  America is really burning.

“I remember that once Rav Berland said: ‘Why is it written, “Cursed is Canaan; a slave of slaves he shall be to his brothers?”  Because they are such awesome powers that they must have someone on their backs.  If not, they’ll simple destroy the world.’  The world is found in such terrible upheaval… also the entire matter of Uman [that it was closed for Rosh Hashana].

“Uman is the home of our lives; the grave of Rebbe Nachman, which for 32 years I merit to be there for Rosh Hashanah.  At the time of the war, when the Twin Towers were destroyed, I was stuck in America.  I had such miracles; Rav Berland simply guided me, with advice, words, instruction.  What there was there after the Twin Towers were destroyed, there was no way to leave.  The world was completely shut down.  With miracles of miracles, with what the Rav taught and guided us — I arrived precisely on the night of Zchor Bris Selichos [the night before Rosh Hashana].  Now, in 5781, it [Uman Rosh Hashana] won’t happen?  G-d forbid that there should be such a thing.  The world is shut down.  What will you do now?

“How do people still have the heart and mind to continue with the controversy?  In Parashas Korach, they said to Korach: ‘You’re a Tzaddik!?  Then why does the manna fall far away from the entrance to your tent?’

“[He responded]: ‘Because I don’t fight enough [against Moshe] as to merit that the manna will fall close to me!’ 

[Translators note: Moshe Rabeinu’s opponents were so misguided that they were sure that opposing Moshe was the greatest mitzvah, and if the manna didn’t fall close to them they were sure it was because they weren’t fighting enough. For the place that the manna fell was a clear sign of someone’s righteousness]

“I heard this response several times in the last period.

“How could a persons intellect disappear to such an extent?  Korach who was brilliant, the Jewish people who were brilliant said — and he said — ‘because I don’t fight enough’.  Things are happening here which makes one’s hair stand on end.  Uman, G-d forbid, will be shut down?  This is the complete destruction of the world!

“Rebbe Nachman said: As long as they give me a place to come through, I’ll come through, but when they close down completely…that they’ll close down the holy Kibbutz in Uman?  A person who doesn’t see this; I have no words to describe it.

“I have no comprehension of the greatness of Rav Berland. But, simply speaking, they took an elderly Jew, sickly, with difficulty ailments, and they want to lynch him for everything in the world — we need to tear the Heavens about this [with prayer].  Are we not brothers?  What happened here?  That’s really how it is.

“The Admor of Amshinov, who became involved, isn’t some simpleton.  We’re talking about one of the truly great sages of Israel.

“Rav Badani!  I merited to hear from him Torah decades ago.  Even then he was an important man in the eyes of all the great sages of Israel.  I have a part in his coming to Uman.  His talmid, Rabbi Eliyahu Medina, the chief Rabbi of the Jewish Quarter [in the Old City of Jerusalem] is a good friend of mine.  I said that at least once in his life he has to be in Uman.  He asked Rav Badani, who told him that he would also come with him — who made this happen if not our teacher Rav Berland.  Rav Medina told me that this was a marvelous journey and they sat for hours at the holy grave and merited.

“Rav Badani, the Elder of the Tzaddikim and Sephardic Rabbis came to strengthen us with wonderous words.  The Jewish people are not ‘widowed’ [from G-d].  We are, Baruch Hashem, already decades with Rav Berland, all his veteran talmidim.  The accountings of Heaven we don’t understand.  I have absolutely no hate in my heart, not against this antagonist nor this antagonist; they were my friends.  I know that such Hashem wants.  This is hidden.

“The Gemara says about Shimshon HaGibbur — who was judged about having said, ‘It’s righteous in my eyes.’  If you say, ‘It’s righteous in my eyes’, you fall.  [Instead] say I don’t know, I don’t understand.  I say, ‘I don’t know, I don’t understand.’ But the truth and emunah which [the Rav] merited us, Baruch Hashem, we’ll never become distant.

“When the truth of Rebbe Nachman becomes clear [to all], there will be a great commotion in the world.”

Rav Meirav talked about the beginning of his coming close to Breslov: “People thought that’s it — if this Ba’al Teshuva is a Breslover, then everyone will be Breslovers.  Understandably, it wasn’t like that.

“To become a Breslover 40 years ago wasn’t something that was considered reasonable, and after that, inside Breslov you need to find the mind of Rebbe Nachman, what Rabbeinu really wants, you need to search for the Tzaddik all the time.  Search for the Ruach HaKodesh of the Tzaddik, all the mind-stream of Rabbeinu is without end.  Rabbeinu said to Rabbi Aharon, his talmid: If only 10,000 years after the revival of the dead, you will understand the Torah that I say now while in a body.

“Baruch Hashem, we have found one Jew, our teacher Rav Berland, who by him the Torah of Rabbeinu is lucid and clear.  Rabbeinu wants us to be kosher Jews, not to sway from the Torah, Gemara, Shulchan Aruch, that we merit to rise for [Tikkun] Chatzos every night, and do hisbodedus, and to be true Ba’aley Chesed [people who do kindness to others], to be with fear of Heaven.

“And it’s the strangest thing in the world that Rav Berland who taught us this is where he is!”

“The wonder is that it’s possible to pray Minchah and Ma’ariv with Rav Berland by way of the telephone line.  Thousands of people pray with him.  This is the largest minyan in the world.  There are some words of Torah after the prayers, Baruch Hashem.

“How is it possible to abuse [someone] like that?  Whoever it should be, where is the Jewish mercy?  Rav Berland barely has a body; I don’t know how he survives this.  If we were to go through one-billionth of what he goes through, we would break to pieces.

“At least we merit to say 7 Tikkun Clalli’s every day; also with this, we have obstacles.  This is the minimum that’s possible to give to our Rabbi and Teacher, to whom we our indebted our entire lives spiritually and materially.  To shout [to Hashem] to have mercy and complete that which is needed.  The entire world is in terror and trembling.  No one knows where the world is going at the moment.  The smartest people are all in confusion, not only because of the pandemic, but because of all the balance of powers in the world.

People see that something grave is developing and don’t know what to point at or how it is.

“What can save us?  Only prayer and shouting [to Hashem].  Who taught us to pray and shout other than the Rav?  Who holds us strong after decades — that we still have enthusiasm, joy, desire, and strength to go to the fields and scream and pray?  Who in the world still goes out to the field in our age?  What a wonder this is.”

Watch the video of Rav Meirav and the Rebbe of Amshinov (in Hebrew):


Watch the video of Rav Ofer Erez and the Rebbe of Amshinov (in Hebrew):

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