The Kabbalist Rav Aharon Stern shlit”a, the son of the Kabbalist and Tzaddik Rav David Stern shlit”a of Bnei Brak, speaks about the complete redemption and seeing the good in all Jews:
“Many people show me video clips with rabbis who are speaking about false leaders. Listen well — I lived in Yeruham where there was the Rosh Yeshiva Rav Chaim Man, the son-in-law of Rosh Yeshivat Hevron Rav Hillel Zaks, who was the grandson of the Chafetz Chaim. He related to me what he heard from his grandmother [mother], the daughter of the Chafetz Chaim, that there is a tradition from the tzaddikim that in the future there is destined to be a repeat of the test that there was in the time of Eliyahu HaNavi on Mount Carmel (I Melachim 18:-36-7), a test in which the prophets of ba’al and the prophets of the truth will each bring a ox as an offering; however [this time], the fire will not descend by Eliyahu, but by the prophets of ba’al.
“The tradition from the tzaddikim in this matter is that the test of faith will be difficult, and many will become confused and run after the prophets of ba’al. However, anyone who runs after the prophets of ba’al will lose the redemption, but whoever remains and sticks to Eliyahu HaNavi will merit to the redemption.
“Maran the Chafetz Chaim asked about this: If so, what’s difficult — now we know that a test is destined to befall us, and when it arrives, we will know not to run after the prophets of ba’al and to remain with Eliyahu?
“The Chafetz Chaim answered: Before the redemption, there will be people with the appearance of tzaddikim, and they will perform giant miracles; but there will also be rabbis, that by them there won’t appear such miracles. However, for the sake of being believed, the big miracle workers will take powers that are not from the side of holiness, and whoever goes after them will lose the redemption. And whoever goes to the regular rabbis, even if miracles don’t appear, will merit to the complete redemption.”
Rav Stern shlit”a continues and relates, “I found in the name of Rebbe Yisrael of Ruzhin, that they asked him: How will we know who is a true Rabbi and who is not?”
Rav Stern answers, “Beforehand I will tell you my words, and afterwards I will return to the words of the Rebbe of Ruzhin.
“According to the words of the Mishnah, ‘Moshe received the Torah from Sinai, and passed it on to Yehoshua, and Yehoshua to the Elders, and the Elders to the Prophets, and the Prophets passed it on to the Men of the Great Assembly’ (Avot 1:1); it appears to me [to say] that the Torah of the Jewish people passes by way of tradition when the rabbi authorizes the rabbi after him. If a rabbi appears who doesn’t have authorization, don’t follow him.
“The words of the Rebbe of Ruzhin are that before the complete redemption, many rabbis will appear who will search for merit about the Jewish people, even on those who are far from Torah and Mitzvot. This is a good thing, because the Jewish people are going through tests that it’s not certain that the greats of the previous generations would have stood up in. However, we need to consider if those rabbis who search for merit about the Jewish people are also searching for advocacy for Torah scholars?
“‘If you saw a Torah scholar who committed a transgression at night, do not speculate about him during the day — perhaps he repented. “Perhaps” — could it occur to you? Rather, he certainly repented!’ (Berachot 19a). If that rabbi searches for advocacy about everyone, this is fine. However, if you only search for advocacy about those who are distant from mitzvot, and about rabbis who sit and learn Torah day and night, they only know how to say things that are not good — these [types] it’s forbidden to follow.
“Everyone needs to repent; everyone goes through tests, “For though the righteous one may fall seven times, he will arise” (Mishlei 24:16). Rebbe Yisrael of Ruzhin says that one who searches for merit in everyone is a true tzaddik. However, it is forbidden to follow one who searches for merit only on those who are distant, but about those who fear Hashem he has many complaints.
“Rabotai — to search for merit, this is about the whole Jewish people, and anyone who searches for merit about the other, merits that he doesn’t have judgments upon him. The Holy One Blessed is He also searches merit in him, and no one can cause him harm.”