Rav Shimon Badani: These are the sufferings of Moshiach
A sharp conversation with Rabbi Shimon Badani, shlita, the Rosh Kollel of Torah v’Chaim in Bnei Brak, and a member of the Moetzet Chachmei HaTorah, who speaks out about the awful persecution experienced by Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlita.
“Korach, for all his brilliance, what made his do this stupidity, what was this madness he had, to oppose Moshe Rabbenu?”
Before we bring the words of Rabbi Badani, shlita, we first need to explain a little about the events leading up to Shuvu Banim gathering that he was addressing, when he made these comments. As is known, Rabbi Badani has frequently shown open gestures of friendship to Rabbi Berland, shlita, and has even met with him on a number of occasions.
At the time when Rabbi Berland was being persecuted, and escaped to chul (outside of Israel), Rabbi Badani came to the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in the Old City. The Rabbi put himself out on the occasion, even in his advanced age walked up the steps of Jerusalem’s Old City, in order to reach the Muslim Quarter, and to strengthen and support the students studying in the Shuvu Banim yeshiva there.
This angered the opposers of Rabbi Berland and they would come to Rav Baadani’s house day and night trying to get him onboard with their lies and their slanders, Rav Badani stood firm despite their deceitful methods and propaganda campaign.
But that didn’t stop Rav Berland’s persecutors from re-doubling their efforts, on many other occasions, as Rav Badani himself has alluded to in other comments he has made over the years.
Here, we bring a translation of his words to the Shuvu Banim community last week:
Rav Badani began:
I want to start with a mussar shiur (class on ethics), in order to explain what’s gone on here. The Mishnah says that ‘jealousy, lust and seeking honor drive a person out of the world’. A person who is caught up in these types of middot (character traits) – he’s lost!
And the seeking of kavod is the worst.
They bring an example: like Korach. Rashi asks, Korach was a brilliant man, what made him act with such stupidity, what was this madness he had, to oppose Moshe Rabbenu?” Rashi then replies: This is his error, that he saw with ruach hakodesh that his descendants would be of high [spiritual] standing. So he said to himself: I also deserve this! And so, he began to oppose.
What sort of explanation is this?
That a brilliant man would do such stupid things? And he was even someone who had ruach hakodesh (the spirit of prophecy)! What is this madness?! This is now even harder [to understand]. If he was also someone who had intelligence, and was also someone who had ruach hakodesh, how could he have done such a stupid thing, as to oppose Moshe Rabbenu?
The sages of mussar (moral instruction) tell us a simple principle: This person had been infected by the disease of seeking honor! So, he loses his intelligence, he’s left with no brain, he’s crazy! He lost his marbles, and so he fell.
This is an example that shows just how much the trait of vengeance can cause a person to fall. A wise person, someone with ruach hakodesh – and still none of this helped him at all!
Another example: Yeroboam ben Nevat argued with King Shlomo, and then ran away.
Afterwards, King Shlomo didn’t find favor in the eyes of Hashem and He took 10 tribes and gave them to Yeroboam. Shlomo had just one tribe in Jerusalem, this is what Hashem did.
When Yeroboam came back to Israel, the prophet told him that he was chosen to be the King over Israel, and his happiness knew no bounds. He was a big talmid chacham (Torah scholar), and also almost had ruach hakodesh. It’s written: And all the great ones of the world were, as compared to him, and as compared to Isaiah, as the grass of the field.
They were so huge…
And yet this same Yeroboam went and made two golden calves, in order to prevent Am Yisrael from going to Jerusalem.
Instead, they could prostrate themselves to the golden calves. HaKadosh Boruch Hu asked him: How can it be, that a big talmid chacham, who almost has ruach hakodesh, could do something like this?!
HaKadosh Baruch Hu grabbed hold of him, and told him do teshuva, and Me and you and ben Yishai will walk together in Gan Eden. Yeroboam asked him, who will lead? Me or David?
How can there be something like this?
With one of the top talmid chachams in the whole of Israel? This is one of the worse things in the world, to make the golden calves, and to prevent the people of Israel from going to Jerusalem!
The Gemara recounts that he was scared that the people of Israel would ascend to Jerusalem and then stay there, and that they wouldn’t return to his rulership – but the Gemara says even more than this. There is a halacha that it was forbidden to sit in the enclosure of the Beit HaMikdash. Only the King of Judah could sit, it was forbidden for any other King to sit there.
So Yeroboam made an accounting: If I go to Jerusalem, and I enter the Temple courtyard, everyone will see Rehoboam, King of Judah, sitting down and me, the biggest talmid chacham, standing. How can I endure that sort of humiliation?
Master of the World!
That he should have just gone and stood there for a minute, for 5 minutes, and then leave! What would have been so hard?! No. He wasn’t prepared to do that, to stand there for even just a minute. What killed him? Honor! How can it be, that I will have to stand up for three minutes while Rehoboam sits down? He’s the King of Judah, and I’m the King of Israel!
But this was the halacha. And despite the fact that Rehoboam was from the tribe of Judah, and was the King over just one tribe, while Yeroboam ruled over 10, even so, only the King of Judah could sit down.
How could such a big person like this go so crazy? In the Mishnah, it’s written that he is the worst sinner in gehinnom.
The pursuit of honor kills a person. It kills him! It kills him! It murders him.
Another example, forgive me that I’m extending this discussion, but it’s hard to understand this. The Gemara says that in the Second Temple times, there were 300 High Priests. How can this be? During the time of the First Temple, 400 years, there were just 10 High Priests. Each one lasted for 40 years.
The Gemara says about the Second Temple that there were a few High Priests who lasted for a few years, and then afterwards, for the next 300 years, a different High Priest would die every year! Each year, he’d die. He’d enter [the Holy of Holies] and die. Dead, dead, dead, dead.
Rashi says, because he bought the kahuna (office of the High Priest) for money, even though they taught them all the halachot of being a High Priest, and they were expert in halacha, nevertheless, they bought the kahuna for money.
What, all these 300 High Priests were crazy?
If there had been just one, it’s possible to say they made a mistake, Corona, Corona. But after one died, then the second, then the third, then the fifth, and then another one – all of them died! Another one and another one and another one, until 300 Kohens…
No-one would do something like this, to buy the Angel of Death for money! Who would do something like this? Only someone who was totally insane. Why? Why [did they do it]?
The Gemara says – honor! The Mishnah says: And great honor was given to the Kohen HaGadol when he came of the Holy in Holies in peace, as it was said that he came out of there miraculously, he was meant to have died in the Holy of Holies.
But the point is, that he’d merit to have great honor! I’m going to miss out on this honor?! He’s ready to die, for this honor.
I’m saying all this, so we can understand the point that a person will do all sorts of crazy things, for honor.
I saw the matter of the judgement, and I wanted to talk about it.
That in Breslov many people arose to fight for this thing – to fight that there should be a judgment [of the Beit Din] against the Rav. What happened?
Once, I asked: Who is the most honored person in Breslov? They told me: Don’t ask. Rav Berland is the head – and they are going crazy about this.
What is this?
Rabotai, this is what’s happening here. All these unfortunate people made an accounting, Rav Berland was not a Breslover. I’m talking about when he was a young man. Both me and him were in Hadera, there were no chassidim there, only a few. He and his wife were madrichim (youth leaders) in Bnei Akiva, they left the place, and went to be chareidim in Bnei Brak.
In Bnei Brak, they became chareidim. His wife worked in Or HaChaim, and he sat and learned.
In Bnei Brak, Rav Berland opened up Shuvu Banim, that’s where he promoted and became acquainted with Breslov Torah. He was one of the only ones who became acquainted with Breslov Torah. Who else knew about it, then? What was there, then? Rav Berland started to organize a yeshiva, and to organize a kollel, and to organize Talmudei Torah (schools). He made many baalei teshuvas (people who returned to orthodox Jewish observance).
Rav Berland brought hundreds of thousands of people back in teshuva – who made Breslov what it is?
This was good, this was wonderful – but the honor that he received, this drove everyone crazy. How is it possible, that this guy was nothing, and now he’s like this?!
This is how the opposition to him began, to our great sorrow.
I am dafka the opposite.
I loved Rav Berland, I said: This man is strengthening Torah.
I saw that he was learning Ketzot HaHoshen with young men, he’s a Talmid Chacham who is full of Torah, he’s bringing people closer to Hashem. Master of the world, Rav Berland brought back hundreds of thousands, hundreds of thousands, back in teshuva. Everyone was honoring him, also in Meron and also in Uman.
I was in Uman, because Rebbe Nachman said that whoever comes to him, and recites the Tikkun HaKlali, and gives a pruta (coin) to charity….so I travelled to Uman. I was in a group, and they asked me to give over a drasha (Torah discourse). What am I going to give a drasha about, mussar (ethics) from Nodvardok? They learned there chassidut. I opened Likutey Moharan, and I connected both things together.
I said a bit from Novhardok, a little from Rabbenu (Rebbe Nachman), they were so very happy.
What pains those breslovers that oppose Rav Berland: How can Rav Berland be at the head, like the king of kings, in all these places?! They started gossiping: What was he? He’s not even a Breslover, he doesn’t belong with us – from here ignited all the jealousy, and all the desire to do all the bad things to him, Hashem should have mercy.
And now, they saw that they succeeded to pull him off the top. I believe that he will come out from this judgment, because it’s not possible that they can touch a person who brought so many people closer to Hashem.
Who else brought hundreds of thousands to the Torah?
Rav Berland wandered around the whole of Israel, from house to house, and brought people closer and returned them in teshuva. Even when he was ill, he left the hospital and straight out to bring people back in teshuva. He sacrificed himself to bring Jews closer to their Abba in heaven.
Why did this thing happen to him? If I would have known this before, I would have told him: My friend, don’t let them give you any honor! You are killing them with jealousy. They are saying ‘I’m old-school Breslov, and I have nothing, and you [i.e. Rav Berland] – you’re like a ger toshav (resident alien) – and everyone is running after you, and calling you an ‘Angel of God’!
I don’t want to speak about what the Beit Din did, we will take care of this.
I hope we will succeed. I was all the time crying out, what are you saying about Rav Berland?! Telling all these stories about him, and causing him so much suffering, take him to a din Torah (Beit Din).
One day, three Breslov avreichim (students) came to see me, young people, and they told me that they set up a Beit Din. I was astonished, this is how we set up a Beit Din?! I asked, what have you done? They answered, we brought witnesses, and they testified.
I asked: What about Rav Berland, was he at the Beit Din? No! I said, How can you judge him in absentia? How is this possible? This is against the Torah! They said, no, he’s known to be a gavra alma (i.e. a violent and dangerous person that according to halacha, it’s possible to judge a person like this in absentia because of the risk that he might try to kill the people judging him.)
I said, what are you talking about, gavra alma?! He can barely walk! Gavra alma?! He’s ill, in the hospital! This is a ‘gavra alma’?! What is he going to do, punch the policemen? Who decided that he is a ‘gavra alma’?
They said, we did!!
I said to them, you decided that he’s the angel of death, you are also the witnesses, you are also the dayanim, you are the prosecutors, you are also the judges, and you’re also the poskim (halachic decisors) who decided that he’s ‘gavra alma’. You’re behind everything!
And this is a ‘psak din’ (verdict)????
So, I told them to go to the Eida Chareidit.
I don’t want to talk against the Beit Din, but I don’t understand why they aren’t concerned about the yeshiva. I wrote about this, and we will take care of it.
Do you remember that once in the past, the Rav was outside of Israel, and I came to strengthen the yeshiva? I said be careful not to weaken! Do the opposite! You love your Rav, so learn even better! And in the merit of this, he will be rescued.
I say to them: If you’re going to destroy a Rosh Yeshiva, first worry about the yeshiva. I asked them, what will be, with the yeshiva, what will be, with the kollel?
They said: That it should disintegrate, what do we care?!
They don’t care, nothing else interests them.
Hundreds of thousands baalei teshuvas, who is going to guide them? That it should disintegrate, that they should go back to be non-religious?
So, I was in favor of the Beit Din of the Eida HaCharedit, because the elders have more life experience, how to judge, and how to rectify judgments. But, they did this….and I wasn’t able go against it.
To nullify a judgment, OK, we are talking about this, I only say – why didn’t you worry about the yeshiva? Why didn’t you worry about the baalei teshuvas? There are thousands, what’s going to be with them? Are they going to be lost?
This pains me, this thing, and I’ve spoken to the Shuvu Banim rabbis about this. Don’t despair! Concern yourselves with the yeshiva, and with the kollels, worry about the baal teshuvas – don’t let all this fall!
Those people who are seeking honor, they don’t care that there will a churban (terrible destruction).
Their main purpose is just to attain their goal. I don’t know why the Beit Din didn’t pay attention to this, I thought that they would speak to them.
In my haskama (letter of approbation) I asked why they didn’t worry about the students – before the verdict, you need to worry about the Torah. So now, to all this holy kehilla – Hashem will help! I don’t want to talk against the Beit Din.
The Beit Din – whatever it does, Hashem know how to manage things so they turn out for the best.
You need to worry about the kehilla. And I said that all of your Talmud Torah [schools] will be accepted into our framework, the Ma’ayan HaHinuch Chareidi network. I hope that Hashem will help, as He helped Rav Berland and yourselves.
The Rambam said, Israel will only be redeemed via teshuva.
Don’t worry, the Torah already guaranteed that Israel will return in teshuva, and will then be immediately redeemed.
Who is going to bring the geula? All the baalei teshuvas! The Rambam said this, and the Torah already promised that Am Yisrael will make teshuva.
Hashem appointed Rav Berland to bring people closer in teshuva – now the Satan showed up, to our great sorrow. I hope that you will find the way [to stand firm against this].
In the meantime, don’t neglect things. Do as much as possible – go and visit all the places that Rav Berland used to visit, and strengthen others in teshuva, just like Rav Berland did.
Strengthen the yeshiva, and Hashem will help! The ikker (main thing) is to strengthen yourselves, for the Torah is our life, this is our geula. I always say: Why did the Rambam write that the Torah already promised that the geula will come? Say that Hashem already promised! But this is so in order to hint that this guarantee will only come about by way of Torah learning.
So, we need to strengthen the Torah by the young people, the grown ups and the elders.
Everyone here that has a mouth that can speak, they should go out and mekarev (bring people closer to God). I hope, with Hashem’s help, this this not nice feeling will pass – and that people will still draw closer to those who are brought them closer, really, with all their heart.
Rav Berland has the ability to change a pera adam, a wild man, into a human being.
I have a relative, who was a ‘wild man’, robberies, court judgments, police… What could we do? They were going to take the child to jail.
Until he met Rav Berland – and he became a human being and now is really a tzaddik.
Hashem should have mercy on Israel, and should nullify everything, so Rav Berland can continue, in order to save Am Yisrael. Rav Berland, in particular, has the special power to do this.
The Torah promises that by way of learning the torah, baalei teshuvas will come, and then the geula will come, Amen. Very soon, very soon! Hashem will help, I hope that the suffering of Rav Berland will end, and that he will be healthy.
All this suffering is not for nothing. Rather, the Gemara says that the Moshiach is a man of suffering.
[Moshiach] atones in his heart, and he atones in his legs – this is the suffering. Rav Berland suffers a lot from his legs…
And the geula will occur soon, Amen v’Amen.
Watch the video of Rav Badani talking: