“THIS IS THE MOMENT OF GEULA”
Adapted and translated from ‘Knishta Hada’, Newsletter 60, 5778
Before Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, began his long exile from the Holy Land five years’ ago, he stopped off in Florida to found the Miami branch of ‘Shuvu Banim’, which has now grown to encompass many hundreds of people, and includes a kollel and synagogue.
Many of the people from Shuvu Banim Miami were in Uman this year, having narrowly missed being in the destructive path of Hurricane Irma, and were keen to meet with Rav Berland, shlita. However, throughout the two days of Rosh Hashana 5778, the Rav was in an extremely serious mood, and didn’t so much as smile at another human being (which is very uncharacteristic behavior from the Rav.)
It was obvious to everyone that the Rav, shlita, was busy trying to sweeten the judgments he’d spoken about a little earlier, when he’d said that North Korea would try to fire a nuclear weapon at the United States of America on Wednesday, the first day of Rosh Hashana.
Already by the morning of the Shabbat following Rosh Hashana, the Rav was in a completely different mood. In a shiur that he gave over in Uman after the Vatikin (sunrise) morning prayers, the Rav spoke about the tempest in Florida, and recounted how the storm had by-passed all the areas with synagogues in Miami.
NOTHING HAPPENED BECAUSE IT WAS SHABBAT
The Rav explained that: “All the storms and hurricanes are sent away from a place where Torah is being learned, and from where people travel from there to Uman.” The Rav then added: “Because the storm got to Miami on Shabbat, it broke windows and sent floodwater only into the upper stories, but by the Jews who were living on the lower levels, nothing happened to them, because it was shabbat.
“We really, mamash, saw the hashgacha (Divine providence) that was happening in Texas. Houses were destroyed in Baton, whilst in Miami, nothing really happened.”
Rav Berland continued:
“Now, we’ve arrived at the time of Gog and Magog, the time of geula (redemption) and the end of days.”
‘And his feet will stand on that day on the Mount of Olives, that is at the approach to Jerusalem’ (Zechariah, 14).
“North Korea is going to launch a nuclear weapon, but it’s not going to reach to Miami, because there are synagogues there, and people who keep mitzvot. Perhaps it will fall into the sea. But North Korea has some very unique ideas, and they will aim their nuclear weapons only at Shuvu Banim. But despite all this, there’s no need to worry. Just sit in the succah, and don’t leave it. Anyone who sits in the succah will be protected, and will survive.”
As is often Rav Berland’s way (in a half-joking manner) he may just have been hinting at a harsh judgment that has already been sweetened, instead of predicting a future event. But it’s clear that whatever Rav Berland’s full intentions, he was hinting to all of Am Yisrael that keeping the mitzvot, and building new Torah communities and sitting in the Succah over the festival of Succot is what will keep us all safe from harm, whether the threat is coming from crazy dictators with nuclear weapons, or crazy weather fronts.