Who can fake this?
Currently, we have one picture of the Rav on our wall. It’s that picture where his eyes are half closed, and he’s looking down at the ground while wrapped in his tallit by the Kotel, where they did the birchat ha Hama, or blessing of the sun, a few years’ ago.
It has pride of place on the wall next to my table, and not infrequently, I have guests that ask me: “Who is that Rabbi?”
And each time, I get a little nervous before responding, because the last thing I want is machloket. And circumstances being circumstances, it’s not always possible to avoid it. Sometimes, I tell them ‘it’s Rav Berland’ and they nod, grunt and we return to whatever else we were talking about.
Maybe they’ve heard of him before, maybe they haven’t, but I answered their question and it’s time to move on.
Then, there’s what happened last week, when a distant relative from the UK asked me about the picture, and when I said ‘it’s Rav Berland’, then replied: ‘Is that the one who got arrested?’
I hate those conversations, because yes, he got arrested – but it was all a big stitch up, and a huge miscarriage of justice, and don’t you know I wrote a whole book about it and I can sit here and tell you the whole story for the next five days, and really, he’s just a huge, pure tzaddik. The Tzaddik of the generation, even.
Last week, my guest just raised an eyebrow after my big long speech, and told me: “When I get home, I’ll google it for myself, and I’ll find out the truth.”
And my heart sank, because I know what they’ll find on Google, and how many people have had their neshamas torpedoed by all those lies and lashon hara.
What’s the right thing to do, here?
In hitbodedut afterwards, I went to talk to God about what I should be trying to do, here.
God, if this person googles stuff, and then sends me a yucky email full of lashon hara about the Rav, what should I do? You know how much I want to avoid getting pulled into any machloket, so should I say something now, to try to pre-empt that? Or should I just leave it alone?
The answer I got back is: leave it alone. The relative will forget all about it once he’s home, as he’ll have his hands full with other things.
But still, it bothers me, because part of me wants to bring the Rav into my conversations all the time, and to quote what the Rav is saying in his books and shiurim, but I’m holding myself back because I don’t want to stir up a hornets’ nest again.
Is this the right way to behave?
I really don’t know.
The being of light
In the meantime, a couple of weeks back, someone happened to take another picture of the Rav that came out all light. Literally, instead of seeing a person there in a tallit, you just see a Rav-shaped patch of incandescent white light that is eye-popping.
When my husband saw this picture, he was so taken with it he had it blown up and stuck on a canvas.
Who can fake something like that?!
He asked me in amazement, clearly very chuffed with this latest bit of evidence that the Rav really is the incredibly holy person that the people who see him day in and day out really know him to be.
Never mind the pictures, I thought to myself, who can fake his shiurim? Who can fake years’ worth of classes telling people to accept insults with love, and that by accepting humiliation with love we can save the life of a thousand Jews (as Rabbi Nachman states in lesson 1:260 of Likutey Moharan)?
Who can fake the sort of mesirut nefesh that sees an 80 year old man in poor health with awful leg pains walk 10km in less than half a day, all over Jerusalem’s steep inclines and dips? Who can fake a person giving shiurim in no less than four different locations, on Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan, and at each house, he has to run the gamut of all the Jews waiting out on the street to catch a glimpse of him, and ask for advice and a blessing.
I’m not a Rav, anything but, but can you imagine how exhausting that level of interaction with other people actually is?
How does the Rav do it?
How does he manage to squeeze in visits to hospitals to resuscitate seriously-ill people in a coma before jumping on a plane to Uman, for Rosh Hashana? How does he manage to get by on an hour’s sleep a night? How does he manage to go for days without eating so much as a carrot? How can he give away every single penny he possesses, every single night, like the Baal Shem Tov used to do?
Who can fake something like this?!
That’s really want I want to tell the people who tilt at my picture with a sly look on their face.
This person is an angel of God, don’t you know? You can’t begin to grasp him in a million years You can’t begin to understand what is really going on, here. And no amount of Jpost articles and googling the Rav is going to change that, quite the opposite.
But I can’t say that.
So instead, I’m planning on sticking the ‘being of light’ picture right next to our main picture of the Rav on the wall, so when they ask me: ‘Who is that person?’, I can point to the incandescent white patch, and tell them the truth:
He’s the holiest person I know.
No more, and no less.
And that will have to suffice.
After this appeared, I got sent a few more pictures and another (older) video of the Rav, that also seem to have captured some of his light. Here they are, below:
And if you click HERE, it’ll take you to a link where you can a video of the Rav’s aura shining off his head.
Light is sown for the Tzaddikim…