Also this year, we merited to the Shavuot gathering with our Rebbe Rav Eliezer Berland shlit”a, a gathering with more than a 1,000 people.
On Erev Shavuot at 7:45 pm, Rav Berland shlit”a came out on the balcony of his home to pray Mincha, dressed in Kittel, Tallit, and a white kipa. The massive crowd of followers, who came from all over Israel, sang “Or Zarua L’Tzaddik” over a period of some 20 minutes, with very great vitality. After that, the Rav prayed Minha with the community.
After Minchah, the Rav said the order of binding to the Tzaddikim followed by the niggun before “Barechu” – even from the walls of the Old City it was possible to here the thunder of the niggun, with the entire community singing with such vitality and special pleasantness. Then complete silence prevailed, when only the splendor of the holy voice of the Rav shlit”a could be heard saying, “Barechu et Hashem hamevorach,” with all the community answering “Baruch Hashem hamevorach leolam vaed,” and so began Ma’ariv at the start of the holiday, with the whole Tefilah in niggunim with awesome fervor. After Ma’ariv, the Rav shlit”a said “Mizmor L’David Havu L’Hashem…” followed by Aleinu Leshabeach. The Rav then entered his house to the song “Ata Nigletah (You were revealed…),” announcing that Shacharit would be at 4:00 am.
The Tikkun of Shavuot Night
On Shavuot night, members of the community came to learn and to say the Tikkun Leil Shavuot in our Beit Midrash on Ido HaNavi, with the devoted Gabbaim of the Beit Midrash making sure that everyone would have a place a sit. Many tables and benches were added to accommodate the hundreds of learners, with refreshments served all night long for those toiling in Torah, as is the custom of the House of Israel. It’s worth pointing out that also in our Beit Midrash in the Old City there was the order of learning the Tikkun of Leil Shavuot throughout the night.
Also the young men of our holy community gathered and came on this holy night to learn and to say the Tikkun. The learning for young men took place in the Hora’ah Kollel, an awesome sight with more than 150 young men sitting and involving themselves in the joy of Torah. Of course, the holy learning took place in the merit of the “Chavurat Bnei HaNeurim” youth organization under the direction of Rav Nachman Haas, which made sure that the young men were provided with food throughout the night. As is customary by yeshiva students, the young men arose every hour to dance to renew the intellect and to thank Hashem for the awesome merit for “separating us from those who error and giving us His Torah.” Throughout the night, many of the young men completed tractate Baba Batra, as part of the order of learning enacted by Rav Berland shlit”a.
It’s worth noting that the young men of “Chavurat Bnei HaNeurim” merited in the early morning hours, at around 3:30 am, to enter the holy home of Rav Berland shlit”a for saying “Gut Yom Tom” in fulfilling the mitzvah of receiving the countenance of one’s Rabbi on the festival. It was impossible to miss the light in the Rav’s face in seeing all the young men of the community after a whole night invested in learning the holy Torah in preparation for the reading of the Ten Commandments. The Rav shlit”a stood and handed out prayers for learning Torah with the greeting “Gut Yom Tov” to all the young men with a wide smile which lit up his holy face. He also blessed a portion of the young men to merit to know all of Shas.
Shacharit and the Reading of the Ten Commandments
In the morning, the Rav entered our Beit Midrash at close to 4:15 am, beginning Shacharit with the morning Zemirot “Odeh L’Kel.” The large crowd filled the Beit Midrash, spilling over into the courtyard of the Prayer Hall. And so the prayer was held with niggunim with great joy and vitality. Because of the Rav’s weakness, he didn’t chant the niggunim of Pesukei D’Zimra at great length, but nevertheless, while the Pesukei D’Zimra of the holiday would take in a regular minyan perhaps 25 minutes maximum, here they lasted for some 40 minutes with niggunim in the style of the Rav shlit”a.
After the Amidah, the Rav gave a short shiur before Hallel. Also Hallel he didn’t dwell on particularly long, but nonetheless, it took some 36 minutes with niggunim, the Rav especially emphasizing the song “B’Tzeit Yisrael MiMitzrayim…” which he repeated over and over with great fervor for some ten minutes.
Afterwards, the Rav shlit”a read Megilat Ruth with great enthusiasm, reciting the blessing on a kosher megilah. The Rav shlit”a shed tears in certains sections in the middle of the reading. After this, the Rav shlit”a arranged the opening of the Aron with the saying of the 13 attributes of mercy. Here, the excitement reached its peak – the reading of the Torah and the receiving of the Torah by the Moshe Rabbeinu of the generation. After the Rav placed the Sefer Torah on the Bimah, he read “Akdamot” with the familiar melody, as Rebbe Nachman said “Anyone who knows the level of the song of Akdamot with its melody as the world is accustomed to sing, in its familiar melody, it is a wondrous thing and a very great novelty.” And really, the Rav shlit”a read the Akdamot with awesome and fiery arousal.
After Akdamot, the Rav shlit”a read the Torah, and when he reached the fourth Aliyah, the reading of the Ten Commandments, the Rav was honored with ascending to the Torah. Silence prevailed and it really felt like the giving of the Torah – not a single baby crying, and the pure voice of the Rav shlit”a was heard with sounds and lightning, with flaming fire until the women’s gallery. After the Haftarah, the Rav announced “Yizchor,” and so that people wouldn’t have to leave, the Rav instructed, as in previous years, that it was possible to place the tallit on the head. Afterwards, they began “Kah Keli v’Goali” in the niggun of the Rav shlit”a.
After Musaf, the Rav said Kiddush and ate a bit of cheesecake as is the custom on Shavuot, to eat dairy. After this, the Rav delivered a shiur of around eight minutes, in which he spoke about the receiving of the Torah, and in which he related the story of one of his trips to Uman by way of Cyprus and the miracle which occurred to him there. Afterwards, at 7:44, the Rav shlit”a entered his home after some three and a half hours of prayer.
At 7:24 in the afternoon, the Rav shlit”a came out to pray Minchah of Erev Shabbat, followed by Kabbalat Shabbat, and Maariv of Shabbat Naso with Niggunim.