For those interested in the truth behind the complex saga of Rav Berland, the entire book is available for free download today, Tuesday through Thursday, on Amazon here:
Based on new information, I re-wrote this post.
In the words of Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein, Lori Gilbert Kaye was "a woman of chesed and kindness," a very special and cherished member of his congregation.
Tears welled up in his eyes as he spoke about this special Jewish woman.
Lori had come to shul to say the Yizkor prayer for her recently deceased mother.
With this as her last intention, Lori was suddenly shot to death in the foyer of the shul.
And according to the new information, Rabbi Goldstein was the hero of the hour, along with a Jewish off-duty border patrol guard.
If you haven't already, please see 2 important posts at Shirat Devorah:
And it's essential to see Devorah's comment in the following post, where she describes what she heard first-hand from Rabbi Goldstein's sister, who also lives in Australia:
The media accounts are so different than Rabbi Goldstein's account. I don't even know how the media came up with the information they did, some of which is outright false according to the above.
May Rabbi Goldstein (Yisroel ben Chana Priva) and the other injured merit a complete and speedy healing.
And may Rabbi Goldstein's amazing courage and exemplary selflessness (even as blood poured from his wounds, he first concerned himself with the safety of the children in the area, then later gave powerful chizuk to his congregants, and refused to leave until everyone was accounted for) stand as a merit for himself and for us all.
What a kiddush Hashem!
It goes without saying that Lori Gilbert Kaye was murdered al kiddush Hashem.
She was murdered in the middle of doing worthy deeds - simply because she was a Jew.
May Hashem yinkom damah and may she be a melitz yosher for all Am Yisrael.
And may those injured merit a speedy and complete healing.
Mi k'Amcha Yisrael? Who is like Your Nation Yisrael?
Starting from before Pesach, we've been losing precious Jews (in addition to frightening incidents survived by other precious Jews).
I'm even hesitant to start naming each one for fear of forgetting one.
One very big heartbreak is the loss of the Kaliver Rebbe, Rav Menachem Mendel Taub ztz'l.
While I never had the privilege of meeting him, I was always impressed by his simchas chaim, along with the sweetness & temimus emanating from his face.
In fact, his simchas chaim, sweetness, and temimus make no sense in the face of what he suffering during the Shoah: In addition to the "standard" horrors, the Kaliver Rebbe suffered in the Auschwitz "clinic" of inhuman human experimentation.
As a result of this sadistic treatment, the Rebbe was never able to re-grow his beard. He never had children either.
May all his deeds, the Torah-true Jews he influenced and the Torah institutions he founded and nurtured, and the sefarim he composed be considered as "offspring" for him.
His success as a Rebbe on American soil is also amazing.
All he accomplished — both the exterior accomplishments of re-building Yiddishkeit in a foreign land & the inner accomplishments of his personal tzidkus — can only be the result from his profoundly pure middah of emunah.
You can read an English-language interview with him here:
The Kaliver Rebbe: "Each day is its own Yom Hashoah."
Please note the crystalline Torah hashkafah in his answers.
For example, his firm "Yes!" on whether it is important for young people today to remember and learn about the Holocaust is based on the Torah directive to remember what Amalek has done to the Jewish people AND as a way to unify the Jewish Nation, which prevents war.
His advice for preventing another Shoah & protecting the Jewish people in general can be summarized as follows:
Incredible advice from a Jew who endured unimaginable torments...all because he was a Jew.
May we please merit Rebbe Menachem Mendel ben Yehudah Yechiel as a melitz yosher for us all.
One of the things I really like about Rav Avigdor Miller's style is that he doesn't just say, "Be grateful for indoor plumbing" or "What would you do without electricity?" (It's good to say these things of course, but Rav Miller has a special way of getting the same point across.)
Instead, Rav Miller ztz"l fleshes it out in great detail so that you can see the deprivation clearly and really feel the contrast between what you have and what you could be missing if you weren't so fortunate.
It helps so much with fostering gratitude.
Also, I enjoy what he says here about pockets because this year, taking my son to gan involves getting on the bus. And initially, I was overwhelmed with holding onto my son, maneuvering my bus pass, and getting us to sit down, all with my purse swinging under my arm. Then I remembered I have one top with pockets and it was amazing how much EASIER it was to maneuver the whole bus routine with two roomy pockets!
It's true that much of women's clothing either lacks pockets or else the pockets just aren't deep & roomy enough.
Anyway, this is what showed up in my Inbox today from Toras Avigdor:
A while back, a friend of mine mentioned that if a nisayon isn’t painful, then it’s not really a nisayon.
And if we shut down or run away so as not to feel the pain, then it doesn't move us forward.
And she’s right.
(Actually, she said she got the idea from hearing classes on Rav Chaim Volozhin's book, Nefesh HaChaim.)
And so, how many times is physical or emotional pain a wake-up call?
Yes, we should strive to be happy & content with our lot at all times, knowing that Hashem is Personally involved in our lives and soul-rectifications until the finest detail.
But the only way to really never feel pain is to disassociate.
And that’s not what Hashem wants.
We’ve all met people for whom life is one big blur. They never fully engage. Even when their life starts falling apart, they merely struggle to disengage further, even taking sedatives if necessary.
In Tova Mordechai’s book, To Play with Fire, she describes her parents’ bizarre reaction to the funeral of their oldest daughter, Esther, after she’d died young from a ravaging disease. Their non-Jewish evangelical father put his arm around Tova and commented, “It was nice, wasn’t it?”
Oh, yes! The funeral of your beloved daughter was so "nice"!
Understandably, Tova found such callous behavior profoundly hurtful and infuriating.
Her Jewish mother, who’d long ago gone over to the side of the evangelicals, remarked that for them — meaning Tova, the Jews who’d loved Esther, and Esther's widowed husband and orphaned child — it was a tragedy, but “for us”— meaning, the Yoshke-worshipers — it was a victory.
Being a fully-committed Jew by that time, Tova allowed herself to grieve for her sister, which is the most natural and healthiest response to such a loss.
How disturbing that the parents were such Moonies that they could not even allow themselves to feel pain at the untimely loss of their own child — let alone compassion for the young son (their grandchild) who would grow up with no mother.
So pain doesn’t mean we should kick into Moonie-mode. That’s not emuna.
It means we need to dig around to see what needs rectifying, fixing, fine-tuning.
Something’s missing. What is it?
Maybe it’s as simple — and as sometimes excruciating — as saying, “Gam zeh l’tovah—This too is for the best.”
That's because some pain is a tikkun and an atonement beyond any understanding or anything we can do.
But many other times, it’s a nudge to get us going up to the next level in our spiritual development.
We don’t need to pretend the pain is not there.
At some point, we need to face it head-on.
And when we deal with it, we need to know that we're not dealing with it alone. Not really.
Hashem is right there with us.
As many of you know, Rivka Levy & Y.D. Bergman have come out with a new book of the Rav Berland saga:
One in a Generation: Rabbi Eliezer Berland: Volume 2: Into Exile
As good as the first volume was, this second volume surpasses the first.
Full of complex events running in parallels, plus convoluted histories, and a wide variety of corroborating sources (ranging from the Gemara to commentaries & Sagely works to secular newspapers & video clips), this book is gob-smackingly organized.
To add credence to the mind-boggling stories, this book provides the names of eye-witnesses and sources wherever possible: diamond mine-owner Yaron Yamin, Rav Moshe Tzanani, Rav Shimon Baadani, Rav Chaim Dov Stern, Rav Yitzchak Meir Morgenstern, and more.
Rav Berland's Prediction for Achashverosh's America
To read in retrospect the events Rav Berland predicted, along with his behind-the-scenes involvement in world affairs and leaders (like Morocco's king), is incredible.
For example, Rav Berland compared the newly elected Obama to King Achashverosh.
In hindsight, this is a spot-on comparison.
Achashverosh, a foolish and self-absorbed king, was just as much as a Jew-hater as Haman, but Achashverosh was too decadent and inane to get organized about it without Haman.
Just like Obama, apparently.
And just as Achashverosh, a former stable boy, became king on Vashti’s coattails (as the granddaughter of Nevuchadnetzer), Obama’s rise to power always seemed conjured by a “lift up” from others more intelligent, driven, and successful than him — included his own wife, Michelle, who was also more physically imposing than Obama, in addition to outshining him in the above-mentioned qualities.
And just like Rav Berland predicted, Obama ruined America.
While many like to blame Trump, the divisiveness between Right and Left, the vitriol from the Left, the radical bias of the mainstream media, racial division and identity politics, the hatred of police, the descent toward socialism, plus the muzzling of free speech via “politically correct” extremists — all this ballooned during Obama’s occupancy & with his encouragement.
Lions, Elephants, and Hippos...Oh My!
This volume also contains one of my favorite episodes: Rav Berland does hitbodedut in the African jungle.
From the Depths...
Also, the book mentions Rav Berland's prison time…in Zimbabwe & South Africa.
Prison conditions in Third World countries are atrocious. You also end up in the company of truly savage people who’ve committed the worst crimes with no remorse — and easily commit those crimes again in prison against fellow prisoners.
For an elderly religious man to willingly risk spending time in such a place and also not to lose one shred of emuna during that incarceration just boggles the mind.
Tying Up Loose Ends
Another benefit this book provided was to address more fully one of my own nagging doubts.
While I realized that Rav Berland actively took upon himself the nisayon of vicious unfounded widespread slander, one of his methods still niggled at me…until I came across the section of the book which fleshed out the whys and hows of that particular issue, settling my niggling doubt once and for all.
The book is also very current. Some of the events and sources within are as recent as April 2019!
A Tell-All Turned Inside-Out
Finally, I feel that the decision to avoid naming the more extreme detractors and provocateurs strengthened the book. (Yes, you can discover the names in other ways, but not from the narration of this book.)
Generally, an exhaustively researched non-fiction book of this type seeks to provide as much identifying information as possible. Such a goal heightens the book’s veracity.
Yet in Volume II: Into Exile, you get the names of all sorts of people positively or neutrally involved with Rav Berland…but no one negatively involved with him.
This makes reading the book a one-of-a-kind experience because such a thing never happens in the genre of investigative journalism or exhaustively researched biographies.
And like I said, the book is much stronger for it.
Along these lines, it has been noted for years that placing the names and photos of murderers — particularly those of mass murderers in newspapers actually increases the likelihood of that crime happening again.
Names and photos grant a warped celebrity status to these atrocities and their perpetrators, something that appeals to other evil & twisted minds. (That’s just one reason why this blog tries to avoid — but admittedly doesn't always succeed — naming really awful people in posts.)
So even when technically, it’s halachically permitted, it’s good to avoid naming names.
As a side point, when Rav Shach spoke against certain rabidly anti-Torah Leftists, he was careful not to use their name, but say something like, “that wicked woman in the Knesset.” Another side point is the prohibition against looking at images of bad people; frum publishers shouldn’t publish the pictures of reshaim. (And yes, I wish the frum media would stop publishing photos of reshaim!!!)
But enough with this digression…
All in all, it’s a very compelling read, exhaustively researched, and well-written.
If you are interested in the whole controversy, if you’ve niggling doubts or you’re confused by all the conflicting information, One in a Generation: Rabbi Eliezer Berland: Volume 2: Into Exile comes to clarify and set straight the ongoing saga and controversy surrounding Rav Berland.
Available at the following outlets:
Note: I was not asked to write this review nor do I receive any commission from promoting the book. I just plain like the book!
This is a bit belated, but if you are interested in Pesach posts (and a recipe for traditional Moroccan Pesach soup, which can be adjusted for non-kitniyot eaters), then please click on "Pesach" in the sidebar under "Categories."
Or click here:
Experiencing an insult, embarrassment, or criticism is always some kind of atonement.
And that's a good thing (even though it really burns).
But it's also often a hint for your own behavior.
And while it's very good to remain silent in the face of critics and slave-drivers, and accept your kaparah with good grace, it's even better to use the offensive behavior as a springboard for your own self-improvement.
For example, many people have someone in their life whom they can never please.
It could be a family member, a neighbor, a boss, a co-worker...and no matter how much you contort yourself into a pretzel to cater to their desires, your efforts are never good enough.
And yes, that feeling of never, ever being good enough no matter how hard you try (and especially if you do actually try) is soul-destroying.
At the same time, it's good to take a step back into Hashem's Great Love for you and in that warm, secure place of His Love, examine your own behavior for bursts of criticism, insults, and other stumbling blocks...and also maybe an atom of truth packed deep inside the other's complaints, mockery, or demands.
It's important to note that you aren't necessarily looking for behavior as appalling and hurtful as what you might be experiencing or accused of.
Many times, Hashem supercharges the hint/atonement just so you don't miss it.
So you might be looking at very occasional behavior on your part or a very small or side way in which you are kind of doing what you are accused of.
Or you might be looking at very quiet critical comments you've made or barbs you've said in jest.
You might be looking at behavior you only act out with one person. (For example, sometimes we fall into less-than-ideal patterns within long-term relationships, especially those formed when we were younger and more self-absorbed.)
But what if you just don't see it?
Digging Down to the Root Issue
Let's say that you are one of these people who is always very careful with your speech.
And you're very careful with how you treat others in general.
You are a naturally sensitive and thoughtful person who has worked hard at being even more sensitive and thoughtful toward others.
In fact, you rarely even feel the urge to take someone to task. You don't offer constructively intended criticism disguised as "loving advice" and you honestly don't understand the desire to shoot barbs or hurtful "jokes" at others.
Or, let's say that you are the least lazy person you've ever heard of, yet the other person keeps insisting you ARE lazy. (Maybe it's a spiritual indolence rather than a physical or behavioral indolence?)
Or, let's say that you did discover some ugly warts of tactlessness or hostility -- but you went to work on them and behave much better now.
Yet your nemesis (or series of nemeses) just isn't letting up on you.
So what gives? (This is what I asked myself as I rolled some paint on a wall in a futile attempt to cover up some toddler art...yes, it was a housepainting hitbodedut & self-accounting!)
Anyway...what about one's attitude toward Hashem?
This can be a struggle because maybe things are truly wrong and harsh in your life.
But do you thank Hashem enough for the things that do go right?
Do you tell Hashem how Great He is and how much You love Him, even if you don't always show it?
Or is it that no matter how much Hashem does for you, it's never, ever good enough?
And yes, of course there are always things we need and Hashem grants us losses and disadvantages in life specifically so that we will ASK HIM to remedy these and grant our requests.
So we can request the fulfillment of our desires AND also profoundly appreciate Hashem.
I just found out that Rav Miller's Hagaddah: The Making of a Nation, is available as a free PDF for everyone here:
Thank you very much to Toras Avigdor for their dedication to spreading Rav Avigdor Miller's Torah, and also for letting me know about the free Hagaddah.
Chag kasher v'sameach to everyone!
Recently, someone forwarded a short parsha newsletter to me.
It included some very practical life advice connected to the parsha, then featured a family-oriented Q&A at the end.
You might have heard of its author, Rabbi Shimon Gruen, because he also gives talks on Torahanytime.com. (Actually, I only realized after viewing his website that I'd watched a couple of shiurim of his on Torahanytime.com and found his shiur to be full of good sense, insight, and compassion. Very nice, indeed.)
Anyway, I found the newsletter content very "real" and the advice & mussar displayed uncommon perceptiveness, and I also felt the design and color-scheme of the newsletter very pleasant & readable.
To manually subscribe to his newsletter, send an email to this address:
For what it's worth, I'm unusually happy and impressed with his parsha newsletter. (And I generally avoid subscribing to things. But this newsletter is really well-done & not overwhelming.)
Also, this is Rabbi Gruen's website:
(CORRECTION 19/4: Leha'ir mean "to illuminate" in English. As Rabbi Gruen says, his slogan is "to illuminate with clarity and understanding.")
No, I was not asked to blog about Rabbi Gruen or his website, but it's good Torah hashkafah I think others will find refreshing and beneficial.
If you want to check out a sample before you sign up, here's the Pesach issue:
Torah Lessons for the Home by Rabbi Shimon Gruen
Help a frum family get their children back!:
I'm a middle-aged housewife and mother in Eretz Yisrael who likes to read and write a lot.
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