With this latest conviction of Rabbi Berland, where he admitted to several counts of groping woman and kissing them. Let us not kid ourselves, this was a plea bargain where at these things, the perpetrator admits to lesser charges as to avoid more jail time. It is now clear to us, that with his admission of “just” fondling and kissing, we see that these claims by all the other women of what he did to them are completely true.
This SIN is the greatest sin according to our torah, forcing another one’s wife to have relations with you. These are the kinds of thing that we have to deal with, as the deeds of politicians and CEO of companies. (I am not even talking about the low life’s).
How does it come to pass that someone, looked up to by so many, praying with such intensity, leading huge groups to kevorim (grave sites) can end up in such a situation? Having to deal with the same things as Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
The truth is this is nothing new, should you study history, including the Chassidic history with a true and honest fashion, you would see these shenanigans are old stuff. You would be shocked and surprised to see the who’s who of great Rebbes being accused of similar things. These were not written by anti-Chassidim, misnagdim or maskilim, but by the local people who looked up to the Rebbes and respected them. They write the same things the maskilim write, but with a twist that does not make the Rebbe look so bad, and even justify it to a degree. As a student of history, you will note that the majority of writers years ago did not write like the Art Scroll’s of today where things are glossed over and stuff is added to be politically correct. They wrote as they saw it, albeit with their own slant, but honesty was the priority in writing history.
What we see from all this is, that power corrupts. Aristotle long ago argued with his teachers, that giving one person power, even if he was most noble and upstanding before, it will eventually corrupt him. Every person is born with an evil inclination. This idea that a Rebbe is different than any other human being, as half man / half malach (angel) is just hogwash. Rebbes have bad days, get upset stomachs. get constipated and everything else that other human beings suffer from. This that they are floating somewhere between heaven and earth is wishful thinking. It is pushed to the masses they should think of the Rebbe as G-d like, who can change things on the high for them, which then translates into $$ money. As the old saying goes, the hoyze bucher (the rebbes personal servant) cannot be his chossid, as he sees the Rebbe up close in his private chambers. If the Rebbe happens to be is an erlich (pious) person, works hard for the community and does not live on excesses, he can give a brucha (blessing), But, then so can every other person who is pious, but was not born as “so and so” son.
Was Rabbi Berland faking when he davened (prayed)with such feeling? Was he laughing inside when he was screaming the Tiken Ha’kluli (The 10 Psalms said to forgive sins of passion) at Reb Nachmans grave? Was his intention in all what he did as to try and help people, just to “GET” himself some women? I want to say he was sincere during those times and was trying to be pious. However, we cannot get away from our human impulses, once a person see’s they have power over someone, watching that person break down in front of you, as you trying sincerely to help them. That person then becomes like “clay in your hands” as you realize you can manipulate them in every way. At that point, the evil inclination will try really hard to get hold of you and you can lose every ounce of morality you ever had, and bring you down to the lowest level of humanity.
I believe Rabbi Berland was doing what many Brestlover’s and others do, as they hang around Uman. They fall through in their fight with their passions, and after they sinned they feel guilty and down. They then run to Reb Nachman’s grave and cry bitter tears with honesty for what they did. They know what Reb Nacman said – if sinners will come to him and say the tiken Ha’kiluli (10 psalms) and take it upon themselves not to do it again, he can help them. He never said anything about peyios (ear locks), this was added later, as so many thing about Reb nachman were added. He said this while he was testifying about himself, that he had asked G-d to test him with the desire for woman, as he wants to fight with his evil inclination (do not try this yourselves!).
He claimed he had such a hard internal fight that he had to give up the fight of the “Desire for food” as he could not fight both at the same time. He gave testimony to the fact he prevailed in the “Test of Desire” and that is why he can help people who will come to him when they failed in their own internal fights. Unfortunately, it has become a revolving door with these people coming to Reb Nachman grave site, failing and crying failing and crying, again and again. Rabbi Berland was just another one of them, as he also kept failing when HIS evil inclination got the better of him, This does not mean very other thing he did, or when he helped people, was just was a con artist.
What should we learn from this – never be secure in your thoughts that you are infallible, and do not put your trust completely in another human being for they may also fail.
And YES! Rebbes are just human beings!
Unfortunately, we now suffer from another huge “desecration of G-d’s name” as Rabbi Berland was a known figure. May G-d have mercy on us to speedily bring us back to land and destroy our evil inclination.