“The police were sent in an attempt to arrest Rabbi Berland on Shabbat [sabbath] night. This is a very serious crime. [Jewish law] speaks extensively on the rodef, a person who goes and tries to imprison his fellow in the hands of non-Jews. There is a commandment to stop him at all costs. And the law refers to a simple Jew…whereas we are dealing with a great Rabbi, a great Torah Sage [Berland].”
Above: Rabbis Eliezer Berland, left; Warren Goldstein, right
Breslov Hasidim Issue Death Threat Against South Africa’s Chief Rabbi
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Rabbi Eliezer Berland, the head of the Breslov hasidic Shuvu Banim sect, isn’t living openly and peaceably in South Africa as his disciples have claimed in the Israeli haredi media. Instead, he’s on the run inside the country and in hiding after South African Police Service officers, acting on an arrest warrant from Interpol, tried to arrest the 78-year-old Berland on January 22 after Shabbat had already begun.
That arrest attempt enraged Berland’s 40 or so local adult followers – who are Israelis, many of whom are ex-cons, who fled Israel with (or shortly after) Berland just before Israeli police moved to bring Berland in for allegedly committing a string of sexual assaults against his young female followers, some of whom were married and at least one of whom was a minor at the time her alleged assault took place. They believe the police were tipped off to Berland’s location – a rural resort hotel in Samrand, north of Johannesburg – by South Africa’s chief rabbi, Warren Goldstein, and said on the sect’s website that Goldstein – himself haredi Orthodox – was a “rodef” (pursuer) and should be judged as such, the Johannesburg Sunday Times and Ha'aretz reported.
In halakha (Orthodox Jewish law) a rodef can be killed by anyone to stop him from killing. Assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was labeled a rodef by right-wing Orthodox rabbis from Chabad, Kahanist and Zionist Orthodoxy in the months before his assassination by a right-wing Zionist Orthodox extremist.
After last Friday night’s raid, his followers issued death threat against Goldstein and complained police had “traumatized” their children during the raid.
Basing itself on the ruling of well-known Johannesburg haredi rabbi (who is, for some reason, not named in by the Johannesburg Sunday Times
or Ha’aretz), the Berland’s Shuvu Banim Breslov hasidic sect reportedly posted the following on the group’s website.
“The police were sent in an attempt to arrest Rabbi Berland on Shabbat [sabbath] night. This is a very serious crime. [Jewish law] speaks extensively on the rodef, a person who goes and tries to imprison his fellow in the hands of non-Jews. There is a commandment to stop him at all costs. And the law refers to a simple Jew…whereas we are dealing with a great Rabbi, a great Torah Sage [Berland],” the sect wrote.
The official South African Jewish community lashed out at Berland and his followers in statement.
“The South African Jewish community calls on Rabbi Eliezer Berland to return to Israel immediately to face the serious criminal charges laid against him and for which there is an international warrant of arrest against him. We further condemn the baseless malicious lies and incitement to violence aimed at our Chief Rabbi, including the libellous accusation that the Chief Rabbi was responsible for the police raid on Berland’s compound,” the statement said.
Left unanswered by South Africa’s official Jewish body, which claimed to speaking “for the full spectrum” of the country’s Jews, is why anyone should be ashamed of reporting a wanted molester and rapist to police.
Berland has been on the run from Israel since 2012, and has run for country to country during that time. He was most recently in the Netherlands for almost one year as he fought extradition to Israel. He jumped bail and went into hiding when he exhausted his legal ways of stopping the extraditionand resurfaced in South Africa several months later.