One in a Generation: Rabbi Eliezer Berland: Volume 2: Into ExileAs 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.
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.
- Have you ever read of someone going out to do hitbodedut among predatory carnivorous beasts?
- What about coming face-to-face with an aggressive-looking elephant?
- Immersing in a stream used by crocodiles, and which also contains a full-grown hippopotamus?
(Weighing up to 8000 pounds, extremely aggressive & territorial and with powerful jaws, hippos kill 3000 people each year — more than lions, poisonous snakes, and crocodiles combined…in other words, not something you want in your mikveh.)
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 in — 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 Schach 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:
- Shuvu Banim Ebook: One in a Generation: Rabbi Eliezer Berland: Volume 2: Into Exile
- Shuvu Banim Paperback: One in a Generation: Rabbi Eliezer Berland: Volume 2: Into Exile
- Amazon: One in a Generation: Rabbi Eliezer Berland: Volume 2: Into Exile
Note: I was not asked to write this review nor do I receive any commission from promoting the books. I just plain like the book!