Thursday, August 05, 2010

Rabbi Eliezer Berland goes out on a limb

Just a quick post to assess the accuracy of Rabbi Eliezer Berland's prediction of war on the 22nd, in retrospect.

To start, Yeranen Yaakov:
According to YNet, Rav Eliezer Berland Shlit"a, one of the elder Breslov rabbis, told his students to travel to Uman and pray for Am Yisrael until the 22nd of Av (the night of August 1st, 2010), which is when war with Iran is supposed to break out.

One of his students said that the rav only meant this to be Mehazeik his students (i.e. to strengthen them in Avodat Hashem) - not that he believes it to be true.
This allows him to predict the war with absolute confidence, so that if something happens, he predicted it. As the same time, a student says that the rav doesn't really believe it to be true. So if it doesn't occur, no harm, no foul. In the comment section, yaak suggested that this means that he only believed it as a safek. And yet to his students, and by extension the whole world who hears it, it is a vadai that the sky is falling.

Subsequent to this, when the predicted apocalyptic war did not surface, an Anonymous commenter pointed out that Rabbi Berland had already said that it wouldn't happen:
You guys are WAY out of the loop, because its been common knowledge for my family and myself that R Berland himself said that the din is over as well several weeks ago...
If he said this, then people should not be pointing to Rabbi Berland's prediction any more, that a war is coming. Yet they still are.

I am not saying that Rabbi Eliezer Berland deliberately arranged this, just that this is how such claims are evaluated nowadays. He cannot go wrong. Interpret minor things as a fulfillment of his prediction, and so we will claim he predicted it. Don't interpret and kvetch, then we will point out that he retracted.

How about what actually happened? Was that a fulfillment of his initial prediction?

On the day of, nothing really happened. Well, something happened:
Grad Katyusha rockets were fired at Eilat and Aqaba, killing a Jordanian and injuring a few more. No one knows where they came from. Israel thinks they came from Sinai. Egypt vehemently denies this.
But no one was hurt at all in Israel on the day of the prediction. Nothing really happened.

The next day, more happened. But it was on the wrong day. And even what happened did not develop into a major war. Some will say (as they did in comments) that it started as a trickle, like the mabul, but that the events of the 22nd of Av, which was Monday Aug 2nd, were the mere beginning.

If so, I will point to Rabbi Lazer Brody's post, where he ties violence to the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem:
Friday, July 30, 2010: Katyusha rocket falls in the center of an Ashkelon residential neighborhood - miraculously, there was only property damage and no loss of life
Saturday, July 31, 2010: A Kassam rocket from Gaza scores a direct hit on a school, destroying 3 classrooms; miraculously, the building was empty
Sunday, August 1, 2010: Kassam rocket and mortar fire attacks on Eshkol area settlements
Monday, August 2, 2010: Five Iranian-made Grad missiles fired from Sinai toward Eilat - one fell on the neighboring Jordanian city of Aqaba, killing a cab driver and wounding 4 others
Tuesday, August 3, 2010: Weird flare-up of hostilities on Israel's Northern border, with one Israeli officer killed and another seriously wounded
Are the events of Monday, Aug 2 any greater than the events of the previous day, or the day before that, or the day before that?! In what way are the events of Monday, Aug 2 the beginning of a major war more than anything previous?! If he had predicted 21 Av, they would have seen this as fulfillment. If he had predicted 20 Av, they would have seen this as fulfillment. And so on and so forth. This even if there will be some major outbreak of violence, which is certainly possible, given the current climate.

Unfortunately, at present, Israel has plenty of nations out to get her. And there are always incidents that occur. In the past, in the many failed predictions, people point to these minor incidents. But if we are looking to these continuous minor incidents, then you can pick any day and almost be assured of justification.

In assessing a navi emes vs. navi sheker, Rambam writes:
אֵלָא אוֹמְרִין לוֹ, אִם נָבִיא אַתָּה, אֱמֹר לָנוּ דְּבָרִים הָעֲתִידִין לִהְיוֹת; וְהוּא אוֹמֵר, וְאָנוּ מְחַכִּים לוֹ לִרְאוֹת הֲיָבוֹאוּ דְּבָרָיו:  אִם לֹא יָבוֹאוּ, וְאַפִלּוּ נָפַל דָּבָר אֶחָד קָטָן--בַּיָּדוּעַ שְׁהוּא נְבִיא שֶׁקֶר

Even if some small matter of this fails, it is known that he is a navi sheker. Rabbi Berland is not a navi, neither a navi sheker or a navi emes. But I think the reason for this is that there are always coincidences, unrelated to the prediction, and people can kvetch non-fulfillment into fulfillment.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin