Who Are These Weird Child-Abusing Breslaver Hasidim?

Maven writes on Failed Messiah:

This group was a fringe militant group that ran afoul of the law and all common sense a few years ago when they tried to blow up the Mosque. They have no Orthodox or other religious backing. It is a collection of psychopaths claiming to be "Breslov", which is a convenient label since anyone can claim to be "Breslov" as it was a non-dynastic chassidut, and the name once had some "alternative" chic cache (amazing how easy it is to destroy the reputation of a great thinker, no matter what these folks do I will love Likutei Moharan and the stories).
These guys are goons, the police has had to come in to their "yeshiva" more than once.
I pointed out the possible link to the mosque maniacs some time ago, by the way…
Any link these psychos have to Judaism, Torah, Jewish thought or history is accidental at best (and you folks out there know I am not a reflexive defender of anything in a kippa). They need to be arrested and thrown into a locked prison psychiatric unit like Son of Sam or other criminal schizophrenics no matter what outfit they wear. This was true of Uzi Meshulam as well, and surprisingly, he still has defenders!
As many readers have pointed out, this problem is compounded in Israel due to popularity of opposition to "refuah conventionalit", science, education, and the economic situation that causes people to prey on others for profit (so that even properly trained doctors, to make money "under the table" will sell homeopathic and "alternativi" drugs in a cynical manner to the willing-deluded to make ends meet).

SephardiMan posts: "Breslov is an evil Ukrainian Jewish cult founded by a deluded but brilliant self proclaimed Messiah. No one who calls themselves ‘Sephardi’ has any business being involved in this nonsense."

Dave posts: "Kabbalah is a refuge for weak minds and idle minds. It was an aberration developed at a time of extreme persecution. If someone thinks they’re bored with studying Tanach and Talmud, the answer is not to start studying Kabbalah, but to get a job!"

PureSphardic posts:

Rabbi Benayahu Shmueli,
I used to hang around his place a lot, in the Nahlaot neighborhood of Jerusalem.
He is not considered Head of the Mekubalim, though his students might refer to him as such.
The "Yeshiva" is a mixture of American Breslov druggies, and heavy style Baale Teshuva, I learned there several times, the guys there read Zohar like Tehillim.
Rabbi Shmueli only has his stature by taking over Rabbi Mordechai Sharaby’s Position, who was known as really knowing his stuff.
Rabbi Shmueli is known for being good with bringing back to religion ex-convicts and learned several Masechtot Gemara with President Katzav.
Structure at this Yeshiva is very loose, and very unlikely that any specific thoughts were spread out between the students, though it is a communal ground for wackos.

Shmarya posts:

Rabbi Elior Chen

According to the Globe and Mail, Rabbi Chen, who is now said to be hiding in Canada, was once linked to a plot to fire a missile at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount:

…According to Israeli media reports citing friends of Mr. Chen, he began studying Kabbalah Judaism at the age of 11. He left his yeshiva in Jerusalem because he considered it too “open” and began studying the writings of extremely conservative rabbis. Eventually, he became the spiritual leader of a group of ultraconservative students, who called themselves “Pitzuei HaNachal,” or “the wounded of the river.”

In 2005, members of Pitzuei HaNachal were arrested in relation to a plot by Jewish extremists to attack Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, site of Islam’s holy Dome of the Rock, to protest against Israel’s decision to withdraw its soldiers and settlers from the Gaza Strip. Police alleged that Mr. Chen urged the plotters to take a loan from the bank to buy explosives, and promised to introduce them to army veterans who would train them to use the devices.

Police searched Mr. Chen’s apartment [in Beitar Illit, an extremist haredi town] on Thursday, and discovered journals documenting the violence.

Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper said the raid uncovered 30 notebooks of correspondence between Mr. Chen and his followers, in which he explicitly spelled out how the children should be tortured.…

In the correspondence Mr. Chen’s followers never refer to him by name, calling him instead “His Honor the King of the Messiah.” The writings are conversational, as if Mr. Chen’s followers did not speak to him and were only allowed to communicate in writing.…

The Globe and Mail report by Mark MacKinnon is an excellent overview of the case so far.

Meanwhile, according to Ha’aretz, two at least two of the men involved, Shimon Gabai and Avraham Masklatchi, study at Yeshivat Nahar HaShalom.

What is Yeshivat Nahar HaShalom?

It is a Sefardic kabbalists’ yeshiva located just off the Machane Yehuda market in Jerusalem.

Last time I checked, it was headed by Rav Shemueli, who is considered to be the Rosh HaMekubalim, the head of the Sefardic kabbalists in Israel. (By contrast, Rav Kaduri, when he was alive, was considered to be the Zaken, the elder, of the Sefardi kabbalists.

In fairness to Nahar Shalom, it had ba’alei teshuva and less-than-stellar students integrated in the yeshiva, which I believe also had a high school.

Rav Shemueli is a very nice, kind man who I met on two or three occasions 14 years ago and I highly doubt anything taught or practiced by this cult comes from him.

And it is still unclear where Rabbi Elior Chen studied and and what he bases his ‘teachings’ on, although it would seem he, too, studied once at Nahar HaShalom.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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