Walking in Erez's Footsteps
Yosef Karduner and Lazer in Bet Shemesh - a photo essay

Rebbe Nachman's amazing allusion to the death of Erez Levanon

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Section from page 53 of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev's classic work, "Likutei Moharan", first section, Discourse 38:7

200 years ago, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev told us that his fire would burn until the coming of Moshiach. He wasn't kidding...

* In Likutei Moharan, first section, Discourse 38:7, Rebbe Nachman makes several astounding allusions to the untimely death of his disciple, Erez Levanon of saintly and blessed memory. First, Rebbe Nachman quotes the Gemara from tractate Bchorot 57 that says, "Erez fell in our place"; terrorists murdered Erez in the groves right below his mountaintop home - "in our place" - in other words, he was a holy public sacrifice for all of Israel as an atonement for the nation's sins.

* Rebbe Nachman writes, "...the tzaddik is known as the Erez (Hebrew for cedar - LB) of Levanon (Heb. for Lebanon - LB).

* Rebbe Nachman mentions "Bat Ayin", the name of Erez's settlement, twice. The second time he mentions Bat Ayin, he juxtaposes it to "Arba Parshiot" - Erez was murdered during the time of year that we call "Arba Parshiot", when we read the "parshiot" of Shekalim, Zchor, Para, and Chodesh.

* Rebbe Nachman says, "The illumination of his face was revealed." Earlier today, I heard the details of the two young men who found Erez's body; their story sends chills up your spine: Sunday, February 25th after dark, when Erez didn't come home, they organized a search for him. They began searching in the orchard where Erez liked to go for hitbodedut (personal prayer). The night was cold, dark, and foggy with poor visibility; in the distance, between the trees, they saw a glow. Erez lay in a pool of his own blood; there was barely a place on his lean and holy body that wasn't pierced by terrorist daggers. Yet, his face was unscathed. Erez was lifeless, but his face glowed like that of Moses when he descended from Mount Sinai.

Moses? Erez was killed on 7 Adar, the anniversary of the death of Moses. Erez Levanon is the numerical equivalent of Moshe, Hebrew for Moses. (משה עם הכולל = 346, ארז לבנון = 346). Erez was undoubtedly a spark of Moses' soul.

Here's something even more mindboggling: Erez used to teach lessons in Likutei Moharan at Bat Ayin. The very last lesson he said in his life was - you guessed it - Likutei Moharan, first section, Discourse 38:7! 

My heart tells me that I'm not even scratching the surface. May Erez's blessed memory arouse Divine compassion for his exile-weary people, amen.