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Erez Levanon - A Holy Spark of Rebbe Nachman    

Erez Levanon - A Holy Spark of Rebbe Nachman

The 7th of Adar is yahrtzeit of Erez Levanon, the epitome of everything beautiful - the Land of Israel, the settlement of Bat Ayin, the Judean Hills...


Today, 7 Adar 5772 (1 March, 2012) is the fifth yahrtzeit, the anniversary of the tragic and untimely death of our cherished friend Rabbi Erez Levanon, of blessed and saintly memory.
Erez Levanon wasn't a person - he was a universe. He was the epitome of everything beautiful - the Land of Israel, the settlement of Bat Ayin, the Judean Hills, Rebbe Nachman's teachings, Judaism, Jewish outreach, brotherly love, humility, holiness, Chassidism, and the mellow strains of a sublime guitar.
Erez devoted his life to Hashem, to Rebbe Nachman, and to Jewish Outreach. He spent the last seven summers roaming the boondocks of India looking for lost Jewish souls that he could bring back to the fold with the magnetism of his ever-so-gentle personality and sweet guitar.
Blood-thirsty terrorists extinguished the exquisite candle that was named Erez Levanon. A gentle person of peace, he was talking to Hashem in personal prayer at one of his favorite spots for hitbodedut when he was so brutally murdered. People ask, "Why?"
Since we don't have the Holy Temple and ritual sacrifices that atone for our sins, Erez of blessed and saintly memory was undoubtedly taken as a flawless sacrifice for all of Israel. We are therefore required - wherever we may be - to honor his memory.
200 years ago, Rebbe Nachman of Breslev told us that his fire would burn until the coming of Moshiach. Breslever tradition says accordingly that there are subtle references in Likutei Moharan to all the events that will occur in the world until Moshiach’s arrival. Erez Levanon’s murder is no exception:  
* 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 Bechorot 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 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." During a visit to Bat Ayin after Erez’s murder, I heard the details of the two young men who found his body; their story sends chills up your spine: On Sunday, February 25, 2007 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.
Photo: Section from page 53 of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev's classic work, "Likutei Moharan", first section, Discourse 38:7

According to Breslever tradition, there are 5 tzaddikim who are tzaddik bechinat Moshe, or the tzaddik like Moses who is the leader of the people of Israel: The first was Moses himself, the second was Rebbe Shimon bar Yochai, the third was the Ariza”l, the fourth was the Baal Shem Tov, and the fifth was Rebbe Nachman of Breslev.

Erez also carried a spark of Rebbe Nachman, further substantiated by the dream of a young man in Beitar. Rebbe Nachman came to him in a dream, and told him that he had already performed all the mitzvoth. He lacked one virtue – a martyr’s death. Therefore, he was reincarnated as Erez Levanon in order to attain the lofty attribute of sacrificing himself for the sanctification of Hashem’s name, mavet al Kiddush Hashem.
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 our exile-weary people, amen.
If that’s not enough, 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.


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