Still, I should at least mention that in both places there was (and probably still is) a kind of spirit of learning and keeping Torah that is overwhelming. Just by being there you get something of an intense desire to learn and keep the holy Torah. And this was something that I heard also from the daughter of Bava Sali and his grandson Shimon Buso. His daughter told me quite plainly that Bava Sali was about learning and keeping straight Torah as defined in the books of Musar and the Beit Yoseph. [That is to say the three books of Joseph Karo, the כסף משנה (Keseph Mishna) on the Rambam, the בית יוסף [Beit Joseph] on the Tur and the שלחן ערוך (Shulchan Aruch) with its own נושי כלים (commentaries) the מגן אברהם (Magen Abraham) and the ט''ז (Taz).]
Still it behooves me to say that if I had taken the warning of the Gra seriously to avoid certain groups, I would have saved myself and my family from worlds of troubles. There really is no good reason why the signature of the Gra on the letter of excommunication should still be ignored after the fact that time has shown him to be correct.
What I am saying here is that I have a bad habit of abandoning great things to go grazing in foreign fields that turn out to be full of poison oak instead of green grass. But this bad habit has also given me experience and perspective.