I’m reading that this is the year of the big, surprise turnaround, where the ‘little guy’ finally wins through, where God finally steps out from behind the screen, where all the ‘bad’ suddenly transforms itself into good, and we see how it was all planned, and all leading to a good, great place all along.
I so hope they’re right, because in the meantime I sit here and I see the Gadol HaDor, Rav Berland, languishing behind bars, and going through terrible physical suffering and illnesses, and even worse general abuse and disgrace, and it breaks my heart.
The people who are lying, and slandering, and taking people away from God seem to be on top, and the ‘good guys’ seem to be losing badly….
Then, there’s all the ‘blowback’ I’ve been dealing with in my own life this week, where once again God ripped the scab off a few things that I struggle very hard to make my peace with and accept.
On the way back from taking my kid to her Ulpana up North, I drove into Netanya yesterday, and went and talked to God on the beach there. It turned into quite an unexpectedly emotional experience, as Netanya loomed large in my experience of Israel as a tourist.
My husband and I had our honeymoon in Netanya.
Netanya is where we stayed when one of my brothers got married in Israel.
Netanya is where we used to come a lot on trips to Israel from London, a habit that continued for quite a few years after we made aliya.
My best friend from London made aliya to Netanya. I spent a lot of time with her and her family there until God decided we should go our separate ways around five years’ ago, and she left Netanya for a different part of the country.
Netanya had a lot of hope, and a lot of heartbreak attached to it.
I haven’t gone there for five years, since the bust up with my ex-best friend, because it was too hard for me to face it all down.
But yesterday, I got a clear steer to stop running away from all the things ‘Netanya’ represents in my life, and to go look them in the face and stop running away. So I did.
I parked, walked through the town, noticed the new, luxurious ‘mega’ apartment buildings that have sprung up, the French being spoken all over the place, the new bike path painted through the middle of the pedestrian concourse to the beach…
Then, I noticed the more familiar landmarks like the crumbling ‘Park Hotel’, the Pizza Hut that used to be a Yotvata where me and my new husband bought fruit shakes, the beach promenade.
I went down the steps and sat on the beach, and started crying. I had a lot of hopes for how my life would turn out 20 years’ ago, and this week, I really started feeling how far short my actual life has fallen from achieving them.
Twenty years ago, I couldn’t have conceived that I’d be living the life I do now, and part of me is still not 100% thrilled about it all.
That part of me still misses all the friends that have disappeared out of my life, often in the most bizarre circumstances. It misses the nice clothes and shoes I used to be able to buy so effortlessly. It misses having my own nice house. A career. The idea that whatever happens, I will always have family and friends to stand by me and help me.
Netanya has borne witness to how I was hoping my life would be when I moved to Israel 12 years’ ago, and how it actually turned out.
Usually, I think my life is great – and in so many ways, it is. I have a husband, two amazing kids, we’re healthy, we’re working on ourselves, we have food on the table, we have love and laughter in our (rented, shoebox…) home.
I know those things are priceless.
Yet, the ‘Netanya’ part of me still wants all the other stuff to turnaround obviously, too. I struggle greatly with the idea that the only people who can afford to live in Jerusalem are the ones who devote themselves night and day to making money…
I know so many sincere, holy people who are struggling so hard to LIVE, to pay the rent, to pay the bills, to put food on the table. They are learning Torah, they are committed to mitzvot – why or why does it have to be so hard for them, materially?
They’re doing what God wants them to do!
THAT’s the bit I want to see flipped around already. The hope that that bit WILL flip around is what keeps me going, when these ‘depressed cloud’ moments hit.
Rav Berland should be healthy, he should be released from prison, and the Jewish people should accord him the honor and respect he truly deserves as the Gadol HaDor.
The people who learn Torah sincerely should stop being treated like ‘parasites’ by their secular peers who look so ‘shiny’ on the outside, with their designer labels and fancy cars, but who contain so much darkness internally.
The atheists, egotists and evil people in the world should be exposed for who and what they really are.