I opened my inbox today, read a few emails, then shut it down again before responding to anyone.
Because I didn’t know what to say.
BH, I have the enormous privilege of being in touch with some of the most amazing, big souls in the whole wide world. And over recent months, so many of them have been sent such big tests, such never-ending tribulations, such feelings of confusion and doubt – that I’ve reached that point of not really knowing what to say, or how to share their pain with them.
I do have one piece advice left, but I know it’s often still so hard to hear, and so hard to act on, that I save it for when there is literally nothing more I can say or suggest. And this is it:
Get in touch with Rav Berland.
Connect with this tremendous tzaddik somehow, because when I was going through years and years of terrible, awful suffering, and when I felt like I didn’t really want to carry on, or be around anymore just to be so miserable all the time, Rav Berland was the single thing that turned that tanker around.
I’m in touch with people who are doing hitbodedut for hours a day; people who have more emuna in their little finger than I do in my whole body; people who are trying their best to be super-machmir in any way they can, religiously, to try to get all their problems to abate and turn around.
And I read what they’re going through, and I feel so sad about it all, because this is also what happened to me. I also got stuck trying to be more and more frum, and more and more strict, and more and more down on myself, and more and more harshly self-critical about all my faults and failures, because I thought that’s what God wants, and that is how I’ll get things to turnaround.
But I was so, so wrong!
God didn’t want that at all.
What God really did want, was for me to admit I couldn’t do it by myself, and that I couldn’t do it alone, and to once and for all accept that I needed to be connected to a true Tzaddik, in order to function as a human being.
And Baruch Hashem, around that same time, God clued me in who that person actually was, in our generation: Rav Eliezer Berland.
Again, from the moment I picked up the phone to the Rav’s attendant (because the Rav himself was in South Africa, at that point) – my life started to improve.
I started to feel happier and healthier than I had for years. My husband also started to feel so much happier again, when he moved over to the Shuvu Banim yeshiva to learn in the mornings. Finally, some of the mountains started to flatten out. Some of the internal maelstrom started to abate. Some of the issues and problems started to resolve and disappear.
It’s been a long, slow process, but Baruch Hashem, my family is a million times happier and calmer since we got connected to Rav Berland.
So, for all the people who are at the end of their endurance and who just can’t take it anymore, that is really the only piece of advice I can give. It’s the only thing that worked for me, that got me out of my thousand prisons, that got me past all the places I was so stuck and drowning in misery.
I needed all that suffering, because it softened me up so much, and made me so much more humble and ready to accept that I needed the Rav’s help.
If I hadn’t been through the ringer for so many years, my arrogance would probably have repelled me away from the Rav, God forbid, because the Tzaddik is just a mirror. I’ve seen time and time again that when people are criticizing the Rav, or telling me yucky stuff, they are really 100% just projecting their own inner ‘bad’ onto the mirror.
The Rav is operating at such a high level, us regular folk simply can’t grasp him, we simply can’t get hold of what’s really going on. So, if we’re full of arrogance and bad middot, all our doubts and confusions will rush into the vacuum, and we’ll find ourselves being repulsed faster than you can say ‘the tzaddik is just a mirror’.
(To give just one example: some woman I knew sent me an email accusing the Rav of being a rapist, God forbid a million times. After pondering on how the mirror principle was working in that case, I realized that this person goes around forcing her ideas down other people’s throats, and forcing her opinions on others. Whereas a rapist is bodily forcing himself on others, she was assaulting people with her unwanted opinions, but it’s actually rooted in the same bad middot, i.e. an inability to see other people as anything more than a tool for their own personal gratification.)
So, that’s my one piece of advice.
Take your troubles, and flee to the Rav.
Of course, keep praying, keep making teshuva, keep talking to God, keep going to Uman, of course, of course.
But also, get connected to the true tzaddik of our own generation.
So many of us seem to be hitting that wall at the moment where we realize that we just can’t do it by ourselves.
And really, we don’t have to.