God never intended for the Jewish people to be so caught up in Esav’s wars.

Last week, we read the final parsha, Vayechi, in Sefer Bereishit, where Yaakov Avinu calls his sons to him for a final blessing. When he gets to Shimon and Levi, he castigates them for adopting the ‘stolen craft’ of his brother Esav.

Rashi explains there:

Klei Hamas – ‘stolen tools’. This craft of murder is in their possession by theft. It is from the blessing of Esav. Yaakov admonished them, “It is his [Esav’s] craft, and you robbed him of it.”

The full verse from the Torah reads:

“Shimon and Levi are brothers, klei hamas are their weapons. Into their design may my soul not enter! With their congregation do not unite, O my honor! For in their rage they killed a man, and in their wish they hamstrung an ox. Accursed is their rage for it is mighty, and their wrath for it is harsh. I will divide them in Yaakov, and I will disperse them in Israel.”

Clearly, Yaakov Avinu is very unhappy about his sons – forbears of the Jewish people – acting like his brother Esav, and killing people left, right and centre whenever they got angry and ‘felt justified’ in doing so.

This is not the Jewish way. The voice is the voice of Yaakov – it’s the voice of prayer, the voice of emuna, the voice of knowing that God is really running the world.

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Following the awful Chanuka attack in the shul in Monsey a couple of weeks ago, I was personally horrified when I saw pictures of orthodox Jews walking around toting what looked like machine guns.

Killing people is not our craft, it’s the craft of Esav. Of course, we’re meant to defend ourselves with all means possible, and to make every effort to save our life (although why moving to Israel doesn’t seem to make it on to that list is a bit of a mystery to me, I have to admit…)

But there is a world of difference between discreetly arranging security for shuls, schools and Jewish neighborhoods and strutting around for the media like Moshele the Terminator. Esav is way, way better at killing people and murdering people than we are. It’s a very dangerous game to get involved.

There are somewhere between 20-25 million people in the US with white supremacist tendencies. They are Esav mamash. A lot of them have machine guns. A lot of them are just waiting for ‘Moishele the Terminator’ to cross the line and actually kill someone, even in self-defense, so they can use that as a pretext to come after Jews all over the place.

Of course, what I’m writing here also has implications for the State of Israel, and for the whole idea that the IDF and the military is what is protecting the Jews here. This is an idea that has profound, far-reaching implications, and I certainly can’t cover off all the angles in one post.

But I will say that every time I hear apparently orthodox Jews advocating for ‘carpet bombing’ Gaza, and other extremely violent acts, I shudder. Is this really how Jews are meant to act and behave? Isn’t ‘carpet bombing Gaza’ a perfect example of klei hamas? Isn’t that just what the terrorists and the neo-Nazis would love to do to us, too?

Anything that puts Jews even tangentially into the same moral space as terrorists and Nazis has to be bad, doesn’t it?

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These are big questions, they need to be dealt with and discussed carefully by our qualified Sages and rabbis, and let’s be clear that in the State of Israel, that’s simply not happening. Our country is run by people who have adopted the ‘stolen craft’ of Esav as their main religion, and we are all paying the price for it.

Which brings me to the next point I want to make, about how the idea that killing and murdering people is somehow the best solution to every problem gained so much traction in the first place.

Let me share something that I received via email yesterday, from a Jew in America:

“I enjoy your writings (on rivkalevy.com) but I must admit, they either entertain me or stress me.  I know you used to be “secular media” and I think you still think like the secular media, like saying Trump “illegally” killed Soleimeni.  Wow,  That’s a stretch. I really can’t believe that you think that.  The man was a terrorist that not only killed thousands of american soldiers, but terrorized his own people.

“He has killed thousands and thousands of people.  The Iranians feared and hated him.  Plus, he was about to attack more Americans.  I know you are not too fond of America, but I know many soldiers (my Dad was a career soldier) and we have jewish soldiers at [army base] that become members of our Chabad.  I care about our soldiers and thank our President for caring  and protecting them, unlike our previous President.  I feel he should be hung as a traitor. I can’t stand the man.

“We are in a war and I thank GD that He mercifully delivered us from the traitor BO and may He destroy all evil among us (leftists) and brought us a strong man like Trump, may Hashem protect him.  Yes,Trump is Esav.  Yes, the west is Esav.  Yes America is Esav, but I was born and raised here and believe me, not all Americans are the enemy.  You want an enemy.  Try Ishmael.

“It seems your hatred of Trump and America has blinded you to reality.”

====

My inbox is never a dull place!

So, let’s take my correspondent’s points one by one, to see if we can ascertain where the truth really lies, and what ‘reality’ actually consists of.

  1. It’s a stretch to say that Trump ‘illegally’ killed Soleimani.

“Extra-judicial killing” is a phrase that’s used by armies, militias and government sponsored ‘death squads’ around the world.

Here’s how Section 3a of the United States Torture Victim Protection Act defines extrajudicial killing:

“[A] deliberate killing not authorized by a previous judgment pronounced by a regular constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples. Such term, however, does not include any such killing that, under international law, is lawfully carried out under the authority of a foreign nation.

Was Soleimani brought to a ‘regular constituted court’ and given a trial that afforded him ‘all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples’? Nope.

“Extra-judicial killing” is a spin-doctor way of describing a murder where no legal due process was followed, or to say the same thing in blunter terms, an illegal murder. When Al Capone was mowing people down on the streets of Chicago that was also ‘extra-judicial killing’.

As we can see, ‘extra-judicial killing’ is an extremely murky area, and also very prone to being used and abused by individuals and agencies who don’t want to have to justify their actions or have too much public scrutiny and moral accountability.

When it comes to Soleimani’s murder, the excuse the US used to get around its own regulations as stated above, in their Torture Victim Protection Act, is that Soleimani’s killing was not an assassination, but an act of “National Self Defense”.

This is the same legal justification that Israel uses for many of its targeted killings, and the difference is that when it comes to Israel, I mostly believe it.

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Amongst the many, many problems with ‘extra judicial murders’ tho, is that the people who are carrying them out argue that any given target’s normal legal rights as a civilian – or even as a human being! – should be totally trampled and ignored if that person is deemed to be a threat to national security.

But who is defining what that actually means?

What’s the legal basis for deciding these things? Where is the public scrutiny to ensure that immoral people with a lust for power and taste for murdering anyone who gets in their way doesn’t abuse this idea, to simply get anyone who opposes what they want murdered and out of the picture?

Also, from the viewpoint of halacha, this is not at all a simple matter. One of the 7 Noahide laws is that the non-Jewish nations should create courts of law and follow a judicial process. By definition extra-judicial killings take place outside of any legal framework.

And when non-Jewish nations don’t follow one of the 7 Noahide laws, they are subject to the death penalty. (It’s a post for another time, but if you go through each of the 7 Noahide laws and see how places like the USA are doing, as a nation, let’s just say it doesn’t stack up in their favor.)

So, is it a stretch to say that Soleimani’s killing is ‘illegal’?

I’ll let you make up your own mind.

====

  1. “[Soleimani] was a terrorist that not only killed thousands of american soldiers, but terrorized his own people.”

My view is that all senior military men are basically psychopaths, whichever country they happen to live in. Anyone who likes killing people for a living is not a ‘nice’ person, let’s be very clear on that.

But to claim that he’s killed “thousands of American soldiers” – it’s just not credible.

Wikipedia says this for the number of US soldiers killed in Iraq since 2003, which is when the US invaded Iraq:

“As of June 29, 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Defense casualty website, there were 4,424 total deaths (including both killed in action and non-hostile) and 31,952 wounded in action (WIA) as a result of the Iraq War.”

But the US wasn’t fighting Iran then, these soldiers were killed as a result of the US deciding to invade a sovereign nation. Where’s the proof that Soleimani is connected to even one of these deaths in Iraq?

Let’s take a look at Afghanistan now, where again the US decided to invade back in 2001 after 9/11.

“As of July 7, 2018, there have been 2,372 U.S. military deaths in the War in Afghanistan. 1,856 of these deaths have been the result of hostile action. 20,320 American service members have also been wounded in action during the war. In addition, there were 1,720 U.S. civilian contractor fatalities.”

Again, what does this have to do with Soleimani?

Last stop, for now, is Syria.

How many US soldiers had been killed there, by the time Trump said he’d withdraw US troops in April 2018?

Just 2.

And this is the arena where there is the most credible argument to be made that Soleimani and Iran could be behind these deaths.

====

Now, let’s flip things on their head, and let’s ask an uncomfortable question:

How many non-Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan as a result of the US deciding to launch its ‘war on terror’?

The answer comes from researchers at Brown’s University, who released their findings from the ‘Costs of War Project’ in November 2018:

“Brown’s researchers estimate that at least 480,000 people have been directly killed by violence over the course of these conflicts, more than 244,000 of them civilians. In addition to those killed by direct acts violence, the number of indirect deaths — those resulting from disease, displacement, and the loss of critical infrastructure — is believed to be several times higher, running into the millions.”

While we’re on this subject, back in 2011 Wikileaks released footage of 2 American Apache helicopters mowing down a large group of people standing in the street in the Iraq, which included many civilians and 2 Reuters journalists.

You should watch this brief clip of what happened, even though it’s from the Al-Jazeera news network, because as I keep trying to tell you, there is no such thing as a 0-100% argument. There is some truth on all sides of the discussion, and doing the birur means that we make our best effort to tease it out.

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Releasing this clip was probably the trigger for the NSA to target Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently being kept in solitary confinement (!) in Belmarsh Prison in the UK, while the USA tries to ‘extradite’ him to the US on trumped-up charges of hacking computers. Really? It all just boils down to the US trying to keep its grip on the world.

Assange is not an American citizen, he’s an Australian. And publishing footage of American helicopter pilots callously killing Iraqi civilians is the best type of journalism, and the best ‘balance’ against military abuses of power.

But the NSA and President Trump don’t think so. Trump happily signed the extradition order for Julian Assange, the journalist you see here saying ‘war corrupts the people who engage in it’ – and that’s what first clued me in that Trump is not the ‘almost Moshiach’ so many people still believe him to be.

Let’s be clear, this is not about partisan politics.

When he was President, Obama arranged the prosecution of 8 journalists and whistle-blowers under the same Espionage Act they are trying to use to prosecute Assange, including Chelsea Manning, former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, National Security Agency whistleblower Thomas Drake, and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

And Trump is simply continuing the trend.

Back in May 2019, his administration decided to prosecute Daniel Everett Hale, a former intelligence analyst for the Air Force who shared worrying information about America’s use of drones and assassinations in its war on terror with journalist Jeremy Scahill.

Scahill later turned that information into a book and a documentary called ‘Dirty Wars’.

====

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Here’s a synopsis:

“Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill traces the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command. He exposes covert operations to capture and kill people, but those agents do not exist on paper.”

And they are still continuing to operate under Trump. So much for draining the swamp.

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3) “We are in a war and I thank GD that He mercifully delivered us from the traitor BO and may He destroy all evil among us (leftists) and brought us a strong man like Trump, may Hashem protect him.  Yes,Trump is Esav.  Yes, the west is Esav.  Yes America is Esav, but I was born and raised here and believe me, not all Americans are the enemy.  You want an enemy.  Try Ishmael.”

Yes, we certainly are in a war. Not just one, many. And behind the scenes, you will find the NSA and the CIA and the American military pulling the strings of nearly all of them.

Esav excels at klei Hamas.

It’s no coincidence that these words also translate to the ‘tools of Hamas’, i.e. the terror organization on Israel’s front door step.

Let’s put all the pretense aside and deal with facts for a moment.

The US has been unrivalled in starting and pursuing wars all across the planet, for the better part of 80 years. It doesn’t matter who is in the Whitehouse, it’s the CIA and the NSA and the military, and all the powerful vested interests in the US and the UK and elsewhere who are really calling the shots in the world.

And as I’ve written about elsewhere, those vested interests excel in destabilizing third world countries, installing ‘puppet’ rulers who owe their power to American / Western support, and then asset-stripping those countries of all their natural resources and wealth.

America has been doing this for decades, all over the planet, and murdering people in their hundreds of thousands – including civilians – is a big part of how they operate.

Maybe it’s deliberate, maybe it’s just collateral damage, I don’t know. But either way, America has so much innocent blood on its hands.

I don’t blame my American correspondent for believing that the American military is not ‘the enemy’. But at this stage, there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who have seen their lives, families and countries blown apart by the US military / CIA / NSA.

And all on the flimsiest of excuses.

Human life is valuable, even when a person lives in Iraq or Afghanistan. And not all Muslims are terrorists. America wants wars, because America is good at wars, and wars are good for America’s economy.

But these wars have proven to be so very bad for everyone else.

====

4) “It seems your hatred of Trump and America has blinded you to reality.”

Sigh.

Sometimes I wonder, what’s going to happen when Israel finally shrugs off America’s bridle, and stops being America’s pawn in the Middle East.

The IDF is a ‘stolen craft’, and the Jewish people are built for prayer and peace, not war and murder. It’s just a matter of time before our true Jewish nature starts to reassert itself nationally, when we stop believing Esav’s opinion that killing people is the answer to our problems, and when more and more of us start to turn to God for a real solution to our problems.

You know that when Moshiach is finally revealed, that’s going to happen, don’t you? And then what? Will Moshiach also be portrayed as a ‘mad Jewish mullah’ with a beard, another threat to America’s ‘national security’ that will be extra-judicially targeted for extermination, God forbid?

And then what?

What side will my correspondent – and all the many orthodox Jews like her, who believe all the spin and PR and lies about America being the ‘good Esav’ – find themselves on, then?

That is the question.

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Photo by Diego González on Unsplash

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Why did Trump state he was going to attack precisely 52 Iranian sites, if they dared to fight back after the US illegally blew their 2nd in command to pieces in Iraq?

Over Shabbat, I found something that shed some light on what’s going on here, and I wrote about it over on the ravberland.com site, HERE.

I have to say, it’s very interesting reading, especially after a reader got in touch to draw my attention to a prayer that Rabbi Berland wrote a couple of years ago that links in exactly to some of the insights I got on Shabbat.

Long story short, the next piece of the geula puzzle is falling into place, and you can read more about that HERE.

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Am I the only one who’s got a profound sense of deja vu?

Man, I am so tired at the moment. True, I woke up at 4.15am today, and couldn’t get back to sleep. But why I’m really tired at the moment is because my soul is very tired. I’m not even saying that in a bad way, or a despairing way, it’s just a statement of fact.

Really since last Shavuot, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, trying to do this, and trying to do that, and trying to work on stuff for Rav Berland, and move my own stuff forward, somehow.

Spiritually, I hope it’s made a difference. But honestly, I’m not so sure.

And while I am one of those dumb people who will continue going long after everyone else gave up, if I really believe in something, I have to say I’m approaching the point of burn out. Maybe, we’ve just reached that stage now where the die has been cast, and whatever is going to happen next is going to happen.

I really hope and pray that Rav Berland and his community, and the rest of the Tzaddikim, are going to continue to be able to sweeten the threat from Iran.

But honestly, part of me is just so tired of being locked up in Geula Ground Hog Day, where every few months we go through the whole pantomime again, with no obvious resolution.

The most primitive part of the human brain hates uncertainty. That’s why fortune tellers, and soothsayers and false prophets have always done such a roaring trade since the dawn of time, and are still going strong today.

The primitive part of the brain, aka the yetzer hara, just wants to have a conclusion already, a decision. It doesn’t really care if we’re going to get nuked to smithereens, it just wants the denouement already, because sometimes the uncertainty is unbearable. At least, for the yetzer.

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They did a research project a little while back where they asked volunteers to play a video game where they had to turn over stones to find a snake.

Every time they found a snake, the volunteer got a small, but unpleasant, electric shock.

The researchers incorporated a bunch of obvious clues in the game, which gave players a reasonable certainty of whether there would be a snake, or not. And they discovered a very interesting thing: players were less stressed about knowing with certainty they were about to find a snake, than if there was a 50-50 chance of finding or not finding.

This study explains something that has always puzzled me, namely why there are so many of us out there that seem to be secretly anticipating Iran nuking Israel. Is life that boring, or that miserable, that this seems like a preferable scenario to soldiering on, even though the uncertainty is sometimes just so hard to take?

Apparently for many people, the answer is ‘yes’.

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Nothing is certain today, is it?

Not the weather, not the economy, not the elections, not the whole idea that hard work and effort inevitably brings reward – so much is up in the air, and for sure, that’s totally stressing us out.

We don’t care too much WHAT is around the corner, Hashem, but the not knowing is driving us totally bonkers…

So what’s the answer to this?

How can we put some ‘certainty’ into what is fundamentally one of the most volatile periods of time in the history of mankind?

The answer is, only be trying to boost our emuna that God is running the world, and our bitachon that whatever God has planned, it’s all for the best.

Apart from this sort of radical emuna, there is no other workable option on the table.

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Three days ago, my husband and I visited the 8th circle of hell that is Bank Mizrachi’s mortgage department.

I warned my husband going in that he was probably going to have a PTSD flashback, after the last time they agreed a mortgage in principle only to revoke their agreement after we’d signed.

But last time it was a complicated property in a complicated part of Jerusalem, and we were asking for a relatively massive mortgage. This time, we were asking for a relatively small mortgage in a new build property in Harish, so what could be the problem?

Aha! Fool that I am.

We sat there, exchanged precisely 1 ½ words of ‘pleasantries’ before the mortgage clerk put the clamp on us and went straight for the jugular. Because my husband switched over from being self-employed to being a business in 2019, whatever paperwork we’d put together apparently wasn’t enough to show them we had the income we were claiming.

Apparently, because his clients don’t pay precisely the same amount into his account, in round numbers, every single month, our mortgage approval (which again, we’d received in theory) was now in jeopardy.

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I watched my husband’s eyes dilate, and all the blood rush from his cheeks as the bank devil continued to dance around him, jabbing her French-accented Hebrew pitchfork into his face. A classic PTSD response. His breathing sped up and went more shallow (ready for fight or flight) and I also felt my stomach muscles tense up (definitely fight…)

But then, a strange thing happened.

I remembered God runs the world, and that if God wants to stuff up our mortgage yet again, then that must be for the very best of reasons, and a million percent what we need.

I started clapping my hands as the bank devil continued to prod my husband, and I stage-whispered at him: “Clap your hands and don’t fight back! There’s nothing you can do, except to clap your hands and dance!”

By this point, the fight response was gathering steam above my husband’s head, so he was effectively carrying on two arguments at once: one, with the bank devil, who was trying to explain to him how even earning a gazillion shekels a year isn’t enough to get a mortgage guaranteed, if it isn’t appearing in his account in a neat little box every single month.

And then a second argument with me, who was stage whispering at him to go outside the bank for a minute, and do some dancing.

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I also nipped off to the toilets, to see if I could do a bit of jumping up and down to stomp on the head of the forces of evil that run Israel’s banking industry.

I couldn’t manage a lot of stomping – I didn’t want the Arab lady cleaning the toilets to report me for borderline psychotic behavior – but even the little bit I did made me feel way better.

I returned to the little booth, where my husband was still caught in a classic PTSD response, and I started clapping my hands again, while the bank devil looked at me a little quizzically.

“Go outside and dance!” I hissed at him. “There is nothing else to do here!”

So he did – literally for half a minute – and when he returned, the bank devil got the phone call we’d been waiting for, announcing that the bank would review her refusal of the mortgage, as long as we would send along a few more documents, and twist ourselves into a few more pretzels, and agree to sacrifice a close family member to the Moloch.

(I made one of these statements up. See if you can guess which one.)

The uncertainty continues, the madness and the unfairness continues. The bad guys are still running the country and holding all the cards in their hand, but I don’t really care anymore.

Mortgage or no mortgage, I can still be happy. Nuke or no nuke, I can still make supper and love my family, and carry on working on my ‘beat your stress course’ – which I have to tell you, has been totally stressing me out for months, already.

====

The last few weeks, it seems as though pretty much every source of stress and uncertainty that we’ve ever had to struggle with the last few years has been sent back to us to deal with, as part of the ongoing Geula Ground Hog Day.

The last few years, I’ve whinged and complained so much about not having a house, and finding it so hard to find a place to live in Jerusalem, and not having a mortgage, and being strapped for cash, and not getting my books to sell, and not being able to keep my kids settled in school – and a million other things, besides.

But no more! This time, whatever else happens, I’m not going to complain.

God wants to nuke me off the face of the earth? That’s fine with me. Really.

God doesn’t want me to have a mortgage? OK, no big deal. If I have to sell the apartment in Harish, I will.

God wants my kid to drop out of school (again….)? Great! That’s clearly what she needs to do at this point, because I have tried everything I can to keep her in that framework, and I can see how bad ‘school’ actually is, for her soul.

You remember in Ground Hog Day, by the end Bill Murray actually starts to look forward to each repeated day, because he can act like a crazy person and do a bunch of things that otherwise, he’d never do in a million years?

Like sit there clapping in the face of a bank devil who’s telling you they aren’t going to give you a mortgage? Again?

This time around, I’m determined to enjoy the 8th circle of hell that is Bank Mizrachi, whatever else happens. There’s no such thing as ‘certainty’ in 2020, and certainly not in my small corner of it.

The only certain thing is that God is behind all this stuff, and it’s somehow good.

What else do I need to know?

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UPDATE:

I just found this video (above) of a Nanach guy which made the point about dancing and clapping hands sweetening judgments, and also made me laugh. Thank God for strange people who believe in Hashem and have Youtube channels. Where would we be, without them?

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Another 9/11?

Over on the RavBerland.com site, you can see (and hear) the message from Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto that there is a harsh decree in the works for another massive terror attack to occur, something on the same scale as 9/11, God forbid.

From Rabbi Pinto’s words, it appears that the terrorist attack will be aimed at the people of Israel.

As I’m typing this, there are a few thousands of Breslov chassidim celebrating the hiloula of Rav Natan Sternhartz, the principal student of Rebbe Nachman. My husband is hopefully jumping around with the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in Talpiot, just up the road here.

The last few months, I’ve been getting one push after another to get out 7 books by Rabbi Eliezer Berland before the Fast of Tevet, 5780.

(I don’t know why it has to be seven, that’s just the message I’ve been getting over and over and over again in my hitbodedut. Your guess is as good as mine.)

The last one is the Pesach Haggada, which is currently with the designer, but which I ran into so many miniot with, I just couldn’t get it out on time.

Each time one of these books has come out, it’s been at a time when the tensions in the world have ratched up through the roof, and especially the tensions within the Jewish world.

Spreading the Rav’s words, and his prayers, are doing things on a level that’s impossible to grasp.

Recently, I heard that Rav Shalom Arush has begun to encourage some of his followers to try to buy large quantities of these books, and to begin to do hafetza with them. I found this out, because someone tried to place a really large order for the books with Amazon – and Amazon refused to ship them because they thought it was some sort of scam.

There are such massive miniot (obstacles) around getting the Rav’s works into the world, especially in English, because they are sweetening things on such a deep level, and in such a hidden way, that unless you check out the validity of what I just wrote for yourself, in your own hitbodedut session, you just have no idea what I’m really talking about.

I really hope Rabbi Pinto is wrong. He’s not a rabbi that makes a big stir by routinely predicting awful things. He’s also not the first kabbalist – by a long chalk – to hint that some terrible terrorist attack is in the offing against the Jewish people.

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More than two years’ ago, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Stern’s son, Rabbi Avraham Stern, visited the Shuvu Banim yeshiva on behalf of his father.

He had this to say:

“I’d like to request just one on thing: that we should have achdut (unity) and love between us, which will bring us the geula (redemption). Before his death, Rav Leibowitz ordered me to make the following announcement about America, so I repeat this every opportunity I get.

He told me that the anti-Semitism in the United States is only going to continue to grow, until it gets to the point where the Jews will be forced to flee. We can also see how the forces of nature are going crazy there, and this is because we see how the people there are overturning everything, and no longer know who is their abba and who is their ima….

“The same is true in Tel Aviv, which is why Rav Leibowitz told me:

‘YOU SHOULD KNOW, TEL AVIV WILL BE DESTROYED.’

Moranu Rav Berland, shlita, is fighting against the head of the snake, in direct combat. Rav Berland is gouging out its eyes, and he’s taking upon himself all our troubles. I heard from my teacher and father, shlita, who told me: ‘I’m scared… I don’t know how Rav Berland is doing this! There is no other rabbi in Israel, there is no other rosh yeshiva in Israel, there is no other rebbe or admor in Israel who knows how Rav Berland, shlita, is able to fight this war, and to fight against the head of the snake itself,” concluded Rav Aharon Stern.

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Two years ago, so many people in chul made fun of this statement.

After the events of Chanuka 2019 in the US, these words seem eerily prescient.

Rav Berland is still fighting the war, and the need for the Jewish people to band together and to have achdut is as pressing as it’s ever been.

Bezrat Hashem, our tzaddikim can sweeten this harsh judgement, too. But up the prayers, the working on the bad middot and the ahavat chinam, in the meantime, as we seem to be going through another period of time when geula coming the sweet way is mamash hanging by a thread again.

And as for me, I’m really hoping I can get that Haggadah out ASAP.

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UPDATE: The translation was updated to say:

“On Shabbat, I had a dream that was not simple, that there stands ready to be a big shock in the world, on the scale of the murder of Yitzchak Rabin, or September 11, on a very difficult scale, and difficult things which will happen to the enemies of Israel.”

I got sent an email that it’s not something directly against the Jewish people, and that the ‘enemies of Israel’ is meant literally. I’m happy to stand corrected!

BH, it will all be sweetened.

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Photo by Shai Pal on Unsplash

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This year, I want us all to come back together.

The last four days, I’ve been squiring my 11 year old niece – and her mum – around a whole bunch of different sites in Israel, in preparation for her upcoming batmitzvah.

We went to Kever Rochel; walked on top of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem; plunged 40 metres below ground to visit a 2,000 year old mikva beneath the Kotel that still has water in it; did the ‘Journey to Jerusalem’; had a look at the amazing finds from the 1st Temple they unearthed in the Givati car park in the City of David; heard the story of how Nechemia rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in just 52 days; and ended up today in Shiloh, the place where the Mishkan came to rest for 369 years, and where Hannah’s prayer for a son become our blueprint for heartfelt prayer.

It’s been epic.

Every now and then, when I catch a glimpse of Israel, of Jerusalem, through other people’s eyes, it reminds me of the tremendous privilege I have, of living here.

And that’s what makes it all worthwhile, even tho honestly? Being apart from my brothers, my siblings, and their children and their lives, is sometimes so painful.

====

I dropped my SIL and niece at Ben Gurion airport a few hours ago, and my niece asked me:

“Are you going to cry when we’re gone? Are you going to miss us?”

I’m a tough old boot, I reassured her. I’m not going to cry.

She looked at me.

“My daddy cried at the airport when we were going home after visiting Uncle A.,” she told me. “Daddy and Uncle A. are besties.”

Her daddy is my brother, and her Uncle A. is my other brother. I see her London-based daddy maybe once a year, if I’m lucky, and Uncle A. lives in the USA, and I’ve never actually met three of his four kids. I’ve seen him twice in the last 15 years in person.

I have another sister in the States, too, who I haven’t seen in six years, and haven’t met her kid. I have another brother in the UK who I also see on average once every three years. (Hey, there’s a silver lining to everything…)

====

But this is the price of making aliya, of trying to give God what He wants, and of moving to Israel.

Sometimes, it’s pretty lonely. Sometimes, it’s pretty sad.

I lit my Chanuka candles with such a deep sigh this evening.

God, is it too much to ask for me to see more of my family? Should I just cut my losses, and try to focus on my two kids, who Bezrat Hashem will live in Israel with their husbands and children, and then I’ll finally get some extended family within 2,000 miles?

Honestly? Sometimes I get so petrified that my kids will end up moving out of Israel, God forbid, and then I’ll have this awful experience on both ends. I know I’m not in control, I know I can’t guilt my kids or pressure them to live their life in a way that suits me. But if they end up living out of Israel, I’d be heartbroken.

Because already, we’re all so scattered around.

====

Every family simcha involves massive expense and many holiday days.

I have 3 bar / bat mitvahs next year, all in chutz l’aretz, and I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to pull it all off.

How I wish, with all my heart, that I could just get in the car, drive an hour or two, and meet up with a bruvs, and their family. Just pop in for an hour, a cup of tea, and then come home again.

It’s never going to happen.

This is one of the very painful parts of making aliya.

So, I lit my candles today in a somber mood, wondering if this might be the year that all the divisions, all the distance, all the separations that seem to be keeping me away from the people I like and love – in so many different ways – will finally be smashed into pieces.

That’s what geula is really about, isn’t it?

Us all coming back together, as one people with one heart in one country, and with the psychos doing a 180 degree turnaround to actually be part of the solution, instead of causing the problems….

That’s what I wish for this Chanuka.

That is my Chanuka prayer.

I hope God is listening.

====

Yesterday, both my girls were at Haditch.

This is the small town in the Ukraine where the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch passed away and was buried, when he was fleeing Napoleon.

While many other of the Chassidic masters of that time had strong opinions on whether Napoleon was preferred to the Russian Tsar, when it came to the eternal question of is this good for the Jews? – the Alter Rebbe was the only one who actually encouraged his followers to actively spy for the Tsar against Napoleon’s forces.

One Lubavitcher chassid was actually working as a translator for the French forces, and on the Chabad.org website HERE, you can find a first-hand account of how he was nearly caught by Napoleon himself, who suspected there was a Russian spy in the camp.

====

Recently, Rabbi Berland has been returning to the idea in his shiurim and comments that it’s not a good idea for Jews to get too close to the levers of power.

He brings the example of Rabbi Haim Farhi, who was the Jewish administrator of Akko at the time that Napoleon tried to conquer Israel, back in 1799.

Farhi’s boss was the notorious Pasha Ahmed Al Jazzar, a man renowned for his acts of sadism, fierce temper and cruelty. I visited Al Jazzar’s impressive bath house when I had my day out in Akko a few weeks ago. There, they told the story of how Al Jazzar had 37 wives, and one time, the rumor reached his ears that one of them had cheated on him.

Outraged, he lined all his wives up, and went down the line, trying to figure out who it was. He was unsuccessful. So instead, he had all 37 of his wives killed, just to be on the safe side. They are buried outside the walls of Akko. Or so the story goes.

So Haim Farhi apparently got off relatively easily, when Al Jazzar only sliced off the tip of his nose, and the top of his left ear, and blinded him in one eye. Even today, you can still see portraits of the one-eyed, mutilated Jewish advisor standing next to Al Jazzar, which means ‘butcher’ in Arabic.

Farhi ended up outliving Al Jazzar, and the next pasha, Abdullah ibn Ali, was initially a much more gentle character who was practically Farhi’s step-son. But as time went on, this second Pasha turned on him, had him murdered, and then threw his body over the port wall of Old Akko and into the sea. They never found him, and Farhi didn’t receive a Jewish burial.

Farhi’s widow died on the road to Syria, trying to escape Abdullah’s revenge. Later on, Haim Farhi’s still influential family effectively went to war against Abdullah, and instigated a small scale civil war within the Ottoman empire, which included violent clashes in the Golan Heights, Shechem, and the Beqaa Valley.

So, there are clear dangers involved in getting ‘involved’ with government, as the Alter Rebbe himself discovered, when he died on the road, escaping from Napoleon’s forces.

====

What does all this have to do with us, today?

These messages are eternal, and the warning still stands.

Two weeks’ ago, just before the UK’s recent General Election, the current British Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, put out a public statement virulently criticizing the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for being an anti-Semite. That Corbyn is an anti-Semite is not in question: he’s clearly an anti-Semite.

But personally, I was amazed that Rabbi Mirvis put out the statement that he did, about the leader of the main opposition party, a couple of weeks before one of the most important General Elections the UK has ever held.

Rabbi Mirvis was clearly trying to ‘influence’ the elections, and to reduce the number of people willing to vote for Corbyn.

Now, I don’t have a crystal ball, and I have no idea what’s coming down the pipe in the UK. What I can tell you, is that leaving all the pro / anti Brexit questions to one side, the simple fact of leaving the EU is going to be enormously wrenching and chaotic for the country.

It’s not going to be simple, and who knows how much economic pain is really going to be involved with this process? That it could lead to better things down the road is possible, who knows, but there’s no getting around the short-term ‘pain’ it’s going to cause in a bunch of different ways.

And when that ‘pain’ hits, some people in the UK will start looking around for scapegoats to blame.

Rabbi Mirvis, with his ill-timed letter that effectively guaranteed that no-one ‘decent’ would ever publically admit to voting for Corbyn and his ‘pro a second referendum on Brexit’ Labour party – will then loom large.

And then what?

That is the question.

====

And things are pretty bad on the ‘meddling in goyish politics front’ in the US, too.

On both sides of the debate, you have Jews prominently trying to sway public opinion, trying to affect political processes, trying to get as close as they can, to the levers of power.

And it’s making me very nervous.

Make no mistake, the anti-Semites out there are collecting their ‘evidence’ with a very keen eye. And it’s not so much the secular Jewish politicians who are holding their attention – although clearly, they are still very much part of the equation – but all those rabbis with long beards and black hats, who keep turning up in the corridors of power all over the world.

I know, it’s hard to build shuls and schools all over the world, in even the most far-flung places, without having to deal with the government. You need to get the permissions and permits, you need to apply for the grants and funding, you need to ‘grease the wheels’ to get these things off the ground, and rolling along*.

But it seems to me, that so many of these obvious Jews with beards and black hats have forgotten that they are in galut, and have forgotten who they are dealing with.

====

Today’s beloved leader who apparently loves the Jews so much could be out on his ear tomorrow – and then what?

When Napoleon was trying to conquer Israel, he tried to ‘tempt’ the Jews in Israel to defect over to his side, by promising them all sorts of political freedom, civil equality, and financial opportunities.

Even though the dhimmi Chaim Farhi had been blinded and mutilated by his Muslim master, he totally refused Napoleon’s offer to act as a ‘fifth column’ for the invading French – and thank goodness he did, because otherwise, one way or another, the 9,000 Jews in Akko would have lost their lives.

If Al Jazzar would have got a sniff of this proposed treachery, there’s no question he would have killed all the Jews he could lay his hands on, as a ‘lesson’ for the rest of the Jews under Turkish rule – all of whom would automatically now be suspected as potential foreign agents.

And if Napoleon had conquered Israel thanks to Jewish turncoats, that would have sealed the paradigm that ‘Jews can’t be trusted to stay loyal to their countries of residence’, and yes, there would be more Jew slaughter happening again, at some point, God forbid, because of it.

Jews aren’t meant to mix into politics. And especially not ‘obvious’ Jews with long beards, black hats – and very short memories.

====

The winds of change are blowing all over the place, at the moment.

None of us have any idea, really, what’s going on right now, where it’s all leading, and who ultimately is going to come out on top. And that there are so many visible Jews publically engaged in trying to affect goyish government at the very highest levels seems incredibly unwise, to say the least.

Because today’s rulers could be tomorrow’s toast.

The only wise course of action, as both Haim Farhi and the Alter Rebbe discovered a little too late, is to stay out of politics, and stay far away from government. 

We’re in galut, after all, we’re not at home.

====

Writing in the Ohr Layesharim, the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Ber Schneersohn, has this to say, about why the Jews are in galut:  

“[U]ntil it is G-d’s will to redeem us, we must accept the yoke of exile to atone for our sins.”

The 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, stated in ‘Om Ani Chomah, 5709’ that:

“We are foresworn by the covenant of G-d that we cannot overcome [exile] with might or power, only by understanding and knowing the word and command of G-d.”

Both the Rebbes were addressing their remarks to the secular Zionists who were attempting to create a State of Israel by involving themselves in political intrigues and hob-nobbing with secular governments.

But just as this applies to a Jewish state, it surely applies even more to a non-Jewish state that Jews simply live in, until we finally get redeemed?

====

“We cannot overcome exile with might or power.”

According to the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe, exile – including all its holocausts, pogroms and suffering – is a punishment for our sins. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. Jews forget this at their peril. Galut is a temporary state of affairs, we aren’t ‘kings of our own castle’.

And that also still applies here, in the secular, anti-Torah State of Israel.

But the difference is this: When the political house of cards finally collapses here, it will be accompanied by a readiness to greet Moshiach, and a grassroots push to move the holy land of Israel from galut to geula.

By contrast, when the tottering political systems in the US, UK and elsewhere finally collapse, it will be accompanied by massive civil unrest, violence, and 25 million anti-Semites with semi-automatics who are trying to pin all their problems on the Jews.

That is the difference.

And so, we’ll leave this post where we began, with the warning for Jews to stay out of non-Jewish politics, and to keep a low profile, and to realise that wherever they happen to live, they are in galut to atone for their sins.

And let’s face it, there’s still a lot of atonement required.

====

FOOTNOTES:

  • There’s a very interesting article on the chabad.org website that explains that all 7 Lubavitcher Rebbes were granted the title by Czarist Russia of being ‘Honorary Hereditary Citizens’, “which in Imperial Russia was the highest rank short of titular nobility.” I’m just throwing this out there, as a curious – and surprising – fact, given how much persecution the Rebbes all endured in Russia.

====

You might also like this article:

Everything has a deeper reason.

Two years ago, the fake ‘Yeshiva World’ news site ran a shocking!!!! ‘expose’ into Rabbi Berland spinning a dreidel in the middle of the Maariv prayers.

Because Yeshiva World News is written by a bunch of morons who apparently don’t know a lot about the deeper reasons for many Jewish customs (and also apparently can’t spell), they believed that this was something ‘shocking’, that all their readers should know about, and be encouraged to condemn in the comments section!!!!

We already wrote HERE about how sites like Yeshiva World News are creating new anti-Semites with almost every headline they pen, and as the violent anti-semitism heats up in the US, it seems a good time for many Jews there – and elsewhere – to do some serious soul-searching about how attitudes and practices in the orthodox Jewish community may be greatly contributing to the problem.

Because nothing  is stam, a coincidence, or an accident.

Everything is from Hashem, everything contains a message, about what we might need to work on, acknowledge, recognise, change or fix.

God is so merciful, God is so compassionate. All He wants is for us to just be honest, and to admit that we’re really not acting the way we should be, and to have a little more humility, and to accept that we’re really not the ‘religious big shots’ we like to pretend we are.

That’s all He wants from us, some candor, and an admission that we are guilty of really not being very good Jews!!!

Because as soon as we admit that, we’ll understand that we can’t do this by ourselves, and we’ll start looking for that one in a generation, that Tzaddik, who is really going to help us get through this gilgul in one piece, get us to the promised land, and get us into the world-to-come.

====

In the meantime, a couple of weeks ago the Rav gave over a very interesting lesson, which you can read HERE, where he explained some of the deeper mystical significance behind spinning the dreidel. He said:

The dreidel is linked to redemption

…”You redeemed the tribe of Your inheritance.” Rabbenu (Rebbe Nachman) says that the first letters of this [in Hebrew], Galta Shevet Nahalat Har (Tzion) are Gimel, Shin, Nun and Hei – the letters written on the four sides of the dreidel.

THIS IS NES GADOL HAYAH SHAM (A GREAT MIRACLE OCCURRED THERE).

But now, the Zionists changed it to a Pey.

(The Shin on the dreidel stands for sham – ‘there’, i.e. Eretz Yisrael.  Jewish communities in the diaspora still have driedels with the letter Shin, but when the secular Zionists created the State of Israel, they decreed that the ‘Shin’ should be switched to a Pey – which stand for po, here. I.e., that the great miracle happened here, in Eretz Yisrael.)

We must change it back to Shin, because great secrets are bound up with this!

This is related to the verse, “You have redeemed the tribe of Your inheritance, this mountain of Tzion You have dwelled within it.”

Because through [spinning] the dreidel, the Beit HaMikdash will be built.

Because when we spin the driedel, we spin the letters Gimmel, Shin, Nun and Hey around, and by way of this, Mount Tzion will be rebuilt – only by way of the driedel. We need to spin the dreidel every day, we need to be spinning the driedel every moment, every second.

====

If I’ve learnt one thing about true tzaddikim, it’s that you should try to take whatever they say as seriously as possible. Literally, whole worlds depend on this. So then, I ran into a problem:

Where am I going to find a dreidel in Israel that has a Shin instead of a Peh?

It’s really not an easy thing, as of course every dreidel here has a peh, for po – here, the miracle happened here, in the Land of Israel.

Yesterday, an email landed in my inbox offering me a hand-carved dreidel from the Galilee with a ‘shin’ for just 22 shekels! Result!!!

So, I’m ordering mine today, and in the meantime, I thought I should put the details up here too, in case anyone out there would also like to fulfill the words of the Tzaddik HaDor, and spin their dreidel with a Shin, on Chanuka.

====

Here’s the details:

Hand made wood every piece is unique.
Wood
22 shekalim
possible with a wooden plate to spin on
together 36 shekalim
2  dreidels and one plate for 74 AIYN DALET
TRUE TZADIKIM
050 3900777
====
====
When more of us turn away from the fake news sites, and the fake blog sites, who really just confuse and mislead so very many people, and who obscure the truth by trying to push themselves forward, instead of humbly guiding people towards the sources of real Torah, real truth, in the world, Moshiach will come.
I’m not a betting woman, but I’m still willing to wager that Rabbi Berland knows far more about why spinning a dreidel is important that YWN. And so this Chanuka – for the first time ever! – I’m going to give it a shot.
====
You might also like this article:
https://rivkalevy.com/the-birth-of-moshiach/

When the pressure ramps up, we really have two choices.

I’m currently trying to put together my ‘how to halve overwhelming stress in 30 days’ tachlis course, and it’s proving pretty stressful….

But also very useful, in figuring out why people react the way we do to overwhelming stress, and what we can really do about it, tachlis.

We’re all so sick and tired of ‘gurus’ preaching about how to do stuff, and how to change – things that they themselves are a million miles away from actually living in their own lives.

That’s true in the orthodox Jewish world, and also – I’ve been shocked to discover – in the non-Jewish world.

====

For every Youtube ‘rabbi’ and ‘rabbanit’ that’s been droning on about Hashem, and emuna, while deceitfully swindling people, feeding their own massive egos, and trying to cash in on the public’s need for reassurance and guidance, there’s at least 100 secular ‘gurus’ that have been doing exactly the same thing, in their field.

I’ve come across this phenomenon in the area of book publishing, and of course, in holistic health, but I had no idea how widespread the problem has become, and how cynical it’s made us all. So, this course is not preaching anything. It’s 100% tachlis, focused exactly on helping people to figure out what’s stressing them out, what they can really do about it, and how to reduce their stress by at least 50% in 30 days.

That’s a big promise to make, I know, but I’m standing fully behind it.

====

So, while I’ve been busy putting that course together, the world has helpfully been melting down into a massive, oozing puddle of overwhelmingly stressful circumstances.

The latest example is xtian pastor, anti-Semite (and almost certainly, secret Freemason) Rick Wiles’ public rant about a ‘Jew Coup’ taking place in the US.

One of my US-based friends kindly sent me the clip, so I went to check out his website, and his following on Youtube – apparently 185,000, before he got banned – and I came away from all that investigation feeling pretty stressed! And I don’t live in the US.

As this site is now a pointless politics-free zone, instead of pointlessly ranting about ‘erev rav’, and trying to ‘blame’ people for not moving to Israel 50 years ago, I thought I’d try to do something constructive to help my readers in the US, while also trying out some of the tachlis principles I’m putting together for my course.

Ready?

Great! Let’s do this together, with no ranting, no blaming, no holier-than-thou finger pointing, or demonization of whole groups of Jews who happen to think and act differently from us.

We are all in this together.

====

We’ll kick this off by setting out the stall, describing the ‘stress’ problem we all have, and then going through the following steps, to try to resolve it. Here’s my STRESS DEFUSING CHECKLIST.

  • Identify the potential source of stress.
  • Clarify the situation, to see if the ‘stress’ and underlying worries and fears are valid, or not.
  • Clearly state the specific problem of issue that is stressing you out.
  • Once we have the full facts (as much as we can), to move through the process of ACTION or ACCEPTANCE.
  • Depending on which route we’ll take, the work will either be more externally-focused ACTION, or more internally-focused ACCEPTANCE.
  • Clearly state the ACTIONS required, and / or what can’t be changed and must be ACCEPTED with emuna.
  • Feel way less stressed, because we’ve clarified what’s going on, what we really think about it, and what, if anything we need to do to deal with it.

====

It’s a very common reaction, to go into denial when we feel overwhelmed, despairing and stuck.

most of the planet does that, and sometimes it has its benefits. But, if the source of stress is ‘real’, or nagging, or chronic, or acute, and it’s not being faced down and dealt with, denial quickly morph into a feeling of massive underlying anxiety and panic.

When people aren’t addressing their stress, their fears, head-on, that also leads to a range of chronic health problems – they can’t sleep, they get headaches, their digestion stops working, peptic ulcers show up, they get eczema or asthma flare-ups, they start to experience all sorts of different psychosomatic pains and backaches, that have no ‘physical’ cause etc etc.

Don’t do that to yourself!

It’s way, way better to bite the bullet, deal with reality, and then have a concrete plan of either ACTION or ACCEPTANCE, depending on what you discover when start to address the problem properly.

====

So, let’s apply this ‘de-stress’ solution to the problem of Rick Wiles. I’m not going to answer the following questions for you – that’s your part of this project – but I will walk you through it, and hold your hand, as much as required. Let’s kick off:

  1. IDENTIFY THE POTENTIAL SOURCE OF STRESS.

In this case, let’s focus in on Rick Wiles, and his ‘Jew Coup’ statement. Let’s start with a stress rating:

How stressful is Rick Wilkes and his public Jew-hatred, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the maximum)?

Before I went to his site, I would have ranked this for myself as a ‘3’, as I live in Israel. After I read his site, it went up to around a ‘6’.

If you’re ranking anything below ‘3’, that means it’s not a potent source of stress for you.

I’m ranking this at a ‘6’ now, which means I need to deal with it.

(As a side note, I usually deal with all this stuff in hitbodedut, and you can, too. Just take this checklist, plug in your own ‘stress’ issue, and go talk to God about it.)

Now, let’s move on to our second step:

====

====

  1. CLARIFY THE SITUATION

This is often way harder than it looks, especially if there are a lot of vested interests involved, or a lot of ‘confirmation bias’ standing in the way of getting to the truth. In this case, here’s a few of the questions we need to be exploring:

  • Is Rick Wiles speaking for a lot of Americans, or just a negligible percentage?
  • Are his Youtube followers fanatical, or violent?
  • Do you live close to any of these fanatical, violent people? Could they directly impact your life in some way?
  • Who else might Wiles be influencing with his statement?
  • What are the possible outcomes of this statement being widely publicized in the US?

(Tip: you want to be covering the range of possibilities here, from ‘best case’ to ‘worst case’ scenario. For big stresses, or big decisions, it’s often best to write this down, or do a mindmap. I use pen and paper, but there is also free and easy mindmap software that you can download and use, too.)

Once you have that list of possible outcomes, it’s time to drill down, to see what you are really worrying about, and how likely you believe that outcome to be.

Here’s how I would do that.

====

I’d take my list of ‘possible outcomes’.

And then I’d give them a ranking out of 10 (or out of 100, if you want more precision) as to how likely I believe this might be. 1 would be ‘impossible’ and 10 / 100 would be ‘absolutely certain’.

That would leave me looking at something like this:

====

(I know, I spelt his name wrong… I don’t really care.)

====

POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF WILES’ STATEMENT

  • More people start to talk against the Jews – 75%
  • Anti-Semitism could start to increase in the US – 75%
  • People feel more comfortable discriminating against Jews – 70%
  • That could impact how comfortable I feel being obviously Jewish in the US – 80%
  • There could be more violent anti-Semitism – 60%
  • There could be more attacks on shuls and Jewish schools – 60%
  • Jewish life in the US could become more difficult – 90%
  • It’s a storm in a teacup nothing will happen – 20%

Are you seeing how this works?

If you feel that you don’t have enough information or knowledge to be comfortable with your ‘clarity’, you might want to go and read up on the subject, find an expert to talk to, check out the latest stats for anti-semitism etc in the US, to inform your opinions and beliefs.

And of course, take it back to God, because that’s where you’ll get your best insights from.

====

Now that I have my ‘clarity’, to the best of my ability, and taking my own innate biases and preferences and beliefs into account, I can move to the next step of identifying and defusing my stress:

3)            CLEARLY STATE THE SPECIFIC PROBLEM OR ISSUE THAT IS STRESSING YOU OUT.

So for me, I’m going to formulate it like this:

“I’m worried that there is about to be a big upswing in anti-Semitism in the USA, and that there will be more discrimination and violent attacks against the Jews who are living there, which includes my relatives.”

Again, this is my personal statement. You should write yours in your own language, and with whatever details are relevant to you, and your levels of stress.

But now I have the problem clearly stated, I can move on to the next stage:

====

  1. ACTION or ACCEPTANCE.

Here’s where I list out all the actions that are currently available to me, that could help me deal with this problem.

====

POSSIBLE ACTIONS:

  • Phone people I know in the US to discuss the situation and warn them?
  • Write something urging people to move?
  • Encourage people to buy a firearm and learn how to use it?
  • Give practical information and help about making aliya?
  • Research US antisemitism to see if it really is a big problem?
  • Suggest people look at buying a cheap property somewhere in Israel?
  • Give people chizzuk and support?
  • Try to ‘scare’ them into making aliya?
  • Put more focus on making Teshuva and working on our humility and emuna?

Now, I go through each one, and I see if it’s workable, practical, useful.

====

I know from previous experience that trying to ‘scare’ people, or browbeat them, or guilt them, into moving to Israel just doesn’t work, and isn’t helpful.

I’ve had family members who stopped talking to me for 4 years because I kept trying to pressure them to make aliya. So, all those options are out.

I don’t believe in violence as an answer, so I’m not going to encourage anyone to buy a gun.

So, I’m left with the options to write things that will encourage and support my fellow Jews in the US, and to help them get clarity in some way about the options available to them, and to put the focus on teshuva and working on out bad middot and returning to God, as the best solution to the problem.

So now, I have clarity about what I personally need to do about this, moving forward, and I’m feeling way less stressed.

And whatever I can’t change, whatever I can’t take action about right now, that’s the stuff I need to work on accepting happily, without whining, moaning of complaining.

If I can’t take the ACTION I want to take, I have to accept God’s will, and maybe, start praying for things to change or open up in the future, so that ACTION could be available to me at a different stage.

(I know I’m not breaking this stage down into all the nitty-gritty details. I will do it in the course properly, but I don’t want this post to get too long!)

====

6)            Clearly state the ACTIONS required, and / or, what I need to ACCEPT with emuna.

For me, I have to ACCEPT that trying to force my family members to make aliya is simply counter-productive, and just leads to bad blood and soured relationships.

I also have to ACCEPT that I can’t even broach this issue with my relatives in the US, as doing so will only upset them, and won’t achieve anything positive.

On my ACTIONS list, I now have:

  • Pray more for God to help the Jews in America (and everywhere else! We all have our issues, right now.)
  • Focus my blog on chizzuk and emuna, instead of holier-than-thou finger pointing and ranting.
  • Look to see what practical help and support I can give my readers, to help them deal with their challenges and stress, including the stress caused by anti-Semites like Rick Wiles.

====

Now I’ve gone through this process, I’m feeling way less stressed!

I have my clarity about what might be happening, what limited role, if any, I can play, and where I need to be focusing my time and energy for maximum benefit.

Breathe out….

This is EXPERIENCING EMUNA, not just preaching about it. You can apply this formula to absolutely any ‘stress’ that you are currently experiencing, and you’ll see how it instantly starts to reduce, as you get better clarity about what’s really going on, what your options really are, and what God might be expecting from you.

BH, I hope to be able to share more of this stuff with you soon.

Next week, Wednesday, Dec 4th, I’m hoping to live teach the first module of the FAILPROOF METHOD TO REDUCE DESTRUCTIVE STRESS BY AT LEAST 50% IN 4 WEEKS COURSE, focusing on:

‘IDENTIFY WHAT’S STRESSING YOU OUT, AND DEFUSE IT’.

If you are a woman, and you would like to join me for that – on Zoom – please sign up HERE.

I’m limiting enrollment to the first 10 people, so grab your spot while you can.

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The last two weeks, I’ve been finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning.

I’m generally sleeping OK, and enough. I’m in good health, baruch Hashem. I have a lot of ‘stuff’ to be getting on with… But it’s a struggle to throw the covers back and get out of bed.

I know why.

Deep down, I’m feeling pretty scared of what the future holds.

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While pointless ‘politics’ is all anyone really seems to be thinking about or discussing, there are real changes going on in the world that we can all feel, but no-one is really talking about them.

The world is still shaking – a 6.4 earthquake just hit Albania, in Southern Europe, doing major damage to a number of buildings and roads, and even causing a number of deaths.

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Did you know about that, from your MSM, before I just told you?

Nope. Didn’t think so.

Now, the quakes are fanning out across Europe, large parts of which is also (not coincidentally….) experiencing ‘extreme’ weather events. This headline kind of says it all:

Storms in France, Greece and Italy leave ‘biblical destruction’.

The Alps have been experiencing some record-breaking, heavy snowfall recently. You won’t know that unless you live in that area or follow alternative news channels, because this fact goes against the whole ‘global warming’ fake news thing. But when you have a lot of snow on mountains, plus the prospect of 4.0+ earthquakes in the area, then you are looking at a high possibility of avalanches.

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Over in the US, the wildfires in California have started up again, this time called ‘The Cave’ fire.

What’s interesting, is how the news sites are telling their viewers that this fire literally ‘exploded overnight’ – but then immediately try to blame that on fake news global warming.

I’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but it’s probably a good time to remind you that when there is a lot of seismic activity, that kind of ‘shakes loose’ all the natural methane that’s trapped underground, and that starts to rise to the surface.

Methane is highly flammable.

All it takes is a spark, and poofff!! A whole area can instantly light up. I think that’s also what’s causing the wildfires that are still burning all over Israel, too, but which (BH) have currently been contained, because there is no massive winds whipping them all over the place.

No-one talks about this, because it’s not ‘politics’. It’s just God controlling the weather, and the seismic activity, and who the heck wants to mention that?!

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There are other things, too, that if you know to look for them, build out the picture that there is a very strange ‘vibe’ coming down to the planet at the moment, or what our sages often refer to as a ruach, or spirit.

So many people are being viciously attacked by wild animals, especially dogs, that it’s almost not news anymore. But a few days ago, a 59 year old woman in Texas was mauled to death outside a house by a bunch of wild pigs….

That’s kinda unusual, no?

And also kinda symbolic, because we all know that the ‘pig’ is Esav, that most traif of pretend-kosher creatures.

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And then, there’s all the stuff I’m trying to deal with internally, that is also scaring me at the moment.

Like, trying to get my People Smarts course together… and trying to launch the book that goes with it… and trying not to get my hopes up too much that this, finally, will mark the turnaround where I’ll actually discover what it is God really wants me to do with my life and (whisper it….) that I may even get paid for.

The only reason that matters is because my family has decided, collectively, that we want to move back to the holy madness that is the Musrara neighborhood of Jerusalem, and even renting there is CRAZY expensive.

Right now, the apartment we are in is great for us, and the rent is reasonable. But the area is pretty ‘dead’ spiritually, and after two years of living back in civilization, where people pick up their own trash and most families have way less than 12 kids, I’m yearning to get back to a place where my neighbors know there is more to life than just cooking a great roast for Shabbat. Or politics….

So, there’s also a lot of anxiety around that, too, which keeps bubbling up when I’m talking to God.

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And then, there are the non-stop efforts by the State of Israel to start another war in this region, to try and take everyone’s minds off the fact that the political experiment here has effectively checkmated itself out of existence.

Nothing like a massive war, to get the nation rallying around the idea of a ‘unity government’!!!

Who cares, that so many people, so many Jews, could get wounded or killed, if the Muslim nations decide to retaliate massively!!!

Let’s keep the circus going for as long as we can, let’s keep talking about politics as the cure for all ills, to take everyone’s mind off the fact that God is actually running the world, and deciding things!!!

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There are very good reasons why taking the terrorists on in Gaza may be a very bad idea.

You can sum it up like this:

Israel is surrounded by literally hundreds of thousands of rockets. The Iron Dome is very easily overwhelmed, and if the terrorists start firing multiple barrages of rockets at us, they will kill and injure a lot of people, God forbid.

At the same time, there is no way the nations of the world will ever let Israel really clean up the problem in Gaza, so any war would be totally ‘cosmetic’, and just for public opinion, just so the politicians can keep the whole circus going a little while longer.

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Personally, I increasingly don’t think it’s worth risking Jewish lives just to give a politician a campaign slogan that they are tough on terror.

Personally, I’m really praying and hoping that Rabbi Berland is going to be able to continue to sweeten all this warmongering, because war doesn’t solve any problems, unless it’s a ‘war’ that God wants and has commanded, like Joshua’s conquering of the holy land.

How did we all get so brainwashed into believing that killing people en masse is the best way to solve our problems?

I believe in defending ourselves where appropriate, in a measured way. But recently, I’ve been asking myself some hard questions, about whether killing large swathes of ‘enemy’ civilians is really what God wants from the Jewish people.

Killing people – any people – should be the very last option on the table, and only if the alternative is that they would kill us, God forbid.

Killing people is a ‘feral pig’ kinda thing to do – an ‘animal’ thing to do – it’s really not a holy Jewish response.

So, I’m also scared that there are bunch of angry, violent fools with zero yirat shemayim ready to rush in where Sanhedrins fear to tread.

Until I remember that God is actually running the world, (even though no-one really talks about Him so much), and that nothing will happen that God doesn’t want to happen.

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And in the meantime, life goes on.

I’m trying to deal with all this by keeping my head down, and trying to continue with my routine, as best I can. I keep reminding myself of the words of the Rav, that Gog and Magog is only going to happen in 200 years time, but the good things can already start now.

Because otherwise, I just can’t get out of bed in the morning.

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Photo by Sylvie Tittel on Unsplash

The real battle is always internal.

The last few weeks, I’ve gathered so much material together on so many different subjects – then deleted it all. I haven’t just done that once, I’ve done it a good four, maybe in five, times.

I had so much information to share on how the first Reform-minded Jews were actually freemasons, and how 60% of the Reform rabbis in the US in 1927 reported they were members of their local lodge – including 8 ‘rabbis’ who’d reached the 33rd degree.

I deleted it all.

Then, I had a whole bunch of information gathered together about moral (and other forms) of corruption in a particular orthodox group.

I deleted it all.

And then, I found myself gathering more information about a popular Jewish leader who encouraged Jews to see themselves as violent ‘chayas’ – beasts, or animals – and who also had a long history of acting in some very immoral ways.

I deleted it all.

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The last few weeks, I’ve had a mighty battle raging in my soul, between trying to call out so much of the ‘bad’ and obvious hypocrisy of the Jewish community, and to set it down clearly in black and white, and between Rebbe Nachman’s clarion call to focus on Azamra, or seeing the good.

It’s been driving me bonkers all November.

The Rav warned that Cheshvan – November – was the month of wars, and sure enough, different types of battle have been joined all over the place. There’s been rockets from Gaza, rockets from Syria, political wars of every stripe – all over the planet – and also, that internal war, to try to do what God really wants and to avoid machloket.

And at least speaking for myself, that war has been the hardest.

I can’t stand all the half-truths, posturing and hypocrisy that I keep coming up against in a million different ways. I can’t stand all the yucky people who like to pretend they want a solution, but are really innately part of the problem. All the falsehood, all the carping and attacking, all the lying to ourselves, it’s been getting me down a lot, recently.

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A few weeks’ ago, I thought the best thing to do would be to try to blast the lies out of the water, as much as possible, by doing one expose after another, just stacking up the plain, incontrovertible facts. No opinion, no spin, just facts and solid information.

I had so much collected up, so much ready to go….

And then God stopped me.

In my hitbodedut, I kept getting steers to get back to my PC and to delete every last bit of it. And that has happened so many times now, that I think I’ve finally got the message:

God doesn’t want Jews slagging other Jews off in public, no matter how ‘bad’ those other Jews appear to be behaving.

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This is really hard for me to accept, I have to be honest.

What, I should just let all the misinformation go unchallenged?! I should just sit here writing fluffy stuff about trips to the Hula Valley, instead of hard-hitting pieces about the endemic corruption that’s oozing out of every part of the Jewish communal structure, both home and abroad?!

God said:

YES!!!!

A million times, YES!!!!

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People need a lot of chizzuk right now.

The anti-Semites are spreading so many calumnies about Jews being behind every bad thing in the world, and Jewish writers and bloggers have to understand that every word we write about our communities are being scrutinized, and often twisted, to blame the Jews for everything that’s going wrong.

That’s a massive responsibility.

And here’s the thing:

Even the worst Jews out there are still just puppets and pawns in the hands of a bunch of very evil non-Jews.

They’ve been using these renegade Jews as ‘cover’ for their really bad activities for centuries, but that time is soon coming to a close. And we Jews need to stick together, we need to stay close to our true Tzaddikim, and we need to see the good, both in other Jews, and also in ourselves.

That’s our job right now.

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So, even though I have a ton I could say about what’s really going on politically and Jewishly, I want to draw a line in the sand here on the blog, and move in the direction of what’s really going to help us all get through the next few months of global insanity. That means putting the focus on:

Emuna, azamra, chizzuk and practical stuff about working on our bad middot.

As much as possible, this blog is going to be a Trump-free zone, a Bibi-free zone, a pointless politics-free zone.

Why waste any more time on all this divisive cack that doesn’t help anyone, and just sets us at each other’s throats? Much better to focus on the bad middot we all need to work on; much better to talk about emuna, much better to talk Turkey about what God really wants from us as individuals and Jews, and to try to spread more of the light of the true Tzaddikim in the world.

So that’s what I’m hoping to focus on, going forward.

BH, God will help me to do it.

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UPDATE:

I just wrote this, for my blog over on RavBerland.com. I think it’s time we re-examined what it really means to ‘have emuna’, and how we can start to apply it again. So many of us got disappointed with the whole idea of ’emuna’ because we were being taught that it’s a way to ‘force’ God to give us what we want.

Really, true emuna is only about acceptance. It’s about accepting that we are flawed, and have work to do, and also about accepting that God is in charge of the world, not us.

Read more here:

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Photo by Piotr Makowski on Unsplash