Moving to Israel is a dream that many Jews from Jewish communities around the globe nurtured for 2,000 years.

Today, there is a Jewish State of Israel for Jews to make aliyah to. In a short 100 years, Israel has been transformed from a desolate place of sand and harsh sun to a place teeming with modern homes, skyscrapers and swimming pools.

Yet despite the enormous improvement in the materialistic standard of living, many Jews are still avoiding making the move to Israel, regret moving to Israel, or even, are moving out of Israel to other countries.

In this category, you’ll find a number of different articles looking at many of the different aspects and benefits of moving to Israel – the cons, as well as the pros. It’s certainly true that making aliyah  – especially if you’re moving to Israel without a job, or as a senior, or with school-age children – can be extremely challenging.

But the spiritual benefits of making aliyah are unparalleled. If you care more about the soul aspects of life than the material aspects of owning a large property and having lots of cheap holidays and clothes from Target (to name but a few of things some immigrants miss from the old country), then you will probably never regret making the move.

Some of the other things we cover on this blog include:

  • Moving to Israel with no money
  • What to expect if you move back to Israel from another country- as a toshav hozer
  • Where to find schools in Israel in English
  • Moving to Israel to convert
  • Retiring to Israel
  • Moving around within Israel – trying to find the right community
  • Is it worth moving to Israel – the material, emotional and spiritual aspects you need to consider, before making the decision
  • Converting to Judaism and then moving to Israel – what you need to know
  • Aliyah after 50
  • Aliyah and work options if you don’t speak Hebrew
  • Moving to Israel – the Jewish and spiritual dimension
  • Torah sources on making aliyah

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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“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.

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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.

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You might also like this article:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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  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.

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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:

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

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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.

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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:

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  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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.

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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.

You can also sign up directly, below:

 

The State of Israel is meant to be a ‘home’ for every Jew. That’s not exactly what’s happening.

Following on from my posts about the quagmire relating to conversions in Latin America (which I still have way more to write about, in due course), I received the following interesting email from a reader.

I don’t agree with everything she says (especially about secular politicians providing some sort of ‘solution’) – but I think her insight and the information she is sharing is a very valuable contribution to the discussion on what is really going on with orthodox converts, on today’s State of Israel.

So with her permission (and removing any identifying details), I’m sharing it with you below.

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I am a giyoret (charedi) from Latin America, and sadly (yes) I know more or less the conversion system.

You probably already know, but to explain why I wasn’t simply able to vote for the religious parties I first have to explain how the conversion system works in Israel.

In Israel you have two options, you either go to a private court (many of those are charedi) or you go to the State conversion system.

For a citizen of Israel, this is a non-issue, but for non-citizens it’s about choosing to have automatic political rights (i.e. the ability to make aliyah) or not. 

You could say, “then everyone should just do the process via the Rabbanut” but sadly, to get into the system you need approval from the Exceptions Committee, which is a joint committee (Rabbanut and the Interior Ministry). 

And passing the approval process in a reasonable amount of time is almost impossible if you are from a third world country, and even more difficult if you are from a third world country and charedi. Many of those cases end up without a solution and end up being deported from Israel or leaving voluntarily.

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To give you more perspective, I know girls that have been trying for more than three years to convert with the Rabbanut (they are already giyorot (converts) because usually, you finish the private, charedi conversion process first).

Three years, without a work permit or something similar (they usually have to work as cleaners).

It’s physical and psychological torture (I went through something similar, but I was luckier), and sadly, seeing this continue (even up until today) marked me forever.

You probably know about Karen Jemima Mosquera.

(Ed. Note: I didn’t, but now I’m looking into it.)

Well, I know her mother and sister, and her rabbi, who are all tzadikim, especially her rabbi who no matter what, helps people). Sadly, I couldn’t meet her, but when I learned the real story (that right-wing newspapers never told) I was shocked by the amount of cruelty this woman had to go through. Not only from the State (and particularly, the Interior Ministry) but also from religious institutions.

In the moment of her death, Jemima was not Jewish according to the State of Israel. I mean, she was clearly Jewish (she had a mehadrin conversion) but she was not politically Jewish. The fact that she could be buried on the Mount of Olives was a political miracle.

I personally think she died for a reason, and it was to call the frum community’s attention to the existence of people like her.

But nothing changed.

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Now, like many charedim, I was told that Lapid is a rasha (evildoer) (don’t get me wrong, I didn’t vote for them either), that if he gets the power then we are done.

I don’t think he is a rasha, he is just a massive fool. And I don’t think he is so important as the religious leadership wants us to believe.

We as frum people tend to think that since we’re extra careful about certain things (Shabbat, kashrut, arayot (modest behavior) that our permanence in this land depends on keeping those prohibitions.

As far as I know, Hashem has never exiled us for breaking those things.

Hashem has exiled us for violating mitzvot ben adam le chavero (the mitzvahs between a man and his fellow man.)

For oppressing the widow, the stranger, and the orphan.

And this is because He has a special sympathy for the stranger, the widow, and the orphan. Hashem cares for the weary.

Shabbat, Kashrut, and Arayot are of course important but are not the ikkar (main thing).

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And forgive me for what I’m saying, the religious parties are complicit in this suffering.

Who is the Interior Minister? Aryeh Machlouf Dery, a “charedi” guy. He’s the one who is is behind the suffering of those gerim (converts).

(This comes from the Ministry of Interior website:)

The Population Administration deals with the personal, formal, and legal status of residents of Israel, in accordance with Government policy on citizenship, immigration, and entry to and exit from the country. It provides documentation and registration services and monitors movements and changes such as births, deaths, changes of address, entry to and exit from the country. It issues passports; conducts border checks; and manages the population registry, passport, and border check databases, which are a primary source of information for the Population Administration offices and, through them, for other government agencies.

Laws determining personal status and modalities for entering and leaving Israel include the Law of Return 5710-1950; the Entry to Israel Law 5712-1952; the Citizenship Law 5712-1952; the Passports Law 5712-1952; the Names Law 5716-1956; the Population Registry Law 5725-1965; the Possession and Presentation of Identity Cards Law 5743-1982; and the Emergency Regulations (Exit from the Country) 5708-1948.

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I was heavily conflicted, and this dirty trick of using the Gadol Hador (who is probably clueless about this situation) to push the tzibbur (community) to vote for gimmel because it was in our interests.

(Ed. Note: this isn’t my understanding of why they said to vote to Gimmel.)

I was heavily considering voting for gimmel because even if their political allies (Shas) hurt me and my friends, I truly wanted to be loyal.

But something happened.

In my seminary, there are currently 4 girls trying to make aliyah with a charedi private conversion (the State of Israel’s Supreme Court gave them this right).

Three of them are stuck (no answer).

One of them (a sixty-year-old lady), got a B1 visa meanwhile, while they decide her fate (she must reapply in a year).

She spent 9000 NIS to get this.

(From the Nefesh B’Nefesh website🙂 Work (B-1): Granted to those who qualify under the Law of Return and who do not hold prior Israeli citizenship. This visa allows you to legally work in Israel. The visa is for a three year period. You can apply to extend it for another two years, but you cannot exceed a period of five years in total. At the end of this time period, you can either apply for Aliyah or apply for an A-5 visa, which can be extended every 2 years. (Scroll down for an update on this – apparently Nefesh B’Nefesh have this wrong.)

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B1 visas are working visas for foreign workers (non-Jews) and goyish girlfriends, its known as the “girlfriend visa.”

With this visa, you don’t have right to have a teudat zehut (national ID number) (as opposed to a A5 visa) or to bituach leumi (National Insurance), or health care.

I was also a victim of this tactic, but I got a better arrangement while my fate was decided (I got a humanitarian visa and the right to hold a teudat zehut). I got this based on a liberal conversion I made in the diaspora (my lawyer told me “don’t disclose that you’re a charedi convert ” – she was right, It could have hurt me).

I was in the seminary, and this woman came and asked me “do you think that when I come back, they will give me a teudat zehut?” She said it in such a tone that it broke my heart. I couldn’t tell her “yes”.

I know of cases where the Rabbanut said yes, but the Interior Ministry said no.

The head of the Exceptions Committee is, naturally, a Shasnik.

(Ed. Note: I haven’t checked this out yet.)

Then I realized I couldn’t simply vote for these people or their enablers (and this includes Gafni and Litzman).

I can forgive what they did to me, but I couldn’t forgive what they are doing to others.

I know you may think that I’m wrong, that Lapid is worse, and I would understand that.

But I simply couldn’t.

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In a second email, my correspondent added the following:

I forgot to tell you that this is not the fault of the Rabbanut.

They make it seem as if it’s the Rabbanut, but the Rabbanut is basically strangled by the secular authority (the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Religious Affairs).

Inside the Rabbanut, there is also a certain school of thought that rejects any non-State sanctioned conversion (they would accept army conversions over a charedi private conversion), but many there are innocent and good people that have very good intentions.

I suspect that’s why Shas would like to take control of the ministry of aliyah and integration and change the Law of Return.

The excuse is always the Reform and the Russian non-Jews, but given that they already attempted to exclude converts in general from the right of return, I wouldn’t be surprised that they would try to do that again.

(Ed. Note: I haven’t heard that they have been trying to exclude converts, generally, from the right to move to Israel, and BH I will be looking into this.)

Remember last week’s parsha?

אָרוּר, מַטֶּה מִשְׁפַּט גֵּר-יָתוֹם–וְאַלְמָנָה; וְאָמַר כָּל-הָעָם, אָמֵן.

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Not everyone wants to advance those weird agendas.

Particularly, we know that the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi is trying to fix much stuff inside.

Also inside the Interior Ministry, there are very nice people without power who are willing to help (they can’t usually)

I also used to be too judgy regarding the Rabbanut but I learned that inside it, there are many Rabbanim who do believe that the ultimate criteria of acceptance is not politics/economic situation but halacha.

They just do what they think is right.

I honestly think this is hurting the religious community (attempting to tell the chilonim (secular Jews) who they should marry and stuff proved to work against us).

I may be paranoid, but now I get why Ben Gurion offered us the status quo. There is famous Israeli religious university professor who used to say that Ben Gurion himself told him that he didn’t want to have religion and state separated, because that way he would have the power to control religion.

I think army conversions (which from what I know, makes many Rabbanut rabbis feel uncomfortable) are a proof of that.

The Rabbanut cannot even decide how many time a ulpan giur should last. (Ulpan giur is the conversion process). For citizens, it will always last 10 months (everyone has to finish the process in 10 months) – but no Beit Din in the world has such a restriction.

Keep up the good work Rivka, and pray for us.

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Lots to think about, isn’t there?

I will start looking into all this stuff with the Interior Ministry, and we’ll see what fantastic can of worms is about to open up over there, too.

The one thing that I just want to note, is that I don’t think the Gadolei haDor like Rav Berland and Rav Kanievsky told us to vote ‘gimmel’ from a political perspective, odd as that sounds. No true gadol gives a stuff about the Knesset at this point in time, they have their eye on the geula process, and just making the transition from where we are right now to that stage as easy as possible.

Voting ‘gimmel’ was just part of the heavenly plan to totally hamstring the secular, totally corrupt, political apparatus in Israel, while we’re waiting for the last bit of the geula process to unfold.

No truly God-fearing party could ever head a government in the State of Israel, and be complicit in all the murders, crime, and vice that is happening every single day. We are still not even uncovering the tip of the iceberg, but soon, all the awful corruption will start to come out.

What’s clear is that ‘politics’ is not the answer to what’s going on here.

(Hopefully, more of the ‘religious’ people out there are starting to realise that.)

What’s required is to tear all this old, corrupt stuff down, and to rebuild it anew, with justice, morality and Torah at its base.

And that’s exactly what Moshiach is going to do.

The main question for us at this stage, is how does God want us to respond to what’s going on with the  State-sponsored abuse of sincere, orthodox converts while we’re waiting for that to happen?

TBC

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UPDATE:

I just got this over email:

Please change your description of the B1 visa (you don’t have to be Jewish according the law of return to get it, that’s the A1 visa).
Looks like what I posted up from the Nefesh B’Nefesh website is wrong. Just goes to show how much confusion is reigning on this subject, if even they can’t keep their visa information straight.
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Photo by Sergio Rodriguez – Portugues del Olmo on Unsplash

The Vilna Gaon was really into the Moshiach and calculations of ‘End Times’.

There’s a book exchange station next to the bike path in the German Colony, and because it’s arguably the most Anglo neighborhood in Jerusalem, I often find some really good stuff there. Last week, I picked up a book called: The Gaon of Vilna and His Messianic Vision, by an observant Israeli academic called Arie Morgenstern. I have to tell you, it’s one of the most interesting books that I’ve read in a very long time.

I learned so many things that I didn’t know before, both about the Vilna Gaon himself, but also about the Chassidic community, the roots of the machloket between the mitnagdim and the chassidim, and also, how there was still a very strong yearning for Moshiach in the Ashkenazi world even after the Shabtai Tzvi false messiah disaster.

BUT – there was a huge clash of ideas about how best to bring the Moshiach and get to the end of days, which is basically what most of the book explores. BH, I want to explore what all that means for us today in the next article, but before I do, I first just wanted to share some of the more general interesting nuggets of information I picked up from the book.

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  • Why is there such a strong Armenian presence in Jerusalem?

Every time I drive or walk through the Old City, I skirt the Armenian quarter, and I find myself asking again:

WHY is there an Armenian Quarter in Jerusalem?!?!

It’s quite a small denomination, as xtian sects go, it’s not a world power, heck, Armenia doesn’t even neighbor Israel. So what’s going on here? Read on, to find out.

The Italian Jew Raphael Mordechai Malchi moved to Israel in 1673, and practiced medicine in Jerusalem until his death in 1702. He treated many of the residents of the Holy City, including non-Jews, and he recorded a conversation that he had with an Armenian priest, who explained why the Armenian church had built so many buildings in Jerusalem. Malchi wrote:

“He showed me some writings in Assyrian and Hebrew…and told me that on Mt Sinai, where a monastery stands today, they found a large tablet of lead in a cave, bearing Hebrew letters and these verses from Jeremiah.”

Ed. Note: This is Jeremiah’s prophecy of Messianic times, 30-35, that begins: For behold, days are coming – the word of Hashem – when I will return the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, said Hashem, and I will return them to the land that I gave their forefathers and they will possess it.

(It’s worth looking at these chapters in detail, which BH we will do in a separate post.)

What the Armenian priest told Dr Malchi is that after they ‘searched the whole world’ trying to figure out how to read it, “they discovered explicitly that at the end of day, the Semites will demand Jerusalem from all places around the world where they have been living.”

So the Armenians built monasteries in the holy city, arranged for a different patriarch to live in the city every year, and sent huge amounts of money to Jerusalem to ensure they had a strong toehold and a grip on the future seat of power. (And let’s be honest, probably also to try to put a dent in the ‘Semites’ plans to reclaim their country and usher in the time of Moshiach.)

Halavi, the Jews would take Jeremiah’s prophecies as seriously.

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  • Messianic fervor didn’t ‘disappear’ from the Jewish world after Shabtai Tzvi, the false messiah from Izmir who ended up converting to Islam.

I know that’s not obvious from our viewpoint of 2019, where the whole non-Chassidic, Ashkenazi Jewish world likes to pretend that after Shabtai Tzvi, everyone except Breslov and Lubavitch stopped even thinking about Moshiach, but as we’ll see in the next post, there was a big cover up going on at the end of the 18th century.

Shabtai Tzvi lived between August 1, 1626 – c. September 17, 1676. While his ‘false messianic’ vision certainly did enormous harm to the Ashkenazi world, it seems the problem was more that he created a false – and fundamentally evil – new ‘religion’ called Sabbateanism, that continued after his death, than that he was talking about Moshiach and the geula.

Very soon after he disappeared from the scene, Jews from all different backgrounds continued to have ‘Moshiach fever’, and even to discuss specific dates for the end of days to begin, based on their understanding of allusions to this time in the Zohar.

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Most notably, there was a widespread movement of making aliya to Israel between the years 1740 and 1781.

This was based on kabbalistic calculations that 1740 marked the half-way point in the 6th millennia – and the time when the house of Yaakov would finally rise up against the house of Esav.

Here’s the quote from the Zohar that got all the kabbalists of that time so excited, based on Genesis 32:13-26, where Yaakov wrestles the angel of Esav until dawn:

“Until dawn.” For by then, [Esav’s] dominion has passed on. So it will be in the future. The current exile resembles night. It is night. And it’s dust dominates the Jews. They are hurled into the dust until the light ascends and illuminates the day. Then Israel will be dominant and the kingship will be given to them…

“…Israel’s deliverance will not be revealed in one stroke but rather like a dawn, which progresses and grows in light until true day appears.”

The kabbalists of that time, including one named Rabbi Shalom Buzaglo, estimated that the ‘time’ spoken of by the Prophet Daniel was 480 years long, as the gematria for hashahar (dawn) is 480. So when Daniel (in 7:25) speaks of ‘a time and times and half a time’, Rabbi Buzaglo worked out that this would be 1680 years after the second Temple was destroyed, which equated to the Hebrew year 5508 (1748 C.E.)

Ahead of that date, a whole bunch of big kabbalists, rabbis and other important communal figures from both the Sephardi and Ashkenazi world suddenly upped sticks, and moved to Eretz Yisrael, swelling the population of Jerusalem from just over 1000, to more than 5000 in five years.

Moshiach didn’t come then – but what did happen instead was that many members of the community started to die prematurely, including in a terrible plague, that killed hundreds of the Jews in Israel. The Ohr HaChaim died in Jerusalem in 1743, and the RaMCHaL succumbed to the plague in Acco, in May 1746.

The rabbis in Jerusalem responded to what they saw as this ‘Divine punishment’ by issuing ‘Moral Legislation’ in 1749, which forbade the wealthy new olim to the Holy Land from wearing their expensive clothes and jewelry in public. The Jerusalem rabbis also gave all the single men in the city an ultimatum to either get married, or leave town, to minimize the untznius behavior they were trailing in their wake.

In the meantime, the Moshiach didn’t come in 1748.

But what certainly did happen is that the ‘end of days’ process did begin in earnest at that point, after all, because so many people moved to the Holy Land at that time, more than at any other point in preceding 1600 years of exile.

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  1. The Baal Shem Tov ‘speaks to Moshiach’ in 1747, and discovers that geula depends on the Jews making teshuva, not on a fixed date

Very interestingly, while all this was going on, the Baal Shem Tov wrote a letter to his brother-in-law, Reb Gershon of Kutow, that his student Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye was meant to take to Israel to deliver, when he also made aliya ahead of 1748. The letter was never delivered, because Rabbi Y.Y. stayed home, after Moshiach didn’t show up then as hoped.

Instead, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef sat on this letter for over 35 years, only publishing it in his book Ben Porat Yosef in 1780. Why did he wait so long to publicise the letter? It seems that even amongst the Baal Shem Tov’s leading students, there was a strong belief that Moshiach had to be imminent. To put this a different way, it seems Rabbi Yaakov Yosef was hoping the Baal Shem Tov’s insight about the end of days, which he described to Reb Gershon, was wrong.

So what did the letter actually say?

In his missive, the BESHT described how his neshama had ascended to heaven on Rosh Hashana in 1747 – the year before ‘the end’ was meant to occur, according to the kabbalists – and had met the Moshiach, who was learning Torah with the Patriarchs, Tannaim and the Seven Shepherds.

This is a quote from the BESHT’s letter:

“I asked the Messiah when he would be coming. “This is how you will know,” he replied. “When your teachings become public and revealed to the world, and your wellsprings of my teachings, which you will have mastered, overflow to the outside, so that [others], too, will be able to perform mystical unifications and ascents of the soul like you. Then all the husks will be eradicated and a time of [Divine] desire and salvation will come.”

The Baal Shem Tov continues:

“[This reply] left me puzzled and severely troubled. Such a long time! When can it possibly come to pass?”

To phrase this another way, as Arie Morgenstern points out, this experience totally shifted the question of ‘when will the Moshiach come?’ out of the realm of ‘time’, and into the realm of ‘behavior’.

We’re back to that discussion in the Gemara, about whether the redemption depends on the Jewish people making teshuva, or is totally just a matter of ‘timing’. Rabbi Yehoshua said the latter, Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol said the former – and according to this letter from the BESHT, Rabbi Eliezer was right.

The Baal Shem Tov was explaining to Reb Gershon that the Moshiach is going to come, and the end of days is going to happen, only when the Jews start to really connect to God, and experience ‘ascents of the soul’, and to really learn and understand Torah on the deep level of chassidut.

And not a second before.

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That’s why the Baal Shem Tov was so troubled, because in order for the Jewish nation to reach that high spiritual level, so much had to change first.

And if he was thinking it was a tall order in his generation, what can we begin to say about ours?

In the meantime, the kabbalist’s date of 1748 came and went with no Moshiach, but Rabbi Yaakov Yosef only published the Baal Shem Tov’s letter in 1780, because at that stage, there was another date for imminent redemption being mooted: 1781.

And at that stage Rabbi Y.Y. wanted to pre-empt any more ‘Moshiach no-show letdown’ by publishing the BESHT’s letter, which described in detail how the rules of the game had actually changed.

And here’s where things get even more interesting.

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  1. Various groups of kabbalists keep trying to ‘force’ geula in various ways.

Back in 1753, a small group of Jerusalem kabbalists including Rabbi Shalom Sharabi (the Rashash), Rabbi Chaim de la Roza, and Rabbi Chaim Joseph David Azulai (the Chida) formed a ‘secret society’ with the aim of trying to force Hashem to bring the geula that year.

The year 5313 spells ‘ha shahar’  – the dawn, and was also connected to the word ve-nivneta, talking about the rebuilding of Jerusalem. (Jeremiah 30:18). There are four separate accounts of what these three kabbalists tried to do, but the long and short of it is that after weeks of lengthy preparations and self-mortifications, they tried to use different holy names to ‘force’ the coming of the Moshiach.

Suddenly, the three heard a voice from Heaven telling them to stop from their “brazen undertaking” before they totally unhinge the world, because they “wish to hasten something whose time has not yet come, as God has counseled.”

The voice then tells them:

“One of you will have to leave the holy city, for only the three of you together in unison can force the Messiah’s hand.”

The decree of exile seems to have fallen upon the Chida, who immediately left Jerusalem for unknown reasons on January 9, 1753 and stayed out of Israel for the next 5 years.

The three kabbalists were terrified at the sin they felt they had committed, by trying to go against God’s will to hasten the end, so much so that Rabbi de la Rosa asked his student to perform the four types of execution upon his body, after he died.

His students couldn’t bring themselves to do it – but Rabbi de la Rosa’s funeral procession was attacked by Arab bandits, and his body was thrown into a ravine. The Tzaddik’s decree was fulfilled, one way or another.

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  1. There was a wave of Chassidic aliya before 1781

So now, the next date that loomed into view for the ‘end of days’ was 1781. A well-known kabbalist by the name of Immanuel Hai Ricchi, from the previous generation, had calculated that the ‘in its time’ redemption would occur in May 1781, corresponding to the Hebrew year of 5541.

And historical events certainly seemed to be heading in that direction.

The vicious Haidamak pogroms began in 1768 (and saw 30,000 Jews murdered in Uman, alone), and then were was also an awful outbreak of bubonic plague in 1770 (!) which killed hundreds of thousands of the Jews in the pale of settlement.

This from HERE:

In Western Europe, the last outbreak of plague was in southern France between 1720 and 1722. Towns like Marseilles and Toulon were devastated. In Eastern Europe, Kiev in Ukraine suffered a severe outbreak in 1770. The last serious outbreak of bubonic plague in Europe was in Moscow in 1771.

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Then, Russia conquered Poland in 1772, and also some of the Turkish empire, too, in 1774 – and it really looked like ‘the End of Days’ was fast approaching.

Many leaders of the growing chassidut movement thought so, with some of chassidut’s biggest luminaries, including Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, and Rabbi Avraham of Kalisk, making aliya to Israel in 1777.

But the Chassidic aliya quickly ran into severe problems, mostly of the financial kind, so when the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, asked Rabbi Menachem Mendel if he should also ascend to the holy land in 1780, Rabbi Menachem Mendel basically told him to hold off until the next year, to see if the Moshiach really was about to show up.

Again, he didn’t.

So at that point, Rabbi Yaakov Yosef of Polonoye decided to finally print the letter describing the Baal Shem Tov meeting the Moshiach, from many years before. Presumably, he was trying to ‘bank’ any disappointment that Moshiach hadn’t shown up, and to set out a new path, one based on perfecting behavior and fixing bad middot, instead of a fixed ‘time’ of redemption.

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The point of all these tidbits is to point out that the Jewish community has actually weathered far more disappointments over Moshiach not showing up than you might think, even after the whole Shabtai Tzvi affair.

And we actually came through all these false starts OK.

History shows that it’s been far more damaging, spiritually, for Jews to totally forget about Moshiach and geula, and considering moving to Israel, than obsessing over these things too much.

In part two of this post, we’re going to take a closer look at the disagreement that erupted between the Vilna Gaon and the Lithuanian rabbis and the chassidim in 1781 – there’s that date again! –  because we’re going to learn something amazing about the ‘end of days’ by the time we’ve reached that end of that story.

To be continued…

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What’s really stopping us from seeing the truth?

I was discussing with my husband why so very many people, including ‘big’ rabbis, just don’t seem to want to see what’s right in front of their eyes at the moment, or to hear anything about geula being imminent, or to discuss any possible candidates for Moshiach.

It’s all business as usual! Nothing unusual going on here!

I know how hard it is to move country, and to put parnassa at risk, and to leave behind the nice homes we have… and the nice shul we belong to… and the nice community of friends and family we have around us.

I know how easy it is, to fool ourselves into think everything will happen the ‘sweet’ ‘easy’ way, because isn’t that just more convenient all round?

We can just stay in our little bubble, easily, until Moshiach shows up and then we just jump on the nearest synagogue that’s grown wings and is flying its way to Israel….

Part of me also wants things to be like that.

I had a big argument with my kids over Shabbat, because a big part of them is clearly not at all ready for what it would mean to be really living in that next, much more spiritual, dimension that is going to be the era of Moshiach.

One of my kids told me straight, “It’ll be so boring!”

Another one started ranting at me that I belong to a cult, and that ‘normal’ people just don’t think about the geula and Moshiach all the time. Sadly, I know she’s right. So what does that say about the ‘normal’ observant world we live in?

We want Moshiach now!!!!, but only if we don’t have to change anything, or do anything different.

Only if we can carry on living where we live, and listening to traif music, and stuffing our eyeballs with movies and Facebook and Instagram, and only if we can carry on only doing the bits of yiddishkeit that appeal to us, and feeling like true tzaddikim, while dismissing all that other stuff that doesn’t really appeal or comes very hard.

So I told my kids,

I get where you’re coming from, I really do. A part of me is also scared to give that stuff up, and to lose the ‘wiggle’ room. But a much bigger part of me is SO sick of all the lies flying around, and all the self-righteous posturing, and all the people with terrible middot who secretly think they are one of the lamed vav tzaddikim who are sustaining the world…

The world is such an awful mess.

I also know that you, dear reader, would prefer me to write superficial ‘uplifting’ posts telling you that we’re all tzaddikim and that everything is going to be 100% OK and that we don’t have to change anything about ourselves, or work on any of our bad middot, or spend hours pouring our hearts out to God about what a mess everything is.

My kids are also resistant to hearing that their i-Phones, goyish music and eyebrow piercings will NOT be accompanying us to the era of Moshiach. Or that they won’t be able to carry on ignoring God and doing whatever the heck they want, while still considering themselves to be ‘perfect’ Jews.

We had a big argument about it all over Shabbat, I get where they are coming from, I understand why it’s so hard.

Part of me also wants the world to continue the way it is. Part of me knows I’m also not giving God everything He wants, 24/7, or anything close to it.

And that part is very scared of what’s about to come next.

But as I see the moral darkness enveloping us, and as I see how many of us are literally losing our neshamas as we chase after cash, and stuff, and physical pleasures, and ‘fun’ – that’s what gives me the strength to say to God:

I’m scared of what’s coming next, really scared.

But I can’t stand the moral depravity in the world for a second longer.

Evil is so banal today, we don’t even register what’s really going on all around us. We see all the miserable people, we hear about the huge spike in people on anti-depressants and smoking pot just to get through the day, and the massive rise in people killing themselves, we see small children literally being butchered by a medical profession gone mad who has somehow decided these kids are in ‘the wrong body’, we see people lying to themselves and hurting others all over the place – and we tell ourselves this is ‘good’.

We tell ourselves this ‘normal’. 

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It’s not easy when your teenagers start ranting at you that you’re wasting your life on a ridiculous pipedream that seems to be cutting you off from ‘fun’ things like spending 2 weeks on holiday in Thailand, or ‘fun’ things like watching the latest movies from the Hollywood sickos, or ‘fun’ things like spending every waking minute chasing after more cash so you can buy more designer clothes and eat more fast food and live in an even bigger house.

After my discussion on shabbat, I can see that I have to do an awful lot of praying for my teens, because it seems there are no free rides into the geula dimension. It seems that every single one of us will have to decide if they’re more wedded to evil-normal or good-abnormal over the coming weeks and months.

It’s a scary prospect, because I can see already that most of us are just not ‘there’ yet.

And I don’t know what it’s going to take to get us ‘there’, but I can tell you it won’t be soft and fluffy, or easy to ignore.

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And that idea is clearly very scary, for a lot of reasons.

And my teens aren’t even stuck in materialistic chutz l’aretz where there’s also other things that could be holding them back from really embracing their yiddishkeit.

So, I can see why so many frum people just don’t want to hear about anything ‘real’ today, connected to geula and Moshiach, and don’t want to see that all hell is about to break loose all across the world, in so many different ways, and don’t want to talk about the changes and teshuva we might all need to be making, in real time, to meet the looming spiritual challenges up ahead.

I understand them.

And I’m praying that somehow, some way, God will make it clearer for the truth to start getting out there, in a way that people can really digest and accept it.

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cartoon of three monkeys with their ears, eyes and mouths stuffed with dollar bills

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Plagues of rats, swarms of locusts, killer hail and tar bubbling out of the payment – what is going on in the USA?

Last week, I was browsing the incredibly anti-semitic SOTT website – which I wouldn’t have to do, if any of our mainstream media actually printed any real information about what’s really going on in the world – when I noticed a few stories that made me think “the 10 Plagues of America.”

First, there were a couple of stories about how LA and Baltimore – and a few more of the US’s biggest cities, besides – are basically facing a plague of rats that is growing by the day, and that they can’t seem to get rid of.

Now, people will tell you that this rat plague is being caused by all the garbage lying around the streets – particularly in LA, which appears to be imploding under the weight of its own moral corruption – but honestly? I’m not so sure. More on that in a mo.

If LA’s garbage problem is the only reason for the rats, then why are so many other big cities in the US also having a plague of rats?

Something else, other than the garbage, has to be causing the problem.

And then that same day, there was also a story of how Las Vegas got shut down for a day because it was blanketed by a bizarrely massive swarm of locusts.

So many massive hailstone storms have hit the US the past couple of years that’s almost not news.

What? Hailstones the size of baseballs and grapefruit hit Colorado again? Yawn. What’s for supper?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGEoL2-VAHs

But what with the earthquakes rocking the West coast…and the wildfires that have come back with a vengeance in Oregon near to where some recent quakes were located, and the 850,000 acres that are currently burning up in Siberia, and volcanoes mightily popping off all over the place – well, strange geological events are definitely on the rise all over the planet.

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It would appear that the expected Grand Solar Minimum which I wrote a whole bunch of stuff about HERE has shown up, exactly on schedule.

Again, without rehashing everything I’ve written about this, suffice to say that Grand Solar Minimum occurs roughly every 210 years, and the bottom of the cycle can last for 20 years – or way, way more, if it sparks off another ice age.

Throughout that 20 year cycle, the intensity and frequency of the earthquakes and volcanoes increase all over the planet, and our weather first gets crazily erratic, and then starts to get much, much colder. We’re in the opening stages of the Grand Solar Minimum drama, and from here on it, it’s going to be quite the rollercoaster ride, weatherwise.

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But I’m digressing. Let’s get back to the rats.

While I was pondering all these strange plagues of rodents and other creatures in the US, a reader sent me an email to say that bubonic plague has started back up in LA and Oregon. By itself, that’s not so shocking, because California has been steadily reporting isolated cases of plague for the last few decades. Or to put it another way,

Bubonic plague never actually stopped in California, just so far it’s been very well contained.

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Here’s a few articles I found noting the problem, and blaming it on the corrupt politicians, the lack of waste disposal, California’s drought (which ended two years ago…) and the growing army of homeless people in America, that everyone likes to pretend doesn’t really exist:

There have been 42 cases of plague in California since 1970, and nine were fatal.

This is from a post from a few months’ ago:

“All that garbage [in LA] attracts rats, which “pose a public health risk,” an infectious disease specialist told the [NBC news] outlet, because the rodents can lead to the spread of salmonella and bubonic plague — not to mention fleas that have been infected with typhus.

At least nine people were reported ill with typhus in downtown Los Angeles between July and September [in 2018], with officials pointing to refuse and stray animals as potential catalysts, according to reports from October.”

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While it’s tempting to say it’s all because LA is so corrupt and politically backwards that they can’t even arrange proper garbage collection for its residents, I personally think that’s a red-herring.

I think what might be going on there is far more interesting – and potentially, far more disturbing.

I haven’t written one of these long wild-side posts for a while, but it seems the time has come to take a deeper look at:

Black death pandemics, ‘Nibiru’ and the 700 year connection

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A while ago,  I was reading Immanuel Velikovsky’s ‘Mankind in Amnesia’, where he basically set out that every 700 years or so, there’s some sort of cataclysmic ‘supernatural’ event that comes along with a whole bunch of weird ‘supernatural’ phenomena, and strange portents in the sky.

We are currently in the Hebrew year 5779. In the Hebrew year 1656, 4068 years ago, Noah’s flood occurred, with all its comet-inspired attendant supernatural miracles, and enormous deluge of water.

Some 789 years later, in the Hebrew Year of 2445, the Exodus occurred, with all its comet-inspired attendant supernatural miracles, fiery hail / meteor showers, plagues, earthquakes and geological disruption, including seas splitting and awesome electric storms as the Jewish people received the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Another 760 years’ later, in the Hebrew year of 3205, (known as – 687 BCE in the secular world), Sennecharib’s army of 185,000 men was destroyed on the eve of Passover, as they camped outside the Jerusalem City walls ready to invade and destroy the holy city. That same year, Sennacharib’s army had conquered the Kingdom of Israel, and dispersed the 10 tribes who lived there.

While Greek sources like Herodotus claimed that these soldiers had been killed by ‘the plague’, deeper Jewish sources suggest they were actually electrocuted to death instantaneously, as part of a comet-inspired supernatural miracle which also saw the sun reverse five hours as the earth’s axis and orbit were once again affected by ‘action at a distance’ from an enormous, planet sized celestial object.

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In the Hebrew year of 3828, 623 years’ later, the Second Temple was destroyed by the Romans, and the Jewish people lost sovereignty in Israel. 52 years after that, in the Hebrew year of 3880, the Bar Kochba revolt ended, and the Jewish people were sent into exile.

There is nothing new under the sun

When all that stuff was happening in Israel, around 2,000 years ago, speculation about ‘end of days’ was at its peak within the Jewish nation. This was the time when all the Yoshki stuff started to gain a footing in the world, and it’s also the time of the Essenes and their Dead Sea Scrolls talking about teachers of darkness and the teacher of light. In 44 B.C.E., a brilliant comet was seen in the daytime sky for months after the murder of Julius Caesar in Rome – as recorded in many contemporary sources.

Big geo-political world changes always seem to go hand-in-hand with a renewed obsession with comets. From Parshat Balak, we know of Bilaam’s prophecy of the ‘Kochav Yaakov’, which will usher in time of the Moshiach, and the Zohar in Parshat Shemot 7b also talks of this:

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The non-Jews of this time, just before the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 C.E, were also obsessed with portents and signs, due to the heavens being lit up by tons of comets and other unusual celestial activities.

A pagan philosopher / writer, called LUCRETIUS wrote about this time: “destruction awaits the heavens and the earth…within some short time you will see the worlds in commotion and the universe convulsed with shocks…the universe can collapse, borne down with a frightful-sounding crash.”

(If he was alive today, that guy would DEFINITELY have his own Youtube channel…)

At this time, the Sibylline Oracles were also written, shamelessly plagiarizing from Jewish traditions, to predict the forthcoming end of the world because:

“God, Whose dwelling is in the sky, shall roll up the heavens as a book is rolled, and the whole firmament in its varied forms shall fall on divine earth and on the sea; and then shall flow a ceaseless cataract of raging fire and shall burn land and sea, and the firmament of heaven and the stars and creation itself shall cast into one molten mass and dissolve. Then no more shall there be luminaries, twinkling orbs, no night, no dawn… no spring, no summer, no winter, not autumn.”

Compare that to this description of the end of days from Isaiah (Chapter 34) (and then figure out why they decided to rewrite it, a little):

4: And all the host of heaven shall melt, and the heavens shall be rolled like a scroll, and all their host shall wither as a leaf withers from a vine, and as a withered [fig] from a fig tree.

5: For My sword has become sated in the heaven. Behold, it shall descend upon Edom, and upon the nation with whom I contend, for judgment….

8. For it is a day of vengeance for the Lord, a year of retribution for the plea of Zion. 

9. And its streams shall turn into pitch and its dust into sulfur, and its land shall become burning pitch. 

10. By night and by day, it shall not be extinguished; its smoke shall ascend forever and ever; from generation to generation it shall be waste, to eternity, no one passing through it.

The proto-xtians also got in on the ‘end of days’ act (does any of this sound familiar to anyone, btw?) and based their book of Revelations on the Sybylline Oracles, which in turn was plagiarized from the deeper Jewish sources, including the book of Isaiah.

“So highly regarded were the Sibyl’s prophecies that the fourth century church usurped her second book, inserted narratives that dealt with Christian characters,and then said it was a divine revelation given to the apostle John by Jesus Christ from Heaven, and added it to their New Testament.

Church records state that Cerinthus ‘rewrote’ the original Sibyl’s prophecies to create a falsified version, that was adjusted again in the fourth century, when it was added to the New Testament. The early church was so concerned that the general populace would learn that its Book of Revelation was a forgery, that in 405 CE the Bishop of Rome ordered the Roman general Flavius Stilicho to burn as many copies of the Sibylline Books as he could find.”

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Here’s what’s so interesting, from a Jewish perspective: each time Moshiach could have or nearly did come, it was attended by unusual comets, political chaos and unusual geophysical occurrences.

When Noah left the ark, we’re told he could have rectified the whole of creation and ushered in redemption right there and then – but he stuffed it up by getting drunk. And so, we carried on another 700-odd years until the time of the Exodus.

Again, Am Yisrael could have ushered in redemption after they accepted the Torah at Mount Sinai – but again, they stuffed it up, by building a golden calf. The next ‘et ratzon’ for Moshiach to come occurred around another 700 years later.

That’s when King Hezekiah could have been the Moshiach, and the Assyrian invader Sennacherib could have been Gog and Magog –  except Hezekiah wasn’t appropriately grateful for the miracle that God had done for him (and us…) by saving Jerusalem. The Talmud (in Sanhedrin 94a) says that:

The reason Chizkiyahu was not the Mashiach is that he didn’t sing after Hashem did miracles for him.

And so geula was pushed off for around another 700 years.

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At that stage, Rabbi Akiva (incorrectly…) believed that the Jewish rebel Bar Kochva was the Moshiach – but he wasn’t, in the end. Which just goes to show that even a massive Torah personality and Gadol HaDor can be wrong, when it comes to making predictions about who Moshiach might actually be.

The Second Temple was destroyed, the Jews were banished from their land, the Shechina went into exile – and God’s face was hidden from the world.

Yet 2,000 years ago, all the peoples of the world, Jewish or not, could still ‘feel’ that something huge was going on, that was somehow connected to the end of days.

I know, what’s all this got to do with the black plague in LA? Patience, we’re getting there.

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Another 700 years’ later, in 541-2 C.E., we get to a time when the Western Roman Empire finally ended.

And the nail in its coffin was a terrible outbreak of an unusually virulent, mysterious ‘plague’ that was centered around the Byzantine Empire’s capital, in Constantinople. That pandemic was called Justinian’s Plague, and it killed a quarter of the Empire’s citizens.

Five years after that plague struck, Constantinople was almost totally razed by the biggest earthquake it experienced in the last 2,000 years. It’s walls were severely damaged, and that made it a cake-walk for the Huns to conquer Constantinople, and put an end to the tottering Roman Empire crumbled.

After this, the so-called ‘dark ages’ began in Europe.

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It’s roughly 700 years’ after Justinian’s plague, and now we’re in the 14th century.

Once again, there are strange portents and omens in the skies (i.e. comets and meteors), strange geological phenomena and earthquakes, reports of death-dealing ‘miasmas’ rising from the ground, and water sources being poisoned.

While modern science and modern history scoffs at these descriptions as being the product of superstition and ignorance, it sounds to me like a very good description of the processes we are now seeing going on around us. The ‘miasma’ could well be an unscientific medieval description of natural methane gas rising up from the ground.

Well water – water that is raised from deep underground – would also be more susceptible to being affected by volcanic gas and if there was more ‘heat’ happening underground, to speed up the process of organisms multiplying in still or stagnant water.

Europe’s ‘Black Death’ pandemic is traditionally blamed on sailors entering the Italian port of Sicily in October, 1347. The story goes they were carrying rats aboard that spread the plague all over Italy and then on across the continent.

Very interestingly, Italy was hit with a massive earthquake in 1348:

“The 1348 Friuli earthquake, centered in the South Alpine region of Friuli, was felt across Europe on 25 January. The quake hit in the same year that the Great Plague ravaged Italy. According to contemporary sources, it caused considerable damage to structures; churches and houses collapsed, villages were destroyed and foul odors emanated from the earth.”

Medieval people connected the Black Death to the earthquakes, but didn’t go beyond explaining them both as acts of God. (If only we modern humans had their degree of perception…)

Also very interestingly, Sicily is one of the most volcanically-active areas on the planet, home to Mount Etna (which is still erupting today), and also home to Vulcano and Stromboli – after which the field of volcanology is named.

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LEPTOSPIROSIS AND PNEUMONIC PLAGUE

Last Summer in Israel, the stagnant water pools in the Golan – Israel’s volcanic region, with 63 volcanoes being officially acknowledged by geologists –  had a massive problem with the leptospirosis bacteria that is very similar to yersina pestis.

I don’t want to throw too many curve balls at you at once, but here’s an excerpt from a scientific journal from 2017 that noticed that killer pneumonic plagues seem to be connected to both the yersina pestis bacterian, and leptospirosis:

“Conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo provide an ideal environment for leptospirosis and plague, both of which can cause severe pulmonary manifestations. In December 2004, an outbreak of lethal pneumonia occurred in a local mining camp, affecting 130 persons and killing 57 of them. Clinical signs, fast disease spread, and initial laboratory investigations suggested pneumonic plague….

Twenty-nine of the 54 patients or convalescents tested for leptospirosis were seropositive. Two cases showed a confirmed infection for both plague and leptospirosis. While evidence supports the plague nature of this outbreak, the results suggest that some of the suspected plague cases might be due to leptospirosis. In any case, this diagnosis will have to be evoked in the future if a similar outbreak occurs in this region.”

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OK, let’s get back to the 14th century, and the Black Death.

Here’s an excerpt from Historical Tales, by Charles Morris:

“The middle of the fourteenth century was a period of extraordinary terror and disaster to Europe. Numerous portents, which sadly frightened the people, were followed by a pestilence which threatened to turn the continent into an unpeopled wilderness.”

(Point to note: ‘pestilence’ is often used interchangeably with ‘plague’ in many historical accounts. It refers to some unidentified ‘disease’ that kills an awful lot of people in a very short amount of time.)

Morris’s account then goes on to list the following:

  • 1337 CE – a great comet appears in the heavens
  • 1337-40 CE – three years of terrible famine, caused by never-ending swarms of locusts
  • 1348 CE – an enormous earthquake strikes Europe, devastating large parts of Cyprus, Greece, Italy and the Alpine valleys, together with fiery meteors and a ‘gigantic pillar of flame’ that’s seen by hundreds of people descending on the Pope’s palace in Avignon.
  • 1348-1349 CE – The black death began in Europe, killing between a third and a half of the inhabitants. (It broke out again in 1361-62 and then for a third time in 1369).
  • 1356 CE – another massive earthquake destroys the whole of Basel

Here’s a few more interesting things to note:

Morris recounts that:

“The disease appears to have been a very malignant type of what is known as the plague, a form of pestilence which has several times returned, though never with such virulence as on that occasion.”

He also notes that:

“In many localities, the hatred of the Jews by the people led to frightful excesses of persecution against them, they being accused of their enemies of poisoning the wells. From Berne, where the city councils gave orders for the massacre, it spread over the whole of Switzerland and Germany, many thousands being murdered….”

Shortly after all this killing of innocent Jews occurred, the Swiss city of Basel got destroyed by a massive earthquake.

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The crusades had happened a century before all this.

God had clearly tried to wake the Jewish people up to make some serious teshuva, preceding another golden occasion for Moshiach and geula to begin, but again we dropped the ball, and the supernatural ‘change’ that came to the world was one of wholescale death and destruction instead.

Velikovsky, writing 50 years ago, said:

“If we project this periodicity of [comet inspired / end of days] frenzy, occurring at intervals of approximately seven hundred years, into the future, will the twenty-first century mark another epoch of terror and frenzy?”

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I know, I know. You want to know about how all this is connected to LA’s rats and bubonic plague.

Patience, we’re getting there.

‘Space weather’ – the solar wind and cosmic rays – directly affects human health, including our immune systems. Space weather also affects things like the rate that bacteria and other organisms mutate and reproduce.

It seems to me that some comet-induced changes to the earth’s electromagnetic atmosphere probably had something to do with the regular ‘plague’ – which has always been present, just as it’s still with us today, even in ‘civilised’ California – morphing into ‘Justinian’s plague’, and then the black death pandemic, around 700 and 1400 years ago, respectively.

Because even now, the scientists don’t really know why yestis persina, as it’s called, morphed from the bog-standard bubonic plague into such an awful pandemic. Or even, whether yestis persina was really the culprit.

Two scientists released a book in 2001 where they set out a very compelling argument for how the ‘Black Death’ can’t have been spread via rats and fleas – which meant something else was responsible for creating the pandemic, and causing it to spread so fast:

“First of all, bubonic plague is intimately associated with rodents and the fleas they carry. But the Black Death’s pattern of spread doesn’t fit a rat and flea-borne disease. It raced across the Alps and through northern Europe at temperatures too cold for fleas to hatch, and swept from Marseilles to Paris at four kilometres a day – -far faster than a rat could travel.

Moreover, the rats necessary to spread the disease simply were not there. The only rat in Europe in the Middle Ages was the black rat, Rattus rattus, which stays close to human habitation. Yet the Black Death jumped across great tracts of open country-up to 300 kilometres between towns in France-in only a few days with no intermediate outbreaks. “Iceland had no rats at all,” notes Duncan, “but the Black Death was reported there too.”

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What there WAS, however, was a lot of reports of urban centres in Europe being totally over-run by rats, shortly before the killer plague began.

Now, are you starting to see what I’m getting at?

And the same thing happened in San Francisco in 1904, when they had a massive rat problem, and a bubonic plague problem a couple of years before the 1906 earthquake hit and devastated the city.

This comes from a piece in the NY Times in May, 2019 called ‘Rats are Taking Over NYC’:

[T]he onslaught of rats extends beyond New York: Cities such as Philadelphia, Chicago and Los Angeles are also confronting outbreaks.

“Everywhere I go, rat populations are up,” said Robert Corrigan, a research scientist in New York who estimates that their numbers may have increased by as much as 15 to 25 percent in some cities.

The rodents are not only a nuisance and a blight on the quality of life, but also a health risk. A bacterial infection spread by rat urine, leptospirosis, killed a Bronx resident in 2017.

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Let’s take a breath, and ask the question:

Why are all these rats coming out of hiding from their nests and tunnels underground in the US?

Like all rodents, rats prefer dark places to sunlit ones. And even if there is a ton of garbage lying around, they would just come and scavenge it at night, before returning to their underground nests.

But now, apparently, something is forcing them up and out of their underground burrows.

If you ask me, it’s rising methane, rising heat, something do with the magma in the US coming much closer to the surface. A few weeks’ ago, before the two large earthquakes struck California, there were a lot of reports of boiling tar literally spilling out across pavements in the La Brea area of Los Angeles.

Does that sound normal to you?

[WARNING: This video is not shmirat eynayim friendly.]

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It’s a long post, I know, so let’s try to sum things up neatly, to give you the take-away points.

  • Every 700 years, there seems to be some massive plague pandemic that engulfs humanity.
  • This ‘plague’ or pestilence is usually accompanied by a lot of celestial ‘portents’, i.e. comets, meteors and other unusual disturbances in the Heavens.
  • It’s also accompanied by freak geological events, unusual swarms of rodents and other creatures, earthquakes, fires, ‘poisoned water’ and poisonous ‘miasmas’, or gas clouds, rising from the earth.
  • Many of these pandemics have been historically associated with plagues of rats being seen in urban centres shortly before they began.
  • Yersina pestis – the bacteria thought to be responsible for the black death – is always with us. It’s unclear whether yersina pestis was actually responsible for the mass pandemics of the past, or whether things like the Black Death were caused by something more like an ebola virus..
  • Rats are pouring out of the ground all over America.
  • Plague cases are on the rise in California.
  • We are approximately 700 years after the ‘great plague’ decimated Europe in the 14th
  • This seems to be another of Hashem’s et ratzon’s for Moshiach and Geula.
  • Hopefully, we won’t drop the ball this time and see another massive spike in violent anti-semitism / Jews being blamed for everything.

We certainly live in interesting times.

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The facts on the ground, about converts and corruption in Latin America.

The last few days, I’ve been up to my eyeballs investigating a whole bunch of things related to what’s going on with corruption and converts in Latin America, and here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • The straight up halacha of performing an orthodox Jewish conversion appears to be much more simple than I realized.

According to this article, by Rabbi and Dayan Yirmiyaho Kaganoff, all you need is three orthodox Jews – not necessarily even Rabbis! – and a commitment from the would-be convert to do their utmost to keep the Torah, and abide by its commandments for the conversion to be valid.

“The basic requirement for becoming a Jew is accepting Hashem’s commandments, since a Jew is, by definition, someone who has a covenant with G-d to observe the Torah.”

“As mentioned before, conversion is an act that requires a proper beis din, meaning minimally, three fully-observant male Jews.”

  • There is a difference between an ‘halachically correct’ conversion, and a conversion that is recognized by the local orthodox community and / or the State of Israel Rabbinate.

Long story short, the whole situation with the anousim and with conversions generally, has become horribly politicized, and there seems to be a lot of vested interests who don’t want to see hordes of newly-orthodox Sephardic Jews in their communities and / or moving to Israel; and who especially don’t want to see millions of orthodox Sephardim suddenly upsetting the political balance and challenging Ashkenazi dominance in the worldwide Jewish community.

  • Latin America countries have had a takana, or agreement in place since the 1935 which was first introduced by the expat Syrian community in Argentina, that they won’t accept any new converts.

I had never heard of this before, so I did some digging and this is what I found:

“[T]he 1935 Takana… forbids marriage to those who convert for the purpose of marriage… [with] subsequent reaffirmations issued by Rabbi Jacob S. Kassin, the Brooklyn, NY Syrian Jewish community’s Chief Rabbi, and the Rabbinical Council of the Syrian community.

“Such marriages were not to be recognized by the community. Children of such marriages could not attend community yeshivot. Further, rites of passage such as bar mitzvahs, weddings and the right to be buried in the community’s cemetery were denied, as well as synagogue honors.”

It’s important to note that this Takana was first introduced to discourage insincere converts who only wanted to marry a Jew. But now, it’s been wholesale applied to the Bnei Anousim in Latin America who have Jewish roots, and want to return to their faith.

And ironically, the only people who can get around this Takana today tend to be the wealthy, connected Jews who dafka are trying to get someone converted just so they can marry them.

  • This Takana is making it very hard for potential converts to meet the requirement set out by the Israeli Rabbinate, that they have to have spent at least 9 months living in an active, orthodox Jewish.

Their local communities are totally shunning them, so even though their conversion may be halachically valid, they can’t meet the requirements to have their conversion recognized by State of Israel.

  • The current position with the State of Israel’s Rabbinate is that they will not accept any orthodox conversion done in Latin America.

The convert will either have to move for a year to the US and convert there, or try to move to Israel for a year and convert here. If you don’t have money and connections, clearly neither of these routes are really so viable. (As a side note, there has been so much corruption going on with selling conversions that in some ways, this is a sensible approach to take, as far as it goes. But not enough is being done to help sincere converts find other ways to meet the criteria.)

  • People with money in Latin America are often finding ways to convert ‘orthodox’ – by hook or by crook – in any case.

People without money – even if they are totally sincere and have been living as orthodox Jews for a few years already without formal recognition of their conversion – are basically stuffed.

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Of course, this is totally the olam hafuch, or the upside-down world!

Moshiach is meant to be overseeing the ingathering of exiles and a lot of them can’t get on the plane because all the politics and conversion corruption in Latin America (and elsewhere…) is preventing them from being recognized as Jews, and they don’t have the money required to beat the system.

This is what one of my readers sent me, when she got in touch with one of her local Orthodox Rabbis to discuss the problem:

Screenshot of a text message from a rabbi talking about conversions

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I also learnt that there is a difference between Bnei Anousim and Bnei Conversos.

Bnei Anousim are secret Jews who kept many of their Jewish customs, albeit it secretly, often without knowing why, and who were usually very strict about marrying into each other’s families.

These people are considered to be Jewish (if they can prove their traditions and geneology), but will often have to undergo an immersion in a mikva without saying a bracha.

Meanwhile, the Bnei Conversos are people who started off as Jews, but who converted to Catholicism and totally assimilated into the non-Jewish society. The descendants of these people are considered non-Jews, and will have to undergo a full conversion.

There is a lot more to be said about the subject of converts and corruption in Latin America. The more I’ve been researching, the more unbelievable corruption at every level I’ve been uncovering. It’s been very disappointing, to be honest.

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The last thing to tell you is a story I heard about someone who converted through a Beit Din that’s known as one of the strictest in Chutz L’Aretz.

For four years, this person learnt halacha, went to shul, did everything they were told. (They had a Jewish boyfriend who was very keen that they convert properly before they got married, but who really doesn’t believe in the Torah.)

The man had been raised in an orthodox family, so he and his wife-to-be played their part beautifully for the four years required by the conversion process.

Very soon after the wedding, the wife returned to her roots, and can now be found back in church on an Easter Sunday.

You tell me: Is this woman really Jewish? Are her kids really Jewish?

But this is the woman with orthodox papers from the ‘strictest’ Beit Din in the world, for converts.

It’s the olam hafuch. And until Moshiach shows up to ‘sniff out’ who is really Jewish and who isn’t, it’s probably going to continue. And when that birur process starts in earnest, I think there are going to be a lot of very surprising things coming to light, in a whole bunch of different ways.

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Photo by MCML ➖XXXIII (steal my _ _ art) on Unsplash

So many anusim, or lost Jews in Latin America are trying to return to their Jewish roots, but it’s really not easy.

Around four years ago, I got an email from someone who’d been Google translating some of the stuff I’d been writing on the Breslev.co.il website into Spanish. She lived in Latin America, and was going through a very hard time.

After we’d been corresponding for a while, I took the plunge and asked her:

“Are you Jewish?”

It took a while for the answer to ping back to me. She had Jewish roots that went back to the anusim, the hidden Jews of Spain. She was desperate to learn more about emuna, and the authentic, orthodox Jewish approach to serving God.

But no, she was not recognized as being officially Jewish.

I kept in touch with my Spanish-speaking pen-pal over the next few years, and I was astounded when I got an email from her, around 18 months ago, when she told me she’d totally turned her life around left her soul-destroying job, and undergone a full orthodox conversion.

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I was seriously impressed.

Had I known more details of what was really taking place in my penpal’s life, I would have been far more impressed. Because while her conversion was carried out 100% according to halacha; and was performed by a chareidi rabbi in Israel who lives with his family in Bnei Brak.

This rabbi used to spend a lot of time in Latin America on business, and over the years, he’d taken a great interest in trying to build up the observant community there. But there was a fly in the ointment: the local Chief Rabbinate where my friend lives wasn’t recognizing her conversion.

Back then, I was still a little naïve. I had no idea what was really going on, so I didn’t press for too many details, and I figured it was just one of those technical things that eventually get sorted out.

Then a year ago, I got another bombshell email: my penpal had met someone who’d been learning full-time in yeshiva in Israel before moving back to Latin America to find a wife. They were getting married the next month, and even though they barely had a penny to their name, she was looking forward to a much happier future.

What can I tell you?

Hashem has been giving my penpal, and the community she belongs to, a lot of tests.

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Last Summer, I invited her to come and spend a week with me here, in Jerusalem, to have a bit of a break from all the tremendous stress she was under at home, and to come and get acquainted with the holy city.

She spent 10 days in my house, and we went to a whole bunch of holy places together, including the Kotel, Kever Rochel and the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron. When she was too tired to keep traipsing all over the city, my friend would spend hours on end in her room with her prayer book, either reciting the three standard prayer services or quietly whispering tehillim to herself.

In the middle of a blazing August summer, her level of tznius put mine to shame.

She was wearing her bullet-proof black tights, and her high collars, and her heavy beret, when the heat was peaking at well over 40 degrees. And we talked a lot about God’s plan for us, and what it really means to have emuna, and a few other things besides.

At one point, I felt I could now broach a topic that had puzzled me right from the beginning:

Why didn’t you convert with the local Chief Rabbinate where you live right from the start, and avoid all the problems you’re having with being barred from using the communal mikva? (Not to mention all the other issues that she’d only hinted at.)

She sighed a deep sigh, and told me:

I don’t want to talk any lashon hara.

But journalist that I am, I could tell there was a good story here.

I kept nudging her until she told me that the main problem boiled down to money: potential orthodox converts were being asked for thousands of dollars in ‘donations’ to convert in her part of the world and my friend – and the community she was part of – simply didn’t have the cash required.

Since last Summer, the situation has gone from bad to worse. Senior figures in the ‘official’ Jewish community there have been persecuting my friend and her husband for months, preventing them from finding a job. The non-Jews don’t want them, because they dress, behave and believe the same way as the sorts of Jews you see walking around the frummest neighborhoods in Israel.

And sadly, the ‘official’ Jewish community in their country also doesn’t want them.

Headline from Haaretz saying 23% of Latin Americans have Jewish roots

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When I showed my friend this draft, ahead of posting it up here on the site, she asked me to add in the following:

“I want to add something so that people understand that it’s not just me and my immediate community of lost Jews who are being personally persecuted. There are many converts and potential converts across the whole of Latin America who are experiencing a lot of problems.

The “official communities” in a lot of these countries don’t want to deal with us, either because there is no correct, orthodox conversion procedure in place, or because we don’t have a lot of money we can ‘donate’ to join the Jewish community, persecution against us, or because they are worried that we are really just part of a xtian sect called the “Jewish messianists” (i.e. Jews for Yoshki).

Some of those messianists now also dress as Hasidic, or ’religious-looking’ Jews, and because of our background, we are suspected of being part of these sects.”

So my friend and her community have been falling through the gaps, stuck in a kind of no-mans-land where so many of them are literally struggling to put even basic food on the table, or to find the money to keep paying the rent.

They can’t move to Israel, as many of them would like to, as they aren’t formally recognized as being Jews.

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The conversion committee in Israel keeps telling them to convert ‘officially’ with their local community, spend a year there, and then move to Israel. But of course, they can’t. I’ve heard rumors that the ‘donation’ new converts are being asked for is $10,000 a person – and these people can barely put food on the table.

Last month, when things hit a new low, I said to my friend:

Let’s tell your story. Let’s explain what’s happening to you and your community, in your own words. I think the Jewish world really needs to hear about your plight  – but also, the remarkable courage and emuna that my friend and her community are showing in the face of some really tough circumstances.

After a little bit of persuading, she agreed.

So here is her story, in her own words.

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My father was the second child of a religiously “conservative” family of lost Jews.

His parents never openly spoke to him about Judaism, and in many ways, they acted like the other Christians around them – only much less ‘Christian’.

But my grandfather always told him: “You should always love Israel, you should always know that Israel is the world’s clock”.

My father grew up in a rural area, totally detached from material things, which were not abundant in any case, as he was sharing the house with 11 brothers.

During his childhood, my father’s family had certain “Jewish” practices. For example, if an animal drowned, they wouldn’t eat it. And all the meat they ate was always slaughtered in a particular way, and the animal’s blood was covered over with earth.

They were taught to be extremely respectful to adults, and the children didn’t participate in any festival that was dedicated to a Christian idol, nor did they join in with the religious ceremonies in school, and neither did they celebrate Christmas. In my father’s childhood home, it was totally forbidden to cause harm to any animal, or to make fun of other people.

My father was very spiritual, even as a child.

From seven years old, he was already longing to know more about God, and what God really expected from him, and he often had some very powerful dreams and premonitions. Throughout his childhood, he was teased and ostracized for not being part of the regular Christian world around him.

At around this time, news started to reach Latin America about the Shoah that was engulfing the Jews of Europe, so my father’s unexpressed yearning for Judaism was pushed even further underground.

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My mother’s parents divorced when she was very young, so she was raised in what appeared to be a traditional Catholic house.

But from the age of 5, she decided that she was only going to talk and pray to God, and not to any images of people. Those idols scared and repulsed her.

After she married my father, they both started to think more about the spiritual side of life, and my mother decided to ask her mother about the family. My grandmother told her that her grandparents were Jewish. Her mother had died from pneumonia when my grandmother was 8 years old, and her father had then married a Catholic woman, who raised her and her brothers. And so, all the Jewish traditions the family had were totally lost.

When my parents were in their mid-thirties, Latin America was hit by a wave of self-styled ‘Orthodox Messianic’ movements.

People who called themselves ‘rabbis’ started coming to the country, and began conducting religious services and teaching people Hebrew. These ‘rabbis’ started to appoint leaders, and to form communities, and they had the money required to start bringing Jewish books and religious items into the country .

They’d sell these items – talissim, kippas, tefillin, siddurim, and even shofars – to the locals. At that stage, my parents decided they would convert their house to being ‘kosher’, and these moves were very cautiously welcomed by the more religious Jewish communities in our country. But then, the messianic ‘rabbis’ started trying to convince the lostJews who had started to adopt more Jewish laws and halachot to accept their Christian ‘messiah’.

Many people were very confused about what was happening, but as time went on, more and more people started to realise that there was something very wrong here, and that all this ‘messianic’ propaganda didn’t fit in with the Torah, or with halacha.

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At that point, before they had formally converted to Judaism, the community came across the letter that Don Isaac Abarbanel wrote to the monarchs of Spain.

The letter was written at the time of the forced conversions and expulsion of the Spanish Jews. There he wrote:

“[A]s the last spokesman of Spanish Jewry… I will leave you with a parting message although you will like it not.

“The message is simple. The historical people of Israel, as it has traditionally constituted itself, is the final judge of Jesus and his claims to be the Messiah. As the Messiah was destined to save Israel, so it must be for Israel to decide when it has been saved.

“Our answer, the only answer that matters, is that Jesus was a false Messiah.

“As long as the people of Israel lives, as long as Jesus’ own people continue to reject him, your religion can never be validated as true. You can convert all the peoples and savages of the world, but as long as you have not converted the Jew, you have proved nothing except that you can persuade the uninformed.”

Sadly, even Don Isaac Abarbanel’s own brother converted to Catholicism, and when that happened, every church in the country rang its bells in celebration. But the Abarbanel dreamed of the day when all these lost Jews would return to their faith.”

My friend continues:

“After we found that letter, many of us became much more interested in our traditions, and we started spending a lot of time at the national archives in our country, where we started to learn more about our Sephardic heritage. Throughout this time, we were very isolated. For around 18 years, we didn’t really know what to do or where to turn, and in the meantime, the formal communities around us were refusing to even sell us matzahs for Pesach.

Then one day, a friend from the formal Jewish community told us about a rabbi who was spending a lot of time in Latin America on business, and suggested that he might be willing to us more about the Jewish traditions of our heritage.

We faced obstacles every step of the way.

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Even from the age of six, I had decided that I didn’t like all the stories about Yoshki that always seemed so cruel, and so full of blood and death.

Instead, I started telling people that Moses was my hero. But that didn’t go down so well in the communities we were living in, and our non-Jewish family and friends started to push us away, and to accuse us of being ‘fanatics’ and ‘murderers’.

As soon as these people discovered we were lost Jews, they’d move away from our communities very quickly. Before we started our journey to Orthodox Judaism, we’d been a wealthy family, a wealthy community. But as the years passed, our businesses started to fail, as more and more people were ostracizing us, and the money dried up.

There were weeks when we struggled even to find the money to make food for Shabbat, and this continued for years. As our community has become poorer and poorer, sometimes, there hasn’t even been money to buy food. But we don’t complain about our poverty. Most of the converts we know had to face this test, and we’ve also seen such tremendous miracles.

Yes, there are some very difficult tests.

Some of the men who couldn’t find a Jewish woman have strayed, and the main Jewish congregations in our country have been told not to give us any access to their facilities, including the communal mikva, or to offer us any type of help or tzedaka.

Yet, I’ve also seen more kindness in these communities than I’ve seen anywhere else.

I’ve seen people share their small bag of flour with a friend, so their family can also have something to eat. I’ve seen people go without sleep, and walking many kilometres just to attend a religious service. I’ve seen people spend their own time and money just to teach others, and I’ve seen women recite so many tehillim for the people in need, and people who suffer hunger all week, because they refuse to work on Shabbat, or to buy non-kosher food.

I have seen people investing literally everything they have for the common good, and making so many sacrifices to help other lost Jewish souls out of the prison of Christianity.

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None of the 200-300 people I know who have undergone an orthodox conversion have had it easy.

Some people have lost everything they had, even their families, and so many of us have had to deal with being rejected by our parents, our friends, our communities, and with being gossiped about and slandered.

And things are no easier on the Jewish side of the equation, either, where we continue to be rejected, and our conversion discredited, by the ‘traditional’ Jewish population. Sometimes the tests are so hard, people fall back into their old life. But I’ve also witnessed three generations in one family convert.

When I’ve asked some of the people in my community if it was worth it, after everything they’ve gone through, the majority of them say:

“I’m a Jew, how else could I live?”

Here and there, there have been some movements, meeting and groups to create a strong Torah community in the Latin American countries, but it seems that there is not enough “Jewish glue” among the Latin American converts and the lost Jews to really make it work. Some people have tried very hard to get our communities more organized and vocal, but it never really spreads very far.

It’s not easy to deal with people who have even spent 50-60-70 years as “good Christians”, and now you come along and suddenly tell them that everything they believed in is wrong, and that they must become some other sort of people. It’s like being told that you have lived someone else’s life by mistake.

Many people simply can’t accept it.

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Many of us would like to move to Israel, but the anusim like us are just a statistic to the State of Israel.

Even though some of us converted 30 years ago, already, none of us have been invited to speak to the policy makers in Israel, although I know they listen to Arabs and other non-Jews on a regular basis. Yes, there are some ‘politically correct’ initiatives, but nothing that really leads to anything concrete.

I’ve never heard of an Israeli embassy running an initiative to try to get to know the anusim that exist, still half-hidden, in the countries where they are located. The only contact we have with Israel is via the letters written by our ‘official’ rabbinate, where the conversions that cost us so many tears, and so many prayers, and so many nights of study and effort, are falsely discredited.”

Why is that happening, I wanted to know? Why so much antagonism against the lost Jews?

My friend sighed, then continued:

“As happens everywhere, there are some people, some “anusim” who have been seeing all this as some sort of a “business”, and their actions have closed the doors for the rest of us more and more. Baruch Hashem, they are a minority, and they cannot dim the light of those who really want to live a Jewish life, even when our bad middot still get in the way.”

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She continued:

“Today, the future does not seem so clear.

The people who have the ability and knowledge to help us move forward don’t want to. The people who could be sharing our story, and lighting our path back to teshuva and Hashem and Israel, continue to turn their backs on us.  But there is still something I am sure of:

This is only the beginning.

There is a Divine force driving all this, and while there are some people, some converts, who really don’t have such good intentions, there are hundreds and thousands of us who are being carried forward by our holy, pure desire to serve Hashem and keep His mitzvoth.

These are the people who are prevented from using a mikva in their own communities; people who can’t find a Jewish school to accept their children, people who are refused places to study in yeshiva, and refused permission to settle in Eretz Yisrael.

But even so, if you lift your heads and look around, you’ll see an amazing sight: There are thousands upon thousands of humble people, simple people, who are coming back to life. There are Jewish souls who were once considered to be dead, who are being reborn. Those dry bones have been covered by muscle and tendons.

“And we are living once again, as Torah-observant Jews.”

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And so, her story ended.

Or really I should say, her story began. Last year, the small group of sincere converts that my friend belongs to, these Sephardic anusim, decided to try to move several families en masse to a rural part of the country, where the cost of living is far cheaper, and where there is some potential for the community to become self-sufficient.

They didn’t have any resources, or investment. All they had was some firm trust in Hashem and a little bit of charity money that was being sent in from outside. And even that is now dwindling, as the government has recently enacted a law limiting the amount of money that can be sent to their country via money transfer to just $500 a year.

Nevertheless, my friend and her community didn’t give up. They started trying to slowly buy a few more domesticated animals, and to start making a few more basic products to sell to the tourists that come to the area. But the crushing poverty began to take a huge toll on the community, and tragedy has continued to dog their heels.

A few weeks ago, my friend told me that all the animals a certain family had spent two years carefully raising all caught some freak illness, and died overnight. Then, there is another family where the father was caught up in an awful road accident last year, and was so ill he couldn’t work for months.

Just as he got back on his feet – last week – he was run over again.

This last problem fell like a thunder-clap on this close knit community of anusim, lost Jews who are trying to hard to return, and my friend was totally distraught about what was happening, with one problem and one challenge after another.

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When I first wrote this piece, a couple of months ago, my friend and her community were planning to try to start a few businesses with a little bit of investment money, with an eye to building up a real community with it’s own mikva, synagogue and school.

Today, the plans are in a state of flux.

What’s clear is that this community still needs an awful lot of help to just start being able to put food on the table, pay rent, and to build a very basic mikvah. Until these basic things are taken care of, they can’t see any further ahead on the path they need to take.

But once that’s done, there is a pressing need for the community to get organized – and for the other communities of anusim to get organized – and to start figuring out the process of how they can be allowed to convert again, if necessary, in order to be given full rights as the orthodox Jews they really are.

I’d love to tell you there’s a plan, a process to give us the happy ending to the story, but right now, there isn’t. All I can really do for my friend at the moment is pray that God will open the door for them, and pray some more that they’ll have the ability to walk through it, when the time comes.

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Almost 600 years ago, Don Isaac Abarbanel told the rulers of Spain:

“Woe unto you, authors of iniquity. For generations to come, it will be told and retold how unkind was your faith and how blind was your vision. But more than your acts of hatred and fanaticism, the courage of the people of Israel will be remembered for standing up to the might of imperial Spain, clinging to the religious inheritance of our fathers, and resisting your enticements and your untruths.”

All over Latin America, there are lost Jews still desperately trying to cling on against all the odds, and to return to their Jewish faith.

And I don’t know what we can really do, or how we can really help them, but one thing I do know:

We have to try.

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If you think you can help, either with a financial donation or by making some introductions and opening some doors for this particular group of ‘lost Jews’ in Latin America, please get in touch. Who knows, maybe the time has come for this to finally start moving. I hope to be writing more about this subject of the lost Jews in the next few weeks.

Rabbi Berland’s New Prayer to Move to Israel.

So many of the people I’m in touch with want to move to Israel, but feel totally petrified about the whole idea of uprooting their whole lives, and trying to plonk them down again in a totally different country, however holy that country may actually be, and however much God really wants the Jews to move to Israel.

This is totally understandable. Moving country is not a simple thing, it has profound consequences for everyone involved. You can understand why so many otherwise believing Jews are twisting the words of the Torah, ignoring the whole ‘sin of the spies’ episode, and making all sorts of bizarre claims about there being no need for Jews to move to the Land of Israel.

The fear is in control. The fear is running the show.

Fear is one of the yetzer hara’s most powerful tools for keeping people away from doing the right thing. How many people stay trapped in a secular lifestyle, because they are scared of what people will say, or what’s going to be, if they take the plunge and start keeping kosher….

Or take the plunge and start keeping Shabbat….

Or take the plunge, and start dressing more modestly….

Or take the plunge, and ditch the i-Phone for something far more basic and better for the soul….

Moving to Israel is no different, except the fear is less about what people will say – because after all, it’s a new start, and you’re leaving the people who are against moving to Israel behind – and much more about what will be.

Will I find work?

Will I find friends?

Will I find a place to live?

Will my kids acclimatize OK?

And maybe the biggest fear of all:

Will I regret doing this for the rest of my life?

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Again, all these fears are totally, 100% normal and reasonable to have. If we don’t acknowledge that these fears are coming from a rational place, and that they have to be addressed properly, rather than squashed or mocked, then we can’t move forward with the whole discussion of moving to Israel.

Israel is the land of emuna, it’s where a person can really start to LIVE their belief that God is running the whole world, and not just talk about it.

The answer to all of the ‘issues’ stated above – the answer to every ‘issue’ and worry a person has about moving to Israel ultimately boils down to the same thing:

God is in control. Whatever God decides, that’s what’s going to happen.

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That’s a massive level of emuna to be striving for, isn’t it? And I’m not sure that I’m there myself, really, although I’d certainly like to be.

But the more we can live our life from that genuine place of really believing in Him, and really believing in concepts like reward and punishment, and really believing that 99% of the ‘yuck’ we go through in our lives we totally bring on ourselves, via our own bad middot – the more easy we will be able to deal with any potential move to Israel.

Really, there’s only one answer to ‘why move to Israel?’

I could tell you about the amazing day I spent yesterday, swimming with my family in a stream up North, together with a bunch of frum Jews with payot, and fully-clothed Beis Yaakov girls all happily splashing about.

I could tell you about last Wednesday night, when I went off to the Kotel to recite some tehillim for the Rav, and how I watched the swallows duck and dive, swooping so close to the wall before soaring back up into the heavens.

I could tell you about how everything here is kosher (I live in Jerusalem. That’s not true of everywhere in Israel, especially not Tel Aviv.)

I could tell you about the farm one of my kids went to volunteer on last week, up in the Shomron hills, that’s being started by an idealistic young Jewish couple.

I could talk about the sun, the sea, the way my soul just feels way, way happier here, and way, way more peaceful than it ever did in London.

But really, all of these things are missing the point.

The point of moving to Israel, is because it’s a mitzvah that God commanded the Jews to keep.

So maybe you’ll move here, and you really will struggle with making a living. And you really will go through years of feeling so lonely. And you really will find it very hard to ever buy your own place, especially in Jerusalem.

And maybe you won’t.

But the point is, whatever happens to us in Israel – and in New York, and in London, and in Melbourne, and in Paris – it’s all just to bring home that same message:

God is in control. Whatever God decides, that’s what’s going to happen.

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If a person is really working on their emuna, then they will increasingly be living their life according to this idea wherever they happen to live.

But there’s another point to make here, and that’s the idea of having some humility, and overcoming our own arrogance. Or to put it another way, to start thinking much more about what does God want from me, and much less about what do I want from God.

We are here to serve God, not the other way around.

Again, let’s keep things real.

This is a huge spiritual level! It’s a level that we will have to struggle and fight for ad 120. It doesn’t come easily to anyone, and especially not to those people who find it very difficult to put anyone else’s needs and wants ahead of their own.

That’s why there are two things that really clear the path to moving to Israel, and those two things are:

  1. Working on our own bad middot
  2. Working on our emuna, particularly the idea that we are in control of our lives

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We need to pray to get to Israel.

That’s part of the process of really getting ‘ready’ to actually live here. We need to pray to get here, and we need to pray that all the bad middot that are stopping us from moving somehow disappear. And then once we’re here, we need to carry on praying every single day, that we will continue to have the merit of staying here.

Because in Israel, all the bad middot that we fooled ourselves we didn’t have in chutz l’aretz come roaring out of the closet.

Because God wants us to finally start dealing with them, and acknowledging them, and to stop making excuses about what we are really down here to work on and fix.

BTW, that’s also why even the very process of moving to Israel can be so very taxing and upsetting. It’s all part of the preparation process for the spiritual work of developing some real humility, and understanding that God is in charge of the world, not us.

All this sounds like a lot of hard work, doesn’t it?

And honestly, it is.

You can totally understand why so many otherwise believing Jews would prefer to stay in chutz l’aretz and pretend that moving to Israel is something God doesn’t really require of anyone. It’s certainly much easier that way, it’s certainly much more comfortable.

At least, on one level.

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This post isn’t for those people.

This post is for the people who are really yearning and longing to get here, and who really do know that God wants the Jewish people to be in Israel, but who can’t quite manage to overcome their fears (yet!) in order to give God what He really wants.

For those people, there is a shortcut to moving to Israel, which is basically the power of prayer. Every prayer we say on this subject, shortens the road we need to walk in order to get here. Why? Because it’s tackling the obstacles that are blocking our path at their root.

A praying person is a person who already acknowledges, at least on some level, that God is in control. A praying person is someone who knows that God is behind all the difficulties, and that if we start to clean up our own act, particularly with our own bad middot like arrogance, laziness, greed and complacency, that God will then blast so many of the ‘issues’ keeping us stuck out of the way, too.

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That’s why Israel is really only acquired via prayer.

And that’s why so many of the people who actually live in Israel still haven’t really ‘got here’ spiritually, even though they moved here with their bodies, or were born here.

Those people moan all the time about what’s going on in Israel. They complain all the time about the taxes, and about other groups of Jews, and about all the ‘bad’ they see going on all around them, because the whole world is just one big mirror, and God is beaming a very unpleasant reflection straight into their faces.

Like we said above, in Israel, bad middot are amplified – both ours, and other people’s – so we’ll stop making excuses, and finally knuckle down to the work of fixing them.

Luckily, there is a shortcut. The shortcut is to get close to our true tzaddikim, to follow their advice, and to use their prayers to circumvent all the stuff that’s holding us back from being able to even describe the problem, let alone deal with it.

Rebbe Nachman’s advice to do an hour a day of hitbodedut has totally transformed my approach to the world, and it’s the single biggest ‘help’ to navigating life in Israel. You can read more about it HERE. But in the meantime, I want to share with you a prayer that Rabbi Berland just put out for people who want to move to Israel, but who are stuck, somehow.

It’s not a long prayer, but it sums up so precisely what’s really going on when people get stuck unable to make aliya, even though they admit it’s the right thing to do.

You can see the original HERE, but here’s what it says:

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A Prayer to Come to Eretz Yisrael

TO MERIT COMING TO ERETZ YISRAEL WITHOUT LOSING ANYTHING. TO SELL EVERYTHING FOR ITS FULL VALUE. AND MAY I MERIT LEAVING THE DEFILEMENT OF THE LAND OF THE NATIONS THAT WE ARE IMMERSED IN. AND MAY WE SMASH ALL OF THE OBSTACLES THAT ARE MOSTLY OBSTACLES OF THE MIND.

Master of the World, who can do everything. Merit me to go up to Eretz Yisrael with sublime self-sacrifice. That I leave all of the property and all of the belongings that I have outside of Eretz Yisrael. That I not leave anything over, that I not leave any remembrance.

Rather, I should sell everything as quick as possible at full value, and not lose even one pruta by moving to Eretz Yisrael. And may I not incur any other damages by moving to Eretz Yisrael.

For we have no more strength to stay in exile, in chutz la’aretz, even for one second.

We want to go up to the land of our forefathers, that you gave to our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, “The land flowing with milk and honey”.

For Eretz Yisrael is holier than any other land in the world.

And Hashem Your G-d chose her over all other precious things in the world.”

Please, Hashem, merit me to go up to Eretz Yisrael with self-sacrifice,

“And bring us to Your Holy Mountain.”

For we have no more strength to stay in chutz la’aretz, but on the other hand we’ve been here for so long, in the defilement of the land of the nations, and we have no idea how to free ourselves from it.

Now we are turning to You, with humble kneeling and prostration:

Help us, Hashem our G-d, to come to Eretz Yisrael in the blink of an eye! And help us to break all of the obstacles, and all of the postponements, for the main obstacle is in the mind.   

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May Hashem help us to give Him what He really wants, as easily as possible.

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Did you ever stop to wonder how Moshe Rabbenu would go down in Monsey?

“Shlomie! Shlomie! You gotta hear this! Some guy in a frock just showed up in the beis medrash, and told everyone he’s the Moshiach!!!”

Shlomie heaved his stomach back inside the belt line of his black pants, stood up and went over to talk to his chevrusa Yankie, who was anxiously pacing backwards and forwards by the kollel’s coffee vending machine.

“Whaddya talking about, Shlomie? Calm down, speak slower. Who just showed up in the beis medrash?”

Yankie took a breath, stopped pacing, and turned to Shlomie.

“Some guy called Moshe something… He said G-d sent him to redeem the Jews, and he wants to take us out of Monsey to the promised land!”

Shlomie’s eyes narrowed. Another nut-job talking about G-d!

The last 210 years, there’d been a lot of these imposters who’d showed up trying to con the Jews of Monsey that one day they’d have to leave and go to the ‘holy land’. Wherever that place was meant to be…

“Where is this guy?” Shlomie demanded. “I wanna talk to him.”

With Yankie following behind, Shlomie headed off to the beis medrash, swung the doors open, and saw a tall, bearded figure standing in the corner with his eyes shut, rapturously reciting the bracha over a cup of water out loud.

Shlomie whispered to Yankie,

“Uhoh, this already doesn’t look good! What’s with this guy’s accent? Is he Sephardi?! And who spends five minutes blessing a cup of water?! This is definitely bitul Torah!”

Yankie muttered back, “Shlomie, we didn’t get the Torah yet…” But Shlomie didn’t hear him, as he’d already marched up to ‘Moshe the moshiach’ determined to kick this imposter out of the beis medrash.

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“Sooo, Moishe… where’d you learn?” challenged Shlomie.

Moshe Rabbenu studied Shlomie with wise, kind eyes and told him gently:

“I’ve spent the last 60 years communing with Hashem in the desert.”

Shlomie eyes rolled so far back in his head they almost popped out his neck. Geez, the nerve of this guy!!! Still, Shlomie prided himself on being open-minded, so he decided to ask a couple more questions before officially excommunicating him.

“So, who’s your Rav?” he asked.

Moshe lowered his head slightly and said:

“Hashem. Hashem’s teaching me Torah. Although I did meet Rabbi Akiva a little while back…”

Shlomie snorted again. What? That guy whose parents were goyim who converted?!?

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He tried one last time, just to be nice.

“Where did you grow up? Did you study at the Mir?”

“I grew up in Pharoah’s palace,” Moshe Rabbenu replied gently. “I had to flee Monsey-raim at the age of 20 after I killed an Egyptian by uttering one of Hashem’s ineffable names. I never got a chance to learn at the Mir….”

“Kishoofim!!!!” roared out Shlomie. “Out, out, get outta here with all your dangerous Moshiach talk! You’re nothing but a crack-pot, a false messiah, a person who’s trying to pull the Jews away from learning Torah with all your talk about serving Hashem!”

Yankie muttered again “But Shlomie, we didn’t get the Torah yet…” but again, Shlomie didn’t hear him.

With quiet dignity, Moshe Rabbenu picked up his staff, and headed out of the beis medrash.

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Yankie was anxiously biting his fingernails.

“The nerve of that guy!” sputtered Shlomie. “I can’t believe people are falling for this! We’re only meant to be learning about Moshiach, not believing it!”

“But Shlomie, a lot of the really big rabbis – like Aharon HaKohen – say he’s the real deal…” Shlomie harrumphed.

“All these ‘rebbe’ types stick together, you know that.”

“But Shlomie,” Yankie tried again, “This morning he turned the whole Nile to blood, and he’s told Pharoah there’s more natural disasters to come, if he doesn’t send the Jews out of Monsey-raim…”

“Kishoofim!!” Shlomie yelled again. “Unbelievable bitul Torah! Instead of learning another three blatt Gemara this guy’s off doing black magic and talking to goyim! Don’t fall for it, Yankie, don’t let him fool you. Seriously, where was the guy’s hat??”

Yankie tried one last time:

“But Shlomie, we have a tradition from Yaakov Avinu that at some point, the Jews have to leave Monsey-raim, and that a redeemer will show up and take them out of galus…”

Shlomie sighed a big sigh, and put his enormous arm around his frail, naïve learning partner.

“Yankie, you’re a great guy, do you know that? Here, take a look over the other side of the beis medrash. Who’d ya see?”

Yankie turned his head, and spotted Korach, the Rosh Kollel, shtiggering away to the bachorim about how why the beis medrash doesn’t need a mezuzah on the door. Korach cut a fine figure in his Armani black suit, smart tie and brushed fedora, tilted at just the right angle to set off his jutting chin.

“Now, if someone told me that’s Moshiach, I’d believe it,” explained Shlomie. “That guy’s related to one of the most important families in Monsey-raim; he’s got 14 kids – all shomer Toyrah ve-mitzvos – and he encourages his students to think for themselves. That guy is all about Toyrah and mitzvos. And his wife bakes a great kugel!

“But Shlomie, we didn’t get the Torah yet,” Yankie wanted to say. But he didn’t because he knew there’d be no point.

Shlomie heaved his stomach back behind his shtender, and went back to learning his latest blatt on his My-Gemara i-Phone app.

“The nerve of that guy, ‘Moshe Rabbenu’!” he muttered to himself, thankful that he’d managed to save the guys in the beis medrash from another false messiah. Hrrmph! As if the Moshiach would be someone who’d never stepped foot in the Mir…

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First posted in June, 2017

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