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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The Israeli elections seem be a choice between Mr Evil, Mr Eviller, and Mr Evillest

Three weeks ago, my husband snapped his Achilles tendon whilst playing tennis. Baruch Hashem, it’s on the mend, but in the meantime I’m ferrying him backwards and forwards in the car to his workplace, close to Jerusalem’s central bus station.

What that means (amongst other things….) is that I’m getting to see all the massive, ginormous, monstrous billboards of yucky-looking politicians that are currently springing up like poisonous mushrooms all around the entrance to Jerusalem, in preparation for next week’s elections.

I can tell you this:

Whoever you vote for, it’s going to be a vote for Mr Evil.

Some of these super-sized pictures are so disturbing I’m amazed they’ve been approved for public consumption. What these politicians don’t seem to realise is that when their faces are blown up to building-size proportions, it makes it much harder to hide their true characters. You see it in the eyes, you grasp it by the beetling brows, and the cunning, calculating expression that even the greasiest smile can’t hide.

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Where to start, on which one of these posters bothers me the most?

For a while, Ehud Barak’s lot were definitely in the lead, with a cast straight out of Dr No. There’s the beautiful, red-haired woman that looks like a secret assassin. The angry-looking, grey-haired rogue scientist is on the left of the picture. And then ‘Mr Evil’ himself, with his dyed-black hair and shifty expression, is right in the middle of all that.

After the whole Epstein affair, how can anyone, much less a woman, much less a party that claims to stand for ‘human rights’ have anything to do with this guy!

So he was in the lead for a while.

But then, Netanyahu’s lot stuck up a bunch of MASSIVE posters of him shaking hands with Donald Trump, bearing the slogan: Netanyahu: a different league.

I almost crashed a few times coming round the corner of the Jerusalem Gateway, because I couldn’t take my eyes off how plain evil Netanyahu looked on that billboard, and how totally crazy Trump appeared.

So for two days, that was in pole position.

Then yesterday, Benny Gantz of Blue and White got stuck up on the other side of the Prima Park Hotel, in a poster that looked like a cross between Men In Black and the Terminator.

Oooo, look how thick his neck is!!! Look how menacingly grey his skin is!!! Notice how totally unemotional and devoid of any human kindness his cruel blue eyes appear!!!

He looked like a ‘Class A’ psycho, and clearly that’s the effect that all these politicians are trying to achieve.

Vote for me, I’m a total psycho! If anyone even so much sneezes in my direction, I’ll nuke them! Israel is in safe hands!

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But then today, the Labor / Gesher Party decided to remove its poster of Amir Peretz looking like Stalin, and replace them with Amir Peretz looking like a character out of Goodfellas instead. Last week, Peretz shaved off his trade-mark moustache, I don’t know why.

But personally, I think it was a mistake.

For as long as the moustache was pulling the eye, you didn’t notice how strangely menacing the guy underneath it was. Now, with Mr Fluffy gone, Amir Peretz looks like he could get a job with Iran’s Revolutionary Guide.

Vote for me! I can break a man into pieces in five seconds flat!!!

Now, you might be wondering where all the women are in this election. That’s what one of the graffiti artists clearly had in mind when she spray-painted the Amir-Peretz-As-Stalin poster with: “I’m a woman and I can also vote.”

Ayelet Shaked’s party decided to put a few massive posters of just her perfect, Barbie-like face across various bridges on the Begin Highway, and after studying them all week (yes, it’s a miracle I haven’t crashed the car) – I can tell you they are airbrushed.

The woman is 42 and has a very stressful job, and yet she has the flawless complexion of a 20 year old supermodel. It’s an open miracle.

Vote for me! I don’t have any wrinkles!!!

This morning, someone had punched two massive holes in the middle of both her faces, and it took some really careful planning to pull that off in the middle of Jerusalem’s busiest and fasted road.

I think it was the Shabak.

Orly Levy-Abecassis (or whatever her name is…) also popped up on a poster looking really miserable, but with great hair, next to Goodfella Peretz, and some other man who I don’t know the name of, but who also looks like a shark in a suit.

Vote for me! I have the best hairdresser in all of Israel!!!

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Sigh.

Whichever way you turn, there’s evil, evil and more evil.

Driving my husband to work has become a Kafkaesque nightmare, a cross between a bad Bond movie and the Oscars.

Although yesterday, I did see a poster of someone that I’d half consider voting for.

He was a cute Saba advertising a new flavor of milkshake.

So, a vote for Mr Evil – for political gangsters and their molls – or for Mr Milkshake, for PM?

I think the answer is obvious.

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The darkness seems to be lifting…

Every end of Summer, I have a mini nervous breakdown, and I’m thrilled to report that this year was no different. My kids are bigger now – 16 and 18 – so the problem wasn’t one of having to keep them entertained for six weeks straight.

One of them was jet-setting off all over the place (and thank God, is now thoroughly sick of travelling.) The other one was communing with nature, and camping out by the Kinneret for the best part of the Summer, trying to detox from her awful school.

So until around Tu B’Av, I was managing OK, mostly. Sure, sitting in 40 degree heat with no air-conditioning for three months has been a little challenging. Sure, having one massive deadline, one massive project, after another has been raising my stress levels. Also sure, it’s been hard for me to get a good night’s sleep all year, as 5779 has been the year of ‘no shut-eye’.

But aside from all those things, I was mostly OK.

Until three weeks ago, when all of a sudden the pressure seemed to ramp up a billion times over and I was walking round feeling like a gasket was going to explode any minute. Partially, it’s because my husband badly twisted his ankle playing tennis, which meant I’ve been ferrying him to work and back in the Jerusalem traffic.

Partially, it’s been the never-ending list of things ‘to do’ – including get stuff for the kids for another new institution a piece come September. Partially, it’s been working like a dog on all these unexpected things that keep popping up, and that seem so very important.

But mostly, the stress was just in the air, and was driving me crazy.

Last week, I reached cracking point, exacerbated by my kids deciding that they were going to stay out until 4am every night because it’s the last week of holiday.

For them.

For me and my husband, we’ve still been trying to get up at our normal, early time, to pray, do hitbodedut, get on with all the stuff we need to get on with.

But by Thursday, I just couldn’t anymore. I felt like a totally overwhelmed zombie of misery and rage, as my kids stuffed up yet another night of sleep, which meant I just didn’t have the head required to work on the latest book.

At 4am Thursday night, when the oldest still hadn’t come home, the scud got lit, and exploded, in a rage fit that lasted most of Friday.

It didn’t help that some kid had cleaned me out of every last piece of nice, wearable clothing, for her new school wardrobe… and that I had to do all the Shabbat shopping and cooking by myself, as my husband was laid up still… or that it was still so frigging hot, and because I’d only got my act together to leave the house at 9am, instead of 7.30, I was being roasted by the sun.

I came home in a foul, foul mood, just feeling so unhappy and put upon and taken for granted.

And man, did everyone know about it.

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The mood continued until I lit my Shabbat candles, ushering in Rosh Chodesh Elul – and I started to feel a little better. I went to bed straight after supper, and the next day I woke up feeling way, way happier.

For no obvious reason.

But it’s like Elul has shone some light into the darkness again.

Which is so lucky, because at 3am Saturday night, the day before she was starting a new school, my youngest tried to smuggle a dog into the house. Some ‘friend’s’ dog had cute puppies, so my retarded teen decided to buy one, stick it in her jumper, and then smuggle it in my spare toilet.

I caught her in the act.

What, are you doing drugs, that you came up with such a retarded idea?!?!?

I mean, I hate dogs, we have no garden, not even a mirpeset, and on top of that the kid was starting a new boarding school the following morning.

If this had happened in Av…. I dread to think.

As it happened in Elul, I could half see the funny side. She stuck the thing in a box with one of her old tops, gave it a plate full of Shabbos chicken and a bowl of water, and we all went to sleep for three hours.

The next morning, it was crying.

Why’s it crying???? She wanted to know.

Ooooof, why did I bring the stupid thing home, what’s wrong with me????

Ah, finally she’s talking some sense.

Long story short, as soon as the thing was out of its box, it weed on the floor. (My husband dealt with that.) And then it spent the next half an hour trying to gnaw my shoes – while they were still on my feet.

Kid, the dog can’t stay a second longer. What’s the plan?

The plan was to dump it on a friend for two days, until my kid comes back from school and figures out the plan. The friend showed up yesterday, and I happily shoved the box of cute dog into her arms and breathed out.

A respite! At least for two days.

And so, for the first day in many, many weeks, I finally have a little time to myself, a little ‘space’, mentally, to relax into.

The Israeli government is currently busy trying to provoke a war with our neighbors. Only the Rav’s prayers are stopping the situation spiraling out of control. Things are still crazy, and getting crazier, I know, we all feel it.

And yet….

Elul has brought with it a hair of hope, that maybe, just maybe, the turnaround is going to come in a totally different, ‘sweetened’ way after all.

Ken yiyeh ratzon.

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Photo by Reka Dora on Unsplash

We’re entering a period of time where fact is going to be revealed as being far stranger – and more disturbing – than fiction.

What can I tell you?

I’m feeling pretty down at the moment.

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been researching the true scope of evil in the world. I’ll sum it up generally, and in a nutshell, and let’s just pretend that this is all one massive, ridiculous conspiracy theory, so I don’t also get ‘disappeared’ like all those other ‘conspiracy theorists’ who came way too close to the truth.

So, here’s how the totally ridiculous, obviously unbelievable conspiracy theory is working, in 2019.

The ‘Deep State’ is effectively the West’s spy agencies.

The spy agencies run the international drug trade as a global operation, in order to finance their activities ‘off radar’ from any real public scrutiny or governmental control.

These activities include developing secret weapons, many new and imaginative ways of killing people with ‘illnesses’ and neuro-toxins, and – most shockingly of all – totally unethical ‘experiments’ on human beings, and on human embryos, and on human genes to try to create the ‘perfect’ soldier / agent of destruction.

There are no ‘aliens’.

What there is, is unfathomably evil, genetic-engineering experiments on human embryos.

The Deep State is untouchable.

It operates a sophisticated system of blackmail to entrap immoral and perverted people in positions of power, especially pedophiles, records them ‘in the act’, and then uses these recordings as leverage to ensure these people will do whatever they are told to do.

The Deep State then works to place these morally-corrupt, evil people in the highest positions of power – judges, police superintendents, journalists, army heads, civil servants, bankers, politicians large and small, right up to the top of the tree.

These people cover up for each other, and cover up all the murders and child abuse that is happening all around them, and their activity. Anyone who tries to blow the whistle or investigate is threatened / blackmailed / murdered.

No-one can stand up to them.

When the employees of the Deep State retire from their Mafioso activities on behalf of ‘national security’, they then start applying their knowledge, experience and connections to continuing their Mafioso activities as independent ‘guns for hire’.

They continue with all their immoral activities for personal gain and lust gratification, comfortable in the knowledge that they are totally untouchable, and that ‘justice’ will never catch up with them.

And so, the world continues to spiral down further and further into immorality, murder, drug abuse, war and total human misery, while the network of corrupt pedophiles who sit in the halls of power across the Western world pull all the strings and keep the rest of us totally in the dark about what’s really happening, and why.

How is that, for the most amazing, far-fetched, ridiculous ‘conspiracy theory’ you ever heard in your life?

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So, this morning I randomly opened my Tanach, and I came to this, in the book of Ezekiel:

“There is a conspiracy of her prophets in her midst, like a roaring lion that tears [its] prey. They have devoured souls, they have taken away treasure and worth, they have increased her widows in her midst. Her priests robbed My Torah and desecrated My sanctities. They did not distinguish between holy and profane, and they did not make known the difference between contaminated and purified.

“They hid their eyes from My Shabbats, and I became profaned amongst them. Her officers within her are like wolves who tear prey – to shed blood, to destroy souls, for the sake of unjust gain. And her prophets smeared plaster for them (i.e. they covered up for them), for they see worthless [visions] and they divine falsehood for them.

“They say: ‘Thus said the Lord Hashem / Elokim…’ – when Hashem did not speak.”

Ed. Note: They say, “Trump’s a great guy! America is the land of the just and the home of the free! We don’t need to move to Israel, we’re in Gan Eden right here! There no bad people or evil in the world, we’re all Tzaddikim! We don’t need to rally around the Tzaddik HaDor, we can keep this party going for at least another 200 years!!!”

Back to Ezekiel:

“The people of the land have made a business out of oppression, and plundered loot. They have wronged the poor and the needy, and oppressed the stranger, without justice. I requested from them a man who would fence the border, and stand in the breach before them, for the sake of the Aretz, so that it wouldn’t be destroyed, but I didn’t find one.

“So, I poured My wrath over them, and consumed them with the flame of My fury. I have placed their [evil] way upon their head – the word of the Lord, Hashem / Elokim.”

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This time around there is a ‘man’ who is standing in the breach, and who is trying to ‘fence the borders’ so that the land won’t be destroyed.

It’s Rabbi Berland.

His prayers are acting as a form of protection, a ‘token’ that we’re trying to be connected to what is holy and good, still, despite the tremendous evil and darkness that is all around.

All those false prophets, with their facile grasp of Torah, and their superficial understanding of what’s really going on in the world, have one job, and one job only: To keep people away from the real Tzaddik HaDor, Rabbi Berland.

That’s why I can’t watch their Youtube videos or read their blog posts any more.

Most of them have no idea what’s really going on, or how very serious the situation is that we currently find ourselves in, and by the time they realise, it will probably be too late.

We are at a crossroads right now. Over the next few months, either this whole massive, crazy ‘conspiracy theory’ is going to get blown wide open, and justice will finally be done. Or, the people who are running the world are going to pull back very hard on free speech and civil rights – which leaves us looking at a terrifying, totalitarian government scenario.

It’s going to be chaos, or dictatorship, unless the Rav can find some way of sweetening all this, to get to the geula the sweet way.

And in the meantime, the ‘false prophets’ continue to talk politics and vanity, and continue to ignore the hezkat Moshiach who is in our midst.

But things can’t continue on like this for much longer.

Of course, I’m just a crazy conspiracy theorist, so what do I know?

 

Photo by Tyler B on Unsplash

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I’m starting to realise that putting my head in the sand may be good advice.

Yesterday, I got the same message in three different ways. Once was from the husband, who told me that he thinks I’m getting distracted from what I should be doing by getting too caught up in all the shenanigans in the US.

Once was from my brother, who told me:

I think I need to have a bit more of your paying attention to things, and you need to have a bit more of my putting my head in the sand and ignoring it all.

And once was from a reader, who made no bones about telling me:

You aren’t Hashem, you aren’t the Tzaddik. You don’t need to be worrying about all this stuff.

After some pondering, I see that they are all right.

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I also see that my yetzer has been pulling a fast one on me, trying to tell me that I need to be ‘warning’ all these people, all these Jews, in chutz l’aretz, about what is about to happen over there.

It’s like World War II all over again!!! You have to tell them to get out!!!

Blah blah blah.

What, I’m the only person who can watch a Youtube channel and figure out what’s really going on behind the scenes in the US?

Of course not. Anyone who wants to can figure things out for themselves, there are so many non-Jewish journalists and bloggers and Youtubers now, who are doing a much better job than the mainstream media of putting the pieces together, and explaining what’s really going on.

I don’t need to waste any more of my time being a second-rate imitation of them.

I realized some more stuff:

I live in Jerusalem. I already took the ‘red pill’ a long time ago, and that’s why I moved out of London. There is nothing ‘practical’ I need to change about my life right now to be ready for Moshiach and geula. So paradoxically, I can actually stop obsessing about what’s happening in the wider world, and just get on with living my life and doing my own thing.

Maybe this sounds a little selfish. But I got the last couple of days that I’m effectively wasting my time banging on about this stuff, because most of the people it will directly affect don’t want to hear it, and certainly don’t want to believe it, anyway.

All my readers are grown ups who can think for themselves, and who are responsible for their own lives and neshamas. I am no cleverer than them, no more insightful than they are. All this ‘trying to predict the future stuff’ is just a big personal ga’ava trip.

And in the meantime, it’s also taking so much of my energy away from my own projects, like this new book I’m trying to write, BH, which is a personality typology based on Jewish sources. I want to go back to writing about life, pure and simple, on this blog. With some Rebbe Nachman stuff thrown in.

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I know, I’ve said that before and I’ve got pulled off into other directions. It keeps happening, it may well happen again. But what I want, really, is to leave the geula stuff alone for a good long while, because the boulder is gathering steam and is rushing down the hill all by itself now, and it doesn’t need any more prodding from me.

I need to take a break from all that, and try to put something useful out into the world. Even though my books barely sell, writing them is what I really love to do.

So, this is where I’m holding in life:

If I have any more geula insights, I will stick them up on my weekly blog at ravberland.com – as that is the appropriate place for them. Otherwise, I’m half putting my head in the sand about world events, so I can go back – and go forward! – to writing about other things, especially how to handle our emotions and develop healthier relationships.

That’s plenty controversial enough, all by itself.

And at least for now, that what God is telling me I need to be focusing on.

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What is Tisha B’Av really all about?

The last few days, I’ve been in a funny mood – you might have noticed. I’ve been feeling frustrated, angry, even a little bitter, that despite so much effort, I’m going into yet another Tisha B’av with what feels like zero progress on so many fronts.

In fact spiritually, I even feel as though I’ve been going backwards in some ways, recently. I tried to capture a little of that HERE, but I feel I’ve had so much brain fog going on the last weeks I’ve lost touch with my soul again.

Yes, I’ve still been doing an hour a day of talking to God (or trying to…) – sometimes even more. In the old days, I could sit down for a six hour talking to God session, usually on Shabbat when I had the time to spare, and come out of it feeling like something had really moved or ameliorated.

The last few months, even the six hours I’ve been doing don’t give me much of a spiritual ‘bounce’. The best I can say, is that I feel calmer, usually, and sometimes I get a bit more clarity, and a bit more hope and determination to continue.

But underneath all that, there’s this sense of what am I doing all this for? Where am I going? How can I carry on like this, aimlessly drifting because I can’t seem to get anywhere, still?

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On Shabbat, I did another six hours on why I feel like such a spiritual zombie so much of the time, when God threw me a clue:

I have tremendous amounts of despair gushing around still.

It’s not preventing me from getting on with things, day-to-day, and thank God, I’m not a depressed zombie or an angry, ranting cynic (most of the time…) but what I am is totally despairing that things are going to change. On the national level, it just seems to me like the ‘bad’ always wins, the superficial is always preferred, the lie is always more welcome than the truth.

In my own dalet amot, there seems to be so many things I’ve given up on or lost over the last few years, that I can’t seem to figure out how to get back. I know what happened with losing the apartment in Jerusalem, last year, was a massive blow, psychologically. Just as I thought I’d actually got somewhere – we signed, after all!!! – it all turned around for the worst, and left us with the biggest nightmare we’d had to deal with for a very long time.

It’s been a year since we made the agreement with our seller that saw us pay for all of her expenses (and of course ours…) as the ‘punishment’ for being dumb enough to trust her, and for being dumb enough to trust our dumb lawyer was actually doing his job. I think it’s taken a year for what happened to really work its way through my system.

The last 2 days, I realized that I’ve been effectively numbed-out for 18 months.

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Part of me knows it’s good to have had so many things not get anywhere, and to have so much frustration and failure. It keeps me humble. But it’s also keeping me lonely and despairing, because another part of me just doesn’t want to try anymore.

We’re meant to sit on the floor and weep over the destruction. Thank God, me and my family are healthy and we have a roof and food to eat. That’s already so much to be grateful for. But there are still parts of my life that appear to be ‘destroyed’, and that I can’t see any way of fixing.

I’ve pretty much given up on making new friends, for example. So many people have gone crazy the last few years, that I find it easier to keep my distance than too risk getting to close when the inevitable implosion happens. But I miss talking to people. I miss inviting people for Shabbat. I miss being part of something, socially.

And I just don’t see how it’s going to come back. I think I’m just too weird, these days, too out of sync with what passes for ‘normal’.

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Also, my spiritual side seems to be bumping along the bottom.

If not for the Rav and Rebbe Nachman, I really don’t know where I’d be because I am just going through the motions with so much of my yiddishkeit. I try to learn 2 laws of the Shulchan Aruch most days, with my husband. Of course I try to keep Shabbat, Kosher, the laws of Tisha B’Av etc etc – but I’m doing so much of that from a place of ‘default’, and not from a place of enthusiasm.

My kids keep telling me: we can’t pray, because we can’t really feel anything when we do.

I get them. I feel that about almost all the mitzvahs right now. There are so few things I’m doing that I can really feel I’m getting anything back from. My husband says this is good. He tells me this is keeping Torah lishma, for its own sake, and that this makes Hashem very happy.

I’m doing my best to believe him.

And in the meantime, I sit here spinning my wheels, wondering what I’m meant to be doing with my life. More pointless blog posts? More pointless books? More pointless efforts to try to move forward and ‘get somewhere’, even though it feels there is totally no point in even trying?

It’s a struggle of will each morning, to get out of bed and get on with the day, because it all feels so aimless and pointless.

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All this effort, but I’m so far from giving God what He really wants from me.

I’m still struggling with very harsh judgment calls against other people. I’m still lazy. I’m still selfish and self-centred, not really seeing other people in my picture and looking out for number 1.

The Temple isn’t rebuilt still, and I know who’s to blame for that: me.

Hard as I try, I can’t switch my ‘bad’ into good. I can’t be the force for good that God really wants me to be. I can’t resist goading people and provoking them, and seeing their ‘bad’.

So today, I’m going to try and sit on the floor, and spend some time mourning the destruction. I’m going to try to cry a bit, sincerely, for the trainwreck that modern life has become. It’s a place where we spend so much time staring at a screen, it hurts the eyes to look a real person straight in the face. It’s a place where the inner destruction is so total, we can’t feel anything anymore. Where the ability to really speak from the soul has been replaced by Whats App monologues and emojicons.

Today, I’m going to cry a bit, and spend some time engaging with the broken bits of my life.

I’m broken God, I’m clueless. I’m lost and hurting. I’ve given up on things ever really changing.

And I wish things were different.

But it’s totally beyond me to change them.

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In our prayers, we ask God to save us from the ‘Medina of Gehinnom’.

I think I’m starting to figure out what that’s really referring to.

On Sunday, I stuck an overnight bag in the car, unplugged my laptop and drove up to Kadita, a small village made mostly of recycled wood, close to Tsfat.

Kadita is hidden in the middle of the Birya Forest’s pines and hills – and even with a map and directions to guide me, it still took me the best part of an hour to find it. Part of the problem was that what my host was calling a ‘road’ was actually sign-posted as a bike track. After the fourth attempt, I finally found the ‘road’, and pretended my Hyundai i20 was really a jeep.

Sometimes, a car’s gotta do what a car’s gotta do.

And my car had to drive up a steep dirt track that was much better suited to goats than tyres.

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I didn’t really notice how bad the road was, as I was just concentrating intently on following instructions for how to find the place, a small rental shack in the middle of a farm, with no internet and barely any electricity.

Everything was solar powered, which meant the fridge switched off at night, and I was left with the light of two struggling lightbulbs. For the two days I was there, I spent most of the time trying to get my manuscript describing the 16 4 Element personalities into good enough shape so that I could send it off to an editor, for the next stage.

I went to bed early – 9pm – because the light was so bad and it was pitch black outside. I started to get that this is how people used to live, before the advent of electricity and street lighting, and I could see it had some big pros – and also some big cons. Life was certainly simpler and more ‘home’ focused in the past, because really, there wasn’t any other choice.

The roads were treacherous enough to traverse in the daylight, let alone when you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

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I woke up early in the morning, around 6am, and went to explore the neighborhood as part of my daily hour long hitbodedut, or ‘talking to God’ session. Which is when I stumbled across the tomb of Rabbi Tarfon, a tanna, who was buried halfway up a hill at an achingly beautiful site where his tomb was partially covered by one of the biggest, wide-trunked trees I’d ever seen in my life – ‘The Tree of Mercy.’

That ‘Tree of Mercy’ had to be at least a 1000 years old, if it was a day.

I had the place to myself, and as I sat there watching the sun come up over the surrounding hill, backlighting the groves of olive trees dotted all around, I sighed a deep sigh. If not for electricity pylons and their bobbing bright orange buoys, this same sight could have been seen for the last 5000 years…

I started poking around Rabbi Tarfon’s tomb, wishing that I knew a little more about him and who he was, when I came to a sign that had been hung against that massive tree. I’m reproducing exactly what the sign said, below:

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The Tree of Mercy

The tree you see before you used to be a sapling. At that time, Jews had hope that one day, Hashem, in His great strength, would place His holy nation within the borders of the Land of Israel. The tree grew tall, and stands strong for the world to see.

At the end of one long and wide branch, the tree grows once more, but in small form. The short growth on the branch reminds us that we ourselves as only a remnant of a mighty nation, the generation that returned.

We should not be satisfied and settle for less than Hashem asks of us.

Hashem will hear us, on the day we call. Call to Hashem, that He grants His mercy to our generation; that through this mercy Israel will be restored to its former state and to its former spiritual status.

May it be that through our love, fear and unshakeable belief in Him, through our Torah study, mitzvahs and good deeds for one another, He will continuously keep us close to Him, so we never wander away again.

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Under this message, which quite took my breath away, was the following:

Rabbi Tarfon says: The day is short and the work is multiplying, and the workers are lazy, and the salary is great, and the Baal HaBayit (owner) is insistent.

He used to say: It’s not for you to finish the job, but you are also not a ‘free agent’ to absolve yourself from doing it.

If you learned a lot of Torah, you will be given a lot of reward. The ‘owner’ of the operation is trustworthy, to pay you for your work. And know! The reward of the tzaddikim is given in the world to come.

Pirkei Avot 2: 15-16

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What can I add to that, that wouldn’t just detract?

I felt like Hashem was talking straight to me, via Rabbi Tarfon. I stood up to go, and noticed a peeling sticker that had been stuck to the backside of the ner tamid, the memorial light set up over Rabbi Tarfon’s marker stone. It said:

I believe with total faith in the coming of the Moshiach. And even though he tarries, despite this, I will continue to wait for him every single day, that he should come.

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My husband asked me to stop here. I’m respecting his wishes.

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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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Before Moshiach shows up, it says the troubles will pile up non-stop.

The last few months, I don’t think I’ve had a single night of peaceful, unbroken sleep. Between the teenagers, the heat (I don’t have air-conditioning) and the endless mosquitoes, every single night has seen me wake up multiple times.

And this has been going on since November. And really, I can’t even blame the teenagers because even on the nights that they’ve both been in school, I still have been sleeping pretty badly.

All this means that I am plodding through life like a half-dazed zombie at the moment. There are some days I’m so tired, I can’t even think about what to make for supper, let alone actually go and buy the stuff. It’s a problem.

I feel I can’t really ‘interact’ at more than a basic level with anyone right now, because I’m totally whacked out and I just don’t have the energy to do it. And then, there’s the matter of the book.

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I was actually just finishing up a piece of creative non-fiction five months ago, that I’d been working on with a developmental editor, and it was coming along very nicely. Literally as I got to the last page of that, One in a Generation Volume II suddenly came back on to the radar as a ‘live’ project, and I spent the 6 weeks before Pesach working at the speed of light to get that book out before Seder night.

I don’t know why there was such a mad rush, exactly, but I had the sense that it was very important spiritually to get that book ‘out there’, even though so few people have actually bought it or read it.

Then it was Pesach, which I had to sort out in a week as I had so little time beforehand because I’d been working on One in a Generation, and like all of us, I found preparing for the festival pretty exhausting. Over chol hamoed, I was so whacked out that mostly all I did was stay home, which is pretty unusual for me.

Time to slow down a bit, paint some more, do things at a quieter pace, I told my husband back then, as he nodded sagely.

That’s not exactly what happened.

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Post-Pesach, Shuvu Banim decided that they’d like to make something of a PR push around the book.

They found a professional who was happy to volunteer their services, so that more people would have a chance of hearing the truth about the huge miscarriage of justice around Rabbi Berland. So, I spent the month after Pesach putting together one PR proposal after another, one website after another, and having regular meetings to try to get One in a Generation to take off, somehow.

So much effort. So much work. So little to really show for it.

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This is how the PR guy recently summed up our campaign, in an email he sent me about all the problems he was having with the newswires.

“They think Rav Merav didn’t say his quote, that we faked it. But they don’t want to speak with him and then they want him to have an email with an official domain of a business or a Shuvu Banim email to then go through some verification process. However the strength of his quote is the fact he is an independent well known rabbi and not part of Shuvu Banim. We followed their process without giving him a Shuvu email and they said it was not good enough…
They also said a couple lines from your quote must be removed because it is against the Israeli court ruling… They also said we could not link to your video because of the same.  They didn’t want the parts saying there was fake evidence, the accusations were false, and that this was like Yosef from 3,000 years ago.  They got very nasty on the phone…
Most opposition I ever got in 15 years and that includes working for a company accused of compromising US national security and another accused of causing cancer!”
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Go back and read that again, because I want you to really grasp how much censorship of information is going on in the world generally, and about Rabbi Berland specifically. The media is totally manipulating the public to only think what they want us all to think, and to suppress any facts that goes against their narrative.

In the end, we had to shoot a video of Rabbi Meirav with totally toned-down quotes, just so the newswire would agree to even cover it. More ‘troubles’….

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So then, we got up to Shavuot and I was feeling mega exhausted.

I asked my husband if we could go to Uman for the chag, just us two. He agreed, we went – and then I discovered that the kever is totally closed to women over Shavuot, so I couldn’t get in. More ‘troubles’…

Instead, I went to Gan Sofia, and spent isru chag lying under some massive trees on an island in the middle of the main lake there. It was bliss. It was probably the first time I’ve ever chilled out in Uman, and I felt like Rabbenu was giving me a massive dose of ‘relaxation’ to counter-balance all the stress and lack of sleep of recent months.

The night we flew out, we’d also swung past Hevron for an hour, to join in Rabbi Berland’s prayer gathering, which he’d called after we’d already booked our tickets to the Ukraine. Rabbi Berland promised: Everyone who comes won’t have a minute more of suffering!

Who could resist a deal like that?

So now we get to the crux of this post.

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The day after I got back from Uman, I answered an ad looking for a new service that was looking for books to launch as part of a pilot program that was heavily discounted from what they’d charge once they’d got it all figured out.

I figured I’d try my luck, so I sent a two line email describing a book that was ‘almost finished’, that maybe would fit their program. In reality, I hadn’t written it yet, I just had the title, but I was so sure they wouldn’t respond.

Long story short: they took the book.

Which means I’ve spent the last few weeks furiously typing like a banshee again, trying to get the draft done to something at least approaching the time scale. It’s nearly done now, but in the meantime I’ve been totally neglecting my household and family the last month, AGAIN, and I know that’s not good, but what could I do, really?

The ‘troubles’ pile up like one wave after another, before one trouble is over, another begins…

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Yesterday night, after another day’s hard typing, I staggered off to bed at 10pm to see if I could try and get a good night sleep.

Just as I was dozing off, the ubiquitous mosquito showed up, and started dive-bombing my face.

This usually occurs in the five minutes just before I’m about to drop off, and I can get so agitated trying to find the mosquito zapper to electrocute it that all my adrenalin starts pumping, and then it takes me hours and hours to calm down enough to get back to sleep.

Yesterday, I was so tired, I couldn’t be bothered fighting that thing.

Let it bite me, let it suck my blood. I’m past caring.

I fell asleep – and an hour later, I woke up again because my husband had come home, and had just switched on the bedside light to try and track down the mosquito. He’s a great guy, but he’s got this habit of shining that spotlight straight in my face in the middle of the night, like he’s practicing to join a Mexican torture gang.

I squinted at him standing there with the mosquito zapper, looking apologetic but determined, and I wondered to myself:

God, are You out to get me? Because I have to tell you, it’s really starting to feel that way.

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I was too tired to take it further yesterday night, but this morning, I think I finally figured out what’s going on.

It says before Moshiach comes, the troubles will come so thick and fast that before one ‘problem’ is even over, the next one starts up. I know so many people are going through the ringer at the moment, with awful, massive problems hitting them thick and fast.

And in my house?

The ‘problems’ are my books, which are taking up so much headspace and energy without really giving a heck of a lot back, and the ‘troubles’ are the mosquitos, that hide out in my room just waiting for me to go to sleep.

But this morning, I realized just how lucky I am to have troubles like these.

Yes, on one level I’m having difficulties coping with the daily challenge of not getting enough sleep, but I’m not really suffering from all this, even though it’s challenging.

After Hevron, it seems ‘the troubles’ got sweetened.

But let’s be clear, I’m still looking forward to the time when I get have a good night’s sleep again, and not walk through life like a spaced-out zombie, and have a bit of time to paint and to actually interact with people.

But at least until Tu B’Av, it seems that just ain’t going to happen.

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The last few days, I’ve been in a funny mood.

I’m working on a book that’s explaining how the ‘animal’ brain that’s in charge of the body’s FIGHT-FLIGHT-FREEZE-FLATTER stress response has managed to hijack most people’s personalities, and it’s not coming easy.

So yesterday, I took my notepad and pens, and went to sit in the kever of Shimon HaTzaddik. I had the whole of the women’s section to myself, and I managed to write a lot about the FLATTER / EARTH dimension.

What’s so wrong with flattering other people? What’s so wrong with ‘making nice’ to people, even if they aren’t so nice and maybe are doing things that are really, really wrong?

That’s what I was trying to explain.

I wrote 10 pages, and came home. But, I was still feeling restless, so next I went off to Kever Rachel, up the road from me, where I sat down and tried to write about FREEZE / WATER. That’s where you isolate yourself, get discouraged and depressed, and totally give up on humanity (and yourself…) because there’s just no point.

I came home, made supper – but was still feeling restless. So in the evening, my husband and I went off to the Kotel, where I sat before the Wall for an hour writing about FLIGHT / AIR, which is where you can’t sit still, you can’t focus, you’re full of worry and anxiety and nervous energy which keeps you constantly ‘doing’ and stops you from really thinking about anything too deeply.

At the end of all that, I realized: the world is in such a big mess.

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Two weeks ago, I happened to trip over a ‘fake dayan’ in the course of researching something else.

Without going into details, he’d clearly forged his dayanut claims, and was a small-town crook pretending to be a ‘dayan’ who’d been invested by the Eida HaChareidit. He lives in chutz l’aretz, in a place where there are very few knowledgeable Jews who are able to catch him out, and he’s an excellent con man.

I’m still mulling over what to do with this information, particularly as he seems to have ‘retired’ from his claims of being a dayan to go and do other things.

Really, far more disturbing to me than the fake dayan himself, who clearly didn’t get enough love from his mum when he was growing up, are all the apparently real rabbis he was associating with. These ‘real’ rabbis must have known he was a total fake, but they apparently kept their mouths shut because it suited the enterprises they were associated with to be able to claim they had a fake dayan on board.

Why? Because having a dayan is a great USP.

These days, there a million people claiming to have smicha, or rabbinic ordination, but being a dayan is still a notable achievement. It still stands out. It still impresses people. And it’s much, much harder to fake, because it takes a minimum of seven years to achieve and actually requires some real knowledge of halacha that is rigorously tested by other very knowledgeable Jews.

That’s part of how I know this fake dayan is so clearly and utterly fake.

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So how did this guy manage to fool so many other ‘real’ rabbis, especially here in Israel?

Simple.

He didn’t. They knew he was totally fake, but they kept their mouths shut because they wanted to encourage more clueless non-Jews to hand money over to their organisations.

As I was researching this, I was wondering how could so many of our ‘real’ rabbis have such bad middot, and no-one else appears to be noticing it? How can they be such vain, money-obsessed phoneys, and yet people are still lining up on Facebook (and elsewhere) to laud them and praise them?

After doing a lot of praying on it, it came to me that LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

For as long as we ourselves are totally obsessed with dollar bills, it’s not going to strike us as ‘strange’ that a ‘rabbi’ spends literally half his shiur just talking about money. For as long as we ourselves are full of hatred and harsh judgments and anger, it’s not going to put us off to hear someone dissing a whole generation of young Jews, or upset us when ‘secular people’ get written off as being totally evil and beyond repair.

In fact, quite the opposite. We’ll actually be thrilled to hear all this stuff, and we’ll heartily approve of this hashkafa, because it’s just confirming our own bad middot and our own warped outlook on life.

LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

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Right now, there is an earthquake brewing under Manhattan and under the Knesset.

Without going into details, I think that a scandal is about to break that is going to turn the Jewish name into mud all over the world.

It’s up to God how much attention it will get, and how much damage it will actually do, but it could mark a turning point, because as long as the Jews and the Jewish State can claim the moral high ground, the good people of the world will be on their side and supporting them against the anti-Semites.

But what happens when a bunch of very prominent Jews are publically exposed as doing a lot of very ‘wrong’ things? Things that are so sickening and so morally perverted that any right thinking person will be totally disgusted?

What then?

It’s an interesting question.

How many Harveys and Jefferys and Bernies can non-Jewish society take, before it starts to dawn on them that Houston, we have a problem?

God is about to shine a massive spotlight down onto Jewish communities all over the world. We are heading into that next part of the birur, or clarification, process when more and more people will be singled out and asked:

Why didn’t you protest what was going on? How were you happy to keep on justifying such awful behavior, such monstrous people? How could you continue to hang out with these people, without noticing that something was terribly wrong? And to even praise them to others?

And the answer will be:

LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

We didn’t notice the problem by them, because we had it ourselves, in some way.

But soon, God’s going to start exposing all these ‘hidden’ issues in the Jewish community in the most distressing way.

And then, there will be no more pretending.

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