The last few days, since the beginning of the Jewish New Year, I haven’t been feeling so hot.

After pondering on what’s going on I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘vibe’ of the planet – or to put it in more spiritual terms, the Divine light that God is sending down to us 24/7 – has speeded up, or cranked up in someway, and my body is having some problems adjusting to it all.

People are energy – souls covered by an energetic mass that’s vibrating at a slower pace, to give it the illusion of being solid matter. That’s not new-age mumbo jumbo, that’s quantum physics.

God sustains every single cell, every single atom, by maintaining it in perpetual motion.

Some people call this the ‘electric charge’ associated with every single atom, cell, object, all the way up to human beings. Others call it the life-force. But whatever you choose to call it, the simple fact is that we are energy in motion, and what keeps us in motion (and consequently, alive) is God.

Since the beginning of the year, I feel as though the ‘light’ God continually sends down to the planet, or energy, or shefa (the Hebrew word for bounty) or blessing, or however you want to refer to it has got so, so much stronger.

Trouble is, if the vessel – i.e. the body – hasn’t been cleaned out enough to receive this extra input, it can cause all sorts of problems, physically and mentally.

What cleans out the body? There’s a few things, but it basically boils down to this:

  • Working on our bad character traits, and uprooting them.
  • Building and maintaining a strong connection to God, via talking to Him in our own words every single day (aka personal prayer, or hitbodedut).

Bad character traits and negative emotions have a huge impact on a person’s mental and physical health. They block the smooth flowing of the energy, or life-force around a person’s body. The cause the body’s energy meridians to back up, blow a fuse, surge unhelpfully or stagnate, all of which leads to physical health issues if not dealt with.

They cause the brain to act and react differently, leading to all sorts of mental issues, personality disorders and suicidal tendencies (amongst many other things.) So if the body is full of negative emotions and bad character traits, that means that energetically-speaking, the body’s electric circuits aren’t functioning properly.

If the amount of ‘charge’ coming down from God then gets amped up – a person is going to start blowing circuits all over the place.

How do we clear out the bad character traits and emotions? First, we recognize that we actually have them (an enormous problem for most people…) Next, we recognize the damage they’re doing, particularly to us, but also to the people we love. Last, we ask God for help to get rid of them – which brings us to the second point, about talking to God regularly.

When you talk to God regularly, you gradually ‘up’ your body’s tolerance to Divine light and you strengthen your soul. When the soul is stronger, it can start to ‘talk down’ to the body more, and make its voice heard. It can steer the body away from the cheesecake, towards the salad bar. It can encourage the body to get a good night’s rest, instead of messing around on Facebook until 2am. And, it can persuade the body that working on things like bad character traits and negative emotions is actually in the body’s best interests, too.

There’s an idea in Judaism that a person’s sins are literally engraved on their bones.

Until we make Teshuva, the ‘bad energy’, or blockages, or problems our sins have created in the world are literally stored in the body, and are the source of our physical aches, pains, and other issues.

Once we make Teshuva, the energy ‘recombines’ into it’s proper order, the body starts to work better again and we feel so much happier and healthier and holier.

God is sending more and more light down to the world. Once I started having all the weird aches and pains the last week, I started exploring what’s going on in my personal prayer, and tried to figure out what’s underneath that pain in my hip, that bad headache, that difficulty breathing. I’ve been getting some amazing insights:

The hip is a bad character trait I ‘inherited’ from an old relative, that I really need to work on uprooting asap.

The breathing issue was connected to me still being angry at someone who hurt me a lot three years’ ago. I had to work on forgiveness, and letting go of this person with love.

The headache is my nervous system going haywire because there are huge things building up in the world. For that, I’ve had to work on my emuna, and also to sedate the bladder meridian and triple warmer meridian points, and to stick lentils in a few places to try and clear the block that’s happening there.

It’s a work in progress, and it’s probably never going to end. But each time I clean off whatever issue arises, I feel so much happier and better. A big reason why people’s bodies wear out in old age is because if we’re not cleaning the sins out of bones, and we’re just adding to them as we go along in life, sooner or later we get to a point where the body can’t cope anymore, and starts to disintegrate.

God is speeding things up right now.

Work that used to take years can now take weeks or even just days and hours.

So, if you’re also feeling more tired, achey, fatigued or stressed than usual, know that it’s because your body, your vessel, is struggling to cope with the extra ‘light’ God is sending to the world. And if you don’t deal with it, it’s only going to get worse!

As a first port of call, pick up a copy of ‘Talk to God and Fix Your Health’, and then use all the ideas and techniques in that book to start clearing out your system across body, mind and soul. Whatever else is going to happen this year, God wants us to get to work on uprooting our bad character traits and negative emotions, and the sooner we start that process, the better and healthier we’ll feel.

You can buy Talk to God and Fix Your Health on Amazon and on The Book Depository

Rosh Hashana is never an easy time of year for me, as I usually feel the ‘din’ in the air and I spend a lot of time in a state of advanced internal stress.

That my husband goes to Uman really helps my peace of mind, because however ‘bad’ an experience I’m having at home, at least it comforts me to know that my husband is over by Rabbenu, getting the judgments sweetened on our family for the coming year.

But still, even with all the sweetening that’s going on in Uman, the last three Rosh Hashanas have been so hard for me and my family that as Elul began a few weeks’ back, I could already feel my stomach sinking.

Elul is here…which means Rosh Hashana will soon be here….which means two days of pure torture as we all just sit in the house feeling lonely, or try to find a shul somewhere with a tune I recognize…or I start thinking back to all the ‘fun’ Rosh Hashanas I seemed to have had back in galut, when I had a nice house and a big circle of friends…

The problem is that your mindset on Rosh Hashana sets the tone for your year, so if you’re feeling down, lonely, lost, victimized and ‘bad’ it doesn’t bode so well for the next 12 months.

My girls have also had difficulties getting into ‘happy’ mode on Rosh Hashana, as all of their friends disappear to do family things, and the three of us are left sitting at home and staring at each other, trying very hard not to feel too sorry for ourselves.

But this year, God gave me an idea to do something different. This year, I found a hotel in Tiberias that was meant to be catering to the Israeli Chareidi crowd for Rosh Hashana, and we booked to stay there.

A huge weight fell off my heart to know that this Rosh Hashana, it was going to be different. I had no idea if it was going to be ‘nice’ or ‘enjoyable’, but at least different, and that was a good start.

Tiberias is much, much hotter than Jerusalem, but given that it was already October, I wasn’t so worried.

As we got in the car to head up North, the temperature slowly climbed until it hit 40 degrees… WHAT?!?!? Even in the Summer that’s rare and a heatwave. Tov. I told myself and the kids: ‘Whatever God is going to bring us on this trip, we’re going to be happy with it.”

After a massive traffic jam, we finally got there an hour before the Chag. I ripped toilet paper. I made up the third bed in the room for my daughter. I went out on to the balcony to read my ‘Seder Vidui Devarim’ looking out on to the Kinneret, and I nursed a secret hope that this Rosh Hashana would be much better than the last few.

We went downstairs to the lobby to wait for supper, and were quickly surrounded by Jews of every type: Sephardim with the standard ‘Tunisian Savta’ in a wheelchair; Chareidim with a bunch of kids; the odd tattooed, tanned woman in a tank top who looked like she’d been dragged there against her will, to be with the mishpacha.

There seemed to be a few single women there too, older types who either wanted a break from all the cooking and / or just wanted to be somewhere around people for Rosh Hashana.

To cut a long story short, despite the rattling aircon in our room, the very hot, humid weather and the fact I was staying with two teenagers (!) we actually had the best Rosh Hashana for a very long time, baruch Hashem.

Watching all the complicated family dynamics playing out all around us worked a treat to make me see how spending holidays with ‘family’ is usually a bittersweet experience. My kids loved the 8 desserts – and better yet, hated the 8 desserts by the end of their stay as they realized that while it all looked so good, it made them feel like they wanted to throw-up afterwards.

I realized my cooking is still pretty darned good (a huge thing for me…) and also, that my life, my kids, my family is also very nice exactly how it is.

As a couple of bonus treats, God arranged for us to somehow find Rav Dov Kook’s shul in Tiberias, so I got to see him from the women’s section and hear some shofar blowing there. And on the next day, we managed to track down the ‘Tomb of the Imahot’, where six of our righteous women are buried, including Moshe’s mother and wife, Bilha, Zilpa and Elisheva, the wife of Aaron HaKohen.

The feeling I got by the holy mothers was so nice, I stayed there for 45 minutes saying some Tikkun Haklalis.

Towards the end of the Chag, I noticed one of the signs the organisers had posted up on the wall telling guests that their mood on Rosh Hashana was a good indication for the sort of year they were going to get. For the first time in about five years, I felt good on Rosh Hashana, and calm, and at peace, and happy.

Yes, it cost a lot of money to go there. But it helped me and my family go into the new year with feelings of gratitude and contentment, instead of feeling lonely and dissatisfied.

And getting a good start like that was worth every single penny.

Elul is never a ‘neutral’ month.

It’s the last month of the year, the King is in the field, and all the spiritual debts that have been riding the whole of the year fall due.

I’ve had some Eluls that were so bad, I just wanted to crawl under my quilt and come out again for Succot. Every day, some other huge challenge was happening, and I literally couldn’t cope any more. (This was three years’ ago, when the whole world was stuffed to the gills with spiritual judgments. I think everyone I knew had a terrible year that year, one way or another.)

This Elul isn’t like that, thank God, but what it is is really, really exhausting. No matter what time I wake up in the morning, I still feel I don’t have enough time to get ‘everything’ done, and I’m running late.

No matter how early I go to bed at night, I still feel pretty exhausted.

I know enough about basic health stuff to know it’s not food related, exercise related, or even, emotions-related (which with me is usually the biggest culprit). There is something coming into the world – my world – from the outside, slowing me up, and making me feel completely out of it and lethargic.

As I’ve mentioned before, I often get like this just before a big war, or before some big judgment or other starts to manifest itself in the world. So far, it’s so quiet in Israel – so bizarrely quiet, even – that doesn’t appear to be the explanation this time. (But you never know what the lead-in time with these things are…)

So what else could it be? Stress? Nibiru’s gravitational pull playing havoc with the human body? Moshiach?

Really, I have no idea.

But what I can tell you is that it seems like many other people have also been taken out by ‘Elul exhaustion’ the last couple of weeks.

When God’s ready, I’m sure He’ll resolve the mystery. In the meantime, I really do feel like crawling into bed, turning the light off, and waking up again towards the end of October, just in time to put my Succah up.

A little while ago, I bumped into an old friend of mine from the motherland, who used to be one of the most creative, deep, spiritual and loving people I think I’d ever met.

Of course, being ‘deep’ like that doesn’t come easy, especially in today’s world, and this person had gone through a lot of depressive periods and other forms of emotional turmoil.

Depression sucks, and is a very hard situation to accept and deal with. BUT – and it is a big but, depression also comes for a reason, a very good reason, and the key to resolving it is to accept what’s actually triggering it off in the first place, and to take steps to properly deal with it.

Depression is triggered by a couple of things:

  • Being made to feel worthless, invisible and completely uncared for and seen, by people who are very close to us, especially our parents and spouses. (This is linked to emotional neglect, which is not overtly abusive, but which can still kill a person’s soul stone-dead really, really fast.)
  • Being criticised, psychologically abused, blamed, ripped apart, disapproved of and controlled by people who are very close to us, especially our parents and spouses (This is linked to emotional abuse, aka psychological abuse, which IS overtly abusive, but usually rationalised away by the people it’s happening to.)

There’s just one problem:

Accepting that your mum / dad / sister / husband etc is the one making you feel like you want to just disappear out of the world for good, or like you don’t exist in the world, and that no-one really loves your or cares about you, is not easy.

In fact it’s usually so difficult to accept that your ‘nearest and dearest’ are literally making you emotionally ill and even suicidal with their emotionally neglectful and / or abusive behaviour, that most people prefer flat-out denial and Prozac.

Thankfully, the pharmaceutical companies and corrupt psychiatry have an alternative theory for depression that is much easier for most people to swallow: it’s just a chemical imbalance, silly!

Take this little pill, continue to carry on hanging out with your abusive family members, and don’t worry about a thing!

There’s just one problem with this theory (OK, I’m lying. There’s actually loads of problems with this theory, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself…) –

It’s completely false.

There’s not a single shred of scientific evidence to back up any claim that any emotional difficulty, from the most severe issues like schizophrenia, all the way through to depression, anxiety and ADHD are caused by any ‘chemical imbalances’.

(There’s so much to say about this issue, and I’ve written about it in more detail elsewhere.)

I was shocked when I saw my old acquaintance, because all the light in her eyes had disappeared. Even in her worst times, her eyes had shone with pain and sadness, but also with feeling, humanity and spiritual depth. That light now was gone. What had happened?

The answer was: Prozac.

After years of fighting off all the ‘helpful’ advice from other people about how to handle her depressions, she’d finally caved in and gone the drug route of dealing with the problem. It was just that much easier than acknowledging how dysfunctional her family life and relationships actually were.

Of course, she didn’t say that. All she said is that the anti-depressants were working a treat, and she felt great, really good, the best ever, actually. But the light was gone from her eyes, and I just couldn’t catch hold of my old friend any more in anything more than the most superficial way. Because the first thing that disappears when you take drugs – even prescribed drugs – is your connection to God, and your soul.

But that’s not all:

Whatever we don’t fix in ourselves simply gets passed on down the line, and compounded, for our kids. When people go emotionally AWOL because of the happy pills, they are no longer ‘there’ emotionally, for their neglect their nearest and dearest. And they can also become emotionally abusive to others, simply because they’ve lost their normal human sensitivity to what is appropriate behaviour.

As well as the spiritual coldness, my old friend had also developed a mocking manner of speaking to others, too. After five minutes of trying to talk to her, I really just wanted to run away as fast as my legs could carry me, because she made me feel really, really uncomfortable.

Ahhh, what a mess our world is.

When God is out of the picture, so much suffering and destruction occurs in the void. My old friend feels ‘great’, but she’s now treating other people like dirt, and is completely oblivious to that fact, because the pills she’s taking have dulled her true feelings, including her empathy and compassion.

Anti-depressants are meant to change how the brain works. That’s the whole point. Changing how the brain works is also a classical description of brain damage, and there we have the problem in a nutshell: anti-depressants cause brain damage, and change people’s personalities.

Not for the first time in my life, I saw how Prozac doesn’t just ‘disappear’ the external signs of depression, it also ‘disappears’ the essence of the person themselves.

But when God is in the picture, it can always come back.

I know, I come back to this subject a lot, don’t I?

The reason for that is simple: My husband and I have been seriously burned by a number of so-called ‘rabbis’ who were very keen to suck as much respect, effort, adoration and money out of us as possible, but much less keen to actually stand by us when the bad advice they gave us blew up in our face.

I went through such a deep crisis of faith as a result of my associations with these ‘rockstar’ type rabbis (and let me add in here that rockstar rabbanits are also becoming an increasingly big problem), that I’m now on a mission to do whatever I can to help my fellow Jew spot these people a mile off, and give them a wide berth.

The main problem is that especially for people who grew up in the West, the very title ‘rabbi’ carries an aura of holiness, wisdom and knowledge with it. It’s like the word ‘doctor’ in the secular world. People only have to add that in front of their name and they get instant ‘rockstar’ status. Well he’s a doctor! He’s a rabbi! She’s a rabbanit! They must know what they’re talking about!!!!

But sadly, that’s just not true.

My husband, God bless him, is about to sit his exam that will officially make him a ‘rabbi’ if he passes it. For the past couple of years, he’s been learning all about what makes a chicken liver kosher, what to do if the hotdog lands in a pint of milk, what happens if you have a non-Jewish worker who accidentally has a fatal heart-attack in your soda factory, and falls into a big vat of coke for more than 24 hours. Does that make the coke traif, or not?

The reason my husband is becoming a rabbi is very simple: I forced him to do it. I was so sick of all the fake ‘rabbis’ out there blinding everyone to their very warped, anti-God opinions and ideas with their ‘rabbinic’ credentials that I told my husband there has to be at least one rabbi out there who isn’t just doing it as a career move.

My husband was not keen at first.

He also hates all the honor-driven ‘I’m a RABBI you know’ stuff. But I told him straight: You’ve been learning Torah lishma, for its own sake for 11 years now. You do an hour of hitbodedut (talking to God) every day. You ask God to help you guard your eyes, to treat your wife and family nicely, and to have emuna. You have so much humility – and every time you think you know something, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong!!

You simply can’t say that about most of the other people out there who are ‘rabbis’ – well-known or otherwise – especially in the English-speaking world. So, after a lot of soul-searching (and nagging from me…) he took the plunge.

Here’s the strange thing we’ve both discovered: To officially become a rabbi, all you do is learn the Torah laws relating to keeping kosher. There are other areas you can learn too, but the basic ‘rabbi’ curriculum is all that stuff about hotdogs-in-milk and pickled non-Jews traifing up your coke.

There is no ‘family counselling’ stuff. No ‘secrets of the Torah that means you always know what you’re talking about’ stuff.

No magic formula that takes the rabbinic student and turns them into a fount of knowledge and wisdom.

Here’s the even stranger thing we’ve both discovered: The laws of kashrut are so darned complicated, in so many ways, with so many conflicting opinions abounding, that even to get to the right answer about the hotdog-in-the-milk, a rabbi still has to ask God to give him a lot of siyatta deshmaya.

If a rabbi has to be constantly asking God for the right inspiration just to answer the kashrut questions properly, can we even begin to fathom the spiritual level they have to be on be doling out life advice about how to raise your children and relate to your spouses? Or where to buy a new home? Or what medical treatment to take, or to avoid?

And here, dear reader, is where we get to the crux of the problem, because when a person is full of themselves and their ‘rabbinic’ credentials, they are generally completely empty of God.

Hashem says: “Me and the arrogant person, we can’t dwell together!”

When a person is arrogant – when they are holding themselves out as a fount of wisdom and advice, and when they’re off touting for people to come and ask them serious life questions, or forcing their opinions on other people as the only way, and God’s own truth – the sad fact is that they, and the advice they are so freely proffering, is completely disconnected from the Creator.

Again, I’ve unfortunately learnt this the hard way.

If the red flags had gone up the first time me and my husband were told things like:

“Well, if you’d bothered to ask me, I would have told you the exact opposite…”

Or when things were phrased as barked commands, or when I saw one person after another get burned by really bad advice, and then get blamed and instantly dropped by the ‘rabbi’ responsible for getting them into the mess in the first place – things would look so different now.

But that’s where my emuna, or belief in God, kicks in. Because God only used these horrible rockstar rabbis as sticks to teach me and my husband some invaluable things. Man o man, were they hard lessons to learn.

Things like the importance of valuing our own judgement, and respecting ourselves, and loving ourselves, each other and our kids unconditionally.

God doesn’t act, think or behave like a warped ‘rockstar rabbi’, playing on other people’s insecurities and fears to keep them feeling small, worthless and dumb.

God loves us. All of us. Unconditionally. He for sure wants us to keep mitzvot, but He also wants us to be nice to other people and to love ourselves, and to give people a break as much as possible.

I will come back to this subject again, because most of the people out there today who are encouraging you to trust them, to believe in them, and to follow them blindly, are not what they appear to be. Thank God, there ARE some real rabbis out there still, and three I can personally vouch for are Rav Berland, Rav Ofer Erez and Rav Shalom Arush.

But in the English-speaking world, rockstar rabbis of all stripes unfortunately prevail, and you need to be very, very careful.

Let’s end with this one piece of advice, that you can take or leave as you see fit:

The more you work on your own middot, and your own connection to God, the easier it will get to spot all the religious phoneys out there. Once you no longer tolerate anger, contempt, evil speech, harsh judgment, spiritual superficiality and competition in your own life, spotting the fakers will get SO easy.

Of course, working on all these things takes a huge amount of effort, patience and spiritual investment. That’s why the rockstar rabbis (and rabbanits) much prefer to keep trying to fix other people, than to try and fix themselves.

Today I went to the zoo. By myself.

Back when my kids were small, I used to use them as an excuse for doing things like going to the zoo, but now that they’re both teens, the zoo has fallen off their list of ‘cool things to do’. This morning, they left for a few days’ of camp up North with some friends, my husband went to yeshiva and then work, and I was left with the whole day stretching out before me.

Many of the women my age (42) in my circles (Israeli, frum) would kill to have a whole day to themselves, I know. But my problem is often the exact opposite: sometimes, I’m really, really lonely.

Strange to say, since we moved to the big city of Jerusalem, I’ve been less lonely than when I used to live in my ‘cosy’ communities of only a few thousand people.

When you ‘fit’ your community, then living somewhere small and intimate can be wonderful. When you don’t ‘fit’ – and let’s be clear, that I have never, ever ‘fit’ anywhere much, hard as I tried – then it can be a recipe for complete despair and mental illness.

It’s not always so easy being one of the rare people who aren’t popping anti-depressants just to get through the day, or who doesn’t have a Facebook account arranging their social life, or who keeps looking for more meaning in life than shopping, refurbishing, eating out and keeping fit.

Here in Jerusalem, I also don’t ‘fit’, but at least I live somewhere so eclectic and strange that I have that in common with pretty much all my neighbours.

In most ways, I’ve made my peace with being alone so much of the time. I’m anyway a writer, and the aloneness is good for the creative process…and it gives me tons of time to talk to God…and it enables me churn books out at the rate of one every three months…

On the days when I’m writing, and lost in my internal world of gathering knowledge, splicing information together and turning out neat, bite-sized articles about all the different stuff I’m learning about, I don’t feel lonely.

But on the days when I don’t feel like typing so much, or I don’t have so much to say, or I really just want to spend some time interacting with real people, sometimes the loneliness is very intense. But you know the weird thing I recently realized? I think in 2016, pretty much all of us are lonely – and the most lonely people of all are the ones surrounded 24/7 by people.

A couple of months’ back, Hashem had me bump into someone I used to know from the old country. Back then, we were pretty good friends (or at least, so I thought) and we were both very, very sociable. She stayed in Britain, I moved to Israel, we fell out of touch. In the subsequent 11 years, I went from being a social butterfly to being a practical recluse, but I was sure that my old friend would still be tripping the light fantastic with 500 other outgoing couples, just like in the old days.

Turns out, I was plain wrong.

My friend hangs out with just two couples these days. Even in London, socializing has apparently gotten a whole lot harder than it used to be.

Why is this? Some people will blame email and i-Phones, and they may well have a point because it’s hard to concentrate on the person in front of your face when the person sending you smileys gets announced by a ‘ping’. Others will blame the stressful pace of life and work, and they may also have a point because an exhausted person can’t do anything much except veg on a couch and stare at the wall.

But I think something much deeper is going on. In the past, there just weren’t so many people who were highly-strung, crazy, selfish and just plain nasty. Interactions weren’t as fraught or loaded. There weren’t as many ‘narcissist’ type people trying to manipulate you and make you feel bad about yourself. Very few people had the sort of medication-induced brain damage that renders a person unable to be real, really interested in other people, or really ‘there’, which is now unfortunately all too common.

In short, a lot of us have been finding that compared to spending a few hours with bona fide crazy people, it’s actually much easier to be by ourselves these days, even though it’s often lonely.

I know that’s what’s contributed to my own circumstances, because while there are a lot of people I could call, so many of them are so complicated and so unpleasant or self-absorbed to be around, I often just prefer my own company.

So it was that today, I went to the zoo by myself. I found myself a quiet corner under a tree to sit and contemplate the world around me, and to talk to God about how lonely I was feeling.

Why do I spend so much of my life alone, God? Why have you arranged things to work out that way in my life, that my days aren’t stretched to breaking by a large family, or a full-on job, or a large circle of friends? Why do I seem to be the only person here, who came to the zoo by myself?

My heart always knows the answers to these questions, and it’s when I talk to God that they get communicated to my head, and when I finally get some peace.

I have many ‘signs’ I’m looking for, to tell me that Moshiach has finally come. One of the biggest is that I’m going to be sociable again, and not so lonely.

Group of three chareidi teens standing praying by the Kotel

The place where I live in Jerusalem is a very unique mix of extremes.

There are extreme chareidim here – mostly Breslevers with long payot and big families. Then, there are extremely secular people here – with long hair and big tattoo collections. Then, there’s a third group made up of Mizrachi types that have lived here 50 years’ and are generally just plain bonkers.

We don’t fit into any of these groups, so we kind of watch the communal politics going on from the sidelines.

The latest battle lines were drawn over the garbage that keeps getting dropped by small kids.

Kids drop wrappers on the floor, that’s just what they do. But because some of the families here also send very, very small kids to take out the household garbage, and because they are too small to throw it into the communal dumpster, sometimes there is a lot of rubbish flying around.

The tension has been simmering under the surface for months, but the last few weeks it seems to have burst into the open. One of the more secular neighbours who’s lived here 50 years (as she keeps telling everyone loudly on the street…) suddenly went beserk and started smashing glasses all around her apartment to ‘stop kids from playing there and dropping rubbish.’

Sure, she tidied it up again half an hour later, but the message had been sent that hostilities were ratcheting up a notch.

It’s a strange thing that there are people who get very upset about environmental pollution and rubbish being dropped, but who apparently couldn’t care less about spiritual pollution.

So it is that for the last few days, there’s been an unholy gathering of self-appointed, demented ‘garbage watchmen’ getting together on the bench just next to my bedroom window.

The conversation is pretty standard: One complains about the ‘disgusting’ datiim in the neighborhood, and how much mess they make and how little responsibility they take. Then another starts yelling:

‘They have eight children!!!!! Eight children in one room!!!’

And then they start discussing their latest strategies to get all these ‘disgusting charedi people’ to clean up their act.

The first few times it happened, I yelled ‘Sinat Chinam!!’ as loudly as I could out my bedroom window, but I’m a softly-spoken Brit so no-one heard. When I tried to yell again, my husband came and gently escorted me to a different room.

“It’s not going to help,” he told me. “You can’t fight fire with fire.”

Hmmm.

Over the last two days, the chareidi women in the neighborhood have started to fight back.

I caught them having a pow-wow in my stairwell, discussing all the crazy secular people who keep coming up to them while they’re sitting on a bench, who start yelling at them for having so many children and making so much mess.

I have no idea what happens next, but what I can tell you is that I have days when my life feels like a bad episode of the Muppet Show. You remember those two cranky old men in the boxseat? That’s what’s going on by my bedroom window.

Eight children!!!! Who can put eight children in one room?!?!?”

When it started up again this morning, I seriously debated going down with my video camera to film them. ‘You have a very important message for Am Yisrael!’ I wanted to tell them.

‘Let’s record it, upload it to YouTube, and then you don’t have to keep repeating it (loudly….) every single morning.’

Sigh.

Is it just me, or are people getting more and more crazy and intolerant?

I mean, WHO smashes glasses around their house on purpose just to keep small kids away? Who cares more about dirty sweet wrappers than filthy speech? Sometimes I look around, and I think ‘How is Moshiach meant to come when things are still like this?

My husband tells me it’s always been this bad, and that God is going to redeem us because He loves us, and not because we deserve it. Maybe he’s right.

But I can tell you is that if the Muppet Show doesn’t give it a rest soon, I might just have a Miss Piggy moment myself, and start karate chopping the more annoying characters.

Hiiiiiiiiya!

We’re all so used to all the ‘birthpangs of Moshiach’ imagery that’s been tossed around for decades already, that I think many of us have forgotten what a birth is actually like.

Births are messy – blood, poop and I-don’t-know-what other gross things flying around the place.

They’re incredibly stressful – until the very last second when the baby pops out, everyone has a worry that it might not get there, God forbid, or that something could go wrong to harm the baby, or the mother.

They’re long, drawn out processes with a lot of stopping and starting – “I’m in labour!” – no, it’s just Braxton Hicks. “The contractions have started!” They’ve stopped again. “I’ve been having painful contractions for three weeks, already, I MUST be more than ½ cm dilated by now!!” etc etc

By the time the mother is ready to have the baby, she can’t move, can’t sleep, can’t really eat without getting terrible heartburn is and heartily SICK of the whole thing already – and that’s before the kid even makes it out into the real world.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I think a lot of us have a false image of what’s going to be going on in the world when Moshiach finally shows up. We think he’s going to call a press conference to announce he’s Moshiach, have a bunch of angels show up to coronate him, and then start riding around Jerusalem on his white donkey doing the ‘regal wave’ thing and magically disappearing all the problem people in our midst.

NOPE.

It’s not going to be like that at all. Moshiach is going to enter the world exhausted, after a long, difficult, messy and painful birth process where he’s been covered with every type of spiritual filth and cack you can imagine.

Remember, King David, the forbear of the Moshiach, was incorrectly considered to be a mamzer by his father and brothers for many long years, which is why he was sent out to tend the flocks and go and fight off lions and bears at just three years’ old.

Yishai was hoping something would eat him, and get rid of that ‘embarrassing’ family issue.

Remember, Tamar, the forbear of the Moshiach, was incorrectly accused of acting like harlot, when she got pregnant by Yehuda in a ‘libum’ arrangement to perpetuate her dead husband’s spiritual legacy (she had twins because she had two dead husbands to perpetuate, by that point.)

Can you imagine what Channel 2 would be saying about these people today?

“Chief Rabbi’s daughter admits to being a prostitute!!!!!!!”

“Rabbi Faker-so-so says: “This woman MUST face justice, and be burnt alive!!!”

“David’s own father shuns him: ‘The man is a MAMZER, and should be eaten by a lion!!!”

“EXCLUSIVE: David’s brothers admit: He forced the Prophet Shmuel to crown him at gunpoint!!! We’re scared for our lives!!!”

And so on, and so forth.

And then, all the armchair commentators would be having a field day.

“How can this man be KING when he’s clearly committed so many war crimes?”

“Yet another cover up by the religious establishment. King Amalek would NEVER have acted like this…”

“I can’t believe they let Tamar off the hook. She’s guilty as charged! Look at how she acted! If she wasn’t guilty, then why didn’t she just SAY THAT in court? I can’t believe these people.”

The Zohar curses anyone that views the Torah as ‘history’ with terrible curses. The Torah is a blueprint for living that’s as relevant for us today, in 2016, as it was 3,000 years’ ago.

So bearing that in mind, let me ask you something:

When the Egyptian establishment shoved Yosef HaTzaddik in prison for 12 years on the trumped-up charges of Potifar and his wife, who’s side would you have been on? I mean, Yosef went to prison!!!! For 12 years!!!! It doesn’t get more clear-cut than that, does it?

Or, when Moshe Rabbenu got shoved down a well in Midian for 12 years, who’s side would you have been on? I mean, he’s a wanted criminal in Egypt, a dangerous fugitive who killed an innocent man!!!!

Or, when Yaacov Avinu ran away from Laban, and then got chased down by him and all his men, who’s side would you have been on? I mean, WHY WAS HE RUNNING AWAY, if he hadn’t done anything wrong???? Why didn’t he stay in the country, with his wealth and his wives, if he wasn’t guilty of doing all the things that Laban was claiming????

What would Channel 2 (funded by the Rasha Corp, Inc) have to say about all these ‘so-called’ holy people?

What headlines would Arutz Sheva and the JPost be posting up? What comments would all the ‘experts’ reading about Yosef HaTzaddik from their armchairs in Eretz Yisrael be saying about him? What juicy quotes would they be squeezing out of the wicked Esav, about how terrible his brother Yaacov really was?

“Yes, he did exactly the same thing to me before he left – and that’s also why he ran away!” Esav would tell Channel 2, in an exclusive interview. “He stole my blessings! No one can trust him!”

And then, they’d wheel in one of Esav’s wives (with her face blurred and identify disguised) to pile on the ignominy.

People, the creation is renewed every day! King Shlomo told us there is nothing new under the sun.

Each of our biggest Tzaddikim was covered with spiritual filth, lies, controversy and scandal. It’s always been that way, and until Moshiach comes, it will continue to be that way.

In case you’re still unsure, here’s a few more ‘big’ Tzaddikim, many of whom were pegged as being the potential ‘Moshiach’ of their generation, and who were persecuted by the authorities of their time, and vilified by their fellow Jews, including even ‘religious’ people:

The Rashbi – Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai – who ran away from the Roman police and sat in a cave learning Torah for 12/13 years.

Rabbi Eliezer HaGadol – who was wrongly excommunicated by the Sanhedrin until a day before his death.

The Baal Shem Tov – excommunicated and vilified by even some of the biggest rabbis of his day.

The Baal HaTanya – Rabbi Shneur Zalman, founder of Chabad chassidim, who was persecuted and repeatedly slandered to the secular authorities (including by so-called ‘frum’ Jews…), resulting in him being chased all over the country, and spending time in prison.

Rebbe Nachman of Breslev – Another huge Chassidic master, the Shpola Zeide, took against Rebbe Nachman and started a slanderous campaign against him, that began so much of the controversy against him. Even his own uncle, another Chassidic Master Rabbi Baruch of Medzhiboz, opposed Rebbe Nachman for a time. (Can you imagine the juicy quotes Channel 2 would have tried to get out of him?)

Rabbi Natan Sternhartz – who took over from Rebbe Nachman, and who suffered the most terrible persecution, including being falsely accused of all sorts of things, and spending period of time in exile and imprisoned by the secular authorities. And who was behind this libelous, slanderous and even murderous campaign? (Because at one point, they dispatched a murderer to kill Rav Natan, but the man killed the wrong ‘Rav Natan’ and his family instead?) – RABBIS! And not just any rabbis, the most influential rabbis of their time, including the Savraner Rebbe.

History is simply repeating itself.

If you don’t know what happened before, you won’t know how to pass the test this time around. Again, the main point is that our biggest Tzaddikim have always been slandered, persecuted and chased by the evil people in our midst. That’s just how it is.

But how embarrassing, if you get up to Shemayim and they show you all the times you pinged on that horrible libel about Yosef HaTzaddik…or all the times you rushed to judgment against the ‘dangerous fugitive’ Moshe Rabbenu…or all the times when you could have stood up and defended King David, but instead you put the boot in, instead.

We read that stuff now, and OF COURSE we see how holy our Tzaddikim actually were, and how misguided (at best…) the people were who were persecuting them and slandering them.

But that’s the test.

Moshiach is not going to be ‘elected’ like a president.

Redemption is a birth process. It’s messy, filthy, stressful, confused and incredibly taxing, spiritually. There are people who are literally trying to kill our holy people, just like they’ve been doing all down history. Do you REALLY want to be a partner in their activities? Do you really want to end up where Korach ended up, or where Potifar’s wife got to, or even Absalom, King David’s son, who ended up in the lowest pit of Gehinnom?

So take a breath, and try to put the modern events unfolding right now in their proper, historical and spiritual context. As a people, we’ve been down this path before – many times – and always made the same mistake. If we really want Moshiach to happen, this time we need to really see what’s going on – all the lies and forgeries and slander that’s happening – and to pick the right side.

Last week, a day before I was meant to go on holiday with my family, I started to feel REALLY bad.

Nothing particularly sparked it off – there was no horrible news, Baruch Hashem, no stock market crash that wiped out all my savings (which is one advantage of not having any savings), no visit from the tax man, or unpaid bills for a million shekels.

But all of a sudden last Sunday, I started to feel really, really bad. Like there was no point continuing, like everything was doomed to failure, like I was NEVER going to get out of the hole I felt I was in.

Together with this horrible mood, I got a stomach ache that was so bad that I was literally finding it hard to breathe, and that’s when I really started to panic. I get a lot of somatic pain, where my emotions express themselves in my body, so I’ve learned when things are ‘emotional’ i.e. 99% of the time, and when they aren’t.

This pain was 100% emotional / spiritual, and was literally choking me to death.

I did all my usual coping things – like pressing acupressure points, and doing some cardiovascular exercise, and trying to take deeper breaths, and main-lining some lavender essential oil, and talking to God about what was going on and trying to figure out what was underneath all this stuff – but nothing worked.

Suddenly, I got the crazy notion in my head that I had to go and see Rav Arush ASAP. Now, even though I’ve lived in Jerusalem for two years, and my husband learns in Rav Arush’s yeshiva, I have never gone to visit the Rav all this time. But Sunday I felt so bad, even my famous British reserve dissolved. I had to find the Rav, pronto!

As soon as my husband got back from learning, I had him walk back with me to the yeshiva, to see if the Rav was in his office. He wasn’t there. So then, we tried the Rav’s house. As we got up to the outside door (which was fitted a few years’ ago, to stop people pestering the Rav night and day) there was a man standing outside it, who suddenly got buzzed in.

God bless him, my husband leaped into the open doorway, and then a couple of seconds’ later, he motioned to me to come in – the Rav was standing in the doorway and was happy to talk to me.

Dear reader, these things really don’t happen so often. Catching the Rav is much harder than you might think, but I kind of knew God was going to help me speak to him, because I was feeling the most desperate and down I’d been feeling for a very long time.

The Rav summed up my problem in about two seconds: I was spending far too much of my time beating myself up, and focusing on my bad, instead of looking at the good, and it was literally choking me to death.

He told me to read ‘The Garden of Wisdom’ every day, and that would solve the problem.

As soon as we left the Rav’s house, I felt so much better. For starters, I could breathe again and my stomachache had reverted back to its low-grade ‘normal’ status.

I got home and opened up the Garden of Wisdom, which is Rav Arush’s commentary on Rebbe Nachman’s tale of the smart one and the simple one. It said: ‘The Gift of Life’, and then went on to explain how when a person doesn’t have simple emuna, they literally live a hellish existence.

Man, I could relate.

As I wrote a few posts’ back, there are some extreme mood-swings coming down the pipe at the moment, and anyone who isn’t prepared for it could literally go bonkers (if they aren’t already…) I thought I was pretty insulated against the worst of it, because I do hitbodedut every day, and mind-maps, and look for God’s messages, and appreciate I have a lot of things I need to work on.

But I was wrong.

And without Rav Arush’s help, I don’t know what would have kept me from hitting the bottom last week, as I was sliding down there pretty fast.

Without our true Tzaddikim, where would we be? What we do? How would we stop ourselves from engaging in a poisonous paranoid fit, or a bout of toxic self-hatred, or destructive jealousy and rage?

There’s probably a lot more to say, but the world really is going mad. Even non-Jews in the UK, that most staid and conservative of places, are starting to notice that things are just not so normal at the moment.

It’s the birth pangs of Moshiach, and he really must be coming soon after all, because last week, they really, nearly, took me out.

For a while now, I’ve been pondering on how so many of the things that seem to be the province of the spiritual world can actually also be found in our own lives, too.

For example, (random examples, natch…) when your mother-in-law calls you up and tells you she’s coming to visit, that can plunge you into an experience mamash akin to Gehinnom, or hell, or purgatory, or whatever you want to call it.

By contrast, when you spend a lazy couple of hours jumping the waves, or reading an amazing book, or having a great conversation about real things, that can be a taste of paradise, or Gan Eden.

You get the picture.

So, one of the things that exists in the spiritual world is a form of punishment called the ‘Kaf HaKela’ or slingshot.

The basic idea is that the soul is put in this spiritual slingshot, and then pinged to the furthest end to the universe. Before it can even catch its breath or have a cup of tea, it’s pinged back to the other side of the universe, and so on and so forth.

Last week, I went up north for a much-needed small break with my family. One evening, we went to the lake front promenade in Tiberius. My kids went to look at funky clothing and hippy hairstyle accessories, while me and my husband slowly meandered from one side of the promenade to the other. Over there, by the big ‘Kinneret Water Level’ measuring sculpture-thingy, we had a very deep conversation about Rebbe Nachman, and all things ‘soul’.

On the other side – all of a 15 minute slow walk – we got assailed by 80s music including Simply Red and John Lennon’s Imagine, and suddenly – ping! – I was back in my old life as a completely secular teenager in London.

The experience was very disconcerting for both me and my husband, which started to crystallize my ideas about the ‘Kaf Hakela’ experiences so many of us are having these days, where we literally ping from one extreme of frumkeit and spirituality to the other of coarsest gashmius and goyish thinking, in a nano-second.

Here’s another example: on the way back to Jerusalem, my kids were desperate to go the ice rink in Holon. So – ping! – off we went to a place of spandex, shorts and more 80s music. (If you want to know why I went, it’s because I’ve come to understand that I can’t fight the Kaf Hakela. I tried that for four years, and it literally almost killed me.)

Less than an hour later – ping! – my husband got home and immediately headed out to his yeshiva, where he gives a weekly shiur on the Garden of Emuna.

In the meantime, I pinged off to do a whole bunch of mitzvot that I just wouldn’t have to do if I wasn’t a frum woman.

But smaller versions of the Kaf Hakela happen pretty much every hour in my life. I sit down to type a post like this, and then – ping! – I find myself looking at Quora questions about the latest celeb nonsense (they appear automatically in my feed). Or, I read something in Likutey Moharan and – ping! – five seconds later I’m looking at some political scandal on ynet (that doesn’t happen too often, BH, but the point is it DOES happen).

Or, I’ll be listening to some uplifting Yosef Karduner tune when one of my kids will come in, turn it off and start playing the latest ‘Taylor Swift’ (or whatever her name is) really loudly. Ping! Ping! Ping!

On the Jerusalem streets, I encounter Kaf Hakela every day.

One minute, it’s the guarding-their-eyes Breslover, the next, some bint with massive holes where her earlobes used to be and half-pink hair, and of course the de rigeur completely gross tattoos.

But you know what? Now that I’ve figured out that I’m in some sort of Kaf Hakela experience, and that there’s nothing much I can do about it except sit back and enjoy the ride, I’ve started to feel quite a bit better about the whole thing.

Usually, I beat myself up for not being able to stay 100% in the ‘frum’ world all the time, hard as I try. But once I got the message that this is actually a form of Divinely-ordained experience that’s paying off my spiritual debts, I’ve started to ease up on myself.

That I’m in Kaf Hakela in so many different ways in my life – constantly pinging between body and soul, yetzer tov and yetzer hara, Israel and the UK, past and present, religious and not, English and Hebrew, keeping it together and completely falling apart – I can’t help.

That’s God’s decision.

But what is down to me is how I react to being flung across the world from one place to another every 5 seconds. I don’t like it, that I know. But now I know it’s from God, and not because of anything I’m doing myself (at least in this life…) I feel calmer about the whole thing.

So for now, it seems we’ll continue to mix iceskating with emuna shiurim, and Brexit polls with articles on Rav Berland’s website, and ‘Frozen’ soundtracks with Yosef Karduner. Do I get why? Not really. But that’s true of a lot of things I’m currently experiencing in my life.

Many days, I don’t know which way is ‘up’. Sometimes, I have so much clarity it’s scary, and the next – ping! – I’m completely lost and clueless. I guess the point is to cling to Hashem. Rebbe Nachman teaches that the world is not God’s place, but God is the ‘place’ of the world. God is everywhere, as King David taught us in Psalms. So whether I’m davening a shmoneh esrei or listening to Imagine, I can still choose to be with God.

And maybe, choosing to be with God is the only way you ultimately get free of the demented experience of living life in the Kaf Hakela.