In ten days time, I’m meant to be flying out of Israel to go to my brother’s batmitzvah celebration in London.

I spoke to him a couple of days ago, and I told him I don’t think I’m coming.

Israel had just announced that anyone coming back from abroad would have to self-isolate for 14 days in bidud, and much as I love my brother, we have no family here, we just moved and I don’t know the neighbors, and there is no-one who could keep my family unit going with groceries if I’m out of action.

Such strange days we live in.

My daughter is currently coughing her guts up and streaming phlegm, as she always does when Spring appears and her hayfever kicks off. Although this year, with all the anxiety about Corona and a few other things going on in her life, her asthma has also ramped up again.

Most years, my daughter’s seasonal hayfever and asthma is not a big deal.

This year, with all the hysteria about Corona, she’s scared to leave the house in case people think she’s going to kill them with a sneeze.

====

In the meantime, in my own dalet amot I’m having such a strange mix of tremendous good, and tremendous confusion. On the one hand, the house we managed to miraculously rent has blossomed into such a beautiful home.

We had Purim seuda yesterday, and for the first time in 7 years we had enough space to invite a few families together. Honestly, it was initially a little strange, but then we whacked the music up, started dancing and the magic happened and le ha fochu. The weird atmosphere broke and everything turned around.

For a few hours.

====

So much of the time right now, I don’t know what’s good and what’s bad, what’s right and what’s wrong.

Yesterday, I went for a walk to the Kotel, and I was really pondering to myself if I’m more a Haman, or more a Mordechai, because I honestly have no idea right now if I’m giving God what He really wants, or the opposite.

Everything seems so upside down at the moment.

I know it’s all exploding in madness everywhere you look, but it still seems to me that the best response to everything that’s going on right now (apart from making some serious teshuva, particularly in how we treat other people) is:

To bake cookies.

Yes, you read that right.

====

There is nothing better to do right now, apart from reciting lots of tehillim and doing lots of hitbodedut, except to bake cookies. Because until Hashem decides that the world really is ending, we parents have a duty to show our children that the world is still continuing in the meantime.

Already, our kids are struggling to stay in school. Already, they are struggling to get up in the mornings. Already, they are feeling like there is no point in continuing or carrying on, because the apocalypsa is around the corner, so what’s the point?

Honestly, don’t we grown ups feel that way too, so much of the time?

==

I’m not saying this lightly.

I’ve been waiting for geula, and trying to prepare for it in as real a way as I can for at least the last 15 years. But now that it looks like we may be coming down to the wire, and the geula really might be materializing before our eyes, increasingly the most important priority for me, as a mother, seems to be keep things as ‘normal’ as I can.

That means baking cookies. That means cleaning toilets. That means doing my best to look after my children, my family, my husband the best way I can right now.

I have my People Smarts Course that’s half done, and my People Smarts book that has been waiting six months to get sent to the printers already. For months, I haven’t been able to get to it.

Finally, last week, I realized that maybe, that’s not my main work right now.

My main work seems to be to look after my family – even tho my kids are 16 and 19 already – and to make my family my main priority.

So, I find myself making sandwiches and suppers in a way that I haven’t done for years, since they were much smaller. I find myself ferrying them around in the car – not least so I can have some quality time to really talk to them – and taking them to different places and appointments and people, because it seems like there is just so much going on, at the moment.

In some ways, it feels like my family, my responsibilities to these people who I live with, and care for tremendously, have kind of been ‘getting in the way’ of my life.

At least, that’s how it looked.

But today, I’m thinking more and more, this is actually my test, right now.

====

There is no better way of working on my bad middot and doing acts of kindnesses that really count than by focusing on the people in my home.

Rav Berland explained weeks ago that Corona has the same gematria as ‘mitvot bein adam l’havero’ – the mitzvahs that take place between people.

And nowhere are those mitzvahs more trampled – or more needed – than in the home.

And especially between parents and teens.

So, if you’re reading this, and you have a teen at home, and especially if you have a difficult teen at home who is struggling, stop reading this and go give them a hug. Go tell them that you think they’re amazing. Go and find something to praise about them, to their face, go make them a sandwich, take them out and get them a new top, or take them somewhere they’ve been bugging you to go for ages.

In short, go and love them unconditionally, with as much energy as you can muster.

Because that is the main test right now.

====

So many people are now being forced to spend 14 days cooped up with their families, with no distractions.

There’s no malls and chugim to run away to, no work deadlines, no shopping, no shiurim, no beaches and expensive holidays and restaurants.

All there is, is our raw family unit.

And that is the real test – does it feel like gehinnom or gan eden?

Is there love in the home, or constant arguments, guilt trips and withering criticism about all the things that aren’t being done 100% ‘perfectly’?

Are cookies being baked in that home, or not?

That is the question.

====

Photo by Ruth Reyer on Unsplash

====

You might also like this article:

Yesterday, I was talking to my brother in the UK, who kind of summed up what’s going on:

Half of me feels like this is an overhyped load of b*llocks, and half of me feels that this is way, way worse than we’re being told and is going to be a disaster. And I don’t know which half is right.

I get you, mate! I feel exactly the same way about all this Coronavirus stuff, but in the meantime it seems the whole world is turning into a Purim Shpiel.

Aussies are slugging it out over toilet roll, and the panic buying has spread to London, too, where my mum told me my dad was out trying to track down some Kleenex and kitchen roll before it all disappeared.

Tomorrow, he’s heading back into the fray to try to pin down as many tins of beans as he can carry…..

====

And even in the Levy household, there was minor panic from the husband this morning when I told him that Italy had just put 16 million people into lockdown until April.

He went really quiet, his leg started jigging, and then after a minute he said to me:

Can we go and get some extra water, and bits, just in case?

Déjà vu!

====

I instantly flashed back 10 years ago, when I was stockpiling tuna, packets of couscous and mineral water like a crazy person because the autistics were telling me it was the end of the world….

Back then, my husband thought I was totally nuts, but he went along with me.

This time around, I think stockpiling is totally pointless, but I went along with him, and spent an hour unexpectedly rushing around Super Sapir trying to fit 4 six packs of water into the trolley around various canned goods, big boxes of cornflakes and bumper packs of rice cakes.

When we got home, I asked my husband:

Do you feel better now, that we got two massive boxes of cornflakes and 20 tins of tuna?

He tried to tell me that yes, that had made some difference to his mood, but honestly?

We both knew that he was lying.

====

All this stockpiling, what does is really do, except just delay the inevitable?

One of my kids told me that they want to be the last ones standing, if it comes to total apocalypse, God forbid, and I laughed in their face. Way, way better to be amongst the first ones to go, and to avoid weeks and months of agonizing panic and total fear.

And in the meantime…. I believe in Hashem, and I’m adopting the ‘no big deal’ approach to all this. Because whatever God wants, that’s totally fine with me, and I’m not going to start frantically trying to plant potato tubers in the patch of earth next to my house (like my oldest kid wants to) because there is totally no point.

If God wants me alive, He’ll make sure I have what’s required to do that.

====

Ironically, I’m actually enjoying myself more than I have been for over 8 years right now, since we moved in to the new place.

I love the garden. I love the view. I love the space. I love that it takes me exactly one hour to walk down to the Kotel, kiss the stones and return to my home – the perfect hitbodedut route.

Today, I headed off to the Baba Sali, to pay a long overdue visit and to tell him that finally, that palace in Jerusalem that he promised me so very long ago – with a garden! – has appeared.

I always get a lot of clarity, a lot of insight at the Baba Sali, and today was no different. I got a ‘message’ about what’s going on to share with my readers, so here it is. Take it or leave it, this is what I wrote down:

“Love Hashem! He is doing all of this for the nation of Israel. How much we suffer is totally in our hands. Lack of emuna = fear = great suffering. The more you can trust Hashem, the easier this next part will be.”

====

The second book of prayers from Rabbi Berland, including the special prayer to say to be protected from Coronavirus, is due to come out in the next couple of days. I’m sure it’s going to do something big, something massive, to change the whole equation again.

Each time those books come out, they coincide with some absolutely massive things happening in the world, that simply couldn’t be foreseen.

Also, Purim is almost here, when everything can turn around again.

I already don’t know the difference between ‘Mordechai and Haman’ at this stage, so I guess I won’t need to drink very much – at all! – to fulfill the mitzvah.

====

And in the meantime, the Purim Shpiel continues in full force.

It’s got to the point where I literally can’t believe some of the stuff I’m reading, like Chief Rabbis telling us not to kiss mezuzahs, and synagogues putting out instructions to not kiss the Torah in shul because of Coronavirus. The world is getting madder by the second.

Everything is changing and nothing is. The world is hanging by a thread, and yet continuing on as though nothing is happening. It’s the end of civilization as we know it, and also just another day of the media totally hyping things up and lying through their teeth.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring?

It’s going to take another few weeks until we see if this really is a big storm in a teacup, or God forbid, the start of a massive, fatal pandemic.

And in the meantime….it’s Purim.

And this year, we’re all feeling that everything has tipped upside-down.

====

UPDATE:

I just got sent this link for a Facebook page promoting Rabbi Berland’s Coronavirus prayer. I’m not on Facebook, but if you are, and you want to help tip the scales away from a massive pandemic, please do get the link around in whatever way that happens, in Facebook world. Here’s the page:

https://www.facebook.com/Universal-Prayer-for-Coronavirus-100113791621534/?view_public_for=100113791621534

You might also like this article:

5 things you can do right now, to give yourself spiritual protection against the Coronavirus.

Yesterday, I got a text telling me that the Israeli Health Ministry had pinpointed a potential ‘spreader’ of Coronavirus in Baka, the Jerusalem neighborhood where until last week I lived.

I went to check out the Health Ministry website, and saw that a 50 year old woman from NYC who subsequently flew back to the States and then was discovered to have COVID-19 had been all around Baka, and also all around the Mamilla Mall.

The site listed where she’d been on the different days, and told members of the public that if they thought they’d come into contact with this woman, they should ‘self isolate’ at home for 14 days.

So then, I went to check out what ‘self isolate’ actually means, tachlis, and honestly, it was hard to keep a straight face.

The instructions were basically to sit in a ventilated room in your house, come out of it as little as possible, and to wash your hands like a bad case of OCD before and after touching anything. Oh yes, and to wear a facemask whenever you do come out of your ventilated room.

====

When I lived in the UK, we went to visit a decommissioned nuclear bunker in the countryside close to London.

This was where HM Government was meant to decamp to in case nuclear war broke out.

It was one of the most interesting places I ever went to, not least because it was screening the ‘propaganda movies’ that the British government was putting out in the 1950s, telling citizens what they should do in the event of a nuclear war.

The basic message was this:

“Draw your curtains, lock your front door, then go and sit under your table.”

Didn’t the British authorities know that none of these things would help a jot, if the Russkies decided to drop a nuke on Old Blighty?

Of course they knew that! But they deliberately put out misleading information encouraging people to ‘sit under their tables’ in order to keep people off the streets if something did trip off, and to give them something to do – however pointless – to help quell that mounting sense of panic.

When I read the Health Ministry instructions yesterday, I caught a powerful whiff of déjà vu.

====

So today, I went off to the same bakery in Baka I’ve been going to for two years, that usually has a queue so big on a Friday morning it snakes around a few times – and it was pretty quiet. I went to the health store, that is also usually buzzing Friday morning around their breakfast buffet – and it was also pretty quiet.

I guess half of Baka has decided they need to ‘self isolate’ because that one woman was in the Hadar Mall and Osher Ad, and the rest of the customers have decided to avoid Baka like the plague (so to speak….) until things have calmed down.

Whenever that is meant to be.

====

In the meantime, the rubber is really starting to hit the road, with this whole Coronavirus epidemic.

That means that the differences between people who really are trying to have emuna, and who really are holding on to our true tzaddikim, and the people who don’t are about to become very obvious.

Already, some of my kids’ friends are experiencing panic attacks and obsessing over wearing facemasks. Already, some people are starting to stockpile bottles of water, and to buy in six packs of tuna.

But with Pesach barely six weeks away, how much dry goods can you really stockpile anyway? And where are you meant to keep the 90 litres of bottled water you’d really need to keep going for six weeks of chaos? And who is to say that even if you ‘prepped’ like a superstar, and was totally stocked up, that some less prepared people with guns and violent tendencies wouldn’t just come and take it all away, anyway?

Déjà vu. Déjà vu.

====

Eleven years ago, back in 2008, when all the banks started to fail, I was deep in my ‘autistics fearmongering’ stage, and I never had less than 36 bottles of water stored somewhere in my house, plus tens of tins of tuna, plus many bags of couscous.

This time around, even tho things are looking like it’s about to get pretty complicated, at least short term, at least in some way, until we see which way this Coronavirus epidemic is really going to swing, I am not stockpiling anything.

Instead, I’m switching my ‘prepping for disaster’ into the spiritual realm, and this is what is in my ‘spiritual survival kit’.

I strongly recommend you also go and put something like this together for yourself, ASAP.

====

5 Things That Will Give You Spiritual Protection Against The CoronaVirus

  • A copy of Rabbi Berland’s prayer to be saved from the Coronavirus. You can download it as a PDF here, and I’m also including it here on my site, below, to make this super easy for you. Download it, PRINT IT OFF, so you have a physical hard copy in your home, and say it every day.

https://ravberland.com/wpcontent/uploads/2020/02/coronavirus-prayer.pdf

  • Tikkun HaKlali – there are so many stories of people who saw open miracles in Israel’s past wars, rocket attacks and intifadas, from regularly reciting the Tikkun HaKlali. You can buy one here, or you can get a PDF with English transliteration that you can download and print off HERE.

UPDATE: They took the Tikkun Haklali out of the document because Artscroll complained it was infringing their copyright to transliterate it in that fashion. So, please try THIS version instead – it’s a Hebrew version with an English translation.

====

Rabbi Berland just put out a new message asking people to recite 7 Tikkun HaKlalis a day.

I know that’s a lot, but make a commitment to saying at least one – or 3 – or something – every single day, because as I’ve written about previously: we aren’t saying this prayer for the Rav. We are saying these prayers 100% for ourselves. We are the ones who will benefit the most from reciting the Tikkun HaKlali.

  • Make a real effort to improve your mitzvoth bein adam l’chavero. This phrase has the same gematria – 363 – as ‘Corona’ in Hebrew, and was identified by the Rav as being one of the main things that the Coronavirus is coming to rectify.

====

Tachlis, that means treating other people nicer.

And the main place to start with this mitzvah is in your own household. How are you treating your spouse? Your kids? Your parents? Your siblings? Are you considerate of other people’s feelings, or are YOU the only one that ever appears in the picture?

How often do you practice bitul, the art of backing down and nullifying what you want or what you prefer, in order to respect someone else’s wishes and free choice? (This is often a huge problem for parents, who can continue to emotionally bully and negate their children well into their adulthood.)

How often do you do a real cheshbon hanefesh, and then apologise for the things that we all say and do, all the time, that hurt other people, even unintentially?

How much tzedaka are you giving out with a happy heart? How much effort are you making to practice Azamra, which is the art of seeing the good in other people, especially our fellow Jew?

And especially ourselves, because people who can’t see the good in themselves, and who don’t like themselves very much, are usually the people who are so very harsh and hurtful to those around them.

Especially their kids, and their spouses.

====

  • The next thing in the spiritual toolkit is to work on emunat tzaddikim, and in particular, that means double-checking if you spoke or thought badly of any tzaddik, but especially Rabbi Eliezer Berland.

As you can see HERE, some of the kabbalists in Israel are breaking cover to identify Rabbi Berland as the head of the lamed vav tzaddikim, the 36 holy Jews in whose merit the world continues.

Well-known kabbalists including Rabbi Menashe Amon and Rabbi Amos Guetta have both made statements recently that link the spread of Coronavirus to the treatment of Rabbi Berland, and that also make clear that the Rav is ONLY in prison because he is atoning on behalf of Am Yisrael.

====

It’s going to be interesting to watch how this Coronavirus plague starts to operate in Israel, and who it’s going to really affect, because this whole thing is spiritual.

For example, Baka happens to be the stronghold of American Reform and Masorti in Jerusalem, so no big shocker that it’s one of the first places slated for mass quarantine.

But I’ve also heard that chareidi journalists and Israeli prison guards have also already been put into quarantine, as well as generals in the IDF.

They are talking about closing down all of the government institutions this coming week, including courts and prisons, depending on what happens next.

None of this is a coincidence, it’s a direct hint as to who is in the sites of this spiritual virus, and what they might have done to get themselves there.

====

The last thing I have in my spiritual toolkit against the Coronavirus is this:

  • Adopt a positive attitude and remember Ein Od Milvado. Sure, I could sit here panicking that the end is nigh, and that total chaos and apocalypse is going to break out any second. But how is that going to help me?

If God wants me dead, He doesn’t need a Coronavirus to do it. I drive in Israel, I live next to a million Arabs on the seam in East Jerusalem. Every day I come back from Route 1 in one piece, that’s a miracle. Every day there isn’t a terrorist attack, a terrorist rocket, a bomb, a stabbing, a ramming incident, that’s an open miracle.

God doesn’t need a germ to kill me.

Also, what I think and believe actually creates the reality.

If I’m panicking 24/7, and believing every little cough is potentially fatal, that is creating that reality for me – and it’s a horrible reality to live.

If instead I adopt a ‘no big deal’ approach to all this stuff – and everything else that’s going on at the moment that could be very worrying and upsetting – then I will come through it all in way better shape emotionally and physically, regardless of what actually happens.

I’m not in charge of the world. God is.

The more I internalize that, the happier I feel.

====

So like I said, this whole Coronavirus is going to be a huge test of emuna, and emunat tzaddikim.

It’s going to smoke out the fakers in an obvious way, and it’s going to encourage huge swathes of Am Yisrael to actually stop running away from God, and to sit still and really just be in their lives, for a change.

When you have to spend 14 days at home with your family, with very little distractions, that is bound to show you exactly where the fault lines lie in your relationships and personality.

No more running away into work, or shopping, or exercising, or socializing.

People will just be faced with themselves, and with the true state of their own souls, and with the stark reality that they aren’t in control of anything, however much they hoped and believed different.

And that’s when the real geula magic will start to happen.

====

Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash

====

You might also like this article:

For about five minutes yesterday, as I was driving back to Jerusalem on Route 6, I had this amazing feeling of being so connected to God, and seeing how He’s guiding every tiny detail in the world.

The traffic was flowing, the scenery was beautiful, and I had a profound sense of peace and excitement.

Moshiach is almost here, I can feel it….

====

I got home, and instantly my mood changed.

Someone had sent me a link to another crappy Israeli TV ‘expose’ about Rabbi Berland, blah blah blah, and somehow, my oldest daughter had opened it up when she was using my computer, and then spent two hours watching more poisonous crap about the Rav.

Excuse my mild swearing.

I’ve just so had enough of all this.

So, I told her:

I can’t keep trying to clean this stuff up for you, spiritually. You want to watch poisonous crap about the Rav, from lying, immoral, anti-God journalists, what can I do? Bezrat Hashem, God will help you to figure out the truth by yourself, because I am no longer prepared to sit her to try and shore up your shaky emunat tzaddikim.

That’s not an easy thing for me to say, because I know that it’s not going to go easy for anyone who finds themselves on the wrong side of the Rabbi Berland equation, and I love my daughter tremendously.

But each person has to fight their own fight.

And I also decided that I am totally coming off Youtube, and once I’ve finished typing this, I’m going to see if there is a way I can totally block it and / or erase access. (If anyone has any tips for me, please leave them in the comments section.)

====

The more the current craziness plays out in the world, the more I’m seeing that there is really only one way that we can short-cut things like pandemics, plagues, economic depressions, terminal illnesses and wars, and that’s by working on our own middot.

All this Coronavirus stuff is just a case in point.

Regardless of whether it really is a potential world-killing pandemic, or just a totally over-hyped strain of flu that the media is using to whip-up mass hysteria for some unknown reason, what it actually all boils down to is just a big test of emuna.

Sure, you may be wearing a shawl, and thinking like you are the holiest thing to hit the world since Moshe Rabbenu, but if you’re scared to ride a bus in Jerusalem because of Corona, that is a clear indication that your real level of emuna is actually way, way less than you think.

Wherever there is fear of something that is not Hashem, that’s called ‘fallen fear’.

The whole idea, the whole goal, is to work through all the millions of ‘fallen fears’ that we all have, and to raise them back up to their root in emuna. That means understanding that God runs the world, God is doing everything for our ultimate good, and that everything is just a message from Hashem.

God doesn’t need Corona virus to kill anyone – if He decides we’re going to croak, that’s it, end of story, even if we’re wearing a bacteria-killing mask 24 hours a day and have an IV drip infusing our blood with industrial quantities of Vitamin C.

====

God is running the world.

Let me repeat that again, as I know it’s so easy to forget it:

God is running the world.

Once I understand that, I stop obsessing over using the hand sanitizer, and I stop panicking when someone coughs next to me at work, and I stop checking out ‘the latest’ germ-blocking face masks.

And instead, I take some time out, and I go and explore why do I feel so scared? What am I doing, what sins am I engaged in, that are making my soul feel so anxious and frightened?

And top of that list is:

The sins between adam l’chaveiro.

====

Recently, I’ve had a lot of kids who dropped out of the Torah world in my orbit, especially from the city of Bet Shemesh.

That place seems to have cornered the market in terms of dysfunctional ‘religious’ families where the parents are so super-duper, mega-crazy ‘frum’ on the outside – but actually treating other people, and particularly their kids, really badly.

What I’ve been learning is that the yetzer has been totally running rings around so many of these people. It’s convinced them harshly criticizing their children for not being ‘perfect’ is the best way to get them to make teshuva  – when of course, the polar opposite is true.

Imagine living in a home where you have a parent that is constantly telling you what you’re doing wrong, and constantly picking up chumrot that they try to shove down your throat, and constantly going on about how ‘bad’ and how ‘evil’ and how ‘defective’ you are, poor kid, and how they’re sure you’re not going to ‘make it’ when Moshiach shows up.

If I lived in a home like that, I would also get a punk hair cut, smoke 2 packs a day and feel really, really angry at God and religion.

====

It’s no coincidence that Rabbi Berland has made it very clear that the gematria of ‘Corona’ is 363 – the same gematria as bein adam l’chaveiro.

And the first place to start with fixing that part of the equation is in our homes.

If you are criticising your kid all the time for not being Moshe Rabbenu, or not getting ‘straight As’, or not being perfect all the time – stop!

If you are condescending to your spouse, and you think like you have it all figured out and they are the spiritual retard in the relationship – stop!

If you think you are above doing a cheshbon hanefesh on how you hurt other people’s feelings, and how you use religious observance to try to control other people – again, especially your children – then stop!

Take a breath, take a careful look in the mirror that God is holding up to you, and to me, and to everyone else in the world right now, and see what’s looking back at you.

Is it nice, or nasty? Is it scary, or reassuring? Is the world full of kindness and compassion and understanding, or vicious complaint, din and anger?

Whatever you see peering back at you, that’s just a reflection of your inner dimension.

====

Let me share a story with you, to illustrate this point.

I’ve been checking out a few of my ‘anonymous’ commentators IP addresses, especially the ones who like to write comments slagging off Rav Berland.

I discovered that one big critic of the Rav has a slew of court cases against them for illegally manipulating stocks on the New York stock exchange – they are mamash small time mafia. This guy has been extremely fast to loudly yell ‘financial fraud!!!!’ at the Rav and Shuvu Banim.

Now we know why.

Then, there was the commentator who liked to call himself ‘Peewee’, who is also ‘anti Rav’. Guess what? I found out he’s on a police watch list for pedophiles in the States after he was caught propositioning an undercover police woman who he thought was a 13 year old girl on the internet.

The Rav is just a big super-reflecting mirror, shining a light on our own bad middot.

That’s why I am not going to argue with anyone anymore, about what the Rav did or didn’t do, or did or didn’t say.

If you see bad in the Rav – if you see bad in your kids, in your spouse, in everyone else around you – that’s because that bad is really in YOU.

So knuckle down, acknowledge the real problem and get to work on it.

====

This morning, I finally had the energy to walk down to the Kotel, as part of my hour long hitbodedut thing that I do every single day, with God’s help.

I walked down the road that skirts the Gei Hinnom valley, on the side of the Old City, a road called ‘Ma’aleh Shalom’ – the path of peace.

I went with quite a lot of heartache, thinking about some of the things I’ve written above, how I’m seeing so many parents literally destroy their children with their own two hands, all in the name of God and His Torah.

I touched the stones, kissed them, then headed back home. In the plaza, an old frum lady came over to me and called out may Hashem grant you everything you asked for!

I shrugged at her, pulled a tight smile and told her Sorry, I don’t have any money.

She hobbled closer, and told me in English:

You aren’t listening to me. Listen: May Hashem grant you everything you asked for!

She was right. I hadn’t been listening. She was trying to give me a bracha that my prayers should be answered, and I was batting her away like a pesky mosquito.

You’re right. I’m sorry. Amen!

Then she told me:

The most important prayer to say right now, is that we all get out of galut. That Am Yisrael should all get out of galut.

I looked at her twinkly blue eyes, squeezed her arm, and got the message.

What is galut, really, except the prison that we’re all in, that’s keeping us away from God and the people we love, and redemption? And what is that prison, really, except our own bad middot?

Our own fallen fears, and anger, and arrogance, and jealousy?

We all have a lot of work to do.

====

UPDATE:

Daisy Stern has pulled a lot of info together to show why the Kan 11 ‘expose’ my daughter say was a total farce, and just more of the same ‘anti-Rav’ propaganda the media has been steadily churning out for year.

You can see that on her site, HERE.

Also, I saw another abusive comment this morning, this time from someone pretending to be ‘Sam Eisen’ about the Rav. Again, I ran the IP address – and guess what? It’s the same ‘Peewee’ pedo guy I mentioned before.

I won’t detail the comment, but suffice to say it was talking about dying in jail for being a pervert. Yet again, we see the mirror principle in full color.

So, yalla, come on all you ‘anti’ Rav people… send me more of your comments, even with your fake names, and then we’ll find out what’s really going on in your private lives and exactly why it is you are so ‘anti’ a person who exudes goodness and holiness so strongly, you can feel it a million miles away.

No wonder all these people are staying anonymous.

====

Let’s leave the last word to Rabbi Nachman, who writes in Sefer HaMiddot:

“S*xual violators are for the most part opposers of the Tzaddikim.”

Now that I’m looking up the IP addresses on the comments, I’m seeing Rabbenu’s dictum manifest in real time. And I’m really excited to go and do some more digging on all those big mouths who have been so publically ‘anti’ the Rav – so yalla guys, don’t be shy!

Let me have all your disgusting comments, and then let’s find out who YOU really are.

It’s a taste of the World to Come, when the truth will shine out and no-one will be able to hide behind a fake name or a fake email anymore.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

====

 

You might also like this article:

Every few posts, I’ve decided to break up all the doom and gloom a little – as serious as it all is – with something a little lighter.

I did that with Nissim’s Mothaland Bounce video, and in this post, I want to introduce you to a new book, that is a really good read.

It’s called Kiss the hand you can’t bite  – and I can’t say anything more about it, other than if you’re interested in family dynamics, epigenetics, life in Israel and talking to God, you might really enjoy it.

You can check the first chapter of the book out HERE, and order your copy on Amazon HERE.

Enjoy!

====

You might also like this article:

I have so much to get on with….

I’m moving house in less than a week, and there’s so much to do.

And yet, I’m sitting here still feeling totally out of it, and like I just don’t know what to do with myself.

Except… watch videos like this one.

====

It’s 8 years since this song came out, can you believe it?

Since then, I’ve seen so many people leave Israel, so many people get divorced, so many kids go screeching off the derech, so many people go plain nutso.

How many times have we all just felt like giving up, already? And just letting go of all this ‘geula’ and ‘moshiach’ stuff, because how long can we just sit here hanging on, by our finger tips, and trying to fight off the rising tide of tumah that’s just every where?

8 years ago, we seemed so much closer to redemption happening than today, at least in some ways.

People were so much more excited about going to Torah classes, and trying to live life with emuna, and so many of us were making so much effort to try to raise our game and to live a life of real kedusha.

And today?

Well, from where I sit I’ve just seen one person after another crack up, from trying to live up to an unrealistic ideal of what a ‘geula-ready Jew’ actually looks like.

====

If God hadn’t had mercy on me, and totally crushed me into the floor when I moved to Jerusalem back in 2014, then that’s exactly what would have happened to me, too.

My kids would have gone screeching off the derech a million per cent, tortured by parents who expected ‘frum perfection’ and who refused to compromise, or move even a millimeter to try to meet their children where they were really at.

I would have either jumped off a bridge, or got a padded jacket to match the padded turban I was being told to believe was the epitome of female frum-ness.

And we would have either moved to a dumpster, or given up and fled back to chul, God forbid, if my husband hadn’t found the courage to go back to work even though there were so many people lining up to tell him that ‘God provides parnassa’, as long as you have enough emuna.

We didn’t have ‘enough’ emuna to get our parnassa provided in an openly miraculous way, and thank God we didn’t.

Because since then, I’ve been writing one thing after another, trying to warn against the huge perils involved in all this phony, fake, holier-than-thou yiddishkeit.

====

This shabbat, I had one of my kid’s friends in my house.

They grew up in a baal teshuva chareidi home which is super-duper machmir in a million-and-one ways, and doing a whole bunch of things so strictly, and so correctly, this kid has been totally traumatised by the idea of keeping shabbat.

Long story short, they kind of ended up at my house ‘by mistake’ this week, as their plans to go elsewhere fell through at the last minute, so my daughter brought them home to us. This friend is amazing, one of the most impressive souls I’ve met in a long term. Holy, doing hitbodedut every day, thinks and talks about God a lot, is really struggling to be a mensch and to do the right thing.

Yet they can’t sit by the table, for Shabbat.

They can’t go 25 hours without using the need to smoke a cigarette as a convenient ‘out’ from having to be in the house.

They are barely on their phone the rest of the week, and yet on the holy sabbath, they sit there playing games on it almost endlessly, texting their other ‘off the derech’ friends – anything to provide a mental escape route from the obvious emotional pain and difficulty spending shabbat with a family is causing them.

I can’t help but wonder:

What on earth went on, to cause this reaction?

====

But really, I already know.

Because I so easily could have done the same, to my kids.

I so easily could have created an environment of ridiculously high, unrealistic expectation which would cast my poor kids as ‘bad’ the moment they stopped being ‘perfect’.

And because no-one can be ‘perfect’ 24/7, so many of our children are growing up feeling they must be ‘bad’, or ‘Erev Rav’, or some other form of messed-up / evil incarnate, just because they couldn’t sit at a Shabbat table singing endless zemirot for 2 hours, or because they wanted to wear jeans, and not black pants, or because they wanted to listen to a song by Ed Sheeran.

How have we come to this low place, where some of our brightest and best souls relate to themselves as ‘bad’ people just because they happen to smoke, or have an i-Phone?

This isn’t yiddishkeit. This isn’t Breslov.

Rabbenu tells us always, judge the action, don’t judge the Jew. The Jew is only and ever good, just their neshama got eaten by a massive klipa, that has been carefully crafted by the Samech Mem to make them feel like nothing they do is ever good enough.

====

And it’s not just all these teenage drop-outs that are getting that message.

Their parents are also operating in that atmosphere of harsh fear and judgment, where they feel nothing they do is ever going to be good enough for Hashem. That Hashem is just waiting for them to drop the ball and watch a Michael Jackson video on Youtube so He can smash them into oblivion, God forbid.

This isn’t yiddishkeit!!!! This isn’t Breslov!!!! This isn’t emuna!!!!

And it certainly isn’t Azamra.

God loves us all so, so much. He knows how hard it is right now, how tough the struggle to hold on really is. He knows that we don’t want all this naarishkeit, all this tumah. That really all we want is Him, and Moshiach, and the rebuilt Temple, and to serve Him in holiness and temimut again.

God knows all that.

And He loves us.

And if we can get to the stage where we start to realise that we and our teens and our fellow Jews are really JUST GOOD, however ‘bad’ they (and we….) may look and behave some times, however big the klipa that’s swallowed them up, that’s when the crying will finally stop.

And the geula will finally happen.

====

Join me for the Breslov Shiur for Ladies this Sunday, 10am, February 16th, 2020.

(Jerusalem Time)

This week, I’ll be discussing the topic of Happiness, and how we can try to stay joyful, even when sometimes that’s so very hard.

You can join the class live by clicking the following link (if you’re woman):

 https://zoom.us/j/873400423

And you can get the replay, which is password protected, by signing up for the Breslov Ladies mailing list below:

Get the replays of the Breslov Womens’ class!

The only way to get the link for the replay of Rivka’s weekly Breslov Women’s class is to sign up!

====

https://rivkalevy.com/dont-give-up/

All of us have so much to be grateful for.

I got the following as part of an email exchange with a friend who reads my blog, and who responded to THIS post, and I decided to share it with you, too.

(It’s a side note, but I’m very happy to put chizzuk and other people’s perspectives up on my blog, when it resonates with me, and I have another reader’s email that I’ll be sharing too, along those lines.)

In the meantime, here’s a different perspective that made my very grateful for all the blessings I still have in my life, despite all the challenges:

====

 I know we all have an endless list of wishes, but maybe sometimes we don’t value many good things we have.

Having money to pay for food is a blessing.

Being able to pay a rent without shame, without having to ask anyone without having to go from one place to another with how little or much you have without having to pay a place to put your things, is a great blessing.

 Having a clean, painted house, with a room or two, having a bath with water in your own home is a blessing.

Having a husband who loves you and struggles to be better, to study, to pray, is a blessing.

Having synagogues and Mikvaot near you and your family is a blessing.

Having healthy and intelligent children of you and your husband is a blessing.

Having a car, money for gas, is a blessing.

Having something to work on is a blessing.

Having good health is a blessing.

Living in Israel, going to pray at the Kotel whenever you want, living in a Jewish world no matter how difficult it is to “fit in” sometimes, is a giant blessing.

====

My life IS really good, despite the darkness within and without.

Thank You, God.

====

You might also like this article:

The last few weeks (months…) I’ve been fighting a losing battle against apathy and despair.

Most of the time, I feel like life boils down to playing the unwinnable game, where my yetzer is constantly tripping me up and testing me with new circumstances and situations designed to bring out the worst.

The last two months, I’ve just had so many tests to try to stand up, external and internal – and for the most part, I don’t think I managed so well.

The problem is, I seem to have very unreasonable expectations of how things should be, and how things should look, and God for the most part just isn’t giving that to me. I understand that the fault, the error, the problem, is 100% on my side. I also understand that I have a part of me that is a perfectionistic control-freak, and that getting that part ‘sweetened’ is probably at least one of my major tikkunim that I’m down here to do.

But sometimes, I still find day-to-day life just so painful.

It’s not easy to have face down your ‘broken-ness’ every single day, and to have to admit – to yourself, to your husband, to your kids – that you’re actually still a lunatic, despite all your efforts to blossom into something a tad less crazy.

====

So, to come back to the last two months.

I’ve been noticing a strange phenomenon in the middle of all the apathy and despair that’s been winning out recently.

The more I can’t ‘do’ it, the more I’m giving up and letting God take over, the more things are starting to work out.

And I’ve seen that in a few different places now, so I wanted to share it as it’s giving me some chizzuk that maybe precisely in this low-down place of giving up, salvation can sprout.

====

Three months ago, I gave notice on our apartment, to move out end of February.

The apartment is OK – it’s pretty big, pretty reasonable rent, and it’s in the very ‘comfortable’ neighborhood of Baka, where you hear English and French way more than you hear Hebrew.

The body has been relatively pleased with this apartment, but the soul has been stifling since we got here, and I knew that staying in Baka was not a good option, long-term. But finding a good, affordable apartment in Jerusalem ranks up there with finding the holy grail.

Property developers are slowly destroying this city, and making it a place where only millionaires from abroad who don’t want to actually live here can afford to buy anything. Everything they build is ‘luxury this’ and ‘luxury that’, so they can charge a fortune for it.

So, Jerusalem real estate is increasingly becoming ‘old, dumpy, mold-infested affordable’, or ‘luxury-sell-a-kidney-to-pay-your-rent’.

====

Our apartment in Baka was a little dumpy, and a little mold-infested, but otherwise pretty OK.

Places like this are not so easy to find, so I was really nervous when I gave notice. The next few weeks, I kept scanning Madlan, and Janglo, and Craig’s List, looking for a reasonable apartment back closer to the Rav, in or around Musrara.

The only things coming up were in the ‘luxury and unaffordable’ range.

So then, I widened the search out to Rehavia, Shaarei Tzedek and Nachlaot – and strange to say, every single estate agent I contacted seemed incredibly uninterested in showing me any properties. I had one of my kids call up too, and she had the same experience.

In the meantime… the clock was ticking, and I had no-where to move to.

====

Two weeks ago, after I got back from Uman, I told my husband:

We just have to give up on trying to live in the neighborhood we want. I’m just going to start viewing apartments all over the place, and see if anything clicks.

Because hey, we aren’t going to find a community wherever we live. And I’m not going to be able to ‘settle down’ for more than a year or two anyway. And instead of looking at all of this as another horrible experience to grin and bear through, I decided I have to stop complaining that I can’t get what I want, and just let God give me what He decides is best.

Shortly after that conversation, something came up in Abu Tor, a neighborhood that I would never have considered in a million years beforehand, and we went to look at it.

It’s the house of my dreams.

It’s two storeys, has a garden I’m allowed to plant things in, they just put in a totally new bathroom, including a bath, and they are in the process of putting in a new kitchen, too, which will be ready before we move in.

I don’t have to sell a kidney to pay the rent, and the landlords are also really nice people.

And that neighborhood is also interesting. It’s green, it’s got a village feel, and a view of Har Habayit that is simply the best in all of Jerusalem.

So, we’re doing the experiment, and we’ll see what happens next.

====

Then, there was the whole mortgage fiasco that I wrote about HERE.

We are meant to be completing on the flat we bought in Harish end of the month, and for two months the bank has been telling us they won’t give us a mortgage again.

What could I do?

I think I used up all the tears on this subject the last time it happened, two years ago, so I basically just sank into apathy and told God:

Whatever You want. Mortgage, no mortgage, I don’t even care anymore.

In the meantime, we made some minimum hishtadlut – and three days ago we had a miracle.

A few hours after a friend told me she’d been at the Baba Sali, and had spontaneously said a few prayers for us to get a mortgage, we got a phone call from the bank that they were approving it, after all.

Not only that, they made a mistake and gave us a mortgage 1.5 times bigger than we asked for….

Which means that now, we can look into maybe investing that extra money into something else. It’s a totally unexpected result, and way better than what I was hoping to achieve under my own steam.

====

Yesterday, I was at the Kotel with a few hundred other people who came to pray for the Rav.

What can I tell you?

We’re back in the State-sponsored anti-Torah madness that is even more unfair and even more patently evil than the first time around – and I barely have the energy to do anything about it. I made myself go yesterday, even though I was feeling so tired and apathetic about everything.

How are my prayers going to help? How can we stop this evil from winning, all the time? What’s the point in even trying?

But after all the help the Rav has given me, and all the difficulties he’s helped me to smooth out and pass through in my own life, going to the Kotel was the least I could do.

So I got there, and of course there are no seats. After milling around for a few minutes, I decided to go sit on my heels by one of the side walls in the ladies section, as I just can’t recite tehillim with any concentration when I’m standing up.

I told God:

If You want me to have a chair, God, I guess you’ll send me one. And if not, I’m just going to sit here like this and pray, even though it’s a little unconventional, because what can I do?

Half-way through the first tikkun haklali, a middle-aged woman basically ran at me with a chair.

Sit!! Sit!! She shrieked.

You can’t do things like that anymore, think about your knees!!

So I sat.

And I said thank you.

And I started to feel that maybe, this feeling of total apathy and giving things back to God is actually the secret to redemption.

====

I’ve tried so hard to ‘fix’ things, in so many ways, over the last few years. So often, I sit here and it seems I don’t have much to show for myself. And honestly, that’s making it very hard to continue.

I’ve had days I don’t feel like doing my morning brachot, I’ve had days where I don’t feel like getting out of bed. I’ve had days where I literally have to force myself to do the things on my list of chores and commitments, because nothing gets anywhere, so what’s the point?

I have so many things to be getting on with right now, from packing up my house to finishing my course, to writing new blog posts, that I have zero urge to engage with.

But maybe, the last two weeks has been proving the theory that it’s exactly when we’re so totally despairing of redemption occurring, that it finally shows up.

I guess we’ll find out.

====

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

====

You might also like this article:

I have been totally rinsed, the last two months.

I’m no stranger to challenging circumstances, or big emotional ups and downs, but I have to say that the last few weeks have been a rollercoaster, even for me.

Literally each week, I’ve had so much inner turmoil and self-doubt to deal with, it’s left me reeling.

So, what’s really going on here? That’s what I’ve been asking God to show me, in a million different ways, in my talking to God sessions. And as the Rabbis tell us, when someone tells you that they searched and that they found, believe them.

After some consideration, I decided to share a little about what I’ve found out, in this quest to figure out why I’ve been feeling as though I’ve been barely clinging on to the edge of sanity the last few weeks. I know there are a lot of people out there who will relate to what I’m about to share, if they will only give themselves the permission to drop the mask and be real.

So with that intro (and if you’re still reading….) let’s continue.

==

The ‘problem’, if you can call it that, began back in November, when my daughter told us she’d found someone serious, and she wanted to introduce him to us.

Part of me was happy, part of me was petrified.

I had what can honestly be called a totally awful relationship with my own mother-in-law, as I’ve written about in many other places. With hindsight, I learned that my mother-in-law – who had so many tremendously good qualities – was operating out of a place of severely repressed trauma.

What I’ve learned down the years is that whatever is not ‘fixed’ in the family dynamics, in the family relationships, simply gets passed forward for the next generation to deal with. It’s like a bad penny, that never goes out of circulation until someone gets a grip, takes the hit, and faces the problem down.

The main reason my own crazy Savta didn’t figure as a massive MIL relationship stressor is simply because she lived in a different country, and never called or got in touch. But there were also some big mother-in-law issues between my dad and my British Grandma too, who wasn’t thrilled to have an immigrant for a son-in-law.

====

So, back to November 2019, when I suddenly find myself on the cusp of becoming a ‘mother-in-law’ myself, potentially – and WHOOSH!!!!

The internal pressure of trying to do all this ‘right’ kicked in a million percent.

I tried so, so hard to be the nearest version of ‘normal’ and ‘laid-back’ that I could, and the first time I met the bloke, I think I pulled it off OK. But despite my best efforts, all this weird emotional stuff started bubbling up shortly afterwards, and hasn’t stopped since.

What the heck is going on here, God?

Usually, I’m pretty self-aware, but all this stuff was taking me out and I had NO IDEA what was going on, or why I was reacting the way I was reacting.

====

After a day or two of doing a lot of intense hitbodedut, I made the connection that I had a heaping dose of unfinished business from my own wedding, and that me and my husband needed to sit down and get to grips with our own repressed anger and resentment from that time.

To cut a long story short, the run up to my wedding was so bad (because of in-law issues, not because of anything to do with my husband, who really is a hidden tzaddik), the counsellor on our ‘engaged couples’ course sat me down the week before the big day to ask me if I was sure I wanted to go through with it….

If I could have eloped (and I considered it seriously 500 times…) I would have.

But in the meantime, that route was blocked, and so I ended up with a ton of stress, trauma and anger still resonating through the system even 23 years later. I realized, I needed to knuckle down and clean all that stuff up, finally.

So I did.

And I looked forward to all the ‘weirdness’ disappearing.

But that’s not what happened.

====

A week after I’d knuckled down and cleared out all the ‘my wedding trauma’ stuff, I found myself going really weird again.

Out of the blue, I got hit by a massive panic that with my daughter married, I’d have no-one left to talk to, or interact with.

Let’s be clear, this daughter is pretty independent, and has a ton of friends, and while we get on really well, I also have my own life and I like my own space. I also have a nice husband and another kid at home to interact with, too, so all this hit me as extremely bizarre again.

From past experience, I knew that this type of ‘disconnected’ emotional madness, where you feel you’re going crazy but you have absolutely nothing you can pin it on, from your own life, has to be some sort of ‘inherited stress’, that had got passed down the gene pool from some troubled ancestor.

(If you’re interested in the science of this, look up ‘epigenetics’.)

I picked up the phone, made an appointment with my Bodyspin / One Brain woman, and two days later, I’d tracked the issue down to an ancestor on my mum’s side (for once!).

Now, I was really hoping again I’d got all the tikkunim out the way, and could stop acting so weird and emotionally unbalanced.

That’s not exactly what happened.

====

Around three weeks ago, the emotional rollercoaster started up yet again, yet again I thought I was literally going bonkers.

I like to tell myself that I know what’s going on, and that I can ‘figure stuff out’ – it’s part of my shtick, part of my ga’ava that reassures me that I’m not as lost in the world as I sometimes feel. But all of a sudden, I found myself feeling totally confused and overwhelmed about everything.

This sense of anxiety was getting so pronounced, I started to feel anxious and weepy, and even a bit nauseous.

I was getting so overwhelmed by larger-than-life negative feelings that were coming out of nowhere, and for no obvious reason, that that, all by itself, started to stress me out even more.

Was I just losing my marbles? Was it the mold’s fault, that has been spreading all over my house for a month now, thanks to the rain? Was this just a normal part of the ‘letting your kids grow up’ process that was getting out of hand?

What’s going on, God, what?

====

Things got so intense that I told my husband if I didn’t get to Uman ASAP, I was probably going to end up in a mental institution.

I was (probably….) being over-dramatic, but that was still an accurate depiction of how I really felt.

Rabbenu stuck me back together, and I felt much calmer when I was there. I realized a few things about the need to get on more with my own life now, and about the importance of letting go of my kids, so they can make their own decisions and forge their own path.

But the paydirt only showed up 2 days after I came home, when I ended up having an unexpected Zoom conversation with a relative I barely speak to.

Without going into too much detail, I used to be very close to that relative until they got married a few years ago, when they effectively dropped me like a hot potato. That happened to coincide with the worst 10 years of my life.

It was such a painful experience, and for years and years, I just stuffed all my hurt feelings and disappointment down into a very big box. They had their reasons for doing what they did… I thought I understood, I thought I’d forgiven them for dumping me in my hour of need, and moved on from it all.

But when that relative unexpectedly got in touch, and when we had the first chat face-to-face we’ve had in years – it all came rushing back again, and I ended that call feeling incredibly angry.

In what has been a recurring theme from the last 2 months, I realized that all that pain and sadness hadn’t disappeared with the passage of time, it had just gone underground and festered.

Because I’d never dealt with it properly, and processed it, and faced up to how sad, lonely and worthless the whole situation had made me feel, I’d been projecting all those ‘lost’ feelings into my current situation.

And that’s why I was feeling so anxious and pukey.

====

So, I did yet another six hour hitbodedut to go and deal with the fall-out from that relative properly, and to go and make my own teshuva, and to really do the job of forgiving and applying some emuna to the whole matzav again, and afterwards, I was feeling so, so much better again.

Yes, finally I can start to relax and stop freaking out every five minutes, and feeling as though the world is ending.

That’s what I hoped.

Because by this point, I’d had literally six weeks of riding the biggest emotional rollercoaster of my life, and I was starting to feel pretty rung-out and exhausted from it all.

Enough with all these tikkunim already, God! I have to move house, I have to sort out a mortgage, I have to launch a business, I have to publish a book! I can’t get anything done and I’m all over the place at the moment, it’s enough!

But what do I know?

====

So last week, after weeks of being in this cycle of all this stuff surfacing, taking me out, getting dealt with, feeling ok; stuff surfacing, taking me out, getting dealt with, feeling ok….

I started to feel, yet again, like I’d just hit another massive emotional iceberg.

In the same way that I started going to pieces, inexplicably, before I had to run off to Uman, I had that sinking feeling that I was unravelling again emotionally, and yet again, there was no obvious catalyst for it.

Maybe, I should just go and live in Uman for a few months, until all this ‘potential engagement’ stuff blows over, and I have a better idea what’s going on?

That’s what I asked my husband two days ago, and I was 82% serious. I was ready to hand in my notice again on the ‘mum’ job, because clearly I wasn’t up to it, and it was just time to admit that I am the loony tune that everyone always secretly suspected.

====

As I started to go to pieces again yesterday, I ended up having a really strange business coaching call, which was so surreal that if my husband hadn’t also been listening in, I think I would have thought I’d imagined it all. I was chatting with some smarmy sales guy from LA, about ideas to move my People Smarts business forward.

In the middle of the call, he suddenly totally switched track and started giving me some hard-hitting mussar:

Rivka, you really need to develop some humility. You just still have a lot to learn. In order for you to be able to help others, you first have to be able to love yourself.”

At this point, I was totally speechless.

It’s like Eliyahu HaNavi had taken over my Zoom call, or something, and all I could do was gape incredulously at the screen. Eliyahu continued:

Forgiveness is the most potent form of self-love, Rivka. Forgive yourself for procrastinating, and start new. Start fresh.”

At that point, Eliyahu reverted back to smarmy LA salesman, but I wrote down every word of that mussar, because it was literally a message from heaven.

====

After the call, I was still feeling physically ill, so I went to bed, to do some hitbodedut before trying to go to sleep.

That’s when I realized another profound part of the message God has been giving me, with this latest round of emotional upheaval.

Long story short, the prospect of possibly becoming a MIL has been flashing me back to one yucky experience I had after another, connected to the whole time of life when I met and married my husband, back in my very early 20s.

I met him when I was still in university, and that whole period was such a bitter-sweet time for me, because it’s so hard to hang on to your soul and go to university in a foreign country, where everyone around you is smoking, and drinking, and doing drugs, and listening to gross music, and watching movies, and dressing inappropriately and having boyfriends, and all the rest of the stuff that doesn’t exactly go together with ‘Torah’.

But at the same time, I’d had such a rough 18 years beforehand, the sense of freedom I had in university was totally unparalleled.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

And it left me with a whole bag of unfinished business to try to sort through and clarify, which I’ve basically been ducking for 25 years.

====

Us baal teshuvas carry so much baggage around from our previous lives.

Once we learn ‘the truth’, it can get so hard to forgive that former version of ourselves, who wasn’t ‘bad’, and who wasn’t ‘evil’, but who definitely was caught up in the world of lies.

But God wants us all to see the good in ourselves, and to forgive ourselves for not being perfect.

The last few months, I’ve been making such a big deal of doing ‘Azamra’ on other people, but God showed me this week that I left a crucial person out of the Azamra equation: myself.

And especially, that younger version of myself that came out of a really hard situation, had a lot of difficult tests, and just couldn’t pull through them all the way I would have liked to, in an ideal world.

Because the world isn’t ideal.

So today, again, I’m starting to feel much calmer. I’m starting to feel a little more ‘normal’ and put together again, and less panicked and anxious.

====

POSTSCRIPT:

After I wrote this, I took a look at the ravberland.com site, and I saw some very disturbing info about the spread of the coronavirus. As with everything, there is so much disinformation out there that until I saw what the Rav said about it, I was minded to play it all down.

Now, I can see we are on the cusp of something potentially enormous and world-changing.

It could be the end of days, mamash.

And so I now think that’s also part of why I’ve been so all over the place since November, when this coronavirus outbreak actually began.

Interestingly, the Rav made the connection between the spread of the virus and the mitzvoth of bein adam l’havero. And he made a point of stressing that we need to forgive others.

It’s the same message, being amplified.

And I really hope we’ll be able to do it.

====

THIS IS RAV BERLAND’S PRAYER TO BE SAVED FROM THE CORONAVIRUS. PLEASE SHARE IT AROUND. MANY PEOPLE’S LIVES DEPEND UPON US SWEETENING THIS DECREE.

====

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash