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.