It’s an interesting question isn’t it?

When you ask xtians – and the other groups that espouse a similar theology, like Frankists and Sabbateans – they will tell you that ‘the messiah’ will show up, and then all evil will just kind of vanish in a puff of smoke.

Yes, that’s right folks!

As soon as ‘the messiah’ shows up, all our own bad middot, all the drug cartels, all the abusive parents, all the evil billionaire oligarchs, all the fake rabbis, all the nasty terrorist gangs, the CIA, the satanists – every last Dr Evil in the world – they will all just vanish!!!

It would be great if this were true.

But it’s not.

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One of the biggest con tricks that the yetzer hara has managed to pull on all of us is persuading us that ‘evil’ is always and only someone else’s problem.

My country is good. My army is good. My government is good. My economic theory is good. Whatever is good for me (regardless of its cost to others…) is good.

I started fleshing this theme out in the last post when I was talking about the ‘Laban Parenting Paradigm’, that basically states:

Everything belongs to MEEEE, so I can do whatever the heck I want in order to protect my own interests!!!!

But as we learnt in that last post, this is the polar opposite of a truly authentic Jewish approach to parenting – and also the opposite of a truly Jewish approach to life.

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Judaism teaches us that every Jew is responsible for each other.

It also teaches us that the Jewish people have a very big job to do, to rectify the world.

Christians, reform people and crypo-Frankists also like to talk about tikkun olam, so things can quickly get confusing. Let’s try to sort out the difference between an authentic Jewish approach to tikkun olamand the other guys’ approach.

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In a nutshell, Judaism teaches that we fix the world, by fixing ourselves.

It’s our prayers, our mesirut nefesh, our working to uproot our own arrogance, anger, pride and jealousy and hatred (to name but a few….) that then radiates outwards, and starts to fix the world around us.

In this paradigm, every single person in the whole world, and certainly every single Jew, has an enormous part to play in the process of rectifying the world in order to bring moshiach.

I used to be very puzzled, when I would hear Rav Berland teach that people like me were the ones holding up the geula, and that the secular people weren’t really to blame.

It took quite a bit of time before I heard other shiurim that filled in the gaps, where the Rav explained that if we supposedly ‘religious’ people would take some time to sincerely pray for our fellow Jews, they would make teshuva in an instant.

Why are there still ‘secular’ people in the world, who are far away from Torah and mitzvot? 

Because we apparently ‘religious’ people don’t care about them enough to pray for them to make teshuva.

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That’s why the Rav puts such emphasis on people getting up to say Tikkun Hatzot.

It’s these prayers, in particular, that create a ruach in the world that bring people back to God.

And when people sincerely come back to God, they in turn start praying, and start really connecting their souls up to their spiritual Source, and – most importantly of all – start really acknowledging their ‘inner bad’, and asking God to help them overcome it.

This is how Jews fix the world, and bring geula and Moshiach.

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Sadly, we don’t see a heck of a lot of that going on, not even in the ‘frummest’ areas of the Jewish world, where people are more obsessed with the length of their Torah learning, and their yichus, and their fantastic ‘predictions’ about geula, and the thickness of their tights, than they are with really working on their bad middot.

For years, this puzzled me greatly.

How can it be, that so much of the Jewish world – even the apparently ‘orthodox’ Jewish world – has adopted this xtian paradigm of pretending to be ‘perfect’ on the outside, while committing all manner of misdemeanors behind closed doors?

How can it be, that so much of the Jewish world is effectively teaching that Jews have nothing left to do except ‘polish buttons’, and that Moshiach is just going to show up and fix everything for them?!

This is a xtian idea. It’s a Sabbatean idea. It’s a Frankist idea.

It’s definitely NOT an authentically Jewish idea.

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When people are caught up in this un-Jewish paradigm of tikkun olam, it comes along with a tendency to believe that the problem is everyone else.

When everyone else believes in Yoshki / Shabtai Tzvi / Jacob Frank / [Fill in the blank] – then that dead guy will rise from the grave, and come save the world!!

And all we have to do is believe in him and polish some buttons.

That dead guy will come back, and then poof!!! All the evil will disappear in the world, just like that.

I’m going to stop yelling at my husband just like that…

I’m going to stop being so stingy with my tzedaka just like that…

Don’t you know, that all my miniskirts are going to magically expand into black maxis, my nasty jealous streak is going to evaporate immediately, and all the horrible things I’ve been saying about my friends and neighbors are all just going to vanish, just like that once Moshiach shows up?!

No?

You don’t believe me?

Good for you.

====

Breslov teachings, as amplified and clarified by Rabbi Berland, Rav Shalom Arush, and Rav Ofer Erez – amongst many others – make it very clear that the whole work we got sent back down here to do is to work on our emuna, and fix our bad middot.

These two things go hand-in-hand, because if we don’t really believe in Hashem, we will continue to choose the path of being a pious hypocrite, o so makpid in public, for our neighbors’ consumption, and o so yucky in our every day dealings with friends and family members.

It’s only once we realise that we will have to answer for every single person we hurt, every single ‘stain’ we left to grow and metastize on our souls, that we find the koach we need to start doing the work of acknowledging and digging up our bad middot.

If we don’t believe in God, we just will never really bother even trying.

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But it’s only when we start doing the work of trying to dig up our bad middot that our emuna really grows.

Because then, we’ll see that without God’s help, we can’t do anything.

I have spent years and years working to overcome my nasty temper, particularly in relation to my kids, and I can tell you from first hand experience, that the only reason I’m doing so much better today is because I begged God to help me overcome my anger for 10 years +.

And every now and then, perhaps when a smidgeon of arrogance works it’s way back in and I start thinking that I’ve really done something good here, hey?!? – He’ll take the rug out from under my feet and send me a nasty temper fit.

That’s just to remind me that without God’s help, I can’t do anything.

And that’s really good news.

Because the corollary of this is that with God’s help, I can do anything!!!

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I CAN overcome my temper.

And my inability to get out of bed.

And my nasty tendency to complain and whinge and to feel sorry for myself.

And my arrogant streak that likes to tell me that I’m really perfect, and that the problems in the world are really just everyone else’s, and that all I have to do to bring moshiach is just polish some buttons….

(…and aggressively push my ‘religion’ down other people’s throats, so they’ll be sure to recognize my guy as the real messiah, when he finally rises up from the dead…)

With God’s help, I can do all these things and more.

And so can you.

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So, to recap:

Xtians, Sabbateans and Frankists (of all stripes) believe that when ‘their guy’ shows up as the true messiah, the world will automatically get ‘fixed’, and all anyone has to do to get on the ark to salvation is just to believe in their guy, and their religion, and their path.

There is zero talk about working on our own bad middot.

There is zero genuine emphasis on talking to God every single day, and asking for His help.

And there is zero real interest in moving out of the comfort zone, and making the sorts of difficult changes really required to bring the spirit of Moshiach into our own dalet amot.

It’s all flowery ‘bible lessons’, and pointless exegetics, and nice (and often totally untrue…) ‘stories’ and parables about saintly individuals, given over by people who like to pretend that they also belong in that category of ‘saintly’.

Ah yes, plus ‘watch out for the dead guy to rise again and save us’ messaging.

How could I forget that bit?

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By contrast, Jews who are following a path of authentic Judaism believe that the world is only going to get fixed when me, myself and I stop lying to myself about my own bad middot, and about just how much destruction and damage I’m doing every single day – especially to my family members.

Did you spot the difference?

Did you understand that the only way evil is going to ‘vanish from the world’ is when I knuckle down, and start doing the job of digging my own evil out of my own soul, and start praying for others to do the same.

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I love a shortcut as much as the next guy, I really do.

But it pains me a lot to keep reading all this flowery cr*p-dressed-up-as-yiddishkeit about what it’s really going to take to get to geula the sweet way.

That’ll happen when enough of us start to take responsibility for our own actions and negative impact, and stop turning a blind eye to – or even condoning and excusing and perpetrating – evil.

And it can’t happen any other way.

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Over Shabbos, I was reading the parsha.

(Occasionally that still happens 😉

We were in Vayetzei, where Yaakov runs away from his psycho brother, to try and find a wife in the home of his equally ‘difficult’ Uncle Lavan.

As I was reading, I was struck by the parenting paradigm that seems to characterize our holy forefathers of Abraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov – and that of Laban.

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To put it at its most blunt, whereas the Patriarchs and Matriarchs adopted a parenting paradigm that could be summed up as ‘put your kid first, ahead of your own interests’, Laban’s paradigm was the polar opposite.

Laban used his kids to further his own ends.

He ‘sold’ his daughter to Yaakov – as they themselves complain, in the parsha, not even giving them a dowry and instead expecting Yaakov to ‘pay’ for them with 14 years of hard work.

Then, when Yaakov wants to flee, Leah and Rachel tell him Go!!! There is nothing here for us, our father certainly won’t let us inherit anything together with his sons!!! And he didn’t even bother giving us a dowry when we got married, and all his calculations just boil down to what’s best for him.

Or in other words: Lavan didn’t really care a fig about his children, and on some level, they knew that.

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What does all this have to do with us, today?

The Torah is timeless, eternal, don’t you know? Don’t you know, that even today there are parents who will persistently put what is best for them, what suits them, what is most comfortable for them ahead of what is best for their kids.

Sometimes, this is blatant.

Sometimes, it’s clear that the parent is pushing a career, a course of action, a school, a decision, on their kids 100% because it suits them.

Even if it’s the worst thing in the world for their kid.

Other times, it’s way more subtle.

We parents tell ourselves we’re doing everything only for our kids, when we boss them around, use them as a passive ‘audience’ to talk at, push our own ideas and notions down their throats and then react angrily if they dare to disagree.

But if we were a little more honest, a little more humble, a little more willing to explore what’s really going on, inside ourselves, maybe, just maybe, we’d realize that sometimes, we’re actually acting in a very selfish way, when it comes to our children.

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I’d love to tell you that this ‘Laban style’ of me-first parenting is very uncommon, especially in the orthodox Jewish world.

But if I did, I’d be lying.

In the orthodox and not-so-orthodox Jewish world, I’ve seen a long line of parents abusing their children while hiding behind the cloak of kibud av’ v’em.

They rely on a warped understanding of the commandment to respect the parent, which they interpret to mean that the parent can do anything they want to the kid, and hurt them and let them down in any way they wish, and the kid just has to take it and carry on doing what the parent wants.

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Listen, I’m also a parent.

I’m also a flawed human being. I know how easy it is to use kibud av ve’em as a manipulative tool to avoid having to look ourselves in the eye and deal with our own bad middot, and having to make compromises, and having to put up with situations that we’d rather not deal with.

But if I’ve learnt one thing over the last few years, it’s just how much a parent’s mesirut nefesh can heal the soul of their child.

That means the parent is going to give the kid money, time and support – not expect it from their child.

That means that the parent is going to do their best to compromise and back down – not automatically expect that their word should be law.

And it means that as much as we can, we sacrifice what we want, what’s comfortable for us, what’s easiest and nicest for us to choose the path that is genuinely best for our kids.

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Your kid doesn’t want to marry someone from a background you feel comfortable with?

Your kid doesn’t want to join your family business and effectively ‘work for free’ to support you in your old age?

They don’t want to be so frum?

Or maybe, they DO want to be more frum?

There is no way they are going to university…. OR they dafka are going to university?

They do want to vaccinate your grandkids, they don’t want to vaccinate your grandkids….?

All these things – and more, way more – can cut through a parent’s heart like a knife through hot butter.

If we let them. If we adopt Laban’s parenting paradigm.

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What does Laban say to Yaakov?

“The daughters are mine and the sons are mine, everything you see before you is mine.”

When we treat our children as though they are our possessions, to do anything we want with, that’s parenting like Laban.

And if we continue parenting like Lavan, then at some point, for their own mental health, our children will have to leave us stealthily in the night, and run away somewhere far, far away.

For their own mental sanity.

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So, may God help us to put our kids first; to choose what’s right for them over what’s best or easiest for us, and to heal all the broken-hearted children out there (of all ages), who are still so hungry for the real love of their parents.

Amen.

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It’s so strange.

I am sitting here, with no idea what to do with myself.

This is highly unusual – I’m a person who nearly always has a project going on, and the only time I take a break is for a couple of days in between starting the next thing.

But at the moment, I’m finding it hard to motivate myself to really ‘do’ anything. I know it’s the uncertainty. I also know that it’s the fact that every single person in my family is still in my house.

And that’s mamash cramping my style in a million different ways.

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I’m a person who likes to listen to one song, obsessively.

If I like a song, I can easily listen to it six times in a row – and I like to do that. But no-one else likes to listen to my songs six times in a row, so I can’t do that right now, and it’s grating.

(I won’t do that on ear-phones because I listen to the music while I’m doing things like washing up, hanging washing etc, not just hanging out by PC for half an hour listening to music.)

I’m also a person who likes and needs my own space.

I don’t like company 24/7. I’m a writer, sometimes my soul really craves solitude and peaceful contemplation.

That is also part of the reason that my writing is drying up at the moment, because I just am not getting that ‘alone’ time, and where in the past I used to go for long walks to grab it for myself, I can’t really do that because of the coronafascists, that are demanding I mask-up 24/7 while in the fresh air.

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Baruch Hashem, I’m in a pretty big house at the moment.

God really gave me such a present, because we moved to this house a week before COVID-1984 took off, and at the time I couldn’t understand why I’d had such itchy feet to leave the last place.

Very quickly, it became obvious.

This place has 2 floors… and a garden…. And a mirpesset…. And a few other little places where you can hang out, even in bidud (quarantine) and just breathe a little.

So I’m very, very lucky.

But I’m still finding this hard going.

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Usually, I can bang out articles in half an hour flat.

I started writing this 2 hours ago, and then I had to stop to give someone a lift somewhere, and then I had to stop again to help someone else find something online, and then I got distracted by a ‘big conversation’ that was going on.

And now I’m writing this as my eardrums are being blasted to oblivion (again….) by my teenagers’ loud music. Like, really loud.

Sigh.

It’s all just avodat hamiddot isn’t it?

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Friday, I got so frustrated with one of my kids who phoned up to ask for a lift after I’d been telling her the whole week that if she DID want me to get on her Friday, she’d have to let me know by Thursday pm, so I could arrange my Shabbat cooking schedule accordingly.

Thursday we spoke, and she told me:

Yah, mum, I’ll make my own way back, don’t worry.

Are you SURE???????

I asked her.

Because if you change your mind last minute, it’s not going to be pretty….

Yah, yah, I don’t need you to get me tomorrow, it’s fine, mum.

She lied.

At 12pm, Friday, I get another phone call from this same kid:

Err, mum can you come and get me??

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Usually, I really try to be as flexible as possible, especially in these strange COVID-1984 times.

But I just couldn’t. I got so angry at her that I just put the phone down for a minute and pretended that the connection had gone awol, so I could collect myself and not say something I’d regret for the rest of my life.

Long story short, I didn’t go to get her.

And then, I spent the next three hours trying to deal with the overwhelming feelings of rage and anger that suddenly started stormin’ up like a Category 5 Hurricane Rivka.

Man, it was SO hard.

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I simply didn’t talk to anyone in my house, for 3 hours.

Because I was scared that if I said anything, anything at all, it would be really bad.

And in the meantime, I cooked and I asked God to help me, and I tried to not get even more upset when my food started coming out not so good, because I was in such a bad mood.

God, how much longer????

How much longer do I have to stay cooped up with all these retarded people, having to cook all this food all the time, and having to tidy up all the time because there is always so much mess, and washing, because everyone is here, and having to listen to THEIR music all the time, and having to keep working on all these bad middot that keep bubbling up with the constant aggravation and irritation and low-level fear about what’s coming next….

Ad matai?!?!??

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The answer was:

At least a few weeks more, and maybe a few months more, because THIS is the real test, Rivka. THIS.

Hanging out with your family and doing nice things for them and not killing them and working on your own bad middot.

THIS is the real test.

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So, that’s when I realized that I really can’t let the anger and rage burst out and rule me, because it looks like there are many more weeks, if not months, of this test to go. And if I turn into Genghis Khan, it’s going to make it so much harder for absolutely everyone around me.

[Picking this up another hour later, as a kid needed a tremp somewhere.]

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Someone just sent me two recordings.

One is of Rav Pinto essentially saying that what is happening now is very similar to how the holocaust began.

First, there was some ‘low level’ anti-semitism, and then – 7 million Jews got killed.

And then, there was another recording in Hebrew, which you can listen to for yourself HERE:

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This was from the daughter of the famous kabbalist from Bnei Brak, Rabbi Chaim Dovid Stern.

She says that Adar is going to be a very tough, scary month for the world.

That lots of people aren’t going to make it.

And that lots of people that everyone thinks are ‘tzaddikim gemurim’ with big beards and kippahs, and who apparently learn a lot of Torah, are amongst those who won’t be around to greet Moshiach.

When the interviewer asked her why not, Rabbanit bat Stern was very clear:

The whole test is bein adam l’havero – how we treat our fellow man.

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If someone is learning Torah, but abusing their wife verbally and emotionally – they won’t be here to greet moshiach.

If someone is a big Rosh Yeshiva, a leading rabbi, but they are going around stirring up trouble, and getting into arguments with the neighbors all the time, or causing strife and bad feelings wherever they go – they won’t be here to greet moshiach.

All of us have so much teshuva we need to make, particularly in the area of our bad middot and how we treat our fellow Jews.

And top of that list is what’s going on behind closed doors, with our spouses and kids.

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So today, I told one of my girls:

Dearie, it’s suddenly dawned on me that we are probably going to be hanging out together for at least another five months. Prepare yourself mentally, because THIS is the test.

THIS.

To be with our families, without distractions, maybe also without a whole lot of parnassa, and with a lot of external worry and stress, and to still treat them nicely and considerately.

Man, that’s a test.

A massive test.

But with Moshiach truly imminent, it’s slowly dawning on me that that’s the whole point.

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UPDATE:

Daisy just sent me a link to this video (not shmirat aynayim friendly, but well worth listening to:)

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Vera Sherav is a medical doctor and holocaust survivor, who has been fighting for human rights against the medical establishment for decades.

The main point she makes is that we have to stand up for ourselves, and to protect ourselves from people who don’t have our best interests at heart, and to stand up to the bullies that are pouring out of the woodwork, under cover of Coronafascism.

This is connected to all the bad middot I’m talking about above.

When we stop making excuses for our own manipulation of others, and using threats and scare tactics to control others, and forcing others to put what’s good for us ahead of what’s good for them – that’s when we’ll be able to get out from under the jackboot of this Coronavirus dictatorship.

It’s midda k’neged midda.

And once we fix our own middot, the madness will finally stop.

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Mum, I’m worried about you. You’re always forgetting what I told you. I think you have alzheimers….

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Over the last few months, my youngest daughter has been making this statement a few times a month. It annoys the heck out of me, not because I’m in ‘alzheimers denial’, but because I keep explaining to her that when people are totally stressed out of their skulls and preoccupied, it’s hard to remember anything.

Stress damages the brain, at least temporarily, and we all know just how stressed we’ve all been, in a billion different ways, the last year.

So yesterday, she started up with that again and I glared at her, and started to feel a bit upset and angry that she was apparently deliberately winding me up again…when I was in the middle of trying to get another one of the Rav’s books done and sent out…and in the middle of trying to figure out how Beirut’s port being exploded is somehow connected to the new Haifa port being built by the Chinese (completed 2021…) and the shadowy new ‘deal’ the US has apparently just struck for Syria’s oil (CO-IN-CID-ENT-AL-LY on the same day the explosion happened in Beirut….)

…and trying to wash up and do a few other things to keep the house ticking over….

When it struck me what the real problem was.

I haven’t been giving this kid enough time and headspace.

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She’s a good kid, really lovely in so many ways.

But she’s like her dad, inasmuch as that part of the gene pool has a tendency to give over BIG things in very small ways. I have the opposite tendency. I exaggerate for effect, I make a point with pyrotechnic prose – and so, I have been totally missing all these ‘big’ things she’s been telling me in her gentle way, as they haven’t come wrapped in melodrama.

That means she tells me something, and I don’t really pay much attention to it, because it’s not exciting enough to compete with the corrupt Mossad, and what I need to get from Mahane Yehuda for Shabbat, and a million other things.

So then, I’ll ask her again: where are you going tonight? Are you here for Shabbat? You said you do want pasta for supper, or not?

And then she’ll hit me with the ‘alzheimers’ speech, because in a way she’s right that I am forgetting about things. But really, just one thing: her.

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As usual, I didn’t feel so fabulous, emotionally, after I realized what was going on.

I had a few minutes of that raw despair that only a parent can feel. You know what I’m talking about. We want so much to be everything our children need us to be, to give them what they require to grow up feeling loved and emotionally-healthy and connected to God and their souls – and yet sometimes, we just can’t do it.

God, I have no energy for this…

Rivka, are you saying you have no energy for her?

(God always goes right for the jugular.)

That brought me up sharp.

Of course I have energy for her! My kids and my husband are my #1 priority!!!

(In theory.)

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In practice, the last few months my kids and my husband have fallen far down the totem pole again, overlooked in the midst of a million books being written, and a million trips ‘out’, and a million hours researching what’s really going on in the world.

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I turned off my computer.

I went upstairs to where my kid had retreated to her room, and I tried to start a conversation.

I’m sorry I haven’t been giving you enough attention recently. What can I do for you, that would be nice for you? Can I take you somewhere? Do you want to go shopping?

Ima, why do you feel like you always have to just buy something or do something?!

She asked me with that particularly infuriating arched teenaged-eyebrow of disdain.

(Upset teenagers always go right for the jugular.)

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I fought down the knee-jerk response to try to hurt back, swallowed a couple of times, then ‘fessed up.

Sometimes, kid, I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. Sometimes, it’s very hard for me to just ‘be’. So I retreat into doing stuff and going places, because that’s often easier than just sitting here trying to be ‘real’ with you.

What I really wanted to tell her is that every time I wash her clothes, make her food, wash out the cereal bowl that was left for a day in the heat so the grains could all harden onto it like some sort of ceramic decoration – without having a go at her for doing that –  that’s a small declaration of love.

Sometimes, those small declarations of love are all I can manage, because despite the fact that I’m 46, and officially ‘old’, I also feel lost and overwhelmed a lot of the time.

Even when there is no ‘COVID-19’ in the picture.

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Ima, do you want a hug? She suddenly asked me, out of nowhere.

Of course I want a hug…

And just like that, the connection was re-established.

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The rest of yesterday afternoon, we just hung out talking about the small stuff that looms very big in a teenager’s life, and I made a mental note to boost spending time with my teens well up my ‘to do’ list from here on in.

I have one more book to do for the Rav left on my list, before I take a proper sabbatical: One in a Generation #3.

It’s a huge amount of work in every sense of the word.

When that teen likes to really go for the killer blow, she’ll tell me in full-blown teenage troofer mode:

You care more about Rav Berland than you do about me.

In her worldview, she sees me spending hours, weeks, months and years on his books etc, for free, and she sees how engrossed I am in my writing, often to the exclusion of her. What can I tell her?

Those books are changing the whole picture….they are sweetening everything…they are helping Moshiach to come the sweet way…

She is a hardcore teenage troofer.

The more I try to explain about the Rav, the more she tells me to my face that I’m just a card-carrying cult-member-lunatic. I get zero kudos for doing all this stuff. That kid just thinks its conclusive proof I’m a retarded frier-ite.

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Doing all the stuff for the Rav is so important.

But even so, my kids and husband still have to come first.

It’s a tough balance to strike, it’s a very narrow bridge to walk on.

And I got reminded again yesterday, that being a loving parent is sometimes the most challenging job in the world.

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I know it’s bad to look at Facebook.

I know, believe me I know. That’s why I have a fake account that lets me just dip in and out when I need to go and look up things for research purposes.

So yesterday, I was doing some research that took me to a Facebook page, and then I noticed a picture of a young woman with striking red hair and a sad face under all her makeup – Shiran – and something compelled me to look at it.

Man, I got so sad, so fast.

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As I scrolled through all her selfies from the last five years, I saw how a beautiful, religious, ‘edgy’ girl went totally off the rails.

It started in small ways. The skirt was still black, but way too tight. Then it got shorter. Then the tops started revealing more and more cleavage.

Then, some big ‘break’ happened, and the hair got dyed a vampy red.

Then the makeup went up a level, with kohl-ed eyes and dark red lipstick to match.

And the clothes continued to disappear.

And then the first tattoo showed up – something ‘subtle’, just a signature on one wrist.

And now, five years later, she’s totally covered in tattoos up and down all her limbs, and a few other places, too.

I know this, because the last ‘selfies’ posted up were artistically-shot pictures of Shiran running through some grass with her tattoo-ed butt cheeks hanging out of her cut off shorts. P*rnography, pretty much, but so artfullll….

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What can I tell you?

My heart broke.

The last few months, I’ve been getting to know quite a few of these ‘souls of tohu’, these big souls that can’t really fit into the world as it’s currently configured, and so they want to destroy, and tear it down to its foundations.

At their root, these kids, these teens, these young people are really only good.

They want that ideal version of planet earth so badly, it literally pains them to have our current flawed version. So they lash out, and they try to do anything they can to minimize the pain of simply being alive in our current, difficult reality.

And the first person they lash out at is themselves.

What are tattoos, after all, except bruises of the soul, publically displayed for all to see?

====

Honestly?

I’m still heartbroken about all this. There are so many kids like this, who are growing up in homes – frum or not – and falling straight to the bottom of the world. And everything is being documented with selfies on Facebook and Instagram.

I can’t help but wonder, if there was no Facebook page to post all this amateur p*rn up on, and no Smartphone to take pictures of the ‘latest’ self-mutilating tattoo, and no fake Facebook friends to egg-on all this self-destructive behavior with little red hearts and ‘thumbs up’ emojis, would it still be happening?

Would Shiran have transformed so violently, from an off-the-derech girl to a tattoo-d vamp-call-girl-wannabe?

====

I find that question so painful.

This world is so hard.

So please, go and give you teens a big hug right now.

Tell them how good they are. Tell them how much you love them – even if they’ve already slipped, even if they’ve fallen. There is always a way back, there is always a stairway up and out of the muck – I learnt that from Rabbenu, and from Rav Berland.

But the first step is our love for our kids.

Turn that love on, whack it up to full volume and let it shine a path for your kid to return to their true selves, return to their souls, and return to God.

He wants everyone back.

Even Shiran.

====

As I was writing this, one of my kids told me she wanted to show me an ‘amazing’ video.

It’s called neshamot shel tohu – souls of chaos – and it depicts a little of what I’m writing about in this post. These lost young people, running through the streets of Jerusalem, smoking, drinking, hanging out in Mahane Yehuda. Acting out, because the world is just so painful to them. They are mamash the biggest neshamas.

The chorus says:

Neshamot shel tohu

Machapsot ca’av

Bishvil l’argish mashu

English:

Souls of chaos, looking for ‘pain’, just so they can feel something.

What can I say?

I started crying again.

====

====

UPDATE:

Here’s an English translation of the lyrics:

Souls of ‘chaos’

Looking for ‘pain’

Just in order to feel something

Only so they can feel something

==

I got used to this now

Prisoner of the cycle

Scared to come close

‘Diseased’ and frightened

Knots and more knots in the heart

I want [to come closer] but don’t know how

==

A scared boy

Angry at the world

He runs away to each place

And doesn’t understand where he’s even going

To love from close up, it’s still not possible

There is a ‘ruach sayera’ (storm wind)

==

Shards of light from those days

Broken vessels are wandering around

Thirsty, angry

Broken-hearted because of other people

The smallness of ‘skin’

The separation between light and light

The heart is so very sensitive

It’s hard to endure the world

==

So if you are wandering around

With a hungry heart

Know something:

The buried treasure is within your own deepness

====

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Back at the end of January, I decided to start doing 40 days at the Kotel for a chareidi family I’ve become acquainted with, who are seriously messed-up.

While the mother is practically a burka-babe, and the father likes to spout pointless divrei Torah for hours (that no-one can interrupt or disagree with, as that would be disrespectful) most of their kids are off the derech, most of them started smoking aged 12 and one of them preferred to leave home and to sleep on the streets than stay at home.

Coming from my own background, and experiencing what I’ve experienced in life, I found it so very hard to try to judge this family favorably, l’chaf zchut, or to do Azamra on them, as per the instructions of Rebbe Nachman in Likutey Moharan, 1:282.

There, Rabbenu tells us:

Know: one must judge every person favorably. Even if the person is totally wicked, one must search and find in him some bit of good, regarding which he is not wicked. By finding in him this bit of good and judging him favorably, one actually elevates him to the direction of righteousness and is able to bring him to repentance.

====

I really want this family to make teshuva.

The mother spends most of her time with her kids carping about their faults – to their faces – and complaining that they’ve let her down and come out ‘ruined’ because they aren’t frum enough. Never mind all the kids’ good points. Never mind all the effort they are still making to try to respect their parents, and to take all the blame for their own profound emotional issues upon themselves.

Whenever I hear her interactions with her children, I literally start cringing inside. It’s a non-stop fountain of onaat devarim,  poisonous self-righteousness, criticism, lashon hara and arrogance.

But she thinks she’s a tzaddeket.

Why?

Because she dresses SO tzniusly…. And she won’t eat meat anymore because no hechsher is good enough…. And she has no tumahdik computers in the house (which means her husband is really struggling to make parnassa, but hey, let’s not hairsplit here)…. And she won’t listen to any music – at all! – because she can’t be sure it’s coming from a good, kosher place.

Such a tzaddeket.

Did I mention that the family is strongly Litvish, and kind of ‘anti’ Breslov, and especially ‘anti’ Rav Berland?

No?

Ah, my bad, sorry.

====

So, like I said, I’ve been really struggling to do Azamra for these people – and all the hundreds of thousands like them in the chareidi world, who are so anal about all their mitzvoth bein adam l’makom, and so very awful in their mitzvoth bein adam l’chavero.

In the chareidi world as it’s currently configured, your choice is to become a frum robot – and to totally choke down any vestige of individuality or independent thought, and to care more about what the neighbors think than what Hashem really thinks – or to leave.

Thank God for Rebbe Nachman, because when I was faced with this choice, at least I could still find refuge in Breslov.

Or at least, the Breslov of Rav Berland and his students, that welcomed Sephardim, and baal teshuvas, and people like me, who were never going to fit the ‘frum robot’ mold that is de rigeur in mainstream chareidi society.

That strand of Breslov emphasizes the inner world over the outer appearance. It values practice over preaching. And it underscores again, and again, and again that the main work we are down here to do is to work on our own bad middot, and particularly those feelings of arrogance that take us away from Hashem, cut us off from our own neshamas – and hurt so many of the people we should be caring for.

Especially our kids.

====

So, I started that 40 days 3 months ago, and man, it’s been a struggle for so many different reasons.

Today, I got up early to make sure I’d get to the Kotel to complete the 40th day, in the middle of all the ‘Yom Yerushalayim’ (non) celebrations.

When I finally got my 1 minute ‘slot’ to stand at the wall, I got there, kissed it, then started crying.

God, it’s too hard for me. I can’t judge all these horrible, arrogant people favorably. I can’t think good thoughts about people who prefer seeing their own kids sleeping rough on the street than ‘looking bad’ in front of the neighbors.

I can’t stand the hypocrisy, I can’t stand the lack of real connection to Hashem, I can’t stand all the pretend piety, controlling emotional manipulation and holier-than-thou fakeness. 

God. I’ve failed. This 40 days has failed.

I’m doing less Azamra now for these people than when I started….

====

Deep down, I know nothing is for nothing, but that’s how I felt as I left the wall this morning.

====

I came home, checked my emails, and found one from someone called rivkyalbert@gmail.com that said in big, crowing capital letters:

GAME OVER!!!

She’d kindly forwarded all the ‘psak din’ that had just come out against Rabbi Berland from an anti-Breslov beis din located in Bnei Brak, that she’d got straight from the Rav’s main Breslov persecutors.

There’s so much to say about what’s going on here, and after I’ve done more hitbodedut, if God wants me to start clarifying matters – again, for the 500th time – then I will.

But in the meantime, I’m in no rush.

====

You know why?

Because I understand that this is a very important part of the clarification process.

Just like God kept on hardening Pharoah’s heart in Egypt, so he could maintain his free choice, so God is doing the same thing here.

  • After all the mounting evidence of the last few months that the State of Israel has been waging a war specifically against the chareidi community…
  • After all the mounting evidence that the media is totally biased and corrupt, and bought and paid for by vested interests that are ‘anti-God’ in the most profound, evil way…
  • After all the arguments that have occurred recently in the chareidi world between those people who think that praying to God is dangerous, and those who think the opposite…
  • After all the deaths in the chareidi world globally that were attributed to COVID-19…
  • After all the strict lockdowns of specifically chareidi neighborhoods…
  • After all the kabbalists, and big rabbis, and lamed vav Tzaddikim who stated plainly that talking against Rabbi Berland is directly connected to COVID-19….

====

So, the test is being repeated again, to see who has really learned their lesson, and who hasn’t.

====

I’m in no rush to explain what’s going on here.

God has given the chareidi world – and all the other ‘anti Rav Berland’ people – a large quantity of rope, and He’s waiting to see who is going to hang themselves with their own evil speech, and their own bad middot.

Rebbe Nachman told us that before Moshiach would come, heresy would cover the land like a flood, that even ‘big rabbis’ and ‘Torah scholars’ would have heresy dripping out of their pockets, and that most of the leaders of Am Yisrael would be false.

There is a birur going on here.

It’s picking up speed.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that a person’s middot and real connection to Hashem can’t be judged by their appearance, position or title.

But by their actions. And their deeds.

And most of all, whether their homes are full of love and kindness and shalom bayit, and full of children who feel loved and accepted in their homes – or not.

====

The last thing for now, is that it’s no coincidence that as all the lashon hara about Rav Berland ratcheted up a level today, this was the lead story on the JPost website:

====

Walking around today, I see that the masks seem to be making a come back in Jerusalem, after a week where more and more people had stopped wearing them.

Logically, this makes no sense. The weather is still hot. Everything is meant to be ‘opening up’ more and more.

But spiritually, it all fits perfectly.

Thanks to that ‘beis din’ in Bnei Brak, which has unleashed another, awful wave of sinat chinam and lashon hara against Rav Berland,  I reckon we are now about to head into a second wave of COVID madness.

So, go stock up on your water, toilet paper and whatever else you need now.

Because the next stage of the birur has arrived. And if you thought the police brutality against the chareidi communities in Israel and beyond was bad before, I have a feeling that far worse is now to come.

Unless we finally make teshuva, and stop pretending that we’re the biggest tzaddikim on the block.

====

UPDATE:

Strange as it sounds, the majority of the Shuvu Banim community seem to be doing OK with this ‘psak din’ – even feeling relieved and calmly content.

Why?

Because we all knew that ‘beit din’ was anti-Breslov and anti-Rav Berland right from the start, so no-one is shocked at this outcome.

Also, the Rav was hinting for years that something like this had to happen to get us to the next stage of geula.

And also, because it’s a relief that this ‘fig leaf’ has now been provided by Hashem, to unmask all those yucky horrible people who pretend to be religious, and who pretend to be connected to Hashem.

====

Yalla, yucky people!

Write as many horrible comments and posts as you can in the short amount of time that probably remains to you!

It’s all dissing diamonds, it’s all helping the Rav to sweeten the judgments, and it’s helping his community too.

It’s like I told someone close to the Rav who called me before Shabbat feeling quite shaken up and upset:

I’d much rather have all their dissing and carping, and keep my health, shalom bayit and parnassa, than the opposite.

I’m (trying to be…) a sincere student of the Rav, after all, and here’s what he’s been teaching us for years:

====

God will deal with all the yucky people in due course – and it won’t be pretty.

So, hang on my sweet readers! This is a bump in the road, but it’s a necessary part of the geula process to unmask all those pretend frum fakers out there, and show us all what we’re really dealing with.

And it’s already working!

BH, the revealed good is on the way soon, and in the meantime, don’t throw the diamonds back.

They are ‘buying’ us good health, shalom bayit, parnassa, and all the other good stuff that’s really important.

And the truth will out soon enough.

People are already nudging me to write Volume III of One in a Generation….

And I’m almost ready to say yes.

====

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Despite the difficult situation we all find ourselves in with Coronavirus, suffering is still optional

Day 20 at the Kotel today, and Baruch Hashem, there were a few more people there than yesterday – like maybe 18 women in the whole, massive plaza, as opposed to yesterday’s 13.

This whole test is about controlling our fallen fears, and developing some genuine yirat shemayim, or fear of heaven, which basically boils down to having emuna that God is running the world.

In the middle of all this, it’s impossible to fake what you really think and feel about what’s going on. If you are still sleeping OK at night, if you aren’t consumed by worry, then either you are:

Still living in total denial about what is actually going on at the moment

OR

You have a lot of genuine emuna.

Here’s a quick way to figure out which camp you might actually be in: if you already stocked up enough food to last you over the next few weeks, including buying at least the basics required for Pesach, then you are probably in the last camp.

And if not….

====

Stocking up with some essentials is part of how to get through the madness in one piece.

But a much more crucial part of how to not lose your marbles over the coming weeks can be found in lesson 250 of Likutey Moharan.

There, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches us:

“Know: the sole cause of all types of pain and all suffering is a lack of daat (deeply internalized spiritual knowledge), for whoever possesses daat and knows that everything is ordained by God – that “God gave, and God took” (Job 1:21) – does not suffer at all, and experiences no pain.”

Rabbenu continues:

“….pain is very light and easy to accept when one is clearly aware that everything is ordained by God….[pain and suffering] will not be felt at all if one possesses daat, for pain and suffering are mainly on account of one’s daat being taken away, so that one should experience the suffering.

“This is the essence of Jewish pain in the exile: all on account of their falling away from daat and attributing everything to nature, circumstances and fate. This is what causes their pain and suffering.”

====

It’s a profound lesson that is speaking mamash about what we are seeing occur all over the world right now with Coronavirus hysterical panic (which so far, seems to be far more infectious and dangerous than the actual virus itself…)

Later on in Lesson 250, Rabbenu explains how the Jewish people are above nature, and how our prayers can mamash transcend nature and change it, and then ties all of that in to bringing an ‘end’ to non-Jewish nations, and remembering the Jews who are sunk in exile within them, still.

Well worth a read.

But for today’s post, let’s come back to this idea that suffering and pain really only happen when we forget that God is in charge of the world, and is ordering everything that is happening to us and around us.

====

What lessons can we learn from Rabbenu, about how to deal with the Coronavirus madness we all find ourselves caught up in?

Here’s where I’m holding with things:

  • I’m working on my emunat tzaddikim and emuna.

That means that whenever I start having a self-induced panic attack because I’ve read things by fearmongering heretics about this whole saga lasting for another 6 months, or lo alenu even more, 18 months, I remind myself that Rabbi Berland is working hard to sweeten this, and he said it will be over by Pesach.

And then, I go and say the Rav’s prayer to be saved from Coronavirus, or I go and say a Tikkun HaKlali, or I do a bit more hitbodedut, or I dance around for a bit and clap my hands – and like magic, I start to feel way, way happier again.

  • I’m trying to avoid sites written by heretics and fearmongerers

People are strange. We have this peculiar pull to hearing bad news, and watching horror movies like Nightmare on Elm Street, even though we know they are going to disrupt our sleep and give us nightmares for the next 2 months.

And this Coronavirus matzav is bringing that tendency out very strongly.

I realized a few days back that when I’m not reading doom-and-gloom predictions about economic collapse, 5G zombification and 50 million people dead, I’m actually pretty happy on a day to day basis.

Also, I can’t see any justification for these awful predictions in my dalet amot. People aren’t dropping dead on the street, I don’t know anyone who is seriously ill, and despite Bibi’s massive hysterical fit, the public ‘mood’ really isn’t so hysterical.

On some level, I think so many of us can feel that God is hiding behind this whole Coronavirus thing, and that however bad it looks, looks are currently very deceptive.

But reading news sites and blogs written by hysterical atheists (some of whom are pretending to be ‘religious’) gets me super antsy, super-fast. So, I’ve stopped visiting sites which are full of fear, emotional manipulation and ‘blaming statements’ about chareidim having blood on their hands just because they happen to still be davening in a minyan and learning Torah.

====

  • My main response to this matzav (apart from panic buying essentials…) is teshuva and prayer.

On Shabbat, I did another six hour talking to God session, which really helped me to feel way, way calmer about everything, and way more connected to Hashem.

I’ve also started saying a prayer every single day to avoid speaking lashon hara and rechilut, and I’m trying very hard to let go any bad feelings I have about people, as per the instructions of Rav Kanievsky.

When I have energy, like on Shabbat, I’m trying to do 7 Tikkun HaKlalis on behalf of the Rav. When I don’t have that much energy (i.e. most of the time…) I made an agreement with my husband that we’ll split the 7 between us, and whoever had more koach and headspace will do more.

I’m also trying very hard not to go bonkers at my kids, and let’s face it, that’s probably the biggest test we’re all having, day to day.

====

Trying to keep bored teens busy enough and happy enough that they don’t start ripping your house to shreds, or tearing holes in their parents, siblings and themselves is a massive challenge.

Like today, I saw that one of my kids left paint brushes full of diluted mahogany wood gloss on the new, white, downstairs sink. And we’re renting. I had a rant to myself for half a minute about how retarded teenagers can be, rushed off to clean it, then worked really hard to not hold a grudge against my kid in my heart.

In Israel, we’ve been in partial lockdown for 10 days already, and that’s a long time to share space with teens.

But I know it’s all coming from God, and that it’s just a test of my middot and my emuna, and that’s really helping me to deal with this whole situation so much better, and to remain so much calmer, and to turn the work inwards, into prayer and introspection, as much as possible, and far less into rants and unrealistic expectations about how other people should be acting and reacting.

====

The last thing I’m trying to do is to just live in the moment, and to stop trying to peer around corners.

Right now, I have enough food to get me through Pesach. I have enough toilet paper. I have enough interesting projects to be getting on with. I have enough space that everyone can do their own thing without being in view of others 24/7, Baruch Hashem.

I’m going to the Kotel every day, which I’ve never done before in my life.

I’m taking the opportunity to smell the roses, and to stop being online all the time.

I’m baking cookies for my families, and even starting to plan a new painting.

In short, life is good.

Really good.

God is in charge of the world, not me. And the more I can remember that, the less I stress and worry.

====

There is a lot of stress and yeoush rushing around the world right now. It’s so easy to get caught up in the panic and the fear, and to forget that God is the only One pulling the strings, here.

When that happens, we start to suffer terribly, and then the situation can become overwhelmingly painful and scary.

But we Jews are above nature. Our prayers can literally change reality.

God is locking us all down right now so we stop acting like the non-Jews, and stop panicking about face masks, hand sanitizer and staying 2 metres away from each other, and turn back to God wholeheartedly. This is part of the whole process of leaving galut, both physically and spiritually.

And as soon as we really put God back into our picture, our pain and suffering will stop.

====

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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

====

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo by Ricardo Resende on Unsplash

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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….

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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