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There’s been so many fires going on in Israel the last few weeks.

If you read THIS POST about the luminaries of fire vs the luminaries of light, then you’ll have a pretty good idea why this is happening, spiritually-speaking.

Friday morning, I had my own taste of it.

Apartments in Israel don’t tend to have any central heating, and also tend to be really, really cold in the winter. Most people seem to buy plug-in electrical heating devices to heat the space they’re in over winter, or turn their air-conditioning units to ‘hot’.

The last few years’, we’ve been using a ‘glow in the dark’ electrified coil-type of heater – which to be honest, I’ve never liked as they always struck me as pretty dangerous. But they give off a lot of heat, and the rest of my family likes them a lot.

Which brings me to what happened last Friday.

There’s a strange thing that happens with teenagers that all the common sense rules and regulations you ever told them seem to get wiped out of their brains as soon as they hit 13.

Many of these ‘rules’ ARE just opinions, social norms, parental preferences, and the teen is justified in rethinking the validity of these types of rules. But other things – like the strict instruction to NEVER PUT CLOTHING ON THE FIRE-THING TO WARM UP – are clearly just plain common-sense and potentially life-saving.

Sadly, teens often don’t seem to realize that some rules really are inviolable, and for good reason.

Last Friday, thank God my husband was feeling really, really poorly, so he didn’t get up to go to shul like he usually does. I was finding it hard to get out of bed (occasionally that happens…) so my daughter was getting her own act together to go to school.

Eventually, I found the will to get up and make my kid a sandwich, so I opened my bedroom door – and saw a raging inferno burning away in my living room.

I didn’t have my glasses on, so it mamash looked like the whole place had gone up in flames.

I started screaming, my husband and daughter came running, and I decided that we had to get everyone out the apartment ASAP as the fire was very close to the front door and it didn’t look like we’d have much time to get out. I sent the kid to wake up her (still sleeping) sister and friend, and then I just panicked for about a minute and kind of froze in place.

Thank God for my husband.

He grabbed a cushion off the armchair and started beating the flames out. Once everything calmed down (and I put my glasses on) I could see what had actually happened.

My kid had put her jeans skirt on the fire ‘to warm up’ then left it to go and find a top. It had caught fire and fragmented into many different sections, each of which was burning. We were SO lucky that nothing else caught fire, as my apartment is on the small side, and there was a ton of very flammable stuff all around. If any of those things had caught, I wouldn’t be typing this now.

When we all calmed down a little, I realized the following:

  • If my husband hadn’t been ill and at home that morning, things would have ended very differently.
  • Staying in bed is sometimes very dangerous (who knew?)
  • Even very clever, sensitive and otherwise amazing teenagers are occasionally SO DUMB it’s astounding
  • We need to buy a radiator…

The last thing I realized is how much God loves me. I felt very strongly that if I hadn’t made all the teshuva I’d made last week to try to quench all my ‘internal fires of hatred’ against certain people, things could have ended very differently, God forbid.

Our Sages often equate anger and rage to a destructive fire. Last week I got a small taste of just how much damage these ‘fires’ can do, if we don’t make every effort to put them out ASAP.

One of the more perplexing phenomenon that I’ve witnessed time and time again is how you can get a truly amazing, big, holy Tzaddik – the real deal, 100% – but they’ll be surrounded by some of the most mentally-ill, disturbed characters you’re ever likely to meet.

This has happened so many times, in so many different situations, and with so many different Tzaddikim, that a couple of years’ back I realized it must be some sort of ‘spiritual rule’.

In fact, the bigger the Tzaddik, the crazier so many of the people on the inside of his ‘inner circle’. Then I learned that King David taught: ‘The wicked surround the tzaddik’.

Aha! I wasn’t going bonkers. I knew there must be something ‘deep’ going on here, because if someone on the low level of yours truly can figure out that these people are nasty and mentally ill, surely huge Tzaddikim – who can see right through a person, to the innermost recesses of their soul – couldn’t be fooled so easily?!

This is not a ‘theoretical’ discussion, at least, not for me.

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, my husband and I got burned by one ‘false’, mentally-ill spiritual guide after another, all of who came with impeccable credentials. They looked the part (from a distance…); they talked the part (as long as you kept the conversation short, felt hugely honored for having the ‘privilege’ of being spoken to, and didn’t do anything else expect stroke their massive egos…); and most disturbing of all, they came with a patina of having been ‘pre-approved’ as a kosher, upright person by their (highly publicized…) associations with bona fide Tzaddikim.

After the last one exploded in our faces two years’ ago, leaving me with a ginormous crisis of faith that very nearly took me out, I decided I had to go and find out why the tzaddikim in the middle of the circle of madness hadn’t done more to warn me and protect me from these dangerous, mentally-ill, spiritually-corrupt individuals.

The discussion (in my hitbodedut…) went something like this:

“Do you know how bad, spiritually, these people really are?” They did. “Do you know how much suffering they caused me and my family, and how they nearly destroyed my faith in Hashem and his true Tzaddikim?” They did. “So, then why didn’t you stop them? Why are still keeping them so close? Why are you allowing them to continue to fool people, and to hurt them?”

The answers I got back were truly enlightening, and I’m sharing them with you here, dear reader, in case they can help you, too.

The true Tzaddikim know 100% about just how bad their mentally-ill ‘circle’ is. So why are they keeping them around?

There’s a few answers:

  • Firstly, some of the crazies are actually useful, as long as you don’t get too close to them. As we said, from a distance they play the part of a pious, upright Jew very well, and as long as you’re only dealing with them ‘at a distance’, they can’t do you a lot of harm, and they’re also probably giving you more ‘straight’ information and advice then many other people today, by sheer dent of the fact that they are at least connected to real Tzaddikim.

The problem comes when people take them too seriously, and actually believe that these people are ‘tzaddikim’ in their own right, but that’s not a problem for most of the people out there today.

  • If these people weren’t ‘encircling’ the Tzaddikim, they’d be out there doing much more damage to mankind. The point here is that these people are spiritually-corrupt, mentally ill, and (usually…) ruthlessly ambitious. The Tzaddik acts as a kind of ‘brake’ on their behavior, so at least it won’t go too far.

 

  • Whatever happened to me and my husband, we were meant to go through it as part of our Tikkun, or spiritual rectification. If it hadn’t been those particular nasty people who caused us so many difficulties, it would have been others. But it had to happen, and the fact that it happened ‘under the aegis’ of the bona fide Tzaddikim meant that we also enjoyed their spiritual protection to pull us through the experience in one piece.

 

  • The Tzaddikim themselves suffer incredibly from having to keep these people happy. The first people the crazies mistreat and cause problems for are the Tzaddikim they’re encircling. They can’t help it: as we noted, they’re mentally ill. They’ll keep a limit on their bad behavior and lack of respect towards the Tzaddikim in public, but in private they yell at them, rant at them, make ridiculous demands of them, treat them like ‘mates’, instead of holy Tzaddikim, and generally try to control them and manipulate them in a million different ways.

 

Now, I’m no Tzaddik. If I had to spend any time around such spiritually-corrupt, horrible people like this, I’d vomit.

But our Tzaddikim are even more atuned to evil and corruption, and even more affected by it. Which means that it’s a huge, enormous effort of will for them to keep these people in their inner circle, and to not boot them out. Which brings us to our next point:

  • The Tzaddikim keep these people close, because that’s what God wants. God wants these mentally-ill individuals to have the very best chance of ultimately making Teshuva, so he sticks a huge Tzaddik in front of their face to show them how they should really be acting, in the hopes that one day, the lesson will be learned. (God is clearly a huge optimist.)

The true Tzaddikim want to give God what He wants, even when it entails huge suffering and self-nullification on their behalf. Even if it means they end up being apparently ‘controlled’, at least on some level, by the mentally-ill people they’re surrounded by.

For as long as God wants that to be happening, the Tzaddikim will continue to give it to Him.

As noted above, I’m SOOOO not a Tzaddik. We can’t understand the level of self-control and self-nullification (or bitul) to God’s will these people have. If it was us, we’d complain! We’d clean house! We’d get rid of all these disgusting people who are making our lives miserable and tarnishing our reputations in 10 seconds! But the Tzaddikim aren’t like us – they’re Tzaddikim!

Time and again, I keep telling people that without doing regular hitbodedut (personal prayer), you have no chance of really understanding what’s going on today. Without my hitbodedut discussion, I would have harbored a huge grudge against the ‘tzaddikim’ that had apparently closed their eyes to the terrible spiritual corruption in their midst.

I would have got so self-righteous, judgmental and slanderous, God forbid.

With hitbodedut, it’s still been a real struggle to understand what’s going on (at least enough to have peace of mind…) But eventually, I got there. Thank God, I didn’t shoot my mouth off until God showed me what was really happening! Thank God, I didn’t rush to attack holy Tzaddikim, just because they’re surrounded by some very difficult, nasty people!

Thank God, that even though I was sorely tempted to ‘name and shame’ the individuals involved, I’ve kept my mouth shut. Sure, I hate what they’re up to. Sure, I still wish that they will be unmasked, so that other people won’t be hurt by them the way I got hurt. But God knows what He’s doing, the true Tzaddikim know what they’re doing, and when all is said and done, I really no nothing at all.

The last piece of good that came out of all this stuff is that I turned a lot of my insights and experiences into my book, Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav. While I can’t tell people WHO the crazies are, I can still describe how they act, so you’ll hopefully be able to work it out for yourselves.

You can buy Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav on Amazon and on The Book Depository

How the Erev Rav and personality disorders are connected

A little while back, I got a tweet from someone (who knew people actually read those things…) criticizing me for linking ‘mental illness’ to the Erev Rav.

As it was a one line tweet, there wasn’t a lot of detail, but I still wanted to devote a post to responding to the criticism, because like it not, mental illness and the Erev Rav ARE inextricably linked.

This is probably not going to be an easy post to read for many people, and I apologise in advance for that.

In order to explain how mental illness and the Erev Rav are linked, I have to explain how I got onto this whole subject in the first place.

HOW I GOT INTO THE SUBJECT OF RESEARCHING THE EREV RAV

Around five years’ ago, I suddenly realized that so many of the very puzzling, difficult, upsetting and frankly bizarre behaviors, relationships and situations I was experiencing at that time were because many of the people I knew had undiagnosed and unacknowledged personality disorders, and in particular, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

NPD manifests itself in two key (and superficially opposite) fashions:

  • Smothering, bullying and controlling
  • Uninterested, ‘absent’ and neglectful

There’s SO much stuff out there in the secular world about NPD. Here’s a rough round-up of most of the main points:

PEOPLE WITH NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER:

  • Can’t accept that they are anything except 100% perfect
  • Can’t empathise with other people, or see another person’s point of view – which enables them to mistreat others in a very cruel fashion, which they feel is completely justified ‘from their point of view’.
  • Project their own bad character traits on to other people, which means they mercilessly criticize others for the same things they themselves are doing (and denying).
  • Have a superiority complex and are obsessed with keeping up appearances at all costs.
  • Have very disturbing gossiping habits, manipulate others and make serious trouble between people wherever they go.
  • Are in a barely-contained state of permanent rage and anger – but will deny they are angry.
  • Act very vindictively, spitefully. They are unable to forgive anyone they feel has slighted them, particularly by suggesting they are anything less than perfect.
  • Are incredibly selfish and self-absorbed.
  • Relate to the world in a very superficial, materialistic way. They can’t ‘relate’ to others (or themselves) in an authentic way. They aren’t interested in more spiritual ideas and concepts.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The descriptions of NPD and the other ‘Cluster B’ personality disorders fit what I was experiencing to a tee. But I knew even back then that the only truth is Torah.

So then I started researching, did the Torah describe any phenomenon that would dove-tail with the secular descriptions of how people behave and treat other people when they have a ‘Cluster B’ personality disorder?

THE EREV RAV CONNECTION

Very quickly, Hashem sent me a whole bunch of information about the Erev Rav – and that’s when things got really intense, because the typical Erev Traits as set out by our Sages, and the typical traits you find in Cluster B personality disorders fit like a hand in a glove.

God appeared to be using personality disorders, and particularly narcissism, to hide the reality of the Erev Rav people in our lives, right under our noses.

But the question haunted me for three years: Can Erev Rav / personality disordered people change? Can they make teshuva? Can they be fixed?

Most of the Jewish sources on the subject said no.

The most current secular thinking (as expressed in the DSM) also said ‘no’ – when people have a Cluster B personality disorder, and especially narcissism, there is nothing you can do to help them to change that.

The main problem is that when someone refuses to acknowledge they are a flawed human being, and strives to maintain the illusion of their own perfection and infallibility, they won’t acknowledge any of the things they are doing wrong, or make any effort to try to fix them.

To put it another way: as long as someone clings to the notion they are only ever perfect and never make any mistakes, they stay a mentally-ill narcissist.

And that’s where I got stuck for three long years, until I read a discourse that Rav Berland gave in 2000, that completely transformed the whole picture and gave me hope for the first time that the Erev Rav / personality disordered people in our midst can change and can make teshuva, if they really want to.

I explain what Rav Berland said, and a whole bunch of other stuff about how to actually go about fixing these Erev Rav traits, in much more detail in the book, ‘Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav’. But I want to end this post on an ‘up’ note, and tie everything back together with my Tweeter’s original criticism of the book.

PERSONALITY DISORDERS ARE CAUSED BY TRAUMA, AND CAN BE REVERSED

Over the last two years, I’ve learned a great deal about psychiatric thought, trauma and the true causes of serious mental illnesses including personality disorders and narcissism. (Yes, I do plan on writing it all up into yet another book, and I even have a working title for it: Animal or angel? The real roots of mental illness and how to cure it.)

The upshot is this: personality disorders are a false, pseudo-scientific construct created by a ‘materialistic’ psychiatric industry that fails to put people’s soul into the picture. The main problems underpinning mental illnesses like personality disorders come down to the same main problems underpinning Erev Rav character traits, namely:

  • People are completely disconnected from God, their souls and the more spiritual aspects of life.
  • Without a strong connection to God, they are consumed by animalistic impulses and governed by bad middot that cause them to act in a personality disordered / Erev Rav type way.
  • Physiologically, personality disorders are caused by trauma, and particularly the types of trauma that come from being emotionally abused and / or neglected in childhood.
  • The single best way to strengthen the ‘good’, mature part of the brain so that it can stand up to the traumatized, primitive, ‘animalistic’ part of the brain is via regular prayer and hitbodedut.
  • It’s about TRAITS not about LABELS. Each bad character trait we eliminate brings us closer to true emotional and spiritual health, and takes us further away from acting like a mentally ill, personality-disordered Erev Rav.
  • Everybody occasionally acts like an Erev Rav. But with enough prayer, honesty and emuna, every single negative character trait can be permanently uprooted and rectified.

To sum up, personality disorders are a secular description of Erev Rav behaviors and traits.

The two are fundamentally linked, because they are describing the same phenomena, albeit one in ‘materialistic’ secular terms, and the other in Torah terms.

But the Torah’s truth, as expounded by Rav Berland, is that the Erev Rav people in our midst CAN be fixed, and sooner or later most of them will be (barring the ones who cause terrible strife and machloket amongst Jews).

But in the meantime, we still need to recognize what we’re dealing with when we come up against those difficult, arrogant, brazen and abusive characters we all unfortunately know, and to stop making excuses for what’s going on around us.

There are lots of personality disordered people in our midst. There are lots of Jewish narcissists. That’s the reality, and the Torah also told us that before Moshiach comes, the Erev Rav would return in force in order to finally be rectified. The Jewish people have been through so much trauma, I guess it couldn’t really be any other way at this stage of the game.

Calling a spade a spade and correctly identifying the emotional and spiritual problems in our midst is the first step towards really rectifying them.

Moshiach will help us to finish this job when he finally shows up, but in the meantime, we have to start that process and recognize that a lot of mental illnesses, especially personality disorders, and Erev Rav traits are essentially just two sides of the same coin.

But the key point to remember is that these mentally-ill / Erev Rav type behaviors CAN BE FIXED, and are primarily cured by working on our emuna, and making God a real and regular force in our lives.

As soon as a person says sorry, as soon as they admit they aren’t perfect, they start the long, difficult journey of fixing their souls and returning to God.

There is are so many outright heretical ideas flying around all over the internet about the topic of ‘faith in the Sages’ or emunat Tzaddikim, that I thought it would be useful to share some of what Rebbe Nachman writes about the subject in the Abridged Likutey Moharan (translated as ‘Advice’, in the English.)

As you’ll hopefully see from these sources, emunat Tzaddikim is not an option extra in Judaism, or something that only applies to chassidim.

It’s a fundamental tenet of Yiddishkeit, and has a direct impact on a person’s understanding, or daat, and ability to perfect their bad middot and negative character traits.

NOTE: When it’s referring to ‘Sages’ that’s another word for Tzaddikim.

  • When you have faith in the Sages, your mind will be purified and your intellect clear. You will be able to derive a personal lesson for yourself from everything you learn in the Torah and develop the right habits and practices in serving God. You will know how to act in every situation, and you will be able to guide all who come under your influence.

But those who lack faith in the Sages must suffer the torments of the flesh – the ‘superfluities’. Stinking vapors rise up to their brains and distort and confuse all their thoughts. Far from being able to learn the right way to live, all their Torah studies give them the exact opposite of truth.

They never have a clear idea about anything. They are constantly afflicted with doubts and pulled in all directions at once. When a person has no faith in the Sages, his heart becomes as filthy as a privy, all his thinking is warped, and he never knows how he should act in any situation. (Likutey Moharan 61:1)

  • It is not possible to attain perfect faith (emuna) – which is the basis of everything and the summit of holiness – except through being close to the Tzaddikim. It is the Tzaddikim who foster the authentic faith of Israel among the people of their generation.

But the only way to draw close to them is with boldness and determination. There are certain types of people who put up all kinds of obstacles and barriers so as to prevent others from drawing closer to the point of truth. The source of their power is the arrogant self-assertiveness of the forces of the Other Side. (Likutey Moharan 22:4)

  • Only through the Tzaddik of the generation is it possible to attain true awe and love of God. When a person is unable to experience true awe and love, it is because the light of the Tzaddik is hidden from him…

He could be in the same place as the Tzaddik, and even sitting right next to him and still not taste or understand or see the great light which radiates from the Tzaddik, and that could bring him to attain the true and enduring goal.

This is because of his wrongdoing. As a result, his divine intelligence has become clouded over with foolishness and bankrupt ideas. He looks at himself as a sophisticated person who needs to raise various questions and entertain doubts about the Tzaddik.

All these doubt and questions are completely senseless. His wrongdoing has left his mind clouded and dull and the light of the Tzaddik is hidden from him. This is why he does not have genuine awe and love of God. (Likutey Moharan Part 2, 17:1)

  • There are many different kinds of degenerate speech: talking unfairly and untruthfully about other people; telling people what their friends and acquaintances said about them or did to their disadvantage; telling lies; cynicism and sarcasm; flatters; embarrassing people publicly; obscene talk; unnecessary remarks and so on.

Worst of all is when people cast aspersions on the Tzaddikim, and on those who are honest and God-fearing. Talk like this gives wings to the primordial serpent [i.e. the root of all evil in the world]. It flies through the world wreaking havoc.

This ‘serpent’ is the sophistry of the philosophers and other apostles of atheism. Today this has spread throughout the world and is gaining ever-increasing prestige and power. But words of holiness form wings of the domain of the holy. (Likutey Moharan 63)

 

Dear reader, at the moment there seems to be an explosion in heretical statements and heretical ideas being put across by orthodox rabbis, no less, as well as others.

This is all part of the test of birur, or clarification, before Moshiach comes – and it’s going to be very difficult and confusing to navigate it properly!

BH, I’m working on putting together a cut-out-and-keep HERETIC-O-METER, which will list some of the more common heretical statements I’m running into on a regular basis on the internet and elsewhere, to make it easier for everyone to spot what’s going on.

If you have your own favourite ‘heretical statement’ that you’d like me to include, please leave it in the comments section.

Rebbe Nachman told us more than 200 years’ ago that the tests of faith (emuna) in the time preceding the coming of Moshiach would be so great, that: “…many will fall away and be evil.”

But he continued: “Still, I am revealing this for the sake of the few faithful who will remain strong in their belief (emuna).  They will certainly have great conflicts.  But when they see that this has already been predicted, it will give them additional strength and encouragement.” (Sichot HaRan 35)

On another occasion, Rebbe Nachman commented that at the end of days, the whole world would be flooded by such a huge amount of heretical ideas and theories, even rabbis would have ‘heresy dripping out of their pockets.’

Sadly, there are so many things going on today that prove that Rebbe Nachman was not at all exaggerating, so I thought it would be good to do a quick ‘emuna’ refresher today.

The Rambam’s first principle of faith states:

“I believe with complete faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, He creates and manages all of creation, and that He alone did, does and will do everything that is done.”

So to take just one example, this means that all those supernatural fires that occurred across Israel last week were 100% the work of God. That doesn’t mean He didn’t use the odd Arab terrorist here and there, but even the Israel Home Command Front estimated that 95% of the fires were spontaneous combustion, and not arson.

The Artscroll siddur makes the following comments about the Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith.

First, it tells us very clearly: “There is no partnership in Creation.” It’s complete heresy to suggest that something could occur in the world that God ‘has nothing to do with’, as that suggests there is another force operating in the universe other than Hashem.

(As an aside, this is one of the many big problems with Xtianity, and other religions that like to claim that the forces of evil are somehow outside of God’s control. That’s complete heresy – God is doing EVERYTHING in the world, even the seemingly bad things.)

Secondly, the Artscroll siddur tells us:

“God communicates with man. In order for man to carry out his Divinely-ordained mission, he must know what it is. Prophecy is the means by which God communicates His wishes to man.”

Rebbe Nachman warned us that just before Moshiach showed up, there would be a bunch of heretical pseudo-tzaddiks who would be tripping us up and weakening our faith in God and his true Tzaddikim.

Anytime we believe that anything other than God is causing things to happen, that’s a heretical thought, and here’s why that’s such a problem:

In Tractate Roshana 17a the Gemara tells us that:

“The apikorsim (heretics)…descend to Gehinnom and are punished there for all eternity.”

Heresy is a very serious business, as it can literally cost a person all of their World to Come and consign them to a permanent billet in Hell. Not a fun prospect!

What’s helped me navigate all the confusion and heresy sloshing around is Rav Arush’s three rules of emuna. You can find a more detailed discussion of these three rules in his book, The Garden of Emuna.

RAV ARUSH’S THREE RULES OF EMUNA:

RULE 1: EIN OD MILVADO – God did, does and will do every single thing that’s happening in the world, even the seemingly ‘bad’ stuff, and including even the most smallest details of our lives.

RULE 2: EVERYTHING THAT GOD DOES IS GOOD Even when it’s painful and upsetting. Everything that occurs to us, even the most painful things, are ultimately only for our good, and will help us to achieve our spiritual rectification, or Tikkun.

RULE 3: THERE’S A MESSAGE IN EVERYTHING – Everything that happens to us or that impacts us in some way contains a message from God about what we might need to work on, fix, change, accept or rectify. The easiest way to figure these messages out is to talk to God for an hour every day.

The Rambam wrote his 13 Principles of Faith to help us avoid the sort of heretical people and ideas that could do permanent damage to our souls. In our mixed up world, there really are a bunch of ‘orthodox’ rabbis out there who literally have heresy dripping out of their pockets.

Caveat Emptor.

It’s amazing how all these ‘breathless’ geula bloggers have stayed so quiet about Rabbi Berland, aka Eliezer ben Etia.

I’ve been expecting the geula imminently for around 12 years now. And over that time I’ve been bombarded with hundreds of exciting messages about the end of the world, many BREAKING NEWS!!! moments when it really did look like that might be happening, plus thousands upon thousands of predictions, guesses, pundit pieces and others.

After 12 years (!) of all that, I’ve come to rely on only one thing as having any true credibility:

Messages from true Tzaddikim.

And that’s about it.

It’s not that I don’t think there isn’t value in many of the other podcasts, posts, lessons and YouTube videos from people I respect very highly like Rav Glazerson. It’s just that I know our true Tzaddikim have ruach hakodesh – they talk to God regularly, they are given access to spiritual secrets and deliberations that ordinary people like you and me just don’t have, however much Torah learning we have, or hitbodedut (personal prayer) we’re doing every week.

Also, as is known, our true Tzaddikim excel in changing God’s mind from ‘harsh justice’ to more merciful ways. When God wanted to blast the Jewish people out of existence following the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe Rabbenu simply wouldn’t let him.

To put that scenario into modern terms, this is what would have played out on the internet just after the Golden Calf:

The autistics would have put out a statement with a ton of ‘oys’ and ‘voys’ about the terrible sin committed, and predict that 2/3 of the Jewish people (minimum) were about to be annihilated by God – and they’d be right!

Except, except, except….Moshe Rabbenu interceded (secretly…) and the picture changed drastically. Rav Glazerson would then have a Torah Code YouTube clearly showing that ‘Erev Rav’ and ‘Golden Calf’ intersected with ‘annihilation of the Jewish people’ and ‘saved by Moshe Rabbenu’.

Then, all the bloggers would have gone to work. Many would be screaming their lungs out about the imminent destruction of the Jewish people (while completely ignoring the role of the true Tzaddikim in avoiding that scenario). Many would be offering up their own take on WHY IT WAS HAPPENING (again, while completely ignoring what the true Tzaddikim were actually saying about it), some would ignore the whole situation completely, or come up with a conspiracy theory blaming Yasser Arafat for everything, and two would be telling the truth:

Namely, that there WAS a big decree of destruction against the Jewish people because of the sin they committed, but the Tzaddik of the generation, Moshe Rabbenu, cancelled it out with his prayers and self-sacrifice.

And of all the opinions and ‘fluff’ out there, only that last one is relevant, because it’s the only statement that’s really 100% true.

THE ONLY WARNINGS AND MESSAGES THAT MATTER COME FROM OUR TRUE TZADDIKIM

When Moshe Rabbenu later told his brother Aaron to run with the incense pan to the camp to stop the plague that had broken out, this was a clear example of the Tzaddik HaDor being very clued-in to what was a clear and present danger to the Jewish people, and what wasn’t, and also, crucially, WHY IT WAS HAPPENING.

Which brings me to the crux of this post. It’s been very interesting to me to see that every ‘alternative’ pronouncement of death and destruction, every ‘message’ predicting the future, every weird occurrence going on in the world, from strange weather to bizarre geophysical phenomenon is given reams of space in the Jewish blogosphere, while the messages from a number of huge Tzaddikim about what’s going on with Rav Berland – and its connection to the ongoing geula process – are being almost completely ignored.

You should know that Rav Glazerson has at least 12 videos on YouTube clearly pointing out that Rav Berland is completely innocent, being persecuted by the Erev Rav, and that his imprisonment is directly connected to geula and Moshiach coming.

I can think of one blog (maybe two…) that is bringing these videos to your attention, while I know of many other blogs who link to pretty much every OTHER video Rav Glazerson puts out that doesn’t talk directly about Rabbi Berland.

Why is this?

Even the autistics recently came out with a message stating clearly that Rabbi Berland was innocent and suffering for the sins of the generation. I waited to see if this would be publicized or mentioned by some of the blogs who believe the autistics are modern-day prophets – nothing, nada, nope.

Why not?

Rav Dov Kook and other of the nation’s leading Tzaddikim including Rav Chaim Dovid Stern and Rav Shalom Arush, have come out with statement after statement in support of Rav Berland, and making it clear that his persecution is directly linked to the geula process of the Jewish people.

When Rav Kook made a statement saying he could see a gezeira coming because of the mixed gender bathing in Tiveria a few months’ ago, many bloggers fell over themselves to report on it at length.

Yet when Rav Kook made the statement last week that all the supernatural fires hitting Israel were because of the suffering and persecution of Rabbi Berland, it was met with an industrial silence in the blogosphere.

Why was that?

SOOO many bloggers commented on the ‘Fire Intifada’, quoting this one and that one, and coming up with their own ideas of WHY it happened and WHO’S really behind it and WHAT TO DO about it. Yet when one of the leading Gedolei HaDor puts out a public statement clearly linking Rabbi Berland’s persecution by the Israeli government to these fires – no-one quoted it. No-one mentioned it.

Why not?

If the Torah codes and Rav Kook, and Rav David Abuchatzeira and Rav Chaim Dovid Stern, and the Milkman, and Rav Fish are good enough when it comes to all the other things we quote them about, then shouldn’t they also be believed when they’re telling us Rav Berland is innocent, his incarceration is directly connected to geula and the coming of Moshiach, and last week’s fires are directly connected to his terrible mistreatment at the hands of the Erev Rav?

And if they AREN’T good enough – then why quote them on other matters that also regularly contradict the mainstream view of things?

Why the double-standard?

Sure, I know there’s a lot of heretical psychos out there who love to insult and abuse people who write positively about Rabbi Berland (hi guys!)  As a blogger myself, I know that I also don’t want to accidentally mislead my readers or write something that’s incorrect.

But here’s the thing: people like Rav Dov Kook don’t have ‘opinions’ or cook up conspiracy theories about what they think may be going on in the world. Rav Kook, Rav Stern and others – they have ruach hakodesh. They know stuff because Hashem Himself is telling them.

Emunat Tzaddikim means that we believe in the words of our true Tzaddikim, even when that contradicts what we think we know (by reading all the latest conspiracy theories, opinion pieces and wild guesses masquerading as ‘prophecy’ on the web…)

I have no problem publicly supporting Rav Berland a million per cent, because that stance is not based on my own opinion, it’s daat Torah.

ALL THE REAL TZADDIKIM ARE BEHIND RABBI BERLAND 100%.

(I know there’s also a bunch of pseudo-tzaddikim talking against him, but that’s in order to maintain free will, and to make the test more difficult.)

So let’s sum up what I’m trying to get at:

  • Rabbi Berland, aka Eliezer ben Etia, is being publicly supported by our true Tzaddikim, including Rav Dov Kook, and Rav Chaim Dovid Stern.
  • These two Tzaddikim in particular have put out a number of explicit messages stating Rav Berland is the last test before Moshiach; anyone who talks against him won’t have a share in the geula; and the supernatural fires that happened last week are directly linked to his persecution and unjust incarceration.
  • Rabbi Berland also has a ton of Torah codes proving his innocence, support from the autistics saying he’s innocent, and has regularly predicted the future including the start of the Third Intifada. (There is a lot more to say on the subject of Rav Berland accurately predicting the future on many different occasions, but that’s a post for another occasion.)
  • WHY IS ALL THIS STUFF BEING IGNORED IN THE JEWISH BLOGOSPHERE, WHEN IT’S CLEARLY DIRECTLY RELATED TO GEULA AND THE FINAL TEST OF ‘BIRUR’, TO SEE WHO’S REALLY WITH HASHEM AND HIS TRUE TZADDIKIM?!?!?

Maybe someone can enlighten me.

You can buy One in a Generation Volume 1 on Amazon and on the Book Depository.

You can buy One in a Generation Volume II on Amazon.

UPDATE:

The autistics just put this out about the identity of Moshiach ben David, aka Eliezer ben Etia:

When I first moved to Jerusalem, around 2 ½ years ago, I had very big plans to start up some sort of English-speaking ‘Breslev Beit Midrash’ for women.

I had my eye on the apartment we were going to buy that would be big enough and nice enough to house it; I had a schedule of events planned out in my head; and I nourished a big hope that God would be behind my enterprise, and it would take off.

None of those plans materialized. Instead, me and my husband hit such a ‘down’ patch in our life, finances and relationships that it took every scrap of energy we had just to keep going and not crack up.

Other things also contributed to the ‘Breslev Beit Midrash’ never getting off the ground. When I hit Jerusalem, a city of just under a million people, it turned out there were other English-speaking figures in the Breslev community and elsewhere that were greatly displeased that anyone other than themselves should be trying to give a class here.

I also got bogged-down in what I’ll call ‘outreach political-correctness’, which like all other forms of political correctness tries to suggest that there is only one right way of doing things. There’s only certain books you can teach, and only certain people are on the level to do it, and only certain individuals are meant to be doing that stuff, anyway.

We got that message loud and clear from certain quarters that had nothing to do with Breslov, and were even ‘anti’ Breslov, when we started up our failed ‘Meaning of Life’ project in the Old City. But we also got that message much nearer to home, when certain English-speaking Breslovers got extremely upset that other Anglos (not just me…) were trying to put some different sorts of classes and projects together.

It was a small part of my general disillusionment process with the Breslov fakers I often write about here on Emunaroma. I had so many other issues to deal with back then that until this week, I hadn’t even thought about the fall-out from that particular bit of disappointment and broken dreams.

Long story short: This week, I went to visit an alternative health lady I know who’s very plugged-in to God, about a certain issue I’ve been having that started mamash on the night of Shavuot, when we’re meant to stay up all night learning Torah.

 She told me in no uncertain terms that my health issue was connected to me running away from doing the job I was meant to be doing in the world, and that I had to ask God to show me what that actually was.

I came home very thoughtful. All week, I’ve been trying to ask God what He really wants from me. Maybe, I should go back to work? (I’ve started looking…) Maybe, I should start trying to have guests again? (My husband invited a new family for Shabbat…) Maybe, I should start trying to teach Breslev-based Torah classes for English-speaking women again?

This last idea had me in tears again, because even if I wanted to, who would come!?! And where would I hold it? There isn’t enough room to swing a cat in my apartment, let alone host a class. And also, after seeing all the self-promotion that goes on in the English-speaking Torah world – where the biggest, nastiest and fakest egos are often billing themselves as the most knowledgeable, charismatic and ‘inspiring’ speakers – I am completely uninterested in ‘self-promoting’ in any way, shape or form. So it seemed that idea was really dead in the water, for a lot of different reasons.

As I was pondering all this, and asking God to show me what on earth He really wanted from me, I decided to go for a walk up to Mahane Yehuda, where I bumped into someone I’m friendly with.

Long story short: They asked me if I could teach a class on the Breslov perspective on the parsha of the week… We’re trying to arrange a really cool location for it, too, in Mahane Yehuda, and the first class is meant to be happening Sunday 8pm, November 27.

I’m still a little stunned by this turn of events, and also a little wary of getting too excited until it actually happens, BH, but in the meantime, it could be the Breslov Beit Midrash for Anglo women is back on the cards after all…

Breslov is for everyone – not just ‘rabbis’, not just people who’ve been to Uman, or who do hitbodedut every day.

Rebbe Nachman’s teachings can revive anyone’s soul, whatever their background. We all have Torah in our souls somewhere, we’re all a spark of Hashem. We don’t need ‘inspiring’ speakers to dazzle us with their novel Torah, and show us how clever and pious they are. We need people to show us that each of us is also holy, and a letter in the Sefer Torah.

We need people who will encourage us to pick ourselves up off the floor again, and carry on. We need people who have also passed through fire and water in their pursuit of truth, and who can help other seekers to make it through in once piece.

Rebbe Nachman can do all that and more.

I will keep you posted.

Front cover of one in a generation Volume 1, biography of Rabbi Berland

I’m into the final drafting of the One in a Generation book now, and I had the urge to re-read ‘Through Fire and Water’, the biography of Rav Natan, Rebbe Nachman’s main pupil, who also went through what’s now known in Breslev circles as ‘The years of oppression’, which began late in 1834, and finally ended more than three years’ later, in 1838.

During those years, Rav Natan’s persecutors had him imprisoned by the secular authorities, regularly tried to beat him up, and even sent a contract killer after him, who murdered a different ‘Rav Natan’ who also lived in the town Breslev by mistake.

They also went all over the place telling rabbis, the Jewish public, and anyone who would listen that Rav Natan had been caught doing immoral things with women he wasn’t married to (is any of this sounding familiar???) and demanding that he and his community should be excommunicated.

At that time, one of the Rebbe’s other senior followers, and a major kabbalist in his own right, Reb Yudel, took nine men with him to the Rebbe’s tomb, and put Rav Natan’s opponents in to cherem, in order to protect Rav Natan’s life and prevent his persecutors from actually killing him.

As he left the Rebbe’s tomb, Reb Yudel said:

“There’s a merit that protects a person for a year, a merit that protects a person for two years, and a merit that protects him for three years. [This is a quote from the Gemara, in Sotah 20a). But, no longer!”

Three years’ later, one of Rav Natan’s main persecutors keeled over and died in the Russian governor’s offices as he was trying to prevent Rav Natan from moving back to Breslev.

Another persecutor, the Savraner Rebbe, got implicated in signing-off on the murder of a Jewish informer, and became a broken exile and lost all of his communal influence. And then others of Rav Natan’s persecutors – and their families – all started dying weird and peculiar deaths, all at once.

When that occurred, Rav Natan’s other persecutors and the people who’d slandered him, libeled him, talked lashon hara about him on Facebook, and perjured themselves to the secular authorities came crawling to him begging for forgiveness, scared that they’d be the next ones to depart from the world, because of how they’d treated Rav Natan.

There’s a merit that lasts three years, but no more.

I have the feeling things are going to start getting interesting.

You can buy One in a Generation on Amazon and on The Book Depository.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ve been getting a few email about what the ‘Breslov’ attitude is in relation to non-Jews, and also whether Breslov believes that the Jewish people should be a ‘light unto the nations’ or not.

Let’s start with the idea that the Jewish people should be a ‘light unto the nations’. This idea is explicitly mentioned in the Book of Isiaiah three times, in the following verses:

49:6 – “It is insufficient that you be a servant for Me [only] to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the ruins of Israel; I will make you a light for the nations, so that My salvation may extend to the ends of the earth.:

60:3 – “Arise! Shine! For your light has arrived, and the glory of Hashem shines upon you. For, behold, darkness may cover the earth and a thick cloud [may cover] the kingdoms, but upon you Hashem will shine, and His glory will be seen upon you. Nations will walk by your light and kings by the brilliance of your shine.”

62:1 – “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be still, until her righteousness emanates like a bright light, and her salvation blazes like a torch. Nations will perceive your righteousness and all the kings your honor…”

And then the general idea that the Jewish people should be active in bringing all of mankind back to serve Hashem (and that God actually very much wants that to happen), and that there is a ‘place’ for the righteous non-Jews in the post-Messianic world can be found in the following verses, all from Isiaiah:

45:21 – “There is no other god besides Me; there is no righteous god besides Me and no savior other than Me. Turn to Me be and saved, all ends of the earth, for I am God and there is no other.”

56:1 – “I will bring them to My holy mountain, and I will gladden them in My house of prayer; their elevation offerings and their feast offerings will find favor on my Altar, for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”

60:9 – “Then the sons of foreigners will build your walls and their kings will serve you.”

61:5 – “Foreigners will stand and tend your flocks and the sons of the stranger will be your plowmen and your vineyard workers. And you will be called ‘priests of Hashem’; ‘ministers of our God’ will be said of you.” [By other people, i.e. the non-Jews].

Over in Pirkei Avot (the Ethics of the Father), Rabbi Akiva tells us in 3:14 that:

“Beloved is man, for he was created in [God’s] image. It shows an even greater love that it was made known to him that he was created in [God’s] image, as it is written, “For in the image of God, He made man” (Genesis 9:6)”

The Tosfot Yom Tov writing on this verse explains that it ‘refers to all of humankind’ – not just the Jewish people, who are referred to more explicitly by Rabbi Akiva as ‘God’s children.’

Now that we’ve established that it’s standard Jewish thought that righteous non-Jews who believe in the One true God of the Jews have a place in the post-Messianic world, and that God does want the Jewish people to play an active role in being a ‘light unto the nations’, let’s take a more specific look at what some Breslev sources say about the issue of dealing with non-Jews.

Let’s start with Rebbe Nachman, who tells us the following (in Tzaddik):

“The Rebbe said that there are seventy nations and all of them are included under Esau and Ishmael: thirty-five under one and thirty-five under the other. In the future, they will be conquered by two Messiahs, Mashiach the son of Joseph and Mashiach the son of David. There is one Tzaddik who is a combination of the two messiahs.”

From this, we can see that the basic idea is the Jewish Moshiach will ‘conquer’ the nations of the world, and presumably bring them back to belief in the one true God of Israel.

Next, let’s go to Likutey Moharan I:244 where Rebbe Moharan gives a warning to those of us who aren’t on a very high spiritual level (i.e. pretty much everyone…), when it comes to dealing with non-Jews:

“Anyone who intermingles with gentiles, that is, who has business dealings with them, must be on very careful guard that this should not harm him. Otherwise, it’s very easy to be caught in their trap and to distance oneself from one’s Jewishness.”

In other words, as soon as money, or ‘business dealings’ with non-Jews come into the picture, Jews need to be very, very careful to not compromise their Jewishness and spiritual integrity because a ‘bribe blinds the eyes of the wise’.

On this note, Rav Shalom Arush once went to speak to a church in South Africa who’d just bought a very large amount of his emuna books. He got on stage in front of 5,000 people and told them in Hebrew: “You are all fornicators and idol worshipers!” That’s a classic example of not letting money and business dealings compromise your Jewishness and spiritual integrity.

The last thing to quote for now, which I think sums up the position and also includes the deeper kabbalistic underpinnings of why a Jewish Moshiach comes for the benefit of the whole of mankind, comes from Rav Berland’s speech to more than 8,000 people at the Winter Stadium, a few years’ back, when he said:

“When Rebbe Nachman was alive, he stated that he stood as guarantor for the whole world – for all of mankind, including the Jews, the non-Jews and everyone else. Because the Tzaddikim told Hashem to go ahead and create all of mankind, while the angels told Him not to bother, because in the end he would only end up failing, and there was only a miniscule chance of him making Teshuva.

“But I say different! I say that there’s only a miniscule chance of him not making Teshuva, and that’s what this gathering is all about – to encourage everyone, Jews and non-Jews alike, to make Teshuva and to return to their Father in heaven!

“God created everyone in His image, and in every person there is a spark of the Divine, in every Jew and in every non-Jew – the spark of God is in everyone, and we are all created in God’s image. And the whole point of this gathering is to spread the light of Hashem, and the light of Rebbe Nachman, to the whole world, to every Jew and to every non-Jew….

“…As soon as the whole world recognizes Hashem’s greatness, we’ll be able to immediately rebuild the third Temple, and to see the revival of the dead.”

The Jewish people is about Tikkun haolam, or the rectification of the whole world, and bringing the whole world back to God, the Jewish way. That means the non-Jews accept the 7 noachide commandments, stop with all their yoshki, muhammed and booda rubbish, and accept that God is running the world (without any help from anyone else) and that the Torah is true, and the Jewish people are God’s representatives.

That pretty much sums up the authentic Jewish approach that you’ll find in Breslov, and also any other Jewish group that has a deep knowledge of our sources, and a strong grasp of what the whole concept of the Moshiach, and Tikkun haolam is really all about.