Geula (or some spell it ‘Geulah’) is the Jewish term for the spiritual redemption of the Jewish people, which will occur at the end of days.

Here, we take a look at:

  • Geula and Geulah
  • Geulah Meaning
  • Geula Blog
  • Geula Definition
  • Geula Moshiach
  • Geula News
  • Meaning of Geula

Yesterday morning (Shabbat morning) I woke up feeling pretty icky about the world, and my life generally.

I had that feeling like ‘nothing ever changes’, ‘nothing is EVER GOING TO change…’, doesn’t matter what I do, say, try, pray on – it’s never going to change.

I’ve had that feeling, on and off, for years and years, and last year I spent around six months doing some major teshuva and inner work to try and get rid of it. And BH, for the last few months I’ve generally been feeling much happier and more optimistic.

But yesterday I woke up with it again, and my stomach sank. Not this again. Not this horrible, soul-destroying, heavy feeling that no matter what I do, say, try, or pray on, I’m just going to be dealing with the same old rubbish FOREVER, until I die.

In short, I was having a massive yetzer attack.

So I decided to try to fight back by doing a long talking to God session. I don’t have the koach to do six hours at the moment, so I aimed for four hours, pulled on my winter boots, and set out for the Kotel.

I took the longer way round, up the side of the Guy ben Hinnom valley where they just built a new walkway for pedestrians to reduce your chances of getting squashed by a bus, and it was cool, half-wet and pretty quiet.

As I walked and talked, the same idea kept coming up: “I’m stuck. I’m completely stuck. There’s nothing I can do to change things or improve things, I’m completely stuck.”

A lot of this has to do with the house buying situation I’m in still. Even though Jerusalem’s housing market seems to finally be cooling down, the prices being asked in our neighborhood are still ridiculously too much for anyone who’s not a millionaire to reasonably pay.

So anyway, all this ‘stuck-ness’ just kind of bubbled up again, and I started to feel so much despair that after all this time, I still don’t have an answer in sight, or a solutions to my problem, or a way to progress.

I sat at the Kotel trying to talk to God about it all, but kept getting distracted by non-Jewish ‘pilgrims’ with their massive i-phones and cameras, who figured that wrapping a see-thru scarf around their short shorts was modest enough for Judaism’s holiest site on a Shabbos morning.

I couldn’t help staring and then started pondering why so many fat women wear such short skirts, etc, which kind of put paid to any deeper exploration for why I was feeling so ‘off’. So I came home again, still feeling stuck and dissatisfied.

I ate lunch with the family, read some Likutey Moharan, had a Shabbos shluff (which I normally never do, and which is normally always a sign that I’m feeling pretty miserable and overwhelmed by life.)

My one consolation is that I know I’m not alone. From what I can see, so many of us feel that we’re stuck in a problem, or a situation, that we no longer have the strength to deal with, but which doesn’t seem to be going away or ending, anytime soon.

That’s part of the test of this time, this generation.

To carry on, even though it frequently seems so pointless or meaningless, even though the ‘big change’ we’re waiting for doesn’t seem to be showing up, even though life feels like such a drag so much of the time.

And to do it happily.

That’s the part that’s really challenging, isn’t it? To accept God’s will, and God’s dominion, and to accept that as much as we may want ‘X’, ‘X’ may not be God’s plan for us and our lives, or at least, not right now.

It’s really, really hard work.

There’s so much yeoush in the world at the moment, so much despair. Talk to anyone for any length of time, and it comes peeping out around the corners of whatever else they happen to be talking about.

But things surely have to turn around soon!

We just have to keep believing that, and praying for it to happen.

And also, accepting that if it doesn’t happen, or at least, not now, or not the way we really want, that somehow that’s also good for us, and just the way it needs to be.

Is it just me, or is there a feeling floating around the world that humanity has kind of gone as far as we can really go, at the moment, in our current paradigm?

When I was walking around London’s West End a few weeks’ ago, I was struck by how empty everything felt. The shops were full of unwearable clothes, the streets were full of unfriendly, stressed people who’d rather stab a fork into their own eyeball than smile at a stranger. The whole city just felt kind of tired and drained, like it had no more energy, no more ideas, no more koach (strength).

There’s a saying that when you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life. My twist on that is that when London itself feels tired to you, then the world really must be staggering around on its last legs.

But while it’s SO different in Jerusalem, in so many ways, there’s also that tired feeling going on here, too.

So many shops closing down. So many unsold luxury flats. So many people hanging on to emuna and hope with their fingernails, praying that things are going to turn around soon.

This year is still so young, but Hashem kind of already showed me that in so many ways, I’ve gone as far as I can go under the current circumstances. To put things another way – I’m all out of energy these days. If things don’t come super easy, as mamash a gift from Heaven, then really they aren’t going to come at all.

Because I can’t nag any more, I can’t ‘focus’ anymore, some days I can’t read my own emails anymore, I often can’t even really try anymore, not even for the really big important stuff like Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.

Rosh Hashana happened in a sort of blur, because I had my London-bound nervous breakdown a few days beforehand.

Then Yom Kippur also happened in even more of a blur, as I had my ‘shiva on speed’ for three days in Liverpool where I barely ate, barely slept and spent the whole time burning through whatever supplies of adrenaline I still had left.

Dear reader, I mostly slept through Yom Kippur, and I barely prayed. Not only that, the only time I tried to pray with the community on Kol Nidrei night, I was in such a bad mood I honestly nearly punched someone in the face when they shoved me out of their way.

What a great start to the year!

We all know that before Moshiach shows up, the Gemara tells us that one trouble won’t end before the next one already begins. My first post-Yom Kippur text was from a friend telling me their dad had just passed away. Then on Sunday, I got an email from the evil lawyers suing me for using a picture of Rav Berland on my site telling me that they ‘only’ want 5,000 shekels (which my husband decided to agree, to get it finished with.)

Then my husband got a message from his accountant that we had to start paying 6,000 shekels more a month in tax!!! I mean, are you kidding??

(Thank God, it turns out he’d got his figures wrong, so we do need to pay more tax, but not that much, BH.)

So then, I started looking for a job – and realized (again…) that I’m completely unemployable in Israel, as my spoken Hebrew sucks so badly and I can’t write speeches or copy for people or things I don’t really believe in (which at this stage, is pretty much anyone or anything who actually has the cash to pay for this stuff.)

Then I heard some more shockingly disturbing news from someone else I’m acquainted with, got yet another ‘my parent just died unexpectedly’ email – and decided that I really just want to run away from it all and pull the duvet over my head until Moshiach shows up.

Let’s not even talk about the Vegas massacre, let’s not even mention the crazy geophysical phenomena going on, let’s not even dwell on the fact that my husband’s mother only passed away a week ago, but it already feels like a million years passed.

On top of all this, Jerusalem City Hall decided to dig up the beautiful garden by my flat, which means there is no parking to be had anywhere, plus a load of dust and noise – and now it’s also nearly Sukkot which means the seasonal traffic jams around the Old City are at their peak.

It took me half an hour of very slow circling around my neighborhood to find somewhere to park just now, and by the end of it all I just felt so tired and exhausted.

I know that last thing is really nothing, shtuyot. But so many of those ‘every day’ moments seem to be falling into the ‘draining and soul-destroying’ category right now that it’s all contributing to the sense that modern life has just got too hard, too stressful, too heavy, too difficult to process internally, to continue on like this.

Ad matai, Hashem?

The short answer is: until Moshiach comes.

But when is that going to happen?

Is living in Israel the only thing that really counts for God?

Recently, I’ve been increasingly niggled by this question. On the one hand, it’s clear that life in Israel is operating within a whole different spiritual dimension, and that a person’s emuna and Jewish identity can blossom here in a way that it really can’t do, in most normal circumstances, anywhere else.

At the same time, Israel is still home to some of the craziest, nastiest, ickiest Jews I’ve ever met. It’s a place of contrasts, a place of extremes, because the good and the holy is so palpable and tangible here, the bad and the profane has to also be at sky-high levels to maintain free choice.

So, the question remains: is being in Israel a guarantee that ‘you’ll make it’, whatever that actually means, when the chaos currently enveloping the world finally hits tipping point?

And then there’s a second, no less pressing, question: is being out of Israel a guarantee that ‘you won’t make it’, God forbid?

I know that so many of us who made aliya over the last decade or so were prompted by the thought that our chances of ‘making it’, whatever that means, would be much higher in Eretz Yisrael.

But then came the intifada…and Lebanon II…and rockets from Gaza…and more rockets from Gaza…and then the threat of the Iranian nuke, which kind of started to rock the certainty of who was going to make it, where…

Now, the pendulum appears to have swung back again, with Islamic terrorism across Europe, black fascists and white fascists slugging it out in the US, and wildfires, earthquakes, floods, Harveys and Irmas stirring everything up all over the place.

So who’s going to ‘make it’? (Whatever that means…)

And does it only depend on where a person lives?

You’ll probably be reading this when I’m in the UK for three days, trying to finally get my soul unstuck from the streets of London. (Note to robbers: The rest of my family is staying at home, so don’t even think about it.)

When I step off the plane at Luton airport, does that instantly turn me into a person who ‘couldn’t make it’, God forbid, because now I’m in the wrong place? Or would God have mercy on me, and still find a way to spirit me back to Israel if Moshiach revealed himself while I’m gone?

It’s not a simple point.

Rav Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook got trapped outside of Eretz Yisrael when World War I unexpectedly started, and he spent four years in galut, primarily in London, until he was able to return.

If someone like Rav Kook didn’t have the merit to be brought back to the land miraculously, what are my chances?

Let’s look at it from the other direction. Let’s say someone from outside – someone who likes to parade their gaava around in city centres – flies into Jerusalem just as Moshiach is revealed. Does that person now get to ‘make it’ (whatever that means) by sheer dint of being in the right place at the right time?

And if the answer is ‘no’ to the first scenario, or at least a ‘maybe’, and if the answer is ‘no’ to the second scenario, then clearly, something else is going here that would enable a person to ‘make it’ when Moshiach comes.

For all of us who sacrificed so much to come to Israel, this isn’t always a comfortable conclusion.

What, I could have stayed in chutz l’aretz in my soul-destroying job and my comfortable ‘modern orthodox’ box without having to go through all the tests, challenges and excruciating soul corrections I’ve had over the years, and still have ‘made it’?!?!?

That doesn’t sound fair!

But is it true?

After pondering this, I think the answer is probably ‘yes and no’.

Yes, if I’d grown the way I’d grown in Israel, spiritually, or changed the way I changed, or tried to learn the humility and emuna that I’ve tried to learn here, then I think probably, I would still make it. (Whatever that means).

But if I didn’t change an iota? Or at least, not very much? Or even, got even more arrogant, nasty and materialistic?

Then I probably wouldn’t.

Flipping the question over to the Israeli side, we can draw the same conclusions. It’s very, very hard to live in Israel, with all its ongoing security challenges, social issues, terrorism, corrupt politicians and financial hardships without growing your emuna and humility, in some way.

But it’s still possible.

So, if a person is living in Israel, and is including God in their life, and is responding to the cues they get every single day here, smack in the face, to return to God and work on their bad middot ASAP – their chances of making it are probably pretty good.

And if not?

Then they aren’t. And not only that, at some point God will probably arrange for them to be unceremoniously dumped out of the country. Of course, they won’t see things that way. It’ll be phrased as ‘an opportunity’ abroad, a great job, a chance to make more money, a person they fell in love with and want to marry, yadda yadda yadda.

But the point to be made here is that at any point in the process, a person can return to God from anywhere in the world.

I know people who made a lot of sincere teshuva dafka when they were forced out of Israel. For whatever reason, it was something they just couldn’t do for as long as they lived here.

I also know people who fell off the frum wagon big time, when they moved here.

Which brings us back to the question we started with, and hopefully also give us something of an answer.

Simply living life in Israel is no guarantee of ‘making it’, but the reality of life in Israel maximizes your spiritual potential, and encourages you – every second of the day – to acquire the traits and the beliefs and the behaviors that are necessary to ‘make it’, ultimately.

The spiritual current here tends to pull a person ‘up’, while the spiritual current in chutz l’aretz tends to pull a person ‘down’.

But whether we’re going to grow from our experiences, and learn more emuna, and turn to Hashem regardless, is only and always up to us. And the people who can genuinely do that even in the very heart of galut may be the biggest neshamas of all.

So to sum up, location does make a big difference. Building a life in Israel does make a big difference. But it’s by no means the only factor deciding who’s going to ‘make it’ when Moshiach shows up.

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Pheyew, it’s hard to believe how crazy the pace has been the last couple of weeks.

I thought it was just because my kids were both starting new schools, and it was the usual end of Summer rush to get bags, bits and books, but now they’ve both been in school for three days already, and if anything I’m even busier.

From the moment I open my eyes, I’m rushing, rushing, rushing – and I can’t get it to stop. Today, I got up, tried to exercise while fielding three phone calls, wrote some stuff, tried to get some more text books (! – yes, the torture continues) – but the queue was too big to deal with, went to visit a friend who just moved out of town, then drove on to my ‘one brain’ lady to fix some more subconscious trauma and bad middot, then went to deliver all my husband’s paperwork to the accountant that lives in my old village, then fielded another long and pretty intense phone call, then went off to the other book shop in Geula to try to get the text books (! – yes, the torture still continues, one was out of stock…)

And now, after all that, I’m sitting down for the first time all day trying to work up the energy to make supper. And it’s already 7.30.

I simply don’t know how people who have more than two kids, or who have to work, do it.

How do you do it? Without drugs? I can barely move.

All I can do it type, but my brain also feels like it’s got zapped the last couple of weeks, so I have no idea what I’m actually writing.

There’s so much going on for everyone at the moment, isn’t there? If it’s not floods, hurricanes and forest fires, its potential divorce, difficult children, financial problems and crazy relatives.

Two days ago, I had to take my oldest to the Beit Din in Jerusalem to get her formal exemption papers for the army.

Even though she’s only 16 ½, they’re already sending her the sign up forms, so we had to get her officially certified as ‘religious’.

So we get there, and we’re sat in the waiting room next to a very edgy couple + friend who are clearly about to get their religious divorce, or get, finalized. Man, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife, it was so tense and yucky.

The only thing that broke it was a very loud conversation, in English, from another woman clearly also on the way to a get, God forbid, loudly cursing out her husband on the phone for being such a loser and not having a job and only jogging all day and leaving her in a situation where she’s going to end up on the street with her kids.

The phone call was extremely personal, extremely loud, and extremely traumatic to listen to, at least for me. I started spacing out and developing more C-PTSD, so my daughter kind of slapped my face, told me to focus on her, and tried to distract me.

Thank God, we got her papers and left pronto, but it was a sobering glimpse into just how much human misery is abounding at the moment.

The Gemara says that before Moshiach comes, a new trouble appears before the old trouble is even done, and it certainly looks like that’s happening all over the place.

Nuclear Iran….Brexit….President Trump….the ‘fire intifada’….Islamic Terrorism….Syria’s civil war….rockets from Gaza….killer heatwaves that last three months….nuclear North Korea….hurricane Harvey….the queue for text books at Moshe Hai….unprecedented forest fires.…hurricane Irma….

So, is Moshiach really coming, or what?

It certainly looks that way.

But whether or not that’s really what we’re all seeing unfolding right now is anyone’s guess.

Given that I’ve sold around 10 copies of my latest book, The Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife, I decided to try something different, and to turn it into an audiobook.

Apparently, there’s a huge and growing demand for audiobooks, and relatively very few authors supplying the market, so I thought it’s worth a go to try to stand out a little from the other 4 trillion books being self-published on Amazon.

Initially, I started looking for a voice-over artist to narrate my book via the ACL platform. I set the budget (as low as possible…) and I got back a handful of auditions from a bunch of very nice actress ladies who made my book sound absolutely awful.

One of them narrated it with an Indian subcontinent accent that made it sound like The Secret Diary was set in Bombay. A few of them were clearly SOOOOO BORRRREDDDD by all the boring stuff about God that they fell unconscious during the audition and were sleep-talking. And the others just sounded kind of bland, and not at all engaging and interesting.

Hmmm.

So, I decided to find a recording studio in Jerusalem, and see if I couldn’t do a better (and much cheaper…) job of narrating my book myself. I checked around for an English speaking studio with reasonable rates and I found NONA, based near Talpiot.

I sent the audiobook requirements to NONA, they told me they could meet them no problem and weren’t charging a fortune, so I got in my car and headed down there.

After getting completely and utterly lost, I finally get to the studio – and it’s in someone’s basement flat in the middle of Arnona.

Hmmm. Not only that, the only person in that basement flat – apart from yours truly – was the truly gifted, apparently completely secular, utterly male studio technician Amit, who lived there.

Hmmm.

Things didn’t get off to a good start.

After a quick look around, I realized that me disappearing into some strange secular bloke’s basement apartment was a huge yichud problem, so I asked him to leave the door open. We had a stand-off for a minute – and then he grudgingly agreed to leave half the door open – the top half, that was also a window and had a net, and to leave it shut but not locked.

“The recording studio is in a completely different room!” he told me. “It’s not a problem!”

I was pretty nervous that first session, not least because spending a whole hour talking about heart-felt personal issues and God, God, God with a secular male studio bloke as my only audience was pretty nerve wracking.

He was there, with his pony tail and his ‘arse’ huge diamond earring in one ear, while I was gently poking fun at ‘arsim’ with their pony tails and huge diamond earrings in one ear… There were a lot of out takes in that particular section, as I kept fluffing the words and praying he wouldn’t get offended.

I came out gingerly, and wondered if we were going to make it to session 2.

“Was that OK?’ I asked him.

“Yes!” He reassured me. “I wasn’t listening to anything.”

We were both kind of relieved.

The next trip, Amit had a friend in the studio, so we got round the yichud issue that way. The third trip, he had a dog he was ‘babysitting’ so he could leave the front door completely open. He also toned down the earring a bit, to something much more classy.

Hmmm.

So, I finished the recording sessions, and then we were up to the editing sessions – which is when I hit another major yichud problem, because now I had to be in the same room for two hours at a go, while we went through the whole thing and Amit fixed it up.

Thank God for my husband.

I came home, explained the problem to him, and he instantly came and agreed to work on Amit’s couch, while the recording was being edited.

At this point, I began to feel so sorry for Amit. He’s a really nice, sweet secular guy with really good middot who’s had to listen to 12 hours of a neurotic frum woman with a speech impediment (who knew?!) going on and on about her marriage, and her crises of faith, and her kids, and her financial problems, and of course, God, the Creator of the world.

I’ve been watching him for signs of subliminal stress, but so far he’s coping with it all remarkably well.

In the meantime, I’m going completely bonkers from the sound of my own voice, especially when we hit an out-take and I have to hear myself say ‘what’s the point of it all!’300 times until Amit’s re-mastered the recording.

Gosh, how does my family put up with me?

So, all in all, I’ve discovered two hidden tzaddiks by recording my audio-book. One of them I’m married to, and the other one is probably going to be on a plane to Uman this time next year. (I can’t think why else God arranged for a completely secular guy to be subjected to 12 whole hours of Breslov-inspired Jewish Housewife stuff…)

At least, that’s what I hope.

Amit plays a mean electric guitar, and Rabbenu has a way of attracting all the really good Jewish musicians in his direction, sooner or later.

Why frum Jews shouldn’t worry about Bibi saying bye-bye

I’ve lived in Israel for 12 years now, BH, and one of my biggest frustrations is the number of frum, otherwise believing Jews who still hold by the Israeli political system and institutions.

Down the years, I’ve had so many discussions with people trying to explain to them why voting for the Likud is not only pointless, it’s also probably a chillul Hashem. Why continue to vote a number of avowedly secular, ‘anti’ religious politicians into power when there are frum parties to vote for, all of whom at least nominally answer to Hashem (as well as some big rabbis…)?

Yet, my arguments fell on mostly deaf ears. There’s a bizarre notion held by so many otherwise believing Jews that morally-corrupt secular politicians will somehow do a better job of running Israel, and defending our borders, then mitzvah-observant Torah-abiding ones who (at least nominally) believe in Hashem.

While frum people can see how morally corrupt and personally bankrupt nearly all the political figures on the left of the spectrum are in Israel, they seem to have a much harder time seeing exactly the same issues on the right side of the equation.

So that’s one reason I really am not at all upset that Bibi’s days seem to be numbered, because so many frum Jews have a blind spot when it comes to him and the Likud, and somehow forget that he’s just as secular and anti-God and anti-Torah as the rest of the secular people in the Knesset.

God wants frum Jews to stop using Bibi as a crutch, and to finally acknowledge that Israel’s political system and secular institutions are spiritually rotten to the core.

Another reason why the witch-hunt against the PM is not upsetting me – at all! – is because the Israeli police conducted exacted the same sort of witch-hunt against Rav Berland, and against many other individuals who were somehow deemed ‘enemies of the state’, including people like Meir Ettinger, all on Bibi’s watch.

He’s been in power longer than most third world dictators, so he can’t blame what’s happened on his predecessors. Bibi was more than happy to preside over a government that spent millions of shekels chasing Rav Berland all over the world, and falsifying evidence against him, and investing large amounts in trying to turn public opinion against him (amongst many, many other things they’ve done and continue to do to the Rav…)

God works according to the principal of midda kneged midda. The same crooked, corrupt, bent police and Israeli media that were given free reign to go after the Rav, and after so many other God-fearing Jews over the last few years are now going after Bibi.

Whether or not he’s guilty of accepting bribes, who knows.

But he’s definitely guilty of at the very least turning a blind eye, if not actively encouraging, the terrible persecution of Rav Berland and Meir Ettinger, to name just two of the most prominent cases.

Another reason I’m not unhappy about what’s going on with Bibi is that he headed up a government together with Yair Lapid that went about trying to systematically destroy the Torah world in Israel, less than four years’ ago.

God has a long memory, and sooner or later all of us have to pay for the transgressions we do down here, unless we make some serious teshuva about them. The Prime Minister of Israel is not exempt from that rule.

And the last reason I’m actually even happy about what’s happening with Bibi is because the Lubavitcher Rebbe said many years’ ago that Netanyahu would be the last Israeli PM before Moshiach showed up.

Again, regardless of what’s really going on and who’s really behind it all, it ultimately all comes back down to God, and God running the show, and God pulling all the strings. It seems as though God has now decided that Netanyahu has been PM in Israel long enough.

The next leader of Israel won’t be from the Likud, won’t be Yair Lapid and probably also won’t be from the UTJ (although you never know…).

But if the Lubavitcher Rebbe is right about who comes next, he’ll be the best leader that people of Israel have ever had, since our glory days of Moshe Rabbenu and King David.

 

The last few months, so many of our Tzaddikim have been experiencing serious leg problems.

You probably heard about Rav Dov Kook’s serious issues, that prevented him from walking around even being able to stand or sit up in order to pray.

BH, Rav Kook’s leg issues cleared up in a way that he himself described as ‘miraculous’. But now, it seems to be Rav Berland’s turn to be experiencing some serious difficulties with his legs, God forbid.

As I was pondering what’s going on with all the legs stuff, I remembered that I know of two people first-hand who had lower legs amputated this year, and a third who was hospitalized for weeks with leg problems, and similarly threatened with amputation.

Then, I was thinking about all the people I know who seem to have serious aches and pains in their legs – and that was prompted by the fact that I started to get my weird ‘aching leg’ thing again on Shabbat, which I’ve had on and off all year and always seems to be connected to some more teshuva I need to do, especially about my negative emotions.

Then, I got given a pamphlet by ‘Ha Esh Im HaTzaddik’ which was talking more about the whole ‘legs’ connection to geula, and said the following (translated from the original Hebrew):

“In Likutey Moharan, Rabbenu [Rebbe Nachman] explains that the dinim (harsh judgments) cling on to the legs, and the ‘legs’ of the generation are the Tzaddikim of the generation, who suffer because of the sins of the generation. We’ve recently seen many Tzaddikim suffering with their legs, and the Tzaddik (i.e. Rebbe Nachman) tells us that this is the secret of geula (redemption), the secret of the seventh beggar.”

Interesting!

So I went back to Rebbe Nachman’s tale of the Seventh Beggar, and here’s what I learned:

There are seven beggars, each with a physical ‘lack’ that is actually spiritual perfection.

  • The first beggar is blind.
  • The second beggar is deaf.
  • The third has a terrible speech defect.
  • The fourth has a crooked neck.
  • The fifth has a hunchback.
  • The sixth beggar has no hands.
  • The seventh beggar has no feet.

Each beggar represents a particular Tzaddik, and the enormous wisdom and spiritual insights they brought to the world. (Rebbe Nachman himself doesn’t explain who each beggar is meant to represent in Jewish history, so that’s open to each of us to interpret for ourselves.)

But he does identify who the beggar with no feet is: the Moshiach.

Indeed, the story of the seven beggars stops after the tale of the sixth day and the sixth beggar. Rav Natan, Rebbe Nachman’s main pupil writes:

“The end of the story would involve the Seventh Day and the beggar without feet. However, we were not worthy of hearing it….We will not be worthy of hearing it until the Moshiach comes. May this happen quickly in our days, Amen.”

In the notes in the English edition of Rebbe Nachman’s Tales, translated by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, it says the following:

“The time before the Moshiach is known as Ikvatha deMeshicha, which literally means ‘the heels of the Moshiach’. Therefore the power of rectification of the Moshiach comes from his feet….the main thing is joy, which is expressed by the feet in dancing.

“In the world to come, it’s taught that God will make a dance for all the righteous…this is the concept of the complete restoration of emuna. The beggar with no feet is the one who will effect the ultimate rectification of the…Shechina.

“Regarding the Shechina, it’s written: ‘Her feet go down to death’ (Proverbs 5:5). This is because the feet of Malchut go down to the realm of evil, giving it existence until the Moshiach comes and rectifies all things. Thus, the ultimate rectification is through the feet.”

Interesting!

Beyond that, I’m not prepared to speculate. But the whole inyan that’s going on with Tzaddikim (and others…) experiencing leg pains and serious issues this year could be pointing in the direction that we’re at least approaching the time when the story of the beggar with no feet will finally be told.

As you know if you’ve been with me for a while, a few weeks’ back I deleted all of my Facebook accounts, because I couldn’t tolerate the lashon hara, hatred, arrogance, insanity and general atmosphere of Gehinnom that is Facebook.

Thank God, I was barely on it anyway, so it’s not like I had a million mentally-ill ‘friends’ to worry about insulting or losing, but it was still a small test, as the yetzer has everyone convinced that they really NEED Facebook, in order to do anything, or get anywhere in life.

One thing I’ve noticed about the increasingly mentally-ill nature of ‘debates’ and comments on Facebook in particular is how many of the really crazy people online are trying to close down any real discussion of real topics in the following bullying and abusive ways:

Way 1: the publicly-posted expletive filled rant:

“Don’t [expletive] send me anymore [expletive] [expletive] like this [expletive] [expletive], you [expletive].”

I’ve seen this response so many times (if you can really call something so Neanderthal a ‘response…) from ‘religious’ atheists, gay rights activists, anti-Trump ‘intellectuals’ and of course, the self-appointed moral guardians of the Jewish world who are anti Rav Berland.

The slightly more civilized version of this bullying rant (again, from the same bunch of people just described) is:

Way 2: “Don’t contact me / tag me / send me stuff ever again about [this issue]”

written with so much hatred and contempt it literally makes you shudder.

Recently, I’ve been pondering how it is that the people who seem to believe that they are so open-minded, so tolerant, so intellectually-refined, so apparently wedded to the principles of truth and justice etc etc etc are invariably the ones acting liking mini mentally-ill dictators online.

Dare to have a different opinion to them, dare to question them, or their ideas, dare to challenge them to actually consider that they might be wrong about what they believe and all you get back is self-justifying vitriol and more personal abuse. What you definitely don’t get, in any way, shape or form, is any cogent, logical counter-arguments, or any interest in discussing and debating the issue in question, in the time-honored Jewish way to discover where the point of truth really lies.

Instead, you get threats, hatred, insults, lashon hara, verbal abuse, personal attacks, and anything else they can think of to try and close the discussion down (and permanently vilify…) the person challenging their ideas ASAP.

Why this insane over-reaction?

Why are they so ‘fragile’ and defensive that they have to try and annihilate and ‘punish’ anyone that disagrees with their view or position in a way that the Third Reich would be proud of?

Personally, I welcome honest debate. Personally, whenever I’m challenged (which can sometimes happen a lot) I take that discomfort that I sometimes feel, and the shame and embarrassment it sometimes engenders, into hitbodedut, and I go and ask God to show me the truth.

What I’ve discovered is that the truth is very rarely a 0-100% split. Usually, the person challenging me is right about something, at the very least 1% right about something, that I haven’t considered or acknowledged before, and that’s why God has put them in my face to make me uncomfortable.

Remember the three rules of emuna:

  • God is doing everything, and is behind every single thing that happens to us.
  • Everything that happens is somehow for our good.
  • There’s a message hidden in every single thing that occurs to us, and also within us, about what we ourselves need to work on and fix.

All the self-righteous Facebook ‘haters’ clearly aren’t operating according to the three rules of emuna, or anything close to it. Now, you wouldn’t really expect that from a dyed-in-the-wool atheist, a gay-rights activist, or an anti-Trump person.

But all those people, all those apparently ‘frum’ people who are ‘anti’ Rav Berland, and who clearly believe themselves to be the guardians of morality, and the keepers of Jewish truth in the world, what’s their excuse for cutting God so completely out of the picture, and acting like a bunch of mentally-ill heretical haters?

Maybe, someone out there can enlighten me?

I don’t know whether it’s the heat, all the ‘stress’ we’re all picking up on and having to deal with in our own lives, a ‘ruach’ that God is sending down to the world via the solar wind and celestial disturbances, all of the above…

But I’ve noticed that a lot of people are walking around pretty grumpy and irritable at the moment.

When we get like that, our fuses are that much shorter, our urge to judge people harshly is that much stronger, and our tendency to pick fights with other people – often over nothing much – and to take things personally, in order to release all that pent-up frustration and inner dissatisfaction is sometimes overwhelming.

We’re in the three weeks right now, so all of these tendencies are probably at their nadir, as we head into Tisha B’Av and mourning the destruction of the Temple.

Remember, the temple was destroyed due to sinat chinam (baseless hatred), which Rav Ofer Erez very nicely broke down into four main issues, namely:

  • Jealousy
  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Hakpada (judging others harshly)

Once we stop doing these four things, we’ll get the third Temple rebuilt and the exile ended.

So there’s some real work to do!

Over the next three weeks, you and I are for sure going to be put into any number of situations that are going to press our buttons, and cause us to believe that other Jews are nasty, hateful jerks.

Maybe, I’ll write something here that presses your buttons… maybe, someone will email a stupid comment on the spur of the moment that wasn’t so well judged…maybe, someone else will snap at their kid for something really minor…maybe, their husband will snap at them…

I’m telling us all now, that this is going to be happening a lot over the next three weeks, as God wants us to fix the sin of sinat chinam, so He’s all going to be giving us lots and lots of opportunities to take a deep breath, step back from instant negative judgment calls, and to do the work of trying to find a way of NOT getting angry / hating / jealous / harshly judging others.

I know, it’s real work, isn’t it?

I know, believe me I know, it’s not at all easy.

But that’s the challenge God is throwing down to us all right now, and every tiny little move in the right direction we make is literally changing the whole world, and bringing the redemption closer.

So, let me end by apologizing to any readers who I’ve inadvertently offended or annoyed over the last little while. I’m not perfect, I’m not pretending to be, and like everyone else, I’m also struggling with a lot of ‘inner stuff’ that doesn’t always make for the most enlightened or inspired reading.

I’m sorry!

But please don’t judge me so harshly for my lapses. If I write something dumb or ill-judged, tell me nicely but don’t start hating me for it. I’m working on stuff, I’m trying to improve, and I’m asking God to help me, and that’s really all any of us can do, at this stage.

Ultimately, we Jews are all amazingly holy, pure, Divine neshamas – a part of Hashem Himself – that are walking around covered up by a whole bunch of gashmius klipot (husks or shells of evil). The more I try to see through the klipot, the more the Divine Light in the Jewish people is shining through.

But it’s work! Ongoing work!

So let’s make an agreement that at least for the next three weeks, we’re going to cut each other a lot of slack, and give each other a break. When people say or do something dumb or upsetting, we’re going to do our best to understand they got temporarily overwhelmed by a yetzer, and they’re acting out of inner pain, confusion and turmoil, and not just because they’re trying to hurt us or make us feel bad.

(Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to stick around for more nasty treatment from very difficult, unrepentant characters, but the point here is to not HATE the person, not even in our hearts, as we walk away.)

And if we really try to do that as best as we can, we may yet be celebrating the Third Temple on Tisha B’av.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about why I’m having such a negative reaction to spending barely three, fairly OK, days in chutz l’aretz, and this is where I’ve got to with it all.

(Before I dive in, a story to set the scene:)

Britain has few culinary gifts to boast about, but it does excel at pastry and pies. The morning we flew out of Manchester airport (where me and my frum Jewish family got ‘patted down’ by a nice Muslim airport worker, to check we weren’t terrorists…) I took my girls to the one Kosher deli in town, and told them to pick whatever they wanted to eat for the flight.

We got some bagels, some fish, some cheese – and then the kids each picked a ‘typical’ British pastry. One of my kids has some fairly serious food allergies, especially to all nuts except almonds and sesame seeds. In Britain, her allergies were life-threatening and we had to carry an epipen.

In Israel, God somehow reduced them down to just annoying – in Israel, she just throws up now if she eats something she’s allergic to, and she’s got a ‘lick’ test which is usually very effective for spotting if something contains dodgy substances.

That kid bought what’s called a Bakewell Tart – a small pie with marzipan, jam and icing – which the nice serving lady assured us only had almonds. (The incidence of food allergies in the UK is so extreme, that most people are very careful to give accurate information about these things.)

After we’d got through the awful, OTT security procedures at Manchester Airport (which were enough to put me off from travelling again all by themselves)  – this kid pulled out her Bakewell Tart in the departures lounge, taste tested it, then ate it.

At the last bite, her face went a funny colour, and she started to make a weird gasping / hiccoughing noise. An allergic reaction!

And a far more serious one than she’s had in years and years.

Thank God, she rushed off to the bathroom and immediately threw up, but her throat was hurting her, and she was knocked out for an hour afterwards. Me and my husband said a tikkun haklali for her, I silently asked God to just let us get out of Manchester in one piece, while I walked around the airport looking for the A+E room ‘just in case’ her reaction started to escalate and we needed an epipen again…

BH, the tikkun haklali kicked in, and the crisis abated.

Later, my kid said to me: “Ima, it was so weird! I licked it first and it didn’t tingle my tongue at all! Even when I was eating it, I didn’t feel any tingling – it’s only after I took the last bite that I’d felt like I’d just eaten a big nut.”

What a great allegory for chutz l’aretz!

All a person’s life, they can’t ‘feel’ the damage being done to their souls by living such a superficial, sweet-tasting, gashmius pie of a life in chutz l’aretz. After all, the Bakewell Tart is glatt kosher! They bought it from the kosher deli on the way back from morning prayers!

Even when they’re eating it, it just tastes so yummy and delicious. And then with the last bite before you’re about to step on the plane ‘out of there’ – it nearly kills you.

It’s a fact that allergies are profoundly connected to emotions, stress levels and a person’s soul. It’s clear to me that my daughter’s soul is far more ‘wound up’ and stressed-out in chutz l’aretz than in Israel (even with all our struggling, and terrorism, and obvious spiritual angst), which is why here her allergies are an inconvenience at most, whilst there, they are literally life-threatening.

I went to the local shul one of the mornings I was there, to do my hour of hitbodedut (talking to God). I guess I must have felt like I was missing some of the kedusha that you get when a group of Jews congregate together.

The Rav of the shul gave a small talk after prayers, literally five minutes, where he was explaining how to kosher a microwave, and why you can’t kosher ovens in the same way, or cook milky and meaty foods one after the other in the same oven.

In Israel, I can’t even remember the last time I heard someone talk about those topics.

Here, the focus (at least for the rabbis I listen to….) is always on improving your middot, developing more emuna, guarding your eyes, treating your kids and spouse more nicely, really trying to give God what He wants.

Of course, God also wants a kosher oven, but that’s so ‘basic’ as to be practically taken for granted. Then I got it:

In chutz l’aretz, a Jew struggles even to keep their ovens kosher. That’s why there’s no time for the real work of ‘koshering the soul’. When you have to drive 30 mins just to get a kosher challah, when you have to pay thousands of bucks just to have your kid in a ‘kosher’ school, you already felt like you did the work God sent you down to do.

But really?

That’s only the very, very beginning of the process.

The real job is koshering the soul – uprooting our arrogance, our obsessions with making millions, our predilection for spreading gossip and lashon hara about other Jews, for bigging ourselves up at other people’s expense.

And most of the Jews in chutz l’aretz – even the very best, and most ‘kosher’ Jews – never get anywhere near that work of spiritual rectification.

I know when I made aliya 12 years’ ago, I was broadly of the view that I was a completely fixed, rectified ‘good’ Jewish person who really had nothing more to do to get to the highest level of shemayim.

After all, I had two ovens! And two sinks! And two dish washers!!!!!

After I made aliya, it didn’t take long to realize just how much of the real work of koshering my soul I still have left to do.

And that’s the real difference between chutz l’aretz and Israel: The one place, you feel like you’re ‘complete’ and that you’ve got there spiritually, and that you’re serving Hashem amazingly even by just keeping a kosher home and going to shul on Shabbat. It’s only when you’re about to check out of life that you realize that sweet, superficial, Bakewell Tart of a comfort zone actually killed your neshama.

In the other place, the whole time it can feel like you’re just eating bitter herbs – for breakfast, lunch and supper. But at the end of that process, you finally realize what a life-affirming spiritual ‘cleanse’, what an amazing, deep, spiritual ‘detox’ you’ve just been through.

If you stick with God, you come out of this second process, finally, with a kosher soul.

But there’s no question that the ‘Bakewell Tart’ version of Jewish life looks so much yummier.