So much of Jewish life revolves around the Jewish community.

Wherever Jews happen to live, whatever language they happen to speak, whatever Jewish traditions, customs and laws they happen to keep (or not…) being part of a community will often figure as a very major part of Jewish life.

No two communities are the same, each is a unique blend of the history, personalities, beliefs and customs that have molded it over the generations. While so many of the different community customs have been lost over the years, many Jews are still striving to maintain their cultural heritage, and to apply to Jewish life in the modern world, in the face of a growing number of issues, challenges and changes.

In this category, we’ll take a look at a bunch of topics including:

  • Jewish Communal Events – what’s really shaping modern Jewish life
  • Jewish News – the information that we really need to know about living as a Jew today
  • The importance of Jewish communal life
  • History of Jewish community – in all sorts of different places around the globe
  • Day-to-day relationships – both intramural and extramural, with other peoples and faiths
  • Modern values in kehillas – and how they are changing, sometimes unrecognisably, from traditional Torah values
  • Jewish community issues and challenges – both within Israel, and abroad
  • Community leaders, rabbis, and personalities.

I’m usually totally a-political on this blog (or even ‘anti’ political).

However, after the last election in Jerusalem, when we nearly had a radical, anti-religious, Meretz-backed mayor come into office, I realised that it’s important to vote after all. Not so much because I’m voting for someone, but more because I’m voting against someone else.

Until Moshiach shows up, this is the corrupt system we’re stuck with, and we have to deal with it the best we can.

After I read THIS, over on the ravberland.com site, and also after I read Rav Kanievsky’s message exhorting people to vote ‘gimmel’, I’m going to vote gimmel – Agudat Israel.

Here’s some of what I read:

This Sunday, an election rally held by the two factions that make up UTJ – Agudat Yisrael and Degel Hatorah – will take place on the streets of Jerusalem. It is to see the attendance of rabbinical leaders of both parties.

“The fact that the ‘Minister of Torah’ is troubling himself to embark, despite his extraordinary age, on hundreds of kilometers of travel around the country requires everyone to take extra effort and add more and more supporters to the party that sanctifies Heaven and stands in the face of those seeking to threaten Israel’s Torah,” the preparatory committee said.

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And this, from the ravberland.com website, quoting remarks made by Rabbi Berland last week:

“Now, Lapid announced that they are closing all the yeshivas. There won’t be any yeshivas, there won’t be any budget [from the State to help pay for them]. And there won’t be any places where there will allow ‘separation’ [between men and women]. They will abolish all the mechitzot (partitions used to divide between men and women’s sections at public gatherings including weddings, etc.), as they cancelled the ‘separation’ in Afula and Haifa.

They want to have here a State that is more abominable than even the countries of the goyim, and they are more awful than even the goyim.

And they want to destroy everything here, the whole Jewish religion, and to destroy Shabbat. They will force cars into chareidi areas (on Shabbat) and they will not permit anyone to put up any ‘fences’ (gederot).[1]

They have already announced everything, this is their platform for the elections.

This is a situation of pikuach nefesh (saving a life). We need to know that this is like a war, now, and whoever doesn’t go to vote simply doesn’t understand the severity of the situation.

Gantz, Lapid and Yisrael Beitanu – Lieberman – want to annihilate all of Judaism.

Within two years, there won’t be a religious Jew here, we will need to flee to Egypt, or to Jordan, or to move to New York or Miami.

We already opened a yeshiva in Miami, the Breslov Center, someone donated everything – they donated a mikva for $300,000. We are already preparing everything in Miami. If a war breaks out here, everyone is going to Miami.

There, we will begin Yiddishkeit from anew, the whole of Miami will make teshuva.

In one second, everyone will make teshuva today, all the goyim (non-Jews) will make teshuva. We will invite the mayor [of Miami] we will invite Trump to the chanukat habayit.

And this will be known next week. Next week, we will find out if Gantz will win, together with Lapid and Lieberman. They want to do it together, they will even accept the Arabs [the Arab parties]. The ikker (whole thing) is that they will have 61 [seats]. Here, we talk about 61. 61 is the magic number.

Whoever brings 61, he will be the king.

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When Rabbi Berland made comments about the whole of Shuvu Banim upping sticks and moving to Africa a few years ago, everyone thought he was joking. So, I really am not sure what to make of all this. We also know that the Rav said a few months’ back that if the decrees weren’t sweetened with more of us making teshuva and sticking close to the true Tzaddikim, he’d have to take another, even worse ‘exile’ on himself again.

But since then, the prayers have come out, and they seem to be sweetening things tremendously, as we can see by all the wars that haven’t (yet…) happened.

So…. who knows what’s about to happen?

But today, I’m voting gimmel.

The Israeli elections seem be a choice between Mr Evil, Mr Eviller, and Mr Evillest

Three weeks ago, my husband snapped his Achilles tendon whilst playing tennis. Baruch Hashem, it’s on the mend, but in the meantime I’m ferrying him backwards and forwards in the car to his workplace, close to Jerusalem’s central bus station.

What that means (amongst other things….) is that I’m getting to see all the massive, ginormous, monstrous billboards of yucky-looking politicians that are currently springing up like poisonous mushrooms all around the entrance to Jerusalem, in preparation for next week’s elections.

I can tell you this:

Whoever you vote for, it’s going to be a vote for Mr Evil.

Some of these super-sized pictures are so disturbing I’m amazed they’ve been approved for public consumption. What these politicians don’t seem to realise is that when their faces are blown up to building-size proportions, it makes it much harder to hide their true characters. You see it in the eyes, you grasp it by the beetling brows, and the cunning, calculating expression that even the greasiest smile can’t hide.

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Where to start, on which one of these posters bothers me the most?

For a while, Ehud Barak’s lot were definitely in the lead, with a cast straight out of Dr No. There’s the beautiful, red-haired woman that looks like a secret assassin. The angry-looking, grey-haired rogue scientist is on the left of the picture. And then ‘Mr Evil’ himself, with his dyed-black hair and shifty expression, is right in the middle of all that.

After the whole Epstein affair, how can anyone, much less a woman, much less a party that claims to stand for ‘human rights’ have anything to do with this guy!

So he was in the lead for a while.

But then, Netanyahu’s lot stuck up a bunch of MASSIVE posters of him shaking hands with Donald Trump, bearing the slogan: Netanyahu: a different league.

I almost crashed a few times coming round the corner of the Jerusalem Gateway, because I couldn’t take my eyes off how plain evil Netanyahu looked on that billboard, and how totally crazy Trump appeared.

So for two days, that was in pole position.

Then yesterday, Benny Gantz of Blue and White got stuck up on the other side of the Prima Park Hotel, in a poster that looked like a cross between Men In Black and the Terminator.

Oooo, look how thick his neck is!!! Look how menacingly grey his skin is!!! Notice how totally unemotional and devoid of any human kindness his cruel blue eyes appear!!!

He looked like a ‘Class A’ psycho, and clearly that’s the effect that all these politicians are trying to achieve.

Vote for me, I’m a total psycho! If anyone even so much sneezes in my direction, I’ll nuke them! Israel is in safe hands!

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But then today, the Labor / Gesher Party decided to remove its poster of Amir Peretz looking like Stalin, and replace them with Amir Peretz looking like a character out of Goodfellas instead. Last week, Peretz shaved off his trade-mark moustache, I don’t know why.

But personally, I think it was a mistake.

For as long as the moustache was pulling the eye, you didn’t notice how strangely menacing the guy underneath it was. Now, with Mr Fluffy gone, Amir Peretz looks like he could get a job with Iran’s Revolutionary Guide.

Vote for me! I can break a man into pieces in five seconds flat!!!

Now, you might be wondering where all the women are in this election. That’s what one of the graffiti artists clearly had in mind when she spray-painted the Amir-Peretz-As-Stalin poster with: “I’m a woman and I can also vote.”

Ayelet Shaked’s party decided to put a few massive posters of just her perfect, Barbie-like face across various bridges on the Begin Highway, and after studying them all week (yes, it’s a miracle I haven’t crashed the car) – I can tell you they are airbrushed.

The woman is 42 and has a very stressful job, and yet she has the flawless complexion of a 20 year old supermodel. It’s an open miracle.

Vote for me! I don’t have any wrinkles!!!

This morning, someone had punched two massive holes in the middle of both her faces, and it took some really careful planning to pull that off in the middle of Jerusalem’s busiest and fasted road.

I think it was the Shabak.

Orly Levy-Abecassis (or whatever her name is…) also popped up on a poster looking really miserable, but with great hair, next to Goodfella Peretz, and some other man who I don’t know the name of, but who also looks like a shark in a suit.

Vote for me! I have the best hairdresser in all of Israel!!!

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Sigh.

Whichever way you turn, there’s evil, evil and more evil.

Driving my husband to work has become a Kafkaesque nightmare, a cross between a bad Bond movie and the Oscars.

Although yesterday, I did see a poster of someone that I’d half consider voting for.

He was a cute Saba advertising a new flavor of milkshake.

So, a vote for Mr Evil – for political gangsters and their molls – or for Mr Milkshake, for PM?

I think the answer is obvious.

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What’s really behind the Takana against accepting new converts in Latin America? The answer will shock you.

Two days ago, I had a phone call from one of my contacts in Latin America, who tipped me off that I should look a little more closely into the reasons why the Jewish communities of Latin America instituted a total ban on ‘outsiders’ being accepted, married and buried in their midst.

My source told me that it was because in the 1920s, when the takana was first instituted, there was an enormous problem with non-Jewish p*ostitutes being brought into these communities by a large underworld organization of Jewish p*mps. (Words are starred to avoid my site being banned by filters and to try to maintain our sensitivity.)

These ladies then wanted to convert to join the Jewish community, and the Jewish community was up in arms about this, and so they instituted a very severe ban on any conversions being performed, or any converts being allowed to join the community. I was given the name of a book to try to track down with more details, called Diber Shaul, and that was that.

Whaddya know?

The next day, I turned on the pc to start looking for that book, and immediately came across THIS article, which was written the same day I’d been speaking to my contact. There are no coincidences. God clearly wants this information to get out there, and it’s clearly still very relevant to things that are happening today.

Very quickly, I started to learn some amazing things about the genesis of the Jewish communities in South America at the turn of the 20th century, which have had an enormous impact on understanding why this takana came about in the first place.

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Before we continue, let’s just remind ourselves about what this takana actually is, and the problems it’s causing many thousands of Bnei Anousim, and also other people of Jewish descent, known as the Bnei Conversos, who are being prevented from having their Jewish roots, or orthodox Jewish conversions recognized by the communities they live in.

Here’s the starting point:

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Latin American countries have had a takana, or agreement in place since the 1920s which was first introduced by the expat Syrian community in Argentina, that they won’t accept any new converts until ‘the End of Days’, whatever that is supposed to mean. This is making it very hard for potential converts to meet the requirement set out by the Israeli Rabbinate, that they have to have spent at least 9 months living in an active, orthodox Jewish. Their local communities are totally shunning them, so even though their conversion may be halachically valid, they can’t meet the requirements to have their conversion recognized by State of Israel.

The current position with the State of Israel’s Rabbinate is that they will not accept any orthodox conversion done in Latin America. The convert will either have to move for a year to the US and convert there, or try to move to Israel for a year and convert here. If you don’t have money and connections, clearly neither of these routes are really so viable.

Practically speaking, the poor Bnei Anousim and Bnei Conversos are being banned from entering communal institutions like synagogues, mikvas and schools, and are being refused burial in Jewish cemeteries, even if they’ve had an impeccable orthodox conversion and are observing mitzvoth 100%.

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Dear reader, we’re about to hop down a massive bunny hole here, so prepare yourselves mentally.

Here’s a precis of the shocking things I’ve discovered about why this takana really came about in South America.

At the turn of the 20th century, Argentina was actually the 10th richest economy in the world. Its economy was booming, its ports were bustling, and many immigrants from Europe – mostly men – were arriving on its shores every day, to try to seek their fortune in the ‘New World’.

Of course, there were also many Jewish immigrants amongst them, and this is where the tale quickly becomes sordid.

At this point in time, historians estimated that there was as many as 10 men for every woman in South America’s big cities, so trafficking young girls and women from the Old Country to come and work in b*othels in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro became a very lucrative business. Jewish mobsters from Eastern Europe quickly spotted an opportunity to make some massive money – and so, the slave trade in young JEWISH women from impoverished shtetls in Poland began.

The first ship bearing these ‘Polacas’, as they came to be known, (which is Portuguese for ‘Polish Women’) landed in Brazil in 1867, and very quickly, the Jewish mobsters behind the trafficking of young Jewish p*rostitutes to the New World built up an international business worth some $50 million a year, in the 1890s.

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By 1913, this human trafficking network was running 431 b*othels in Rio de Janeiro alone, with other operations in the Brazilian cities of Sao Paulo, Salvador, Santos and Recife, plus a further 2,000 brothels in Argentina.

The Jewish mobsters had also expanded their operations to big cities in the US, including New York, and other countries including South Africa, China and India.

Not all of the girls they trafficked were Jewish, but at the height of their operations, they had between 15,000 and 30,000 Jewish women ‘working’ for them in their establishments, mostly from poor Polish shtetls.

So now, we get to the next part of the story: How did these gangsters, or ruffianos, to give them their Spanish names (and avoid filter problems….) manage to get these young women from observant Jewish homes into this most sordid of professions, in a distant land?

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The most ‘successful’ and pernicious forms of evil always operates as much under the radar as possible, and likes to dress itself up in the cloak of ‘goodness’.

These Yiddish-speaking Jewish mobsters knew how desperately poor so many of the Jews in the Pale of Settlement were in Russia and Poland. Also, these communities had been under attack without via violent pogroms, and under attack within via the maskilim, or atheist-minded reforming Jews, for many decades.

At the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, so many Jews were trying to flee to the New World in order to escape the violence, poverty and misery of the old. So, these mobsters set up a front called the “Warsaw Jewish Mutual Aid Society”, and used this ‘charitable foundation’ as a respectable front for their illegal human trafficking activities.

Plus ca change.

Isabel Vincent wrote a book about three of these Jewish womenNot only that, they sent their expensively-dressed ruffianos to case the shtetls and recruit unsuspecting girls as ‘servants’ or in many instances, as wives. These girls were young, typically aged between 13-16, and they and their families were totally blown away by the opulent, sophisticated young men appearing in their midst who promised the young women a sparkling future in the New World.

The ruffianos also took out matrimonial ads in the Jewish papers, as part of their twisted recruitment strategies, and they also worked with unscrupulous matchmakers who were keen to get their cut of what was becoming a very lucrative market.

In one story I read, a Yiddish-speaking ruffiano ‘married’ as many as 30 girls on one recruitment trip, and the ‘wives’ only found out about it once they were onboard the ship taking them to their new lives – but by that point, it was too late. Their ‘husbands’ would inform the girls that they were destined to work in b*othels, and the ones who refused were treated brutally, assaulted, starved and locked-up in cages until they changed their minds.

Once they were in their ‘New World’, these young girls were totally shunned by the rest of the Jewish community, who were either part of the problem, or scandalized by what was going on and trying to shut the operation down, or (probably the majority) just trying to ignore it and pretend it wasn’t happening, as the ruffianos had a lot of money… and gave lavish donations to Jewish institutions… and supported Jewish theatrical productions and other communal events.

In other words, the new life these young women discovered was totally and utterly hellish. I read one account of one very young Jewish woman being forced to service well over 200 men, in her first two weeks in NYC … Once again, it was JEWISH gangsters who created this situation.

Plus ca change.

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Here and there, some people did try to stand up to these Eastern European Jewish mobsters and ruffianos.

There were calls for the Jewish community to stop leasing them premises, and to stop calling them up for aliyot in shul (!), and efforts were made to bar them from attending the Jewish theatres in Buenos Aires, where they would often show up with a different young girl on their arm each night, to ‘showcase’ their products.

And finally, the ruffianos and the women who worked for them were barred from being buried in Jewish cemeteries.

All these actions against the ruffianos and their slave-‘workers’ form the basis of the takana that was instituted in Latin America, which today is still being applied to Bnei Anousim, Bnei Conversos, and other sincere people who want to convert to Judaism.

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In the meantime, the takana barely made a dent in the mobsters’ operations, beyond forcing them to change the name of their organisation, and to buy up land to build their own synagogues and cemeteries. In 1906, the Polish ambassador to Argentina made a formal complaint requesting that the “Warsaw Jewish Mutual Aid Society”, be forced to drop the ‘Warsaw’, as Poland wanted to be totally disassociated from its activities.

So, on May 7, 1906, the mobsters formally renamed their organization the ‘Zwi Migdal Association’, after one of its leaders, Luis Zvi Migdal. A little later on, Zwi Migdal split, and another of the leading mobsters named Simon Rubinstein renamed his part of the organization ‘Ashkenazum’. Once they received formal recognition as Jewish ‘charitable’ organisations, they both built Jewish cemeteries on the outskirts of Argentina, which by that point contained a Jewish community of around half a million souls.

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Zwi Migdal’s human trafficking operation continued to grow and grow, reaching its peak in the 1920s.

It was untouchable, because so many of their customers were notable policemen, judges, politicians and businessmen, and almost everyone else was easily bought off with large bribes.

Plus ca change.

The woman who brought Zwi Migdal down was named Rachel Liberman, from Lodz, in Poland. She arrived in Buenos Aires at the age of 22, with her two small sons, planning to reunite with her husband who had moved there earlier. Rachel’s husband died within two months of her arriving in Argentina, leaving the young widow penniless, and without family in a foreign country.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened next. Some suggest she answered a fake ‘matrimonial ad’, others that she thought she was taking a job as a seamstress, others that she was tricked into p*ostitution by someone she believed she married as her second husband, but either way, Rachel ended up in the clutches of the Zwi Migdal mobsters.

She worked for them for 4 years, and managed to save enough money to set herself up in the furniture business and leave. But the Zwi Migdal gangsters didn’t want her setting an example for the rest of the Polacas, so they threatened and intimidated her until she returned.

So Rachel searched for a different route to freedom, and eventually, she ended up in the office of one of Buenos Aires’ few honest policemen, a man named Superintendent Julio Elsogray. Her testimony led to the arrest of over 350 ruffianos and mobsters, and then a trial which was presided over by one of Buenos Aires’ few remaining honest judges, named Dr. Rodriguez Ocampo.

When she was asked if she was willing to stand by her testimony, in the face of death threats from the mobsters, Rachel replied: “I can only die once. I’m standing by my testimony.” Clearly, a very brave woman.

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4 Zwi Migdal gangstersThe trial ended in September 1930, with 108 men sentenced to prison.

Barely a year later, the Zwi Migdal gangsters had called in enough favors from the corrupt politicians and judiciary to see all but 3 of the sentences quashed, and the p*mps freed to set up a new life, and go back to their old, disgusting ways, in Brazil, Uruguay and other locations.

The outbreak of the war in 1939 effectively put an end to the Zwi Midgal organization as we know it….

…. But I can’t help but wonder what really became of all those gangsters, and who took over from Luis Migdal, Simon Rubinstein, and all the others.

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But let’s get back to what all this means for the Bnei Anousim, and the takana in Latin America, which was basically instituted as a protest against the tens of thousands of Jewish women who had been brought to Argentina, Brazil, and other places to be forced to work in the oldest profession in the world.

The takana was first introduced by the Syrian Sephardi Jewish community in Argentina, as a way of keeping their Jewish community ‘pure’ against this influx of the worse immorality from the secular Ashkenazi world.

The trouble is, the origins of the takana have been forgotten because over the last few decades, the Jewish communities in both Argentina and Brazil have been doing an excellent job of whitewashing the human trafficking activities of the Zwi Migdal organization.

Many of the graves containing the Polaca women have had the names scrubbed off, at the behest of the Jewish community itself. You can kind of understand that – who wants to admit that their grandmother or great-grandmother worked in a b*othel? No-one.

But what disturbs me far, far more is that the evil, immoral criminals who profited from the human trafficking via their roles as ruffianos, madams and the gangster bosses also seem to have been totally whitewashed out of the history books.

Those people didn’t drop dead (sadly, at least not immediately…) They took their money, and they set up shop in other countries, and other Jewish communities all over the world. People like that don’t just retire, they keep engaging in human suffering and immorality until the very bitter end.

And if we knew more of their names, we could trace them, and their activities, and their descendants, and probably discover a lot of very interesting things about exactly why so many parts of the Jewish world looks as yucky as it does, today.

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To sum up: the whole subject of the takana needs airing out and properly discussing, despite the ongoing sensitivities in the Latin American Jewish communities.

Hopefully, if more people start to understand the historical circumstances that brought it into being back in the 1920s, this conversation can start to move forward, and a way can be found to dismantle it, and enable more of the Jews in Latin America to be accepted by the official Jewish community.

And I hope that shocking as this story is, telling it over will play some small part in getting the whole subject of the takana in Latin America to be revisited, and reconsidered.

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UPDATE:

After doing some more research, and in response to a comment, I found this. The plot thickens:

In reply to yaak.Thanks Yaak.

According to this PhD thesis by Victor Mirelman (link below), the Takana was first in Buenos Aires in 1927, instituted by the Chakham David Dabbah Shaul Setton, the rabbi of the Syrian community in Buenos Aires – and pretty much the only orthodox rabbi in Latin America at that time, who had a congregation still pious enough to listen to him. This Takana was then adopted throughout Latin America, as the state of the Jewish world was in complete disarray, with the Ashkenazi community’s main ‘rabbi’ in Buenos Aires being one Henry Joseph, who himself had married out and only did a ‘quickie’ conversion of his wife when he started acting as the defacto rabbi of the community. His own children married goyim in a church ceremony.

This meticulously sourced document brings a lot of eye-witness accounts of what was going on in Buenos Aires at the time, including Jews taking two of their friends as ‘witnesses’ to ‘convert’ non-Jewish women, then marry them – in a total mockery of the conversion process. This is also why Rav Kook in Israel, and other rabbis, supported this first Takana in Latin America, and why it spread to other communities there, beyond the Syrian community.

Then seperately in 1935. Rabbi Kassin instituted a similar Takana for the Syrian community in Brooklyn, which didn’t spread, wasn’t approved of other rabbis outside the community, and remains very controversial even today.

Here’s the link, check it out for yourself: https://digital.library.wayne.edu/item/wayne:WayneStateUniversityPress4448

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Rebbe Nachman points up some interesting similarities between ‘spies’ and demons.

Last week, I was re-reading Rebbe Nachman’s story of The Cripple, when I suddenly started to see some interesting connections between Rebbe Nachman’s description of demons, and what’s going on today with the ‘deep state’.

(You can get an English translation PDF of it HERE).

I suddenly got the idea into my head that Jeffery Epstein could be the ‘son of the demons’ in Rebbe Nachman’s story, who was imprisoned and tortured, sparking off a war between the different factions of ‘Deep State’ demons that eventually leads to geula happening. So, I’m bringing it here, to see what you think, too.

FIRST, A QUICK RECAP OF THE RELATIVE BITS OF THE STORY OF THE CRIPPLE

The Cripple hears the Sun and Moon talking, and the Moon is complaining that there is a place of two thousand mountains, where a whole bunch of demons live, and these ‘demons’ are taking all the power from her feet.

Feet is an allusion to emuna, and true faith and trust in Hashem.

The Moon is often used as an allegory for the Jewish people.

The Cripple decides to visit this place called the ‘Two Thousand Mountains’, here’s what Rebbe Nachman says about that:

“When he got there, he stood at a distance from the two thousand mountains. He saw thousands and myriads of demon families. They have children just like human beings and are therefore very numerous.

“He saw their leadership sitting on a throne. No human being ever sat on such a throne. He also saw them ‘joking’ – one of them was ‘joking’ about the child he’d hurt, another about injuring someone’s hand, and another about injuring someone’s foot. They also joked in other ways.”

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I read this, and I immediately thought:

Mafia, crime families, ‘untouchable’ criminals and bent politicians sitting on pedestals where no-one can get near them, billionaires who are ‘worshipped’ for their wealth, child trafficking, child abduction and child abuse.

Before we continue, I also went to look up ‘Two Thousand Mountains’, to see where it’s located. Whaddya now? The only place I could find with that name is right next to Forth Worth, Dallas, Texas. Forth Worth was the last place JFK gave a speech, before he was shot dead by the mafia, under contract to the CIA.

(The former head of CIA, Allan Dulles, had a score to settle with Kennedy after the latter refused to bail out the CIA’s attempted ‘regime change’ in Cuba, as part of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Kennedy had a strong dislike of the FBI and CIA, and their abuses of power, and was on record stating that he wanted to splinter the CIA into a 1,000 parts and scatter them to the wind, before he was assassinated.)

The links between the mafia and the spy agencies are well-documented. The former FBI head J. Edgar Hoover was part of a massive corruption racket that basically blurred the lines between criminals and law enforcement, with the mafia simply acting in the illegal sphere, while the spy agencies ‘pretended’ to act within the law. Robert Kennedy was knocked off because he had a sincere wish to tackle the mafia and organized crime – against Hoover’s wishes.

They look like you and me, they have children, they have families, but really – Rebbe Nachman tells us – they are demons!

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The story then switches to a pair of ‘demon’ parents who are very upset, because their son got kidnapped and tortured by a sorcerer who was working for a King who’d been ‘hurt’ by this demon-son, and his friend.

Back to Rebbe Nachman:

“We had an island in the sea, which we made our base. The king who owned this island decided to build it up, and began to lay the foundations. [The demon-son] said to me, “Let’s hurt him!” With that, we went and took away the king’s strength.”

In the footnotes to Aryeh Kaplan’s translation of this story, we find the following:

This ‘Island King’ wished to repent. This act on his part ultimately led to the downfall of the demons…. ‘Foundations’ is yesod in Hebrew. This usually refers to the se*ual organ. Thus the king wanted to begin by rectifying himself se*ually.

Let’s switch out ‘King’ for ‘President’, from here on it, to give it a more contemporary feel.

And before we continue, let’s also remind ourselves that over in US, the Feds are currently exploring Epstein’s ‘pedo Island’, our in the American Virgin Islands. Man, the clues are coming thick and fast, here.

The demon parents go to the Demon King with this story, and he orders that the President should be given back his ‘strength’. It’s not so easy to do that, because the demon who took the President’s strength has now become a cloud on a particular city.

[We’re going to skip the middle part of the story, which involves an old Jewish sage taking on the ruling atheists and the demons, and continue with the story of the demon-son and the President.]

“The Demon King ordered that the cloud’s strength be taken and given back to the President, and it was done. The demon-son was then able to return to his parents. He came back worn out and in great pain…since he had been tortured very much there. He was very angry at the sorcerer who had tortured him so much, and he left orders to his sons and their families, that they should always lie in wait, to entrap the sorcerer.”

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When Rebbe Nachman is talking about ‘families’, could he really be referring to clannish crime families and spy organisations here?

Let’s continue.

“The talkers amongst the demons told the sorcerer to watch himself, since [the family] were lying in wait for him. The sorcerer made use of his devices to protect himself from them, and also asked other sorcerers to help him, who knew other [crime] families.

“The demon-son and his family were really furious at the talkers for revealing their secret to the sorcerer. Once, this son’s family and some talkers were going to serve a term of duty for the President. The family fabricated a false accusation against the talkers, and the President killed them.

“The surviving talkers were very angry, and they incited rebellion against all the kings. The demons were stricken with hunger, weakness, sword and plague. There were wars among all the kings, and this caused earthquakes. The ditches fell in and the tree was completely watered. All the [demons] were then destroyed, and nothing remained of them. Amen.”

Note: ‘the tree’ refers to the Tzaddik, aka Moshiach, and the demons spend their whole trying to keep people away from the Torah and mitzvos that will ‘water’ this Tree, and enable it to take it’s true place in the world.

====

Lots to unpack… let’s continue.

I don’t watch TV, thank God, but someone told me I should look at THIS post on the Tomer Devorah website. I went, and it’s talking about a new documentary about THE FAMILY, a bunch of power-obsessed evangelicals who apparently rule Washington DC by co-operating with other evil groups like the Vatican, and all the usual suspect spy agencies / mafiosos.

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Because they are all connected to each other, and they all coordinate their activities with each other, just they operate as different crime ‘families’ or syndicates.

So now, let’s take that piece of information, and plug in THE FAMILY for every mention of ‘family’ in Rebbe Nachman’s tale, and see what other insights that starts to spark off in your head.

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THE GEMARA EXPLAINS WHO THESE ‘DEMONS’ ARE

In Makkot 6b, in the middle of a long discussion about false witnesses and criminals being given ‘prior warning’ of imminent punishment by a ‘Demon’, the Gemara says the following:

“The one giving the warning…may even be [the victim] himself, and even a demon. The warning necessary to convict the offender need not come from one of the witnesses, but is acceptable from any source.”

Ramban in the footnote explains that: ‘demon’ refers to “any voice whose source cannot be observed.”

In Brachot 3b, we get the following statement:

“The Rabbis taught in a baraisa, that one should not enter a ruin for the following three reasons: 1) Because of suspicion, i.e. because people may suspect one of entering there to meet a harlot, 2) Because of the danger of collapse, 3) and because of the danger of demons, who lurk in deserted areas and ruins.”

The footnotes state:

Demons will not attack two people together. Separately, it also states: [W]here men of low moral character are concerned, even ten men are not trusted to be alone with a woman.

In Brachot 43b:

“To one person [a demon] appears and does harm; to two people it appears but does no harm; to three people it does not appear altogether.”

The footnote states: The demon will not take action to harm him, but the person will suffer the effects of having seen a demon (i.e. they get ‘warned off’ and they threatened if they start digging too much into what the demons are doing, or saying too much about their activities. But they only actually get assassinated if they are alone, with no witnesses.)

But Chagigah 16a is really the kicker:

“There are six characteristics that were said regarding demons: Three like ministering angels and three like human beings. These are the three characteristics in which demons are like ministering angels:

  • Demons have wings like ministering angels

  • And [demons] fly from one end of the world to the other end [of the world] like ministering angels

  • And [demons] know what is destined to be in the future like ministering angels.

The Gemara interrupts the Baraisa to clarify this last point:

“Can it enter your mind that they know the future on their own?… Rather, the Baraisa means that [demons] hear what is announced from behind the Partition, like ministering angels.”

Doesn’t this excerpt from the Gemara conjure up visions of spies with recording devices, who fly all over the place in their personal jets and unmarked planes?

And here’s how demons are like humans, from that same Gemara:

  • Demons eat and drink like human beings
  • Demons are fruitful and multiply like human beings
  • And demons die like human beings.

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I haven’t made an exhaustive survey of every instance of where demons are mentioned in the Gemara, but one other notable place, in Niddah 24b, places demons bang in the middle of a discussion about aborted fetuses.

All this, when taken together, suggests quite a lot, doesn’t it?

To recap the main message:

before Moshiach actually is revealed (aka ‘the Tree’ gets watered), all these crime families and spy agencies start to turn on each other, and take each other out. And the demonic forces who are leading these activities are the talkers. Talkers could refer to journalists, spies, bloggers, social media ‘manipulators’ and also movies and Hollywood (the original home of the ‘talkies’.)

Demons look like human beings, but really aren’t.

They have zero real emuna and faith in Hashem (the ‘chicken feet’ = atheists), and they are organized as crime families and syndicates. You’ll find demons in the middle of abortions…. And in the middle of hurting children and other people… And in locations where men are lured to be ‘entrapped’ with harlots…. And demons love ‘devices’ and can listen in on people’s conversations, fly all over the world and appear to be totally untouchable.

The last thing to tell you about demons is probably the most important.

In Rebbe Nachman’s tale, he explains that the human beings who are with the Jewish Sage who stands up to the King Demon, and who are within his ‘circle’, are safe from the harm demons can do.

Rebbe Nachman tells us:

“The demons approached, but they could not come near [the humans] because of the circle [that the wise man had made] around them. [The King Demon] sent other messengers, but they also failed.”

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We need to stay close to the Tzaddik HaDor, and to stay far, far away from the places where these ‘demons’ hang out. When Moshiach comes, they will all disappear. But for now, they are still all over the place, and still causing a lot of harm, wars and ‘earthquakes’.

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It’s time to draw a line in the sand, and to stop excusing and flattering evil.

The last few years, we’ve all just sat here and watch the politically-correct brigade demolish one fortification in the wall of personal holiness and morality after another.

They encouraged men and women (or let’s be honest, teenage boys and girls and even younger, lo alenu) to have intimate relationships that were totally divorced from any idea of marriage, or bringing new life into the world. They encouraged promiscuous behavior at every turn. They threw all notions of self-discipline and personal holiness out the window, and mocked the people who tried to stand up to them as ‘bigots’.

The internet accelerated the process of moral disintegration, beaming its smut straight into our homes, phones and neshamas. All of a sudden, there was no getting away from it, all that politically-correct programming, that told us we all just had to sit here and say nothing, as these people assaulted the foundations of holiness.

They hold all the cards, that’s how it seems.

They have all the money. They have the expensive lawyers. They have the politicians stitched up, and the judges in their back pockets.

What can small people like you and me do, to really protest all this, and to stand up for personal holiness, and what is objectively right, as defined by God and His Torah?

Not much, that’s the truth. I am regularly censoring myself on my blog with every third word, worried that the thought police who have taken over the internet will find some way of ‘de-platforming’ me, too – even though the only platform I really have is my blog.

Google has gone after so many ‘alternative’ voices the last few months, and totally buried them with algorythms designed to only give ‘the official’ version of events, as decided by the immoral, anti-God and anti-holiness people who are running Google.

So, I measure my words carefully, and try to tell you what’s going on without naming names, or sailing too close to the wind. Because also here in Israel, these same forces for immorality – all those Jewish billionaires based in the States, but who have been warping the sanctity of the Holy Land with millions of dollars from their ‘charitable foundations’ – are operating here, too.

These people, and their front men, were the ones who were really pulling the strings behind the investigations into Rabbi Berland and Rabbi Pinto, and the late Rabbi Yoram Abergel, zt’l. It was part of a stated aim to take down the so-called ‘kabbalah rabbis’ who were so revered by so many Jews in Israel, and to break their power.

But that’s only a small part of the spiritual and moral corruption that has so many Jews at its heart, and which seems to have spread around the globe.

And which is on the cusp of finally being exposed, even though the mainstream media is still trying to divert the public’s attention away from the real stories and facts that are unfolding. 

(Clue: go and Google ‘Epstein and Mossad’ and see what you find.)

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The reason the MSM doesn’t report on all of this stuff, or reports this stuff with a ‘fake news’ spin is very simple: The MSM is owned by a small group of immoral billionaires who are up to their necks in vice and criminality. And sadly, a large percentage of these people are Jews.

There is a growing band of independent journalists who are bravely putting the facts together and putting them out there on the internet. Even though the corrupt establishment is trying to stop them, the trickle is building to a flood, as more and more people are realizing that so many of the people who are in the top positions in our societies are actually evil, in the truest sense of the world.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

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Three weeks ago, I got an email asking me if I wanted to review the latest book by a very well known ‘defender of the State of Israel’. This guy had recently been in the press for very successfully defending billionaire child abuser Jeffery Epstein, 10 years ago. Thanks to this guy’s legal smarts, Epstein literally got away with murder.

When I got the request, I started pondering on all this. Here’s a little of how that conversation went:

The guy is defending Israel. He must be good, no?

The guy defended a known pedophile. He must be bad, no?

Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, until finally, the brainwashing dissolved and I got some clarity:

This guy is awful!!! He’s spiritually corrupt!!! How can anyone sleep soundly in their beds at night, knowing that they are regularly abetting the scum of society to escape justice, just because these evildoers have the money to pay their outrageous legal fees?!

So what, that this guy is famous? So what, that he’s got money, or a lot of connections? So what, that he publically defends the State of Israel. He’s totally immoral. He sold his soul for some dollar bills.

Instead of placing these people on a pedestal, more of us need to start calling these greedy, immoral bullies out, and to stop flattering evil.

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At this stage, every Jewish organization and charity and individual that accepted cash from Epstein, and from all the other immoral Jewish billionaires that are closely associated with the awful things currently being investigated in New York, are morally suspect in the profoundest of ways.

How can I state that so directly? Because like attracts like. It’s an iron-clad rule, and even our Sages taught that: show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you really are.

And in the meantime, I had another penny drop about how I can and probably should be reacting to the tsunami of evil engulfing the Jewish world, in my personal dalet amot, too. And it comes down to this:

BH, I want to start putting way more emphasis on my own personal holiness again.

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I already told my teens that I can’t hear their soul-destroying secular music being blasted through the house any more. I went out today and bought longer socks, to replace my ankle socks. And I have decided that I am going to start standing up for kedusha and holiness again, and to stop flattering evil.

What does that mean, exactly?

I’m still figuring it out, but one thing it for sure means is that I am no longer giving the benefit of the doubt to people who are going against the Torah, or railing against a mitzvah-observant lifestyle, and especially those people who are going against holy people like Rabbi Berland.

Without naming names, I went to check the social media of a big-mouth commentator who has made a huge deal about being pro-human rights, and being pro-women’s rights, and who publically left orthodox Judaism because of all the ‘terrible’ things he was seeing happening in his community.

Now, this guy is openly pushing immorality like it’s the biggest mitzvah in the world, and of course, he was one of the main guys writing negative stuff about Rabbi Berland a few years’ ago.

What did that bastion of justice, morality and human rights have to say about Epstein, a secular New York Jew with connections to a whole bunch of other New York Jews, who is guilty of some of the most mind-boggling human rights abuses in modern times?

Nothing.

The silence is deafening.

(I went to double-check after I wrote that, and this lone tweet is all I found. Compare and contrast.)

The guy is a total hypocrite (at best), and the ‘orthodox’ people who are continuing to buddy-up to him, and to defend and excuse his spiritual corruption and immorality, are 100% guilty of flattering evil.

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Let’s try to define the term a bit more carefully.

Flattering evil is where you know someone else is saying or doing evil or immoral things (as defined by God, in His Torah), but you still hang out with them and suck up to them because of their wealth and connections; or because they can do favors for you; or because they are a ‘minor celebrity’; or because it just suits you better to turn a blind eye to their bad behavior and immoral lifestyle choices.

That is flattering evil.

And so very many of us are guilty of it.

When I sent back my reply to the famous author’s publicist, I made sure to tell her why I’m saying no to reviewing his book:

In all good conscience, I can’t promote something written by someone who thinks its ok to defend known pedophiles.

And I felt pleased with this minute step towards trying to tip the balance towards God and good again. If I’d have said ‘yes’, that would mean that I’m effectively also condoning that pedophile’s awful, immoral behavior, and enabling it to continue, God forbid a million times over, and saying its ok to hang out with these people, and to keep pretending like there’s nothing wrong with them, and their world-destroying ideas and actions.

I can’t protest everything, I can’t stand up to every sin, and every evil person out there, but whatever God gives me to do, I’m going to do it.

I’m drawing a line in the sand.

From here on in, no more flattering evil, just because someone is well-known, or gives a lot of charity, or defends Israel, or has a lot of ‘backing’ from their community, or is a ‘king’ of political-correctness, or because I’m scared of them.

And I’d be thrilled if you’d consider joining me.

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Maybe, the State of Israel should take a leaf out of Martin Luther King’s book.

I’m in the middle of reading the autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr, the great black civil rights leader, who was assassinated – probably by one of the American alphabet agencies – in 1968, while advocating the non-violent resistance path of peace.

While the writing is a little stodgy in parts, what I’m finding very interesting is how much hypocrisy and moral corruption was riddling USA ‘officialdom’ back in the 1960s, and how brave King and his fellow activists were, in approaching the issue purely with the creed of non-violent resistance and emuna.

Because the two go together.

Time and again, King found his strength in his religion, and particularly in his connection to God – Who he mentions far more than the yoshkiyite idol – in his writings.

And then, that got me thinking about what’s going on in Israel.

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Like many people here, I haven’t been paying that much attention to the groups of chareidi men who stage sit-ins by the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, and in Bnei Brak. I know when they are protesting, it’s usually because some religious young man – or also, young woman! – has been arrested by the police, and is sitting in jail because they refuse to enlist in the army.

Until very recently, I was kind of looking at these protests more as ‘street entertainment’ than anything more serious. But reading this Martin Luther King book is kind of changing my perspective on what’s actually going on here.

Recently, I saw a video where the Israeli police were blasting some poor chareidi men with what’s known as ‘skunk water’ at close quarters, mamash squirting it straight into their faces.

‘Skunk Water’ is so potent, it can make a person nauseous for many days after they come into any contact with it, let alone when it’s been sprayed straight into their chops. A couple of weeks ago, one of my girls found herself in the middle of a sit-in demonstration by the bus station, and she felt pretty ill for a few hours, after getting a sniff of the skunk water the police were spraying all over the demonstrators, to get them to disburse.

Then of course, there’s been all the pictures of the police pulling peaceful chareidim along by their side-curls… and then there was the case where the police here beat up an autistic young man, just because he was chareidi… and I could give you many more examples of where bald-headed, vicious bullies in uniform are beating up peacefully-demonstrating religious Jews in Israel.

WARNING: THIS FOOTAGE OF A CHAREDI BOY BEING BEATEN UP IN MEAH SHEARIM IS PRETTY DISTURBING:

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Which brings us to an awkward cross-roads.

Whether or not you believe that violence is the only way to solve our national problems, and that having a strong army is the only solution to our woes (more on that in a moment), it seems ethical that people who are opposed in principle to killing other people should not be forced into bearing arms.

The people in the IDF making these life-and-death decisions about who should live, and who should die, are not believing Jews, and they aren’t guided by Torah law on these matters. Judaism believes in the sanctity of human life, and taking another person’s life is NOT a simple matter. So serving in the IDF is not a simple matter, morally, and it shouldn’t be something that we try to push on other people indiscriminately, without first really exploring the issues in depth.

I know this perhaps sounds even ‘treasonous’ to big parts of the dati leumi world, and also anathema to many others in Jewish society– and I understand their position. Until fairly recently, I shared it.

But not any more.

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Let’s get back to the charedim who are protesting, and who are getting manhandled by bald-headed bullies in uniform, and sprayed in the face with nausea-inducing chemicals, and water-cannoned off the pavement, and arrested for ‘disturbing the peace’ – exactly how the black civil rights’ protesters were being treated by the racist, white authorities in America’s Deep South.

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It suddenly struck me how brave these charedim are, because they come out and protest time and time again, and they know they will get beaten up, and blasted off the pavements with water cannons,  and all the rest of it – and yet they don’t fight back.

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I know, we all take that for granted, don’t we?

That the police can come in and beat the charedim up, and the charedim never fight back. In fact, we take it so for granted that we start moaning about how much traffic these peaceful protesters are holding up, and how awkward they are making life for everyone around them.

In this olam hafuch, where brutality, violence and guns are worshipped as the real measure of bravery and heroism, it’s totally passing us by, just how much restraint and inner strength and emuna it actually takes, to just sit there while some aggressive, bald-headed police-nik comes after you for trying to stand up for God and His Torah.

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The State of Israel believes that its army is the only reason the Arabs didn’t over-run us and kill us, a long time ago.

It’s such a convincing argument, isn’t it? But if you look at the wars that have occurred in Israel, it doesn’t actually stand up.

Israel’s ‘army’ in 1948 basically consisted of two rifles left over from the Boer War, and about 10 bullets (I’m exaggerating to make the point, but barely). That war was a resounding success for the Jews ONLY because Hashem did open miracles, and the Arabs ran away.

1967, and the Six Day War, is often touted as the apex of Israel’s military might:

Again, it was God, and God’s miracles, that led to the State of Israel pulling off the Six Day War, and suddenly reclaiming the holiest sites in Judaism – and the secular government here was very unhappy about it, when that happened. They have been trying to figure out how to get rid of the Temple Mount and Hebron ever since.

1973, the Yom Kippur War, actually started off as a total disaster, when the State of Israel came within a whisker of being over-run by our hostile Arab neighbors. Again, God pulled us out of the fire, and did miracle after miracle, including having a lone tank secure the whole Northern front against the Syrian troops.

And since then…. All the IDF has done, really, is get us deeper into the cack, morally and politically.

The IDF is a mirage, it’s an illusion. It’s far more about shaping future generations of Israelis and breaking their allegiance to the Torah than it is about defending the country.

The army doesn’t need chareidim to serve; the army is over-run by too many young people already that the army doesn’t know what to do with. What’s more, new research shows that half the country now wants to move to a professional army, and away from mandatory drafting.

The whole draft issue revolves around one thing, and one thing only: the State of Israel wants our religious young people in the army so they can immerse them in a totally secular, promiscuous culture and pull them away from Torah and God.

And that’s it.

No serious army would mix men and women together the way the IDF is doing.

One of my kids summed it up succinctly, when she told me that parts of the army are pushing for re-segregation, because the men soldiers are spending so much time looking at the lady soldiers butts, they aren’t learning how to fight properly. Anyone with eyes in their head can see this is true. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve driven through a checkpoint into Jerusalem only to be totally ignored by the male and female soldier on guard who are too busy openly flirting to even so much as glance in my direction.

So much, for the much-lauded professionalism of the IDF.

Or try this: do a Google Search for ‘Ofer Erez’, and see what comes up. And then understand that Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran and laughing their heads off at the IDF right now. FACT: women are physically weaker than men. FACT: women have way less testosterone pumping around than men. FACT: women make much more vulnerable soldiers than men, for a number of reasons.

These are biological facts, not opinion. And that’s even without all the flirting and open promiscuity that’s going on, which I’ll write more about in another post.

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Let’s be 100% clear:

I am enormously grateful to the soldiers who put their lives on the line to fight for the Jewish people, and I know how much idealism is still fuelling so many of the young people, secular and religious, who go to the army.

This is not about them and their self-sacrifice, it’s about the morally-corrupt politicians, army bosses and secular mafiosos who are actually running the country, and using the IDF as a perverted social engineering tool.

There is a reason that this issue of the draft is the one that is paralyzing the political process in the State of Israel, and that’s because God wants us all to take a careful look at so many of the assumptions that we keep making, about the place of guns and violence in our society. Which brings me to the next point about what could really lead us to the truth path of peace.

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Over the last few months, I’ve increasingly been coming to the view that violence and guns is never really going to get us to a good place in Israel.

The more I’ve been thinking things through, the more I can see that we are in the unwinnable game here, if we keep relying on bigger bombs and smarter weapons to try to ‘keep the peace’ with our neighbors.

At this point, many of you might interject, and say:

But if the international community would allow Israel to use its military might properly, and if the State of Israel would stop practicing restraint, then all of our problems with the Arabs would be over! We’d re-establish our military deterrence and go back to ruling the roost, in the Middle East!!!

Again, it sounds like a convincing argument on the face of things, and for a long time I didn’t think to challenge it or question it. But recently, I did.

Are we really saying that carpet-bombing Gaza is the answer to all our woes? Are we really saying that killing thousands of Arabs is really a solution to Israel’s problems? What evidence do we have to back up this approach, from the last 70 years?

Because tachlis, every time we suppressed the Arabs with violence, they have just regrouped and come back with something bigger. Long-term, violence is not a solution. Long-term, killing tons of Arabs only breeds more hatred and creates more terrorists.

And I’m not even going to address the lunatics out there who keep advocating for the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Gaza, but who can’t see how contemplating that would put us in the same category as so many of the most evil ideologies that have existed throughout history.

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Does that mean that we Jews should just sit here, and let the terrorists in Gaza fire rockets at us willy-nilly?

Of course not. Life is precious. Every life is so very precious, every person is a whole world.

And so, we have what they call in the Talmud a kooshia, or difficulty, that seems impossible to resolve. Morally, we can’t just sit here and let Jews continue to be slaughtered by rocket attacks. Morally, we can’t just go in and commit wholesale murder in Gaza.

So, what’s the answer?

Those yeshiva boys who are protesting – and the rabbis who are sending them out – might know. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is to put down the guns, and to turn to God in prayer and supplication and teshuva.

I know, that’s challenging isn’t it? On so many levels.

But we have to fight!!! We have to keep defending ourselves!!! We can’t just go like lambs to the slaughter!!!

Agreed, agreed, agreed, a million times over.

But, we have to change the way we are fighting from the Esav-machine gun-Rambo model, to the Yaakov-prayer-teshuva-and Torah model.

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If you look at all the real social upheavals that led to genuinely positive outcomes since World War II, they were all achieved with emuna and non-violent protest. But Israel’s whole secular society is built on violence, and promoting violence and murder as the answer to all of our woes.

If only we could murder all the Palestinians, we’d have nothing else to worry about!

That’s how so many of us have been brainwashed to think. But we have to stop, and we have to ask ourselves honestly: does that sound like a solution that God actually wants? I know, if God Himself decides He wants to wipe out a whole nation of people, that’s something else, and God doesn’t need anyone’s help to do that. We don’t need to get in the middle of God’s calculations.

But we do need to clear all the State’s propaganda out of the way, and really look at the culture of spying, intimidation and violence that has become the State of Israel’s stock-in-trade. And instead of being so proud of it, we have to ask ourselves some hard questions about whether all this violence is moral? And whether it’s ethical? And whether it’s in line with, or anti, the halacha?

We need to pause and examine whether God also believes that forcing yeshiva bochurs to learn how to use machine guns, and encouraging promiscuous behavior between men and women soldiers, and putting obedience to a bunch of secular mafiosos ahead of obedience to God and His Torah is really going to solve the State of Israel’s problems, long-term.

And if we spend some time exploring that question, however uncomfortable it makes us to start challenging the axiomatic ‘truths’ we’ve all been raised with, it’s possible that we’ll start to realise that these ‘truths’ aren’t so true, after all.

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Violence isn’t working to solve the problem, because it’s not addressing the root cause of the State of Israel’s woes, which is that it is anti-Torah, and anti-God. If the State of Israel became a ‘halachic state’ tomorrow, I guarantee our problems with the Arabs would disappear overnight.

If Martin Luther King had encouraged the 20 million blacks in the US to resort to violence instead of peaceful protest, do you think he would have achieved what he did? Do you think Gandhi would have got the British out of India if he’d resorted to terrorist tactics?

If the State of Israel had put God in the picture from its inception, God would have been fighting our battles for us – without tanks, planes and missiles – and all these wars and misery would be far behind us, already.

So, as we head into the next Israeli election, and as the rhetoric about ‘draft-dodging charedim’ heats up again, we need to take a breath and think about what’s really going on here, and what side of the equation we really want to be on.

Do we want to be Gandhi, or the British? Do we want to be Martin Luther King Jr, or the racists who shot him? Do we want to be Yaakov, who solves his problems peacefully with prayer and emuna, or Esav, who ‘solves’ his problems with murder and violence?

That is really the question that is looming ever larger for Israeli society.

And there are no easy answers.

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What is Tisha B’Av really all about?

The last few days, I’ve been in a funny mood – you might have noticed. I’ve been feeling frustrated, angry, even a little bitter, that despite so much effort, I’m going into yet another Tisha B’av with what feels like zero progress on so many fronts.

In fact spiritually, I even feel as though I’ve been going backwards in some ways, recently. I tried to capture a little of that HERE, but I feel I’ve had so much brain fog going on the last weeks I’ve lost touch with my soul again.

Yes, I’ve still been doing an hour a day of talking to God (or trying to…) – sometimes even more. In the old days, I could sit down for a six hour talking to God session, usually on Shabbat when I had the time to spare, and come out of it feeling like something had really moved or ameliorated.

The last few months, even the six hours I’ve been doing don’t give me much of a spiritual ‘bounce’. The best I can say, is that I feel calmer, usually, and sometimes I get a bit more clarity, and a bit more hope and determination to continue.

But underneath all that, there’s this sense of what am I doing all this for? Where am I going? How can I carry on like this, aimlessly drifting because I can’t seem to get anywhere, still?

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On Shabbat, I did another six hours on why I feel like such a spiritual zombie so much of the time, when God threw me a clue:

I have tremendous amounts of despair gushing around still.

It’s not preventing me from getting on with things, day-to-day, and thank God, I’m not a depressed zombie or an angry, ranting cynic (most of the time…) but what I am is totally despairing that things are going to change. On the national level, it just seems to me like the ‘bad’ always wins, the superficial is always preferred, the lie is always more welcome than the truth.

In my own dalet amot, there seems to be so many things I’ve given up on or lost over the last few years, that I can’t seem to figure out how to get back. I know what happened with losing the apartment in Jerusalem, last year, was a massive blow, psychologically. Just as I thought I’d actually got somewhere – we signed, after all!!! – it all turned around for the worst, and left us with the biggest nightmare we’d had to deal with for a very long time.

It’s been a year since we made the agreement with our seller that saw us pay for all of her expenses (and of course ours…) as the ‘punishment’ for being dumb enough to trust her, and for being dumb enough to trust our dumb lawyer was actually doing his job. I think it’s taken a year for what happened to really work its way through my system.

The last 2 days, I realized that I’ve been effectively numbed-out for 18 months.

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Part of me knows it’s good to have had so many things not get anywhere, and to have so much frustration and failure. It keeps me humble. But it’s also keeping me lonely and despairing, because another part of me just doesn’t want to try anymore.

We’re meant to sit on the floor and weep over the destruction. Thank God, me and my family are healthy and we have a roof and food to eat. That’s already so much to be grateful for. But there are still parts of my life that appear to be ‘destroyed’, and that I can’t see any way of fixing.

I’ve pretty much given up on making new friends, for example. So many people have gone crazy the last few years, that I find it easier to keep my distance than too risk getting to close when the inevitable implosion happens. But I miss talking to people. I miss inviting people for Shabbat. I miss being part of something, socially.

And I just don’t see how it’s going to come back. I think I’m just too weird, these days, too out of sync with what passes for ‘normal’.

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Also, my spiritual side seems to be bumping along the bottom.

If not for the Rav and Rebbe Nachman, I really don’t know where I’d be because I am just going through the motions with so much of my yiddishkeit. I try to learn 2 laws of the Shulchan Aruch most days, with my husband. Of course I try to keep Shabbat, Kosher, the laws of Tisha B’Av etc etc – but I’m doing so much of that from a place of ‘default’, and not from a place of enthusiasm.

My kids keep telling me: we can’t pray, because we can’t really feel anything when we do.

I get them. I feel that about almost all the mitzvahs right now. There are so few things I’m doing that I can really feel I’m getting anything back from. My husband says this is good. He tells me this is keeping Torah lishma, for its own sake, and that this makes Hashem very happy.

I’m doing my best to believe him.

And in the meantime, I sit here spinning my wheels, wondering what I’m meant to be doing with my life. More pointless blog posts? More pointless books? More pointless efforts to try to move forward and ‘get somewhere’, even though it feels there is totally no point in even trying?

It’s a struggle of will each morning, to get out of bed and get on with the day, because it all feels so aimless and pointless.

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All this effort, but I’m so far from giving God what He really wants from me.

I’m still struggling with very harsh judgment calls against other people. I’m still lazy. I’m still selfish and self-centred, not really seeing other people in my picture and looking out for number 1.

The Temple isn’t rebuilt still, and I know who’s to blame for that: me.

Hard as I try, I can’t switch my ‘bad’ into good. I can’t be the force for good that God really wants me to be. I can’t resist goading people and provoking them, and seeing their ‘bad’.

So today, I’m going to try and sit on the floor, and spend some time mourning the destruction. I’m going to try to cry a bit, sincerely, for the trainwreck that modern life has become. It’s a place where we spend so much time staring at a screen, it hurts the eyes to look a real person straight in the face. It’s a place where the inner destruction is so total, we can’t feel anything anymore. Where the ability to really speak from the soul has been replaced by Whats App monologues and emojicons.

Today, I’m going to cry a bit, and spend some time engaging with the broken bits of my life.

I’m broken God, I’m clueless. I’m lost and hurting. I’ve given up on things ever really changing.

And I wish things were different.

But it’s totally beyond me to change them.

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In our prayers, we ask God to save us from the ‘Medina of Gehinnom’.

I think I’m starting to figure out what that’s really referring to.

On Sunday, I stuck an overnight bag in the car, unplugged my laptop and drove up to Kadita, a small village made mostly of recycled wood, close to Tsfat.

Kadita is hidden in the middle of the Birya Forest’s pines and hills – and even with a map and directions to guide me, it still took me the best part of an hour to find it. Part of the problem was that what my host was calling a ‘road’ was actually sign-posted as a bike track. After the fourth attempt, I finally found the ‘road’, and pretended my Hyundai i20 was really a jeep.

Sometimes, a car’s gotta do what a car’s gotta do.

And my car had to drive up a steep dirt track that was much better suited to goats than tyres.

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I didn’t really notice how bad the road was, as I was just concentrating intently on following instructions for how to find the place, a small rental shack in the middle of a farm, with no internet and barely any electricity.

Everything was solar powered, which meant the fridge switched off at night, and I was left with the light of two struggling lightbulbs. For the two days I was there, I spent most of the time trying to get my manuscript describing the 16 4 Element personalities into good enough shape so that I could send it off to an editor, for the next stage.

I went to bed early – 9pm – because the light was so bad and it was pitch black outside. I started to get that this is how people used to live, before the advent of electricity and street lighting, and I could see it had some big pros – and also some big cons. Life was certainly simpler and more ‘home’ focused in the past, because really, there wasn’t any other choice.

The roads were treacherous enough to traverse in the daylight, let alone when you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face.

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I woke up early in the morning, around 6am, and went to explore the neighborhood as part of my daily hour long hitbodedut, or ‘talking to God’ session. Which is when I stumbled across the tomb of Rabbi Tarfon, a tanna, who was buried halfway up a hill at an achingly beautiful site where his tomb was partially covered by one of the biggest, wide-trunked trees I’d ever seen in my life – ‘The Tree of Mercy.’

That ‘Tree of Mercy’ had to be at least a 1000 years old, if it was a day.

I had the place to myself, and as I sat there watching the sun come up over the surrounding hill, backlighting the groves of olive trees dotted all around, I sighed a deep sigh. If not for electricity pylons and their bobbing bright orange buoys, this same sight could have been seen for the last 5000 years…

I started poking around Rabbi Tarfon’s tomb, wishing that I knew a little more about him and who he was, when I came to a sign that had been hung against that massive tree. I’m reproducing exactly what the sign said, below:

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The Tree of Mercy

The tree you see before you used to be a sapling. At that time, Jews had hope that one day, Hashem, in His great strength, would place His holy nation within the borders of the Land of Israel. The tree grew tall, and stands strong for the world to see.

At the end of one long and wide branch, the tree grows once more, but in small form. The short growth on the branch reminds us that we ourselves as only a remnant of a mighty nation, the generation that returned.

We should not be satisfied and settle for less than Hashem asks of us.

Hashem will hear us, on the day we call. Call to Hashem, that He grants His mercy to our generation; that through this mercy Israel will be restored to its former state and to its former spiritual status.

May it be that through our love, fear and unshakeable belief in Him, through our Torah study, mitzvahs and good deeds for one another, He will continuously keep us close to Him, so we never wander away again.

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Under this message, which quite took my breath away, was the following:

Rabbi Tarfon says: The day is short and the work is multiplying, and the workers are lazy, and the salary is great, and the Baal HaBayit (owner) is insistent.

He used to say: It’s not for you to finish the job, but you are also not a ‘free agent’ to absolve yourself from doing it.

If you learned a lot of Torah, you will be given a lot of reward. The ‘owner’ of the operation is trustworthy, to pay you for your work. And know! The reward of the tzaddikim is given in the world to come.

Pirkei Avot 2: 15-16

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What can I add to that, that wouldn’t just detract?

I felt like Hashem was talking straight to me, via Rabbi Tarfon. I stood up to go, and noticed a peeling sticker that had been stuck to the backside of the ner tamid, the memorial light set up over Rabbi Tarfon’s marker stone. It said:

I believe with total faith in the coming of the Moshiach. And even though he tarries, despite this, I will continue to wait for him every single day, that he should come.

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My husband asked me to stop here. I’m respecting his wishes.

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The last few days, I’ve been in a funny mood.

I’m working on a book that’s explaining how the ‘animal’ brain that’s in charge of the body’s FIGHT-FLIGHT-FREEZE-FLATTER stress response has managed to hijack most people’s personalities, and it’s not coming easy.

So yesterday, I took my notepad and pens, and went to sit in the kever of Shimon HaTzaddik. I had the whole of the women’s section to myself, and I managed to write a lot about the FLATTER / EARTH dimension.

What’s so wrong with flattering other people? What’s so wrong with ‘making nice’ to people, even if they aren’t so nice and maybe are doing things that are really, really wrong?

That’s what I was trying to explain.

I wrote 10 pages, and came home. But, I was still feeling restless, so next I went off to Kever Rachel, up the road from me, where I sat down and tried to write about FREEZE / WATER. That’s where you isolate yourself, get discouraged and depressed, and totally give up on humanity (and yourself…) because there’s just no point.

I came home, made supper – but was still feeling restless. So in the evening, my husband and I went off to the Kotel, where I sat before the Wall for an hour writing about FLIGHT / AIR, which is where you can’t sit still, you can’t focus, you’re full of worry and anxiety and nervous energy which keeps you constantly ‘doing’ and stops you from really thinking about anything too deeply.

At the end of all that, I realized: the world is in such a big mess.

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Two weeks ago, I happened to trip over a ‘fake dayan’ in the course of researching something else.

Without going into details, he’d clearly forged his dayanut claims, and was a small-town crook pretending to be a ‘dayan’ who’d been invested by the Eida HaChareidit. He lives in chutz l’aretz, in a place where there are very few knowledgeable Jews who are able to catch him out, and he’s an excellent con man.

I’m still mulling over what to do with this information, particularly as he seems to have ‘retired’ from his claims of being a dayan to go and do other things.

Really, far more disturbing to me than the fake dayan himself, who clearly didn’t get enough love from his mum when he was growing up, are all the apparently real rabbis he was associating with. These ‘real’ rabbis must have known he was a total fake, but they apparently kept their mouths shut because it suited the enterprises they were associated with to be able to claim they had a fake dayan on board.

Why? Because having a dayan is a great USP.

These days, there a million people claiming to have smicha, or rabbinic ordination, but being a dayan is still a notable achievement. It still stands out. It still impresses people. And it’s much, much harder to fake, because it takes a minimum of seven years to achieve and actually requires some real knowledge of halacha that is rigorously tested by other very knowledgeable Jews.

That’s part of how I know this fake dayan is so clearly and utterly fake.

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So how did this guy manage to fool so many other ‘real’ rabbis, especially here in Israel?

Simple.

He didn’t. They knew he was totally fake, but they kept their mouths shut because they wanted to encourage more clueless non-Jews to hand money over to their organisations.

As I was researching this, I was wondering how could so many of our ‘real’ rabbis have such bad middot, and no-one else appears to be noticing it? How can they be such vain, money-obsessed phoneys, and yet people are still lining up on Facebook (and elsewhere) to laud them and praise them?

After doing a lot of praying on it, it came to me that LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

For as long as we ourselves are totally obsessed with dollar bills, it’s not going to strike us as ‘strange’ that a ‘rabbi’ spends literally half his shiur just talking about money. For as long as we ourselves are full of hatred and harsh judgments and anger, it’s not going to put us off to hear someone dissing a whole generation of young Jews, or upset us when ‘secular people’ get written off as being totally evil and beyond repair.

In fact, quite the opposite. We’ll actually be thrilled to hear all this stuff, and we’ll heartily approve of this hashkafa, because it’s just confirming our own bad middot and our own warped outlook on life.

LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

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Right now, there is an earthquake brewing under Manhattan and under the Knesset.

Without going into details, I think that a scandal is about to break that is going to turn the Jewish name into mud all over the world.

It’s up to God how much attention it will get, and how much damage it will actually do, but it could mark a turning point, because as long as the Jews and the Jewish State can claim the moral high ground, the good people of the world will be on their side and supporting them against the anti-Semites.

But what happens when a bunch of very prominent Jews are publically exposed as doing a lot of very ‘wrong’ things? Things that are so sickening and so morally perverted that any right thinking person will be totally disgusted?

What then?

It’s an interesting question.

How many Harveys and Jefferys and Bernies can non-Jewish society take, before it starts to dawn on them that Houston, we have a problem?

God is about to shine a massive spotlight down onto Jewish communities all over the world. We are heading into that next part of the birur, or clarification, process when more and more people will be singled out and asked:

Why didn’t you protest what was going on? How were you happy to keep on justifying such awful behavior, such monstrous people? How could you continue to hang out with these people, without noticing that something was terribly wrong? And to even praise them to others?

And the answer will be:

LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

We didn’t notice the problem by them, because we had it ourselves, in some way.

But soon, God’s going to start exposing all these ‘hidden’ issues in the Jewish community in the most distressing way.

And then, there will be no more pretending.

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The facts on the ground, about converts and corruption in Latin America.

The last few days, I’ve been up to my eyeballs investigating a whole bunch of things related to what’s going on with corruption and converts in Latin America, and here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • The straight up halacha of performing an orthodox Jewish conversion appears to be much more simple than I realized.

According to this article, by Rabbi and Dayan Yirmiyaho Kaganoff, all you need is three orthodox Jews – not necessarily even Rabbis! – and a commitment from the would-be convert to do their utmost to keep the Torah, and abide by its commandments for the conversion to be valid.

“The basic requirement for becoming a Jew is accepting Hashem’s commandments, since a Jew is, by definition, someone who has a covenant with G-d to observe the Torah.”

“As mentioned before, conversion is an act that requires a proper beis din, meaning minimally, three fully-observant male Jews.”

  • There is a difference between an ‘halachically correct’ conversion, and a conversion that is recognized by the local orthodox community and / or the State of Israel Rabbinate.

Long story short, the whole situation with the anousim and with conversions generally, has become horribly politicized, and there seems to be a lot of vested interests who don’t want to see hordes of newly-orthodox Sephardic Jews in their communities and / or moving to Israel; and who especially don’t want to see millions of orthodox Sephardim suddenly upsetting the political balance and challenging Ashkenazi dominance in the worldwide Jewish community.

  • Latin America countries have had a takana, or agreement in place since the 1935 which was first introduced by the expat Syrian community in Argentina, that they won’t accept any new converts.

I had never heard of this before, so I did some digging and this is what I found:

“[T]he 1935 Takana… forbids marriage to those who convert for the purpose of marriage… [with] subsequent reaffirmations issued by Rabbi Jacob S. Kassin, the Brooklyn, NY Syrian Jewish community’s Chief Rabbi, and the Rabbinical Council of the Syrian community.

“Such marriages were not to be recognized by the community. Children of such marriages could not attend community yeshivot. Further, rites of passage such as bar mitzvahs, weddings and the right to be buried in the community’s cemetery were denied, as well as synagogue honors.”

It’s important to note that this Takana was first introduced to discourage insincere converts who only wanted to marry a Jew. But now, it’s been wholesale applied to the Bnei Anousim in Latin America who have Jewish roots, and want to return to their faith.

And ironically, the only people who can get around this Takana today tend to be the wealthy, connected Jews who dafka are trying to get someone converted just so they can marry them.

  • This Takana is making it very hard for potential converts to meet the requirement set out by the Israeli Rabbinate, that they have to have spent at least 9 months living in an active, orthodox Jewish.

Their local communities are totally shunning them, so even though their conversion may be halachically valid, they can’t meet the requirements to have their conversion recognized by State of Israel.

  • The current position with the State of Israel’s Rabbinate is that they will not accept any orthodox conversion done in Latin America.

The convert will either have to move for a year to the US and convert there, or try to move to Israel for a year and convert here. If you don’t have money and connections, clearly neither of these routes are really so viable. (As a side note, there has been so much corruption going on with selling conversions that in some ways, this is a sensible approach to take, as far as it goes. But not enough is being done to help sincere converts find other ways to meet the criteria.)

  • People with money in Latin America are often finding ways to convert ‘orthodox’ – by hook or by crook – in any case.

People without money – even if they are totally sincere and have been living as orthodox Jews for a few years already without formal recognition of their conversion – are basically stuffed.

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Of course, this is totally the olam hafuch, or the upside-down world!

Moshiach is meant to be overseeing the ingathering of exiles and a lot of them can’t get on the plane because all the politics and conversion corruption in Latin America (and elsewhere…) is preventing them from being recognized as Jews, and they don’t have the money required to beat the system.

This is what one of my readers sent me, when she got in touch with one of her local Orthodox Rabbis to discuss the problem:

Screenshot of a text message from a rabbi talking about conversions

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I also learnt that there is a difference between Bnei Anousim and Bnei Conversos.

Bnei Anousim are secret Jews who kept many of their Jewish customs, albeit it secretly, often without knowing why, and who were usually very strict about marrying into each other’s families.

These people are considered to be Jewish (if they can prove their traditions and geneology), but will often have to undergo an immersion in a mikva without saying a bracha.

Meanwhile, the Bnei Conversos are people who started off as Jews, but who converted to Catholicism and totally assimilated into the non-Jewish society. The descendants of these people are considered non-Jews, and will have to undergo a full conversion.

There is a lot more to be said about the subject of converts and corruption in Latin America. The more I’ve been researching, the more unbelievable corruption at every level I’ve been uncovering. It’s been very disappointing, to be honest.

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The last thing to tell you is a story I heard about someone who converted through a Beit Din that’s known as one of the strictest in Chutz L’Aretz.

For four years, this person learnt halacha, went to shul, did everything they were told. (They had a Jewish boyfriend who was very keen that they convert properly before they got married, but who really doesn’t believe in the Torah.)

The man had been raised in an orthodox family, so he and his wife-to-be played their part beautifully for the four years required by the conversion process.

Very soon after the wedding, the wife returned to her roots, and can now be found back in church on an Easter Sunday.

You tell me: Is this woman really Jewish? Are her kids really Jewish?

But this is the woman with orthodox papers from the ‘strictest’ Beit Din in the world, for converts.

It’s the olam hafuch. And until Moshiach shows up to ‘sniff out’ who is really Jewish and who isn’t, it’s probably going to continue. And when that birur process starts in earnest, I think there are going to be a lot of very surprising things coming to light, in a whole bunch of different ways.

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