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.

Well, it’s kind of hard to keep up with developments in some ways, isn’t it?

Every day, there’s fresh madness, fresh examples of something going on here that really just smells so very fishy. Take a look at this latest headline from Ha’aretz:

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In a sane world, this would lead to an immediate halt to any more OTT laws intensifying lockdown. And let’s remember, that 126 Israelis, on average, die each year just from flu, and that we are still no-where near that amount passing away from COVID-19.

(In the US, 40,000 die from flu every year, and in Italy, it’s 17,000. Keep remembering these numbers, to keep things in proper perspective and bring down your heart rate. The way things are going, way more people are going to die from stress and depression, than from COVID-19, God forbid.)

Instead, yesterday the Israeli government decided to totally ‘lock down’ the whole of Bnei Brak, and drafted in two battalions of the IDF to prevent citizens from entering or exiting.

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In other words, the State of Israel is now the proud owner of its very own Jewish ghetto.

From what I can tell, there are plans to also lockdown Elad, Modiin Illit, Beitar Illit, Meah Shearim, and Bet Shemesh too, which also have a high proportion of ‘uncontrollable’ chareidim.

If we look at this with secular eyes, it seems to clearly be part of the Israeli government’s ongoing war against chareidi society. I, for one, am confused as to how government spokespeople can come out so confidently to claim that ‘at least 38,000 people are infected with COVID-19’ in Bnei Brak, when only 8,000 tests for COVID-19 were conducted across the whole of the country over the last week.

We all know that saying: lies, damn lies and statistics.

But the statistics all over the world are helpfully suggesting that frum communities have the greatest incidence of COVID-19 – and at least in chul¸ no-one can argue that enormous numbers of chareidi rabbis are dropping dead in this pandemic.

Why do you think this is happening?

Let’s switch our glasses into spiritual mode, and peek at all this stuff through the eyes of emuna, and emunat tzaddikim.

SO many Israeli rabbis and kabbalists have come out in recent weeks to make it very clear that the COVID-19 pandemic is directly linked, spiritually, to the slander, persecution and imprisonment of Rabbi Eliezer Berland.

Rabbi Menashe Amon said THIS.

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Rabbi Amos Gweta said THIS.

Rabbi Ofer Erez said THIS.

Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto said THIS, THIS and now THIS – each time, the message gets more and more explicit, the clues more and more obvious.

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On the Israeli street, Rabbi Daniel Freinter of Elad said THIS (in Hebrew).

And Rabbi Raziel Elul of Bat Yam said THIS (also in Hebrew).

In the meantime Rav Chaim Kanievsky also explained that COVID-19 is directly linked to the sin of lashon hara¸ and a severe problem with the mitzvoth bein adam l’havero.

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So now, let’s see what’s happening on the ground:

In Israel, the main centres of ‘anti-Rav Berland and / or anti-Breslov’ activity in the chareidi world are the cities being targeted by the State for the full ‘ghetto’ treatment.

Hmm.

Do you think that’s a coincidence?

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Now, let’s take a look at where COVID-19 is hitting hardest in the rest of the world.

Surprise, surprise, we see that the hotspots seem to be the frum neighborhoods which were either the centres of all the lashon hara and slander against Rabbi Berland (hereby defined as ‘Yeshiva World News Country’); and / or those kehillahs who seem to be strongly opposed, on idealogical grounds, to the idea of making aliya to Israel.

Making aliya is closely connected to people actually taking the whole concept of geula seriously.

I know SO MANY people who moved to Israel, at great personal cost, and with tremendous mesirut nefesh, or self-sacrifice, simply because they felt geula was approaching, and that God wanted the Jews back in the Holy Land.

So many of Israel’s biggest rabbis – again, including Rabbi Eliezer Berland – have been begging Jews in the diaspora to move to Israel for a number of years, and warning of a massive uptick in anti-semitism. Remember this, from the ravberland.com website, originally posted up on July 9, 2019?

Translated from a shiur given by Rabbi Eliezer Berland, the night of Rosh Chodesh Tammuz 5779

It’s forbidden to leave and go to chutz l’aretz (outside of Israel) for even a single second.

Every second that a person is in chul, he is transgressing an issur d’oraita (something forbidden directly from the Torah.)

And you will not return by the path that you came from, not to return to look at Mitzrayim (Egypt). Everything is called ‘Mitzrayim’! And it’s an issur d’oraita, every second that is spent in chul.

NO PRAYER IS ACCEPTED [THERE], NO TORAH ASCENDS THERE.

A person prays – they don’t hear him. And so, this is why there was a shoah, because people lost their yearning to make aliya to Eretz Yisrael.

Up until the point where they still had this yearning, their prayers still ascended.

But the day when they said, “it’s good for me here, it’s actually amazing for me, here,” – as it’s written in the Gemara, Tractate Shabbat 147b, about the 10 Tribes. [The 10 Tribes] received places that were better than Eretz Yisrael, so they didn’t want to return.

Yirmiyahu went to bring them back, but they received such wonderful, good locations [to live in] that they said, we’re aren’t coming back. If they don’t return, there is no olam haba (world to come).

They lost everything.

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But who’s been listening?

Instead of respecting these holy rabbis, which include the former head of the Lamed Vavnikim, Rav Yehuda Zev Leibowitz, z’tl, who said way back in 2010 that before Moshiach came there would be a catastrophe for the Jews in America.

And instead of taking people like Rabbi Shalom Arush seriously, when in 2008 he warned that:”Those who don’t come to Israel while they still can may be lucky to escape from the USA with a plastic bag  and a pair of pajamas”,  instead, the message was ignored and mocked, and the messengers were roundly attacked.

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Last year, someone put out a book called The Empty Wagon, which was one of the most disturbing anti-aliyah treatises I ever read in my life.

I only got half-way through the book before I literally had to throw it away, there was so much spiritual tumah radiating off it, it was making me feel physically ill.

I bought that book in a very frum bookshop in Golders Green, the heart of frum life in London. Apparently, it was so popular that the initial printing of 1,000 copies quickly sold out, leading to more reprints and to this book becoming a run-away bestseller.

The author of this reeking pile of lashon hara and slander against Eretz Yisrael even went so far as to state publically that Jerusalem is not the capital of the Jewish people, and also poured scorn on the idea that anyone should move to Israel.

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This comes from THIS interview, with Makor Rishon:

“[W]hen they were talking about moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, we uploaded a clip of Rabbi [NAME – author of The Empty Wagon] (spokesman for Naturna) who spoke about it.” In the clip, [Rabbi NAME] can be seen watching the American President Donald Trump declaring Jerusalem as the “capital of the Jewish People.”

[Rabbi NAME] explains that “There is no political connection between Israel and Jerusalem. It’s just a holy city,” he declared, “The Jewish People have no capital, we never had a capital. The Jewish People are a religious community. We pray towards Jerusalem and treat it as a holy city, not as the political capital of the Jewish People.”

The clip has close to two million views on Facebook alone. Their page has 300,000 followers from around the world. Katz: “When [Rabbi NAME] is asked about politics in Israel, he asks: ‘Why don’t you ask me about politics in China or Taiwan? If I answer, that means I’m connected to them, and the truth is that I am not.”

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Well guess what?

Now so many of these anti-Israel, anti-aliya kehillas are totally connected to China, in a way that no-one could ever have foreseen, even just a short month ago.

Do you think that’s a coincidence?

Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been discovering a great many things. One of the things I discovered is just how invested so many chareidi Jews actually are in property in chutz l’aretz.

Of course, I know that all sorts of Jews are doing this, not just frum ones, but frum Jews are meant to be the standard-bearers for yiddishkeit, and are meant to be more sensitive to putting emuna and Torah ahead of crass materialism.

So, when I start reading up about chareidi property barons in places like London and New York, who mamash have reputations for being the most shark-like, mafia-like nightmare slum landlords, that disturbs me terribly.

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Of course, people have to be able to make parnassa. After my own experience of going bust and losing my house when my husband was encouraged to quit his job to learn and pray full-time, I am a BIG believer in the man of the house holding down a job, as well as learning Torah.

But there’s a reason that the first question we’re asked when we pass away and approach the gates of Heaven is:

Nasata v’natata b’emunah? Did you deal honestly, with emunah, in your business?” (Tractate Shabbat 31a)

There is no way that slum landlords, millionaire bankruptcies, benefit fraudsters or money launderers can answer that question with a ‘yes’, no matter how much money they might be giving to charity.

You can’t build a mitzvah off the back of an aveira.

And also, if so many people are making their parnassa by mamash investing in bricks and mortar in chul, then it’s little wonder they are so resistant to moving to Israel. It’s very hard to transplant that sort of parnassa to a different country, to Israel.

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So, let’s recap, and then get on to what simple people like you and me can really do, to insulate ourselves from as many of these birth pangs of Moshiach coming, as possible.

RECAP:

  • The numbers of leading rabbis and kabbalists linking the slander, persecution and imprisonment of Rabbi Berland with the spread of COVID-19 is growing all the time.
  • If we want COVID-19 to stop (and more specifically, the awful hysteria around it, which is really what’s destroying the world and the economy) – we need to make teshuva about what lashon hara we might have said, or believed, or spread about Rabbi Berland, and also about Eretz Yisrael, especially if we put other people off from making aliya.
  • The communities and cities being most affected by COVID-19 are those who:
    • Have been spearheading the lashon hara against Rabbi Berland in the frum community;
    • Have been spearheading the lashon hara against Eretz Yisrael, in the frum world
  • (And I’ll add another category here, that Jewish property developers / slumlords in chul also seem to be highly represented amongst the ranks of those succumbing to COVID-19. See this, for a case in point, it’s the owner of ‘Crown Acquisitions’:

https://www.jpost.com/Diaspora/Trumps-friend-in-coma-from-coronavirus-is-a-Jewish-real-estate-mogul-623278

UPDATE:

Having done a bit more digging, it seems that physicians and politicians are also very highly represented amongst the ranks of people actually dying from Coronavirus. So, to get all our ducks in a row, your chances of having a serious problem with COVID-19, health-wise, seem to be much greater if you are:

  • An orthodox rabbi living in chul, and particularly one who is ‘anti’ Rav Berland or anti making aliya.
  • A property developer
  • A doctor
  • A politician or political figure – especially if you also happen to live in Iran.

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So now, how can we get through the next few weeks and months in as good a state as possible?

The answer lies in prayer, tzedaka and teshuva.

TESHUVA

On top of the specific teshuva required vis Rabbi Berland and Eretz Yisrael, all of us have so much work to do on our mitzvoth bein adam l’havero generally, too.

That means we have to stop speaking lashon hara about friends, acquaintances and family members; and that we have to stop acting so ‘holier-than-thou’, as though we ourselves have nothing left to work on and fix, (this especially applies to parents, and especially to parents of teens).

And we also to make an effort to stop stabbing other people in the back, and pulling them down, and embarrassing them, with all our little  put downs on social media and online, as well as the more ‘traditional’ verbal attacks.

Rav Pinto spoke in a very harif way on how each time we start degrading other Jews and speaking lashon hara and stirring up trouble and causing others pain, we are just feeding the bad angel that’s called COVID-19.

We all have that tendency to engage in one upmanship and verbal sparring. I unfortunately have that tendency in a very strong way, and I’m also really trying to get on top of it more, and to restrict what I say and write as much as possible.

(I’m still failing badly at it, but hey, God appreciates the effort.)

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TZEDAKA

Pesach is round the corner, and there are so many families in Israel, and probably also in your communities too, who are really going to struggle to even have the staples this year. So, if you are still one of the lucky ones who still has a job, or some income coming in, then please think about other people, and share your cash around as much as you can.

If we really are heading into a situation where the global economy is going to be totally wrecked, and money will end up being worthless (assuming you can even get access to your savings, before the banks all go bust), then now is the time to spend some of it helping others.

The kimcha de-pischa you do this year could literally save your life, and it will certainly give you a share in the world to come, whatever else happens. So dig deep, and get your spending priorities straight this year, by putting kimcha de-pischa in the #1 spot, however you can do it.

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PRAYER

Weeks ago, Rabbi Berland asked us all to start saying 7 Tikkun HaKlalis a day, until Pesach.

The Tikkun HaKlali has a miraculous power to fix things at their spiritual root, and to atone for sins that otherwise would require a huge amount of suffering or pain to pay down.

There are literally hundreds of stories of how reciting Tikkun HaKlali at a time of trouble lead to great miracles.

Last Friday, Rabbi Berland upped the amount for people to say to 12 a day.

Honestly?

That’s a lot for me to do. So I’ve been sharing them with my husband, and on some days, my kids are also saying a couple of them.

(Let’s give the credit where’s it’s really due, here: my husband is the one who is really making this happen, he often does 7-10 a day, and then I just kind of fill in what’s missing. Thanks, looove!)

And I am 100% sure that saying Tikkun HaKlali is keeping my family ‘insulated’ from most of the difficulties going on right now.

BH, when we’re home away from the Stasi, it’s actually pretty nice, most of the time, and we’re getting on fine with each other, which by itself is an open miracle.

You can’t have teens and parents together in the same space for approaching a month with no blood on the floor, at least metaphorically, without open miracles mamash.

And other people are finding that, too.

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I received the following from a reader, A, who will stay anonymous for obvious reasons.

We’ll end with this, but let me just emphasise that OF COURSE, we should all be keeping the diktats of Bibi 100% – even the really dumb, scientifically-unproven ones about covering our faces with scarves whenever we go out, and keeping the windows in our cars open – and ESPECIALLY the ones that prevent us from keeping mitzvoth.

That’s really, really important, if we want to stay safe during this whole COVID-19 pandemic, that’s killed 37 people, nearly all over 70, in the space of almost a month here in Israel.

Over to A…..

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Chapter One.

A lady was renting a room in our house, and we made breakfast together. Time was short, but we needed to say 7 tikkun klali’s since that is what the Rav said. So, we got the idea that she would read it line by line in English, since Hebrew was hard, and we would repeat after her. She read the whole thing seven times, giving me a chance to wash lettuce and cut cucumbers, garlic and tomatoes, warm the bread, and lift weights.

We kept on blessing her to have her own home with her own husband. She is very squished in the small room we gave her with all her clothes, books, and other stuff, on top of the things our children left in the room after they married and moved out.

After three days we had almost learned the verses in English by heart, and then that lady started having long telephone conversations with a man she really likes.

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Chapter Two.

The Rav asked for 12 tikun klali’s instead of 7 and my friend was too busy to help. So, for the next three days my routine changed: Woke up at 5:30, prayed, made aduki beans for my husband and oatmeal for my son, and started the tikkun in Hebrew. Each time took 13 minutes, so with periodic gasping for air it was done by 12:00.

And then the miracles became noticeable. Something we had prayed for with weeping twenty years ago showed up at our door.

Let me explain. We had no minyan anywhere near that farmhouse, and even if we did, there was no sefer torah even to borrow. We wished like crazy for a minyan. Any minyan. Which of course we got later in Israel, but not the kind we originally prayed for, which had become just plain irrelevant.

But the wheel goes around, and things again become relevant.

Before the Coronavirus happened the main minyan in our small town started at 7:30. When the police got a bad case of nerves because of the damn panic—umm, the pandemic—they locked up the shuls and people started praying with the minyan outside. After a while the cops closed the yard and told them to pray at home alone.

But they didn’t, because the minyan people showed up on our front porch at 6:00.

After the minyan, later that day, a panicked citizen came to my door, a scarf wrapped around his nose and mouth, and started talking to me in Hebrew, which was hard to understand with the scarf muffling the words. At last he opened the scarf and blurted out that we had to stop the minyan, because the police would give us a 10,000-shekel fine if we kept it up, and besides we were all going to die.

And we thought that was the end.

But early next morning, the minyan showed up on our porch and my husband was standing on the other side of the screen door in his tallit, answering my puzzled look by explaining he couldn’t get them to leave.

Later the guys promised to pay the fine, if we ever got one.

They even lent us a sefer torah. You want to see it? It’s standing in the storage shed with its corona-crown and crowning the top of our extra Pesach refrigerator.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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You might also like this article:

For the last few years, I’ve kind of being playing softball with a lot of the bloggers, ‘rabbis’ and commentators out there.

But after I read the latest message from Rabbi Aharon Stern, son of the famous kabbalist Rabbi Dovid Chaim Stern, and a mekubal in his own right, I realise that it’s time to take the gloves off, here on the blog.

First, please go and read what he has to say, in full, for yourself here:

If you’re short on time, here’s the takeaway points:

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“Chazal tell us that there are things that the judgment is ‘signed’ because of them. When they came and took Rav Berland, and put him in jail – this was the cry that ascended to the Heavens.

All of this big commotion is happening because this Tzaddik (Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlita) is languishing in prison – in ‘bidud’ (isolation).

Hashem is angry….

Rav Berland is stuck in prison, and Am Yisrael is stuck with this Coronavirus.

We need to go out, and to cry out, until they free Rabbi Berland from the prison. If you have any brains in your head, if anyone wants to really save this [Jewish] people….

Perhaps, it was decreed that the Coronavirus was meant to be in the rest of the world, but in Eretz Yisrael, there was not supposed to be any Coronavirus.

EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING ONLY BECAUSE RABBI BERLAND IS LANGUISHING IN PRISON.”

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Rav Stern continued:

“We need to cry out to Hashem, and then maybe he will take away from us this terrible gezeira. But we also need to act! We need action!

If we don’t get Rabbi Berland out of prison, then Am Yisrael will be in a huge problem! Chas v’shalom, this can continue to worsen and spread.

I didn’t want to open my mouth, but this thing depends on us. We can save Am Yisrael, RIGHT NOW.

Even though these words may sound strange, you should know that I am telling you the truth.”

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Yesterday, I tried to go and pray at the Kotel, for day 23 of my 40 day prayer-a-thon.

I was stopped at the entrance to the plaza by a female guard – who herself was totally disregarding any rules about ‘social distancing’, and doing the usual flirting with the male guards thing until I showed up – which is when she told me to halt in my tracks (Achtung!!!!!)

Where are you from? She asked me aggressively.

I told her Abu Tor.

She repeated that literally four times, until I felt I should reassure her I was a Jew coming to pray at the Kotel, and not an Arab, because maybe that was the problem. Halavai. The real problem was that I was a Jew coming to pray at the Kotel.

A female Border Policewoman then looked over the top of the wall at me, (Raus!!) and started making veiled threats about Abu Tor being more than 100 metres away from the Kotel, and that I was running the risk of getting a 5oo nis fine for walking more than 100 metres from my house.

What happens if the grocery store is more than 100 metres away from my house? I wanted to know.

It’s ok to go out to get things like food, things that you need, she told me.

What if I need to pray? I wanted to know. Because believe me, I really needed to pray at the Kotel yesterday…

You can pray at home, she told me dismissively.

I so wanted to punch her in the face.

Thankfully, I’ve had a lot of practise now at squashing my more unhelpful Moroccan tendencies, so I spat out a ‘todah’ that was as sarcastic as I could make it, and turned around.

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As soon as I was out of sight of the Wailing Wall’s Wehrmacht, I burst into tears.

Come on, Hashem, I can’t believe this! I’m being barred from praying at the Kotel by ‘Jews’!!! How much longer are You just going to let all the evil rule the world, and to continue to crush everyone’s soul into the floor, Hashem?!

To say I was gutted is a total understatement.

They’ve shut down all the shuls, all the yeshivas, all the kollels, all the men’s mikvas.

In the chareidi world, there are THANK GOD still large pockets of resistance, and a great many people who really do believe in Hashem, and have the emuna that keeping mitzvot is important regardless of what heretics think about Coronavirus.

More and more of those people are starting to wake up and to protest the terrible evil that’s going on here, and they aren’t just taking all these anti-Torah, anti-Semitic decrees mildly, like lambs to the slaughter. (Where have I heard that phrase somewhere before?)

But in the so-called modern orthodox world, the ‘dati leumi’ world, even the anglo-Chareidi world? The picture is very different.

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Yesterday, I was talking to a friend who would self define as ‘dati leumi’, and she was telling me how she’s very scared the government is about to close down the women’s mikvahs. The conversation then lead on to how little protest against all these anti-semitic, anti-Torah decrees is coming out from the dati leumi camp in Israel – who are still more obsessed with politics than with Hashem and His Torah – and I ended up blurting this out:

All this Coronavirus stuff is really showing me who has real emuna and yirat shemayim and who doesn’t, and I have to tell you I’m seeing very little emuna and fear of Heaven in the dati leumi camp.

There. The elephant in the room had finally been mentioned.

And now it’s been publically identified, let it rampage around for the next few paragraphs.

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For years and years, I’ve been writing about what a huge Tzaddik Rabbi Berland is.

I wrote two meticulously researched books that set out first his history, background and Torah pedigree – based on thousands of hours of taped interviews with some of the world’s biggest Tzaddikim – and then the whole, corrupt ‘trial’ that saw him go to prison in 2017 for crimes he never committed.

Let’s be generous and say that back then, so few people had heard of him before the media in Israel started slandering his name and muddying the waters with outright lies and fake videos, it’s understandable that they could have been fooled into thinking the worst.

But that wasn’t the real problem.

The real problem is that so many people out there – even people who consider themselves to be fine, upstanding religious Jews – are actually up to their necks in lashon hara, slander, arrogance, heretical thinking and Facebook.

So when all those juicy Rabbi Berland lies came along, they swallowed it down so very easily, because it came from the same sewer-source they were already happily swimming in 24/7.

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Fast forward three years, and back in October 2019, it all started happening all over again.

More obviously fake stories by Channel 13,  more obviously politicised smear pieces and hatchet jobs carefully placed throughout the Israeli media, including on pretend-chareidi sites.

Hashem geared it all up again, to give Am Yisrael a second bite at the teshuva cherry, and to show them just how easily they’d been fooled by the same tactics the first time around, so they could understand how they – and so many people together with them – were duped.

Thankfully, many people had their eyes open this time around, so the fake news had far less impact on far fewer people than the forces of evil hoped. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that so many of us are still so emuna-deficient, and still so emunat-tzaddikim compromised, that the fact that the Tzaddik HaDor was sent back to prison on obviously falsified charges didn’t move us at all.

And so, Hashem decided to send a very big test along, that was really going to show us just how much emuna we really have, and just how much yirat shemayim we really have, and just how much true connection to kedusha and real tzaddikim we really have, and He called that test Coronavirus.

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The last couple of weeks, I have watched alternatively amazed and horrified at the ZERO emuna so many of our so-called rabbis and religious leaders have displayed, particularly in the dati leumi / modern orthodox camp, and particularly in the anglo so-called chareidi camp, especially out of Israel.

As these people have rushed to excuse and justify the closing of talmud Torahs, shuls, mikvahs and now even holy sites like the Kotel and the Tomb of the Patriarchs; and have rushed to pass new ‘rulings’ that make traif kosher – anything to go along with the evil people running the country, and to keep their own status and salaries – they have made it blindingly obvious that their path is not one of real Torah or yirat shemayim.

Really, it’s OK to do ‘Zoom’ at the seder?

Really, it’s OK to hold a ‘minyan’ via smartphone?

Really, it’s OK to tell people to stop going to mikvahs?

REALLY?

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Over the last few weeks and months, so many leading kabbalists and rabbis in the chareidi world have come out with strong statements linking the spread of Coronavirus specifically with the defamation and disgrace of Rabbi Eliezer Berland, as well as with talking lashon hara and spreading slander, more generally.

Most of the apparently ‘orthodox’ bloggers and commentators and news sites out there have totally ignored these statements, at best, and some have even openly mocked the rabbonim who made them.

When I wrote the Geula P*rn post yesterday, I had these people and sites in mind.

But after reading Rav Stern’s latest statement, and having been turned away from praying at the Kotel yesterday, I feel that veiled statements and shadow-boxing with bad is no longer enough.

So, let’s lay it on the line.

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What I’ve learned from all this Coronavirus saga, so far, is that the main reason why rabbis, bloggers, writers, papers, commentators haven’t been coming to defend Rabbi Berland is because they actually don’t give a monkeys about God or His Torah, either.

That is now as clear as day.

How can they close the Kotel, and you aren’t protesting? How can they stop synagogues from operating, and you stand there applauding this action on the grounds of health and safety?

These people are totally disconnected from their own souls, and from truth, and from Torah.

And that’s the reason why they are also disconnected from our real Tzaddikim, and ignoring and disparaging huge kabbalists and Tzaddikim, and slandering or ‘pointedly ignoring’ Rabbi Berland.

So really, I have to say thank you, Coronavirus, for finally ripping the masks off so many faces, and showing us all what we’re really dealing with.

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Four years ago, I wrote a whole bunch of stuff bringing quotes from people like the Milkman, and Rabbi Dovid Chaim Stern, which basically made it clear that Rav Berland is the last test before Moshiach comes, and geula arrives unmistakeably.

So many people failed that test last time around.

But God is giving us all one more chance to be on the right side of the spiritual equation, when the curtain finally comes down.

If you care more about your own social standing, your status, the State of Israel, or petty partisan politics which means you will only broadcast messages from people in your own camp who wear the sort of kippa you approve of, you are probably going to fail the current test involving Rabbi Berland really badly.

You aren’t going to risk writing a blog post pointing out the link between Coronavirus and Rabbi Berland being in jail on false charges.

You aren’t going to protest that synagogues and holy sites and Jewish life is being totally shut down in the Jewish state on the flimsiest of pretexts.

You aren’t going to admit that so many of the leaders and ideas in the dati leumi and anglicised chareidi world are spiritually ‘off’, and disconnected from real Torah and true emuna.

You aren’t going to accept that YOU are playing a huge part in the ongoing spread of the Coronavirus, and the ongoing suffering it’s causing to literally billions of people around the world, because you are choosing to shut your eyes to our true Tzaddikim, and closing your ears to our real rabbis, to continue empowering charlatans who like to churn out more Geula P*rn and mislead the masses about the real reasons things are happening in the world.

And the REAL teshuva we all need to make, to get things to turn around.

If that’s you, I really don’t envy you.

====

But if you want to be in the other camp – the camp that really does care about Hashem, and about Torah, and about mitzvot, and is really trying to make teshuva and to have some real emuna and connection to our real rabbis, it’s so easy to put yourself into it.

Just take a stand, publically, for the Rav, and either share something, or write something, or record something, telling your family and friends that the Coronavirus pandemic is only going to stop when Rav Berland gets out of jail.

Screw up your courage, and have some real emuna and real emunat tzaddikim.

I know it’s scary, but once you try it you’ll feel so liberated from the rule of tyranny that’s clamped down on us all in such a suffocating fashion the last two weeks.

All you have to do is say this:

When Rav Berland is released from prison, the Coronavirus epidemic will end, and Am Yisrael will be saved.

Right now, it’s so very easy to put yourself on the side of good and right.

And also, so very hard.

====

UPDATE:

In the UK, I just found out that 4.5% of the fatalities from Coronavirus are Jews, while Jews make up just 0.3% of the overall population. To put this another way, there are 10 times more deaths occurring from Coronavirus in the UK Jewish community, than in the non-Jewish community.

This is NOT because Jews like to mingle and hug each other. It’s because God is sending this Coronavirus specifically for Jews in the UK to make teshuva. Remember this?

Meanwhile, someone sent me a text message that said this:

TEHILLIM NEEDED:

Brooklyn Rosh Yeshiva Critical

5 Town Rov Critical

Petira of Derech Chaim Rosh Yeshiva, Lakewood

Boro Park Corona victim, HaRav….

Son of [NAME] Rebbe, Corona victim

Posek of Paris, Dayan, Moreh Tzedek… succumbs to Coronavirus

Principal of Beis Chana in Paris passes away

[Name] Rebbe of London niftar

First fatality in Montreal is chassidic Jew

ZAKA France: “A large percentage of victims are from the frum kehilla”

“What’s the chances, statistically, of all these frum rabbis dying in chul?”

====

Also, let’s throw into the mix that so many of the communities in the US being quoted in the press as being at the heart of this epidemic are Young Israel, aka modern orthodox. And so many more of the communities coming into sharp focus because of the pandemic are also often very vocally ‘anti’ Breslov.

Do you believe in coincidences?

Because I don’t.

God is trying to get our attention, and cancelling our mitzvot observance to kowtow to secular diktats about what’s really causing this pandemic is not going to solve the problem. It’s only going to make it worse.

====

UPDATE #2:

I’ve been having an email exchange with someone who keeps telling me that all these people who are passing away are ‘tzaddikim’. Maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t. But what I can definitely say is that just the mere fact of passing away from COVID-19 doesn’t make someone a ‘tzaddik’ – and that word is being applied way too liberally these days.

There is a real tzaddik who is currently still sitting in prison. I know he’s a tzaddik, because lots of other bona fide tzaddikim tell me that he’s a tzaddik, and they even hint that he’s the Tzaddik HaDor, and that he’s even the head of the Lamed Vavnikim, and that he’s even the most holy and kadosh person who is currently alive in the world.

So, because of what these holy rabbis are saying, I believe that Rabbi Eliezer Berland really IS a tzaddik, and that all this suffering is going on because we aren’t recognising who he really is, and also because we’ve been slandering him and believing and even sharing all the horrible lies about him.

But when I read headlines like this:

44 Rabbis in Diaspora have passed away from Coronavirus

And, when I read headlines like this:

Anti-Semitism on the rise, Jews blamed for coronavirus

And then, when I go and start researching, and I quickly discover that so many things are going on behind closed doors involving money laundering, benefit fraud, “slum landlords”, dodgy property deals, and illegal and immoral business practices – and a million other bits of information that suggest that greed, bad middot and hypocrisy are the name of the game in so many places around the world….

Then, I find it hard to believe that everyone who is being impacted from Coronavirus is a tzaddik.

====

Rav Berland told us clearly, that this is about the mitzvot bein adam l’havero.

There are so many bad middot washing around our communities, even the most apparently ‘frum’ communities, that’s it’s hard to know even where to begin. Giving tzedeka – even a lot of tzedeka – doesn’t make someone a tzaddik, especially if they are earning their money in a traif, immoral way and hurting a lot of people and destroying the world, in the process.

We all have so very much teshuva we need to make.

And until we start making that teshuva  – in particular, about our own behavior and actions concerning the Tzaddik HaDor Rav Berland – and start being honest about our own bad middot, and acknowledging that we really aren’t the tzaddikim we like to pretend to ourselves that we are – Coronavirus hysteria and the ridiculous lockdown will continue.

And surely, nobody wants that?

====

You might also like this article:

 

 

Yesterday, one of my readers sent me an email with screenshots from another ‘story’ that belongs to the genre of Geula P*rn.

In case you don’t know what Geula P*rn is, let me try to describe it.

Much like p*rn itself takes something that is the epitome of holiness and kedusha, i.e. the unification of a husband and wife in the quest to create a new life, and sucks all the kedusha out of that whole process, and makes it totally about cheap thrills and dark side ‘titillation’ – Geula P*rn does the same thing to our unfolding redemption process.

====

Without a doubt, the situation is currently very stressful, dramatic and emotionally-wrenching.

Fear is rampaging all over the globe, and our elected officials and their media lackeys are doing their best to keep us all totally over-strung in a state of permanent fight-or-flight.

They know that panicked people can be easily controlled. They know that scared people are operating from their ‘primitive brain’, and that when that snake brain kicks in, the more mature functions and insight that we associate with acting like a sentient human being, as opposed to acting like a trained animal, get switched off.

All this fear and panic is being deliberately engineered, and it’s 100% coming from the dark side.

====

As I talked about before, the whole work here is turn all this ‘fallen fear’ about Coronavirus into yirat shemayim that only God is controlling the world, and only God decides who will die and what’s going to kill them.

As a corollary to that, only God decides if someone is going to get infected by Coronavirus, and if so, by which route that’s going to happen. So, panicking and beating ourselves up about possibly being an ‘agent of transmission’ to our loved ones is totally anti-emuna.

We aren’t controlling the world!

All we can do is pray, and ask Hashem that we shouldn’t be used as the means to hurt other people, in any circumstances, and then we’ve done our part and we don’t need to stagger around guilt-ridden and paralysed by fear that we’re bringing ‘death’ to our loved ones, God forbid.

Open your eyes and see the manipulation going on here!

====

Yesterday, the Times of Israel reported that 35% of all Coronavirus cases were ‘caught’ in a yeshiva or synagogue. This is totally fake news, and anti-Semitic. I challenge the government lackeys who put that information out to show the methodology they used to come to that conclusion.

With less than a quarter of a percent of the population being tested for Coronavirus, and with predictions that over a million Israelis have it – which by the way, shows the morbidity rate to be EVEN LOWER than the really low rate it’s already at – there is simply no logical way that the Times of Israel reporters, nor the ‘researchers’ from the Orwellian Ministry of Health could have ANY IDEA of how those people really got infected with Coronavirus.

But straight away, the Chief Rabbinate takes the bait, and announces they are closing all the synagogues.

And then more false leaders jump on the bandwagon, and announce that you can totally break the sanctity of Yom Tov by doing Zoom with grandpa and grandma during Seder night, so they don’t feel so lonely.

This is total madness!

But the one very clear silver lining in all this is that it’s starting to do the job of birur, or clarification, between our true leaders and our false leaders very efficiently.

====

But I digress.

Let’s get back to Geula P*rn, and the role that’s playing in holding up the actual Geula.

Just as an addiction to p*rn literally prevents the people caught up in it from actually forming a healthy, holy bond with the opposite sex, an addiction to Geula P*rn is preventing the Jewish people from forming a real connection to Hashem, and to binding themselves with our real tzaddikim.

In case you’re confused about what a real tzaddik actually is, it’s someone who learns Torah, has an intrinsic level of holiness that most of us simply can’t get our heads around, and who eschews trying to ride off the back of current events to churn out more Geula P*rn.

====

Let’s give some examples of what I’m talking about, starting with the story I was sent yesterday by a reader.

It was about a passage someone apparently found in the Zohar, talking about two viruses that would cause pandemics before the end of days. The first virus would be somewhat controlled and contained, and the second virus would be totally out of control.

My reader headlined her email with ‘Scary!’

This is classic Geula P*rn.

All doom and gloom and scary predictions, with absolutely zero connection to our real tzaddikim, or Torah, or teachings about how prayer, charity and teshuva can overturn even the harshest decree.

Rebbe Nachman used to rail about this, 200 years ago, that instead of hunkering down and praying to God to sweeten harsh decrees, the Jewish community would first choose to ignore and downplay the problem, and then ping straight into total yeoush and fatalism.

There is a different way of handling all this fear and panic!

It’s called praying, giving charity and making teshuva, and Baruch Hashem, more and more people are starting to opt for that route.

But in the meantime, what Geula P*rn does is cook up some dramatic ‘predictions’, or unearth some ancient ‘prophecy’, and then totally focus on the death and destruction aspect that could precede geula, instead of giving out encouragement to follow the path of prayer, charity and teshuva, to overcome the decree.

====

If you look at our real rabbis, our real tzaddikim, they are all putting out the same message:

Make some sincere teshuva, stop treating others badly, have some humility, stop speaking lashon hara – especially about Rabbi Berland – and split the heavens with your prayers. And then everything will turn around, and the harsh decrees will be sweetened!

(REMEMBER: THIS VIDEO WAS FIRST POSTED UP ON FEBRUARY 27TH, 2020. LOOK HOW MUCH HAS CHANGED SINCE THEN….)

 

====

If you look at the purveyors of Geula P*rn, it’s all about the ‘buzz’ the ‘drama’, the horrible predictions, the action, the latest news and statistics and conspiracy theories that are designed to just tip the reader into a greater state of anxiety and panic.

All of this is happening just to get us to wake up, and to return whole-heartedly to God.

That message is totally missing from Geula P*rn, and the poor people who are addicted to it are really suffering as a result.

====

So now, let’s talk tachlis. What is the main teshuva we need to make?

Rav Kanievsky said lashon hara, rechilut, and letting things go with other people instead of making a big deal out of them.

Rav Menashe Amon (above) said Coronavirus came because people in Israel were speaking against Rabbi Berland, who is currently still being held in prison in awful conditions, and has been persecuted non-stop by the State of Israel for many long months and years.

It’s zero coincidence that the same week Rav Berland got imprisoned, Coronavirus exploded into the headlines.

Over on the Hebrew shuvubanim website, there’s an article that states baldly that as long as Rav Berland sits in prison, and we don’t protest that, and we don’t pray for his release, and we don’t stop pretending that he’s in a totally different category of kedusha and is a good candidate for this generation’s Moshiach – Coronavirus will continue.

Now, THAT’S a scary thought, isn’t it?

Do you really want to spend another 3 months cooped up with your kids with no way to make parnassa as the world implodes around you?

Or, do you want to get things back to something approaching ‘normal’ before Pesach, as Rabbi Berland himself has said can happen?

====

Let’s recap:

Geula P*rn is where we eagerly suck in all the juicy details, all the drama, all the fearmongering surrounding the unfolding geula process, but don’t make the underlying teshuva required to actually get redemption the sweet way.

Sure, we blog about it, we comment about it, we talk about it – but we don’t sit down and do a proper cheshbon hanefesh about all the lashon hara we’ve read, written and believed about Rabbi Berland, and other tzaddikim.

And we don’t double-check how badly we’re really treating our children; or how we’re emotionally and verbally abusing our family members; or how we’re trying to manipulate and control the people around us to make sure we always end up getting what we want.

And we don’t really look at how full of fallen fears we are about Coronavirus – which means that we’re even willing to break Shabbat, and stop praying in a minyan, and to stop learning Torah, and to stop visiting the Kotel and to stop dipping in a mikva – and how empty we actually are of genuine emuna and real yirat shemayim.

That is the work to do right now, that is the teshuva required, to get geula the sweet way.

Geula P*rn is very heavy on facemasks, stats, false predictions and conspiracy theories.

Real geula is hyper-focussed on teshuva, humility, prayer and charity.

Make sure you know the difference.

Because the one is going to get us out of the awful mess we currently find ourselves in, while the other is only going to exacerbate it.

====

Photo by Miltiadis Fragkidis on Unsplash

====

POSTSCRIPT:

In terms of figuring out the midda k’neged midda with slagging off Rabbi Berland and other tzaddikim and the spread of Coronavirus, you might get some clues below:

https://israeltruthtimes.blogspot.com/2020/03/can-you-put-two-and-two-together-those.html

 

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Getting back to talking about God.

It keeps happening to me that I intend to leave all the awful corruption, and ‘politics’, and yucky stuff going on in the world behind, and to try to return to more spiritual matters – but I can’t.

God just isn’t letting me.

I had a couple of nice pieces planned out in my head to write up for the site about my own struggles with the idea of ‘renewal’, and whether it’s possible for me to have ‘renewal’ without also having to move house every five minutes, when I woke up with a brainwave to go and research 666 5th Avenue, NYC.

That number is interesting, isn’t it? It’s the number the xtians like to assign to their ‘anti-Moshiach’, and they call it colloquially ‘the mark of the beast’. It also happens to be 66.6 – the remainder of the 33.3 that the Freemasons are obsessed with, the top third of the pyramid on the back of the dollar that happens to contain Bilaam’s all-seeing evil eye.

There’s a lot going on with that property, and once I’ve finished researching it properly, I’ll lay it all out here for you, dear reader, as long as it’s safe for me to do that.

In the meantime, I’ve had no time to write up anything else….but lucky for me, over on the ravberland.com website, Rabbi Yissachar Berg has started giving classes again. Here’s a taste of his most recent class, about finding the good point within, aka Azamra:

====

You can sign up for the full-length webinar classes HERE. And if you’re feeling like you need some uplifting Torah, or feeling like you’re struggling to find the good in others, and particularly in yourself, then this is highly recommended.

And BH, there will be more classes in English coming too. I’m pushing my better half to return to giving classes again online. He did it for years at Chut Shel Chessed, but kind of burned out, and so hasn’t been giving classes for years now.

So far, I’ve twisted his arm hard enough to get an agreement from him to start doing a short ‘Parsha of the week’ shiur based on Rabbi Berland on the Parsha starting this week. I’ll post it here when it’s up, but it’s permanent home will be on the new ‘Breslov TV’ channel over on ravberland.com.

====

And then, in turn I’ve also had my arm twisted gently to get on with doing some classes again on Breslov teachings.

Like my better half, I also totally went off the idea for a long time because doing those classes took a lot out of me, n a whole bunch of ways. And they also fed into my ga’ava in a massive way around 6 years ago, which led to a lot of big problems that I simply don’t want to pop up again.

So I’ve been running away from that idea for years.

But in Uman, I had a conversation that brought me around to the idea again, and as I wrote about HERE, I know so many of us are pretty lonely at the moment, because we can’t talk about ‘real’ stuff with most of the people we know, without them thinking we are totally nutso.

So, I floated the trial balloon to see if there is interest, and BH, 17 women came back to me.

We’re going to be trying to apply Rabbenu’s teachings in a real, gentle way to the craziness that is our own life. I’m trying something new with this class, and not structuring it to death. I’m going to try talking from the heart, based on Breslov and Rav Berland sources, around a particular subject, then make some space for others to share their ideas, too.

The idea is to build a community, not just a class, so we can stop feeling so lonely and alone in our emuna, and commitment to really seeing God’s hand in the world, and in our own lives, and sticking by our principles even when ‘everyone else’ thinks we’re crazy.

====

The first class will be 10am Jerusalem time this Sunday, February 2nd, via Zoom, and it’s for women only.

I’ll post the link up on the website, and also over on my blog on the ravberland.com site a little closer to the time

If it works, I’ll try to do a class in the evening that will work for people in the US, too, but I’m building up slowly to that. There will also be a recording available for ladies who sign up to the mailing list. You can do that below, and yes, I will also sort that side of things out properly too, going forward, with God’s help, so it’s easier to share links and sign up information around.

There’s only one way to fight all this awful corruption spreading everywhere. And that’s by taking a look inside, connecting to our own good and amplifying our own yearning for Hashem and kedusha.

If that sounds interesting to you, come join me Sunday:

====

 

I just got this.

It’s another young man who was in Ukraine last week, praying at all the kivrei tzaddikim there, when he and his kallah and sister got caught up in a head-on crash that was not their fault.

Miraculously, Neria Or – the young man in question – wasn’t hurt, and neither were the other people with him. But the accident was fatal for the Ukrainians in the other car.

The Ukrainians have arrested Neria, and he’s sitting in prison in Ukraine.

I just donated something to this – because I should at least do one thing meaningful today, to show God I’m trying to do what He wants, even while still listening to Ed Sheeran songs on Youtube.

If you would like to help, you can go HERE.

But first watch the video below, and understand that these are real people involved, real families.

It seems there are so many tikkunim going on at the moment, centred around the Ukraine.

It seems so many Jews are somehow ‘stuck’ in that mess, one way or another. So every dollar we spend freeing Neria is somehow freeing ourselves, somehow sweetening the judgments on ourselves.

Go HERE to do something meaningful today, and to help a fellow Jew.

There but for the grace of God go we.

====

A crash course in teasing out the truth.

I’ve been deliberately staying away from this topic for months. But now that the ‘Peace Plan’ is upon us, I seem to be getting a strong push from shemayim to set out some of the facts about what appears to be going on with the current occupant of the White House, so that you, dear reader, can make your own mind up about whether Trump is really ‘Israel’s best friend’, or not.

As this subject is so divisive, and as I want to avoid machloket with other Jews as much as possible, I will try to keep my own comments as limited as possible. And I encourage you to click the links wherever you find them, and to uncover more pieces of this puzzle. This is about becoming your own journalist, fitting all this information together, and asking Hashem to show you what’s true, and what isn’t.

====

This is the starting point, from something Rabbi Berland said on Chanuka 5780, here:  ravberland.com

The last battle was at Tzur.

Tzur is south of Bethlehem. The last battle took place there. After two or three months, they said now we’re going to Jerusalem, to conquer Jerusalem, that’s to say to begin a world war, and then America and Russia will come, and they began to send armies from all the world.

WHAT? THE JEWS WILL TAKE JERUSALEM? THAT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!

The entire argument between Yaakov and Esav was over who would take Jerusalem.

YAVAN IS IN ALL THE GENERATIONS. NOW TOO, AMERICA IS MALCHUT YAVAN, RUSSIA IS MALCHUT EDOM.

====

Take home message:

The world is being fought over by (at least) two different ‘mafias’, one is called the Kings of Edom (headed by Russia) and one is called the Kings of Yavan (headed by the USA).

Both of these mafias have a legal / governmental face, and a very prominent illegal / ‘deep state’ aspect. Both of these mafias are involved in trying to take over as much of the world’s resources as possible, by fair means or foul.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out for yourself which of these mafias Trump is really working for.

====

Whilst I was flying to Uman, I took a book along to read called: Trump / Russia: A Definitive History, by Seth Hattena, who is an award-winning investigative journalist for the Associated Press. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

“In the early 1990s, a famous real estate tycoon – a regular in Manhattan gossip columns and on celebrity chat shows – found his world collapsing around him. He’d secretly gone bankrupt on three, multi-million dollar projects in a row.

Facing numerous lawsuits, isolated and desperate for cash, but cut off by his American Banks, he turned to dark sources in another country, a country regularly under sanction by the United States: its long-time enemy, Russia.

And thus commenced decades-long deal-making with a growing cobweb of corrupt, criminal and powerful Russians…And ending with a tycoon in the White House.”

====

After the Communist USSR fell apart in the late 1980s, Russia and the rest of the former USSR fell into a state of chaos.

The people who stepped forward to take control of the country were essentially those who already had experience of free market economics – i.e. the mafiosos who had been running the black economy under the Soviets.

Many of these mafiosos had ties with Russia’s security services like the former KGB, and these people had gained experience and connections with the West by smuggling things into Russia, and also by helping to smuggle things out.

Google: “The Jackson-Vanik Amendment”, and see what you find.

Russia, and the other former USSR countries, were exclusively run by organized crime for at least a decade. During this time, corrupt leaders in the West collaborated with corrupt leaders in Russia itself, including the alcoholic former Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, to privatize the former USSR’s natural resources.

====

In 2011, a Russian anti-corruption campaigner called Marina Salye fled for her life to the US. (It didn’t seem to help much. She died in March, 2012). Many years earlier, she’d been head of a special investigative commission in St Petersburg, who had been investigating Vladimir Putin – then the head of St Petersburg’s Committee of External Relations. Here’s part of her stated complaint against Putin:

“Vladimir Putin has issued licences, without government authority, for the overseas export of bartered oil, timber and non-ferrous and rare-earth metals to questionable and little-known firms, often incorporated the previous day, with licences issued in advance of being signed by Western partners and without documentation of the goods’ availability.

And the prices assigned were for dumping – about two thousand times lower than the prevailing ones. The Commission is now sending documentation of its investigation to the Personnel Office, and Putin may have to answer before his hometown for having deprived municipal coffers of $122 million.”

Instead, Putin became Russia’s president, and the Russian mafia acquired a patina of legitimacy.

This is how so much of the former USSR’s national wealth ended up in the hands of a small group of Russian oligarchs, who became fabulously wealthy overnight. All these people had some connection to the Russian mafia. Many of these people are Jews.

Google:

Jewish Russian Oligarchs

“Davos Pact”

“Boris Birshtein”

And see what you find.

It’s important to note that this type of corruption occurred throughout the former USSR, including the Ukraine.

But life as a Russian Oligarch is risky. Back in 2003, Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was suddenly arrested by Putin’s government, charged with fraud, and stripped of all his fabulous wealth. That sent a very clear message to the other Russian oligarchs and mafia bosses that the best way to protect their wealth was to find a way to get it out of the country, and ‘stored’ in assets in the West, in case the wind one day changed for them, too.

====

Starting in the 1970s, there was a huge wave of immigration from the USSR to the USA, which welcomed 200,000 people to its shores. Around 80,000 Russians ended up in Brighton Beach, a community on the periphery of NYC which was subsequently christened “Little Odessa”.

At that same time, Russian organized crime began to flourish in the USA – and the power struggle between the Kings of Edom and the Kings of Yavan took a new turn.

Google the following names, and see what you find:

David Bogatin

Jacob Bogatin

Semion Mogilevich

Vyacheslav Ivankov

====

Taking dodgy money from dodgy sources in order to give that money a patina of respectability is technically known as money laundering.

And here is where the story gets interesting.

Guess where so many of these Russian oligarchs and Russian mafia figures and Russian shell companies ended up investing their dodgy money? Here’s a few clues:

Trump Towers

Trump World Tower

Trump SoHo

For example, David Bogatin owned no less than five apartments in Trump Towers before he was arrested for his part in a billion dollar gas tax fraud.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, by 2004 a third of the units sold in Trump World Tower went to people or limited-liability companies connected to the former USSR, with one of Trump’s sales agents telling the magazine: “We had big buyers from Russia and Ukraine and Kazakhstan.”

Donald Trump had no problem whatsoever in selling his over-priced condos to fabulously wealthy Russians with murky business connections. Those sales jacked-up the value of his real estate, pulled him out of bankruptcy – and firmly connected him to a whole slew of wealthy people with useful connections on both sides of the legit / mafia business divide.

Google the following names, see what you find:

Sam Kislin

Michael Cherney

Lev Cherney

Fima Shusterman

====

Real Estate is big business in today’s world.

Part of the reason so much real estate is going for artificially inflated ridiculous prices is because it’s a great way of laundering ‘black’ money. You buy something with dirty money, you sell it on for an inflated and unjustified profit, and hey presto, all of a sudden your money is ‘legit’ – it’s just the proceeds of a selling a condo.

No-one can ask questions about that….

Trump World Tower opened in 2002. Shortly afterwards, the Trump property brand started to skyrocket, especially with the Russians, many of whom seemed very happy to follow Trump around, wherever he chose to build his next developments.

Take Trump’s Sunny Isles Towers down in Miami, Florida. So many Russians moved into Sunny Isles locals started calling it “Little Moscow”.

Google the following names, see what you find:

Vladimir Popovyan

Peter Kiritchenko

Michael Barukhin

Elena Baronoff

==

Trump SoHo was unveiled in 2006, in partnership with a real estate company called the Bayrock Group.

Bayrock’s managing director is a man called Felix Sater, it’s founder was a former Kazakhstani called Tevfik Arif. Sater moved with his family to Brighton Beach, and Sater has a long and very interesting story.

Look him up on Google, and see what you find.

Long story short, he was involved with the mob, went to prison for white collar crimes including a pump-and-dump scheme run out of his ‘White Rock’ organization, and then apparently became an informer for the CIA in the Clinton years, helping the US to track down Osama bin Laden.

(I don’t know about you, but that whole thing just sounds kind of weird to me, and my BS-o-meter is twitching again.)

But by 2006, Sater was working with Bayrock on high ticket real estate details, and became very close to the Trump empire. Sater had business cards printed at this time that said: “Felix Sater: Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.”

Call it a coincidence, but Trump properties continued to fill up with wealthy investors from the former USSR, many of whom had very dodgy backgrounds, and sadly, many of whom are Jewish and closely connected to obviously Jewish organizations. Look up the following names, see what you find:

Vadim Trincher

Alex Sapir

Rotem Rosen

==

There’s so much more to say about all this, but I’m going to kind of skip over all the stuff about Paul Manafort helping to rig elections in the Ukraine up until 2013 etc. Look up:

Dmitry Firtash

Oleg Deripaska

====

One thing I will say is that the ‘division’ between Democrats and Republicans is really just for show.

It’s just to keep the masses thinking there is a real alternative. The political system in the US is totally corrupt, and really just masking the ongoing battle between the Kings of Edom and the Kings of Yavan for control of the international economy, particularly it’s darker side of drugs, guns and human slaves.

So, it should come as no surprise that ‘pro-Trump’ Manafort was happy to hire the ‘pro-Hilary’ Podesta Group to lobby Congress on behalf of Manafort’s client, Ukrainian President Yanukovych.

What’s more, the original Fusion GPS file on Trump’s connections to Russian mafia figures was originally commissioned by Republican Paul Singer, and then only taken over by the Democrats at a later stage.

The swamp extends in all directions, on both sides of Congress and the Senate, and is also still to be found in the White House itself. All of the politicians are corrupt, and just the ‘legal’ face of the invisible mafias that are running the world.

For example, Former Ukrainian President Yanukovych was totally corrupt, and there are estimates that $70 billion was illegally siphoned off into foreign accounts during his tenure. (He escaped prosecution in 2014 by jumping on a helicopter that whisked him over to Russia, where presumably he’s still hiding out.)

Meanwhile, Manafort flew back to Washington and went to work for Trump.

====

As I’ve written so many times before, there is no such thing as a 0-100% argument.

There is no such thing as one side being 100% wrong about everything, and the other side being 100% right.

It’s all an admixture, and the birur or clarification process God expects from us is to keep challenging our own assumptions, and our own black-or-white thinking to really dig down and discover the truth.

I am totally a-political. Before I started investigating all this stuff, I certainly didn’t hate Trump, and I probably would have voted from him back in 2016.

Back then, I didn’t realise just how endemic the spiritual and moral corruption actually is in the world. I didn’t realise that all these political parties and presidents and Prime Ministers are really just figure heads, puppets that are being moved around by the Kings of Edom and Kings of Yavan who are really running the show here.

Rebbe Nachman explained in his story The Cripple that ‘the talkers’ would take themselves out before Moshiach comes, and that’s what we’re witnessing right now. One set of evil mafiosos is trying to take out the other, but ultimately, they are both totally bad.

The Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans, just as corrupt, just as morally bankrupt. They are all just the window-dressing. As for ‘Q Anon’ – at this point, I’m pretty sure it’s being run by the Russians. Most of the information it puts out is probably true, but there’s another side to the story that most of us just don’t want to believe, namely that there are no ‘good’ guys in this picture.

====

The real power behind the throne is just playing us all off against each other, keeping us caught up in petty partisan politics, and fooling us into thinking that real change happens at the polling booths.

There is no real change until the real evil is unmasked and revealed. That real evil is bankrolling all our politicians and all our ‘leaders’ – including here in Israel. Just that real evil is also split into different factions, each one trying to get a bigger piece of the pie.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks now.

Trump is definitely part of the evil mafia, definitely not ‘good’ in any way, shape or form, and definitely not Israel’s ‘best friend’. The only question really is which mafia family is he working for, the Kings of Edom (Russia) or the Kings of Yavan (the USA)?

As to why the Jews should care about this, and particularly the Jews of America, it boils down to this.

====

Even a very quick look across the internet shows that there are certain crucial pieces of this whole ‘Trump / Russia’ puzzle that are hidden in very plain sight. I’m not going to spell this stuff out, for a lot of reasons.

But I urge my readers to carefully consider which organisations and charities have deep connections to the former USSR. Who used clandestine routes to smuggle things and people in and out of Russia?

What were the main lynchpins clandestinely connecting the USA and Russia during the Cold War? How were those ‘lynchpins’ affected and potentially corrupted by the Russian mafia’s takeover of the former USSR? Why are the same people, the same organisations, the same charities, coming up again and again and again in connection to Russian mafia figures, and money laundering?

Where are these organisations getting their billion dollar plus annual budgets from?

Who is really funding them, who is really using them as a smokescreen, and what are they getting in return?

These are crucially important questions that I urge the Jews of America to look into, however painful it might be, because ‘before the world of truth can be built, the world of lies has to fall.’

And we are perched on the edge of the next part of that process.

There’s no such thing as a 0-100% argument. Yes, the Democrats are totally rotten and morally corrupt to the core. But that doesn’t mean that everything they’re claiming about Trump is wrong.

Just both sides are only presenting their side of the story, because if they came out with the truth and explained that the whole world is being fought over by two main mafia organizations called ‘The Kings of Edom’ and ‘The Kings of Yavan’, and that all this talk of democracy and governance by the people was a total crock, there would be riots in the streets.

====

We live in interesting times.

Do your own homework, become your own investigative journalist, and start to tease the truth out about what’s really going on. Because sooner or later, what I’m only hinting to here is going to become public knowledge.

And then, anti-semitism is going to explode in the USA like never before.

====

 

A picture speaks a thousand words.

Here is a picture of two massive volcanic fields on Australia’s Sapphire Coast, known in geological parlance as the Boyd Volcanic Complex, and the Yalwal Volcanic Complex.

The Eruption and Emplacement Mechanisms of the Southern Boyd Volcanic Complex Pyroclastic Units, New South Wales: A Study of Munganno Point – Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Map-showing-the-Yalwal-Volcanic-Complex-and-the-Boyd-Volcanic-Complex-within-the-context_fig1_305227282 [accessed 13 Jan, 2020]

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Geologists like to tell people these volcanoes were last active in the ‘Devonian Period’, i.e. 419 million years ago (sic).

Lucky thing, that, because otherwise a thoughtful onlooker might become a little perturbed by the huge amount of overlap between this picture above, of the volcanic complexes, and this picture, below, showing where the recent bush fires sprang up:

 

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This comes from THIS website on Australian volcanoes:

“Like the mountains, the volcanoes are all on the eastern side of Australia, in a series of chains running north to south, starting 500 km of the northeastern coast (the Maer islands) to Tasmania in the south. The total length is 4400 km. That is a sizable sequence! It closely follows the Great Dividing Range, the third longest continental mountain chain in the world. There are also two chains of submarine volcanoes further to the east, off the coast.”

====

On December 17th 2019 (which happened to coincide with Chabad’s celebration of Kislev 19th this year, when the Alter Rebbe was amazingly released from the Czar’s prison after a 53 day there) – Australia registered it’s hottest day ‘ever’.

Apparently, the temperature hit 105.6 degrees.

That same day, there was a massive spike in seismic activity on December 17th, 2019:

Image from the Volcano Discovery website.

And then, very shortly after that all the bushfires went up many levels of intensity.

As I’ve written about in many other places, when there is a lot of seismic activity in volcanic regions, that leads to natural methane being released in great quantities and rising up to the surface. Methane is highly flammable. All it takes is a spark – a strike of lightning, say – and whoosh! A massive fire can instantly get started that can race across the land at an unbelievable pace, because it’s burning methane.

That’s exactly what happened in volcanic California, too, last year, when the Paradise fire occurred.

No coincidence that one of the main Australian towns affected by these bushfires is called ‘Eden’.

====

Hashem is definitely sending a message here.

Lucky, that those volcanoes in Australia are all 400 millions years old (sic). Even though here and there, there are hints that the official history of the area’s seismic and volcanic activity is a little ‘off’. Like the account of the Tathra tsunami, that hit the Sapphire Coast in the 1500s and totally wrecked the whole area.

Also, strange that a week before all that earthquake activity was recorded in Australia on December 17th, the White Island Volcano in New Zealand erupted, killing 18 people and badly burning many more.

Seismic pressure was clearly building all across that area.

====

Just like in California, the white settlers of Australia pretty much eradicated the natives, and totally disparaged all their ‘tall stories’ that clearly indicated that recent and massive earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions were a regular feature of life. If they hadn’t committed genocide, maybe the settlers would have realised that:

There’s a very good reason that the native peoples of North America and the native peoples of Australia were nomadic, and lived a very basic life, with very few permanent buildings or institutions.

When you live life in the heart of a land that is being regularly convulsed by seismic and volcanic cataclysms, that is the safest way. And also, it’s pointless building permanent dwelling places, just to have them burn down, fall down or get washed away.

====

It’s such a shame that the early white settlers didn’t show more respect to the indigenous peoples in North America and Australia. If they had, they may have understood much earlier on that life is far more fragile, and buildings far less permanent, than it first appears.

Of course, God wanted things this way.

He had His reasons for pausing the biggest, regular earthquakes and frequent volcanoes for 200 years, so that modern people would settle on America’s West Coast, and on Australia’s East Coast, and believe that they’d live there forever.

I wonder, do the people of Australia understand that the only reason their volcanoes are pegged as being so very old, and so very inactive, is because modern scientists didn’t date them to take into account of a how massive ‘bushfire event’, like we’re currently seeing, could totally skew any hint of a ‘normal’ comparison for carbon dating?

Take a look at this article, for more about that:

Climate Change Might Break Carbon Dating

Fossil fuel emissions mess with the ratio of carbon isotopes in the atmosphere

In short, when forest fires like this set up, they make anything carbon dated at the time they are taking place appear way, way older than they actually are.

And if you want to know more about why all the dating methods used by “science” are all totally flawed in different ways, but for similar reasons, read THIS.

====

Long story short, the same natural phenomenon that has been causing the fires in California is causing the fires in Australia.

God is sending some good ol’ fashioned fire and brimstone to these areas, and the more interesting question is why? What does corrupt, Godless, hedonistic, California have in common with Eastern Australia?

I have some ideas.

But that’s a story for another time.

====

You might also like this article:

 

I’ve been reading up on the history of Shabtai Tzvi and Jacob Frank who were false messiahs from 350 and 250 years ago, respectively.

In the process, I uncovered a great many new facts that I didn’t know before, and also some questions that continue to beg answers, even in our times. So without any further ado, let’s dive into the world of these false messiahs, who continued to shape the Jewish community in so many ways, long after their deaths.

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The story begins in Izmir, Turkey, when the Turkish Jew Shabtai Tzvi (1626-1676) (who I’ll call SHATZ for short) announces he’s the long-awaited messiah of the Jewish people. Initially, many Jews – including a great many learned rabbis – believe his claims.

But SHATZ has been dabbling in the Kabbalah and the occult, and he quickly develops a theology of going against the Torah of Moses, and deliberately doing the opposite of any given commandment. His reasoning is that now that the Moshiach has come, ‘evil’ has returned to its root in good, and there is no such thing as ‘bad’ anymore.

To prove this, he and his followers start creating new ‘Jewish festivals’, based on their own experiences and the ‘miraculous events’ occurring within their community, and abolish traditional fasts, particularly Tisha B’Av.

The Sabbateans also publically reject the Talmud, i.e. the Oral Law, and heap scorn on the heads of the rabbis who wrote it, claiming they distorted original Judaism.

It’s important to note that this is the same claim the xtians make against Judaism. They also reject what they term ‘rabbinic Judaism’, but rabbinic Judaism is the Oral Law, and it’s an integral part of Judaism that was also given to Moshe Rabbenu alongside the Written Torah at Sinai.

====

In the best ‘National Enquirer’ tradition, SHATZ star really takes off after the rabbis expel him from Salonika for ‘marrying’ a Torah.

That’s when he moves to Jerusalem and acquires his own prophet by the name of Nathan of Gaza. Nathan of Gaza proclaims that SHATZ is the Moshiach in 1665, and by October of that year, the news already hit the European Jewish communities

The Chmielnicki Uprising (1648-1657) had killed a third of Europe’s Jews at this point, they were desperate for salvation. Also, the xtians believed that the End of Days was going to begin in 1665 – and that’s why the English decided to let the Jews return to the UK in 1655, because they figured it wouldn’t be long before they’d return to Israel, in any case.

====

 This Nathan is an extremely convincing spokesman, and quickly hits on the idea of smearing anyone who denies the ‘moshiach-ness’ of SHATZ as being from the ‘Erev Rav’.

In the meantime, stories start to abound within the Jewish community (but are often quickly suppressed) that the SHATZ and his very large group of followers are engaging in shockingly illicit activities, including wife swapping, incest, deliberately eating pork and public orgies (to name but a few).

Very few rabbis seem to be prepared to publically call the SHATZ out on all the immorality and licentiousness surrounding him, although Rabbi Jacob Sasportas (1610-1698) and the Chacham Tzvi take the lead in opposing him. Rabbi Sasportas becomes the sworn enemy of the Sabbateans, and states that they are Erev Rav. But few people take this seriously, until SHATZ converts to Islam on September 15, 1666 on pain of death.

====

At that stage, his followers split into three main groups:

Group 1: Well-meaning Jews who were duped into believing that SHATZ is the Moshiach between 1665 and his conversion in September in 1666. Large numbers of this group make teshuva after Shabtai becomes an apostate, and return to the Jewish fold.

Group 2: Crypto-Sabbateans – who maintain a pious Jewish exterior, but who engage in all sorts of licentious behavior behind closed doors, and continue to believe that SHATZ actually is the Moshiach.

Group 3: Hard-core Sabbateans, many of whom also sham convert to Islam, but whose real religion continues to be Sabbateanism. The infamous ‘Donmeh[1]’ of Turkey belong to this last group. Many of these Jews schism off and out of the Jewish community, at this point.

But not all of them, especially in Podalia and Eastern Europe.

====

SHATZ dies in 1676 – but that doesn’t faze his followers, or derail the ‘SHATZ is Moshiach’ propaganda machine.

In order to keep the show on the road, his leading followers come up with the idea that Shabtai Tzvi’s soul will conveniently ‘reincarnate’ in one of his followers 49 days after his death.

That person becomes the new leader, and the messianic fervor that’s powering the Sabbatean’s activities continue to churn, and bring in new adherents, power and funds. The Sabbatians teach that the the original Shabtai Tzvi will come back from the dead, as part of techias hameitim, and take over where he left off.

The Sabbatean community continues to emphasize kabbalah over normative halacha, but have a status within the Jewish community similar to the Karaites – i.e. both the xtians and the Jews of that time still consider them to be Jewish, at least technically, but a sect, not normative Judaism.

Xtians eye these developments with great interest. The Karaite community in Amsterdam at this time is being financially supported by the Protestants there, who want to undermine ‘Rabbinic Judaism’ by presenting the Karaites as being more authentic, and more akin to the original Jews.

====

So, for the next 100 years or so, the Sabbatean community continues.

It is more ‘openly’ Sabbatean in Turkey, and more ‘secretly’ Sabbatean elsewhere, particularly in the 4 lands of Poland, and especially in the Polish province of Podolia, which covers an area consisting of modern-day Ukraine and Moravia.

Podolia borders Turkey, and there is a lot of exchange between the Jews of these areas.

So far, I probably haven’t told you too much you didn’t know before. But hang on, because here where the story ramps up a level.

====

At exactly the same time that the Baal Shem Tov and chassidut appears on the scene in the Ukraine (Podolia), Jacob Frank also shows up. It’s a well-known spiritual principle that every good thing has its ‘bad’ mirror image. God arranges things like this, in order to maintain free choice, and that’s often why things can seem so confusing to us mere mortals.

We see that rabbi with a shtreimel, this rabbi with a beard…. They both appear to be identical, from the outside, yet one is a destructive luminary of fire, and the other is a holy luminary of light. And unless we’re continually asking God to show us the truth, we can very easily find ourselves being tugged after those charismatic – but false – luminaries of fire.

So, at this period of time, from the 1730s on, there are a number of Jewish ‘wonder workers’ stalking all over Europe, some of whom – like the Baal Shem Tov – are holy of holies, and others of whom – like Jacob Frank, and Samuel Falk of London – are actually fakers who are using dark kabbalah for their own ends.

(It’s a side point, but Samuel Falk was one of the leaders of the movement to get more Jews into devil-worshipping Freemasonry, in the name of Jewish ‘emancipation’. He was known as a miracle worker in London, where he acquired the name ‘the Baal-Shem of London’. I was a little shocked to learn that the picture that is usually said to be of the Baal Shem Tov is actually a picture of this guy, instead!)

====

So, Frank is a Polish Jew, probably already from a family of secret Sabbatians, who moves to Turkey and is initiated into Sabbateanism on his wedding night.

All this coincides with the death of Berakhiah, the current leader of the Sabbateans who claims to be a reincarnation of the SHATZ. So Frank spots his opportunity, and claims that he’s the next link in the Sabbatian’s chain of command.

He’s a powerfully charismatic individual with a strong lust for power and celebrity, so many of the existing Sabbatean community in Turkey accept him as their leader. Frank decides to head back to Poland, where many thousands of the crypto-Sabbateans live. These people appear externally to be orthodox Jews, but are secretly doing all sorts of deviant and evil things that are totally against the Torah.

Empowered by Frank, many of these Jews – which includes a large number of rabbis – start to come out of the closet, and to openly challenge ‘Rabbinic Judaism’ by doing things like publically eating on the Fast of Esther.

====

In 1656, the infamous ‘Lanckronie’ affair occurs.

This is when Frank and his followers first come to the attention of the wider Jewish and xtian authorities, for behaving in some very disturbing ways. The matter is investigated, and it’s discovered that the rabbis of Lanckronie, Busk and Krzywcze are all Sabbatians – and starting to act in increasingly brazen ways.

Frank and his followers – which at this point, number anywhere between 1,000 – 15,000 – portray themselves as a separate and ‘more authentic’ stream of Judaism. They start requesting an area of land from the catholic Polish authorities where they can live semi-autonomously.

====

Moving back to Poland is a big deal for Frank.

At that time, the Jews can’t really own land, they can only rent it. After Shabtai Tzvi fails to deliver on returning the Jews to their own homeland in Israel, Frank and his followers decide to give up on Israel, and transfer “Sabbatian messianic hopes connected to the Land of Israel to Poland”[2] instead.

Frank starts giving sermons where he tells his followers:

“Poland was ‘the ground for the ascension’ – the place where the Shechinah would rise out of the earth.”[3]

The Frankists are keen to break the link between ‘redemption’ and getting land for the Jews, and also believe in the final unification of world faiths before ‘the End’.

So, there are two things going on now. First, Frank and his followers want to own their own land, and they are happy to suck up to the xtians and to play their game in order to acquire some status and wealth. But second, there really is a philosophical underpinning for everything they’re doing, based (loosely) on Shabtai Tzvi’s distorted teachings.

====

At this stage, Rabbi Jacob Emden, son of the Chacham Tzvi, heads the growing opposition to the Sabbateans.

In May 1756, following the Lanckronie scandal, the Sabbatians are formally put in cherem, and the study of kabbalah is outlawed for anyone under 40 years of age.

The Rabbis also release a statement that:

“On the basis of the codifiers, we pronounce that it is a positive commandment to kill them [i.e. the Frankists].”

Off the back of this announcement, the Jews subsequently kill 18 Frankists in Podolia and wound another 30.

====

Frank flees back to Turkey – where he secretly converts to Islam and become ‘Ahmed Frank’. But he has a lot of competition in Turkey, where the Donmeh hold sway, so Frank decides to head back to Poland in June 1757.

At that time, he approaches the Polish Church to request they organize a disputation between the Frankists and the formal Jewish community, claiming that ‘Sabbatianism’ is closer to original Judaism because they don’t hold by the Talmud (i.e. the Oral Law).

This is music to the bishops’ ears, especially as Frank and his followers are willing to claim that the Talmud encourages Jews to sacrifice xtians and to use their blood in matzahs, in order to spite the formal Jewish community that’s attacking them.

So, the infamous blood libels were actually begun by apostate Jews who were looking for a way to break rabbinic control over the Jewish community. It’s totally shocking, isn’t it?

====

The confrontation happens on June 20, 1757 in Kaminetz, and amongst the 9 points being argued by Frank we find these:

#6 We believe that God may take upon Himself mortal human flesh… [this was phrased carefully as Frank believed that this applied to Shabtai Tzvi and then himself – but he made it sound at this stage as though he was talking about yoshki]

#7 In accord with Daniel’s prophecy, we believe the city of Jerusalem will not be rebuilt until the end of time.

#8 We believe that the Jews have waited in vain for the messiah to come and to bring them happiness and grant them power over other nations.

====

Unsurprisingly, the catholic Bishop of Kaminetz, Dembowski, states the Frankists have won and decrees that the Talmud should be burnt.

It’s a pyrrhic victory for the Frankists, though, because Bishop Dembowski unexpectedly dies very soon after this. Xtian sources explain that a plague breaks out in Kaminetz, and the Bishop’s ghost is seen walking around by residents.

The xtians decide to dig the Bishop’s body up and behead it – their way of ‘killing’ his ghost – but it doesn’t work. The plague intensifies, and now the Bishop is seen walking around carrying his head under his arm. So now, the xtians dig his body up again, and burn it in the same place where the Talmud was burnt – and the plague and the ghost subsequently disappear.

Fancy that.

====

With their main supporter dead, the Frankists are now in a very vulnerable position.

Up until now, they haven’t wanted to convert to xtianity, but they’ve burnt their boats with Judaism, and the Jewish community no longer considers them to be Jews.

At this point, Rabbi Emden and his supporters, chiefly a man named Baruch Yavan, decide the best way to deal with the Frankists is to bribe the catholic church to pressure them to convert out of Judaism. They expend a lot of money and effort on bribing the Papal Nuncio in the region to make this happen, and it pays off.

A second dispute is held in Lvov (Lemberg) on July 17-19, 1759, where amongst the 7 points being debated, the Frankists claim:

  • All the prophecies about Moshiach have already been fulfilled.

  • Moshiach is G-d, who took human form.

  • So all sacrifices and ceremonies should be abolished now.

  • Everyone should follow Moshiach’s teachings, for ‘salvation lies only within it’.

  • The Talmud encourages the Jews to perform human sacrifices and to shed xtian blood.

====

Long story short, immediately after this dispute in Lvov, Frank and between 1,000-7,000 of his followers convert to xtianity, including the Rabbis of the polish towns of Busk and Gliniany.

To give just one example of the scale of what happened, two thirds of the Jewish community of Busk convert.

To put this in context, only 4 communities in Poland at this time had more than 3,000 Jews, and Lvov – with 7,400 Jews – was the second biggest Jewish community in the country.

This is a totally massive blow to the Jewish community.

Yet, Rabbi Emden and many of his circle, including the Vilna Gaon, celebrate this mass conversion as a ‘miracle from heaven’, as now they don’t have to deal with the Frankists in-house anymore.

====

By contrast, the Baal Shem Tov takes this mass conversion very hard, and dies the following year.

According to Wikipedia:

“After the mass conversion of the Frankists, the Baal Shem Tov allegedly said that as long as a diseased limb is connected with the body, there is hope that it may be saved; but, once amputated, it is gone, and there is no hope.”

Writing in Likutey Moharan, I:207, Rebbe Nachman has this to say about it:

“This was what caused the departing of the Baal Shem Tov, who had said that he would depart on account of the Shabtai Tzvi episode. Several of the leaders of the generation and outstanding scholars had become followers of Shabtai Tzvi, who had fooled them, as well known.

“They left the community and spoke evil against the entirety of the Oral Torah (i.e. the Talmud) because harsh gevurot had come upon them and they did not ameliorate them…Thus, they spoke evil words against the community, and these words befell the leader of the generation, who at that time was the Baal Shem Tov, which is what caused his departing.

“And the Baal Shem Tov is quoted as saying that the Shabtai Tzvi episode caused two holes in his heart, which causes his departing. This is because speaking against the Oral Torah and speaking against the tzaddik of the generation is one and the same thing.”

====

Let’s sum up the rest of Frank’s story as briefly as we can, as it’s actually not what I want to focus on.

Frank is imprisoned by the Catholic church in 1760 when they realise he’s still claiming to be the messiah to his own followers. In 1767, Frank approaches the Russians and offers to become Greek Orthodox, together with his thousands of followers.

(By way of context, the massacre of Jewish martyrs in Uman that caused Rebbe Nachman to request to be buried there happens in 1768. Given all the voluntary conversion to xtianity that was going all around them in the Jewish community, we can see that the Jewish martyrs behavior was even more exemplary than perhaps we realized.)

====

When Russia conquers Poland in 1772, they free Frank, who goes to Moravia, which is part of the Hapsburg Empire.

There, he becomes a celebrity, and hobnobs with monarchs, all on the promise of being able to deliver up thousands of Jews for conversion. For example, just two months after Frank arrives there, another 8 families convert in Prozznitz – including the rabbi!

Frank also becomes involved with Freemasonry, and his followers are instrumental in trying to set up Freemason lodges called the ‘Order of Asiatic Brethren’ that will welcome both xtians and Jews. According to Jacob Calmonson, a leading maskil at this time,

“Jewish efforts to secure emancipation ran parallel with the history of their relations with freemasons.”

But the non-Jewish Freemasons complain, and after 1785, there is a massive clampdown on the number of Jews who can join Freemason lodges within the Hapsburg Empire. That’s when the Frankists branch out into the so-called ‘Illuminati’ Lodges.

====

A year later, in 1786, Frank falls out with Emperor Joseph II and leaves for Frankfurt Am Main.

He meets Prince Wolfgang Ernst II, thanks to his Freemason connections, and the Prussian Monarch gives him a castle in Offenbach to live in, together with his children and followers.

At this stage, the Frankists and the Freemasons are both starting to be spoken of as a ‘State within a State’ and as types of international spy networks.

Frank dies in Offenbach, and his followers claim that Frank – who was meant to be ‘immortal’ – has now: “shed his human form, [to] clothe himself in divinity, so he could triumph over death.”

His children, particularly Eva Frank take over the franchise as a sort of female ‘messiah’, but don’t do nearly as well with it. Eva Frank dies in 1816, and apparently that’s where the story ends.

====

Really, that story is still going.

It’s not a commonly-known fact in our times, but the main false accusations being hurled at the head of the nascent Breslov community in the Ukraine by their detractors was that they had Sabbatian sympathies.

There was so much ‘heat’ generated against Breslov that a rabbinically-sanctioned attempt was even made on the life of Rabbi Nachman’s main student, Rav Natan. Just the murder got the wrong ‘Rav Natan of Breslov’, and killed the wrong person[4].

====

By the early 1800s, there were an estimated 24,000 former Jews – including large numbers of Rabbis – who had converted as part of the Frankist disaster in Poland alone.

And ‘secret Sabbatians’ still abounded, particularly in places like Czechoslavakia, Bohemia and Moravia, where they tended to keep up the pretense of Jewish observance and even extreme Jewish piety externally, whilst all the time believing and acting in ways that were totally against Judaism.

Even world-famous rabbis like Jonathan Eybeshutz were actually secret Sabbatians, and Rabbi Eybeshutz’ son, Wolf, actually became a well-known, totally immoral Sabbatian ‘prophet’ who for a time vied with Frank for leadership of the Sabbatians.

So, suspicion fell on Rabbenu and his small group of students, because while Rabbi Jacob Emden and the Vilna Gaon preached a creed of excommunication and excision from the Jewish community, Rebbe Nachman took a totally different tack to trying to solve the problem of the Frankists and crypto-Sabbatians, as we’re about to discover.

====

Over Shabbat, I was pondering large sections of Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom and Tzaddik, when I realized that so many of Rebbe Nachman’s mysterious journeys were to places where key events in the Frankist history had taken place. Many decades after the disputation and Talmud burning in Kaminetz, Rebbe Nachman made a trip to the town, at the behest of the Baal Shem Tov, who he said came to him in a dream.

Jews had been banished from living in Kaminetz after 1757 after the disputation with the Frankists that lead to the burning of the Talmud and the devastating plage, but very shortly after Rabbenu’s trip there, the Jews were allowed back in.

Then in 1807, after Sukkot, Rebbe Nachman suddenly left for Lvov (Lemberg) in a big hurry – and no-one knew why. Rav Natan went running after him, and caught up with Rabbenu at Krassnoy. That was when Rabbenu first taught the lesson of Azamra I:282.

There, Rabbenu taught:

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

In Tzaddik, Rav Natan explained that when Rebbe Nachman was giving over this lesson, “He seemed fairly pleased, and he spoke about the purpose of his journey, connecting it with the idea of the sanctuary each of the Tzaddikim builds” – as set out in Lesson I:282, where the Tzaddik can even draw the good in total sinners back to Hashem.

Once I understood what was going on all over that area at this time, so soon after Jacob Frank had lead the mass conversion of many thousands of ‘orthodox’ Jews into xtianity, I started to view these words in a totally different light.

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Rabbi Emden and the Vilna Gaon had one approach to the problem, where they basically (and arguably correctly!) termed the Frankists in their midst as unfixable Erev Rav, and attempted to cut them out of the Jewish community.

This is very much in keeping with the writings attributed to Hillel Rivlin of Shklov[5], student of the Vilna Gaon and author of Kol HaTor about the Erev Rav, vis:

“[T]he Erev Rav is our greatest enemy, the one who separates the two moshiachs. The klipah of the Erev Rav works only through deception and roundabout ways. Therefore, the war against the Erev Rav is the most difficult and bitterest of all. We must strengthen ourselves for this war, anyone who does not participate in the battle against the Erev Rav becomes, defacto, a partner with the klipah of the Erev Rav, and was better off not being born in the first place.”

But there’s one massive problem with this approach:

It doesn’t work.

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I write way more about this in my book Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav, and I discuss this problem a lot on my blog, too, but practically speaking, it’s impossible to really determine who is unfixable Erev Rav and who isn’t – especially when you’re dealing with pious hypocrites who keep up a façade of perfect frumkeit.

And if we look back at what happened after the Frankists were forced to convert out of Judaism, we’ll see that declaring an all-out war against them didn’t work then, either.

All that happened is that Judaism permanently lost many thousands of souls, whose children could have returned to the fold of orthodox Judaism at a later date.

Not only that, the Frankists and crypto-Sabbateans became more brazen after they were forced out of Judaism, and were spurred on to join forces with the Freemasons and to get involved in things that we are still paying the price for globally, today.

Once they were pushed beyond the pale, and totally ejected from the Jewish community, the Frankists pintele yid was effectively extinguished.

But the whole world still views them as Jews, and we Jews are being tarred with the same brush.

Even more ironically, so many of the descendants of the Vilna Gaon’s students – including the author of the Kol HaTor himself! – are today’s immoral politicians and elites in Israel. This is not a simple problem, not at all.

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As I read of events 250 years ago, I couldn’t help but be struck by the parallels today.

Today, there are still so many people flinging the ‘Erev Rav’ accusation at other Jews’ heads. There are still segments of Jewish society who are acting in some very immoral ways, both within the bounds and beyond the bounds of externally ‘orthodox’ Judaism.

In so many ways, it feels as though the same test has swung around again.

And this time, we have to try a different approach to solving the problem. It’s not going to work, to just cut off from our fellow Jew and pretend they are someone else’s problem. Each Jew is responsible for the other – and when we forget that, God has a way of reminding us.

The anti-Semites out there make no distinction between Jews in Jersey City, and Jews in Monsey, and Jews in the Conservative ‘Tree of Life’ in Pittsburgh.

We can’t cut off from all the troubling and even ‘evil’ elements in our midst, much as we might like to.

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So what’s the answer?

Azamra.

Azamra is the only way of fixing the ‘unfixable’ Erev Rav in our midst.

If we see the point of good in these people – without lying to ourselves or whitewashing their ‘bad’ – then God will do what’s required to resolve the problem, and somehow return that spark of goodness to a place of holiness.

From my own experience, when I do ‘Azamra’ on the yucky people out there, that’s precisely when their bad deeds start to catch up with them, and their suffering grows so great that they are prompted to make teshuva in some way, however small.

Rabbenu’s approach works, however you care to define that word.

And cutting people out of our lives and publically degrading them doesn’t. All that does is give more ammunition to the anti-Semites out there, who are churning out stuff 24/7 about the Rothschilds, and the Mossad, and the State of Israel being behind all of the world’s woes.

God is in control, here, not us.

God wants us to do Azamra on all the Jews we know.

If more of us can follow this approach, then the terrible scar left by Jacob Frank and his followers, and Shabtai Tzvi and his acolytes, will finally heal.

And the Temple will be rebuilt peacefully, in our days.

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] Today, there’s an estimated 100,000 donmeh living in Turkey.

[2] The Mixed Multitude: Jacob Frank and the Frankist Movement (1755-1816), by Pawel Maciejko.

[3] Ibid

[4] See Through Fire and Water.

[5] Hillel Rivlin is also an ancestor of the current President of Israel, Ruby Rivlin.

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Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

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Yesterday, both my girls were at Haditch.

This is the small town in the Ukraine where the Alter Rebbe of Lubavitch passed away and was buried, when he was fleeing Napoleon.

While many other of the Chassidic masters of that time had strong opinions on whether Napoleon was preferred to the Russian Tsar, when it came to the eternal question of is this good for the Jews? – the Alter Rebbe was the only one who actually encouraged his followers to actively spy for the Tsar against Napoleon’s forces.

One Lubavitcher chassid was actually working as a translator for the French forces, and on the Chabad.org website HERE, you can find a first-hand account of how he was nearly caught by Napoleon himself, who suspected there was a Russian spy in the camp.

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Recently, Rabbi Berland has been returning to the idea in his shiurim and comments that it’s not a good idea for Jews to get too close to the levers of power.

He brings the example of Rabbi Haim Farhi, who was the Jewish administrator of Akko at the time that Napoleon tried to conquer Israel, back in 1799.

Farhi’s boss was the notorious Pasha Ahmed Al Jazzar, a man renowned for his acts of sadism, fierce temper and cruelty. I visited Al Jazzar’s impressive bath house when I had my day out in Akko a few weeks ago. There, they told the story of how Al Jazzar had 37 wives, and one time, the rumor reached his ears that one of them had cheated on him.

Outraged, he lined all his wives up, and went down the line, trying to figure out who it was. He was unsuccessful. So instead, he had all 37 of his wives killed, just to be on the safe side. They are buried outside the walls of Akko. Or so the story goes.

So Haim Farhi apparently got off relatively easily, when Al Jazzar only sliced off the tip of his nose, and the top of his left ear, and blinded him in one eye. Even today, you can still see portraits of the one-eyed, mutilated Jewish advisor standing next to Al Jazzar, which means ‘butcher’ in Arabic.

Farhi ended up outliving Al Jazzar, and the next pasha, Abdullah ibn Ali, was initially a much more gentle character who was practically Farhi’s step-son. But as time went on, this second Pasha turned on him, had him murdered, and then threw his body over the port wall of Old Akko and into the sea. They never found him, and Farhi didn’t receive a Jewish burial.

Farhi’s widow died on the road to Syria, trying to escape Abdullah’s revenge. Later on, Haim Farhi’s still influential family effectively went to war against Abdullah, and instigated a small scale civil war within the Ottoman empire, which included violent clashes in the Golan Heights, Shechem, and the Beqaa Valley.

So, there are clear dangers involved in getting ‘involved’ with government, as the Alter Rebbe himself discovered, when he died on the road, escaping from Napoleon’s forces.

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

These messages are eternal, and the warning still stands.

Two weeks’ ago, just before the UK’s recent General Election, the current British Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, put out a public statement virulently criticizing the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for being an anti-Semite. That Corbyn is an anti-Semite is not in question: he’s clearly an anti-Semite.

But personally, I was amazed that Rabbi Mirvis put out the statement that he did, about the leader of the main opposition party, a couple of weeks before one of the most important General Elections the UK has ever held.

Rabbi Mirvis was clearly trying to ‘influence’ the elections, and to reduce the number of people willing to vote for Corbyn.

Now, I don’t have a crystal ball, and I have no idea what’s coming down the pipe in the UK. What I can tell you, is that leaving all the pro / anti Brexit questions to one side, the simple fact of leaving the EU is going to be enormously wrenching and chaotic for the country.

It’s not going to be simple, and who knows how much economic pain is really going to be involved with this process? That it could lead to better things down the road is possible, who knows, but there’s no getting around the short-term ‘pain’ it’s going to cause in a bunch of different ways.

And when that ‘pain’ hits, some people in the UK will start looking around for scapegoats to blame.

Rabbi Mirvis, with his ill-timed letter that effectively guaranteed that no-one ‘decent’ would ever publically admit to voting for Corbyn and his ‘pro a second referendum on Brexit’ Labour party – will then loom large.

And then what?

That is the question.

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And things are pretty bad on the ‘meddling in goyish politics front’ in the US, too.

On both sides of the debate, you have Jews prominently trying to sway public opinion, trying to affect political processes, trying to get as close as they can, to the levers of power.

And it’s making me very nervous.

Make no mistake, the anti-Semites out there are collecting their ‘evidence’ with a very keen eye. And it’s not so much the secular Jewish politicians who are holding their attention – although clearly, they are still very much part of the equation – but all those rabbis with long beards and black hats, who keep turning up in the corridors of power all over the world.

I know, it’s hard to build shuls and schools all over the world, in even the most far-flung places, without having to deal with the government. You need to get the permissions and permits, you need to apply for the grants and funding, you need to ‘grease the wheels’ to get these things off the ground, and rolling along*.

But it seems to me, that so many of these obvious Jews with beards and black hats have forgotten that they are in galut, and have forgotten who they are dealing with.

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Today’s beloved leader who apparently loves the Jews so much could be out on his ear tomorrow – and then what?

When Napoleon was trying to conquer Israel, he tried to ‘tempt’ the Jews in Israel to defect over to his side, by promising them all sorts of political freedom, civil equality, and financial opportunities.

Even though the dhimmi Chaim Farhi had been blinded and mutilated by his Muslim master, he totally refused Napoleon’s offer to act as a ‘fifth column’ for the invading French – and thank goodness he did, because otherwise, one way or another, the 9,000 Jews in Akko would have lost their lives.

If Al Jazzar would have got a sniff of this proposed treachery, there’s no question he would have killed all the Jews he could lay his hands on, as a ‘lesson’ for the rest of the Jews under Turkish rule – all of whom would automatically now be suspected as potential foreign agents.

And if Napoleon had conquered Israel thanks to Jewish turncoats, that would have sealed the paradigm that ‘Jews can’t be trusted to stay loyal to their countries of residence’, and yes, there would be more Jew slaughter happening again, at some point, God forbid, because of it.

Jews aren’t meant to mix into politics. And especially not ‘obvious’ Jews with long beards, black hats – and very short memories.

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The winds of change are blowing all over the place, at the moment.

None of us have any idea, really, what’s going on right now, where it’s all leading, and who ultimately is going to come out on top. And that there are so many visible Jews publically engaged in trying to affect goyish government at the very highest levels seems incredibly unwise, to say the least.

Because today’s rulers could be tomorrow’s toast.

The only wise course of action, as both Haim Farhi and the Alter Rebbe discovered a little too late, is to stay out of politics, and stay far away from government. 

We’re in galut, after all, we’re not at home.

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Writing in the Ohr Layesharim, the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Shalom Ber Schneersohn, has this to say, about why the Jews are in galut:  

“[U]ntil it is G-d’s will to redeem us, we must accept the yoke of exile to atone for our sins.”

The 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, stated in ‘Om Ani Chomah, 5709’ that:

“We are foresworn by the covenant of G-d that we cannot overcome [exile] with might or power, only by understanding and knowing the word and command of G-d.”

Both the Rebbes were addressing their remarks to the secular Zionists who were attempting to create a State of Israel by involving themselves in political intrigues and hob-nobbing with secular governments.

But just as this applies to a Jewish state, it surely applies even more to a non-Jewish state that Jews simply live in, until we finally get redeemed?

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“We cannot overcome exile with might or power.”

According to the 5th Lubavitcher Rebbe, exile – including all its holocausts, pogroms and suffering – is a punishment for our sins. It’s not supposed to be comfortable. Jews forget this at their peril. Galut is a temporary state of affairs, we aren’t ‘kings of our own castle’.

And that also still applies here, in the secular, anti-Torah State of Israel.

But the difference is this: When the political house of cards finally collapses here, it will be accompanied by a readiness to greet Moshiach, and a grassroots push to move the holy land of Israel from galut to geula.

By contrast, when the tottering political systems in the US, UK and elsewhere finally collapse, it will be accompanied by massive civil unrest, violence, and 25 million anti-Semites with semi-automatics who are trying to pin all their problems on the Jews.

That is the difference.

And so, we’ll leave this post where we began, with the warning for Jews to stay out of non-Jewish politics, and to keep a low profile, and to realise that wherever they happen to live, they are in galut to atone for their sins.

And let’s face it, there’s still a lot of atonement required.

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FOOTNOTES:

  • There’s a very interesting article on the chabad.org website that explains that all 7 Lubavitcher Rebbes were granted the title by Czarist Russia of being ‘Honorary Hereditary Citizens’, “which in Imperial Russia was the highest rank short of titular nobility.” I’m just throwing this out there, as a curious – and surprising – fact, given how much persecution the Rebbes all endured in Russia.

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If there’s one thing you can learn from the Gemara, it’s how to discuss things like a mensch.

Let me start off by saying I know a volcano exploded in New Zealand with a lot of casualties a few days’ ago. Most people don’t know this, but the city of Auckland – New Zealand’s capital city – is built on a massive, active volcanic field.

That this hasn’t happened before is really just miraculous – and as we covered a while back in THIS post about the Grand Solar Minimum that started last year, the earthquakes and the volcanic explosions are due for a massive uptick all over the world in the next two decades – unless something ‘supernatural’ happens to sweeten them all.

I also know there was a terror attack in Jersey City, and that American anti-semitism also seems to be coming to a boil. At the end of this post, you’ll find a bunch of articles related to that topic, if you’d like to revisit them.

So, I’m not ignoring these things, just they aren’t my priority at the moment.

My priority is trying to figure out some more of the things that are keeping us all stuck, miserable and away from Hashem, because as soon as more of us break out of our inner galut, the outer galut – together with all its terrible issues and suffering – will get fixed, too.

Because the main – and actually only – thing keeping us in galut, and keeping all this suffering spinning around, is that we’re whitewashing and justifying our own bad middot, instead of trying to work on them.

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‘My rabbi is better than yours’

So, with that intro, I thought I’d take a look at what I’m going to call ‘my rabbi is better than your rabbi’ syndrome, which is basically more of that ‘partisan politics’ that’s poisoning the whole world, just it’s dressed up in pious clothing.

One of the reasons that I loved Breslov so much, when I finally stumbled across it, was because Breslov puts a big emphasis on respecting other Rebbes, and other orthodox Jewish paths, even when they don’t always agree with the Breslov shita.

After years of one-dimensional Torah from people who only ever seemed to quote the same small handful of sources, the same small group of commentators, the same small group of rabbis that they found ‘acceptable’, I got to Breslov, and it was like the whole panoply of the Torah was restored to the discussion.

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Breslov rabbis were as happy to quote the Vilna Gaon and Rav Shach as they were the Baal Shem Tov and Rebbe Nachman.

Whoever had a good piece of Torah to teach, a good lesson to share, that commentator would be quoted and referenced, regardless of whether they were Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Litvak, Chassid, pro-zionist, anti-zionist – it didn’t matter! This was so refreshing to me, not least because I’ve learned that any system of ideas, or approach that has to be ‘green-housed’ to survive is just not very robust.

If an idea or approach can only thrive if it’s surrounded by an unquestioning echo-chamber that’s stuffed full of sycophants and yes-men, that’s extremely problematic – and it’s also extremely un-Jewish.

Because the Jewish way is NOT just to accept things in an unquestioning way, especially not big ideas about what God really wants from us. The Jewish way is to argue all over these subjects, and to really ‘wrestle with the truth’, because only in that way will our own biases and blind-spots get some light shone onto them.

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God is way, way bigger than any human being can grasp.

God’s Torah is the blueprint for creation, it stands to reason that even the greatest of us is going to grasp only a part of what’s really going on.

That’s why there is such an emphasis put on Jewish unity, because it’s only once you’ve got the opinion of the 599,999 other Jews around the table that you’re going to be able to start even approaching the real truth, the real wisdom contained in the Torah.

The Sages in the Gemara recognized this, and that’s why you find so very many debates between the different rabbis who are discussing these profoundly deep ideas, and trying to tease out what the truth really might be.

The Talmud is literally full of thousands upon thousands of arguments.

And some of those discussions are really not politically correct at all. It is one rabbi explaining to another rabbi why they think they are wrong, and some of the wording is often quite harif.

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For example, I just opened up the tractate of Gemara that happened to by lying on my coffee table, and got to this discussion in Shabbat 89a:

“One of the rabbis asked Rav Kahana: Have you ever heard what the meaning is of the name Mount Sinai?”

Rav Kahana tries to answer the question a couple of times, but the Rabbi he’s talking to is not impressed with his responses, and tells him:

“He told [Rav Kahana]: Why did you not frequent Rav Pappa and Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehoshua, who delve into Aggadah? If you had, you would know the answer to my question!”

Gosh, how embarrassing for Rav Kahana, that he’s being publically exposed for not knowing everything in a forum that is going to be pored-over and learnt by millions of Jews over the next 2,000 years!

And he’s in good company, because also in Shabbat 89a, you find a whole discussion about Moshe Rabbenu – the biggest prophet the Jewish people ever had – who is also getting some mild censure from no-less than Hashem:

“The Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Moses: “Moses, are you a fibber? Of course I gave the Torah to you!”

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I’m bringing these sources from the Gemara to show that our Sages were never ‘above’ being questioned or challenged.

These arguments weave themselves throughout the whole Gemara, and lest you think that the only people who were allowed to challenge the Sages’ teachings were other Sages, the Gemara clearly shows that non-Jews –like the Sages of Athens, the daughter of Caesar – also argued with them, and were answered.

Even people from secular, criminal backgrounds, like Resh Lakish, the former robber-chief-turned-Gemara Sage were permitted and encouraged to challenge the teachings of their rabbis, in order to tease out the real truth.

It’s recorded in Bava Metzia 84 that Resh Lakish would challenge his teacher, Rabbi Yochanan, 24 times on every point he made, until the matter was properly clarified. That’s why Rabbi Yochanan was so upset when Resh Lakish died, because being challenged about what you’re teaching is how you really get to the truth.

And as the truth is the seal of Hashem, engaging in these arguments is also how we get closer to God, and closer to understanding what God really wants from us.

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Before we continue, let’s make a very important point:

While the Gemara totally encourages challenging the teachings of the Rabbis, it in no way encourages or condones personal insults, or approaching any of the Sages with anything less than total respect.

Sometimes, that can be a very fine line, and it has to be walked very carefully, and with a great deal of siyatta di shmeya. But, the Gemara makes it abundantly clear that you can respectfully disagree with a teaching, with a viewpoint, without that being a personal attack on the person whose view you are challenging.

Which brings me to the crux of this post.

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The last few days, my husband and I have been having a back and forth with someone who read my post ‘The Emuna Reboot’, and got highly offended but what they felt was ‘lashon hara’. I’ve tweaked the article to remove the thing that was ‘offending’ them, but the whole discussion kind of sharpened up for me that there were many things about that old-school ‘emuna approach’ that really don’t seem to be correct.

And just like the Sages of the Gemara took issue with each other’s teachings (‘l’havdil….), this whole ‘discussion’ has also made it obvious to me that debating and questioning ideas and teachings  about what ’emuna’ actually is, and how we truly acquire it, is actually the Jewish way.

It’s what God really wants from us.

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Sadly, we live in a period of time where flying monkeys are shaping the parameters of debate, and where any time you come close to discussing a Torah idea or teaching, they try to shut you down by loudly screeching lashon hara!!!!

But let me ask you this: If even a Tzaddik of the caliber of Moshe Rabbenu had to defend his teachings (so to speak) in the Talmud, why should any of the enormous tzaddikim of subsequent generations be exempt from having their teachings scrutinized and clarified?

This isn’t about partisan politics, or about ‘my rebbe is bigger than your rebbe’ – or at least, it shouldn’t be.

God forbid, we should utter a word of personal attack against any individual, let alone a Jewish leader, God forbid a million times over. But, to not be able to challenge a teaching?

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That’s what I’d like to see more of. Much less posturing, and much less arrogant MY chassidut / Jewish group / Rabbi / approach is the only one way of doing things!!!!

And much more hey, I don’t understand your approach, and X, Y and Z really doesn’t seem to be supported by Torah sources. Can we discuss this?

The last thing to say is that all this has made me so appreciate all the criticism, mud and insults that is being thrown at the Rav, and at Shuvu Banim, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Why?

Because at this stage, it’s very hard to be publically part of Shuvu Banim unless you are willing to do some serious work on acquiring emuna and humility, and dealing with people insulting you personally and challenging you harshly, every step of the way. I get dissed from my kids, I get challenged by my friends and neighbors, I get insulted on the internet – it’s all amazing stuff!

Because each time it happens, I have to take it back into hitbodedut and go through the process of peering into my blind spot, to find out where the truth lies. I’ve written about this before, but the truth is NEVER a 0-100% split.

Even the biggest psycho with the biggest vested interest always has something true that they’re sharing with you, that’s mixed up in all the lies and slanderous insults. One of my commentators wanted to know why I bother even reading insulting comments, or having these discussions with people.

The answer is, because they always teach me something about my own blind spot.

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God is using everyone to give us messages about what we ourselves need to work on, change and fix, and I’m certainly not a level where I can even begin to pretend that I’m perfect and have nothing left to work on or fix.

I’m not infallible. I’m a flawed human being.

And the point is, that neither should what we’re being taught by our rabbis be above question. Even the biggest Tzaddik will fall seven times, there is no such thing as a person who doesn’t sin, who doesn’t err, or make a mistake.

If that holds for Moshe Rabbenu, and Rav Kahana of the Gemara, it certainly holds for everyone else.

So, to all those people who keep trying to close down the discussion by flinging abusive insults all over the place, let me ask you something:

What are you so afraid of? What are you scared is going to happen, if we actually look at these teachings and ideas and debate them on their own merits? Why are you so bound up in your way, your rabbi, your rebbe, your chassidut, your yeshiva being ‘right’, that you keep stomping on any suggestion of exploring their teachings outside of the ‘echo chamber’?

It’s an interesting question, isn’t it?

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Photo by Marco Bianchetti on Unsplash

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Articles about anti-Semitism in the USA: