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.

Over the last 12 years, I’ve seen the aliya process chew up a whole bunch of well-meaning people who didn’t realise what the point of being a Jew really is.

In the ‘frum Disney’ version of life that’s still so popular in chutz l’aretz, ‘Jewish life’ is about devoting your externals – your house, your money, your family, your learning and social interactions – to Hashem.

When we live in frum Disney, that means we pay our 10% charity to ensure we’ll always have money, that we buy a house in a Jewish neighbourhood near the kosher delis, that we send our kids to Jewish schools, that we have a good shul within walking distance, and maybe even that we learn a blatt of Gemara, or a couple Halachot of shmirat halashon every day.

What else is there to do, in frum Disney Land? Life is portrayed there as so simple, so black-and-white: do your best to follow Hashem’s Torah and keep His mitzvot, and you’ll only get blessings.

But then, we move to Israel and the ‘frum Disney’ version of Yiddishkeit quickly crumbles.

All of that wrenching effort we made to relocate to the Holy Land, all of the hits to our wallet, our family life, our social standing, our self-esteem, our feeling of belonging… It seems very clear that God should repay this tremendous self-sacrifice with a life of tremendous obvious bracha and ease.

But so often, something that appears to be the opposite occurs.

The money is one thing, the inability to speak the language properly, or figure things out financially and professionally is very, very difficult for a lot of new olim.

But the hardest thing is the isolation.

We move here to be part of the Jewish people, to have our kids grow up in the Jewish homeland, and to see our descendants BH flourish in the land of their forefathers, but so many of us first generation olim never actually find our own place in this huge tapestry that’s unfurling around us.

I’ve been here 12 years, and while on most levels I feel I ‘belong’ here more than I ever felt I belonged in the UK, there is still a big chunk of me that feels like a permanent stranger, a permanent outsider.

Socially, I’m still trudging though the desert, waiting for the Promised Land to appear.

I miss the Shabbat socialising I used to do (every week….)

I miss feeling like I could make things happen, and achieve things, and set goals that would materialise. I haven’t felt like that – about anything – for years, now.

Because in Israel, you don’t serve Hashem with your money, and your wardrobe full of tznius clothes, and your huge salon where you entertain 30 people every week for Shabbos.

You serve God with your kishkes, with your soul, with all the hopes and dreams you have for yourself that may, or may not accord with the Almighty’s plan for your life.

And that difference is enormous.

Most people don’t know this. They don’t understand that the experience of serving Hashem in Israel, in the Holy Land, is qualitatively different from the ‘frum Disney’ experience you get everywhere else.

They think they’ll be able to land, and to keep their self-esteem, and their arrogance, and their comfort zone, and their bank accounts 100% intact, and to carry on serving God with glatt kosher schnitzels and a blatt Gemora.

But it’s not like that. Every day, you wake up and God squeezes a bit more emuna out of you, a bit more tefilah that at some point things will calm down and work out, a few more tears about the matzav, a bit more yearning for Moshiach and geula and the Temple, when we’ll finally be reunited with all the people, the family, the friends, we left ‘back home’.

Israel is a very real place.

It’s a place of the inner dimension, the soul. I’ve seen so many people get mangled by the aliya process, because they didn’t take that into account, and they didn’t understand that what’s on the table here is spiritual rectification, not frum Disney Land.

The last time I went to the UK, I came back with a profound sense of sadness that lasted for many, many months. Today, I woke up tearful and I realised that even though I only spent 2 ½ days in frum Disney Land, it’s still taking a spiritual toll on me.

Part of me can’t understand why I’m living this life now where I get one Shabbat invitation a year (sometimes…) Why I have no community, and no real chance of that changing. Why someone who was so successful, externally, in frum Disney Land should be such an embarrassing failure here.

I know the answer.

I look at my kids who smile genuine smiles, and who feel real emotions, and who relish being alive, and I know the answer.

I look at my husband, who I still love profoundly after 20 years of marriage, who I still have big chats with, who I still like to spend time with, and I know the answer.

Here, I serve Hashem with my kishkes and my tears and my prayers, not with my nice house and my Shabbos hospitality.

But I still hope that sometime soon, the path is going to get smoother, and a bunch less lonely.

The Four Cardinal Sins of sinat chinam.

Rav Ofer Erez’s recently gave an awesome shiur (click HERE to watch it, with full English subtitles) about how our sinat chinam, or baseless hatred, is delaying the geula, I thought it would be good to take a proper look at the four cardinal sins he described.

I know what you’re going to tell me: Hey, there’s only THREE cardinal sins, idiot!

(See, we all have some work to do on our compassion, victory-seeking tendencies and judgmental attitudes…)

While it’s true that the ‘cardinal sins’ usually refer to immorality, bloodshed and idol-worship, Rav Ofer pointed out that sinat chinam, or baseless hatred is worse than all three – and it can usually be divided up into four main areas, namely:

  • Hatred
  • Jealousy / envy
  • Anger
  • Judging other people harshly (how I’m translating hakpada – I’m happy to hear any other suggestions for a better way of translating that word.)

Every time we’re indulging in one of these four cardinal sins against a fellow Jew, we’re delaying the geula, plain and simple.

And as Rav Ofer explained, Chazal teach us that even just feeling these emotions internally, without actually expressing them externally in specific words and action STILL COUNTS AS SINAT CHINAM.

And sinat chinam is what destroyed the second temple and let us into our current, millennia-long exile.

And sinat chinam is what’s delaying the geula, and is delaying the rebuilding of our third temple and the ushering in of true global peace and acknowledgment of Hashem.

Right, so now we have that clear, let’s take a look at what sorts of very common things (that we all do, including me, a lot) count as sinat chinam, so we can start to get a real grip on the problem:

  • Bearing grudges
  • Indulging in long, pointless rants about how ‘evil’ particular sections of the Jewish community are
  • Judging people harshly over one ‘negative’ comment, or ill-thought-out response they might have made (especially online…)
  • Judging people harshly because they disagree with us (even about really important things)
  • Hating people in our hearts, which means we secretly want bad things to happen to them (like getting wiped out by an asteroid belt, or a forest fire, or an enormous tsunami etc), or for them get to in trouble with the IRS, or gloating or feeling secretly satisfied when ‘the truth comes out’
  • Publicly pointing out other people’s flaws
  • Preaching at other people about what THEY are doing wrong, instead of focusing on what THEY are doing right
  • Preaching at other people about what THEY are doing wrong, instead of focusing on what WE are doing wrong
  • Making trouble between different Jews, or different groups of Jews – and this includes stirring trouble in our families, or trying to get a parent, or a sibling, or an aunty, or whoever, to take sides in our arguments
  • Calling other Jews ‘Erev Rav’
  • Trying to take someone down, or take someone out, because we’re jealous of them (and as Rav Ofer pointed out, this one is particularly tricky to deal with as we often have NO IDEA just how jealous and envious we are of other people.)

Again, this is just stuff that I do myself, all the time, (or at least, have done a lot of in the past…), so feel free to flesh the ‘sinat chinam’ list out in the comments.

To stick with the jealousy thing for a moment, the first or second time I went to Uman, I had an immensely powerful dream where I realized for the first time in my life just how driven by jealousy I actually was.

And this was back when I had a nice house, my OK life, and everything was still running smoothly, at least on the outside.

But it was only when I had that dream that I actually got how envious I was of people who had more kids, or more money, or more success, or a nicer, bigger house. That’s one big reason why it’s good to go to Uman, because somehow the Tzaddikim there introduce you to your real self, and show you just how far from perfect you really are.

(And the opposite is also true: when you go to Uman feeling at the lowest rung of humanity, you get picked up off the floor and new life is breathed into you.)

So, whenever you find yourself competing or comparing, or feeling like a winner, or (more usually….) feeling like a loser in life, if you take a closer look at what’s really going on underneath, I’m pretty sure you’ll spot a fat wodge of jealousy, peeking out.

So our work for today is this:

JUST ACKNOWLEDGE THE PROBLEM

If you want to do this in a really serious way, (because heh, you REALLY want the third temple to be rebuilt already…) try the following:

  1. Take a piece of paper, and write down the four cardinal sins across the top of the page.
  2. Next time you’re doing your daily hour of talking to God, think back over the last 24 hours, and see how many of your interactions, conversations or thought processes was connected to one of these four cardinal sins, in some way.

When you got ANGRY at the checkout girl, that’s clearly ANGER.

If you got irritated with someone because of something they wrote or commented about online, that’s certainly JUDGING HARSHLY (and depending on how many Moroccan genes you possess, it could also come under HATRED and ANGER, too).

If you find yourself feeling sorry for yourself because Mrs Whatshername up the street just bought a new car, or went for a nice holiday or has great-looking hair in their thumbnail or [fill in the blank – anything else people like to post pictures up about on Facebook] – then that’s clearly JEALOUSY – but again, could fit into the other categories too, depending on where you take it.

If you’re like most people, the idea of doing this could actually be making you feel pretty uncomfortable.

It’s human nature to run away from, and whitewash our flaws and negative attitudes. But here’s what Rav Ofer had to say about this:

“The closer a person comes to Hashem, the more of their own flaws they own up to.”

So, it’s actually a good thing to admit to being a hate-filled, jealous, frothing-at-the-mouth, highly-critical crazy person!

(Hi five me! I’m finally doing something right…)

I’m planning on returning to this subject shortly, God willing, to share some more practical tools, tips and ideas for how we can really get geula going now, and the third temple rebuilt.

But let’s sum up where we’ve got to so far:

Criticising other Jews, even if they ARE evil / nasty / cowardly / immoral etc is ONLY DELAYING GEULA. Ditto, hating other Jews, ditto, raging against other Jews, ditto, being jealous of other Jews.

(Yes I know, pretty much the only safe thing to blog about is recipes.)

The only thing that’s going to speed geula up at this point is WORKING ON OURSELVES, and especially the four cardinal sins of:

  • Hatred
  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Harsh judgment (of PEOPLE, not of CHARACTER TRAITS or BEHAVIOURS).

All this stuff is so very hard, isn’t it?

I’m also feeling a little overwhelmed by the scope of the spiritual task we have to accomplish to get Moshiach the sweet way.

But even though maybe we can’t complete the job, we’re not free to ignore it, and pretend it’s everyone else’s problem, either.

(But sometimes, that sure does sound tempting.)

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I was expecting some sort of violent confrontation to kick off in London, when a bunch of angry ethnic minorities calling themselves by the Orwellian name the: ‘Movement for justice by any means necessary’ went marching on the streets as part of their ‘Day of Rage’, scheduled for June 21, 2017.

It seems like only 300 or so people showed up to the main march through London, instead of the million they were expecting.

But that doesn’t mean that ‘nothing’ happened that day, anything but.

That same day, June 21st, a different bunch of ethnic minority ‘yoof’ started attacking members of the public on the streets of London with machetes (!), swords (!) and batons, but as the ‘members of the public’ happened to be very orthodox Jews in Stamford Hill, no-one thought that was a news story worth covering.

Apparently, these street riots in Stamford Hill continued for two days, and injured a bunch of people. But as the people being attacked were just orthodox Jews, and not ‘real’ people, the British press completely buried the muslims-violently-attacking-Jews angle of the story.

The Evening Standard, the Metro – none of these British papers breathed a word about who was going on the rampage (i.e. Muslims), or which ethnic community (i.e. orthodox Jews) was bearing the brunt of the attacks, in what some Jewish commentators called a modern-day pogrom.

I’d like to tell you it’s only Britain that’s covering up all the growing, often violent, politically-motivated anti-semitism in the country, but the recent murder of French Jew Sarah Halimi in Paris by her Muslim neighbor shows that European countries are closing ranks when it comes to acknowledging anti-semitic violence against their Jewish citizens.

Again, we can go on spouting about how awful all this is, and how unjust, and how terrible all these Europeans are, and how nasty all the muslims are etc – but it’s missing the point.

The point is, that God is running the world, and God wants the Jews to come back home to Israel.

That’s why anti-semitism is only going to continue to increase all around the world, and why what’s going on in London, and Paris, and increasingly also in America, is only going to get worse.

On the same day as I saw the story about the modern-day ‘pogrom’ in Stamford Hill, there was another snippet of info about how the British Government could force a chareidi girls school in the UK to close, because it’s not teaching toieva stuff to its students.

God forbid, that a Jewish school – any Jewish school, never mind just the chareidi ones – should be forced to teach its pupils about this terrible spiritual traif!

But this is what’s going on in the West, as the battle against God, religion and moral values continues to go up in intensity.

That’s why God wants the Jews back home, where they belong.

Sure, there are a load of problems in Israel, too, but forcing a chareidi kid to learn about Ben Gurion, or how to do algebra, kind of pales into nothing compared to what’s going on in even the frummest Jewish schools in London…

It’s not easy to move to Israel, I really do know that.

But it’s only going to get harder to stay put.

Dear reader, if you live in chutz l’aretz, please at least start praying that God should show you a workable way to make that move home, because it’s still so much easier to jump into making aliya, than to be pushed into doing it by a sword-wielding follower of Allah.

Few things are more misunderstood than the concept of the Erev Rav.

Like most of the people reading this, the first time I heard about the Erev Rav in any ‘real’ way was from the autistics.

The more I read the autistics, the more I started suspecting other people of ‘being’ Erev Rav (ER, for short). Initially, it answered so many questions, cleaned up so many problems! I mean, the only reason that a Jew would or could act in such a horrible, disgusting way could only be because they must be Erev Rav….

Like many others, the ER quickly became a kind of obsession by me. And when I get obsessed with things, I research them as much as I can, and I try to bottom them out as much as possible. So, I threw myself into reading anything I could about the ER, including a document called ‘The Modern Erev Rav’, which brings together a lot of the sources in English.

By the time I’d finished going through that document, I had a very clear understanding of what sorts of things the Erev Rav did, and that the Vilna Gaon, amongst others, was telling me that I should cut them out of my life and avoid them as much as possible.

So over the next few years, that’s what I tried to do. (This was when I wrote that series over on www.breslev.co.il.)

As a result, I lost so many friends, stopped speaking to so many close family members, and even started suspecting my husband of being an Erev Rav.

(! – if you ever met the guy, you’ll understand just how crazy that particular statement is…)

And then, I came to the ultimately disturbing conclusion that I myself must also be an ‘unfixable’ ER, because I also spoke lashon hara (sometimes…) and made trouble between people (sometimes…) and was obsessed with making a name for myself (sometimes…)

It’s axiomatic that when you follow God’s laws, and really try to give God what He wants, you see brachas and blessings from doing that. Dear reader, all I got from cutting all the supposed ‘evil ER’ people out of my life was heaping doses of heartache, misery and suffering.

The more I tried to run away from these people, as the Vilna Gaon’s students suggested, the more I came to realize that in 2017, we are ALL Erev Rav people.

At the same time as this was going on, I realized that the secular world was also noticing the negative character traits associated with the Erev Rav, particularly the traits of lack of compassion and empathy for others and rigid thinking, and defining them as the basis of personality disorders, especially Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

According to modern psychiatry, most of these personality disorders, but especially NPD, can’t be fixed. The person with NPD will stay permanently broken, egotistical and nasty. Again, I spent years and years going through all the literature on personality disorders, and measuring it up against my own experiences of difficult people, and it dovetails amazingly with all the ‘Erev Rav’ stuff.

Except, I came to the same problem with that stuff, too: I started to notice that I MYSELF sometimes acted like I had NDP, (especially after I went through the worst year of my life, when I got hit with so many traumatic experiences that my capacity to feel compassion or empathy for anyone else pretty much completely disappeared.)

Which is when the turning point happened, and I realized that TRAUMA is what makes people act like narcissicists, etc, and what makes people act like ER, etc.

So then, I started researching trauma, and C-PTSD obsessively, and again it was a perfect ‘fit’ for what I was seeing around me and experiencing in myself, and it convinced me once and for all that just as personality disorders CAN be overcome, so can ER traits.

Then, I started looking for proof from authentic Jewish sources that this was the case, and I hit the jackpot with various teachings from Rav Berland and Rebbe Nachman himself, a lot of which I bring down in the book Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav.

So, here’s where we currently stand:

It’s not a Jewish idea to call someone ‘bad’, anymore than it’s a Jewish idea to call someone ‘Erev Rav’.

Xtians go in for that sort of global, meaningless ‘good and bad’ people rubbish.

By contrast, Jews talk about good and bad DEEDS, good and bad TRAITS, but we don’t give people labels like good and bad, because we understand that is something that only God is qualified to do, at the end of a person’s life, when all their merits and sins are weighed up together in the Heavenly court.

In that sense, the Erev Rav is a completely false paradigm.

Who can claim to be qualified to call someone an ‘Erev Rav’ and to assume that person can never make teshuva and will be permanently consigned to an eternity in Gehinnom?!

People with pronounced ‘Erev Rav’ traits aren’t just left-wing politicians or corrupt journalists, you know. If we’re honest, then we’ll admit that each and every one of us know people, are related to people, talk to people EVERY SINGLE DAY that fit at least some of the criteria set out by RASHBI and the Vilna Gaon (amongst others) for the Erev Rav.

We’re not just talking about Shimon Peres here, we’re talking about your ‘Erev Rav’ mum, and your ‘Erev Rav’ kid, and your ‘Erev Rav’ spouse. Do you really want all these people to be permanently consigned to destruction and Gehinnom?

And if the answer is ‘yes’, then there’s an enormous irony here, because only people who have a severe lack of compassion and empathy for other people (which remember, is one of the key traits of the ‘Erev Rav’ as identified by our Sages…) would willingly go around accusing others of being ‘Erev Rav’, with all that entails.

That’s why the authentic Jewish approach is to talk about EREV RAV BEHAVIOUR, and not EREV RAV PEOPLE.

It’s a crucial, massive distinction.

Because people can always stop behaving like ER, but they can’t stop being Erev Rav.

God is full of kindness and compassion for His creations. Does it really sound realistic to you that this kind, merciful Creator would create a category of person that can never, ever make teshuva, no matter what effort they make to improve, no matter how much suffering they go through? Does that sound ‘right’ to you?

God can do anything!

We saw in the Torah so many times – including in this week’s parshat Korach – that God was going to destroy the Jewish people because of their disgusting behaviour, but didn’t because the Tzaddik of the generation, Moshe Rabbenu, prayed for them.

Which brings me to my last point for today (although I will be returning to this subject again and again, until we all start to really get what I’m going on about here):

If we really want all the horrible ‘ER’ type traits and behavior that are definitely flowering all over the place in our modern world to really disappear, we need to pray for other people, and also for ourselves.

Again, asking God for help, and really believing in God’s mercy and compassion and willingness to help out, and really building a genuine, personal relationship with God is something that people with pronounced ‘Erev Rav’ tendencies find very difficult to do.

That’s one of the reason’s why hitbodedut, personal prayer, is the fastest and most effective way of neutralizing a person’s ‘Erev Rav’ tendencies, because it goes to the very heart of the problem, namely that ‘Erev Rav’ people don’t really believe in God in any real way, and certainly don’t believe that He’s compassionate, kind and good.

SO TO SUM UP:

  • Most people with Erev Rav tendencies CAN and WILL eventually make teshuva (as per the teachings of Rav Ofer Erez, Rav Eliezer Berland, and Rebbe Nachman).
  • We have no way of knowing who is going to ultimately going to make teshuva and who isn’t, so we have no right to call anyone a ‘permanently unfixable’ Erev Rav in the meantime.
  • The people who are most wedded to the idea of calling other people ‘Erev Rav’ are, ironically, themselves demonstrating a number of key traits of the ER, namely a severe lack of empathy and compassion for others, together with pronounced tendencies to speak badly of their fellow Jews, to stoke sinat chinam, and to create trouble, controversy and machloket between the Jewish people.

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You can buy my book, Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav, HERE.

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As you may or may not know, around four years’ ago I wrote a whole series on the ‘Erev Rav’ for the Breslev.co.il website.

At that time, I’d been immersed in all the traditional sources about the Erev Rav for a couple of years, and the more I read these sources – and all the ‘commentary’ from the autistics etc that surrounded them – the blacker the picture became: The Erev Rav were this evil, shadowy group of people who’d somehow insinuated themselves into the very spiritual heart of the Jewish people, and were poisoning the community from the inside out.

As my research and pondering continued, after a couple of years’ I had an ‘Eureka!’ moment, when I realized that the descriptions of the Erev Rav, and their behavior, found in the Zohar and in the writings attributed to the students of the Vilna Gaon, appeared to exactly match up to modern descriptions of people with personality disorders, especially Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

And that’s when the bottom kind of fell out of my world for the next two years, because according to modern psychiatry, personality disorders are unfixable.

And according to the more traditional take on the Jewish sources talking about the Erev Rav, the Erev Rav were similarly unfixably ‘evil’.

At that same time, I started to notice that most (if not all….) of the people I knew – including my own self! – had many of the traits typically assigned to the Erev Rav. And thus began the toughest two years of my whole life, because I was consumed by the question of whether all these people – including myself! – were actually permanently unfixable, evil, ‘doomed’ Erev Rav, or whether something else was going on here.

Man, I cannot begin to tell you the amount of heartbreak I had at this stage, because in case you haven’t noticed, nearly all of us in 2017 are completely messed up, and act (at least sometimes…) in the ways typically ascribed to the Erev Rav.

It took me multiple trips to Uman, and hours upon hours of talking to God about it all, until Hashem finally shined His light into the darkness, and I discovered a pivotal shiur given by Rav Eliezer Berland, a decade ago, where he explained that

EVERYBODY can be fixed, and that there are NO wicked people in Am Yisrael anymore.

That shiur changed the whole picture, and then I found a whole bunch of ‘hidden’ stuff about the Erev Rav problem, and how to fix it, hidden away in Likutey Moharan, and other of Rebbe Nachman’s works, too – and that’s when I sat down and wrote the ‘Unlocking the Secrets of the Erev Rav’ book, which basically set all the info and sources out to show that the problem is Erev Rav TRAITS (that we all have, including myself…) and not permanently unfixable Erev Rav PEOPLE.

THE CONNECTION TO MY EYE

And here where the story takes it’s usually ‘weird’ twist that I’m sure you’re coming to expect from posts here on my website.

As you probably know, my eye has been playing up, and kind of ‘evil-looking’ for around two months now. I have done a TON of teshuva about this eye, dear reader, and I can see that God is really using it to clear up so many of my remaining issues and bad middot.

Each stage of teshuva I’ve done has definitely improved things with my eye, but tachlis, it’s still a little ‘evil-looking’ and I’ve really had enough of it.

Yesterday, I finally decided to get back on with podcasting my way through the ‘Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav’ book, and I saw I was up to Chapter 6, talking about Rebbe Nachman’s lesson of AZAMRA!

Anyway, as I was going over it again, the following jumped out at me, and smacked me in the face (taken from the shiur by Rav Berland):

“Every single Jew will one day make teshuva!…Now, it’s possible to speed this process up, but only if we start looking with a ‘good eye’.

Only if a person merits to look at every Jew with a ‘good eye’ then, ‘he will consider his place, and he [the wicked person] won’t be there anymore [i.e. in the place of being wicked].

If people would realize this, and internalize that if they started to judge others favorably, and to stop looking at them with an ayin ra, or ‘bad eye’, then there wouldn’t be anymore wicked people in Am Yisrael.

Because it’s possible to bring them all back in make teshuva, in the blink of an eye…”

Wwowowoww.

I suddenly got that I have a ton of teshuva still to make on this subject, not least because I wrote that series of articles over on Breslev that is still suggesting, incorrectly, that Am Yisrael is chock-full of evil, ‘unfixable’ Erev Rav people.

Once that penny dropped, I sent an email over to the English editor of Breslev.co.il, and I’m really hoping I can start to clean this stuff up properly, now:

I also realized it’s not enough to have written that book about the Erev Rav, and to now just leave it to gather dust. Mamash, I have to start getting the info in it out in any way possible, because it’s really part of how we’re going to get the geula faster, and easier.

We have to look at our fellow Jew with a good eye, and to stop talking about ‘Erev Rav’ PEOPLE, because it’s all a crock. Yes, there are Erev Rav TRAITS, and we all have them, and we all have to work on them.

Again, people usually develop Erev Rav TRAITS because they’ve experienced severe trauma, emotional neglect and / or other difficulties in their childhood. I.e. – it’s learned behavior! And it can be unlearned fairly simply, once you know what’s really going on and you get the Tzaddikim involved in the equation.

I really, really hope that’s the missing bit of my ‘evil-looking eye’ teshuva that I need to make now, but (no pun intended) I’ll guess we’ll see…

Recently, I had an email exchange with someone that got me thinking about how when Moshiach really does, actually, well and truly show up, most people are going to think he’s a cult leader.

You can understand why.

Moshiach will be a hugely charismatic, magnetic person of immense holiness and charm, that the Jewish soul will automatically gravitate towards, and want to nullify themselves to.

That’s part of the beauty and majesty of the Moshiach! The Moshiach will have a global soul that contains a spark of every Jew on the planet, and we’ll all want to get close to him, and soak in his immense spiritual light.

But until the Moshiach is completely and undeniably revealed as the Moshiach, he’s going to look like one of the most convincing cult leaders you’ve ever met.

And here lies the conundrum.

As I’ve written about a lot here, there are an awful lot of what Rebbe Nachman calls ‘Rav de klipa’, or rabbis of the dark side out there in the world. God already warned us that for every ‘light’ He created, there would be darkness, and for every ‘good’ He created, there would be bad, until Moshiach comes and the whole world is spiritually rectified and evil permanently vanquished.

Also as I’ve written about elsewhere, Moshiach’s coming is not a one-shot dramatic affair where he steps off a plane in Ben Gurion airport, or holds a coming out party and voila, instant Moshiach and geula.

Nope.

It’s going to be a long, drawn-out affair, like the sunrise, growing stronger and stronger from moment to moment until everyone has to admit that day has come. But while we’re still in the process of transition, there’s going to be a lot of murky stuff mixed into that sunrise.

Lots of ‘rabbis’ pretending to be what they really are not. Lots of psychos taking advantage of trusting members of the public, to act in the most evil, anti-Torah, unethical ways. Lots of ‘cult leaders in waiting’ trying to take advantage of our yearning for Moshiach to pull a fast one over us and pull us away from God, has va halila.

So what’s a person meant to do?

Some of us are solving this problem by plain blank refusing to acknowledge Moshiach in any real way. Sure, they’ll discuss the idea theoretically, but any suggestion that a real person could actually be Moshiach, or that this could actually happen in their lifetimes (especially if they live outside of Israel…) will elicit a dramatically negative response.

One such person who holds this view of all things Moshiach told me:

‘Look what happened with Chabad! We don’t want something like that to happen again!’

as justification for why they were so ‘anti’ the whole talking about Moshiach thing.

So then, I started to ponder: what really happened with Chabad?

Sure, there are still a few people walking around with the mistaken idea that the Lubavitcher Rebbe will come back from the dead to lead us. But I’m not sure even that is so terrible. When Moshiach is revealed, they’ll see that they’re wrong, and end of story.

(There’s a whole big discussion in the Gemara about just this idea, of whether the Moshiach can come back from the dead, and the Gemara – after a long discussion – asserts that this will not be the case. I don’t know much about the Moshiach, but I can tell you that he definitely knows more Gemara than I do, and abides by all aspects of Jewish halachic law…)

And in the meantime, what really happened with Chabad? Simply that hundreds of thousands of Jews started to yearn for Moshiach to come, in fulfillment of the Rambam’s 13th Principle of Faith, and made a whole bunch of teshuva in readiness for that moment.

I mean really, what’s so bad about that?

Sure, there are some crazy people that took things to extremes, but Chabad didn’t make these people crazy any more than Breslov makes people crazy. Crazy people (including yours truly…) are attracted to very big spiritual lights, as we know that’s where we’ll find the antidote for all the darkness we’re lugging around in our souls.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe was an enormous spiritual light, and very probably was the potential Moshiach of his generation. If your tikkun is to be a crazy person anyway, at least be a crazy person who keeps mitzvahs and talks (a little too much…) about the coming of the Moshiach.

But to come back to the point in hand, how are we really going to know who is a true candidate for Moshiach, and who is just a cult-leader-in-waiting, in this very difficult, confusing time before geula actually really kicks off?

There’s one answer:

Hitbodedut.

The regular practice of talking to Hashem in your own words for a fixed amount of time every day, preferably an hour.

When you talk to God regularly like this, you get connected to your soul, and to the real Tzaddikim of the generation, and to Hashem Himself, and it gets much, much harder for the fakers to fool you.

Try this exercise, to see what I mean:

Imagine a rabbi that you KNOW is good and the real deal, like the Baba Sali, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Chida, the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbe Nachman, Rav Ovadia Yosef, etc. See how they look, see how ‘big’ they are, compared to you yourself.

Now, imagine a rabbi from today meeting that ‘good’ rabbi from the past – really picture them meeting in your head – and see what happens.

I guarantee you’ll start to get some amazing insights about who is really ‘real’ and who isn’t, if you try this exercise a few times, and ask God to show you what’s really going on.

And in the meantime, this is the best and really only route for knowing who really could be Moshiach, and who is a cult-leader-in-disguise.

Don’t let the ‘Rav de klipa’s’ fool you!

And don’t be scared to join the ‘cult of Moshiach’ as soon as you’re 100% convinced inside that you’ve discovered who he is. After all, yearning for Moshiach is a fundamental part of being a Jew, and if you’re regularly talking to God about it all, He’ll certainly guide you to the right person, at just the right time.

And if you’re wrong – but attached to an enormously holy person in the meantime who could be Moshiach, but maybe isn’t – what’s so bad about that, anyway?

When my grandma died a few weeks’ back, the relative who’d been primarily caring for her decided to keep her death secret for two weeks, and to bury her all by himself.

No-one in the family came to the funeral. Two weeks later, he decided to put up the headstone all by himself – again, with no-one else in the family present.

This relative did these things because he was operating from a place of pure spite and vengeance. He was ‘paying back’ the other relatives for things he believed they did to him, and also for things he thought they should have done for him.

For two weeks after my grandma died, without anyone knowing or mourning for her, I felt SO bad in just about every way, physically, mentally and spiritually. Once the news finally came out and I went to her grave, I started to feel better in a lot of ways, but then a new test started up:

I had an overwhelming urge to find this relative and to go and punch him in the face.

Again, this was completely understandable, and not something ‘bad’, per se, as what he did was extremely awful, on a number of levels. I’m not a Tzaddik (and let me break this to you gently, dear reader, the odds are extremely high that you aren’t either) – and when you’re not a bona fide Tzaddik, you have to be honest about your bad feelings, and give them some space to be expressed, if you don’t want them to fester away and start literally killing you.

So I knew it was ok to have a day or two of feeling rage and vengeance, but then it had to stop. And getting it to stop was pretty darned hard!

Because for a couple of days there, I really hated this relative’s guts for what he did to me, my grandma, and the rest of my family.

I had to do a lot of talking to God about it all to figure out:

  • The guy is 100%, seriously mentally ill (and it’s a real shame more people don’t know how to spot this, and call it out at an earlier stage, instead of assuming that these people will behave, act and think like ‘normal’ human beings)
  • He justified his horrendous behavior by believing he had a ‘right’ to take vengeance against people who he believed (rightly or wrongly) had hurt or upset him
  • If I carried on hating him, and wanting to rip his eyeballs out, then I would be acting just like him.

And that realization brought me up short.

Objectively, the guy HAS done something awful, on a number of levels. But if I carried on hating him and wishing bad things on him, then even if I didn’t actually act on these thoughts, I’d still be guilty of the same sin he’s steeped in.

And that’s the last thing I want, because let’s remember, the guy is 100% seriously mentally ill!

So I had to do some serious, serious inner work to try to rip out all that hatred and vengeance stuff, and it was really exhausting.

As I was dealing with all that, I got some information about how the bottom has just fallen out of another hate-filled person’s life.

Again, this person has spent years and years and years hating others for doing something that hurt them, and has taken every opportunity to take vengeance, and to bad-mouth them, and to ‘punish’ them at every turn.

Here’s the thing: hate, when it’s turned outwards, for sure hurts the people it’s directed at, especially when you act in a spiteful, vindictive and cruel way towards the people you hate.

BUT, hate also corrodes our own souls, and over time, that corrosion spills over into our own health, and our own life, and our own circumstances, too.

The more a person is cut off from their own feelings, the more that corrosive effect will be relayed to, amplified and picked up by their nearest and dearest, instead.

To put this another way, when we viscerally hate someone else over a long period of time, and we don’t let it go, not only can that severely damage our own health and happiness, it can very easily also stuff-up the health of the people we actually love dearly, but who are being bombarded by our ‘hate’ vibes 24/7.

(I write a lot more about the science backing up these ideas over on www.spiritualselfhelp.org.)

To sum it up, feelings trigger bio-chemical processes in the human body, both for the good and bad. And we pick up other people’s feelings, especially their strong, repressed, feelings ‘bio-electrically’ (or if you prefer to say it this way), spiritually, via our souls.

We’re all connected!

Humanity generally, and Jews specifically, which is why God made it very clear to us on repeated occasions that all Jews are responsible for each other, and part of a big, over-arching Jewish spiritual presence that the kabbalists talk about a lot.

So now, let’s bring all this down to a tachlis, practical level, and sum up the point I’m trying to make here.

1) There are a lot of truly mentally-ill, crazy people out there who are consumed by their bad middot, and continually justify their evil behavior as just ‘paying back’ the wrong that was done to them. (That’s what makes them bona fide crazy people.)

2) All of us have been hurt, and all of us have hurt others – it’s part of the human condition. (Anyone who claims they’ve never hurt anyone else is a bona fide crazy person.)

3) The more we can see God behind these ‘hurts’ that are done to us, the easier we’ll find it to let go of hatred, spite, vengeance – and a million other bad middot, besides.

4) The more we let our hate, jealousy and spite fester, the more poisonous we’ll act towards other people (and the more big sins we’ll rack up).

AND ALSO

5) The more physically and mentally ill we ourselves will become, and also the more physically and mentally ill our nearest and dearest will become, as being around a hate-filled, jealous, vindictive, cruel, crazy person is mega-stressful at every level.

Again, cleaning this stuff out of the system is really, really hard!

If we’re not talking to God every single day, it’s virtually impossible to do it. But if we ARE talking to God – it can and does move out really, really fast.

Dear reader, let’s not turn into those hate-filled crazy people we see all over the place who feel 100% justified about all the nasty, awful things they do.

We all hurt others, we have all been hurt ourselves.

It’s how we choose to react to these things that make all the difference to whether we’re going to build the world and get closer to Hashem, or destroy it.

So, as I mentioned this counting the omer was pretty much the craziest one I ever had

– and if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know what a strong statement that is.

As the last day of the Omer drew near, I thought that maybe, just maybe, all the horrible shocks, reversals, challenges and difficulties were finally over until 5778… but God kept an ace up His sleeve this year, which I got by email the day before Shavuot:

Long story short, some rapacious lawyers in Israel are trying to sue me for 40,000 shekels!

Again, long story short, I apparently used a picture of Rav Berland I wasn’t meant to (usually I’m so careful about these things, so I have no idea how that actually happened…) and now these people want me to pay 40,000 shekels, or they’re going to take me to court.

It’s so unbelievable, it’s kind of funny.

In the meantime, I went into my eightieth massive meltdown of the month – shaky legs, complete feeling of overwhelm, crying etc etc etc.

It carried on all evening, and segued into another massive crisis of faith.

I started to doubt everything I’m doing again, and everything I’m writing, and wondering if I’m just being really, really dense, and God actually just wants me to close up the shop and move on to something different.

Or, am I having all these difficulties, non-stop, back-to-back, because I’m actually trying to do something really GOOD, and it’s just the yetzer getting in my face?

All night, I was debating it back and forth.

Maybe, I’m just not on the level to get anywhere near someone as holy as Rav Berland, and that’s why I keep getting slapped all over the place? Maybe, it’s just miniot (obstacles) to get me all demoralized and to give up, because really I AM doing some good stuff online that is making a difference, in whatever small way?

Maybe I should just go and be a gardener? Maybe I should get offline completely? Maybe I should continue and just ignore all the madness that keeps exploding all over the place?

Back and forth it went all night, and I didn’t sleep a wink, which clearly meant that I couldn’t stay up at all the next night, Shavuot, and learn anything.

I hit the bed at 11pm, completely exhausted.

So in the meantime, I’m being sued for a ton of money I don’t have, and I’m not sure what’s meant to happen next.

Over Shavuot, I sat down and read the whole book of tehillim, and tried to make some more teshuva, to try to get the madness to calm down a bit. Once the holiday was over, I trawled through both my sites, and removed any picture that I’m not 100% certain is not a commons licence, or otherwise copy-right free.

There wasn’t a lot, but there were some, particularly on spiritual self-help.

Maybe, Moshiach really is coming very soon, and God is getting me to even clean up even this small spiritual stuff, I don’t know.

Maybe it’s all just a big test of faith, and will melt into the mist again, once I get whatever message I’m meant to get from it all.

I really don’t know.

But one thing is certain: my life is never dull.

I’m really not into Facebook.

I got an account two years’ ago because all the book marketing stuff I was reading told me I HAD to have Facebook, if I wanted to get anything done online!!! So, I got an account, and used it to set up some ‘fan pages’ for my blog and books, so I could post stuff from Emunaroma straight from my blog, and that’s it.

Until about two months’ ago, when I was so desperate for The Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife to do well, I decided I should probably have more of a presence on Facebook. That was my first mistake. My second mistake was starting to accept ‘friend’ requests, as that instantly transformed me into someone who was ‘consuming information’ from Facebook, and not just putting it out.

I had about 12 friends until yesterday.

Yesterday, I clicked on a ‘friend notification’ message and found myself in the middle of one of the most poisonous, disgusting and mentally-ill pieces of writing I’ve ever had the misfortune to come across on the web.

Worse, this masterpiece of slander and evil speech had 10,000 ‘likes’, and a slew of equally warped, poisonous comments.

It was an orgy of hatred and bigotry. There’s simply no other way of describing it.

And the fact that it was written, commented on and ‘liked’ by so many externally frum Jews, in complete contravention of all the laws of evil speech and slander, all the laws of avoiding machloket, all the laws of seeing our fellow Jew with a good eye, and respecting Torah, and Torah scholars – well, the Shechina surely tore kria and sat shiva for these people’s souls.

Tens of the generation’s leading rabbis were publicly slandered and scorned.

Tens of thousands of upstanding, God-fearing Jews were arrogantly dismissed as being gullible, brain-dead ‘cult members’ – almost as sub-human, in the author’s eyes, as people who voted for Trump…

Dear reader, I literally felt like I was going to throw up, I got such a strong whiff of Gehinnom floating across from the computer screen. I decided there and then that I had to show God that I wanted absolutely no part, no connection to anything so frankly evil – so I permanently deleted all of my Facebook accounts, there and then.

It’s like when Korach went after Moshe Rabbenu: anyone who had even the slightest connection to the guy, or his followers, even to the smallest degree, also got sucked down into the pit with him for eternity.

I felt SOOOOO much better afterwards!

But still very disturbed by what I’d seen. I started to ponder, what is it about Facebook that’s causing such rampaging mental illness to be accepted as ‘normal’? How is it that Facebook is bringing out the very worst in people, and turning formerly nice, thoughtful individuals into hate-filled demagogues?

After pondering it, I think there’s a few things going on. Firstly, Facebook constantly bombards you with pritzut – immorality, licentiousness, lack of modesty, in every sense of the word. It’s in all the pictures of people sharing very private occasions very publicly, all the comments, all the ‘look at me!’ and ‘please like me!’ attention-seeking.

A Jewish soul gets so de-sensitised to ‘gutter culture’ on Facebook, it can no longer easily recognise the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.

Facebook also exacerbates whatever mental illness a person has in the first place.

It encourages bullying narcissists to bully more, depressed types to feel even more like sad, invisible losers who are getting left behind by life, people with anger issues to ‘take it out’ on whichever poor sap’s post they happen to see first, whiners to whine more, exhibitionists to show off more, critics to criticise more – you get the idea.

And again, the more this behaviour is indulged in, the more ‘normal’ it becomes.

Writing reflects the inner dimension of a person much more accurately than the external social manners and mores so many of us have perfected from a young age. How a person writes, is how a person is.

That’s why there’s so many obvious psychos on Facebook, and so many people with obvious (and worsening…) mental health issues.

That stuff is actually there in these people all the time, just few places enable it to be expressed as easily, or as publicly, as Facebook.

Hang out with psychos, hang out with sociopaths, hang out with narcissists, hang out with mentally-ill people – and you yourself will start to think the way they think, and speak the way they speak, and do the terrible, evil, anti-Torah stuff they do online (and elsewhere…)

It’s properly scary.

So, I’m incredibly relieved that God permanently sprang me out of Facebook yesterday. As time goes on, it’s increasingly becoming the 8th circle of hell – a kind of modern add-on to Dante’s inferno.

I can’t think of anything more hellish than spending eternity online, plugged into Facebook, and swapping hate-filled, arrogant lies and calumnies about Tzaddikim and other upright Jews with your mentally-ill Facebook chums.

But what do I know?

So the last few days I’ve been trying to figure out WHAT, exactly, has been causing me my eye problems and health issues.

Again, it’s a fundamental principle of emuna that nothing happens ‘stam’ or by accident, and that everything is 100% tailored from Hashem to give us some sort of message about what we might need to work on, change or fix in our lives (and souls) – so I’ve been pondering this a lot in my talking to God sessions the last few days.

Here’s what I was exploring:

1) After last week, I got 100% that my eyes went funny because I was looking at stuff that was coming from a very bad place spiritually.

2) WHAT was that stuff, exactly?

I wasn’t so clear on number 2, because I had three possible areas that I’m currently engaged in:

1) I’m reading books by Immanuel Velikovsky at the moment, who was basically an externally secular Jew who took on the scientific establishment after World War II. Velikovsky was extraordinarily erudite, and he demolished their arguments about things like the age of the world, and about how and when massive, comet-induced natural disasters devastated the planet, and also showed how the events described in Torah and Tanach is to be found all over ancient history – if you know where to look for it.

Now, he definitely wasn’t a religious man in the modern sense of the word, but he believed in God, and believed in the veracity of the Torah and Tanach (which makes him more ‘frum’ than a lot of the apparently orthodox people walking around in 2017.)

Was that making my eyes funny?

Or, was it:

2) The research I’m doing on the ‘Electric People’ book, where I start off reading equations from people with impressive PhDs in quantum physics and then two seconds later I find myself reading about a Tibetan view of the afterworld?

(It’s a crazy thing: Chemistry seems to lead to atheism, and physics either leads to God, or to avoda zara, or to a belief that ‘aliens’ created life on earth…)

Was it that, that was making my eyes funny?

Or, was it:

3) Jewish blogs and websites by ‘frum’ Jews who aren’t so into believing in Tzaddikim, definitely aren’t into Rav Berland, and have a very ‘cool’ take on what it means to be an orthodox Jew in 2017?

I cracked open Rebbe Nachman’s Book of Traits (sefer HaMiddot) and this is what I got:

“It’s forbidden to learn from one who draws after idol-worship, and one who learns from him is liable to the death penalty.”

Gosh, well that seemed to be pretty clear cut. It seemed like number 2 on the list was the culprit. Except….when you’re doing hitbodedut, and really talking to God about things, things are rarely so cut and dried.

As I was rolling around the idea that I have to quit writing ‘Electric People’, Rav Natan’s maxim that ‘whatever brings you closer to God is true, and whatever takes you further away from God is false’ popped into my head.

Just yesterday, I was sketching some of my ideas from Electric People out to a friend, and she told me that I’d just given her emuna a real boost by what I’d described, because it really showed her that people aren’t in control, and only God is.

Hmmm.

So maybe Electric People wasn’t the problem after all (although clearly, the Tibetan ‘channelling’ PhDs are people I need to stay away from…)?

So what WAS it, then? Reading Velikovsky’s stuff has also brought me much nearer to God, and His awesomeness, and has similarly made me realize how God is really the only One in control of what’s occurring down here on planet earth.

So I don’t think it’s that, despite all the disturbing packaging that some of Velikovsky’s ideas come wrapped in. (Briefly, he compared the mythologies and histories of ancient peoples to try to find some sort of big, world-wide natural disaster that would synchronise ancient history. Boy, did he find it… But that’s a post for another time.)

So then that left me with the frum Jewish blogosphere…

To cut a long story short, the last few weeks I was trying to connect to a whole bunch of Jewish bloggers and internet people, to interview them about their stuff, and to hopefully get the word out about my new book, The Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife.

I spent literally hours poring over different websites, trying to find good ‘fits’. Then, I spent a bunch more time emailing people, to see if we could collaborate somehow. I’ve had a few nice responses (mostly from the less obviously ‘frum’ people) – and some really yucky responses from the more apparently ‘frum’ people, who castigated me for publicly supporting Rav Berland on my blog.

Bingo!

After I got another yucky response last week, I had a fleeting moment when I thought maybe I should take the stuff about Rav Berland down.

I mean, if it was limiting my marketing opportunities, blah blah blah, stopping me from connecting to other cool, creative, ‘frum’ Jews, blah blah blah, making me feel like I’d done something ‘bad’, blah blah blah…

After talking to God about it all, I decided to stick to my guns, and to continue to support the Rav with everything I’ve got, for as long as it takes for the truth to come out, regardless of how many ‘opportunities’ it’s costing me.

When I applied Rav Natan’s rule, I realized that trying to cosy up to these ‘frum’ bloggers had taken me pretty far away from emuna, and emunat Tzaddikim, or believing in our true Tzaddikim.

To put it another way, these guys were REALLY bad for my health!!!

And for my soul. And for my spiritual connection to Hashem, and His holy Tzaddikim.

So, now I’ve figured that out, I’m going to continue trying to demolish all the lies modern science is built on (that leads to atheism…), and I’m going to continue trying to show how human health really works (which could lead to avoda zara, unless people are firmly connected to the Torah and the true Tzaddikim…)

And I’m also staying away from pretty much every Jewish blog and website out there – because when you’re striving to be a believing Jew, that’s the REALLY dangerous stuff on the internet.