I know I write a lot of things on this blog that seem a bit ‘out there’. Sometimes, it’s stuff I’ve learned that is just not common knowledge (like the spoon idea to get rid of haemorrhoids…)

Other times, G-d sends me flashes of inspiration that are so simple, but may have potentially huge implications, if they’re correct. (Of course, that’s a big ‘if’) – and that’s what this post is about.

According to energy medicine, spleen meridian is the home for ‘happy energy’. It’s also the meridian responsible for digesting and assimilating and ‘dealing with’ input from the outside world.

That input could be food; it could be environmental; it could be knowledge; or it could be emotions and feelings.

Spleen meridian is wiped out by a few things: shock or trauma; chemicals and pollutants (there’s now more than 17,000 chemicals in our food that wasn’t there 100 years’ ago); electromagnetic ‘smog’ (ie, from cell phones, PCs, microwaves, etc); negative, critical emotional environments; and the Triple Warmer meridian.

Triple Warmer meridian deals with ‘fight or flight’, and as I’ve written elsewhere, it’s the energetic home of our evil inclination. When Triple Warmer switches on, the first place it sucks all the energy from is the Spleen meridian.

So far so good?

OK, now onto the insight.

Today, there have never been more people with food allergies, learning disorders, personality disorders, and auto-immune diseases.

If you look carefully at what’s going on from an energetic point of view, spleen meridian is underneath all of these issues, and here’s how:

Birth can be very traumatic, for both mother and child, especially if it’s a surgical delivery, or otherwise complicated. That by itself can knock out Spleen energy – the energy a child needs to eat, digest, learn, and acclimatise to its new environment.

(Btw – difficult births can also knock out the mother’s spleen energy, leading to baby blues and a whole bunch of stuff, where the mother is really struggling to feel connected to her child. To phrase it another way, her ability to ‘deal’ with motherhood and her new situation can get energetically very stuffed up.)

When spleen energy is severely out, it affects the ability to eat and digest properly = problems latching on; problems digesting; colic; intolerance or allergy to milk etc etc.

Now, Triple Warmer really fires up, because when a baby can’t eat, or doesn’t feel nourished, that’s sparks feeling of overwhelming, primal fear in its system – which is Triple Warmer’s speciality.

The baby cries a whole lot more; it gets a whole lot more difficult and ‘kvetchy’. If this carries on for long enough, and is severely compromising a parent’s sleep, even the most patient, caring patient starts to lose patience and the ability to be compassionate to their child.

Compassion, caring and nurturing strengthens the spleen meridian. Indifference, anger and hostility severely weakens it. When babies cry non-stop, and are difficult and kvetchy, every parent, even the best, has to have so much Heavenly help in order to continue to deal with them compassionately and kindly.

And sometimes, we can’t.

So we get into a vicious cycle, where spleen energy can get chronically weak, and the kid grows up with a whole bunch of difficulties, including food allergies, auto-immunes issues like asthma and eczema, learning difficulties like ADHD, and in some severe cases, issues with feeling or demonstrating compassion for themselves and others (which is the at the root of most personality disorders.)

This is then compounded by junk food and chemical additives, ‘junk’ pastimes like internet and films, and environmental pollution (even synthetic rugs can affect Spleen energy…)

Doesn’t this seem to be exactly what’s going on with us and our children? What do you think?

I’ve been considering writing this post, or something similar for months now. I haven’t, because I’ve had enough other things on my plate to contemplate, and also I didn’t know if my observations on the Erev Rav would be useful or accurate. But a couple of things have kind of jogged my hand now, so here it is, in all it’s glory.

I spent literally a couple of years’ researching the Erev Rav in our holy sources, and you can read a series of articles I wrote on the topic for Rav Arush’s website.

Probably like many people who are reading this, the autistics were the first ones who clued me in to the topic of the Erev Rav in any tangible way, and like many people, I kind of got a bit obsessed with them, hence the whole big write up I did.

When I was writing those articles, I was convinced that if people could just grasp the fundamental ‘badness’ of the Erev Rav, and distance themselves from them, we’d have geula and Moshiach immediately, on a plate.

With time and an awful lot of prayer, I’ve realised that it’s never going to happen that way, and I’ll tell you why:

The Erev Rav are not just evil politicians, mafia bosses and bent judges – they are literally our family members. They are those people who we love, even though perhaps they’ve hurt us badly and repeatedly. They are those people who we really don’t want to give up on, under any circumstances, even when they are so difficult, abusive and nasty.

They’re our siblings, our parents, our children, our cousins, our friends, our kids’ teachers (yup, I’m sure that’s not such a shocker…) etc etc. And that’s why it’s simply never going to work to keep pointing out how bad the Erev Rav are, and what nasty things they’re doing, and how they’re going to permanently disappear from the world very soon.

Let’s be clear that I’m not making any excuses for them at all, but there is another angle to the whole Erev Rav episode, and that is that real Jews are never going to give up on their Erev Rav relatives, because a real ‘non-Erev Rav’ Jew is full of compassion. G-d made us that way.

Which brings me to another realisation that I’ve had recently: G-d wants the souls who comprise the Erev Rav back. G-d Himself doesn’t want us to give up on them. He wants us to understand the full, horrible reality of their (and our) situation, and then to pray, fervently, for His help and salvation.

I know this flies in the face of the autistics, which is why I’ve hesitated to write this. I don’t for one minute think the autistics are ‘wrong’ – everything I’ve always read on Dani18, and Galia beforehand, has always had the indelible ring of truth.

But over the years’, I’ve come to believe that there is a higher truth, maybe you could call it ‘tzaddik’ truth, as Moshe Rabbenu himself was also of the view that G-d really wanted the Erev Rav back in the fold.

Spiritually, the souls of the Erev Rav and Am Yisrael derive from the same root, namely Adam’s sin (not when he ate the fruit, but when he ’emitted seed’ for 130 years’ afterwards. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s all in the Gemara and also the Zohar, so go and look it up for yourselves.)

Those souls came back as the Generation of the Flood; then came back again as the Generation of the Dispersion; they came back again as the people of Sdom; and then they came back again as the sheep Yaacov Avinu took away with him as his wages for working for Lavan. (No, that’s not a typo. Some big rabbis in the past who were aware of their previous incarnations even ‘remembered’ being a sheep in Yaacov Avinu’s flock.)

That was the beginning of their real rectification. The next time these souls – the biggest souls G-d ever created, which is why we Jews have the biggest evil inclinations – came back was in Egypt, with Moshe Rebbenu.

We all know that 4/5 of Am Yisrael died in the plague of darkness; what is less well known is that exactly the same numbers of Egyptians converted, to come out with Am Yisrael.

G-d swapped like for like: the only real difference between the souls of authentic Am Yisrael and the Erev Rav is that the latter group are further back in the process of being rectified.

Whoever didn’t get fixed from that time is now back in our time, which is why there are so, so many people walking around who fit the Sages’ descriptions of the Erev Rav to a tee.

And many of them are the people we love and deeply care for.

Are you prepared to consign those people to ‘eternal damnation’, or spiritual oblivion? Are you prepared to give up on them, even if they are Erev Rav?

The answer for every real Jew is ‘no’ – which is why we’re stuck. We CAN’T separate from them, even if we really know for sure that our horrible sister is Erev Rav, or our tearaway son is Erev Rav, or our nasty mother-in-law is Erev Rav (OK, that last one is probably do-able ☺)

Who arranged things this way?

G-d did.

Why?

I can’t say for sure, but I believe with all my heart that He wants us to pray for them, and tap into G-d’s infinite compassion for all of His creations. Yes, I know the autistics wouldn’t approve. But their truth, true as it is, is not necessarily G-d’s truth.

And if I’m correct about that, then instead of wasting our time pointing fingers about the evil Erev Rav – and believe me, a lot of them are even worse than you think – we need to go and do some serious praying for G-d to fix them. Otherwise, I can’t see any other way of Geula coming the sweet way that we all fervently hope it will.

I love the simplicity of energy medicine. I know I’m not doing the world’s best job of explaining it (yet…) on this blog, but hopefully that will change soon, especially when I get all my diagrams of acupressure points sorted out.

In the meantime, I just wanted to tell you a bit about pulse points.

Acupuncturists usually train for decades, to be able to tell if one of the 12 meridian pulse points is too weak, or too strong, but if you use energy (or muscle) testing, you can literally pick up the basics in an hour.

The 12 pulse points are located on the thumb side of each hand, six on right wrist, and six on the left wrist.

If you press lightly with three fingers, you get the pulses for the external, or ‘yang’ meridians. If you press deeply with the same three fingers, you get the pulses for the internal, or ‘yin’ meridians.

Today, I was feeling really, really low, and I had no idea why. I mean, OKAYYY, times are currently tough in the Levy household. But sadly, it’s been that way for years. If I let that get me down I don’t think I would’ve smiled once the last 12 years…

So something else was going on.

(The last time I felt like this, btw, was a few weeks before the last Gazan war.)

Last time, I literally felt I was going to have a heart-attack for weeks, G-d forbid, for no obvious reason. This time round, thanks to the pulses, I could at least check what meridians were out, and try to figure out how to unblock whatever needed unblocking, or strengthen whatever needed strengthening, before my toes went numb.

I checked, and I got the following information:

Kidney, small intestine, gallbladder and heart were all out.

I vigorously rubbed the associated neurolymphatic points for each meridian, to get the energy going again, and now they all tested strong, except heart.

Ahhh, the heart.

Heart energy gets weakened by heartache and heartbreak. I’d love to tell you that I have no problems in that area, but I’d really be lying. I’ve been trying to deal with a broken heart, for various reasons, for about three years now.

Every time I think I’ve turned the corner with it, I smack straight into a big wall.

But G-d is showing me again, that I have to keep trying to heal my heartbreak, and keep looking for ways to put love out into the world, however difficult that’s been for me recently.

The only thing that’s more spiritually and physically damaging to a person than a broken heart is a heart of stone.

So even though it still feels pretty risky to hope and to love and to try again in any genuine way, that’s really the only way forward. I have to trust G-d that any heartache He throws at me is coming to heal and not to hurt, and to stop worrying so much about ‘what will be’.

That’s quite a tall order.

But I prefer it a million times over to having my toes go numb again.

So there I was, coming towards the end of completing the manuscript for my new book, which Bezrat Hashem, will give people tons of powerful tools for figuring out what’s going on with them, spiritually, emotionally and physically.

I just passed the 120,000 word mark, and it really is full of good, even revolutionary, stuff.

After months of gloom and pessimism, I was beginning to feel positive and confident again – and my yetzer hates that. So it sent me a week of disturbing bad dreams to soften me up a bit, and then it hit me with one of the most horrible days I’ve had for a long time.

Externally, nothing was really going. Internally, I started to feel filled up with despair and futility.

“No-one’s going to read your book…you’re just wasting your time…why even bother finishing it?…just go and do the washing up, already, and forget about your aspirations to build the world…”

And so on and so forth.

This carried on for a few hours, until I literally started to feel there was no point to life generally, and my life, specifically.

Has that ever happened to you? Do you get what I’m talking about?

Lucky for me, I was in the middle of listening to a class by Rav Ofer Erez in the car, and I was too despairing to even be bothered to turn it off. So I sat there, while Rav Erez started talking about ‘Klipat Amalek’, and how it’s big thing was to get a person so despairing that they give up on themselves, and stop believing that G-d is interested in them, or wants to help them, or that they can change.

Despite myself, I started listening.

Then, Rav Erez explained how he’d been talking with a big shrink in Israel, who’d been telling him that when a person gives up on themselves – when they get despairing, or yeoush, then they can’t be helped.

Their despair is what’s blocking their recovery, and the big turnaround in their life and fortunes.

I started to feel better.

I came home, started work on the book again, and I saw I was up to the part where I brought the idea from Rav Arush about how you can tell if the voice in your head is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, which is absolutely brilliant in its simplicity.

In a nutshell, good things, good thoughts, come from the side of ‘good’; and bad ideas and bad thoughts come from the side of ‘bad’.

All those bad ideas about how I was wasting my time, how my book was rubbish, how it was just going to sink without a trace etc etc – that was just my evil inclination!

Again, I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but when you’re in the middle of these tests, the biggest problem is that the voice of bad really sounds so convincing and ‘honest’.

Once I had clarity again, that the voice in my head wasn’t ‘realistic’, it was just plain evil and ‘Klipat Amalek’, I started to fight back. The next day, I finished two big, long chapters, and I set myself the goal of getting the whole draft completely done by February 1, G-d willing.

Rebbe Nachman taught us ‘there is no despair in the world’. He didn’t mean that we don’t feel despair, because we often do, especially in this difficult generation. What he meant, is that even if we’ve despaired of ourselves, and our abilities to improve or change, we should never despair of G-d’s love, and help.

G-d continues to believe in us, even when we’ve given up. He sends us CDs with just the right words we need to hear; holy rabbis to guide our path; great, simple, powerful advice to help us see that He didn’t give up on us.

His hand is always open, to lift us out of the mud and despair we’ve fallen into. So look for His hand in your own life, and grab it!

For months’ now, I’ve been getting some version of the same message in my daily hitbodedut sessions: “Hang on. You’re nearly there. It’s all going to turnaround soon, and be better than it’s ever been.”

I’ve been struggling with so many issues on so many fronts, that I’m really, really desperate to believe that it’s all going to improve soon.

But then I hit a day like today, and it’s like all my spiritual reserves have disappeared.

I’ve been having disturbing dreams the last few days, and they all have the same sort of theme: I’m homeless, I’m lost; me and my life are full of ‘holes’ that can’t seem to be filled, I’m a stranger, an outsider, etc etc.

I wake up after these dreams completely drained, and then I go through the day with huge unexplained anxiety.

Dear reader, I do a four hour or six hour hitbodedut sessions nearly every week, and that’s really what’s been keeping me going. I know I’m struggling at the moment, despite all my praying and other stuff, because objectively, I have huge challenges going on in my life that I appear to be powerless to change or fix.

Whatever practical effort, or histadlut, me and my husband has tried the last two years has failed spectacularly.

There is nothing else to do except pray, and wait for G-d to turn things around. Nervous breakdowns notwithstanding, I thought I was doing OK with having no income, no stability, no community, and some other excrutiating tests of emuna that I can’t even begin to talk about.

But my dreams are showing me otherwise.

Last night’s was a classic: an old ‘successful’ friend was driving me, in their car, to stay with some other hugely successful people, in their enormous flat, because I was homeless and penniless.

The whole drive, I kept seeing things with holes in them – massive holes in the ground, holes in the furniture, holes in the buildings.

It sounds fairly tame as nightmares go, but I woke up feeling so despairing today, that I had to do an hour of hitbodedut just to get out of bed.

I feel like I’ve spent the best part of a decade waiting for G-d to rescue me from the darkness, but recently, at least in my life, it’s just intensified.

What’s a person to do, when they’ve been to Uman 7 times, done tons of hitbodedut, got blessings and advice from holy people, tried to make teshuva on everything they can think of, and still they’re stuck, spiritually?

Answers on a postcard, please.

And in the meantime, I’ll continue to play the waiting game.

This is one of those posts that’s so hard to write, but so important to set down, some how. We’d all love to live in a world where people only gave out positive energy, and had good characteristics, and treated us with generosity of spirit, kindness and truth.

Thank G-d, that stuff does still happen.

But as people get more and more disconnected from G-d, and more and more disconnected from that spark of G-d in themselves that’s called the neshama, or soul, the more they’re falling prey to all sorts of serious ‘soul sicknesses’.

Rav Arush writes about soul sickness at length in many of his books, but particularly in the Garden of Healing. There, he spells it out very clearly that the further away a person gets from G-d, and from having emuna, the more soul-sick they’ll be.

He defines ‘soul-sickness’ as all those negative emotions that we all have, like jealousy, angry, worry, arrogance etc; and explains that the more severe soul-sicknesses can show up as diagnoses for severe mental illnesses, including personality disorders.

Secular medicine has no cure for things like personality disorders and schizophrenia. Their best effort is to offer pills to try to drug away the worst symptoms, and if that doesn’t work, their next big suggestion is to stick someone away in an institution for the rest of their lives.

Spiritually, there is a solution, and it’s one that works wonders: learn more emuna. Rav Arush, and I’m sure others too, teach that the more emuna a person has, the more they try to see G-d in their lives, and to include Him, and to talk to Him, the more spiritually-healthy they will be.

When everyone starts following that advice, the world will be a peaceful, amazing, sane beautiful place to live in…but in the meantime, I thought I’d put together some energetic advice on how to deal with the crazy people who can suck all the life and joy out of you, if you’re not careful.

The following things have worked for me, or for others, in some very difficult situations, enabling us to deal with ‘negative people’ without getting angry, sick or crazy themselves (no small achievement!)

Some of them sound weird, but don’t knock it until you try it. None of these things can do you any harm, and they could help you tremendously.

1) Shower

Before and / or after dealing with someone you know is ‘difficult’, take a shower. Nothing washes away negativity like a bit of hot water.

2) Do the ‘G-d is everywhere’ exercise every morning (see below)

3) Carry your invisible umbrella ­- if you know in advance you’re dealing with a difficult person who sucks you dry and exhausts, keep them out of your personal space as much as possible. Put up your ‘invisible umbrella’ to keep people at arm’s length; if they’re trying to hug you, stand to close to you, pat your arm etc, gently move away, so they’re no closer to you than they would be if you were holding an umbrella. If you have to, don’t be scared to police your invisible boundary forcefully. They’ll get the message sooner or later.

4) Try to stand with them on your right-hand side – energetically, we absorb far more on the left-side, and are far more vulnerable from that direction.

5) Cross your arms – many of us do this automatically when we’re around people who are a bit ‘too much’ for us. But energetically, it really does repel negative vibes.

6) Understand what you’re dealing with: and that it’s not your responsibility (or fault) if they’re unhappy and negative. We don’t have to ‘fix’ other people – and even if we want to, we can’t! We are each responsible for our own outlook and happiness, so don’t let a negative person make their problem, your problem. Keep your distance from them, emotionally, and try not to take their griping, unhappiness, rage fits and attempts to control and manipulate you personally. If despite all your efforts, you still get zapped with bad vibes, try the following:

7) ‘Give it back to G-d’ exercise – (see below). And then:

8) Take a bath in baking soda – I know this sounds mega-weird, but in practise is really does help a person feel more grounded, ‘together’ and cleaned-off from all the emotional ‘ick’.

B’hatslacha, and I’m certainly looking forward to a time very soon when we won’t need these exercises any more…

‘G-d is everywhere’ exercise

Rub your hands together, and shake them off.

Rub them together again, and then put them palms facing either side of your ears.

Bring your elbows together in front your face, and then cross your arms over each other, and sweep them out to the side.

Cross your arms over in front of you again, and again sweep out to the side. Do these criss-cross movements in front of you all the way down your body and legs, until you get to the floor.

Have in mind that G-d is protecting you, and keeping you cocooned off in His kindness and light.

When you reach the floor, put your two arms together, kind of like an elephant’s trunk, and make sweeping figure 8 movements around your body, as you come back up from your legs to your head.

Take the ‘Figure 8’ movements up to past your head, then put your two arms together, backs of hands touching, above your head, and then bring them gently down to the sides of your body.

Imagine as you do this, that you are literally in a cocoon of Divine protection.

 

‘Give it back to G-d’ exercise

Rub your hands together and shake them off.

Bring your hands together in front of your chest, palms touching.

Zoom one hand up, palm up, to G-d, and zoom one hand down, palm down, as though kind of ‘leaning’ on the ground.

Stretch.

Now, switch sides – zoom the ‘up’ hand to the ‘down’ position, and vice-versa.

While you’re doing this, have in mind that you are giving whatever you need to back to G-d, to take care of, while retaining whatever experience, learning or ‘good’ you need to keep hold of.

Do this another 2 times on both sides.

Then, bend over with your arms down in front of you, and take 2 deep breaths.

Now, slowly stand up, rolling your arms up your body as you do so. (Imagine you’re rolling a beach ball up your body.)

Take your arms above your head, and bring them down to your sides.

Imagine, as you do this, that G-d is covering you in protective mantle of Divine light.

A couple of days’ ago, I was driving on the motorway on the way to Ramat Bet Shemesh. It was the day after the snow/rain/snow storm in Jerusalem, and the roads were still pretty wet, but I don’t think they were icy.

I came over a hill around 70 km an hour, I turned the wheel left to follow the road round – and the wheel stayed turned to the right, putting me into a direct collision course with the barrier.

Uhoh.

I pumped the brakes (I think – I can’t really remember the logistical details) and the car went into a spin. I was sure I was about to have a crash, but G-d did a big miracle for me, and spun my car around 180 degrees, in the emergency lane by the side of the road.

All this happened at the top of a hill, which meant no-one could see that I’d had an accident until they’d already crashed into me, G-d forbid. As I sat on the hard shoulder waiting for the panic to hit after this massive near-miss, I realised something strange: I actually wasn’t panicking.

Yes, I was breathing a bit hard, and I felt a little bit shaken up, but really, almost nothing.

Bizarre!

What could explain my lack of ‘stress response?’ A minute later, I’d restarted the car, turned it around and was driving on to my appointment in RBS. I know myself pretty well, and especially after the accident I had last year, there is no way that I could have normally acted like that straight after a big skid on a motorway with articulated lorries rushing by.

There are two possible explanations: either, my emuna is now really, really high (which I doubt, because I still screamed blue murder at the kid who didn’t want to go to school today. I don’t think I could have ‘accident’ emuna and not have ‘annoying kid’ emuna, but really, who knows what’s the bigger test sometimes…)

OR

My Triple Warmer is practically comatose, because I’ve been sedating it to death every day for two months.

You’ll recall that Triple Warmer meridian governs the fight or flight response, which is occasionally useful (like if a Hamas terrorist was running after you), but otherwise, not.

I reacted so calmly to my near-miss car accident, even at the time it struck me as bizarre. Instead of my brain freezing, I just started talking to G-d about hoping I wasn’t about to have a bad crash.

Energy medicine is sometimes so gentle, even I sometimes wonder if anything’s really happening. I guess I got something like an answer, when I nearly crashed. You can’t fake your reaction in situations like that, and I really was unnaturally calm.

So it looks like this stuff really does work, in whatever way G-d intends it to.

Of course, the real kudos still go to the Al-mighty, for the tremendous miracle He pulled off for me. I doubt the calm state would have lasted very long if I’d gone down the side of the mountain or been hit side-on by a lorry.

Thanks, G-d! You’re the best.

You know that dictum that ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’?

Well, I feel that my credentials as an official ‘fool’ must have finally been stamped, as the last week, I’ve been sticking my neck out all over the place.

One day, I decided to tear down a pornographic poster for some ‘club’ event that was posted up near Jerusalem’s crack alley. Usually, I would just make a lot of disapproving, tutting noises about how disgusting it was, that my husband and kids (and others…) had to walk past such offensive smut.

This time, instead of tutting I took action: I ripped the poster off the wall proudly, and I wasn’t scared to defend my actions should some crazed club promoter come storming out from under his rock to angrily berate me for removing his pornography from Jerusalem’s holy walls.

No-one said anything – and I felt really good that for once, I didn’t just put my head down and ‘accept’ the nastiness swirling all around without complaint.

I had the clarity, however brief it may turn out to be, that people who stick pornographic posters up on walls are acting in a mentally-ill, anti-social way, and that behavior needs to be challenged, not excused.

L’havdil, the next day I was walking into Geula via Meah Shearim and the frum yobbos had decided to tip over a bunch of bins and set the contents on fire. (Given that the garbage disposal people are currently on strike, it’s kind of a mixed blessing.)

Usually, I would just walk past and tut. But this time, I was seriously considering going over and picking the bins up, or complaining – something! – to register the fact that this is mentally-ill, anti-social, unacceptable behavior, whatever the excuse for it. My daughter stopped me from doing it (she’s seen what can happen when I get all fired up, and I’m not sure who she was more scared for, me or the yobbos), and after we spent a couple of minutes discussing it, I backed down.

The next day, one of my neighbours knocked on my door to ask me to start cleaning the outside stairs by my house.

Some of the building’s girls were doing it up until now, but they quit and now he wanted everyone to ‘do their part’. It’s not an unreasonable request, but the truth is that for the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling to stay on top my basic cleaning chores inside my own house.

Between trying to get the book out, trying to ‘be there’ for my kids in whatever way God decides I need to be, and trying to get out more so that I’m not stuck in ‘anti-social’ hermit mode, I don’t have a lot of spare time at the moment. And if I do, I want to spend it cooking a nice supper for my family, or finally putting on a wool wash, or having a good conversation with my husband, instead of schlepping up and down the stairs outside to keep my neighbor happy.

I don’t know if this is right or wrong. What I can tell you, is that just before he told me I should clean the stairs every week, I was thinking I’d like to go and give it a sweep. But now I’ve been ‘commanded’ to do it by someone else, I can’t!

It’ll have to wait another three weeks now, or something, for it to get really bad and for my own free choice to kick in again, and decide I should do a bit of cleaning.

The last few weeks have been so weird, and changeable, and pressured, and strange, I’ve been having troubles pinning it all down, or knowing what I think about anything. You might have noticed that in my writing, too, which has been quite ‘light’ while I’m figuring out what God really wants from me.

The last couple of days, some big shifts have happened, and BH, I’ll share more with you about it all this week, because I think it may help you too, if you’ve been going through anything remotely similar.

In the meantime, caveat emptor: I may be writing and acting from the place of a fool, and not the place of an angel at the moment. But if that’s what God really wants, so be it.

For years, like many other people, I’ve been beating myself up over the fact that I’m not perfect. It seems like the obvious thing to do, especially when you hit the ‘sincere baal teshuva’ trail, and there are people lining up all over the place, just waiting to tell you about all the things you’re doing wrong.

One way you can spot who is a real rabbi, and who has genuinely humility, is that when those people tell you things – even very hard things – it actually helps you, and it goes in without causing you any spiritual damage.

For example, Rav Arush’s Hebrew shiurim can sometimes hit some very sensitive nerves, but I’ve been attending his Shabbat shiurim at the yeshiva for a few weeks’ now, and you come away feeling cared for, seen and understood. When someone is genuinely holy, and genuinely on a very high spiritual level themselves, they have a humility that’s impossible to fake, that makes you, the listener / reader / follower feel good about what they’re telling you, even if you are (inevitably) doing things wrong.

Rav Shalom Arush and Rav Ofer Erez excel at this. They excel at telling you about their own spiritual struggles, and failures, and challenges, and how they themselves got out of very trying and tiring situations where their emuna got tested to the Nth degree. Their books are both full of this advice and wisdom, that in both instances was earned the hard way, from the ground up.

But then….(we’re about to controversial here) – it’s not just about what you say, it’s also about the way that you say it. So it is, that I can have people tell me to ‘just say thank you’ for all the hard stuff I’ve been through recently, and I literally want to punch them in the face.

When Rav Arush says it, as he so frequently does, it goes straight into my soul and I GET on a fundamental level that he is giving me a spiritual shortcut out of my troubles, that he knows works because he’s tried it himself.

But then, the same words gets parroted at me by someone who’s read the books, or heard some shiurim, but otherwise is still chock-full of bad middot, arrogance and a few other things too, including ingratitude – and it makes my blood boil. I literally can’t stand what I’m being told, and I start to develop very negative feelings about both the speaker and the message.

Part of the reason I’m writing this post is because after pondering at length whether I was turning into a heretic because I just couldn’t hear the ‘just say thank you’ stuff from certain people any more, G-d helped me to see: 1) how dangerous and misleading all these ‘Rav Arush wannabes’ are, with all their smug, pat ‘advice’ that’s devoid of sincerity, caring and compassion and 2) how amazing Rav Arush and his advice actually is.

Now I live in Jerusalem, I have had the privilege of seeing Rav Arush in action on a number of occasions, and he is the real deal. I can’t tell you the number of people who call him, or simply show up on his doorstep out the blue, or corner him when he’s getting in or out of his car – and he tries to accommodate everyone. He’s never too busy saving the world to offer a kind word to his fellow Jew, even though he really is very busy off saving the world.

Rebbe Nachman wrote that at the End of Days, there would be a lot of religious fakers, trying to ride the coat-tails of real kedusha to get themselves some unearned kudos and respect from other people.

That’s not a chiddush, I know. But the chiddush for me, at least this week, was that they can still be scoring points for the ‘other side’ when they’re quoting Rav Arush at you. It literally makes the mind boggle.

So if you’re being given ‘advice’ that’s making you feel bad, worthless or like you’ll never reach the lofty level of the person who’s running their mouth off at you, press pause on the beating yourself up attack and remember one thing: real tzadikim make you feel positive about yourself, even when you’re doing negative things – and fakers make you feel negative about yourself even when 99% of the time you’re doing positive things. Buyer beware.

One of the reasons I wanted to start this blog was to give people encouragement that G-d actually really loves us, even when He’s sending us some very hard tests. I don’t write those words lightly: the last year, I’ve had 1 forced house sale (we ran out of cash); 2 house moves (one after 3 months, as our landlord was a jerk); 1 failed business; 1 big schools crisis (because my girls refused to wear socks); 3 months of utter misery and loneliness, and about a zillion nervous breakdowns where I thought I was going bonkers.

The hardest thing to take, throughout this time, was the feeling that G-d was punishing me for something, and I didn’t even know what. For a good few months, as our internal and external circumstances kept clunking from bad-to-worse-to-terrible-to-the-worst-its-ever-been-and-there’s-still-more-to-come, I was torturing myself thinking that G-d was simply punishing me. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me, or why.

Dear reader, me and my husband do hitbodedut every day for an hour (thank G-d, otherwise I really would be stuffed.) At that time, we’d just moved to Jerusalem to open a new business that was ‘spreading the word’ about emuna to tourists in the Old City (I know, I know, I’m cringing writing that.) My husband was learning in Chut Shel Chesed full time, and we were both doing our best to ‘improve’ and give G-d what we thought he wanted (ie, chronically depressed wannabe chareidim).

When everything started falling apart, including my emuna, I started doing one six hour prayer session after another, apparently to no avail.

After this had been carrying on for a few months, I started turning to my regular mentors for answers – and they didn’t have any for me. Or if they did, it was along the lines of: “G-d is punishing you because your husband didn’t shave his hair off and grow his beard longer, when he decided to have payot.”

Once I heard that particular explanation for my troubles, something very deep inside me cracked. Because I knew, with every fibre of my soul, that G-d could see how sincere I was, and how much I was trying to be good. To even suggest that G-d would ‘punish’ me – or anyone else, for that matter – over something so trivial and external as my husband not shaving his head clearly showed me that the person who was telling me that had no idea how much G-d really loves His creations.

Thank G-d, Rav Arush and his blessings kept me and my husband going, spiritually, until the real answer came a couple of months’ later, in Uman. In Uman, G-d finally showed me what all the craziness had really been about: I had a very big ‘gap’ in my soul that needed plugging if I was ever really going to be happy, and THAT’s what had been going on.

Once I got that, I felt that G-d loved me so much, and that He really had pulled off a very difficult spiritual surgery in the kindest, gentlest way possible. OK, it hadn’t felt like that at the time, but with hindsight I really got that He had no choice.

So now I’m on a mission to tell you, dear reader, and anyone else who’ll listen, that G-d really does love us. Sometimes, we have to go through excrutiating circumstances for spiritual reasons that are hidden from us, and it can feel like G-d is mamash trying to kill us with suffering and misery.

This generation has so much left to fix in our souls, that it can sometimes feel like ‘the operation was a success, but the patient died.’ That’s where simple emuna comes in. That’s where honest, heart-felt prayer comes in. That’s where blessings from tzadikim like Rav Arush and visits to tzadikim like Rebbe Nachman come in.

I don’t know where I’d be without all these things.

It got me through the ‘surgery’ until I reached the recovery period.

I know we’re all going through it at the moment (and if we’re not, we’re lying). But it’s not a punishment, it’s a soul-correction. If you can believe that, it’ll give you the strength to continue, until G-d shows you why it all had to be that way, and that He really loves you, me, us, the Jewish people, so, so much.