I know it’s hard to keep going, but don’t give up just yet.
If I had to describe the vibe floating around right now, I would call it ‘despairing dissatisfaction’. Everywhere you look, everywhere you turn, there are people giving up on their dreams in droves right now.
I had a bit of a shock yesterday, as I was trying to put together a list of orthodox Jewish bloggers who maybe would be interested in reviewing One in a Generation Volume 2, (aka, my own personal pit of despair).
Lo and behold, nearly all of them have stopped writing, and the ones who are still going are for the most part very disturbed individuals who are ‘anti’ Rav Berland.
So many writers, so many bloggers, have just given up the ghost and stopped, especially over the last two years – and not just in the orthodox Jewish world. It’s a phenomenon that’s happening all over the place, where people are throwing up their hands, and sinking deep into despair and apathy that nothing can ever really change. Nothing can ever really improve. All you get is hassle, and problems, and difficulties, and things will never, ever come good.
Like I said, I also had quite a hearty dose of that after One in a Generation Volume 2 came out, and apparently sank like a stone.
It’s not easy to see three years of your life so roundly ignored.
At this stage, I’m thinking I probably would have even have preferred it if I’d been attacked over the book, because at least that would prove it was actually published, and maybe even had been read….
(Then again, it’s really not fun messing with the psychos who are ‘anti’ Rav Berland, so maybe not.)
But in any event, it’s been quite a struggle to find the motivation to keep going recently, and that’s a big part of why I headed off to Uman a couple of weeks ago, to see if Rebbe Nachman could help me restart my mojo and joie de vivre.
The whole trip, I got one message over and over and over again:
Don’t give up! Continue! Things are about to change in a very big way, and the whole thing right now is to just not give up!
I came home to find that Rabbi Berland had given over exactly the same message, in different words, at the latest prayer gathering in Hevron. He told the crowd over and over again:
Lo le’vater! Don’t give in! We won’t give in! No-one is giving in here, or giving up!
And then he got the crowd to shout it after him a few times, because while it’s easy to say these words, it’s so very hard to internalize them at the moment.
Everyone I’m in touch with seems to have some sort of profound crisis occurring in their personal life at the moment.
For some people, it’s problems with the spouse and / or children; for others it’s serious illnesses – like one after another, requiring surgery, with no let up. For others, it’s a deep malaise and dissatisfaction with the route their life seems to be taking. So much effort, for what? So much expenditure of time and money, for what?
And for others, they can’t put their finger on what’s ‘wrong’ exactly, but they are still feeling totally out of sorts, unhappy and lost in the world.
God has arranged things right now that the world is burstingly-full of hassle and disappointment, and apparently pretty empty of true happiness, satisfaction and peace of mind.
And we’re all feeling it.
A few weeks ago, I was reading through one of the Breslov books, as I often like to do on Shabbat, and my eye fell on a footnote, where Rav Natan was talking about how other rabbis used to boast about their students, who knew 1000 pages of the Gemara by heart. Rav Natan had a different ‘boast’ about his students.
He said: “I have a student, Rav Ozer, who can say one thousand times Ribono Shel Olam!”
I read that, and I thought to myself how hard can it be, to say a thousand times Ribono Shel Olam?
Let me try and do it, too.
So I did.
And what I can tell you is that while it was very hard to keep going in the middle, because frankly it was so flipping tedious! And it felt a little pointless! And I started to think that maybe I’m just an idiot for trying this stuff out! – It really wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, yetzer haras aside.
And once I was done, I suddenly realized that God had been teaching me a tremendous lesson in what is really required from us, at this stage of things. Simply, to just keep going. To not pay any attention to the inner voices that are telling us we aren’t doing it right, or we didn’t count properly, or that we’re doing in life is totally pointless.
Ribono shel olam! Master of the world!
Please, keep giving me the energy and motivation to get out of bed in the morning, and to continue trying to serve You, however imperfectly! Please keep standing me back up on my feet, when the despair and apathy is battering me down again! Please keep reassuring me that You are seeing everything that is passing over me, that You are with me, and that nothing that is happening right now is for naught!
That’s how we get through this next little bit with our souls intact, and without turning into bitter, angry, toxic zombies.
Ribono shel olam, a thousand times!!!
And nothing else.
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