From the midst of the whirlwind

Everyone I know seems to be feeling overwhelmed at the moment. There’s so much going on, isn’t there? And the politics and the weather and all the other stuff is just ‘mirroring’ back to us all the uncertainty we seem to be feeling.

I wake up every day feeling I have so many things to do, and not enough time to get them done – and I work fast! But it’s still not enough, apparently.

There’s a pressure, a tension in the air.

Yesterday, my daughter had a few friends over, and I could hear the shrieking from the kitchen:

What are all these chareidim doing!?!? Why are they blocking the traffic?!?!? What’s their problem?!?!?

One friend was watching footage of bald, aggressive kassamnikim man-handling a bunch of chareidim off the road by the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem. Not for the first time, I had very mixed feelings about the whole thing.

Why are they protesting? Why are they protesting now? There is no government, there is no-one to protest about! What’s the point? Why protest and pointlessly alienate a bunch of people, instead of just praying for the people who are ‘difficult’ to make more teshuva?

These were my thoughts, as I watched one Israeli Kojak after another (minus the lollipop…) run at one chareidi man after another and drag them away. We’ve seen the same scenes so many times, in so many places.

There is so much going on, and I find myself with too much to say and not enough time to really say it. So here’s some ‘thoughts in brief’ about what’s happening, for what it’s worth.

A pie chart showing the number of seats each party got in the Israel Election 2019

New Elections in Israel

We will apparently be having new elections in Israel, on Sept 17, 2019. Lieberman’s party got far fewer votes than the Chareidi parties combined. According to the Knesset website, almost 500,000 people voted for the UTJ or Shas, while only 173,000 voted for Lieberman and Yisrael Beitenu.

So, why should Lieberman believe he has a right to impose his version of the draft bill? This is totally anti-democratic, and the mirror principal is coming into play again: Lieberman is jumping up and down accusing the ‘minority’ of dictating to the majority, and he’s exactly right. Just he’s the minority.

It strikes me that so many of these characters only believe in democracy when it’s giving them what they want, and they hate it when they have to go along with a majority they disagree with.

So, I think we’re going to see a massive ratcheting-up of ‘anti-Chareidi’ (or rather, ‘anti-Semitic) sentiment in Israel again, because it’s always convenient to blame the Jews when people are looking for a scapegoat. This is what happened back in 2012 when Yesh Atid got into government. The anti-chareidi incitement was bad then, I think it’s going to be even worse now, because it’s not about the draft bill.

It’s about the radically secular minority in Israel trying to impose their will on the traditional / religious majority, while still pretending to be a democracy.

So, there is no solution to these people’s real ‘problem’, namely that more and more Jews in Israel believe in God, respect the Torah, and want to live an observantly Jewish life.

But there is a silver lining to all this, and God is for sure behind everything. If there’s no government, there’s no way Trump can push his ‘peace plan’ on Israel, which is definitely a blessing. What’s going on is so incredible, it seems to me to be totally supernatural.

The decrees are being sweetened….

But there is still so much work to do, and Hashem is going to use all this turmoil to shine a very bright spotlight on each and every one of us, especially our bad middot. Because that’s one of the key things that keeps getting missed in all the partisanship, and point scoring and finger-pointing, namely,

Our detractors are often right.

Not about everything, not 100%, but when they’re telling us that we’re doing x or y, it’s usually got a grain of truth in it, somewhere.

This is not my idea, its part of Rav Arush’s three principles of emuna, which in turn are girded firmly in Daas Torah.

The three principles of emuna state:

  • God is doing everything;
  • Everything that happens to us is for our ultimate good; and
  • Everything contains a message about what we ourselves need to acknowledge, work on and try to fix.

And again, it can’t be said too many times that the problems are not only on the ‘secular’ side of the fence.

BAD MIDDOT, MEAH SHEARIM STYLE

Two days ago, the TAKDIN website reported a libel case that was won by a mother of 13 from Meah Shearim, who was targeted in an absolutely awful way by her ex-husband before, during and after the divorce.

This man accused his former wife of running a brothel, stuck notices all over Meah Shearim with her name and address on them, and got a bunch of so-called ‘rabbis’ in Meah Shearim to sign on this awful slander and lashon hara, too. The husband also got journalists on Ma’ariv and the Kikar HaShabbat website to run his awful slander, too.

It gets worse.

A bunch of Meah Shearim vigilantes then started picketing her house, and it got firebombed when the woman and some of her kids were home, potentially putting her life in danger, as they had to fight through the flames to escape.

The woman sold up and moved out after all these incredible, and incredibly disgusting, antics – but then she decided to sue her ex, the journalists, and the rabbis who signed for libel – and she won!

Baruch Hashem, she won 500,000 nis.

All this was going on in 2012 – and that same year, very similar tactics were being used by the anti-Rabbi Berland crazies in Meah Shearim. I’d love to know if it’s the same people, the same journalists and ‘rabbis’ involved in this case, too, because so many of the tactics and abuse just sound so similar, both in their malevolence and their focused insanity.

Religious Jews are meant to be a light unto the nations – starting with our fellow Jews. And that work starts with owning up to our own bad middot, instead of arrogantly thinking that we’re better than everyone else.

(BTW, that’s part of what drew me to Rebbe Nachman, and then to Rabbi Berland, who very much put the emphasis on acquiring some humility and compassion, and to stop ‘lording it’ over other people with self-righteous judgments and pronouncements. We’re all broken, and we all need fixing, with no exceptions.

Also this week, Rabbi Berland was taken into hospital for heart surgery.

After months of warning us that he’d have to take more suffering upon himself to sweeten all the judgments if the nation didn’t make more teshuva, it seems that is what is happening. He could really use our prayers, so please keep in mind Rabbi Eliezer ben Etia, for a total refuah.

And the last thing I wanted to share with you, in this mish-mash of a post, is that:

Dani18 removed the announcement that Rabbi Berland is Moshiach ben David.

Me being a journalist, I phoned up to find out why. Apparently the pressure that was put on them to remove the statements was so great, they felt they had no choice but to comply. They don’t want to get in the middle of all the holkim, the persecutors, who have been going against the Rav for decades.

That kind of shows you just how hardcore and horrible the Rav’s persecutors are, because the autistics have had their fair share of controversy over the years, and for them to ‘crack’ is pretty astounding.

I guess the main point I’m trying to make here is that regardless of whether you’re dealing with bald secular thugs, or bearded religious thugs, there are people with significantly bad middot all over the place, and they are the ones making all the trouble, and leading us away from Hashem and redemption.

And we can only figure out who they really are, and how bad they really are, when we stop making excuses for our own bad behavior.

Yup, we’re back to the mirror principle, and to the whole issue with sinat chinam, and all the other things I can’t seem to stop writing about at the moment.

And we’re also back to the idea that like attracts like.

The bad elements in all our communities are working together across communal and religious lines, to keep the rest of us steeped in evil speech, nasty thoughts, and at each other’s throats.

And the only way we can stop this is to stop getting pulled into pointless generalisations about other Jews and other groups of Jews, and to just knuckle down and do the work of tackling our own bad middot.

Ken yiyeh haratzon.