haredi man standing facing the Wailing Wall

What is Tisha B’Av really all about?

The last few days, I’ve been in a funny mood – you might have noticed. I’ve been feeling frustrated, angry, even a little bitter, that despite so much effort, I’m going into yet another Tisha B’av with what feels like zero progress on so many fronts.

In fact spiritually, I even feel as though I’ve been going backwards in some ways, recently. I tried to capture a little of that HERE, but I feel I’ve had so much brain fog going on the last weeks I’ve lost touch with my soul again.

Yes, I’ve still been doing an hour a day of talking to God (or trying to…) – sometimes even more. In the old days, I could sit down for a six hour talking to God session, usually on Shabbat when I had the time to spare, and come out of it feeling like something had really moved or ameliorated.

The last few months, even the six hours I’ve been doing don’t give me much of a spiritual ‘bounce’. The best I can say, is that I feel calmer, usually, and sometimes I get a bit more clarity, and a bit more hope and determination to continue.

But underneath all that, there’s this sense of what am I doing all this for? Where am I going? How can I carry on like this, aimlessly drifting because I can’t seem to get anywhere, still?

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On Shabbat, I did another six hours on why I feel like such a spiritual zombie so much of the time, when God threw me a clue:

I have tremendous amounts of despair gushing around still.

It’s not preventing me from getting on with things, day-to-day, and thank God, I’m not a depressed zombie or an angry, ranting cynic (most of the time…) but what I am is totally despairing that things are going to change. On the national level, it just seems to me like the ‘bad’ always wins, the superficial is always preferred, the lie is always more welcome than the truth.

In my own dalet amot, there seems to be so many things I’ve given up on or lost over the last few years, that I can’t seem to figure out how to get back. I know what happened with losing the apartment in Jerusalem, last year, was a massive blow, psychologically. Just as I thought I’d actually got somewhere – we signed, after all!!! – it all turned around for the worst, and left us with the biggest nightmare we’d had to deal with for a very long time.

It’s been a year since we made the agreement with our seller that saw us pay for all of her expenses (and of course ours…) as the ‘punishment’ for being dumb enough to trust her, and for being dumb enough to trust our dumb lawyer was actually doing his job. I think it’s taken a year for what happened to really work its way through my system.

The last 2 days, I realized that I’ve been effectively numbed-out for 18 months.

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Part of me knows it’s good to have had so many things not get anywhere, and to have so much frustration and failure. It keeps me humble. But it’s also keeping me lonely and despairing, because another part of me just doesn’t want to try anymore.

We’re meant to sit on the floor and weep over the destruction. Thank God, me and my family are healthy and we have a roof and food to eat. That’s already so much to be grateful for. But there are still parts of my life that appear to be ‘destroyed’, and that I can’t see any way of fixing.

I’ve pretty much given up on making new friends, for example. So many people have gone crazy the last few years, that I find it easier to keep my distance than too risk getting to close when the inevitable implosion happens. But I miss talking to people. I miss inviting people for Shabbat. I miss being part of something, socially.

And I just don’t see how it’s going to come back. I think I’m just too weird, these days, too out of sync with what passes for ‘normal’.

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Also, my spiritual side seems to be bumping along the bottom.

If not for the Rav and Rebbe Nachman, I really don’t know where I’d be because I am just going through the motions with so much of my yiddishkeit. I try to learn 2 laws of the Shulchan Aruch most days, with my husband. Of course I try to keep Shabbat, Kosher, the laws of Tisha B’Av etc etc – but I’m doing so much of that from a place of ‘default’, and not from a place of enthusiasm.

My kids keep telling me: we can’t pray, because we can’t really feel anything when we do.

I get them. I feel that about almost all the mitzvahs right now. There are so few things I’m doing that I can really feel I’m getting anything back from. My husband says this is good. He tells me this is keeping Torah lishma, for its own sake, and that this makes Hashem very happy.

I’m doing my best to believe him.

And in the meantime, I sit here spinning my wheels, wondering what I’m meant to be doing with my life. More pointless blog posts? More pointless books? More pointless efforts to try to move forward and ‘get somewhere’, even though it feels there is totally no point in even trying?

It’s a struggle of will each morning, to get out of bed and get on with the day, because it all feels so aimless and pointless.

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All this effort, but I’m so far from giving God what He really wants from me.

I’m still struggling with very harsh judgment calls against other people. I’m still lazy. I’m still selfish and self-centred, not really seeing other people in my picture and looking out for number 1.

The Temple isn’t rebuilt still, and I know who’s to blame for that: me.

Hard as I try, I can’t switch my ‘bad’ into good. I can’t be the force for good that God really wants me to be. I can’t resist goading people and provoking them, and seeing their ‘bad’.

So today, I’m going to try and sit on the floor, and spend some time mourning the destruction. I’m going to try to cry a bit, sincerely, for the trainwreck that modern life has become. It’s a place where we spend so much time staring at a screen, it hurts the eyes to look a real person straight in the face. It’s a place where the inner destruction is so total, we can’t feel anything anymore. Where the ability to really speak from the soul has been replaced by Whats App monologues and emojicons.

Today, I’m going to cry a bit, and spend some time engaging with the broken bits of my life.

I’m broken God, I’m clueless. I’m lost and hurting. I’ve given up on things ever really changing.

And I wish things were different.

But it’s totally beyond me to change them.

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7 replies
  1. Inna
    Inna says:

    Not pointless Rivka, you are one of the only ones I am able to still read now that resonate with what I am feeling at present. Makes me feel that I am not crazy for feeling what I feel and thinking this way. And may be silly for me to say , but I feel your blog can replace many news sources to keep me up to date in what is going on in the world.
    Thank you for what you do.

    Reply
  2. mkhal Rus freedman
    mkhal Rus freedman says:

    me too
    today can we awaken from this coma?
    not only temporarily to get one more day of survival..?

    for now, to let the tears fall freely
    for now, to allow my neshama to awaken to remove the drugs that numb the pain
    even the drug of superficial relationship with HAshem
    to say NO HASHEM
    i dont want to be satisfied with this relation ship

    i am NOT satisfied with walking around in a coma as you hold my hand as i remain unconscious
    i am not satisfied that i can come to to kotel
    i am not satisfied to have one hour hisbodidus
    i am NOT satisfied to sometimes feel a small amount on shabbos
    i am not satisfied to cry to you in pain and to have my emuna boosted for another few hours
    i am not satisfied that bombs fell and no one was hurt
    i am not satisfied that thousands of jews are finding the beauty of Torah
    i am not satisfied to just make aliya
    i am not satisfied to just pass the day of tisha b’av
    i AM NOT going to be satisfied until

    every Jew is filled with the feeling of being unconditionally loved by YOU
    until i can make aliya
    and we can ALL be aliya lregel and serve You and dance and sing at simchas beis hashoeva and every one of us is united and sees the greatness of You love for the whole world

    i am not satisfied until YOU have your home and Your children all in it!!!!!!!!
    for this we will cry in despair of our hands being able to accomplish anything
    and for all this we will cry tears of HOPE knowing that Hashem is carrying us step by stepr to the moment of the revelation of the Geulah shelema

    beH may it be NOW

    Reply
  3. Avigail
    Avigail says:

    Hi Rivka,
    Thank you for sharing your feelings. At times I also feel very bad about my progress and about myself, so reading your words helped me to realize – yah I’m normal. Your words gave me comfort. It was like reading my diary. Thank you. I want so deeply to be pleasing to Hashem and when I fail, which seems to be often, I persecute myself. I’m learning to accept myself and remember that where I am at any given moment is perfect and exactly where He wants me to be. I remember Rabbi Arush’s words about women being prone to self persecution. It’s the yetzar hara. Baruch Hashem that He is stronger than my feelings.

    Thank you for your articles on breslev that always make me laugh, and for your blog, that is a new discovery for me.

    May Hashem give us His comfort. And His emuna. And His bitachon.

    Reply
  4. Devorah
    Devorah says:

    Eating two squares (10 grams MAX) a day of dark chocolate (75% or higher cacao) will get you out of your depressed states. First try it.

    Reply
  5. Devorah
    Devorah says:

    B. Didn’t R Berland say something rel to geula but later in 2019 at the last prayer gathering in Chevron?…Also, it says geula will arrive after we have despaired, remember? The last part of galut is the toughest part..

    Reply

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