It says in the Gemara that before Moshiach comes, the troubles will come piling in like one big tsunami after another.
Before one trouble ends, another will be washing over us.
I have to say, the last few weeks that’s been really playing out in my life. I had my mini-nervous breakdown three weeks ago that saw me scurrying off to London for the first time in six years to finally face down my UK demons.
I got back from that trip happy but kind of exhausted, immediately came down with a huge stress cold, then got even more stressed when I realized that Rosh Hashana was two days’ away and I’d done pretty much nothing, spiritually or otherwise, to prepare for it. (Or so it seemed.)
I got the message before Rosh Hashana this year that the chag was kind of prepared for me, and that this year all I had to do was show up. But to be honest, even that part was tough.
Sunday morning, I headed out to Ben Gurion to pick my husband up from Uman, accompanied by text messages telling us that my mother-in-law had almost died motzae Shabbat, and things didn’t look good.
Eight hours after I picked him up, we were back at the airport on a last minute flight back out to the UK to try to see my mother-in-law one last time before she passed away.
We were too late. We got the text message she’d died as we were waiting to check in.
We got to the UK in the early hours of Monday morning to discover there were no beds for us (understandably, given what had just gone on). My husband hadn’t slept for two days’ straight by that point and crashed out on the couch.
I, in the meantime, was trying to figure out how I could sleep in a modest fashion on the couch with a bunch of strange men in the house…
In the end, I just couldn’t sleep.
The way things are done in my husband’s old hood is because the Jewish community is so small, they tend to only bury at one time slot a day – 2.30pm. With all the paperwork etc, we’d missed the slot for that day, so we had to wait for the actual funeral to happen the next day.
That day was pretty weird. I kept thinking about my mother-in-law’s soul, and how un-thrilled it probably was about this turn of events. That night, we had a bed – but neither of us could sleep, despite our best efforts. I tossed, I turned, I kept thinking about my mother-in-law and what was going on with her in the heavenly court.
What can you do?
After the funeral, the heaviness started to lift – but then I was put on hardcore ‘tea’ duty.
I forgot how much people in the UK like their cups of tea. I also forgot how people who don’t really know the laws of mourning show up a shiva house expecting to be served tea and cake by the family of mourners.
Me and the brother-in-laws were pressed into service, and man, I was so tired after 6 straight hours of making and serving tea that I could have collapsed right then and there.
At that point, the claustrophobia started to kick in, and knackered as I was, I had to get out and go for a longish walk to clear my head, despite the fact that my eyes were swimming and I was so tired I literally couldn’t speak.
The food was also something of a challenge. I pretty much ate fish balls and fruit for four days’ solid, and things would have been much worse if a kind friend hadn’t shown up having cleared out the local kosher store for us.
I forgot how much Jews in the UK like their fish balls.
We flew back into Israel late Thursday night, and the first thing I did was buy a kosher sandwich at the airport. It tasted so good, I wound down the window of the car as we were leaving Ben Gurion and started yelling loudly about how great Israel really is, and how happy I am to be living here.
The next day, my husband sat shiva for a few more hours early in the morning with our girls, until Chatzot, looking through old family pictures. Yom Kippur was looming, and I had no food in the house, and no energy to cook. I bought what I could at the makolet, rummaged around the freezer, and put together something super simple.
Me and my husband were so exhausted. So I came into yet another high holiday completely wasted and (again…) completely unprepared for the chag.
Dear reader, I slept most of Yom Kippur and barely did any praying.
The first text message I got from a friend after the holiday is that her father had just passed away. I also got an email from the evil lawyers who are suing me telling me they haven’t forgotten about it, and still want to extort a few thousand shekels.
I have no idea what’s going on at the moment. I have no energy to do anything, no motivation, no ability to think past the next five minutes.
I just want everything and everyone to go away and leave me alone for a few weeks, so I can get my bearings back and figure out what’s really going on and what I’m meant to be doing with myself.
In three days’ time, it’s Succot.
I’m so not prepared for it. I’m so not ‘there’. I got worried we’d missed our chance to grab a space for the succah this year because round where I live, there are 40 families going after 20 places on the road downstairs, so you usually go bag your place straight after Rosh Hashana.
But apparently, the building ‘saved’ our spot, so hopefully we will have somewhere for our Succah after all.
Is all this madness leading to Moshiach, or just another nervous breakdown?
I have no idea!
But I guess we’ll find out.