In London, IKEA was top of the list of places I hated going. I hated the traffic jams to get there, I hated the enormous crowd of people you had to fight through just to shop, and I REALLY hated the two hour waits to pay for your stuff and get the heck out of there.

Now, IKEA Israel has always been a much more pleasant experience than IKEA London ever was: much less traffic, much less barging and noise and best of all, the café is 100% glatt kosher… But to say that it’s a ‘relaxing’ experience? Not really. Especially not when you discover that all the chatchkees you picked up for 3 nis have now taken your bill sky-high.

But yesterday, Thursday, I couldn’t take it any more.

From where I am in Jerusalem, I think I hear every police car and ambulance being dispatched to every incident in the whole city. All day, I heard the multiple sirens and ‘honking’ sound that is the sure-fire sign that a terrorist has just struck again, and I sat there tensed to the max, waiting to get more details.

It’s a little easier when everyone is at home and at least you’re not actively worrying that your family got directly affected, but one bunch of sirens exploded around coming home time for the kid who’s in school in the Old City, and I literally felt I’d reached breaking point.

All week, I’d had severe tension headaches (that I usually never get), pains in my neck and throat, and general all-over feeling of unwellness that I knew was stress-related.

But how to stop stressing when you live in a very intense, albeit very holy place, and there’s always something going on?

On Wednesday, I did a long session of hitbodedut, or personal prayer and that definitely helped, even though I could barely get a word out. I got some insights into the nature of fear that I hope to share with you in another post, as they helped me put things into a more correct perspective, and to remember that this world is just the corridor, not the main event.

But insights aside, physically and emotionally I was suffering from some severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (more about that over on spiritualselfhelp.org…), and I needed a break from the sirens. My 12 year old came home from school wearing her familiar panicked face and panting heavily (her sprinting has come on a treat since the latest outbreak of Arab violence…) and asked me if we could go to IKEA.

Usually, I will pull any trick in the book to avoid going to IKEA, even if it is glatt kosher, but yesterday I jumped at the chance to get some relief from the sirens and tension. As my friend remarked, ‘no-one ever got stabbed in IKEA’, and as my husband remarked, IKEA has no gold-effect furniture, so the Arabs don’t shop there.

Perfect!

We got in the car (my husband came too) and set out for four hours of freedom from the madness. On the way back, I pondered on how crazy the world has got really, and how it’s really become the olam hafuch, or ‘upside-down world’ they talk of in the Gemara. I mean, who ever went to IKEA to relax?

There are many signs that Moshiach is fast on the way, but when spending four hours in IKEA becomes a way of reducing your stress levels, you just know something fundamental has got warped out of place.

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