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Before we continue, some timely words from Rabbenu, Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

A few weeks ago, when I was first heading into this whole genealogical minefield, I happened to pick up a copy of Tzaddik, and I ‘randomly’ opened it to page 388, where I read this:

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#464:

People had been telling the Rebbe all kinds of stories about various groups of people in Berdichov including, among others, some of the wealthy people there and also a number of popular leaders.

The Rebbe said:

“If we put all these stories about the various different kinds of people in Berdichov together, including the stories about these ‘Tzaddikim’, they all add up to nothing.

It is like a tree which grows in an orchard or a field among great numbers of other trees. Even in one tree there are all kinds of variations: there might be a branch where the leaves have withered, or places where the fruit has been spoiled because of a worm getting in, or there could be a branch where the fruit near the end has gotten spoiled.

There are all kinds of variations and imperfections even amongst the leaves and fruits of a single tree.

Yet the tree is still a tree, and the orchard itself, which contains large numbers of trees, is certainly still an orchard.

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“The meaning of this comparison should be at least partly clear to someone with intelligence.

Today’s world may well contain many people who are totally corrupt and others, who although they possess a certain decency, also have their various imperfections, including the so-called leaders.

Nevertheless, the holy tree is still a tree.

And even more so, the orchard which contains so many trees – namely souls – is still an orchard.

All the imperfections do not add up to anything.”

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Dear readers, I’m looking at our collective family tree, our collective ‘family orchard’, and I can tell you that there is a lot of withered leaves, rotten fruit and worm infestation going on here.

Before Moshiach comes, it needs cleaning out, the orchard needs a bit of pruning and tidying up.

In some ways, this is going to be a painful job.

Whenever I have to cut back my lavender plants, or lop some branches and twigs off my trees, I always feel a little sorry for my poor plants, that they have to be ‘operated’ on like this. But I do it, because I know that if I don’t the plant won’t thrive.

It needs some shaping, it needs the dead wood cleared out, so new, fresh growth can take place.

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Right now, we are at that part of the story where ‘something’ happens to flip the whole reality on its head.

Up until this point, people have been sitting there in their armchairs, believing that the Rav is the ‘bad one’, God forbid.

They’ve been believing all those news stories, all the breathless headlines from the Yeshiva World News and from Facebook, secure in their judgmental self-righteousness, that something like this could never be said of their Rebbe, or their group, or the public figures they support and admire.

But that’s just not true.

When all the truth comes out, I doubt there will be a person, a community, across the whole Jewish world who won’t be touched in some way, by its healing rays.

When that sun of truth finally rises, with refua in its wings, we’ve already been told that it will heal the righteous, and burn the wicked.

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The test right now is just to love our fellow Jew unconditionally, and to try to put ourselves in their shoes.

That doesn’t mean we excuse or justify bad. We can never excuse, ignore or justify ‘bad’.

But what it does mean, is that we don’t start lording it over people, and other groups, and arrogantly pointing the finger at them, and holding them in contempt, because we consider ourselves to be perfect.

There are a lot of withered leaves going on here.

There is a lot of rotten fruit.

Not just in our neighbors’ ‘trees’, but also in our own.

We are at the stage where very soon, it’s all going to be exposed.

And that’s when ahavat chinam, loving our neighbors and ourselves unconditionally – but without justifying ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ – is going to be what gets us through this next stage, and onwards towards the geulah and Moshiach.

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Remember what Rabbenu is telling us:

“Today’s world may well contain many people who are totally corrupt and others, who although they possess a certain decency, also have their various imperfections, including the so-called leaders.

Nevertheless, the holy tree is still a tree.

And even more so, the orchard which contains so many trees – namely souls – is still an orchard.

“All the imperfections do not add up to anything.”

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