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I only ask, because recently someone sent me an email where they were referring to some comments made by Rav Berland that Moshiach comes as part of a many years-long process. According to my correspondent, the process started in [year] and will continue until [year], and the whole time, there will be more tests and more birur, or clarification, of where people are really holding vis-à-vis their true relationship with Hashem.

Now, I know three years is not really a long period of time in the big scheme of things, but I have to admit to feeling just a little down-hearted after I read that email. Because things are not exactly ‘easy’ – for anyone – at the moment, and so many of us are just kind of holding on in the face of some huge issues that we seem powerless to resolve or overcome by ourselves.

A lot of days, I get emails from readers telling me they’re literally just holding on by the tips of their fingers, waiting for Moshiach to haul them back up over the top of the ledge they seem to have fallen off.

Man, I can relate.

I have this weird ‘gift’ of picking up the heavy vibes bouncing around the world, and translating them into bizarre physical issues. (I write much more about the connections between body, mind and soul over on my spiritualselfhelp blog, and also in my book, Talk to God and Fix Your Health.)

So anyway, the last few weeks I’ve been dealing with another strange, but familiar phenomena, namely a weird bump that showed up on my left eye around a month ago.

This is the fourth weird bump on my eye I’ve had over the last few years, and when the first one showed up around seven years’ back, I completely freaked out and thought the worst. The nice eye specialist reassured me it was just ‘one of those things’ and would disappear by itself eventually.

It took that bump two years to go, which coincided with an EXTREMELY stressful period of time for me personally, and also Israel, that was going through a number of ‘mini-wars’ with Gaza.

And then a few months later, another bump showed up on my other eye.

Hmmm.

To cut a long story short, I have now realized that by the time the ‘eye bumps’ show up, there are some mega-huge ‘heavy judgment’ vibes flying around, that in the past have corresponded to rockets from Gaza, terrorist attacks and small wars.

(Clearly, they also correspond to me having to make a lot of teshuva for things in my own life too, usually connected to very deep anger issues that are still floating around from way back when.)

But the point is this: Who can hack another three years of stress and heavy judgments like the last three have been?

I spend a lot of time trying to clear things out of my spiritual and emotional system, and trying to figure out what other bits of my character need some work, and that’s definitely helping to ‘lighten up’ the heavy vibes, at least in my own personal space.

But you know what? It’s really, really hard work, and I’m feeling kind of like I haven’t got so much energy left to keep digging that stuff up and dealing with it.

I’m not talking about small stuff here, I’m talking about big, life-changing things that have enormous consequences attached.

That’s the whole test we’re all going through right now, the test of ‘clarification’, or birur, where God is shining a very strong spot-light into all the nooks and crannies of our souls, and inviting us to fix things that we’ve left hanging since Adam HaRishon was walking around 5,777 years ago.

It’s really hard work! And that’s if you’re trying to do the work…

If you’re not trying to do the work, then paradoxically, it’s even harder work, because Hashem is just turning the heat up higher and higher and higher until we get the message and start to deal with all the issues we all have that we prefer not to look at or acknowledge.

The deeper our heads are in the sand, the harder God is now slapping us, to try to get us to wake up.

I know that really, it’s a kindness that this process of revealing Moshiach in the world is stretching out over a number of years. If it happened quickly, like most of us think it should, nearly everyone would keel over from the shock of it all.

Whaaat? You mean I’m not a perfect angel, and it’s not all everyone else’s fault that my life and relationships are in such a mess?!?!?!?

It’s not easy to go from a world of darkness and lies to a world of purity and truth, even when you’re inching slowly along the path. To do it in one day, or even in one week or one month, would literally give most people an instant heart-attack.

But still….three more years of this?! Really?

Sigh.

We can’t hurry Moshiach along, and we can’t force God’s hand. There’s a time and a place and a process that has to occur. But some small part of me still hopes that ‘three years’ is a typo, and that really, Moshiach is going to show up tomorrow.

Two days before Pesach, my daughter slammed her finger in our front door.

She’s a very stoic sort usually, so when she started squealing and saying ‘ow’ loudly I paid attention. Her finger started spurting some blood, she started freaking out, and I knew there was a trip to Terem on the cards, even though I HATE going near any Western medical doctors for any reason.

Before we left, I doused her finger with some helichrysum essential oil, because I know that takes down swelling and promotes bone healing, and I also spent another five minutes poking her uninjured hand with my Su Jok probe, to start stimulating the healing process in her injured finger ‘electrically’.

The last and most important thing I did was ask my husband to immediately make a sizeable donation to Rav Berland as a pidyon Nefesh payment for my daughter. (You can read more about how a pidyon Nefesh works, and why it’s so important, HERE.)

Let’s be clear that my daughter is used to my weird ways with her health issues, but still got a little impatient that I insisted on stabbing her with my Su Jok stick before we got to the ER.

“I’m doing this to give you the best possible chance of healing without the doctors going off on one,” I told her.

But she wasn’t impressed.

We got to Terem, and as I wrote a little while back, after an X-ray, a tetanus shot, and a big speech about why my daughter needed a whole bunch of antibiotics and an urgent visit to an orthopaedic surgeon two days later, we got discharged with the prognosis that she’d sustained an open (or compound) fracture.

I got home, googled ‘compound fracture’ and grimaced. It sounded pretty bad. It’s when the bone breaks, and then breaks through the skin in an open wound, which can be very susceptible to infections, and much harder to heal than a regular fracture. All the American sites warned me sternly that I’d need surgery to deal with a compound fracture (gulp).

The British NHS website was much more down to earth, and explained that surgery was sometimes necessary in complicated breaks, but very often not. (Phew).

I tried making the appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon, but in the meantime no-one was answering the phone, even after I hung on the line for ages. Pesach was approaching, so I decided to take a wait-and-see approach and try to make another appointment after Seder night had passed.

In the meantime, I prayed on my daughter’s health and finger –

That it would heal, that she wouldn’t get an infection, God forbid, that the antibiotics shouldn’t stuff up her health in other ways, God forbid; I used helichrysum essential oil instead of the antibiotic ointment, and I continued to stab her other hand with my Su Jok probe, to stimulate her body’s own healing response.

A few days later, her finger looked really, really good (relatively….). Hmm. She told me it wasn’t even hurting now. Hmm. I took a deep breath and called up the orthopaedic surgeon to make the appointment.

As I mentioned previously, I generally hate Western medical doctors, and the ones in Israel are often particularly arrogant, fear-mongering and generally horrible to deal with.

So with some trepidation I showed up to the appointment, prepared to defend using germ-killing essential oils instead of antibacterial creams, and prepared to argue that my daughter didn’t need urgent surgery on her finger…

The doctor we saw was a really cool, older guy who was not at all from the ‘fear-mongering-surgery-at-all-costs’ school. He took one look at my daughter’s finger, poked it a bit, asked her if it hurt, pulled up her x-ray, then told us something amazing: There was no fracture.

Not even a regular one, let alone a compound one.

She didn’t need any more bandages, treatment or even special precautions with her finger. And she probably also wouldn’t even lose her fingernail. I was astounded!

The pidyon Nefesh with Rav Berland had clearly kicked in, and God had done a miracle for us. Back in Terem, I’d argued about the antibiotics, which is when they went to town on me (and my daughter…) and told us she’d probably need surgery blah blah blah… and it was an open fracture blah blah blah… and they’d checked it all on the x-ray blah blah blah….

Was the miracle that they’d made a mistake in Terem, and told us it was fractured when it wasn’t? Maybe. Or maybe, it really was fractured back then, but now it wasn’t. Either way, I was thrilled.

There’s an idea that when God does a miracle for you, you should publicise it. I decided to write this up to encourage you, dear reader, to put God and pidyon Nefesh in the picture as much as possible with your own health issues.

The more we make space in our lives for the miracles to happen, the more we’ll see them.

There seems to be an unfortunate tradition in my house that every Jewish holiday for the last few years has been attended with its own share of challenges and difficulties.

I tried to escape fate this year by checking into a hotel for Rosh Hashana, which worked for two days – but boy, did it catch up with me by Succot.

This last Succot was arguably the worst, or second worst I ever had, in terms of my matzav ruach and overall mood. I spent pretty much the whole of Succot crying my eyes out in the pit of despair about the mess I felt my life was in.

I was pretty nervous about Purim, too, as that’s also traditionally marked the start of a really difficult few weeks heading into Pesach. This year, Purim was bland, but OK – which is much, much better than it usually is, at least for me. So I was cautiously hopeful that I’d get to Seder in reasonably good shape.

Despite a few last minute issues and challenges, we got to a few hours before Pesach, and it was all going far more smoothly and enjoyably than usual. I’d warned my whole family we were going to enjoy seder night this year, even though we had no guests and were by ourselves again, as it’s been the last three years.

Apart from one absolutely massive argument between my husband and a kid an hour before Pesach about setting the table for seder (which ended on a positive note) – it was pretty smooth sailing.

Until about half an hour into the seder, when I started to feel pretty yucky.

Hmm.

Maybe, I hadn’t eaten enough all day? (Very possible…) Maybe, the argument had been more upsetting and draining than I’d realised at the time? (That could be…) Maybe, I was such an alcoholic lightweight that even one inch of fizzy wine mixed with grapejuice was more than I could handle on an empty stomach?

I held on until we got to the meal, ate my full share of matza, lettuce and chicken soup – and then started feeling even worse. I got shooting pains down the outside of my legs, and a migraine-type feeling of severe heaviness descended upon me, completely knocking me out.

I could barely even bench, let alone continue on to the end of the Haggada and drink another two cups of grape juice. I asked for a quilt and fell asleep on the couch before we even got to opening the door to rain down retribution on the anti-semites of the world.

I woke up a couple of hours later feeling even worse, and went straight to bed.

The next day, I was completely out of action and felt like I was back in the exhausted ‘burn-out mode’ I’ve had on and off for the last five years.

But this time round, I had no idea why! Usually, I have such big things going on that I’m amazed I’m still walking around some weeks, but nothing so ‘big’ happened before Pesach this year. But nevertheless, I still felt half-dead.

Gosh. I had that sinking feeling that Pesach was going to be a complete spiritual wash-out again.

The next day, I barely had energy to get out of bed. But my husband coaxed me to come out with him to visit Hevron, even if only for a few short minutes – and I somehow managed to get dressed and follow him out to the car.

The Hall of Yitzhak and Rivka in Hevron is only open on chol hamoed, and the small entrance to the underground tombs is located there. Some years, I’ve had the most amazing uplift from sitting close to that small hole in the ground that’s reputed to be the entrance to Gan Eden, so I didn’t want to miss out, if at all possible.

I sat there for half an hour.

The first ten minutes I felt so exhausted again I could barely speak. God, am I going to have months of ill-health and exhaustion again? Am I going to be struggling to find the energy to get out of bed again, and start worrying that ‘something’ is going really wrong health-wise, like happened a couple of years’ ago?

As I pondered that question, I realised I was actually feeling better. After half an hour, I was feeling so refreshed I decided to go for a little walk around the Jewish area of Hevron. I tagged on the back of a tour that was going through the ancient Jewish cemetery located on Tel Hevron, or the mound of earth where the biblical Hevron of the Patriarchs was located.

Hardly any of this Tel has been excavated by archaeologists, I suspect because they would find so much overwhelming evidence of the Torah’s veracity, and the Jewish roots that go so deep in Hevron, that could cause a lot of ‘trouble’ for the world’s politicians and atheists.

On the way, we stopped at the ancient grave of Ruth the Moabitess, and Yishai (Jesse) the father of King David.

The view was gorgeous, the grave was very picturesque, and for a moment, I got a taste of Hevron from 3,000 years ago.

It was magical.

In what is becoming a recurring theme at the moment, I sighed a big sigh and wished that Jews could live more freely in Hevron, and in Jerusalem, and in many other parts of Israel. It’s our country! God gave it to us! Why are places like Ruth and Yishai’s grave effectively ‘off-limits’ to Jews for 360 days of the year?

I know when Moshiach comes, these questions will finally be addressed and resolved, but in the meantime they are piling up higher and higher in the corners of my life.

But the good news: I came back from Hevron feeling so much better, physically and spiritually and not for the first time, I was reminded of the enormous spiritual power these holy places contain, albeit it’s often so hidden.

But the day is coming soon when that ‘hidden’ holiness, that hidden, beautiful Jewish spirituality, that hidden face of God, is going to be revealed in all its glory – and transform the whole world.

When I’m not driving myself crazy with other things, I’ve been continuing to trawl through the Gemara sources and Tanach to see what else we can learn about how Hashem has typically used comets in the past.

Here’s some good news: There are so many instances in the Gemara where we find discussions of how Hashem used a comet to actually come and fight on behalf of his Tzaddikim / the Jews, and in this post, we’re going to take a closer look at some of those sources.

Let’s kick off with this, from Tractate Rosh Hashana, 11b, which describes how God used a ‘rogue star’ to cause Noah’s flood, aka the mabbul:

“In the six hundredth year of the life of Noah, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on this day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. R’ Yehoshua says: ‘That day was the seventeenth of Iyar, a day on which the constellation Kimah normally sets during the daytime – and the subterranean fountains normally become depleted.

“’But because the generation altered their practices to deviate from the natural order, the Holy One, blessed is He, altered upon them the works of creation. And He brought the constellation Kimah up during the daytime, and He took two stars from Kimah and brought a flood to the world.”

Here’s some more details about those two stars and the Kimah constellation, taken from the Artscroll notes:

“The constellation Kimah is a minor constellation located in the tail of the Lamb [i.e. connected to the ‘Aries’ constellation, which rises in the month of Nissan.]”

Why is it important to know that we’re dealing with a lamb (Aries) here?

More connections will be made when we get to the section, below, about Rebbe Nachman’s story called ‘The Bull and the Ram,’ but for now, suffice to say that the Israelites were redeemed in Nissan, the month connected to the Aries constellation, and were told to slaughter a Paschal LAMB by Hashem.

We also know that this ‘lamb’ was worshipped by the Egyptians (because remember, their pagan gods were all named for celestial bodies) – so the Jews were sending a very deep message to the Egyptians about Who really rules over the heavens.

Now, let’s skip over to Sanhedrin, 95b, where the Sages are discussing how Sancheiriv’s army was miraculously killed by Hashem as they camped outside the Jerusalem city walls on the eve of Pesach. (There’s that Nissan / lamb thing going on again!):

“The wicked Sancheiriv came upon the Jews with an army…The Gemara adds that this was not the only time a force so vast was marshaled against the Jews. And so they came upon Abraham, and so they are destined to come with Gog and Magog.”

According to the Maharsha:

“The three enemy forces mentioned here – Sancheiriv’s army, the army of the four kings and Gog and Magog were all defeated through clearly miraculous circumstances. Furthermore, all three wars represent turning points in world history.”

The Gemara continues:

“And an angel of Hashem went forth and slew one hundred and eighty five thousand of the campy of Assyria, and they arose in the morning, and behold they were all dead corpses….With what did [the angel] strike them? R’ Eliezer says: [The angel] struck them with its hand…The Jews who witnessed the splitting of the Sea saw the same hand that was destined to punish Sancheiriv.”

The Gemara is setting up a link between the ‘modus operandi’ God used to bring about the miracles of the Exodus, and the punishment of Pharoah’s army, and the way Sancheiriv’s army was miraculously killed. What is that ‘modus operandi’? Read on.

The Gemara then puts forth different options for how the angel Gabriel (God’s agent for this purpose) killed the Assyrians, with one saying that ‘Gabriel breathed into their nostrils and they died’, while others saying that ‘Gabriel clapped his hands and they died’.

Elsewhere in the Gemara, we’re taught that Nadav and Avihu died the same way that Sancheiriv’s army died. How did they die? They were electrocuted! The descriptions above also accord with the idea that ‘something’ disturbed the static electricity held in the dielectric air of our atmosphere, and channeled it down in a way that it electrocuted literally hundreds of thousands of Assyrians.

In 96a, the Gemara tells us:

“With reference to Abraham’s war against the four kings, Scripture states: And at night, he and his servants deployed against them and struck them etc….R’ Yitzhak Nafcha said:…the implication is that ‘night acts’ were performed on behalf of Abraham (i.e. the very stars in the sky fought on his behalf.)”

TO SUM UP WHAT WE’VE LEARNED SO FAR:

  • The stars came and ‘fought’ for Avraham against the four kings
  • There’s a link between how the four kings were miraculously defeated, how Sancheiriv’s Assyrian army was miraculously killed (on Pesach Eve), and the future war of Gog and Magog.
  • There’s also a link between Sancheiriv’s defeat and the events of the Exodus – with the ‘same hand’ being used to punish the Assyrians and the Egyptians.
  • We’re explicitly told that God took two stars from the ‘Kimah’ constellation to cause the mabbul
  • The Kimah constellation corresponds to the month of Nissan, and Aries, the Ram.
  • We know that the Exodus occurred in Nissan, and that the miracle involving Sancheiriv was also Nissan (erev Pesach).
  • We also know that there is a famous teaching that the Jews will be redeemed in the future, too, in the month of Nissan.

OTHER TIMES THAT HASHEM USED ‘COMETS’ TO COME AND FIGHT FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE

Now, let’s head over to Tractate Brachot, 58a, where there are some more connections to be made. There, it says (talking about Hashem’s power):

“Who performs great deeds that are beyond comprehension…and the strength – This is a reference to the Exodus from Egypt, for it is stated regarding the Exodus: Israel saw the great hand etc. And the splendor – This is a reference to the sun and the moon, which stopped for Joshua, as it is stated: Then the sun stood still and the moon stopped… even everything in heaven and earth – This is a reference to the battle against Sisera, for it is stated regarding that battle: From heaven they fought; the stars from their courses, etc [fought against Sisera.]”

That same section of the Gemara then goes on to talk about the fall of Rome, the war against Amalek and the war of Gog and Magog.

What the Gemara in Brachot seems to be telling us clearly is that:

  • God regularly moves stars out of their regular orbits, and the celestial bodies to fight against the Jews’ enemies.
  • When this occurs, it’s often referred to in Scripture as ‘the great hand’ of Hashem.
  • This ‘great hand’ showed up at the Exodus; when Joshua fought the Caananite nations; and when Deborah the Prophetess fought against Sisera.
  • There is a connection between these events, and future events including the fall of Rome, the final disappearance of Amalek and the war of Gog and Magog.

———

MORE REFERENCES TO THE ‘KIMAH’ CONSTELLATION

In case the links weren’t starting to come into sharp enough focus, in the very next section, Brachot 58b, the Gemara then starts talking about comets, the ‘Kimah’ constellation, and the blessings a person should say when they experience:

  • Earthquakes
  • Thunder
  • Lightning and
  • Tempests (i.e. very strong winds)
  • Rainbows

As we know from THIS post, all these things start happening in abundance when a large comet approaches and starts disrupting the earth’s weather and other things.

The Gemara has a whole discussion about earthquakes in Brachot 58b, that makes it clear that earthquakes happen because God is upset about the ongoing exile of the Jewish people, and that He’s shaking the ground in sympathy, as it were, with Jewish suffering.

I.e. – the earthquakes are on our side!

What’s even more interesting, though, is the discussion about the comets and the Kimah constellation. The Gemara tells us:

“Upon seeing the Zikin, one says Blessed are You… Whose strength and might fill the world…What is the meaning of zikin? It is a kochva d’shavit.

The notes explain that Rashi describes this kochva d’shavit as having a long shape, like that of a rod, while the Rambam describes it as a star with a tail – clearly, a comet.

“Shmuel said: The paths of heaven are as clear to me as the paths of Nehardea, except for the path of a kochva d’shavit, of which I am ignorant.”

The Jewish sages who codified the Gemara knew all of the heavens inside and out, as Shmuel attests. But, even they couldn’t predict the path of a comet, because (as we learnt in THIS post) a comet’s tail is always changing, and the amount of ‘drag’ it exerts on the body of the comet can radically change its course and path.

To put this another way, a comet’s course is only known to God, and is 100% affected by the actions and teshuva of the Jewish people, and mankind more generally. No-one can predict ‘comet events’ with any accuracy!

———

MORE ABOUT THE KIMAH (ARIES) CONSTELLATION

Now – no coincidence here! – the Gemara starts talking about the Kimah constellation, that we already know was responsible for the mabbul, and by inference (because it’s part of the Aries constellation that governs Nissan), probably also played a major part in whatever ‘comet’ experiences were going on at the time of the Exodus, and Sancheiriv – and maybe the other times too.

(I haven’t found any specific dates for Sisera’s defeat or Joshua’s miracle over the Ayalon valley, that we’ve seen are also associated with ‘stars’ fighting for the Jews. If you, dear reader, can help fill in those blanks, that would be amazing.)

Let’s get back to the discussion about the Kimah, and other, constellations in Brachot 58b:

 

“He makes [the constellations] Ash, Kesil and Kimah…. What is the reason for the name Kimah? Shmuel said: It is called Kimah because it looks like a hundred stars.”

In modern astronomy, ‘Kimah’ has been identified with the Pleiades star cluster.

I’m going to paraphrase the next bit, but feel free to go and look all this up for yourselves and draw your own conclusions.

The Gemara explains that the constellation ‘Ash’ is also called ‘Yotha’, and that it could either be the ‘tail of the Ram’ (i.e. Aries) or the ‘head of the bull’ (i.e. Taurus, which equates to the month of Iyar, when Noah’s flood began).

The Gemara then explains that ‘Ash’ follows ‘Kimah’ (i.e. Taurus follows Nissan) because: “When the Holy One, Blessed is He, wanted to bring a flood on the world, He took two stars from Kimah…And when He wanted to close the gap [in Kimah], He took two stars from Ash and closed it up.”

The discussion ends:

“Rav Nachman said: In the future, the Holy One, Blessed be He, will restore [Ash’s stars] to her…”

Why is this so important to know?

Because Benayahu explains that God will take the stars from Kimah, and put them back in Ash, and then create two new stars for Kimah, in fulfillment of the Prophet Isaiah’s statement about what’s going to happen when Moshiach comes and the redemption actually happens, that: “Behold, I am creating new heavens and a new earth.”

IN OTHER WORDS:

  • It appears that the time that redemption / Moshiach is going to occur, is when Kimah / Ash are ascendant (Nissan / Iyar).
  • We now know that at that time, stars will once again be moving around the heavens in weird ways – two stars will ‘disappear’ from Kimah and go back to Ash, and Kimah will then have two ‘new’ stars appear in their place.
  • The last time two stars ‘disappeared’ and then ‘reappeared’ from Kimah, Noah’s flood happened as a result.
  • If the Tzaddik of the generation, Noah, had prayed for mankind to make teshuva, the flood wouldn’t necessarily have destroyed the way it did…. So it’s still all to pray for IN 2017.

———

REBBE NACHMAN’S TALE OF THE BULL AND THE RAM

Now, let’s take a look at Rebbe Nachman’s tale of the Bull and the Ram. You can read that story for yourself HERE, but here’s the main points:

There’s a king who decreed that anyone who wanted to stay in his land would either have to stop being religious, or leave.

Some left, many stayed, and the ones that stayed become marranos, or hidden Jews.

This first king died and his son takes over. He rules with an iron hand, and his ministers start plotting to kill him. One of the ministers is a Jewish marrano, and he goes to tell the King about the plot, and saves his life.

The king then swears to give the marrano whatever his heart desires – so the marrano asks for the right to wear his tallith and tefillin in public, and openly practice as a Jew.

The king begrudgingly agrees.

This king dies and is succeeded by his benevolent son, who is really into astrology, and asks his astrologers what could destroy his children. The astrologers tell him to be careful about a bull and a ram.

This king dies, and is succeeded by his son, who also rules in a very autocratic way, and comes up with a plan to conquer the entire world without war. This son also bans all bulls and rams from his kingdom.

This king creates a statue made of gold, silver and other metals [similar to the one seen by Nebuchadnezzer in the book of Daniel] and puts it on a hill, so that ‘all seven planets shine on it’. People start asking this statue what they should do in life (i.e. worshipping it), and by way of this statue, the king conquers the whole world.

This statue only has power if the king ‘lowers the haughty and raises up the lowly’. So, the king issues a command that all the privileges, rights and rank should be stripped from the ‘worthy’ people of his realm, including the Jew’s privilege to wear his tallit and tefillin.

One night, the king has a dream, were the bull (Taurus) and the ram (Aries) signs of the zodiac are laughing at him. He wakes up extremely angry and frightened, and asks all his wise men what’s going on, and whether its connected to his family’s tradition that they could be destroyed by a bull and a ram.

One wise man speaks up and tells him about an ‘iron rod’ that can dispel all his fear, and the king takes his family and sets out to go there. BUT – the road is guarded by the angel that oversees anger, and this angel is in charge of all the destructive forces in the world. Only he knows the path to the iron rod.

When they get to this angel, he directs the King and his entourage to go on a path that passes through a fire that is so hot, that a person is burned if they get within four miles of it.

The entourage looked, and they saw kings and Jews wearing tallit and tefillin walking through this fire. When the king sees this, and against the advice of his counsellor, he decides he and his family can also cross through the fire. They are burnt to a crisp.

When then counsellor returns home and tells everyone what happened, the Marrano has this to say:

“They were destroyed because of me. The astrologers saw something, but they didn’t know what they saw. From the skin of the bull, tefillin are made. From the wool of the ram, the tzitzit tassels of the tallith are made. Therefore, because [of the tallit and tefillin], the king and his family were destroyed.

“The kings who walked through the fire unharmed have in their land Jews who wear the tallit and tefillin. But [this king] did not allow the Jews in his land to wear the tallit and tefillin, and therefore he was destroyed.”

———

THE CONNECTION WITH PSALM 2

Rebbe Nachman’s story is connected to Psalm 2, which Artscroll tells us: ‘alludes to the encounter between the nations and the Messiah.’

Once again, there are a lot of ‘hints’ about what’s going to be, when the Moshiach is revealed:

“Why do nations throng and regimes talk in vain? The kings and princes of the earth take their stand and conspire together against Hashem, and against His Moshiach…He who sits in heaven will laugh at them and mock them. He will speak to them in His anger and His wrath, and terrify them….[Talking to the Moshiach]:

“You will smash them with a rod of iron, like a potter’s vessel you will shatter them. O kings, be wise, o judges of the earth, be disciplined! Serve Hashem with awe, so that you may rejoice when there is trembling.

“Yearn for purity, lest He grow wrathful and your way will be doomed, for blaze in a brief moment will His anger. Praiseworthy are all those who trust in Him.”

TO SUM UP WHAT WE JUST LEARNT FROM REBBE NACHMAN AND PSALM 2:

  • There are four ‘kings’ or kingdoms, and these correspond to the four kings who persecuted and exiled the Jews.
  • The last kingdom is Rome / Edom / Xtianity.
  • The kingdom’s astrologers have a tradition that a ‘bull and a ram’ can destroy the (non-Jewish) king and his descendants – but they don’t know how, or what it really means.
  • The non-Jewish king and his family are ultimately mislead by the angel of anger and destroyed by fire.
  • The non-Jewish kings who encourage their subjects to practice Yiddishkeit can ‘pass through the fire’ unscathed, as can practicing Jews.
  • The tallit (wool) and the tefillin (leather) are what mitigates the power of the ‘ram’ (Aries) and the ‘bull’ (Taurus).
  • The non-Jewish king and his descendants are killed because of the Marrano, i.e., the Moshiach.
  • The world’s leaders who are ‘conspiring’ against Hashem (and the Jewish people) are going to be smashed into pieces when the world starts ‘trembling’.
  • Anyone who’s at least yearning to serve Hashem properly, and to act appropriately, and to have emuna will come through the process OK. (And clearly, it also helps if they’re careful to lay their tefillin every day and wear tzitzit, if they’re Jewish men…)

———

I’M NOT PRETENDING I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT ALL THIS MEANS

Or, how it all fits together. I know there are people out there with a much higher level of Torah scholarship than I possess, and I’d be very happy to get more ideas or pointers about what all this may be telling us, tachlis.

But at the end of the day, God has been pushing me to get all this stuff out there, because some clear themes are poking through that if we trust in God, or at least WANT to trust in God and to walk in His path, we’ll be OK.

That’s not my idea or my opinion – that’s the message from Rebbe Nachman, the Prophet Isaiah, the Sages of the Gemara, and many other huge Jewish leaders, too, right up to our own modern times.

Emuna and emunat Tzaddikim (which includes believing in ALIVE Torah sages, and not just in Torah sages who already passed on) are the key to being on the right side of the comet equation.

To all the peeps out there who are trying to expect Moshiach every day without going bonkers, I thought I’d try to describe the paradox we’re all facing.

On the one hand, there is more and more evidence mounting that the world is about to see some very dramatic and apparently dangerous and destructive events.

We all know the weather’s gone cuckoo, that our personal lives are SO challenging in about a million different ways, and that the world really can’t continue being this fake, superficial, uber-materialistic place where God is effectively out of the picture for most of mankind.

(Even most of the so-called ‘religious’ people in the world often don’t have an authentic connection to God that makes Him really real to them, sadly including many otherwise observant Jews.)

Part of us feels like something has to change, and part of us even really, really wants that change to happen.

But then, there’s the other side of the coin, where much as we hate being enslaved to our i-Phones, and the internet, and our jobs, and our appearances etc etc etc, we also still quite like it all. And the idea of changing fundamentally, or having our lives change fundamentally, so that our souls really are in the driving seat and God is all there really is, Ein Od Milvado, is actually really scary.

Then, there’s the third element in the mix (at least for me…) in that I’ve been down this path before, and I really did try to live in that spiritual world for a few good years – until we went broke and reality dawned on us that if we didn’t ‘come back down’ into the material world, we were literally going to end up living in a dumpster.

I’m so nervous of that happening again!

I was wrong before, or at least, ‘premature’ before, so this time around, I’m really trying to not get carried away again, as God showed me clearly that we have to keep working, and functioning, and making teshuva, and having Shabbos guests, and cleaning our toilets right up until the last moment.

So, how do we deal with all the evidence the End of Days is really right around the corner – and is probably going to involve a huge comet / planet disrupting modern life so thoroughly, that NOTHING is going to be how it was before – which will lead to Moshiach, but also, potentially, to changes that are so big, we can’t really get our heads around them?

The short answer is, I don’t really know.

But at the same time, these are the guidelines I’m trying to follow in my own life, so I’m kind of ‘Moshiach ready’ (at least, as much as I can be given my ongoing flawed state) without going completely and utterly bonkers:

1) Talk to God for an hour a day.

This isn’t just a ‘Breslov’ idea, it’s the only way to really start internalising our emuna that God is real, and running the world. When there’s a big planet bearing down on you and / or WW 3 kicking off, believe me you won’t be able to fake it at that stage.

2) Avoid pointless speculation as much as possible.

Sure, it’s kind of ‘fun’, in that weird way, to spend half an hour reading about all the horrible things about to happen to other people, and about all the theories about who is trying to do what, and why. But how is that helping, really? Much better to spend that ‘speculation time’ saying a Tikkun HaKlali, or grabbing some face time with the Creator.

3) Work on your own bad middot, instead of dissing other people.

This is where I really fell down in that aborted post last week, as it’s SO EASY to project our issues (especially the more subconscious stuff we’re still half-blind too, and that keeps overpowering us) on to other people. Remember, the world is just a mirror. The more I go on about evil Erev Rav / crazies / horribles etc, the more that shows me I STILL HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO ON MYSELF.

4) Avoid machloket and lashon hara like the plague.

It’s another tough one, especially with all the lies masquerading as truth, but again, what good does it do YOU to take a stand on other people’s issues? Who really cares if Trump is good or bad? Who really knows, anyway? And if that holds for things like Trump, it holds a billion times over for discussions about holy Tzaddikim. If you can’t say something good, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Your life seriously depends upon it.

5) Minimize internet, movies, i-Phones and Facebook as much as possible.

Yes, it’s half fun I know, but it’s still really just killing us all, and stopping us from developing spiritually. I have such fights with myself to stop wasting precious time on internet crud – and I barely read anything at all online!

6) Get close to the true Tzaddikim.

And this one is really the main game in town, because if you check back through all the ‘natural disasters’ and enormous events that the Jewish people came through in the past, they only ever merited it by sticking close to the true Tzaddikim, or Tzaddik of the generation.

  • If you weren’t tight with Noah, you drowned.
  • If you didn’t follow Moshe into the desert, you died in the plague of darkness.
  • If you didn’t rally to the Maccabees flag, you died with the Greeks.

And so on, and so forth.

If we stick close to our true Tzaddikim, we’ll be OK whatever is coming down the pipe, even if it’s miraculously, earth-shakingly ‘bad’ for the whole rest of the world.

But without strong emuna, regular hitbodedut and at least a desire to live a more spiritual life, actually doing that in real life is going to be really, really hard.

The last couple of weeks, I’ve gone back to that horrible ‘stuck’ feeling that I’ve been trying so hard to get away from the last few years.

You know the one, that feeling that you just can’t do anything, or achieve anything, or get anywhere, or make anything improve or ‘happen’ – no matter how hard you try and how desperate you are for it occur.

I got a really strong dose of ‘stuckness’ around Rosh Hashana / Succot time – and I nearly went crazy from it, because even though I hated where I’m living, and my lack of direction in life, and my full-time ‘loser’ status socially and otherwise, I couldn’t seem to do anything at all to change it despite trying so hard on both the spiritual and more material fronts.

Then, God gave me a break from all the existential angst for a couple of months while I was finishing the manuscript of ‘One in a Generation’, but the last few weeks’ it’s roared back again big time.

When Rav Arush wrote that we’re all currently stuck in the plague of darkness, that’s when I realised what is happening in my life at the moment. Remember, the Egyptians couldn’t move when the plague of darkness struck. Whatever pose they found themselves in, they had to stay that way for three days and nights. They couldn’t ‘see’ anything, they couldn’t ‘see’ any way out of their situation, or understand what was happening or why.

All they knew is that they were ‘stuck’ for three days solid completely unable to move even as much as a muscle.

Does this sound familiar to anyone else out there?

Last week, I got to that familiar place of not being able to take it anymore.

One thing I get a lot of in my hitbodedut sessions is insight into what’s actually happening ‘behind the scenes’. After my showdown with my crazy relatives a couple of months’ back, I came to understand that the reason we can’t just ‘cut off’ from these people is because on a very deep spiritual level, we are connected to them.

(That’s not my idea, btw, it’s a standard idea in Jewish thought that all of Am Yisrael is responsible for each other.)

These people have been sinking like a stone over the last few years, morally and spiritually, and I finally realised that on some level, despite all our efforts, they’re dragging certain members of my own family down with them.

Once I finally got that message, I realised something else: Fixing them is going to fix us. But here’s where it got a little tricky, as believe me NOTHING can fix them in olam hazeh short of a lobotomy.

Which is when I got my next brainwave: Rav Berland has helped literally thousands and thousands of people to overcome even apparently ‘terminal’ physical illnesses, and regain their health by doing a pidyon Nefesh for them.

If the Rav’s pidyon worked for ‘terminal’ physical illnesses, then it for sure also works for ‘terminal’ spiritual illnesses, too.

We contacted the Rav, found out how much it’s going to cost (because pidyon Nefesh works by clearing the spiritual judgments off a person, and the bigger the spiritual judgments that have piled up, the more it costs to do) – and just paid the money across now.

I am starting to feel SO much calmer, BH.

But that’s not all. I got a very strong message this week that me and my husband need to have just one Rav, who we trust implicitly. Given the number of ‘pseudo-tzaddikim’ we’ve had terrible experiences with over the years, this is not a simple matter at all.

As I was pondering the subject of which Rav to try to follow, etc, I got a phone call from my friend telling me all about Rav Berland’s ‘helpline’, where you can ask the Rav questions. Now, I knew about this helpline, but I never actually called it.

When this friend told me about it, I understand I was getting another big push from Shemayim to throw my hat 100% into Rav Berland’s camp.

And BH, that’s what I’m going to do!

My husband and I have some very big questions at the moment, concerning everything from where he should be learning to where we should be living and what he should be doing for a living etc. I also am desperate for some guidance about whether to carry on trying to make a go of my books etc, or whether I should throw in the towel and start writing for real money again.

These are not simple decisions, and they’ve been weighing on us for years. Our life got so upended in every direction three years’ ago that we still don’t really have any area that’s ‘stable’ or settled in any true sense of the word.

Yesterday, we called up the hotline and gave over our six questions for the Rav’s advice. We hopefully get the answers back on Sunday.

And that’s when I realised how we get out of the plague of darkness: we attach ourselves to a true Tzaddik, who can shine his light on all those complicated, anxiety-ridden areas of our lives, and help us to move forward again.

And there is no other way.

  • You can contact Rav Berland’s helpline yourself HERE.

One of the more perplexing phenomenon that I’ve witnessed time and time again is how you can get a truly amazing, big, holy Tzaddik – the real deal, 100% – but they’ll be surrounded by some of the most mentally-ill, disturbed characters you’re ever likely to meet.

This has happened so many times, in so many different situations, and with so many different Tzaddikim, that a couple of years’ back I realized it must be some sort of ‘spiritual rule’.

In fact, the bigger the Tzaddik, the crazier so many of the people on the inside of his ‘inner circle’. Then I learned that King David taught: ‘The wicked surround the tzaddik’.

Aha! I wasn’t going bonkers. I knew there must be something ‘deep’ going on here, because if someone on the low level of yours truly can figure out that these people are nasty and mentally ill, surely huge Tzaddikim – who can see right through a person, to the innermost recesses of their soul – couldn’t be fooled so easily?!

This is not a ‘theoretical’ discussion, at least, not for me.

As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, my husband and I got burned by one ‘false’, mentally-ill spiritual guide after another, all of who came with impeccable credentials. They looked the part (from a distance…); they talked the part (as long as you kept the conversation short, felt hugely honored for having the ‘privilege’ of being spoken to, and didn’t do anything else expect stroke their massive egos…); and most disturbing of all, they came with a patina of having been ‘pre-approved’ as a kosher, upright person by their (highly publicized…) associations with bona fide Tzaddikim.

After the last one exploded in our faces two years’ ago, leaving me with a ginormous crisis of faith that very nearly took me out, I decided I had to go and find out why the tzaddikim in the middle of the circle of madness hadn’t done more to warn me and protect me from these dangerous, mentally-ill, spiritually-corrupt individuals.

The discussion (in my hitbodedut…) went something like this:

“Do you know how bad, spiritually, these people really are?” They did. “Do you know how much suffering they caused me and my family, and how they nearly destroyed my faith in Hashem and his true Tzaddikim?” They did. “So, then why didn’t you stop them? Why are still keeping them so close? Why are you allowing them to continue to fool people, and to hurt them?”

The answers I got back were truly enlightening, and I’m sharing them with you here, dear reader, in case they can help you, too.

The true Tzaddikim know 100% about just how bad their mentally-ill ‘circle’ is. So why are they keeping them around?

There’s a few answers:

  • Firstly, some of the crazies are actually useful, as long as you don’t get too close to them. As we said, from a distance they play the part of a pious, upright Jew very well, and as long as you’re only dealing with them ‘at a distance’, they can’t do you a lot of harm, and they’re also probably giving you more ‘straight’ information and advice then many other people today, by sheer dent of the fact that they are at least connected to real Tzaddikim.

The problem comes when people take them too seriously, and actually believe that these people are ‘tzaddikim’ in their own right, but that’s not a problem for most of the people out there today.

  • If these people weren’t ‘encircling’ the Tzaddikim, they’d be out there doing much more damage to mankind. The point here is that these people are spiritually-corrupt, mentally ill, and (usually…) ruthlessly ambitious. The Tzaddik acts as a kind of ‘brake’ on their behavior, so at least it won’t go too far.

 

  • Whatever happened to me and my husband, we were meant to go through it as part of our Tikkun, or spiritual rectification. If it hadn’t been those particular nasty people who caused us so many difficulties, it would have been others. But it had to happen, and the fact that it happened ‘under the aegis’ of the bona fide Tzaddikim meant that we also enjoyed their spiritual protection to pull us through the experience in one piece.

 

  • The Tzaddikim themselves suffer incredibly from having to keep these people happy. The first people the crazies mistreat and cause problems for are the Tzaddikim they’re encircling. They can’t help it: as we noted, they’re mentally ill. They’ll keep a limit on their bad behavior and lack of respect towards the Tzaddikim in public, but in private they yell at them, rant at them, make ridiculous demands of them, treat them like ‘mates’, instead of holy Tzaddikim, and generally try to control them and manipulate them in a million different ways.

 

Now, I’m no Tzaddik. If I had to spend any time around such spiritually-corrupt, horrible people like this, I’d vomit.

But our Tzaddikim are even more atuned to evil and corruption, and even more affected by it. Which means that it’s a huge, enormous effort of will for them to keep these people in their inner circle, and to not boot them out. Which brings us to our next point:

  • The Tzaddikim keep these people close, because that’s what God wants. God wants these mentally-ill individuals to have the very best chance of ultimately making Teshuva, so he sticks a huge Tzaddik in front of their face to show them how they should really be acting, in the hopes that one day, the lesson will be learned. (God is clearly a huge optimist.)

The true Tzaddikim want to give God what He wants, even when it entails huge suffering and self-nullification on their behalf. Even if it means they end up being apparently ‘controlled’, at least on some level, by the mentally-ill people they’re surrounded by.

For as long as God wants that to be happening, the Tzaddikim will continue to give it to Him.

As noted above, I’m SOOOO not a Tzaddik. We can’t understand the level of self-control and self-nullification (or bitul) to God’s will these people have. If it was us, we’d complain! We’d clean house! We’d get rid of all these disgusting people who are making our lives miserable and tarnishing our reputations in 10 seconds! But the Tzaddikim aren’t like us – they’re Tzaddikim!

Time and again, I keep telling people that without doing regular hitbodedut (personal prayer), you have no chance of really understanding what’s going on today. Without my hitbodedut discussion, I would have harbored a huge grudge against the ‘tzaddikim’ that had apparently closed their eyes to the terrible spiritual corruption in their midst.

I would have got so self-righteous, judgmental and slanderous, God forbid.

With hitbodedut, it’s still been a real struggle to understand what’s going on (at least enough to have peace of mind…) But eventually, I got there. Thank God, I didn’t shoot my mouth off until God showed me what was really happening! Thank God, I didn’t rush to attack holy Tzaddikim, just because they’re surrounded by some very difficult, nasty people!

Thank God, that even though I was sorely tempted to ‘name and shame’ the individuals involved, I’ve kept my mouth shut. Sure, I hate what they’re up to. Sure, I still wish that they will be unmasked, so that other people won’t be hurt by them the way I got hurt. But God knows what He’s doing, the true Tzaddikim know what they’re doing, and when all is said and done, I really no nothing at all.

The last piece of good that came out of all this stuff is that I turned a lot of my insights and experiences into my book, Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav. While I can’t tell people WHO the crazies are, I can still describe how they act, so you’ll hopefully be able to work it out for yourselves.

You can buy Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav on Amazon and on The Book Depository

How the Erev Rav and personality disorders are connected

A little while back, I got a tweet from someone (who knew people actually read those things…) criticizing me for linking ‘mental illness’ to the Erev Rav.

As it was a one line tweet, there wasn’t a lot of detail, but I still wanted to devote a post to responding to the criticism, because like it not, mental illness and the Erev Rav ARE inextricably linked.

This is probably not going to be an easy post to read for many people, and I apologise in advance for that.

In order to explain how mental illness and the Erev Rav are linked, I have to explain how I got onto this whole subject in the first place.

HOW I GOT INTO THE SUBJECT OF RESEARCHING THE EREV RAV

Around five years’ ago, I suddenly realized that so many of the very puzzling, difficult, upsetting and frankly bizarre behaviors, relationships and situations I was experiencing at that time were because many of the people I knew had undiagnosed and unacknowledged personality disorders, and in particular, Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

NPD manifests itself in two key (and superficially opposite) fashions:

  • Smothering, bullying and controlling
  • Uninterested, ‘absent’ and neglectful

There’s SO much stuff out there in the secular world about NPD. Here’s a rough round-up of most of the main points:

PEOPLE WITH NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER:

  • Can’t accept that they are anything except 100% perfect
  • Can’t empathise with other people, or see another person’s point of view – which enables them to mistreat others in a very cruel fashion, which they feel is completely justified ‘from their point of view’.
  • Project their own bad character traits on to other people, which means they mercilessly criticize others for the same things they themselves are doing (and denying).
  • Have a superiority complex and are obsessed with keeping up appearances at all costs.
  • Have very disturbing gossiping habits, manipulate others and make serious trouble between people wherever they go.
  • Are in a barely-contained state of permanent rage and anger – but will deny they are angry.
  • Act very vindictively, spitefully. They are unable to forgive anyone they feel has slighted them, particularly by suggesting they are anything less than perfect.
  • Are incredibly selfish and self-absorbed.
  • Relate to the world in a very superficial, materialistic way. They can’t ‘relate’ to others (or themselves) in an authentic way. They aren’t interested in more spiritual ideas and concepts.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The descriptions of NPD and the other ‘Cluster B’ personality disorders fit what I was experiencing to a tee. But I knew even back then that the only truth is Torah.

So then I started researching, did the Torah describe any phenomenon that would dove-tail with the secular descriptions of how people behave and treat other people when they have a ‘Cluster B’ personality disorder?

THE EREV RAV CONNECTION

Very quickly, Hashem sent me a whole bunch of information about the Erev Rav – and that’s when things got really intense, because the typical Erev Traits as set out by our Sages, and the typical traits you find in Cluster B personality disorders fit like a hand in a glove.

God appeared to be using personality disorders, and particularly narcissism, to hide the reality of the Erev Rav people in our lives, right under our noses.

But the question haunted me for three years: Can Erev Rav / personality disordered people change? Can they make teshuva? Can they be fixed?

Most of the Jewish sources on the subject said no.

The most current secular thinking (as expressed in the DSM) also said ‘no’ – when people have a Cluster B personality disorder, and especially narcissism, there is nothing you can do to help them to change that.

The main problem is that when someone refuses to acknowledge they are a flawed human being, and strives to maintain the illusion of their own perfection and infallibility, they won’t acknowledge any of the things they are doing wrong, or make any effort to try to fix them.

To put it another way: as long as someone clings to the notion they are only ever perfect and never make any mistakes, they stay a mentally-ill narcissist.

And that’s where I got stuck for three long years, until I read a discourse that Rav Berland gave in 2000, that completely transformed the whole picture and gave me hope for the first time that the Erev Rav / personality disordered people in our midst can change and can make teshuva, if they really want to.

I explain what Rav Berland said, and a whole bunch of other stuff about how to actually go about fixing these Erev Rav traits, in much more detail in the book, ‘Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav’. But I want to end this post on an ‘up’ note, and tie everything back together with my Tweeter’s original criticism of the book.

PERSONALITY DISORDERS ARE CAUSED BY TRAUMA, AND CAN BE REVERSED

Over the last two years, I’ve learned a great deal about psychiatric thought, trauma and the true causes of serious mental illnesses including personality disorders and narcissism. (Yes, I do plan on writing it all up into yet another book, and I even have a working title for it: Animal or angel? The real roots of mental illness and how to cure it.)

The upshot is this: personality disorders are a false, pseudo-scientific construct created by a ‘materialistic’ psychiatric industry that fails to put people’s soul into the picture. The main problems underpinning mental illnesses like personality disorders come down to the same main problems underpinning Erev Rav character traits, namely:

  • People are completely disconnected from God, their souls and the more spiritual aspects of life.
  • Without a strong connection to God, they are consumed by animalistic impulses and governed by bad middot that cause them to act in a personality disordered / Erev Rav type way.
  • Physiologically, personality disorders are caused by trauma, and particularly the types of trauma that come from being emotionally abused and / or neglected in childhood.
  • The single best way to strengthen the ‘good’, mature part of the brain so that it can stand up to the traumatized, primitive, ‘animalistic’ part of the brain is via regular prayer and hitbodedut.
  • It’s about TRAITS not about LABELS. Each bad character trait we eliminate brings us closer to true emotional and spiritual health, and takes us further away from acting like a mentally ill, personality-disordered Erev Rav.
  • Everybody occasionally acts like an Erev Rav. But with enough prayer, honesty and emuna, every single negative character trait can be permanently uprooted and rectified.

To sum up, personality disorders are a secular description of Erev Rav behaviors and traits.

The two are fundamentally linked, because they are describing the same phenomena, albeit one in ‘materialistic’ secular terms, and the other in Torah terms.

But the Torah’s truth, as expounded by Rav Berland, is that the Erev Rav people in our midst CAN be fixed, and sooner or later most of them will be (barring the ones who cause terrible strife and machloket amongst Jews).

But in the meantime, we still need to recognize what we’re dealing with when we come up against those difficult, arrogant, brazen and abusive characters we all unfortunately know, and to stop making excuses for what’s going on around us.

There are lots of personality disordered people in our midst. There are lots of Jewish narcissists. That’s the reality, and the Torah also told us that before Moshiach comes, the Erev Rav would return in force in order to finally be rectified. The Jewish people have been through so much trauma, I guess it couldn’t really be any other way at this stage of the game.

Calling a spade a spade and correctly identifying the emotional and spiritual problems in our midst is the first step towards really rectifying them.

Moshiach will help us to finish this job when he finally shows up, but in the meantime, we have to start that process and recognize that a lot of mental illnesses, especially personality disorders, and Erev Rav traits are essentially just two sides of the same coin.

But the key point to remember is that these mentally-ill / Erev Rav type behaviors CAN BE FIXED, and are primarily cured by working on our emuna, and making God a real and regular force in our lives.

As soon as a person says sorry, as soon as they admit they aren’t perfect, they start the long, difficult journey of fixing their souls and returning to God.

There is are so many outright heretical ideas flying around all over the internet about the topic of ‘faith in the Sages’ or emunat Tzaddikim, that I thought it would be useful to share some of what Rebbe Nachman writes about the subject in the Abridged Likutey Moharan (translated as ‘Advice’, in the English.)

As you’ll hopefully see from these sources, emunat Tzaddikim is not an option extra in Judaism, or something that only applies to chassidim.

It’s a fundamental tenet of Yiddishkeit, and has a direct impact on a person’s understanding, or daat, and ability to perfect their bad middot and negative character traits.

NOTE: When it’s referring to ‘Sages’ that’s another word for Tzaddikim.

  • When you have faith in the Sages, your mind will be purified and your intellect clear. You will be able to derive a personal lesson for yourself from everything you learn in the Torah and develop the right habits and practices in serving God. You will know how to act in every situation, and you will be able to guide all who come under your influence.

But those who lack faith in the Sages must suffer the torments of the flesh – the ‘superfluities’. Stinking vapors rise up to their brains and distort and confuse all their thoughts. Far from being able to learn the right way to live, all their Torah studies give them the exact opposite of truth.

They never have a clear idea about anything. They are constantly afflicted with doubts and pulled in all directions at once. When a person has no faith in the Sages, his heart becomes as filthy as a privy, all his thinking is warped, and he never knows how he should act in any situation. (Likutey Moharan 61:1)

  • It is not possible to attain perfect faith (emuna) – which is the basis of everything and the summit of holiness – except through being close to the Tzaddikim. It is the Tzaddikim who foster the authentic faith of Israel among the people of their generation.

But the only way to draw close to them is with boldness and determination. There are certain types of people who put up all kinds of obstacles and barriers so as to prevent others from drawing closer to the point of truth. The source of their power is the arrogant self-assertiveness of the forces of the Other Side. (Likutey Moharan 22:4)

  • Only through the Tzaddik of the generation is it possible to attain true awe and love of God. When a person is unable to experience true awe and love, it is because the light of the Tzaddik is hidden from him…

He could be in the same place as the Tzaddik, and even sitting right next to him and still not taste or understand or see the great light which radiates from the Tzaddik, and that could bring him to attain the true and enduring goal.

This is because of his wrongdoing. As a result, his divine intelligence has become clouded over with foolishness and bankrupt ideas. He looks at himself as a sophisticated person who needs to raise various questions and entertain doubts about the Tzaddik.

All these doubt and questions are completely senseless. His wrongdoing has left his mind clouded and dull and the light of the Tzaddik is hidden from him. This is why he does not have genuine awe and love of God. (Likutey Moharan Part 2, 17:1)

  • There are many different kinds of degenerate speech: talking unfairly and untruthfully about other people; telling people what their friends and acquaintances said about them or did to their disadvantage; telling lies; cynicism and sarcasm; flatters; embarrassing people publicly; obscene talk; unnecessary remarks and so on.

Worst of all is when people cast aspersions on the Tzaddikim, and on those who are honest and God-fearing. Talk like this gives wings to the primordial serpent [i.e. the root of all evil in the world]. It flies through the world wreaking havoc.

This ‘serpent’ is the sophistry of the philosophers and other apostles of atheism. Today this has spread throughout the world and is gaining ever-increasing prestige and power. But words of holiness form wings of the domain of the holy. (Likutey Moharan 63)

 

Dear reader, at the moment there seems to be an explosion in heretical statements and heretical ideas being put across by orthodox rabbis, no less, as well as others.

This is all part of the test of birur, or clarification, before Moshiach comes – and it’s going to be very difficult and confusing to navigate it properly!

BH, I’m working on putting together a cut-out-and-keep HERETIC-O-METER, which will list some of the more common heretical statements I’m running into on a regular basis on the internet and elsewhere, to make it easier for everyone to spot what’s going on.

If you have your own favourite ‘heretical statement’ that you’d like me to include, please leave it in the comments section.

Rebbe Nachman told us more than 200 years’ ago that the tests of faith (emuna) in the time preceding the coming of Moshiach would be so great, that: “…many will fall away and be evil.”

But he continued: “Still, I am revealing this for the sake of the few faithful who will remain strong in their belief (emuna).  They will certainly have great conflicts.  But when they see that this has already been predicted, it will give them additional strength and encouragement.” (Sichot HaRan 35)

On another occasion, Rebbe Nachman commented that at the end of days, the whole world would be flooded by such a huge amount of heretical ideas and theories, even rabbis would have ‘heresy dripping out of their pockets.’

Sadly, there are so many things going on today that prove that Rebbe Nachman was not at all exaggerating, so I thought it would be good to do a quick ‘emuna’ refresher today.

The Rambam’s first principle of faith states:

“I believe with complete faith that the Creator, blessed be His name, He creates and manages all of creation, and that He alone did, does and will do everything that is done.”

So to take just one example, this means that all those supernatural fires that occurred across Israel last week were 100% the work of God. That doesn’t mean He didn’t use the odd Arab terrorist here and there, but even the Israel Home Command Front estimated that 95% of the fires were spontaneous combustion, and not arson.

The Artscroll siddur makes the following comments about the Rambam’s 13 Principles of Faith.

First, it tells us very clearly: “There is no partnership in Creation.” It’s complete heresy to suggest that something could occur in the world that God ‘has nothing to do with’, as that suggests there is another force operating in the universe other than Hashem.

(As an aside, this is one of the many big problems with Xtianity, and other religions that like to claim that the forces of evil are somehow outside of God’s control. That’s complete heresy – God is doing EVERYTHING in the world, even the seemingly bad things.)

Secondly, the Artscroll siddur tells us:

“God communicates with man. In order for man to carry out his Divinely-ordained mission, he must know what it is. Prophecy is the means by which God communicates His wishes to man.”

Rebbe Nachman warned us that just before Moshiach showed up, there would be a bunch of heretical pseudo-tzaddiks who would be tripping us up and weakening our faith in God and his true Tzaddikim.

Anytime we believe that anything other than God is causing things to happen, that’s a heretical thought, and here’s why that’s such a problem:

In Tractate Roshana 17a the Gemara tells us that:

“The apikorsim (heretics)…descend to Gehinnom and are punished there for all eternity.”

Heresy is a very serious business, as it can literally cost a person all of their World to Come and consign them to a permanent billet in Hell. Not a fun prospect!

What’s helped me navigate all the confusion and heresy sloshing around is Rav Arush’s three rules of emuna. You can find a more detailed discussion of these three rules in his book, The Garden of Emuna.

RAV ARUSH’S THREE RULES OF EMUNA:

RULE 1: EIN OD MILVADO – God did, does and will do every single thing that’s happening in the world, even the seemingly ‘bad’ stuff, and including even the most smallest details of our lives.

RULE 2: EVERYTHING THAT GOD DOES IS GOOD Even when it’s painful and upsetting. Everything that occurs to us, even the most painful things, are ultimately only for our good, and will help us to achieve our spiritual rectification, or Tikkun.

RULE 3: THERE’S A MESSAGE IN EVERYTHING – Everything that happens to us or that impacts us in some way contains a message from God about what we might need to work on, fix, change, accept or rectify. The easiest way to figure these messages out is to talk to God for an hour every day.

The Rambam wrote his 13 Principles of Faith to help us avoid the sort of heretical people and ideas that could do permanent damage to our souls. In our mixed up world, there really are a bunch of ‘orthodox’ rabbis out there who literally have heresy dripping out of their pockets.

Caveat Emptor.