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Before Moshiach shows up, it says the troubles will pile up non-stop.

The last few months, I don’t think I’ve had a single night of peaceful, unbroken sleep. Between the teenagers, the heat (I don’t have air-conditioning) and the endless mosquitoes, every single night has seen me wake up multiple times.

And this has been going on since November. And really, I can’t even blame the teenagers because even on the nights that they’ve both been in school, I still have been sleeping pretty badly.

All this means that I am plodding through life like a half-dazed zombie at the moment. There are some days I’m so tired, I can’t even think about what to make for supper, let alone actually go and buy the stuff. It’s a problem.

I feel I can’t really ‘interact’ at more than a basic level with anyone right now, because I’m totally whacked out and I just don’t have the energy to do it. And then, there’s the matter of the book.

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I was actually just finishing up a piece of creative non-fiction five months ago, that I’d been working on with a developmental editor, and it was coming along very nicely. Literally as I got to the last page of that, One in a Generation Volume II suddenly came back on to the radar as a ‘live’ project, and I spent the 6 weeks before Pesach working at the speed of light to get that book out before Seder night.

I don’t know why there was such a mad rush, exactly, but I had the sense that it was very important spiritually to get that book ‘out there’, even though so few people have actually bought it or read it.

Then it was Pesach, which I had to sort out in a week as I had so little time beforehand because I’d been working on One in a Generation, and like all of us, I found preparing for the festival pretty exhausting. Over chol hamoed, I was so whacked out that mostly all I did was stay home, which is pretty unusual for me.

Time to slow down a bit, paint some more, do things at a quieter pace, I told my husband back then, as he nodded sagely.

That’s not exactly what happened.

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Post-Pesach, Shuvu Banim decided that they’d like to make something of a PR push around the book.

They found a professional who was happy to volunteer their services, so that more people would have a chance of hearing the truth about the huge miscarriage of justice around Rabbi Berland. So, I spent the month after Pesach putting together one PR proposal after another, one website after another, and having regular meetings to try to get One in a Generation to take off, somehow.

So much effort. So much work. So little to really show for it.

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This is how the PR guy recently summed up our campaign, in an email he sent me about all the problems he was having with the newswires.

“They think Rav Merav didn’t say his quote, that we faked it. But they don’t want to speak with him and then they want him to have an email with an official domain of a business or a Shuvu Banim email to then go through some verification process. However the strength of his quote is the fact he is an independent well known rabbi and not part of Shuvu Banim. We followed their process without giving him a Shuvu email and they said it was not good enough…
They also said a couple lines from your quote must be removed because it is against the Israeli court ruling… They also said we could not link to your video because of the same.  They didn’t want the parts saying there was fake evidence, the accusations were false, and that this was like Yosef from 3,000 years ago.  They got very nasty on the phone…
Most opposition I ever got in 15 years and that includes working for a company accused of compromising US national security and another accused of causing cancer!”
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Go back and read that again, because I want you to really grasp how much censorship of information is going on in the world generally, and about Rabbi Berland specifically. The media is totally manipulating the public to only think what they want us all to think, and to suppress any facts that goes against their narrative.

In the end, we had to shoot a video of Rabbi Meirav with totally toned-down quotes, just so the newswire would agree to even cover it. More ‘troubles’….

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So then, we got up to Shavuot and I was feeling mega exhausted.

I asked my husband if we could go to Uman for the chag, just us two. He agreed, we went – and then I discovered that the kever is totally closed to women over Shavuot, so I couldn’t get in. More ‘troubles’…

Instead, I went to Gan Sofia, and spent isru chag lying under some massive trees on an island in the middle of the main lake there. It was bliss. It was probably the first time I’ve ever chilled out in Uman, and I felt like Rabbenu was giving me a massive dose of ‘relaxation’ to counter-balance all the stress and lack of sleep of recent months.

The night we flew out, we’d also swung past Hevron for an hour, to join in Rabbi Berland’s prayer gathering, which he’d called after we’d already booked our tickets to the Ukraine. Rabbi Berland promised: Everyone who comes won’t have a minute more of suffering!

Who could resist a deal like that?

So now we get to the crux of this post.

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The day after I got back from Uman, I answered an ad looking for a new service that was looking for books to launch as part of a pilot program that was heavily discounted from what they’d charge once they’d got it all figured out.

I figured I’d try my luck, so I sent a two line email describing a book that was ‘almost finished’, that maybe would fit their program. In reality, I hadn’t written it yet, I just had the title, but I was so sure they wouldn’t respond.

Long story short: they took the book.

Which means I’ve spent the last few weeks furiously typing like a banshee again, trying to get the draft done to something at least approaching the time scale. It’s nearly done now, but in the meantime I’ve been totally neglecting my household and family the last month, AGAIN, and I know that’s not good, but what could I do, really?

The ‘troubles’ pile up like one wave after another, before one trouble is over, another begins…

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Yesterday night, after another day’s hard typing, I staggered off to bed at 10pm to see if I could try and get a good night sleep.

Just as I was dozing off, the ubiquitous mosquito showed up, and started dive-bombing my face.

This usually occurs in the five minutes just before I’m about to drop off, and I can get so agitated trying to find the mosquito zapper to electrocute it that all my adrenalin starts pumping, and then it takes me hours and hours to calm down enough to get back to sleep.

Yesterday, I was so tired, I couldn’t be bothered fighting that thing.

Let it bite me, let it suck my blood. I’m past caring.

I fell asleep – and an hour later, I woke up again because my husband had come home, and had just switched on the bedside light to try and track down the mosquito. He’s a great guy, but he’s got this habit of shining that spotlight straight in my face in the middle of the night, like he’s practicing to join a Mexican torture gang.

I squinted at him standing there with the mosquito zapper, looking apologetic but determined, and I wondered to myself:

God, are You out to get me? Because I have to tell you, it’s really starting to feel that way.

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I was too tired to take it further yesterday night, but this morning, I think I finally figured out what’s going on.

It says before Moshiach comes, the troubles will come so thick and fast that before one ‘problem’ is even over, the next one starts up. I know so many people are going through the ringer at the moment, with awful, massive problems hitting them thick and fast.

And in my house?

The ‘problems’ are my books, which are taking up so much headspace and energy without really giving a heck of a lot back, and the ‘troubles’ are the mosquitos, that hide out in my room just waiting for me to go to sleep.

But this morning, I realized just how lucky I am to have troubles like these.

Yes, on one level I’m having difficulties coping with the daily challenge of not getting enough sleep, but I’m not really suffering from all this, even though it’s challenging.

After Hevron, it seems ‘the troubles’ got sweetened.

But let’s be clear, I’m still looking forward to the time when I get have a good night’s sleep again, and not walk through life like a spaced-out zombie, and have a bit of time to paint and to actually interact with people.

But at least until Tu B’Av, it seems that just ain’t going to happen.

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Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

The Jewish media outlets are creating more anti-Semites every day.

In a year’s time, or two years’ time, or ten years’ time – however long it’s going to take for this current, horrible period of time to come to its apex and lead to whatever it’s going to lead to, we’ll look back and wonder: “why did things have to happen this way? Why did the anti-Semites have to come roaring back, the way they did?”

Just like people did with the holocaust, a few years after the inferno had erupted and engulfed 6 million Jews, people sat there incredulous, angry at God, wondering: “why did it have to happen like that?”

Why couldn’t God have just bought all the Jews back to the land of Israel, without that awful precursor, without all that death and destruction, without all that terrible, anti-Semitism?

I also used to wonder these things. But increasingly, I’m starting to see how so much of the destruction happened because we brought it upon ourselves.

And I’m increasingly concerned that history is about to repeat it itself.

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A few days’ ago, a ‘pro-Rabbi Berland’ reader sent me a couple of new ‘shocking videos’ that are now doing the rounds.

In one, you can see Rabbi Berland repeatedly slapping one of his followers, at an event that happened in Eilat a few months ago. Again, the disgusting YeshivaWorldNews made sure to upload this video with a nice heaping dose of derision and slander as their official ‘comment’ on it, and then they sent it out to the world at large, on their Instagram account, to encourage more anti-semitism.

In the second, Rabbi Berland appears to be comparing a woman to a donkey – which is actually part of a Torah lesson that was being taught based on the Midrash and Talmud.

First, let’s deal with what happened. Here’s what I emailed my reader about these two ‘shocking videos’:

“The first one, where the Rav is hitting someone in Eilat, it certainly looks shocking if people aren’t aware of the concept of tzaddikim taking off harsh judgments in this way.

My husband got slapped in the face twice by Rav Arush just before Rosh Hashana in Uman a few years ago – and he was very  happy that happened, because he instantly felt the ‘din’ (harsh judgment) lift off of him.

There’s also so many videos of Rav Ovadia slapping people in the face – even Bibi – and the Baba Sali has many, many stories of slapping people harshly to ‘mitigate judgments’. There is probably way more to add to this, but I haven’t begun to research this properly, and this is what came to mind.”

(If you understand Hebrew, Rabbi Yaakov Selma dealt with this episode in detail a few months ago, and you can see his comments and video below:)

 

And here is the video of Rav Ovadia publically slapping Bibi – the Prime Minister of Israel! – in the face, from many years ago.

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Now, let’s deal with the ‘shocking’ women-are-donkeys statement.

Here’s what I emailed my correspondent about that:

“The second clip is part of a Torah class the Rav is giving over on the Gemara or on a Midrash. It’s not clear from the context exactly which Tractate etc, but it could be Kiddushin (see 68a, where slaves are referred to as ‘donkey-like / ass-like people. Also in the Midrash, Bereishit Rabbah 56:2, Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid, is compared to a donkey.)

I finished up with this:

“What are we to do, that there are many things that sound ‘weird’ or not PC in our tradition? The non-Jews who are against circumcision are also doing this, and the Reform who keep going on about the status of women in ‘rabbinic’ Judaism are also doing this.

This is not a new thing – the Nazis were also adept at taking quotes out of the Talmud, to demonise the Jews as a people, and so did – (and are still doing…) the xtians.

But what’s awful is that it’s supposedly ‘frum’ Jews who are doing this stuff – and they are playing with awful fire. The video you sent me from YWN’s Instagram account showed up in the search engines next to other ‘suggestions’ for videos which was basically the worst anti-Semitic propaganda about what Rabbis do to small, defence-less babies at a brit milah – ‘slashing’ without anaesthetic, and all the stuff about the two stages of performing a proper brit.

Yeshiva World News is keeping company with very evil people in this matter, and I greatly fear how it’s going to rebound on the Jewish people, particularly abroad.”

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How the Nazis (ab)used the Talmud

Did you know that the Nazis’ main ‘thinker’, Alfred Rosenberg, wrote and published a whole booklet in 1920, called “Lack of Morality in the Talmud”?

He quoted tens of things from the Shulchan Aruch and the Talmud to ‘prove’ how morally degenerate the Jewish people actually are – and it was so popular, he had it reprinted in the 1930s, as part of the Nazi attempt to dehumanize the Jews.

And of course, the xtians and the Church were pulling the same stunt for centuries, pulling different snippets of ‘offensive’ statements out of Jewish holy works to ‘prove’ how degenerate the Rabbis were (God forbid), and by extension, how disgusting the Jews – and all their ‘weird’ practices – are.

We like to think that all that old-fashioned, Jew-killing anti-Semitism couldn’t happen today.

But make no mistake, it’s back – and back with a vengeance, even in places like ‘safe’ America. Here’s what my correspondent emailed me back with:

“Abroad: I would say unfortunately crazy enough. Not a day goes by you don’t hear a new story of anti-Semitism. The comments on FaceBook Group pages and the daily local papers and radio stations in New Jersey are through the roof.

Pure illogical, irrational hate like I have not experienced before. Just simply double standard judgment against Jews in droves totally one-sided and not fair.”

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Ask any Jew abroad right now, even the totally secular, ‘irreligious’ ones who apparently left the fold a long, long time ago, and they will all tell you that they can feel the anti-Semitism in the air.

I’m hearing that all the time from the UK, I’m hearing it from France, I’m hearing it from the USA.

Anti-semitism is going through the roof. Anti-semites are pouring out of the cracks all over the world.

And do you know who is to blame for all this?

The Jews.

And especially, the Jewish media.

Do the evil retards who run YWN not realize that non-Jews make no distinction between a Breslov chassid, a Breslov Rebbe, and any other Jew in black-and-white, who wears a kippa, beard or no beard?

They’re there, making every effort they can to try to make Rabbi Berland and Breslov out to be a bunch of crazy, psychotic lunatics and ‘cult members’ – and who is lapping that message up, along with the 4 orthodox Jews who still actually take that site seriously?

Yup. You got it.

The non-Jews. The anti-Semites. The non-Jewish people living in Lakewood, and Ocean County who are very upset with their orthodox Jewish neighbors.

How do I know this? The Yeshiva World News itself is telling me that!  Here‘s a screenshot from a  recent story it ran about hate comments from anti-Semites in Ocean County:

Screenshot of Yeshiva World News coverage of anti semitic comments on Facebook

That last comments reads: “Slap on the hand and released back to the cult!”

And here’s a screenshot of the YWN comment next to their post on Rabbi Berland:

Screenshot of YWN Instagram account calling Rav Berland's Shuvu Banim a cult

The YWN comment reads: “Cult members will naturally find an excuse for this by saying “he was punching the Yetzer Hara put of this man”, or he has a dibuk that needed removal and some other beauty response. Any insane behavior is justified in a cult.” (All spelling errors are in the original – it’s bad journalism all the way around….)

Surely, it’s obvious where this problem is coming from?

To anti-Semites,  a Jew, is a Jew, is a Jew. Try telling them that the only ‘crazy, bad’ orthodox Jewish people are Breslov, or that only Breslov is a ‘cult’.

So great own goal, Yeshiva World News! Goebbels would be so proud.

And of course, that’s also happening here in Israel in droves, too.

The secular, rabidly ‘anti’ religious press and politicians and ‘enlightened’ big thinkers positively delight in painting the worst possible picture they can of authentic Judaism and orthodox Jews.

They go on and on about how haredi Jews are ‘parasites’, and how orthodox Jewish rabbis in Israel are completely crooked and corrupt, and how the orthodox Jewish community – with their archaic, barbaric, primitive Torah practices – is just one, big massive ‘burden’ that the secular Jews in Israel are sick and tired of schlepping around and dealing with.

Could a non-Jewish anti-Semite phrase it any better?

When places like Ynetnews and Channel 2, and Channel 10, air story after story – often with totally falsified information, designed to manipulate their viewers to hating haredi Jews even more than before!!! – they think they are scoring some sort of massive ‘victory’ against religious Jews.

Really?

They are handing the anti-Semites more propaganda, more fodder, on a plate.

Or to use a more appropriate analogy, they are filling up a rhetorical machine gun with ‘anti-Semitic’ bullets that the non-Jews are going to hold against the head of every single Jew in the world.

Do you think the non-Jews care, that ‘Mr Secular Tel Aviv’ doesn’t have a beard, and doesn’t fast on Yom Kippur, and hates the settlements, and wants to marry his dog? Do you think his extreme hatred of religious Jews and the Torah makes that guy any less Jewish, to Hamas, or Hezbollah, or a neo-Nazi?

Again, we don’t have to go far back in history to see an awful parallel with all the assimilated Jews in Europe, who were convinced that Berlin was the New Jerusalem. But marrying out didn’t save them Hitler, converting to xtianity didn’t save them from Hitler, having lots of money, and status, and five university degrees didn’t save them from Hitler.

Throwing other Jews under a bus – especially their orthodox brethren – didn’t save them from Hitler. If anything, it only encouraged him.

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So let’s return to 2019, and let’s see what’s really unfolding before our eyes.

The hate against Jews is rippling out in concentric circles.

At its heart, Rabbi Berland, the Gadol HaDor, who was stitched-up by an unholy alliance of ‘Shuvu Banim-hating’ Breslovers in Meah Shearim, and ‘Breslov-hating’ haredi journalists on sites like Yeshiva World News and Kikar HaShabbat (which btw is half-owned by Ynet….); and ‘Haredi-hating’ secular journalists, politicians, judges and policemen in Israel.

And all those people think they are scoring massive points, by continuing to fabricate and publicize new scandals against him, and new ‘shocking’ videos.

Then what happens?

All that stuff gets sent to the end of the world and back by the internet, and the anti-Semites wake up, and now, they are giving all these ‘haters’ a dose of their own medicine.

It’s the midda keneged midda principle in action.

God is behind all this, because He’s so sick of what’s going on. He’s sick of all these ‘Jewish anti-semites’ of every stripe, who are encouraging their readers and viewers to hate other groups of Jews.

All those ‘anti’ haredi Israeli Jews who just lurrrrve all the negative, fake news stories being splashed around the press here – don’t you realise the anti-semites and the BDS brigade are doing exactly the same thing to you (to us!) in their biased and distorted coverage of Israel?

All those ‘anti’ orthodox reform Jews in the US, who just lurrrrve trying to poke holes in the Torah and in the Talmud and in ‘Rabbinic’ Judaism – and who are riding high on their ‘political correctness’ and ‘enlightened egalitarianism’ – do you really think the anti-semites think you are whiter than white?

Was Bernie Madoff an ‘orthodox’ Jew? Was Harvey Weinstein? Or all the countless other secular Jews whose bad behavior has hit the headlines again and again and again in the secular press?

All those anti-Breslov, and / or anti-Israel haredi Jews in Lakewood, and Monsey and Williamsburg – don’t you realise that every time you speak badly of Israel and your fellow Jews, you are giving the anti-Semites more spiritual ammunition to turn against yourselves and your communities?

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Let’s end with this.

All the scandal and slander and ‘opinion pieces’ tearing down our fellow Jews that’s being churned out en masse by the Jewish media, it’s all being read by the anti-Semites, too.

Those anti-Semites don’t slice the divisions between the different sectors of the Jewish people anywhere near as finely as we ourselves do. They don’t differentiate between this Jew who wears a kippah, and that Jew who doesn’t. Or this Jew who is ‘egalitarian’, and that Jew who isn’t. Or this Jew who works in hi-tech, and that Jew who studies Torah.

To them, a Jew is a Jew is a Jew.

And every negative word that comes out of our mouths accusing different groups of Jews of being ‘evil’, and ‘corrupt’, and ‘cultish’, and ‘perverted’ – and all the rest of it – it’s just giving more ammunition and more motivation to the anti-Semites.

So, Ynet, and Yeshiva World News and Kikar HaShabbat please think twice before continuing to slander and demonise a holy Jew, or a holy group of Jews. The anti-Semites are watching, and waiting in the wings. And whatever fake news you churn out about Rabbi Berland, that’s exactly what they are going to use to justify their attacks on the rest of the Jewish world.

And you will have caused the destruction that’s looming in the distance with your own two hands.

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Identifying the real enemy within.

Back in February 2012, highly popular Israeli journalist Yaron London wrote a piece for the Ynet (fake) news site headlined: Say no to Jewish Hezbollah.

In that piece, London compared Israel’s haredi population to a ‘malignant body part’, and then called on secular Israel to “reduce the number of their grandchildren.” I highly recommend that you go and read the whole thing for yourself HERE, but I pulled out the two paragraphs that basically sums up what’s going on right now in Israel vis-à-vis the haredi draft. London wrote:

“As haredi education rejects a life of work and participation in defending the homeland, and as we cannot imprison tens of thousands of yeshiva students (and those pretending to be such,) and as national service would hold justice in contempt, and as purely haredi regiments are a recipe for an armed civil war, and as the haredi community mushrooms as result of natural growth – the national majority has no choice but to embark on a determined cultural war.

“Time is of the essence. Should the majority lose this war, the Zionist enterprise would be remembered as a short-lived historical episode.”

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I’ll unpack what all this means about identifying the ‘enemy within’ in a moment, but before I do, let me share some more eye-opening quotes with you from people in Israel’s secular establishment. This next one comes from Ephraim HaLevy, the former Head of the Mossad, and was also said in 2012:

“Ultra-orthodox extremism has darkened our lives. This is more dangerous than Ahmadinejad.”

What makes this statement all the more jaw-dropping is that Ahmadinejad, the former President of Iran, actually stated back in 2005 that he wanted to “wipe Israel off the map.”

And since then, the rhetoric coming out of Iran against Israel has barely let up for a moment.

Everyone knows what they want nuclear weapons for, and it’s not just to make a few nice radioactive experiments underground in Tehran. Here’s a few more quotes about the Iranian threat, from Israel’s top brass:

 “Iran is continuing to advance as a military nuclear capability, and it has a radical regime. The combination of the two and a high desire to achieve nuclear capability…is an existential threat against the state of Israel,” – Former Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking in 2009.

“The Iranians actually wrote on one of the missiles: “Israel must be removed from the earth.” These are missiles that are designed to carry – and deliver – nuclear warheads. I call on the Security Council to take action.” – Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon, speaking to the Security Council on March 14, 2016.

I could quote reams and reams more, but you get the idea.

But despite the fact that nuclear Iran wants to annihilate the whole of the State of Israel, what did the former Mossad chief find to be the main concern, the main worry, the main threat to Israeli society? The Haredim. The enemy within.

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And he wasn’t alone.

The alarms started ringing for all of Israel’s secular elites after demographic studies started coming out from the mid-90s onwards showing that more and more people were becoming religious in Israel, and that more and more of those religious people were having large families.

For as long as the haredim didn’t vote, and effectively stayed apolitical and shunning the secular, Zionist State of Israel, honestly no-one cared too much. But, as soon as the late Rav Ovadia Yosef, z’tl, decided to pull the Sephardi haredi world into a coherent political body behind Shas, all of a sudden these secular elites woke up, and realized that ‘democracy’ no longer suited them.

You know, ‘democracy’, where a country is supposed to be governed according to the wishes of the majority, while respecting the minority’s human rights.

But apparently, democracy is only OK in Israel when the majority is secular, not religious.

Yair Lapid is the poster boy for the Askhenazi, secular, ‘socialist’ clique who have been ruling Israel with an iron fist since even before the State was founded. In his video address to the haredi stream at Kiryat Ono college, which you can go back and see HERE, Lapid let slip a lot of home truths about who he regards as the ‘enemy within’, amidst all the obfuscation and distortions. When he admitted that Israel’s secular Founding Fathers firmly expected the haredim to disappear within a generation or two, he was being honest.

When he admitted that: “the [socialist, secular, Europeanized] mainstream really did oppress them, and denied them their rights”. And when he said that: “Instead of a multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral vision that could include all different types of Jew, [the Founding Fathers] created an ethos that suited secular, Ashkenazi socialists. And they wanted all the other ‘tribes’ to submit to this ethos – he was accurately describing the situation.

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But that accurate depiction of what’s going on stopped when he started claiming that the ‘solution’ is that haredim should also enlist and ‘Share the Burden’ (picture me doing massive quote marks with the fingers of both hands.)

Because Lapid – and all the other secular politicians and intellectuals and elites like him in Israel – really don’t want haredi people in the army.

They don’t want them learning how to use machine guns properly, or learning how to defend themselves from brutal assaults by bald-headed policemen, or making the sort of connections that could launch them off on a stellar career in politics post-service.

They don’t want that at all. The last thing they want to do with their ‘enemy within’ is train them to function as an army. And a few years ago, they were even being totally honest about that, and what they they were planning to do instead, to solve their little problem.

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Let’s return to Yaron London.

In his piece, he set out the secular elite’s position very clearly: teaching thousands of haredim how to use guns is a recipe for a Jewish civil war, and will lead to the creation of a ‘Jewish’ Hezbollah – a quintessential ‘enemy within’ –  that is far more loyal to God, the Torah and their holy rabbis than they are to the State of Israel.

All the hogwash about needing more haredim to enlist in the army is a smokescreen to cover a far more sinister battle plan that began two decades, but really ramped up over the last 7-8 years, namely:

“the national majority has no choice but to embark on a determined cultural war.”

Again, be very clear about WHO is waging this “cultural war”, and WHAT they want to achieve.

It’s being waged by the remnants of the Ashkenazi, secular, formerly socialist clique who think they own Israel (and the truth is, in many ways they do). Those people are massively over-represented in the media, they are massively over-represented in all of Israel’s institutions, and they are massively over-represented in politics.

I’m wary of connecting too many of the dots for you here, so let me ask you to please try to take the ‘fake news’ blinkers off for a moment, and really try to grasp what I’m telling you next.

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What this ‘cultural war’ looks like

  • Around 10-15 years ago, secular Israel realized that religious, orthodox Jews are very soon going to be the majority in the country. They pride themselves on being ‘the only democracy in the Middle East, so while they would love to institute some sort of military coup at this stage, and do away with democracy all together, they can’t. So, they come up with ‘Plan B’, which is to wage an all-out cultural war against religious Jews in Israel, and particularly the haredim, who they view as an existential threat and the ‘enemy within’.
  • This cultural war really began with the ‘disengagement’ of Gush Katif in 2005, when settlers were routinely portrayed in the (secular, Ashkenazy, socialist) media as crazy religious fanatics with machine guns who were itching for a civil war. The smear campaign worked, most of the country were totally turned against these poor people, and that segment of the population was totally crushed.
  • Then, around 2009-2010, with a lot of ‘egging-on’ from the non-orthodox streams of pseudo-Judaism who are being very heavily funded by Jewish multi-millionaires in America, all-out war was declared against the orthodox world, and especially the rabbis.
  • The media and the secular clique who are running the country knew that if they could totally trash the reputation of a bunch of leading haredi rabbis, that would go a very long way to dragging orthodox Judaism down into the mud, too. And you know what, they were totally right!
  • Beginning in 2012, there was one high-profile investigation after another of the rabbis who were deemed to be the most influential in Israel. A whole bunch of Rav Ovadia’s sons were dragged off by the police for questioning (and some of them were even charged with the most ridiculous offences.) Others, like the late Rabbi Yoram Abergel, z’tl, from Netivot were imprisoned for two days while the media blared one yucky headline after another about ‘mafia ties’ – only for the whole thing to be quietly dropped very soon afterwards. But the damage had already been done, in the eyes of the public. Then, they started to go after the really big names – Rabbi Pinto, and Rabbi Eliezer Berland.

Click the links, connect the dots…

Again, there is so, so, so much more to be said here, but try to connect some of the dots for yourselves, to see who is really behind all this persecution of the rabbis in the secular press, and what they are trying to achieve with all their fake news and slander. But here’s the fly in the ointment:

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Not everything is a lie

Now we come to the more painful part of this post, which is the frank acknowledgment that not everyone in the haredi world, or in the orthodox world generally, is a good, nice person, and that not everyone who goes by the name of ‘rabbi’ deserves that title in any way, shape or form.

What has complicated the matter so much over the last few years is that so many of the leaders of Am Yisrael, both on the secular side and also on the religious side, are actually people with awful characters. This is a totally different dimension of the problems associated with the ‘enemy within’.

In this post, I shared the story of the poor woman from Meah Shearim who was publically slandered by some of the ‘rabbis’ in her community in the worse way, before being picketed in her own home and even firebombed, as part of a divorce that turned very ugly.

I’d love to pretend that story is just a one-off, but the more you look to see what’s really going on here, the more you come across stories like this one, from 2013, describing the abuse that haredi thugs were doling out to people in Bet Shemesh.

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It boggles the mind that a society that claims to be following the Torah can tolerate such a public display of bad middot.

Why were these bullies and thugs not shunned by their communities? Why weren’t they challenged? Why weren’t there public sermons being made about the need to treat other people with respect, even if they aren’t ‘religious’, and decrying the use of violence and abuse against other Jews in any way, shape or form?

For the answer, we have to take another look at what occurred – and is still occurring – within the haredi community when it comes to the persecution of Rabbi Berland.

The 2-3 people in Meah Shearim who started all the smears against him are all ‘haredi’. The ‘rabbis’ who have signed their names to misleading or even outright false statements against him and his Shuvu Banim community are all ‘haredi’. The hundreds and thousands of people in Israel and around the world who eagerly gulped down all the fake news being put out against him by Ynet, and the Times of Israel, and Ha’aretz, and Channel 2, and Channel 10 – a whole bunch of them are haredi.

A whole bunch of them consider themselves to be religious. A whole bunch of them think they are better than others. And in the meantime, there are totally fooling themselves about the real state of their own middot, and their real spiritual level. Their personal ‘enemy within’ – i.e. the yetzer hara – is totally ruling the roost.

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Rebbe Nachman taught that in the generation before Moshiach comes, most of our Jewish leaders – including those in the religious world – would be false.

He also warned us in Sefer HaMiddot[1] that these wicked people could fool the rest of us very easily. Here’s what he said:

“There are those who are great apostates and heretics, but they don’t reveal their heresy and people are not aware of the need to guard themselves from them. However, through conducting oneself modestly, one is saved from these heretics.”

He also warned us that:

“The wicked don’t confuse us in our holy service with their sins, but instead with the ‘good deeds’ they do.”

These evil people are full of good deeds! They’re full of mitzvahs! They have long beards, and impeccable lineage, and a lot of Torah learning, and they even live in Meah Shearim – but they are still full of jealousy, arrogance, slander, atheism, anger and even violence.

So, how can we guard ourselves against this sort of ‘enemy within’? How can we spot them, and make sure we’re not being pulled into their bad middot and malicious behavior, too? Rebbe Nachman tells us:

Conduct yourself modestly.

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What does this mean, tachlis?

First and foremost, it means don’t hold yourself out to be some big ‘know it all’ because you happen to spend all day gorging yourself on fake news. Act with some humility! Admit you don’t really know anything, you have no idea which way is up, you have no way of being able to judge who is a ‘real’ rabbi and who isn’t these days, or who is coming from a ‘good’ place and who isn’t.

Also, modest, humble people don’t gossip about others. They don’t enjoy sharing bad information around. They don’t use every story, true or not, to start loudly beating their own drum, or stacking up their own soap-box.

Also, it means we make every effort to judge others favorably, because we know there but for the grace of God go I.

It’s hard to fit all these ideas into one post, but the more we work on refining our own bad middot, the more we work on uprooting our own jealousy, and arrogance, and hypocrisy, and anger, and lack of emuna, the easier it’ll be to spot the people who aren’t doing this work – and to stay far, far away from them.

We are heading into some very turbulent times right now, and the birur, or clarification process, is only going to accelerate from here on in. God isn’t interested – at all! – which community we belong to, which outfit we wear, what we look like on the outside.

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God wants the heart.

There is good everywhere you look in the Jewish community, and there is also bad, and a key way of being able to navigate through it is to listen to every message God is sending us, even from ‘sullied’ sources, and to take it seriously.

Which brings me back to Yair Lapid, and all those secular people who are waging a cultural war against the haredim. Why are they doing it, spiritually? Did you ever stop to ponder that? Emuna teaches us that God is behind absolutely everything that is happening in the world, even the awful persecution being doled out by Israel’s anti-haredi, anti-religious, media and establishment.

God often uses the yucky people to send us very important messages about what ourselves need to acknowledge, recognize and work on. Everything is just part of that ongoing conversation the Creator is having with us, even Yair Lapid. Everything has to be sorted and clarified, to see what point of truth it may concern, and how we may need to respond to it.

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So this is some of what Lapid said, in the second half of the clip:

“If an Ethiopian child in Netivot is starving, it’s just as much your responsibility as mine, and you can’t say that you only give to haredi charities.

If rockets are being fired at Ashkelon or Kiryat Shemona, it’s your responsibility as much as mine. You can’t just send Zaka. You’re responsible as a community, as part of the State of Israel.

And if tomorrow another huge fire breaks out on the Carmel, I want to know what you plan to do about it, because it’s your responsibility as much as mine….

Can you still tell yourselves that only chilonim (secular Jews) should join the army, because it’s not your business? Can you still tell yourself that the only poor people you care about are poor haredim? And that you’re not even a tiny bit interested if poor, secular people starve to death?”

Haredi hating rabble-rouser that he is, he still made some points that beg a proper response from the religious world.

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Is it OK, to be so focused-inward that we ignore all the suffering going on all around us just because those people don’t belong to ‘our’ communities?

Sure, I get we can’t cure everyone’s ills, and I also get that it’s overwhelming to even begin to try. That’s why it’s so much easier to just stay in our own dalet amos, and our own little clubs, and pretend that people who are different from us, or not as religious as us, aren’t our problem.

I get it, we all do it, it’s understandable.

But, is that what God really wants?

Is it OK for so many of us to keep pretending that we’re better than other Jews because we happen to keep a few more mitzvoth? Living in Israel doesn’t automatically make someone a better Jew (just ask Yair Lapid…) Keeping Shabbat doesn’t automatically make someone more holy.

There are big questions here, massive questions here, about how the haredi world really relates to our fellow Jew, both within our community and without.

If more of us were really doing the work of refining our own bad middot, the false leaders in our midst wouldn’t last a moment. No-one would be drawn to them, no-one would be fooled, no-one would follow them down the path to perdition.

And that last thing to throw out there, at least today, returns to the idea of whether we really believe more in God, or more in the guns of the IDF.

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What is really protecting us here in Israel, the Iron Dome and the Shabak, or all our prayers, mitzvoth and Torah learning?

Right now, so many people in the haredi community can fudge this issue, and make a lot of pious noises about having ‘emuna’ and ‘believing in God’ – whilst hiding behind the secular IDF and the State of Israel’s military might.

(It’s especially easy to hide your lack of real emuna when you live outside of Israel, and can carry on enjoying all the perks of a non-Jewish society and a non-Jewish way of life while pretending to yourself that you are the holy of holies just because you happen to keep a few mitzvoth.)

But in Israel, the question of what we really believe in – God or guns – is looming larger and larger, and the secular people who are pushing the haredi draft question are sharpening it all the time.

But they are just the stick in God’s hands.

It’s God who is really asking us: when the sirens go off and you run to the safety room, are you really thinking that Hashem is in charge, or praying that the Iron Dome will work? Are you saying tehillim, or are you relying on all those clueless 19 year old boys in the army to save you? What’s really going on, here?

And as a community, it behooves us to be honest.

So many of us don’t have a lot of emuna. So many of us really don’t believe that God is running the world. We don’t believe in supernatural miracles. We don’t really want geula and moshiach in any tangible way. And we really are relying more on the guns of the IDF than on God, to protect us.

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By the way, that’s OK.

Because the whole point of this birur process is just to get us to the point of truth.

If the truth is that we really do rely on the IDF for our peace of mind, then that requires quite a change in our attitude and actions.

Instead of belittling the people who serve in the army, we should be profusely grateful to them. Instead of continuing to deride the whole concept of an Israeli army, we should admit they are playing an important part, and consider what we ourselves can do to contribute. If we really don’t believe our Torah learning is protecting the country as well as the F16s, we need to come clean and be honest about that.

And then, we’ll start to act much less arrogantly. Then, we’ll start to realise that so many of those secular people have just as much good in them as we do, and that we have just as much ‘bad’ in ourselves as we are pointing out in others. It’s a whole sea change going on now, a whole transformation.

But this only happens if we’re honest with ourselves.

And what if we really do believe that it’s God, and not the guns, who are protecting us? Then we’ll wholeheartedly throw ourselves into learning more Torah, and saying more tehillim, and attending more prayer gatherings in Hevron, and above all, working more on our bad middot and trying to unify Am Yisrael, instead of looking for ways to criticize and tear down ‘the other’.

Again, it’s a total sea change, a complete transformation.

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Why are the secular people jumping up and down so much about the haredim right now?

Because so many of us apparently ‘religious’ Jews don’t act nicely, we don’t treat other people right, and we’re arrogant, self-righteous hypocrites.

We want all the kudos and credit for being ‘frum’, we want to continue looking down our nose at other people, and to think that we’re better than they are, without actually doing the inner work of refining out characters, and God is sick of it all.

Regardless of the community we belong to, we all have a lot of work to do on our own bad middot. We all have work to do, to develop some emuna, and some humility, and to figure out who is really a tzaddik today, and who is just a false leader, an ‘enemy within’, only interested in their own ego gratification and sense of being a ‘somebody’.

We are currently all fighting a war against the ‘enemy within’, make no mistake about it. It’s a war to be real, to be good, to really believe in God and to make the teshuva we need to make to get to the next stage of the redemption process.

And it’s anyone’s guess who is really going to still be standing when it’s all over.

[1] The Chapter on Avoiding the Wicked, Second Book, Numbers 4 and 5.

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UPDATE:

Myrtle Rising has a very eye-opening first-hand account of her son’s experience in the IDF which bears out much of what’s written above. You can check it out, HERE.