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A crash course in teasing out the truth.

I’ve been deliberately staying away from this topic for months. But now that the ‘Peace Plan’ is upon us, I seem to be getting a strong push from shemayim to set out some of the facts about what appears to be going on with the current occupant of the White House, so that you, dear reader, can make your own mind up about whether Trump is really ‘Israel’s best friend’, or not.

As this subject is so divisive, and as I want to avoid machloket with other Jews as much as possible, I will try to keep my own comments as limited as possible. And I encourage you to click the links wherever you find them, and to uncover more pieces of this puzzle. This is about becoming your own journalist, fitting all this information together, and asking Hashem to show you what’s true, and what isn’t.

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This is the starting point, from something Rabbi Berland said on Chanuka 5780, here:  ravberland.com

The last battle was at Tzur.

Tzur is south of Bethlehem. The last battle took place there. After two or three months, they said now we’re going to Jerusalem, to conquer Jerusalem, that’s to say to begin a world war, and then America and Russia will come, and they began to send armies from all the world.

WHAT? THE JEWS WILL TAKE JERUSALEM? THAT’S THE END OF THE WORLD!

The entire argument between Yaakov and Esav was over who would take Jerusalem.

YAVAN IS IN ALL THE GENERATIONS. NOW TOO, AMERICA IS MALCHUT YAVAN, RUSSIA IS MALCHUT EDOM.

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Take home message:

The world is being fought over by (at least) two different ‘mafias’, one is called the Kings of Edom (headed by Russia) and one is called the Kings of Yavan (headed by the USA).

Both of these mafias have a legal / governmental face, and a very prominent illegal / ‘deep state’ aspect. Both of these mafias are involved in trying to take over as much of the world’s resources as possible, by fair means or foul.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out for yourself which of these mafias Trump is really working for.

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Whilst I was flying to Uman, I took a book along to read called: Trump / Russia: A Definitive History, by Seth Hattena, who is an award-winning investigative journalist for the Associated Press. Here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

“In the early 1990s, a famous real estate tycoon – a regular in Manhattan gossip columns and on celebrity chat shows – found his world collapsing around him. He’d secretly gone bankrupt on three, multi-million dollar projects in a row.

Facing numerous lawsuits, isolated and desperate for cash, but cut off by his American Banks, he turned to dark sources in another country, a country regularly under sanction by the United States: its long-time enemy, Russia.

And thus commenced decades-long deal-making with a growing cobweb of corrupt, criminal and powerful Russians…And ending with a tycoon in the White House.”

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After the Communist USSR fell apart in the late 1980s, Russia and the rest of the former USSR fell into a state of chaos.

The people who stepped forward to take control of the country were essentially those who already had experience of free market economics – i.e. the mafiosos who had been running the black economy under the Soviets.

Many of these mafiosos had ties with Russia’s security services like the former KGB, and these people had gained experience and connections with the West by smuggling things into Russia, and also by helping to smuggle things out.

Google: “The Jackson-Vanik Amendment”, and see what you find.

Russia, and the other former USSR countries, were exclusively run by organized crime for at least a decade. During this time, corrupt leaders in the West collaborated with corrupt leaders in Russia itself, including the alcoholic former Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, to privatize the former USSR’s natural resources.

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In 2011, a Russian anti-corruption campaigner called Marina Salye fled for her life to the US. (It didn’t seem to help much. She died in March, 2012). Many years earlier, she’d been head of a special investigative commission in St Petersburg, who had been investigating Vladimir Putin – then the head of St Petersburg’s Committee of External Relations. Here’s part of her stated complaint against Putin:

“Vladimir Putin has issued licences, without government authority, for the overseas export of bartered oil, timber and non-ferrous and rare-earth metals to questionable and little-known firms, often incorporated the previous day, with licences issued in advance of being signed by Western partners and without documentation of the goods’ availability.

And the prices assigned were for dumping – about two thousand times lower than the prevailing ones. The Commission is now sending documentation of its investigation to the Personnel Office, and Putin may have to answer before his hometown for having deprived municipal coffers of $122 million.”

Instead, Putin became Russia’s president, and the Russian mafia acquired a patina of legitimacy.

This is how so much of the former USSR’s national wealth ended up in the hands of a small group of Russian oligarchs, who became fabulously wealthy overnight. All these people had some connection to the Russian mafia. Many of these people are Jews.

Google:

Jewish Russian Oligarchs

“Davos Pact”

“Boris Birshtein”

And see what you find.

It’s important to note that this type of corruption occurred throughout the former USSR, including the Ukraine.

But life as a Russian Oligarch is risky. Back in 2003, Russia’s richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was suddenly arrested by Putin’s government, charged with fraud, and stripped of all his fabulous wealth. That sent a very clear message to the other Russian oligarchs and mafia bosses that the best way to protect their wealth was to find a way to get it out of the country, and ‘stored’ in assets in the West, in case the wind one day changed for them, too.

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Starting in the 1970s, there was a huge wave of immigration from the USSR to the USA, which welcomed 200,000 people to its shores. Around 80,000 Russians ended up in Brighton Beach, a community on the periphery of NYC which was subsequently christened “Little Odessa”.

At that same time, Russian organized crime began to flourish in the USA – and the power struggle between the Kings of Edom and the Kings of Yavan took a new turn.

Google the following names, and see what you find:

David Bogatin

Jacob Bogatin

Semion Mogilevich

Vyacheslav Ivankov

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Taking dodgy money from dodgy sources in order to give that money a patina of respectability is technically known as money laundering.

And here is where the story gets interesting.

Guess where so many of these Russian oligarchs and Russian mafia figures and Russian shell companies ended up investing their dodgy money? Here’s a few clues:

Trump Towers

Trump World Tower

Trump SoHo

For example, David Bogatin owned no less than five apartments in Trump Towers before he was arrested for his part in a billion dollar gas tax fraud.

According to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, by 2004 a third of the units sold in Trump World Tower went to people or limited-liability companies connected to the former USSR, with one of Trump’s sales agents telling the magazine: “We had big buyers from Russia and Ukraine and Kazakhstan.”

Donald Trump had no problem whatsoever in selling his over-priced condos to fabulously wealthy Russians with murky business connections. Those sales jacked-up the value of his real estate, pulled him out of bankruptcy – and firmly connected him to a whole slew of wealthy people with useful connections on both sides of the legit / mafia business divide.

Google the following names, see what you find:

Sam Kislin

Michael Cherney

Lev Cherney

Fima Shusterman

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Real Estate is big business in today’s world.

Part of the reason so much real estate is going for artificially inflated ridiculous prices is because it’s a great way of laundering ‘black’ money. You buy something with dirty money, you sell it on for an inflated and unjustified profit, and hey presto, all of a sudden your money is ‘legit’ – it’s just the proceeds of a selling a condo.

No-one can ask questions about that….

Trump World Tower opened in 2002. Shortly afterwards, the Trump property brand started to skyrocket, especially with the Russians, many of whom seemed very happy to follow Trump around, wherever he chose to build his next developments.

Take Trump’s Sunny Isles Towers down in Miami, Florida. So many Russians moved into Sunny Isles locals started calling it “Little Moscow”.

Google the following names, see what you find:

Vladimir Popovyan

Peter Kiritchenko

Michael Barukhin

Elena Baronoff

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Trump SoHo was unveiled in 2006, in partnership with a real estate company called the Bayrock Group.

Bayrock’s managing director is a man called Felix Sater, it’s founder was a former Kazakhstani called Tevfik Arif. Sater moved with his family to Brighton Beach, and Sater has a long and very interesting story.

Look him up on Google, and see what you find.

Long story short, he was involved with the mob, went to prison for white collar crimes including a pump-and-dump scheme run out of his ‘White Rock’ organization, and then apparently became an informer for the CIA in the Clinton years, helping the US to track down Osama bin Laden.

(I don’t know about you, but that whole thing just sounds kind of weird to me, and my BS-o-meter is twitching again.)

But by 2006, Sater was working with Bayrock on high ticket real estate details, and became very close to the Trump empire. Sater had business cards printed at this time that said: “Felix Sater: Senior Advisor to Donald Trump.”

Call it a coincidence, but Trump properties continued to fill up with wealthy investors from the former USSR, many of whom had very dodgy backgrounds, and sadly, many of whom are Jewish and closely connected to obviously Jewish organizations. Look up the following names, see what you find:

Vadim Trincher

Alex Sapir

Rotem Rosen

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There’s so much more to say about all this, but I’m going to kind of skip over all the stuff about Paul Manafort helping to rig elections in the Ukraine up until 2013 etc. Look up:

Dmitry Firtash

Oleg Deripaska

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One thing I will say is that the ‘division’ between Democrats and Republicans is really just for show.

It’s just to keep the masses thinking there is a real alternative. The political system in the US is totally corrupt, and really just masking the ongoing battle between the Kings of Edom and the Kings of Yavan for control of the international economy, particularly it’s darker side of drugs, guns and human slaves.

So, it should come as no surprise that ‘pro-Trump’ Manafort was happy to hire the ‘pro-Hilary’ Podesta Group to lobby Congress on behalf of Manafort’s client, Ukrainian President Yanukovych.

What’s more, the original Fusion GPS file on Trump’s connections to Russian mafia figures was originally commissioned by Republican Paul Singer, and then only taken over by the Democrats at a later stage.

The swamp extends in all directions, on both sides of Congress and the Senate, and is also still to be found in the White House itself. All of the politicians are corrupt, and just the ‘legal’ face of the invisible mafias that are running the world.

For example, Former Ukrainian President Yanukovych was totally corrupt, and there are estimates that $70 billion was illegally siphoned off into foreign accounts during his tenure. (He escaped prosecution in 2014 by jumping on a helicopter that whisked him over to Russia, where presumably he’s still hiding out.)

Meanwhile, Manafort flew back to Washington and went to work for Trump.

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As I’ve written so many times before, there is no such thing as a 0-100% argument.

There is no such thing as one side being 100% wrong about everything, and the other side being 100% right.

It’s all an admixture, and the birur or clarification process God expects from us is to keep challenging our own assumptions, and our own black-or-white thinking to really dig down and discover the truth.

I am totally a-political. Before I started investigating all this stuff, I certainly didn’t hate Trump, and I probably would have voted from him back in 2016.

Back then, I didn’t realise just how endemic the spiritual and moral corruption actually is in the world. I didn’t realise that all these political parties and presidents and Prime Ministers are really just figure heads, puppets that are being moved around by the Kings of Edom and Kings of Yavan who are really running the show here.

Rebbe Nachman explained in his story The Cripple that ‘the talkers’ would take themselves out before Moshiach comes, and that’s what we’re witnessing right now. One set of evil mafiosos is trying to take out the other, but ultimately, they are both totally bad.

The Democrats are just as bad as the Republicans, just as corrupt, just as morally bankrupt. They are all just the window-dressing. As for ‘Q Anon’ – at this point, I’m pretty sure it’s being run by the Russians. Most of the information it puts out is probably true, but there’s another side to the story that most of us just don’t want to believe, namely that there are no ‘good’ guys in this picture.

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The real power behind the throne is just playing us all off against each other, keeping us caught up in petty partisan politics, and fooling us into thinking that real change happens at the polling booths.

There is no real change until the real evil is unmasked and revealed. That real evil is bankrolling all our politicians and all our ‘leaders’ – including here in Israel. Just that real evil is also split into different factions, each one trying to get a bigger piece of the pie.

So, let’s get down to brass tacks now.

Trump is definitely part of the evil mafia, definitely not ‘good’ in any way, shape or form, and definitely not Israel’s ‘best friend’. The only question really is which mafia family is he working for, the Kings of Edom (Russia) or the Kings of Yavan (the USA)?

As to why the Jews should care about this, and particularly the Jews of America, it boils down to this.

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Even a very quick look across the internet shows that there are certain crucial pieces of this whole ‘Trump / Russia’ puzzle that are hidden in very plain sight. I’m not going to spell this stuff out, for a lot of reasons.

But I urge my readers to carefully consider which organisations and charities have deep connections to the former USSR. Who used clandestine routes to smuggle things and people in and out of Russia?

What were the main lynchpins clandestinely connecting the USA and Russia during the Cold War? How were those ‘lynchpins’ affected and potentially corrupted by the Russian mafia’s takeover of the former USSR? Why are the same people, the same organisations, the same charities, coming up again and again and again in connection to Russian mafia figures, and money laundering?

Where are these organisations getting their billion dollar plus annual budgets from?

Who is really funding them, who is really using them as a smokescreen, and what are they getting in return?

These are crucially important questions that I urge the Jews of America to look into, however painful it might be, because ‘before the world of truth can be built, the world of lies has to fall.’

And we are perched on the edge of the next part of that process.

There’s no such thing as a 0-100% argument. Yes, the Democrats are totally rotten and morally corrupt to the core. But that doesn’t mean that everything they’re claiming about Trump is wrong.

Just both sides are only presenting their side of the story, because if they came out with the truth and explained that the whole world is being fought over by two main mafia organizations called ‘The Kings of Edom’ and ‘The Kings of Yavan’, and that all this talk of democracy and governance by the people was a total crock, there would be riots in the streets.

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We live in interesting times.

Do your own homework, become your own investigative journalist, and start to tease the truth out about what’s really going on. Because sooner or later, what I’m only hinting to here is going to become public knowledge.

And then, anti-semitism is going to explode in the USA like never before.

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A few years’ ago, me and my husband got burned by three ‘big’ rabbis in a row.

Each one was a ‘name’, each one was connected to Breslov, each one left an indelible imprint on our lives – and eventually, we discovered that each one was a ‘false rabbi’. One of them started up a sadna that was based on the opposite of Torah and Breslov principles  – particularly the principle of Azamra, or seeing the good especially in yourself – which my husband attended a few short months after his dad unexpectedly died.

My husband was in a particularly vulnerable place at that stage, and his dad’s passing had left him with a lot of unresolved issues. This sadna was billed as ‘the answer’ to all of life’s questions, and this big, Breslov rabbi was behind so it seemed like a great idea.

When my husband got this big Breslov rabbi as his personal mentor, we thought ‘wow, what an honor!’ Six weeks’ in, my husband really, really wanted to switch mentors, and I wouldn’t let him. I thought it was just his ego, and that this ‘big Breslov rabbi’ was heaven-sent to help us both grow and progress.

Man, was I wrong. That guy completely messed my husband up, severely messed up my shalom bayit (for years!) by telling my husband that he ‘lacked manliness’ and left us in a place where my husband was profoundly disliking himself and everyone else, too.

That set the stage for false rabbi #2 to step in.

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As a result of false rabbi #1, we started to think that so many of our relationships were unhealthy and toxic. We asked rabbi #2 what to do about all these poisonous, unhealthy, distressing relationships – and he told us to cut off contact and ‘challenge’ everyone on their flaws.

(Again, the polar opposite of the ‘Azamra’ approach).

Within a few short months, we were almost completely friendless and so very, very lonely. Still, I had no idea that all these rabbis weren’t the real deal, didn’t have ruach hakodesh and were actually no more clued up about my life and what I should be doing in it than I was myself.

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Around this same time, false rabbi #3 started giving a whole bunch of classes about how people with emuna shouldn’t work for a living (without telling his class that his wife was slaving away at a full-time job in order to support his family….)

At that point, my husband was so miserable, and so desperate for things to feel better, he decided he needed to show God how much emuna he had by quitting the job that he’d also come to hate. He told this ‘rabbi’ his plan – and instead of talking him out of it, the guy egged him on!

So he quit.

And six months later, we had to sell our house to pay the bills, which segued into a whole, incredibly difficult few years that Baruch Hashem we finally started to come out of a couple of years’ back.

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At the time all this was happening, we had no clue that all three of these ‘rabbis’ weren’t so good for us.

All these false rabbis knew more Torah than us, they all had impeccable credentials, they all looked the part and talked the talk.

But following their advice left our life in tatters, and came pretty close to permanently sinking my faith in humanity.

Within two short weeks of asking Hashem to show us who the real Tzaddikim in the world really were, all these ‘false rabbis’ got unmasked – at least in our eyes – one after another. Which was a good thing, because we finally had clarity, but also a ‘bad’ thing, inasmuch as my desire to ‘out’ them and to tell everyone else about them was so overwhelming, I almost set up a website devoted to doing just that.

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What stopped me was a visit to Rabbi Arush.

Without us saying the names or any identifying details of the rabbis who had burned us so badly, we could see that Rav Arush knew exactly what we were talking about. He told my husband he wasn’t crazy for thinking what he was thinking – three times – and then told my husband – again three times – to just have patience.

Things would sort themselves out, eventually.

Again, this was clearly advice from a true tzaddik, but at the time it took so much effort to calm down and follow it. I was so full of vengeance! I was so angry! I was so disgusted! Today, I thank God a hundred times a day for Rav Arush and his advice, and that Hashem helped us to actually follow it.

Because after doing a good couple of years’ hitbodedut on the whole subject of ‘false rabbis’ I’ve realized that while it would be SOOO easy to blame all my problems and my difficulties on them, in reality, God was behind everything that happened to us, and we certainly deserved everything we went through.

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It’s human nature to want the short-cut, to want the easy life.

The idea that I can find a ‘rabbi’ who will tell me what to do, and how to think, and how to act and decide all the difficult details of my life – and it’ll then all turn out perfect all the time – is overwhelmingly appealing to most people, especially in our generation, when we’re so beset by inner turmoil and huge doubts, anxieties and fears.

But Hashem only created us in order for us to get to know Him, and to exercise our free choice. So when we try to give our free choice away to another person – even if that person is genuinely a tzaddik and amazing in all respects – that’s only going to lead to trouble, one way or another.

Whatever ‘reed’ we rely on, that is not Hashem, is destined to splinter in our hands.

When it came to our three false rabbis, each one was reflecting our own prejudices and problems, in some way. That’s why we liked them so much. One of them was basically telling us that our lives were entirely in our hands, and that all it took to fix everything was ‘clarity and willpower’. God was effectively out the picture.

Another one was basically telling us that the way to deal with whatever and whoever we didn’t like was simply to cut them out of the picture and pretend they didn’t exist – even though God had sent them into our lives for an express purpose. We had a lot of teshuva we needed to make and that’s why we had all these difficult people mirroring our own difficulties back at us in such a disturbing way.

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Again, cutting these ‘messengers’ out of the picture the way we did was effectively cutting God out the picture.

Another one was playing to our false sense of piety, and reflecting back at us our (false…) inner conviction that a) we were on a high enough spiritual level to be sustained economically with no effort other than prayer and b) God somehow ‘owed’ us an easy, good life for doing all this extra, super-duper pious stuff. Again, we liked this guy initially because he was telling us what we wanted to hear.

And so it is with all these false rabbis.

They tell us what we want to hear, they play to our prejudices, they promise us shortcuts in our spiritual work, if only we follow them and throw our ability to choose for ourselves away.

And then when it all goes wrong, they go AWOL and / or tell us it was all our fault, anyway.

And on some level, they’re actually right, because we are all responsible for our own actions and our own decisions.

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You went ahead and married the guy? Stop blaming the matchmaking for forcing you into it.

You went ahead and quit your job? Stop blaming your friend for talking you into it.

You went ahead and made a really terrible business investment? Stop blaming the person who made the introduction.

This is the lesson I had to learn – the hard way – for myself. We chose to start blaming other people for our problems. We chose to listen to people who told us to cut ourselves from everyone else. We chose to try to live on prayer alone.

Ultimately, the buck stops with us.

There is no-one else to blame, and no-one else to point the finger at.

Understanding that is key to moving past the hurt and betrayal caused by all these false rabbis, so that we can get to the next stage of the process called: how to trust again.

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Recently, I had an email exchange with someone that got me thinking about how when Moshiach really does, actually, well and truly show up, most people are going to think he’s a cult leader.

You can understand why.

Moshiach will be a hugely charismatic, magnetic person of immense holiness and charm, that the Jewish soul will automatically gravitate towards, and want to nullify themselves to.

That’s part of the beauty and majesty of the Moshiach! The Moshiach will have a global soul that contains a spark of every Jew on the planet, and we’ll all want to get close to him, and soak in his immense spiritual light.

But until the Moshiach is completely and undeniably revealed as the Moshiach, he’s going to look like one of the most convincing cult leaders you’ve ever met.

And here lies the conundrum.

As I’ve written about a lot here, there are an awful lot of what Rebbe Nachman calls ‘Rav de klipa’, or rabbis of the dark side out there in the world. God already warned us that for every ‘light’ He created, there would be darkness, and for every ‘good’ He created, there would be bad, until Moshiach comes and the whole world is spiritually rectified and evil permanently vanquished.

Also as I’ve written about elsewhere, Moshiach’s coming is not a one-shot dramatic affair where he steps off a plane in Ben Gurion airport, or holds a coming out party and voila, instant Moshiach and geula.

Nope.

It’s going to be a long, drawn-out affair, like the sunrise, growing stronger and stronger from moment to moment until everyone has to admit that day has come. But while we’re still in the process of transition, there’s going to be a lot of murky stuff mixed into that sunrise.

Lots of ‘rabbis’ pretending to be what they really are not. Lots of psychos taking advantage of trusting members of the public, to act in the most evil, anti-Torah, unethical ways. Lots of ‘cult leaders in waiting’ trying to take advantage of our yearning for Moshiach to pull a fast one over us and pull us away from God, has va halila.

So what’s a person meant to do?

Some of us are solving this problem by plain blank refusing to acknowledge Moshiach in any real way. Sure, they’ll discuss the idea theoretically, but any suggestion that a real person could actually be Moshiach, or that this could actually happen in their lifetimes (especially if they live outside of Israel…) will elicit a dramatically negative response.

One such person who holds this view of all things Moshiach told me:

‘Look what happened with Chabad! We don’t want something like that to happen again!’

as justification for why they were so ‘anti’ the whole talking about Moshiach thing.

So then, I started to ponder: what really happened with Chabad?

Sure, there are still a few people walking around with the mistaken idea that the Lubavitcher Rebbe will come back from the dead to lead us. But I’m not sure even that is so terrible. When Moshiach is revealed, they’ll see that they’re wrong, and end of story.

(There’s a whole big discussion in the Gemara about just this idea, of whether the Moshiach can come back from the dead, and the Gemara – after a long discussion – asserts that this will not be the case. I don’t know much about the Moshiach, but I can tell you that he definitely knows more Gemara than I do, and abides by all aspects of Jewish halachic law…)

And in the meantime, what really happened with Chabad? Simply that hundreds of thousands of Jews started to yearn for Moshiach to come, in fulfillment of the Rambam’s 13th Principle of Faith, and made a whole bunch of teshuva in readiness for that moment.

I mean really, what’s so bad about that?

Sure, there are some crazy people that took things to extremes, but Chabad didn’t make these people crazy any more than Breslov makes people crazy. Crazy people (including yours truly…) are attracted to very big spiritual lights, as we know that’s where we’ll find the antidote for all the darkness we’re lugging around in our souls.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe was an enormous spiritual light, and very probably was the potential Moshiach of his generation. If your tikkun is to be a crazy person anyway, at least be a crazy person who keeps mitzvahs and talks (a little too much…) about the coming of the Moshiach.

But to come back to the point in hand, how are we really going to know who is a true candidate for Moshiach, and who is just a cult-leader-in-waiting, in this very difficult, confusing time before geula actually really kicks off?

There’s one answer:

Hitbodedut.

The regular practice of talking to Hashem in your own words for a fixed amount of time every day, preferably an hour.

When you talk to God regularly like this, you get connected to your soul, and to the real Tzaddikim of the generation, and to Hashem Himself, and it gets much, much harder for the fakers to fool you.

Try this exercise, to see what I mean:

Imagine a rabbi that you KNOW is good and the real deal, like the Baba Sali, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Chida, the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbe Nachman, Rav Ovadia Yosef, etc. See how they look, see how ‘big’ they are, compared to you yourself.

Now, imagine a rabbi from today meeting that ‘good’ rabbi from the past – really picture them meeting in your head – and see what happens.

I guarantee you’ll start to get some amazing insights about who is really ‘real’ and who isn’t, if you try this exercise a few times, and ask God to show you what’s really going on.

And in the meantime, this is the best and really only route for knowing who really could be Moshiach, and who is a cult-leader-in-disguise.

Don’t let the ‘Rav de klipa’s’ fool you!

And don’t be scared to join the ‘cult of Moshiach’ as soon as you’re 100% convinced inside that you’ve discovered who he is. After all, yearning for Moshiach is a fundamental part of being a Jew, and if you’re regularly talking to God about it all, He’ll certainly guide you to the right person, at just the right time.

And if you’re wrong – but attached to an enormously holy person in the meantime who could be Moshiach, but maybe isn’t – what’s so bad about that, anyway?

So there I was, in the middle of one of the most poisonous email exchanges I’ve had in about five years, where my three toxic and mentally-ill correspondents were all vying with each other to see who could say something even nastier, and even more soul-destroying, when suddenly I got an email from Shuvu Banim drop into my inbox.

The title of the email was:

“Don’t respond to the people who are against us. Every word they say is a diamond. Don’t throw the diamonds back!”

Dear reader, the timing of that email was so uncanny it gave me chills up my spine. How did Rav Berland know that my inbox was filling up with heaping sacks of these ‘diamonds’ at precisely that moment? How did he know that I was starting to get to that point of saying something that I’d probably regret – because the problem with arguing with mentally-ill narcissists is that you can never win.

If you answer back with even a fraction of the poison and hatred they routinely bombard you with, they’ll harp on it for years (all the while ignoring all the disgusting things they themselves say.) BUT if you don’t answer back – the feeling of powerlessness and helplessness can sometimes be overwhelming.

And then suddenly, Rav Berland showed up with some of the most precious, useful advice I’ve ever heard: the insults are diamonds. The emotional abuse they’re heaping on your head is diamonds. The lies and the poisonous comments they’re sending your way, it’s all diamonds!!!

Man, do I need some diamonds. I have my eye on an apartment around the corner that costs $2 million…

Part of the genius of our true Tzaddikim is that they can give you advice, in one sentence, that literally changes your whole life around. Rebbe Nachman also had that gift, and Rav Berland’s advice to ‘not throw the diamonds back!!!’ also literally changed the whole picture for me.

All of a sudden, I could calm down again. All of a sudden, instead of getting angry about all the emotional abuse stacking up in my inbox, I took a deep breath and saw things completely differently: being called a ‘parasite’ has to be worth at least 50 Koh-i-noors, don’t you think?

So at this rate, I’m at least half way towards making the down payment on that amazing apartment…

And I noticed an added bonus that happened when I stopped caring about all the insults and abuse that was pouring in: it dried up all by itself.

Emotionally-abusive people have very little of their own spiritual ‘light’. Just as Rav Berland explained in THIS POST, the sheker, the falsehood in the world only exists because it’s leaching off the kedusha, or holiness. I keep mitzvot. I (try to) be a God-fearing person. I (try to) recognize my flaws, and work on them. The people abusing me do none of those things.

It’s only my energy, my upset, my distress that gives them the strength they need to keep on attacking me. Once I stopped chucking the diamonds back at them, they had no ‘energy’ of their own to continue the fight and all three of them slunk off.

Amazing!

In this time when the end of the End of Days is fast approaching, the lies are going to multiply.

The deceitful, emotionally-abusive, anti-God people are going to drop their polite masks and really show us all what we’re up against. The fake rabbis are going to start popping up in more and more places, speaking all their lashon hara against the true Tzaddikim, and trying to spread their heretical ideas to as many people as possible. The warped bloggers, social media mavens and anonymous commentators are all going to jump into the mix, too, trying to convince everyone that ‘black is really white’, and that ‘good is really bad’.

How to get through this awful stage?

  • Talk to God as much as possible, and ask Him to show you the truth. This isn’t about finding someone ‘out there’ to convince you anymore, it’s about clinging on to God, because God is truth and the closer you are to Him the easier it’ll be to spot all the lies.
  • Don’t throw anyone’s diamonds back at them. That doesn’t mean you can’t respond to the lies generally – like I’m doing in my posts on Emunaroma, and like other excellent bloggers are also trying to do. But don’t get into any personal mud-slinging, as that just gives the klipot

People with pronounced, unrectified Erev Rav / narcissistic tendencies simply can’t accept or acknowledge the truth.

You’re wasting your time debating with them. When Moshiach shows up, and when we finally get to the Yom Ha Gadol, then God Himself will show who is really righteous, and who is really evil.

And until then, keep praying, keep your mouth shut, and don’t throw the diamonds back at anyone.

Recently, I’ve been having some correspondence with a reader about how easy it is to get swept up (and away…) with all the end of days stuff, to the point that you literally stop functioning in this world.

That happened to me for around long eight years, and while I do know that everything that happens is all from Hashem and all for the best, a part of me is still grinding an axe that my ‘pseudo-tzaddik’ spiritual guides didn’t step in and prevent me and my husband from getting too carried away.

Last year, one of my friends watched the video of Natan, the secular Israeli teen who died a clinical death, and who started sharing a whole bunch of stuff that he’d seen in Heaven, like foreign armies invading Israel in 2 days and Tel Aviv and Haifa getting nuked, God forbid.

My friend called me all het up, and asked me if she should quit her job and just spend her time making teshuva and preparing herself spiritually because, ya know, MOSHIACH IS COMING!!!!

And Moshiach is certainly coming, but the problem for me is that I quit my job, and my ‘regular’ life, and pretty much all I did was work on myself for eight years, which was all really good on the one hand, but on the other it’s still causing me some serious difficulties in my day-to-day finances and circumstances as Moshiach didn’t come in time to prevent me and my husband running out of cash.

This is what I told my friend last year:

“BH, work on yourself spiritually, do an hour of hitbodedut a day, make as much teshuva as you can – but don’t do anything you wouldn’t do if Moshiach wasn’t definitely coming tomorrow.”

Because the yetzer is very clever, and there are few tests of emuna bigger than turning your whole life around in anticipation of redemption, only for redemption not to show up on time and all your money to run out.

I always thought that me and my husband were pretty unique in how swept up we’d got in our fervent yearning for Moshiach. Part of why he struggled to go back to work so much was the idea that he was ‘selling out’ on the spiritual ideal of not being online, of guarding his eyes properly, of avoiding speaking to female clients. And on some level, he did sell out, but what could we do? Moshiach hadn’t shown up and we still had bills to pay and groceries to buy.

So, when a reader got in touch to tell me that she’d also recently got very swept up in all the stuff on the internet (and in other places) about the end of days and Moshiach, it made me very thoughtful. There are clearly many of us out there at the moment struggling with the balance between ‘this world’ and ‘the world to come’.

With her permission, here’s a little of what she shared:

“I am normally a very calm and rational person but I felt completely paralyzed with all of this [end of days / Moshiach stuff]. I knew I had uncovered the ultimate truth and everyone else was in total denial of the hectic state of the world and thought everything was normal.

“The Talking Bone of Ov” sounded like I was when I first heard about Nibiru and other end of days stuff. I was totally overboard freaked out and glued to the news… I caught myself before I went downhill totally but there was a low point for me when my behavior was scaring my husband a bit.

“Now, I have gotten out of the Armageddon outlook and decided to favor the rabbeim that talk about Hashem’s love for us instead…

“I feel so weird sometimes as if I am floating around, not grounded at all. I had myself 100% convinced that Moshiach would be here already and therefore assumed we wouldn’t have even celebrated Rosh Hashana this year…

“Now, I am just working on strengthening my connection with Hashem and really not going crazy about other things I’m reading on all of the geula sites other than Torah. It doesn’t serve a purpose for me anymore and I have to say it turned into something negative before when I was so deep into it as I forgot how to relate to the world and everyone around me. I walked around expecting doomsday every moment and couldn’t deal with fellow frum Jews walking around as if everything was normal. My friends were planning simchas and I couldn’t fathom them actually working out to be normal simchas. I was sort of pitying them in their oblivion. The yetzer hara at its best.

“Getting myself normalized has been a huge struggle as I don’t want to go the other way. I want my emuna to be stronger than ever and I want to approach life calmly, knowing Hashem, like always, is in charge of it all.

“It’s not a bad thing that I am into the geula – that in itself is wonderful – problem is that I drove head first right into it and I couldn’t properly relate to reality and people in the same way afterwards. That took me far away from the personal geula that we all need to do within ourselves.

“There is a Moshiach element in all of us, like the Divine spark that is part of us and like the bit of the original Adam inside us that unites us all as part of humanity… I am referring to an important part of life that is often forgotten about as we work for our daily bread. We have to look for and accept that this physical world is not all there is and elevate ourselves to actually look forward to a better world that is less and less physical and more and more spiritual.”

I can SO relate.

I got a lot of chizzuk from knowing I wasn’t the only ‘crazy’ in town who was so serious about Moshiach coming I actually made the spiritual work of preparing for Moshiach my main job for eight years. (Clearly, I’m not saying I finished.)

It’s difficult for me to know where I’m really holding these days, as while my Yiddishkeit is definitely more real, more compassionate and more grounded, it’s also more accepting of ‘the real world’. My husband is back at work, back online. I accepted my daughters need to find their own way and choose their own wardrobes. Two week’s ago, I even re-did my CV for the first time in 8 years, with the vague notion that perhaps I should stop writing such spiritual blogs and books, and get a ‘real’ job writing marketing material for some hi-tech start-up.

I’m still really stuck on that last one, as REALLY, I just want the books I’ve written to start selling in their millions, and for me to solve my cash flow problem that way.

Moshiach is definitely coming. Just I’m really not sure what I’m meant to be doing with myself now until he actually shows up. But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one wrestling with that question.

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.

One day, a shiny new van drove up to the small hamlet of Yidville, and a very fit, muscular, tanned man in tennis whites stepped out, with a large statue under his arm.

He strolled over to one of the local parks, set his shiny, black statue up in the middle of one of the grassy areas, and began to casually toss a stone or two in its direction.

One of the friendlier residents of Yidville came over to say hello, and to ask him what he was doing.

“This?” replied the man, tossing another stone at the statue. “Man, this changed my life! Before I started doing this, I had all sorts of aches and pains, and I just couldn’t breathe good. But once I started doing this – well, all my problems cleared up, I grew five inches taller and I developed 28 inch biceps overnight!”

The Yid couldn’t help but be a little impressed, but was also a little puzzled:

How could throwing stones at a statue have so many health benefits?

As the man continued to toss his stones, he explained:

“It’s all about posture, man. And self-control. And balance. See this stone? It looks to you like I’m just tossing it around, casual-like. But really, I learned how to throw stones like this up a mountain in Tibet for five years. Once you learn how to throw the stone right, you’ll see how you just start to feel so darned great!”

Convinced, the yid started learning with the successful stranger how to properly throw stones to Marculis – purely for exercise reasons – and very soon, the stranger had opened his own ‘Throw a stone to Marculis’ studio in Yidville, and was selling branded clothing and a throw-a-stone-to-Marculis line of soft furnishings.

All was well, until a little while later another shiny new van drove up to Yidville and stopped in the centre of town.

A supermodel-type lady got out, tucked a lithe white statue under her arm, and strolled over the local park.

She’d heard about the success of the ‘Throw a stone to Marculis’ studio, and she wanted a piece of the action, too. Her exercise routine was called ‘Ba’al Peor’, and it involved regular rounds of colonic irrigation and other things too complicated for mere plebs to understand.

The people of Yidville crowded round, keen to learn what this latest innovation in holistic health would do for them.

“Laydees,” she drawled, “I used to be FAT!” A gasp erupted from the crowd. “And POOR!” another gasp. “And SOCIALLY INEPT!!!” Now, people were really shocked.

“But then, laydees, I discovered this ‘Ba’al Peor’ exercise routine, and it completely changed my life! I lost 40 lbs in a day and a half, I won the lottery, and then I started to make tons of friends, when I put out my ‘Ba’al Peor Holistic Healing’ home-play DVD. And now, for just $1000 a month, I’m willing to teach you how to access these AMAZING health benefits too!”

Well, that sounded like a deal that was just too good to turn up, so the laydees of Yidville eagerly signed up for ‘Ba’al Peor Flow’ classes, and happily subscribed to the ‘Ba’al Peor Living’ magazine, when the first edition came out just in time for Rosh Hashana.

Things settled back down in Yidville – everyone was happily congratulating each other on discovering their AMAZING exercise routines, which contained so much INCREDIBLE wisdom for living the good life, and kept them so busy they didn’t have time for their more traditional pursuits like praying or learning Torah.

But this stuff was so much more FUN!

The men happily compared the bulging biceps they’d earned from spending 10 hours a day throwing stones to Marculis, while the women couldn’t wait to try out the latest purge-and-cleanse recipe they’d just seen in Ba’al Peor Living. Man, this was the life!

A little while later, another shiny van drew up to Yidville, and yet another successful, spiritually-inclined wise person got out, this time with a bright red statue and a big packet of matches. He knew he had a tough sell on his hands, but he was the best in the business for a reason, and he’d promised the boss he wouldn’t come home until he had at least 50 people signed up for his new exercise class, called:

‘Burn your children for Moloch’.

As the locals crowded around, he made his pitch:

“Guys, this stuff is the most hard-core exercise class out there. It’s only for the best-of-the-best. A lot of people out there don’t get how burning your child for Moloch can help you develop abs of steel, get you inner peace, and triple your income in just eight minutes…”

Here, his voice dropped to a whisper, and he motioned his audience to lean in a little.

“You know why they don’t get it? Because they didn’t do their research, that’s why! They didn’t check this stuff out properly! They’re still stuck in their narrow-minded ways of doing things, and they’re scared to try new things in life! You know, throwing a stone to Marculis is for beginners. If you really want to transform your life, this is the exercise class for you!”

And to close the deal, the rep from ‘Burn your children for Moloch’ passed out some cute devotionary candles that had a really interesting smell, and a bumper sticker that bore the legend: “There is nothing wrong with playing with fire!”

Dear reader, you get to pick what happens next. Do the residents of Yidville:

  1. Vote to relocate their town to an ashram in India (purely for ‘health’ reasons)
  2. Come up with their own new exercise routine called ‘Kosher-Burn-Your-Children-For-Moloch’ – and get a rabbinic psak for it
  3. Make Teshuva and bring Moshiach and the rebuilt Beit HaMikdash

Vote for your choice in the comments section!

And how to spot a real one…

There are many things that I loved about Rav Trugman’s latest book, ‘Prophecy and Divine Inspiration’, but one of my favourites was his discussion about false prophets – because in this time of geula blog madness, it’s still very much a ‘live’ issue.

After the last round of terrible, blood-curdling predictions on one side, and reassuring if concerned statements from our true Tzadikim that the situation is indeed grave, but that teshuva, tefilla and tzedaka can still sweeten everything, I decided that we could probably all need some help, to work out which modern-day ‘prophets’ are actually the real deal, and worth listening to.

Enter Rav Trugman. In the chapter on clarifying prophecy and Divine inspiration, he brings down the Rambam’s pre-requisites for someone claiming prophecy to even get past the starting gate.

According to the Rambam, an individual needs to have the following qualities in order to qualify as a ‘potential true prophet’:

  1. Deep wisdom
  2. Broad-minded knowledge
  3. The ability to be in control of his or her physical urges, as well as to be unaffected by the vanities of the material world.
  4. The prophet-in-waiting has to be involved in holy pursuits at all times.

Rav Trugman also explains that the Rambam says that a prophet has to prepare themselves carefully to receive the flow of Divine information, and that they have to be in a state of absolute joy. “Prophecy does not come to one who is sad or lazy.”

That’s a lot of food for thought, isn’t it? Let’s break it down even further, and make it even more crystal-clear.

Deep wisdom

Deep wisdom doesn’t mean someone once read a book of kabbalah, had a funny dream, can translate Hebrew to English (or vice-versa) or correctly predicted who was going to win Israel’s last elections.

Broad-minded knowledge

Finding allusions to the latest autistic  pronouncements in the latest Brad Pitt film they just watched doesn’t count. (By way of comparison, the sages of the Sanhedrin had to know 70 languages, and be whizzes at maths, logic and natural science before they’d even be considered for a place.)

The ability to control their physical urges, and be unaffected by the material world

Any wannabe-prophet who is giving over their ‘nevua’ via Facebook, or who has their own twitter account, is clearly not meeting these requirements.

Has to be involved in holy pursuits at all times

There’s a lot of people trying to wave their ‘real prophet’ credentials in our faces, without a whole lot to back it up.  I’ve also been taken in by these people in the past, sadly. It was only when I got to Jerusalem and I saw really holy people like Rav Shalom Arush and Rav Ofer Erez in action, and the humility they have, and the utter simplicity and sweetness they have, and the lack of arrogance and superiority they evince, that the penny dropped that

Rabbis with their own YouTube channel, blog, Facebook accounts and personal agenda to be the next Moshiach are simply not anywhere near the same playing field, kedusha-wise.

That doesn’t mean you can’t be holy, and still doing good work online, or still be holy and coaching little league, or visiting chocolate factories, or riding horses in your spare time. But it definitely does mean that you aren’t in the really big leagues when it comes to kedusha, where the potential prophets are hanging out.

You need to be prepared to get prophecy

Some half-baked idea you had while washing up that WW3 is starting tomorrow is just not going to cut the mustard. Ditto some vague dream that you had, where Obama was riding a white donkey into Jerusalem (unless you spent the 40 days prior to having that dream fasting and praying in the desert somewhere…)

You need to be happy

And this, dear reader, is where so many of today’s false internet prophets are really falling down. When Rav Arush or Rav Berland says ‘trouble’s brewing’ you can believe they aren’t just scaremongering or going on a power trip so fifty people will comment on their post.

The only time they say hard things is in order to get us to make the teshuva we need to turn things around.