“I think that is the answer: CHESED, LOVE. This Atzeret is all about LOVE, about Chesed. We have to arouse the LOVE of AM Yisrael, because Am Yisrael has let Sinat Chinam bury the love. We have to REIGNITE the LOVE. This Rosh Chodesh Nissan is all about LOVE , I just heard a Shiur by a rav last Shabbat in Tampa about this very topic, and we were by coincidence – we know there are no coincidences, – discussing the issue of lack of love in Am Yisrael these days with my son, just a couple of days before the rav gave his lecture…WE HAVE TO REIGNITE THE LOVE IN AM YISRAEL! That is the message. That is the only thing that will counteract the Sinat Chinam of the Churban Bayit Sheni! I get it!Shabbat Shalom, Chodesh Tov. May Ahavat Chinam return to Am Yisrael, in every group, every Chassidut, every political party. We are buried in hatred. Of course destruction follows! The only way to counteract the destruction is with LOVE OF OUR FELLOW JEW, and even of all good people in the world! And I mean REAL love, the kind you feel all over, the kind you swim in. Not the phony, limited, fake love we got used to.”
The make-or-break prayer gathering in Hevron with Rabbi Berland, 8.4.2019.
I’m just cutting and pasting this here, from the ravberland.com website.
The Rav has been warning about what’s happening in front of our eyes for months and even years. Before Chanuka, he told us that 50,000 people were required to come together in prayer, to sweeten the judgments hanging over the nation.
In the end, 20,000 showed up in Hevron, and another 30,000 joined in via the live link-up. It seems that was enough to tone down what was about to come next, although think back to all the people who have been killed in terror attacks since then, including Yossi Cohen, Ori Ansbacher, and just recently, Rav Ettinger in Ariel, and it’s still been pretty hard.
So now, we have another chance to BH sweeten what’s coming down the pipe.
The Rav is the real deal. He took all the disgrace and exile and imprisonment he’s suffered the last few years upon himself, to try to ‘atone’ for all the terrible things he could see gathering on the horizon.
So, if you really want geula the sweet way, without rockets, bombs, civil wars, financial collapses and I don’t know what else, mark down April 8th, 2019 as a date in your diary. If you can’t be there in person, at least make plans to join the prayer gathering in spirit, and to show Hashem you care.
Because we are coming down to the wire.
Latest Details about the Prayer Gathering on April 8th, 2019
Back on December 7th, 2018, well before any Hizballah tunnels had been discovered in the North of Israel; well before rockets from the Gaza Strip were falling around Tel Aviv; long before the government collapsed, and new elections were called for April 9th, 2019, Rav Eliezer Berland put out the following message:
“They are preparing thousands of rockets”
“The whole of Am Yisrael is currently facing a terrible, threatening situation. Every part of Israel is now under threat of being deluged with rockets.
“After we saw 400 rockets falling on Ashkelon and the surrounding cities, including Beer Sheva, Netivot, Ofakim and Sderot, now they are preparing thousands and thousands of rockets, which will reach to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
“AND WE HAVE NO POSSIBILITY OF STOPPING THIS FROM HAPPENING,
[B]ecause the whole world is against us.
“They can launch 10,000 missiles, and if we fire back even just one, they will say that we are the aggressors, and they are the victims.
“They will say that we began [hostilities], and that they are simply defending themselves.
“We have no [military] might, we only have the power of tehillim (psalms). All of the State of Israel’s efforts to stop the missiles of Hezbollah and Hamas ended in failure. Every day, we are threatened with thousands of new rockets. They can reach any target precisely…
“AM ISRAEL IS IN THE GREATEST DANGER, MAMASH,
And our only possibility of coming through this lies in our mouths: “The voice is the voice of Yaakov, and the hands are the hands of Esav.” (Bereishit, 27:22).
The final moments of the State of Israel
“We are now, mamash, at the final moments that we can stay in Eretz Yisrael, in the State of Israel, because the goal of the Arabs is to destroy everyone here.
“They don’t care if its dati’im (observant Jews), chilonim (secular Jews), Chareidim, Neturei Karta – they aren’t interested.
“They want to annihilate every single Jew, until the very last one of us – regardless of whether he’s secular, or religious, or Mizrachi (Sephardi traditional), or kipat srugah (National Religious).
We are in the gravest danger
It’s written: “And I will divide them, into the light and into the dark” (Bereishit 1:4).They are not going to distinguish between the ‘light’ and the ‘darkness’. Right now, we are all in the gravest danger, mamash.
So, we need to really urge people to attend this Prayer Gathering, so that almost 50,000 thousand people will come.
“And everyone should read the whole of the Book of Tehillim, which will [form] the shoes for the Shechina… every single person is obliged to complete the book of Tehillim at the Prayer Gathering, and to make good use of this opportunity for 50,000 people to say tehillim together.
“This will (be considered in Heaven) as though a billion people are saying tehillim (psalms), and this will certainly stop the tillim (rockets).
“Only tehillim can stop the tillim – not the IDF, not weapons, not tanks, not Patriot missiles, no Iron Dome – none of these things can stop the missiles.
Only the tehillim that we will say at this Prayer Gathering can stop the missiles.
“And in the merit of this, everyone will have a long life, like Yitzhak, in the merit of participating in this Prather Gathering…. “And the Rav will of course be coming, without doubt.“The whole of Am Yisrael is invited to come to the Prayer Gathering, and to finish the book of Tehillim, and this will erase Hamas from the face of the earth.”
Four months later, who can question the Tzaddik’s ruach hakodesh?
Details of the prayer gathering on April 9th, 2019
We are in great danger, mamash, and the Rav has called for as many people as possible to attend the forthcoming prayer gathering, to be held on the evening of April 8th, 2019, in the City of the Patriarchs, Hevron. Rav Eliezer Berland, shlita, will also be in attendance.
The gathering will begin at 10pm, and there will be subsidized buses arranged from all over the country, to bring people to Hevron.
For more details of the buses, and / of if you want to donate to help defray some of the costs of the transportation, please call: 077-229-2222
No one should be missing.
In the old days, I used to make plans to do a long hitbodedut every single day of a 3-day Purim heading into Shabbat – and sometimes, they even used to come off.
But not, it seems, these days.
I’ve actually been struggling with a lack of motivation since Rosh Hashana, when I deleted Emunaroma to avoid getting pulled into any more ‘machloket’ with pretend-perfect crazy people.
And for three months, I did nothing much, because I didn’t want to have any more machloket in my life, and whatever I write, it always seems to end up there, somehow or other.
So then, back in December, I felt God wanted me back online, and with a heavy heart, I agreed.
Because I really don’t want any more machloket in my life!!! I just want an ‘easy’ life now, thanks very much, Hashem.
For months, I’ve been avoiding getting into anything too controversial again, as much as possible (although in our PC world, full of snowflakes just waiting to get offended so they can take out all their inner turmoil on you, that’s really much easier said than done.)
But I’ve been trying.
Now, you’d think that making a resolute effort to pursue the ‘easy’ life would be making me far more relaxed, chilled out, and overall happy-feeling. Believe me, I also thought that would happen.
But, man, was I wrong.
Instead of being more chilled out, laid back, exercising more, using all my energy to whip up healthy cakes, and go to the gym, and to spotlessly clean the house and iron my husband’s shirts (poor man…), I’ve actually been struggling to wake up most mornings, because what’s the point? My kids are big enough to get off to school without me, no-one needs a sandwich made, or a pair of sneakers found, so what’s the point?
Sure, I’ve still been doing stuff – lots of stuff, even – but nothing really has been exciting me too much, or grabbing me. Why? Because while it’s kinda meaningful, it’s also kinda bland. And bland is not enough to have me jumping out of bed in the morning.
But ‘interesting’ stuff is always inherently risky, in any number of different ways. It can draw people against you, it can draw you into disputes and patterns of thinking that are very unhealthy and destructive. It can lead to a lot of stress and complication….
So, I’ve been caught on the horns of a furious dilemma.
But today, Purim day, I realized something profound: I’m here to serve God, for the good, and also for the bad. I’m not here to have an easy life. And pursuing that ‘easy’ life is actually making my life anything but easy.
Externally, it’s relatively peaceful and tranquil, Baruch Hashem. Internally, I’m fighting a raging tempest that wakes me up 4 times a night, and gives me no rest. I’m falling apart physically. I can’t ignore God’s prompts anymore.
This is so similar to what happened to me before we moved to Israel. The risks associated with moving were so huge – in London, we both had good jobs, a nice house, a community, family, the language etc etc. It was far too scary to even contemplate aliya.
But then, God sent me a bunch of inexplicable panic attacks, and a series of bad nightmares about getting stuck in London during a terrorist attack (this was months before the 7/7 terror attack actually occurred, which killed 52 people in London) – and after the third time, I told my husband we have to do it, we have to move to Israel.
Because God was giving me no peace, and my ‘easy life’ was becoming a living nightmare.
And it’s happening again.
That’s what I realized, this Purim.
There is no running away from God.
Almost the whole of Shabbat, it was pouring and howling wind in Jerusalem, with a fair sprinkling of thunder and lightning, too.
These are the ‘late rains’ we pray for in our davening, until Pesach. And this year, God seems to be answering the prayer for rain abundantly, after almost 5 years of relative drought.
The last time the Kinneret started to fill up to full capacity was way back in the winter of 2013 when Operation Pillar of Defense was going on in the Gaza strip, as a response to terrorist rockets falling across Israel.
But the wettest winter in recent times happened in 1991, when the Gulf War was occurring, and Israel was being rocketed with Saddam’s scuds, and everyone was huddling in their ‘safe’ rooms with tape over the window, as instructed by the authorities.
(What makes the connection between rain and war even more distinctly is that the only year when Israel got absolutely ZERO rainfall was 2000, when Ehud Barak was PM and trying to negotiate half of Israel away to Yasser Arafat, at the failed Camp David ‘peace accords’.)
Last week, on Thursday, two rockets were apparently ‘accidentally’ fired at Tel Aviv.
You know how that goes, Ahmed accidentally leant against the control panel, and sent a precision Grad straight to the heart of the country.
And then, while Ahmed was still feeling bad about his blooper, Mohammed came in, tripped on a bit of dodgy carpet and also accidentally ‘fell’ against the missile launching control panel, to send a second rocket hurtling at Tel Aviv.
And this accident triggered a flurry of ‘tough man’ statements from our God-less politicians, each one trying to pretend that the safety of the country lies in their hands, alone.
With the lefties, the lie is obvious.
But with our current PM, so many otherwise believing Jews also seem to have been sucked into the fiction that all we need to emerge victorious in any confrontation with the enemy is to have Bibi as PM.
Things have gone so far, it’s approaching a modern form of idol-worship.
Who was ‘tougher’ than Ariel Sharon? But who was more of a disaster, ultimately?
Who was ‘weaker’ than Ehud Olmert? Yet that’s the guy who was steering the ship when the country went to war, twice.
Our Sages told us,
‘The heart of kings is in God’s hand’.
If the Jewish people are worthy, we’ll get miracles and protection even with a PM from Hamas, and if not – then not.
Even with Bibi.
Rav Berland has been telling us for months that our enemies have tens of thousands of rockets pointed at every part of the country, and that Tel Aviv and Jerusalem will not be spared, when the next round of hostilities start up.
He’s working day and night to try to sweeten things at their source, spiritually, in Heaven – but he needs us to work with him.
Rabbenu, Rebbe Nachman, explained that while we can’t do anything, really, without the help of the Tzaddikim, they also can’t do anything, really, without our active participation and yearning and prayers, however flawed.
Rav Berland called the prayer gathering for 4th Nissan, 5779, (Monday night, April 9, 2019) in Hevron weeks before the election was called, weeks before they found the ‘terror tunnels’ in the North. He made some pretty hair-raising statements about what is really on the cards, what we are really up against.
The Rav needs 50,000 people to join him in prayer, to really be able to sweeten the judgements we can all feel hanging so heavily in the air right now.
Sure, getting to Hevron is a shlep. Sure, it’s inconvenient, time consuming, uncomfortable. And then, there’s also the small point of convincing yourself that the Rav really is a huge tzaddik, and that all the effort is really worthwhile.
Everyone has the same tests, the same questions, the same inner battle.
But when you look at his track record, like when he said getting 10,000 people to Hevron would stop the ‘stabbing Intifada’ in its tracks, two years ago – and it did, immediately – that should hopefully give you enough strength to gird your loins, and make plans to be in Hevron Rosh Chodesh Nissan.
Because the alternative is getting a rocket through your roof.
So, rockets and rain seems to be going together again this year.
And I have a feeling, there are more storms on the way, before Pesach.
On Shabbat, I had one of those dreams that seemed to be way more than a dream.
(I know I’ve been writing a lot about dreams recently, and I’m sorry about that! A few other people have told me they are also having unusually intense dreams at the moment, too. This one also just seemed like an important one to share, so here we go.)
In the dream, I was walking up to Rebbe Nachman’s tomb, and Rebbe Nachman was there. As soon as I got to the threshold, he told me:
“Go and get your husband and kids, and bring them here quickly.”
He seemed very pressured, somehow, which is unheard of for Rebbe Nachman. If you read Rav Natan’s accounts of him, what he went through, how he reacted to his own challenges, then you’d know that Rabbenu always took things extremely calmly and with maximum emuna.
So I was very surprised he seemed to be in such a rush.
I called my husband and kids over, and then he opened some sort of underground passage, and he told me:
“You have to get everyone underground.”
I assumed he just meant me and my family, so we were trying to get down there when he said to me:
“No. All of Am Yisrael has to get underground.”
So then, I got a bit frustrated (yes, even in a dream with Rebbe Nachman the bad temper still flared up, what can I do) and I said to him:
“What does that even mean?! There isn’t room down here for millions of Jews, and even if there was, how do you want me to get them here?! What does that mean, that I have to ‘get everyone underground’?!”
He told me:
“The ground is the Tzaddik Yesod HaOlam.”
And with that I woke up.
And then I did some more talking to God about the dream in hitbodedut, and I got some more insights, namely that I have to make maximum effort over the next couple of months to try and write stuff that will hopefully get more people connected to the Tzaddik Yesod HaOlam, because that is the only way people will be protected from whatever is going to happen next.
And I don’t know what that’s going to be any more than you do, but it seems that something is in the offing.
Of course, I’m not hugely thrilled about this job, for a few reasons, including if I actually start spelling out who I think the Tzaddik Yesod HaOlam actually is in our generation, it will be waving the proverbial red rag to anyone who happens to have a different opinion.
But I also realized that God gave me the blog for a reason, and much better that I use it for a holy purpose, then I just keep posting up long screeds full of daas me.
So, BH, that’s what I’m going to try and do. I’m not sure exactly how, but a storm is brewing in the world, and we need to take shelter by our tzaddikim, and especially, by the Tzaddik Yesod HaOlam. And I will hopefully start writing some more about this concept, so more of us can start to form a better opinion of what that actually is, and who he might be, in our generation.
The last few weeks, I have to admit I’ve been struggling.
First I had that three weeks of ‘flu’, or whatever massive physical detox that actually was. Then, a lot of the things I’ve been working on the last little while started unraveling again, at least in my head.
I had issues on Sasson with a writer who was plagiarizing other people’s work, but didn’t seem to understand the problem when I explained it to them – repeatedly. Then, one by one the writers all seemed to get a little discouraged, and the creativity started drying up. I tried geeing it up with ‘themes’ and offers of monthly columns, but the people in the US really wanted to be paid to contribute regularly, and the people in Israel all got too busy with other stuff to be able to write.
Then, I had the issue with the pictures of women, which was the cue for someone who doesn’t even write for Sasson to send me a massively self-righteous email, knocking for me being so small-minded, judgmental and ‘anti-equality’.
So, my motivation to continue kind of sagged, because what’s the point?
Then, I spent two whole days trying to stick up the back posts from Emunaroma 2017 on to this site, and as I was reading through them, I started to feel like why did I waste so much of my time writing this stuff? What’s the point?
At the same time, one of my teens has been extremely challenging the last few weeks, as mentioned HERE. She wants a nice, clean, new house. She wants a different kitchen. She wants a different bathroom, and for the apartment to be in a different part of Jerusalem.
After everything that happened with the house, I sympathise with her a lot, but it’s still sometimes rubbing salt in the wound when she stomps around complaining about how old and yucky and moldy everything is.
Mold always shows up in old apartments in Israel when it rains. And sure enough, I’m catching it spread across whole walls, and popping up behind a bed in our room, and behind the shelves and bookcase in the girl’s room.
Ah, now I understand why the rent was so reasonable.
In the meantime, my heart kind of sank again, because if it was my house, I’d do my best to tackle the mold problem fundamentally. But as it isn’t, all I can do is keep returning every few days with some wipees and bleach. I know it’ll be back again in a week or two, so again I had that feeling what’s the point?
Then I started reading an absolutely awful book – with no less than three rabbinic approbations! – which basically claimed that living in Eretz Yisrael is a total waste of time, and even a ‘sin’, because the State of Israel was created by reshaim who were using the State to uproot and replace religion and Torah.
That last bit is correct, but the rest of the author’s ideas – about massive Tzaddikim who live here being ‘reshaim gemorim’, or that the Six Days War was totally not miraculous, or that a Jew can live a perfectly nice life in Lakewood (without the high taxes, army service and threat of a nuclear Iran) – and be a better Jew than someone who sacrificed so much to live in the Holy Land totally and utterly depressed me.
The book is 1500 pages long, and by the middle, I started to doubt my own sanity for believing in the geula and Moshiach.
My husband saw what was going on, and took the book away to throw it out. I should have guessed it was bad news, and it had a whole chapter devoted to the ‘Erev Rav’ (who of course, only live in Israel….), and was packed to the gills full of lashon hara, arrogance and anti-emuna statements.
I learnt some interesting stuff still, which I may write about another time, but only if it’s going to help bring Am Yisrael more together, not divide us.
But I started to see why so many of the ‘ultra-orthodox’ Jews in the US and UK have absolutely no desire to make aliya – and even think it’s a mitzvah to look down on people who did, and to disdain those of us who really do believe that you should be ready for Moshiach every day, every moment, even if it’s never going to happen in your own lifetime.
There have been a few more disappointments and disses going on too, behind the scenes, which meant by the time we got to yesterday, I was feeling like my whole life is a total waste of time.
Not just what’s the point of writing? But, what’s the point of me?
Yesterday, I tried to do an imperfect long chat to God about it all, and by the end of that, I was in floods of tears.
I just felt so low and worthless, like whatever I do just fails and is pointless.
I drove out to Ashdod to take a look at the sea, and I felt a bit better. But when I got home, it all came crashing back down on me.
You’re pointless, Rivka. Nothing you do is ever going to get anywhere. You’ve been living in fantasy world getting ready for geula and Moshiach for the last 13 years, when you could have just stayed in London and enjoyed yourself. What an idiot, that you gave up your career and your house and your social group for this.
Man, it was bad.
I was a gibbering wreck when my husband came home, and I couldn’t even tell him what the problem was for the first two hours, I was crying so much and feeling so pointless.
I went to have a shower (that often helps when you’re in the middle of a nervous breakdown, btw), and by the time I was done, I could explain the issue.
I’m worthless, and nothing I’ve done matters in any way, shape or form. I have totally wasted my life, the last few years.
He looked at me blankly.
Then, he started the fight back.
I’m doing a little better today, although I’m still pretty shaky.
I’m still struggling to believe that I’m worth something, even if I’m not earning money. And that I’m a good enough mum, even if we live in an apartment that’s covered with mold and that doesn’t have a lot of home-made cookies in the pantry. And that I’m a good enough Jew, even though I have been finding so many things difficult recently, and I’ve run out of spiritual energy on so many fronts.
Of course, it was only after my total freak-out that I realized it’s Rosh Chodesh Adar – uniformly the most challenging time of the year. Last year, I signed the contract on the awful apartment on Rosh Chodesh Adar, and we all know what a ‘blessing’ that turned into.
I know we’re taught Adar is when the happiness appears, but my experience is that usually, the lead up to Purim is the darkest time of the year, and it’s only on Purim day itself that the heaviness starts to lift, and the light starts to shine through again.
And this year, we have two Adars!
We need all the help we can get, to make it through to Pesach in one piece.
After I wrote this, I checked my emails and found that Mary in NY had sent me this clip, from Rav Ofer Erez.
It was exactly what I needed to hear, and it explains (with English subtitles in 3 1/2 minutes) why we’re all feeling the pressure right now.
Over to Rav Ofer:
Revisiting the Mirror Principle (aka that problem you’re shouting about in everyone else is really just your own.)
Over on spiritualselfhelp.org last week, I wrote a piece about the Baal Shem Tov’s ‘Mirror Principle’ – together with this nifty infographic which set out the main points. A lot of people don’t like the Mirror Principle, because our yetzers have us programmed to go around pointing fingers at everyone else’s ‘bad’, while completely ignoring our own.
This is a big part of why I just can’t read rants any more, however more ‘holy’ they appear to be, because the person criticizing others for sure has some shade of the problem they are critiquing.
Not 100%, maybe, not exactly the same, but for sure some percentage of the same problem they are dissing in the other person, some shade of it in their own lives.
There’s a lot of confusion about how the mirror principle actually works, because a lot of people believe that if it’s not exactly the same problem, if it’s not exactly the same degree of the problem – then they are completely off the hook, and they can just continue to point fingers at other people so self-righteously, while completely ignoring their own flaws.
But the mirror principal also doesn’t mean that we just ‘whitewash’ the obvious bad we see around us, either, obviously not.
It just requires us to be honest – with ourselves and others – that if we feel the need to ‘have a go’ about something publically, or to vocally criticize another person, that we should also acknowledge that we also have that problem, too. So then we need to go away afterwards and figure out what percentage, what shade of that issue we ourselves are exhibiting.
Because it’s never 100% the other person who has the problem, and that we’re totally fixed and rectified.
At the very least, we have 1% of something to go away and work on, before that ‘rankling’ feeling will go away, and we’ll finally get some inner peace.
Of course, I have to practice what I preach. I can’t just write about all this stuff then ignore my own ‘mirrors’ that God is being so careful to show me.
So last week, I had a chat with a good friend of mine who was giving over a piece of ‘Torah’ which just sounded plain wrong, and really rubbed me up the wrong way. Without getting into the details of the Torah (which I went to check up afterwards, and which really does appear to be ‘wrong’) – I reacted so badly to what she told me, that I felt I had to apologise for my reaction while I was actually having it.
Now, in the past, I would just have launched straight into an attack on the credibility of the person who gave this Torah over. But after I’d been thinking about the mirror principle all week, I was a bit more spiritually prepared to look past the other person’s obvious ‘wrong’, and to ponder what God was trying to actually show me, instead.
What I came up with was the idea that I’m sick to the back teeth of all these ‘know it alls’ that really don’t know all that much at all, especially when it comes to the deeper ideas of the Torah, who are probably misleading a whole bunch of people. Now I was up to the next, far harder stage: seeing where that applies to me.
Because as the mirror principle clearly states, when you’re having a strong reaction to something, it’s never a case of it being 100% all the other guy’s fault.
So I did some hitbodedut on that idea this morning, and I came to the conclusion that more often than I’d like, I still find myself sliding in to ‘know it all’ rant-y posts. I don’t want to be writing that stuff anymore, and it’s a big reason why I actually pulled the plug on Emunaroma a few months’ back, because honestly? Who cares what I think?
At least, who cares what I think about very deep concepts that really, you need to be the gadol hador to really have a strong claim to actually know what you’re talking about?
So then I started to wonder, where does this strong urge to start opinionating, and to start acting like a know-it-all really come from? What’s underneath it, emotionally? The answer that came back was this:
Rivka, it happens when you’re feeling like a loser.
Aha! That was actually a useful piece of information. So then I had to ask,
God, how do I get rid of this? I’m sick of being pulled into pointless arguments that only lead to more sinat chinam, I’m sick of writing from an arrogant place. So, how do I stop feeling like a loser? What can I replace ‘feeling like a loser’ with?
The answer came back:
Try replacing it with some happy humility, instead.
So, that’s what I asked God to give me, happy humility.
Over Shabbat, I cracked open a book that I bought in the UK a few months back, that was basically talking about how bad the ‘Zionist enterprise’ is, and why orthodox Jews don’t need to live in Israel until the Moshiach actually comes.
It’s a big book – 1500 pages long – but around 1/3 of the way through, I came to realise how the author was pointing out all the ‘big bad’ in the other camp – and he’s right in most of what he was saying – but was completely missing the ‘big bad’ in his own.
I.e., the mirror principle was completely lacking over there, which is why the author felt justified in putting together 1500 pages of pretty much unadulterated sinat chinam. This is what’s holding up Moshiach – this is what’s been holding up Moshiach for the last 2,000 years, already.
Right now, God seems to be sending an atmosphere of harsh hakpada, or strict judgment down to the world.
It’s almost as though He’s shining a very strong spotlight of everyone else’s bad, and making it so easy to point fingers at what everyone else is doing wrong, and how annoying they are, and what bad middot everyone else has.
Why is He doing this?
Maybe, because He really want us to see what we ourselves need to fix. Because we all know, it’s so very easy to spot everyone else’s issues, and to call them out, but when we do that, we completely miss the point:
That we can only fix ourselves, that we can only rectify ourselves.
The last thing I just wanted to include here is the idea that the Tzaddik is just a mirror. The Tzaddik is completely rectified, so 100% what we see reflecting back at us is just our own inner dimension.
That’s why so many of the people who are ‘anti’ the Tzaddikim are clearly lunatics with a lot of mental issues. Whatever your issue is, the Tzaddik is going to shove it in your face so clearly, you can’t ignore it anymore, and if you can’t accept that you are the one with the problem, then you are going to just project it on to the Tzaddik instead.
For example, for as long as I can remember, I’ve had a really bad yetzer to get into fights and arguments with other people, which I always used to justify as standing up for the truth, yadda yadda yadda.
So, I got to Rav Berland, and the Rav arranged things that I’d get into the middle of the most machloket and self-righteous arguments I’ve ever had to deal with in my life. And after a couple of years of it, I was totally and utterly sick of fighting with people.
The Rav broke my yetzer for picking fights!
But, if I hadn’t been aware that the fighting and arguing was my own problem, then God forbid I could have fallen into the trap of complaining about the Rav, for setting things up in such a way that I was finding myself arguing all the time over ‘the facts’.
We are all down here because we have work to do.
Over the next few weeks and months, for sure a lot of yucky behavior is going to be coming to the fore, because things can only be fixed when they are recognized and acknowledged.
And the key to coming through this stage OK and with our relationships and sanity intact is the mirror principle. Sure, other people have problems and issues, that’s a given. But if God is showing those issues and problems to us, and it’s upsetting us, then that means we also have the same problem to deal with.
And we have to knuckle down, and get on with the work of rectifying it.
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Over on the RavBerland.com site, there’s a very interesting interview with Rav Shimon Badani, a very highly respected Sephardic posek who met with Rav Berland yesterday, and asked him straight out:
When is Moshiach coming?
Rav Berland told him:
Straight after Seder night, 5779.
I so want to believe it! We’ve had so many false starts, haven’t we? It’s kind of hard to get too excited about it, but Bezrat Hashem, maybe we really are in touching distance of geula.
Time to work on the marriage plans even more…
UPDATE ON ELIEZER BEN ETIA:
Looks like it actually happened! Unbelievable. Go HERE to read it for yourself.
Deconstructing Geula: When Moshiach shows up, we need to have some clue as to what happens next.
When a couple announces their engagement, it’s always interesting to see if the focus is going to be on the wedding, or on the marriage.
The more superficial the people involved, the more ‘Hollywood-headed’, the more they are trying to live life according to a Disney script, the more interest they’ll take in the big day – their chance to shine – with precious little thought to what really comes after.
Thousands of bucks will be spent on the pink champagne, the dress, the breath-taking venue in the Bahamas, flying the guests in on whatever replaced Concorde. And often, those types of ‘celebrity’ weddings hit the headlines in a blaze of glory and triumph.
Only for the marriage to fizzle out and fail, a little while later.
By contrast, when the focus is on the marriage, and not on the wedding, things are usually done pretty differently right from the beginning. The couple – and everyone else around them – is far more focused on what comes after the chuppa.
Where are the happy couple going to live? What are they going to eat? How are they going to get along together? How are they going to manage, day to day? Who’s going to be paying the bills?
Yes, of course, there’s still a do to arrange, and a dress to buy, and a band and hall to hire – it is a wedding, after all. But the wedding isn’t the focus, the marriage is.
All this came to mind, when I was thinking about what it really actually means to ‘live’ in the times of Moshiach.
So I decided, it’s time to knuckle down to the job of actually deconstructing geula.
Sure, it’s exciting to think about the ‘big day’ when Moshiach is finally revealed, and the geula gets underway in an open and revealed way.
But much like the wedding, that ‘big day’ is only the beginning of the process.
Over on ravberland.com, I recently drew together some of the more telling sources talking about what happens before, during and after Moshiach is revealed. You can see that post for yourselves HERE, and I’m not going to repeat all the information in this piece, other than to pull out a couple of pertinent observations.
Firstly, when the Rambam tells us that nothing is going to change when Moshiach is revealed, other than the subjugation of the nations, what he’s really telling us is that
There is no instant, ‘magical’, Disney-fied ending to all our troubles and tribulations.
We don’t step out of this reality, and step straight into a world where everything is an open miracle – not least, because most of couldn’t cope with that, and we’d probably either go even more stark, raving mad, or keel over with heart failure.
So let’s carry on deconstructing geula. Let’s drill down, and take a few examples.
Let’s say, you have a medical prescription you can’t do without. When Moshiach comes, how are you going to cope, if you can no longer pop out to the pharmacy for a refill, whenever you need to?
Or, let’s say Moshiach comes and you’re still living in the US, and no-one in your family knows Hebrew, and you don’t own a home in Israel, and you still have elderly parents to look after who are too old, or too ill, to be moved to a new country. But Moshiach came! So now, what happens next?
Or, let’s say Moshiach comes, and there’s a big announcement made in your shul that ‘some guy’ is saying he’s the Moshiach, and geula has now begun in earnest.
If you haven’t been doing some serious work on getting connected to your soul, and to God, and to the true Tzaddikim, how are you even going to believe it? And if you believe it yourself, how are you going to convince your husband, or your kids, or your siblings, that Moshiach really did come just now, and you all need to pack up the house and move to some tent city the Israeli government just set up in the Arava desert?
Who is going to come with you? Really?
If we’re serious about really deconstructing geula, and what it actually means for us all, let’s try to picture the scene:
“Honey, I know you’ve been waiting for Moshiach for years, but how do we know ‘some guy’ is really him?! I’m not prepared to throw our whole life away on a gamble…And think of our daughter, she’s got her final exams in four more months, but you want to up and move to some tent in the middle of the desert now?! You can’t eat sand, be reasonable, honey. When Moshiach really comes, we’ll all know about, and that’s when we’ll order the one way ticket, and finally make aliya. But I refuse to let you pressure me into making a rash decision, just because ‘some guy’ says he’s Moshiach….”
I wish what I just described is an exaggeration, a caricature, of the reaction the real Moshiach is going to get, but if anything, I’m playing down how bad it’s going to be.
Because as the sources in this article show:
- There is going to be a huge machloket over Moshiach, when he first shows up – i.e. it’s really not going to be obvious to a lot of people, frum or not, that he is who he is claiming to be.
- A war is going to kick off in Israel as soon as Moshiach is revealed – which means that no-one is going to be in a rush to move here right then, and even if they want to, there is no guarantee there will be any flights in or out of the country, depending on what’s actually happening here.
- Moshiach showing up is going to be accompanied by a whole bunch of totally natural, un-miraculous dramatic events that could totally change the world as we know it.
Yes, I’m back to the earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis part of the equation.
So now, let’s try to deconstruct geula a bit more, to see what the Rambam actually means, when he says:
The ‘subjugation of the foreign nations’ will cease.
What’s going to get that to stop, in our ‘deconstructing geula’ real-time breakdown?
What on earth is going to be happening in the world, to cause all the anti-semitic, Jew-hating countries who hate Israel to suddenly stop pressuring us to hold-off building more homes in the West Bank? Or to stop fighting back against the missiles and rockets from Gaza (even when they send over 400 in just one day)? Or to refrain from taking out Hezbollah tunnels into Israel that were dug over a whole decade, and that the Israeli army ‘apparently’ knew all about?
What’s going to change?
How is Trump’s mind going to get taken off his ‘deal of the century’ in the Middle East, which will boil down to some variant on forcing Israel to let go of land that God Himself gave to the Jewish people, in the name of ‘peace’?
How are the EU and its proxies suddenly going to stop funding all the lefty, anti-Israel ‘charities’ like B’tselem and Yesh Gvul? How is the UN suddenly going to take Israel off its agenda, and turn its attention to other things?
What’s going to change?
Clearly, something pretty big is going to have to happen, for our reality to change that drastically, and if you ask me, that’s where all the earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis come in.
And where are these natural disasters going to strike the hardest?
Answer: The same places they’ve struck in the past, namely the so-called ‘New World’.
Did you ever wonder, why the ‘New World’ was so sparsely populated, if it’s been there for billions of years?
Why were there so few people in North and South America? Why so few people in Australia and New Zealand? Why were the native cultures in these places relatively so stone-age?
Could it be, that no-one was building roads, or factories, or permanent dwelling places, because the ground there is fundamentally so unstable, and so prone to massive natural disasters? Could it be, that every time these civilizations started to make a little technical progress, another natural disaster hit to take everything back to square one?
Is that why it was so easy for the ‘advanced’ Europeans to cross the ocean and conquer the native peoples in the ‘New World’?
There is plenty of scientific evidence out there that the world is now entering another period of global cooling, and that this typically coincides with a massive uptick in seismic activity, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and a bunch of other weird and often dramatic geologic phenomena.
Every 200-400 years, the Americas are wracked by earth-shaking, massive quakes.
And we’re not just talking about San Francisco here. We’re talking about most of the continent.
And we’re not just talking about one, singular ‘big one’. We’re talking about a serious of dramatic geological events that are going to continue for a while, and come one after the other.
Again, let’s just try to come out of the Disney bubble, and ask ourselves what would happen if the modern USA, or modern Australia, got hit with the sort of earth-wrecking massive quakes and tsunamis that have clearly happened there in very recent times, tomorrow?
- If the highways all got cracked up, what then?
- If the underground water pipes, or gas pipes, all got broken up and shifted around, what then?
- If a local nuclear power station got jolted around by a massive earthquake, or flooded by a massive tsunami – as happened at Fukishima in Japan, in 2011 – what then?
Let’s bring it back to deconstructing geula:
If the planes are all grounded because of geological disasters, if society is fast sinking into chaos and mayhem – as happened post-Katrina – how are the Cohen family actually going to make it out of Brooklyn, to the promised land?
Tachlis, what happens next?
An open miracle?
The Rambam told us clearly – no open miracles at the beginning of the geula process, except that the subjugation of the nations will cease.
So what does all this actually mean?
Again, deconstructing geula is serious stuff.
Sure, it’s great to breathlessly discuss the flowers, and the menu, and the special beading on the kallah’s dress, but tachlis, what happens the day after the ‘big day’?
That’s what I hope more of us will start to turn our attention to now, because we can’t just use the coming of Moshiach as some sort of emotional crutch, to help us get through our difficult, stressful lives, or to give us a bit of a spiritual ‘buzz’.
I know that’s tempting, and I’ve certainly spent a few years doing that myself, until I realized it’s actually not helpful, and if anything, it’s slowing up geula.
Because the Jewish people have a lot of work to do, to get ready for Moshiach and geula.
Moshiach is not a Disney movie, it’s not a fairy tale, where ‘some guy’ shows up and starts granting everyone three wishes, like some sort of Santa Claus, or genie in a bottle. We have to seriously start the process of deconstructing geula because:
- Moshiach will show up, and there will be a big war.
- Moshiach will show up, and there will be massive civil unrest and disruption occurring around the globe.
- Moshiach will show up, and there will be 4 sceptics for every single ‘true believer’, telling you that Moshiach didn’t show up, or telling you that you’ve got the wrong guy.
And then what?
- What are you going to do next?
- Where is your family going to live?
- How are they going to eat?
- How are you going to schlep all those sceptical family members into actually being ready for geula?
What’s the plan, tachlis for getting out of galut and getting across to the holy land? How long are you going to leave things, before you move? Where are you going to come to? How are you going to cope, mentally, if you have to leave your home and loved ones behind? How are you going to persuade even your closest family members to join you?
This is all stuff that we need to start thinking about, and especially, praying on, now.
I know it’s hard. It’s hard to really drill down, and to start deconstructing geula to see what it actually means, especially for people who didn’t already take that massive leap of faith, and move to the holy land.
Actually moving to Israel is definitely a big part of the process, no doubt (and it’s also the main reason why I tend to take ‘rose-tinted’ pronouncements about geula from people who don’t actually live here with a huge pinch of salt.)
But it’s not the whole enchilada, not by any measure. Even if a person already lives in Israel, there is a lot of work to do, and no guarantees that just being here is enough to guarantee a person will ‘make it’ through the geula process.
There are so many crazy people here, so many people who are ‘anti’ religious Jews, ‘anti’ rabbonim, ‘anti’ anyone who really could be the bona fide Moshiach.
When war breaks out here, who knows who will actually have the courage to stay and see it through, and who is going to try and run away as fast as their legs will carry them?
And there’s one more thing to throw into the ‘Deconstructing Geula’ mix, too, which is that our Sages say that the redemption from Egypt is the blueprint for the future and final redemption.
That means that at some point, Moshiach / Moshe Rabbenu will probably show up in Mitzrayim / Miami to give the people chizzuk, and to lead them out of a country that is being devastated by what appears to be a series of massive, back-to-back, natural disasters.
God isn’t going to just turn His back on people, because they didn’t manage to move to Israel yet. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean they are going to get a ‘free ride’ when geula really kicks off.
Because make no mistake, unless something huge changes, there is no way in the world that the USA would let 6 million of its wealthiest and most highly-educated, productive citizens leave to Israel en masse with their possessions and talents. Its economy would go into meltdown, and we all know that money is really the only thing that motivates Uncle Sam, for good and for bad.
So then what happens?
Moshiach / Moshe Rabbenu will return to Mitzrayim / Miami to lead the Jewish people out, and to reassure the Fed that the American Jews are only leaving for three days, and then they’ll come back and go back to work, and that all the money they want to remove from the US banking system will be repaid, and really nothing to worry about.
And America won’t let them, until America is broken by a number of massive geological disasters, and the country is left in complete disarray.
And then what?
4/5 of the Jews still won’t make it out, because even after all the miracles, they can’t quite bring themselves to believe in Moshiach / Moshe Rabbenu, and they really aren’t so keen on swapping the flesh pots of Brooklyn for some tent city in the middle of the Arava.
Maybe you’ll say that’s a stretch, but does this scenario really sound so far-fetched?
SO WHAT CAN WE DO NOW, TACHLIS, TO GET READY FOR THE ‘MARRIAGE’ AND THE DAY AFTER?
The main piece of advice is to start talking to God, every single day.
If you’re regularly talking to God, He’ll start helping you to figure out what’s coming from a place of truth, and what isn’t. He’ll start cluing you in to which people, which leaders, which rabbis, which writers are really ‘real’ out there, and who is a faker and distraction.
He’ll help you to work out which bad middot, which negative character traits, are getting in the way of you being able to actually make real plans to really ‘live’ geula, practically speaking, and to move past all the breathless, frothy excitement of ‘Disney-does-geula’.
Here’s a few other suggestions to ponder on the subject of Deconstructing Geula:
- Tachlis, can you buy something in Israel, maybe even something small and in completely the wrong location?
- Can you start to learn more Hebrew? And / or send your kids to a school where the focus is put on learning to really speak and interact in Hebrew?
- Can you start to at least spend a bit more time in Israel, getting more acclimatized to the country, and yearning for it more?
- Can you start to maybe just broach the subject with your spouse, or with your kids, about what happens the day after Moshiach comes, and how that might look, and what plans you might need to start working on, to come through it in one piece?
- Can you start to encourage your family to at least just think about how life could look in Israel?
- Can you start working on your emuna, and especially on your emunat tzaddikim, so that when Moshiach really does show up you aren’t actually just ignoring him, or worse, scoffing at him and calling him a ‘false messiah’?
- Can you start working up to talking to God for an hour a day, so you really have the spiritual strength you need to make the right decisions as required? Because Israel and redemption, like everything else worthwhile, is not going to come ‘easy’ to anyone.
I know, we all love Disney so much because they always have those cute happy endings:
Allakazam, the wand waves, and you step out of your big house in Five Towns, step into a jet, and 10 hours later, step out again to your big house in Jerusalem, with a great view of the rebuilt Temple.
But I can’t find a single authentic Jewish source that says that this is how geula is really going to be.
But there are plenty of sources telling us that it’s going to be hard work, dramatic, and like all birth processes, anything but easy.
So, it’s time to stop talking about the ‘wedding’ and to turn our attention to the ‘marriage’ that comes after. Because that is where the real discussion is to be had, and where the real work needs to be done.
Also see: Deconstructing Aliyah.
UPDATE ON ELIEZER BEN ETIA:
So, it looks like the Deconstructing Geula scenario I described above is about to start playing out in real time.
This just in:
It’s another one of those days today, where I’m waking up with zero motivation to do anything.
Yes, I’ll still hang the washing, make some supper, type a few things, go for a walk – probably. I’m trying to stick to ‘routine’, even though so much of everything feels so utterly pointless at the moment.
But deep down, the ‘fire’ that used to power so much of my day, so many of my activities, seems to have burned out.
I’m not depressed. I don’t feel miserable. I just feel ‘flat’ – but not in a sad way.
It’s a very strange state of affairs, and I’m writing about it because I’m wondering if it’s just me?
I see my kids, my husband, we’re all kind of staggering forward like zombies, doing things because we have to, and not even minding doing most of what we’re doing. But it still seems so pointless at the moment.
Even stuff I really do like, and I really do feel is meaningful – like giving charity, like trying to help other people, like having deep and meaningful discussions – I don’t feel any ‘zing’ from doing these things right now.
I was discussing it with my husband, and what came to mind is when the Men of the Great Assembly decided to rid the world of the yetzer hara for lust. It came roaring out of the Holy of Holies – and for three days, the world ground to a stop.
The chickens stopped laying their eggs. People stopped acting and reacting – it’s like that lust was fueling the natural functioning of life on planet earth, and when the Men of the Great Assembly pulled the plug on it, they pulled the plug on ‘life as we know it’.
And things couldn’t continue like that, so after three days they reluctantly restored the yetzer hara for lust to the world, and things continued on their merry way.
We know that when Moshiach comes, the yetzer hara is finally going to disappear, at least in the form we currently know it. So I was sitting there, pondering if maybe, just maybe, Moshiach really is in the world now, and that’s why so many of us are struggling to find any motivation for anything.
Maybe, just maybe, the yetzer hara is on the way out, it’s on its last legs, and none of us can lay eggs or hatch plans for the future right now.
I know, what about all those angry, ‘motivated’ people still walking around in their droves?
I’ve been pondering that, too, and we know that just before it’s snuffed out for good, the yetzer hara will mount its biggest defense, and fight it’s harshest war.
Seems to me, the people who are still ‘motivated’, in that angry, evil, attacking way that unfortunately characterizes so much of what passes as human interaction these days, are kind of looking at their last chance to shape up, and move on into the time of Moshiach.
There’s no more pretending, no more shoving things under the carpet.
Every day brings a fresh story of where people’s obvious mental illness is peeking out more and more clearly. It’s getting harder and harder for us all to pretend it’s business as usual, because it clearly isn’t. There are so many people who are standing at their crossroads where they can either finally admit they aren’t perfect, and return back to God – or fall even deeper into their madness and their negative behavior.
And both sets of behavior are happening, all over the place.
That’s part of what makes the world so hard to live in at the moment.
Last week, one of my correspondents sent me the video of Rav Glazerson, where he brings the recent message from Rav Chaim Kanievsky that Moshiach will be here before the Israeli elections, on April 9th.
I told my kids about it on Shabbat, and surprisingly, to me, they got a bit annoyed with me for talking about it.
Gosh, Ima, every two months you bring someone else saying that, and nothing’s happening! I don’t believe it, they always just say things and it doesn’t happen.
It’s that geula fatigue I wrote about elsewhere. We’re so fed up of waiting that many of us don’t even want to hear about Moshiach coming anymore.
I get that, I really do.
At the same time, another one of my correspondents pointed out that it’s precisely when we’re not expecting him, when we’ve given up, when we’ve got zero motivation for geula, that Moshiach finally appears.
Are we close?