A little while back, when I was talking to God about how One in a Generation, the biography of Rav Eliezer Berland, seemed to have gotten permanently stuck, I got the following insight:
That book can only come out with a lot of shaflut (lowliness) and humility.
Aha! So now I understood the problem: I was still far too full of myself and patting myself on the back for writing the book, and that was the main spiritual issue holding it up. But how to resolve that problem? (Because let’s be clear, working on these bad middot takes years and years and years…)
God gave me another insight:
“Rivka, I am going to send you people to diss you day and night, until the book sees the light of day!”
Great, thanks Hashem!
And you know what? He’s kept His word.
The last month, barely a day has gone past without someone having a go at me either in person, on the phone, via text or online.
One of my kids has been particularly good at dishing out the shaflut in person- her recent PTA meeting was one of the most humbling experiences of the type I’ve had, BH – but she’s by no means the only person drenching me in these ‘dissing diamonds’.
One time, I got chewed out so badly – and so unexpectedly – that I sat on the couch shaking for a full hour after the conversation (which if you follow spiritualselfhelp.org, you’ll know is the body’s natural response to ‘shaking out’ the trauma, so you don’t get PTSD or C-PTSD).
Yes, it was that bad.
There’s also been a flurry of people queuing up to diss my writing, too, and my general lack of editorial professionalism. And then there’s been a few sent along to diss my overall grasp of reality and good judgment.
And that’s on top of all my ongoing, bog standard shaflut that comes from earning zero pence whilst working like a dog; being a really bad housewife; and still being unable to express myself properly in the local makolet (corner shop).
Man, it’s been a veritable dissing extravaganza the last few weeks, with the diamonds literally pouring in through the roof!
And you know what?
Yesterday, on zot Chanuka, I sent the manuscript for Volume 1 of One in a Generation to the designer, and I already know that for this part of the process to get completed in a timely way with minimal issues, I am going to have to continue to be dissed royally for at least the next month.
And that’s even before the book comes out, which let’s be clear, is going to lead to yet another huge ‘diss Rivka’ event on Facebook etc, as the usual suspects gear themselves up for more self-righteous, confused-thinking evil speech.
Yay! I can’t wait.
The upside of all this dissing is that I am definitely seeing a huge number of brachas occurring in a number of areas of my life, just as Rav Berland said would happen.
The downside is that I’m really starting to go off interacting with people, and the thought of retiring to some remote island with no internet connection – or people – is getting more and more appealing.
How to square this circle?
Enter, Rav Ofer Erez, who wrote this great article on his website, last week:
“We have to remember that Yosef was just 18 years old when he was sent to prison. Usually, when something much smaller happens to us – if just two people don’t treat us so nicely we immediately start believing that everyone’s a liar, everyone’s a fraud and there’s no such thing as a good person – i.e. we immediately lose our faith in humanity, and become bitter, angry and harshly judgmental of others….
“For 12 whole years, Yosef worked on this point, that he shouldn’t become angry, bitter and harshly judgmental against other people, inasmuch as everything came from Hashem, and was ultimately for his good.
“…How can a person merit to avoid any trace of harsh judgment and anger? This is called the secret of dancing.
“We need to know that if people are making us angry, or hurting us, then just doing hitbodedut (personal prayer) isn’t going to be enough. We also need to dance during our hitbodedut, and to do at least 8 minutes of dancing.”
Just what I needed to know, because while I am still trying to understand the deeper reasons behind why so many people are chewing me out, and while I am still trying to forgive them and to not hold a grudge against them, it’s sooooo hard to do this in practice!
Especially the times when I know I don’t deserve it, and the person is actually just projecting their own issues on to me. (I wish I could tell you that’s always the case, but clearly I often do deserve being dissed, because I’m not always nice, or thoughtful, or considerate of other people.)
So today, I was careful to dance for a full 8 minutes, as recommended by Rav Ofer, and it really did help.