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Rebbe Nachman’s advice really works.

I was feeling pretty low yesterday, as you could probably tell. I have another book that’s almost ready for the Rav, and each time I work on these books, I have a tremendous amount of obstacles, both internal and external to deal with.

So yesterday, I decided to go back to following Rebbe Nachman’s advice for how to deal with those ‘low spots’ in life, and I whacked this song on my CD (yes, I still have a CD! Stonehenge!) – and I danced to it three times in a row. By the end of that, I started to feel so much better.

But Rabbenu wasn’t done cleaning me up yet!

The Rav, Rabbi Berland, says again and again and again that the single best way to get all of your sins cleaned up, and to get yourself out of the way of the harsh judgments that manifest as sadness and depression, amongst other things, is to be on the receiving end of some harsh humiliation and bizyonot.

Yesterday, God arranged for me to get no less than three magnificently harsh, critical emails, one after another!

Baruch Hashem.

One was telling me that my books don’t count as ‘real’ books – like a siddur or a chumash – and that’s why no-one is buying them, and that also I’ve built up massive sins by linking to a video of a woman talking about all the awful stuff they put into vaccines.

Another was telling me I’m a depressed heretic with zero real emuna, who just doesn’t know how to ‘do’ emuna right, and that the real problem is that I’m basically an apikorus, because I can’t just say ‘thank you’, robotically, 50,000 times a day, when I’m going through a tough patch.

Oh, and that I also apparently don’t know how to read English, or do hitbodedut right, either.

This stuff was worth it’s weight in gold!!!

Even though the last yucky email was delivered past midnight, and actually kept me awake most of the night chewing over it in the hitbodedut that I don’t know how to do properly…

I have to tell you, I’m feeling way more upbeat today.

This is experiencing emuna  – taking Rebbe Nachman’s advice, and actually applying it to real life. And it beats the heck out of pontificating at other people about how to do it right, in theory.

BH, once I have the Rav’s book completed, I will have a lot more to share with you on that front. And in the meantime – let’s dance!

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The last few days, I’ve been struggling.

There’s a lot of things going on, and I’ve been trying to ‘unpick’ why I’m having a lot of low-level yeoush, or apathy and despair, dafka now, when I have so many projects on the boil.

Part of it is the sense that nothing I do really gets anywhere. I get up, I wash clothes that end up either on the floor or back in the laundry within 2 days; I wash dishes that get dirty again; I make food that gets eaten so fast; I write blog posts that go in one eyeball and out the other; I write books that no-one buys.

And then I start to wonder: why am I doing all this? What’s the point?

In my hitbodedut, I get an answer:

This is life. What’s the alternative? If you don’t wash up, and you don’t cook, and you don’t write blog posts, and you don’t keep writing books, what else are you going to do with yourself? How would your life actually look?

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In the past, I would attribute this yeoush to the fact that I really don’t make any money, doing all the things I do, but now I know that’s a red-herring.

Sometimes, when you’re making money doing things that weary your soul and seem totally and utterly pointless, that can feel even worse.

I guess it’s just the ruach, the spiritual vibe of the planet at the moment. Even my kids have it – they are finding it really hard to know what’s the point? And I can’t really help them out of the difficulty, because I’m sharing it.

I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, how I can lift out of this and really just be grateful for all the tremendous kindnesses and goodnesses that God is continually doing for me. Part of the problem, for sure, is that it feels like the goalposts for geula keep being moved, and I just can’t keep the pace up for another 200 years.

It’s hard to get motivated to keep going, when there is no end in sight.

And right now, it feels like there is no end in sight.

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On Shabbat, I flipped open Likutey Moharan, and I got to Lesson 2:78, which is talking about how sometimes, we have to serve Hashem from a place of total simplicity, where we don’t reveal any Torah and we just engage in idle chatter.

Rabbenu explains there that it’s:

“[A]bsolutely impossible to be involved in Torah study and spiritual perceptions without a break. One must inevitably stop for a while, and during that time when one is not studying the Torah, then this Torah scholar, or spiritually perceptive person is literally in the category of a rustic.”

It’s a long lesson, but I’m picking out the parts that spoke to me. Later on, Rabbenu continues:

“In sum, one should never despair! Even a simple person who is totally unable to study Torah, or is in a place where he can’t study. Nevertheless, even when one is in a state of simplicity, one must persist in the fear of God and simple service, according to one’s capability….The main thing is to encourage oneself in any way possible. [The Rebbe interjected at this point: “For there is no such thing as a lost cause!…]”

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If it was anyone other than Rebbe Nachman saying this, I’d really struggle to believe it.

The last few weeks, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in the behind-the-scenes yuck going on in the Jewish community, past and present, here and abroad, both in the ‘religious’ and anti-religious world, and it’s been extremely demoralizing.

A few years ago, I read another passage in Likutey Moharan where Rabbenu talks about how sometimes, you have to throw yourself into the mud and filth of ‘battle’, to fight for God and for what’s right. The last few weeks, I’ve been swimming through reams and reams of spiritual ‘sewage’, and it’s been very hard to deal with.

In hitbodedut yesterday, I was telling God how I don’t mind cleaning out the odd spiritual ‘toilet’, but I’d like to be given a different job to do, at this point. Because all that yucky stuff sticks to the soul, however hard you try to scrub it off with prayer and emuna.

Let someone else do this now, God! Let someone else take over! I need a break! I need a holiday!

But…. I already know that there is no-one else. Who else would be dumb enough, to do this?

And then, there is what is going on with the Rav again, which I’m also finding pretty demoralizing.

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We’re in the middle of trying to get One in a Generation II translated into Hebrew, and published.

Last week, I called up my contact in Shuvu Banim to see how the fact-checking is going, and I got told the stunning piece of information that it’s all on hold, because five of the Rav’s gabbays got arrested by the Israeli Police last week.

I thought he was maybe joking, but after looking at the usual fake news sites including Jpost, Times of Israel, Ynet, and the worst of the lot, the Yeshiva World News, I was stunned to see it was no joke.

That crazy woman’s obviously crazy complaint is all the pretext the police here needed, to start up the whole slander-to-incarceration miscarriage of justice machine again. They are trying to put Rav Berland away for 10 years (!) for the ‘crime’ of letting people donate money to him.

And I don’t even know if I have any more strength left to protest the madness that’s going on.

What’s the point? Doesn’t it seem like the bad has won, and will just keep winning, no matter what we do?

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That’s where I was holding on Shabbat, when I was flipping through Likutey Moharan, trying to get some answers and some balm for my soul.

Usually, I just read the English translation, but there was a word I wanted to pin down properly in Lesson 2:78, so I switched to the Hebrew – and lo and behold, I found this extra few paragraphs, that had somehow been left out of the English version.

I took it as a little ‘message’ from Rabbenu, about what’s going on right now, and here’s what it said:

We need to beg Hashem a great deal to have the merit of drawing close to the True Tzaddik, because praiseworthy is the person who merits to draw close to the True Tzaddik during his lifetime.

Fortunate is he, and fortunate is his lot in life!

[For afterwards, it’s extremely difficult to draw close, and we need to multiply our prayers and supplications greatly, that we should merit in his lifetime to draw close to the True Tzaddik.]

For the baal davar (aka the satan) is making every single effort, now, to confuse the world, because Israel is now very close to the keitz (the end), and Israel now has a very great yearning and great desire for Hashem yitbarach, in a way which wasn’t seen in former times.

Every person is wistfully awaiting Hashem yitbarach.

And so, the baal davar is awakening himself over this, and is creating machloket between the Tzaddikim, and is putting a great many famous purveyors of lies into the world. And also, he’s making a big machloket between the True Tzaddikim, to the point that not a single person knows where the truth lies.

And so, we need to beg Hashem yitbarach a lot, for the merit of drawing close to the True Tzaddik.

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Ad kan, from Rabbenu.

Reading this revived me, at least a little. To know that this awfully confusing, depressing situation we’re currently going through was foreseen and written about over 200 years ago is encouraging.

Rabbenu warned us, that there would be a flood heresy and ‘evil’, the likes of which has never been seen in the world before, and that it would be very hard for us all to hang on to God and His true tzaddikim, as a result.

But hang on we must.

Because what’s the alternative?

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Photo by Sarah Ardin on Unsplash

I want my site to be for stressed-out women, not conpiracy-minded men.

Two weeks ago, I kind of had an ‘epiphany’ moment, about my life and my writing.

For years, I’ve been writing blog posts and articles and even books that have often been very serious, and very ‘justice warrior’-oriented, and where I’ve really tried to do my bit to expose evil and go after the bad guys.

Where did that approach get me?

Honestly…. Not so far. I have a couple of thousand readers of my blogs, the majority of whom Google Analytics tells me are men….

Those men don’t buy my books. They aren’t really the ‘tribe’ I want to interact with, or write for, however nice they actually all might be. So once I took the time to actually read my Google Analytics report (for the first time in 8 years!) I realized that something fundamental has to change here, in the way I’m trying to write for and interact with my audience.

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Part of me really loves all the buzz of reporting news, and ‘badness’, and unmasking the truth.

That’s my investigative journalist side – the side that lost me my job all those years back, on one of London’s Jewish papers, and has gotten me sued a couple of times, and has kept me awake on countless nights, fighting the dark forces in my head.

But really, where did that part get me, or get anyone else?

I’m pondering that a lot at the moment.

Nearly all the baddies I’ve exposed are still going strong… the bad people are still being protected and defended by the other bad people… No-one really did any major teshuva as a result of what I’ve written about this stuff, or changed their life in any fundamental way.

And I don’t know what I’ve really got out of blogging about these things, all these years.

Honestly.

So much effort, for so little anything much.

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Two weeks ago, I was ready to start ripping a whole bunch more lies and masquerades to shred in print, and to set out ‘the bad’ in that obvious, hard-to-argue-with way that clears up so many questions, and brings sterling clarity to an issue.

But God kept stopping me from doing that, in my hitbodedut.

And for two weeks, I didn’t know why.

But in the meantime, I had this course on the backburner about reducing stress I’m trying to do for women, so I’ve been turning my attention to that, while I’m waiting for the clarity to descend about where I go to next in my writing.

Yesterday, I think I started to get my answer. Yesterday, I taught two classes on how to start de-stressing over Zoom, and I learnt something profound:

I totally loved interacting with those women.

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I totally loved teaching about something that really help people tachlis, in their real life, to stop feeling so stressed and anxious and to start to feel like they really can cope, with all the cack we all have to deal with, and that there is fundamentally nothing wrong with them.

All stress is really just a call to action, a message that something needs to change – and that something, nine times out of ten, is internal.

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So, I came back on to rivkalevy.com yesterday, after doing the usual rounds of the 4 blogs and sites I read every day, once, just to stay up on things.

And that’s when it hit me:

I don’t want to be writing about politics or current affairs anymore.

I don’t want to be trading barbs with nutso bloggers who get all their life force from taking provocative stances online and making dumb statements guaranteed to rile people up.

I want to be a force for good in the world.

So, I am hoping to be taking my writing on this blog in a different direction. More along the lines of the Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife – but way more upbeat and actually helpful!

I have been through so much stress, so many crazy experiences the last few years, that God has really shown me how to deal with, using the teachings and advice of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, and his students.

I want to help other people – and specifically, other women – to access that light more easily, and to enjoy it in their own lives.

And I can’t do that, if I’m constantly picking fights with nutso bloggers, or opining on pointless politics, or trying to deal with negative commentators who have massive chips on their shoulders. It can honestly ruin my week.

I don’t want to deal with those people any more, I don’t want to cater for them. I don’t want my site to attract that sort of person, because they have been tying up my energy and my headspace for years and years, and preventing me from doing what God really created me to do in the world.

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So, I’m going in a different direction here on rivkalevy.com, where the focus is going to be far more on stressed-out WOMEN and far less on conspiracy-theory-enjoying men.

And far more on putting together real, practical EMUNA EXPERIENCES to help my readers navigate their lives as happily as they can, holding God’s hand, and far less on self-righteous, impractical rants about what everyone else needs to do, to fix the world.

I’m nothing special, not at all. But I do have a bunch of very bad middot that God has helped me to get a grip on (mostly….). If Rebbe Nachman’s advice worked for me, it can work for anyone – and that’s what I’m going to start focusing on doing, sharing that stuff out, as best I can.

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I was so stoked yesterday, to teach those classes.

I was so thrilled, when another reader called to tell me how much the ‘stress exercise’ had helped her sort something out, in her actual, real life.

So guys, you can carry on reading this blog if you want, but I’d much prefer you tell your wives about what’s going on here now, and let them take over. And nutsos, you can also carry on reading this blog if you want, but I’d honestly much prefer that you don’t, because we are about to blast off into the realm of EMUNA EXPERIENCES, where humility, caring and compassion for others are going to be the name of the game.

There are plenty other blogs out there providing a steady diet of propaganda, fake prophecy, self-righteous opinion and scare stories.

I’m retiring from that field.

I have much bigger and better things to do with my time, a lot of ladies out there who I know I can really help, bezrat Hashem.

And that’s the focus going forward, to build a tribe of LADIES who are trying to bring geula really the only way we can, i.e. by working on ourselves, and our emuna and our stress, and our relationships with our fellow Jews.

This blog, my writing, me  – we’re ready to evolve out of the pupa, and to start doing something useful in the world.

I have to say, I’m pretty excited.

TBC

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Photo by Ian Parker on Unsplash

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RE: THE BETA REDUCE YOUR STRESS COURSE

UPDATE:

Baruch Hashem, there is someone in my house who is better at this stuff than I am. The husband took a look at the last post, and told me to carve this off as a standalone post, so it won’t get lost – so here it is!

He also told me I’m apparently confusing you, dear reader, by saying it’s free then attaching a price tag. So, let’s clear that up now: THIS IS A TOTALLY FREE TRAINING! The plan is for me to try it out on 10 people, and get their feedback.

So if you got confused or put off by the ‘price tag’, please come back and sign up for a time on Wednesday Dec 4th, 2019:

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Here’s what the course is going to do, BH:

  1. Help you to clearly identify your unique stress response and ‘stress personality‘ (based on the Torah, but ‘hidden’ in secular language).
  2. Help you to ID typical occasions when your unhelpful stress response shows up.
  3. Give you easy, practical tools to defuse your unique stress response, so you can manage stress better, and cope better.
  4. Teach you how to do mindfulness meditation (i.e. hitbodedut) that will work for your particular character and stress response.

I’m teaching the first part totally for free, via Zoom, so I can get some feedback from participants before going forward.

I am still trying to finalise the time slots, but spots will be limited to 10 people, and it looks like I will be doing a morning and evening time slot at the moment, on Wednesday, Dec 4th, later this week.

So, if you’re a woman, and you’d like to find out some easy ways to start defusing your stress and to cope better with life, you can sign up below:

 

Photo by Dustin Belt on Unsplash

When the pressure ramps up, we really have two choices.

I’m currently trying to put together my ‘how to halve overwhelming stress in 30 days’ tachlis course, and it’s proving pretty stressful….

But also very useful, in figuring out why people react the way we do to overwhelming stress, and what we can really do about it, tachlis.

We’re all so sick and tired of ‘gurus’ preaching about how to do stuff, and how to change – things that they themselves are a million miles away from actually living in their own lives.

That’s true in the orthodox Jewish world, and also – I’ve been shocked to discover – in the non-Jewish world.

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For every Youtube ‘rabbi’ and ‘rabbanit’ that’s been droning on about Hashem, and emuna, while deceitfully swindling people, feeding their own massive egos, and trying to cash in on the public’s need for reassurance and guidance, there’s at least 100 secular ‘gurus’ that have been doing exactly the same thing, in their field.

I’ve come across this phenomenon in the area of book publishing, and of course, in holistic health, but I had no idea how widespread the problem has become, and how cynical it’s made us all. So, this course is not preaching anything. It’s 100% tachlis, focused exactly on helping people to figure out what’s stressing them out, what they can really do about it, and how to reduce their stress by at least 50% in 30 days.

That’s a big promise to make, I know, but I’m standing fully behind it.

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So, while I’ve been busy putting that course together, the world has helpfully been melting down into a massive, oozing puddle of overwhelmingly stressful circumstances.

The latest example is xtian pastor, anti-Semite (and almost certainly, secret Freemason) Rick Wiles’ public rant about a ‘Jew Coup’ taking place in the US.

One of my US-based friends kindly sent me the clip, so I went to check out his website, and his following on Youtube – apparently 185,000, before he got banned – and I came away from all that investigation feeling pretty stressed! And I don’t live in the US.

As this site is now a pointless politics-free zone, instead of pointlessly ranting about ‘erev rav’, and trying to ‘blame’ people for not moving to Israel 50 years ago, I thought I’d try to do something constructive to help my readers in the US, while also trying out some of the tachlis principles I’m putting together for my course.

Ready?

Great! Let’s do this together, with no ranting, no blaming, no holier-than-thou finger pointing, or demonization of whole groups of Jews who happen to think and act differently from us.

We are all in this together.

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We’ll kick this off by setting out the stall, describing the ‘stress’ problem we all have, and then going through the following steps, to try to resolve it. Here’s my STRESS DEFUSING CHECKLIST.

  • Identify the potential source of stress.
  • Clarify the situation, to see if the ‘stress’ and underlying worries and fears are valid, or not.
  • Clearly state the specific problem of issue that is stressing you out.
  • Once we have the full facts (as much as we can), to move through the process of ACTION or ACCEPTANCE.
  • Depending on which route we’ll take, the work will either be more externally-focused ACTION, or more internally-focused ACCEPTANCE.
  • Clearly state the ACTIONS required, and / or what can’t be changed and must be ACCEPTED with emuna.
  • Feel way less stressed, because we’ve clarified what’s going on, what we really think about it, and what, if anything we need to do to deal with it.

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It’s a very common reaction, to go into denial when we feel overwhelmed, despairing and stuck.

most of the planet does that, and sometimes it has its benefits. But, if the source of stress is ‘real’, or nagging, or chronic, or acute, and it’s not being faced down and dealt with, denial quickly morph into a feeling of massive underlying anxiety and panic.

When people aren’t addressing their stress, their fears, head-on, that also leads to a range of chronic health problems – they can’t sleep, they get headaches, their digestion stops working, peptic ulcers show up, they get eczema or asthma flare-ups, they start to experience all sorts of different psychosomatic pains and backaches, that have no ‘physical’ cause etc etc.

Don’t do that to yourself!

It’s way, way better to bite the bullet, deal with reality, and then have a concrete plan of either ACTION or ACCEPTANCE, depending on what you discover when start to address the problem properly.

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So, let’s apply this ‘de-stress’ solution to the problem of Rick Wiles. I’m not going to answer the following questions for you – that’s your part of this project – but I will walk you through it, and hold your hand, as much as required. Let’s kick off:

  1. IDENTIFY THE POTENTIAL SOURCE OF STRESS.

In this case, let’s focus in on Rick Wiles, and his ‘Jew Coup’ statement. Let’s start with a stress rating:

How stressful is Rick Wilkes and his public Jew-hatred, on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the maximum)?

Before I went to his site, I would have ranked this for myself as a ‘3’, as I live in Israel. After I read his site, it went up to around a ‘6’.

If you’re ranking anything below ‘3’, that means it’s not a potent source of stress for you.

I’m ranking this at a ‘6’ now, which means I need to deal with it.

(As a side note, I usually deal with all this stuff in hitbodedut, and you can, too. Just take this checklist, plug in your own ‘stress’ issue, and go talk to God about it.)

Now, let’s move on to our second step:

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  1. CLARIFY THE SITUATION

This is often way harder than it looks, especially if there are a lot of vested interests involved, or a lot of ‘confirmation bias’ standing in the way of getting to the truth. In this case, here’s a few of the questions we need to be exploring:

  • Is Rick Wiles speaking for a lot of Americans, or just a negligible percentage?
  • Are his Youtube followers fanatical, or violent?
  • Do you live close to any of these fanatical, violent people? Could they directly impact your life in some way?
  • Who else might Wiles be influencing with his statement?
  • What are the possible outcomes of this statement being widely publicized in the US?

(Tip: you want to be covering the range of possibilities here, from ‘best case’ to ‘worst case’ scenario. For big stresses, or big decisions, it’s often best to write this down, or do a mindmap. I use pen and paper, but there is also free and easy mindmap software that you can download and use, too.)

Once you have that list of possible outcomes, it’s time to drill down, to see what you are really worrying about, and how likely you believe that outcome to be.

Here’s how I would do that.

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I’d take my list of ‘possible outcomes’.

And then I’d give them a ranking out of 10 (or out of 100, if you want more precision) as to how likely I believe this might be. 1 would be ‘impossible’ and 10 / 100 would be ‘absolutely certain’.

That would leave me looking at something like this:

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(I know, I spelt his name wrong… I don’t really care.)

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POSSIBLE OUTCOMES OF WILES’ STATEMENT

  • More people start to talk against the Jews – 75%
  • Anti-Semitism could start to increase in the US – 75%
  • People feel more comfortable discriminating against Jews – 70%
  • That could impact how comfortable I feel being obviously Jewish in the US – 80%
  • There could be more violent anti-Semitism – 60%
  • There could be more attacks on shuls and Jewish schools – 60%
  • Jewish life in the US could become more difficult – 90%
  • It’s a storm in a teacup nothing will happen – 20%

Are you seeing how this works?

If you feel that you don’t have enough information or knowledge to be comfortable with your ‘clarity’, you might want to go and read up on the subject, find an expert to talk to, check out the latest stats for anti-semitism etc in the US, to inform your opinions and beliefs.

And of course, take it back to God, because that’s where you’ll get your best insights from.

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Now that I have my ‘clarity’, to the best of my ability, and taking my own innate biases and preferences and beliefs into account, I can move to the next step of identifying and defusing my stress:

3)            CLEARLY STATE THE SPECIFIC PROBLEM OR ISSUE THAT IS STRESSING YOU OUT.

So for me, I’m going to formulate it like this:

“I’m worried that there is about to be a big upswing in anti-Semitism in the USA, and that there will be more discrimination and violent attacks against the Jews who are living there, which includes my relatives.”

Again, this is my personal statement. You should write yours in your own language, and with whatever details are relevant to you, and your levels of stress.

But now I have the problem clearly stated, I can move on to the next stage:

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  1. ACTION or ACCEPTANCE.

Here’s where I list out all the actions that are currently available to me, that could help me deal with this problem.

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POSSIBLE ACTIONS:

  • Phone people I know in the US to discuss the situation and warn them?
  • Write something urging people to move?
  • Encourage people to buy a firearm and learn how to use it?
  • Give practical information and help about making aliya?
  • Research US antisemitism to see if it really is a big problem?
  • Suggest people look at buying a cheap property somewhere in Israel?
  • Give people chizzuk and support?
  • Try to ‘scare’ them into making aliya?
  • Put more focus on making Teshuva and working on our humility and emuna?

Now, I go through each one, and I see if it’s workable, practical, useful.

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I know from previous experience that trying to ‘scare’ people, or browbeat them, or guilt them, into moving to Israel just doesn’t work, and isn’t helpful.

I’ve had family members who stopped talking to me for 4 years because I kept trying to pressure them to make aliya. So, all those options are out.

I don’t believe in violence as an answer, so I’m not going to encourage anyone to buy a gun.

So, I’m left with the options to write things that will encourage and support my fellow Jews in the US, and to help them get clarity in some way about the options available to them, and to put the focus on teshuva and working on out bad middot and returning to God, as the best solution to the problem.

So now, I have clarity about what I personally need to do about this, moving forward, and I’m feeling way less stressed.

And whatever I can’t change, whatever I can’t take action about right now, that’s the stuff I need to work on accepting happily, without whining, moaning of complaining.

If I can’t take the ACTION I want to take, I have to accept God’s will, and maybe, start praying for things to change or open up in the future, so that ACTION could be available to me at a different stage.

(I know I’m not breaking this stage down into all the nitty-gritty details. I will do it in the course properly, but I don’t want this post to get too long!)

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6)            Clearly state the ACTIONS required, and / or, what I need to ACCEPT with emuna.

For me, I have to ACCEPT that trying to force my family members to make aliya is simply counter-productive, and just leads to bad blood and soured relationships.

I also have to ACCEPT that I can’t even broach this issue with my relatives in the US, as doing so will only upset them, and won’t achieve anything positive.

On my ACTIONS list, I now have:

  • Pray more for God to help the Jews in America (and everywhere else! We all have our issues, right now.)
  • Focus my blog on chizzuk and emuna, instead of holier-than-thou finger pointing and ranting.
  • Look to see what practical help and support I can give my readers, to help them deal with their challenges and stress, including the stress caused by anti-Semites like Rick Wiles.

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Now I’ve gone through this process, I’m feeling way less stressed!

I have my clarity about what might be happening, what limited role, if any, I can play, and where I need to be focusing my time and energy for maximum benefit.

Breathe out….

This is EXPERIENCING EMUNA, not just preaching about it. You can apply this formula to absolutely any ‘stress’ that you are currently experiencing, and you’ll see how it instantly starts to reduce, as you get better clarity about what’s really going on, what your options really are, and what God might be expecting from you.

BH, I hope to be able to share more of this stuff with you soon.

Next week, Wednesday, Dec 4th, I’m hoping to live teach the first module of the FAILPROOF METHOD TO REDUCE DESTRUCTIVE STRESS BY AT LEAST 50% IN 4 WEEKS COURSE, focusing on:

‘IDENTIFY WHAT’S STRESSING YOU OUT, AND DEFUSE IT’.

If you are a woman, and you would like to join me for that – on Zoom – please sign up HERE.

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The difference one jab made.

After yesterday’s post, someone emailed me with a link to the following story, and gave me permission to reprint it here, with the writer’s real name. The family are from the States, and this account 1) really made me pretty sad and 2) really made me think, about how much of the facts concerning modern medicine are actually still being hidden from us all.

I’m still not formally ‘anti’ vaccine, but I am increasingly worried about the lack of transparency and disclosure about the risks associated with vaccines, and I have a very strong feeling that something here is really ‘not right’. But until I’ve pinned that down, I’m still exploring what’s really going on. In the meantime…

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Gittel’s Story

I was sitting in the waiting room of our Dr.’s office, waiting for the nurse to call us back. Gittel and I were there for her 14 month well visit. I watched as she ran up and down in the small waiting room, excited that 2 other little girls were there for her to play with. They were a little shy, but, unfazed, Gittel ran up to them with a big smile and initiated a playful exchange with them.

After a while Gittel came running back to me, as is normal for typical kids to do, almost to reassure herself that mommy is still there and keeping a watchful eye on her. Content after a few snuggles and a quick sip of her sippy cup, she headed back to play with the girls once again, this time stopping for a moment to say hi to some other people who had since entered the waiting room and to light up the faces of a few senior citizens who had just sat down.

This went on for almost an hour until we were finally called back.

When the nurse informed us that it was our turn, I called Gittel, who stopped what she was doing and immediately came back over to mommy. I picked her up and carried her back, as she was a little nervous, and seemed to sense a little suspiciously, that something was “up”. She responded to my reassuring hugs and loving whispers. She watched the nurse carefully as she measured her height and weight and as I answered the usual questions.

When the nurse left the room, we continued to play as we waited for the Dr. to arrive. We sang a couple of her favorite songs, she explored the office a bit and we walked up and down the hallway while we waited some more. Pretty soon it was our turn to be seen.

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There was a gentle knock on the door and the Dr. walked in.

At 14 months, most of the questions were about her development and her overall health, which thank G-d, seemed to be right on track. There was also the basic autism screening questionnaire, which, ever since our Sruly’s autism diagnosis , I viewed as both a relief, and to some degree, a mild annoyance. A relief, being that from the moment that our children are born, I am carefully scrutinizing every aspect of their development.

I am always relieved when I see that, thank G-D, everything is developing as it should. A slight annoyance, since, as the parent of a child with sever autism, for goodness sake, I could write the questionnaire, and it would be a lot more detailed then the one that they have!…. Not to mention the fact, that for the most part, I seem to know more about autism than they do. Just ask me point blank if I think she is “at risk” or possibly “on the spectrum”.

What they should be asking the parent is; may the child possibly be at risk for a vaccine injury based on their past health history? How has the child, or other family member responded to vaccines in the past (fever, lethargy, seizures etc.)? How many rounds of antibiotics has the child received since birth? Does the child have an egg, dairy or other food related allergy? Does the child exhibit symptoms of, or is known to have a mitochondrial disorder? Are there common genetic concerns such as MTHFR, etc., etc…

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In the case of our daughter Gittel, she had received two rounds of antibiotics the year prior, due to a bout of strep.

Re-establishing proper gut health after extensive antibiotic use is crucial. Pumping such a small child with the entire schedule of suggested vaccines, all while their tiny bodies do their best to re-balance themselves, is much like playing Russian Roulette. She was otherwise, thank G-d, a healthy baby. She nursed beautifully (full time!), no acid reflux, no skin issues, no thrush etc… It turns out, that even with all of these questions it is still almost impossible to predict what the outcome of a vaccine may be.

However, I waited patiently and answered all of the questions in turn.

Dr: “Is she making eye contact?”

Me: “Yes.”

Dr:  “Does she respond to you when you come into the room?”

Me:  “Yes.”

Dr: “Does she respond when you call her name?”

Me: “Yes.”

Dr:  “Does she seem interested in other kids? Does she play with them?”

Me:  “Yes.”

Dr. “Does she use her hands or fingers in an inappropriate way?”

I love this question. What they are trying to ask is, does the child exhibit any self-stimulatory behavior?

Me: “No.”

====

After a few more questions, and an otherwise uneventful visit, the Dr. said that the nurse would be in shortly to administer the scheduled vaccines.

He wished us a good day and walked out. Soon the nurse entered and asked us if we were also interested in the chicken pox vaccine in addition to her MMR. Thank G-d I said no. I am honestly not sure what went through my mind at that moment and why I said “no” so quickly. It had not even crossed my mind prior to the visit. (I only learned later on that you are never give two live virus vaccines at once – kind of paradox though, being that the MMR itself contains three [attenuated] live virus vaccines….).

The nurse didn’t seem to mind that we turned down the chicken pox vaccine and proceeded to prepare Gittel for the MMR. Gittel cried briefly as I held her close, reassuring her with soft words while hugging her. The visit was over. When we arrived home, Gittel seemed understandably a little worn out, but still full of smiles and warm snuggles.

That evening however, she developed a fever.

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By the next morning, even after a number of alternating rounds of Tylenol/Motrin, the fever persisted.

What was more worrisome to me than anything else, was the fact that she had completely stopped looking at me and just sat on the floor emotionless. She displayed considerable discomfort, despite the pain killers which I had given her to bring down the fever. She wouldn’t respond to my many attempts to engage her. It almost seemed as though her inner world had completely consumed her.

Alarmed, I mentioned this to my husband, hoping that somehow he could make this stop. Or at the very least pull out his crystal ball and tell me that she would indeed go back to being herself soon. He calmly responded that she was probably just feeling “under the weather” and would soon perk up.

By day two the fever persisted. I watched with a sinking heart as she failed, most notably, to respond to her name. She just sat there. She looked sad and forlorn and didn’t seem to be “here” with us. She seemed as though she didn’t recognize her surroundings or where she was. Oh, how I wanted to know what she was thinking. What was going on in that delicate little brain of hers. Was she scared? What was she feeling? What was hurting? What did she want me to do to help make her feel better?

Still no eye contact.

I got down, face to face with her, cooed, laughed, played our usual funny games, but to no avail. She continuously turned her head to avoid me. She didn’t respond to our games of “chase”, or the thrill of Mommy coming to tickle her. She wouldn’t even smile. And those eyes, those lost eyes… She still cried when she was hungry, and gently snuggled during those intimate moments of nursing I treasured so dearly.

Somehow, instinctively, I knew that I needed help to flush her system. I began with the most natural and soothing thing I knew –  stopping all solid foods and going back to strictly nursing around the clock. She was all too happy to comply.

====

Day three, the fever was still there.

I was almost pleading with my husband to see what I was seeing. I was hoping I was wrong. I was scared, very scared. I was scared that I was right. My husband still tried to reassure me that she was not herself, only because she was still under the weather from the effects of the shot. She had not only stopped eye contact, she actively avoided it!

No smiles. She stopped responding to her name. She didn’t respond to our usual fun and games. She didn’t even stop to watch her siblings, let alone interact with them. She seemed to be hardly managing or coping with what life had just thrown at her. With what life had just thrown at us all.

After 3 days, her fever subsided. For the next couple of weeks I kept trying to interact with her, to engage with her, to make eye contact, smiles, something! But there was nothing. She moseyed around the house in her own little world. She was busy. Very busy. Almost alarmingly busy. Before all of this, she used to knock down the occasional book from the bookshelf, as do most busy toddlers, and when caught in the act by either my husband or myself, she would giggle and scream in sheer delight. Knowing that we were coming closer to get her and tickle her away from her little game.

It was her way of both exploring and of successfully capturing our attention. Now, however, she seemed like she was on a very serious mission to wipe out the entire bookshelf over and over again. She was completely expressionless. She stopped responding to our playful drama when coming to get her. It was during one of these episodes, about 3 weeks after she received her shot, that my husband finally realized that I wasn’t just being overly worried.

There was indeed something alarming here….. and all too familiar…..

====

Once my husband realized the magnitude of what I was seeing, it was then, that everything suddenly seemed official.

Until then I was hanging on to the small thread of hope that perhaps I really was just worrying too much. It was then that the tears began to fall. The next few months were full of prayer, specialists, supplements, therapies and more prayer. We took her to specialist who confirmed the presence of inflammation in her brain. I was so shaken by what had happened, that I was afraid to take her back to her original Dr. I assumed that he would simply dismiss our case entirely upon hearing that it was vaccine related.

I was beside myself. I couldn’t believe this was happening to a second child. How could I have been so stupid 12 years ago in letting the doctors convince me that vaccines were still unquestionably safe. That the pros very much so outweighed the cons. That all of this would have happened “regardless”.

I once again found myself in tears before G-d. “Please,” I begged, “Don’t let this happen to another child.” I don’t think I have ever before asked my Grandmothers who had passed away, to help me beseech G-d for His supernal mercy. To ask Him to help us in this time of need. I began praying and asking my Grandmothers and a dear, special and holy Great Aunt, to please daven for her as well.

====

Many months went by, and thank G-d she ever so often began to smile again.

During this time we continued with her rigorous supplement regimen, therapy, nursing, praying and more praying. One night, after a couple of more months had gone by, I tearfully began to daven. I am not sure if this was the right thing to do, but I asked G-d that if this was truly the decree, if this is what was meant to be, if  He could please, please lessen the severity and make it mild. Please not so sever.

Little by little she began to make some fleeting yet noticeable eye contact. She preferred not to, however when we came “face to face” she wouldn’t actively turn her head to avoid us. She still wouldn’t react if we were coming to play chase with her from across the room, but if we made it into her personal space, she ever so slowly began to respond with smiles and giggles. She also seemed to once again, enjoy being in the company of her siblings.

At nearly a year later, she had come along way. She was still unable to communicate even her most basic needs, but she has begun to “label”. She did not respond to her name or even turn when you called her. She would however get excited with interactive games like chase, dancing and peek-a-boo. Thank G-d she still had the most beautiful smile and infectious little giggle.

====

She used to sit down and get comfortable with a stack of books by her side.

Looking through each one slowly, with intent and purpose, while turning the pages slowly and enjoying every picture. She would occasionally pick up a book and go through it quickly. It was difficult however, to tell how much she understood. She seemed to enjoy watching the pages turn more so than anything else. She enjoyed sitting and playing next to other children, including her siblings, however she had stopped initiating play, as well as any other form of communication.

And her eyes.

There used to be a sparkle in those beautiful eyes. Those wise, playful yet knowing eyes. She had lost that twinkle, that spark of life. Although part of me was still hopeful, I remained cautious. And of course, there was still a part of me which didn’t want to think too much about any of it at all.

We still watch her very carefully. The specialists which we went to said, that at this young age, children can respond well to appropriate supplements and therapies. “The body,” they told us, “is a self righting ship.”

====

I eventually gathered up the courage to return to the original Dr. who’s office administered the vaccine.

When he finished hearing our story and reading the medical and laboratory reports, he responded that in all of his many years of practice, he has never seen a reaction to a vaccine quite like this. While I found this hard to believe, he did, however, agree that it most definitely looked like a vaccine injury. He agreed that the symptoms she exhibited in the days following her vaccine seemed to indicate possible encephalitis.

He was kind enough to encourage us to file suite against the federal government’s vaccine injury court (which up until that point we never knew existed). He mentioned that any documentation relating to our daughter’s condition, which we may need moving forward, he would gladly provide us with.

Just as our visit was ending he said something which both scared me and consequently left me very skeptical of the medical establishments motives, in general. He looked at us and said, “I think we should hold off on vaccines for the next three months.” I looked at him, completely dumbfounded, almost not believing what we were hearing. After all of this, and this was still his view? I realized then and there that it wasn’t worth our time or emotional energy to argue. We promptly ended the visit and walked out.

====

I know everything that goes on in this world is all part of G-d’s master plan, but sometimes I wish I could just ask G-d what exactly does He want from me?

What do I need to fix? What do I need to do to improve? I do thank G-d every day for giving us life, for keeping us together, for blessing us with all of the beautiful gifts and Brachot He has bestowed upon us. For blessing us with the thoughtful tests that He has so carefully chosen for us. I pray that all of us be blessed with immense light, love, simcha (joy), brachot (blessings), good mazal, nachas, wisdom, long life and the strength to carry on. May we all merit to greet Moshiach, together with all of Klal Yisroel, speedily in our days.

We are ready, Hashem.

We are oh, so ready.

– Matana Boloten

Originally written, Dec 2015

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You can’t read this and not cry a little bit. There is nothing I can add that wouldn’t just detract. But it’s definitely time to learn more, and to get properly informed about what are fundamentally huge choices to make about our children, and our children’s health.

The New Madrid Seismic Zone in the US is being hit by quakes.

If you don’t know what the New Madrid Seismic Zone is, or why that’s such a big deal, read this.

To give you a potted history, back in 1811, New Madrid in the USA was hit with a number of quakes that totally destroyed a massive part of the Mid-USA.

The quakes started on December 16, 1811, with a quake that registered 8.1 on the Richter scale and continued throughout March of 1812.

Over that 4-month period, there were up to 10,000 quakes in the New Madrid area itself close to where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers meet, including an enormous quake on February 7, 1812, that was estimated to be as much as 8.8 on the Richter scale.[1]

After that earth-shaking strike which wrenched the land 15 miles south of New Madrid, a new lake was created, an American Indian village was destroyed by flooding, thousands of acres of forest were destroyed almost instantly, and a number of boatmen on the river reported that the Mississippi River started running backward for many hours.

Crew and passengers aboard the Mississippi’s first ever steamboat recorded how some of the islands in the Mississippi literally sank overnight.

If that wasn’t catastrophic enough, a number of crevices also began to open up in the ground around New Madrid as the terra firma continued to spasm, and some were up to 5 miles long. There were many reports of people who went missing at this time, presumed to have fallen into a fissure and been swallowed up by the earth.

There were also reports of the earth receding to a depth of 5 meters in some places.

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Meanwhile, water gushed out of ruptures and craterlets, literally creating huge new lakes overnight like Lake Saint Francis in eastern Arkansas, which measures some 64 kilometers long by 1 kilometer wide.

The earthquakes also caused a number of sand boils, or sand volcanoes to form around New Madrid, including one that measured 1.4 miles long and 136 acres across that was dubbed ”the Beach” by locals.[2] And small golf ball-size tar spheres of solidified petroleum also appeared in the fissures and sand boils after the earthquakes.

All told, an area measuring between 78,000 and 129,000 square kilometers was dramatically affected by land caving in or being uplifted, landslides, sand volcanoes, sinkholes, and rifts which completely changed the topography of the area overnight. Today, you can see what’s called the Lake County uplift, which towers 10 meters over parts of the Mississippi River Valley for about a 50-kilometer stretch.[3]

Modern geologists are keen to assure us that:

“Most of the uplift occurred during prehistoric earthquakes.”[4]

But at least part of this uplift, called the Tiptonville Dome, which measures 14 km wide and 11 km long was formed sometime between just 200 and 2000 years ago.[5] That is, mountains were formed in the American Midwest well within modern times.

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And now, the whole of the North American craton is moving, and the seismic pressure under the US is building to a crescendo again.

Smaller quakes have been hitting New Madrid and Missouri all through the summer, but now they are going up in frequency and intensity. On September 30, 2019, the New Madrid seismic zone was hit by 6 ‘medium’ earthquakes.

Now, according to DutchSinse, the quakes are on the rise across the whole of North America. And the fires that are connected to the underground methane gases rising up and igniting are still burning all over America’s West Coast. And so many of North America and Canada’s volcanoes are experiencing increased seismic activity.

And there’s a new, bigger, swarm of earthquakes going on in the New Madrid Zone.

You can take a look for yourself, here:

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Dutchsinse is calling for new 6.0+ earthquakes to strike over the next week.

This is a forecast, not a prediction, and like all forecasts, it’s not 100% accurate. Dutchsinse is right around 70% of the time, so this shouldn’t be ignored out of hand. Hashem is trying to get our attention.

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I’m having some interesting conversations over email around the last post. One reader suggested that maybe this could be a carry-on from the ‘Geula Gatherings‘ of last year, that kind of crashed and burned and left a lot of people who’d participated feeling very empty and despairing, when after all that effort, nothing really happened.

Or at least, that’s how it looked from the outside. From the inside, from the soul-side, who knows what was really being accomplished? But one thing is clear:

IF WE REALLY WANT GEULA TO COME, WE HAVE TO START DOING THE REAL WORK OF BRINGING IT.

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As you know, I’m a Breslover (trying to be…) The Breslov path set out by Rebbe Nachman of Breslov teaches that while we can’t do anything without being connected to the True Tzaddik, he can’t do anything without our effort and prayers either. Breslov is not xtianity; we can’t just sit back and get ‘saved’ by our leader. We need to be active participants in the geula process, but following the lead of the True Tzaddik.

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HERE’S SOME SOURCES, ON WHY WE NEED TO BE CONNECTED TO THE TRUE TZADDIK:

(You can find more Breslov sources on this topic HERE.)

Everyone must intend, when praying, to bind himself to the Generation’s Tzaddikim, because only
they know how to elevate each and every prayer to its destined place. (Likutey Etzot, Tzaddik 1)

By attaching to the Tzaddikim and following their advice, one becomes engraved with Truth and
merits to attain Faith and Prayer, the Land of Israel, and Miracles. And through this will come the
Redemption. (Etzot, Tz. 9)

Before one draws near to the Tzaddik, he is categorized as ‘fat-hearted’, meaning that his heart is sealed, his ears are shut, and his eyes are blind to the Truth, and he is unable to arouse himself to repentance. When he attaches himself to the Tzaddikim, however, and accepts their advice, then his heart, eyes, and ears are opened, and he understands the Truth and merits Repentance. (Etzot, Tz. 10)

There are souls that are so corrupt that, even after they come to the True Tzaddikim, they remain immersed in all their desires and are unable to move away from profanity towards holiness by even a hairsbreadth. It is surely impossible to elevate and renew souls like these, to make them born again. Yet there is a Tzaddik who is so wondrously and awesomely great that he is able to elevate even these blemished souls through rebirth, thereby renewing them for the good.

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Drawing close to the ‘True Tzaddikim’ is the beginning of redemption – but it’s not where it ends.

Back in January 1987, the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, z’tl was recorded as saying this:

“My father-in-law [Rabbi Yosef Yitzhak Schneersohn], the Rebbe, gave us a mission: “Stand ready to greet Moshiach.” “Everything is already prepared, all that remains is to ‘polish the buttons.'”

The analogy of “polishing the buttons” is a precise one. In the overall picture, buttons are quite minor; they merely serve to fasten a garment onto the person. Spiritually speaking, “to polish the buttons” means that the Jewish People themselves, their “garments” and even their “buttons” are ready for the Redemption. They need to merely be “polished” in order for Moshiach to come.

In practical terms: Every Jew must do their part in this mission by enhancing their Torah study, observance of Mitzvos, and prayer. All those who work to earn a livelihood, should set aside a time during every work day for Torah study. They certainly want to run their businesses according to Torah guidelines, and fixed times for Torah study are a way to assure that a Jewish business runs according to Torah.”

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While there is a lot of similarity between the Chabad path to geula and the Breslov path, there are also some crucial differences.

Where Chabad is putting the focus on: “enhancing their Torah study, observance of Mitzvos, and prayer” – which is wonderful and a very important part of the equation, Breslov takes all that and adds a crucial element:

Work on your bad middot!!!!!

Fix your bad character traits!!!!

Because working to overcome our anger, our jealousy, our hatred, our depression, our fear, our despair, our harsh judgment of other people, is what the geula and Moshiach really depends on.

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To put this into other words, Rebbe Nachman is telling us: You can’t do anything without me, without the True Tzaddik, but guess what? I also can’t do anything without you!!

There is one reason, and one reason only, why Moshiach hasn’t shown up yet, and why the geula process is stuck. It’s because we aren’t working on our bad middot. 

And that’s the WHOLE REASON WE’RE DOWN HERE.

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Life is not meant to be easy.

Geula isn’t meant to be a passive activity where we just sit on the sidelines ‘polishing buttons’, while we leave all the heavy lifting to the true Tzaddik of the generation. There is a lot of work to do! So many of us – even the ‘frummest of the frum’ people out there – are full of anger, arrogance, jealousy, greed and hatred.

So many of us are living superficial, phony lives where the body is totally in the driving seat, and the soul is left far, far behind. Just doing one more mitzva is not going to fix that fundamental problem. Getting to grips with our bad middot, and finally uprooting the sinat chinam that we all still have, is what’s going to bring the geula.

And that is really hard work!

The hardest work!

But we need to be clear that THIS is what’s going to bring the geula the sweet way, and nothing else.

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The USA is being hit with increasingly powerful earthquakes. The political system is hanging by a thread in pretty much any country you care to mention. The lies are crumbling all over the place.

We really need Moshiach now, don’t we?

But we’re only going to get him, if we’re willing to do the work that God put us down here to do.

And that’s really the basis of the training I want to start doing. So If you’re still interested, please get in touch.

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] 2014 USGS National Seismic Hazard Map – https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/events/1811-1812newmadrid/summary.php

[2] http://www.new-madrid.mo.us/index.aspx?nid=132

[3] 2014 USGS National Seismic Hazard Map – https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/events/1811-1812newmadrid/summary.php

[4] Ibid.

[5]   http://www.new-madrid.mo.us/index.aspx?nid=132 – Abridged from Seismicity of the United States, 1568-1989 (Revised), by Carl W. Stover and Jerry L. Coffman, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1527, United States Government Printing Office, Washington: 1993; Johnston, A.C., and Schweig, E.S., 1996, The enigma of the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-1812: Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, v. 24, p. 339-384; doi: 10.1146/annurev.earth.24.1.339;Hough, S.E., 2009, Cataloging the 1811-1812 New Madrid, Central U.S., Earthquake Sequence, Seismological Research Letters V. 80, No. 6, p 1045-1053 /doi: 10.1785/gssrl.80.6.1045.

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Photo by Andrew Buchanan on Unsplash

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It’s a funny time, isn’t it?

Here’s what’s going on my life, right now: on the one hand, I am gathering more and more information together on a whole range of subjects that shows that most of the modern world we live in is based on a pack of lies. And on the other, I’m trying to sort out the most ‘real world’ business venture I’ve embarked upon for close to two decades.

==

If I touched on everything I’ve found out is a lie over the last few years, it would be a very long list. But when you really look at it, all our problems really just boil down to this:

We are scared to be real, and to really face up to what’s going on in our lives and our middot, and to have a real relationship with ourselves, other people and Hashem.

100%, this is the only reason that we’re still in golus, and still spinning our wheels, living superficial lives that are generally making us pretty miserable, and scared to open up and connect in any real way to anyone – including ourselves.

==

Over the last 15 years, I’ve had a mighty struggle to try to develop some of that REAL in my own life. When I got to Israel back in 2005, I was still so caught up in all the materialism and competition that the secular world is built on.

God had to keep giving me some sharp raps across the knuckles to really bring my attention to the fact that my ‘wonderful life’ was actually making me totally miserable. I was doing everything the magazines told me to do – I had a career, was making good money, owned a house, had a nice husband, two  nice kids – what’s the problem here?!?!?

I didn’t know the answer to that question in London, where I was feeling more and more anxious, depressed, stressed, miserable and overwhelmed before we made aliya.

I’ve been through so much the last 15 years, as part of the process of getting re-educated about what life is actually really meant to be about, especially if you’re a Jew. I don’t own a house anymore, I don’t have a career, I don’t spend Shabbos lavishing entertaining, or trying to stuff every spare minute with ‘action’, so I don’t have to spend any time in my own head, just being.

And I am so, so happier because of it.

And my relationships with the people who really count in life – i.e. my husband, my kids, myself and Hashem – are doing so much better than they were back in 2005.

And what made the biggest difference?

Learning to talk to Hashem, and to be real, and to stop running away from the truth, especially about myself and my own limitations.

==

You know why it feels so ‘weird’ right now? Because the light of Moshiach – the light of truth – is slowly rising in the world, and it’s that ‘sun with healing on its wings’ that is going to burn all the wicked up, but heal all the righteous.

On the blog here, and over on spiritualselfhelp.org, I’ve been pretty honest about the bad middot I’ve got, and the issues I’ve had in my relationships, and what I’ve had to do and acknowledge and work on, to stop being a bona fide psycho to my husband and children.

I’m not telling myself any fibs that it’s ‘ok’ to try and control other people via rage fits and insults; or that it’s ‘ok’ to act like a hypocrite, dishing out advice from that place up on high that I myself can’t hold by in a million years. As soon as I realized that it’s not ‘ok’ to go around trying to control people, or trying to force my children to be ‘perfect’ so that I’ll look good in front of my neighbors, I got to work trying to live that truth.

I’m still falling down on my middot a million times a day, let’s be clear.

But that’s OK. I know I’m on a low level spiritually, and I also know that Hashem just wants the effort, but the outcome is up to him.

But I look around, and I still so many people who seem to be stuck in the lies – and as the light of Moshiach continues to rise in the world, those lies are starting to weigh heavier and heavier. It’s getting harder and harder to believe that politics is the ‘answer’ to anything. It’s getting less and less credible to believe in ‘man-made global warming’. It’s getting way harder for us all to keep pretending that all the problems are just because of ‘everyone else’, and their bad middot.

All of us are down here to work on one person:

OURSELVES.

And the main work to be done is to be real, and authentic, and to start to serve Hashem joyfully from that low place of knowing we are totally imperfect – but that there is actually nothing fundamentally ‘wrong’ with us!!

God created us this way, with bad middot, and gave us the job of working on those bad middot over 120 years, to try to rectify them.

====

This is a bit of a rambling post, I know. It’s because I’m trying to blast through the ‘head fog’ that seems to keep descending up on everything worthwhile and meaningful and true, and that keeps sucking us all back into that superficial, nasty space where nothing really matters, and no-one really cares about anything or anyone.

Here’s what I’m really trying to say.

Over the last few years, so much of the public discourse, so much of society, has been shaped by self-absorbed ‘go getters’, who constantly talk about themselves and what they think, and who cow everyone else into falling in line behind them. I have some aspect of that myself, and it’s something I’m continually monitoring and working on, to do my best to ‘use it’ for Hashem, instead of just for myself.

In common parlance, these types of people are often referred to as ‘narcissists’, but I prefer to call them ‘motivators’.

They have a ton of energy, they are very focused, and they often get a lot done. But when they aren’t balancing all their ‘fire’ with humility, and a genuine desire to serve Hashem, they usually just end causing a lot of arguments and destruction, instead.

Then, there are all the quiet, gentle, ‘nice’ people out there – so many of them!! – who generally feel too shy to share their views, and are often too gentle to want to wade into the cut-throat business of taking a stand or having a real opinion, or being authentic.

Over the years, I’ve met some of you in person and over email, when you had the courage to reach out and say hello.

Here’s the thing:

You guys are the people who are really going to bring the geula, and really going to fix the world.

It’s you, that silent majority, the salt-of-the-earth types that don’t really believe in your own goodness, your own importance, and who lack confidence in your own ability to change things for the better, who are really going to bring the geula.

Not the big mouths, or the firebrands, or the holier-than-thou preachers and gurus.

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Gosh, I’m finding this so hard to put into words, which is very unusual for me.

So let me just cut to the chase.

After 15 years of going through SO much stuff, emotionally, spiritually, career-wise, health-wise, relationship-wise, you name it, baruch Hashem, I now have a lot of insight into how people really work.

And I want to start teaching it to others out there, but particularly, the salt-of-the-earth women, who are finding it hard to say ‘no’ to others, and to make their voices heard, and to set healthy boundaries, and to put their quiet goodness out there in a way that will really shape the world in a profound way.

In the next month or so, BH, I will be launching a pilot program to teach this information to a small group of 10 women. I’m still figuring out the packaging, but I already know what this program is going to do:

It’s going to help those ‘good’, but quiet women to finally find their voice, and the confidence they need to stand up for themselves and for ‘right’ without being steamrollered by all the mouthy, self-obsessed ‘motivators’ out there.

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Why is that important?

Because these women are the ones who are going to bring the geula.

The world needs them, and it desperately needs for them to to start expressing their inner wisdom, and their inner goodness, and their inner clarity to start countering all the lies, and to help get us ready for Moshiach.

What is going to bring Moshiach is being real, and doing our best to work on ourselves, and to create an authentic environment in our homes and communities where the voice of the soul – the voice of peace, love, humility, emuna and truth – can start to shine out and be heard.

Phew.

If this speaks to you – at all – please drop me an email, and let’s discuss how to really do this.

I’m not pretending I have all the answers, or that I’m totally fixed, anything but. But Hashem has given me a lot of information that I know could help a lot of people, and especially the gentle people out there, to start putting down the boundaries they need to in a loving way, and to stop enabling ‘bad’.

And once more of us start to put that light out in our own dalet amot, the ‘bad’ that is preventing Moshiach from coming will disappear by itself.

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Just as the women brought the redemption in Egypt, so they will bring it again in our days.

One lasting marriage at a time, one loved kid at a time, one honest and caring conversation at a time.

That’s really the only thing that matters, and not who becomes president, or who is going to end up being Moshiach, or all the other pointless things we waste so much time and energy debating.

I know ‘real’ is scary, but facing up to our ‘real’ – with tremendous compassion and understanding – is how we actually get out of galut, personally and nationally.

So, if you’d like to join me, either take the minute required to fill in the survey HERE, or drop me an email HERE.

It’s time for the ladies to start roaring.

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UPDATE:

Baruch Hashem, I’m starting to pin this down more already.

I basically want to do ‘Azamra’ as a practical course, which will give concrete, tangible ways for:

1) Understanding the 4 main ways our yetzer hara takes us out, based on Likutey Moharan, as reflected in cutting edge science
2) Taking down bad middot like: anger, yeoush, depression, people pleasing, fear and anxiety – in ways that actually totally work in real time.
3) And perhaps most importantly of all, this is the main focus of the program:
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to feel good about yourself, and feel good within your relationships, in six weeks or less, so you can wake up happy, and enjoy being yourself around other people.
Because I think that is really the key to giving Hashem what He really wants from us, and bringing the geula happily, the sweet way, in both our private and public spheres.
How does this sound? I’m VERY open to feedback and ideas.

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Do you want join me, and see where this goes?

Drop me an email!

This could start to get pretty interesting, with God’s help!

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A few weeks’ ago, I got an invitation to come see a private screening of a film called Talking to God.

I haven’t been to a movie for somewhere around 12 years…. so of course I said ‘yes’. Hey, I get to do something Rabbenu related and still get to watch a film with no guilt or teshuva required? Are you kidding?!

So, I settled into for the 90 or so minutes expecting to see something cute, with its heart in the right place, around the AmDram level – and boy o boy, was I surprised. Talking to God had superb casting, a real plot, and was a real film, in every sense of the word.

The story revolves around a woman from New York, Rebecca, who is having troubles sleeping and can’t figure out what she’s supposed to be doing in life. Long story short, she gets to Uman, and Rebbe Nachman starts showing her some profound insights via one of his Tales, that end up turning her whole life around.

But what was truly amazing to me is that the film didn’t feel like a mussar lesson in the least, and actually had a lot of laugh-out-loud moments.

Between you and me, I’m at that stage of life where I can’t take any more of the ‘fake piety’ stuff anymore, where angels start strumming their harps as another saintly figure takes the stage to lecture everyone else on how to act.

AAAARGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

But this film had a strong enough story that the moral of the story kind of slipped in unnoticed – like it does with all the best movies.

I was thinking about it for a good few days afterwards, which is when I decided to get in touch with the movie’s director and producer, Maya Batash, to find out how it came to be made.

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We met for a coffee at Cinema City (man, I can’t stand that place…) and Maya explained the genesis of Talking to God.

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The story begins back in 2010, when Rav Arush’s Garden of Emuna was just starting to take the English-speaking world by storm. A few years’ beforehand, Maya had shifted from her job as a successful neurologist to start to develop her long-forgotten creative side.

She’d gone back to school to study painting, and then decided she wanted to learn how to make indie films. In 2010, she’d just released ‘Out of the Fog’, a film with a theme of emotional healing, and was looking forward to working on a new comedy.

Instead, after a year of reading the Garden of Emuna, Maya found herself taking a trip to Uman, and then the whole plan changed.

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“I went to Uman despite my lack of any initial desire to be there’” she recalls.

“A friend invited me on a group trip and despite my hesitation, somehow I ended up there just a few months later”.  That trip led to three months of what Maya politely calls ‘spiritual surgery’, as the answer to that question, and others, started to swim into view. It wasn’t an easy experience, but perhaps strangely when another trip to Uman was announced the following year, in 2011, Maya explains; “I ran to go on it. And while I was in Uman the second time, I got the idea that I should make a film. Initially, I thought it should be some sort of documentary about people in Uman, and all their miraculous stories.”

Maya started taping videos of big Breslov rabbis like Rav Arush, and Rav Brody, to use in the documentary, like this clip below:

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Maya also returned to Uman for a third time, this time with a camera, and a plan to interview some of the people there about their experiences of being by Rabbenu. “I wanted to interview ‘big’ people, the people who other people listen to, because I was finding it hard to get regular women to agree to talk to me,” she says.

But at some point, that plan fell by the wayside. “I didn’t have enough footage for a full documentary, and then I remembered I hate documentaries,” says Maya. But what she loved, was some of the stories that Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach used to tell from the Baal Shem Tov, and from Rebbe Nachman. And in particular, the story of ‘The Fixer’.

Slowly, Maya realized that while she didn’t want to make a documentary about emuna, she really did want to tell some of Rebbe Nachman’s stories.

The screenplay was written in Jerusalem’s cafes in 2012, and then Maya spent the next few years trying to raise the money required to start filming.

“This film had 30 actors, and a massive crew,” she says. “It was a huge undertaking, and I really needed some help to make it happen.”

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Help came in the form of a producer called Kim Jackson who brought on another producer named Jonathan Federico, and then Talking to God really started to come together. A week before filming was due to begin, Maya finally found the right actor for the starring role of the Fixer, called Zebedee Row  In the fall of 2014, Uman was transplanted to Staten Island, the film was shot, and Maya got on with the lengthy process of post-production and film editing.

And that’s when a few more miniot bobbed up to slow things down. Maya mother passed away in 2015, and Maya was also still trying to raise the funds required to get the film’s original music score written, and to complete the post-production.

“It took a lot of praying, a lot of hitbodedut, and a lot of trips to Uman,” she says. And now, Maya is trying to find a distributor who will get the films into theatres around the world. “I could release it online, but I really want it to be taken seriously. This film is for anyone who is looking for growth, healing, or meaning in their lives. There is a huge audience here, and the film needs the right distributor to be able to tap into it.”

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In the meantime, Maya is submitting Talking to God to film festivals, and is continuing to pray that the right someone, somewhere, will notice it, and help to get it out there to a wider audience.

So, eight years after she first began the project, Talking to God is finally poised to go mainstream.

“What did making this movie teach you?” I asked her, over a cup of something hot at Cinema City.

“I’ve learned to talk to God daily which allows me to let go of whatever’s bothering me, whether it’s fear, anger, pain etc and give it over to the Source,” says Maya. “I’ve learned the importance of doing everything in my power to make myself happy.  And how dancing and singing regularly can miraculously bring a person to real joy. Happiness is a choice,” she says.

What I can tell you is that watching the ‘private screening for feedback’ of Talking to God made me very happy. And I have a feeling that the film might have that effect on a few million other people, too.

To learn more, visit: www.talkingtoGodmovie.com

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I opened the door to find Susannah standing there: “I have cancer,” she told me.

One day a few months’ ago, there was a buzz at the door. I opened it up to find a scrawny old woman dressed in the lightest of summer dresses standing on my stoop. She wore a pair of oversized, fake black Crocs on her feet, and she was pushing a black trolley on wheels, that was full of an odd assortment of food.

I looked at her, she looked at me. She blinked, cleared her throat, then told me:

“I have cancer. Do you have some money you can give me?”

I looked at her, she looked at me. I went to look in my purse and as usual, there were only a few shekels hiding out in its creases. When there are teenagers in the house, it’s rare for a 100 shekel note to last more than 10 minutes after they’ve woken up. I handed the small change over with an apology.

“That’s ok, darling.”

She reassured me.

Then she cleared her throat for another request:

“Maybe, you have some food you can give me?”

I’m not a balabusta who has my cupboards stocked for all occasions and contingencies. Now my girls are much older, and now that I live in Jerusalem, I tend to shop on the go, and to really just buy what I need for that day. So I blinked nervously, and started scrounging round the back of the fridge, and the back of the cupboard, to see what I could turn up.

“Tuna in water?” I offered her, over my shoulder. I’d bought them for Pesach, and we still have four cans left because no-one really likes it. Susannah’s eyes lit up.

“Perfect! I can’t have oil because of the cancer, you know.”

It was a win-win. I loaded her up with unwanted tuna, a big box of cornflakes and a bottle of water. I’d done a mitzvah, I felt good.

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The next week, Susannah came back.

I opened the door, and eyed her a little more suspiciously. Was this going to turn into one of those ‘charidee nightmares’, where I’d get to the stage of being scared to open my own front door? I looked at her, and she looked at me. I think she forgot that she’d already told me her shpiel, because she started again:

“My name is Susannah. I have cancer. Do you have some money for me? My medications are very expensive, and I need some money.”

She spoke English with an Eastern European accent that added a strange sense of poetry to her words. I fumbled in the purse – nothing, nada, totally cleaned out by the teenage hordes. I shrugged my shoulders, sorry. She hesitated, then again cleared her throat.

“Maybe you have some food for me? I have nothing in my house to eat.”

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I knew she wasn’t lying.

I could see it in her face. So once again, I rummaged around the fridge, and loaded her up with some bananas and pears, and a tin of lychees I’d just bought that morning in anticipation for a snack attack. She was very grateful, and I closed the door with half a quizzical smile on my face.

The next week, she was back. And I decided I had to put a ‘boundary’ down, a marker to show – to myself! – that whatever I gave in future was coming from a place of free choice, and not from a place of unhealthy manipulation. That time, I told her I had no money, and no food. Sorry. Not unpolitely, not harshly, still respecting the soul of this person who stood on my doorstep. But showing both of us that my giving wasn’t automatic, and that I could say ‘no’ sometimes.

She responded in such a gracious, gentle and dignified manner, that I realized it was safe to carry on giving to Susannah in future.

The next week when she came back, I greeted her with more friendliness, and she relaxed enough to ask me if I could make her a cup of coffee. Of course!

Anything else?

“Do you have any food you can give me to eat now?” She asked. Big blue eyes bulging out of her too-red face. “I haven’t eaten anything all day.”

It was already 3pm.

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Again, I’m not a balabusta, but God helped and I offered her some cornflakes. “Yes!” she said excitedly. I brought her the box, but before I could bring her a bowl and some milk, she’d stuck both hands in the foil lining and was stuffing the cornflakes into her mouth. I was shocked. Susannah was poor, but she was also genteel. She really was starving.

That time, I gave her more money and more canned goods, and she spent an hour in my kitchen just recovering from who knows what she’d just been through, the last couple of days.

The next week, she came later, when my kids and husband were home. I let her in, and one of my kids started stage whispering:

What do you know about her, Ima?! How do you know she’s not going to rob us?!

That kid has a lot of fear about ‘stranger danger’. I don’t know who got to her in junior school, but they did a great job of making her a paranoid lunatic, when it comes to interacting with strangers.

First, we have nothing to steal. And second, she’s been here a few times already, and I trust her.

The kid didn’t so believe me, but her phone started beeping and she got distracted.

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That time, I gave Susannah coffee and supper, and a tiny bit more cash – literally, 10 shekels or something – and just let her sit in my kitchen, trying to arrange some of her affairs on her phone.

There but for the grace of God go I.

That’s really all I could think. God forbid, I should end up poor, destitute and sick in my old age, and no-one would even give me a hot cup of coffee or a place to sit quietly for an hour. Just as Susannah was leaving, the kid on the phone burst out in very loud gales of laughter. I didn’t pay any attention to it – it’s the usual teenager thing that goes on all the time – but apparently, Susanna did.

Two days later, the door buzzed in ‘her’ way, and to be honest, my heart sank a bit. I could do once a week happily, but if it got more than that, I’d have to put my foot down. Susannah stood there looking even more gaunt and vulnerable than usual.

Rivka, I have to ask you something.

Ok…..

Here it comes, I thought to myself.

Here comes a request for $300, a plea to come and cater for 30 house guests, or something else OTT and totally unreasonable. I was completely unprepared for what she said next.

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“Rivka….were you laughing at me?

I looked at her in disbelief, and she stared back, tears pricking up around the bulging blue eyes.

“Rivka, I have my problems and I’m poor and I’m sick. But….were you laughing at me?”

Susannah, where is this coming from? Why on earth would you think I would be laughing at you?!

I was so shocked she thought that, I was so upset that’s what she believed.

I looked at her, she looked at me, and then she smiled a relieved smile.

“I had to check, Rivka, that’s all. Don’t mind that I asked you.”

That time, she didn’t ask for anything. No food, no money, no toilet paper. She came all the way to my flat just to check I really was who and what I was holding myself out to be.

Later that night, when I told the story over to my husband, he told me that he’d noticed she’d had a funny look on her face as she’d left, because the kid on the phone had started laughing just then.

“I thought then it could look a bit bad, like we were mocking her,” he told me.

I had no idea.

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For two days, I tried to make some teshuva about this. It’s so easy, to cause hurt to other people. It’s so easy, to ride rough shod over another person’s feelings.

God, I don’t find Susannah’s visits so easy or comfortable, but I will do my best to be friendly and welcoming to her once a week, whenever she comes, and to treat her with proper respect!

This week, she came back. I opened the door and looked at her, and she looked at me.

What can I do for you this week, Susannah, what do you want?

She cleared her throat.

“Rivka, can I have some coffee? And do you have some food you can give me now?”

Her timing was perfect. For once, I’d gone off to the supermarket mid-day, and I had a juicy watermelon waiting to be cut up and was in the middle of making some supper.

I gave her a plate of watermelon chunks, made the black coffee with two sugars, and disappeared back to my writing, while the potatoes for supper continued to boil.

Everything OK?  I asked, when I came back in to check on them.

“Rivka, it’s heaven!” she told me. “The melon is so good!”

Ten minutes later, she’d conked out on the kitchen table, and slept the sleep of the exhausted for a little while, until I’d finished making the fish cakes. I gave her some mashed potato, the ubiquitous canned goods, and two rolls of toilet paper.

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She’ll be back.

And each time she comes, I’m strangely grateful. Susannah is not a pious woman, not at all. But this last time – on a Wednesday – she wished me Shabbat Shalom.

And I know I’m buying my way into Gan Eden for the price of a tin of beans, and a box of cornflakes.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin @belart84 on Unsplash

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