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The subliminal stress is through the roof at the moment.

As soon as I leave the house, and I see the masks, or I see the cops, I start to remember that we’re in this crazy Purimshpiel called ‘Coronavirus’ again.

And it’s pretty stressful, even though I know it’s leading to geula the hopefully sweet way, and a much, much better world than we currently live in. The problem is, we are in that ‘in-between’ stage at the moment, when the revealed good still hasn’t been so revealed, while the revealed bad is going all out, because it’s the last chance it has to make it’s bid for global domination.

It’s pretty stressful.

Then, I remind myself that the Israelites in Egypt still had to work, and carry on with ‘pretend normal’ for the first 3 of the 10 plagues, and it seems to me, that was probably the most head-wrecking time of all, because even after the Nile turned to blood, and the frogs were croaking all over the place, and the lice were on every Egyptian head and every Egyptian body – the media were still just blaming all that on global warming.

And the Israelites were still expected to turn out every morning to go to work in the Egyptian civil service, and Nile-Mart was still selling BBQs for half price, and Mr and Mrs Levy were still trying to get a mortgage sorted out on the new pyramid project being built in Harish before the next plague hit and closed the economy down permanently.

Pretty stressful.

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So anyway, the subliminal stress has been really high recently, probably for all of us.

Since the full lockdown in Israel ended a couple of months ago, me and my husband have been taking every opportunity we can to do all the things we wanted to do, but didn’t have the time or motivation for, before.

And top of the list is going to visit kivrei tzaddikim, or holy graves of dead holy Jews.

Last week, I booked us to go to the graves of Calev and Yehoshua in Kifel Haris, and also to the grave of Yosef HaTzaddik, in Shechem. Because both places were given away to the Palestinians under Oslo, those visits need to be arranged with an IDF escort, you can’t just drive in yourself (although some people still do….)

But I’m not on that level, so I booked our armored buses, and I was really looking forward to going.

Of course, it got cancelled.

Because of ‘COVID-19’.

(I am doing ‘whatever’ fingers, writing this.)

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So instead, I decided to seek out some of the other tombs we haven’t been to visit yet.

Last week, we went to the grave of Yehuda, buried in the middle of a small park surrounded by new apartment buildings in Yehud.

And yesterday, we went to the graves of Binyamin and Shimon – also both sons of the Patriarch Yaakov – who are buried off Route 55, near to Kfar Saba, about a 10 minute drive apart.

We got to Binyamin first, and the car park next to it was full of cars. The site itself was also full of people – mostly Na-Nachs – and there was a very sociable vibe going on. Tables were set up for a haluka, the ceremony where you give a 3 year old boy his first haircut, teenagers were smoking a nargila in one of the structures of to the side, and elsewhere, there were scores of men gathered to hear a shiur.

After all the police enforcement in Jerusalem, it was a really nice change, but still a little bizarre, to say the least.

I turned into the blue-domed structure housing the tomb of Binyamin the son of Yaakov, and there was one other young woman there – wearing a facemask – who left after a couple of minutes.

It was 4.30 in the afternoon, and I still hadn’t said my morning brachot, so I found a siddur, sat on the bench, struggled to say the brachot…then fell asleep with my head on the tomb. That doesn’t happen a lot, but whenever it happens, I always feel something ‘big’ has shifted, spiritually – so big, that I can only actually deal with it by being asleep.

Half an hour later, I woke up, went to find my patient husband (who was catching the shiur, after he’d peeked in and saw I’d fallen asleep) – and then we headed off to Kever Shimon.

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Kever Shimon is located in a lonely field, right next to Route 6.

From the dirt track that leads on to it, it looks as though it’s surrounded by brambles and thorns. We walked through them, until we realised that you could drive down the road a little further on, and turn in.

The grave itself was open, covered in memorial candles and tikkun haklalis – and otherwise totally deserted.

The contrast between Binyamin and Shimon was profound.

I sat on the one chair to recite a couple of tikkun haklalis, while my husband wandered around to say his.

It was such a calm vibe there.

I loved it.

I really felt as though the half an hour I spent there filled me up with enough koach to keep going this week, because sometimes it’s hard to keep going.

Sigh.

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I know we’re all feeling it at the moment.

I’m trying to concentrate on keeping things as ‘normal’ as I can for my teens, and to keep things going as smoothly as I can on the home front, while the 10 plagues continue to play out past the front door step.

Go and re-book your driving test!!! I tell my teens.

Even though the world is going to change radically very soon, I still want you to be able to drive the car to the supermarket!!!

(For as long as it exists….)

Sigh.

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All I can do, is carry on going to the Kivrei Tzaddikim, for as long as I’m able to, and to continue talking to God about everything that’s happening, to try and stay as close to Him as I can, while the madness continues to play out.

I think there’s another 5 months of this, until November 9th.

And I think it’s going to up another level August 9th, in the ‘last trimester’, and get even more intense than it is now.

I have to pace myself.

And staying close to the true tzaddikim, alive and dead, are a big part of that.

For as long as I can continue to do it.

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Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

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If you want to know what I’m basing the ‘nine months’ on, taking us up to November 9th, 2020, take a look at this:

 

 

 

 

 

Connecting back to the Tzaddikim – alive and dead – makes all the difference.

Thursday afternoon, I said to my husband:

Please, let’s try to book a zimmer in Tsfat. We’ll take cold meat and make sandwiches, or something, but I urgently need to have a break, and to do some kever-hopping.

My teenagers – and their ad-ons – are really great.

Really. But after this whole 3 month quarantine thing, where most of my time has been spent on taking responsibility for cleaning up after everyone else; and driving them places because there are no buses; and keeping the fridge and fruit bowl stocked in the face of voracious teenage appetites – I really needed a break.

So, we found a zimmer in Tsfat, and Friday morning, we headed up there.

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The good news is most people in Tsfat are not buying into the whole facemask thing. The bad news is, all the synagogues – and well over half of the main shopping street – is still closed for business.

And from what I could tell, most of those shops are now closed permanently.

But we found a really nice zimmer in the Artists’ Quarter, 10 minutes walk from the ancient graveyard and the Ari, dumped our stuff there, then headed out to try to visit as many kivrei tzaddikim as we could pack into the 3 hours we had before Shabbat came in.

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While the beaches in Tel Aviv are now open, Meron – the grave of the Rashbi – is still closed.

There were police parked in front of the gates, and also police cars parked at all the major intersections of any road that could conceivably lead to Meron.

The government here is very serious about stopping frum Jews from praying together, connecting to tzaddikim, and breathing fresh air.

So, with Meron taken off limits, we decided to stop at every other Kever we passed, as we drove around.

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The first one was the grave of Rabbi Yehuda Bar Ilai.

I didn’t know this before I got to it, but apparently there is also a tradition to go to his kever on L’Ag B’Omer, too. Just as we got there, three Breslov guys with brown chinos, crazy hair, big, knit kippas and tzitzit on the outside suddenly pulled up, and started singing Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, yiy didee yiy yiy yiy yiy yai at the top of their lungs.

All of a sudden, the funny mood I’ve been in for ages started to lift considerably.

The tzaddikim were starting to work their magic.

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Next stop was Rabbi Tarfon’s grave, near Kadita, in the middle of a forest.

The police were prowling at the end of the track, as it was one of the shortcut back routes to Meron, but once we’d turned off towards Kadita, they stopped following us.

Rabbi Tarfon’s grave is up a mountain in the middle of some splendid green isolation. It’s a breathtaking view.

Someone had left a copy of Chayei Moharan out on the grave, so I opened it ‘randomly’ and got to a section talking about Rabbenu’s ‘Burned Book’.

If you take a look HERE, you’ll find a discourse on the Burned Book, and lesson I:83 in Likutey Moharan, which takes a deeper look.

But in a nutshell, it’s all connected to:

  • The “dawning of the ray of the Moshiach.”
  • The importance of the sanctity of Shabbat.
  • Raising up fallen fears and fallen ‘loves’, so they become yirat shemayim – fear of God and holy ‘love’ for God, mitzvoth and His Torah instead.
  • And then it talks about eiver min ha hai – which has the same gematria as ‘Corona’, and which you can read a whole bunch about HERE.
  • But basically, it’s connected to the Tzaddik of the generation taking shame upon himself to atone for the sins of the generation.

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Wow.

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Next stop was one of the places reputed to be the Idra, the place where Rashbi is meant to have taught his inner circle of students the Zohar.

We stepped inside – and were shocked to see the stones inside totally and utterly covered with flies. It was pretty disgusting. And for a moment, I was confused: how can this site be so covered with flies, which are drawn to dung and ‘tumah’?

(There is another site that seems to be more accepted as the place of the Idra, which you can see in this video, but like so many things, it’s not 100% clarified or certain.)

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Then, I remembered what Rabbi Berland has been teaching for a few years now, as expressed in his Prayer for Parents to Say For Their Children, which refers to Klipat Zvuv – the klipah of the flies.

He said this:

“[T]here have never been such difficult tests in the world, that “Klipat Zvuv” has taken hold of every boy and girl….everyone without exception had fallen into the spiritual impurity of Zvuv, which is in fact the spiritual impurity of Amalek, which is the strongest force of spiritual impurity that has ever existed.”

Basically, Klipat Zvuv – the spiritual impurity of the ‘fly’ –  is currently launching an all-out attack against kedusha at the moment, and that is so very obvious at the Idra, the cradle of the Zohar.

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Next stop was the ancient synagogue of Nevoryah, where Rabbi Elazar HaModai is meant to also be buried. R’ Elazar HaModai was the uncle of Bar Kochba, the abortive false messiah of the Jews, who has his uncle killed because of the Romans’ vicious lashon hara against the elderly sage.

At each stop, I felt like I was gathering up clues and hints from Hashem, about what is really going on right now, albeit some of them were far more hidden and obscured than others.

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The last stop before Shabbat took us to Amuka, the grave of Rabbi Yonatan Ben Uzziel.

My husband and I both prayed that our children would find their true basherts, and that if that had already happened, that things should move forward at a good pace.

I opened up one of the siddurim there ‘randomly’, and got to the page for kabbalat Shabbat, with Tehillim #92.

Here’s some of what that said:

It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing to Your name, O Most High. To declare Your kindness in the morning, and Your faith at night…. O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep.

A boorish man does not know; neither does a fool understand this. But when the wicked flourish like grass, and all workers of violence blossom, this is only for them to be destroyed forever….         My eye has gazed upon those who stare at me [with envy]; when evildoers rise up against me, my ears hear [them]. The Tzaddik flourishes like the palm; as a cedar in Lebanon he grows.

It made me feel like we are close, so very close, to the ‘Shabbat’ of geula finally being ushered in.

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That kever also had a few other people – non-chareidim – and no-one was wearing masks.

Just as we were pulling out of the parking lot, a middle-aged secular guy on his 4×4 pulled up and asked us if we had a lighter, while his girlfriend squinted at us curiously, from the passenger’s seat.

We didn’t have a lighter, but I offered him the box of matches I’d brought with me to light my Shabbat candles. He took it like a thirsty man in the desert being offered a pina colada – and then whipped out the biggest joint I remember seeing this side of university.

After he gave the matches back, I whispered to my husband that I really wasn’t sure if enabling him to light his massive bong really counted as a mitzvah…

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The last stop before Shabbat in Tsfat was the kever of Ben Yehoyda. There, I picked up a copy of the Chofetz Chaim’s tome on lashon hara, and here is the ‘random’ message I got from that:

Accepting rechilut [about other Jews] makes a person become a complete sonei Israel (hater of Israel, hater of other Jews, hater of Hashem and His Torah, God forbid.)

I thought about all those people greedily guzzling down the anti-Torah and anti-Tzaddikim propaganda that passes for journalism on sites like Yeshiva World News, and I sighed a big sigh.

Today when I was typing this post up, my dad in the UK showed me a big headline from a supposedly frum Jewish paper in the UK, which was lit up with the world SHAMEFUL! in big red letters.

Underneath, the writer was attacking the ‘small minority’ of religious Jews who had defied the retarded and unscientific ‘social distancing’ rules in the UK, to light a bonfire on L’Ag B’Omer.

I sighed again.

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Back in my zimmer, I had the best Shabbat.

I slept well for the first time in 3 months, without being weighed down with other people’s problems and responsibilities.

I managed to do six hours for the first time in a month, and felt way more ‘grounded’ and happy as a result.

And then, just as I was telling God that I so miss spotting all His messages, and recognizing all His hashgacha pratis in my life, my eye was caught by some writing on the walls of the zimmer. Here’s what it said, in order of me reading them:

  • Life the life you imagined, for with God all things are possible.
  • Dreams have no expiration date.
  • Faith makes things possible…not easy.
  • Like chocolate.

Wow again.

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Shabbat day, I stayed in pyjamas until 5pm (for the first time in well over 15 years), then got dressed and went to pray at the kever of the Ari.

All the synagogues in Tsfat are still shut, so minyanim were gathered in the street.

Down by the kever, there was another small band of Breslov-friendly Jews with big payot and t-shirts, drinking soda and singing songs, while others recited a tikkun haklali. I joined them.

And again, it brought home to me just how much life force, just how much spiritual koach we really get from being connected to our tzaddikim.

My husband also took the opportunity to dip in the Ari’s mikvah Shabbat morning, and he also came away from that experience feeling rejuvenated and re-energised.

It’s a funny world we live in, when the high street feels totally dead, and the ancient cemetery of Tsfat feels the most ‘alive’ of any place I’ve been for a good long while.

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Motzash, the road back to the 89 was blocked by the police, still earnestly trying to stop ANYONE from getting within sniffing distance of Rashbi and Meron.

So, we went down the road to Tiveria, and tried to visit the tomb of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess.

It was closed.

Why?

Because there is a war against religion being waged in Israel, undercover of all this COVID hysteria.

On the way out, we stopped for five minutes to go and see the overflowing Kinneret, swollen to almost bursting point by this winter’s rains. The lake level is so high, it’s reaching the top of what used to be the beach area around it. Me and my husband both dipped our hands in the warmish water, and exalted in the gashmei bracha that Hashem had sent this year.

Then it was time to get back in the car, and head home.

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I’m still trying to finish up the sodding 40 days at the Kotel that I started over three months ago, so before we returned to our house, we made a pit-stop down by the Dung Gate, where I donned my regulation mask, and joined the four million other Jews threading their way to the Kotel Plaza.

This time, I didn’t get near the wall, as there was a massive queue, but I got close enough to imagine kissing the stones, and as I turned on my heel to leave, I suddenly had a strange flash of imagination.

A tall tree – a cedar of Lebanon – suddenly sprouted out of Har HaBayit, and was growing at a rapid pace, bringing everything in Israel under its protective shade.

I remembered Tehillim #92, and smiled a small smile:

The Tzaddik flourishes like the palm; as a cedar in Lebanon he grows.   

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Bad guys, your days are numbered.

You don’t realise it yet, but you already lost the game, and geula is unfolding the sweet way, faster and faster.

And very soon, that’s going to be obvious to everyone.

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Photo by tom balabaud from Pexels

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The last few days, I’ve been feeling pretty exhausted again, spiritually.

Much as I need the internet to do what I do, I absolutely hate the impact it has on my life, in so many myriad ways. So yesterday I decided to take a day off, and to go walk on the beach somewhere.

For many years, I found ‘the beach’ a very challenging subject, because I love the beach, and I love jumping the waves, but finding tznius ways to do that has been difficult, even in Israel with the separate beaches.

First, even though the beach IS separate, that doesn’t mean there are no men. There’s still the lifeguard…and the guys repairing the fencing…and the icecream man…. When I was going through my ‘mega frum’ stage, I felt like I couldn’t really go to the beach unless I’d wear exactly the same clothes I’d wear on the street. But feeling the waves lap your feet through a thick pair of socks was not so much fun, so I kind of gave up.

Over the last few years, I’ve calmed down a bit, and I realized that as long as I was wearing my tznius bathing costume, I didn’t have to worry TOO much about the lifeguard taking an interest.

But then, I had another challenge to contend with:

The separate beaches are often so packed and crowded, that it’s really, really unpleasant to be there. Part of the problem is that people bus in en masse from the frummer enclaves of the country, which means that a thousand people show up all together and cram into a tiny space.

Another part of the problem is that the separate beach is tiny – because hey, very frum people don’t really count for much, and it’s enough they got anything, beach-wise.

The last problem I had, at least in the past, is that if I didn’t feel comfortable walking around in ‘mega frum RBS’ or Meah Shearim (and in the past, I didn’t) – then I also didn’t feel so comfortable trying to bathe in Meah Shearim-by-the-sea.

Now, I realize this issue was 100% internal, and was my own judgmental meshuggas tendencies being reflected back at me to deal with, but a few years’ back, I’d get so obsessed with tugging down the hemline of my already long tznius bathing suit that it kind of wrecked the enjoyment factor too much to make it worthwhile.

SO – yesterday was about reclaiming the beach, in a healthy, balanced way.

It was too cold to swim (for me) but I decided to walk on the beach a little, and put my real feet, without socks, into the water. It was so fun!

But not so much fun that I’d like to do it every day. Or even every week. Or even every month. But now the tug of my nefesh had been satisfied, the tug of my neshama started up. ‘Let’s go to the Baba Sali!’ it whispered at me. ‘It’s only half an hour’s drive from here, and you haven’t been there in ages.’

Since I had my accident on the way out of Netivot, I’m now always nervous about going there, but the Baba Sali is such an amazing place, it’s still worth the driving stress.

I got there, parked, sat down in my usual spot in the unusually quiet enclave, and felt so much of the stress kind of percolate away. Wow, I’ve been really stressed…

Then, I started getting some of the amazing insights that seem to come very easily by the Baba Sali. About the need to forgive a certain person, and to really make my peace with them. And about what to do about my kid’s school, that looks like it is closing down at the end of the year. And about trying a different style of head-gear, and paying my husband more attention again.

As I headed out, I felt calmer than I’ve felt in a long time.

I used to go to Kivrei Tzaddikim all the time, but since I moved to Jerusalem I’ve done that much less. Partially, it’s because I was often overwhelmed with life and I didn’t have the energy to go anywhere, much. Partially, it’s because I had a very big test of faith, and apart from going to Uman I didn’t have the same motivation to go anywhere else. And partially, it’s because I got a little disconnected from my true self, and I stopped listening so much to that ‘soul whisper’ that tells me:

Go to the beach!

And then tells me half an hour later:

Now go to the Baba Sali!

It’s taken me a while to figure out that my mental health depends on listening to both sets of instructions.