Posts

The Israeli elections seem be a choice between Mr Evil, Mr Eviller, and Mr Evillest

Three weeks ago, my husband snapped his Achilles tendon whilst playing tennis. Baruch Hashem, it’s on the mend, but in the meantime I’m ferrying him backwards and forwards in the car to his workplace, close to Jerusalem’s central bus station.

What that means (amongst other things….) is that I’m getting to see all the massive, ginormous, monstrous billboards of yucky-looking politicians that are currently springing up like poisonous mushrooms all around the entrance to Jerusalem, in preparation for next week’s elections.

I can tell you this:

Whoever you vote for, it’s going to be a vote for Mr Evil.

Some of these super-sized pictures are so disturbing I’m amazed they’ve been approved for public consumption. What these politicians don’t seem to realise is that when their faces are blown up to building-size proportions, it makes it much harder to hide their true characters. You see it in the eyes, you grasp it by the beetling brows, and the cunning, calculating expression that even the greasiest smile can’t hide.

====

Where to start, on which one of these posters bothers me the most?

For a while, Ehud Barak’s lot were definitely in the lead, with a cast straight out of Dr No. There’s the beautiful, red-haired woman that looks like a secret assassin. The angry-looking, grey-haired rogue scientist is on the left of the picture. And then ‘Mr Evil’ himself, with his dyed-black hair and shifty expression, is right in the middle of all that.

After the whole Epstein affair, how can anyone, much less a woman, much less a party that claims to stand for ‘human rights’ have anything to do with this guy!

So he was in the lead for a while.

But then, Netanyahu’s lot stuck up a bunch of MASSIVE posters of him shaking hands with Donald Trump, bearing the slogan: Netanyahu: a different league.

I almost crashed a few times coming round the corner of the Jerusalem Gateway, because I couldn’t take my eyes off how plain evil Netanyahu looked on that billboard, and how totally crazy Trump appeared.

So for two days, that was in pole position.

Then yesterday, Benny Gantz of Blue and White got stuck up on the other side of the Prima Park Hotel, in a poster that looked like a cross between Men In Black and the Terminator.

Oooo, look how thick his neck is!!! Look how menacingly grey his skin is!!! Notice how totally unemotional and devoid of any human kindness his cruel blue eyes appear!!!

He looked like a ‘Class A’ psycho, and clearly that’s the effect that all these politicians are trying to achieve.

Vote for me, I’m a total psycho! If anyone even so much sneezes in my direction, I’ll nuke them! Israel is in safe hands!

====

But then today, the Labor / Gesher Party decided to remove its poster of Amir Peretz looking like Stalin, and replace them with Amir Peretz looking like a character out of Goodfellas instead. Last week, Peretz shaved off his trade-mark moustache, I don’t know why.

But personally, I think it was a mistake.

For as long as the moustache was pulling the eye, you didn’t notice how strangely menacing the guy underneath it was. Now, with Mr Fluffy gone, Amir Peretz looks like he could get a job with Iran’s Revolutionary Guide.

Vote for me! I can break a man into pieces in five seconds flat!!!

Now, you might be wondering where all the women are in this election. That’s what one of the graffiti artists clearly had in mind when she spray-painted the Amir-Peretz-As-Stalin poster with: “I’m a woman and I can also vote.”

Ayelet Shaked’s party decided to put a few massive posters of just her perfect, Barbie-like face across various bridges on the Begin Highway, and after studying them all week (yes, it’s a miracle I haven’t crashed the car) – I can tell you they are airbrushed.

The woman is 42 and has a very stressful job, and yet she has the flawless complexion of a 20 year old supermodel. It’s an open miracle.

Vote for me! I don’t have any wrinkles!!!

This morning, someone had punched two massive holes in the middle of both her faces, and it took some really careful planning to pull that off in the middle of Jerusalem’s busiest and fasted road.

I think it was the Shabak.

Orly Levy-Abecassis (or whatever her name is…) also popped up on a poster looking really miserable, but with great hair, next to Goodfella Peretz, and some other man who I don’t know the name of, but who also looks like a shark in a suit.

Vote for me! I have the best hairdresser in all of Israel!!!

====

Sigh.

Whichever way you turn, there’s evil, evil and more evil.

Driving my husband to work has become a Kafkaesque nightmare, a cross between a bad Bond movie and the Oscars.

Although yesterday, I did see a poster of someone that I’d half consider voting for.

He was a cute Saba advertising a new flavor of milkshake.

So, a vote for Mr Evil – for political gangsters and their molls – or for Mr Milkshake, for PM?

I think the answer is obvious.

====

You might also like these articles:

There are going to be no more Facilitated Communication messages

As you know, if you’ve been with me for a while, I’ve had a very convoluted relationship with the autistics over the years.

I won’t rehash all the history – I’ll stick the relevant articles at the bottom of this post, for you to take a look at – but I basically moved from total obsession and believing every word they said as the gospel truth, through disillusionment with their unremittingly negative viewpoint that seemed to go directly against Azamra and the optimism of Breslov and chassidut, and then into mild confusion, as a few months ago they started putting out messages that Rabbi Berland is Moshiach ben David.

As you can see from THIS post, I came to the conclusion before all these announcements about the Rav being the hezkat, or ‘suspected’ Moshiach, that the autistics were reliable for present and past statements, but totally unreliable for any statement about the future.

This was based on the very clear psak din the autistics received from Rav Shteinerman, z’tl, which stated that the autistics were there to give chizzuk to Am Yisrael, but shouldn’t be asked any questions in relation to trying to divine the future – which is totally forbidden.

So, I had no problem whatsoever with all their pronouncements that Rabbi Berland is hezkat Moshiach, because anyone with eyes in their heads can see that.

When R’ Mendel Kessin puts out a shiur explaining that the Moshiach will be using the letters of the Torah at such a high level no-one will understand what he’s really saying – who comes to mind, except Rabbi Berland? Ironically, the people who are stuck in galut, mentally and physically, used the incredible complexity of some of the Rav’s conversations as a ‘sign’ that he isn’t the real deal.

Why?

Because they have a vested interest to stay stuck in galut, mentally and physically, and in a million, billion years they aren’t going to accept a Moshiach who they’ve spent years dissing and speaking lashon hara about.

That’s why.

So anyway, much of the what the autistics have said in the past has rung true, and probably was true. But their predictions about the future – have ALWAYS been problematic.

====

Which brings me to the crux of this post.

Over the last couple of months, Shuvu Banim has been posting up a few of the messages from Ben Goldin, because the Dani18.com website basically got cold-feet after a whole bunch of autistic-fanatics turned on them, after they posted up the message saying Rabbi Berland was David ben Moshiach.

So then, the messages had no outlet, except the Rav Berland site (I wasn’t interested in posting them up, regularly, because I don’t buy in to the ‘prophecy’ aspect, as explained.)

But even then, there seemed to be a clash occurring between the autistics’ predictions of imminent war and armageddon – which lets be honest, seems so darned obvious, doesn’t it? – and Rabbi Berland’s insistence that the wars will only be in 200 years.

The Tzaddik is sweetening things all the time.

I can tell you first-hand, the Rav has said that all these hundreds of prayers that are going up on the ravberland.com site are sweetening things in a world in an unprecedented way. Which is great news, because there are still another 1,000 to translate….

But I digress. The point is, that the autistics don’t know the future, and have a very negative outlook, and Rav Berland does know the future, and has an optimistic outlook (mostly, except when the judgments loom very large and need an awful lot of self-sacrifice and prayer to sweeten.)

Last week, the autistics told the facilitators they were stopping giving messages, from this this point on. They’d done their job, and announced that Rabbi Berland is Moshiach ben David (suspected…). When the facilitators double-checked this with the Rav, he told them to stop, at least for now, and he added that not everything that the autistics say is true. In particular,

The wars are only going to be in 200 years time.

Does anyone really know what this means? Nope. Does it seem obvious? Nope.

But here’s what I’ve been noticing, lately. The State of Israel has been doing its very best to subtly spark off another war with our neighbors to the North. I know that doesn’t look so obvious, but that’s what is happening. And each time, something is stopping the lit fuse from reaching the explosives.

Trump turns his planes around from bombing Iran when they are already in the skies….

Hezbollah launches reprisal attacks that don’t hurt anyone and barely do any damage…

Hamas inexplicably calls off its massive rocket attacks on the South after just a day or two…

None of this makes any sense.

Now, why would the State of Israel WANT a war right now? Great question! Basically, they are looking for a pretext to flatten Iran before Iran has completed its preparations to nuke Israel.

And then there is all the deeper psychological need for the secular State to be permanently at war, because that’s the big excuse they use for why they need to crush the charedim, and force everyone into the army, and continue to operate Israel like a police state cum secular dictatorship.

If there’s a war, they can take over the government and install a military dictatorship, using the war as a pretext – so it doesn’t matter, then, if the chareidim and the religious become the majority in Israel, because they can still stay in power undemocratically.

The last thing the people who are really ruling Israel today want is peace, because peace would weaken their grip on the country, on the Israeli psyche, and on the reins of power. So, they keep trying to spark a war… and their efforts keep flopping.

So, war only in 200 years.

But the Rav has said absolutely nothing about the natural disasters being ‘wrong’. So, keep an eye on all the volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes and floods going on in the world, and particular in Iran and the US.

Radical change is still a-coming to the world. But in a very different way than most people think.

====

You  might also like these articles:

BREAKING: The autistics just announced the identity of Moshiach ben David

The Erev Rav: A false paradigm

 

Maybe, the State of Israel should take a leaf out of Martin Luther King’s book.

I’m in the middle of reading the autobiography of Martin Luther King Jr, the great black civil rights leader, who was assassinated – probably by one of the American alphabet agencies – in 1968, while advocating the non-violent resistance path of peace.

While the writing is a little stodgy in parts, what I’m finding very interesting is how much hypocrisy and moral corruption was riddling USA ‘officialdom’ back in the 1960s, and how brave King and his fellow activists were, in approaching the issue purely with the creed of non-violent resistance and emuna.

Because the two go together.

Time and again, King found his strength in his religion, and particularly in his connection to God – Who he mentions far more than the yoshkiyite idol – in his writings.

And then, that got me thinking about what’s going on in Israel.

====

Like many people here, I haven’t been paying that much attention to the groups of chareidi men who stage sit-ins by the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, and in Bnei Brak. I know when they are protesting, it’s usually because some religious young man – or also, young woman! – has been arrested by the police, and is sitting in jail because they refuse to enlist in the army.

Until very recently, I was kind of looking at these protests more as ‘street entertainment’ than anything more serious. But reading this Martin Luther King book is kind of changing my perspective on what’s actually going on here.

Recently, I saw a video where the Israeli police were blasting some poor chareidi men with what’s known as ‘skunk water’ at close quarters, mamash squirting it straight into their faces.

‘Skunk Water’ is so potent, it can make a person nauseous for many days after they come into any contact with it, let alone when it’s been sprayed straight into their chops. A couple of weeks ago, one of my girls found herself in the middle of a sit-in demonstration by the bus station, and she felt pretty ill for a few hours, after getting a sniff of the skunk water the police were spraying all over the demonstrators, to get them to disburse.

Then of course, there’s been all the pictures of the police pulling peaceful chareidim along by their side-curls… and then there was the case where the police here beat up an autistic young man, just because he was chareidi… and I could give you many more examples of where bald-headed, vicious bullies in uniform are beating up peacefully-demonstrating religious Jews in Israel.

WARNING: THIS FOOTAGE OF A CHAREDI BOY BEING BEATEN UP IN MEAH SHEARIM IS PRETTY DISTURBING:

====

Which brings us to an awkward cross-roads.

Whether or not you believe that violence is the only way to solve our national problems, and that having a strong army is the only solution to our woes (more on that in a moment), it seems ethical that people who are opposed in principle to killing other people should not be forced into bearing arms.

The people in the IDF making these life-and-death decisions about who should live, and who should die, are not believing Jews, and they aren’t guided by Torah law on these matters. Judaism believes in the sanctity of human life, and taking another person’s life is NOT a simple matter. So serving in the IDF is not a simple matter, morally, and it shouldn’t be something that we try to push on other people indiscriminately, without first really exploring the issues in depth.

I know this perhaps sounds even ‘treasonous’ to big parts of the dati leumi world, and also anathema to many others in Jewish society– and I understand their position. Until fairly recently, I shared it.

But not any more.

====

Let’s get back to the charedim who are protesting, and who are getting manhandled by bald-headed bullies in uniform, and sprayed in the face with nausea-inducing chemicals, and water-cannoned off the pavement, and arrested for ‘disturbing the peace’ – exactly how the black civil rights’ protesters were being treated by the racist, white authorities in America’s Deep South.

====

It suddenly struck me how brave these charedim are, because they come out and protest time and time again, and they know they will get beaten up, and blasted off the pavements with water cannons,  and all the rest of it – and yet they don’t fight back.

====

I know, we all take that for granted, don’t we?

That the police can come in and beat the charedim up, and the charedim never fight back. In fact, we take it so for granted that we start moaning about how much traffic these peaceful protesters are holding up, and how awkward they are making life for everyone around them.

In this olam hafuch, where brutality, violence and guns are worshipped as the real measure of bravery and heroism, it’s totally passing us by, just how much restraint and inner strength and emuna it actually takes, to just sit there while some aggressive, bald-headed police-nik comes after you for trying to stand up for God and His Torah.

====

The State of Israel believes that its army is the only reason the Arabs didn’t over-run us and kill us, a long time ago.

It’s such a convincing argument, isn’t it? But if you look at the wars that have occurred in Israel, it doesn’t actually stand up.

Israel’s ‘army’ in 1948 basically consisted of two rifles left over from the Boer War, and about 10 bullets (I’m exaggerating to make the point, but barely). That war was a resounding success for the Jews ONLY because Hashem did open miracles, and the Arabs ran away.

1967, and the Six Day War, is often touted as the apex of Israel’s military might:

Again, it was God, and God’s miracles, that led to the State of Israel pulling off the Six Day War, and suddenly reclaiming the holiest sites in Judaism – and the secular government here was very unhappy about it, when that happened. They have been trying to figure out how to get rid of the Temple Mount and Hebron ever since.

1973, the Yom Kippur War, actually started off as a total disaster, when the State of Israel came within a whisker of being over-run by our hostile Arab neighbors. Again, God pulled us out of the fire, and did miracle after miracle, including having a lone tank secure the whole Northern front against the Syrian troops.

And since then…. All the IDF has done, really, is get us deeper into the cack, morally and politically.

The IDF is a mirage, it’s an illusion. It’s far more about shaping future generations of Israelis and breaking their allegiance to the Torah than it is about defending the country.

The army doesn’t need chareidim to serve; the army is over-run by too many young people already that the army doesn’t know what to do with. What’s more, new research shows that half the country now wants to move to a professional army, and away from mandatory drafting.

The whole draft issue revolves around one thing, and one thing only: the State of Israel wants our religious young people in the army so they can immerse them in a totally secular, promiscuous culture and pull them away from Torah and God.

And that’s it.

No serious army would mix men and women together the way the IDF is doing.

One of my kids summed it up succinctly, when she told me that parts of the army are pushing for re-segregation, because the men soldiers are spending so much time looking at the lady soldiers butts, they aren’t learning how to fight properly. Anyone with eyes in their head can see this is true. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve driven through a checkpoint into Jerusalem only to be totally ignored by the male and female soldier on guard who are too busy openly flirting to even so much as glance in my direction.

So much, for the much-lauded professionalism of the IDF.

Or try this: do a Google Search for ‘Ofer Erez’, and see what comes up. And then understand that Hamas and Hezbollah and Iran and laughing their heads off at the IDF right now. FACT: women are physically weaker than men. FACT: women have way less testosterone pumping around than men. FACT: women make much more vulnerable soldiers than men, for a number of reasons.

These are biological facts, not opinion. And that’s even without all the flirting and open promiscuity that’s going on, which I’ll write more about in another post.

====

Let’s be 100% clear:

I am enormously grateful to the soldiers who put their lives on the line to fight for the Jewish people, and I know how much idealism is still fuelling so many of the young people, secular and religious, who go to the army.

This is not about them and their self-sacrifice, it’s about the morally-corrupt politicians, army bosses and secular mafiosos who are actually running the country, and using the IDF as a perverted social engineering tool.

There is a reason that this issue of the draft is the one that is paralyzing the political process in the State of Israel, and that’s because God wants us all to take a careful look at so many of the assumptions that we keep making, about the place of guns and violence in our society. Which brings me to the next point about what could really lead us to the truth path of peace.

====

Over the last few months, I’ve increasingly been coming to the view that violence and guns is never really going to get us to a good place in Israel.

The more I’ve been thinking things through, the more I can see that we are in the unwinnable game here, if we keep relying on bigger bombs and smarter weapons to try to ‘keep the peace’ with our neighbors.

At this point, many of you might interject, and say:

But if the international community would allow Israel to use its military might properly, and if the State of Israel would stop practicing restraint, then all of our problems with the Arabs would be over! We’d re-establish our military deterrence and go back to ruling the roost, in the Middle East!!!

Again, it sounds like a convincing argument on the face of things, and for a long time I didn’t think to challenge it or question it. But recently, I did.

Are we really saying that carpet-bombing Gaza is the answer to all our woes? Are we really saying that killing thousands of Arabs is really a solution to Israel’s problems? What evidence do we have to back up this approach, from the last 70 years?

Because tachlis, every time we suppressed the Arabs with violence, they have just regrouped and come back with something bigger. Long-term, violence is not a solution. Long-term, killing tons of Arabs only breeds more hatred and creates more terrorists.

And I’m not even going to address the lunatics out there who keep advocating for the ‘ethnic cleansing’ of Gaza, but who can’t see how contemplating that would put us in the same category as so many of the most evil ideologies that have existed throughout history.

====

Does that mean that we Jews should just sit here, and let the terrorists in Gaza fire rockets at us willy-nilly?

Of course not. Life is precious. Every life is so very precious, every person is a whole world.

And so, we have what they call in the Talmud a kooshia, or difficulty, that seems impossible to resolve. Morally, we can’t just sit here and let Jews continue to be slaughtered by rocket attacks. Morally, we can’t just go in and commit wholesale murder in Gaza.

So, what’s the answer?

Those yeshiva boys who are protesting – and the rabbis who are sending them out – might know. Maybe, just maybe, the answer is to put down the guns, and to turn to God in prayer and supplication and teshuva.

I know, that’s challenging isn’t it? On so many levels.

But we have to fight!!! We have to keep defending ourselves!!! We can’t just go like lambs to the slaughter!!!

Agreed, agreed, agreed, a million times over.

But, we have to change the way we are fighting from the Esav-machine gun-Rambo model, to the Yaakov-prayer-teshuva-and Torah model.

====

If you look at all the real social upheavals that led to genuinely positive outcomes since World War II, they were all achieved with emuna and non-violent protest. But Israel’s whole secular society is built on violence, and promoting violence and murder as the answer to all of our woes.

If only we could murder all the Palestinians, we’d have nothing else to worry about!

That’s how so many of us have been brainwashed to think. But we have to stop, and we have to ask ourselves honestly: does that sound like a solution that God actually wants? I know, if God Himself decides He wants to wipe out a whole nation of people, that’s something else, and God doesn’t need anyone’s help to do that. We don’t need to get in the middle of God’s calculations.

But we do need to clear all the State’s propaganda out of the way, and really look at the culture of spying, intimidation and violence that has become the State of Israel’s stock-in-trade. And instead of being so proud of it, we have to ask ourselves some hard questions about whether all this violence is moral? And whether it’s ethical? And whether it’s in line with, or anti, the halacha?

We need to pause and examine whether God also believes that forcing yeshiva bochurs to learn how to use machine guns, and encouraging promiscuous behavior between men and women soldiers, and putting obedience to a bunch of secular mafiosos ahead of obedience to God and His Torah is really going to solve the State of Israel’s problems, long-term.

And if we spend some time exploring that question, however uncomfortable it makes us to start challenging the axiomatic ‘truths’ we’ve all been raised with, it’s possible that we’ll start to realise that these ‘truths’ aren’t so true, after all.

====

Violence isn’t working to solve the problem, because it’s not addressing the root cause of the State of Israel’s woes, which is that it is anti-Torah, and anti-God. If the State of Israel became a ‘halachic state’ tomorrow, I guarantee our problems with the Arabs would disappear overnight.

If Martin Luther King had encouraged the 20 million blacks in the US to resort to violence instead of peaceful protest, do you think he would have achieved what he did? Do you think Gandhi would have got the British out of India if he’d resorted to terrorist tactics?

If the State of Israel had put God in the picture from its inception, God would have been fighting our battles for us – without tanks, planes and missiles – and all these wars and misery would be far behind us, already.

So, as we head into the next Israeli election, and as the rhetoric about ‘draft-dodging charedim’ heats up again, we need to take a breath and think about what’s really going on here, and what side of the equation we really want to be on.

Do we want to be Gandhi, or the British? Do we want to be Martin Luther King Jr, or the racists who shot him? Do we want to be Yaakov, who solves his problems peacefully with prayer and emuna, or Esav, who ‘solves’ his problems with murder and violence?

That is really the question that is looming ever larger for Israeli society.

And there are no easy answers.

====

You might also like this article:

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

What is Tisha B’Av really all about?

The last few days, I’ve been in a funny mood – you might have noticed. I’ve been feeling frustrated, angry, even a little bitter, that despite so much effort, I’m going into yet another Tisha B’av with what feels like zero progress on so many fronts.

In fact spiritually, I even feel as though I’ve been going backwards in some ways, recently. I tried to capture a little of that HERE, but I feel I’ve had so much brain fog going on the last weeks I’ve lost touch with my soul again.

Yes, I’ve still been doing an hour a day of talking to God (or trying to…) – sometimes even more. In the old days, I could sit down for a six hour talking to God session, usually on Shabbat when I had the time to spare, and come out of it feeling like something had really moved or ameliorated.

The last few months, even the six hours I’ve been doing don’t give me much of a spiritual ‘bounce’. The best I can say, is that I feel calmer, usually, and sometimes I get a bit more clarity, and a bit more hope and determination to continue.

But underneath all that, there’s this sense of what am I doing all this for? Where am I going? How can I carry on like this, aimlessly drifting because I can’t seem to get anywhere, still?

====

On Shabbat, I did another six hours on why I feel like such a spiritual zombie so much of the time, when God threw me a clue:

I have tremendous amounts of despair gushing around still.

It’s not preventing me from getting on with things, day-to-day, and thank God, I’m not a depressed zombie or an angry, ranting cynic (most of the time…) but what I am is totally despairing that things are going to change. On the national level, it just seems to me like the ‘bad’ always wins, the superficial is always preferred, the lie is always more welcome than the truth.

In my own dalet amot, there seems to be so many things I’ve given up on or lost over the last few years, that I can’t seem to figure out how to get back. I know what happened with losing the apartment in Jerusalem, last year, was a massive blow, psychologically. Just as I thought I’d actually got somewhere – we signed, after all!!! – it all turned around for the worst, and left us with the biggest nightmare we’d had to deal with for a very long time.

It’s been a year since we made the agreement with our seller that saw us pay for all of her expenses (and of course ours…) as the ‘punishment’ for being dumb enough to trust her, and for being dumb enough to trust our dumb lawyer was actually doing his job. I think it’s taken a year for what happened to really work its way through my system.

The last 2 days, I realized that I’ve been effectively numbed-out for 18 months.

====

Part of me knows it’s good to have had so many things not get anywhere, and to have so much frustration and failure. It keeps me humble. But it’s also keeping me lonely and despairing, because another part of me just doesn’t want to try anymore.

We’re meant to sit on the floor and weep over the destruction. Thank God, me and my family are healthy and we have a roof and food to eat. That’s already so much to be grateful for. But there are still parts of my life that appear to be ‘destroyed’, and that I can’t see any way of fixing.

I’ve pretty much given up on making new friends, for example. So many people have gone crazy the last few years, that I find it easier to keep my distance than too risk getting to close when the inevitable implosion happens. But I miss talking to people. I miss inviting people for Shabbat. I miss being part of something, socially.

And I just don’t see how it’s going to come back. I think I’m just too weird, these days, too out of sync with what passes for ‘normal’.

====

Also, my spiritual side seems to be bumping along the bottom.

If not for the Rav and Rebbe Nachman, I really don’t know where I’d be because I am just going through the motions with so much of my yiddishkeit. I try to learn 2 laws of the Shulchan Aruch most days, with my husband. Of course I try to keep Shabbat, Kosher, the laws of Tisha B’Av etc etc – but I’m doing so much of that from a place of ‘default’, and not from a place of enthusiasm.

My kids keep telling me: we can’t pray, because we can’t really feel anything when we do.

I get them. I feel that about almost all the mitzvahs right now. There are so few things I’m doing that I can really feel I’m getting anything back from. My husband says this is good. He tells me this is keeping Torah lishma, for its own sake, and that this makes Hashem very happy.

I’m doing my best to believe him.

And in the meantime, I sit here spinning my wheels, wondering what I’m meant to be doing with my life. More pointless blog posts? More pointless books? More pointless efforts to try to move forward and ‘get somewhere’, even though it feels there is totally no point in even trying?

It’s a struggle of will each morning, to get out of bed and get on with the day, because it all feels so aimless and pointless.

====

All this effort, but I’m so far from giving God what He really wants from me.

I’m still struggling with very harsh judgment calls against other people. I’m still lazy. I’m still selfish and self-centred, not really seeing other people in my picture and looking out for number 1.

The Temple isn’t rebuilt still, and I know who’s to blame for that: me.

Hard as I try, I can’t switch my ‘bad’ into good. I can’t be the force for good that God really wants me to be. I can’t resist goading people and provoking them, and seeing their ‘bad’.

So today, I’m going to try and sit on the floor, and spend some time mourning the destruction. I’m going to try to cry a bit, sincerely, for the trainwreck that modern life has become. It’s a place where we spend so much time staring at a screen, it hurts the eyes to look a real person straight in the face. It’s a place where the inner destruction is so total, we can’t feel anything anymore. Where the ability to really speak from the soul has been replaced by Whats App monologues and emojicons.

Today, I’m going to cry a bit, and spend some time engaging with the broken bits of my life.

I’m broken God, I’m clueless. I’m lost and hurting. I’ve given up on things ever really changing.

And I wish things were different.

But it’s totally beyond me to change them.

====

You might also like this article:

Before Moshiach shows up, it says the troubles will pile up non-stop.

The last few months, I don’t think I’ve had a single night of peaceful, unbroken sleep. Between the teenagers, the heat (I don’t have air-conditioning) and the endless mosquitoes, every single night has seen me wake up multiple times.

And this has been going on since November. And really, I can’t even blame the teenagers because even on the nights that they’ve both been in school, I still have been sleeping pretty badly.

All this means that I am plodding through life like a half-dazed zombie at the moment. There are some days I’m so tired, I can’t even think about what to make for supper, let alone actually go and buy the stuff. It’s a problem.

I feel I can’t really ‘interact’ at more than a basic level with anyone right now, because I’m totally whacked out and I just don’t have the energy to do it. And then, there’s the matter of the book.

====

I was actually just finishing up a piece of creative non-fiction five months ago, that I’d been working on with a developmental editor, and it was coming along very nicely. Literally as I got to the last page of that, One in a Generation Volume II suddenly came back on to the radar as a ‘live’ project, and I spent the 6 weeks before Pesach working at the speed of light to get that book out before Seder night.

I don’t know why there was such a mad rush, exactly, but I had the sense that it was very important spiritually to get that book ‘out there’, even though so few people have actually bought it or read it.

Then it was Pesach, which I had to sort out in a week as I had so little time beforehand because I’d been working on One in a Generation, and like all of us, I found preparing for the festival pretty exhausting. Over chol hamoed, I was so whacked out that mostly all I did was stay home, which is pretty unusual for me.

Time to slow down a bit, paint some more, do things at a quieter pace, I told my husband back then, as he nodded sagely.

That’s not exactly what happened.

====

Post-Pesach, Shuvu Banim decided that they’d like to make something of a PR push around the book.

They found a professional who was happy to volunteer their services, so that more people would have a chance of hearing the truth about the huge miscarriage of justice around Rabbi Berland. So, I spent the month after Pesach putting together one PR proposal after another, one website after another, and having regular meetings to try to get One in a Generation to take off, somehow.

So much effort. So much work. So little to really show for it.

====

====

This is how the PR guy recently summed up our campaign, in an email he sent me about all the problems he was having with the newswires.

“They think Rav Merav didn’t say his quote, that we faked it. But they don’t want to speak with him and then they want him to have an email with an official domain of a business or a Shuvu Banim email to then go through some verification process. However the strength of his quote is the fact he is an independent well known rabbi and not part of Shuvu Banim. We followed their process without giving him a Shuvu email and they said it was not good enough…
They also said a couple lines from your quote must be removed because it is against the Israeli court ruling… They also said we could not link to your video because of the same.  They didn’t want the parts saying there was fake evidence, the accusations were false, and that this was like Yosef from 3,000 years ago.  They got very nasty on the phone…
Most opposition I ever got in 15 years and that includes working for a company accused of compromising US national security and another accused of causing cancer!”
====

Go back and read that again, because I want you to really grasp how much censorship of information is going on in the world generally, and about Rabbi Berland specifically. The media is totally manipulating the public to only think what they want us all to think, and to suppress any facts that goes against their narrative.

In the end, we had to shoot a video of Rabbi Meirav with totally toned-down quotes, just so the newswire would agree to even cover it. More ‘troubles’….

====

So then, we got up to Shavuot and I was feeling mega exhausted.

I asked my husband if we could go to Uman for the chag, just us two. He agreed, we went – and then I discovered that the kever is totally closed to women over Shavuot, so I couldn’t get in. More ‘troubles’…

Instead, I went to Gan Sofia, and spent isru chag lying under some massive trees on an island in the middle of the main lake there. It was bliss. It was probably the first time I’ve ever chilled out in Uman, and I felt like Rabbenu was giving me a massive dose of ‘relaxation’ to counter-balance all the stress and lack of sleep of recent months.

The night we flew out, we’d also swung past Hevron for an hour, to join in Rabbi Berland’s prayer gathering, which he’d called after we’d already booked our tickets to the Ukraine. Rabbi Berland promised: Everyone who comes won’t have a minute more of suffering!

Who could resist a deal like that?

So now we get to the crux of this post.

====

The day after I got back from Uman, I answered an ad looking for a new service that was looking for books to launch as part of a pilot program that was heavily discounted from what they’d charge once they’d got it all figured out.

I figured I’d try my luck, so I sent a two line email describing a book that was ‘almost finished’, that maybe would fit their program. In reality, I hadn’t written it yet, I just had the title, but I was so sure they wouldn’t respond.

Long story short: they took the book.

Which means I’ve spent the last few weeks furiously typing like a banshee again, trying to get the draft done to something at least approaching the time scale. It’s nearly done now, but in the meantime I’ve been totally neglecting my household and family the last month, AGAIN, and I know that’s not good, but what could I do, really?

The ‘troubles’ pile up like one wave after another, before one trouble is over, another begins…

====

Yesterday night, after another day’s hard typing, I staggered off to bed at 10pm to see if I could try and get a good night sleep.

Just as I was dozing off, the ubiquitous mosquito showed up, and started dive-bombing my face.

This usually occurs in the five minutes just before I’m about to drop off, and I can get so agitated trying to find the mosquito zapper to electrocute it that all my adrenalin starts pumping, and then it takes me hours and hours to calm down enough to get back to sleep.

Yesterday, I was so tired, I couldn’t be bothered fighting that thing.

Let it bite me, let it suck my blood. I’m past caring.

I fell asleep – and an hour later, I woke up again because my husband had come home, and had just switched on the bedside light to try and track down the mosquito. He’s a great guy, but he’s got this habit of shining that spotlight straight in my face in the middle of the night, like he’s practicing to join a Mexican torture gang.

I squinted at him standing there with the mosquito zapper, looking apologetic but determined, and I wondered to myself:

God, are You out to get me? Because I have to tell you, it’s really starting to feel that way.

====

I was too tired to take it further yesterday night, but this morning, I think I finally figured out what’s going on.

It says before Moshiach comes, the troubles will come so thick and fast that before one ‘problem’ is even over, the next one starts up. I know so many people are going through the ringer at the moment, with awful, massive problems hitting them thick and fast.

And in my house?

The ‘problems’ are my books, which are taking up so much headspace and energy without really giving a heck of a lot back, and the ‘troubles’ are the mosquitos, that hide out in my room just waiting for me to go to sleep.

But this morning, I realized just how lucky I am to have troubles like these.

Yes, on one level I’m having difficulties coping with the daily challenge of not getting enough sleep, but I’m not really suffering from all this, even though it’s challenging.

After Hevron, it seems ‘the troubles’ got sweetened.

But let’s be clear, I’m still looking forward to the time when I get have a good night’s sleep again, and not walk through life like a spaced-out zombie, and have a bit of time to paint and to actually interact with people.

But at least until Tu B’Av, it seems that just ain’t going to happen.

====

You might also like these articles:

 

Photo by Mourad Saadi on Unsplash

With each day that passes, I realise even more that we’re living in a mad world.

In case you’re wondering why there aren’t a lot of posts going up the site at the moment, there are two reasons for that.

  • I’m in the middle of writing another book, and it’s taking a lot of time.
  • I’m currently having a minor disagreement with my better half, as I really want to write a whole lot more about what’s really going on with the yucky people who are sadly running our part of the world, and my husband is scared that if I do that, I’ll get myself in trouble.

So in the meantime, we’re having something of a stand-off and I’m not sure what exactly I should be writing, if I can’t write what God is putting in my soul to write.

But I can tell you this: it’s a mad world.

And it’s getting madder by the day.

On Shabbat, I went for a walk around Talpiot early in the morning, as the new book is taking a lot of mental concentration and I needed to ‘decompress’ my brain a little, with a longer hitbodedut session than usual.

As I rounded the bend that took me deep into Talpiyot’s industrial zone, which was all but deserted save for a couple of taxis, one police cruiser and a couple of local Arabs on foot, I spotted a strange figure motioning at me to come closer to the bus stop, where he / she was standing.

From a distance, I didn’t know who or what I was dealing with, but I could see the person didn’t look ‘normal’, and I also knew that there was no-one else around to help, if help was required. I took a deep breath, and went over.

It turned out to be a middle-aged woman with a buzz-cut and glasses, wearing boy’s clothes and a pair of oversized black man’s shoes. Even before she opened her mouth, I knew she was totally crazy.

====

“There’s a pedophile here!” She told me, motioning up the road. “He’s attacking his grandchildren, he’s attacking children!”

Well, that certainly got my attention. I debated how I should react to this news.

“Do you want me to flag down the police car?” I asked her.

“No!!!!!” she responded emphatically. “They all want to date me. All the policemen want to date me.” Just then, the police car cruised by and beeped at us, as the crazy woman told me “Don’t look at them, don’t look at them! But you see? They all like me. They were smiling at me, right?”

I tried telling her that I hadn’t been looking at them, as per her instructions, but she wasn’t going to take no for an answer. Crazy people don’t like being told cold, hard facts that interfere with their narrative.

“You from America?” she asked me, suddenly switching into English. It’s part of my ongoing experience of being humbled on a daily basis that even the brain-damaged people I meet in Israel typically speak better English to me than I can speak Hebrew to them. “I’m from England,” I told her warily.

“Yeah!” she nodded. “Eastenders! Teletubbies! I know! I’m your angel, do you know that? God sent me to you to protect you from that pedophile. I want you to stay with me here until my madrich comes to get me.”

It was Shabbos. It was clear (to me) that no madrich was coming to get her.

“Do you have a phone?” she asked me. “No, it’s Shabbat.” “I know, I know, you don’t have to tell me!” she responded angrily. “I’m also making teshuva. Do you have a head-covering for me?” I didn’t.

====

So now I said to myself, God, what do you want from me?

What do you want me to do with this stark-raving crazy lady in the middle of Talpiyot who wants me to wait with her until the Moshiach comes?

The Police cruiser came around again, and this time I went against her instructions and looked in their direction and tried to subtly flag them down. The two policewomen in the car looked at me, then drove off.

“You see? They love me! Right they were smiling at me?! They all want to be my boyfriend. But most of them are married! And I’m not a slut,” gabbled on the crazy lady. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that there were no policemen in sight, and the police women clearly felt they had better things to do than take a crazy lady back to her institution.

“Listen,” she said to me suddenly, as though she’d been reading my thoughts. “I’m not crazy. I just have CP. You know what is CP?” I nodded. “I need you to walk me back to my madrich. I’m your angel. You need me.”

I raised my eyes to the Heavens again.

Lord, what do you want from me?

Go with the crazy woman. You can’t leave her here.

“Where is your madrich?”

“Tzomet Pat”

That was miles away! I sighed heavily. Ok, God. Ok. If that’s what You want, that’s what I’ll try to give You.

====

We started walking, and I realized with sinking stomach that the crazy lady had a really bad limp.

This was going to take ages. She looked at me, saw my bemused expression, and started insulting me.

“You’re a sick person, you know that? You’re mentally ill! You should be in a hospital!”

I raised an eyebrow, than agreed with her. That threw her. So she tried to insult me again.

“What do you have, schizophrenia? Depression? You know, you’re a sick person. You’re not nice. You don’t trust anyone. Come on, trust me!” she told me emphatically. “I’m not going to do anything to you!”

Thanks to my teenagers, my tolerance for being insulted is pretty high.

But even so, she was approaching the cresting point. I realized it would be better for everyone if she continued her monologue in Hebrew. That way I could pretend to be listening without having to get too involved.

====

So she took my hand – for my own safety, of course, so the pedophile wouldn’t get me – and we walked along at 2 cms an hour, over the bike track and up onto the other side of Makor Chaim.

The whole way, she was telling me about her 11 year old son, who wasn’t adopted. And her ex-husband who was a Russian Jew, but they still had to get married in a civil wedding in Cyprus. Now they were divorced. She told me she had cancer. She told me she’d had two serious operations. She told me that Avi had just killed himself, because she’d refused to marry him.

“His Facebook account is blocked now, right?” I nodded mechanically. “That means he’s dead! It’s very sad.” She started crying. “You didn’t kill him,” I told her emphatically (who knows if ‘Avi’ even existed, but when you’re in Mad World, there are certain rules you have to follow.)

She turned on my angrily. Don’t be aggressive with me, ok? I’m a black belt karate! I’ll hit you so hard you won’t get up again!”

She looked at me with angry eyes, and I looked back at her 5ft nothing, limping frame and sighed a very deep sigh again. You can’t disagree with crazy people about anything. They are always right. So I apologized and nodded, and we carried on.

At 2cm an hour.

In the boiling sun.

And I didn’t have any water.

And I was starting to need the toilet.

====

I cleared my throat.

“Do you know where we’re going?”

“Come on! Trust me! What’s the matter with you!!” she started yelling at me again.

I ignored her.

Do you know where we are going? I can’t spend all day going to Tzomet Pat with you.

Right at the beginning of the journey, we’d had a disagreement about the direction to take and fool that I am, I thought she’d really known where she was going. I wasn’t going to make that mistake twice.

“I’m going to ask someone” I told her – which again got her a little mad and panicked, but I wasn’t going to take no for an answer this time.

“It’s FORBIDDEN for you to speak to a man, what sort of religious woman are you?!” she shouted at me, then ran off to flag down the jogging bald-headed man that was heading straight for us.

“Where’s Tzomet Pat?” I asked him. He pointed me in a direction, and the crazy lady started up that he was lying, and that it was the other way. My patience broke.

“Listen,” I said in English. “She’s a little bit crazy, and I’m trying to help her get to her madrich. Please tell me where Tzomet Pat is.”

That was it. I’d done the unthinkable. I’d dared to state that the crazy person was crazy.

I’d broken the cardinal rule of the ‘Mad World’. This was unforgivable.

====

The crazy person turned on me and started abusing me roundly on the street.

“I knew you were a sick person! Get away from me, before I put you in hospital! I don’t want you to come anywhere with me! Go away!”

Now my guilt reflex kicked in. Should I leave the crazy woman here, in the middle of the road? Am I now responsible for getting her home?

I decided to try to follow her stealthily for a minute, hiding out behind some cars, to check she’d be OK. She spotted me immediately, and started abusing me again.

“You’re disgusting! You’re sick! Stop stalking me! Go and get help!”

Just like that, the tables had been neatly turned, and now I looked like the crazy person.

Talk about a mad world.

I turned and walked back in the other direction, towards my home.

The little bit of nachas I’d schlepped from putting myself out to do a mitzvah, however strange and unwillingly, had totally disappeared. Instead, I just felt pretty bad about myself.

God, what was I meant to have done differently? How was I meant to have reacted? Am I really responsible for trying to help these people, who are totally insane?

I don’t have an answer.

I came home in a thoughtful mood, and not for the first time, I thanked God for keeping me out of the loonie bin. Who knows how crazy people really get that way. Certainly, there’s usually been a lot of suffering, a lot of pain, a lot abuse on the way down into the madness.

There but for the grace of God go I.

But in the meantime, it’s a mad world out there, and getting crazier all the time.

And I have no idea, really, how it’s all going to get fixed.

====

You might also like these articles:

Mad World photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

Rabbi Berland’s New Prayer to Move to Israel.

So many of the people I’m in touch with want to move to Israel, but feel totally petrified about the whole idea of uprooting their whole lives, and trying to plonk them down again in a totally different country, however holy that country may actually be, and however much God really wants the Jews to move to Israel.

This is totally understandable. Moving country is not a simple thing, it has profound consequences for everyone involved. You can understand why so many otherwise believing Jews are twisting the words of the Torah, ignoring the whole ‘sin of the spies’ episode, and making all sorts of bizarre claims about there being no need for Jews to move to the Land of Israel.

The fear is in control. The fear is running the show.

Fear is one of the yetzer hara’s most powerful tools for keeping people away from doing the right thing. How many people stay trapped in a secular lifestyle, because they are scared of what people will say, or what’s going to be, if they take the plunge and start keeping kosher….

Or take the plunge and start keeping Shabbat….

Or take the plunge, and start dressing more modestly….

Or take the plunge, and ditch the i-Phone for something far more basic and better for the soul….

Moving to Israel is no different, except the fear is less about what people will say – because after all, it’s a new start, and you’re leaving the people who are against moving to Israel behind – and much more about what will be.

Will I find work?

Will I find friends?

Will I find a place to live?

Will my kids acclimatize OK?

And maybe the biggest fear of all:

Will I regret doing this for the rest of my life?

====

Again, all these fears are totally, 100% normal and reasonable to have. If we don’t acknowledge that these fears are coming from a rational place, and that they have to be addressed properly, rather than squashed or mocked, then we can’t move forward with the whole discussion of moving to Israel.

Israel is the land of emuna, it’s where a person can really start to LIVE their belief that God is running the whole world, and not just talk about it.

The answer to all of the ‘issues’ stated above – the answer to every ‘issue’ and worry a person has about moving to Israel ultimately boils down to the same thing:

God is in control. Whatever God decides, that’s what’s going to happen.

====

That’s a massive level of emuna to be striving for, isn’t it? And I’m not sure that I’m there myself, really, although I’d certainly like to be.

But the more we can live our life from that genuine place of really believing in Him, and really believing in concepts like reward and punishment, and really believing that 99% of the ‘yuck’ we go through in our lives we totally bring on ourselves, via our own bad middot – the more easy we will be able to deal with any potential move to Israel.

Really, there’s only one answer to ‘why move to Israel?’

I could tell you about the amazing day I spent yesterday, swimming with my family in a stream up North, together with a bunch of frum Jews with payot, and fully-clothed Beis Yaakov girls all happily splashing about.

I could tell you about last Wednesday night, when I went off to the Kotel to recite some tehillim for the Rav, and how I watched the swallows duck and dive, swooping so close to the wall before soaring back up into the heavens.

I could tell you about how everything here is kosher (I live in Jerusalem. That’s not true of everywhere in Israel, especially not Tel Aviv.)

I could tell you about the farm one of my kids went to volunteer on last week, up in the Shomron hills, that’s being started by an idealistic young Jewish couple.

I could talk about the sun, the sea, the way my soul just feels way, way happier here, and way, way more peaceful than it ever did in London.

But really, all of these things are missing the point.

The point of moving to Israel, is because it’s a mitzvah that God commanded the Jews to keep.

So maybe you’ll move here, and you really will struggle with making a living. And you really will go through years of feeling so lonely. And you really will find it very hard to ever buy your own place, especially in Jerusalem.

And maybe you won’t.

But the point is, whatever happens to us in Israel – and in New York, and in London, and in Melbourne, and in Paris – it’s all just to bring home that same message:

God is in control. Whatever God decides, that’s what’s going to happen.

====

If a person is really working on their emuna, then they will increasingly be living their life according to this idea wherever they happen to live.

But there’s another point to make here, and that’s the idea of having some humility, and overcoming our own arrogance. Or to put it another way, to start thinking much more about what does God want from me, and much less about what do I want from God.

We are here to serve God, not the other way around.

Again, let’s keep things real.

This is a huge spiritual level! It’s a level that we will have to struggle and fight for ad 120. It doesn’t come easily to anyone, and especially not to those people who find it very difficult to put anyone else’s needs and wants ahead of their own.

That’s why there are two things that really clear the path to moving to Israel, and those two things are:

  1. Working on our own bad middot
  2. Working on our emuna, particularly the idea that we are in control of our lives

====

We need to pray to get to Israel.

That’s part of the process of really getting ‘ready’ to actually live here. We need to pray to get here, and we need to pray that all the bad middot that are stopping us from moving somehow disappear. And then once we’re here, we need to carry on praying every single day, that we will continue to have the merit of staying here.

Because in Israel, all the bad middot that we fooled ourselves we didn’t have in chutz l’aretz come roaring out of the closet.

Because God wants us to finally start dealing with them, and acknowledging them, and to stop making excuses about what we are really down here to work on and fix.

BTW, that’s also why even the very process of moving to Israel can be so very taxing and upsetting. It’s all part of the preparation process for the spiritual work of developing some real humility, and understanding that God is in charge of the world, not us.

All this sounds like a lot of hard work, doesn’t it?

And honestly, it is.

You can totally understand why so many otherwise believing Jews would prefer to stay in chutz l’aretz and pretend that moving to Israel is something God doesn’t really require of anyone. It’s certainly much easier that way, it’s certainly much more comfortable.

At least, on one level.

====

This post isn’t for those people.

This post is for the people who are really yearning and longing to get here, and who really do know that God wants the Jewish people to be in Israel, but who can’t quite manage to overcome their fears (yet!) in order to give God what He really wants.

For those people, there is a shortcut to moving to Israel, which is basically the power of prayer. Every prayer we say on this subject, shortens the road we need to walk in order to get here. Why? Because it’s tackling the obstacles that are blocking our path at their root.

A praying person is a person who already acknowledges, at least on some level, that God is in control. A praying person is someone who knows that God is behind all the difficulties, and that if we start to clean up our own act, particularly with our own bad middot like arrogance, laziness, greed and complacency, that God will then blast so many of the ‘issues’ keeping us stuck out of the way, too.

====

That’s why Israel is really only acquired via prayer.

And that’s why so many of the people who actually live in Israel still haven’t really ‘got here’ spiritually, even though they moved here with their bodies, or were born here.

Those people moan all the time about what’s going on in Israel. They complain all the time about the taxes, and about other groups of Jews, and about all the ‘bad’ they see going on all around them, because the whole world is just one big mirror, and God is beaming a very unpleasant reflection straight into their faces.

Like we said above, in Israel, bad middot are amplified – both ours, and other people’s – so we’ll stop making excuses, and finally knuckle down to the work of fixing them.

Luckily, there is a shortcut. The shortcut is to get close to our true tzaddikim, to follow their advice, and to use their prayers to circumvent all the stuff that’s holding us back from being able to even describe the problem, let alone deal with it.

Rebbe Nachman’s advice to do an hour a day of hitbodedut has totally transformed my approach to the world, and it’s the single biggest ‘help’ to navigating life in Israel. You can read more about it HERE. But in the meantime, I want to share with you a prayer that Rabbi Berland just put out for people who want to move to Israel, but who are stuck, somehow.

It’s not a long prayer, but it sums up so precisely what’s really going on when people get stuck unable to make aliya, even though they admit it’s the right thing to do.

You can see the original HERE, but here’s what it says:

====

A Prayer to Come to Eretz Yisrael

TO MERIT COMING TO ERETZ YISRAEL WITHOUT LOSING ANYTHING. TO SELL EVERYTHING FOR ITS FULL VALUE. AND MAY I MERIT LEAVING THE DEFILEMENT OF THE LAND OF THE NATIONS THAT WE ARE IMMERSED IN. AND MAY WE SMASH ALL OF THE OBSTACLES THAT ARE MOSTLY OBSTACLES OF THE MIND.

Master of the World, who can do everything. Merit me to go up to Eretz Yisrael with sublime self-sacrifice. That I leave all of the property and all of the belongings that I have outside of Eretz Yisrael. That I not leave anything over, that I not leave any remembrance.

Rather, I should sell everything as quick as possible at full value, and not lose even one pruta by moving to Eretz Yisrael. And may I not incur any other damages by moving to Eretz Yisrael.

For we have no more strength to stay in exile, in chutz la’aretz, even for one second.

We want to go up to the land of our forefathers, that you gave to our forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov, “The land flowing with milk and honey”.

For Eretz Yisrael is holier than any other land in the world.

And Hashem Your G-d chose her over all other precious things in the world.”

Please, Hashem, merit me to go up to Eretz Yisrael with self-sacrifice,

“And bring us to Your Holy Mountain.”

For we have no more strength to stay in chutz la’aretz, but on the other hand we’ve been here for so long, in the defilement of the land of the nations, and we have no idea how to free ourselves from it.

Now we are turning to You, with humble kneeling and prostration:

Help us, Hashem our G-d, to come to Eretz Yisrael in the blink of an eye! And help us to break all of the obstacles, and all of the postponements, for the main obstacle is in the mind.   

====

May Hashem help us to give Him what He really wants, as easily as possible.

====

You might also like these articles:

 

 

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.

====

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.”

====

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.

====

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.

====

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.

====

“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.

====

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.

====

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

====

You might also like these articles:

 

Help to keep Rabbi Arush and Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva going.

Yesterday, I got an email from someone I know from way back when, during the time my husband and I were a part of Rabbi Shalom Arush’s Chut Shel Chesed Yeshiva, telling me the Rav needs our help.

Here’s what she sent me to post up here, which I’m going to cut and paste below:

====

Everyone knows Rabbi Arush for his books including “The Garden of Emuna,” and his classes. What you may not know, is that Rabbi Arush runs an entire organization centered in Jerusalem, whose reach is all over the world, called “Chut shel Chessed.”

> The sounds of Torah learning that fill Rabbi Arush’s Yeshiva 24/6 – you can have a portion in the merit of all that Torah.
> The sounds of small children learning in Rabbi Arush’s preschools, the breath of the children that sustains the world – you can have a portion in their learning.
> The sounds of school children, high school, and seminary/Beit Midrash girls and boys busy at their studies – you can have a portion in that too.
> The hundreds of food baskets and thousands of hot meals served to the poor of Jerusalem, many of them the families of Torah scholars – you can have a portion in all of that chesed, made even more important by supporting the poor of the Land of Israel.
? The almost one thousand classes given monthly by Rabbi Arush and his students, plus tens of thousands of books distributed and thousands of readers of the website in five languages – you can have a portion in all of that outreach.

No other organization gives you everything, all under one roof!

By donating to the Campaign “The Fire of Emuna” you become a full partner in everything that Rabbi Arush does.

And he wants to do more! He has a rare opportunity to build a new building for the boys school, which right now is squeezed into a makeshift space out of a few apartments – he needs the money NOW, or it won’t happen. He has an amazing opportunity to do special classes in the Israeli army, something that no one gets security clearance for – he got the clearance, and now we need the funds. He wants to greatly expand his efforts spreading emuna around the world.

He has already done so much, and he can do much more – but he cannot do it alone.

====

Rabbi Arush has promised something huge back in return: A guarantee that anyone who donates to the Campaign will see miracles already this year! 

He will also pray for each and every person who donates. You can also receive special gifts like a mezuzah or Kiddush Cup specially blessed by Rabbi Arush, a personally signed and blessed Book of Psalms or “The Garden of Emuna,” or even a special, personal prayer for you at the Kotel.

In every way that you increase your donation, and even more so by encouraging other people to donate as well, so too do you increase your level of partnership, thus increasing your merit and the salvations that will inevitably come as a result.

Click here to donate via the Charidy website or to donate by phone using credit card, bank transfer, or horat keva (last two are Israeli only), or for more information on the special gifts, or to break your donation into monthly payments, call my personal contact for the Campaign on: (323) 992-6090 from the US or 058-320-5057 in Israel.

Remember, it’s all or nothing! The Campaign ends 12AM Midnight Israel time on Thurs. 6/27!

====

Some more of my personal thoughts to add on this:

In case you don’t know how these charity campaigns run in Israel, they basically work along the lines of a Vegas game of poker. The site offers to match the donations brought in – but only if your campaign makes its target amount within 36 hours. If it doesn’t – then it’s really, really bad news.

Personally, I don’t like the idea so much, but it appeals to the Israeli ‘high stakes’ mindset, and I know most of the charity campaigns I’ve contributed to the last few years all over the orthodox Jewish world in Israel have been run along the same lines.

So, Rav Arush really needs our help.

I heard a whisper on the grapevine that the people behind the persecution of Rabbi Berland basically went after many of Rav Arush’s donors, after he came out – repeatedly – in public support of him. If you want to know why he suddenly fell quiet a couple of years’ back, it’s because the Meah Shearim Mafiosos targeted him and his institutions for retribution, and also threatened to get his books removed from shelves and stores in Israel for being ‘religiously coercive’.

This stuff would be funny, if it wasn’t so very, very serious.

And it makes me very sad to see that so many gullible people fell for their tactics, and that the yeshiva is now in such a bad way, financially.

Are we going to stand back, yawn and let the bad guys win?

I hope not.

And I hope you’ll consider giving something to the campaign, and letting other people know about it.

For once, the fundraising bumpf is not lying:

It really is all or nothing.

====

Go HERE to donate, or follow the instructions above, to deal with a real, English-speaking helpful person.

PS: Just to say, this email really made me think about how much ‘good’ I got from the Garden of Emuna, and especially ‘Education with Love’, amongst Rav Arush’s other books. I can’t do much, but the little I could give I was very happy to do with tremendous gratitude. Rav Arush really did change my world for the best. I hope I can return the favor, at least a tiny bit.

Increasingly, I’m feeling between two worlds at the moment.

Rebbe Nachman tells the story[1] of a man who plays host to a strange visitor who he’s half-scared of, and half in awe of. This strange visitor entices him out of his house, and then grabs him and starts flying all over the world with him. Then, the host starts to notice that he’s kind of in two worlds at once – flying around with the strange man, but also in his house, at one and the same time.

“He couldn’t believe that this was he himself, in his own house. But he looked carefully, and sure enough he was speaking with ordinary human beings and eating and drinking normally. But then, he again noticed he was flying like before. Then he looked again, and lo and behold! He was in his house. Again, he noticed that he was flying…and so it went on for quite a time.”

====

I can’t help thinking about this story a lot at the moment, as it seems to be describing what’s going on, at least in my life.

One minute, I’m ‘flying’ with the tzaddikim, and with visions of Moshiach and geula, and God forbid, Gog and Magog and all that supernatural end-of-days stuff. And then, I’m back in my house, trying to figure out what to make for supper, and how best to sell some books so I could actually make 5 cents at some point in my life.

And so it continues from day to day: I’m flying around with thoughts of Beit HaMikdash, and how good life will truly be once all the lies and all the horrible people who enjoy telling them, and turning people against each other, disappear once and for all. And then, I snap back to the so-called ‘real world’ and realise I need to hang my washing up, get the shower door sorted out, deal with more of the mindless bureaucracy that’s taking up more and more of the bandwidth of the world.

“Meanwhile, he noticed that he was in house. It was something extraordinary for him. How was it, that one moment he could here, and the next moment there? He wanted to speak about it to other human being, but how can one explain something incredible like this to other people? They would find it hard to believe.”

====

Friday morning, World War III almost started.

Trump almost sent American planes in to directly bomb Iran after they shot down an American spy drone. If he’d done that, we’d be dealing with World War III / Gog and Magog right now, instead of me sitting here in my pyjamas typing this out.

I know so many of us prefer a sugar-coated version of reality, and especially of geula, but if wasn’t for the tremendous self-sacrifice of the Gadol HaDor, who went into hospital with what appears to be some sort of kidney failure Thursday night – and the thousands of people who are spending their time travelling to prayer gatherings, and reciting tehillim on behalf of the Rav and the nation – we’d be dealing with a scenario where millions of people could already have been incinerated with an Iranian nuke.

They already have nukes.

Rabbi Berland has been telling us that for years, already, but no-one wanted to believe him.

====

This past Sunday, the world could already have lunged off the cliff of war, and we’d be dealing with many thousands of casualties, already.

Instead, I took Sunday off and went up North with my girls, to a quiet little stream where I sat in the water for hours and swam widths across from one clump of bulrushes to another.

My girls and their friends disappeared up-stream for a while, so I was there by myself, listening to the radio playing ‘Don’t worry, be happy’, followed by: “Don’t worry, about a thing. Every little thing’s gonna be alright.”

Really, God? Is it really? How can that be true?

That’s what I wondered to myself, as I swam backwards and forwards in perfect weather, under blue skies, with nary a person or a mosquito to disturb my personal piece of Gan Eden.

How can I be enjoying myself like this, when two days ago we nearly had Gog and Magog and the whole world is slipping into more chaos and evil every day?

That’s when God reminded me about this Rebbe Nachman story, quoted above.

Life is pretty challenging for all of us. It’s challenging when it is challenging, and it’s also challenging when it’s not challenging, as that kind of feels plain wrong, given the momentous things going on all around us.

What, I should still take some time to buy a pair of new shoes, and to spend a lazy afternoon swimming somewhere quiet in nature with my kids?

Yup.

But what about all the tehillim I need to be saying? What about all the insights I need to be sharing? All the teshuva I need to be making?

There’s a time and a place for everything, I guess.

And God is also showing me the value of my small efforts.

Like, last week the Rav put out a call for 200 people to say the whole book of tehillim every single day, until Rosh Hashana, to help him continue going until then.

I heard that and I was awe-struck.

What, there are people out there who could actually do that? Who are willing to do that? 200 of them?!?!

Me? I can’t. It takes me 5 hours to read through the book of tehillim, so it’s strictly for special occasions when I have nothing else to do and no-one else to look after. That said, I could certainly fit a few tehillim in for the Rav every day, so that’s what I’m doing instead – I’m trying to finish a whole book a week.

It’s not everything, but it’s something, and I know God values the effort very much.

And in the meantime, I’m continuing to ‘fly’ into that much deeper spiritual world, where the soul holds sway, and where the miraculous is normal, while all the time still trying to keep the fridge stocked with milk.

It’s not easy. It’s really not easy to be caught between two worlds like this.

“[H]ow can one explain something incredible like this to other people? They would find it hard to believe.”

But that’s where we’re holding.

[1] New Stories – Tzaddik, pages 213-215

====

You might also like these other articles:

 

Christophe Ferron