Am I the only one who’s got a profound sense of deja vu?
Man, I am so tired at the moment. True, I woke up at 4.15am today, and couldn’t get back to sleep. But why I’m really tired at the moment is because my soul is very tired. I’m not even saying that in a bad way, or a despairing way, it’s just a statement of fact.
Really since last Shavuot, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, trying to do this, and trying to do that, and trying to work on stuff for Rav Berland, and move my own stuff forward, somehow.
Spiritually, I hope it’s made a difference. But honestly, I’m not so sure.
And while I am one of those dumb people who will continue going long after everyone else gave up, if I really believe in something, I have to say I’m approaching the point of burn out. Maybe, we’ve just reached that stage now where the die has been cast, and whatever is going to happen next is going to happen.
I really hope and pray that Rav Berland and his community, and the rest of the Tzaddikim, are going to continue to be able to sweeten the threat from Iran.
But honestly, part of me is just so tired of being locked up in Geula Ground Hog Day, where every few months we go through the whole pantomime again, with no obvious resolution.
The most primitive part of the human brain hates uncertainty. That’s why fortune tellers, and soothsayers and false prophets have always done such a roaring trade since the dawn of time, and are still going strong today.
The primitive part of the brain, aka the yetzer hara, just wants to have a conclusion already, a decision. It doesn’t really care if we’re going to get nuked to smithereens, it just wants the denouement already, because sometimes the uncertainty is unbearable. At least, for the yetzer.
They did a research project a little while back where they asked volunteers to play a video game where they had to turn over stones to find a snake.
Every time they found a snake, the volunteer got a small, but unpleasant, electric shock.
The researchers incorporated a bunch of obvious clues in the game, which gave players a reasonable certainty of whether there would be a snake, or not. And they discovered a very interesting thing: players were less stressed about knowing with certainty they were about to find a snake, than if there was a 50-50 chance of finding or not finding.
This study explains something that has always puzzled me, namely why there are so many of us out there that seem to be secretly anticipating Iran nuking Israel. Is life that boring, or that miserable, that this seems like a preferable scenario to soldiering on, even though the uncertainty is sometimes just so hard to take?
Apparently for many people, the answer is ‘yes’.
Nothing is certain today, is it?
Not the weather, not the economy, not the elections, not the whole idea that hard work and effort inevitably brings reward – so much is up in the air, and for sure, that’s totally stressing us out.
We don’t care too much WHAT is around the corner, Hashem, but the not knowing is driving us totally bonkers…
So what’s the answer to this?
How can we put some ‘certainty’ into what is fundamentally one of the most volatile periods of time in the history of mankind?
The answer is, only be trying to boost our emuna that God is running the world, and our bitachon that whatever God has planned, it’s all for the best.
Apart from this sort of radical emuna, there is no other workable option on the table.
Three days ago, my husband and I visited the 8th circle of hell that is Bank Mizrachi’s mortgage department.
I warned my husband going in that he was probably going to have a PTSD flashback, after the last time they agreed a mortgage in principle only to revoke their agreement after we’d signed.
But last time it was a complicated property in a complicated part of Jerusalem, and we were asking for a relatively massive mortgage. This time, we were asking for a relatively small mortgage in a new build property in Harish, so what could be the problem?
Aha! Fool that I am.
We sat there, exchanged precisely 1 ½ words of ‘pleasantries’ before the mortgage clerk put the clamp on us and went straight for the jugular. Because my husband switched over from being self-employed to being a business in 2019, whatever paperwork we’d put together apparently wasn’t enough to show them we had the income we were claiming.
Apparently, because his clients don’t pay precisely the same amount into his account, in round numbers, every single month, our mortgage approval (which again, we’d received in theory) was now in jeopardy.
I watched my husband’s eyes dilate, and all the blood rush from his cheeks as the bank devil continued to dance around him, jabbing her French-accented Hebrew pitchfork into his face. A classic PTSD response. His breathing sped up and went more shallow (ready for fight or flight) and I also felt my stomach muscles tense up (definitely fight…)
But then, a strange thing happened.
I remembered God runs the world, and that if God wants to stuff up our mortgage yet again, then that must be for the very best of reasons, and a million percent what we need.
I started clapping my hands as the bank devil continued to prod my husband, and I stage-whispered at him: “Clap your hands and don’t fight back! There’s nothing you can do, except to clap your hands and dance!”
By this point, the fight response was gathering steam above my husband’s head, so he was effectively carrying on two arguments at once: one, with the bank devil, who was trying to explain to him how even earning a gazillion shekels a year isn’t enough to get a mortgage guaranteed, if it isn’t appearing in his account in a neat little box every single month.
And then a second argument with me, who was stage whispering at him to go outside the bank for a minute, and do some dancing.
I also nipped off to the toilets, to see if I could do a bit of jumping up and down to stomp on the head of the forces of evil that run Israel’s banking industry.
I couldn’t manage a lot of stomping – I didn’t want the Arab lady cleaning the toilets to report me for borderline psychotic behavior – but even the little bit I did made me feel way better.
I returned to the little booth, where my husband was still caught in a classic PTSD response, and I started clapping my hands again, while the bank devil looked at me a little quizzically.
“Go outside and dance!” I hissed at him. “There is nothing else to do here!”
So he did – literally for half a minute – and when he returned, the bank devil got the phone call we’d been waiting for, announcing that the bank would review her refusal of the mortgage, as long as we would send along a few more documents, and twist ourselves into a few more pretzels, and agree to sacrifice a close family member to the Moloch.
(I made one of these statements up. See if you can guess which one.)
The uncertainty continues, the madness and the unfairness continues. The bad guys are still running the country and holding all the cards in their hand, but I don’t really care anymore.
Mortgage or no mortgage, I can still be happy. Nuke or no nuke, I can still make supper and love my family, and carry on working on my ‘beat your stress course’ – which I have to tell you, has been totally stressing me out for months, already.
The last few weeks, it seems as though pretty much every source of stress and uncertainty that we’ve ever had to struggle with the last few years has been sent back to us to deal with, as part of the ongoing Geula Ground Hog Day.
The last few years, I’ve whinged and complained so much about not having a house, and finding it so hard to find a place to live in Jerusalem, and not having a mortgage, and being strapped for cash, and not getting my books to sell, and not being able to keep my kids settled in school – and a million other things, besides.
But no more! This time, whatever else happens, I’m not going to complain.
God wants to nuke me off the face of the earth? That’s fine with me. Really.
God doesn’t want me to have a mortgage? OK, no big deal. If I have to sell the apartment in Harish, I will.
God wants my kid to drop out of school (again….)? Great! That’s clearly what she needs to do at this point, because I have tried everything I can to keep her in that framework, and I can see how bad ‘school’ actually is, for her soul.
You remember in Ground Hog Day, by the end Bill Murray actually starts to look forward to each repeated day, because he can act like a crazy person and do a bunch of things that otherwise, he’d never do in a million years?
Like sit there clapping in the face of a bank devil who’s telling you they aren’t going to give you a mortgage? Again?
This time around, I’m determined to enjoy the 8th circle of hell that is Bank Mizrachi, whatever else happens. There’s no such thing as ‘certainty’ in 2020, and certainly not in my small corner of it.
The only certain thing is that God is behind all this stuff, and it’s somehow good.
What else do I need to know?
I just found this video (above) of a Nanach guy which made the point about dancing and clapping hands sweetening judgments, and also made me laugh. Thank God for strange people who believe in Hashem and have Youtube channels. Where would we be, without them?
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