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Yesterday, I got a text telling me that Rabbi Berland, aka Eliezer ben Etia, was heading out to Ashdod.

Rabbi Berland was going there after the evening prayers to go to the city square there, and recite the Tikkun Haklali seven times to “stop the rockets.”

I woke up this morning curious to see whether Israel was still being pounded by another round of rockets, after 690 rockets rained down on our head over the previous 48 hours and what did I see?

A cease-fire.

This is strange for so many reasons. Why did the Palestinians stop? What did Israel do to them, to get them to stop? Yes, there were a few targeted killings, some minor bombing – pretty much business as usual, in this part of the world. But there was nothing I could see that the IDF had done to ‘persuade’ Hamas to stop rocketing.

And on the Israel side of the equation, this latest round of terror has cost us very dear. We’re so used to miracles in Israel, that when I heard that 4 people had died, and that scores had been hospitalized with light-to-moderate-to-critical injuries, it really felt to me like the usual high level of Divine protection we get has dropped off a little.

God forbid.

Of course, teshuva and tehillim can turn everything around, as Rav Berland has repeatedly told us, ever since he first called for the first prayer gathering in Hevron before Chanuka 5778, when he warned us that:

“Every part of Israel is now under threat of being deluged with rockets. After we saw 400 rockets falling on Ashkelon and the surrounding cities, including Beer Sheva, Netivot, Ofakim and Sderot, now they are preparing thousands and thousands of rockets, which will reach to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

“And we have no possibility of stopping this from happening, because the whole world is against us. They can launch 10,000 missiles, and if we fire back even just one, they will say that we are the aggressors, and they are the victims.

“They will say that we began [hostilities], and that they are simply defending themselves.

“We have no [military] might, we only have the power of tehillim (psalms). All of the State of Israel’s efforts to stop the missiles of Hezbollah and Hamas ended in failure. Every day, we are threatened with thousands of new rockets. They can reach any target precisely…

So for now, it seems that the seven Tikkun Haklalis – and the rest of our prayers – have worked, and the rockets have stopped.

But it’s still kind of heavy.

I just finished working on a long post that sets out the dark roots of white supremacy in modern America, and it makes for pretty disturbing reading. I’m just running it past the bloke before I go ahead and post it up here, because when I shared some of what I’d discovered with an American friend of mine in Jerusalem, her eyes grew as big as saucers and she looked petrified.

I don’t want to shock anyone unduly, but the situation in America is far more dangerous for Jews than anyone imagines.

A few days ago, a friend of mine on the East coast called me to tell me that whole swathes of Jews are now considering moving out to Texas, from the State of New York.

Why Texas? I wanted to know.

New York is so corrupt, she replied. She told me about the recent law they passed enabling doctors to kill a newborn even as it’s being delivered – for absolutely no reason. Infanticide, pure and simple. Then, she told me about the massive fines New York State is now handing out to the families of unvaccinated children, and how they are ending the exemption from vaccines based on religious views.

Unless I vaccinate, I won’t have a school I can send my kids to next year.

And she’s not going to vaccinate.

Lastly, she told me about the plans to outlaw instruction in Hebrew in religious institutions in New York State, which will effectively make studying the Torah very difficult if they are passed into law. Life is getting very hard for many religious Jews in New York, who want a Torah-true education for their children, and who also don’t want to be forced into giving vaccinations they don’t believe in.

Ok, but why Texas? Why not Israel?

Texas, because the Jewish community is still ‘relatively normal’, and the rest of the state is ‘relatively religious’,  and conservative, so it’s easier to continue living an orthodox Jewish life there without being assailed by moral corruption of the highest degree at every turn.

And why not Israel?

Just because I’m scared. It’s scary to think about moving to Israel, even though I do really know that it’s the right thing, and that it’s what God ultimately wants.

I understand her concern. Moving to Israel is scary, for so many of us. New beginnings are always difficult, and it’s not easy re-adjusting to a different culture, and there’s also the challenge of overcoming all the slander and lashon hara that’s spoken about the land.

But after doing all this research on white supremacism in the US, and the Turner Diaries connection to the synagogue shootings, more and more I can see that there are no easy choices up ahead.

Israel has its own problems, as the last two days of rockets clearly shows. You don’t come to Israel for an easy life, or because it’s going to solve your problems, or give you a sun tan.

You come to Israel because that’s what God wants you to do, as a Jew.

But honestly, that’s really the only reason that matters.

  • I’m starting to hear more and more stories of people who have apparently been denied the chance to make aliya by the Jewish Agency. If you are an orthodox Jew and you’ve been denied the chance to move to Israel, please drop me an email and tell me your story, so we can start to figure out what’s going on here.

Almost the whole of Shabbat, it was pouring and howling wind in Jerusalem, with a fair sprinkling of thunder and lightning, too.

These are the ‘late rains’ we pray for in our davening, until Pesach. And this year, God seems to be answering the prayer for rain abundantly, after almost 5 years of relative drought.

The last time the Kinneret started to fill up to full capacity was way back in the winter of 2013 when Operation Pillar of Defense was going on in the Gaza strip, as a response to terrorist rockets falling across Israel.

But the wettest winter in recent times happened in 1991, when the Gulf War was occurring, and Israel was being rocketed with Saddam’s scuds, and everyone was huddling in their ‘safe’ rooms with tape over the window, as instructed by the authorities.

(What makes the connection between rain and war even more distinctly is that the only year when Israel got absolutely ZERO rainfall was 2000, when Ehud Barak was PM and trying to negotiate half of Israel away to Yasser Arafat, at the failed Camp David ‘peace accords’.)

Last week, on Thursday, two rockets were apparently ‘accidentally’ fired at Tel Aviv.

You know how that goes, Ahmed accidentally leant against the control panel, and sent a precision Grad straight to the heart of the country.

Oooops!

And then, while Ahmed was still feeling bad about his blooper, Mohammed came in, tripped on a bit of dodgy carpet and also accidentally ‘fell’ against the missile launching control panel, to send a second rocket hurtling at Tel Aviv.

Accidents, accidents.

And this accident triggered a flurry of ‘tough man’ statements from our God-less politicians, each one trying to pretend that the safety of the country lies in their hands, alone.

With the lefties, the lie is obvious.

But with our current PM, so many otherwise believing Jews also seem to have been sucked into the fiction that all we need to emerge victorious in any confrontation with the enemy is to have Bibi as PM.

Things have gone so far, it’s approaching a modern form of idol-worship.

Who was ‘tougher’ than Ariel Sharon? But who was more of a disaster, ultimately?

Who was ‘weaker’ than Ehud Olmert? Yet that’s the guy who was steering the ship when the country went to war, twice.

Our Sages told us,

‘The heart of kings is in God’s hand’.

If the Jewish people are worthy, we’ll get miracles and protection even with a PM from Hamas, and if not – then not.

Even with Bibi.

Rav Berland has been telling us for months that our enemies have tens of thousands of rockets pointed at every part of the country, and that Tel Aviv and Jerusalem will not be spared, when the next round of hostilities start up.

He’s working day and night to try to sweeten things at their source, spiritually, in Heaven – but he needs us to work with him.

Rabbenu, Rebbe Nachman, explained that while we can’t do anything, really, without the help of the Tzaddikim, they also can’t do anything, really, without our active participation and yearning and prayers, however flawed.

Rav Berland called the prayer gathering for 4th Nissan, 5779, (Monday night, April 9, 2019) in Hevron weeks before the election was called, weeks before they found the ‘terror tunnels’ in the North. He made some pretty hair-raising statements about what is really on the cards, what we are really up against.

The Rav needs 50,000 people to join him in prayer, to really be able to sweeten the judgements we can all feel hanging so heavily in the air right now.

Sure, getting to Hevron is a shlep. Sure, it’s inconvenient, time consuming, uncomfortable. And then, there’s also the small point of convincing yourself that the Rav really is a huge tzaddik, and that all the effort is really worthwhile.

Everyone has the same tests, the same questions, the same inner battle.

But when you look at his track record, like when he said getting 10,000 people to Hevron would stop the ‘stabbing Intifada’ in its tracks, two years ago – and it did, immediately – that should hopefully give you enough strength to gird your loins, and make plans to be in Hevron Rosh Chodesh Nissan.

Because the alternative is getting a rocket through your roof.

So, rockets and rain seems to be going together again this year.

And I have a feeling, there are more storms on the way, before Pesach.

I have to tell you, when Ori Ansbacher was brutally murdered in the Jerusalem Forest two weeks ago, I found it so upsetting, I kind of blocked it out.

Me and my girls went into shock for a few days, then we all tried to pretend that it was life as usual, because when you live in Jerusalem, and you are a teenage girl yourself, or the mother of one, really what else can you do?

But the fear and anxiety about what had happened still started to seep out, in all sorts of subtle ways.

All of a sudden, I couldn’t sleep easily again if my girls were out by themselves, and I started phoning them up and texting them every five minutes to check on them, which they both really hate.

And who can blame them?! They are 18 and 15 ½! But I’d gotten so nervous again, after what had happened with Ori.

After a couple of weeks of this, I realized I was driving my kids bonkers again, and I have to try and get a grip on the fear again.

God is running the world. God is deciding everything. OK, there is a certain amount of common sense that’s required when raising teens in our world, but ultimately, so many ‘bad’ things can happen in such normal circumstances in the middle of the day.

If God decides, you can be waiting for a bus near Beit El…or strolling on the boardwalk by the sea in Yaffo…or walking in the forest late afternoon near Ein Yael… and disaster can strike. God forbid a million times over.

As a parent, it’s so tempting to just try and bundle our children up in cotton wool, and to build big walls around them, and to try to monitor their every move and to keep them ‘safe’ in their rooms at home.

But we can’t.

Not if we want to raise emotionally-healthy people who aren’t going to spend their whole lives permanently looking over their shoulders, waiting for the hammer to fall.

God is running the world, not us.

It’s not always easy to accept that.

Yesterday, they held a huge concert just up the road from me at the First Station in Jerusalem, to remember Ori Ansbacher. There were a load of famous singers there, Ori’s mother spoke to the crowd, and there were also a lot of videos and ‘remembrances’ of Ori herself.

Half the teens of Eretz Yisrael tried to attend, so the roads around the First Station were closed to traffic, and swamped with thousands of people, many of whom couldn’t even squeeze in, so they watched the show on the big screens set up outside.

This morning, my kid told me all about it, and concluded:

She was a really good, kind person.

In so many ways, it would be easier if she wasn’t, wouldn’t it?

It would feel a bit more comfortable, if the murder victim had been some sort of low-life, so we could assuage our own fears by telling ourselves what happened was somehow ‘deserved’.

Instead, yet again, we buried the cream of the crop. The best of the best. The kindest of the kind.

God knows what He’s doing, God’s running the world, it’s all ultimately for the best.

But the heart still breaks.

And I’m still having trouble sleeping.

I wrote this last Thursday, February 7th.

The last few days, I’ve been mostly staying at home, because this week it feels like ‘out there’ got dangerous, somehow.

The last two days, I’ve also been having weird dreams again. One night, it was the face of the ugliest person I’d ever seen in my life, who was chasing me around and I couldn’t get away from it. I woke up screaming.

Then yesterday night, I dreamt that I’d just moved into a massive, luxurious mansion, built of Jerusalem stone cobbles and filled with OTT swimming pools like one of the hotels in Las Vegas (I’ve never been, but so I’ve heard.)

BUT – there was some sort of massive leak / waterfall happening, cascading down the roof, and when we and the 400 people who were apparently visiting me in the mansion went up to see what was going on, this toddler started crawling on a very dangerous low wall overlooking the stairs – and fell off before I could grab him.

It was a long way down, and he was comatose – I knew it was a really bad fall, but I had the impression that he was still alive, and would make it.

Then, unbelievably, another small kid fell off the same wall – and I had the impression that this one had died.

I started yelling at the people in my mansion to keep their kids away from the wall and to pay attention to where they were, and what they were doing, but no-one was paying attention to me, because they were enjoying themselves way too much. So, I stood by the wall, and just kept grabbing the kids as they fell off, pulling them back.

In the dream, I was thinking:

“What’s the point of owning a house if it’s just going to spring massive leaks, and kill people?”

There was also a man in my dream, a writer, who initially was really bad, but who by the end made teshuva.

I woke up, and I repeated Rabbenu’s instructions for defusing difficult dreams, by saying: “It’s just a dream” three times.

But then it struck me: this whole dream, and the one before with the ugly person, had to do with talking lashon hara and hating other Jews.

In the first dream, the ugly person was an newspaper editor, and he was chasing me around with gossip and yucky information about other people. And the second dream, I realized, was all about the temple.

The kids who were falling off the ledge represented the destruction of the Temples. The first kid who fell and went comatose represented the destruction of the first Temple, which was a serious blow to the Jewish people, but which we recovered from, mostly, after 70 years.

The second kid who fell and apparently died was the destruction of the Second Temple – which we’re still suffering from after 2,000 years. And the 2-3 kids that fell off afterwards, but who I managed to grab back by their clothes, are the Third Temple, which God keeps trying to build, but which we keep torpedoing by our behavior and attitudes towards each other.

The problem that is causing all this death and destruction is sinat chinam, or the baseless hatred of other Jews that causes people to go around saying horrible, hateful and hurtful things to each other, and about each other.

And that sinat chinam is most destructive closest to home, with our children. It’s mamash destroying the next generation.

Whenever you see people who are publically and poisonously shooting their mouths off about ‘the problems’ they see in other Jews, and other groups of Jews, you can take it as read that they are also negative, critical, neglectful and abusive parents and spouses.  It can’t really be any other way.

Real tzaddikim don’t rebuke like that. They talk about particular bad behaviors, thought patterns or actions that are ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ and that we all need to work on. They don’t talk about specific Jews being ‘bad’, and place themselves on a platform of being ‘the perfect rebuker who never does anything wrong’.

So, instead of giving these ‘sinat chinam’ types of people a platform to spread hate, and an audience to eagerly lap it up, we should be running away from them as fast as our legs can carry us.

Because this is what is preventing the geula, and this is what is damaging our own relationships, especially with our own children: sinat chinam and lashon hara.

There’s a lot more to say, but hopefully a word to the wise will suffice.

More and more, I’m starting to feel as though some big change, some big transformation really is on the horizon. And the only way we can really prepare for it, wherever we live, is to continue to work on our own bad middot, and particularly the tendency to speak badly of others, and to hate them in our hearts, even while we’re so politely smiling at them.

==

The day after I had this dream, and wrote the above, we got the awful news of the rape and murder of Ori Ansbacher, a beautiful 19 year old girl who was doing her year of National Service at Ein Yael national park.

There’s a news blackout on a lot of the details, but it was awful, awful, awful.

All this stuff hits so very close to home, when you have teenage daughters yourself. And probably, even if you don’t.

We need geula the sweet way as fast as possible, before any more of our children ‘fall off’ and get smashed on the rocks of evil speech and hating our fellow Jew in our heart. God forbid, we should have any more of these sorts of evil tidings.

One of my kids is in school in a yishuv that’s smack bang in the middle of the area that’s been experiencing all the terrorist attacks of the last three days. 12 minutes drive from Ofra, 10 minutes drive from Givat Assaf, 14 minutes drive from Bet El (when there’s no traffic).

Also, everyone caught up in that shooting attack in Ofra has siblings, or parents, or cousins in my kid’s school. And the young woman who was seriously hurt in yesterday’s shooting at Givat Assaf is the commonarite, or local head, of the Beit El branch of the youth group Ariel, so a whole bunch of the kids in the ulpana know her directly.

These are the kids that stand at the trempiadas (hitch-hiking posts) and bus stops up and down Route 60, the road that leads out past Pisgat Ze’ev, and then forks between Ramallah to the left, and Bet El, Ofra, and the northern route up through the Shomron on the right.

I know it well.

I was driving it almost every day for six months last year, when my kid was having a nervous breakdown most days and just couldn’t get herself to school on the bus.

This is the road, these are the communities, being hit by this awful spate of terrorist incidents.

Yesterday, even before I heard about Givat Assaf, I got an email from the school’s principal explaining how the kids were down in the main hall reciting tehillim together, and how counselling services were being offered to any kid that required them.

You know, I hate getting emails like that.

My kid was late home from school, of course.

Budding ‘hill top yoof’ that she is, she and five of her friends decided to make massive banners stating “Am Yisrael Chai” and “Jewish blood is not hefker” (ownerless). Then, they went and climbed up on some of the rocks next to the junction that pulls off into the yishuv where they’re studying – on that self-same Route 60! – to pin them to the fences up there.

Thank God, she told me all this after she was home safe.

“Ima, do you beep when you agree or when you disagree?” she asked me. “Because we had a lot of Palestinian cars beeping us.”

For once, I was speechless.

Then that night, both kids told me there were going to an atzeret, or gathering, in Jerusalem, organised near the PM’s residence, where they were going to sing songs, light candles, and ‘demand’ that the Government do something to beef up the security in the West Bank.

My kids are very idealistic. They are very good, holy kids.

Probably, they are also a little naïve.

What can I tell them?

“Dear children, the government can’t do anything to stop this current wave of violence, and really, we just need to open our eyes and realise what’s really going on. The government is over a barrel. Whatever they do, it’s only going to escalate the situation, and bring all the Jew-haters in the world after us.”

It’s exactly as Rav Berland said a few days ago, that if we lift more than the tiniest finger to really start defending ourselves, the whole, PC, Jew-hating world will be after us in all in the international (kangaroo…) courts of law, screaming ‘war crimes!!!’ and ‘genocide!!!’ and ‘sanctions!!!’ and who knows what else.

There are no military solutions that really solve the problem.

Really, the government knows this. That’s why they are so big on pseudo-reassuring bluster, and so short on real, concrete action.

I wish more people in the religious community here would realise that, and stop pinning all their hopes on the army, and on some massive ‘offensive’ to finish the problem off.

The problem is coming from God, the Arabs are just a stick in God’s hand, to bring the Jews back to Him, and get us all to make teshuva.

If more of us would realise that, then more of us would have showed up to the Rav’s prayer gathering in Hevron on Zot Chanuka, to try to get the awful decrees the Rav could see coming down the pipe cancelled, or sweetened.

As it is, now there are atzerot and gatherings of a different kind happening this week, and large groups of people reciting tehillim together in very different circumstances.

My kid showed me a clip she’d been sent on WhatsApp of people taking the law into their own hands, and smashing the windows of Arab cars in the West Bank with stones.

She wanted to know what I thought, because she was of the view that this is what it would take, for them to stop killing Jews so freely.

I told her that answering senseless violence with more senseless violence doesn’t solve anything, and just brings us Jews down to the terrorists’ very low spiritual level.

So what, then, can we do?

Pray. Make teshuva. Stop pinning our hopes on the IDF, and the government, stop wasting our time discussing politics and arguing with each other, and reading all the God-less news sites.

God wants the heart. God wants us back.

And when more of us give God what He really wants, the violence will stop, and the problem will disappear by itself.

This is what I told my kid, who is now in her room reciting the Tikkun HaKlali, because there was another stabbing in Bet El this morning, and there is talk that her school is going to close on Sunday in protest, and to ‘force’ the government to do something.

Of course, closing the school doesn’t change anything (except to make my kid very happy to have a free day off.)

This is out of our hands.

Because the hands are the hands of Esav.

And the voice is the voice of Yaakov.

‘Quiet’ in Israel is a relative term.

If the only people being stabbed and shot at are soldiers / border police, then for most people in the country that’s considered to be pretty quiet. That’s how the human brain works to try to distance the self from the surrounding danger and the rising feelings of panic that can accompany it.

“It’s only border police / soldiers that the Arabs are targeting, so I don’t have to worry too much…”

When I was writing The Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife (which you can get on Amazon HERE and on the Book Depository HERE), it definitely wasn’t ‘quiet’, even according to this crazy definition of ‘quiet’.

At that point two years’ ago, everyone felt like they were a potential target, and that a crazy Arab could try and stab them – with a variety of sharp weapons – or try and run them over anywhere and everywhere.

That was such a stressful time.

Both my children were in school in the Old City, and were frequently walking past all these places where just yesterday someone else had got stabbed to death, God forbid.

So, compared to how it was two years’ ago, even with all the ongoing attacks on the border police that have been happening five minutes away from where I live, it’s still felt relatively ‘quiet’, relatively safe.

But now, I’m starting to feel that the ‘quiet’ is vanishing again.

There’s a lot of sirens going on, there’s a lot of police. My kids are starting to tell me scary stories again, like for example:

One of my kid’s 14 year old friends lives in Ir David, just outside the Old City walls on the slope down to Silwan village. A couple of days’ ago, this friend was surrounded by a gang of Arab teenagers, just a few metres away from her home, and one of them pulled out a gun.

The girl screamed, made a mad dash for home and somehow broke through the circle. The police were called, and the Arab was arrested.

Baruch Hashem, the only thing that happened is that my kid’s friend has probably now got a severe case of PTSD that’s going to need some urgent attention….

The same kid told me how the Old City is now full of ‘yassamnikim’. When I asked her what that actually was, she told me:

“It’s a type of police that only have men, and they can kill you with one punch.”

Or something like that. I.e. the toughest guys the police have.

Usually, the Jews in the Old City are policed by magavnikim, who still carry guns, but have a much more peaceful, quiet reputation locally.

As these stories start to pile up again, my inner sense of peace and quiet starts to dissolve.

In September, neither of my kids will be learning in the Old City anymore. They are both at the stage of going to Ulpana. But my husband is now there every day – learning in the Shuvu Banim yeshiva in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, just behind the Kotel.

And it’s not like Jerusalem is the only place starting to feel the heat again. One of my kid’s best friends is going to Ulpana in Neve Tzuf (aka Halamish). Yes, that Halamish where three Jews were just brutally stabbed to death during their Shabbat meal on Friday night…

It could be this is just another temporary flare up, connected to the very inauspicious time of the year we’re currently in. I hope so.

But it seems to me that things have been building up to a head for three years’ now, and that despite all the Government’s loud announcements that ‘they aren’t changing the status quo on the Temple Mount’, God actually may have other plans.

In fact, it’s almost a cast-iron rule that whatever the Israeli Government loudly and confidently announces about matters of security, the truth is usually the exact opposite. So, it seems to me the ‘status quo’ in Jerusalem is changing, despite the Government.

Things are heating up again.

The relative quiet is fast disappearing.

This morning, I was talking to God about the new, low-level panic I’m feeling again (amongst other classic PTSD symptoms…) and I was explaining to Him:

“God, I know this stuff is all leading to a good place. But You know what? I have zero energy, zero tolerance for anymore craziness in my life, or in Jerusalem. I’ve been dealing with stabbings, shootings, running-overs for three whole years, and I feel like I have no reserves left to deal with any more stuff like that.

“Please God, if You are changing the status quo on the Temple Mount, let it come the sweet way, without more Jews being murdered, and without me spending any more time half-panicked that my family is out on the streets when another cacophony of sirens explode…”

Things have been teetering on the edge of utter madness in Jerusalem for years, already, When God is ready to shove it over the cliff, we’ll have the geula. But I hope these last pangs before the birth of Moshiach aren’t going to be too difficult to bear.

I mean, 1948 years of labor is a lot for any mother to go through, even if they do have a lot of emuna…

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of when Rav Nechemia Lavi, HYD, and Aharon Benita, HYD, were brutally murdered in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City, during the last moments of Succot.

Those murders, more than any of the other recent tragedies, hit my family really, really hard, for a few different reasons. First of all, they were so close by (but I could make that claim about most of the attacks you read about in Jerusalem…) Second, one of my kids was taught by the wife of Rav Lavi. Third, both of my kids were in the Old City when it happened. Fourth, my kids – and their friends – pass by the spot where the murders happened all the time, as a big Jewish residential building, Beit Wittenberg, is right there.

Me and my family went into shock a year ago, and I think it’s taken a whole year for us to start coming out of it again, one way or another.

But in the meantime, the teenagers and kids of the Old City have spent the last year coming up with a whole bunch of meaningful ways of remembering the dead, many of which came to fruition this week.

Firstly, they unveiled a memorial to the dead men, at the spot the attack happened.

Next, they spent months collecting 40,000 shekels (!), then they found an empty shop in the hard-core Arab Shuk, fixed it up, and turned it into a ‘pinah chamah’ or ‘warm place’ for the IDF soldiers, magavnikim and other security people who are in the Old City. The ribbon was cut on the pinah chamah a couple of days’ ago.

The boys’ school in the Old City also wrote a Sefer Torah, in the merit of the deceased, which was finished shortly before Succot.

Next, they arranged to do ‘hakafot shniyot’ at the place where the murders they happened, turning it into a permanent fixture in the Old City calendar that is now bringing hundreds of people into to dance in the Muslim Quarter.

Last, the family of Rav Lavi interviewed a whole bunch of people who knew him, and turned it into a film of his life, to show who he really was. The film’s first screening happened yesterday, at the Heichal Shlomo hall next to Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue.

Both my girls came home in floods of tears, as they told me some of the stories about how good, and how idealistic, Rav Lavi had been.

They told me that when the Arabs were regularly blowing up buses in Jerusalem, there was one bus line that was had been attacked twice in a row, at exactly the same time, killing lots of people.

When the third week rolled around, Rav Lavi decided to stand at the front of the bus for the whole morning, holding an Israeli flag.

These sound like small things, maybe, but when you consider how many people would devote a whole morning of their time to boosting the morale of their fellow Jews like that – for free – it really speaks volumes.

As all this activity has been occurring around the remembrance of Rav Lavi, and Aharon Benita, it’s really brought home to me WHY I live in Israel.

Tough things happen, like they do everywhere else in the world. But nowhere else in the world do tragedies like this underscore the beauty of life, and the strength of the Jewish soul.

Both my kids got a lot of closure from all the remembrances, and the activities, and the dancing, and the crying they did this last week. It seems to me, Israel is the only place that you can dance and cry together like that, or where violent death can transform itself so amazingly into the purest stuff of life.

Sometimes, it really does take a year to heal from these losses, even when they’re just happening in the periphery of your life. That’s why God is a genius, and tells us it takes a year to mourn, properly.

My kids cried a lot yesterday, and I also had a few tears leak out, as I listened to them. But underneath it all, I could feel that some of the sadness I’ve been lugging around with me for ages seems to have dissolved.

It’s a new year. A new start.

Rav Lavi and Aharon Benita are sadly gone – but their legacy lives on, embodied by the idealism, generosity of spirit and hope of my kids and their friends.

The younger generation really showed me something amazing this week: Jews remember their dead by being even more alive, even more idealistic, even more determined to do good and be good. They don’t let the ‘bad’ take them out – they take it as a prompt to start adding even more good to the world.

I really hope I can follow their lead.

A couple of weeks’ back, my husband told me that he’d heard rumors that another massive prayer rally was being organized in Hevron for the 4th of July (this Monday night).

At that time, I was a little puzzled: things had been pretty quiet in Israel for a good few months already, since the last time Rav Berland asked for a prayer rally in Hevron.

The following day after that prayer rally, there was the huge terrorist attack in Belgium – but things in Israel suddenly (and miraculously….) quietened down.

And it stayed quiet for months. Until a couple of weeks’ back when Arab terrorists shot up the café in Tel Aviv, killing four people.

Hmm.

Last week, a last minute message went around that they were holding an impromptu prayer gathering at the Kotel ahead of Rav Berland’s court hearing in South Africa, which would have hopefully seen the Rav returning back to Eretz Yisrael, bringing geula with him (as stated by a number of tzadikim and kabbalists, including Rav Dovid Kook).

Hmm. That’s strange, I thought to myself.

Why have a prayer gathering now, plus another one next week in Hevron, after the hearing?

A few days’ later, things are already in much clearer focus. The South African judge refused to free Rav Berland – and that same day 13 year old Hallel was stabbed to death by an Arab terrorist who broke into her home in Kiryat Arba and murdered her in her own bedroom.

You could literally feel the heaviness in the air after that news broke, because it was bad enough that it happened. More than bad enough. But what made it worse is that it felt like it’s all kicking off again.

A little later, there was another stabbing attack in Netanya, with two wounded.

Motzash, I found out the terrible news that there had been another shooting in the Har Hevron hills again, killing a father of 10 and badly wounding his wife, and also injuring two kids.

By this stage of the game, it seems like all we can do is pray for God to turn things around and have mercy on us, because it’s becoming clearer each day that the terror doesn’t stop because of anything the Government is doing to help us: it’s all spiritual.

When Am Yisrael makes more collective teshuva, the terror stops. When we backslide, it starts again.

The point is, that this time last week I really had no idea why Berland had called for a prayer rally tomorrow in Hevron. I mean, the terrorism stopped! It’s been quiet for months! Who’s going to show up, Monday? These were all the things that I thought.

Now, I can see yet again how the real Tzaddikim in our midst can literally predict the future. It seems obvious that Rav Berland knew that the terrorism was going to start again, and he prepared the ‘balm’ – i.e. the prayer rally – before the blow.

This whole year it’s been unchartered waters. On the one hand, the stage seemed set for Moshiach to show up at the beginning of the year. But as the days have turned into weeks and then months, and things don’t seem to have changed it’s hard to know what’s going on, or even to guess about what’s around the corner.

At least, for me.

But not for the first time, the events of the last few days have proven yet again that when you’re a Tzaddik of Rav Berland’s calibre, you really can predict the future. Just as the Rav stated there would be a third intifada when everything was quiet – and no-one listened – seems he knew the Arab violence would flare up again this week, too.

When someone has the sort of track record for accurately predicting the future that Rav Berland has, maybe we should start to listen him about other things, too? Like the fact that Moshiach is only going to come when we actually stop obsessing over things like Nibiru and start to focus on clearing up our bad middot instead?

Or, that the only reason he had to go into exile in such shameful circumstances was because there was an outstanding Heavenly decree giving Iran permission to nuke Eretz Yisrael, unless something was done pronto to change it?

Rav Berland left more than three years’ ago now.

Many people, including some of our leading kabbalists, have been telling us for more than year that Iran already has a nuclear weapon. Have you stopped to ask yourself what’s preventing them from using it, or why Iran’s nuclear bomb has stopped making front-page news recently, when it’s been a staple feature of Israeli news for the last decade or so?

Have you wondered WHY the arabs stopped trying to stab us for a few months, or why they haven’t started blowing up buses again, or using their tunnels, or sending rockets over from Gaza and Lebanon again?

What’s stopping them?

If you think it’s something the government or the army is doing, then you clearly don’t live in Israel.

Doesn’t it strike you as weird that the very same day the Rav’s return to Israel got pushed off again, the Arab terrorism kicked off again?

Our teshuva (or lack of it…)  is what’s making all the difference, together with the mesirut Nefesh of our Tzaddikim, like Rav Berland, who has been sitting in a dregs-of-the-earth prison in South Africa for the last three months just to atone for our sins, while people who should know better continue to slander him all over the internet.

It’s a strange world we live in, that when autistic Jews start predicting the end of the world and ‘death stars’ that we all sit up and listen, and give them maximum respect and attention. But that when a Gadol HaDor tells us that our lack of Teshuva, and the terrible things we’re doing online, is bringing down one harsh decree after another, forcing him into exile to try and fix the problem – no-one wants to know.

Waiiiit a minute: this man isn’t autistic!!! How could he possibly be able to predict the future just by learning Torah 24/7, sacrificing himself repeatedly for Am Yisrael, and taking on all sorts of terrible things upon himself, including being falsely accused and slandered all over the world?

But at this stage, Rav Berland’s track record is so much more compelling than the autistics, and also much more hopeful: Do Teshuva, and everything will turn out fine. And Teshuva doesn’t have to be a big deal, even: just look for the good in yourself and others, stop speaking badly about people, and instead, start talking to God every day.

And that way, Nibiru will stop being a problem. The Arabs will stop killing Jews. And we’ll finally get what we’re telling everyone we really want:

Moshiach, redemption and an end to the madness.

This Pesach, you can see that all the headlines of the ‘next intifada’ that the press has been steadily churning out over the last few months have taken a real toll on certain parts of the country.

Downtown Jerusalem, and particularly the Old City, have been unusually quiet for months, and even the recent ‘Sounds of Jerusalem’ street festival appeared to have had limited success in coaxing scared visitors back to Israel’s capital city. (That said, it was also unusually cold and rainy weather a couple of weeks’ ago, and if there’s one thing that Israelis fear more than a Palestinian terrorist, it’s getting caught in a downpour.)

The fear is also hitting places like Hevron, too, which has been in the news for all the wrong reasons for weeks leading up to Pesach.

Most people have heard about the story of the soldier who ‘eliminated’ a terrorist a bit too permanently for the government’s liking, and ended up getting a very stiff prison sentence that could keep him behind bars for almost a decade (!)

So in people’s minds, ‘Hevron’ has unfortunately become synonymous with terrorism, and feels far too scary to visit at the moment.

This morning, I got in my regular Hyundai i20, (without rock-proof windows or bullet-proof body work) and I drove the regular route down Road 60, through Gush Etzion, straight down to Hevron. The hills were green and gorgeous, the ride was very peaceful (thank God) – and the Cave of the Patriarchs was the most quiet I’ve seen it in ages.

Normally, the town council for Kiryat Arba and Hevron put on a park and ride service, where you park your car in Kiryat Arba, and then take a five minute bus journey to the tomb of the Patriarchs, at the center of Hevron.

Normally, the car parks are full of hundreds of cars, but today – hardly any. Now, in fairness we did set out pretty early for Hevron, and we didn’t stay very long – I left by 10.30am. But it still struck me that people are scared to visit – and that’s a real shame, because Hevron is as safe as any where else in the world right now, appearances notwithstanding.

I know we hear about the stabbings and all the other things going on in Israel far more than we do about the attacks, assaults and murders happening in the rest of the world, so I came back determined to try to write something that would provide a little perspective on the wave of terror hitting Israel, to underline that this country is still just about as safe as it comes.

For example, if you take a look at the crime figures for February 2016 released by the Metropolitan Police (the police force responsible for enabling the citizens of London and Greater London to sleep ‘safely’ in their beds at night), you find the following scary statistics:

There were just under 5,000 reported cases of criminal damage and arson; just under 300 people arrested for possessing weapons (including knives and guns); and more than 25,000 (no, that’s not a typo) violent and / or sexual offences committed on London’s streets.

How about New York?

Well, the latest stats for NYC show that there were 8 murders in the last week, (and 19 in the last month); 25 shooting victims (involving 22 separate shooting incidents) in the last week, plus 360 violent assaults, and a whole bunch of other nasty things going on.

Now, what about Israel, even in the middle of its wave of terror? According to the official statistics from the Israeli government, by March 27, 2016, the picture looked like this

Since 13 September 2015, 34 people have been killed in terrorist attacks and 382 people (including 4 Palestinians) injured.

There have been 144 stabbing attacks (including 66 attempted attacks), 85 shootings, and 42 vehicular (ramming) attacks.

Let me pause for a moment to say every single person killed, every single person injured, is a terrible, horrible tragedy, and I’m not writing this article to minimize the problem, or the suffering of the people affected, God forbid.

But what I am trying to do is to give some perspective, that even in the middle of this current wave of terror, Israel is still probably the safest place in the world, particularly for Jews.

For example, the one day of Islamic terrorism that recently occurred in Belgium killed and wounded almost as many people as all the terrorist attacks combined in Israel.

What can we learn from this?

Each person must draw their own conclusions, but this much appears to be clear: don’t avoid coming to Israel, or going to the Old City, or visiting places like Hevron because you think these places are ‘dangerous’. The streets of New York are much more violent; the suburbs of London are much more dangerous; the terrorist attacks happening abroad are much more lethal.

There are no guarantees that anywhere today is truly ‘safe’. But one thing you can be sure of God is looking after Israel, and the Jews that live here, and visit here.

And once you really start to internalize that, you stop worrying so much and you start enjoying your Pesach vacation a whole bunch more.

Is it just me, or does the world feel pretty darned tense at the moment?

On the surface, not a lot is apparently going on (at least, according to the main news sites – and what do they know anyway?!)

But everyone I’m talking to right now seems to be having their own flavor of mega-stress going on. I felt like I got hit by some sort of tsunami last week, that had me off-balance and feeling half-panicked the whole time. This week, it’s already much better again, but that’s probably not least because I did a big 6 hour session of personal prayer again over the weekend, and that always works wonders (and is probably the single biggest reason why I’m not an inpatient at some loonie bin, somewhere.)

But I can see that the pressure is mounting, so I want to tell you about a few things that I think will help:

  • There is a huge prayer rally being called for Tuesday night, the Fast of Esther, in Mearat HaMachpela, in Hevron. They are literally bussing people in from all over the country for this event, which has come down the tube from Rav Berland.

(I know some people still feel a little uneasy when I mention Rav Berland, so this is the time to tell them that the chief of police who manufactured the charges against him recently went to Rav Arush, and publicly confessed what he did, because his life has been going from bad to worse as a result of the false claims he manufactured against Rav Berland, and he wanted to know how he could fix it.

Rav Arush told him that he has to come clean and tell everyone what he was involved with. The man is scared of reprisals from his superiors, but my guess is that the reprisals from his real ‘Superior’ will get so difficult, sooner or later even the Jerusalem Post will be reporting the story.)

Rav Berland predicted the current Intifada we’re going through many months before it began.

Part of why he’s wondering around the world in exile is because he took it upon himself to sweeten the very harsh judgments hanging over Am Israel. He, and many other of the real rabbis, have done so much to minimize them – but we still have our part to play, and that’s what the prayer rally is all about.

You can join one of the buses heading to Hevron Tuesday night HERE.

  • Still with Rav Berland, he recently made an announcement that the health and safety of anyone who is willing to pay a pidyon nefesh of 98 shekels a month for their family to Shuvu Banim doesn’t have to worry about getting caught up in any terrorist attacks.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like the deal of the century to me. A few months’ back, I sent in a different pidyon to the Rav about a health issue that had been troubling me for literally years – and BH, from the day I sent the request in to him (never mind, actually pay the money) the situation has been improving all the time.

Rav Berland is a huge tzaddik, and the real deal, so if he says ‘I guarantee your safety if you pay this pidyon’, then you can believe him.

  • The last thing to share with you comes from Rav Shalom Arush, who on Shabbat mentioned that Purim is the most auspicious time to pray of the whole year. Rav Arush explained that usually, he just tells people to say ‘thank you’ and to not request things, as that can stir up some big spiritual judgments and make things even more difficult for them.

But on Purim, there are no judgments! So he told everyone to pray as much as they can, and to ask Hashem for whatever they need. Usually, midnight (chatzot) is the best time of all to do this, but whatever time you manage to squeeze some personal prayer in, Purim is the day to do it.

Things are turning around, somehow. But I still have no idea if the hurricane is ending, or just beginning.