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The last few days, I’ve been in a funny mood.

I’m working on a book that’s explaining how the ‘animal’ brain that’s in charge of the body’s FIGHT-FLIGHT-FREEZE-FLATTER stress response has managed to hijack most people’s personalities, and it’s not coming easy.

So yesterday, I took my notepad and pens, and went to sit in the kever of Shimon HaTzaddik. I had the whole of the women’s section to myself, and I managed to write a lot about the FLATTER / EARTH dimension.

What’s so wrong with flattering other people? What’s so wrong with ‘making nice’ to people, even if they aren’t so nice and maybe are doing things that are really, really wrong?

That’s what I was trying to explain.

I wrote 10 pages, and came home. But, I was still feeling restless, so next I went off to Kever Rachel, up the road from me, where I sat down and tried to write about FREEZE / WATER. That’s where you isolate yourself, get discouraged and depressed, and totally give up on humanity (and yourself…) because there’s just no point.

I came home, made supper – but was still feeling restless. So in the evening, my husband and I went off to the Kotel, where I sat before the Wall for an hour writing about FLIGHT / AIR, which is where you can’t sit still, you can’t focus, you’re full of worry and anxiety and nervous energy which keeps you constantly ‘doing’ and stops you from really thinking about anything too deeply.

At the end of all that, I realized: the world is in such a big mess.

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Two weeks ago, I happened to trip over a ‘fake dayan’ in the course of researching something else.

Without going into details, he’d clearly forged his dayanut claims, and was a small-town crook pretending to be a ‘dayan’ who’d been invested by the Eida HaChareidit. He lives in chutz l’aretz, in a place where there are very few knowledgeable Jews who are able to catch him out, and he’s an excellent con man.

I’m still mulling over what to do with this information, particularly as he seems to have ‘retired’ from his claims of being a dayan to go and do other things.

Really, far more disturbing to me than the fake dayan himself, who clearly didn’t get enough love from his mum when he was growing up, are all the apparently real rabbis he was associating with. These ‘real’ rabbis must have known he was a total fake, but they apparently kept their mouths shut because it suited the enterprises they were associated with to be able to claim they had a fake dayan on board.

Why? Because having a dayan is a great USP.

These days, there a million people claiming to have smicha, or rabbinic ordination, but being a dayan is still a notable achievement. It still stands out. It still impresses people. And it’s much, much harder to fake, because it takes a minimum of seven years to achieve and actually requires some real knowledge of halacha that is rigorously tested by other very knowledgeable Jews.

That’s part of how I know this fake dayan is so clearly and utterly fake.

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So how did this guy manage to fool so many other ‘real’ rabbis, especially here in Israel?

Simple.

He didn’t. They knew he was totally fake, but they kept their mouths shut because they wanted to encourage more clueless non-Jews to hand money over to their organisations.

As I was researching this, I was wondering how could so many of our ‘real’ rabbis have such bad middot, and no-one else appears to be noticing it? How can they be such vain, money-obsessed phoneys, and yet people are still lining up on Facebook (and elsewhere) to laud them and praise them?

After doing a lot of praying on it, it came to me that LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

For as long as we ourselves are totally obsessed with dollar bills, it’s not going to strike us as ‘strange’ that a ‘rabbi’ spends literally half his shiur just talking about money. For as long as we ourselves are full of hatred and harsh judgments and anger, it’s not going to put us off to hear someone dissing a whole generation of young Jews, or upset us when ‘secular people’ get written off as being totally evil and beyond repair.

In fact, quite the opposite. We’ll actually be thrilled to hear all this stuff, and we’ll heartily approve of this hashkafa, because it’s just confirming our own bad middot and our own warped outlook on life.

LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

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Right now, there is an earthquake brewing under Manhattan and under the Knesset.

Without going into details, I think that a scandal is about to break that is going to turn the Jewish name into mud all over the world.

It’s up to God how much attention it will get, and how much damage it will actually do, but it could mark a turning point, because as long as the Jews and the Jewish State can claim the moral high ground, the good people of the world will be on their side and supporting them against the anti-Semites.

But what happens when a bunch of very prominent Jews are publically exposed as doing a lot of very ‘wrong’ things? Things that are so sickening and so morally perverted that any right thinking person will be totally disgusted?

What then?

It’s an interesting question.

How many Harveys and Jefferys and Bernies can non-Jewish society take, before it starts to dawn on them that Houston, we have a problem?

God is about to shine a massive spotlight down onto Jewish communities all over the world. We are heading into that next part of the birur, or clarification, process when more and more people will be singled out and asked:

Why didn’t you protest what was going on? How were you happy to keep on justifying such awful behavior, such monstrous people? How could you continue to hang out with these people, without noticing that something was terribly wrong? And to even praise them to others?

And the answer will be:

LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

We didn’t notice the problem by them, because we had it ourselves, in some way.

But soon, God’s going to start exposing all these ‘hidden’ issues in the Jewish community in the most distressing way.

And then, there will be no more pretending.

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So, in the last post I was talking about how my superficially-frum bubble got burst last year,

by a few people who looked 100% the part externally, but who were actually very far away from compassion, emuna, truth and a real understanding of what God really wants from us.

For years, I’d been blindly following them down a path of increasing severity and external piety, all the while thinking that God really wanted me to graduate to a padded head-band and bullet-proof stockings, and that that would be the pinnacle of kedusha and yiddishkeit.

Man, I was so miserable being religious like that!

I felt like I’d lost everything that made me ‘me’, from my favourite jeans skirt, to my permission to read, to my ability to reach out and relate to people who weren’t super-machmir-frum-angels.

Then God did my the biggest favor of my life (although it didn’t feel like that at the time): He showed me that the people who were running off their mouths the loudest about other people’s flaws; and who were putting on the biggest show of being unimpeachable, super-holy rollers; and who were full of criticism and competition and superiority about their own apparently lofty religious levels, and what everyone else was meant to be doing – were actually very flawed people, with hugely problematic character traits.

They were selfish, jealous, competitive, untruthful, insecure and arrogant.

But they dressed impeccably in black and white, had big shtreimels, and ‘ticked all the boxes’ externally, 100%. To put it another way, they were living a huge lie, and the main people they were lying to about what was really going on was themselves.

I had such a strong reaction against their religious hypocrisy last year, that it’s only because Rabbenu was hanging on to me so tightly that I managed to hang on to my faith, albeit it still got pretty badly mangled.

It’s taken me months of praying and searching and asking God for help to really emerge out of the other side of the experience, but thank God, I think that’s the stage I’m now at. But I want to tell you what I went through, and what I learnt from it all, so it can hopefully help you to avoid having to go through the same sort of heartache and confusion.

There is so much that could be said, but I’m going to concentrate on two things, to try to make my point: the latest Star Wars movie, and my husband’s green jumper.

Last week, I saw an ad for another Star Wars installment, replete with an ancient-looking Harrison Ford (is that a wig, or what?) and all the latest hi-tech hoopla. I got pretty weird after I saw the ad, and started to feel all weepy, but didn’t know why.

A few hours of personal prayer later, and it struck me that I’ve seen every one of the previous 6  Star Wars movies, and they were kind of ‘movie milestones’ that cemented other key things in place that were going on in my life. In short, Star Wars isn’t just a movie for me, it’s a kind of self-reference point, a way of me pegging myself in the world. And now, that frame of reference was gone, and I was feeling pretty lost again about who I really was.

Then, the little voice in my head told me: give yourself permission to go and see it. So I did: I imagined getting it out on DVD; sitting down at my pc to watch it; how it would look, how I would feel before, during and afterwards. And at the end of that process, I knew with complete certainty: I do not want to watch this! It’s a waste of time, and will fill my head and soul with a lot of damaging stuff.

I felt so good!

The old ‘superficially-religious’ me would never have heard that little voice out; I’d have been far too worried about ‘where is this going to lead…’ – which means that really, I’d have been really pining to see the movie on the inside, where stuff really counts. This way, I brought the whole issue out into the open, and I CHOSE not to see it. And the difference is enormous.

Next, I came and had a serious talk with my husband about the whole ‘package’ we got sold by the religious phoneys a few years’ back, who made us feel like we were so materialistic for doing things like holding down a job, wanting a nice place to live, and not devoting ourselves to the cause (ie, their cause…) 24/7.

Thanks to them, my husband felt like he was a terrible person for working.

Thanks to them, we both felt like we were letting God down, every time we wanted to take a day’s holiday, or buy something new that wasn’t directly connected to keeping Shabbos or a yom tov. Thanks to them, we ended up financially broke, spiritually broken and completely alone in the world, trying to jump through more and more impossible hoops to keep their harsh version of God appeased.

(Yes, I know it was all from God, and all for the good, but that’s a post for another time.)

So I came and asked my husband: that favorite olive green jumper of yours, that you couldn’t quite throw away, even though it wasn’t black or white. Do you think God would mind if you wore it again? Do you think you’ll be letting God down, somehow, if you decided that the ‘real you’ likes wearing olive green jumpers?

He looked at me shocked. But now he’s thinking it over, and we’ll see what happens next.

The point is not that he should, or shouldn’t wear it: the point is, that he, and me, and all of us, should be asking ourselves

what does God really want?

Because there’s a lot of people out there telling us that God wants padded head-bands, and impossible religious perfection, and miserable, super-machmir, intolerant, superficial yiddishkeit that looks so impressive, but feels so horribly wrong.

But really? God wants the heart.

And if it happens to come packaged in an olive green jumper, I  have a feeling that’s fine by Him.