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Tomorrow morning, Sunday, 9th February, at 10am Jerusalem time, I’ll be discussing ribui or in way more detail on the Sunday Zoom call for women only.

You can join the class below:

 https://zoom.us/j/873400423

And if you want to get the replay sent along later in the week, make sure you’ve joined the Breslov Ladies Mailing List here:

Get the replays of the Breslov Womens’ class!

The only way to get the link for the replay of Rivka’s weekly Breslov Women’s class is to sign up!

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If you’re near a computer and awake, come join me for a chat about how sometimes the pursuit of spiritual matters can make it very hard to function in the ‘real’ world.
See you then!

 

Ladies, it’s really happening!

This Sunday at 10am Jerusalem time (7 hours ahead of EST), we’ll be kicking off the first Zoom class for ladies only, with yours truly.

The idea is to talk about how we can apply some of Rebbe Nachman’s, and Rabbi Berland’s, teachings to our own lives and experiences.

This week, I opened up one of the Rav’s books to get some inspiration for how to kick off, and it opened up to some interesting ideas on humility, so that’s the topic we’re going to kick off with, and we’ll see how things develop.

I’m going to keep the first few classes to 30 minutes, while we figure out how they are going to work best. The idea is for me to set the tone, but I really want YOU to be the ones talking and sharing and discussing, as you get so much input from me anyway, via my blog.

I’m putting the Zoom link for the first class here:

 https://zoom.us/j/231772543

Show up 5 minutes earlier if you’re not sure how to use Zoom, to get comfortable with the set up.

It’s ladies only, so don’t worry about having your video or audio switched off.

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If you can’t make it live (and I know there were a lot of ladies in the US who expressed an interest, but who can’t make this time slot) – replays will be available, but only sent out to people who sign up. Once I move house again in 3 weeks, I’ll look to add another slot, maybe on Mondays, that will work for people in the US, too.

You can sign up below, and I’ll also put this link in my sidebar, and in the sidebar of my blog on ravberland.com, too, to make it easy to access.







Get the replays of the Breslov Womens’ class!

The only way to get the link for the replay of Rivka’s weekly Breslov Women’s class is to sign up!

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BH, I'm a little nervous about this, but also quite excited. For years now, I've had the privilege of getting to know some really amazing women, all over the world, and I've been wishing that there was a way more of us could get to know each other.

And now, there just might be!

So, take the plunge with me, and let's see where this goes. No-one has to come every week - not even me! - and in the meantime, it would be so nice to spend half an hour a week chatting things through with other ladies who also happen to really believe in God...

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And in the meantime, the better half has also taken the plunge, and started recording a 5 minute parsha shiur, you can catch his first one here:

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He was also a little nervous - new beginnings are always hard.

But something beautiful is starting to sprout here, BH, in more ways than one.

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Yes, you can tell from that headline that this is going to be another one of my weirder posts.

But I have to tell you, what I’ve been learning about this subject over the last few months has totally blow me away – and there’s a strong Chanuka dimension, which is why I’m posting all this up now.

Every time we spin our dreidel, we are mamash changing the reality of the world, and nudging it towards redemption. I know it doesn’t look like that. But read on, because you’re about to see how it’s all connected.

(Note on the links and videos: I don’t have images enabled, so I have no idea if their may be dodgy pictures in the links, but the videos embedded here are just of men.)

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Last year, I got into a heated discussion with one of my brothers about space aliens.

He was of the opinion that space aliens definitely exist – and he said he’d even seen something very strange in the sky, that appeared to be acting the way ‘UFOs’ are meant to act.

Off the back of that, he started researching and as is our family’s way, managed to get through an awful lot of material very fast. He sped through Roswell, found loads of pretty credible clips of ‘UFOs’ on Youtube – including one that was apparently hovering over the Temple Mount, before it instantly winked out of vision – and literally thousands of first-hand accounts of close encounters of a third kind.

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In the meantime, I’d done a bit of digging on the Jewish sources front.

Apart from a section in the Zohar, which talks about the 7 worlds beneath ours, and the 7 ‘humanoid’ inhabitants of those worlds, it was clear that the Sages held that humanity was alone in the universe, and that planet earth was the whole focus of creation.

I was prepared to concede that ‘space aliens’ were maybe connected somehow to the Zohar’s humanoids underground, but that was as far as I was prepared to speculate.

My brother urged me to look into the subject more – because you might have noticed, I have an uncanny knack of getting to the heart of a matter pretty fast – but for my part, I demurred.

Geez, I’m weird enough already, I thought to myself. The last thing I need is to start researching all this stuff, and to turn into a bona fide believer in UFOs. That is the death knell for any serious researcher’s credibility.

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Let me ruin the suspense a little, and tell you that aliens don’t exist.

But what I discovered is perhaps even more strange and disturbing than UFOs from outer space. Let’s see if I can unfold the story for you, now.

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As part of my research into volcanoes and earthquakes last year, I came across a wealth of information locating a lot of ‘supernatural’ events and activities, and ‘UFO’ sightings, around the Californian and Nevada deserts.

Native American tradition spoke a great deal of great ‘spirits’ that lived underground, and that could manifest themselves in all sorts of ways. Reading through it, it was obvious to me that so many of these Native American traditions and stories were actually metaphors for massive seismic activity in America’s North West.

Earth-ripping quakes and upheavals, enormous volcanic explosions that totally transformed the topography, settlement-destroying tsunamis that defied imagination in terms of their scope and force.

And all of this had occurred well within modern times, the last 500-1000 years, and had been completely covered up or denied by the ‘official science’ that holds sway in America, and other places.

It’s a totally inconvenient truth. If Americans – and the world – really understood just how tenuous existence really is on the West Coast, it would trigger a stampede and a massive economic collapse, even before any ‘big one’ hit.

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But while the seismic activity explained so much of the ‘supernatural’ air around the Indian reservations and the Mojave Desert, it certainly didn’t explain all of it.

I had to admit, there did seem to be an awful lot of strange activity occurring around these volcanoes.

The Native Americans considered these volcanic grounds to be sacred, and many of the Indian Reservations were located around or near volcanoes, as a result. I started to wonder if maybe the Zohar’s ‘little grey men’ were somehow connected to all these sightings of strange unidentified flying objects, that witnesses had seen flying into volcanic craters and diving in and out of the sea.

Nah. That’s way too ‘out there’.

And so with that, I closed the file on the volcanoes, and moved on to other things.  But as we’ll see, everything seems to be connected.

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A little while back, as I wrote about HERE, I started to get a little obsessed with what had really happened to the Yemenite Children, 10,000 babies who were stolen from their parents by the State of Israel back in the 50s and 60s.

(Apparently, there is another documentary coming out about that this week on Israeli TV. Now that the arch-villain Shimon Peres is finally dead, some of this awful information is finally starting to see the light of day, but we’ll see how far Israeli TV is actually allowed to go.)

Long story short, Peres agreed to ‘sell’ these kids to the CIA for some sort of ‘experiment’ in the 1950s, in return for Israel being given access to the technology required to build a nuclear bomb.

That much is pretty much an open secret, thanks to the work of the late Barry Chamish, who unearthed a great many pieces of the puzzle (and was probably killed for getting too close to the truth). But while Chamish was right about a lot of things, there were a lot of things that he still hadn’t figured out correctly, by the time he was bumped off in his apartment in Miami.

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So, I was pondering on all this, because newborn babies require a great deal of care, and they make very time and cost intensive subjects for experimentation.

I’m going to gloss over this part of the story, at least for now, but my research led me to something called MK Ultra. You can read some basics about MK Ultra HERE – but understand that the full sordid details of what really occurred with this project are still being suppressed, even today.

MK Ultra was basically a ‘mind control’ project that was top, top secret, administered by the CIA (and probably also the NSA, which is even more ‘top secret’) which basically involved ‘breaking’ children’s minds by subjecting them to the most horrendous torture and cruelty it’s possible to imagine.

Again, I’m glossing over this here, as it’s not the main focus of this piece, and because it’s also directly linked to the ‘deep state’ problem we’re all still dealing with today.

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But what became very clear to me, as I researched MK Ultra, was that the project was basically being run by a bunch of infamous Nazi ‘doctors’, who the US had spirited over to America at the end of World War II, to try to benefit from the knowledge they’d gained by torturing and murdering countless human beings in their scientific experiments.

The US had even given safe passage to demonic individuals like Klaus Barbie and Josef Mengele – this latter popped-up as the satanic ‘Dr Green’ in the child torture and murder experiments being conducted as part of MK Ultra.

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While I was in the middle of researching all this, the Jeffrey Epstein story suddenly erupted into view.

As I wrote HERE, Epstein was arrested very shortly after a massive earthquake struck China Lake – the top secret underground US Navy facility in the Mojave Desert, where so many of the MK Ultra experiments had taken place – on July 4th, 2019.

I became totally engrossed with the Epstein affair, and I was convinced that it was linked to all this stuff I’d been learning about an out-of-control deep state that was basically out-of-control CIA / NSA / MI6 / Spooks with huge budgets and total immunity from prosecution.

I started reading up on the CIA, and I came across a book called ‘The Octopus’, which tells the story of how a journalist called Danny Casolaro was murdered back in August 1991, for getting too close to what we would now call the ‘deep state’. Here’s the text from the back of the book:

“The Octopus was Casolaro’s name for an intelligence cabal he had documented in his unfinished book….Casolaro’s research looked at bizarre murders among the Cabazon Indians involving administrators of the tribal land; the privatization of CIA dirty tricks through the notorious Wackenhut security firm, the policemen for both the Cabazons and the mysterious Area 51, home of spy planes and rumored UFOs; Vietnam MIAs; manufacturing corruption at Hughes Aircraft; the human genome project; even the Illuminati secret societies of the 18th century. The list was quite long, by the time the Octopus had pulled Casolaro under.”

It sure was.

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What really caught my attention was the salient fact that ‘rogue’ elements in the CIA had effectively taken over Indian Tribal lands.

They’d been the defacto bosses on many reservations for many decades, like the reservation belonging to the Cabazon, because the reservations were effectively beyond the reach of mainstream law enforcement agencies.

Or to put this into plain English, the CIA could create all the weapons and drugs they wanted on tribal Indian lands, beyond the jurisdiction and oversight of the American legal system. And they did.

Then, another penny dropped: At least part of the reason that so many of these UFO sightings and supernatural phenomena were happening around ancient Indian lands is because that’s where the CIA / NSA / Wackenhut experiments were happening – totally off-radar, and totally invisible to any official government oversight.

I haven’t researched this part, but my feeling is that many of these experiments were a continuation of trying to ‘biologically engineer’ the perfect soldier, the perfect mind-controlled slave. To say they were totally immoral and unethical goes without saying. And again, there is almost certainly a link between all this stuff and what Epstein was up to with all his DNA research, before they knocked him off.

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Ok, so now I was back to the aliens, or the UFOs.

Just as the US had brought over SS monsters like Mengele in the name of ‘science’ after the end of World War II, is it conceivable that they’d also brought over other Nazis, to work on other scientific projects?

A quick bit of research quickly turned up Operation Paperclip, which was the ‘visible’ part of the operation to do this, and which I wrote about HERE.

As I was researching Operation Paperclip, I noticed repeated mentions of the Nazi’s ‘foo fighters’ – saucer-shaped flying objects with strange propulsion systems, that had been increasingly harassing Allied bombers towards the end of the war.

Foo fighters sounded suspiciously like UFOs.

Once you understand that the CIA covertly brought over thousands of nazi scientists to the US after World War II, and had them work on all sorts of top-secret projects, many of which were totally off the radar to anyone outside of the CIA, so much of the fuzz starts to disappear out of the picture.

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The Roswell ‘UFO crash’ happened in 1947. Roswell is pretty close to Area 51.

How better to disguise all this top secret Nazi research and science that the US wasn’t meant to have, than to pretend it was all down to ‘UFOs’ and aliens? That got the CIA of the problem of having to admit the awful truth that it had given thousands of committed Nazis – the scum of the scum – a free pass to continue their work on American soil. And it also avoided awkward questions about their other totally immoral and destructive activities across the globe.

Just blame the ‘space aliens’ and have done! Really, it was a stroke of genius.

All the pieces seemed to fit, and my brother grudgingly agreed that he was ‘75% convinced’ that the UFOs were really just Nazi flying sauces, now under the auspices of the American deep state. But I like to be sure of my facts, so I decided to order a few books on the subject, just to make sure.

One of them is called ‘The Hunt for Zero Point – Inside the classified world of antigravity technology’, by Nick Cook, written when he was the Aviation Editor for Jane’s Defense Weekly. Cook is a serious journalist, with a serious reputation, and he spent a decade researching the book before writing it.

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Initially, Cook started off from a place of total skepticism.

When he started researching the book, any mention of taking ‘antigravity’ science seriously was like the kiss of death for any serious researcher or journalist. Slowly, over the course of 10 years, Cook’s skepticism transformed, as he started to uncover a lot of information that had been deliberately buried in disinformation and lies for decades.

The first 200 pages basically cover Cook’s attempts to track down ‘antigravity’ technology in places like NASA, Lockheed Martin and Northrup, the companies who were building the ‘state of the art’ spy planes like the B-2 stealth bomber that were being secretly flown out across Area 51.

The turning point comes when Cook decides to switch his focus away from American aerospace, and over to Nazi Germany. He meets a Polish researcher called Igor Witkowski, who takes him over to the Wenceslas Mine in Poland, an underground Nazi research facility, where some of the most ‘top secret’ stuff was being worked on.

Let’s press pause for a moment, to set out the scene a little more, before we continue.

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Already from 1943, many of the commanders of the German forces realized they were going to lose the war, it was just a matter of when. The exceptions to this rule were Hitler and his small group of acolytes, plus the SS, who by the end of the war numbered 800,000 people, up from 240,000 people when the war began, in 1939.

The SS were part of Himmler’s empire. Like many of the leading Nazis, Himmler believed in the supernatural, but derived his ‘strength’ from the dark side, as opposed to searching for the Divine light of Hashem in the world. Unlike most scientists in the West, the Germans didn’t hold by Einstein’s physics, because he was a Jew.

As it turns out, at least on this point, they were right.

Einstein and his atheist-minded colleagues were blinded to the real way the world works and operates, because they negated and denied the spiritual dimension to science. Their scientific formulas and theories worked well enough to explain what they could ‘see’ with their eyes in the physical world, but they didn’t uncover the foundations of the energetic principles that the world is really built upon.

Sadly, the Germans didn’t have the same blinders on.

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In their mad determination to win World War II, whatever it took, the Germans were prepared to explore any avenue that could lead to breakthrough technology, however ‘unthinkable’ or ‘impossible’ the science behind it was meant to be.

From 1943 onwards, as the Luftwaffe and the other parts of the German war machine started to prepare for defeat, the SS took over all the ‘high tech top secret’ stuff, and consolidated it’s control over all the cutting-edge science being worked on. The SS moved their operations underground and into mountains in Lower Silesia, and in places like the Skoda Works and MittelWerk, the scientific experiments continued right up until the end of World War II.

Secrecy was of the utmost importance, and secrecy was easily maintained, because the SS overseers simply used ‘disposable’ human beings from the concentration camps to build their facilities and their technology. These human beings were also experimented on, and with such a disregard for human life and even basic morality, things progressed very quickly in the SS R+D research facilities.

Dr Hans Kammler was Himmler’s second-in-command, with direct responsibility for keeping a grip on the operational side of all the high tech. Kammler is credited with sketching out the plans for Auschwitz; for making the changes required to enable the death camps to kill Jews more efficiently, and with a whole bunch of other enormous war crimes.

He was also in direct control of all the Nazi’s hi-tech experiments that the Allies were so keen to get their hands on, at the end of World War II. No-one has ever heard of Kammler, because in the closing days of the war, he struck a deal with Allen Dulles and the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) to relocate to the US and begin a new life there, in return for delivering all his hi-tech secrets.

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This part is so important, let’s make sure you really understand what I told you:

Kammler was the architect of Auschwitz, the leveler of the Warsaw ghetto, and the second in command of the SS, the most rabid, evil and demonic part of Hitler’s war machine. Kammler’s scientists had cracked antigravity technology by the end of the war, and they’d build prototype ‘flying sauces’, laser beam weapons, and many other things, besides.

Because so much of their technology was totally ‘beyond’ what Western-trained physicists could get their head around, the OSS (proto-CIA) simply couldn’t work with the Nazi’s game-changing science. So, Dulles et al made a deal with the devil, and transported the most corrupt elements of the Third Reich en masse to the shores of America.

These Nazis swapped one top-secret underground facility for another, one hollowed-out mountain for another, and simply continued their work in the US, after the war, with Kammler continuing to ‘organise’ things from behind the scenes.

That same Kammler who designed Auschwitz and razed the Warsaw ghetto.

Together with thousands of his fellow SS Nazis and scientists.

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The core of Hitler’s Third Reich became the heart of America’s deep state. That explains an awful lot, doesn’t it?

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Ok, back to the science, because we still didn’t get to the most mind-boggling part of the story.

What the Germans basically discovered is something called a torsion field. If you look online, you’ll find some very big attempts to smear torsion fields as ‘pseudoscience’. That’s because there are now two types of science in the world:

  • Western science, based on Einstein, which basically denies the spiritual dimension.
  • ‘German’ science, based on the Quantum Mechanics of Max Planck, which embraces the spiritual dimension as a means to an end.

In their experiments at the Wenceslaus Mine, the Nazis had created something called ‘The Bell’, which to oversimplify was basically two rotating metal disks stacked on top of each other, that were spinning very fast in opposing directions. These disks were filled with metallic liquids, but the details are sketchy because the SS killed all the 62 (non-SS) scientists who were working on the project, just before delivering it over to the Americans.

(And that level of secrecy has been enforced ever since, which is why no-one ever really talks about this. It’s like the mafia – once you’re in, you’re in for life.)

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Here’s how the physicist in Cook’s book describes a torsion field:

“[Particles] appeared to slow down when they entered a torsion field. Since the zero-point energy field is composed of billions of tiny fluctuations of energy that pop in and out of existence every split second, relentlessly and infinitely, anything that can mesh with those fluctuations… can tap into them and extract energy from the field.”

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This means that a torsion field could extract a supply of unlimited, free energy – which could totally transform the world.

But, that same power supply could also be used to create the most powerful weapon ever known, dwarfing the destructive ability of even the most powerful nukes.

But that’s not all. Torsion fields are also directly connected to the space-time dimension, because there is something about their action that goes beyond the dimensions of the physical world, to access ‘an alternative dimension’. Torsion fields enable things to levitate, can make metal became ‘transparent’, can metamorphose one metal into another, i.e. turn steel into lead, iron into gold, and can even access a realm ‘above time’.

Before you scoff at this, let me just continue with the physicist’s description of torsion fields, as we’re about to get to the part where Rebbe Nachman’s dreidel makes an appearance.

“A torsion field [the physicist continued] was best imagined as a rotating whirlpool. If you created one of these whirlpools, dipped it into the zero-point energy field, the seething mass of latent energy that existed on an almost undetectable level all around us, there was evidence to show that it reacted in an almost magical way, by directing the flow of energy. Anything that rotated, even a child’s spinning top…was capable of generating a torsion field.” [Emphasis mine.]

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Yesterday, I got my wooden dreidels for Chanuka, and I’m pleased to report they spin very nicely.

So I read that sentence, and my mouth fell open. Every time I spin the dreidel, I am creating a tiny torsion field – this phenomenon that enables us to ‘jump’ out of our physical space-time dimension and to access an alternative, higher dimension.

That was totally awesome by itself. But there’s more. I went back to my copy of Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom, and there, on page 140, I found this:

“A favorite subject of the philosophers[1] is the order of creation. They may ask why a star is worthy of being a star while other things are consigned to a lower realm….The world is a rotating wheel. It is like a dreidle, where everything goes in cycles…Everything goes in cycles, revolving and alternating. All things interchange, one from another and one to another, elevating the low and lowering the high.

“All things have one root. There are transcendental beings such as angels, which no connection with the material. There is the celestial world, whose essence is very tenuous. Finally, there is the world below, which is completely physical. All three come from different realms, but all have the same root. All creation is like a rotating wheel, revolving and oscillating….

“For the world is like a rotating wheel. It spins like a dreidle, with all things emanating from one root.”

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Before I continue with Rabbi Nachman, his rotating, revolving and oscillating wheel EXACTLY describes the discs used to create a torsion field, with one turning in one direction, and one in the other. This is the basis of the ‘flying saucers’, too. (Take a look at this article for more diagrams from the original invention of Viktor Schauberger).

It’s hard to describe just how awesome this actually is. Rabbenu was describing torsion fields, and how they bring the transcendental, celestial and physical ‘dimensions’ together more than 200 years ago. Something that even now, mainstream science is a million miles away from grasping.

But there’s more. Rabbenu then continues:

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“This is why we play with a dreidle on Chanuka. Chanuka is an aspect of the Holy Temple. The primary concept of the Temple is the revolving wheel. The Temple was in the category of “the superior below and the inferior above.” God lowered His presence into the Temple and this is “the superior below”….

“The Temple is therefore like a dreidle, a rotating wheel, where everything revolves and is reversed. The Temple refutes philosophical logic….God brought His presence into the Temple, and so destroyed all philosophical logic….He made the fact [aka ‘the data’] contradict philosophical logic.

“Such logic is crushed by the dreidle, the rotating wheel, which brings the “superior below and the inferior above.”

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There is so much more to say, and Rabbenu’s words continue on for a couple more pages.

I highly recommend you go and read it for yourself, on pages 141-7 of Rabbi Nachman’s Wisdom, #40. Rabbenu mentions again and again, that “this revolving wheel is the dreidle”, and that “Redemption is also an alternating cycle.”

We covered a lot of ground, so let me try to sum up the main parts, below.

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  • There are no aliens – the UFOs and flying saucers are versions of Die Glocke – the SS-created antigravity technology that was christened ‘The Bell’.
  • The SS took over all the Nazis’ hi-tech projects from 1943 on.
  • Dr Hans Kammler was #3 in the Nazi war machine by the end of the war. He disappears as of May 1945, never to be heard of ever again. The Nuremburg Trials don’t so much as mention his name. Don’t you find that curious?
  • The forerunner of the CIA, the OSS, brought literally thousands of the worst SS scum over to the US wholesale, to continue work on their secret technology programs. Some of them, like Werner Von Braun, were more ‘visible’. Others, like Yosef Mengele, the infamous ‘Dr Green’ overseeing the MK Ultra project, and Hans Kammler were never acknowledged – for very obvious reasons.
  • These Nazis became the heart of the ‘Deep State’, i.e. the covert operations of the spooks and the former spooks who are really running the world from behind the scenes.
  • The UFO phenomenon only began shortly after WWII ended, and was particularly prevalent near Area 51, the top secret base were so many of the SS scientists were working on Die Glocke, and other technology.
  • Die Glocke was based on two stacked metal disks, filled with something like mercury (at least initially) that revolved very fast in opposing directions. This created something called a Torsion Field.
  • Torsion Fields perturb the zero-point latent energy field (aka ‘quantum foam’) that is made up of billions of tiny fluctuations in energy that pop in and out of existence every split second.
  • This zero-point field contains literally infinite, free amounts of energy, that could transform the world in tremendously good ways – or be used to create the most destructive weapons ever known.
  • Torsion fields enable things (and people…) to levitate, they can metamorphose steel into lead, render metal invisible – and enable access to a dimension, or dimensions, above the space-time dimension of our physical world.
  • Einsteinian physics (aka ‘philosophy’) simply can’t account for these facts on the ground, and state that these phenomena are ‘impossible’.
  • Rabbenu explains that spinning the dreidel creates a torsion field (but not in those words).
  • Rabbenu’s torsion field transforms one thing into another, and bring the three dimensions of transcendental, celestial and physical (space-time) together around one root, i.e. the dreidel / torsion field.
  • The Temple is connected to this, where God ‘placed His glory’ into the space-time dimension while still being totally above even the transcendental plane.
  • Rabbenu tells us – repeatedly – that the world is a ‘revolving wheel’ that oscillates and radiates energy, and that this revolving wheel is also the dreidel. Spinning the dreidel creates a torsion field.
  • Redemption is also directly connected to this ‘alternating cycle’, and to spinning the dreidel, and to the Temple being rebuilt.

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The last thing to mention, for now, is that Rabbi Berland alluded to all this, a couple of weeks ago.

You can read that HERE.

Not for the first time, I’m in total awe of the wisdom of the true Breslov Rabbis. Rabbenu said that at the end, there would be so many ‘false messiahs’ and false rabbis and rebbes, all trying to convince the world they were the real deal.

But, he hinted that his followers wouldn’t be fooled by these charlatans, because they will have already drunk some of the ‘Real Hungarian Wine’. And in this lesson, referenced above, we certainly got a big dose of that good stuff!

Chanuka sameach – and go spin your dreidel as much as you can! It’s literally changing the world.

[1] The word ‘philosophers’ can be used interchangeably with ‘scientists’.

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

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Rebbe Nachman’s advice really works.

I was feeling pretty low yesterday, as you could probably tell. I have another book that’s almost ready for the Rav, and each time I work on these books, I have a tremendous amount of obstacles, both internal and external to deal with.

So yesterday, I decided to go back to following Rebbe Nachman’s advice for how to deal with those ‘low spots’ in life, and I whacked this song on my CD (yes, I still have a CD! Stonehenge!) – and I danced to it three times in a row. By the end of that, I started to feel so much better.

But Rabbenu wasn’t done cleaning me up yet!

The Rav, Rabbi Berland, says again and again and again that the single best way to get all of your sins cleaned up, and to get yourself out of the way of the harsh judgments that manifest as sadness and depression, amongst other things, is to be on the receiving end of some harsh humiliation and bizyonot.

Yesterday, God arranged for me to get no less than three magnificently harsh, critical emails, one after another!

Baruch Hashem.

One was telling me that my books don’t count as ‘real’ books – like a siddur or a chumash – and that’s why no-one is buying them, and that also I’ve built up massive sins by linking to a video of a woman talking about all the awful stuff they put into vaccines.

Another was telling me I’m a depressed heretic with zero real emuna, who just doesn’t know how to ‘do’ emuna right, and that the real problem is that I’m basically an apikorus, because I can’t just say ‘thank you’, robotically, 50,000 times a day, when I’m going through a tough patch.

Oh, and that I also apparently don’t know how to read English, or do hitbodedut right, either.

This stuff was worth it’s weight in gold!!!

Even though the last yucky email was delivered past midnight, and actually kept me awake most of the night chewing over it in the hitbodedut that I don’t know how to do properly…

I have to tell you, I’m feeling way more upbeat today.

This is experiencing emuna  – taking Rebbe Nachman’s advice, and actually applying it to real life. And it beats the heck out of pontificating at other people about how to do it right, in theory.

BH, once I have the Rav’s book completed, I will have a lot more to share with you on that front. And in the meantime – let’s dance!

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The last few days, I’ve been struggling.

There’s a lot of things going on, and I’ve been trying to ‘unpick’ why I’m having a lot of low-level yeoush, or apathy and despair, dafka now, when I have so many projects on the boil.

Part of it is the sense that nothing I do really gets anywhere. I get up, I wash clothes that end up either on the floor or back in the laundry within 2 days; I wash dishes that get dirty again; I make food that gets eaten so fast; I write blog posts that go in one eyeball and out the other; I write books that no-one buys.

And then I start to wonder: why am I doing all this? What’s the point?

In my hitbodedut, I get an answer:

This is life. What’s the alternative? If you don’t wash up, and you don’t cook, and you don’t write blog posts, and you don’t keep writing books, what else are you going to do with yourself? How would your life actually look?

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In the past, I would attribute this yeoush to the fact that I really don’t make any money, doing all the things I do, but now I know that’s a red-herring.

Sometimes, when you’re making money doing things that weary your soul and seem totally and utterly pointless, that can feel even worse.

I guess it’s just the ruach, the spiritual vibe of the planet at the moment. Even my kids have it – they are finding it really hard to know what’s the point? And I can’t really help them out of the difficulty, because I’m sharing it.

I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, how I can lift out of this and really just be grateful for all the tremendous kindnesses and goodnesses that God is continually doing for me. Part of the problem, for sure, is that it feels like the goalposts for geula keep being moved, and I just can’t keep the pace up for another 200 years.

It’s hard to get motivated to keep going, when there is no end in sight.

And right now, it feels like there is no end in sight.

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On Shabbat, I flipped open Likutey Moharan, and I got to Lesson 2:78, which is talking about how sometimes, we have to serve Hashem from a place of total simplicity, where we don’t reveal any Torah and we just engage in idle chatter.

Rabbenu explains there that it’s:

“[A]bsolutely impossible to be involved in Torah study and spiritual perceptions without a break. One must inevitably stop for a while, and during that time when one is not studying the Torah, then this Torah scholar, or spiritually perceptive person is literally in the category of a rustic.”

It’s a long lesson, but I’m picking out the parts that spoke to me. Later on, Rabbenu continues:

“In sum, one should never despair! Even a simple person who is totally unable to study Torah, or is in a place where he can’t study. Nevertheless, even when one is in a state of simplicity, one must persist in the fear of God and simple service, according to one’s capability….The main thing is to encourage oneself in any way possible. [The Rebbe interjected at this point: “For there is no such thing as a lost cause!…]”

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If it was anyone other than Rebbe Nachman saying this, I’d really struggle to believe it.

The last few weeks, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in the behind-the-scenes yuck going on in the Jewish community, past and present, here and abroad, both in the ‘religious’ and anti-religious world, and it’s been extremely demoralizing.

A few years ago, I read another passage in Likutey Moharan where Rabbenu talks about how sometimes, you have to throw yourself into the mud and filth of ‘battle’, to fight for God and for what’s right. The last few weeks, I’ve been swimming through reams and reams of spiritual ‘sewage’, and it’s been very hard to deal with.

In hitbodedut yesterday, I was telling God how I don’t mind cleaning out the odd spiritual ‘toilet’, but I’d like to be given a different job to do, at this point. Because all that yucky stuff sticks to the soul, however hard you try to scrub it off with prayer and emuna.

Let someone else do this now, God! Let someone else take over! I need a break! I need a holiday!

But…. I already know that there is no-one else. Who else would be dumb enough, to do this?

And then, there is what is going on with the Rav again, which I’m also finding pretty demoralizing.

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We’re in the middle of trying to get One in a Generation II translated into Hebrew, and published.

Last week, I called up my contact in Shuvu Banim to see how the fact-checking is going, and I got told the stunning piece of information that it’s all on hold, because five of the Rav’s gabbays got arrested by the Israeli Police last week.

I thought he was maybe joking, but after looking at the usual fake news sites including Jpost, Times of Israel, Ynet, and the worst of the lot, the Yeshiva World News, I was stunned to see it was no joke.

That crazy woman’s obviously crazy complaint is all the pretext the police here needed, to start up the whole slander-to-incarceration miscarriage of justice machine again. They are trying to put Rav Berland away for 10 years (!) for the ‘crime’ of letting people donate money to him.

And I don’t even know if I have any more strength left to protest the madness that’s going on.

What’s the point? Doesn’t it seem like the bad has won, and will just keep winning, no matter what we do?

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That’s where I was holding on Shabbat, when I was flipping through Likutey Moharan, trying to get some answers and some balm for my soul.

Usually, I just read the English translation, but there was a word I wanted to pin down properly in Lesson 2:78, so I switched to the Hebrew – and lo and behold, I found this extra few paragraphs, that had somehow been left out of the English version.

I took it as a little ‘message’ from Rabbenu, about what’s going on right now, and here’s what it said:

We need to beg Hashem a great deal to have the merit of drawing close to the True Tzaddik, because praiseworthy is the person who merits to draw close to the True Tzaddik during his lifetime.

Fortunate is he, and fortunate is his lot in life!

[For afterwards, it’s extremely difficult to draw close, and we need to multiply our prayers and supplications greatly, that we should merit in his lifetime to draw close to the True Tzaddik.]

For the baal davar (aka the satan) is making every single effort, now, to confuse the world, because Israel is now very close to the keitz (the end), and Israel now has a very great yearning and great desire for Hashem yitbarach, in a way which wasn’t seen in former times.

Every person is wistfully awaiting Hashem yitbarach.

And so, the baal davar is awakening himself over this, and is creating machloket between the Tzaddikim, and is putting a great many famous purveyors of lies into the world. And also, he’s making a big machloket between the True Tzaddikim, to the point that not a single person knows where the truth lies.

And so, we need to beg Hashem yitbarach a lot, for the merit of drawing close to the True Tzaddik.

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Ad kan, from Rabbenu.

Reading this revived me, at least a little. To know that this awfully confusing, depressing situation we’re currently going through was foreseen and written about over 200 years ago is encouraging.

Rabbenu warned us, that there would be a flood heresy and ‘evil’, the likes of which has never been seen in the world before, and that it would be very hard for us all to hang on to God and His true tzaddikim, as a result.

But hang on we must.

Because what’s the alternative?

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You might also like this article:

https://ravberland.com/why-channel-13-is-a-danger-to-israels-democracy/

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Photo by Sarah Ardin on Unsplash

Reposting this, while I’m busy getting my Cut Your Stress course done.

This morning, I cracked open ‘Advice’ (the English translation of the kitzur Likutey Moharan) and I got to this, from the chapter entitled:

Alien philosophies and ideologies:

The only true wisdom is the wisdom of the Tzaddikim. [Their wisdom] enables them to form a lofty perception of God, and gives them the power to communicate this perception to those who follow them. Compared with this wisdom, all other ideological systems are utter foolishness.”

The more I dip my toe in the murky waters of ‘intellectual debate’, including all this ortho-fem rubbish, and all this ‘anti-Tzaddikim / anti-rabbis / anti-emuna / anti-Breslov’ rubbish, the more I see this is true. Rebbe Nachman then continues:

“Because of our many sins, it can sometimes happen that this genuine wisdom falls into the hands of the heathens, and the Sitra Achra. Their new-found wisdom gives them power and dominion, and then the heathens gain the upper hand, God forbid.”

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That’s why the ‘heathens’ like learning Gemara, and why the devil-worshipping Freemasons like learning Kabbalah.

They pick out the bits of ‘genuine wisdom’ that appeals to them, and then create some Frankenstein-Faith with it. Some of these ideologies are ‘religious’ – like xtianity – and some of them – like feminism – are not. Rabbenu continues:

Who can bear the sound of the great and terrible cry when this wisdom falls into their hands and fools pretend to be wise?

“They try to adapt this genuine wisdom to their own purposes, as if it could be made a part of their own ideologies – as if their own foolishness has anything to do with the knowledge of God!

“They start claiming that they alone are the wise ones and that there is no wisdom greater than their own mistaken speculation, which is simply ‘parasiting’ off the fallen, genuine wisdom.”

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It’s well known that the most successful ‘lies’ always contain a tiny grain of truth.

That’s what attracts us in, that’s what initially fools us. It’s easy to think that it’s no big deal, when people start trying to twist Torah to their own ends and goals, with all their ‘tikkun olam’ codewords and other warped ideas, that go totally against what the Torah actually says.

To counter that impression, Rabbenu then tells us:

“God Himself cries out because of this!”

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It’s a big deal! It’s a really big deal!

We can’t just twist the Torah and its wisdom to our own ends, and try to get a PhD thesis out of it, or a reputation for being a ‘deep’ philosophical thinker, or an intellectual, or even (may Hashem save us…) a ‘big tzaddik’. This brings us back to the idea I wrote about here about doing things for God, instead of just trying to serve ourselves.

So now we know all this, how should we try to respond? Back to Rebbe Nachman:

“Every Jew has a part to play in the task of identifying how this wisdom that has fallen into their hands can be separated from them, and elevated, in order to return to its source.

The way to achieve this is through acts of charity and kindness, under the guidance and inspiration of the Tzaddikim.”

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To sum up: we need to be closely attached to our True Tzaddikim, who are the only people who really possess genuine wisdom in this lowly world, and being inspired by them to give charity and do kind deeds. The more we do that, the easier we’ll find it to spot all this fake, fallen ‘wisdom’ and to call it out.

And doing that will give God a lot of nachas.

Rebbe Nachman explains the difference between Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben David

Over Shabbat, I was reading one of Rebbe Nachman’s stories, which I realized is describing the difference between Moshiach ben Yosef and Moshiach ben David. I’m bringing an abridged version of it below, together with the commentary that goes together with it from Rav Natan, and from Likutey Moharan I:20 [in bold, square brackets]. My own comments will be underlined.

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New Stories: #209 in Tzaddik, by the Breslov Research Institute

 

The beginning of the Summer, 5564 (1804). The Rebbe said: I will tell you what I saw. And you tell your children.

There was someone lying on the ground and around him people were sitting in a circle.

This is Moshiach ben Yosef.

Around this circle was another circle. And around that circle was another circle, and so on – many circles. Then around them were sitting more people in no particular order. The circles contain Moshiach ben Yosef’s followers.

The one who was sitting in the middle – he was leaning on his side – was moving his lips and all those around him were moving their lips after him.

[This refers to teaching / learning Torah – this soul is the source of all the Torah explanations.]

After this, I looked and he was not sitting there – the one in the middle, that is. And all those sitting around stopped moving their lips. I asked, “What is this?” They answered me that he had become cold and had expired and he had stopped speaking.

After this, they started to run, and I ran after them. I saw two palaces – very fine, beautiful buildings. Sitting there were two commanders. They all ran to these two commanders and started arguing with them.

[This refers to the concept of machloket and controversy – the opposition which is aroused against the Tzaddikim when the power to draw forth Torah explanations is withdrawn.]

“Why did you deceive us?” They wanted to kill them.

The followers of the original Moshiach ben Yosef are very unhappy that they didn’t actually get Moshiach / geula, in the end. Rebbe Nachman now explains the spiritual reasons for this, by way of a parable.

The commanders fled outside. I saw them, and their nature was very good in my eyes. I ran after them and I saw in the distance a beautiful tent. From there they cried out to the commanders: “Turn back and seek out all the merits you have and take them in your hands and go to the light which is hanging there. There you will accomplish everything you want.”

They turned back and took their merits – i.e. all their mitzvahs – there were bundles of merits there – and they ran to the light. I ran after them and saw a gleaming light suspended in the air. The commanders came and threw their merits to the light.

[They mentioned their merits and good deeds, and tried to get the geula that way.]

From the light, sparks fell into their mouths. Then the NoR, lamp, turned into a NahaR, river, and everybody drank from the river, and creatures were formed inside them. When they started to speak the creatures came out of them and I saw them running and returning. They were neither men nor any kind of animal – just creatures.

[These creatures are angels, who get their strength from Edom, who has been appointed over all the punishments of the wicked.]

After this they decided to go back to their place.

This is referring to Eretz Yisrael / Beit HaMikdash / the state of spiritual purity that existed at the time of the Garden of Eden, and which will exist again in the world-to-come.

But they said: “How can we go back to our place?” Somebody said: “We should sent to the one who stands there holding a sword which reaches from heaven to earth.”

[This is a reference to the angel of Edom, Esav’s angel, aka the Samech Mem himself.]

Edom, i.e. the West / Christianity is what’s stopping the Jews from returning to Israel en masse and rebuilding the Bet HaMikdash, and also has the ‘power’ the Jewish people requires to punish and subdue the wicked.

They said: “Who should we send?” They thought they should send for the creatures, and the creatures went there. I ran after them and I saw him. He was terrifying. His stature reached from the heaven to the earth. In his hand was a sword reaching from heaven to earth. It had many blades.

One of them was sharp – this was for killing. One of them was for poverty, one of them for weakness. There were also many other blades for other punishments.

They started pleading: “All this long time we have been suffering at your hands. Now help us and bring us to our place.” He said: “I cannot help you.” They pleaded: “Give us the blade for death and we’ll kill them.” But he didn’t want to. They asked for a different blade, but he did not want to give them a single blade.

[He didn’t want to help them to subdue the wicked people, because of the mistake they made by trying to ‘force’ the geula via good deeds etc, instead of breaking their hearts, begging and entreating Hashem to bring it.]

They went back.

Either back to ‘normal’ life, forgetting all about Moshiach / geula, or back to their bad habits before they made teshuva as a result of learning the Moshiach ben Yosef’s Torah teachings.

In the meantime, there was an order to kill the commanders, and they cut off their heads.

[The ‘head’ can refer to daat, internalized spiritual knowledge, as well as the more obvious connotation as the ‘head’ of a particular movement or group.]

Meanwhile, the sequence of event returned to what it had been before – namely that someone was lying in the ground surrounded by circles of people, and so on.

This is now referring to Moshiach ben David, and his followers.

They ran to the commanders – everything happened as described before – except that now I saw that the commanders did not throw their merits to the light. They simply took their merits and went to the light and broke their hearts i.e. did some hitbodedut, which Rebbe Nachman frequently characterizes as spending an hour being broken-hearted before Hashem, while you do a cheshbon hanefesh and acknowledge your faults, flaws and errors.

And they began to beg and make entreaties before the light-  another reference to praying – and sparks fell from the light into their mouths. They entreated more and the light turned into a river, and the creatures were formed etc.

They told me, “These ones will live” – i.e. Moshiach ben David and his followers will actually make it through to geula and the world to come – because the first ones deserved to be killed for throwing their merits to the light and not making entreaties like these latter ones. I didn’t know what this meant.

They said to me: “Go into that room and they will tell you the explanation of this.” I went and there sat an old man. I asked him about the matter. He took his beard in his hand and said to me: “My beard is the explanation of what happened.” I still don’t know,” I said. “Go to that room,” he replied, “and there you will find the explanation.”

I went there and saw a room infinitely long and broad, entirely filled with writings. Wherever I opened I saw the explanation of the story.

[This vision is connected to Lesson 20 in Likutey Moharan Part 1.]

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HERE IS SOME OF WHAT REBBE NACHMAN WRITES IN LESSON 1:20:

“When one prays before giving over a [Torah] lecture, one must pray with supplication, begging God for gratis instead of asking for one’s due….

“But Moses [i.e. the redeemer / Moshiach ben Yosef] did not do this. He rather cited his own goodness and righteousness…as one who grabs something forcefully and without consent, for he sought in the power of his good deeds….

“…whoever tries to ‘force the moment’ (literally, ‘pressures time’) – the ‘time’ pressures him, causing one to die before one’s time. [This is why Moshiach ben Yosef died ‘prematurely’, before the job of bringing the geula was completed.] For this reason, one should never pressure oneself for anything, but beg with supplication. If God grants it, good, and if not, not.”

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Next, Rabbenu turns to the subject of attaining the Land of Israel.

“[T]he land of Israel is one of the three things that can only be attained through suffering (Brachot 5a) and the main suffering is the obstacles of the wicked, who slander the land. These wicked must first be subdued with a sword and death, and only then can one enter the Land of Israel.

“However, the power to punish the wicked can only be acquired from the power of Edom, for that is his power, as in: “You will live by your sword” (Genesis 27:40), and he draws sustenance from the astrological sign of Mars. [Which is related to bloodshed and war, and the Jewish month of Nisan – the month of redemption.]”

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Rebbe Nachman now explains that the Angels which can defeat and kill the wicked are formed from the original Torah insights of the Tzaddik / Moshiach ben Yosef / Moshiach ben David.

But, when the Tzaddik’s followers don’t put an emphasis on personal holiness – i.e. guarding the brit, guarding the eyes, modest behavior and dress – these Angels then lack the power to actually destroy the wicked people who are slandering the Land of Israel.

Depending on how ‘weak’ these angels become, in descending order:

They can’t kill them; then they can’t punish and intimidate them; then they can’t rouse the nations of the world against them; then they can’t even silence them from speaking evil in our presence “so that their words do not enter the ears of the masses. And sometimes even this power they lack – all according to the degree of holiness that is lacking.”

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Rabbenu then goes on to explain that the lack of personal holiness amongst the Jews is the main thing empowering the wicked people who are slandering the land, and preventing the Jews from returning to the Land of Israel.

Moshiach ben David succeeds where Moshiach ben Yosef failed, because he prays before he gives over his Torah lessons, and he focuses on increasing personal holiness amongst his followers, not just doing more good deeds and mitzvahs.

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Rebbe Nachman then explains the nine rectifications of the beard, and how they lead to the Land of Israel, as follows:

  • Take the staff – this refers to the Tzaddik’s Torah lectures that he gives over to his followers. This Torah has to be drawn with prayer, not with ‘force’, in order for the rest of the process to work.
  • Gather the people together’ – to subdue the evil elements the community contains.
  • Speak to the rock with supplications’ and prayers – this refers to the need to have yirat shemayim, or Fear of Hashem.
  • ‘In their presence’, to bond with them – the Tzaddik’s soul has to become ‘bound up’ with his followers / the Jewish people.
  • To draw fiery words – actually an allusion to drawing down Divine mercy on the Jewish people.
  • To draw Torah – the Tzaddikim are judged to a hairsbreadth, and if they are blemished in some way, they can no longer draw the Torah required to bring geula.
  • To create angels.
  • To receive power from Edom to subdue the enemies / wicked who are slandering the Land of Israel.
  • To enter the Land of Israel.

If any of these steps are missing, we can’t ‘enter the Land of Israel’ / truly get to the geula shleima.

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Ad Kan.

There is so much more to say about all this, and it seems to me that so much of what we’ve been discussing here on the blog is alluded to in this lesson in quite an awesome way.

(If you want more insights into the very deep concepts being brought in this story, take a look at Day 3 of Rebbe Nachman’s tale of the Seven Beggars. The ‘heart of the world’ also seems to be refering to Moshiach ben Yosef and his followers.)

Moshiach ben Yosef failed to bring geula, because the emphasis was on stressing how many mitzvoth and good deeds were going on, as opposed to praying heartbroken prayers that God should bring the geula, as a free gift. Trying to force the issue just led to the Moshiach ben Yosef dying prematurely, leaving his movement without a ‘head’, i.e. a real direction, or daat, internalized spiritual knowledge of what to do next.

Hopefully, Moshiach ben David will have more success.

These things are so awesomely deep, there are so many spiritual rectifications going on. It’s totally beyond us to understand what’s really happening by ourselves, and only our true Torah sources and real rabbis can guide us in the right direction.

I wrote this post two weeks before the shooting in the Poway shul in San Diego, but didn’t get a chance to put it up.

Violent anti-semitism is shooting through the roof all over the world at the moment, and the question we have to ask is why?

Sure, we can point fingers at radical Islam, and at fanatical right-wingers, and at all the very many other sources of anti-semitism out there, but when all is said and done, God is the one causing the problem.

If we’re looking at this from the place of emuna, we have to ask why?

Why is God making it more and more uncomfortable for Jews to live in chutz l’aretz? Why is He piling the pressure on Jewish communities all over the world, from NYC to London to Paris to San Diego and back again?

Why is God doing that?

Maybe, we can find some answers in Rebbe Nachman’s Torah:

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As you know, I like to quote authentic Torah sources wherever possible, to support any opinions on this blog, to counteract the growing tide of daas me. Personal opinions certainly have their place, but not when we’re discussing something as important as whether living in Israel is a mitzvah for a Jew, or not.

In line with that, I thought I’d take a look at what Rebbe Nachman of Breslov has to say about Eretz Yisrael, and whaddya know, he has a lot to say on the subject. The following is excerpted from Likutey Etzot, that was translated into English as ‘Advice’ by the Breslov Research Institute:

  • With truth emuna (faith), prayer comes into its own. Prayer is bound up with the concept of bringing about miracles. To attain this level of emuna is only possible in the Land of Israel, for it is there that prayer ascends to the worlds above….
  • If we abuse Eretz Yisrael we go down into exile.
  • Every upward movement we have to make towards holiness can only be accomplished through Eretz Yisrael.
  • It is impossible to come to the Land of Israel without difficulties and suffering. The root of all the difficulties and suffering lies in the slanderous image of Israel, which is put about by the wicked.
  • Through the sanctity of Eretz Yisrael, the true guide and leader of our age will be revealed.
  • The mitzvah of the succah is a segulah for coming to Eretz Yisrael.
  • The motive for making the journey to Eretz Yisrael should be purely spiritual: to draw closer to God. A person who goes there with this as his aim will certainly benefit….On the other hand, if a person’s motive has nothing to do with devotion to God and cleansing himself of his evil, then what help will Israel be to him? The land will vomit him out…
  • Through the holiness of Eretz Yisrael, one can attain pure faith.
  • Pray to God, to ask Him to give you the desire and yearning for Eretz Yisrael. Then you will succeed in reaching there.
  • God repays man ‘measure for measure’. Nowhere is the repayment more exacting than in Eretz Yisrael.
  • The holiness of Eretz Yisrael is the epitome of holiness, encompassing all other levels of holiness. It is there that we can free ourselves completely of the materialistic viewpoint which claims that events take place naturally. We can come to know and believe that everything comes about only through the hand of God.
  • Genuine enlightenment and wisdom come only in Eretz Yisrael.

Rabbenu says a great deal more, these are only snippets, but I think you get the idea.

Everything you need to know about Pidyon Nefesh – Part 1

The whole idea of giving a pidyon nefesh to a real Tzaddik has to be one of the most misunderstood, confusing and murky concepts in Jewish thought.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to deal with this subject via email, or a phone call, so I think the time has come to try to sort it all out in a methodical fashion, and bring as many of the sources and explanations as I can into one post.

(Now that I’ve actually written this, I’m going to split it up into two posts, one after the other.)

But before we can get to the basic idea behind a pidyon nefesh (which is not just a Breslov idea, btw, and not even just a Chassidic idea. Many Sephardi kabbalists also hold by the idea of doing pidyon nefesh) – we first have to talk a bit about the idea of the True Tzaddik.

Which is probably the second most misunderstood, confusing and murky concepts in Jewish thought, so this is going to be one heck of a long post!

After some consideration, I thought the easiest way to dive into the topic is to just bring some of what Rebbe Nachman explains about the Tzaddik, and true tzaddikim, in his book, Sefer HaMiddot.

QUOTES FROM SEFER HAMIDDOT (Taken from the chapter called Tzaddik):

#12 Putting in effort to draw close to tzaddikim is beneficial for serving God.

#20 Don’t be disturbed by the fact that the tzaddikim accept financial support from others in order to run their households with wealth and honor – would it be better for them not to take from others, and not to lead? For the more delight and expansion the Tzaddik has, the more his soul expands, and then there is a resting place in which the Divine Presence may dwell. Therefore, one should not come to the house [of a Tzaddik] empty-handed.

#40 In the merit of serving a great man, one is saved from death.

#46 Giving money to benefit a tzaddik is like serving in the Holy Temple.

#82 Sometimes, a tzaddik elevates someone and then humiliates them, and this is for the person’s benefit.

#107 Sometimes, through giving one bit of satisfaction to the Tzaddik, and through the little action one does for him, one merits the World to Come.

#122 The blessing of a Tzaddik is a pidyon.

#127 One who puts the Tzaddik to the test, it’s as if he put God to the test.

#130 Through faith in Tzaddikim judgments are sweetened.

#136 There is no Tzaddik who does not endure attackers and investigators.

#150 God gives parnassa to a tzaddik through the community, in order that he will have some connection with them, and so that when God remembers the Tzaddik, he remembers them as well.

#151 The coming of Moshiach depends on drawing close to the Tzaddik.

#153 Someone who draws close to the Tzaddik, but who doesn’t do it innocently, will eventually become an opposer.

#172 Through the gifts that one brings to tzaddikim, a person can subdue their enemies, and neutralize the evil spirit that hovers over themselves.

#182 One who benefits the Tzaddik from his belongings, it is as if he benefited all the Jewish people, and he is saved from death.

#196 Connection to the Tzaddik is a great healing.

#209 Through the livelihood people provide for the Tzaddik, all their sins are forgiven, just as the Cohen’s eating of the sacrifices atoned for those who offered them.

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Ad kan, from Sefer HaMiddot. As always, it’s highly recommended to look up the quotes yourself, as I just picked out a few, and there’s much more that could be said.

What I wanted to try to bring out with these quotes are two key points:

  • Giving money / help / gifts / support to tzaddikim is always very beneficial to a person, and goes a long way to cancelling out our sins and helping us to overcome our yetzer haras and negative character traits. And this is without us even getting into the specific discussion about a pidyon nefesh, which we’ll come to shortly.
  • All of the things described above only apply to True Tzaddikim – and not ordinary rabbis and rabbanits, nice as they might be. Even more so, these benefits don’t apply to giving money to ‘pretend’ holy people.

From my own experience, I know it’s very, very hard to really know who is ‘real’ and who isn’t today, let alone who is a ‘true tzaddik’ and who isn’t.

There is only one way to really know this with certainty, and that is:

To pray on it, and to ask God to show you who is a real tzaddik.

Yes, we’re talking about doing regular hitbodedut again, because without it, you’ll trip up. Even with it, you’ll probably still trip up, especially at the beginning. Why? Because we are drawn to the rabbis and rabbanits that most mirror and reflect our own views and beliefs back at us.

If we are angry, judgmental, arrogant hypocrites who think we’re perfect and all the problems in the world are simply everyone else’s fault – that’s the sort of people we’ll be drawn to, those are the types of Torah classes and ideas and ‘proofs’ we’ll want to hear. It takes a lot of time to start clearing all those bad middot out of the way, but when that starts to happen, we’ll find ourselves open to hearing about judging others favorably, and about taking responsibility for our own issues, and about working more on our own bad middot.

And that’s when God will start to draw us closer to the really holy people, the true tzaddikim in our midst.

So, the first part of the equation is that giving money and gifts to true tzaddikim is always beneficial to a person, at least in the spiritual realm, but that it’s not so easy to know who a true tzaddik is, and there are a lot of ‘pseudo-tzaddikim’ out there.

Now, let’s talk more about the concept of the Pidyon Nefesh itself.

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REBBE NACHMAN EXPLANS WHY WE SHOULD DO A PIDYON NEFESH:

In the Kitzur Likutey Moharan (translated into English as ‘Advice’, by the Breslov Research Institute), it says the following about Pidyon Nefesh:

  • When a person is sick, a pidyon nefesh (monetary redemption) is the pre-requisite of any cure. Only after the redemption has been made does the Torah give the doctor permission to cure (See Likutey Moharan, II:3)

  • When a person fills the mouths of the Sages with wine, it is accounted for him like a redemption (LM 1:41)

  • Getting up for Tikkun Chatzot (the midnight prayer for rectification) has the same power as a redemption.

  • It is a good practice to always give money for a pidyon nefesh. This is the way to sweeten the power of harsh judgments at all times, and to be saved from them. Even when nobody in the house is sick and you have no particular problems, it is still good to present money for a pidyon nefesh, in order to prevent any problems or sickness, God forbid (Chayey Moharan Section on Serving Hashem, 92).

This isn’t just anyone telling us this, it’s Rebbe Nachman, one of the biggest rabbis in Jewish history.

And he’s spelling it out clearly, that if you want the best chance of avoiding harsh sicknesses and other big difficulties, you should regularly pay a pidyon nefesh, even if you’re not currently experiencing any problems!

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HOW DOES A PIDYON NEFESH WORK?

To understand this, we first have to state something obvious, but which is often so hidden from so many of us, in our ‘pretend perfect’ world:

Nobody is perfect, and every single one of us is constantly transgressing Torah commandments and hurting other people every minute of every day.

The best way to minimize the judgements against us is by going over the past 24 hours in hitbodedut, to try to figure out if that angry outburst, that slanderous email, that nasty behavior, that spiteful comment, was really as justified and ‘holy’ as it seemed at the time.

This is a crucial part of the teshuva process, and if we’re doing regular teshuva, that’s the main way how we can keep these harsh heavenly decrees that are building up against us every single day in check.

But, even if we are regularly doing that (and especially if we’re not…) we all have our blind spots, we all have our flaws and issues, particularly in the area of man and his fellow man. And if those sins aren’t properly atoned for, they can cause harsh judgments to be sent down to us by the Heavenly Court.

Those harsh spiritual judgments manifest in all sorts of ways, including financial problems, health problems, shalom bayit problems, mental health issues where we just feel sad and depressed all the time, problems with the kids etc etc etc.

Now, the suffering itself atones for our sins.

This is a well-known concept, that when we’re going through harsh experiences, that is ‘paying down our debt’, spiritually. That suffering cleans off the spiritual stains we have on our souls, as a result of all the stuff we’re doing wrong (constantly….) that we aren’t acknowledging, or making teshuva about.

ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, THE SPIRITUAL DEBT WE’VE RUN UP HAS TO BE PAID OFF.

There are three main ways we can do this:

  • Clean it off with daily hitbodedut / cheshbon hanefesh / teshuva (but remember, we all have blind spots, which means that we’re for sure not catching everything we’re doing wrong and need to fix.)
  • Experience the suffering we brought down on ourselves as a result of our own behavior and flaws.
  • Pay a pidyon nefesh, a sum of money for a redemption, to a true tzaddik, which is a different sort of ‘suffering’, because parting with our cash is very hard for most of us to do.

The Tanach makes regular reference to money as damim, ‘bloods’.  Why is it called this?

Because we literally sweat and spill our own blood in order to earn that money, to get it together. It’s very dear to us, we’ve sacrificed so much time, effort, energy, whatever to attain it.

And there’s another factor to toss in here, which is that some of our suffering – especially in this generation, the last before Moshiach finally comes – is because of sins that we committed in past lives.

When that’s the case, we can’t even get to it via a daily teshuva process, however much we try. So then we’re really left with just the last 2 options on the list.

And sometimes, even a pidyon nefesh can’t get us out of the harsh decree, because that is our tikkun for a previous life, and it can’t be avoided.

In the next post, let’s take a look at how the pidyon nefesh process actually works, in Shemayim.

Yesterday, I went back to Hevron, to go and so some hitbodedut at the Mearat HaMachpela, the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

So often, when I’m struggling with big decisions, big confusions, big inner turmoil, I’ve gone back to sit at a holy place – like Hevron, like Kever Rochel, like the Baba Sali, like Uman – and the clouds start to part, and a light starts to shine on a way out of the madness.

Like everyone else, I have a lot going on.

So, I was in Hevron yesterday, pondering on a lot of different things, when I happened to pick up a little booklet of Rav Shalom Arush’s ‘pearls of emuna’, that someone had left next to the grille overlooking the tomb of Avraham.

I picked it up, opened it up randomly, and got to a passage that (from memory) said something like this:

Rebbe Nachman writes in Likutey Moharan that the whole point of life is to keep giving the honor, the kavod, back to Hashem. And human beings are very bad at this, and they just want to keep trying to wrestle the honor that’s due to God back to themselves, in all types of different ways.

He brought direct quotes from Likutey Moharan, but I can’t remember the reference. But that was the gist.

And as always, it dealt so precisely with so many of the things I’m wrestling with, right now.

Like, why I am so terribly bothered and disturbed by all the rampant ‘self-promotion’ that’s going on all over the place, where even the yearning for geula seems to have been harnessed to a Paypal account.

And like, why I’m so terribly bothered by all these ‘rockstar rabbis’ and ‘rockstar rabbanits’ who speak so very eloquently, and who plaster themselves all over Youtube, and who seem to pop up like a rash on colorful glossy posters on lampposts and walls all over the Holy City of Jerusalem (and elsewhere…)

And like, why it upsets me so much that so very many of our ‘leaders’ – religious and otherwise – are clearly just ‘leading’ because of what’s in it for them, and their egos, and their bank accounts, and their social media following.

God is out the picture, fundamentally, even in the orthodox Jewish world.

So few people today are doing their Torah classes lishma, in order to give the honor due to God.

That’s strong language, I know, so let me try to explain what I’m talking about with some real-life examples.

A few years’ back, one of my neighbors strong-armed me into attending a ‘self-development / emuna’ workshop, by a well-known ‘rockstar rabbanit’ type in her home, because the rabbanit wanted a guarantee that at least 10 people would commit, “to make it worth her while”.

I baulked when my neighbor told me the cost was 50 shekels a class, and that I’d have to pay 400 shekels up front, to cover the whole 8 weeks.

Why so expensive?! I wanted to know.

Then I went to check out the slick website, the slick promo video, and I saw I’m dealing with a serious business person here, who is packaging their ‘Torah’ in a very commercially-sensible way. And I could see how making it financially ‘worth her while’ was actually the goal, the focus, of everything she was doing.

And then I baulked even more, because we’re warned away from people who turn their Torah learning into a ‘hammer’ with which to build up their own personality cults, and bank accounts.

But my neighbor wouldn’t relent, so I agreed to come and try one class (for 50 shekels…) and then to decide if I wanted to continue. I sat there, listening to some very warped ideas about how we can ‘force’ God to do what we want, and to give us what we want, and I came away extremely disturbed.

Because that’s total baloney. The real definition of emuna is accepting God’s will happily, while trying to work on the bad middot that are ‘blocking’ all the good stuff that God wants to send down to us.

But I guess that’s not such a commercially-viable message, and that no-one would want to pay 50 shekels a class just to be told their own bad middot are causing them all the problems.

Another time, a different ‘rockstar rabbnit’ rolled into town, and again it was an-singing, all-dancing event that was so expensive to attend, it actually provoked a storm of outrage in the village.

Why so expensive?! Everyone wanted to know.

But then, when you saw the fancy venue that was hired, and the expensive light and sound crew, and you counted the number of dancers, and comedians, and singers and performers who were the ‘warm up’ for that rockstar rabbanit, it all made perfect sense.

It was slick entertainment being packaged as Torah, and it was totally focused on the ‘feel-good’ factor, instead of the ‘actually becoming good’ factor – which again, is a much harder sell, commercially.

Again, I came away with a very uncomfortable feeling about it all, especially when I saw the queue of women lining up to get a ‘blessing’ and advice from the rabbanit after the show. I know firsthand how much damage bad advice can do to people who have been fooled into believing they’re dealing with a bona fide tzaddik.

You throw away your own critical thinking, you override your own gut feelings – and ultimately, the person isn’t really a tzaddik, doesn’t have any more of a connection to God than you do, and is really just dressing their own opinions and biases up as ‘ruach hakodesh’, or some sort of prophetic spirit.

In a nutshell: it’s extremely dangerous.

Another time, I was strong-armed into attending yet another Torah class given by yet another ‘rockstar rabbanit’, this time in Jerusalem. Again, I was left underwhelmed by the quality of the Torah being taught, and the character of the person giving it over, and overwhelmed by the insistence of the helper who waved her ‘donation cannister’ in the face of everyone who entered the room, and demanded a 30 shekel ‘donation’ before she’d let you sit down.

Ah, Torah lishma! Torah teaching for its own sake! Torah learning for God!

Not.

Not at all, actually.

I know rabbis and rabbanits need to eat, I really do. I know they need to put food on the table.

But as soon as the financial consideration becomes the imperative, all that person’s Torah, all that person’s wisdom, all that person’s ‘advice’ and insight, it’s all being harnessed to power their own honor and bank account, and God is out of the picture.

Even Rebbe Nachman tells us (in Sefer HaMiddot, Tzaddik, #18):

There is a tzaddik whose fame is reknown, who later falls through lust for money.

I.e., even a bona fide tzaddik can fall into a very bad place when financial considerations becomes the main engine driving their activities.

Also in Sefer HaMiddot (Tzaddik #57), Rabbenu tells us:

There are those that expound on the Torah with eloquence, yet their words lack truth.

But man, do they make for some good entertainment!

The rabbis and rabbanits who are truly serving God lishma, truly teaching Torah lishma, often do so at such an enormous cost to themselves, and their own comfort zone, and their own finances and ego.

That’s one of the ways you can tell who is ‘real’ and who isn’t, in our confused, upside-down, back-to-front world.

I prefer to learn Torah from people who I know from firsthand knowledge often lack the funds to pay their own electricity bills. And who often go into enormous debt putting out Torah teachings, or building new kollels and yeshivas, as Rav Natan did on behalf of Rebbe Nachman, and Breslov chassidut. And who literally go through a ‘fire and water’ of disgrace and humiliation, because they want all the honor to go to God, and not to become some ‘big name’ on the Torah circuit.

Personally, I’m not on that level, no-where near it. While I’m clearly not writing to earn money (haha!) I still write to feel good about myself, to feel as though I’m doing something useful in the world. It’s not 100% lishma, it’s not totally for God

And that’s why it’s so humbling for me to watch and experience how it looks when Torah is truly being learned and taught – and lived – lishma.

This Torah isn’t light entertainment, this Torah doesn’t make for pretty Youtube videos, the people teaching this Torah aren’t showing up on the roster of speakers at the Dead Sea for Pesach.

This Torah is challenging the listeners – continually – to put their hand up and admit they aren’t perfect, and that they need to knuckle down and work on their own characters and relationships.

And that’s just not something anyone wants to pay good money to hear, is it?

But this Torah makes it blindingly clear that the honor belongs to God.

And no-one else.

And that’s how I know it’s real.

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UPDATE: I had a question about how paying a tzaddik a pidyon nefesh relates to what I’ve described above. BH, I will collate a bunch of sources, and answer that with some daas Torah next week some time.

It’s a complicated subject, so I can understand the confusion, and with God’s help, I will try to clarify the difference.