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There’s a French saying, plus ca change.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

I couldn’t help thinking of that when I was trying to get over the massive spiritual fall-out from reading that awful book a couple of weeks’ ago that was mamash slandering the land of Israel, and so many of the Jews who live here, and which made out that it’s a bigger ‘mitzvah’ to stay in galut than to make aliya.

It’s amazing how any discussion of the sin of the spies always seems to be missing from so many of these ‘controversial’ discussions about moving to Israel, at least, in English. Or at least, from the pulpits of so many of the English-speaking ‘rabbis’ who live outside of Israel.

All week, I was trying to weigh up how best to tackle the subject, and if I should tackle the subject at all, even, because God forbid we should have more pointless machloket and sinat chinam floating around, more pointless divisiveness, more pointless ‘opinion’.

As often happens, Rabbenu gave me a clear way to proceed on Shabbat.

I started reading Lesson 20 in Part 1 of Likutey Moharan, and this is part of what I read:

“In the merit of the Torah that is drawn, one attains the Land of Israel, as in, ‘He gave them the lands of nations’ (Psalms 105:44). But the 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 and punished 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’ (Bereishit 27:40), and he draws sustenance from the astrological sign of Mars.”

SLANDERING THE LAND OF ISRAEL IS STILL A HUGE SIN

Rabbenu wasn’t writing before the destruction of the Second Temple; he was writing 200 years ago, for our generation.

Edom is identified with the church / the West – i.e. all those countries that love their missiles and bombs and massive warships, and which are constantly developing new ways to try to ‘live by their sword’.

(Just look at what’s going on right now in Venezuela, and what’s been going on for decades in so many countries around the world, where the West ‘mixed in’ to ensure that its economic interests would be given first priority by any incoming governments – often to the detriment of that nation’s own citizens.)

Elsewhere, Rabbenu tells us that we’re in exile amongst the nations still, because there are 70 negative character traits, one for each of the 70 main nations of the world. And when we Jews continue to display the negative character traits of a particular nation, then we empower that nation in the world, and give them the ability to keep us in exile.

In other words, geula really is just dependent on Jews working on our own individual bad middot, wherever we happen to live in the world.

So now, Rabbenu told us that Edom / the West ‘draws sustenance from the astrological sign of Mars’, let’s see what that actually means, in terms of what we need to specifically work on.

According to a Baraisa written by Shmuel HaKatan, the planet Mars is related to the following character traits (btw, they happen to all be bad – this is not the case for most of the other planets / celestial bodies.)

THE TRAITS ASSOCIATED WITH MARS:

  • Bloodshed
  • Wickedness
  • Strife
  • External injury
  • War
  • Hatred
  • Jealousy

Doesn’t this list give you the shudders?

Doesn’t it describe so much of what is ‘wrong’ in the Jewish world, and the world generally?

We have our work cut out for us!

This is basically the checklist for sinat chinam, or the hatred that a Jew feels for another Jew, that caused the destruction of the Second Temple in the first place, and our long, horrible exile to begin, 2000 years ago.

I know so many of us feel powerless to bring the geula any closer, or any faster, or any sweeter, but that’s so not true. If each Jew would take it upon themselves to really make a serious effort to uproot these seven traits from our lives totally, we’d have geula in the blink of an eye.

And we can do this regardless of where we happen to live.

If we are exhibiting these seven negative characteristics in our own lives – ‘warring’ with people in the comments section online, arguing with people all the time, sending yucky emails, feeling jealous over ‘that one’s’ big house, or bigger bank balance, or thinner thighs, or bigger family, or hating people for holding different opinions, or believing different things, or resorting to guns to deal with our enemies, instead of resorting to prayer and turning to God – then WE are continuing the exile of Edom.

And WE will be held to account for that, by God.

That’s why Breslov emphasizes the personal aspect of geula, or redemption. Breslov teaches:

Get out of your own bad middot, work on rectifying your own negative characteristics, and you’ll experience both personal redemption – and the geula of Am Yisrael.

This is our work. This is our responsibility.

So please, let’s stop wasting time arguing with crazy people, and let’s just got on with doing the work of identifying these ‘Edomite’ characteristics in ourselves, and finally uprooting them.

So Moshiach can come soon, the sweet way.

Someone told me that the US has just legalized gay marriage across the whole country. That same someone (who lives in the USA) told me that she had a feeling she’d be moving to Israel sooner rather than later (even though she hasn’t been here for years) because “Once you start messing around with the 7 Noachide Laws, that has a way of diminishing God’s love for your country.”

I know reams and reams is probably being written about this landmark decision of the US Supreme Court. I’m not going to add to all the speculation with this post; what I DO want to talk about, though, is how important it is at this stage in Jewish history for us Jews to stand up for God.

When I moved to Israel 10 years’ ago, it was a little ahead of the first ‘gay parade’ in Jerusalem. Back then, I was still working for the British Government as a ghostwriter for Ministers, and one of my best clients (in terms of how much work they asked me to do for them) was the Women and Equality Unit.

But in terms of what I had to write for them, it was the most drecky, horrible job ever. In just one speech, I’d have to laud women who rushed back to work as soon as their kids were born (the ‘women’ bit); praise muslims for having 6 wives (the ‘equality’ bit), and then also toss in at least one comment about how great and wonderful same gender relationships were (more of the ‘equality’ bit).

And bizarrely, in that ultra politically-correct environment where any notion of ‘right and wrong’ had gone completely out of the window, no-one seemed to notice how all these ideologies were completely at odds with each other, out there in the real world.

I hated those speeches.

I hated the feeling that I was selling-out my soul and my beliefs just  to pay my mortgage – but of course, that’s exactly what I was doing because back then, the Women and Equality Unit paid me very nicely to turn those things around for them.

It was part of the equation of being a religious Jew in galut, or exile.

So we moved to Israel, and all the fuss of the gay parade broke out here, and I kind of watched it a bit bemused, over to one side. My Israeli rabbis were encouraging me to take a stand, and to sign petitions against it, and to register my displeasure. And part of me really wanted to do that stuff – but the other part of me was far too scared of dong anything so UN-politically correct, because, well, political correctness was a central plank of my career and bank balance.

Or so I thought at the time.

So I felt very uncomfortable, but I did and said nothing.

Fast forward a decade, and a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then. Firstly, I actually went and researched the issue about why spilling seed is so bad, spiritually, for my old writing gig at breslev.co.il. You can check out those articles HERE.

To sum it up, whenever a man spills seed that has no chance of impregnating a woman, (however slim that chance might be), the millions of souls contained in that ‘seed’ get trapped in the realm of evil, which then sucks all the spiritual strength out of those souls, to pursue its own evil agenda in the world.

Scary stuff! And a concrete explanation of why gay marriage, and why promiscuous self-pleasuring lifestyles really are destroying the world.

The other thing that happened is that I gave up my career, and went through a patch of ‘being’ instead of doing that lasted for quite a few years. In that time of enforced career failure, my ego took quite a beating, and I started to realize more and more that God is running the show.

God is putting food on my table (or not…) God is paying my bills (or not…) God is responsible for my successes in life (I’m ready when You’re ready, Hashem).

That understanding helped me to start shifting all the political correct brainwashing out of my system, and to stop worrying that if I stood up for what was right, in whichever way God expected that of me, that I was going to lose my cred, career or bank balance. I anyway lost all of those things, which was a very painful process, but now I see it has a huge upside:

I got out of spiritual galut.

I can say GAY MARRIAGE IS REALLY BAD, and not care about the consequences of making that statement.

But if I was back in the UK? Or still working for the Women and Equality Unit? Now, you’re talking about a huge moral test – and the chances are high that I would probably fail it.

The decision by the US Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage is both a huge test, and a huge opportunity for God-fearing Jews. Anyone who can stand up for God is effectively proving they’re out of slavery, out of exile, out of bondage to foreign beliefs and political correctness. Anyone who can’t (and man, believe me that I know that there’s bills to pay and tuition to cover) – is stuck, spiritually, in a very bad place.

A place where God is missing, and man’s desires and animal-self is ruling the roost.

So the choice is simple, but also incredibly profound: Stand up for God and protest gay marriage in whichever way you can.

Or stay in spiritual exile.