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As I watched clods of brown mud being spaded on top of a coffin last week, I was pondering what a person truly leaves behind them, when they die.

They leave behind a lot of paperwork – this agreement with the car leasing company, that letter from the bank, a will, a bill, an instruction to an insurance agent or realtor.

They also leave behind a lot of clothes. And accessories. And jewellery. Closets and closets full of stuff that no-one else actually wants, for all the person who used to wear them is so loved and missed.

Other things remain, like furniture. A new fridge. A shed-full of other people’s memories that couldn’t quite be discarded despite the lack of real use for them in the world.

Then there’s the photos – or at least, there used to be the photos before the i-Phones showed up and turned everything into yet another anonymous, bland file on Dropbox that could be viewed or ignored with equal equanimity.

All these things are left behind, but carry no weight in the world in the world as soon as person moves on to the next, purely spiritual, stage of left.

So what’s really left behind, tachlis, in the world?

The truth is, we really all already know the answer to this question, for all that it can be so obscured behind the rat race, and the keeping up with the Joneses, and the massive mortgage payments.

What we leave behind is our kindnesses, and the things we did that touched and effected other people worlds, in some way.

Like, that conversation we once had with someone that ended up somehow changing the whole course of their life. Or the event we helped organize that raised so much money, or brought so much joy and meaning to other people’s hearts.

Or the meals we made with love, day in day out, that nourished our families and friends, and made them feel like someone had their back.

What we leave behind is the impression we made on other people’s lives, and in other people’s memories, and within other people’s hearts.

Did we turn someone else’s heart to stone with a cruel word, or a hateful comment, or did we warm it up in some way?

Thank God, I haven’t been to a lot of funerals. But I’ve been to enough to know that no-one talks about how much money the dead person had, or how big their house was, or how nattily they dressed.

What we leave behind is our kindnesses for others, and our commitment to living a ‘good’ life as delineated by Hashem, and His Torah.

As below, so above. Parodoxically, what we take with us into the next world are exactly the same things that we leave behind here. Our kindnesses and our mitzvot, and our character traits.

In the world of truth, no-one cares what car you drive, or how many square metres you call ‘home’.

So the last few days I’ve been trying to figure out WHAT, exactly, has been causing me my eye problems and health issues.

Again, it’s a fundamental principle of emuna that nothing happens ‘stam’ or by accident, and that everything is 100% tailored from Hashem to give us some sort of message about what we might need to work on, change or fix in our lives (and souls) – so I’ve been pondering this a lot in my talking to God sessions the last few days.

Here’s what I was exploring:

1) After last week, I got 100% that my eyes went funny because I was looking at stuff that was coming from a very bad place spiritually.

2) WHAT was that stuff, exactly?

I wasn’t so clear on number 2, because I had three possible areas that I’m currently engaged in:

1) I’m reading books by Immanuel Velikovsky at the moment, who was basically an externally secular Jew who took on the scientific establishment after World War II. Velikovsky was extraordinarily erudite, and he demolished their arguments about things like the age of the world, and about how and when massive, comet-induced natural disasters devastated the planet, and also showed how the events described in Torah and Tanach is to be found all over ancient history – if you know where to look for it.

Now, he definitely wasn’t a religious man in the modern sense of the word, but he believed in God, and believed in the veracity of the Torah and Tanach (which makes him more ‘frum’ than a lot of the apparently orthodox people walking around in 2017.)

Was that making my eyes funny?

Or, was it:

2) The research I’m doing on the ‘Electric People’ book, where I start off reading equations from people with impressive PhDs in quantum physics and then two seconds later I find myself reading about a Tibetan view of the afterworld?

(It’s a crazy thing: Chemistry seems to lead to atheism, and physics either leads to God, or to avoda zara, or to a belief that ‘aliens’ created life on earth…)

Was it that, that was making my eyes funny?

Or, was it:

3) Jewish blogs and websites by ‘frum’ Jews who aren’t so into believing in Tzaddikim, definitely aren’t into Rav Berland, and have a very ‘cool’ take on what it means to be an orthodox Jew in 2017?

I cracked open Rebbe Nachman’s Book of Traits (sefer HaMiddot) and this is what I got:

“It’s forbidden to learn from one who draws after idol-worship, and one who learns from him is liable to the death penalty.”

Gosh, well that seemed to be pretty clear cut. It seemed like number 2 on the list was the culprit. Except….when you’re doing hitbodedut, and really talking to God about things, things are rarely so cut and dried.

As I was rolling around the idea that I have to quit writing ‘Electric People’, Rav Natan’s maxim that ‘whatever brings you closer to God is true, and whatever takes you further away from God is false’ popped into my head.

Just yesterday, I was sketching some of my ideas from Electric People out to a friend, and she told me that I’d just given her emuna a real boost by what I’d described, because it really showed her that people aren’t in control, and only God is.

Hmmm.

So maybe Electric People wasn’t the problem after all (although clearly, the Tibetan ‘channelling’ PhDs are people I need to stay away from…)?

So what WAS it, then? Reading Velikovsky’s stuff has also brought me much nearer to God, and His awesomeness, and has similarly made me realize how God is really the only One in control of what’s occurring down here on planet earth.

So I don’t think it’s that, despite all the disturbing packaging that some of Velikovsky’s ideas come wrapped in. (Briefly, he compared the mythologies and histories of ancient peoples to try to find some sort of big, world-wide natural disaster that would synchronise ancient history. Boy, did he find it… But that’s a post for another time.)

So then that left me with the frum Jewish blogosphere…

To cut a long story short, the last few weeks I was trying to connect to a whole bunch of Jewish bloggers and internet people, to interview them about their stuff, and to hopefully get the word out about my new book, The Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife.

I spent literally hours poring over different websites, trying to find good ‘fits’. Then, I spent a bunch more time emailing people, to see if we could collaborate somehow. I’ve had a few nice responses (mostly from the less obviously ‘frum’ people) – and some really yucky responses from the more apparently ‘frum’ people, who castigated me for publicly supporting Rav Berland on my blog.

Bingo!

After I got another yucky response last week, I had a fleeting moment when I thought maybe I should take the stuff about Rav Berland down.

I mean, if it was limiting my marketing opportunities, blah blah blah, stopping me from connecting to other cool, creative, ‘frum’ Jews, blah blah blah, making me feel like I’d done something ‘bad’, blah blah blah…

After talking to God about it all, I decided to stick to my guns, and to continue to support the Rav with everything I’ve got, for as long as it takes for the truth to come out, regardless of how many ‘opportunities’ it’s costing me.

When I applied Rav Natan’s rule, I realized that trying to cosy up to these ‘frum’ bloggers had taken me pretty far away from emuna, and emunat Tzaddikim, or believing in our true Tzaddikim.

To put it another way, these guys were REALLY bad for my health!!!

And for my soul. And for my spiritual connection to Hashem, and His holy Tzaddikim.

So, now I’ve figured that out, I’m going to continue trying to demolish all the lies modern science is built on (that leads to atheism…), and I’m going to continue trying to show how human health really works (which could lead to avoda zara, unless people are firmly connected to the Torah and the true Tzaddikim…)

And I’m also staying away from pretty much every Jewish blog and website out there – because when you’re striving to be a believing Jew, that’s the REALLY dangerous stuff on the internet.

This is one of those posts that’s so hard to write, but so important to set down, some how. We’d all love to live in a world where people only gave out positive energy, and had good characteristics, and treated us with generosity of spirit, kindness and truth.

Thank G-d, that stuff does still happen.

But as people get more and more disconnected from G-d, and more and more disconnected from that spark of G-d in themselves that’s called the neshama, or soul, the more they’re falling prey to all sorts of serious ‘soul sicknesses’.

Rav Arush writes about soul sickness at length in many of his books, but particularly in the Garden of Healing. There, he spells it out very clearly that the further away a person gets from G-d, and from having emuna, the more soul-sick they’ll be.

He defines ‘soul-sickness’ as all those negative emotions that we all have, like jealousy, angry, worry, arrogance etc; and explains that the more severe soul-sicknesses can show up as diagnoses for severe mental illnesses, including personality disorders.

Secular medicine has no cure for things like personality disorders and schizophrenia. Their best effort is to offer pills to try to drug away the worst symptoms, and if that doesn’t work, their next big suggestion is to stick someone away in an institution for the rest of their lives.

Spiritually, there is a solution, and it’s one that works wonders: learn more emuna. Rav Arush, and I’m sure others too, teach that the more emuna a person has, the more they try to see G-d in their lives, and to include Him, and to talk to Him, the more spiritually-healthy they will be.

When everyone starts following that advice, the world will be a peaceful, amazing, sane beautiful place to live in…but in the meantime, I thought I’d put together some energetic advice on how to deal with the crazy people who can suck all the life and joy out of you, if you’re not careful.

The following things have worked for me, or for others, in some very difficult situations, enabling us to deal with ‘negative people’ without getting angry, sick or crazy themselves (no small achievement!)

Some of them sound weird, but don’t knock it until you try it. None of these things can do you any harm, and they could help you tremendously.

1) Shower

Before and / or after dealing with someone you know is ‘difficult’, take a shower. Nothing washes away negativity like a bit of hot water.

2) Do the ‘G-d is everywhere’ exercise every morning (see below)

3) Carry your invisible umbrella ­- if you know in advance you’re dealing with a difficult person who sucks you dry and exhausts, keep them out of your personal space as much as possible. Put up your ‘invisible umbrella’ to keep people at arm’s length; if they’re trying to hug you, stand to close to you, pat your arm etc, gently move away, so they’re no closer to you than they would be if you were holding an umbrella. If you have to, don’t be scared to police your invisible boundary forcefully. They’ll get the message sooner or later.

4) Try to stand with them on your right-hand side – energetically, we absorb far more on the left-side, and are far more vulnerable from that direction.

5) Cross your arms – many of us do this automatically when we’re around people who are a bit ‘too much’ for us. But energetically, it really does repel negative vibes.

6) Understand what you’re dealing with: and that it’s not your responsibility (or fault) if they’re unhappy and negative. We don’t have to ‘fix’ other people – and even if we want to, we can’t! We are each responsible for our own outlook and happiness, so don’t let a negative person make their problem, your problem. Keep your distance from them, emotionally, and try not to take their griping, unhappiness, rage fits and attempts to control and manipulate you personally. If despite all your efforts, you still get zapped with bad vibes, try the following:

7) ‘Give it back to G-d’ exercise – (see below). And then:

8) Take a bath in baking soda – I know this sounds mega-weird, but in practise is really does help a person feel more grounded, ‘together’ and cleaned-off from all the emotional ‘ick’.

B’hatslacha, and I’m certainly looking forward to a time very soon when we won’t need these exercises any more…

‘G-d is everywhere’ exercise

Rub your hands together, and shake them off.

Rub them together again, and then put them palms facing either side of your ears.

Bring your elbows together in front your face, and then cross your arms over each other, and sweep them out to the side.

Cross your arms over in front of you again, and again sweep out to the side. Do these criss-cross movements in front of you all the way down your body and legs, until you get to the floor.

Have in mind that G-d is protecting you, and keeping you cocooned off in His kindness and light.

When you reach the floor, put your two arms together, kind of like an elephant’s trunk, and make sweeping figure 8 movements around your body, as you come back up from your legs to your head.

Take the ‘Figure 8’ movements up to past your head, then put your two arms together, backs of hands touching, above your head, and then bring them gently down to the sides of your body.

Imagine as you do this, that you are literally in a cocoon of Divine protection.

 

‘Give it back to G-d’ exercise

Rub your hands together and shake them off.

Bring your hands together in front of your chest, palms touching.

Zoom one hand up, palm up, to G-d, and zoom one hand down, palm down, as though kind of ‘leaning’ on the ground.

Stretch.

Now, switch sides – zoom the ‘up’ hand to the ‘down’ position, and vice-versa.

While you’re doing this, have in mind that you are giving whatever you need to back to G-d, to take care of, while retaining whatever experience, learning or ‘good’ you need to keep hold of.

Do this another 2 times on both sides.

Then, bend over with your arms down in front of you, and take 2 deep breaths.

Now, slowly stand up, rolling your arms up your body as you do so. (Imagine you’re rolling a beach ball up your body.)

Take your arms above your head, and bring them down to your sides.

Imagine, as you do this, that G-d is covering you in protective mantle of Divine light.