Connecting back to the Tzaddikim – alive and dead – makes all the difference.
Thursday afternoon, I said to my husband:
Please, let’s try to book a zimmer in Tsfat. We’ll take cold meat and make sandwiches, or something, but I urgently need to have a break, and to do some kever-hopping.
My teenagers – and their ad-ons – are really great.
Really. But after this whole 3 month quarantine thing, where most of my time has been spent on taking responsibility for cleaning up after everyone else; and driving them places because there are no buses; and keeping the fridge and fruit bowl stocked in the face of voracious teenage appetites – I really needed a break.
So, we found a zimmer in Tsfat, and Friday morning, we headed up there.
The good news is most people in Tsfat are not buying into the whole facemask thing. The bad news is, all the synagogues – and well over half of the main shopping street – is still closed for business.
And from what I could tell, most of those shops are now closed permanently.
But we found a really nice zimmer in the Artists’ Quarter, 10 minutes walk from the ancient graveyard and the Ari, dumped our stuff there, then headed out to try to visit as many kivrei tzaddikim as we could pack into the 3 hours we had before Shabbat came in.
While the beaches in Tel Aviv are now open, Meron – the grave of the Rashbi – is still closed.
There were police parked in front of the gates, and also police cars parked at all the major intersections of any road that could conceivably lead to Meron.
The government here is very serious about stopping frum Jews from praying together, connecting to tzaddikim, and breathing fresh air.
So, with Meron taken off limits, we decided to stop at every other Kever we passed, as we drove around.
The first one was the grave of Rabbi Yehuda Bar Ilai.
I didn’t know this before I got to it, but apparently there is also a tradition to go to his kever on L’Ag B’Omer, too. Just as we got there, three Breslov guys with brown chinos, crazy hair, big, knit kippas and tzitzit on the outside suddenly pulled up, and started singing Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, yiy didee yiy yiy yiy yiy yai at the top of their lungs.
All of a sudden, the funny mood I’ve been in for ages started to lift considerably.
The tzaddikim were starting to work their magic.
Next stop was Rabbi Tarfon’s grave, near Kadita, in the middle of a forest.
The police were prowling at the end of the track, as it was one of the shortcut back routes to Meron, but once we’d turned off towards Kadita, they stopped following us.
Rabbi Tarfon’s grave is up a mountain in the middle of some splendid green isolation. It’s a breathtaking view.
Someone had left a copy of Chayei Moharan out on the grave, so I opened it ‘randomly’ and got to a section talking about Rabbenu’s ‘Burned Book’.
If you take a look HERE, you’ll find a discourse on the Burned Book, and lesson I:83 in Likutey Moharan, which takes a deeper look.
But in a nutshell, it’s all connected to:
- The “dawning of the ray of the Moshiach.”
- The importance of the sanctity of Shabbat.
- Raising up fallen fears and fallen ‘loves’, so they become yirat shemayim – fear of God and holy ‘love’ for God, mitzvoth and His Torah instead.
- And then it talks about eiver min ha hai – which has the same gematria as ‘Corona’, and which you can read a whole bunch about HERE.
- But basically, it’s connected to the Tzaddik of the generation taking shame upon himself to atone for the sins of the generation.
Next stop was one of the places reputed to be the Idra, the place where Rashbi is meant to have taught his inner circle of students the Zohar.
We stepped inside – and were shocked to see the stones inside totally and utterly covered with flies. It was pretty disgusting. And for a moment, I was confused: how can this site be so covered with flies, which are drawn to dung and ‘tumah’?
(There is another site that seems to be more accepted as the place of the Idra, which you can see in this video, but like so many things, it’s not 100% clarified or certain.)
Then, I remembered what Rabbi Berland has been teaching for a few years now, as expressed in his Prayer for Parents to Say For Their Children, which refers to Klipat Zvuv – the klipah of the flies.
He said this:
“[T]here have never been such difficult tests in the world, that “Klipat Zvuv” has taken hold of every boy and girl….everyone without exception had fallen into the spiritual impurity of Zvuv, which is in fact the spiritual impurity of Amalek, which is the strongest force of spiritual impurity that has ever existed.”
Basically, Klipat Zvuv – the spiritual impurity of the ‘fly’ – is currently launching an all-out attack against kedusha at the moment, and that is so very obvious at the Idra, the cradle of the Zohar.
Next stop was the ancient synagogue of Nevoryah, where Rabbi Elazar HaModai is meant to also be buried. R’ Elazar HaModai was the uncle of Bar Kochba, the abortive false messiah of the Jews, who has his uncle killed because of the Romans’ vicious lashon hara against the elderly sage.
At each stop, I felt like I was gathering up clues and hints from Hashem, about what is really going on right now, albeit some of them were far more hidden and obscured than others.
The last stop before Shabbat took us to Amuka, the grave of Rabbi Yonatan Ben Uzziel.
My husband and I both prayed that our children would find their true basherts, and that if that had already happened, that things should move forward at a good pace.
I opened up one of the siddurim there ‘randomly’, and got to the page for kabbalat Shabbat, with Tehillim #92.
Here’s some of what that said:
It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing to Your name, O Most High. To declare Your kindness in the morning, and Your faith at night…. O Lord! Your thoughts are very deep.
A boorish man does not know; neither does a fool understand this. But when the wicked flourish like grass, and all workers of violence blossom, this is only for them to be destroyed forever…. My eye has gazed upon those who stare at me [with envy]; when evildoers rise up against me, my ears hear [them]. The Tzaddik flourishes like the palm; as a cedar in Lebanon he grows.
It made me feel like we are close, so very close, to the ‘Shabbat’ of geula finally being ushered in.
That kever also had a few other people – non-chareidim – and no-one was wearing masks.
Just as we were pulling out of the parking lot, a middle-aged secular guy on his 4×4 pulled up and asked us if we had a lighter, while his girlfriend squinted at us curiously, from the passenger’s seat.
We didn’t have a lighter, but I offered him the box of matches I’d brought with me to light my Shabbat candles. He took it like a thirsty man in the desert being offered a pina colada – and then whipped out the biggest joint I remember seeing this side of university.
After he gave the matches back, I whispered to my husband that I really wasn’t sure if enabling him to light his massive bong really counted as a mitzvah…
The last stop before Shabbat in Tsfat was the kever of Ben Yehoyda. There, I picked up a copy of the Chofetz Chaim’s tome on lashon hara, and here is the ‘random’ message I got from that:
Accepting rechilut [about other Jews] makes a person become a complete sonei Israel (hater of Israel, hater of other Jews, hater of Hashem and His Torah, God forbid.)
I thought about all those people greedily guzzling down the anti-Torah and anti-Tzaddikim propaganda that passes for journalism on sites like Yeshiva World News, and I sighed a big sigh.
Today when I was typing this post up, my dad in the UK showed me a big headline from a supposedly frum Jewish paper in the UK, which was lit up with the world SHAMEFUL! in big red letters.
Underneath, the writer was attacking the ‘small minority’ of religious Jews who had defied the retarded and unscientific ‘social distancing’ rules in the UK, to light a bonfire on L’Ag B’Omer.
I sighed again.
Back in my zimmer, I had the best Shabbat.
I slept well for the first time in 3 months, without being weighed down with other people’s problems and responsibilities.
I managed to do six hours for the first time in a month, and felt way more ‘grounded’ and happy as a result.
And then, just as I was telling God that I so miss spotting all His messages, and recognizing all His hashgacha pratis in my life, my eye was caught by some writing on the walls of the zimmer. Here’s what it said, in order of me reading them:
- Life the life you imagined, for with God all things are possible.
- Dreams have no expiration date.
- Faith makes things possible…not easy.
- Like chocolate.
Shabbat day, I stayed in pyjamas until 5pm (for the first time in well over 15 years), then got dressed and went to pray at the kever of the Ari.
All the synagogues in Tsfat are still shut, so minyanim were gathered in the street.
Down by the kever, there was another small band of Breslov-friendly Jews with big payot and t-shirts, drinking soda and singing songs, while others recited a tikkun haklali. I joined them.
And again, it brought home to me just how much life force, just how much spiritual koach we really get from being connected to our tzaddikim.
My husband also took the opportunity to dip in the Ari’s mikvah Shabbat morning, and he also came away from that experience feeling rejuvenated and re-energised.
It’s a funny world we live in, when the high street feels totally dead, and the ancient cemetery of Tsfat feels the most ‘alive’ of any place I’ve been for a good long while.
Motzash, the road back to the 89 was blocked by the police, still earnestly trying to stop ANYONE from getting within sniffing distance of Rashbi and Meron.
So, we went down the road to Tiveria, and tried to visit the tomb of Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess.
It was closed.
Because there is a war against religion being waged in Israel, undercover of all this COVID hysteria.
On the way out, we stopped for five minutes to go and see the overflowing Kinneret, swollen to almost bursting point by this winter’s rains. The lake level is so high, it’s reaching the top of what used to be the beach area around it. Me and my husband both dipped our hands in the warmish water, and exalted in the gashmei bracha that Hashem had sent this year.
Then it was time to get back in the car, and head home.
I’m still trying to finish up the sodding 40 days at the Kotel that I started over three months ago, so before we returned to our house, we made a pit-stop down by the Dung Gate, where I donned my regulation mask, and joined the four million other Jews threading their way to the Kotel Plaza.
This time, I didn’t get near the wall, as there was a massive queue, but I got close enough to imagine kissing the stones, and as I turned on my heel to leave, I suddenly had a strange flash of imagination.
A tall tree – a cedar of Lebanon – suddenly sprouted out of Har HaBayit, and was growing at a rapid pace, bringing everything in Israel under its protective shade.
I remembered Tehillim #92, and smiled a small smile:
The Tzaddik flourishes like the palm; as a cedar in Lebanon he grows.
Bad guys, your days are numbered.
You don’t realise it yet, but you already lost the game, and geula is unfolding the sweet way, faster and faster.
And very soon, that’s going to be obvious to everyone.
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