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The real battle is always internal.

The last few weeks, I’ve gathered so much material together on so many different subjects – then deleted it all. I haven’t just done that once, I’ve done it a good four, maybe in five, times.

I had so much information to share on how the first Reform-minded Jews were actually freemasons, and how 60% of the Reform rabbis in the US in 1927 reported they were members of their local lodge – including 8 ‘rabbis’ who’d reached the 33rd degree.

I deleted it all.

Then, I had a whole bunch of information gathered together about moral (and other forms) of corruption in a particular orthodox group.

I deleted it all.

And then, I found myself gathering more information about a popular Jewish leader who encouraged Jews to see themselves as violent ‘chayas’ – beasts, or animals – and who also had a long history of acting in some very immoral ways.

I deleted it all.

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The last few weeks, I’ve had a mighty battle raging in my soul, between trying to call out so much of the ‘bad’ and obvious hypocrisy of the Jewish community, and to set it down clearly in black and white, and between Rebbe Nachman’s clarion call to focus on Azamra, or seeing the good.

It’s been driving me bonkers all November.

The Rav warned that Cheshvan – November – was the month of wars, and sure enough, different types of battle have been joined all over the place. There’s been rockets from Gaza, rockets from Syria, political wars of every stripe – all over the planet – and also, that internal war, to try to do what God really wants and to avoid machloket.

And at least speaking for myself, that war has been the hardest.

I can’t stand all the half-truths, posturing and hypocrisy that I keep coming up against in a million different ways. I can’t stand all the yucky people who like to pretend they want a solution, but are really innately part of the problem. All the falsehood, all the carping and attacking, all the lying to ourselves, it’s been getting me down a lot, recently.

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A few weeks’ ago, I thought the best thing to do would be to try to blast the lies out of the water, as much as possible, by doing one expose after another, just stacking up the plain, incontrovertible facts. No opinion, no spin, just facts and solid information.

I had so much collected up, so much ready to go….

And then God stopped me.

In my hitbodedut, I kept getting steers to get back to my PC and to delete every last bit of it. And that has happened so many times now, that I think I’ve finally got the message:

God doesn’t want Jews slagging other Jews off in public, no matter how ‘bad’ those other Jews appear to be behaving.

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This is really hard for me to accept, I have to be honest.

What, I should just let all the misinformation go unchallenged?! I should just sit here writing fluffy stuff about trips to the Hula Valley, instead of hard-hitting pieces about the endemic corruption that’s oozing out of every part of the Jewish communal structure, both home and abroad?!

God said:

YES!!!!

A million times, YES!!!!

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People need a lot of chizzuk right now.

The anti-Semites are spreading so many calumnies about Jews being behind every bad thing in the world, and Jewish writers and bloggers have to understand that every word we write about our communities are being scrutinized, and often twisted, to blame the Jews for everything that’s going wrong.

That’s a massive responsibility.

And here’s the thing:

Even the worst Jews out there are still just puppets and pawns in the hands of a bunch of very evil non-Jews.

They’ve been using these renegade Jews as ‘cover’ for their really bad activities for centuries, but that time is soon coming to a close. And we Jews need to stick together, we need to stay close to our true Tzaddikim, and we need to see the good, both in other Jews, and also in ourselves.

That’s our job right now.

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So, even though I have a ton I could say about what’s really going on politically and Jewishly, I want to draw a line in the sand here on the blog, and move in the direction of what’s really going to help us all get through the next few months of global insanity. That means putting the focus on:

Emuna, azamra, chizzuk and practical stuff about working on our bad middot.

As much as possible, this blog is going to be a Trump-free zone, a Bibi-free zone, a pointless politics-free zone.

Why waste any more time on all this divisive cack that doesn’t help anyone, and just sets us at each other’s throats? Much better to focus on the bad middot we all need to work on; much better to talk about emuna, much better to talk Turkey about what God really wants from us as individuals and Jews, and to try to spread more of the light of the true Tzaddikim in the world.

So that’s what I’m hoping to focus on, going forward.

BH, God will help me to do it.

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UPDATE:

I just wrote this, for my blog over on RavBerland.com. I think it’s time we re-examined what it really means to ‘have emuna’, and how we can start to apply it again. So many of us got disappointed with the whole idea of ’emuna’ because we were being taught that it’s a way to ‘force’ God to give us what we want.

Really, true emuna is only about acceptance. It’s about accepting that we are flawed, and have work to do, and also about accepting that God is in charge of the world, not us.

Read more here:

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Photo by Piotr Makowski on Unsplash

None of us have a clue about what’s really going on, right now.

One of the striking elements of reading books like Tzaddik, and Rebbe Nachman’s Wisdom, is the number of times Rabbenu tells his followers: I don’t know anything.

And he really means it!

Over recent weeks, I’ve been thinking more and more how the people who regularly admit that they truly don’t know anything are really the only ones any one of us should be paying attention to. That’s for a few reasons.

First, true wisdom, true insight, isn’t linear.

It comes as flashes of inspiration that often catch you totally off guard, and up-end everything that you thought and believed was ‘true’.

The very action of acquiring more of this heavenly-inspired ‘knowledge’ and wisdom leaves you in a profound state of not knowing.

I know that’s what’s happening to me. The more I find out about Freemasons, vaccines, or even just what’s going on behind the façade of so many of the ‘regular’ people in my dalet amot, the less I truly feel that I ‘know’ anything.

At any moment, a new piece of information could come rushing up from the depths, or rushing out of the shadows, to turn everything all on its head, and change the whole picture.

There are no certainties in 2019, no guarantees.

Truth has become an expendable commodity for just about everyone, and in its place we have dogma, propaganda and totally unfounded assurances from other people that they know something we don’t.

Really?

The only source of clarity right now is what you get straight from talking to God, and from the mouths of our true Sages. And guess what? (Whisper this…) Our true sages don’t give a monkeys about impeachment hearings on Capitol Hill. It’s all a charade, a façade.

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Which brings me to the second reason why we need to only be listening to the people who aren’t trying to impress us with how much they know, and that boils down to humility and honesty.

Humility means that you aren’t trying to set yourself up as a ‘navi’, or a seer, pretending you have the inside edge about what’s going on all over the world when all you’re doing is watching Youtube videos and scrolling through your Facebook feed.

Let’s say it again: None of us know what’s going down at the moment, which side is up, who is really ‘good’, what is really ‘bad’.

All we have to go on is our intuition, the mirror principle, and any flashes of insight we might get in hitbodedut. While I’m a big believer in intuition and hunches, until the facts are incontrovertibly proved either way, everything is still just an educated guess.

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I think the Freemasons control most of the world and covertly (and not so covertly…) worship the devil. But I could be wrong about that, I admit it.

Ditto, I think Trump has been installed to pull off the ‘deal of the century’ which will see the US permanently installed in Israel to ‘protect us’ from our neighbors, while steadily asset-stripping the massive oilfields they just found in the Golan Heights (conveniently just recognized by Trump as belonging to Israel…) and the gas fields out to sea.

And maybe, something else, too. Who knows?

All I can tell you is that all of these ‘announcements’ from US and Israeli politicians seem to be aimed squarely at trying to provoke another war in the Middle East. Last week’s provocative hit on a PIJ leader didn’t lead to all-out war – miraculously! – so here, the Trump administration is trying to stir things up again, with another pointless ‘recognition’ of settlements in the West Bank, which changes precisely nothing, but is guaranteed to spark off riots in Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

Cynic that I am, I can’t help wondering if oil, or some other valuable natural resource, has just been found in the West Bank, too.

Under international law, if you try to cash in on the natural resources in an area whose sovereignty is under dispute, that counts as a ‘war crime’. That was the main problem with the oil fields up in the Golan – which Freemason Trump has now nicely solved for all his billionaire buddies with drilling rights.

But of course, I could be totally wrong about all this!

And if that’s the case, that’s OK with me. I’ll be the first to admit it.

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Which brings me back to the genius of Rabbenu’s “I know nothing’.

When you get in the habit of admitting that you really know nothing, then it gets way, way easier to admit when you inevitably get it wrong, and when you need to rethink things, make teshuva, and maybe apologise.

When you’re in the habit of knowing nothing, the ego doesn’t kick up quite the same fuss, when you have to put your hand up to being fallible and making mistakes. And while so many of us find that process painful and difficult, the more your practice it, the easier it gets.

Knowing nothing – and admitting that regularly – also works a treat to keep you humble, and open to learning from new information, new people, new facts you didn’t know before.

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Two weeks ago, I was in the local supermarket when there was an obviously American woman at the till, asking loudly:

Yesh condensed milk??

The lady serving her wasn’t being very helpful, so I arrogantly took it upon myself to inform her that I’ve never seen condensed milk in Israel, I’m not sure they even have it.

She gave me a glare and a tight smile, and then basically ignored me.

Hah! I thought to myself. Stupid new immigrant! What does she know about shopping in Israel… Not like me, who has lived here 15 years, and knows there is no condensed milk to be had!!!

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A few days ago, I was walking around that same supermarket when an elderly, Russian man literally sprang in front of me, and shoved two cans into my face.

He asked me in broken English what they were.

I took one can and read it carefully. My eyes opened in surprise.

It’s condensed milk, I told him.

He shoved the other can at me, and asked me to read the label of that one, too:

It’s also condensed milk, I told him, starting to flush.

He smiled happily at me – then put both cans back on the shelf and walked off.

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I don’t know much, but I know why God made that happen.

It was to show me how little I really know – about anything! – and to bring me down a peg or two.

Ah, Rivka.

So, you think you know ‘stuff’? You think you have some insight, some super-duper information no-one else has access to? Tut tut, the truth is, you really know nothing.

You don’t even know that the supermarket you’ve lived next to for two whole years and visit almost every days has not just one brand of condensed milk, but two!

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It’s humbling, having to admit I know nothing.

But it’s also actually a massive gift. I don’t have to pick fights because my ego is squirming, or because other people have different opinions to me.

Maybe, Trump really is going to drain the swamp.

(Excuse me while I laugh my head off hysterically.)

But maybe, that’s true! What do I know, really?

So I’m not going to take it personally if someone else has a different opinion.

Until the birur process starts to accelerate, it’s just getting more and more confusing, and harder and harder to figure out where the truth lies.

God doesn’t mind that we guess and get it wrong. Or that we suppose, based on totally false information and propaganda. He just gets upset with us when we arrogantly start dissing other people, because we think we know better than they do.

Because the truth is, we know nothing.

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Photo by Dave Webb on Unsplash

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It’s not so hard to judge someone’s soul to the side of ‘good’.

A little while before Rosh Hashana, Rachel from New York challenged me over in the comments section to ‘walk the walk’, and judge Avigdor Lieberman favorably.

In case you happen to live on planet Mars, Avigdor Lieberman is the Russian-born head of the Yisrael Beytenu party, who is trying to force all chareidim to leave their shtenders, and to serve in the IDF.

Lieberman is so adamant about this, he brought down the last government – and is continuing to sow chaos in Israel politically, by refusing to sit with Bibi Netanyahu in any new government, and also by refusing to sit with the ‘religious’ parties that make up the Knesset’s natural right-wing ‘bloc’.

Because of Lieberman, we’ve already had 2 elections in five months – and no government. And you read it here first, we will be going to third elections, very soon.

So, how to judge Avigdor Lieberman to the side of ‘good’?

It’s a tough challenge, but after doing a fair bit of praying on it, here’s where I’m up to.

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The starting point with Rebbe Nachman’s lesson of Azamra is that while we have to clearly state when ACTIONS are bad and evil and anti-Torah and anti-God, that’s very different from saying the ESSENCE of a person is evil. Rav Ofer Erez explains this magnificently, in this video with full English subtitles:

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A Jew’s essence, their soul, is only good.

But what happens? All these klipot, all these external forces of evil come along to confuse and trip us up, and then before long you have people who are committing the worst sins in the world, but who are still telling themselves that they are doing ‘the right thing’, and that this is just how it has to be.

Let’s take a look at Lieberman, to see how that’s playing out.

Lieberman lacks emuna, and he doesn’t believe that God is running the world and controlling everything and everyone.

If he had more emuna, he would know that the best defense for the land of Israel is for all of the Jews who live here to wholeheartedly return to God, and to start doing what God wants, i.e. living a Torah-observant lifestyle.

But poor guy, he doesn’t know that.

He never went to cheder, he never went to yeshiva, he grew up in the Soviet Union where religion and God were anathema, and then he moved to Israel and started moving in political circles where religion and God are still anathema.

A guy like Lieberman, he wakes up every morning, and what does he see?

He sees Hamas with rockets in Gaza. And Hezbollah with rockets in Lebanon. And Syria trying to build a nuclear reactor on the Northern border. And Iran trying to complete their nuclear reactors, so they can nuke Israel, God forbid, over in the Gulf – and he’s totally petrified by the idea that some mad mullah can flip a switch, and boom!!! No more Israel.

Because Lieberman doesn’t have God in the picture, what does he think can help to solve this awful problem, this terrible danger to the Jewish state?

In his mind, Israel can only be defended against all these threats by a strong army.

In Lieberman’s mind, if the country fills up with pacifist frummers who only want to learn Torah and don’t want to serve in the army – then Israel will be finished.

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Before we continue, I challenge you, dear reader, to take a long, hard look in the mirror and to ask yourself if you also believe that the IDF is what is really protecting Israel.

Because if the answer is ‘yes’, that means you and Lieberman are essentially on the same page.

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Now, people with emuna know that God is protecting Israel, and that this country gets open miracles morning, noon and night.

People with emuna know that people like Rabbi Berland, and the late Baba Elazar, z’tl, and all the other big rabbis, tzaddikim and kabbalists, are working around the clock to keep ‘sweetening’ the spiritual judgments that manifest as terrorists, rockets and nukes, God forbid.

People with emuna are aware that it’s the Jewish people’s own sins that is causing us our terrible security problems with our neighbors, and that if we would return to God and His Torah, the whole Iranian nuke issue will fizzle like a sparkler in a shower.

Lieberman doesn’t have emuna.

So, according to his incorrect paradigm of what’s going on here, unless he can find a way to ‘force’ all the peacenik yeshiva bochurs into the army, sooner or later, he believes the army will collapse and the State of Israel will be destroyed or overrun by our enemies, God forbid.

Because of that belief, he has now apparently declared an all-out war against religion, or what he calls a ‘halachic state’, where Torah law would be pre-eminent.

Is this ‘good’ or ‘right’? No, it’s totally evil.

Why is he doing it?

Because he has very little emuna, doesn’t believe in God, and believes that superior force, and targeted killings, and all the other super-evil stuff that’s being done in the name of ‘security’ here and elsewhere, is the only way to protect the Jewish state.

(Lieberman’s Wikipedia entry makes very interesting reading. In many ways, you could argue he’s consistently acted as one of Israel’s more principled politicians, including severing ties with the corrupt Mossad, back in 2011. I also found this, which certainly muddies the waters on his views of ‘organized religion’ in Israel, too:

While his party is sometimes described by the news media[55] as doctrinally secular and aiming to reduce the role of the rabbinical system in government, it actually supports the continuation of the role of Orthodox rabbinical courts, but wants more nationally minded religious people, rather than the ultra-orthodox, in charge.[56] It does not advocate introducing civil marriage within Israeli law, but rather to find a solution to some of those who cannot marry under such laws.[55] It does not advocate a separation of religion and state in Israeli society.[56]

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So now, we circle back to the message of the ‘whoever finds fault‘ post, because Lieberman isn’t the only one who think that ‘chareidim’ are bad, and wrecking the economy, and need to be forced to serve in the army.

There are a whole bunch of ostensibly ‘religious’ Jews both here and abroad who also totally lack emuna, and believe the same thing, too.

Just they are less vitriolic (and probably, also less honest….) about expressing it. They think it’s fine for a few yeshiva bochurs to carry on learning, but they clearly would prefer most Moshes to put down their gemara and pick up their uzis, and to become truly productive citizens of Israel.

Honestly? It’s much, much harder for me to judge them favorably, because you’d think that surely they should know better than some Russian guy who never went to cheder and who grew up under atheist, communist rule….

But I digress.

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So, let’s sum up where we’ve got to:

Lieberman’s ACTIONS of going after the Torah world, and trying to ‘secularise’ Israel are clearly wrong, bad and evil.

Lieberman’s MOTIVATIONS are confused and mixed-up, but at least conceivably could stem from a genuine concern that if Torah observant Jews don’t serve in the IDF and ‘contribute economically’ to Israel, the Jewish State will either be destroyed, conquered or collapsed.

So that’s how we can judge the ESSENCE of Lieberman to the side of merit, even though his actions are clearly evil and atrocious.

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Ahead of Yom Kippur, it’s a really good idea to practice this Azamra thing as much as possible, because however we judge others, that is how God will judge us.

 

We’re all doing things wrong ALL THE TIME.

We hurt people, we step on them, we selfishly put ourselves first, we look down our noses at other Jews, and act holier-than-thou. We act like pigs, so very much of the time.

BUT OUR ESSENCE IS GOOD.

And the more we make an effort to see that in others, the more we’ll uncover that true goodness in ourselves, too, and rescue our souls (and everyone else’s….) from the klipot.

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“Whoever finds fault, finds his own fault” – Tractate Kiddushin 70a

With a couple of days to go before the Yom HaDin, Rosh Hashana 5780, I thought that we’d take a look at a passage in the Gemara, Kiddushin 70a, which is where the ‘mirror principle’ is first stated by Chazal.

In case you don’t know what the ‘mirror principle’ is, it’s a statement by the Baal Shem Tov that the whole world is a just a mirror, and that whatever ‘bad’ we see peeking out at us in others is somehow just a reflection of our own ‘bad’.

But that’s not just a tenet of chassidut, it’s actually brought down in the Gemara. And if we look at the context of that statement, we can learn some truly remarkable things. Let’s begin this post over in Chapter Four of Tractate Kiddushin, where the Sages are discussing the genealogical laws, and describing the different categories of Jews who ascended to Israel, from Babylonia, before the Second Temple was built.

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The Gemara tells us:

Ten genealogical classes went up from Bablyonia to Eretz Yisrael: Kohanim, Leviim, Yisraelim, chalalim (disqualified Kohanim), converts, freed Caananite slaves, mamzerim, nesinim, shetukim and asufim.

While all of these classes were considered to be 100% Jewish, there were restrictions on who was allowed to marry each other. The Gemara sets out the basic rules:

Kohanim, Leviim and Yisraelim – can marry each other.

Leviim, Yisraelim, chalalim, converts and freed slaves – can marry each other.

Converts, freed slaves, mamzerim, nesinim, shetukim and asufim – can marry each other.

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Before we continue, let’s just explain some of the more unfamiliar terms:

Mamzer – Refers to someone who is 100% Jewish, halachically, but who was born as a result of a union that is forbidden by the Torah. This doesn’t apply to someone who was born out of wedlock, but whose biological parents could still have stood under an orthodox chuppah. It also doesn’t apply to the Jewish child of a ‘mixed marriage’ where the father is not Jewish. But it DOES apply to adulterous extra-marital relationships, and also to children born of incest, amongst other things.

Nesin – This refers to a group of Canaanites called the Gibeonites, who tricked Joshua into converting them to become Jews, so that he wouldn’t kill them when he was conquering Eretz Yisrael. Even though their conversion was considered valid, Joshua forbid the other Jews from marrying them as long as the temple stood. Then later, King David saw how cruel and barbaric they were, and permanently forbid them from marrying into the mainstream Jewish community.

Shetuk – According to the Gemara:

“These are shetukim, anyone who knows the identify of his mother, but does not know the identity of his father.”

Asuf – According to the Gemara:

“Anyone who is gathered in from the street and does not know the identity of either his father or his mother.”

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The Gemara then gets into a very interesting discussion about how Ezra the Scribe basically forced all these ‘genealogically unfit’ categories of Jews to ascend with him to come and rebuild Eretz Yisrael.

He was worried that if he left them behind in Babylonia, the rabbis there wouldn’t know how to keep them properly contained.

(It’s an interesting aside, but the Babylonian Talmud asserts that because Ezra took all the ‘unfit’ Jews with him to Israel, he left Babylonian Jewry “like fine, sifted flour.” So they state that Babylonia at that time was the most genealogically ‘fit’ Jewish community, followed by Eretz Yisrael, then followed by the rest of the diaspora (!) I’m willing to bet the Talmud Yerushalmi has a different view, but I don’t have a copy to compare….)

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The Gemara then gets into a whole big discussion about what a big, genealogical mess the whole thing is already (1800 years ago…).

There were so many Kohanim who’d married goyim and ‘forbidden’ women without anyone knowing; and there were so many slaves who didn’t follow the proper procedure for being freed (which would render them as halachically Jewish converts) before marrying a Jew; and there were mamzerim walking around all over the place, due to adulterous affairs.

The Gemara then states this:

A Tanna taught…Elijah [the Prophet] writes, and the Holy One, Blessed is He, signs: Woe to him who disqualifies his children and who taints his family, and who marries a woman who is not fit for him. Elijah ties him, and the Holy One, Blessed is He, whips him. And whoever declares others to be genealogically unfit is himself genealogically unfit. And he (i.e someone who is genealogically unfit] never speaks in praise of others.

Let’s just pause for a moment, and digest this, as it’s a statement with huge implications.

In the Artscroll footnotes, they note that Rashi comments that:

[A]nyone who regularly demeans the genealogical status of other families reveals himself to be genealogically blemished.

In other words, we are back to the mirror principle, big time. The Gemara continues:

And Shmuel said: The Baraisa means: He declares them unfit with his own blemish.

I.e., whatever he’s accusing others of being, he’s actually just describing himself.

The Gemara then tells the following story, to underline this point:

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There was a certain man from Nehardea who went into a butcher shop in Pumbedita[1]. He said to them: “Give me meat.” They said to him: “Wait until the attendant of Rav Yehudah bar Yechezkel[2], who is standing here, takes his meat, and then we will give you yours.”

He said: “Who is Yehuda bar Sheviskel that he should precede me and take before me!” They went and told Rav Yehuda what this man had said. [Rav Yehuda] placed a ban upon him. They told Rav Yehuda: “He habitually calls people slaves.” [Rav Yehuda] issued a proclamation that he [i.e. the Nehardean] was a slave himself.”

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What happens next is that the aggressive, brazen, disrespectful Nehardean than sues Rav Yehuda in the rabbinical court of Rav Nachman, the leader of the Nehardean community.

The story continues:

“Rav Nachman began the questioning: He said to [Rav Yehuda]: ‘Why did master place a ban upon that man?’

Rav Yehuda responded: ‘Because he harassed an agent of the Rabbis.’

Rav Nachman: ‘Then master should have given him lashes…Why did you excommunicate[3] him?’

Rav Yehuda: ‘As a penalty. I dealt with him even more stringently than that.’

Rav Nachman: ‘Why did master proclaim that he was a slave?’

Rav Yehuda: ‘Because he frequently calls people ‘slaves’. And a Tanna has taught in a Baraisa: Anyone who declares others… unfit, is himself unfit. And he never speaks in praise of others. And Shmuel said….’It is with his own blemish that he declares other unfit.’

(Try this: swap out the word ‘slave’ for ‘Erev Rav’…)

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Now, the Nehardean gets all bolshy, and starts shouting down Rav Yehuda, who is one of the Gedolei HaDor of Babylonian Jewry:

“Me you call a slave, when in fact I am descended from the royal family of Hasmoneans!”

Rav Yehuda says to him:

“Thus said Shmuel: ‘Whoever says, ‘I am descended from the family of the Hasmoneans is in truth a slave!”

Rav Nachman gets into a small discussion about whether Rav Yehuda is just making up quotes to try to bolster his case, and Rav Yehuda says no, Rav Masnah also heard this teaching. Rav Masnah hadn’t appeared in Nehardea in 13 years, but whaddya know? As they’re having this conversation, Rav Masnah happens to show up, and he confirms Rav Yehuda’s statement.

The Gemara continues:

“[Rav Nachman] subsequently proclaimed that the plaintiff was indeed a slave. That day, many ketubot were ripped up in Nehardea” – because Jewish men now suspected they were married to ‘slave’ women who they’d mistakenly believed to be Jewish.

Now, Rav Yehuda leaves town, and the people of Nehardea follow him, because they want to stone him to death, for all the trouble he’s making. Rav Yehuda gets them to quiet down by telling them that if they doesn’t leave him alone, he’s going to reveal right there the big secret that Shmuel taught him about the Jewish community in Nehardea, namely:

“There are two families in Nehardea: One is called the family of Yonah [i.e. the kosher dove] and one is called the family of Orvasi [i.e. the non-kosher and cruel oreiv, or raven. Perhaps another hint to the ‘Erev Rav’ problem.]… The family named after an impure bird is impure, and the family named after a pure bird is pure.”

The townspeople dropped their stones and ran away, before Rav Yehuda could disclose which family was which.

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Now, the Gemara goes through a whole bunch of proclamations the Sages of Babylonia made about all these ‘impure’ and ‘disqualified’ people in the Jewish community.

This problem is even in Eretz Yisrael, and when Rabbi Pinchas’ students start investigating the families in the Land of Israel, they realise they have to stop. Rashi explains why:

“Their research led them to discover the disqualification of certain powerful families who would kill them [if their impurities were revealed.”

Which brings us on to a VERY important point, about how Chazal decided to deal with this situation, and how they said it would ultimately get fixed (we’re now in Kiddushin 71a):

(R’ Yitzhak said):

“Once a genealogically tainted family is mixed with Israel, it is mixed. One should not isolate such a family and clarify which of its members are pure and which are impure. Rather, one should leave it, and in the Messianic era all of its members will be deemed pure.”

The Gemara continues, and makes a distinction between ‘genealogically impure’ families who forced their way into the Jewish community (i.e. like Herod the Great, for example), and tainted families where it all kind of just happened:

(Abaye explains):

“Families… whose impurities are publically known and who became mixed with Israel only through force, will be dealt with by Elijah the Prophet. But a tainted family that became mixed with Israel because people were unaware of its status, Elijah will allow to remain mixed.”

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Let’s finish with one more story from the Gemara, in Kiddushin 71b, then we’ll sum up what we just learnt together.

Rav Ulla comes to visit Rav Yehuda in Pumbedita, and he sees that his son, Rav Yitzhak, is still unmarried, so he asks Rav Yehuda:

“What’s going on? Why haven’t you married your son off?”

Rav Yehuda replies: “Who knows where I can find a genealogically fit wife for him?!”

Rav Ulla says to him: “Do we know where we come from?”

And then starts listing a whole bunch of verses stating how idolaters ravished Jewish women in the town of Judea in Biblical times; and talking about Jews who ‘defile their couches’, which R’ Abahu explains as referring to wife-swapping.

“Since our predecessors engaged in this type of adulterous activity, no-one can assume that he is genealogically fit!” says R’ Ulla. So then, Rav Yehuda asks him, “So what do we do?” Ulla answered him: “Go after silence, i.e. seek a family whose members are quiet and peaceable…[In Eretz Yisrael] they use the following method to investigate someone’s lineage:

“When two people would quarrel with each other, they would see which one is the first to quiet down, and then they would say, ‘that person is genealogically purer than the other.”

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LET’S SUM THIS UP:

It’s a great, eye-opening piece of Gemara, isn’t it? Can you imagine what might start to happen if more of our rabbis and commentators would actually learn some Gemara?

So, here’s the main takeaway points from Kiddushin 70a-72b:

  • Whenever we find fault in other Jews, we are really just identifying our own faults.
  • That particularly applies to finding fault with other people’s ‘genealogy’, like for example, going around calling other people ‘Erev Rav’, etc.
  • Even 1800 years ago, there were so many forbidden and / or adulterous unions going on in the Jewish community, that even the head of the Torah Academy in Pumbedita was having trouble finding a ‘genealogically fit’ wife for his son.
  • Adulterous affairs and immoral behavior have been going on for so long, not even the most illustrious Jew today can be 100% sure that some ancestor of theirs didn’t put a massive spanner in their genealogical works. So it behooves us all to act with a little humility, and to stop pointing fingers at other Jews.
  • When Moshiach shows up, he will declare everyone pure.
  • The exception to this is those people who pushed their way into the Jewish community ‘by force’, i.e. they never intended to convert sincerely, or to serve Hashem, they just wanted the status, money or other perks of technically being part of the Jewish community. Elijah the Prophet will push these people away.
  • The way you can tell how ‘genealogically pure’ someone is, is by checking their middot and temperament. If they are angry, argumentative, brazen, obsessed with their own honor, always have to be right, and can never back down, make peace and apologise – then they probably aren’t so ‘fit’, Jewishly-speaking. The more calm, conciliatory, peaceable and kind a person is, the more genealogically ‘fit’ they probably are.

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On that note, let me end by apologizing to any of my readers or email correspondents who I may well have upset or irked this year.

I’m a flawed human being, and I don’t always act and react appropriately, so please forgive me!

And I unconditionally forgive all the psychos, weirdos, and holier-than-thou pseudo-prophets who continue to make my life interesting, too.

May we ALL be blessed with a peaceful, productive, happy, healthy and sweet 5780.

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] Pumbedita was the main centre of Torah learning in Babylonia, but Nehardea also had a significant, and learned Jewish population.

[2] This is the ‘Rav Yehuda’ of the Babylonian Talmud, who was head of the Torah academy in Pumbedita.

[3] By designating this man a ‘slave’, Rav Yehuda effectively removed his communal status as a Jew.

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Photo by Daniela Holzer on Unsplash

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It’s time to draw a line in the sand, and to stop excusing and flattering evil.

The last few years, we’ve all just sat here and watch the politically-correct brigade demolish one fortification in the wall of personal holiness and morality after another.

They encouraged men and women (or let’s be honest, teenage boys and girls and even younger, lo alenu) to have intimate relationships that were totally divorced from any idea of marriage, or bringing new life into the world. They encouraged promiscuous behavior at every turn. They threw all notions of self-discipline and personal holiness out the window, and mocked the people who tried to stand up to them as ‘bigots’.

The internet accelerated the process of moral disintegration, beaming its smut straight into our homes, phones and neshamas. All of a sudden, there was no getting away from it, all that politically-correct programming, that told us we all just had to sit here and say nothing, as these people assaulted the foundations of holiness.

They hold all the cards, that’s how it seems.

They have all the money. They have the expensive lawyers. They have the politicians stitched up, and the judges in their back pockets.

What can small people like you and me do, to really protest all this, and to stand up for personal holiness, and what is objectively right, as defined by God and His Torah?

Not much, that’s the truth. I am regularly censoring myself on my blog with every third word, worried that the thought police who have taken over the internet will find some way of ‘de-platforming’ me, too – even though the only platform I really have is my blog.

Google has gone after so many ‘alternative’ voices the last few months, and totally buried them with algorythms designed to only give ‘the official’ version of events, as decided by the immoral, anti-God and anti-holiness people who are running Google.

So, I measure my words carefully, and try to tell you what’s going on without naming names, or sailing too close to the wind. Because also here in Israel, these same forces for immorality – all those Jewish billionaires based in the States, but who have been warping the sanctity of the Holy Land with millions of dollars from their ‘charitable foundations’ – are operating here, too.

These people, and their front men, were the ones who were really pulling the strings behind the investigations into Rabbi Berland and Rabbi Pinto, and the late Rabbi Yoram Abergel, zt’l. It was part of a stated aim to take down the so-called ‘kabbalah rabbis’ who were so revered by so many Jews in Israel, and to break their power.

But that’s only a small part of the spiritual and moral corruption that has so many Jews at its heart, and which seems to have spread around the globe.

And which is on the cusp of finally being exposed, even though the mainstream media is still trying to divert the public’s attention away from the real stories and facts that are unfolding. 

(Clue: go and Google ‘Epstein and Mossad’ and see what you find.)

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The reason the MSM doesn’t report on all of this stuff, or reports this stuff with a ‘fake news’ spin is very simple: The MSM is owned by a small group of immoral billionaires who are up to their necks in vice and criminality. And sadly, a large percentage of these people are Jews.

There is a growing band of independent journalists who are bravely putting the facts together and putting them out there on the internet. Even though the corrupt establishment is trying to stop them, the trickle is building to a flood, as more and more people are realizing that so many of the people who are in the top positions in our societies are actually evil, in the truest sense of the world.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

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Three weeks ago, I got an email asking me if I wanted to review the latest book by a very well known ‘defender of the State of Israel’. This guy had recently been in the press for very successfully defending billionaire child abuser Jeffery Epstein, 10 years ago. Thanks to this guy’s legal smarts, Epstein literally got away with murder.

When I got the request, I started pondering on all this. Here’s a little of how that conversation went:

The guy is defending Israel. He must be good, no?

The guy defended a known pedophile. He must be bad, no?

Backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards, until finally, the brainwashing dissolved and I got some clarity:

This guy is awful!!! He’s spiritually corrupt!!! How can anyone sleep soundly in their beds at night, knowing that they are regularly abetting the scum of society to escape justice, just because these evildoers have the money to pay their outrageous legal fees?!

So what, that this guy is famous? So what, that he’s got money, or a lot of connections? So what, that he publically defends the State of Israel. He’s totally immoral. He sold his soul for some dollar bills.

Instead of placing these people on a pedestal, more of us need to start calling these greedy, immoral bullies out, and to stop flattering evil.

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At this stage, every Jewish organization and charity and individual that accepted cash from Epstein, and from all the other immoral Jewish billionaires that are closely associated with the awful things currently being investigated in New York, are morally suspect in the profoundest of ways.

How can I state that so directly? Because like attracts like. It’s an iron-clad rule, and even our Sages taught that: show me who your friends are, and I’ll show you who you really are.

And in the meantime, I had another penny drop about how I can and probably should be reacting to the tsunami of evil engulfing the Jewish world, in my personal dalet amot, too. And it comes down to this:

BH, I want to start putting way more emphasis on my own personal holiness again.

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I already told my teens that I can’t hear their soul-destroying secular music being blasted through the house any more. I went out today and bought longer socks, to replace my ankle socks. And I have decided that I am going to start standing up for kedusha and holiness again, and to stop flattering evil.

What does that mean, exactly?

I’m still figuring it out, but one thing it for sure means is that I am no longer giving the benefit of the doubt to people who are going against the Torah, or railing against a mitzvah-observant lifestyle, and especially those people who are going against holy people like Rabbi Berland.

Without naming names, I went to check the social media of a big-mouth commentator who has made a huge deal about being pro-human rights, and being pro-women’s rights, and who publically left orthodox Judaism because of all the ‘terrible’ things he was seeing happening in his community.

Now, this guy is openly pushing immorality like it’s the biggest mitzvah in the world, and of course, he was one of the main guys writing negative stuff about Rabbi Berland a few years’ ago.

What did that bastion of justice, morality and human rights have to say about Epstein, a secular New York Jew with connections to a whole bunch of other New York Jews, who is guilty of some of the most mind-boggling human rights abuses in modern times?

Nothing.

The silence is deafening.

(I went to double-check after I wrote that, and this lone tweet is all I found. Compare and contrast.)

The guy is a total hypocrite (at best), and the ‘orthodox’ people who are continuing to buddy-up to him, and to defend and excuse his spiritual corruption and immorality, are 100% guilty of flattering evil.

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Let’s try to define the term a bit more carefully.

Flattering evil is where you know someone else is saying or doing evil or immoral things (as defined by God, in His Torah), but you still hang out with them and suck up to them because of their wealth and connections; or because they can do favors for you; or because they are a ‘minor celebrity’; or because it just suits you better to turn a blind eye to their bad behavior and immoral lifestyle choices.

That is flattering evil.

And so very many of us are guilty of it.

When I sent back my reply to the famous author’s publicist, I made sure to tell her why I’m saying no to reviewing his book:

In all good conscience, I can’t promote something written by someone who thinks its ok to defend known pedophiles.

And I felt pleased with this minute step towards trying to tip the balance towards God and good again. If I’d have said ‘yes’, that would mean that I’m effectively also condoning that pedophile’s awful, immoral behavior, and enabling it to continue, God forbid a million times over, and saying its ok to hang out with these people, and to keep pretending like there’s nothing wrong with them, and their world-destroying ideas and actions.

I can’t protest everything, I can’t stand up to every sin, and every evil person out there, but whatever God gives me to do, I’m going to do it.

I’m drawing a line in the sand.

From here on in, no more flattering evil, just because someone is well-known, or gives a lot of charity, or defends Israel, or has a lot of ‘backing’ from their community, or is a ‘king’ of political-correctness, or because I’m scared of them.

And I’d be thrilled if you’d consider joining me.

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