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I’ve been struggling with the whingy blahs a bit this week.

It’s ok, it’s normal, it’s human.

But, it’s also not so helpful to keep that state of mind for long, because it very quickly spirals down into apathy and despair, and when that happens, I stop doing anything useful and just want to stay in bed all day.

As well as making an effort to get out of the house and to visit kivrei tzaddikim and other places, I’ve discovered that regular doses of Rabbi Berland’s torah and prayers can snap me out of my negative mood almost instantly.

Like today, for example, I woke up with more of the whingy blahs, inspired by the corrupt Israeli police flagging down cars all over Jerusalem yesterday just because they can, and intimidating the public into wearing face masks by handing out loads of fines.

Never mind there is zero science showing face masks prevent transmission of COVID-19, and lots of science showing they harm healthy people who are being forced to wear them for long periods of time.

Never mind that the number of people dying from ‘corona’ is practically zero in Israel, as you can see for yourselves, on the Worldometer website:

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To claim we are in the middle of a second spike, to claim this is a ‘pandemic’ at all, is so farcical, so untruthful…. and at least for me, profoundly depressing, because so many people are still buying the lies.

Sigh.

So anyway, the whingy blahs sometimes take over.

That happened this morning, and that’s why I’m sitting here typing this in pyjamas, before I cracked open my morning brachas.

When I’m upset with how God is running the world, it can get hard to pray.

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But then, I headed over to Rav Berland’s site, and I read this:

https://ravberland.com/5058-prayer-to-be-happy-with-what-we-have/

And I said it.

And then, I started to feel better.

Here’s the translation, below:

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Master of the world, who can do anything, grant us the merit to always be happy with our lot, because only that really means to be truly wealthy.

And to not to fall into poverty, G-d forbid, because poverty is only in the mind, and any feeling of poverty is a denial of the kindness of Hashem, because then a person is not happy with his lot.

Therefore, it’s a mitzvah to always be happy in every single situation without stopping for a moment.

For even in a situation that appears bad it is always the best possible, because, “Hashem is good for all, and his mercy is over all of his creation,” and Hashem never does anything bad for us ever, because the good and merciful father only does good for his children, and even when he gives them a punishment, its only out of his great mercy to raise them on to the path of the king.

Master of the world, who can do anything, grant us the merit to always see that You are only doing good for us and we should never fall into denial, G-d forbid.

We should only thank you for every single breath and for every single movement at every single minute and at every single second that we are alive and breathing, us, our wives, our sons, our daughters, grandsons and granddaughters.

Please G-d, take us out of the trait of complaining, that we always cry a worthless cry over nothing, over things that are no big deal, that their root is absolute good.

And even when we don’t see this good, truthfully it is only good, because You are only good and give good to all.

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One of my correspondents asked me this, over email:

Have a question,was looking for your take on it…In Israel and some States in the US where they’ve been re-opening have been reporting new cases and possibly new hospitalizations…Other hand you have a country like New Zealand who it seems like lifted a lot to all of their lockdown orders(And is Covid Free theyre reporting)….How do you make sense of it vs with what we know that it ended Pesach night.

Here’s what I think, for what that’s worth:

  1. COVID-19 was a ‘plague’ sent by Hashem, specifically to get the Jews of the world to wake up and make teshuva, in whatever way you understand that. The places where there are more Jews are the places where there has been more of an issue, generally.
  2. The kabbalists told us that COVID-19 came because people were speaking badly of Rav Berland and slandering him. This so-called ‘second wave’ was caused directly by the Bnei Brak beit din ruling against the Rav, based on the same old lies that have been repeatedly disproven.
  3. There WAS a disease that we’ll call ‘COVID-19′ that WAS meant to kill millions and millions of people – 65 million people, at least, as per the pandemic planners’ own assessments. The Rav sweetened this, and the potentially fatal DISEASE itself went into retreat, starting Seder Night.
  4. What we are dealing with now is COVID-19 propaganda. There is nothing at all to suggest that COVID-19 is any more dangerous than annual flu, or any more infectious, and just because there are new cases – so what? The real stats to pay attention to are the number of people who are dying from it, or that could die from it. They have shrunk to essentially zero.
  5. People believe COVID-19 propaganda, because at the soul level they are disconnected from Hashem. Hashem’s seal is truth, but if you’re disconnected from Hashem, you have no idea what’s really ‘true’ and what isn’t.
  6. The more people make teshuva – especially about slandering the Rav – the more God will open their eyes to what is true and what is false, and the more they will see through the COVID-19 propaganda. There’s a REASON that face masks and gloves are all over the chareidi world right now, and it’s not just because the Government targeted them for punitive quarantine measures. Indulge in lashon hara = wear your facemask 24/7, and believe all the COVID-19 propaganda.

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There’s more I could say, but that will do for now, and I said a lot of this before anyway, here:

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BH, we’ll all continue to make some real teshuva, and to work on our bad middot, which for me at the moment continues to be working on Azamra, or seeing the good in my fellow Jews, and trying to uproot all the anger and yeoush that can still flood up.

It’s work, man.

But that’s the reason we are all down here.

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Photo by Jacqueline Munguía on Unsplash

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You might also like this article:

All of us have so much to be grateful for.

I got the following as part of an email exchange with a friend who reads my blog, and who responded to THIS post, and I decided to share it with you, too.

(It’s a side note, but I’m very happy to put chizzuk and other people’s perspectives up on my blog, when it resonates with me, and I have another reader’s email that I’ll be sharing too, along those lines.)

In the meantime, here’s a different perspective that made my very grateful for all the blessings I still have in my life, despite all the challenges:

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 I know we all have an endless list of wishes, but maybe sometimes we don’t value many good things we have.

Having money to pay for food is a blessing.

Being able to pay a rent without shame, without having to ask anyone without having to go from one place to another with how little or much you have without having to pay a place to put your things, is a great blessing.

 Having a clean, painted house, with a room or two, having a bath with water in your own home is a blessing.

Having a husband who loves you and struggles to be better, to study, to pray, is a blessing.

Having synagogues and Mikvaot near you and your family is a blessing.

Having healthy and intelligent children of you and your husband is a blessing.

Having a car, money for gas, is a blessing.

Having something to work on is a blessing.

Having good health is a blessing.

Living in Israel, going to pray at the Kotel whenever you want, living in a Jewish world no matter how difficult it is to “fit in” sometimes, is a giant blessing.

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My life IS really good, despite the darkness within and without.

Thank You, God.

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You might also like this article:

I have been totally rinsed, the last two months.

I’m no stranger to challenging circumstances, or big emotional ups and downs, but I have to say that the last few weeks have been a rollercoaster, even for me.

Literally each week, I’ve had so much inner turmoil and self-doubt to deal with, it’s left me reeling.

So, what’s really going on here? That’s what I’ve been asking God to show me, in a million different ways, in my talking to God sessions. And as the Rabbis tell us, when someone tells you that they searched and that they found, believe them.

After some consideration, I decided to share a little about what I’ve found out, in this quest to figure out why I’ve been feeling as though I’ve been barely clinging on to the edge of sanity the last few weeks. I know there are a lot of people out there who will relate to what I’m about to share, if they will only give themselves the permission to drop the mask and be real.

So with that intro (and if you’re still reading….) let’s continue.

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The ‘problem’, if you can call it that, began back in November, when my daughter told us she’d found someone serious, and she wanted to introduce him to us.

Part of me was happy, part of me was petrified.

I had what can honestly be called a totally awful relationship with my own mother-in-law, as I’ve written about in many other places. With hindsight, I learned that my mother-in-law – who had so many tremendously good qualities – was operating out of a place of severely repressed trauma.

What I’ve learned down the years is that whatever is not ‘fixed’ in the family dynamics, in the family relationships, simply gets passed forward for the next generation to deal with. It’s like a bad penny, that never goes out of circulation until someone gets a grip, takes the hit, and faces the problem down.

The main reason my own crazy Savta didn’t figure as a massive MIL relationship stressor is simply because she lived in a different country, and never called or got in touch. But there were also some big mother-in-law issues between my dad and my British Grandma too, who wasn’t thrilled to have an immigrant for a son-in-law.

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So, back to November 2019, when I suddenly find myself on the cusp of becoming a ‘mother-in-law’ myself, potentially – and WHOOSH!!!!

The internal pressure of trying to do all this ‘right’ kicked in a million percent.

I tried so, so hard to be the nearest version of ‘normal’ and ‘laid-back’ that I could, and the first time I met the bloke, I think I pulled it off OK. But despite my best efforts, all this weird emotional stuff started bubbling up shortly afterwards, and hasn’t stopped since.

What the heck is going on here, God?

Usually, I’m pretty self-aware, but all this stuff was taking me out and I had NO IDEA what was going on, or why I was reacting the way I was reacting.

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After a day or two of doing a lot of intense hitbodedut, I made the connection that I had a heaping dose of unfinished business from my own wedding, and that me and my husband needed to sit down and get to grips with our own repressed anger and resentment from that time.

To cut a long story short, the run up to my wedding was so bad (because of in-law issues, not because of anything to do with my husband, who really is a hidden tzaddik), the counsellor on our ‘engaged couples’ course sat me down the week before the big day to ask me if I was sure I wanted to go through with it….

If I could have eloped (and I considered it seriously 500 times…) I would have.

But in the meantime, that route was blocked, and so I ended up with a ton of stress, trauma and anger still resonating through the system even 23 years later. I realized, I needed to knuckle down and clean all that stuff up, finally.

So I did.

And I looked forward to all the ‘weirdness’ disappearing.

But that’s not what happened.

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A week after I’d knuckled down and cleared out all the ‘my wedding trauma’ stuff, I found myself going really weird again.

Out of the blue, I got hit by a massive panic that with my daughter married, I’d have no-one left to talk to, or interact with.

Let’s be clear, this daughter is pretty independent, and has a ton of friends, and while we get on really well, I also have my own life and I like my own space. I also have a nice husband and another kid at home to interact with, too, so all this hit me as extremely bizarre again.

From past experience, I knew that this type of ‘disconnected’ emotional madness, where you feel you’re going crazy but you have absolutely nothing you can pin it on, from your own life, has to be some sort of ‘inherited stress’, that had got passed down the gene pool from some troubled ancestor.

(If you’re interested in the science of this, look up ‘epigenetics’.)

I picked up the phone, made an appointment with my Bodyspin / One Brain woman, and two days later, I’d tracked the issue down to an ancestor on my mum’s side (for once!).

Now, I was really hoping again I’d got all the tikkunim out the way, and could stop acting so weird and emotionally unbalanced.

That’s not exactly what happened.

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Around three weeks ago, the emotional rollercoaster started up yet again, yet again I thought I was literally going bonkers.

I like to tell myself that I know what’s going on, and that I can ‘figure stuff out’ – it’s part of my shtick, part of my ga’ava that reassures me that I’m not as lost in the world as I sometimes feel. But all of a sudden, I found myself feeling totally confused and overwhelmed about everything.

This sense of anxiety was getting so pronounced, I started to feel anxious and weepy, and even a bit nauseous.

I was getting so overwhelmed by larger-than-life negative feelings that were coming out of nowhere, and for no obvious reason, that that, all by itself, started to stress me out even more.

Was I just losing my marbles? Was it the mold’s fault, that has been spreading all over my house for a month now, thanks to the rain? Was this just a normal part of the ‘letting your kids grow up’ process that was getting out of hand?

What’s going on, God, what?

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Things got so intense that I told my husband if I didn’t get to Uman ASAP, I was probably going to end up in a mental institution.

I was (probably….) being over-dramatic, but that was still an accurate depiction of how I really felt.

Rabbenu stuck me back together, and I felt much calmer when I was there. I realized a few things about the need to get on more with my own life now, and about the importance of letting go of my kids, so they can make their own decisions and forge their own path.

But the paydirt only showed up 2 days after I came home, when I ended up having an unexpected Zoom conversation with a relative I barely speak to.

Without going into too much detail, I used to be very close to that relative until they got married a few years ago, when they effectively dropped me like a hot potato. That happened to coincide with the worst 10 years of my life.

It was such a painful experience, and for years and years, I just stuffed all my hurt feelings and disappointment down into a very big box. They had their reasons for doing what they did… I thought I understood, I thought I’d forgiven them for dumping me in my hour of need, and moved on from it all.

But when that relative unexpectedly got in touch, and when we had the first chat face-to-face we’ve had in years – it all came rushing back again, and I ended that call feeling incredibly angry.

In what has been a recurring theme from the last 2 months, I realized that all that pain and sadness hadn’t disappeared with the passage of time, it had just gone underground and festered.

Because I’d never dealt with it properly, and processed it, and faced up to how sad, lonely and worthless the whole situation had made me feel, I’d been projecting all those ‘lost’ feelings into my current situation.

And that’s why I was feeling so anxious and pukey.

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So, I did yet another six hour hitbodedut to go and deal with the fall-out from that relative properly, and to go and make my own teshuva, and to really do the job of forgiving and applying some emuna to the whole matzav again, and afterwards, I was feeling so, so much better again.

Yes, finally I can start to relax and stop freaking out every five minutes, and feeling as though the world is ending.

That’s what I hoped.

Because by this point, I’d had literally six weeks of riding the biggest emotional rollercoaster of my life, and I was starting to feel pretty rung-out and exhausted from it all.

Enough with all these tikkunim already, God! I have to move house, I have to sort out a mortgage, I have to launch a business, I have to publish a book! I can’t get anything done and I’m all over the place at the moment, it’s enough!

But what do I know?

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So last week, after weeks of being in this cycle of all this stuff surfacing, taking me out, getting dealt with, feeling ok; stuff surfacing, taking me out, getting dealt with, feeling ok….

I started to feel, yet again, like I’d just hit another massive emotional iceberg.

In the same way that I started going to pieces, inexplicably, before I had to run off to Uman, I had that sinking feeling that I was unravelling again emotionally, and yet again, there was no obvious catalyst for it.

Maybe, I should just go and live in Uman for a few months, until all this ‘potential engagement’ stuff blows over, and I have a better idea what’s going on?

That’s what I asked my husband two days ago, and I was 82% serious. I was ready to hand in my notice again on the ‘mum’ job, because clearly I wasn’t up to it, and it was just time to admit that I am the loony tune that everyone always secretly suspected.

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As I started to go to pieces again yesterday, I ended up having a really strange business coaching call, which was so surreal that if my husband hadn’t also been listening in, I think I would have thought I’d imagined it all. I was chatting with some smarmy sales guy from LA, about ideas to move my People Smarts business forward.

In the middle of the call, he suddenly totally switched track and started giving me some hard-hitting mussar:

Rivka, you really need to develop some humility. You just still have a lot to learn. In order for you to be able to help others, you first have to be able to love yourself.”

At this point, I was totally speechless.

It’s like Eliyahu HaNavi had taken over my Zoom call, or something, and all I could do was gape incredulously at the screen. Eliyahu continued:

Forgiveness is the most potent form of self-love, Rivka. Forgive yourself for procrastinating, and start new. Start fresh.”

At that point, Eliyahu reverted back to smarmy LA salesman, but I wrote down every word of that mussar, because it was literally a message from heaven.

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After the call, I was still feeling physically ill, so I went to bed, to do some hitbodedut before trying to go to sleep.

That’s when I realized another profound part of the message God has been giving me, with this latest round of emotional upheaval.

Long story short, the prospect of possibly becoming a MIL has been flashing me back to one yucky experience I had after another, connected to the whole time of life when I met and married my husband, back in my very early 20s.

I met him when I was still in university, and that whole period was such a bitter-sweet time for me, because it’s so hard to hang on to your soul and go to university in a foreign country, where everyone around you is smoking, and drinking, and doing drugs, and listening to gross music, and watching movies, and dressing inappropriately and having boyfriends, and all the rest of the stuff that doesn’t exactly go together with ‘Torah’.

But at the same time, I’d had such a rough 18 years beforehand, the sense of freedom I had in university was totally unparalleled.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

And it left me with a whole bag of unfinished business to try to sort through and clarify, which I’ve basically been ducking for 25 years.

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Us baal teshuvas carry so much baggage around from our previous lives.

Once we learn ‘the truth’, it can get so hard to forgive that former version of ourselves, who wasn’t ‘bad’, and who wasn’t ‘evil’, but who definitely was caught up in the world of lies.

But God wants us all to see the good in ourselves, and to forgive ourselves for not being perfect.

The last few months, I’ve been making such a big deal of doing ‘Azamra’ on other people, but God showed me this week that I left a crucial person out of the Azamra equation: myself.

And especially, that younger version of myself that came out of a really hard situation, had a lot of difficult tests, and just couldn’t pull through them all the way I would have liked to, in an ideal world.

Because the world isn’t ideal.

So today, again, I’m starting to feel much calmer. I’m starting to feel a little more ‘normal’ and put together again, and less panicked and anxious.

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POSTSCRIPT:

After I wrote this, I took a look at the ravberland.com site, and I saw some very disturbing info about the spread of the coronavirus. As with everything, there is so much disinformation out there that until I saw what the Rav said about it, I was minded to play it all down.

Now, I can see we are on the cusp of something potentially enormous and world-changing.

It could be the end of days, mamash.

And so I now think that’s also part of why I’ve been so all over the place since November, when this coronavirus outbreak actually began.

Interestingly, the Rav made the connection between the spread of the virus and the mitzvoth of bein adam l’havero. And he made a point of stressing that we need to forgive others.

It’s the same message, being amplified.

And I really hope we’ll be able to do it.

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THIS IS RAV BERLAND’S PRAYER TO BE SAVED FROM THE CORONAVIRUS. PLEASE SHARE IT AROUND. MANY PEOPLE’S LIVES DEPEND UPON US SWEETENING THIS DECREE.

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Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

Over Shabbat, I dusted off some of my journals from the last few years, and I had a quick leaf through.

What struck me – almost instantly – is how much better my life has got since I found out about Rabbi Eliezer Berland, and took that leap of faith to pay that first pidyon over to him, when he was still in South Africa.

I wrote about that HERE, but long story short, by the time I’d got to Rav Berland and Shuvu Banim, I was totally exhausted and miserable from trying to live a life filled with what I’d like to call ‘ugly’ emuna.

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Ugly emuna works like this:

You deeply internalize that God is doing everything, that everything is for the best, and that there is no “suffering without sin”. You try to find the message in everything, and as your fear of being punished for sinning grows – because let’s face it, we’re all full of sins 24/7, even when we’re doing our very best to act and dress and speak appropriately – you live in fear of the bolt of lightning striking at any second, because no-one is perfect.

Then, you get caught up in what I call the ‘unwinnable game’.

This is where you know that ‘spiritual perfection’ requires that you never speak badly of anyone; and judge everyone favorably; and never lose your temper; that you should wear bullet-proof tights and only dark clothes; that you should spend hours reciting the shemoneh esrei, and only live in Jerusalem, and only ever say ‘thank you’ for everything that happens, however hard and horrible it feels, and only have emuna 24/7.

And you just can’t do it.

You try, you really try, but you just can’t do that, or at least not all the time, not consistently.

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And that’s when the emuna you’re trying to have can turn pretty ugly.

Because you’re sitting there, waiting for the lightning bolt to strike, because that’s what you’re being taught, that everything that’s going ‘wrong’ in your life is because you don’t have enough emuna, or because you’re not praying enough, or not ‘properly’, or because of all the terrible sins you’re doing….

And on some level, this is all true.

That’s why it’s so devastating.

And then, life gets pretty hard and miserable and horrible, because all these yucky things keep happening to you, and no-one is talking about tikkunim that you have to go through from previous lives, that just have to happen regardless of how much teshuva you make in this lifetime (more on this in a mo….)

And no-one is talking about things like ‘inherited stress’, where so many of your bad middot and deepest emotional issues have actually been passed down the chain from your grandparents, and great-grandparents, exactly as described in the Torah, in Ki Tetzae.

And no-one is explaining that only coming closer to the generation’s True Tzaddik, and doing pidyonot with the True Tzaddik, and following the True Tzaddik’s advice, and praying in the True Tzaddik’s minyan is the only way you can really get all that stuff ‘sweetened’ and cleaned up without having to go through a lot of terrible suffering.

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So then, even though your ‘authentic’ self occasionally just has an overwhelming need to do something ‘bad’, like listening to Sweet Child O Mine, or to watch some Superman clips on Youtube, or to dress like yourself, instead of ‘perfect Meah Shearim’, you don’t do that because you’re so worried about getting immediately punished by the lightning bolt.

There is no suffering without prior sin.

And let’s not even talk about the awful pressure you pile on your kids to be perfect!!!!

Because if they aren’t perfect, you live in fear of what terrible judgments they could bring down on their heads, God forbid – and on yours, too.

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And then, you start to hate every single moment of your life, because you can’t really live it as ‘you’, and instead you’re trying to maintain a façade of perfect, emuna-dik ‘perfection’.

When there is such a profound disconnect between who God created you to be, and who you’re pretending to be, that can effect your mental and physical health in a whole bunch of very negative ways.

In my case, I had at various times debilitating exhaustion, chronic and severe aches and pains in every part of my body, stomachaches, headaches, eye aches, skin issues – clearly, I’m not even telling you all the gory details. Suffice to say, trying to live that life of ugly emuna was making me miserable, ill – and also horribly judgmental and jealous of those people who weren’t stuck trying to win the unwinnable game.

In that way, ugly emuna was like growth serum for all of my worst bad middot.

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It made me callous and even pleased when other people hit a tough patch, because then I felt it wasn’t just me who was suffering so much. It made me jealous of all those people who weren’t dressing so tznius, or praying so much, and who still had nice homes, and nice incomes and bigger families and better health and much better prospects than me.

What’s going on here, Hashem???? Where’s the justice??? Why haven’t they been struck by a lightning bolt yet????

As this continued on, I got more and more miserable, judgmental, harshly critical, bitter and arrogant, until absolutely no-one wanted to hang out with me and even my siblings started avoiding my phone calls.

And honestly, who could blame them?

And then, the judgments start piling up thick and fast, because Hashem prizes peace between people so very highly, and He can’t stand it when you keep preaching your arrogant emuna screeds at everyone, and having so little compassion for their suffering, and judging everyone so very harshly, because clearly they deserve all their suffering!!!! Look at the way they dress!!!!

Sigh.

This is ugly emuna.

And man, it nearly totally ruined my life.

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I literally got to the stage, which lasted for about two years, where I actually didn’t want to be alive any more, if this is how I’d have to keep living.

Stuck in the unwinnable game, where apparently the only way I could keep Hashem happy was to become a ‘fake pious’ version of myself that was totally disconnected from the person that God really created me to be.

I’m a bridge between worlds, a connection between Rabbi Nachman and Axel Rose.

And for as long as I wasn’t doing that job in the world, and not being the real me God created me to be, I was miserable, physically ill, and so very lonely.

But what could I do???? If I left that path of ugly emuna, I was so very scared that the lightning bolt was going to immediately crash through the roof. That’s why I kept it going for so long. I was petrified of what was going to happen, if I quit.

Thank God a million times, Hashem had mercy on me.

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One day, my husband brought back a Knishta Chadar – a copy of the Shuvu Banim newsletter that contained a mixture of Rabbi Berland’s Torah, plus updates about his latest movements and miracle stories – and I was blown away.

Wow! There’s a tzaddik of this caliber in our generation?! I had no idea!!

I read 2, 3, 4 Knishta Chadars, and then I decided we should try to ask the Rav a question about what we needed to do, to get our lives out of ugly emuna mode, and into a healthier, happier place. The answer came back: my husband should start learning in Shuvu Banim.

So he did.

And we never looked back.

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The change was instantaneous.

All of a sudden, we started to hear shiurim about how sticking close to the True Tzaddik can sweeten all the terrible tikkunim a person is fated to go through because they were slaughtering their children to Moloch 3,000 years ago, and a huge weight rolled off of me.

The more me and my husband started to drink from Rav Berland’s wellsprings of Torah and emuna, the happier we started to feel again. The more I started to internalize that God really loves me – and everyone else – and that He’s constantly looking for ways to justify me, and to judge me favorably.

The more I started to understand that as long as I keep doing my hitbodedut, and keep working on my bad middot, and keep trying to see the good in other people, instead of judging myself and everyone so harshly, and pretending to be what I really was not, the better my life would become.

Within a few months, my health improved tremendously, I got my joie de vivre back, and my relationship with my kids – which had basically gone totally off a cliff when I was stuck in ugly emuna mode, which demanded unattainable perfection from them, too – made a 180 degree turnaround for the better.

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In a nutshell, I started to enjoy living my life again.

because now, I was living it as me, and trusting that the True Tzaddik was shielding me from the harsh judgments I’m still inevitably building up all the time, because I’m not perfect.

Sure, I have to still try to catch my bad deeds, and my bad actions, and to try to improve and take responsibility for them. But because the pressure is off and the awful, ugly emuna-induced fear has gone, I’m also finding that part of the process way easier, too.

Now that I’m so much happier myself, my jealousy has receded a million percent. Now that I’m doing a better job of judging myself with a good eye, I’m finding it way easier to judge other people favorably, too. And now that I’m enjoying my life again, I’m finding it so much easier to thank God – sincerely! – for so many of my blessings.

It’s not perfect, I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress and still very flawed.

But learning that ‘4th rule of emuna’ changed everything around for me and my family, and turned the ugly emuna that was actually really just killing me, into something beautiful, and life-affirming and humbling.

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So what is the 4th rule of emuna?

I would sum it up like this. The 4th rule of emuna is:

That there is a True Tzaddik in the world that we need to discover, and to stick close to, if we want to be able to avoid the terrible suffering that we would otherwise have to go through, because of tikkunim from our past lives.

That means following his advice, attending his minyan, learning his teachings, and humbling ourselves to be part of his community and his sphere of influence.

True, sometimes that’s hard.

But ugly emuna thrives wherever there is arrogance, harsh judgment and hypocrisy, and all of those things wither pretty fast when you’re at Shuvu Banim.

You get kids running you over with strollers, people smacking you in the face (accidentally…) with their bags, you stand up for hours during the prayers because there are no chairs. And when you tell people who your Rav is, that doesn’t always go down so well. It can be very humbling, very challenging, in a few different ways.

And sometimes, there are other tests designed to take you down a peg or two, like buying a house you can’t get a mortgage on, or starting a business (or three…) that goes no-where.

But all of these things are temporary issues, temporary challenges, just to scrub more of your arrogance out of the system, and to shine a spotlight on more of the bad middot you still didn’t work on, and to help you to understand that there is no perfection. And that’s ok.

God already knows that about you.

====

So, I read my notebooks today, and I was so very grateful that God had mercy on me, and let me get closer to Rabbi Berland, the True Tzaddik of the generation, so my ugly emuna could transform into something much more beautiful and life-affirming.

And that can happen for you, too.

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Photo by Jordan Whitfield on Unsplash

I want my site to be for stressed-out women, not conpiracy-minded men.

Two weeks ago, I kind of had an ‘epiphany’ moment, about my life and my writing.

For years, I’ve been writing blog posts and articles and even books that have often been very serious, and very ‘justice warrior’-oriented, and where I’ve really tried to do my bit to expose evil and go after the bad guys.

Where did that approach get me?

Honestly…. Not so far. I have a couple of thousand readers of my blogs, the majority of whom Google Analytics tells me are men….

Those men don’t buy my books. They aren’t really the ‘tribe’ I want to interact with, or write for, however nice they actually all might be. So once I took the time to actually read my Google Analytics report (for the first time in 8 years!) I realized that something fundamental has to change here, in the way I’m trying to write for and interact with my audience.

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Part of me really loves all the buzz of reporting news, and ‘badness’, and unmasking the truth.

That’s my investigative journalist side – the side that lost me my job all those years back, on one of London’s Jewish papers, and has gotten me sued a couple of times, and has kept me awake on countless nights, fighting the dark forces in my head.

But really, where did that part get me, or get anyone else?

I’m pondering that a lot at the moment.

Nearly all the baddies I’ve exposed are still going strong… the bad people are still being protected and defended by the other bad people… No-one really did any major teshuva as a result of what I’ve written about this stuff, or changed their life in any fundamental way.

And I don’t know what I’ve really got out of blogging about these things, all these years.

Honestly.

So much effort, for so little anything much.

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Two weeks ago, I was ready to start ripping a whole bunch more lies and masquerades to shred in print, and to set out ‘the bad’ in that obvious, hard-to-argue-with way that clears up so many questions, and brings sterling clarity to an issue.

But God kept stopping me from doing that, in my hitbodedut.

And for two weeks, I didn’t know why.

But in the meantime, I had this course on the backburner about reducing stress I’m trying to do for women, so I’ve been turning my attention to that, while I’m waiting for the clarity to descend about where I go to next in my writing.

Yesterday, I think I started to get my answer. Yesterday, I taught two classes on how to start de-stressing over Zoom, and I learnt something profound:

I totally loved interacting with those women.

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I totally loved teaching about something that really help people tachlis, in their real life, to stop feeling so stressed and anxious and to start to feel like they really can cope, with all the cack we all have to deal with, and that there is fundamentally nothing wrong with them.

All stress is really just a call to action, a message that something needs to change – and that something, nine times out of ten, is internal.

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So, I came back on to rivkalevy.com yesterday, after doing the usual rounds of the 4 blogs and sites I read every day, once, just to stay up on things.

And that’s when it hit me:

I don’t want to be writing about politics or current affairs anymore.

I don’t want to be trading barbs with nutso bloggers who get all their life force from taking provocative stances online and making dumb statements guaranteed to rile people up.

I want to be a force for good in the world.

So, I am hoping to be taking my writing on this blog in a different direction. More along the lines of the Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife – but way more upbeat and actually helpful!

I have been through so much stress, so many crazy experiences the last few years, that God has really shown me how to deal with, using the teachings and advice of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov, and his students.

I want to help other people – and specifically, other women – to access that light more easily, and to enjoy it in their own lives.

And I can’t do that, if I’m constantly picking fights with nutso bloggers, or opining on pointless politics, or trying to deal with negative commentators who have massive chips on their shoulders. It can honestly ruin my week.

I don’t want to deal with those people any more, I don’t want to cater for them. I don’t want my site to attract that sort of person, because they have been tying up my energy and my headspace for years and years, and preventing me from doing what God really created me to do in the world.

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So, I’m going in a different direction here on rivkalevy.com, where the focus is going to be far more on stressed-out WOMEN and far less on conspiracy-theory-enjoying men.

And far more on putting together real, practical EMUNA EXPERIENCES to help my readers navigate their lives as happily as they can, holding God’s hand, and far less on self-righteous, impractical rants about what everyone else needs to do, to fix the world.

I’m nothing special, not at all. But I do have a bunch of very bad middot that God has helped me to get a grip on (mostly….). If Rebbe Nachman’s advice worked for me, it can work for anyone – and that’s what I’m going to start focusing on doing, sharing that stuff out, as best I can.

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I was so stoked yesterday, to teach those classes.

I was so thrilled, when another reader called to tell me how much the ‘stress exercise’ had helped her sort something out, in her actual, real life.

So guys, you can carry on reading this blog if you want, but I’d much prefer you tell your wives about what’s going on here now, and let them take over. And nutsos, you can also carry on reading this blog if you want, but I’d honestly much prefer that you don’t, because we are about to blast off into the realm of EMUNA EXPERIENCES, where humility, caring and compassion for others are going to be the name of the game.

There are plenty other blogs out there providing a steady diet of propaganda, fake prophecy, self-righteous opinion and scare stories.

I’m retiring from that field.

I have much bigger and better things to do with my time, a lot of ladies out there who I know I can really help, bezrat Hashem.

And that’s the focus going forward, to build a tribe of LADIES who are trying to bring geula really the only way we can, i.e. by working on ourselves, and our emuna and our stress, and our relationships with our fellow Jews.

This blog, my writing, me  – we’re ready to evolve out of the pupa, and to start doing something useful in the world.

I have to say, I’m pretty excited.

TBC

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Photo by Ian Parker on Unsplash

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The Israeli elections seem be a choice between Mr Evil, Mr Eviller, and Mr Evillest

Three weeks ago, my husband snapped his Achilles tendon whilst playing tennis. Baruch Hashem, it’s on the mend, but in the meantime I’m ferrying him backwards and forwards in the car to his workplace, close to Jerusalem’s central bus station.

What that means (amongst other things….) is that I’m getting to see all the massive, ginormous, monstrous billboards of yucky-looking politicians that are currently springing up like poisonous mushrooms all around the entrance to Jerusalem, in preparation for next week’s elections.

I can tell you this:

Whoever you vote for, it’s going to be a vote for Mr Evil.

Some of these super-sized pictures are so disturbing I’m amazed they’ve been approved for public consumption. What these politicians don’t seem to realise is that when their faces are blown up to building-size proportions, it makes it much harder to hide their true characters. You see it in the eyes, you grasp it by the beetling brows, and the cunning, calculating expression that even the greasiest smile can’t hide.

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Where to start, on which one of these posters bothers me the most?

For a while, Ehud Barak’s lot were definitely in the lead, with a cast straight out of Dr No. There’s the beautiful, red-haired woman that looks like a secret assassin. The angry-looking, grey-haired rogue scientist is on the left of the picture. And then ‘Mr Evil’ himself, with his dyed-black hair and shifty expression, is right in the middle of all that.

After the whole Epstein affair, how can anyone, much less a woman, much less a party that claims to stand for ‘human rights’ have anything to do with this guy!

So he was in the lead for a while.

But then, Netanyahu’s lot stuck up a bunch of MASSIVE posters of him shaking hands with Donald Trump, bearing the slogan: Netanyahu: a different league.

I almost crashed a few times coming round the corner of the Jerusalem Gateway, because I couldn’t take my eyes off how plain evil Netanyahu looked on that billboard, and how totally crazy Trump appeared.

So for two days, that was in pole position.

Then yesterday, Benny Gantz of Blue and White got stuck up on the other side of the Prima Park Hotel, in a poster that looked like a cross between Men In Black and the Terminator.

Oooo, look how thick his neck is!!! Look how menacingly grey his skin is!!! Notice how totally unemotional and devoid of any human kindness his cruel blue eyes appear!!!

He looked like a ‘Class A’ psycho, and clearly that’s the effect that all these politicians are trying to achieve.

Vote for me, I’m a total psycho! If anyone even so much sneezes in my direction, I’ll nuke them! Israel is in safe hands!

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But then today, the Labor / Gesher Party decided to remove its poster of Amir Peretz looking like Stalin, and replace them with Amir Peretz looking like a character out of Goodfellas instead. Last week, Peretz shaved off his trade-mark moustache, I don’t know why.

But personally, I think it was a mistake.

For as long as the moustache was pulling the eye, you didn’t notice how strangely menacing the guy underneath it was. Now, with Mr Fluffy gone, Amir Peretz looks like he could get a job with Iran’s Revolutionary Guide.

Vote for me! I can break a man into pieces in five seconds flat!!!

Now, you might be wondering where all the women are in this election. That’s what one of the graffiti artists clearly had in mind when she spray-painted the Amir-Peretz-As-Stalin poster with: “I’m a woman and I can also vote.”

Ayelet Shaked’s party decided to put a few massive posters of just her perfect, Barbie-like face across various bridges on the Begin Highway, and after studying them all week (yes, it’s a miracle I haven’t crashed the car) – I can tell you they are airbrushed.

The woman is 42 and has a very stressful job, and yet she has the flawless complexion of a 20 year old supermodel. It’s an open miracle.

Vote for me! I don’t have any wrinkles!!!

This morning, someone had punched two massive holes in the middle of both her faces, and it took some really careful planning to pull that off in the middle of Jerusalem’s busiest and fasted road.

I think it was the Shabak.

Orly Levy-Abecassis (or whatever her name is…) also popped up on a poster looking really miserable, but with great hair, next to Goodfella Peretz, and some other man who I don’t know the name of, but who also looks like a shark in a suit.

Vote for me! I have the best hairdresser in all of Israel!!!

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Sigh.

Whichever way you turn, there’s evil, evil and more evil.

Driving my husband to work has become a Kafkaesque nightmare, a cross between a bad Bond movie and the Oscars.

Although yesterday, I did see a poster of someone that I’d half consider voting for.

He was a cute Saba advertising a new flavor of milkshake.

So, a vote for Mr Evil – for political gangsters and their molls – or for Mr Milkshake, for PM?

I think the answer is obvious.

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Rebbe Nachman points up some interesting similarities between ‘spies’ and demons.

Last week, I was re-reading Rebbe Nachman’s story of The Cripple, when I suddenly started to see some interesting connections between Rebbe Nachman’s description of demons, and what’s going on today with the ‘deep state’.

(You can get an English translation PDF of it HERE).

I suddenly got the idea into my head that Jeffery Epstein could be the ‘son of the demons’ in Rebbe Nachman’s story, who was imprisoned and tortured, sparking off a war between the different factions of ‘Deep State’ demons that eventually leads to geula happening. So, I’m bringing it here, to see what you think, too.

FIRST, A QUICK RECAP OF THE RELATIVE BITS OF THE STORY OF THE CRIPPLE

The Cripple hears the Sun and Moon talking, and the Moon is complaining that there is a place of two thousand mountains, where a whole bunch of demons live, and these ‘demons’ are taking all the power from her feet.

Feet is an allusion to emuna, and true faith and trust in Hashem.

The Moon is often used as an allegory for the Jewish people.

The Cripple decides to visit this place called the ‘Two Thousand Mountains’, here’s what Rebbe Nachman says about that:

“When he got there, he stood at a distance from the two thousand mountains. He saw thousands and myriads of demon families. They have children just like human beings and are therefore very numerous.

“He saw their leadership sitting on a throne. No human being ever sat on such a throne. He also saw them ‘joking’ – one of them was ‘joking’ about the child he’d hurt, another about injuring someone’s hand, and another about injuring someone’s foot. They also joked in other ways.”

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I read this, and I immediately thought:

Mafia, crime families, ‘untouchable’ criminals and bent politicians sitting on pedestals where no-one can get near them, billionaires who are ‘worshipped’ for their wealth, child trafficking, child abduction and child abuse.

Before we continue, I also went to look up ‘Two Thousand Mountains’, to see where it’s located. Whaddya now? The only place I could find with that name is right next to Forth Worth, Dallas, Texas. Forth Worth was the last place JFK gave a speech, before he was shot dead by the mafia, under contract to the CIA.

(The former head of CIA, Allan Dulles, had a score to settle with Kennedy after the latter refused to bail out the CIA’s attempted ‘regime change’ in Cuba, as part of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Kennedy had a strong dislike of the FBI and CIA, and their abuses of power, and was on record stating that he wanted to splinter the CIA into a 1,000 parts and scatter them to the wind, before he was assassinated.)

The links between the mafia and the spy agencies are well-documented. The former FBI head J. Edgar Hoover was part of a massive corruption racket that basically blurred the lines between criminals and law enforcement, with the mafia simply acting in the illegal sphere, while the spy agencies ‘pretended’ to act within the law. Robert Kennedy was knocked off because he had a sincere wish to tackle the mafia and organized crime – against Hoover’s wishes.

They look like you and me, they have children, they have families, but really – Rebbe Nachman tells us – they are demons!

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The story then switches to a pair of ‘demon’ parents who are very upset, because their son got kidnapped and tortured by a sorcerer who was working for a King who’d been ‘hurt’ by this demon-son, and his friend.

Back to Rebbe Nachman:

“We had an island in the sea, which we made our base. The king who owned this island decided to build it up, and began to lay the foundations. [The demon-son] said to me, “Let’s hurt him!” With that, we went and took away the king’s strength.”

In the footnotes to Aryeh Kaplan’s translation of this story, we find the following:

This ‘Island King’ wished to repent. This act on his part ultimately led to the downfall of the demons…. ‘Foundations’ is yesod in Hebrew. This usually refers to the se*ual organ. Thus the king wanted to begin by rectifying himself se*ually.

Let’s switch out ‘King’ for ‘President’, from here on it, to give it a more contemporary feel.

And before we continue, let’s also remind ourselves that over in US, the Feds are currently exploring Epstein’s ‘pedo Island’, our in the American Virgin Islands. Man, the clues are coming thick and fast, here.

The demon parents go to the Demon King with this story, and he orders that the President should be given back his ‘strength’. It’s not so easy to do that, because the demon who took the President’s strength has now become a cloud on a particular city.

[We’re going to skip the middle part of the story, which involves an old Jewish sage taking on the ruling atheists and the demons, and continue with the story of the demon-son and the President.]

“The Demon King ordered that the cloud’s strength be taken and given back to the President, and it was done. The demon-son was then able to return to his parents. He came back worn out and in great pain…since he had been tortured very much there. He was very angry at the sorcerer who had tortured him so much, and he left orders to his sons and their families, that they should always lie in wait, to entrap the sorcerer.”

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When Rebbe Nachman is talking about ‘families’, could he really be referring to clannish crime families and spy organisations here?

Let’s continue.

“The talkers amongst the demons told the sorcerer to watch himself, since [the family] were lying in wait for him. The sorcerer made use of his devices to protect himself from them, and also asked other sorcerers to help him, who knew other [crime] families.

“The demon-son and his family were really furious at the talkers for revealing their secret to the sorcerer. Once, this son’s family and some talkers were going to serve a term of duty for the President. The family fabricated a false accusation against the talkers, and the President killed them.

“The surviving talkers were very angry, and they incited rebellion against all the kings. The demons were stricken with hunger, weakness, sword and plague. There were wars among all the kings, and this caused earthquakes. The ditches fell in and the tree was completely watered. All the [demons] were then destroyed, and nothing remained of them. Amen.”

Note: ‘the tree’ refers to the Tzaddik, aka Moshiach, and the demons spend their whole trying to keep people away from the Torah and mitzvos that will ‘water’ this Tree, and enable it to take it’s true place in the world.

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Lots to unpack… let’s continue.

I don’t watch TV, thank God, but someone told me I should look at THIS post on the Tomer Devorah website. I went, and it’s talking about a new documentary about THE FAMILY, a bunch of power-obsessed evangelicals who apparently rule Washington DC by co-operating with other evil groups like the Vatican, and all the usual suspect spy agencies / mafiosos.

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Because they are all connected to each other, and they all coordinate their activities with each other, just they operate as different crime ‘families’ or syndicates.

So now, let’s take that piece of information, and plug in THE FAMILY for every mention of ‘family’ in Rebbe Nachman’s tale, and see what other insights that starts to spark off in your head.

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THE GEMARA EXPLAINS WHO THESE ‘DEMONS’ ARE

In Makkot 6b, in the middle of a long discussion about false witnesses and criminals being given ‘prior warning’ of imminent punishment by a ‘Demon’, the Gemara says the following:

“The one giving the warning…may even be [the victim] himself, and even a demon. The warning necessary to convict the offender need not come from one of the witnesses, but is acceptable from any source.”

Ramban in the footnote explains that: ‘demon’ refers to “any voice whose source cannot be observed.”

In Brachot 3b, we get the following statement:

“The Rabbis taught in a baraisa, that one should not enter a ruin for the following three reasons: 1) Because of suspicion, i.e. because people may suspect one of entering there to meet a harlot, 2) Because of the danger of collapse, 3) and because of the danger of demons, who lurk in deserted areas and ruins.”

The footnotes state:

Demons will not attack two people together. Separately, it also states: [W]here men of low moral character are concerned, even ten men are not trusted to be alone with a woman.

In Brachot 43b:

“To one person [a demon] appears and does harm; to two people it appears but does no harm; to three people it does not appear altogether.”

The footnote states: The demon will not take action to harm him, but the person will suffer the effects of having seen a demon (i.e. they get ‘warned off’ and they threatened if they start digging too much into what the demons are doing, or saying too much about their activities. But they only actually get assassinated if they are alone, with no witnesses.)

But Chagigah 16a is really the kicker:

“There are six characteristics that were said regarding demons: Three like ministering angels and three like human beings. These are the three characteristics in which demons are like ministering angels:

  • Demons have wings like ministering angels

  • And [demons] fly from one end of the world to the other end [of the world] like ministering angels

  • And [demons] know what is destined to be in the future like ministering angels.

The Gemara interrupts the Baraisa to clarify this last point:

“Can it enter your mind that they know the future on their own?… Rather, the Baraisa means that [demons] hear what is announced from behind the Partition, like ministering angels.”

Doesn’t this excerpt from the Gemara conjure up visions of spies with recording devices, who fly all over the place in their personal jets and unmarked planes?

And here’s how demons are like humans, from that same Gemara:

  • Demons eat and drink like human beings
  • Demons are fruitful and multiply like human beings
  • And demons die like human beings.

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I haven’t made an exhaustive survey of every instance of where demons are mentioned in the Gemara, but one other notable place, in Niddah 24b, places demons bang in the middle of a discussion about aborted fetuses.

All this, when taken together, suggests quite a lot, doesn’t it?

To recap the main message:

before Moshiach actually is revealed (aka ‘the Tree’ gets watered), all these crime families and spy agencies start to turn on each other, and take each other out. And the demonic forces who are leading these activities are the talkers. Talkers could refer to journalists, spies, bloggers, social media ‘manipulators’ and also movies and Hollywood (the original home of the ‘talkies’.)

Demons look like human beings, but really aren’t.

They have zero real emuna and faith in Hashem (the ‘chicken feet’ = atheists), and they are organized as crime families and syndicates. You’ll find demons in the middle of abortions…. And in the middle of hurting children and other people… And in locations where men are lured to be ‘entrapped’ with harlots…. And demons love ‘devices’ and can listen in on people’s conversations, fly all over the world and appear to be totally untouchable.

The last thing to tell you about demons is probably the most important.

In Rebbe Nachman’s tale, he explains that the human beings who are with the Jewish Sage who stands up to the King Demon, and who are within his ‘circle’, are safe from the harm demons can do.

Rebbe Nachman tells us:

“The demons approached, but they could not come near [the humans] because of the circle [that the wise man had made] around them. [The King Demon] sent other messengers, but they also failed.”

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We need to stay close to the Tzaddik HaDor, and to stay far, far away from the places where these ‘demons’ hang out. When Moshiach comes, they will all disappear. But for now, they are still all over the place, and still causing a lot of harm, wars and ‘earthquakes’.

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What is Tisha B’Av really all about?

The last few days, I’ve been in a funny mood – you might have noticed. I’ve been feeling frustrated, angry, even a little bitter, that despite so much effort, I’m going into yet another Tisha B’av with what feels like zero progress on so many fronts.

In fact spiritually, I even feel as though I’ve been going backwards in some ways, recently. I tried to capture a little of that HERE, but I feel I’ve had so much brain fog going on the last weeks I’ve lost touch with my soul again.

Yes, I’ve still been doing an hour a day of talking to God (or trying to…) – sometimes even more. In the old days, I could sit down for a six hour talking to God session, usually on Shabbat when I had the time to spare, and come out of it feeling like something had really moved or ameliorated.

The last few months, even the six hours I’ve been doing don’t give me much of a spiritual ‘bounce’. The best I can say, is that I feel calmer, usually, and sometimes I get a bit more clarity, and a bit more hope and determination to continue.

But underneath all that, there’s this sense of what am I doing all this for? Where am I going? How can I carry on like this, aimlessly drifting because I can’t seem to get anywhere, still?

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On Shabbat, I did another six hours on why I feel like such a spiritual zombie so much of the time, when God threw me a clue:

I have tremendous amounts of despair gushing around still.

It’s not preventing me from getting on with things, day-to-day, and thank God, I’m not a depressed zombie or an angry, ranting cynic (most of the time…) but what I am is totally despairing that things are going to change. On the national level, it just seems to me like the ‘bad’ always wins, the superficial is always preferred, the lie is always more welcome than the truth.

In my own dalet amot, there seems to be so many things I’ve given up on or lost over the last few years, that I can’t seem to figure out how to get back. I know what happened with losing the apartment in Jerusalem, last year, was a massive blow, psychologically. Just as I thought I’d actually got somewhere – we signed, after all!!! – it all turned around for the worst, and left us with the biggest nightmare we’d had to deal with for a very long time.

It’s been a year since we made the agreement with our seller that saw us pay for all of her expenses (and of course ours…) as the ‘punishment’ for being dumb enough to trust her, and for being dumb enough to trust our dumb lawyer was actually doing his job. I think it’s taken a year for what happened to really work its way through my system.

The last 2 days, I realized that I’ve been effectively numbed-out for 18 months.

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Part of me knows it’s good to have had so many things not get anywhere, and to have so much frustration and failure. It keeps me humble. But it’s also keeping me lonely and despairing, because another part of me just doesn’t want to try anymore.

We’re meant to sit on the floor and weep over the destruction. Thank God, me and my family are healthy and we have a roof and food to eat. That’s already so much to be grateful for. But there are still parts of my life that appear to be ‘destroyed’, and that I can’t see any way of fixing.

I’ve pretty much given up on making new friends, for example. So many people have gone crazy the last few years, that I find it easier to keep my distance than too risk getting to close when the inevitable implosion happens. But I miss talking to people. I miss inviting people for Shabbat. I miss being part of something, socially.

And I just don’t see how it’s going to come back. I think I’m just too weird, these days, too out of sync with what passes for ‘normal’.

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Also, my spiritual side seems to be bumping along the bottom.

If not for the Rav and Rebbe Nachman, I really don’t know where I’d be because I am just going through the motions with so much of my yiddishkeit. I try to learn 2 laws of the Shulchan Aruch most days, with my husband. Of course I try to keep Shabbat, Kosher, the laws of Tisha B’Av etc etc – but I’m doing so much of that from a place of ‘default’, and not from a place of enthusiasm.

My kids keep telling me: we can’t pray, because we can’t really feel anything when we do.

I get them. I feel that about almost all the mitzvahs right now. There are so few things I’m doing that I can really feel I’m getting anything back from. My husband says this is good. He tells me this is keeping Torah lishma, for its own sake, and that this makes Hashem very happy.

I’m doing my best to believe him.

And in the meantime, I sit here spinning my wheels, wondering what I’m meant to be doing with my life. More pointless blog posts? More pointless books? More pointless efforts to try to move forward and ‘get somewhere’, even though it feels there is totally no point in even trying?

It’s a struggle of will each morning, to get out of bed and get on with the day, because it all feels so aimless and pointless.

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All this effort, but I’m so far from giving God what He really wants from me.

I’m still struggling with very harsh judgment calls against other people. I’m still lazy. I’m still selfish and self-centred, not really seeing other people in my picture and looking out for number 1.

The Temple isn’t rebuilt still, and I know who’s to blame for that: me.

Hard as I try, I can’t switch my ‘bad’ into good. I can’t be the force for good that God really wants me to be. I can’t resist goading people and provoking them, and seeing their ‘bad’.

So today, I’m going to try and sit on the floor, and spend some time mourning the destruction. I’m going to try to cry a bit, sincerely, for the trainwreck that modern life has become. It’s a place where we spend so much time staring at a screen, it hurts the eyes to look a real person straight in the face. It’s a place where the inner destruction is so total, we can’t feel anything anymore. Where the ability to really speak from the soul has been replaced by Whats App monologues and emojicons.

Today, I’m going to cry a bit, and spend some time engaging with the broken bits of my life.

I’m broken God, I’m clueless. I’m lost and hurting. I’ve given up on things ever really changing.

And I wish things were different.

But it’s totally beyond me to change them.

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The last few days, I’ve been in a funny mood.

I’m working on a book that’s explaining how the ‘animal’ brain that’s in charge of the body’s FIGHT-FLIGHT-FREEZE-FLATTER stress response has managed to hijack most people’s personalities, and it’s not coming easy.

So yesterday, I took my notepad and pens, and went to sit in the kever of Shimon HaTzaddik. I had the whole of the women’s section to myself, and I managed to write a lot about the FLATTER / EARTH dimension.

What’s so wrong with flattering other people? What’s so wrong with ‘making nice’ to people, even if they aren’t so nice and maybe are doing things that are really, really wrong?

That’s what I was trying to explain.

I wrote 10 pages, and came home. But, I was still feeling restless, so next I went off to Kever Rachel, up the road from me, where I sat down and tried to write about FREEZE / WATER. That’s where you isolate yourself, get discouraged and depressed, and totally give up on humanity (and yourself…) because there’s just no point.

I came home, made supper – but was still feeling restless. So in the evening, my husband and I went off to the Kotel, where I sat before the Wall for an hour writing about FLIGHT / AIR, which is where you can’t sit still, you can’t focus, you’re full of worry and anxiety and nervous energy which keeps you constantly ‘doing’ and stops you from really thinking about anything too deeply.

At the end of all that, I realized: the world is in such a big mess.

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Two weeks ago, I happened to trip over a ‘fake dayan’ in the course of researching something else.

Without going into details, he’d clearly forged his dayanut claims, and was a small-town crook pretending to be a ‘dayan’ who’d been invested by the Eida HaChareidit. He lives in chutz l’aretz, in a place where there are very few knowledgeable Jews who are able to catch him out, and he’s an excellent con man.

I’m still mulling over what to do with this information, particularly as he seems to have ‘retired’ from his claims of being a dayan to go and do other things.

Really, far more disturbing to me than the fake dayan himself, who clearly didn’t get enough love from his mum when he was growing up, are all the apparently real rabbis he was associating with. These ‘real’ rabbis must have known he was a total fake, but they apparently kept their mouths shut because it suited the enterprises they were associated with to be able to claim they had a fake dayan on board.

Why? Because having a dayan is a great USP.

These days, there a million people claiming to have smicha, or rabbinic ordination, but being a dayan is still a notable achievement. It still stands out. It still impresses people. And it’s much, much harder to fake, because it takes a minimum of seven years to achieve and actually requires some real knowledge of halacha that is rigorously tested by other very knowledgeable Jews.

That’s part of how I know this fake dayan is so clearly and utterly fake.

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So how did this guy manage to fool so many other ‘real’ rabbis, especially here in Israel?

Simple.

He didn’t. They knew he was totally fake, but they kept their mouths shut because they wanted to encourage more clueless non-Jews to hand money over to their organisations.

As I was researching this, I was wondering how could so many of our ‘real’ rabbis have such bad middot, and no-one else appears to be noticing it? How can they be such vain, money-obsessed phoneys, and yet people are still lining up on Facebook (and elsewhere) to laud them and praise them?

After doing a lot of praying on it, it came to me that LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

For as long as we ourselves are totally obsessed with dollar bills, it’s not going to strike us as ‘strange’ that a ‘rabbi’ spends literally half his shiur just talking about money. For as long as we ourselves are full of hatred and harsh judgments and anger, it’s not going to put us off to hear someone dissing a whole generation of young Jews, or upset us when ‘secular people’ get written off as being totally evil and beyond repair.

In fact, quite the opposite. We’ll actually be thrilled to hear all this stuff, and we’ll heartily approve of this hashkafa, because it’s just confirming our own bad middot and our own warped outlook on life.

LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

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Right now, there is an earthquake brewing under Manhattan and under the Knesset.

Without going into details, I think that a scandal is about to break that is going to turn the Jewish name into mud all over the world.

It’s up to God how much attention it will get, and how much damage it will actually do, but it could mark a turning point, because as long as the Jews and the Jewish State can claim the moral high ground, the good people of the world will be on their side and supporting them against the anti-Semites.

But what happens when a bunch of very prominent Jews are publically exposed as doing a lot of very ‘wrong’ things? Things that are so sickening and so morally perverted that any right thinking person will be totally disgusted?

What then?

It’s an interesting question.

How many Harveys and Jefferys and Bernies can non-Jewish society take, before it starts to dawn on them that Houston, we have a problem?

God is about to shine a massive spotlight down onto Jewish communities all over the world. We are heading into that next part of the birur, or clarification, process when more and more people will be singled out and asked:

Why didn’t you protest what was going on? How were you happy to keep on justifying such awful behavior, such monstrous people? How could you continue to hang out with these people, without noticing that something was terribly wrong? And to even praise them to others?

And the answer will be:

LIKE ATTRACTS LIKE.

We didn’t notice the problem by them, because we had it ourselves, in some way.

But soon, God’s going to start exposing all these ‘hidden’ issues in the Jewish community in the most distressing way.

And then, there will be no more pretending.

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Another timely prayer from the ravberland.com site

Heads up, they are putting together an A-Z index of prayers written by Rabbi Eliezer Berland over on the site, HERE.

Each week, they are trying to put a few more English translations of the Rav’s prayers up, because a little while back the Rav said that very big things, spiritually, depend on more of these prayers getting out into the world.

Today, they just put up a new prayer to recite if you want to avoid getting angry, or pulled into slandering other Jews – which is just so easy to do, with the evil internet.

It spoke to me a lot, so I’m replicating it below:

Prayer to avoid anger and slander against background of a snake

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Also, as I promised I would do at the end of this post, I’ve written out the first part of the sources from the Gemara Tractate Sanhedrin 97b. I thought it was a very good resource to share widely, so I’ve posted it up on my blog over the ravberland site HERE.

If you can’t be bothered to read the whole thing, this is a very brief summary of what it says:

Summing up the discussion between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua in Sanhedrin 97b:

Rabbi Eliezer is arguing that the Jewish people have to make real, self-motivated teshuva for the geula to come, and so Hashem will wait as long as it takes for this to happen (like maybe, even another 200 years….)

Rabbi Yehoshua is arguing that there is a ‘fixed’ time for the geula, or end of days, to occur, and if the Jewish people haven’t made the necessary teshuva by that point Hashem will bring massive tribulations to the world to ‘force’ them to repent ahead of the deadline for geula. Whoever makes it through these tribulations will then make it to geula and Zion, i.e. Israel.

Rabbi Eliezer tries to argue, but eventually he concedes that Rabbi Yehoshua is correct.

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Are Chazal also ‘scaremongering?”

That is the question.

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UPDATE:

A comment from Orna prompted this response. After I wrote it, I thought I should actually stick it up as an addendum to this post. Enough with all the pettiness and machloket, already! Are all of us so ‘fixed’ we have nothing better to do than keep pointing out issues in other people? The whole world is just a mirror. Whenever we’re slagging someone else off, some other group of Jews off, we’re really just talking about ourselves.

Who cares what group of Jews Moshiach ‘belongs’ to, as long as he just shows up already? Tzaddikim are not football teams, that you can only support one side. ALL our Tzaddikim are beloved and valuable. BH, Rabbi Berland will last the distance and be able to make the jump from ‘hezkat Moshiach’ to the full thing.

If he doesn’t manage to rebuild the temple and ingather all the exiles – then he will be just the potential Moshiach of the generation. That’s all! No big deal. No need for all this crazy hysteria. Until the temple is rebuilt, no-one can say with 100% certainty who the Moshiach was.

All we know is that he’ll be the leader of the generation, and he can’t come back from the dead. Apart from that, none of us are any wiser. In the meantime, I think Rabbi Berland has the best shot of being Moshiach in our generation, and it’s no sin – at all! – to say that and publicize it.

All these people talking about ‘false messiahs’ – it’s all just a reflection of their own issues, their own problems. May God help us all to find the inner peace we need to stop turning Moshiach into some sort of ridiculous competition.

We are surrounded on all sides by people who hate us. If even we observant Jews are letting the crazy nutjobs in our midst stir trouble between us all the time, to prevent us from sticking together, what hope is there, really, of getting geula the sweet way?

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Orna, the more I think about all this, the more I think it’s just a ‘plan’ from the Sitra Achra to keep Jews at each other’s throats. There are always questions around the biggest Tzaddikim, that’s just how it is. They are operating in a realm that is far, far above what us mere mortals can grasp. The more honest amongst us will admit that.

I’m personally very uncomfortably with any suggestion that a Beit HaMikdash could be anywhere except Jerusalem. However, I’m not going to write off a whole bunch of Jews who believe that it could be in New York, even though I totally disagree with that idea myself.

In the Gemara, we see time and time again how the Tannaim had massive disagreements with each other about some very important issues. We can disagree about all these things without going at each other’s throats and starting to say other Jews aren’t ‘kosher’, or aren’t ‘Jewish enough’.

Who are we to judge? We can’t see inside people’s neshamas to know what’s really going on.

In the Gemara (Tractate Ketubot 103a), the students of Rebbe Yehuda HaNasi the Prince were so upset at his death, they made a decree that anyone who says that Rebbe Yehuda was dead should be stabbed with a knife:

“It is related that on the day that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi died, the Sages decreed a fast, and begged for divine mercy so that he would not die. And they said: Anyone who says that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi has died will be stabbed with a sword.”

That same Tractate explains how Yehuda HaNasi used to come back to his home for Shabbat AFTER HE DIED, to make kiddush with his family:

“The Gemara explains: Every Shabbat eve, even after his passing, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi would come to his house as he had done during his lifetime, and he therefore wished for everything to be set up as usual. The Gemara relates the following incident: It happened on a certain Shabbat eve that a neighbor came by and called and knocked at the door. His maidservant said to her: Be quiet, for Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi is sitting. When he heard his maidservant reveal his presence to the neighbor, he did not come again, so as not to cast aspersions on earlier righteous individuals who did not appear to their families following their death.”

I agree there’s some very important clarifications and distinctions that need to be brought out with all this.

Dead tzaddikim cannot be Moshiach, that’s what the Rambam ruled, and that’s the halacha we all follow.

At the same time, Tzaddikim are greater after their deaths than they are in their lifetime, and their souls are active in the world, and accessible, in some way to those of us left behind.

Christianity stole a lot of these – the deepest! – ideas in authentic yiddishkeit and warped them to their own ends. We need to clarify things so we can get them back into their right space, spiritually.

At the same time, after I started researching all this stuff with Chabad conversions being maligned and questioned, etc it made me very upset.

The people who led the charge against Chabad after the Rebbe died also had a very obvious agenda to ridicule and disparage chassidut generally, because it didn’t fit their unspiritual approach to yiddishkeit.

That’s why I brought this Gemara, to show that a lot of the attacks against Chabad have originated from ignorance of our Torah sources (at best…)

We can disagree with other Jews, without getting into personal attacks.

This isn’t directed specifically at you, btw, Orna, just this is what has flowed out of my finger tips as a result of your comment.

The true tzaddikim are all working together to bring geula the sweetest way possible, in ways the rest of us can’t even understand.

Our job is just to keep our mouths shut, work on overcoming our own bad middot and to give EVERY TZADDIK their due respect, regardless of whether he’s ‘our’ Tzaddik or not.

That’s part of what I like so much about Breslov. They respect every Torah sage out there, Litvak, Sephardi, Karlin – whatever it is.

The label doesn’t matter, just what’s in people’s hearts.