The last few days, I’ve been struggling.
There’s a lot of things going on, and I’ve been trying to ‘unpick’ why I’m having a lot of low-level yeoush, or apathy and despair, dafka now, when I have so many projects on the boil.
Part of it is the sense that nothing I do really gets anywhere. I get up, I wash clothes that end up either on the floor or back in the laundry within 2 days; I wash dishes that get dirty again; I make food that gets eaten so fast; I write blog posts that go in one eyeball and out the other; I write books that no-one buys.
And then I start to wonder: why am I doing all this? What’s the point?
In my hitbodedut, I get an answer:
This is life. What’s the alternative? If you don’t wash up, and you don’t cook, and you don’t write blog posts, and you don’t keep writing books, what else are you going to do with yourself? How would your life actually look?
In the past, I would attribute this yeoush to the fact that I really don’t make any money, doing all the things I do, but now I know that’s a red-herring.
Sometimes, when you’re making money doing things that weary your soul and seem totally and utterly pointless, that can feel even worse.
I guess it’s just the ruach, the spiritual vibe of the planet at the moment. Even my kids have it – they are finding it really hard to know what’s the point? And I can’t really help them out of the difficulty, because I’m sharing it.
I’m trying to figure out what’s going on, how I can lift out of this and really just be grateful for all the tremendous kindnesses and goodnesses that God is continually doing for me. Part of the problem, for sure, is that it feels like the goalposts for geula keep being moved, and I just can’t keep the pace up for another 200 years.
It’s hard to get motivated to keep going, when there is no end in sight.
And right now, it feels like there is no end in sight.
On Shabbat, I flipped open Likutey Moharan, and I got to Lesson 2:78, which is talking about how sometimes, we have to serve Hashem from a place of total simplicity, where we don’t reveal any Torah and we just engage in idle chatter.
Rabbenu explains there that it’s:
“[A]bsolutely impossible to be involved in Torah study and spiritual perceptions without a break. One must inevitably stop for a while, and during that time when one is not studying the Torah, then this Torah scholar, or spiritually perceptive person is literally in the category of a rustic.”
It’s a long lesson, but I’m picking out the parts that spoke to me. Later on, Rabbenu continues:
“In sum, one should never despair! Even a simple person who is totally unable to study Torah, or is in a place where he can’t study. Nevertheless, even when one is in a state of simplicity, one must persist in the fear of God and simple service, according to one’s capability….The main thing is to encourage oneself in any way possible. [The Rebbe interjected at this point: “For there is no such thing as a lost cause!…]”
If it was anyone other than Rebbe Nachman saying this, I’d really struggle to believe it.
The last few weeks, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in the behind-the-scenes yuck going on in the Jewish community, past and present, here and abroad, both in the ‘religious’ and anti-religious world, and it’s been extremely demoralizing.
A few years ago, I read another passage in Likutey Moharan where Rabbenu talks about how sometimes, you have to throw yourself into the mud and filth of ‘battle’, to fight for God and for what’s right. The last few weeks, I’ve been swimming through reams and reams of spiritual ‘sewage’, and it’s been very hard to deal with.
In hitbodedut yesterday, I was telling God how I don’t mind cleaning out the odd spiritual ‘toilet’, but I’d like to be given a different job to do, at this point. Because all that yucky stuff sticks to the soul, however hard you try to scrub it off with prayer and emuna.
Let someone else do this now, God! Let someone else take over! I need a break! I need a holiday!
But…. I already know that there is no-one else. Who else would be dumb enough, to do this?
And then, there is what is going on with the Rav again, which I’m also finding pretty demoralizing.
We’re in the middle of trying to get One in a Generation II translated into Hebrew, and published.
Last week, I called up my contact in Shuvu Banim to see how the fact-checking is going, and I got told the stunning piece of information that it’s all on hold, because five of the Rav’s gabbays got arrested by the Israeli Police last week.
I thought he was maybe joking, but after looking at the usual fake news sites including Jpost, Times of Israel, Ynet, and the worst of the lot, the Yeshiva World News, I was stunned to see it was no joke.
That crazy woman’s obviously crazy complaint is all the pretext the police here needed, to start up the whole slander-to-incarceration miscarriage of justice machine again. They are trying to put Rav Berland away for 10 years (!) for the ‘crime’ of letting people donate money to him.
And I don’t even know if I have any more strength left to protest the madness that’s going on.
What’s the point? Doesn’t it seem like the bad has won, and will just keep winning, no matter what we do?
That’s where I was holding on Shabbat, when I was flipping through Likutey Moharan, trying to get some answers and some balm for my soul.
Usually, I just read the English translation, but there was a word I wanted to pin down properly in Lesson 2:78, so I switched to the Hebrew – and lo and behold, I found this extra few paragraphs, that had somehow been left out of the English version.
I took it as a little ‘message’ from Rabbenu, about what’s going on right now, and here’s what it said:
We need to beg Hashem a great deal to have the merit of drawing close to the True Tzaddik, because praiseworthy is the person who merits to draw close to the True Tzaddik during his lifetime.
Fortunate is he, and fortunate is his lot in life!
[For afterwards, it’s extremely difficult to draw close, and we need to multiply our prayers and supplications greatly, that we should merit in his lifetime to draw close to the True Tzaddik.]
For the baal davar (aka the satan) is making every single effort, now, to confuse the world, because Israel is now very close to the keitz (the end), and Israel now has a very great yearning and great desire for Hashem yitbarach, in a way which wasn’t seen in former times.
Every person is wistfully awaiting Hashem yitbarach.
And so, the baal davar is awakening himself over this, and is creating machloket between the Tzaddikim, and is putting a great many famous purveyors of lies into the world. And also, he’s making a big machloket between the True Tzaddikim, to the point that not a single person knows where the truth lies.
And so, we need to beg Hashem yitbarach a lot, for the merit of drawing close to the True Tzaddik.
Ad kan, from Rabbenu.
Reading this revived me, at least a little. To know that this awfully confusing, depressing situation we’re currently going through was foreseen and written about over 200 years ago is encouraging.
Rabbenu warned us, that there would be a flood heresy and ‘evil’, the likes of which has never been seen in the world before, and that it would be very hard for us all to hang on to God and His true tzaddikim, as a result.
But hang on we must.
Because what’s the alternative?
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