Over Shabbat, I happened to pick up Rebbe Nachman’s Tales, and I happened to open it up in the middle of the story of the Master of Prayer, who is trying to save the foolish people in the land of money from their ‘religion’ of worshipping wealth:
“These people also had images and icons of the wealthy people who were their gods. They would embrace these images and kiss them. This was part of their religious service.”
Steve Jobs, anyone? Forbes Rich List, anyone?
Anyway, so I was reading on, and then I came to this passage:
“The Mighty Warrior spoke to the King about the people in the land which had fallen into the worship of wealth. The Warrior said to the King: “I heard from you that the only way to release those who are immersed in the worship of the lust for wealth is through the path that I had to the sword.
“That is true,” replied the King. The King then told the Mighty Warrior that on the road to the sword there is a path to the side. That path leads to a Mountain of Fire, upon which crouches a lion.”
Now, the ‘Mighty Warrior’ in the story seems to represent ISIS / Iran / Radical Islam, who is scaring the pants of the wealth-worshipping people in Israel (and elsewhere).
But the notes explains that ‘the sword’ can also refer to gehinnom. And gehinnom, as we know from the previous post, is to be found under the earth’s crust and is directly connected to magma and lava.
So when I read about this path that leads to a Mountain of Fire, I sat up and took notice. Rabbenu continues:
“The Mountain of Fire is totally invisible.” – i.e. no-one even knows that it’s there.
“There is another path off to the side leading to a Kitchen….The food is cooked by the Mountain of Fire, and although the Mountain of Fire is very far away, there are channels and pipes from the Mountain of Fire to the Kitchen.”
This is describing underground lava tubes, channels and flows that connects the Mountain of Fire to Jerusalem (the location of the 'Kitchen').
In the Master of Prayer, the Kitchen and the Mountain of Fire play the key role in getting the people who worship money to finally make teshuva, and to return to God. But the really jaw-dropping bit of all this is when I went to read Chapters 30-31 of the Prophet Isaiah, which Rebbe Nachman tells us he based this particular tale on.
I’m just going to quote it verbatim, then sum up at the end.
“Behold, the Name of Hashem is coming from afar. His anger is flaring and the burden is heavy. His lips are full of rage and His tongue is like a consuming fire. His breath is like a raging stream…
“Hashem will make heard the majesty of his voice, and He will show the potency of His arm, with raging anger and with the flame of a consuming fire, with smashing, torrent and hailstone.
“For Assyria will become devastated by the voice of Hashem, as if He struck with the stick….and He will fight wars against them like the waving of the hand.
For Hell has been prepared from yesterday, it has been readied even for the king. [God] has deepened and widened it, its inferno has much fire and wood, and the breath of Hashem is like a stream of Sulphur burning within it.”
Doesn’t this sound so, so much like a massive volcanic eruption? That sulphuric smell goes along with geothermal springs and underground volcanic activity. That ‘tongue of fire’ thing – take a look at these pictures (above) from the USGS of Fissure 8 in Hawaii.
The world is currently being convulsed with ‘smashing, torrent and hailstone’ – if you go to the Watchers website and just scroll down the latest stories, here’s what you find for the last few days:
Japan: 38 killed by 16ft floodwater, 50 missing, roads collapsing, millions of people being forcibly evacuated.
France: 36,000 lighting strikes in less than one day, 7cm hail damaging and destroying houses, cars and crops.
Earthquakes going off all over the place, including most recently Russia, Mayotte, Mexico - and of course, Israel.
That stuff is connected to the volcanoes waking up, because the same cosmic radiation that is affecting the seismicity of the earth is also affecting the climate.
There is so much more to be said, as always, The volcano thing has been under the radar for most of us because we bought the lies we were taught in school, that the last time all these things blew their tops was millions of years ago, so we can go back to sleep – nothing to worry about here!
HARRAT ASH SHAMAH IS MUCH BIGGER THAN YELLOWSTONE...
Until Daisy mentioned Yellowstone, I didn’t think to compare that with Harrat Ash Shamah, but you know what? Harrat Ash Shamah covers 15,000 km, while Yellowstone only covers around 9,000 km.
I went to look at what the Smithsonian has to say about Harrat Ash Shamah. Here’s a little of what they said:
"The dark-colored lava flows in this NASA Space Shuttle image (with north to the left) lie at the southern end of the Es Safa volcanic field. This basaltic field (also referred to as As Safa), lies SE of the capital city of Damascas (Dimashq) and contains at least 38 cinder cones.
A boiling lava lake was observed in the Es Safa volcanic area in the middle of the 19th century. This volcanic field lies within the northern part of the massive alkaline Harrat Ash Shaam volcanic field that extends from southern Syria to Saudi Arabia."
Then, I went to Google Earth to go and measure where that Es (Al) Safa Lava Lake was – it’s the dark area you can still see very clearly on this map, and it measures 20km across – massive!
And it was last active around 1850, and probably had everything to do with the Tzfat / Tiberias earthquakes which struck in 1837, destroying those cities.
What boggles the mind the most is that the official papers on this site have dated it to 100,000 years ago using argon-potassium (K-Ar) dating…. Which is clearly rubbish! And even the Smithsonian website is listing it as being so, so much younger and majorly active 170 years ago. And it’s only around 150km away from the North of Israel…
God has kept this ‘Mountain of Fire’ invisible to all of us, at least until now.
But according to Rebbe Nachman, it's going to play a crucial role in getting the Jewish people away from their stocks and shares and property prices, and back to God.
We live in very interesting times.
No-one would argue that everyone has their own fair share of heartbreak, upset and stress in life. It manifests in different ways for all of us, according to what God decides we need to experience or rectify, but heartbreak, upset and disappointment are ‘bad’ experiences for all of us, whatever’s causing them.
Many years’ ago in London, I had a good friend who was very competitive (I also was very competitive at that point – survival of the fittest, after all!) We would compete over many issues, including how many people we’d invited for seder, how much money we’d given to charity, how early we’d got into work (she beat me – regularly showing up to the office at 5am was completely off my radar.)
It was only many, many years later that I realized we’d also been competing on how much suffering we were going through, too. I’d tell her my story of infertility (before God blessed me with my two amazing kids) and she’d counter that with something awful that had just happened to her sister.
I’d tell her about my stress at work, and she’d counter that with her ‘awful boss’ story. This pattern continued when we both got to Israel. I’d tell her how we’d lost our house and run out of money, trying to ‘win’ the ‘I’m suffering the most, be nice to me’ battle, and she’d counter with how she was on the verge of divorce…or how her kid was cracking up…or how she was under so much stress she needed anti-depressants….
On and on it went.
Until one day, I realized what was going on, and I had to start pulling myself up on it.
Why are you trying to squeeze sympathy out of people, Rivka? Why are you trying to throw your problems in other people’s faces? Don’t you think everyone has their ‘thing’ going on, too? Don’t you think everyone feels their own pain at the moment?
We are a pained and afflicted people, everything is contusion and wound, from head to foot. The prophet told us it would be like this, before Moshiach comes.
The question is, what can we really do about it? We all have problems we can’t solve, we all have stress we can’t defuse, we all have situations and circumstances that are stretching us to breaking point, in some way or other.
Trying to compete over whose problem is bigger, or more painful, or more deserving of sympathy is utterly pointless, and just causes more division and ‘competition’ between us.
Because who is in a position to really measure it, anyway, and to decide whose pain is greater?
So the answer has to lie in a different direction.
The answer has to lie in developing some emuna, and putting God back into the picture. Everything that’s happening right now is coming from God, for the apparently ‘good’, or for the opposite. Everything that’s happening right now contains a message about what we ourselves need to work on, acknowledge, rectify or improve.
This is the three rules of emuna, that Rav Arush set down so clearly in his books, namely:
I’ve noticed a lot of people have a problem with that first rule. What, God’s behind the Palestinians, behind World War II, behind everyone’s problems and suffering?!?
That’s the first rule of emuna, and it’s the first principle of faith codified by the Rambam. God did, does and will do everything.
Without that starting point, we will spend many long years barking up the wrong tree and blaming everyone and everything for things that actually all boil back down to our own relationship with God.
Who kicked the people out of Netiv Avot?
Who is sending incendiary kites, and rockets, over the Gaza border?
Who is ultimately behind all the injustice and ‘bad’ in the world?
To think otherwise makes us a xtian who believes that the devil has equal or even greater powers than Hashem, and is somehow operating ‘above’ God’s explicit control, God forbid.
That’s heresy! That’s anti-emuna!
That’s the opposite of what it means to be a believing Jew, a believing human being.
Ein od milvado.
So the first stage is to work on acquiring this level of emuna, and that by itself is a lifetime’s work.
But then, there’s the next stage, that everything that’s happening to us is somehow ‘good’. Again, how can this be? How can a holocaust be ‘good’, how can losing a child be ‘good’, how can being made homeless, or getting sick, or having your field all burned up by a Palestinian kite be ‘good’?
Again, the answer boils down to whether you accept that we are here to work on our souls, and to rectify things spiritually (which is the Jewish understanding of things) or whether you think God owes you a great life in the here and now and that this world is really where it’s all at (which is the Greek / xtian view of things.)
Once, a man who was suffering from terrible pains in his teeth and body came to see Rebbe Nachman. He’d been suffering awfully for years, and couldn’t take it anymore. The Rebbe told him: Even with all the pain you are suffering right now, just one singe in gehinnom is so much worse!
We are in this world to pay down our spiritual debts, and to fix the things we broke, and to develop our souls by clinging to God in the midst of all our difficulties.
We are not here to lead an easy life.
Again, when I first read these ideas, I was really angry and upset about them, and didn’t want to accept their validity. It goes against everything a Western (xtian…atheist…materialist) person is taught to believe about the purpose and point of life.
Drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!
Jews don’t hold by that. Jews believe ‘do mitzvahs, learn Torah, do kindnesses for others and be happy with your lot, because tomorrow we die and that’s when the real joy and enjoyment and bliss starts.’
And the main mitzvah we have to do is to learn some emuna, and to understand that ein od milvado, there is only God, and God is good, and none of our suffering is stam, random.
Which brings us to the third rule of emuna: what’s the message, or lesson?
For as long as we refuse to see God’s hand in our lives, and for as long as we’re blaming other people, and we’re angry at other people, we can’t figure out the real response to this question, and we will look to superficial external reasons like our skirts not being long enough, or our kashrut not being strict enough.
Of course, tznius and kosher are important, that’s not what I’m saying. But I’m saying the real work to do down here is our middot, our personality traits, our way of looking at the world, and interacting with other people.
If we are keeping basic mitzvahs like kosher, taharat mishpacha, tznius and Shabbat, then the first place we need to look for the ‘message’ is in our middot.
God wants good middot, not just the longest skirt
I spent years agonizing over my skirts until I realized that God was far more upset with my harsh judgment of other people, and my anger issues, and my problems with hatred and jealousy and feeling sorry for myself.
I have no idea why other people have to go through what they go through. But I can tell you that I’ve had to go through what I’m going through because I have a lot of bad middot that really needed addressing, and the suffering I’ve experienced broke my arrogance and forced me to turn to Hashem for comfort and support.
That is really the only solution to all of the problems, be it forced evictions, Gazan rockets, terrible illnesses, or heartbreaking divorce proceedings.
I don’t believe any of this suffering – mine or other people’s - is stam, or that it’s unfair. I believe God is behind everything that’s happening to all of us.
And because I’m trying to believe that, I know that God will help me to figure out the real lesson I need to take away from everything that’s happening to me, and that sooner or later, it will all turn around for the good.
This is really, really hard work to do, in practice. But what’s the alternative?
A few years’ ago, we had a regular charity collector who’d come to our door (in an increasingly aggressive way), and spend half an hour bitterly telling us how he used to be a very rich man, but had lost all his money.
The first six times, I felt so sorry for him, and gave generously. But then, as the months went by and he continued with his bitter, angry rants on my doorstep, I started to dread his visits. I started to reduce the amount I was giving him, I started to pretend I wasn’t home when he came knocking.
It really taught me a big lesson about trying to accept my suffering with emuna, because no-one wants to listen to a never-ending stream of complaints, judgment calls, anger and bitterness, however ‘justified’ it might be.
We just need to take our complaints and our suffering back to God.
And that’s the whole point.
Ephraim Geltman is a good friend of my co-writer on One in a Generation. He publicly 'came out' as a Rav Berland supporter on Facebook a few months back, and he got hit with an absolutely enormous tsunami of sinat chinam and evil speech.
But Ephraim is a very brave, and very sincere individual, and recently, Ephraim sent this video along plugging the book on his Youtube channel, which I'm happy to share with you.
While we're here, let's do a mitzvah: Does anyone know someone who would be a good match for Ephraim, marriage-wise? He's located in Israel, works in the holistic health field, and is into Breslov. If you can think of someone suitable, please drop me a line HERE.
When my dad was here a few weeks ago, we got into a bit of an argument sparked off by an ‘internet personality’ rabbi who happens to be a baal teshuva, and who has made a name for himself by having a go at anything and anyone in the Jewish world that he doesn’t agree with.
This ‘rabbi’ has crossed so many lines, halachically, in his personal attacks on others, and in his attacks on many different branches of Judaism, and particularly chassidut, that are clearly coming from a place of complete ignorance.
Rather than have a bit of humility and admit he doesn’t know everything about yiddishkeit, he prefers to spout off long screeds full of sinat chinam and lashon hara, and to try to sow strife and to turn Jew against Jew – and then whenever he’s challenged on what’s he’s said, he claims to have been misunderstood, misrepresented, or taken out of context.
But that’s a lie.
What he’s saying is very clear.
It’s a typical gaslighting technique to tell other people they didn’t really hear what they heard, or that they didn’t understand something in the right way, when they obviously did, and sadly, this ‘rabbi’ is an expert gaslighter.
So now, my dear dad decided to email this ‘rabbi’ directly with the following question, and here’s how he responded (I’m blanking out the name, to avoid unnecessary machloket while still addressing the fundamental point and problem):
THE EMAIL MY DAD SENT:
Shalom aleichem Rabbi [NAME].
Hope you are fully recovered from your journey.
Could you please clarify the following. I told my daughter and son in law that according to you from your lectures that the Breslav worship "AvodaZara" and is a cult religion.
They dispute that it is not true. They want to know on what basis and proof do you draw your conclusions. Can you please name Gedolim who support your opinion.
Toda rabba vekol tuv
THE EMAIL THE ‘RABBI’ SENT BACK:
Their main speaker today (the most popular) rabbi shalom harsh says in his searches that you can't connect to HaShem without connecting first to rabbi Nachman, and he is the only one that can connect you to HaShem.
Without him nothing will help you not your teshuva not your learning torah nothing only rabbi Nachman can save you.
Similar to J.c in Christianity
If this is not a Voda Zara what is??
My dad sent this email to me, to see what I thought, and so this is what I think. First, this is what I sent back to my dad:
MY EMAIL TO MY DAD:
Thanks for this Dad.
You asked Rabbi [NAME] for Gedolim who support his opinion, and he just gave you more of his opinion. Who are the Gedolim who agree with him? Surely if it's that clear cut, there must be some big names that agree with him that he can quote in support. Can you please go back and ask him for other Gedolim who are saying this?
Also, see this explanation by Rav Ofer Erez of the whole idea of hitkashrut to the tzaddikim, which is explicitly explained by the Arizal as a good thing, (amongst other very big rabbis).
Rabbi [NAME] is sadly not a very knowledgeable person, which is why he attacks a lot of what he doesn't understand about the deeper aspects of yiddishkeit. Xtians got the idea of binding to the tzaddik from Judaism, and we need to reclaim it. The same thing happened with the idea of moshiach - the xtians 'took' that idea and then Jews shunned it for centuries. But really, it's the basis of OUR religion and the geula, and we need to understand the concepts properly, in their original Jewish context.
MY DAD IS GOING TO BE WAITING FOR THOSE TORAH SOURCES AND NAMES OF GEDOLIM A REALLY LONG TIME...
Let’s be clear, Rabbi [NAME] is not going to come back with any names of Gedolim who support his opinion, because Gedolim actually know the deeper aspects of the Torah, and understand what’s going on here, and why.
If you watch Rav Ofer’s clip (it’s only 2 mins or so, and it has English subtitles) he explains that the Arizal brings down in his book Shaarei HaKavanot that we should formally bind ourselves to the tzaddikim three times a day.
All the big kabbalists are binding themselves to the true tzaddikim, including Rebbe Nachman, three times a day.
Does this make them ‘xtians’, or idol-worshipers?
Rav Ofer also explains that the Rahash – who is considered to be the ‘Shulchan Aruch’ in terms of kabbalistic practices and kavanot, and is universally accepted as the last word in these matters, states that the halacha is to bind ourselves three times a day to the Tzaddikim.
He also explains that the Ben Ish Hai (not a Breslover, last I checked….) stated that all the words of the Arizal should be considered as though they were said by the Divine presence itself.
So Rabbi [NAME] is basically arguing against the Arizal, the Rahash, the Ben Ish Hai and all the Jewish people’s leading kabbalists.
For sure, he doesn’t even know that, because as I told my dad, Rabbi [NAME] has made a big reputation for himself online by attacking other Jews. Sometimes, we applaud his attacks and think ‘good, someone had to say that!!’ when it comes to the more clear-cut subjects. And then we think that he must be coming from a good place…
As Rabbi Nachman explains in his tale of The Cripple, ‘the talkers’ at the end of days are the ones who go around taking each other out with all their vituperative attacks on other Jews, and this is what paves the way for Moshiach to come.
Rabbi Nachman makes clear that the only people who talk negatively like this, with a shameless disregard for halacha and Torah law, are actually powered by demonic forces who are working night and day to prevent the Moshiach from coming.
When someone has a taste for lashon hara, and for sinat chinam, and for seeing their fellow Jew with an evil eye, and for trying to stoke conflict between Jews, they are always on the look-out for fresh ‘controversies’ that are easy to ignite. And Breslev is an easy target, especially for ignorant and arrogant people who think they know everything, when clearly, they really don’t.
For sure, Rabbi [NAME] has zero interest in really learning the deeper Jewish sources behind the practice of binding to the true Tzaddikim. For sure, he’s going to either try to evade the issue by ignoring my dad’s email completely, or coming back with more of his ‘opinion’ as opposed to any solid Jewish sources or Gedolim who actually support his position.
And this is how these fake, ‘rockstar’ rabbis manage to fool so many Jews that they are the real deal, while all the time they are leading them further away from Hashem and causing huge problems for the Jewish people.
Again, to make this point crystal clear: when a rabbi is ‘fake’, they don’t refer to Gedolim who agree with their controversial positions (because the Gedolim don’t…) and they don’t have a real grasp of halacha, which is why they fall back on their own over-sized personalities and superficial arguments that sound correct to the uneducated masses, but really aren’t.
(Can you imagine what sort of trouble this 'rabbi' could be sparking off between me and my dad right now with his comments, if I hadn't spent years researching how these people operate?)
Let the world of lies fall soon!
And in the meantime, give fakers like Rabbi [NAME] a wide berth. God makes it very clear that He can’t dwell with an arrogant person, and if God isn’t the one who’s powering all of these ‘conversations’ and blog posts and ‘Torah’ lessons, you know who else has stepped into the vacuum to provide the script.
UPDATE: Here's a small selection of the literally hundreds of quotes and stories out there from leading rabbis and rebbes of the last 200 years, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, Chassidic and Litvak, who had only the highest praise for Rebbe Nachman and Breslov chassidut.
Were all these enormous tzaddikim wrong, or somehow didn't understand that Breslov was meant to be some idol-worshiping cult? Was Rav Ovadia Yosef z'tl, the undisputed halachic authority of our generation, somehow misled, when he appeared with Rav Berland in public on two seperate occasions, that Rav Berland was really worshipping idols?
I mean, seriously? We're expected to take the opinion of the slander-spreading, strife-mongering Rabbi [NAME] (who I checked out very thoroughly now, and guess what? He doesn't even have smicha! He's a self-appointed 'rabbi' who spent a few years reading some gemara in Monsey and now he thinks he knows everything) - over the words of some of the biggest sages that ever lived?!
How can anyone with even half a brain cell begin to suggest such a thing? Oy, what a lowly generation we live in. Here are the quotes:
Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, author of "Chazon Ish" called Rebbe Nachman: "The light of lights of truth..." Rav Ben Tzion Apter said that here and there the Chazon Ish would speak to him about the strength and greatness of Rebbe Nachman and each time would say "tell over a teaching of the Rebbe."
Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Alter, the Admor from Ger, after finishing up the Seder on Pesach eve would learn from Likutey Moharan. Rabbi Aharon of Belz: "The level of this book (Likutey Moharan) is indeed very great...Breslover Chassidim are sincere Jews."
Rabbi Yitchak Gelbach was a student of the great Rav Elchonon Wasserman (a student of the Chofetz Chaim) and said that Rav Elchonon used to push his students to draw close to Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.
Rabbi Elya Lopian on Rebbe Nachman's books: "These are real books of ethics."
Rabbi Eliyahu Klatzkin of Lublin: "Any praise you praise Rebbe Nachman with is just the tip (of his full praise) because Rebbe Nachman’s level of wisdom is very high and limitless."
Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler, author of "Michtav M'Eliyahu", quotes from Rebbe Nachman in his books. In a letter to his children, he encouraged them to learn Breslov works in order to merit fear of Heaven.
Rabbi Eliezer Shulevitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Lomza: "Whoever is searching out the truth, eventually reaches Breslov".
Rabbi David Widenfeld, the Gaon of Tschebin: "Rebbe Nachman was the most brilliant of the Rebbe's".
The Admor, author of "Tzemach Tzedek": "By my father (Rabbi Chaim of Kosov, author of "Torat Chaim") the book Likutey Moharan never left the table."
Rabbi Chaim Shmulevitz, Rosh Yeshiva of Mir: "Through (learning) Likutey Moharan, the mind is opened." He also said "We work on trying to solve problems (in scripture) and they (Breslover Chassidim) work constantly on 'fear Hashem and love Him all your days.'"
Rabbi Elazar Shapiro of Munkatch, author of "Minchat Elazar": "When the whole world begins to be concerned with and learn 'Sipurey Ma'asiot' (Rebbe Nachman's Stories) - Mashiach will come." He requested that "Hishtapchut HaNefesh (Outpouring of the soul)" be constantly printed.
Rabbi Chaim Meir Hager of Viznitz, author of "Imrei Chaim", said that the book, Likutey Moharan, never left his table. Additionally, he said "this book (Sipurey Ma'asiot) belongs to the Kabbalah."
Rabbi Yehuda Leib, the Sfat Emet, on his death bed requested that 'Sippurey Ma'asiot' be read to him. He then said that the last story hints at the Geulah.
Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum of Satmar: "Rebbe Nachman saw in a vision all the problems this generation would encounter with faith...these days, one cannot be strenghted if not by these books because in them you find real faith." He also said: "You cannot be sincerely Jewish without learning the books of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov." & "The author of Likutey Moharan was completely pure and therefore existed by him the concept of 'and Yosef's brothers were jealous of him'." & "We can see that Rebbe Nachman has more holy presence (resting on him) than other Tzaddikim." Once on Shabbat, he said: " Who can strenghten us?! Rebbe Nachman can strengthen us in such a situation!"
Rabbi Yaakov Yitzchak, the Chozeh of Lublin: "Rebbe Nachman is the great light...a holy man...miracle worker of the generation." About Likutey Moharan: "Likutey Moharan speaks for itself...the words are true and straight. They don't need approval from anyone else."
Rabbi Yaakov Yisrael Kanievsky, the Steipler Gaon: "This book (Likutey Moharan) stirs me to fear of Heaven. And, I see that if there is a day that I don't learn this book, I feel lacking in Heavenly fear."
Rabbi Yitzchak Meir of Ger, author of "Chidushei HaRim", took 'Sippurey Ma'asiot' and studied it until he got to the story of 'The Seven Beggars', when he said "until this point, I understood something. From here on - I don't know anything anymore."
Rabbi Yisrael Abuchatzera: "The praised Tzaddikim will take out the Shechina from exile." The 'Baba Sali' also said that his son, Rabbi Meir Abuchatzera, appeared to him in a dream and said to his father: "all the Tzaddikim, here in Heaven, go to hear lessons from Rebbe Nachman."
Rabbi Meir Abuchatzera regularly had books of Rebbe Nachman on his desk. One time he gave his daughter 'Likutey Etzot' (Advice) and said: "Whenever you need advice with anything, look in this book."
Rabbi Tzvi Aryeh Malik, student of the great Maggid: "I investigated him and I did not find any (reason for) disagreement...according to my findings, we all have to be embarassed before him . To say "and he is wiser than all men" is not even the whole praise to say about him."
Rabbi Shalom Moskowitz of Shatz: "Every word which Rebbe Nachman uttered is the deepest of the deep...full of wisdom, ethics, wonderful and awesome advice for a person to fulfill his purpose in the world."
Rabbi Shlomo Mazvil told over that his saintly father came to him in a dream and said to him: "In the upper world, when a Breslover Chassid arrives - there is a huge uproar. They are very viewed with great importance..." He requested that his granddaughter be matched up with a Breslover Chassid.
See more here: http://www.breslev-midot.com/eng/hillulat_moharahn_2005.asp
When troubles strike, there’s a tendency – that we all have – to believe we don’t really deserve our fate, our circumstances, our troubles. That’s human nature, but it’s really not very helpful, because as long as we’re sitting there feeling like we don’t really deserve what’s going on, we are stuck in victim mode.
And victim mode is awful, for so many reasons, including the following:
But the point is this: feeling like a helpless victim keeps you stuck in a really bad place, makes you act in some very negative ways, and tends to ruin your life.
So then, what’s the answer? How do we get out of victim mode, while still accepting that objectively we’re going through some rough stuff, some tough times?
I learnt the answer to this from Rav Berland. A while back, I read a shiur of his where he was explaining that you can deal with anything, you can cope with anything, if you accept that on some level you definitely deserve it.
Again, the Rav has been through so much suffering, he’s talking from first-hand experience. As long as we think some mistake has been made, that it’s not fair, that what we’re experiencing is an enormous injustice, it’s so hard to stand up in the test.
As soon as we put our hands up and say “I’m guilty. I deserve this 100%. God is completely righteous, and it’s my own sins that are causing me these problems” strangely, things start to lighten up and you start to see a real light at the end of the tunnel.
I’ve been trying to work on this the last few weeks, as my whole apartment debacle has been unfolding. For as long as I felt it was undeserved, unjust, unfair, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and I was consumed by bad middot including anger, hatred and vengeance.
But at the beginning of last week, God had some mercy on me and reminded me about the Rav’s teaching, so I started trying to apply it.
“God, I’m not 100% sure why I deserve this, but I’m prepared to say that I’m certainly guilty of something that has led to this situation developing. I’d really like to get through this stage as fast as possible, so please show me what I need to make teshuva on, so things can start to improve and move forward.”
As soon as I said “I’m guilty” I started to feel better.
Then, the next part of the work unfolded: what bad middot, what bad behavior of mine has contributed to this mess? Because for sure, God isn’t just sending it stam to make my life miserable. There has to be something I’m doing that’s causing the problem, and once I figure out what it is, things will start to improve.
Again, this is the opposite from staying in angry, helpless victim mode and blaming everyone else for the problem. As soon as I started to take some spiritual responsibility for what is going on, I started feeling way more optimistic that this is all going to turn out for the good somehow.
Because God never punishes. He just educates.
So, I got back a few things, like the ‘yiyeh beseder’ tendency to let important details slide; and a certain greediness that convinced me that we’d be able to register the apartment properly, and easily legalise it’s illegal second storey, which would double its value over night; and a kind of false emuna that I could take impractical risks, and God would just always make it work out, because hey, I believe in miracles!
None of these things are hanging offences, it’s true, but as I noted in the last post, the huge financial disaster that developed was built on lots of people’s very minor character flaws.
The same thing happened when 10 teens died in the desert a few weeks’ ago. The same thing happens when families get ripped apart at the seams and plunged into the agony that is divorce. The same things happen when buildings go up in smoke because of bad cladding, or when poorly-engineered bridges collapse, or when drivers fall asleep at the wheel and then cause a huge accident.
Small flaws often add up to big consequences. God wants us to understand that, to acknowledge that, and to stop making excuses and justifying our bad behavior.
So to put this another way, I’m feeling so much happier, Baruch Hashem, merely as a function of putting my hand up, and saying “guilty as charged”. Sure, I could blame the lawyer, the estate agent, the bank, my husband.
But to do that would completely miss the point. God sent me these circumstances because He wants to me acknowledge my own part in how this mess got made. And as soon as I do that, the chaos will start to recede, the optimism will start to return, the din will start to lesson – and the good times will start to roll again very, very soon.
I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Uman over shabbat, and I’m so pleased I went. Last week, I was literally starting to feel like I was disintegrating, there was so much din in the air.
After Uman, I’ve got some energy and some clarity back, and I feel more like a human being again. Not that Uman was ‘easy’ – it’s never that, but it’s always worthwhile, as Rabbenu has a way of bringing things up to the surface that need acknowledging and resolving.
We took a red-eye to get there before Shabbat on Friday, so I fell asleep shortly after we checked in – and had one of the nastiest nightmares I’ve had in ages. I started dreaming the whole room was smoking and on fire, which meant I started screaming my head off – and my poor husband had to shake me awake.
This is maybe what happens when you’ve been watching Youtube videos of lava in Hawaii spurting 100s of feet into the sky. And that ‘event’ so isn’t finished yet, by any means. It’s probably only just beginning.
I went to the Kever, did some Tikkun Haklalis and prayed for various people, then got back to my strangely quiet hotel when I noticed something interesting: half the guests were deaf, and had come together as part of a group of deaf women from Israel.
So instead of shrieking, ululating and very loud statements of kappara aliy and chaim sheli, there was a lot of hand gestures and soft grunting noises going on in the lobby.
The women came from across the religious spectrum, and they were clearly having a whale of a time. Those deaf people ‘talk’ in a much more real way, these days, than most of the rest of us. They look into each other’s faces, they just don’t barge in with ‘clever comments’ (because no-one can hear them anyway) and they wait patiently for their turn to speak. I was extremely impressed.
Then came the Friday night meal, and another glorious sight: 50 deaf women wordlessly ‘singing’ Shalom Aleichem together in sign language. It was beautiful.
So, we ate, bentched, then went back to bed exhausted – and I had yet another bad dream.
This time, I was in Jerusalem trying to get Shabbat ready, when there was a flash flood and my car suddenly got swept out of the car park and down some hill towards the Al Aqsa mosque. I was standing there holding a salmon in my hands, unsure what to do next.
Again, I woke up in a bit of a panic – I mean, salmon is pretty expensive. I calmed down, gathered my wits about me, and realized that the toilet in the hotel room was running, and figured that might have contributed something to my dream. Then I got changed and headed off to the Kever.
I had some big insights there, even though I was so tired, spiritually and physically, I could barely open my mouth to pray. Sometimes, you just have to sit quietly and receive the information you’re being sent, and internalize the insights you’re being given as a free gift.
So that’s what I tried to do.
We had one other couple at our table, who clearly weren’t (yet…) married. The guy was a new baal teshuva, and he was trying to persuade his girlfriend of the deeper and more spiritual aspects of life.
At the next table sat a Chassidic family, be-strymelled and be-cloaked, straight out of Meah Shearim. Then there was the deaf community, and around another 10 families or groups of various sizes and appearance.
And that is really the magic, the miracle of Rebbe Nachman. That so many people from such different backgrounds can come together, and focus on what unites them, instead of what superficially divides them.
You only get that sort of tremendous unity, or achdut, going on by Rabbenu, although sometimes you can also find it by other big inclusive tzaddikim like the Rashbi in Meron, and Rav Berland.
I’ve noticed that so many of the people who are ‘anti’ Rebbe Nachman, and ‘anti’ Breslov are also the ones that cause so much strife and dissent amongst the Jewish people. They are the ones who spend an awful lot of time dissing and criticizing ‘the other’, and looking for other people’s flaws and defects to harp on and magnify.
No-one is interested in that stuff by Rabbenu, quite the opposite. In Uman, you get a small taste of the beauty that’s hidden in every Jewish soul, however ‘weird’ or different they may look from the outside. Including yours.
After someone has been to Uman, and seen how fervently all the blonde-haired ‘secular’ ladies in tight jeans and tattoos pray; or how the be-wigged anguished mother breaks into tears by the tomb; or how there is good and bad mixed up in every single one of us, the trouble-makers have to work so much harder to try to convince you that ‘the other’ is so bad, and so dangerous, and so different.
Maybe, that’s why the haters can’t stand Breslov and the real tzaddikim.
We got the red eye back to Israel, and I had my nightmare scenario on the plane: sat next to the fattest woman in the world, stuck in the middle seat while she blocked the aisle (and the toilet…). She promptly fell asleep, which means she spread over half my seat and I started to feel more than a little claustrophobic.
(My husband wanted a window seat, to make it easier to sleep. I acquiesced, as he’d let me go for the aisle on the flight in. I spent the next three hours fighting back the urge to wake him up as ‘punishment’.)
So, I’m exhausted. Every time I dropped off, the fat lady managed to flop an arm the size of a tree trunk onto my leg. She’d half wake up, fold it back over her three stomachs, then fall asleep and drop it back on me again. Like, 10 times a minute.
As I said, Uman always brings out what’s simmering underneath, so I realized a few things:
So, there’s a lot of work to be done before I’m all fixed up and ready to accept the Torah.
And only a week of the Omer to go!
So either Hashem has to cut me some slack here, or it’s going to be another wild week.
If you haven't had a look already, I just reviewed Rav Ofer Erez's newest book in English, From the Depths, over on the Jewish Book Review blog HERE.
That book helped me to come through the most difficult time in my life, a few years' back, and it's highly, highly recommended. It's not a long read, it's not complicated, it's written very simply, but it contains a bunch of deep information, so kindly given over, that will explain why sometimes our suffering is just something we have to go through for our spiritual tikkun, and not necessarily because there is something to 'fix' in this lifetime.
The 'fix' in those situations is to know that God still loves us, and that our suffering is being caused by unfinished business from a past life, and to maintain our emuna in His goodness and justness.
Often, so much easier said than done, especially when the carpet gets whipped out from under our feet.
So, check out my review HERE, the pop over to HERE to go buy the book.
The king’s viceroy came to him with a very worrying report: thanks to all the crop-spraying and GMO food being grown, within three months the whole population would suffer from (hopefully…) temporary brain damage, which would cause them to act insane.
“What should we do?” asked the viceroy. “Should we just top eating gluten altogether?” The king weighed the matter up carefully, then responded: “No. We’ll also have to eat that poisonous stuff and start acting like crazy people. But!” he continued. “We will have t-shirts printed up bearing the legend: ‘Remember, you are crazy.’ I will see your t-shirt, and remember that I’m nuts, and you will see mine, and do the same.”
And so it was agreed.
Four months’ later, the GMO and MSG and Round-up had done a great job of making everyone insane, so the king sent the viceroy on a mission to go from house to house, to distribute the millions of t-shirts they’d printed up with ‘Remember, you are crazy’ on them. As the viceroy had also gone nuts at this point, he thought it was a great idea.
He rolled up to the first house, rang the bell, and waited. Suddenly, three externally-mounted surveillance cameras swung round in his direction, and focused in, while a taut voice barked out through the intercom “What do you want?! Did the people of the Great Star send you?”
The viceroy cleared his throat, and replied: “I’m from the king. We’ve got a food supply problem that is sending us all crazy at the moment, and I’m trying to educate people about it. I’m also giving out these t-shirts.” The viceroy held one up to the nearest camera, which seemed to scan it carefully and nod.
“Listen, buddy, I’m fine, but my neighbor really needs to hear what you’re telling him. I’ve been warning him for years that the people from the Great Star are about to open up a vortex in the sky and suck everyone up over to a different dimension – and the guy can’t hear a word I’m saying! So try next door.”
Because the viceroy was a little crazy himself, he did as the man suggested.
He tramped up to the rhinestone-encrusted door, and rang the bell. It was opened by a woman in her 50s with dyed-blonde hair and an unfortunate habit of wearing too-tight black tank tops. “Yah?” she drawled out. “I’m from the king…” the viceroy began, but that’s as far as he got.
“Can’t be!” she cut him off. “The king lives here, and I’d know if you were working for us.” The viceroy was temporarily speechless, so the woman decided to prove her point. “Ellllvisssss!!!” she yelled behind her. “Come here a moment, honey, someone wants to see the king.”
An aging, overweight man with 10 rings on each hand and a huge, dyed-black quiff suddenly appeared behind her. “Elvis, honey, tell this guy who you are,” the blonde gatekeeper prompted. “I’m da king!” Elvis exclaimed.
“How can that be?!” the viceroy remonstrated. “Elvis died more than 30 years ago!” “Geez, you guys and your conspiracy theories…” the blonde rolled her eyes theatrically. “Elvis honey, you’re alive aren’t you?” The man grunted “Uhuh”, and went straight into a rendition of “You ain’t nothing but a hound-dog.”
Just then, the viceroy felt his phone vibrating – a message. He pulled it out and read: “Remember you are crazy, and so are they.” It was from the king. The viceroy mopped his face with his hanky, gosh, that was a close call. They were so convincing he’d got a little confused there for a moment.
Elvis and his sidekick didn’t want a t-shirt telling them they were crazy – because clearly, they weren’t – but they suggested that the viceroy try the guy next door, who had some very strange ideas about the Palestinians being real partners for peace.
Because the viceroy was a little crazy, he took their advice.
Sadly that guy was out flying kites over the Gaza fence, so the viceroy left a t-shirt in his mailbox, and continued on to the next house. There, the door was opened by a professorial looking gentleman in tan chinos and a tasteful, blue-tinted shirt. “Can I help you?” the professor replied.
The viceroy swallowed. Wow, this guy was so polite and ‘normal’ it was actually freaky. He explained about his mission, while the professor continued to listen intently, occasionally nodding. When the viceroy finished his tale, the professor invited the viceroy in, to discuss what they could actually do to spread more awareness of this problem.
Again, the viceroy swallowed nervously. This guy was acting so nice, it was really weird. “Do you mind if I ask Rita to join us?” the professor asked. The viceroy was meant to be guarding his eyes, but these sort of challenges unfortunately came with the job of trying to do hafetza. “Sure,” he muttered, “why not?”
As it turned out, the viceroy had nothing to worry about. “Rita” was a bearded, strapping 6ft 2, built like the proverbial brick house, who had a thing for twinsets and high heels. The viceroy’s eyes nearly fell out of his head. “Rita, this gentleman has just shared some very disturbing information with me, about the state of the nation’s mental health, and I’d appreciate your input.”
“I just knew something was up!” Rita responded warmly. “Last week, I saw someone walking down the street wearing a bright orange top with grey slacks! If that’s not a sign of global insanity, I don’t know what is!”
The viceroy fumbled for his hankie again. It had suddenly got pretty hot in the professor’s cosy kitchen. Suddenly, his phone rang: it was the king. “It’s the boss,” he mouthed to his hosts, “I have to take it, sorry!” The viceroy took the call outside, and the king kept is short and to the point.
“Don’t forget, everyone is crazy!” he reminded his loyal servant. “Give them a t-shirt and get the heck out of there. I’m having a lucid moment, and I’m starting to think it was a really bad idea to send you out on this mission.”
So the viceroy made his excuses, and left.
On the way home, because he was a little bit crazy himself, he decided to try one last time. He lifted his hand to knock on a door, when it suddenly opened by itself, and he found himself face-to-face with an obviously observant Jew.
“I know why you’re here,” the Jew observed drily. “And I know what you want.” Because the viceroy was crazy, he believed him. “How do you know?” he asked the Jew incredulously. The Jew took a step towards him and told him in a conspiratorial whisper: “My sofa told me! My sofa is one of the hidden lamed vav Tzaddikim, and whatever the sofa predicts, it always comes true!”
Wow, this was amazing. Talk about saving the best to last. “Can I speak to the sofa too?” The viceroy asked in awe. “Sure,” replied the Jew. “But please take your shoes off first.” The shoe-less viceroy shuffled into the salon, overcome by the huge honor he was being shown. “Ask the sofa anything you want!” the Jew prompted him, so pleased to have gained another convert to the cause.
“Honored sofa, what can I do to hasten the cause of good in the world, and to bring peace to all men?” The sofa answered: “Stop spending so much time reading all those horrible, slanderous stories online about the true Tzaddikim.”
The viceroy had been bending over reverentially, to hear the sofa’s answer, but at this he immediately snapped up straight and shook his head. “I may be crazy,” he told the Jew, “but that’s still the most insane thing I’ve heard all year.”
And with that, he left a t-shirt in the simple Jews hands, and headed back to the palace.
The following is translated and adapted from a remarkable little book in Hebrew called ‘No Hope’, which shares a number of true stories of chareidi and Chassidic men in Israel who fell into some serious tumah via the internet – but managed to get out again, with God’s help.
I’m bringing the following story here for a few different reasons, not least because it’s pertinent to the whole smear campaign that was – and sadly still is – being conducted against Rav Berland. Time and time again, if you scratch the surface of the people who are 'anti' Rav Berland, you'll find a whole bunch of spiritual tumah and ucky stuff.
A Zealot for Hashem
I’m an avreich from Bet Shemesh, a real zealot. One of those who goes around spray-painting graffiti on the posters they put up by the bus stops. I’m not going to get into all the details of my family background, but you should understand that I’m meant to be the ‘holiest’ type of person there is.
Because if I’m not so ‘holy’ myself, then why am I screaming so loudly about other people?!
I’m one of those that has ‘the haircut’ and the long black coat and the ginger beard and big glasses – one of those who is ‘disconnected’ from the world. Almost.
Today, after a long and exhausting process over a few years, I can see that the ‘war’ I was conducting against all the spiritual tumah (impurity) seems to have ignited that tumah inside of me. It’s like what one of the Rebbes always says, ‘the outside influences the inside’.
In a nutshell, here’s what happened: I managed to get hold of a second-hand tablet from a secular guy in Bet Shemesh, that he was practically giving away. I wanted it in order to type up all the newsletters and pashkivilim (the posters they put up on the walls in places like Meah Shearim) I was writing against the army draft, and against pritzut (immodest behavior), and a bunch of other things that you have to protest against.
I was also the guy who used to distribute all the stickers against using the internet on my street. And against the ‘chareidi-lite’ people. Against everyone…
And then one day, I found myself deep, deep inside all the tumah that I’d been arguing against, and demonstrating against, and distributing material against.
But I carried on distributing the posters against the internet, and against the army draft, even though I myself had somehow got drafted into the army of the Satan himself, deep in the filth of the internet.
At that time, I understood one thing: I was in some sort of ‘show’. And I had to continue acting my part, and to act it well, so that I wouldn’t lose everything. I didn’t want to be kicked out of my home and my community, so I played my part very well.
When I could no longer learn Torah, I’d just explain that I’d got a job sticking up posters in Bnei Brak, and like that I could waste a couple of weeks. And each time I’d find some new excuse to show them that I was still 100% with the program, and nothing at all had changed. But during that whole time, I couldn’t really think.
It was a joke to say I hadn’t changed. I didn’t know how to change. All I knew was how to try and change other people, and even that was pretend.
THE MOST WICKED PERSON ALIVE
I started to despise myself, and to scorn my daily mitzvoth. I felt like the most wicked person alive. Repulsive. Disgusting. I used to shout against the tumah-dik government in the demonstrations, but now on the inside, I felt like I was even more tumah-dik than they were.
One day, we got some new ‘stock’ in – a bunch of leaflets speaking out against the dangers of the internet. They wrote in a very stylized type of Hebrew, and all of us found it pretty hard going, but we felt it was still part of the struggle we were engaged in to fight the spiritual blemishes being caused by the new technology. So we distributed it.
I thought I should sit down and read it, and I found myself agreeing with every word (that I could understand). At the end of the leaflet, there was a number you could call to get through to the organisation’s helpline for people who’d been damaged by the internet, where you could speak to a psychologist who helped people with internet addictions.
I called them up, and after their initial evaluation of me, they put me in the group of people who had the most serious problems with internet addiction.
You could see that there were those who were addicted to the news, but that you could help them to get their ‘fix’ in a different way. Then, there were those who were addicted to searching for information, or who were addicted to reacting to or commenting on posts, and they needed a different type of treatment.
And me? I was in the group who were only interested in one thing. News? I’d already had enough of that to last me a lifetime. I attended all the demonstrations, what hadn’t I heard, already? The internet interested me for one thing, and one thing only: lust. And the most disgraceful type imaginable.
There were 25 men in this group, and we were all ashamed of our deeds, and how many aveirot (transgressions) we were involved in. But understanding that we were all trapped in the mud also meant that we stopped being so ashamed in front of each other.
I don’t want to badmouth them, because I know it’s really not nice. From their side, they really did make the maximum efforts in the way they believed would help. But really… their maximum didn’t really get anywhere for me. One of the friends who I met there told me that from the time he joined that group, he ended up sinking even further into the dirt. I don’t want to say the same about myself, but you can understand for yourselves that I didn’t want to stay with that group any longer.
A 'sickness' that has no cure?
Something that one of the group’s guides had said, in a moment of candour, was that we were dealing with a sickness that apparently had no cure.
I’d made every effort, and now he was telling me that it was impossible to change…which meant that it really wasn’t my fault. That’s how I quieted down my conscience, and continued acting in the ‘show’.
ROOT OUT THE EVIL IN YOUR MIDST
A couple of months earlier, there’d been a big meeting at the house of one of the biggest zealots in Bet Shemesh, who was one of my good friends. At that meeting he’d explained to our group of avreichim that the work of the moment was to publicise a new pamphlet called: ‘Root out the evil in your midst’, which contained a number of writings on the rumours surrounding one of the rabbis in Jerusalem.
Honestly, I got a bit scared. I’d heard about this Rav for years, and I knew that he was a big tzaddik. Yes, people were whispering about him, but we knew that these rumours were coming from the police and the Zionists, so I was sure that they were the opposite of the truth….We knew everything was a bluff.
When I actually tried to talk to one of the meetings organisers about what was going on, he didn’t want to speak to me. He just thrust a pamphlet at me and told me ‘read this!’
The pamphlet was full of blasphemous statements from the chareidim who were against this Rav, interspersed with ‘quotations’ from a great many of the gedolei hador, from every stream of the chareidi world. I felt that there wasn’t any truth to these ‘quotations’, inasmuch as this was never the way of our Jewish leaders and tsaddikim, to lower themselves to use such coarse language like this.
They didn’t speak this way about the non-Jews, so they certainly wouldn’t talk this way about a rabbi! Who even if he had sinned, he’d certainly already made teshuva for it.
But at that stage, my life was just one big performance, so I felt that I was obliged to trample his name publicly. Maybe somehow, that would help me to quiet my own conscience.
I felt that if I could publicise that this Rav was ‘sinning’, that would somehow allow me to continue sinning myself, in secret, because I’d be proving to everyone that I belonged to the group that was ‘whiter than white’. God should have mercy.
So that same evening, we left in the minivan heading out to Jerusalem, and we distributed that pamphlet in every synagogue we could, but especially around Meah Shearim and Geula. The following day, we drove out to Beitar Illit, to Modiin Illit and to Bnei Brak, before returning home that evening.
The ‘vibe’ in the minivan was very strange. Usually, whenever we went out distributing our material, whatever it was, the atmosphere would be electric. But over these last couple of days, the atmosphere had been very depressed.
What was even more surprising is that this shlichut should have been the most fulfilling and happy. Our economic situation was nothing to write home about, I knew that about myself and also about my friends. Usually, we’d be paid 50 shekels or 100 shekels a night – and the atmosphere would be electric.
For this job, every avreich had received 300 shekels a night, in cash.
But instead of dancing the whole way and feeling happy, there was a very heavy feeling in the air. I felt like I had nothing to lose, so I asked one of the other avreichim if he was feeling the same way, and he admitted that from the day he’d started this particular job, there hadn’t been a single day where he hadn’t been experiencing something very hard at home.
To sum it up, the quiet in the van was because everyone was deeply sunk into their own sad feelings and thoughts.
A ZEALOT COMES CLEAN
That same night, I got a pamphlet in the mail that had been written by one of the zealots who’d helped to write the pamphlet that we’d been distributing. He wrote that he was making teshuva for his evil acts, and that he wanted to publicise soon the whole story of how they’d spun a whole bunch of rumours in order to achieve a certain end – and to make an awful lot of money.
I knew this man, and I knew his address, so I read his pamphlet until three in the morning. I was completely shocked.
I started to understand that I’d got mixed up in a very complicated story, and that all of the money that I’d received to distribute that pamphlet was forbidden money, because it was coming from a very spiritually impure place. That feeling exploded in my heart with the force of an atom bomb.
I suddenly started to feel that I was in a very special test, and I had to go and clarify what the truth really was. This is something that I’d never, ever felt before. I’d always just kept myself busy with the external wrappings.
I just shouted at whatever they’d ‘clarified for me’ that I need to go and shout at. That was the tradition I’d received from my rabbis.
And suddenly, I found myself standing before a huge question mark: Who was I, really??? What was I really doing down here in the world??? What sort of wickedness were people prepared to perpetuate in the world???
And why did I have to be a part of it?
I stayed awake to the vatikin (dawn) minyan, prayed shacharit, then took the bus to Modiin Illit.
The previous night, we’d distributed the pamphlets there, and I felt the need to return there, even though I needed to take two buses to get there, first from Bet Shemesh to Jerusalem, and then from Jerusalem to Brachfeld. I wanted to go and collect up the pamphlets, and burn them.
In one of the synagogues there, I just told someone there about what the pamphlets were really saying, then ran out… All my zealotry seemed to have left me. I was alone, without my friends, there was no ‘action’ pumping me up. But I felt that inside myself, I was still doing ‘root out the evil from your midst’.
And while I was doing that, I was uncovering another part, and another part, of the evil that was actually inside of me.
And so Hashem’s mercy started to shine on me, and only thanks to that, my heart started to open, and I could finally start to understand what I’m about to tell you. I promise you that if this had happened a week ago, I wouldn’t even have noticed.
But when the heart breaks, and is opened, then a small entrance is made and the change can occur.
GOD CREATED THIS, AND THAT IN OPPOSITION
In one of the synagogues [in Modiin Illit], I saw a book which contained some of the shiurim of this self-same Rav for Jerusalem. Next to the book, there was a pile of the pamphlets that I’d dumped there yesterday – talking against this same Rav…
God created this, and that in opposition.
It was miracle that I found both together, and I hoped that maybe I’d merited that no-one had actually opened the pamphlets and read them, in the meantime. The book had been placed mamash next to the pamphlets, maybe it had even been there yesterday night, already, except that yesterday I hadn’t seen anything.
My eyes had still been all spiritually-filthy, and my soul all dried out. But my heart was now newly-opened, and my soul renewed with the dew of teshuva.
I felt so ashamed, there. I opened the book, and this is a little of what I read:
“There are 10 klipot (husks of evil) against every single holy action, every time you want to guard your eyes, there are 10 klipot [against you]. A man closes his eyes – and then they spring open again. He shuts them – and again they spring open. This happens a million times a day, until one day, he merits to guard his eyes.
“Don’t despair! Even if you fall a billion times – just get up a billion-and-one times! This is our work.”
That same day, I threw my computer in the further trash bin that I could find away from my home in Bet Shemesh, and started work, with God’s kindness, on the real job of ‘uprooting the evil from your midst’.
THE YETZER HARA BURNS A MAN UP
Today, there is a yetzer hara (evil inclination) which is like a billion fires. This burns a man up. This drives a man crazy. A man doesn’t know what to do, he’s going completely crazy from his yetzer hara.
But at the same time, a person can always find within himself a spark of intelligence. Even with all his lusts, and all his internal fires, and all of his sins, and all of his falls, the ‘point of the crown’ always exists.
This matter was clarified by the Arizal. [He explained] that even if all the fires of lust in the world are burning a person up, they burned up his wisdom, they burned up his understanding, they burned up his daat (spiritual insight), his chesed, gevurah and tiferet, everything’s got burnt up, the ‘point of the crown’, or keter, always remains.
As this point of the crown will continue to send arrows into his heart – what are you doing?! Where are you headed?! Why are you burning up your whole brain?! The point of the crown remains, in every circumstance.
And this is what’s written in the holy books, that all the enjoyment of a Jewish soul, all the yearning of a Jewish soul, even if he’s the biggest evildoer, the biggest crook, he’s still always just looking to be gathered back to Hashem.
The yearning for Hashem always renews itself.
Where are the people who are persecuting Rav Berland - apparently poor 'rabbis' from Meah Shearim - getting the hundreds of thousands of shekels required to run their campaign against him?
Over the years, they've taken out full-page ads in newspapers, hired massive billboards in chareidi cities, printed and distributed hundreds of thousands of smearing pamphlets and leaflets, run slanderous websites churning out libels and forged videos 24/7 and run a smearing media campaign worthy of the KGB.
All of this takes a huge amount of money.
Who is funding them?
Thursday evening, when the news of the 10 teenagers who lost their life in the crazy flash-flooding hit Israel, my two teenage girls were in very somber moods.
One was feeling pretty scared about even going outside, as clearly, the world had just got pretty dangerous if even a bit of rain could end up killing a minyan of Jews. The other one was deeply sad about what had just occurred – both for the loss of life, but more for the outpouring of sinat chinam, or baseless hatred, that occurred straight after it.
The media initially got the details of the tragedy wrong, and reported that the dead teens were boys – yeshiva students - from the Har Etzion Yeshiva in Gush Etzion. That lead to an outpouring of disgusting comments on websites like Ha’aretz and elsewhere, as ‘enlightened leftists’ rushed to try to pour salt on the wound.
It was so disgusting, that the externally secular journalist Ivgeny Zarubinski took a screen shot of the comments (below), and posted it up on his Facebook page decrying the horrible hatred.
My daughter showed me what he’d written, and told me her friends were also so upset by all the sinat chinam flowing around such a tragedy.
I told her the way to fight this is person by person – i.e. by uprooting all these feelings of hate for other Jews from within ourselves. Because while it’s nice to tell ourselves that only loony-left Ha’aretz readers have a problem with awful sinat chinam, even a quick glance at so many apparently ‘orthodox’ blogs and websites tell a very different story.
Immediately after the event, one popular ‘orthodox’ blog had a post up naming and shaming a really awful Haaretz reporter’s coverage of the tragedy, that ended with this barb:
[The reporter] need not be concerned about one thing. When he finally leaves this world, Israeli TV won't spend more than a few seconds noting his passing.
Why write this? It’s just promoting sinat chinam, and lashon hara. How is that meant to help anyone?
Then, the first commenter on that post said:
Hope his daughter dies in a flashflood.
Which is just as obscene and hateful a comment as you’d find anywhere on Ha’aretz.
Is this really how orthodox Jews should be behaving?
Is this really the sort of discussions we should be promoting on our websites, and the sort of comments we should be posting up?
Over on another very popular ‘orthodox’ website, I found this recent example (sadly there were SO many to choose from…) of hateful speech and sinat chinam against other Jews, written by the blog’s owner:
The Kipa Seruga is the emblematic identifier of Religious Zionist Jews. That is the kind of Kipa warn by most settlers, including these disgusting ‘Hilltop’ animals pretending to be human.
I don’t read this blog, thank God, but even a quick glance through the posts and the comments showed that it is stacked to the gills with lashon hara, hatred, ignorance of other Jewish traditions and beliefs, particularly in the charedi world, and an overwhelming arrogance and belief in the rightness of their own opinions, regardless of how so much of what is written flies completely in the face of Torah law.
And this is apparently one of the most ‘popular’ blogs in the ‘orthodox’ Jewish world, God help us.
The sinat chinam and lashon hara is flowing all over the orthodox internet, and every time we read these articles, link to them, or give their authors any space or respect, we are basically injecting ourselves with more poison against other Jews, delaying the geula, and bringing more tragedies down on ourselves.
And so much of this horrible hatred is happening unperceived, as it’s being tagged as ‘interesting debate’ or ‘fearlessly discussing controversial topics’ – because then, apparently, it’s OK to spread your hatred of other Jews far and wide.
As long as you can claim you’re only interested in the truth, it’s OK to call Breslov ‘idol worship’, or call Chabad ‘Jewish Replacement Theology’, and to speak awful lashon hara about some of the leading sages in the Jewish world, referring to them as ‘am ha aretz’ who ‘teach childish drivel’ and ‘the Torah of fools’, God forbid.
The hatred that is delaying the geula isn’t just lurking on the pages of Ha’Aretz and Ynet.
It’s also in our own hearts. And our own families. And our own communities.
And our own blogs.
Why did so many of us want to believe that most other Jews were 'evil' Erev Rav?
I was pondering why so many 'frum' people – including me – warmed to the messages coming out of the autistics that most Jews today are a sort of sub-class, sub-Jew called the ‘Erev Rav’.
Why did so many of us want to believe their messages that it’s a mitzvah to hate other Jews, and that it’s a good thing to want to see whole communities of people destroyed en masse?
How could we fall for such evil ideas? How could we believe for a moment that God would close the door to teshuva for anyone, and make it impossible for anyone to come back to him?!
God wants Jews to return back in teshuva, He doesn’t want Jews dead in their millions, God forbid. If people don’t make teshuva, it’s true that this worse-case scenario could still happen, God forbid – but it’s not at all what God wants!!
But when frum Jews sit there for day after day, and year after year, reading blogs telling them that:
Tel Aviv isn't Israel, it's not Israel at all, and also Haifa - not Israel.
Or reading things that conclude that it’s a ‘duty and a commandment’ to hate your fellow Jew, like this:
G-d established a time and place for love and for hate, and in the right time and place, each is a duty and a commandment. The Torah never contained, and never will contain, a concept of “groundless love”, just as the Torah absolutely rejects the concept of “groundless hate”.
Then we start to get the answer. We slowly but surely brainwashed ourselves into believing that black is white and that good is evil, and filled ourselves up with self-righteous anger and hatred and arrogance – and so many other really bad middot – that completely blinded us to our own part in perpetuating the ongoing suffering and the exile of the Jewish people.
In this shiur by Rav Ofer Erez (with full English subtitles) on how to fix baseless hatred, you can see a very complete refutation of this statement that ‘the Torah never contained, and never will contain, a concept of ‘groundless love’, that brings a number of sources across the Gemara and the Torah.
So-called ‘groundless love’ is the only antidote for sinat chinam, and the only way we’re going to get geula the sweet way.
Again, that doesn’t mean that we ‘love’ evil actions and accept them. Rav Ofer explains very, very clearly, that we must continue to demonstrate against evil ACTIONS, and that we can and should hate evil ACTIONS.
But it’s an enormous mistake to say a Jew is fundamentally EVIL. Or fundamentally un-saveable. Or fundamentally ‘Erev Rav’ and unable to make teshuva and return to God.
I’m as upset as the next person when I hear people call chareidi Jews things like ‘leeches and parasites’. I’m also upset when people call hill-top youth ‘animals’. I’m also upset when people say disgusting things about dati leumi yeshiva students who they mistakenly thought died in a terrible tragedy. I’m also upset when so-called ‘rabbis’ mis-characterise and slander whole segments of committed, Chassidic Jews simply from their own ignorance of deeper Jewish concepts and ideas.
But I’m also upset when people state that Tel Aviv is not really part of Israel. Or when they state that most secular Jews are ‘Erev Rav’. Or when they write awful lashon hara and evil speech, condemning and criticizing everyone else who happens to be different from them just so they can feel like they are superior and ‘the winners’.
If I’ve learnt one thing from my kids, is that they won’t let our generation’s sinat chinam pass unchallenged. My daughter saw me looking askance at the bald, kippa-less head of the obviously Russian Ivgeny Zarubinski, and took me to task for the obvious distaste I must have showed that she’d been reading stuff from someone like him.
“Ima, he’s really nice. He writes really nice things about Jews,” she gently upbraided me.
And as usual, she was so right.
It’s not how the person looks, or what image they’re trying to portray to the rest of the world about how righteous and how frum they really are that counts, it’s what they’re saying, and thinking and doing that really matters.
Ivgeny’s post inspired my daughter (and me…) to make some serious teshuva about our own problems with sinat chinam. Other posts from apparently ‘orthodox’ bloggers frequently just inspire more hatred, more poisonous comments, more harsh judgment, and more lashon hara.
So now you tell me: who’s doing more to hasten the geula, or slow it down?