It’s not that I thought they were wrong, God forbid, or that the advice in them wasn’t sound, because I’d already seen on so many fronts how so much of what Rav Arush has taught me has stood me in such good stead. Garden of Education transformed my relationship with my kids in a fundamental way; Garden of Healing was the first time I saw a properly ‘frum’ Rav clearly set out the clear links between lifestyle choices and physical and mental illnesses, in modern times; and even one of his newest books in Hebrew, ‘Successful Kids’ made a huge impact on how much I’ve been praying on my kids, and I saw some fast, tangible turn-arounds, as a result.
But we went through such a tough patch, that some small, heretical part of me started to doubt that all of what I’d been reading in Rav Arush’s books really worked, at least, for me and my life. I mean, I’ve been doing an hour a day of hitbodedut for years now and I’ve done more six hours than I can count. Before we moved to Jerusalem, I did a six hour stint once a week for months, in the merit of being able to afford to buy our own home in the holy city.
The owner of the flat we put an offer on decided to double its price to more than 4 million shekels overnight, and then very shortly after that our finances fell even further down a hole. To crown the indignity, my husband had been doing tons of six hour stints in the merit of us having a good income, so it looked like we’d been refused on both counts.
Strange to say, I still try to do six hours once a week, as I actually really enjoy it and I think it’s probably the only thing keeping me sane. But the link between ‘six hours’ and ‘getting your prayers answered’ definitely got broken last year, which created a small suspicion in my heart that not everything being taught by Rav Arush actually worked in the ‘real world’.
Fast-forward to Shabbat, when my husband brought home a copy of the Rav’s latest book in Hebrew, which you could paraphrase as: ‘I said thanks, and I saw miracles’. It’s a collection of 190 true miracle stories that happened to real people who followed the Rav’s advice. To be honest, my heart sank a little when I saw it. I mean, great that all these miracles are happening for everyone else, but given my own experiences, I felt like I was going to give this latest book a wide berth.
So I’m there, doing hitbodedut (personal prayer) next to a picture of Rav Arush on my wall, when I got the distinct impression that the Rav was telling me I should go and pick up his new book. To be honest (again…) I didn’t want to – so we got into quite an argument in my head, and I actually told the Rav that I was feeling quite cynical about ‘miracles’ and ‘saying thank you’ at the moment.
Long story short: I lost the argument, and went to open the book. I opened it randomly at story 120, which was called: Advice on how to really be happy. What can I tell you? It was spot on. So then, I started reading the book, and I quickly hit a true story that really resonated with me.
A man wrote to the Rav explaining that he’d lost his faith in the Rav’s teachings after watching a close relative of his faithfully say ‘thanks’ for her difficult marriage, only to end up having to go through a wrenching divorce that left her alone with a bunch of children to raise.
While the woman kept her emuna, her relative didn’t, and it led to quite a drop in his observance. Then a few months later, came the turnaround: the woman got remarried to a single man who had an amazing character and loved her children, and had rebuilt her home into a true ‘beit ne’eman’. She was happier than she’d ever been, married to a man who truly adored her.
The relative wrote to Rav Arush to request his forgiveness for doubting his advice. The Rav responded that the main problem was that the relative had lacked belief in God’s goodness, and thought that things should have turned out the way he thought they should, when God had a different, but better outcome in mind.
The first thing I did when I read that is ask Rav Arush for forgiveness (I talk to his picture, and let me tell you it’s a whole lot easier than trying to arrange an actual meeting). Then, I decided to do a six hour ‘only thank you’ session motzash, because I know I’ve had a lot of axes to grind about how my move to Jerusalem turned out.
I’ll tell you what I learned in the next post.