One of the more perplexing phenomenon that I’ve witnessed time and time again is how you can get a truly amazing, big, holy Tzaddik - the real deal, 100% - but they’ll be surrounded by some of the most mentally-ill, disturbed characters you’re ever likely to meet.
This has happened so many times, in so many different situations, and with so many different Tzaddikim, that a couple of years’ back I realized it must be some sort of ‘spiritual rule’. In fact, the bigger the Tzaddik, the crazier so many of the people on the inside of his ‘inner circle’.
Then I learned that: ‘The wicked surround the tzaddik’.
Aha! I wasn’t going bonkers. I knew there must be something ‘deep’ going on here, because if someone on the low level of yours truly can figure out that these people are nasty and mentally ill, surely huge Tzaddikim - who can see right through a person, to the innermost recesses of their soul - couldn’t be fooled so easily?!
This is not a ‘theoretical’ discussion, at least, not for me. As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, my husband and I got burned by one ‘false’, mentally-ill spiritual guide after another, all of who came with impeccable credentials.
They looked the part (from a distance…); they talked the part (as long as you kept the conversation short, felt hugely honored for having the ‘privilege’ of being spoken to, and didn’t do anything else expect stroke their massive egos…); and most disturbing of all, they came with a patina of having been ‘pre-approved’ as a kosher, upright person by their (highly publicized…) associations with bona fide Tzaddikim.
After the last one exploded in our faces a few years' ago, leaving me with a ginormous crisis of faith that very nearly took me out, I decided I had to go and find out why the tzaddikim in the middle of the circle of madness hadn’t done more to warn me and protect me from these dangerous, mentally-ill, spiritually-corrupt individuals.
The discussion (in my hitbodedut…) went something like this: “Do you know how bad, spiritually, these people really are?” They did. “Do you know how much suffering they caused me and my family, and how they nearly destroyed my faith in Hashem and his true Tzaddikim?” They did. “So, then why didn’t you stop them? Why are still keeping them so close? Why are you allowing them to continue to fool people, and to hurt them?”
The answers I got back were truly enlightening, and I’m sharing them with you here, dear reader, in case they can help you, too.
The true Tzaddikim know 100% about just how bad their mentally-ill ‘circle’ is. So why are they keeping them around? There’s a few answers:
1. Firstly, some of the crazies are actually useful, as long as you don’t get too close to them. As we said, from a distance they play the part of a pious, upright Jew very well, and as long as you’re only dealing with them ‘at a distance’, they can’t do you a lot of harm, and they’re also probably giving you more ‘straight’ information and advice then many other people today, by sheer dent of the fact that they are at least connected to real Tzaddikim.The problem comes when people take them too seriously, and actually believe that these people are ‘tzaddikim’ in their own right, but that’s not a problem for most of the people out there today.
2. If these people weren’t ‘encircling’ the Tzaddikim, they’d be out there doing much more damage to mankind. The point here is that these people are spiritually-corrupt, mentally ill, and (usually…) ruthlessly ambitious. The Tzaddik acts as a kind of ‘brake’ on their behavior, so at least it won’t go too far.
3. Whatever happened to me and my husband, we were meant to go through it as part of our Tikkun, or spiritual rectification. If it hadn’t been those particular nasty people who caused us so many difficulties, it would have been others. But it had to happen, and the fact that it happened ‘under the aegis’ of the bona fide Tzaddikim meant that we also enjoyed their spiritual protection to pull us through the experience in one piece.
4. The Tzaddikim themselves suffer incredibly from having to keep these people happy. The first people the crazies mistreat and cause problems for are the Tzaddikim they’re encircling. They can’t help it: as we noted, they’re mentally ill. They’ll keep a limit on their bad behavior and lack of respect towards the Tzaddikim in public, but in private they yell at them, rant at them, make ridiculous demands of them, treat them like ‘mates’, instead of holy Tzaddikim, and generally try to control them and manipulate them in a million different ways.
Now, I’m no Tzaddik. If I had to spend any time around such spiritually-corrupt, horrible people like this, I’d vomit. But our Tzaddikim are even more atuned to evil and corruption, and even more affected by it. Which means that it’s a huge, enormous effort of will for them to keep these people in their inner circle, and to not boot them out. Which brings us to our next point:
5. The Tzaddikim keep these people close, because that’s what God wants. God wants these mentally-ill individuals to have the very best chance of ultimately making Teshuva, so he sticks a huge Tzaddik in front of their face to show them how they should really be acting, in the hopes that one day, the lesson will be learned. (God is clearly a huge optimist.)
The true Tzaddikim want to give God what He wants, even when it entails huge suffering and self-nullification on their behalf. Even if it means they end up being apparently ‘controlled’, at least on some level, by the mentally-ill people they’re surrounded by. For as long as God wants that to be happening, the Tzaddikim will continue to give it to Him.
As noted above, I’m SOOOO not a Tzaddik. We can’t understand the level of self-control and self-nullification (or bitul) to God’s will these people have. If it was us, we’d complain! We’d clean house! We’d get rid of all these disgusting people who are making our lives miserable and tarnishing our reputations in 10 seconds! But the Tzaddikim aren’t like us - they’re Tzaddikim!
Time and again, I keep telling people that without doing regular hitbodedut (personal prayer), you have no chance of really understanding what’s going on today. Without my hitbodedut discussion, I would have harbored a huge grudge against the ‘tzaddikim’ that had apparently closed their eyes to the terrible spiritual corruption in their midst.
I would have got so self-righteous, judgmental and slanderous, God forbid.
With hitbodedut, it’s still been a real struggle to understand what’s going on (at least enough to have peace of mind…) But eventually, I got there. Thank God, I didn’t shoot my mouth off until God showed me what was really happening! Thank God, I didn’t rush to attack holy Tzaddikim, just because they’re surrounded by some very difficult, nasty people!
Thank God, that even though I was sorely tempted to ‘name and shame’ the individuals involved, I’ve kept my mouth shut. Sure, I hate what they’re up to. Sure, I still wish that they will be unmasked, so that other people won’t be hurt by them the way I got hurt. But God knows what He’s doing, the true Tzaddikim know what they’re doing, and when all is said and done, I really no nothing at all.
The last piece of good that came out of all this stuff is that I turned a lot of my insights and experiences into my book, Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav. While I can’t tell people WHO the crazies are, I can still describe how they act, so you’ll hopefully be able to work it out for yourselves. So do yourself a favor, and get the book HERE. It’s the best 99 cents you’ll ever spend.