Every now and then, I get the urge to run away.
To just drop all the ‘grind’, all the responsibility, all the annoying people, upsetting circumstances, arguments, scandals and chores, and to just run away.
People do this all the time.
Some people escape down the neck of a bottle of red, others go up in a puff of illegal smoke, or down the hatch with completely legal prescription meds. Still others chant themselves into an absence of feeling, or run themselves into a high, or work themselves into a place of oblivion, or amateurly act like nothing’s really going wrong under the surface.
And then, there’s always the escaping from self that comes from watching Netflix and Youtube, or surfing Facebook, or diving into the pages of a fiction.
Sadly for me, I don’t do any of these things (not including Mr MMB333, who I think it’s fair to say doesn’t exactly count.)
So then what?
How do I run way from all the arguments, injustices, people telling lies to the world and most of all to themselves? How do I find that space, that place, where I can finally just stop worrying about the evil that’s eating up the world, and just see the good? How can I get away from all the baggage I still seem to be dragging along within myself?
I’m stuck wishing I could be a little more ‘normal’ and a little less weird again, even though barely a week goes by without some other corner of neighborhood ‘normal’ exploding.
Last week, it was another couple we used to be close to who recently divorced. This week, it’s another argument with a good friend who is seriously losing her marbles and living in a fantasy land that I doubt will last much longer than the end of the month, when all the credit extended finally and completely runs out and the bailiffs come knocking.
The evidence is everywhere:
For as long as we don’t acknowledge our own problems, our own issues, all the lies we’re choosing to tell ourselves, all the people we’re actually hurting with our behavior, nothing can really change, transform or improve.
But I know, this is not the normal approach to life.
The normal approach to life is to strive after nice-looking houses, and fancy cars, and expensive holidays, and stunning yom tov tables and outfits, and to try to fit a few mitzvahs and a bit of Torah learning in around all that important stuff.
Working on our own bad middot is simply weird. Admitting our own errors is unthinkable. Talking to God regularly is something only eccentrically strange people do. Trying to peek past all the very ‘normal’ lies we’re all telling ourselves about how things really work in the world, and how much responsibility we actually bear for our own misfortunes, is just abnormal.
I know that, I really do.
And yet, I can’t seem to get more ‘normal’, hard as I try.
Which is when I really want to run away, because maybe in that different place, I’ll finally find others who are also strange.
Someone calling themselves ‘A. Zintzheim’ – because if I’ve learnt one thing about these self-righteous anti-Berland gossip mavens, it’s that they never use their real names when trying to castigate me over the internet – left a comment on THIS post saying the following:
The video you have posted here is highly misleading. If you look at the longer video from which your "fabricated" video is taken, it is clear that the audio and video are not intended to be related to each other. Indeed, part of the video is just shots of R' Berland hiding under his tallis in court. Source is here:
I have to admit, I had no idea what they were actually trying to say, given that the post on the Channel Two site is entitled: הווידוי של ברלנד: "אנסתי אותה" – “Video of [Rav] Berland: I r**** her!”
So I went back to them asking them for clarification, and I got this back:
Your attempt was to show the movie was a fabrication consisted of the following steps:
(I distinguish here between "audio", "video", and a "movie" - the combination of audio and video)
1. Assume that the audio (and sub-titles) in the movie corresponded to the actual video in the movie.
2. Show that the original video for the movie in question actually corresponded to a different, non-incriminating audio.
I agree with your point #2, but your assumption in point #1 is false. The movie I linked to was clearly the source for your movie, yet it is clear from watching that movie that there is not intended to be any correlation between the audio and the video tracks in the movie. Thus your movie completely fails to demonstrate any "fabrication".
Which showed me two things:
Let’s start with the faked video / audio, which I’m reposting here so you can compare and contrast the lurid claims about it with the truth. Here’s some of the headlines – that are still up on the internet – from that time (in the interests of modesty, I’m starring out words that none of us need to be reading:)
Jul 27, 2016 - Years-old footage released of newly extradited Eliezer Berland shows him explaining how he forced a married woman into s**.
Well, this says it all, doesn’t it! Read this headline from the Times of Israel and you have the whole picture. Except….first it was badly FAKED audio from Y.T.C., and NOT a video, and everyone knows that faking audio (especially as badly as this was faked) is ridiculously easy.
Secondly, Rav Berland was never ‘extradited’ from South Africa, he made a voluntary agreement to return to Israel to clear his name. Third of all, even the faked audio doesn’t actually say what these lurid headlines are claiming.
Fourthly, the Rav’s opponents never even tried to admit this ‘evidence’ into court because it was so clearly faked. In that same article, Moshe Nussbaum of Channel 2 (the same Moshe Nussbaum that Netanyahu recently said on social media lies to the Israeli people every single night) – says that:
In spite of what was heard in the Rav's recording, there is a problem in accusing the rabbi of committing rape offenses. In the framework of the request to extradite the rabbi to Israel after he was abroad, the State Attorney's Office stated that he is only responsible for offenses of indecent assault and harassment, and that the indictment must rely solely on the request for extradition. Rabbi Berland cannot be accused of rape.
Do you see how cleverly these journalists hide the truth from their readers in plain view? The Rav can’t be accused of r*** – because there is absolutely no evidence and the State knows that, and Moshe Nussbaum and Channel 2 also knows that! But that’s not going to stop them running false stories and headlines claiming to have video-taped confessions.
While we’re on the subject, all the prosecution could claim (and what the Rav was forced to ‘admit’ to, in order to be released for treatment for his life-threatening cancer that subsequently required him to have a kidney and part of his colon removed) was two minor counts of ‘inappropriate touching’ and one count of sending people out to ‘assault’ the State’s Witness back in 2013, before he’d even gone public with his claims and long before his wife started telling her own fake story.
There is so much to say about how these claims were also 100% deliberately falsified by the police, the media and the Rav’s persecutors too, but you’ll have to read Volume II of One in a Generation for more details on that.
Let’s fast-forward two years, and another ‘video story’ about Rav Berland surfaces, with more breathless headlines:
Shocking Video Of Rabbi Berland Surfaces; Followers Defend It As ...
https://www.theyeshivaworld.com › Headlines & Breaking News
Feb 4, 2018 - Home Headlines & Breaking News Shocking Video Of Rabbi Berland Surfaces; Followers Defend It As 'Miraculous Healing. ... On Sunday morning a shocking video went viral on social media that depicted Rabbi Eliezer Berland conducting, what appears to be an act that goes against all the teachings of ...
Again, this says it all doesn’t it! Never mind that Klara Hammer had uncurable throat cancer which disappeared after the Rav touched her throat. That’s a small detail that must be mocked and overlooked, because the point they are trying to make is that Rav Berland is ‘committing acts that go against all the teachings of the Torah’.
(You can see the full story behind Klara Hammer’s miracle HERE).
Yeshiva news loves video stories about Rav Berland and his students. Last year, they ran this one:
SHOCKING VIDEO: Breslov Mashpia HaRav Moshe Kramer Attacked ...
https://www.theyeshivaworld.com › Headlines & Breaking News
Feb 5, 2017 - The followers of Rabbi Eliezer Berland who was convicted of offenses have taken to attack his opponents. In the opening scene, a prominent Mashpia who dared to speak against Rabbi Berland was attacked violently. In the second you see followers of rabbi Berland covering their heads with Taleisim ) as ...
There was just a small problem with this story: It was all lies. When the police investigated, they discovered that the people who’d attacked Rav Kramer were involved in a monetary dispute with him, and had absolutely no connection to Shuvu Banim.
If you go and view this video yourself (below), it will become abundantly clear that apart from their misleading headlines about it, there is absolutely no link with Shuvu Banim students or Rav Berland – it’s just a video of regular, Meah Shearim chassidim.
But yeshivaworld is continuing to have this false, slanderous story up on its website anyway, because hey! What’s a little thing like the truth when it comes to slamming Shuvu Banim and Rav Berland?
Ynews also doesn’t miss any opportunity to write awful stories about the Rav, including this latest offering from a couple of weeks’ back, when the Rav went to visit the Kotel:
Rabbi Berland allowed to enter Western Wall plaza with car - Ynetnews
Apr 8, 2018 - Convicted s** offender Rabbi Eliezer Berland was allowed to enter the Western Wall plaza with his car, an honor normally reserved only to the greatest of rabbis. During the intermediate days of Passover, when the Western Wall is particularly crowded with ...
Again, the media is going all-out here to impress on you that only a selfish, awful person would visit the Kotel when it’s so crowded!! On Pesach!! In a car!! As though he was ‘the greatest of rabbis’, or something. How could the authorities let Rav Berland visit the Kotel?!?
Recently, Ha’Aretz also dipped their toe back in the ‘bashing Rav Berland’ water, by running a piece entitled:
Rav Berland’s followers have a flesh-and-blood God
The article then goes on to say that:
“Haredi society as a whole denounces Berland (even if not publicly), and most of the Bratslav rabbis came out against him harshly after a rabbinic court investigated the allegations against him and came to the conclusion that they were true.”…
Ha’aretz certainly excels in squashing a maximal amount of lies into one short sentence.
As even a casual glance at the list of rabbis who have recently and publicly come out in support of the Rav shows – including Rav David Abuchatzeira, Rav Shimon Badani, Rav Matityahu Glazerson, the Spinka Rebbe, Rav Reuven Elbaz, Rav Dov Kook, Rav Dovid Chaim Stern, to name but a few – shows, Haredi society as a whole is NOT denouncing Rav Berland at all.
Not even close.
Next, it tells us that ‘most of the Breslov rabbis came out harshly against him’ – which again is completely untrue.
There are a small core of people, centred on the Breslov shul in Meah Shearim, who have been against Rav Berland for 30 years. And Y.T.C., the main persecutor of the Rav within Breslov, the main source for ALL of these slanderous stories about the Rav, and the person named below, belongs to that group.
"A rabbinic court investigated the allegations against him and came to the conclusion that they were true” Ha’Aretz informs us.
But again, that’s a lie. The ‘rabbinic court’ in question was made of Y.T.C. and a few more of his group who have been persecuting the Rav for decades, none of whom are dayanim, and who no real Breslov Rabbi would so much as touch with a bargepole. (See HERE for more info).
The email address that is given for this supposedly 'Special Beis Din' is that of the breslevemet website, a joint venture between I.N.S. the 'State's Witness' against the Rav, and Y.T.C., his main persecutor.
Strange indeed that the Beis Din that allegedly 'came to the conclusion the allegations against the Rav were true' should share an email with the Rav's two main persecutors, and stranger still that this small detail is not something that Ha'aretz feels is at all relevant to its story, or the 'facts' it's presenting, or the credibility of its sources.
Like I said, Ha’Aretz manages to pack in a lot of lies into one short sentence, and the unwitting reader is none the wiser about just how deliberately deceitful this article actually is. Then, we get to the main man of the story, who tells us that regardless of anything you might hear - from thousands of people - to the contrary:
“even if outwardly his followers sometimes offer blanket denial, "inside they speak differently," says Rabbi Yom Tov Cheshin, perhaps Berland's greatest opponent and one of his close associates before the affair broke out. "They claim that he is permitted, that he is God."
There is SO much to say about this individual, and his impersonations of the Rav's voice. The book will set out exactly how Y.T.C. was behind the ‘take over’ of Shuvu Banim and the imprisonment of the Rav in his own home for almost a decade.
Y.T.C. threatened the Rav that if he escaped, Y.T.C. would go to the press with all sorts of made up stories and lies about him – and that’s exactly what he’s done.
In every negative story that you read about the Rav, you will find Y.T.C. either explicitly mentioned, or anonymously referred to as a ‘former student and confidant’. Someone emailed me about this story to ask if Rav Berland really believes that he’s God.
Of course he doesn’t!
There is barely a word spoken about the Rav in the media that is true or honest, and that’s especially so when you’re dealing with ‘anti-religious’ media with Y.T.C. as their only source of information.
It would be bad enough if only the secular media sites were continually lying to their readers and manipulating them in such a disgusting way, but sadly, as the following story I happened to come across recently shows, the ‘frum’ media sites are also not being run according to halacha, or anything even approaching it (I'm removing names below, to minimise the lashon hara):
Shocking, isn’t it?
Yet extortion has come out as the key motive for many of the people behind the false allegations of Rav Berland, which is why this story shouldn’t be a shock to anyone:
Civil suit against Rabbi Berland
Some of the complainants against the Shuvu Banim leader file civil suit amounting to 4 million shekels.
Again, even this headline is deliberately misleading, because it gives the impression that only a small number of the actual complainants are filing the suit, and that there must be millions more women out there that aren’t.
In truth, there were only two women the whole time, both false witnesses:
That’s it. There are no other women, there never were any other women. That’s why the rest of the story reads like this:
Three women filed a civil suit Wednesday against a convicted s** offender rabbi and fifteen others who they claim enabled him.
The women are suing Eliezer Berland, 80, for NIS 4 million ($1.1 million) and also demanding that he be barred from leaving the country until the case is concluded, Channel 2 reported.
The suit was filed in Jerusalem District Court by the two women, who Berland admitted to and was found guilty of assaulting, along with another woman who was not involved in the criminal case against the rabbi.
Why not? Why wasn't this women involved in the 'criminal case' if she had a real complaint to make?
There are so very many lies that have been told by this case, by so very many people, that even fitting all the information into a book is proving quite challenging. But as I’ve started, so I’ll try to finish.
May God protect us from all the liars, hatemongers and gossip-mongers out there. And may the Moshiach come soon, and deal with them all once and for all.
Go HERE to see all the Emunaroma FAQs and articles on the Rav Berland scandal in one place.
Probably like most of us, I am playing the waiting game at the moment, and it’s pulling my nerves and patience to shreds.
We are having huge issues with our house purchase, to the point that we may lose the house, and also a lot of money as well. Right now, things look pretty bad, but nothing has been 100% decided, so we are playing the waiting game to see if God is going to rescue us with an open miracle.
There’s nothing else we can really do.
Except to wait. And to pray. But sometimes you get so weighed down by it all that even the praying comes hard.
Sometimes, the ‘waiting’ really gets me down. Sometimes, it starts feeling like all I do is wait for things to move, or to improve, or to work, and that I can’t really carry on just sitting here waiting anymore. Yet, there doesn’t seem to be any other options on the table.
As happens so frequently in my life, hard as a I try to get things to move myself, or to try to speed things up or resolve matters, sooner or later I hit that big wall and I’m back to just waiting to see how it’s going to turn out again.
There is a lot of ‘waiting’ going on at the moment, for all of us. Waiting to see what will be with Syria, waiting to see what will be with Gaza, waiting to see what will be with all the million-and-one projects and issues that we’re all dealing with and hoping they will work out.
For this one, it’s waiting to see if the business will take off or fail. For that one, it’s waiting to see if their kid will turnaround, or continue to self-destruct, while this one is waiting for the ‘all clear’ from the hospital. That one is waiting to see if his wife will come back to him, this one is waiting to be able to buy a home and settle down, finally, that one is waiting to feel happy and excited about waking up in the morning, maybe for the first time in a long time.
Each and every one of us is playing the waiting game.
Even the kids.
I have one kid who is waiting to get her exams over and done with so she can stop feeling so stressed and pressured, and I have another one who is waiting for her skin to clear up and for Summer to come, because she hates being in school.
Over on ravberland.com, the Rav said on Rosh Chodesh Nissan that Moshiach would be coming on Seder night. A few people got upset that this didn’t happen. “False hope! Better to not get our hopes up! It’s discouraging!”
I get that, I really do. But is it really better to stop hoping, and to stop thinking about Moshiach coming? Sure, the waiting is a drag, but what’s the alternative? To sink back into lethargic depression and despair, because nothing is ever really going to change?
What makes the waiting hard is that we aren’t in control. We can’t speed things up, we can’t get the outcome we want when we want it.
So then all we are left to fall back on is our emuna that our current, difficult, circumstances are the best thing for us, and a kindness to us, even though it really doesn’t feel like that and we so desperately want things to be different.
That’s the test. That’s the hardship. That’s the challenge.
To accept that God is in charge, and that it's all for our best and 100% deserved, and to not give up and just stay in bed all day.
I’m working on that at the moment, and I have my ups and downs. One minute, I get so furious at all the ucky people out there, and all the bad and the evil in the world that’s slowing up Moshiach and causing me to suffer so much.
(Clearly, including my own bad middot and inflated expectations of how my life should be.)
The next minute, God helps me to accept circumstances better, and to just focus on the tremendous good in my life.
But it’s not a stable situation, for all it’s ‘stuck’, so I find I’m pinging all over the place some days.
Waiting for things to move, to improve, to get easier, to stop being so challenging.
Like everyone else.
But really, underneath it, God is just waiting for me to submit to His will, and to stop thinking I know better than He does.
I know when I do that, everything will turnaround for the best, somehow.
But it’s so hard to do.
It’s no secret that for most of the last two decades, I really didn’t get on very well with my late mother-in-law. I’ve been musing on explaining how we finally made peace for a while, and I think that maybe this is as good as time as any, because maybe it will help someone else out there to make peace with a ‘difficult’ family member, too.
Before we dive in, here are some emuna principles that are going to affect the whole way we see these challenging relationships in our lives.
1) God is doing everything, and is behind everyone’s nasty, hurtful behavior
2) Everything is ultimately for our good
3) There is a messaged encoded in absolutely everything, about what we ourselves need to change, work on or fix.
Here’s some more general emuna principles that we’ll need as we go along:
1) The whole world is a mirror - whatever ucky stuff you are seeing in someone else (that’s still really disturbing you, annoying you, or causing some sort of negative emotional reaction) - you’ve got some flavor, some aspect of that issue yourself that needs addressing.
2) Children (especially below the age of bar and bat mitzvah) are just the mirrors of their parents.
3) A husband and wife are two halves of the same soul. Whatever you experienced, the other half also experienced it, albeit in a different way, externally. Whatever good you have in you, they have it in them. Whatever strength, whatever weakness, the other person also has it, just probably in a more obvious or more hidden way.
4) The spouse has to be the #1 priority in the other spouse’s life, ahead of work, kids, friends, learning Torah and even, parents and siblings. This principle is enshrined in every single one of Rav Shalom Arush’s books on family life and shalom bayit.
With those basic emuna principles out the way, let’s begin.
I didn’t know this stuff when I got married at 23. I’d moved around a lot as a kid, had a very ‘chaotic’ sort of childhood and on some level, was looking for a stable, solid family to join and to try to be ‘normal’ for a change.
This is a very common aspect of why opposites so often attract, because you know what you had wasn’t so great, and you’re trying to go over to the other extreme to make it ‘different’ in your own family life. But extremes are never healthy or helpful, in the long-term.
So, God sent me my husband, and right from the start there were a number of issues between me and my husband’s very stable, very ‘normal’ family, and especially with his mother, that often took the form of us arguing about eating in their (not so kosher…) home.
After a year of marriage, we stopped going up to their house for Yom Tov, and as we gradually got more observant, we found it harder and harder to eat there.
At that time, I blamed my mother-in-law 100% for what was going on. Why couldn’t she be more accommodating of our need to eat properly kosher food?! Why couldn’t she be more flexible?! What was the big deal, really, to try to kosher her kitchen so we could eat there?!
It took me years and years to figure out that on her side of the equation, I was expecting things that reasonably, she just couldn’t give me. Keeping her house properly kosher would set her apart from her whole extended family, make it very awkward to shop and eat the things she wanted to eat, and there were probably other more hidden reasons too, why she just couldn’t do that.
In the meantime, cooking food for her children was one of the primary ways that my mother-in-law showed her love for my husband - and I’d just stopped her from doing that.
The food wasn't really the problem
If either of us had been a bit more informed at that point about the deeper reasons why we were increasingly getting on each other’s nerves, things would have been so different.
If someone could have sat me down and explained:
“Rivka, you are very scared that your husband is going to choose his family, and what they want and decide, over you. And that would be absolutely awful, because you grew up always thinking that no-one was on your side, and that you’d always have to fight to get what you needed.
"You have a deep, soul-level need to feel like your husband is 100% behind you and on your side.”
That would have been very helpful. But that wouldn’t have only been half the explanation required. That same ‘someone’ would also then have needed to explain:
“Your mother-in-law feels very challenged by you. She loves her son dearly, and she wants to still be a part of his life. She can feel that he’s slipping away, and she’s fighting that every step of the way, not because she’s nasty or hates you, but because underneath it all, she’s actually very insecure and scared of losing him.”
If my mother-in-law herself had been consciously aware of this, and if she’d have been able to tell me her fears, we’d have been able to work together, and understand and appreciate each other, in such a different way. As it was, that didn’t happen.
As it was, the more she could feel him slipping away, the more she started blaming me for all the distance and issues, which made me feel increasingly uncomfortable and ‘unwanted’ around her, which made me want to spend less and less time with my husband’s family, which made my mother-in-law feel her son was slipping further and further away.
And so the cycle continued and deepened.
We got locked in a huge power-struggle, each one convinced that the other one was trying to do everything in their power to hurt and upset and score points when really, it was our own unspoken insecurities and fears that were calling the shots.
This post could go on for months if I gave more of the gory details, so let’s sum up the really bad situation that we ultimately got to, and then how God helped me to turn it around.
Around 2 years ago, things with my mother-in-law were at an all-time low. We were barely speaking. Acrimony, insults and accusations attended every call and email. Things got so bad that my husband’s health was really starting to suffer from the stress of it all.
For my part, I’d effectively given up on trying to fix things, and just hoped that any interaction could be kept to a minimum, and not damage my family too much, it had just gotten so poisonous and toxic.
But then, a series of events occurred with one of my children that underscored a very, very important principle that I hadn’t realized before:
We are all connected.
Just as kids are the mirrors of their parents, grandkids can also reflect their grandparents in a number of ways. When one of my kids started really struggling emotionally, I went through a whole bunch of stuff it could be, until I was left with one thing on the table: she was reflecting my mother-in-law.
And the only way I could help my kid to resolve her issues, I increasingly came to see, was if I tried to help my mother-in-law resolve hers. Which meant reaching out. Which meant trying to speak to her civilly again. Which meant understanding that underneath all the nastiness that had gone on, my beloved wonderful daughter and my MIL were actually pretty similar characters, in some ways.
That stage was really, really tough for a number of reasons. For years, I’d been pretending that my MIL was all bad. I hadn’t been seeing the good in her, I hadn’t been acknowledging that she had a lot of fine qualities, because it’s so much easier to fight with people and to stay ‘justifiably’ angry when you paint them as being all-black and evil.
Again, without going into all the finer details, God sent me a number of clues that helped me to realize why my MIL had been reacting and acting the way she had, right from the beginning of our relationship, and that a lot of it had actually been beyond her ability to control.
All of us in 2018 are traumatized...
She’d been extremely traumatized as a child by a number of things, and those sub-conscious reactions had been calling most of the shots in our ‘war’, the same way my sub-conscious reaction had on my side of the equation.
But things had gone too far, and been too horrible for too long, for a frank conversation to be enough to fix the problem.
Once I realized that, I told my husband we had had to give Rav Berland a pidyon on behalf of his mother, without telling her what we were doing (as ‘religion’ was still a very sore subject), and hope that God would clean the klipot out of the way.
So that’s what we did. It was a fairly big amount of money, and for three months, I didn’t hear a word from my MIL, although my daughter’s issues thankfully completely cleared up immediately.
Everything changed around
Until that fateful day around 10 months’ ago, when she phoned my husband a completely changed woman. She invited us to come visit her in the UK - on her tab - and made a huge effort to reassure us that she’d do whatever it would take to make us feel comfortable.
We were both so shocked, so happily, incredibly shocked, by the turnaround. And I was also so impressed, that someone who had suffered what she had, and gone through what she did, had the inner fortitude and strength to really turn things around, from her end, and to make a huge effort to fix what had been broken.
We went, we had a really good time, I finally let my guard down with my kids enough to leave them alone with my MIL for hours on end, so they could just talk without me breathing down their neck, and it was so good, and so healing, for everyone involved.
I also had a big chat with my MIL that visit, and while there was still some distance between us, we tied up a whole bunch of loose ends, and I think we started to appreciate the good in the other person much more than we ever had before. When we returned to Israel I made a real effort to start including her in our life more. I sent her pictures, I encouraged the kids to write to her and call her and text her, and reminded my husband to call her every week.
We had six months to patch things up, and to fix things, and I’m so glad we did, because right after Rosh Hashana, my MIL unexpectedly passed away.
I had a feeling that was on the cards, so before Rosh Hashana I made a big effort that each of my kids, and my husband, should have a long, real chat with her. My husband called her before he flew out to Uman, and he told me he’d just had the nicest, most real chat he’d ever had with her, and felt really good about having his mum back in his life.
That was their last conversation.
At the funeral, the Rabbi explained just how much of a force for good my MIL had been in her local Jewish community, constantly helping out and doing a whole bunch of kindnesses for people, and my eyes filled with tears.
In 2018, the yetzer is working overtime to convince us all that our mother-in-laws, and daughter-in-laws, and husbands, and kids, and parents etc etc etc are all just all-bad ucky horrible ‘erev rav’ type people.
“Give up on them and walk away! The problem is 100% on their side! If you can cut them out of your life, everything will be fine!”
This is such utter baloney.
We’re all connected. Whatever is not fixed and rectified will just keep popping up in the kids and grandkids until someone finally stands up and says ‘the buck stops here!! No more blaming other people or passing this down the line to future generations. We have to deal with it and fix the problem!”
And how do we fix the problem?
By working on ourselves.
I had to do so much work on my own anger, vengeance, blame, fear and other bad middot until I could finally see what was actually happening and why, and before my compassion for my MIL could become the guiding force in our relationship.
For as long as I was blaming her for everything, we were stuck - and my kids and my husband were also stuck and everyone was suffering so badly. Once I took the step of choosing to see the good in her, and choosing to see my own ‘bad’ in creating the situation, things could start to move.
Still with so much prayer, and so much help from the Tzaddikim, but BH, I had all the things I needed to really deal with the problem at its root.
And I’m so pleased I did, for so many reasons.
I could write out a whole bunch of ‘guidelines’ on how to navigate these tricky relationships that we all seem to have today. But it really comes down to this:
Look for the message the situation contains about what you need to work on, instead of just hating and blaming the other person.
God is 100% just using the awkward people in our lives to achieve something. Don’t bite the ‘stick’, just go back to God and try to figure out what’s going on.
Because in every argument and difficulty we have, we are never 100% blameless, and there is always work to do. And if we don’t knuckle down and try to sort things out, then our kids will be left to deal with that mess instead.
And that’s the last thing that any of us really wants to happen.
For the ilui neshama of Sarah bat Hinda - S, you drove me so bonkers but by the end, I was actually really glad to have you as my MIL. Thanks to our joint effort to sort things out, your kids and grandchildren are really blossoming now. I’m looking after your son really well, don’t worry! BH, this post will help other MILs and DILs bury their differences, and work together to help their families mend and heal.
I’m doing my darndest to stay off news sites as much as possible at the moment, but even so, it’s hard to ignore the looming showdown on the horizon between the US and Russia in Syria.
While I’m not big on ‘conspiracy theories’, having been sucked into one too many paranoid delusions by crazy bloggers in the past, it does strike me as rather strange that whoever it is should have apparently used chemical weapons against civilians AGAIN in Syria.
I mean, you can do a much better job of killing people by sticking to conventional weapons and bombs, and the world is so hypocritical that it doesn’t care a hoot if 70 Syrian children got blown to pieces by a regular bomb (unless they could somehow claim that the Joos did it – and yes SOTT and all the other rabidly anti-semitic ‘alternative’ news sites, will definitely try to do that.)
But apart from when Jews kill aggressive Arab terrorists, no-one really cares when anyone else does it, or how they do it, as long as they don’t use chemical weapons.
So the question begs to be asked: with Trump publicly stating he wants US soldiers out of Syria just last week; and with the rebels fighting the Assad government on their last legs; and with a few more attempts at creating a real cease-fire in the pipeline – why, o why would whoever it is use chemical weapons at this point in the game?
Unless whoever it is was really, really keen on triggering World War III, but crazy as Trump and Putin honestly really are, even they aren’t itching for a direct confrontation. If they were, it would have happened by now, but both of them seem to be strangely reticent about being the one to hit the ‘start’ button on that particular bit of madness.
As I wrote about HERE, there’s been something strange rumbling on in the UK for weeks, also involving Russians and chemical compounds, and a whole bunch of things about that particular story also don’t add up.
Again, it just looks like another clumsy attempt by whoever is is to try and sow more discord in the world, and bring us a whole bunch closer to WWIII.
While I was pondering this, I was researching some stuff about giants – like real giants, as described in the Torah – which lead to the discovery that the UK has some ancient folklore traditions that ‘Gog and Magog’ was the giant-sized ancestor of the ancient, original inhabitants of the British Isles.
I know this sounds so bizarre, but while all of us in the geula-sphere have been trying to figure out the identity of Gog and Magog in today’s world, massive straw effigies of the giant GogandMagog have been parading in London’s Lord Mayor’s Show every year for the last 2,000 years…
When the US first became an independent country, King George (Gog) III was on the throne in the UK. The first president of the US, as we all know, was George (Gog) Washington. Gog and Magog. So Britain and the former British colony, the US, are collectively GogandMagog.
Who left the British Mandate of Palestine in such a deliberate mess that Arabs and Jews would be at each other’s throats for at least the next thousand years, barring Divine intervention and Moshiach? Britain.
Which brings me to another strange observation. A few months’ ago, I was walking through Ben Gurion airport when I noticed a massive picture ‘celebrating’ the State of Israel’s 70th year, and Zionism’s 120th birthday.
I couldn’t help but reflect that in yiddishkeit, both of these numbers reflect the end of an era, a set period of time, an allotment of life, that is now coming to a close. Until 120! To put this another way, it seemed a clear sign that ‘Zionism’ was on its last legs, which seemed to be compounded by the US decision to open up their embassy in Jerusalem on the State’s 70th birthday, which could lead to who knows what happening.
And then, there was the awesome video of Rav Berland and Rav Dov Kook coming together to ‘bring the geula’ on rosh chodesh Nisan, traditionally our month of redemption.
When you start to take all this together, and then combine it with all the absolute craziness, massive tests of emuna and general ‘I can’t continue on like this anymore’ vibe hitting everyone I know in their private lives…
And then add in the fact that mutation-causing UVC rays are now penetrating the earth’s atmosphere and actually hitting the earth’s surface for the first time in modern history, which could lead to all sorts of strange developments, perhaps including human beings growing wings before the whole planet gets flooded with water as part of the geula process, as we find being described in the deeper Jewish sources…
And never mind all the strange weather and geological phenomena everyone all over the world is experiencing right now, because that’s old news, right?
Then, it really does seem to be pointing in the direction of something about to kick off, very soon, that could potentially completely transform the whole world as we know it.
( See Sanhedrin 92a, 92b and 97a)
The last strange musing to share with you is that I read THIS article over on the Rav Berland website about the Rav and Rav Yitzhak Yosef calling for Israel to intervene to save human lives in Syria, which was a big part of the reason the Israeli government decided to go after him six years ago.
And then I went over to THIS article on Ha’aretz, which described some of the shock and surprise that even the lefties in Israel felt after hearing the Rav’s words. And I scrolled down to the bottom, and was amazed to find that one of the ‘chassidim’ that Haaretz decided to photograph that night was the man who two short week’s later turned ‘State’s witness’ against Rav Berland and started the whole slanderous campaign off against him.
The chances of him being photographed out of a crowd of 8,000 people are very small.
Did Haaretz know what was about to come, or is this just another small sign that God is running every detail of the world, and there is a tremendous harmony and unity hidden behind all the surface chaos, that occasionally peeks through in these small ways?
But we certainly live in very interesting times.
So, I did some hitbodedut on whether this post should stay up or not, and I got the following back:
It's true to say that many Jews have an unhealthy obsession with money, and that is why God is using the anti-semites of the world to keep throwing that in our faces. Absolutely everything, without exception, is a message and hint from Hashem about what we need to work on, fix and improve on.
BUT - there is a better way of making that point, and I'm happy to phrase things differently to avoid unnecessary strife and division. So, I'm reposting this from a couple of years' ago, about Rebbe Nachman's tale of the Land of Money, and I'm deleting all the comments that were made on the last post.
Clearly, there is a lot to consider, in a very deep way, about this subject which is why so many of us feel so strongly about it.
The Land of Money
One of my favorite Rebbe Nachman stories is ‘The Master of Prayer’, which tells the story of how a great storm wind comes and throws the world into chaos, scattering the King’s ten advisors in the process.
The Master of Prayer is one of these advisors, and he takes it upon himself to go round the world reuniting the King with the other advisors, and rectifying all the countries who are now following ‘foolish’ beliefs about the meaning of life, as a result of the terrible storm they went through.
One group believes that the purpose of life is to eat; another that’s it to procreate; another chooses wisdom; another picks honor etc etc, but the most problematic land of all is the Land of Money.
You see, in all the other lands, there’s at least a moment, a second, when they’re satiated with their particular lust or desire, which gives the Master of Prayer an opportunity to come and talk to them about serving God, and the real meaning of life. But in the land of money, that simply never happens:
They think about money ALL THE TIME, and it colors their every thought and every waking moment.
Worse, the people of the Land of Money literally kill themselves for money; and they also turn their richest citizens into ‘stars’ and ‘gods’ (Rebbe Nachman’s language…) who they worship incessantly.
By contrast, people without a lot of money are considered to be sub-human animals, and given no respect, rights or accorded even basic human dignity. As a result, the Master of Prayer is finding it next to impossible to rectify the inhabitants of the Land of Money, and to bring them back to God.
By this point, you may well be squirming a little in your seat, because guess what?
In 2018, nearly all of us are living in the Land of Money!
And here’s how it’s affecting us:
I could carry on, but you get the idea.
To sum up the problem, it’s like this:
When people live in the Land of Money, money is the first consideration, and beats out everything else. Some common examples of this could include:
All of these statements have a ring of truth to them, don’t they? I know they do for me still, and I’ve been trying to leave the Land of Money for years’ already.
But there’s the problem: God is missing from this picture.
And when that happens, we start to build lives for ourselves based on the rules of the Land of Money, which states that our kids need expensive summer camps, and extra-curricular activities, and we need to be wearing labels, and to have everything matching, and that our homes need to be very big and spacious, and that every person over 17 needs their own car, and holidays are a necessity not a luxury, and that gourmet meals in fancy restaurants are what makes us happy, and guests must be offered a selection of expensive whiskeys and liquers to drink, and we must be working on plans to ‘get on’ and upscale our living arrangements, or our 401k plans, or our stockmarket holdings, or our property holdings and and and….
I’m exhausted just from typing that.
Here’s another problem that happens when you live in the Land of Money: You’ll literally sell your soul for cash.
Just ask all the bent politicians in Israel who take bribes for ‘peace’, or who (secretly…) sold Kever David to the Vatican for some big bucks, or who are happy to let Reform partition the Wailing Wall because they waved some dollars in their face.
When you live in the Land of Money, money talks, and God doesn’t. Or at least, not to you. Or at least, not in any way you care to listen to.
So how do we leave the Land of Money?
In the story of the Master of Prayer, it turns out the only way people can leave is via ‘the path to the sword’, i.e. very harsh judgments.
Those judgments could be severe health issues, severe marital problems, severe problems with kids going crazy or going off the derech, severe mental illness issues, or even (perhaps ironically), severe financial issues.
You want to know why so many of us are going through so much difficulty today, in every sense of the word?
This is why.
God is trying to get us out of the Land of Money once and for all, so we can stop obsessing about earning, and instead start yearning to get closer to God and to live a more spiritual life again.
It’s hard work, I know. But you know what’s even harder work? Getting stuck in a life, in a mindset, where money is the only thing that counts, no matter how miserable it makes you, how much it wrecks your peace of mind and relationships, or how much it kills your soul, your humanity, and your spiritual dimension.
So, it was a whole week after Moshe Rabbenu had triumphantly led the Children of Israel out of Egypt, that place of harsh slavery and cruelty, as the culmination of a whole year of miraculous signs and wonders.
Massive flaming hail had destroyed so many buildings, and injured and killed countless Egyptians and their animals. In the plague of darkness, the Jews had seen 4/5 of their own countrymen pass away and been forced to bury them in secret, so the Egyptians wouldn’t see this and try to use it against the nascent Jewish people.
Then the last plague had come, the death of the firstborn, where the Jews had huddled in their homes behind their blood-daubed lintels, praying that they would be protected from the terrible scourge that was being released on their neighbors.
And after that - so quickly after that - redemption! Finally, finally, freedom! Pharoah himself gave the Jews their marching orders, and the Children of Israel emptied Egypt out of its finery and jewels, and left with their dough on their backs.
The first few days, the people were ecstatic, elated.
But then, the test returned.
Egyptian spies went back to sound the alarm that the Jews had no intention of returning, and before long in the distance, the Jews could hear the hoofbeats that signaled that Pharoah and his army were chasing after them.
And what happened at that point? Did Moshe Rabbenu sit down and sketch out the rough plan of what was going to come next? Did he explain how they were going to be saved? Did he give a public address where he told everyone to calm down and stop worrying, because this was all just part of the process?
It’s not too much of a stretch to believe that Moshe Rabbenu was also a little rattled and stressed by what was occurring. Moshe was a realist. The whole way along, he could see how difficult it would be to redeem the Jews, and what a challenge he was really up against. That’s why he turned down the job, when God first offered it to him.
But now, against all the odds, he’d managed to get the Jews out of Egypt, and was heading for the desert rendezvous where the nation would be given the Torah. It’s not too much of a stretch to believe that the encounter with Pharoah’s army at the Sea of Reeds was just as much of a surprise, and a trial, for Moshe Rabbenu as it was for everyone else.
So he had no comforting words for the wretched crowd spread before him, who thought that the tests were over already. They’d left Egypt behind, they’d left slavery behind, they were following Moshe, Hashem’s prophet, into a very uncertain and insecure future. Surely, everything would just be plain sailing from that point on?
It’s probably fair to say that none of the Jews expected another encounter with the Egyptians so soon after fleeing the country, and certainly not in the awful circumstance that they currently found themselves in: with their backs to the sea, trapped, with all their women and children around and precious little ability to fight back.
Can you imagine the despair they must have felt at that point?
They’d backed the wrong horse! They’d put all their eggs in Moshe Rabbenu’s basket, and now look what was happening to them! They were about to get mercilessly destroyed by the vengeful hordes of Pharoah.
What was the point of going through all those plagues, the terrible test of faith that was the plague of darkness, the terrible test of faith that was the Korban Pesach, just to get killed in this horrific fashion, trapped against the sea?
How could Moshe Rabbenu have led them to this place? How could God have done this to them?
The despair was overwhelming.
And then….the sea split. Even then, not at once. Even then, it still took Nachshon ben Aminadav’s bravery and emuna to wade in, when all hope was gone - I mean, what?!? You’re going to listen to Moshe Rabbenu again?!? And believe in miracles again?!? After everything that’s just happened to you?!? Are you crazy!!!
Thank God, he was crazy.
And the sea split.
And the Jewish nation escaped destruction, while the Egyptian were utterly destroyed.
To put this another way, the ‘down’ was solely to facilitate the ‘up’. God wanted the Jews to know and see that their oppressors had finally been destroyed for good, and that they were truly free people.
But until the sea split, can we imagine the test the people at the sea went through? The doubt and fear they experienced? The despair that kept them paralysed, waiting for the ‘inevitable’ to happen?
What a test.
In some ways, so many of us are still facing that test of the sea. After we’ve followed after God and his holy men for so long, and tried so hard to give Him what He wants, and sacrificed so much to finally get free of our bad middot and abiding problems.
We thought we were out, we thought we were free.
And now, the test returns even greater than before.
But soon, the sea will split.
Around seven years' ago, Rav Shalom Arush suddenly started warning everyone that war with the Arab states surrounding Israel was imminent.
I remember being glued to the shiur of his English-language translator, Rabbi Lazer Brody, as Rabbi Brody said: 'All-out war is imminent'. What sparked this off was the threat of millions of Arabs trying to cross the border into Israel as part of an organised march.
At that time Rav Arush said that people were completely underestimating the impact of what millions of Arabs trying to surge into the country could achieve, even if they were unarmed and apparently 'peaceful'.
In the event, nothing came of this and Rav Arush later explained that a number of the nations' tzaddikim had got together and managed to cancel the decree, or at least to push it off to some in the future.
Tomorrow, Seder night, the first night of Pesach, Hamas is trying to arrange for a million Gazans to try to 'rush' the border with Israel. Again, this could be something, it could be nothing, but given the 'atmospheric stress' nearly all of us are picking up at the moment, I can't help feeling something is around the corner.
Yesterday night, I woke up at 4am to find a gale blowing around - winds of over 50 mph were blowing around Jerusalem and are still going, although now they are more like 30 mph. Doors were slamming, washing was trying to fly away, trees were bowing and bending - and I suddenly felt a huge sense of panic.
Not so much because of the wind, more a feeling that 'something' is going down.
Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. Who knows. In the meantime, I went to find Rav Arush's comments on the war of Gog and Magog from seven years ago, and I'm reprinting them below, as they seem as timely as ever.
And I hope this time of harsh judgment will pass as uneventfully as all those that have come before it.
Rabbi Shalom Arush: The Final Struggle of the Gog-Magog War
It’s no longer a dream: all of our contemporary spiritual leaders have expressed that this is the final generation before Moshiach. Just as in a hand-to-hand combat situation, when a fighter gets the upper hand and is close to defeating his enemy, then the enemy summons all of his strength in one final effort to overcome. If the fighter withstands the enemy’s tremendous final effort, then he wins, but it’s not easy.
The fighter is the Nation of Israel, the Jewish people all over the world. The enemy is the Yetzer Hara, the Evil Inclination (EI). The people of Israel are fighting for emuna, for truth, for the values of Torah. The EI is fighting tooth and nail against emuna, against any mention of Hashem’s name. The EI knows that only emuna (faith in the Sovereign Power G-d) can bring Moshiach; once Moshiach comes, the EI is finished. Therefore, he’s using all his forces to try and destroy emuna.
You don’t have to wait in dread for the war of Gog and Magog to begin – it has already started.
The prophecies lead us to believe that Gog and Magog is a physical war; we live with a daily threat from not only Iranian missiles, nuclear attack, and Qassam missiles. We can’t even trust that a tractor or a bulldozer isn’t being operated by a suicide bomber. Iran is open declaring that it wants to wipe Israel off the map; Hamas controls Gaza and the Hizbulla has a free hand in Lebanon to do what it pleases. The term powderkeg is an understatement.
In effect, Israel is safer than Europe or the USA. Consider 9/11 in New York City, the murder of Ilan Halimi in Paris, and the subway bombings in London, together with a tremendous resurgence of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, Australia, and South Africa. Jews around the world aren’t safe either. Worse than anything, thousands of Jews have been exiled from their homes within Israel itself, and thousands more are now being threatened with exile. This far surpasses our darkest nightmares.
Yet, despite the physical threats, Gog and Magog is a spiritual war; nuclear weapons might be able to destroy a Jewish body, but the Jewish soul, a tiny spark of Hashem, lives on forever. Gog and Magog is a global assault to destroy emuna, the pure and complete faith in Hashem.
By destroying emuna, Gog plans to sever the Jewish soul from the Creator, Heaven forbid. When a soul is severed from the Creator, it withers, and dies a spiritual death. The death of a soul is a far greater tragedy than the death of a body.
These are the most difficult times in over 3300 years of Jewish history. Never has there been so much assimilation. Assimilation kills 100 times more than international terror. It used to be confined to the USA and Europe, but now, it’s even hit Israel. Not long ago, I got a call from a broken-hearted mother whose daughter fell for a handsome classmate in Hebrew University – only, the classmate was an Arab. The daughter is now living in an Arab village near Ramalla, and her kids could conceivably grow up to be shahidim, suicide bombers.
This period is so difficult, with so many tests in emuna that the Talmudic sages said Yete velo achimena, let Moshiach come, but we don’t want to be a part of the generation that receives him.
Intermarriage, divorce, unbearable emotional and financial problems – just thinking about the problems of this generation is enough to give anybody a migraine.
There’s only one way to overcome the final onslaught of the EI – each of us has to add the light of emuna to the world. The Lubavitcher Rebbe once said that a little bit of light can defeat a whole lot of darkness.
The Torah in Parshat Vayishlach says that Jacob sent “Malachim” to Esau. Malachim has a double meaning in English, both “angel” and “messengers.” Rashi interprets that Jacob sent actual angels, for he had angels at his disposal.
Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches (Likutei Moharan, II:1) that Hashem created the Jewish soul so that it could reign over the angels. This is the ultimate purpose of Jacob’s descendants, that by their prayers, their ability to rule over their own bodily urges, and their good deeds (since each good deed creates an angel of holiness), they rule over the angels.
Where did Jacob get angels from? Jacob reached a tremendous spiritual level, and thus achieved a tremendous control over the angels in his lifetime. But even so, as the holy Zohar teaches, Jacob didn’t trust his own ability. He, like all other subsequent tzaddikim – all descendants of Jacob – cried out in prayer to Hashem. This principle is the underlying theme of this series.
With everything that tears my heart, one thing hurts me more than anything else: Rebbe Nachman of Breslev teaches that when Israel was in exile in Egypt, even worse than their bodies, their power of speech was in exile. That means that they couldn’t pray. They couldn’t talk to Hashem. In other words, they were in deep spiritual slumber.
I am fighting to keep my emunah each and every day. Despite the headlines in the news, the atrocities perpetrated by our enemies, the atrocities perpetrated by our co-religionists, and my own failings, I cling with faith to Hashem. I realize the yetzer hara is testing me, and this is what I remind myself when I feel like slipping back to old habits.
Every year when I’m about to get overwhelmed by the mess, the expense, the cleaning of Pesach, I ask myself: ‘isn’t there some sort of short-cut I could do, to just get the fun stuff out of this experience and leave all the yuck behind?’
Because Pesach routinely comes along with SO MUCH yuck. Even when you’re working on yourself. Even when you’re trying your hardest to just have emuna, and to just let God get on with running the world.
I’ve had Pesachs when I tried so hard to clean everything just so, and even a week earlier than usual, so I could take my girls away for a short break with the neighbor’s girls up the road. That was a disaster. Pesach seemed to last for three months that year, the ‘break’ was a stressful fight-fest, and then on seder night my husband got completely knocked out by the first glass of wine and was practically comatose.
Recently, my Pesachs have gone in the other direction, where it’s been hard to muster up the energy required to actually clean. Anything. The first couple of years this happened, I just kind of pushed through the weariness and fatigue, because I had enough OCD going on about chametz that it gave me the energy required to actually do something about it.
But this year, my chametz OCD has receded considerably (which is probably a good thing…) but it also means the ‘panic button’ has been disconnected from cleaning for Pesach. Add to this a very nice article in Hamodia a couple of weeks’ ago making it clear that most of what we consider ‘essential’ in cleaning for Pesach is actually OCD-induced chumras, and voila! I really haven’t felt like doing much.
So then, I started exploring other shortcuts to getting Pesach done, like:
a) paying someone else to do it or
b) expecting my kids to act like the adults in the house.
I know many, many mothers manage to off-load all their household chores onto their children, and that the children even don’t mind it (OK, I made that last bit up, but the first part of the sentence is definitely true.) But in my house, I’ve never quite managed to pull that off. The more I expect of my kids, the less they do.
The less I’m in their face about cleaning and helping, the more they actually start volunteering to do all sorts of things around the house. But when it comes to Pesach, I forget this rule and start to expect things from them - and this is where the problem really begins, because we are just talking a completely different language.
To me, ‘morning’ means sometime before 11am. To them, ‘morning’ means ‘some time after I wake up’ - which could be 2pm in the afternoon. So I’ll ask them to clean something, or arrange something in the morning, and because it’s Pesach, each chore is carefully nested and stacked within 15 others, so choreography is key.
So I CAN’T cook, however much I want to, until the kitchen counters have been cleaned and covered. If the person assigned to do that job doesn’t wake up on time, doesn’t feel good, can’t figure out how the sponge works - there are millions of obstacles, you simply wouldn’t believe what can happen - then I get stuck having to do it myself.
I can just completely let go, and let things happen in their own sweet time.
And I’m not there yet, although each year it gets closer and closer. I know this is just a test from God. I know the real cleaning for Pesach is all my bad middot and Pharoah-nic tendencies to slam around the house muttering about how ‘lazy, lazy’ my kids-cum-slaves are.
Don’t they know this is the whole point of having children?!? So I won’t have to do the chores myself?!?
So in the meantime, I get stuck with some huge bad middot issues that I know is the real work to be done, because honestly apart from Pesach, my kids are actually really sweet, and really lovely, and would really put themselves out tremendously to help me.
There’s just something about this time of year that makes all that goodwill evaporate, and that seems to pit me against them in a really ucky way that no-one ever comes out of happily.
Last year, we had people putting their feet through bathroom doors in a rage because no-one had set the seder table (and no, that wasn’t a kid.) I understand they also have bad middot to ‘find’ and dispose of. I understand that just as my mini-Pharoah is waking up in me, it’s doing that inside of them, too.
We all think that someone else should be the ‘slave’, and we’re all upset that the ‘slave’ isn’t working hard enough….
I so want geula. I’m really sick of cleaning for Pesach. Not just this year, but every year, because I don’t have a cleaner, and my kids-cum-slaves apparently always get liberated BEFORE Pesach, and because sometimes, I really can’t understand why I have to work so hard to get to that tiny bit of ancient pretzel that’s down the back of my couch.
I know, all this stuff is achieving wonderful spiritual rectifications that I can only guess at, because I certainly can’t grasp them in the here and now. I don’t want my bad middot anymore. I don’t want to have unreasonable expectations anymore. I don’t want to be lazy and apathetic, and I also don’t want to be enslaved and worked to the bone.
So what’s the answer? What’s the shortcut to the joy of the festival without all this back-breaking work and grumpy power struggles?
Maybe this Pesach, I’ll finally find out.
Over Shabbat, I was pondering the vision of the Prophet Ezekiel (like you do) and wondering about how it actually felt to be those dessicated, dried-out bones brought to life.
Remember, this didn’t occur in one shot. It’s not like one second they were ancient lifeless skeletons, and the very next, wham! they’d morphed into Gal Gadot lookalikes. No, the process was extremely slow, gradual, and from the bones’ perspective, extremely frustrating.
Think about it. You’re lying there, you gave up already, you’re done already, let the world just carry on turning and leave you alone. You did your bit for humanity and now you’re dead and just hoping, finally, for a little peace and quiet.
And then all of a sudden, you realize, probably with some horror, that your sinews and veins are growing back. I mean, does that hurt? As all your bones start to knit back together, and all the interconnected muscles and cartilage starts to criss-cross everything like some highly weird reverse zombie movie, what are the bones themselves thinking?
Or maybe God was kind to them, and their brains only grew back last, so they didn’t have to sit there watching all this stuff happen to them and their neighbors, while a million questions race through their heads:
“Am I going to grow back young?”
“Am I going to grow back fat?”
“Am I going to grow back healthy in body and soul, or am I going to have to go through that agonizing death from lung cancer all over again?”
Questions, questions, and if I’ve learned one thing about authentic Yiddishkeit, it’s that for every good, satisfying answer you get, there are already plenty more questions waiting in the wings.
So being a skeleton during Ezekiel’s vision must have been pretty nerve-wracking, to put it mildly. I mean, this had never happened before. What if the whole process suddenly tailed off mid-way, and you’d end up a bunch of ugly-looking gristle with eyeballs? I mean, no-one actually told them that this was the full monty, a whole redemption / regrowth package going on.
It would be all too easy for some of those dry bones to think to themselves that Nebuchadnetzer was doing some weird radiation experiment on them, or something, and that instead of being revived for good things, it was going to be a weird, twilight existence as a half-alive, half-dead person.
Me being me, I see a lot of parallels between those bones and us, in this generation. So many people today are emotionally and spiritually ‘dead’, and a whole bunch of people actually prefer things that way, because being alive necessitates feeling things that are sometimes overwhelming, or painful, or upsetting, or disturbing, or anxiety-inducing, or often all of those things at once.
“Leave me alone, God, let me go back to sleep!” they mutter, as God desperately tries to dig them out of their mausoleums and lonely places. “I don’t want to connect to anyone any more, I don’t want to feel anything. I just want to stay here and quietly dessicate. So please, save all that geula hocus pocus for someone else, I’m busy.”
Sometimes, I feel like that myself.
But I can still see the bones are stirring, and the veins are started to pulse with new life again, at least in a few locations. But before we continue, I need to know honestly: is this process going to hurt? And am I going to come back young, thin and gorgeous or not?
Because a girl has to be prepared.