The weather in Jerusalem today is very strangely overcast for this time of year. It looks like it could rain, or snow, or hail.
We'll see what God has planned.
And in the meantime, I'm joining the bloggers' protest organised by Yaak, because after doing some praying on what God wants, I think that it's what God wants. BH, God's glory and light will be full revealed soon, the sweet way.
Today, I walked back from davening a little with Rav Berland’s minyan in Musrara to Baka, past the Liberty Bell Park, where the lamp-posts on all the main drags are festooned with rainbow flags.
My stomach lurched.
When Trump came, everything was stars and stripes. When the President of Guatemala came, everything was the Guatemalan flag. When four French Jews were killed in the Hyper Cache attack, everything was ‘Je suis Charlie’ and Tricolors.
Everything is a rainbow.
And my heart sank.
Who is the ‘guest of honour’, the Head of State who is being honored like this? It can only be the Samech Mem himself.
So I walked back pondering what’s the best way to show God I really do care about this enormous desecration of His name, and the truckload of tumah this is piling up on every street corner and inside every house. Because make no mistake, it’s already breached the walls.
My youngest has been having a running argument with her best friend about all this surrogacy stuff, because her friend thinks that gay men should be allowed to rent-a-womb to try to get round the simple fact that biology (and clearly, God) is not on their side.
My daughter’s friend comes from a very frum background, where both parents are in kiruv, so I was astounded. Maybe she’s just trying to hold ‘edgy’ views to upset her parents, I have no idea, but what I do know is that the tumah has already breached the walls.
In the UK, another friend was telling me how her 7 year old grand-daughter – who goes to a modern orthodox Jewish school – started asking her: “Grandma, what do you call that thing that’s not a man, or a woman?” My friend was stumped, so the kid explained. “You know, it’s between being a man and a woman…You can’t call them ‘he’ or ‘she’, so what do you call them?”
How on earth is a seven year old in an orthodox Jewish school even talking about this stuff?!
The tumah has already breached the walls.
MOST ORTHODOX JEWS DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT THE REAL PROBLEM IS
A huge part of the problem is that most orthodox Jews simply have no idea about the spiritual dimension to spermatozoa; they don’t know that it contains billions of souls, and that the koach of those billions of souls are entrapped in the dark side – and literally used to fuel all the evil in the world – when men engage in intimate acts without the appropriate kedusha.
This also applies to single men, this also applies to licentious and adulterous men, this also applies to when men are with their wives while using contraception that hasn’t been rabbinically-sanctioned. Long story short, any time a man is doing something like this outside the bonds of marriage, where there is no possibility for creating a life, even just in theory, then all that ‘soul power’ is getting delivered straight up to the dark side.
That is why it’s such a problem, spiritually.
But a person can be ‘orthodox’ all their long lives, and never even have the first idea about this underlying spiritual reason why spilling seed is so very, very bad. So then they think ‘hey, no big deal! Let people live how they want! Let people be who they really are! Let them adopt, let them make babies in test-tubes, no big deal!’
But spiritually? It’s a massive deal. It’s mamash fuelling all the forces of evil in the world at the spiritual level.
And then, there’s the poor kids themselves that are raised in unnatural homes. Modern medicine has split bodies off from souls, so it has mostly no idea of just how many illnesses, physical and mental, results from unfinished business from parents and grandparents.
It’s hard enough raising healthy, emotionally-balanced children when you actually love the other half of their gene pool, and actually know who they are. But can you imagine finding out that your ‘dad’ was an anonymous sperm bank donor? Or some poor women who was ‘rented out’ for nine months to create you?
Do you know what torture to a person’s psyche this stuff actually causes?
A while back, I was talking to an older woman who confided that her parents had conceived her out of wedlock – they’d had a shotgun wedding a few months before she was born. This woman was well over 50 – and she was crying when she told me still feels so dirty, from how she was conceived.
I was so shocked that five decades on, this was still causing her so much pain.
But that completely pales next to the mental suffering and spiritual anguish all these poor kids being raised in unnatural families are going to have. And I think that’s what’s upsetting me the most, that these parents are so incredibly selfish to be deliberately bringing children into the world with so many emotional handicaps.
It’s all about doing what’s good for them, the parents, and nothing at all about doing what’s right for the kid.
This stuff is far deeper, far more fundamentally disturbing to a person than our modern society is anywhere near being able to accept or understand, stuck as they are in the ‘body-centric’ view of the world that discounts and dismisses the soul. But those kids are being condemned to a lifetime of massive emotional and spiritual angst and unhappiness.
So, the question returns: How do I show God that I really do care about the terrible things going on all around me?
What does God want from me, right now?
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far: Every time I see a rainbow flag, I’m asking God to help all these people to develop some yirah shemayim and make teshuva. I’ve also decided I have to stop listening to that one George Michael song I still love so much, and any other music by ‘rainbow’ people. Ditto for reading any books, opinion pieces or other output.
Because it’s impossible for these people to be coming from a good place, or to be having a positive impact on me, for as long as they are directly fuelling the forces of evil in the world.
Wherever possible, I’m going to vote with my feet and with my wallet, to avoid any of the companies and organisations who have come out publically in favor of all this stuff, including those companies that ‘proudly’ let their employees have a day off last week.
And then, there’s the whole ‘pride’ thing.
Pride = pride, or arrogance, and that’s something else I’m going to try my best to work on and take down in myself. That I shouldn’t think I’m better than others, that I shouldn’t unnecessarily hurt others, that I shouldn’t act like an angry, selfish, materialism-obsessed superficial pig, and I shouldn’t big myself up and big others down, because honor really only belongs to God.
And the last thing on the list is tznius. To try to pick it up a little again. I’m not sure how yet, but that’s the plan and we’ll see what God inspires me to do.
What more can I do? What more can I say?
I desperately want God’s honour to be restored in the world, and for people to stop acting like body-obsessed, selfish animals. That’s what I want, God.
But only God can really give it to me.
So, the huge big stone from the Kotel falling on the ‘egalitarian plaza’ where the reform and conservative people don’t come to pray was clearly a pretty obvious sign, like 101 Emuna level.
(BTW, if you see the video that stone didn’t really ‘fall’; it shot out of the wall like a bullet being fired from a gun.)
But now, over in Greece, God is getting a bit more subtle with His signs.
Quick recap: The last time the Greek-inspired Hellenists tried to take over Jerusalem, literally, with all of their Greek-inspired Gymnasiums and Theatres open on Shabbat was during the time of the Maccabees, the time of the Chanuka miracle.
The Sages say that back then, 99% of the Jews had gone Greek and assimilated, and it was a very small remnant that still clung onto their Jewish tradition. So the fact that GREECE is currently getting hit with their worst wildfires for decades, that have killed 74 people and counting is one clue.
Here’s a little of how Sky News is reporting what’s going on in Greece:
“All the survivors talk about the speed of the flames. It's hard to imagine, but flames in wild fires flow across landscapes almost like water.
“Patches of land are ignited not just through contact with existing flames but simply through the heat. That's how the fires manage to jump across roads.
“The erratic and unusually strong winds pushed the fires in various directions which changed quickly.
“People said the flames seemed literally to be chasing them.”
I think the fire is coming up from the ground. I think all these wildfires in the UK, Sweden (now at 53 and counting, with at least four fires raging out of control) are being started because something hot is approaching nearer to the surface of the earth. I’ll come back to this again with more details in a future post, BH.
Another clue is where those fires are burning in Greece: Attica.
For those who speak Hebrew, the connection is obvious. For those who don’t, the Old City of Jerusalem is called ‘Ir Attica’ in Hebrew, or ‘Old /Ancient City’.
Seems to me God took some of the punishment coming our way and poured it out on those Greeks, whose ancestors undoubtedly helped to cause all the assimilationist mess we’re still dealing with today, thanks to Greek / Roman / Western culture.
Despite all the din coming down right now, there is still so much mercy mixed in.
But God’s patience is not infinite, and we ALL still need to do a bunch of teshuva, and to work on our emuna and being real with Hashem.
It’s so easy to point fingers at the lefties and weirdos, and to accuse them of all that is wrong on the world. But we can’t change them, and God doesn’t expect us to.
We can only change us.
And if we don’t do that, then we will be held 100% accountable for adding more fuel to the fire that’s coming to the world, instead of trying to tamp it down.
In the meantime, steer clear of the egalitarian plaza. I have the feeling this could only be the beginning of God’s hand in the world becoming more and more obvious.
The last 12 months or so, since last Elul, I’ve been feeling like the whole Jewish calendar somehow got mixed up, at least for me. The whole of Elul, instead of lifting me up to the heights of teshuva, something happened to show me that I was not on the lofty spiritual level I really thought I was, and spent weeks feeling absolutely heartbroken and kind of washed-up, Jewishly.
It’s hard to be a baal teshuva the first time around. It’s even harder when you’ve been a baal teshuva for 20+ years, and then God shows you how much work you still have to do.
But then it was Rosh Hashana. A new year! A new beginning! A time to turn things around. I couldn’t find a shul to daven in, so I went to the default local shul, full of ‘traditional’ Moroccans.
There was a Downs syndrome boy on the other side of the partition who got so excited by the Shofar blowing, he started making all sorts of yells and weird noises.
Of course, you’re meant to be quiet when the shofar is blown. Of course, this precious soul was bringing God so much more nachas with his whoops then all the studied ‘silence’ of the rest of us.
Immediately after shofar blowing, some idiot man started berating the boy and his father and demanded that they leave the shul immediately. On Rosh Hashana! The argument spread to the women’s section and there on the first Day of Judgment, the most awful sinat chinam was going on, all for the best, most holy reasons, of course.
I didn’t know it then, but that shul was right next to the house we were destined to fail at buying this year, which plunged us into our own maelstrom of self-righteous arguments and sinat chinam. Probably, the woman who was selling it was sat in the women’s section too, being covered in all that machloket fall-out.
The whole thing showed me how hugely important Rosh Hashana really is, it really does set the tone and create the blueprint for the year. Thank God, my husband was in Uman by Rabbenu for Rosh Hashana, because I dread to think how much worse things could be, otherwise.
Then, the first of the days of awe – my mother-in-law unexpectedly died, and me and my husband found ourselves back on a plane to the UK. I spent the majority of the days of awe eating fishballs from the only kosher deli in town (where all the nice serving people are Liverpudlian yoks) and packets of blueberries, serving tea and making ‘small talk’ at the shiva – just like you’re not meant to do – and then topped that off with unavoidable ‘hugs’ with grieving men from my husband’s extended family.
The only plus in my favor is that by compromising our ‘religious standards’, and eating food we wouldn’t usually eat, and keeping quiet about things that upset us and disturbed us greatly, we made a lot of peace with a lot of people we’d been fighting with for years.
But we got back to Israel erev Yom Kippur, and I was so exhausted I literally slept the whole way through the chag.
Succot happened in a fog – not least because we’d just been told our landlord was selling the apartment we’d been renting for 3 ½ years, so it was no stretch to feel the ‘temporary’ nature of our lives and our dwelling, and Chanuka also passed in a blur as we were trying to buy AND also trying to rent something for six months and both my kids were stressed to the max over their new ulpanas (dorming high schools).
All year, it’s felt like the festivals have been creeping up on me before I was ready, and that I have been so spiritually unprepared and on the back foot and doing everything at ‘bare basic’ level.
Two days before Purim, we moved house, so that was another holiday that passed in a blur.
Then Pesach arrived, and with it a bunch of guests for seder that we’d recently made peace with in the UK. Kids were trying to blow out my Shabbos / Pesach candles, flipping the toilet light on and off (because I forgot to tape it down….), pressing the door buzzer for two minutes, really loudly…
We had a slight stand-off by the end of the seder, as the guests wanted to skip Hallel, and I refused. I told them ‘leave if you want, but we’re going to the end’. So a compromise was reached where my husband sped-read through Hallel in the record time of 11.36 minutes so peace would continue to reign.
But I didn’t feel so happy about it. I felt maybe I was compromising too much for the sake of peace….
The next day, the first day of counting the Omer, the bombshell dropped that the bank had pulled their mortgage approval, plunging us into months of machloket, yeoush, anger – and enormous work to try to rustle up some real emuna.
All year, God has been showing me that He wants peace, not standing on principle, and all year, I’ve been trying to give Him what He wants, but it’s come really, really hard.
So, we get to the week before Tisha B’av, and the situation with the house is giving me no peace. Their disgusting lawyer tells us we ‘burnt their house’ and I know that’s a hint from God to look past the puppet show and see what’s really going on here.
But I can’t sleep, I can’t concentrate, I’m consumed by agitation and fear and rage – and we just hit the nine days when it’s all about fixing the sinat chinam that ‘burnt God’s house’ and is still continuing today.
God, what am I meant to do to fix this! The situation is so bad, it’s so unfair, it’s boiling up every bad middot I own!!!
God told me last week: Go and do six hours, and beg Me to help you make peace.
So that’s what I did. The day after I did that, my husband got a phone call from the estate agent that brokered the deal: the other side want to talk, without lawyers, they want to come to some agreement.
We met on Friday – erev Tisha B’av! – and again, God is the one that made the peace because all we did for an hour was argue. It looked to me like we were going to end up in court. Me and my husband stepped outside to discuss what was going on (and to avoid punching someone…) and when we returned 10 minutes later…. The other side had transformed.
Gone was all the blaming, distortion and power plays. On the table was a simple proposal: pay our costs to date, and we’ll finish everything peacefully next week.
We still need to agree what those costs actually are, but a sum was named that sounded reasonable, and much better than the amount our ridiculous contract stated we needed to pay.
Bezrat Hashem, the sinat chinam disappeared, and the path of peace prevailed.
Instead of Tisha B’Av, I feel like I’m already in Elul.
Let’s be clear, that it wasn’t us that did anything. God did the many miracles last week, and I also tried to bind myself to all the tzaddikim of the generation before we sat down at the table, to let them take over the actual discussion.
All I did, a lot, was yearn for peace, and ask God to save me from being overwhelmed by my enormous bad middot, especially my arrogance and my victory-seeking tendencies.
Because making peace is not easy, not at all. It means coming off my high horse, and trying to see the other side, and accepting that everything that’s happening is only and solely coming from Hashem.
I’m writing this on the tenth of Av – this year’s pushed-off fast of Tisha B’Av. And I’m writing this because the one thing Hashem really wants from the Jewish people is for us to make peace with each other.
Don’t wait until Rosh Hashanah, do it now, in the seven or so weeks we have until the Yom HaDin. Make peace with your relatives, even if you’ll have to suffer through a ‘man hug’, eat dodgy fishballs and rush through the more meaningful bits of your seder.
Make peace with the people you’re arguing with, even if it’s going to cost you some money, and the satisfaction of seeing them eat it.
But most of all, make peace with your husband (or wife…) and your children. Stop holding all those old grudges in your heart, and stop blaming them for the things that aren’t going right in your life.
Last week, on the Ari’s yarhtzeit, my teenager started telling me some really hurtful, yucky things about myself– all the things I secretly worry about, but try not to notice too much. She threw them all in my face, which to be fair I completely deserved, because I’d started berating her about not taking school seriously enough and wasting her life, which wasn’t really accurate or fair.
So, she hit back with ‘teenage troof’, maximum strength, and as my blood started to boil – the oven shorted out and a small fire sparked behind it, right next to the gas pipe. We both held our breath for a very long second. Thank God, the fire burned out, I turned off the gas, she turned off the electric mains, and I unplugged the scorched oven plug with a long, grateful sigh.
Machloket is what burns down the house.
Machloket is what burned down the Temple.
This Tisha B’av, let’s really try to fix the problem at its root: i.e. in our own homes, and our own lives.
War seems to be in the air at the moment, doesn’t it? Even before the rockets started falling again on Shabbat, across Israel’s south, Friday was a particularly ‘snipey’ day, where lots of people were bothering me, and probably, vice-versa.
The person who was bothering me the most is the other side’s devious lawyer, who I went and researched Friday and learned a lot about. Like, he’s an expert in cooking up devious contracts that say one thing, but really mean another. And that he’s an expert in helping people deceive other people ‘legally’, within the technical parameters of Israeli law.
To put this in other words: he’s a class A jerk, and probably the absolutely worst lawyer we could be up against, in so many ways.
All this upset me deeply, and I had a lot of inner turmoil going on again that wasn’t giving me any peace, and questions of how God could let us fall into this man’s hands. So on Shabbat, I decided to do a long talking to God session to try to get my equanimity and emuna back.
As I like to do, I ‘randomly’ opened Likutey Moharan while I was talking to God about this yucky, horrible lawyer and I got to this (Likutey Moharan 1:251):
Know: on account of feuds – conflict – the thoughts of the wicked enter the minds of upright people, specifically, thoughts of heresy beset them.
Rectifying this requires surrendering the feud to God – allowing God to fight the battle. In this way, one nullifies the thoughts of the wicked.
As usual, I was blown away by how accurate and pertinent the advice was. One of the things that has been upsetting me the most about this whole house saga is that I’ve had to battle 24/7 to keep remembering that God is running the world, and that ‘the other side’ are just puppets who are being used by God to teach me something, and help me rectify something, spiritually.
Without an hour a day of hitbodedut, there is simply no way of holding on to the reality of ein od milvado, because the feelings of anger and bitterness and injustice can otherwise be overwhelming.
And even with it, it’s still pretty hard going.
So I was thrilled to get this advice from Rabbenu about how to proceed – on so many of the issues that are bothering me at the moment.
Keep your mouth shut, Rivka
That’s what God is telling me.
Sure, I could be going great guns pointing out all the ‘bad’ that seems so obvious to me, and apparently so hidden to others. I could be slagging off this one, pulling down that one, endlessly listing all the flaws and the problems that really are there, and really do exist.
But that’s not what God wants, especially in the Three Weeks.
Because as soon as we start fighting other people instead of recognizing that God is behind everything, instead of recognizing that the only valid, helpful response is to just take it back to God to figure out what message He’s trying to give us, what teshuva or change He wants from me – we fall into heresy and start thinking like wicked people.
So, God wants me to keep my mouth shut, and to let Him fight the battle on my behalf.
And like all of us at the moment, I have so many potential battles raging on so many potential fronts, there really isn’t any other answer.
Yesterday, I woke up feeling really shaky. I’d had a weird dream which wasn’t ‘bad’, but was just weird, but before I even opened my eyes, I just felt like my brain was jumping around all over the place.
Now, we can put that down to me being highly-strung and half-Moroccan, but my husband was also feeling pretty shaky yesterday, for no obvious reason.
If I could be bothered, I’d go and check out the Schumann Resonance read-outs, or I’d write another few paragraphs here explaining how space weather affects human moods and health.
But today, I can’t be bothered.
Maybe it’s part of the vibe going on, but I’m losing my motivation to keep pointing things out. I mean, haven’t we all been here before, with so many exciting and dramatic ‘predictions’ that actually never happened?
Haven’t I spent more than a decade with my life on hold waiting for ‘the end’ to start happening?
So even though ironically, more and more of the pieces seem to be slotting into place, and even though I believe that Rav Berland is 100% on the money with his timescale of geula by 5781, I’m still finding it a little hard to get into the spirit of things.
Because what if it all fades out and fizzles again?
I got so burned by all those false ‘predictions’ from the autistics, that I don’t have a huge amount of energy left for the real deal. And I know I’m not alone. I’m seeing so many people give up, all over the place, in a myriad different ways.
That one is giving up on living in Israel, this one is giving up on trying to keep Shabbat or wearing tzitzit, that one is giving up on guarding their eyes – the list goes on and on.
Because so many of us made a super-human effort to get into the right place, the right ‘space’ spiritually, for geula – and then geula receded off into the distance and we were left feeling pretty lost and confused.
Uh, I AM meant to have made all that sacrifice to be in Jerusalem, right God? Even if geula doesn’t kick off tomorrow? I AM meant to have committed to covering my hair 24/7, even if judgment day doesn’t happen in my lifetime, right? It wasn’t a dumb idea to put soul ahead of body, even though body has got a pretty rough ride of things the last few years and it looks like I'm never going to be able to live in my own home again?
That wasn’t just stupid and retarded thinking, right God?
These are the discussions I’ve been having with God recently, where I’m seeking some reassurance that all the effort, the self-sacrifice, the struggle to try to give God what I believe He wants is actually worth it.
Luckily, God manages to reassure me every single time that it is.
HE WHO PREPARES FOR SHABBAT EATS ON SHABBAT
A while back, I spent weeks killing myself to make a seder, where we’d be joined by ‘out of towners’ who didn’t really keep mitzvoth.
As my hands turned to that pre-Pesach sandpaper from all the cleaning and cooking, I started to feel a bit grumpy and fed-up, that I was the one slaving away like Cinderella, while my guests would get a ‘free ride’ for the seder.
(Yes, my middot are really that bad.)
“Dear, don’t be jealous of those people who showed up to a gorgeous seder they didn’t do anything to prepare themselves,” God told me then. “Even though it seems you’re eating the same food, and attending the same event, because you made all that effort to prepare it, you’re actually experiencing something completely and totally different.”
And it’s the same with geula.
I’m not one of those psycho-bloggers who is wishing mass death and destruction on people because they couldn’t find the strength or courage to move to Israel. I know how hard that move can be, I know how complicated it can get, I know how much emuna it can take to move here, and then to stay here when the going gets tough and you start to feel so lonely and alone.
It’s a much, much bigger test than most of the psycho-bloggers are willing to admit, and their lack of compassion for Jews in the diaspora bothers me tremendously.
I want every Jew to make it to the end point, to the netz, and to greet Moshiach, wherever they might live and even if they aren’t perfect. Because who the heck is perfect, in 2018?!?
But at the same time… I still have that niggling feeling that it’s not really so fair, that I’m slaving away over geula like Cinderella while other people are focused on getting their nails done and booking their next holiday to the Bahamas…
Until God reminds me:
“Because you made all that effort to prepare for it, you’re actually going to experience something completely and totally different.”
WE ALL HAVE TO DIE BEFORE WE GET REVIVED
While we’re talking about geula, here’s something else I recently learned from Rav Berland:
Everyone is going to have to die, at least for five minutes, before techiat hameitim, or the revival of the dead.
So, you can’t move to Israel just to avoid an exploding Yellowstone, because we’ve got our own version right here on our doorstep in Harrat Ash Shamah (or ‘The Mountain of Guilt’, as my husband pointed out.)
God is going to judge each and every one of us on our own individual merits wherever we happen to live, and we’ll all have to snuff it before we can get to the revival of the dead and the World to Come.
So then, why make all that effort? Why try so hard to move to Israel, or to continue to live in Israel, or to keep wearing socks when the thermometer hits 42 degrees, or to keep doing hitbodedut and or getting up to pray at dawn when you can’t really see, often, how it’s getting you anywhere?
That’s something so many of us are grappling with at the moment.
But there is an answer:
To serve Hashem lishma, simply for its own sake, and not because we’re going to get geula, or money, or houses, or an easy life back in return.
And when I remember that, I don’t want to give up anymore.
The earthquakes that are striking in the top 1/5 of the Kinneret, very close to the Northern shore where all those yucky church buildings are on the 'consecrated land' that belongs the Vatican (!) are continuing.
I've done a short 5 minute video with much better sound to show you exactly where they are hitting, and also, to show you exactly where Harrat Ash Shamah - that volcanic field is - and how huge it is.
It last erupted a lake of boiling lava in 1850.
The only reason no-one is talking about this place is because there's been ongoing war in the area for the best part of a century, and that's not conducive to running lots of tests and studies. But Harrat Ash Shamah is huge.
The last massive earthquakes that destroyed Tsfat and Tiberius took place in 1837, around the same time there was volcanic activity in Syria and this lava lake sprang out of the ground. That could have happened before 1850, but was only 'noticed' by Europeans writing this stuff down then.
But earthquakes always precede volcanic events, as we've seen with all the eruptions going off recently around the globe. Definitely something to keep an eye on, as maybe God's patience with all the militant 'anti-authentic Judaism' stuff is starting to wear thin.
Since all this house stuff has updended my life in about a million different ways, I’ve been finding it very hard to get a grip on myself.
I’m trying so hard to keep working through all the bad middot this keeps bringing up, wave after wave, like terrible anger, hatred, feelings of vengeance and the urge to ‘win’ the argument. I go and do my hitbodedut walk for an hour, I mind-map all my bad middot out in my journal, I try to face down my reactions and feelings honestly, and then try some more to bring it all back to God and have emuna about it all.
And that works for about an hour.
But then, I find myself snapping into really aggressive, confrontational modes at the drop of a hat at the moment. All my effort to accept bizayon (humiliation), all my effort to not throw the diamonds back, seems to have gone out the window.
Intellectually, I know what’s going on. The person who ripped us off over the house, and the lawyer who helped her do it, and our lawyer who let it happen, have kind of traumatized me again, and I’m feeling pretty vulnerable, attacked and betrayed.
This has switched my flight-or-flight stress response into high-gear, and now I’m seeing enemies behind every curtain and robbers under every stone. My ability to ‘see the good’ and to not take things personally has evaporated at the moment, and that’s playing out in myriad different ways that try as I might, I can’t seem to get a grip on.
It’s not so much ‘passive-aggressive’ as ‘aggressive-aggressive’. There are moments when I could literally rip someone’s eyeballs out of their head.
And of course, this is completely anti-emuna! And not at all how I want to be acting and re-acting, yet the stress of the last few months has overloaded the system, and there’s simply no more juice available for azamra and not throwing the diamonds back.
I was talking to my husband about it yesterday, and he told me:
“I think maybe you’re still angry at God.”
He’s very smart, my husband.
Because yes, of course I’m still angry at God, even though I’m not meant to be, and even though I’m doing my best to have some emuna and to be grateful it’s only money and not health or shalom bayit or kids going off the derech, God forbid.
It’s only money! It’s only a house!
I repeat this like a mantra at least 50 times a day, and it’s definitely useful to have that perspective.
And yet, the anger keeps spilling out around the sides, and the emuna I spend an hour pumping up every day keeps evaporating pretty quickly.
Intellectually, I know this is all for my good, and is a huge tikkun, and is fixing stuff from who knows how many lifetimes ago.
But emotionally, I’m still having to deal with all these bursts of anger that keep rising inexorably to the surface, like a big bubble of magma, and that sometimes pop with such fury I start pacing my house like a caged animal.
How could God deliver me up to such shysters like that, after all the years of me praying to get a house in Jerusalem? How could He make my lawyer treat our contract (and all the terrible consequences of signing it) so casually? Why are there so many people in the world who put grabbing more money ahead of every noble human quality? Why do I never seem to get a happy ending? Why are all my efforts – on so many fronts - not enough to get me anywhere in life?
There goes my emuna again. There goes my ability to ‘see the good’, and to have patience with other people’s foibles and flaws, and to fight down my ‘aggressive-aggressive’ tendencies.
POP, POP, POP!!!!
I want to be a nice, believing human being. I want to go back to seeing the good in the disgusting shysters who apparently deliberately tried to trick me into buying their worthless, cruddy property that they don’t even really own.
I want to go back to accepting God’s will as only good and only just.
I want to go back to believing that underneath all the venality, casual cruelty, arrogance, greed and selfishness, my fellow Jews are fundamentally good and holy.
But man, it’s going to take a lot more praying, and a lot more asking God to give me emuna, for me to really get there.
If I tell you what’s going on with the house stuff, you probably won’t believe me. But I’m going to tell you anyway, because a good story is a good story.
So, two weeks’ back, the whole house saga took another twist into bizarro land.
My husband met our old landlord from the last apartment we were in, the infamous ‘rented dump’, on the street close to Rav Berland’s shtiebel, where he was coming to meet me after the prayers.
The landlord is crazy, but nice, in a Moroccan-drinks-too-much-beer kinda way. So they’re talking, and my husband is telling the landlord about the utter nightmare that our house purchase turned into, when the landlord says to him:
Tell me where it is, and I’ll go and talk to them for you.
The landlord is well over 6ft, and is a crazy Moroccan, so this proposal had its pluses and minuses. My husband decided there were too many minuses involved, so he put him off. But the landlord insisted on knowing at least the address – and that’s when we discovered the bizarre news that the woman who we tried to buy the house from is his ex-sister-in-law.
She was married to our landlord’s older brother who got divorced eight years ago, then died in a car crash five years ago a little while before he was meant to move into the flat we ended up renting for over three years.
Even more bizarre, our landlord is the one who built the illegal roof (which is part of the reason the bank reneged on giving the mortgage) with his own two hands.
Even more bizarre, we found out that Doda (Hebrew for Auntie), who technically was the one who owned our flat even though we mostly dealt with our landlord, gave our seller the money she needed to buy her house in the first place.
We were amazed at the very small circle the world actually is, because we now have a whole bunch more crucial information about our seller, without anyone even really telling us, and just because we’ve been listening to our landlord’s stories for the last four years.
For example, we know that our landlord’s big sister works for the Jerusalem Town Hall as a lawyer in the building permissions department, which is why no-one can even find the file describing the illegal roof, let alone tell us if it was actually sorted out the way we were told it had been by the seller.
It’s got ‘disappeared’ somehow, and now we understand how.
The Morrocan Mafia of Musrara has struck again.
We also now know 100% that our seller never got a mortgage on the property, because Doda paid for it in cash as part of the divorce settlement.
So now, you’d think that our landlord could sort all this mess out for us, right?
He and our seller fell out over the roof eight years ago, and haven’t spoken since.
When we were buying the flat, the seller warned me about using crooked builders (ah, the irony of it all….) and told me she’d used a family member who had ripped her off.
And now we know who that was: our landlord.
So, they haven’t spoken to each other for almost a decade, because our seller is also a crazy, mule-head Moroccan, and the plot is just getting thicker and thicker.
In the meantime, I decided to stalk our seller and speak to her face to face, seeing as her lawyer has been refusing to even answer our emails. (My husband was a little anxious about this plan.
It’s still unclear if he was more worried about what she might do to me, or what I could do to her…)
While she’s not a bad person, per se, I understood that our seller definitely feels entitled to our money, as we were dumb enough to sign a contract that was so cleverly worded we had no idea that it was describing a completely different property.
In fact, we signed such a bad contract that it’s a miracle we didn’t also agree to donating a kidney, or something, as part of the purchase price.
And if you want to know what happened to our original lawyer, he’s gone AWOL since all this blew up, and is spending as much of his time on holiday as he can. We just found out that he’s lost half the papers from the sale (on top of not actually reading them, to begin with), which means that we have to ask our seller’s horrible lawyer for a copy of the contract we signed, but which our lawyer now has no record of.
Who can make this stuff up?
People keep trying to encourage me to sue to get our money back, if some miracle doesn’t happen to get our seller to act fairly.
But really? Can I really carry on with this circus for another three years, with all the laziness, corruption and bad faith going on all over the place?
You’d have to pay me way more than 250k to devote three years of my life to this rubbish.
On Shabbat, I was doing some praying about it all, and God gave me the very clear realization that if we are meant to recover that money, God can send us a million easier and nicer ways of doing it than going to court.
And if we’re not meant to have it, then even if we have a crack legal team, and a super-solid case the judge will end up knowing the other side from the army, or something, and that will be our claim down the toilet.
We will still try to get the money back, but this month is the crunch time for all this. We have to move on. We have to move forward. There is no point crying over spilt milk, instead, we have to go find another cow.
I think that’s what God wants.
And I hope that if we do our best to give God what He wants, somehow or other, it will still all work out OK for us, too.
When we first moved to Jerusalem, four years ago, neither of my children were pleased. Back in the old hood, they had their friends, their school, their ‘place’, their nice, massive big rooms with matching furniture.
When they asked us, literally with tears in their eyes, why we were moving to Jerusalem – to a much smaller and much more expensive rented dump – it was hard to find an answer they’d accept.
Because the only answer for why we moved here back then is ‘we think that’s what God wants us to do.’
Were we convinced ourselves? Mostly. But that first year was a baptism of fire, and we spent most of it trying to deal with teens who were feeling so miserable, and also feeling so angry at us, for messing up their lives.
And what made it worse is that they had a point.
I’ve written about that year a lot, not least in The Secret Diary of a Jewish Housewife, but over the last four years, I’ve been given a lot more reasons why we moved to Jerusalem. Like, I feel so much happier here, the bloke feels so much happier here, we both got ‘real’ here, and stopped feeling like the ‘biggest tzaddik in town’ (a problem that happens very easily if you’re trying to be more machmir than most of your neighbors.)
As a family, we get on so much better these days, and a lot of that has to do with living in close quarters with each other, so teenagers (or mothers…) can’t permanently escape for weeks at a time by closing themselves up in their rooms.
So on the real stuff, the inner dimension stuff, Jerusalem has been such a blessing.
But it’s still hard, sometimes, like this morning, when I schlepped my family off to see another potential rental in Rehavia, and the youngest kid got profoundly depressed and angry about the whole situation again, because we'd have to chuck out most of our furniture to fit into that flat.
“Why are we living in Jerusalem?!” she wanted to know. “Just because some ‘rav’ said so?! Weren’t we meant to get a nice house from doing what he said?! Why can’t we just move out and live somewhere normal, and then you can come back here when we’ve left home and live in some small, rented yucky place!”
Hmmm. Something to look forward to.
The hardest thing with teenage rants is that they often throw the things you are struggling with yourself right in your face.
Because the last few months, I’ve also had some big struggles over what the heck is going on, and why, and some big questions than I can’t really find answers for.
I’ve noticed the last three or so months that a lot of the people who are very close to the Rav are being hit with some ginormous issues, mostly connected with money problems and houses.
Some of these people are mamash tzaddikim – like really.
And some of the tests these people going through have been stretching on for so long now, literally years, that it’s kind of mind-boggling that they’re still going.
How is it possible, to keep standing up in this stuff, to keep moving forward, to keep retaining emuna, to keeping having a smile on your face and words of Torah on your lips?
And yet, somehow, it is.
So I explained to my kid that we are all going through some huge tests at the moment, and that I appreciate that the house thing is a very big test for her too, and that right now, I don’t have answers for why it has to be so difficult.
But I also told her what I’m telling myself, over and over again: thank God it’s just house stuff, it’s just money problems. Thank God, if we have to go through some big difficulties right now, that they are only manifesting as money problems.
The teen didn’t exactly start smiling when I’d finished my speech – these are very hard concepts to understand, and there are people five times her age who are still struggling with the idea of happily accepting God’s will, when it’s so clearly going against their own.
But, she stopped ranting.
She started thinking.
And I know that by this afternoon, she’ll bounce back again and start to see that the good far outweighs the bad, even with all our difficulties.
Someone wanted to know why so many people are having house issues. I’m sure it’s connected to the Temple. God wants more and more of us to feel His lack, to understand that until the Temple is rebuilt, we’re all effectively homeless, regardless of how many mansions or penthouses we own.
And I think it’s also an inyan of encouraging more of us to pull out of the heavy materialism of our world, and to ‘live in the corridor’ a bit more. This world is only a corridor, a passage way leading to real world, i.e. the world of the soul.
The Chofetz Chaim famously kept his suitcase by his door, in case Moshiach showed up and he’d have to jump on the boat to Israel. I’m not at that level, but when I see my books still packed in their boxes; when I realise I can’t change or paint anything because it’s just rented; when I don’t buy any new furniture, because I have no idea where I’m going to be living in another six months and whether it will ‘fit’ – I have a small taste of the Chofetz Chaim’s suitcase.
And probably, that’s not a bad thing.
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