There's so much weird weather going on at the moment that it's really no stretch to believe in things like a plague of killer hail heading into Pesach.
Three days ago, enormous hail fell over Lesotho in Africa, and according to the Africa News, it damaged a whole bunch of property and trees and even killed some people. Does that sound familiar to anyone else?
Texas has also been getting enormous hail (although not quite on the same scale - it's only breaking car windscreens not knocking people out.)
And the UK...well, it got battered again with another highly unusual 'cold snap' that also managed to erode 10 metres of sea front in some places in less than an hour, leaving a few cottages literally hanging off the edge of a cliff where for centuries it was solid ground.
The man who owns the home in the picture (below) told reporters that two years ago, he was 90 metres away from the sea...and now he really isn't.
So bits of the UK coast are going missing from some places, and others are suddenly being reclaimed.
With all the 'predictions' coming and going still, it's very easy to think that this is all a big fuss over nothing, and the world is going to continue on its merry way for another 3,000 years. And maybe that's correct, who knows?
Except, except, except....
Rav Berland said the following on the Fast of Esther, and he's never been one for hyping up things to do with Gog and Magog, or death and destruction. His message has always been consistently one of things taking a while to play out, of Jews doing teshuva in their masses and Moshiach coming peacefully.
So when he said this, I really sat up and took notice:
Everything that has occurred up until now will appear to be nothing, compared to what will be in Gog and Magog – it will be the nothing of nothings…!
I don't know about you, but I was kind of hoping that WWII had taken care of most of the 'birth pangs' and destruction of mankind stuff associated with Gog and Magog. The Rav speaks at such a high level, it's impossible to really know what he's referring to, but on the pshat level, it seems to be a pretty clear warning that a rough ride is still ahead.
And again, I've gone through a lot of the Rav's material at this point, and while he does talk a lot about destruction coming to the world every 70 years, and Iran trying to nuke us, and other things of that ilk, in the past it's always been joined with other upbeat remarks about how previous generations tzaddikim could have saved their generation by taking shame and humiliation upon themselves.
So I really don't know what to make of this, tell you the truth.
Other than we definitely need to hang on to our tzaddikim and to ask Hashem to show us who the true tzaddikim really are. Whatever is currently cooking in the world, the Jewish people have always been saved by submitting ourselves to our tzaddikim and doing what they tell us.
It was like that in Egypt, with Moshe, it was like that in Shushan, with Mordechai, and it will be like that with Moshiach, when the call goes out to 'bring in your cattle' because some huge flaming hail is about to fall from the sky....
And in the meantime, life continues. And Pesach is around the corner. And if you'd like a good place to donate some kimcha de pischa money to with a Breslov flavor, then please take a look HERE.
Rav Ofer Erez's organisation really is helping some very poor families in Jerusalem celebrate Pesach with the basics they need - and we're really talking about the basics here. Some of these families were my neighbors, and when Rav Ofer says they don't have anything, he's really not exaggerating.
Ka'ayal Ta'arog is really keeping a lot of frum Breslov families going in Jerusalem, and it's a huge mitzva to help out, if you can and that speaks to you. Go HERE to donate, and may we all be blessed with a happy, kosher Pesach.
Massive hail, massive floods, cold snaps, earthquakes and other weird phenomena not withstanding.
A few years’ back, an acquaintance of mine invited me to come with her to Ashdod, to go and take a look at some exciting-sounding cheap clothing place for kids. It was quite a hot day, and when I got into the car I was already sweltering.
Now, I knew this acquaintance had some ‘issues’ around spending money, but before I got into the car with her on that boiling Summer day, I had no idea how bad they actually were. Two seconds in, I told her I was hot. She opened the windows (half - we were on a motorway) - and that’s when I started to get that horrible, claustrophobic feeling that I was about to have a really challenging couple of hours.
Because while I can tolerate heat to a point, I can’t stand being in a hot car with no air-conditioning in the middle of an Israeli summer. I literally feel faint and want to throw up. But my acquaintance clearly had zero intention of turning on the aircon under any circumstances, because air-conditioning costs money.
I understand that we have to be careful with money, I really do. I also understand that sometimes, there isn’t money for petrol, and there isn’t money for food. And that under those circumstances, you can’t blow it on air-conditioning.
But we weren’t talking about those sorts of circumstances.
On the journey back, I swore to myself I would never, ever get in a car with that acquaintance again, because the lack of control I had over the situation was so distressing for me and I really, nearly threw up a few times. I was tempted - a few times - to just plonk down 50 shekels on the dashboard and to ask her to turn on the aircon, but that wouldn’t have gone down at all well with this particular person.
She could see I wasn’t handling the heat very well, but she was so intent on saving a few cents she simply couldn’t put my need to overheat ahead of her need to save money. And she also couldn’t accept that maybe, it was reasonable of me to want the aircon on in those circumstances, so there was nothing else to talk about.
A few months after that experience, another acquaintance asked me if I’d drive her to the Baba Sali. It was now winter in Israel, and not so hot, but this acquaintance had a very low tolerance to anything resembling heat, and she asked if we could put the aircon on.
Partially, it was because it really wasn’t hot at all in the car, and partially, I was also mindful of the cost of the gas (which she hadn’t offered to help me pay for, despite her wanting to make the trip) and partially, again, it was that lack of control thing.
I turned the aircon on - resentfully - and for weeks and even months afterwards, I tried to figure out why I’d been so upset about doing that. After all, I knew firsthand how horrible it was to feel like you were suffocating to death in a too-hot car. So why was I reacting with such bad grace to this second acquaintance?
After this second acquaintance asked me for a few more favors - like driving her to hospital at 1am for an emergency scan so her husband could stay at home with her kids - the penny finally dropped: there was zero gratitude blowing back from this acquaintance, who was very keen on the idea that people should be committed to the mitzvah of doing kindnesses for others.
Or at least, kindnesses for her, because the kindnesses coming back over the fence were few and far between.
This all happened 5-6 years ago, when I was the height of my process of discovering that so many people (including myself…) are literally crazy.
What makes this a problem is not that people have their foibles, because we all have our eccentricities and our ‘red lines’ many of which are completely illogical but no less powerfully policed.
The bigger problem by far is that we aren’t honest enough about our own issues, so we can’t figure out genuinely useful compromises. If my tight-fisted friend could have explained that she could see I’m half-dying in the heat, but that she simply couldn’t justify the ‘waste’ of money switching the aircon entailed, but she’d be very happy to give me the option of paying to cover it - we’d have both have been happy and that friendship probably would have lasted a lot longer than it did.
Similarly, if I could have been honest with my other acquaintance that I was feeling like she was taking me for a ride, and using me as an unpaid taxi service (like when she commanded me to switch the music I was listening to, because she didn’t like it) - things would have also been much easier, at least for me, and we could have figured out a compromise that worked for both of us.
And if we couldn’t, then I’d have known much earlier on to put this person on my ‘awkward’ list, and to give her a much wider berth.
These days, I generally spot these people much earlier on, mostly, so it’s much easier to avoid getting dragged into all these horrible, complicated situations which really just boil down to a power struggle where you are being forced to do things that you really don’t want to do.
The ‘control’ belongs to God. The ‘power’ belongs to God. The more I can live by that credo, the easier it is for me to get along with my fellow human being, even the really crazy ones. At the same time, I have to recognize that I’m not an angel or a tzaddik, and that I also have my own red lines and wants about how things should be.
If I ignore that side of things too much, I get extremely moody, miserable, stressed and even sick.
Getting the balance right between these two things, so I’m not completely self-centred and selfish, and also not completely spineless and a doormat, is the work of 120. No problem is ever 100% the other person’s fault, but figuring out the percentages is really, really hard.
And as Pesach approaches, this is one of the key bits of work that we all have to do. Rav Ofer writes that true freedom is getting out of all our bad middot and negative desires and behaviors.
And as usual, I seem to have my work cut out for me.
A few days’ back, I had four nights in a row of extremely intense dreams. This happens sometimes. I can go for months and months without dreaming anything much, and then have a bevy of whopping, big meaningful dreams one after another.
The first dream was a really awful nightmare about the force of evil being maintained in the world by thoughtless people who really had no idea what they were messing with, or what bad things they were unleashing as a result.
Thank God, I don’t get dreams that disturbing very often, but when they come, around once a year, I walk around panic-stricken and shaken for at least a day afterwards. And then there were two more internal, but still intense dreams. And then on the last day, I dreamt the whole country was being flooded by an enormous tsunami.
The weird thing about that tsunami is that while it was towering over me five stories tall, I actually didn’t get wet. It passed me by somehow, and went and flooded everything else.
It wasn’t a bad dream, like that other nightmare, but I felt I was getting some clue I had to go and research more, not least because when I was walking around Tel Aviv getting soaked to the skin a couple of months’ ago, I saw a really strange municipality sign affixed in a couple of locations.
Report from Hamodia: YERUSHALAYIM -Israel is not considered a high-risk country for tsunamis, but the Tel Aviv Municipality and Israel Police on Thursday decided that signs warning of the possibility of a giant wave hitting Israel’s coast were necessary anyway. The new signs warn that Tel Aviv beaches are a “tsunami hazard zone,” with the warning listed in English, Hebrew and Arabic. However, instructions on what to do are listed only in Hebrew and Arabic.
It was a brand new, blue and white ‘tsunami warning’ sign, which told the good citizens of Tel Aviv which direction they should run away in, should the city be hit by a tsunami.
That sign struck me as so very weird, because as far as I can tell, Tel Aviv has never, ever come even close to experiencing a tsunami. And if it did, running away a few metres up the road isn’t going to help anyone, much.
So I sat down, googled ‘tsunami’ - and I realized it was the seven day anniversary of when that massive tsunami hit the Fukishima nuclear reactor in Japan. Hmm. Maybe that was the tsunami vibe I’d picked up? Tsunami past, not tsunami present?
I googled a bit more, and I came across some videos by MrMMB333, who has been a gentle but obsessive observer of freak weather for a few years’ now. In contrast to so many of the ‘Prophets of Nibiru’ on the internet, he’s never made any big claims, never set any dates in stone, generally never even said the word ‘Nibiru’, or anything like that.
All he does is collate information from a number of satellite feeds, and other people who are also measuring strange things like huge spikes in UV readings across the North American continent, and he shares that info with his viewers with mild comments about things being ‘mighty strange’.
He had a whole bunch of recent things up on his site about what he calls ‘water anomalies’, namely strange shoreline phenomena that is seeing parts of the coast all over the world being strangely inundated with water, while other parts of the coast are being strangely exposed, and the sea water has somehow ‘disappeared’.
For example, parts of Europe and the UK got hit with Storm Emma a couple of weeks’ ago, and in the wake of that storm, an old Roman aqueduct that had been submerged for centuries suddenly appeared off the coast of Spain. How? Somehow, all the water in that area receded - permanently - and it revealed a ‘new’ stretch of coast including this ancient aqueduct.
Then weirder still, Storm Emma headed up the west coast of the British Isles, on the Irish side of the country, and on the east coast of Britain, facing France, a new massive stretch of coastline suddenly appeared, containing a massive forest of ‘7000 year old’ (sic) tree stumps.
Again, what’s strange about this is that these new/ old stretches of coast seem to have been permanently acquired. Something fundamental is shifting the earth’s oceans around and gently, gently, starting to re-draw the map of the world.
WHEN MOSHIACH COMES THE WORLD IS GOING TO CHANGE RADICALLY
For months, the messages I’ve been getting in my hitbodedut sessions is that the world is going to change, radically, but also (relatively…) very slowly and gently this time around. There will be no massive and instantaneous wrenching of the earth’s mantle without warning. Things will happen in due course, the world will probably experience a new ‘Matan Torah’ type event at some early stage of the open geula process.
But Moshiach will be revealed by then, and telling people to ‘bring in their cattle’, or to move country, or whatever it is they need to do to stay safe. This is how it happened in Egypt. Moshe the redeemer showed up, was believed by some of the people, not believed in by many of the others, things started to get pretty strange, weather-wise - and the whole test was whether to believe Moshe was ‘in control’ of events, as the prophet of Hashem, or whether it was all just comet-induced freak weather.
That’s why the sorcerers only grudgingly acknowledged that the ‘finger of God’ was somehow involved from the third plague onwards. But even by the plague of hail, many Egyptians were still denying Hashem’s kingship of the world, and refused to heed Moshe’s warning to ‘bring in their cattle’ when that plague struck.
HOW DID DATAN AND AVIRAM MAKE IT OUT OF EGYPT?
A few weeks’ ago, my husband asked Rav Ofer Erez why Datan and Aviram made it out of Egypt, and didn’t die in the plague of darkness with the other 4/5 of Am Yisrael? I mean, they were pretty ucky, yucky people, and they were behind so many of Moshe’s problems right from the start, with their evil speech, criticism, heresy and trouble-making.
Rav Ofer said there were two explanations:
1) That Datan and Aviram were actually enormous souls. He told my husband there’s a midrash that says they actually didn’t leave with the rest of the Israelite camp, because they thought they were only going out for three days, and then returning to Egypt, so they couldn’t be bothered coming along for that.
It’s only when the Egyptians realized that the Jews were going for good and set off in pursuit that Datan and Aviram grabbed their things, and tried to catch up with them. The midrash says an amazing thing: the sea split again, just for these two evil-doers.
They had so much potential in their souls, but they used it all for bad. So that’s one explanation, Datan and Aviram were not ‘standard’ evil-doers and potentially extremely lofty souls.
2) Another explanation is that the Jews that died in the plague of darkness died for a specific reason, and not necessarily because they were ‘bad’. And the specific reason given by the deeper Jewish sources is that they didn’t believe in the Tzaddik’s ability to redeem them.
Clearly, some ‘bad’ people made it out of Egypt - Datan and Aviram, Korach, the Erev Rav etc etc. Clearly, being ‘good’ wasn’t the measure of who made it out.
Believing in the Tzaddik was.
As it was then, so it may well be today.
After that tsunami dream, I did some serious hitbodedut about it, trying to figure out the message, at least for me. I got a picture in my head of a massive Rav Berland holding back the waves, and all these half-dead people who’d been buried in the sand kind of levitating up out the ground and floating after him.
To me, the message was clear. There is some sort of tsunami coming, whatever that actually means, that will overwhelm the world. But if you’re following after the Tzaddik - whoever that ultimately turns out to be - you’ll be ok, you’ll stay dry.
And if not?
I shudder to think.
When we were reading Parshat Zachor last Shabbat, I kept wondering to myself who Amalek is today. After all, Rav Ofer HERE says that since World War II and the holocaust, when the Germans proved themselves all too worthy of the name ‘Amalek’, Am Yisrael has been continually engaged in the battle against Amalek.
Rav Ofer says it has to be that way right now, because before each time the way the world was being run spiritually changed in some massive way - like when the Torah was given, when King David was crowned King, when the Second Temple was rebuilt - the Jews first had to battle Amalek.
In a moment, I’ll bring a bit more of the really interesting evidence pulled together by the renegade genius Immanuel Velikovsky about who Amalek actually was in biblical times, but before I do that, this is what Rav Natan of Breslov has to say about Amalek (taken from THIS article on the Breslov.org website):
Reb Noson writes that Amalek corresponds to burning lust, the strife between husband and wife, between a person and his community and the hatred directed against the true tzaddikim (Likutey Halakhot, Minchah 7:20).
Given all the controversy going on at the moment against the true Tzaddikim, I found that pretty darned interesting. But there’s more:
“The Torah writes, [Amalek] smote the hindmost among you” (Deuteronomy 25:18). Our Sages teach: “[Amalek] separates the tails and throws them high (Tanchuma, Ki Taytze 10).
WE ARE ALL STILL FIGHTING AMALEK TODAY
After reading Rav Natan’s words, I can see that we really are all up to our necks still fighting Amalek today.
But now, let’s turn our attention to who Amalek actually was in the past. There’s some interesting details about the nation of Amalek that have always puzzled many people.
On the one hand, most historians have always been careful to portray ‘Amalek’ as a bunch of wild Bedouin tribesmen who were wandering in the desert when they happened to cross the path of Am Yisrael, on the way to receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.
Yet in Parshat Balak, when the evil Bilaam is trying to curse the tents of Jacob he actually comes out with the following blessing instead: “…his king shall be higher than Agag, and his kingdom shall be exalted.”
Agag, as we know from the time of the prophet Samuel, was a name used by the Amalekite kings, so this Agag mentioned by Bilaam would appear to be a forerunner of the ‘Agag King of the Amalekites’ who ended up being drawn and quartered by the Prophet Samuel a few hundred years’ later.
In that same parsha, the Torah tells us about Bilaam: “And when he looked on Amalek he took up his parable and said: ‘Amalek [is] the first of the nations, but his latter end shall be that he perish forever.”
HOW DID AMALEK GET TO BE 'THE FIRST AMONGST NATIONS'?
How come the Torah is referring to this rag-tag bunch of travelling murderous Bedouin as ‘the first of the nations’? And what is the big deal for Am Yisrael to have a king that is higher than the Amalekite King Agag, if we’re talking about a bunch of itinerant desert-dwellers?
Get ready for this next piece of info, because when I read it, it completely blew me away.
CHAOTIC 'WEATHER' AND MATAN TORAH
As we know the Torah was given amidst what you’d probably call some ‘extreme weather’ activity. The whole world was in an uproar as Hashem had caused one miracle after another to happen by way of the proto-planet Venus coming in a little too close for comfort towards Planet Earth.
(I wrote a whole big post about how God has frequently used comets to fight for the Jews, which I might re-post after this goes up, BH, to give you more context and background, but it was basically another ‘Nibiru’ show, just 3,300 years ago.)
So, the whole world was in chaos, and as our sources teach us, just as the sea split for Am Yisrael in Egypt, so every other body of water in the whole world also split at the same time. Can you imagine what sort of forces were in play on the planet at that time, what sort of Heaven-sent winds and hurricanes must have been gusting about, for every body of water to split?
(As an aside, Rav Berland recently taught that the reason Yitro converted was because the water in his cup also split at that time. 3,300 years ago, everyone was going on about ‘electro-magnetic forces’ and near misses with comets causing all the weird weather, earthquakes, sea-splitting, comets showers etc. But when Yitro saw that the water in his cup also split, he said:
“This is only God’s doing!! No comet would cause the water in my teacup to split!” And he immediately decided to convert.)
So anyway, there’s the hurricane to end all hurricanes going on, there’s hundreds of volcanoes exploding all over the planet, huge tidal waves and tsunamis flooding all over the place, massive earthquakes, the whole of the world is literally upended and held above the heads of Am Yisrael before Matan Torah….
And it affected every single nation and country on the planet, not just Egypt.
AMALEK DWELLED IN WHAT WAS THE ARABIAN PENINSULA
And one of the places it happened to effect severely was the Arabian peninsula, where the Amalekites had recently been living. When the sea split by the Sea of Reeds, Arabia also got pounded by terrifying forces of nature, cities crumbled, comets fell - and the Amalekite survivors packed up and decided to try their luck in Egypt.
This was back before CNN, so everyone just thought that other places must be doing better than their neck of the woods was. The Amalekites crossed the path of Am Yisrael en route, and because they had zero fear of God and hated the Jews tremendously, they started a war with Am Yisrael just when the rest of the world was poised to convert en masse and to recognize Hashem in the world, after the terrifying experiences they’d just gone through.
After Joshua defeated them on the battle ground, the Amalekites then headed off to Egypt, as per plan A - and became the infamous Hyksos rulers of Egypt, or ‘shepherd-kings’.
According to Velikovsky,
“In the history of Egypt the most frequently mentioned names of the Hyksos kings is Apop….Agag I appears to be Apop I, and Agag II was Apop II…who reigned…some four hundred years later.”
We know who ‘Agag II’ was: he was the Amalekite king who King Shaul went to battle, but who he failed to kill, as per the instructions of Hashem, as delivered via the Prophet Samuel. Shaul let Agag live, and during that additional time he managed to father a child who would become the ancestor of Haman, the next ‘big name’ in the nation of Jew-hating Amalekites.
Velikovsky brings a lot of supporting evidence for this idea in his book ‘Ages of Chaos’ Volume I, but if Amalek went on to become the Hyksos rulers of an Egypt that was left completely ruined by the aftermath of the 10 plagues and the Exodus, that would certainly explain why Bilaam referred to them as ‘first amongst nations’.
The last bit of the puzzle, for now, is who actually got rid of the Hyksos kings after they’d ruled Egypt for 400 years, and how Amalek and the Jews fit into this picture.
Again, what you are about to read is mind-bogglingly awesome:
Egypt was liberated from the Hyksos by King Shaul and the Jewish people!
Let’s piece all the bits together, first from the Egyptian ‘historical’ side of things, and then from the Torah-true side of things. There’s a document called the Sallier Papyrus I which documents how the last Hyksos King called Apop II (Agag II) sent a humiliating demand to a native Egyptian prince called Seknenre, who ended up being arrested.
Something called the ‘Carnavon tablet’ then tells the story of how Seknenre’s son, Kamose, rebelled against the Hyksos with the help of some foreign troops. Now, Egyptian monuments never praised foreigners or outsiders, so the story of how the Hyksos was beaten is phrased very oddly by an Egyptian noble and eye-witness to the battle:
“’One’ besieged the city of Avaris” - the capital city of the Hyksos Pharoahs. “’One’ fought on the water in the canal [riverbed] of Avaris…’One’ fought in Egypt…’One’ captured Avaris.”
Who is this ‘One’ who did all these things on behalf of the native Egyptians, and finally put an end to the Hyksos rule of ancient Egypt? Let’s go over to book of Samuel, where we’ll pick up some very interesting clues:
Samuel I 15: 2-3:”Thus says the Lord of Hosts, I remember what Amalek did to Israel, how he laid in wait for him on the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy everything that they have!”
So then King Shaul went and gathered: “two hundred thousand footmen, and 10,000 men from Judah” and marched off to do battle. A little later, Samuel tells us: (I 15:5) “And Shaul came to the city of Amalek, and laid in waiting in the stream.”
Again, notice how far from being impoverished Beduin, the Amalekites have a proper city of their own, and notice how at least some of the fighting being described by Samuel occurs ‘on the water, in the canal of Avaris’.
Later on, in Samuel 15:7-8, the prophet tells us that: “Shaul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive.,,”
King Shaul is the ‘one’ described in the Carnavon tablet by the Egyptian eye-witness!
There’s so much more to say about all this, and I hope to share more of how the events described in our Torah truly do appear in the annals of history in future posts.
In our upside-down world, the chronology used for the Middle East is all based on Egyptian sources, which for various reasons is wrong. So every time archaeologists discover something that is clearly referenced in Tanach, they usually tack on some guff about it their find describing something depicted in our Torah, but at the wrong period of time.
There are so many examples of where this has happened, but take a look at THIS story, about finding the remains of Sdom and Gomorrah, for a recent illustration of the problem.
All those atheist archeologists and Middle Eastern historians and Egyptologists and anthropologists are simply continuing the time-honored tradition of Amalek, albeit not always consciously, of trying to hide God’s presence in the world.
But our Torah is true! The Amalekites existed then - and went down in secular history as the Hyksos rulers of ancient Egypt - and they still exist today, as the people who deny and denigrate our true Tzaddikim and stoke strife between Jews.
And so the battle continues.
As has been going on all year, I'm going into Purim completely unprepared.... I moved house two days' ago, so even just finding my Megillot is a bit of a task (and let's not even talk about getting my oven working or figuring out the hot water.)
But Baruch Hashem, other people are a bit more organised, so here's a quick round-up of some other Purim pieces you may like to read:
hOver on www.ravberland.com, the Rav tells us about the correct mindset we should have going into Purim, HERE.
Over on www.ofererez.com, Rav Ofer tells us that before Hashem is about to make a big spiritual change in the world, the Jewish people first have to go through another test with Amalek. Read that HERE.
Over on the soulfoodie blog, you'll find this:
And then on Sasson, there's a very nice selection of poems, stories and non-fiction pieces about Purim, including:
The recipe for survival that was concealed in my mother's kreplach
V'ne'hafochu - A fish story
And BH, things really ARE starting to turn around in the world for the good this Purim, 5778.
Following on from the 'Erev Rav' discussion below, Rav Ofer Erez just posted up a new clip with English subtitles that kind of makes the point very keenly about the importance of seeing the good in the world.
That means seeing the good in everything that happens to us, seeing the good in ourselves, and seeing the good in other people (even the 'awkward squad' that really do drive us mad with their terrible behavior.)
Again, this is not at all easy, and it's the work of 120 years.
But from experience, it's those people who are struggling to see the good in what's happening to them and around them, and who are struggling to see the good in themselves, who tend to be the most harsh, judgmental and unforgiving about other people.
Judging favorably is going against basic human nature, but it's the key to redemption the sweet way, as it's seeing the spark of Hashem that exists within all of creation, and certainly within our fellow Jews - even if they are the worst of the worst.
I'm not saying ignore bad behavior, quite the opposite. What I'm saying is that anyone who is really doing the work of judging THEMSELVES first of all will start to understand how they themselves got to be the way they did.
And once that happens, then they'll also start to understand how so many other people got to the place they got to, and they'll feel more compassion for them.
Without all the true tzaddikim we have in our lives, without all the help God sent down to us, which one of us can honestly say that we wouldn't be just as nasty and horrible as all these 'Erev Rav' types we see walking about?
If you had the sort of childhoods they'd had, the sorts of experiences they had, the sort of huge inner demons they've had to fight, wouldn't you also act in the same disgusting ways?
Again, it's not excusing the behavior, it's understanding where it comes from. People make trouble and hurt others because they are mentally and spiritually disturbed, they are fundamentally cut off from God, they don't believe God cares about them, or sees them, and they deeply hate themselves.
That's what they're projecting out into the rest of the world.
And the way to cure that problem at its root is to help them re-attach to God, to reassure them that God still loves them, and to encourage them to start judging themselves favorably. That means criticising the BAD ACTION not making global statements about people BEING BAD.
This is a crucial distinction.
Even the wicked King Menashe who the midrash says killed 8 million of his fellow Jews (more than Hitler!), including his grand-dad the Prophet Isaiah, ultimately made teshuva and returned to God.
God wants these people back.
Go read the story about how God Himself dug out a special passage under His heavenly throne to enable the prayers of Menashe to ascend to Him, because the angels were blocking them.
The angels said: "What?! You're going to let Menashe make teshuva?! After all the really awful, terrible things he's done?! No way!!! Who can be more of an 'erev rav' than Menashe?!"
But God ignored them, and welcomed Menashe's prayers, and he ultimately made teshuva.
Looking for the good in these people is what God wants.
And if we don't want to give God what He wants, that's something we really have to go take a careful look, and explore why that is, and why we are so determined to hold on to our hatred and harsh judgments against our fellow Jews.
Because maybe, that's pointing to the fact that deep inside, we also may be feeling a little cut-off from God and God's mercy, and that we aren't really judging ourselves so favorably, or liking ourselves so much, despite all appearances to the contrary.
Whenever I read a rant these days, I come away knowing 100% that this person doesn't like themselves very much, and is struggling spiritually.
And yes, they're still acting like a pig and driving me mad! And yes, I need to stay away from them and their destructive behavior, and to protect myself from becoming collateral damage as a result of their spiritual malaise and inner turmoil!
But from that safe distance, then I can understand why they do what they do, and why they act how they act, and I can ask God to help them out of the hole they are in.
Because if other people don't feel compassion for them, and pray for these disturbed individuals, they will never, ever find their way out, and find their way back to God.
And God wants them back.
Rav Ofer does a much better job of explaining this than I do, so here he is. (You can turn on the English subtitles by clicking the tab at the bottom right of the screen. It's a 4 minute quick view, but he packs an awful lot of Torah into that time.)
Over on Rav Ofer Erez's new English website, there's some very useful advice on the thorny subject of how we can actually judge others favorably in practice.
Rav Ofer helped me so, so much when I got stuck on seeing the bad in other people - and suffering a great deal from doing that - so I'm so pleased that his wisdom is finally making it out into the wider English-speaking world.
You can see his practical advice for how to actually do judging favorably, in practice (that I got stuck on for around five years....) here:
PS: Thanks so much to everyone for their kind words and support. Dear readers, you are the best! I'm so touched that my good news is also bringing a smile to your faces.
People, you are amazing.