It’s not going to shock you if I tell you I’m not a tzaddik, right? I mean, if you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, or even just for the last couple of weeks, you should already know that I’m really not a tzaddik, and that I struggle with some enormous bad middot, a lot of the time.
What stops me from turning into a full-blown psycho is hitbodedut, the practice of talking all my stuff through with Hashem for an hour every single day, and the police. ;-)
But even so, the last few days I have been struggling, and struggling, and struggling some more to stay on top of a rising internal feeling that I can’t take much more of this.
The ‘this’ in question being the awful situation I’m in with the mendacious and greedy seller of the apartment, whose lawyer is refusing to even respond to our letters, or even begin to discuss giving us back at least the part of the deposit we paid over that they have no possible legal
That it’s unfair is one thing. That she lied through her teeth to trap us into signing the contract is another thing. That our lawyer was cack and her lawyer was a Mafioso is still yet another thing.
So far, the hitbodedut has helped me to deal with all that stuff enough that I’m not going crazy.
But now, I’ve hit the worst: inaction.
Nothing is getting anywhere and I can’t see anyway of moving this forward without going into mega-psycho mode.
I’m a nice, polite British woman much of the time. But inside, there’s this hulk, and you really don’t want to get it angry.
(Just ask my husband).
God has helped me with my anger issues so much the last few years, and it’s really transformed my home and my relationships, especially with my kids.
But the bad middot are back bubbling away furiously inside now, and I told God this morning: I can’t take much more of this.
I feel like I’m trying to keep the lid clamped down tight on all the rage, and to try to turn it into emuna via my hitbodedut sessions, but I’m reaching the limit of what I can handle.
The hulk is starting to get very restless. And you really don’t want to get it angry.
So I asked God straight today, to please start properly fighting on my behalf, because if I take up arms against our seller, there is no telling how bad it could get. And I really don’t want to fight with her. Not because I’m scared, and not even because I might lose, but because it’s really not what God wants me to do.
He wants me to have emuna, and to let Him fight the battle, in whichever way that needs to happen.
And I want that too.
But I can’t hang on much more, the way it is. It has to change soon, something has to shift, something has to move.
Because otherwise, I’m not sure I’ll be able to stop my bad middot from bubbling out, and making an already bad situation even worse.
And that’s the last thing I want 3 days before Tisha B’Av.
On the volcanic 'pressure building' front, the USGS has started publically slandering Dutchsinse, the earthquake forecasting guy on Youtube, since he started telling people 3.0+ quakes are hitting the centre of the Mauna Loa volcano, on Hawaii.
Recently, the USGS has also been cutting the earthquake feeds on the West Coast of the US, making it very hard for anyone to figure out what's really going on.
My guess is: the pressure is building, underground.
There are fissures showing up in the ground next to Yellowstone, the caldera of Kilauea has collapsed but the magma is now starting to come back, and who really knows how all the pressure is going to get released that won't involve a huge volcanic explosion and / or a massive earthquake.
Although, God can always turn down the heat again, if that's what He chooses to do.
In the meantime, Dutchsinse is offline, and he was the best source of real-time info and insight about what's really going on, seismically, that's out there.
And from the last few forecasts, things are only getting MORE active, not less.
The pressure builds, indeed.
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.
Following on from the discussion in the comments on THIS post, one of my readers sent me an email where she made a very profound point, that I'd like to share with you. She wrote that:
'I really wish that just wanting to be a mother and a wife and taking care of your home wouldn't be looked down upon. That instead of praising women who earn a PhD or become a mayor or the like, we would praise mothers who keep it together when their toddler throws a tantrum in the supermarket or the wife who is cleaning the floors for the 1035th time.
"I think one of the problems today is that nobody wants to have the wife's role, that also women want wives who take care of the drudgery of housework and childrearing. However for me personally I have come to realize that as difficult as it is to being a wife and a mother when I am taking care of my children I am actually building eternity."
This precious reader really hit the nail on the head:
No-one wants the job of being a wife today.
All the elements of that job are being outsourced, because we value it so little. The cleaning is going to the nice Polish lady, the caring is going to the nice Phillipino lady, the cooking is being catered in, the kids are being sent out to sleep-away camps, and if anyone actually wants to have a real, deep conversation and pour out their heart - hey, that's what shrinks and counsellors are for!
I'm part way through reading 'From Darwin to Hitler', which is actually a much more nuanced and well-written book than perhaps its title might suggest.
Part of what happened post-Darwin is that all the 'thinkers' in Europe started seeing human life in terms of 'valuable and productive to society' or 'worthless and pulling society down'.
Disabled people, criminals, and people with mental and physical health problems were in this last category, together with different 'races' and poor people, depending on how racist and snobby the Darwinist 'thinker' actually was.
And the only people in that first, 'worthy' category were people who earned money and helped society flourish. Mothers weren't valued, except as the 'source' of society's future workers. But the actual 'job' of being a mother, being a wife - that was completely devalued and looked down upon.
(And yes, there were a whole bunch of Zionist, atheist Jews who thought that way too. This lead directly to the shocking idea that women should give their babies over to other people to raise as soon as they'd given birth and go back to being 'productive members of society' again, which was the Kibbutz ideal way of life for a few decades, until even the atheist Zionists started to figure out that was completely retarded and damaging to everyone involved.)
Darwin's false, atheistic science completely warped the fabric of society in so many profound ways, including how many of us women have been brainwashed into believing that we only have value if we are working and have a paid job.
But as my correspondent put it so eloquently, the real job, the real value we add to the world is by expending our precious time and effort primarily and principally on trying to raise happy, emotionally-healthy kids who are still connected to their souls.
And if that wasn't enough of a full-time job, we also have our hands full trying to help unrectified husbands get over all their issues and become the amazing people God created them to be, too.
Just before I sat down to type this, I had another upsetting fight with one of my teens, who is still going through a lot of stuff and acting horribly, as a result. The last two days, she's been giving me the strong 'vibe' that all her problems are down to me and my cack mothering abilities, and as someone who quit my career to look after my family, that's pretty painful.
Motherhood is very hard! Motherhood is often very unrewarded and taken for granted (especially by moody teenagers). But being a mother, and being a wife, is the most important, precious job we have in the world, despite the awful wages and cack employment conditions and mouthy co-workers (who all think they are the boss).
It sucks that you can't quit the job no matter how bad it gets, and there is no paid sick leave or overtime!!
But that's the main job we women got given to do by Hashem.
And as someone who used to have a high-flying career, I can tell you that being at the office is definitely the easier option.
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.
The last few weeks, I have been feeling incredibly lethargic and drained. Most days this week, I feel like I’ve been moving through treacle. It’s been so hard to get anything done, from the smaller things like wash up to the bigger things like trying to write stuff for my blogs, and my book.
Mamash, it’s taken an enormous effort of will to do anything, because I really just wanted to curl up and go back to sleep. Was I sick? Nope. Over-tired? A little – when am I not, tho? Stressed? Yes, obviously. Again, that’s nothing new.
This morning, I’m feeling a little better again, but there is such a fatiguing vibe that’s settled over the planet recently, and it’s all connected to the freak weather and volcanoes.
I’ve written a bunch of posts about how our moods and health are affected by the electromagnetic conditions prevailing in the world over on spiritualselfhelp, and if this topic interests you then go take a look.
But the point is, God is sending a different electro-magnetic ruach down to the world at the moment, that is affecting us all and making us all feel slow, lethargic and ‘switched off’. Some people are experiencing that has head fog, others as an inability to remember stuff, others as an awful feeling of stuckness, and kind of mental paralysis, others as pure fatigue.
And maybe all of these things together.
But it’s an electro-magnetically-induced situation, that’s being engineered in the world by Hashem. This is also why blog posts are slowing up, why no-one feels like commenting, or doing much – it’s part of the Divine plan for right now.
And at the same time as the slo-mo is going on in our personal lives, things are going crazy with planet earth. There was another big eruption yesterday, this time in Indonesia. Meanwhile, a third ‘wildfire’ has started up in the UK, which they are blaming on sparks from firing guns at a nearby shooting range.
That’s complete BS! This third fire also started on Sunday, when the Saddleworth Moor fire began, but in a location some 30 miles away. There were no shooting ranges near Saddleworth or Winter Hill, and ‘whatever’ caused those fires to begin is also underneath this third fire at Otterburn.
We saw this same sort of miraculous fire starting here in Israel, back in November 2016, the day when the Rav was convicted in Kangaroo Court and forced to demean himself with a public ‘confession’ that was broadcast all over the TV and internet.
The cause of causes for all this stuff is ultimately God.
The mechanism He’s using to heat the planet up is electro-magnetic, and connected to the celestial spheres, particularly the sun.
And a lot of things are starting to come together, from Trump’s ‘peace’ plan, to what’s going on with Hawaii, to all the record-smashing freak weather and floods still happening all across the planet, and now, new volcanic activity.
And in the meantime, we’re all stuck feeling like we can’t do anything or get anywhere, and that everyday life is like moving through treacle. It’s a tough time. It feels like the Three Weeks came early this year.
I’ve been sitting here all week feeling pretty lousy again, that I can’t do anything, achieve anything, plan anything, get anywhere. It’s all treacle, treacle, treacle.
But this is God’s plan for us at the moment, and really, it just has to change soon, doesn’t it?
I know ‘everything is fine’ intellectually, but feelings-wise, I’m just bouncing off the bottom a lot at the moment, and I’m having to deal with a lot of yeoush and despair on an hourly basis.
(Especially when I have to have anything to do with estate agents…)
Even my talking to God sessions have been pretty rubbish recently, because the head fog has been all encompassing, and I can’t focus, or settle down.
But it will change! It’s just a temporary electro-magnetically induced phenomenon, and some very good things are hopefully around the corner. We just have to ask God to keep hanging on to us to get us there.
PS: I realized there might be some copyright issues with the video of Saddleworth Moor, so I’m going to take down the video for now, and do them in a different way in the future, BH, brain fog permitting.
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.
A couple of weeks’ ago, I had to go for a ‘talk’ with my kid’s teacher and headteacher at her high-school. The kid had skipped one day too many, and even the patience of her understanding Israeli school teachers was starting to wear thin.
When they asked the kid how she was getting on in the school, which is half-boarding, the kid explained how it’s hard to make friends because everyone is stuck in their phone. Like, everyone.
The teacher immediately cut in, and said that she’d also observed that, and that she could see how all these ‘smart phones’ were completely ruining the generation, and making it so hard for normal, friendly interaction to happen between the students.
They’ve all been in school together for a year, and they are still practically strangers, because it’s easier to play candy crush than to come out of your shell and really talk to someone else.
It’s so sad.
Since we had to move out to a different part of Jerusalem four months’ ago, both my kids have been feeling lonely and isolated in the hosue, as we now live a 50 minute walk away from their friends.
The older one is busy studying for bagrut, and boards full-time, so she notices it much less. But the younger one? The younger one is sinking a little, and I feel powerless to stop it.
We had another fight over it yesterday, as I noticed she spent three hours solid on her phone, texting.
“What do you want me to do instead, what?!” she challenged. “I can’t just go downstairs and put a sign up that I want some friends! There’s nothing to do here!”
She’s right. There’s nothing to do here.
Except shop a little, or eat out a little, and really, how much can you do even that?
But that’s not all. When I was telling her she spends too much time on her phone, she snapped back that I spend too much time on my computer, and that I also have no friends and she’s just mirroring me.
(See, the Breslov ideas are sinking in, one way or another…)
It bothered me a lot, because I think she’s right. Sure, I’m a writer by nature, and if I wasn’t typing on a keyboard, I’d be scribbling on a pad or scratching a stylus into mud, but aside from that, life is pretty lonely at the moment.
Since the house has imploded, I’m feeling pretty lost in the world. I don’t want to stay in this lonely flat (which is actually very nice, just in completely the wrong area) and I also don’t want to have to move into an expensive dump just to live in the ‘right’ area, because I don’t think I can live like that anymore.
So I’m stuck.
My husband (who does actually know a lot of stuff, and is often very useful) tells me that I have a bad case of yeoush, or despair, at the moment, and that we all do in generation. He’s also walking around a little like a brain-dead zombie, from all the stress and uncertainty we’re going through (again…) at the moment.
I so want things to change, he so wants things to change, but at this point, I just feel like I have no option on the table except holy apathy. When I was in Uman, I managed to squeeze out another couple of six hour praying sessions, but since then, even just keeping my regular hour a day is challenging.
I have a lot of yeoush about what’s going on, and that I can’t seem to change or do anything about, not by praying, and not by trying, and not by hustling.
In the meantime, my kid has taken to playing a song on her phone with the chorus ‘let’s be lonely together’. When I’m hanging up the washing, she’ll suddenly appear behind me and tell me: “Ima, let’s be lonely together.”
She’s a very deep kid.
She’s in a very lonely place.
And so am I.
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.
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.
Six weeks’ ago, when I was starting to pack up the tiny flat, my kid and her friends decided to rearrange all the furniture. They did a really good job, except they ended up shoving one of my huge, solid wood dining chairs in the corridor-room on the way to the back bedrooms.
That fateful day, I groped my way over to my kid’s bedroom to go and wake her up - and slammed straight into that massive piece of wood. I think I probably broke my toe.
Because we were in the middle of packing, I couldn’t find my helichrysum oil, I couldn’t find my sujok stick, my lentils - none of the things I usually use to deal with these minor emergencies. I was also so stressed from the move (because we still hadn’t found a place to rent, and we also were in the middle of trying to find a place to buy) that I couldn’t really pray on my toe to figure out what the message was.
Because God puts messages in everything, we just have to try and decode them.
So it took a month for the toe to heal up, and it’s still been a bit puffy and sore, but Baruch Hashem, on the mend!
Until that fateful day two days ago, when I stubbed it again, this time against the broken glass top of my oven that had been shoved somewhere for safe keeping.
Let’s be clear, I dealt with this situation with something approaching zero emuna.
I was so angry that I’d just stubbed that same poor toe that I banged the glass top away from me - and it smashed into a million shards. And I had nothing on my feet. So it took me half an hour to sort that particular mess out.
Then, I ended up having to take a kid to school again, like has been happening all year if I want her to actually make it there. And there was tons of traffic and I needed a wee. And then, 20 minutes away from home I got a phone call from the other kid, who had missed the bus to her school that was even further away and was now waiting for a bus that simply hadn’t come in an unfriendly Arab part of town.
So I made a U-turn, drove to pick her up - and quietly started to fume.
Just that morning, I’d written a sanctimonious post (draft....) on how a parent’s self-sacrifice, or mesirut Nefesh, is what really helps their kids to get through their issues, and for their kids’ souls to heal. Rav Arush wrote that in ‘Education with love’, and it’s been a credo I’ve been trying to hold by for the last seven years.
But two days ago, God showed me that yet again, my yetzer was causing me lots and lots of problems by taking things to extremes. Even something good, like sacrificing yourself for your kid, can end up being warped and unhelpful.
After I spent five hours taxi-ing my teens around before I’d even had breakfast, with a newly-swollen toe and a feeling of increasing anger and dissatisfaction, I started to realize that once again, I am approaching a ‘change point’ in my life.
For two days solid, I stomped around my new, bigger apartment feeling really awful, yelling at everyone and everything and emitting ‘dangerous Ima’ vibes.
Part of the problem was that I just realized that while I’d been blaming a lot of issues on my lack of space and cramped living quarters, many of the problems are actually much deeper than that.
I may have left the rented dump behind, but I was hugely disappointed to find that I’ve brought the ‘rented dump’ mindset of constriction, complaint and lack with me.
But life is so good!
So why have I been feeling so ucky the last few days?
The feet always allude to emuna. The feet are the place that the dark forces grab on to, to pull a person to oblivion. That’s part of the deeper spiritual reasons for dancing, and picking our feet up off the floor, because it breaks the hold of these evil forces.
So I danced a bit around the flat yesterday, and started to feel a little better.
Then, I sat down and tried to work out what message God is giving me, and this is what I got:
1) Sacrificing ourselves for our kids, especially our teens, doesn’t mean we give them a ‘get out of jail free’ card. They also have to learn responsibility and accountability, and if the price of missing the right bus because they got up too late is an hour of uncomfortable waiting in an Arab neighborhood of town, so be it.
2) I’m over-protective of my kids because I sometimes get scared about all the ucky people out there. But I need to trust Hashem more, that He will look after them, and send them the help they need whenever they truly need it.
3) I am running myself into the ground by trying to smooth out other people’s issues. Even though I love those other people so very much, this is not what God wants. He sends each of us tests to help us grow closer to Him, and to work on our emuna, and sometimes the highest help you can give a person is to step out of the way and encourage them to take everything back to God.
4) I still feel half-stuck. True, the gashmius side of things is now looking up, Baruch Hashem, but spiritually and emotionally, I’m still dealing with a bunch of things that aren’t really getting anywhere fast, or obviously improving.
5) I need to start going to more Kivrei Tzaddikim again. Kever Rachel is up the road from me, and it’s high time I paid it another visit.
There’s more insights popping up too, but I can see that change is on the horizon.
I can’t carry on the way I have been.
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