So, after readers Alizah and Stella drew my attention to THIS post over on Rav Berland, talking about apartments falling from the sky, I decided I should go over to Musrara yesterday afternoon, to look at the sky and see if anything else would happen while I was doing that.
It’s a strange thing with the Breslov stuff, that whenever you open up a book by Rebbe Nachman, or by Rav Ofer Erez, or by Rav Natan, it always seems to give you a message about what’s really going on in your life.
True, a blog post isn’t exactly the same, but it’s close enough.
So while I was already going to Musrara, I thought ‘let me go and see if there’s anything else to rent there’ – because the old bag who has got my house money still isn’t giving it back in the meantime.
So I found the *one and only* apartment currently listed there for rent, and miraculously, it wasn’t one of the millions I’ve already seen over the last few years, and I looked at the sky a lot before I went to take a look at it.
On the one hand, it had three bedrooms, and they all had a window (kind of…), and two reasonably new bathroom / toilets which is already a plus. On the downside, the kitchen pre-dated the Second Temple, there were red ants everywhere, and while I could fit my furniture into the salon, walking around it would definitely be a challenge.
On the one hand, he was very kindly dropping the price to only double my last mortgage, and it had a place out front to sit, and it was very close to the Rav, and they had no plans to sell it anytime soon, so we could live in it for years. On the other hand….
I sat on a bench looking at the sky for a while in Musrara, and I started to feel really, really down.
I came home, and the down kind of spiraled even further down. I went to bed, I woke up – and I realized I was feeling really angry at God. The sticking point was not the grotty, ucky, disgusting kitchen, the red ants, or the weird shape of every single room. I could have lived with that.
The sticking point was the furniture.
I have a table and sofa that are approaching 20 years old, and are massive. I’ve been trying to tell my kids and husband for five years that we need to get rid of them, but as my daughter keeps telling me, they’ve moved so much that this furniture is their anchor point.
The table and sofas makes them feel at home. And the table and sofas are just way too big for any apartment we can afford to rent in Musrara.
And strange to say, this is what opened up the conversation with God this morning, because I started to get really angry at the stupid situation I currently find myself in where every option is really bad.
I decided I have to lay things out on the table, so to speak, as there is no point pretending, so I told God bluntly:
“I am not on the spiritual level to happily live in yet another hugely expensive rented dump just to be in Musrara. I can’t do it anymore.”
We moved to Musrara four years’ ago as part of our misguided ‘fake pious’ stage, where we really thought Meah Shearim was the pinnacle of Jewish perfection. We stayed because it’s where the Rav is, and being close to the Rav is really important.
But socially for anglos, Musrara is a wasteland.
And it’s so expensive and dumpy.
And I got burned on that property I tried to buy because so much of that area is problematic, legally.
And I just can’t do it anymore.
If I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s that God wants us to be real. Maybe, this whole experience has been going on as part of the tikkun for the last time we tried to move to Musrara, because back then, we were trying so hard to be people we really aren’t, religiously.
On Shabbat, Hamodia ran an interview with Rav Dan Tiomkin, who wrote an amazing book for BTs called ‘Reclaming the Lost Self’. I read that book at the height of my religious identify crisis three years’ ago, and it was extremely helpful.
. In the interview, Rav Tiomkin set out his ‘5 stages’ of the baal teshuva experience, as follows:
This process is similar for immigrants to a new country, too, so if you’re a BT who moved to Israel (like I am…) and then gets all Breslov on top of that (which is like moving to a different planet) – then it’s a triple dose of what’s being described.
Man, no wonder things have been so difficult the last few years!
BH, with my ‘can’t do expensive dumps’ anymore epiphany, I think me and my husband are now, finally, moving into that fifth and last stage of harmony, where we really just start to serve God the way He intended.
Maybe, now we finally got the message about not trying to fit in where we don’t, or trying to be people who we aren’t, God can now clear the way for us to find the place where we really belong, at least enough, in all our freakshow-frum weirdness.
So, I didn’t get an apartment when I looked at the sky (yet….).
But maybe, I got something even better.