Here's some more of the latest posts - I will continue posting up links twice a week or so, for the next few weeks, until more people start making it across to rivkalevy.com. What I can tell you is this: starting a completely new blog has re-energised my writing, especially on the more internal, spiritual front.
Baruch Hashem! Getting away from all the tired, hackneyed and self-serving 'geula blog' stuff has been such a blessing... hopefully the first of many.
Continue reading the full post here:
Every now and then, I think about Musrara, that place of high windows, Moroccan mafia and Breslov chassidim, that village on the edge and simultaneously in the middle of everything.
Continue reading at the new blog, here: rivkalevy.com/2018/12/29/through-someone-elses-window/
In case you haven't noticed, I've started writing over on www.rivkalevy.com, but I will still post up the new blog posts here for a while, until more people have found their way over to the new site.
This site is paid up until June 2019, and then I'll decide whether I'm keeping it for posterity, or permanently pulling the plug. In the meantime, here's the latest post, below:
I know the mainstream media really isn’t telling anyone anything much, unless they have to, about what’s really going on with ‘climate change’ in the world, and volcanoes and earthquakes.
ut last week, 20 different volcanoes erupted across the planet, including the massive blast at Krakatau, Indonesia, which sparked off a volcanic tsunami that’s killed and displaced hundreds of people.
There are huge geological changes going on right now. The Krakatau blast shot sulphuric particles 55,000 ft up into the stratosphere – which means, amongst other things, that more freak weather is on the way.
A few weeks ago, Manam Volcano in Papua New Guinea also shot a bunch of fine volcanic debris and dust 40,000 ft up, into the stratosphere. I think that probably has something to do with the massive hail now falling on Sydney, and other parts of Australia.
(Although clearly, there are other more spiritual reasons for why Australia is currently getting hit with apocalyptic weather like wildfires, flashfloods and now hail the size of golf-balls.)
Things are heating up – and geologically, this is set to continue, and is probably going to get much, much more dramatic over the next 20 years, regardless of whether Moshiach shows up right now or not. If Moshiach shows up, it’ll be easier for the world. And if not, we’re on the cusp of another serious Grand Solar Minimum period, which will see dramatic global cooling, and an enormous uptick in volcanoes and earthquakes.
My husband, God bless him, is really not convinced by the Grand Solar Minimum information I keep giving him, even though it’s based on something approaching real science, for a change, and not ‘prophecies’ from autistics, or xtians with an ‘armageddon’ complex, nor politicians and professors who have made a career out of lying to the public about what’s really going on.
Things are about to get very challenging, geologically-speaking.
And if Moshiach comes now, we’ll be saved the worst of it and it’ll be sweetened. And if not, then derech hateva, naturally, we are in for a rough ride as a civilization, because mass communication and heavy industrialization has never been tested with the sort of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, freak weather and electrical discharges that are going to be unleashed with greater and greater force across the planet over the next 20 years, as part of the Grand Solar Minimum.
So, how can we prepare for what might be coming next?
The answer is to get real, finally, and to stop wasting our precious time and effort on all the pointless circus that is politics, entertainment and the media. To take our head out of Fakebook, and to go and give our kids a hug, and to have a real conversation with the people we really love (if they didn’t get yeoush and give up on us, already.)
Getting prepared spiritually means really coming back to God, making teshuva, and accepting that life is not going to continue on as normal. One way or another, there are big changes on the horizon.
I know, its human nature to deny all this, and pretend it’s not happening. I get that, I really do!
No-one likes change, no-one likes upheaval, no-one likes the idea that we’re not in control of what’s happening.
(I feel like that person at the party that everyone sees coming, then immediately ducks into the toilets, or runs out the room to avoid…)
But - at least have a plan ‘B’, at least start admitting the thought that the world may not continue exactly how it is right now, for too much longer. At least, spend five minutes thinking about what aspects of life you might change, or do differently, if some of these big changes really are on the horizon.
Over the last few years, I’ve seen so many people draw back from the brink, when it comes to this stuff. The evidence piles up, the facts flow in, the obvious conclusion to be made is that something radical needs to change in their lives, for them to become the Jews God really wants them to be.
And at that point, the fear kicks in, the doubts take over – and the person freezes up and turns into a robot, going through the motions, talking the talk without really walking the walk.
I’ve seen that happen so many times.
And then, the excuses start, and the superficial approach to life gets laid on super, smotheringly, thick, and the person loses themselves in shopping, and inanity, and Fakebook, because that seems to be easier than really looking reality in the face.
And then, usually, their kids start acting up, dropping out of school, and speeding off the derech at a million miles an hour, or getting sick, God forbid, and apparently no-one knows why this is happening.
It’s happening, because we are all down here to work.
The volcanoes, earthquakes, illnesses and wars are coming because God wants the heart. He wants us to be brave enough to step out of our comfort zones, and follow Him into the desert.
As it was in Egypt, so it is again.
Which is why you can see how so many people didn’t make it out of galut, even when the world was literally crumbling around them.
After I wrote this, I got sent an email by someone close to Rav Berland, where the Rav apparently said that there was some massively horrible thing that was meant to happen on the 10th of Tevet, but that it’s been sweetened – temporarily.
There’s still a lot of spiritual work required to get it removed, but at the very least, the awful ‘whatever it is’ (probably, another war in Israel….) got pushed off.
But that would certainly explain why I was feeling so down the last few days, and why today I’m feeling much, much happier again.
Thank God for our true tzaddikim.
So, I ran away with my husband to Tsfat for Shabbat, that city of refuge, where the Arizal, Rav Yosef Caro, Rav Moshe Cordovero, and a few other massive tzaddikim are buried in the ancient graveyard, that dates back to first temple times.
One of my kids wanted the house to herself, to throw an 18th birthday party for her bestie, and the other one had a Shabbat away with her school, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to ‘get away from it all’, for a weekend, and try to regain some equilibrium.
Just one problem: the hotel couldn’t find our booking.
And we got there 10 scant minutes before Shabbat began.
And the hotel was completely, utterly, totally booked up.
I looked at my husband, he looked at me, and for a minute there, I thought I’d be spending Shabbat in the car, just eating the nosh we’d brought with for the meals.
The nice manager type immediately got on the phone, and called another hotel which had lots of room – of course it did! It was so skanky!
But it was a bed. It had a toilet. So we ignored the pink fixtures dating from the 1970s. We made peace with the fact that the entire bathroom was overlooked by a neighboring building and had no curtains. And we were grateful that God put it into our heads to bring a duvet with, as the one thin blanket on the beds was no match for a cold winter night in Tsfat.
A bed is a bed is a bed. Even if it’s right next to a wall that’s as cold as a block of ice, and abuts a built in wardrobe so snugly, you can’t really wiggle your toes.
And a toilet is a toilet is a toilet. Even if it’s salmon pink, older than your children and overlooked by neighbors.
And the nice manager type told us we could come back to his hotel for the meals, so we also had food aplenty to eat, Baruch Hashem.
My husband headed off to the Carlebach-style shul in the Old City, while I headed down to the graveyard, to do some tikkun haklalis. The sun was lowering over the hills that face the Old City of Tsfat, and the fields where the Ari and his disciples used to go out on a Friday night, to greet the Sabbath Queen.
As I looked out over those massive mountains – Meron, Shammai, Hillel, and Nof HaYamim – all I could in the distance was the streaks of red, purple and bluey-grey that announced the sun’s departure. Some of the clouds were piled up in weird shapes that suggested more mountains, and a whole other vista, a whole other world, just there over the hills.
I couldn’t take my eyes off the view. I just stood there for 15 minutes, drinking it all in and somehow feeling as though I’d arrived at the edge of the world, and something much better was just there, over the distant peaks, waiting to unfold.
I cried a bit – I don’t even really know why – and then I started to feel a little better, and a little more hopeful, than I’ve been feeling of late.
I tramped back up the four million stairs leading into the Old City, and went to stand outside the shul my husband was davening in. That shul has a reputation for achdut, or unity. You get just about every type squeezed into its four walls, and they were singing their hearts out when I got there.
The women’s section was full to busting – people were crammed in at the top of the stairs, trying to get a peak at the action – so I decided to wait downstairs on the street, and watch the stars appear over Tsfat.
After 10 minutes or so, an older lady who was also standing outside came over and asked me if I spoke English. I told her I did – and long story short, while my husband was welcoming the Shabbos with 400 Jews and a lot of dvekut with Hashem, I got stuck talking to a staunch Baptist from Oregon, who started telling me about ‘the rapture’ and ‘the tribulation’.
Thankfully, the rest of Shabbat picked up significantly.
The hotel we were eating in had tons of youth groups. The guy who started up Shabbat.com was there, and he was talking about the need for achdut, and Jewish unity. Then there was another group there of English-speaking yeshiva high school boys from Bet Shemesh, and from the way their Rebbes were talking at the meals, I could see that it was a school that was trying very hard to put the ‘inner dimension’ of the student first.
And then, there was the group of black-hatters from America, who also seemed to be on some sort of yeshiva group tour of the holy land.
Long story short, there were a lot of different people together in that hotel – and all speaking English! The only Hebrew I heard spoken was by the Arab waiters.
Later in the afternoon, we took a free tour of the Livnot building in the Old City, which you can learn more about HERE.
Livnot basically organizes for volunteers to come and dig, hike and learn in Israel, and has been going for over 40 years. 20 years ago, they wanted to expand their operations and extend the building they bought in the middle of the Old City of Tsfat.
When they started renovating, one of the workers found an underground passage. After 20 years of digging, and 35,000 volunteers, Livnot uncovered a huge, 16 room community centre in their basement, that dates back to the times of the Ari, in the 16th century.
While they still have another 200 metres to uncover, they’ve fixed up around 6 of the rooms and give free tours around it on Shabbat. As well as a bunch of small, underground houses and water cisterns, we also saw the communal mikva, the communal kitchen (which contains a huge stone oven, that Livnot has got working again, and where you can come and bake challot), and a few other rooms besides.
All Shabbat, I was asking God for some direction, some spiritual inspiration.
It seems so hard to keep going at the moment, for a number of reasons.
When I heard the story of how Livnot found the Ari’s community centre – one of only three buildings from that time that remained standing, after the horrendous earthquake that struck Tsfat in 1837 – it gave me a lot of hope.
Sometimes, it can seem that the light is so covered over, so hidden under layers of dirt and decay. But I felt like God was saying all shabbat: “Keep digging! Keep going! Sooner or later, you will hit the paydirt!”
It may take 20 years of hard work, but eventually it will pay off.
Ken yiyeh ratzon.
The last few weeks, I’ve been feeling pretty aimless again.
got the volcanoes book finished – I wrote it like it was a PhD, mamash, everything was footnoted and sourced in research papers, and I was quite proud of the amount of info I’d managed to uncover and pull together.
Problem was: it was boring as heck for most people who aren’t PhDs themselves.
I was stuck on the horns of a furious dilemma, because I’m not a scientist, so I had to quote tons of papers and research to be taken seriously, but at the same time, quoting all that stuff made what I was writing too ‘high level’ for most people.
For six weeks I ummed and ahhed about what to do about the book. Then a couple of days ago, I finally decided to dismember the content into Quora posts, and hope to get the information out that way.
All that effort….and nothing really to show for it.
As often happens, my mood follows my publishing experiences, so it plummeted off a cliff for a week. But then, I decided to try to pull myself back into ‘doing’ mode again, and to start again, to start over, to start afresh.
For the 400 millionth time, because isn’t this what Rabbenu tells us we have to do? Renew every second, don’t get old, keep making a new start.
It’s excellent advice, just not always so easy to implement.
Especially when you start looking around and asking yourself where exactly, all your effort has got to date. But I rolled up my sleeves, did the first mind map for a good few months, and started trying to plan a course ahead again.
Then, the atzeret in Hevron came along to distract me, and then last week all the terrorism kicked off big time, and I felt like I was in the middle of craziness again, and couldn’t do anything much except wait and see how it was all going to play out.
Then – that awful terrorist attack which killed the two Yosefs at the junction with Bet El, and which upset me greatly. But, their deaths also seems to have ‘sweetened’ things again, holy souls that they were, because by this week, everything is ‘back to normal’.
Or so it seems.
And so, having pinged back from the edge of geula again last week, with its yellow jackets, plunging stock markets, rising anti-semitism, Hezbollah tunnels and terror attacks, this week I’m back to wondering what on earth I’m doing with my life.
Everything has gone back to ‘fantastic plastic’, the fake, superficial world has got a reprieve and we’re back in nonsense land again. We’ve all got that fake smile pinned firmly back in place, and there’s nothing more to worry about than what colour to repaint the walls.
I don’t do so well in nonsense land.
So, I cracked open the Likutey Moharan to get a clue from Rabbenu what, what, WHAT?!?!?!
And I got to lesson 45 in part 1, where I read the following:
“[T]he exile in Egypt was essentially an exile of speech, for which reason Moses stuttered.”
Then, I read the following in lesson 46:
“[S]peech is a manifestation of consciousness, as in, “From His mouth come knowledge and discernment.”
And then, I started to understand why communicating in any sort of ‘real’ way is becoming increasingly difficult these days.
The exile is deepening, it’s reaching it’s zenith. It’s an exile where people can’t pray; where people can’t speak out what’s really in their hearts, where they can’t even really talk to themselves - or listen to themselves - honestly.
Speech today has been hi-jacked by the yetzer, and so we live in a world of superficial platitudes, pointless rants and painful silences.
And not much else.
Once Rabbenu explained what’s really going on, I started to feel a little more sane. Because sometimes, when I’m going on about how ‘plastic’ and how ‘fake’ and how ‘phoney’ so much of our communication is today, so many people apparently have no idea what I’m talking about.
It’s the world of lies, mamash, and 99.9% of us are in it up to our eyeballs.
As I wrote about HERE, I got chewed out last week for trying to cross a quiet Jerusalem road, on Shabbat morning when there are three cars an hour, when the red man was showing.
I was chewed out by an elderly chiloni lady, who clearly wasn’t very happy with her own life, so welcomed the opportunity to vent her frustration and anger on yours truly.
It really made me think about how most of us communicate, because while I was 100% in the wrong, for trying to cross the road with the red man, the way she spoke to me was so unnecessarily aggressive, I had to fight hard to keep myself from going off on one myself, and giving her a mouthful back.
Speech is in exile.
It’s in exile, when parents can’t have real heart-to-heart conversations with their children, and can’t tell them who they really are and where they really came from, and can’t share their experiences and mistakes with them in any but the most superficial and condescending ways.
It’s in exile, when husbands can’t tell their wives how much fear they actually feel about trying to make ends meet; or how much worry and confusion they are carrying about the future. It’s in exile when wives can’t tell husbands how much they miss them, when they’re working late again, and how much they miss them, when they just walk around with their fake smile plastered on their face and their heads stuck in an i-Phone, or a gemara, as a way of avoiding intimate contact and real conversation.
It’s in exile when one friend can’t tell another: I feel for you so much. I wish things were different. And when we just keep playing the same, awful, game of keeping up with the Cohens, instead of stepping out of the competition, and off the rat wheel.
It’s in exile when we can’t say to God, “God, help me! I’m lost! I’m totally overwhelmed, I don’t know if I’m coming or going! I’m bouncing off the bottom here, Hashem, pick me back up!”
Of course we can’t say that to God.
Most of us can’t say anything to God, so we pretend we’re communicating via the Shemoneh Esrei when really, our mind is on work, and the bills, and the upcoming barmitzvah, and the blocked drain.
Speech is in exile.
I feel it nearly every day, when I sit down to write, or sit down to answer a few more emails, or catch up with someone else only to have to sit through another phone call where I can feel there is so much more to be said, so much more going on, but the other person can’t quite put it into words.
So I read that, then I asked God:
“What’s my job then, in this nonsense land where most people are completely lying to themselves and can’t speak out what they are really feeling and experiencing?”
Because in case you haven’t noticed, most people think I’m crazy (but entertaining…)
And the answer I got back is this: Just be real.
Just carry on writing about your struggles.
Just carry on telling people that sometimes you fall down and watch some pop videos on Youtube, because it makes you really happy to see Mariah Carey got so fat. Just keep sharing how hard you sometimes find it in the fake world.
Just be real.
There’s nothing more to do.
Until Moshiach comes, speech is going to stay in exile.
But once geula gets under way in earnest, we’re going to need to remember how to actually talk to each other again.
And maybe, just maybe, that’s where me and my writing could come in a little bit useful.
Yesterday, I was listening to Rav Eliyahu Meirav’s interview with the Israeli media, and I felt very sad. For those who don’t already know, Rav Meirav’s stepson, Yosef Cohen, Hyd, was one of the two Nahal Chareidi soldiers gunned down at Givat Assaf, close to Bet El, last Thursday.
Rav Meirav was raised on the totally secular Shomer Hair Kibbutz of Bet Alfa, and was a fighter pilot in the IDF airforce. He made teshuva after the Yom Kippur war – along with so many others of that generation, who’d seen with their own eyes just how limited the army really was.
Rav Meirav met Rav Berland – and became one of his closest students.
If you read the secular press descriptions of Rav Meirav, you’ll notice that they kept stressing that he was part of the Breslov ‘sect’. That’s their way of using subtle language to keep dissing religious people anyway they can, and to sow division and hatred.
After Rav Meirav’s son was killed al Kiddush Hashem, all those ucky news sites with their agendas to sow hatred and strife between the Jewish people started running false stories about how Yosef had been ‘thrown out of his home’ for joining the army, and how his parents had ‘sat shiva’ for him even before he died.
Because hey, why miss any opportunity to put the boot in to the chareidi community, and especially the Breslov Chassidic ‘sect’?!
This led to the absolutely sickening spectacle of Rav Meirav and his wife having to give interviews to the press – before they’d even buried their son – refuting the lies that had been spread about their family.
I listened to Rav Meirav speak – about Yosef’s last words, about his own background and teshuva, and most of all about the need for us to stop all the awful hatred, and to come together as one people, respecting each other’s differences – and it really made me pause for thought.
The haters out there are on all sides of the equation.
They read Ha’aretz, they live in Tel Aviv, they hate any hint of yiddishkeit, and they use the media to paint awful pictures of frum Jews as ‘blood-sucking, medieval parasites’ at any opportunity. But that’s not the only place you’ll find them.
You’ll also find plenty of apparently ‘frum’ haters out there too.
‘Frum’ haters pour scorn on the Jews who don’t live in Israel and wait for big comets to smash into America and kill everyone. They hate people who want to convert to yiddishkeit, they hate people who don’t conform, they hate people who aren’t ‘frum’, or who aren’t ‘frum’ enough, or who are too ‘frum’, or not the right sort of ‘frum’.
‘Frum’ haters also hate people who don’t vaccinate….and they hate people who do vaccinate. They hate people who voted for Trump, and people who go to Uman for Rosh Hashana (or who don't go to Uman for Rosh Hashana); they hate people who don’t think exactly like them, and see the world exactly the way they do.
Every bit of the Jewish world is riddled with this disease of hating other Jews – including our bit.
And there is no segment of society that is doing better at loving our fellow Jews than any other.
We all have the problem and we all need to work on it.
One of the things that drew me to Breslov, and drew me to Rabbenu, is that in Rabbenu’s tent, everyone is welcome. When you go to Uman, you stop seeing people as ‘frum’ and ‘not frum’, or as part of your group or not part of your group.
You just see them as individuals, as Jews.
And some of those Jews are really nice, and really deep and really holy – however they may look externally. And some of those Jews are really not so easy to get on with, and have a number of obvious bad middot and issues – however they may look externally.
The yetzer works overtime to convince us that ‘our bit’ of the Jewish world is fine, the best, the shining example for the rest of Jewish society, while all the other bits are the ones with the problem.
But it’s not true! Not at all!
The problem comes down to this:
There are Jewish people who look for reasons to hate other Jews, and there are Jewish people who look for reasons to try to love them.
And both groups are scattered and embedded across all the different segments of Jewish society.
Sadly, our world being the morally-degenerate mess it currently is, it seems the people who hate the most are also the ones with the biggest mouths, and the biggest audiences, and the biggest following on Youtube.
The haters pop-up all over the place, to have a go at others, and to put the boot in, and to harp on about how great they are, and how great their group is – always at the expense of others.
I’ve had to learn the hard way, that this is not at all what God wants from us.
I’ve also had ‘hating’ tendencies that I’ve had to really work on, and to try to uproot, over the last few years. That process of teshuva taught me that the haters ‘hate’ because they actually don’t like themselves very much at all. And that they’re secretly jealous of other people, and it’s the envy that causes them to diss the other Jew, the other group, so loudly, so poisonously, so arrogantly.
Whatever the hater is criticizing so much in others, that ‘thing’ is somehow embedded in their own souls.
So, I listened to Rav Meirav talk, and I wondered ‘how can I do more, to get from hate to love’?
How can I do more, to make my house a ‘no-tolerance for sinat chinam’ zone?
I’m going to pray on it, and I’ll let you know what I come up with.
Because one thing is for sure:
Nothing is slowing up Moshiach more, or causing us more problems and heartache in our own lives, than hating other Jews.
UPDATE: You can see Rav Meirav giving over his message of unity in English, below:
NOTICE: The blog is only restarting at this address temporarily.
I will be migrating this blog over to a new site at: rivkalevy.com