This poem was at the end of a post written by Esther Cameron, over on Sasson, and it really spoke to me.
It's always darkest before the dawn, and for sure it's pretty dark right now for a lot of people. But BH, the light of Zot Chanuka will turn it all around.
Let us keep one another from despairing
though desperate matters in the world abound,
build bright the thought of one another’s caring
to keep at bay the fierce eyes all around.
Let’s each be witness to the other’s world:
before the other’s eyes let each unroll
those maps of truth that lie in darkness furled
when unperused by any kindred soul.
Granted, we lack the power to turn the course
of history, which tomorrow as today
declines from bad to worse and worse and worse;
yet, while we can, let’s mock it in our play.
Each moment of shared truth and shared delight
sets a bright star against the faithless night.
(Let him lift up his eyes and his heart to us,
To the light,
Last month, I picked up a dog-eared copy of the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, and for some reason, I actually read it. Napoleon was born to Corsican parents just before France invaded Corsica, which depending on how you look at it, was probably the biggest lucky break the French republicans ever got.
Because the newly ‘Frenchified’ Napoleon was a born artillery genius.
When the people who cut off King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette’s heads (which actually was a good thing, as the Bourbon kings of France, Spain, and other parts of Europe were completely and utterly corrupt) found their revolution stalling under their feet, a young corporal called Napoleon bounded up with his guns, and saved it.
From that lowly start, Napoleon rose to become the Emperor of France, and he had quite an empire going for over a decade. He was probably the most fair and principled ruler Europe had seen for at least two thousand years – which is not saying much, as Europe’s rulers have nearly always been degenerate low-lifes.
Long story short, Napoleon, and the French Revolution completely changed the face of the world, in a myriad different ways.
And it seems to me, history may be about to repeat itself.
This week, France is in virtual melt-down as a bunch of yellow-jacketed protesters are flooding the streets, outraged at yet another tax hike being imposed on their petrol. France’s youthful President Emmanuel Macron has bought all the ‘man-made climate change’ baloney hook, line and sinker.
That means he’s made privately-owned cars Public Enemy #1 (while basically ignoring all the Radical Islam terrorists floating about France), and has been hiking taxes all over the place to ‘save the world’ from fossil fuels.
But the people are revolting.
The French always are. But it seems to me, something big is about to shift in France, because there are literally millions of people taking to the street over there, and the politically-correct President is also a snowflake who has no idea how to really handle a bunch of angry citizens who are marching for his head.
Not literally, like in the old days (or at least, not yet…) – but they want his resignation, and they want it NOW. And the party who will probably take over when that happens is Marine Le Pen’s National Front (recently renamed 'National Rally').
Le Pen came second in last year’s Presidential Election, but now the shine has well and truly rubbed off of Macron and his cronies, she is surging ahead in the polls so strongly, I really don’t know what could stop her land-sliding into power, if there’s another election.
Meanwhile, Britain is lurching from bad to worse, in the wake of Brexit. There are headlines all over the place saying that Jeremy Corbyn, that openly Hamas-loving loonie Leftie, could be PM by 2019. I doubt it’ll be that fast – but I don’t doubt that something dramatic is on the cards there, too.
And then, there’s the US.
Ah, the US.
All last week, I was learning about the two million (and some say, 18 million) Native Americans that were routinely massacred during the middle of the 19th century, by greedy pioneers with guns in one hand and gospels in the other.
There’s a lot to say about that subject, but for now, let’s focus on the one thing that I’m still very interested in: volcanoes. Do you know the Native Americans used to consider the volcanoes in their midst to be sacred ground? Do you know how many native ‘legends’ there are describing absolutely massive eruptions, earthquakes, floods, and even big parts of the North American continent breaking off and sinking into the Pacific?
(And all this happened in the last few thousand years…)
Do you know, that the American government has been drilling its fracking wells and geothermal pumping ops on the flanks of a whole bunch of volcanoes that they believe to be dead or dormant, but which are really still alive and kicking?
Partially, they’re doing that to try to alleviate some of the seismic pressure that regularly comes across the continent every 200 years or so, and that could destroy the USA’s infrastructure literally in a minute, were it to happen again. And partially, they are doing it to get all the oil, gas, steam and minerals out of the ground, that is currently worth some very big bucks.
But, the point is this: the USA was built on greed, mass-murder, and an over-weaning xtian arrogance that they were the new 'chosen people'.
If the 90,000 or so greedy gold-rushers who swarmed into California had treated the locals a tad more kindly, and a tad less selfishly, maybe they would have realized that trying to build their new world on one of the most unstable, seismically-active and potentially dangerous bits of real estate on the planet was not such a good idea.
When it comes to volcanoes and earthquakes, the American continent is an absolute basket-case. That’s why the Native Americans were semi-nomadic, that’s why they regarded the volcanoes in their midst with such awe, and that’s why their folklore is packed to the gills with tales of exploding mountains, floods, fire that travels under the ground and ‘fights’ between Heaven and earth.
A few days’ ago, Anchorage in Alaska was hit with an enormous 7+ magnitude earthquake, that caused so much deformation of the ground, roads literally dropped 10-15 metres.
And probably, this is only the beginning of the dramatic geophysical events that will start playing out over there, between now and 2030.
In the midst of all this, Rav Berland has been giving over some very disturbing shiurim recently, where he’s talking about Moshiach dying, and how there are now more enormous judgments hanging over Am Yisrael, on an even bigger scale than we saw six years’ ago, when the Iranian nuke scare was at its zenith.
Once again, we seem to be reaching a collective tipping-point. Once again, we seem to be standing on the edge of the precipice. For the people who are yearning so much for ‘the end’, let me just mention that Moshiach coming doesn’t mean everyone gets a first-class ticket to come take up residence in a swanky new apartment building in the Holy City.
What it means, at least first, is that the world is going to be plunged into the sort of chaos that will make materialism utterly meaningless. Who knows, when the dust finally clears, what that Moshiach world is actually going to look like?
USA = ESAV, make no mistake about it.
You only have to read the accounts of what was occurring there all through the 19th century – and take the blinders off, and realize just how many of the world’s current problems can be laid at the feet of American greed and self-centredness.
It’s ‘goodness’ is for show, it’s ‘piety’ is all external.
Don’t forget, the USA closed its borders to Jewish refugees fleeing Hitler, and refused to bomb the tracks that led to Auschwitz. And they knew what Auschwitz was, and who was being taken there, as did the UK, France, and the other Allies, too.
God has a lot of patience, and a lot of compassion. But there’s still a limit, and my guess is that any demands that Jews withdraw from even one square metre of Israel will be the match that lights the fuse connected to the thousands of volcanic ticking time-bombs located under America.
We know from our prophets that a third of the world will be utterly destroyed before Moshiach comes, and a third will be greatly damaged. Based on history, based on the spread and activity of the volcanoes in the world, and of the fault lines in the tectonic plates, the West Coast of the North American continent has very high odds of being in one or both of those categories.
And you know where else has historically been hit with massive seismic and volcanic activity?
Greece and Italy.
Italy, in particular - where the Roman Exile began - still has the most volcanically active bits of ground in the whole of Western Europe.
And, you remember that New Zealand was in the lead of the funny business at the UN against Israel, as Obama’s stooge, just before he left office? Well, guess where else is sitting smack dab on hundreds of active volcanoes?
I could go on and on, but let’s sum it up like this: Pretty much every nation in the world has some sort of volcanic or seismic weakpoint, that God can switch on, or agitate, in the blink of the eye.
The only reason more people aren’t stressing over this is because they’ve swallowed all the fake science baloney that tells them these volcanoes, etc, are billions of years old, (sic), and they have nothing to worry about.
So, what can we do?
What can you and me, the regular people, the regular Jews, do, to try to ease us in to the next stage of geula without seeing half of America sink into a massive lava lake, or collapse under the Pacific ocean, in the next decade or so?
The answer is so simple, but still so hard:
Support our true Tzaddikim and work on our own bad middot.
And top of the 'True Tzaddikim' list is Rav Berland.
As time goes on, I see more and more of the people who have publically gone against the Rav being outed as just plain disturbed individuals. Thank God, it’s getting easier and easier to see that nasty, crazy people with bad middot are very vocally ‘anti’ the Rav, and that everyone else is not.
I was heartened by these new videos from Rav Glazerson (scroll down to see them), because it showed me that this clarity really is starting to get out there, and to be amplified in the world.
But in the meantime, the Rav really needs our help. He’s 80, he’s maintaining a schedule that no-one else can keep up with (believe me, I’ve seen them trying), and he is doing his very best to bring geula for us the sweet way.
But our bad middot keep getting in the way.
Between you and me, I already know that no-one is going to read this and throw away their i-Phones, or read this and publically apologise for all the machloket they’ve caused, or make teshuva for all the lashon hara they’ve spoken, or people they’ve hurt.
We are the ‘heels’ of Moshiach, after all, that dead, numb, super-tough piece of skin at the very bottom of the body that nothing can really puncture.
But we can still do something: we can come and pray with the Rav in Hevron, this Sunday night, December 9th, 2018.
In the past, I’ve seen the tremendous power these prayer gathering have to mamash tip the spiritual balance back in a better direction, and sweeten the judgments that are piling up against all of us.
A couple of years’ back, the Rav called for a prayer gathering in Hevron, to end the so-called ‘stabbing intifada’ that had been sweeping Israel for months and months. They held the gathering, 10,000 people showed up to pray, including Rav Arush – and the stabbing intifada suddenly faded away.
You can’t make this stuff up, you can’t fake it.
Yes, I know it’s hard schlepping off to Hevron late Sunday night after you’ve stuffed your face with yet more donuts, but is it harder than seeing the chaos in the world intensify? Or going through another war with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in the North?
Is it being harder than being nuked by Iran, or seeing half of America explode and collapse?
And let’s not even talk about what’s going on in our own lives.
So, BH, I hope to see you there on Sunday. Yes, there’s a women’s section, yes, there are very cheap buses to and from Hevron that will be running all night. The Rav put out a recording just now saying people should come without worrying how they are dressed, or whether they will ‘fit in’.
Who cares what you're wearing?!
What’s important right now is Jewish unity and Jewish prayers.
What’s important right now is to heed the words of the True Tzaddikim, and not to make the mistake of thinking someone else out there is going to pick up the slack.
Come and do your bit to sweeten the judgements. Come to Hevron and pray with the Rav.
Because it’s clear to all of us: things are not going to continue like this for very much longer.
Apparently, lots of Americans have heard of the play ‘Our Town’, set at the turn of the 20th century in rural America.
As a Brit, I’d never heard of it, so when my friend from the Women in Theatre (WIT) group called to invite me to an all-woman production of it in Jerusalem, I had no idea what to expect.
The blurb on Wikipedia didn’t really enlighten me, other than to let me know there would be minimal props.
Was that a good thing? A bad thing? Who knows.
So, I get to the Hirsch Theatre in Jerusalem, took my seat and waited for the show to begin. There’s a few things I can tell you about it, without giving the game away: one, is that the acting was really top drawer.
I’ve been seeing Women in Theatre perform the last four years, and they seem to be getting better and better each time.
The second thing to tell you is that I’m starting to feel that maybe there is more value in the performing arts for a frum Jewish person than I previously thought. I know that Rav Kook, z’l, was a big supporter of Jewish artists, but since him, most of our real rabbis haven’t been so keen on the subject, generally.
You can kind of understand that. It’s hard to think of a more corrupting source than Hollywood, it’s hard to think of a more ‘street’ culture than that which is commonly portrayed, sung about and acted in 2018.
And yet for all that, I found ‘Our Town’ moving, and even, meaningful, and definitely, thought provoking.
Watching a play that was written over a hundred years ago kind of underlined how much so many things have changed, but also, how much things have stayed the same. Humans are still humans, after all. People still fall in love and (and least in the frum world…) get married. Wives still worry about their husbands. Parents still fret over their children.
Time still passes.
And yet, how different the pace of life was then. If parents were too busy to relate to their children and enjoy the important parts of their lives, and to really smell the roses back then, in 1904 – then what can we say?
We who are addicted to our phones and screens….we who communicate by snippets of sentences, fragments of recorded conversation, and emojis…what can we say?
As I walked home from the show, along Jerusalem’s night-lit streets, I pondered on how hard it seems to be to really connect to other people today. Earlier in the week, I’d been talking to someone who promotes events of all types for a living, and she’d told me it’s getting harder and harder to entice people to come out and attend anything in person.
The screen has shrunk the whole world down into the palm of our hands, and now even leaving our living rooms sometimes feels as difficult as flying to the moon.
But it’s so good to interact in person. It’s so good to make some effort, to get out of the house, to try something new, learn something new, and support the effort and investment being made by other people.
It boggles the mind, how the ‘Stage Manager’ character in Our Town managed to learn all the lines that she did, and to deliver them so superbly. It boggles the mind, how many days and nights of efforts went in to producing such a professional show. One of my friends does a lot of the stuff backstage, as well as acting in the show, so I know first-hand just how much a labour of love these things are.
So as I walked back to my home, I was pondering on how we can expand ‘my town’ into ‘our town’, and start to relate to people as more than just email addresses or twitter handles again. It’s going to take a lot of effort. A lot of prayer. A lot of courage, to be those people to step out more from behind the screen and to take a step over to another flesh-and-blood person.
But if I took one message away from ‘Our Town’, it’s this: life is precious. Life is short. And the best investment we can make is to put more of our time, effort and love into the people who surround us.
The last few days, it’s been pretty hard to think straight.
There’s always a lot going on in the world these days, it’s true, but between the 500 rockets in 24 hours that Hamas dropped on us two days ago, and the wildfires scorching through California, and the freak weather, early snow and flash flooding all across the globe, including the Middle East – well, I’m just feeling overwhelmed at the moment.
Even when I don’t listen to the news, I’ve still had that uneasy feeling that keeps me pacing the floor of my home, that ‘something’ is going on.
What could that something be?
How much time have you got, to really start answering that question…
But something is definitely going on, and the birth pangs of geula seem to be accelerating.
But tomorrow, next week, next month, the intensity will suddenly disappear again, the pressure will reduce, the stress with drop off, and for another day, week, or month, we’ll all go back to ‘normal’ again.
In those increasingly rare windows of relative calm, that’s when I start planning my next book, that’s when I notice that my floors need a clean, that’s when I have the headspace to try and do some proper hitbodedut again, and to start figuring out where I’m trying to go in my life.
I make some lists, I take some action, I put some irons in the fire – and then boom! The birthpangs start up again, and I find myself walking around in a daze struggling to even put supper on the table.
How long is this birth process going to last, that is the question?
From what Rav Berland said HERE, it looks like we still may have two years left to go. I know a lot of people don’t like to hear that. I know many of us are struggling hard to hold things together in our homes and lives, and we want Moshiach now!!!
But, Moshiach doesn’t work like that. Moshiach doesn’t come and magically change our moany, critical spouses into someone nice to be around. He won’t turn all our off-the-derech kids into yeshiva bochurs or Beis Yaakov girls.
(I’m digressing, but I have to say thank God for that!! I just found out you need 400,000 shekels as a dowry, if you want to marry your Beis Yaakov girl to a full-time learner, otherwise no-one will even look at you. Finally, there’s a silver lining to my kids wearing jeans and piercing their nose!)
Moshiach is not going to come and fix all our bad middot for us with the wave of his magic wand, because he’s not Dumbledore, or Merlin. God gave us the job of working on our bad middot, and all Moshiach is going to do is to help us recognize what they really are.
Talk about a scary prospect!
What Moshiach will do is create more God-awareness in the world. He’ll be part of that process that increasingly makes it clear that only God is behind every little thing that is happening to us, from the fires in Paradise, to the teen who refuses to come to the Shabbat table, to the inability to buy a house, or have another child, or land a good job.
It's all God.
And God is doing everything in order to fix us, and to get us to acknowledge and work on our own bad middot.
So from what I can see, while the freak weather, earthquakes and volcanoes are starting to soften a lot of us up, (and let’s not even talk about Hamas, Brexit and Trump), there’s still quite a long way to go.
A lot has to change between now and 5781 (2021).
And one way or another, like it or not, it probably will.
Does anyone really believe that Santa Ana winds can ‘create’ wildfires out of thin air? Does anyone really believe that a spark from a burst tyre, or that a blow from a hammer, can spontaneously combust hundreds and thousands of acres in California?
Do people really believe that wildfires can ‘jump’ massive rivers, without being fed by a source of natural gas? Or that fires can race across the bare earth at the rate of 80 football fields a minute, without their being some sort of additional external source feeding their flames?
The answer, apparently, is yes.
But here’s what is really going on across California: over the last week, many of the State’s ‘hidden’ and not-so-hidden volcanoes were experiencing a number of micro-quakes. Usually, very few people even bother with micro-quakes, 2 magnitude or less, because you can’t really feel them, and they do no damage.
But that doesn’t mean they aren’t signposts to much bigger, much more destructive forces being unleashed underground.
In the last two years, California has been hit by 7 separate massive ‘wildfire’ events. Each time before the fires spontaneously broke out, a bunch of micro-quakes started striking the flanks of the volcanoes in the vicinity a week to ten days beforehand.
No-one likes to talk about this.
No-one likes to consider that California was built on hundreds of thousands of volcanoes that the USGS and the scientists (and probably also, the people who live there…) all like to believe last exploded millions of years ago.
But that’s not true.
The volcanoes in California are still very much active, and the magma is currently moving underground, as we can see from the microquake activity.
After the microquakes, land tremors begin, showing that the tectonic plate under California is moving, or slow-slipping. As the plate slips, volcanic gases including methane rise up from the magma below the earth’s crust, and escape into the air. Just waiting for the spark from a tyre, or a cigarette, or even the grating of a car’s gears to start burning.
In the reports of this latest fire that completely burned out the town of Paradise in California, and which has killed 31 people already, with almost 300 still missing, eye-witnesses spoke of seeing ‘blue flames’ playing around the burnt-out cars.
Does that sound familiar?
Back in Hawaii a few months ago, there was a ton of footage shot of the ‘eerie blue flames’ burning through the cracks in the tarmac of what used to be the Leilani Estates subdivision – a sure sign of natural gas, the main component of which is methane.
And now, those same blue flames are licking around a number of town and cities in California.
Those blue flames are linked to volcanic gases, and both are linked to magma on the move, and sooner or later, volcanoes exploding.
Here in Israel, we’re also under fire, of a different type. The Arabs in Gaza are continuing to send their burning balloons over the fence while the media and government basically ignore the ‘mini-war’ being fought in Israel’s south.
Today, it got escalated up to 17 rockets (and counting) and schools have been closed. An IDF soldier has been killed, may Hashem avenge his blood, and now, even the craven Israeli media are having to talk about what’s really going on. At least a little bit.
The media in all countries loves talking politics, and loves punditry, and loves trying to turn everything into a pointless personality show.
And that’s why the whole world appears to be fiddling while Rome burns.
Israel’s south is burning.
California’s North is burning.
And all the media can do is talk politics and point fingers.
But really, there’s one reason it’s happening, one true Cause behind it all: Hashem.
Hashem is calling us all back to Him. Hashem is telling us we need to make some serious teshuva. We need to stop with all the bread and circuses and realize that massive changes are underfoot, that could transform the world in an instant.
Most of the people burnt in the Paradise fires were killed in their cars, trying to out-run the flames. They literally had five minutes to get out of town, and anyone who stopped to put on their make-up, or peer behind them, was instantly consumed.
God is not messing around. The message is getting louder.
We need to turn off the talking heads, pull our souls out of all the pointless politics and come back to God.
Because what’s going on in California right now is probably only the beginning.
This morning, I walked past my building on the way to the Kotel at 7am – and saw an older man slapping what appeared to be a sleeping teenage boy on one of the benches outside my home.
That got my attention.
I was walking up behind the man, so he didn’t notice me watching him. He didn’t notice me watching him do something utterly disgusting to the teenage boy, who I quickly realized was unconscious.
I was so angry, I started yelling at him in my very poor spoken Hebrew: “What are you doing?!? Leave him alone!!! What are you doing to him?!?”
The man turned around, and started telling me that he’d called Magen Dovid Adam, and that the boy had asked him for help before collapsing unconscious on the bench, because he’d been kicked out of his house.
I was pretty sure I’d seen what I’d seen, but not 100%.
So I tried arguing with him a bit more, and then he switched to English (he was a Russian man) and told me more of the boy’s story. The boy had been kicked out, asked him for help, he’d phoned Magen Dovid Adam, then the boy effectively went unconscious.
I decided: I am staying with this boy until something gets sorted out here, and he’s safe.
I ignored the old Russian man (who I’m still convinced was a pervert), and tried talking to the boy. He had his eyes scrunched shut and was in the fetal position. He was clearly traumatized and shocked – not least by the assault on his person that the old Russian pervert had tried to pull off.
But the main thing I could feel coming off that kid in waves was fear: fear of his parents. Fear of what his parents would say once the police showed up, and they were informed that he’d been found half-frozen to death, on a bench in Baka on a Shabbat morning.
The kid was reasonably well-dressed, and seemed to be between 14-15 and orthodox. He had braces and a smart small suitcase with him, good shoes – the family that had kicked him out clearly had at least an average amount of cash.
I told the kid my address, and tried to get him to move off the bench, and come up with me to my apartment – but he couldn’t move. He was literally frozen with fear.
Just then, the police showed up, and the ambulance, and they bodily lifted him on to a chair, and took him away in the ambulance.
The whole scene shook me up tremendously, and I walked off to the Kotel in a bit of a daze.
What sort of 'frum' people could kick their own kid out of the house, on a Friday night, and leave them to be preyed on by the perverts that sadly even walk the streets of the holy city?
I was so disturbed by it all.
Keeping up with the Cohens
When I got home, my kids woke up and I told them I’d found a kid on a bench outside who’d been kicked out of his house by his parents, and did they know anyone else that had happened to? (I left out the bit about the Russian pervert – it was intense enough as it was.)
I was stunned when they told me they knew quite a few people themselves that it happened to.
“Why?” I wanted to know. “Why are the parents kicking their own kids out of the house?”
Sometimes, it’s because they’d been having a big argument. (That happens, and it can happen a lot with teenagers, where a parent says something stupid, gets all their buttons pressed, and then a bad situation turns into an absolute disaster.)
Other times, they told me the kids were being kicked out because the kid had started smoking.
Way to go, retarded parents! Kicking the kid out is the single best way to encourage him to add a drug habit to a smoking habit.
And then the last reason they told me was the most disturbing of all: parents are kicking kids out, because of shidduchim. Apparently, they don’t want to look ‘bad’ that they have a troubled kid at home, so they decide it’s better to send these 14-15 year old struggling souls out on the streets.
I literally couldn’t believe my ears.
Someone, please tell me that this can’t be true? That a supposedly ‘frum’ parent would kick out their own flesh and blood – to be abused and preyed on, on the street – just because that kid is having trouble keeping Shabbat?
I have no words.
So let me end with another plea to all the parents out there who may be reading this:
Please, please, please, love your children unconditionally, with all your might. Give way as much as you can, accept them as much as is possible, keep anger and pride out of the parenting equation any way you can.
I know it’s hard to parent teens these days – I have two myself. But I tell you this:
God will not easily forgive a parent who kicks an underage kid out on to the street just to keep up the appearance of being a heimishe family.
It’s the height of hypocrisy. It’s the height of disgusting. It's the polar opposite of what authentic, orthodox Jewish parenting and chinuch is really about.
And if that’s what is passing for normal behavior in certain sections of the frum world – then we're in big, big trouble.
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