I still can’t get that homeless kid on the bench out of my mind. You know, the one who got kicked out of his home on a Friday night, presumably because he’d done something to break Shabbat.
The last two weeks, I’ve been thinking it over and over – how can parents do that to their own flesh and blood? How can people have so little empathy, so little understanding, for what it really means to be a teen growing up in 2018?
I know that somewhere along the line, that kid’s soul agreed to all this, and that being kicked out of his house is something that he needs for his own tikkun, or spiritual rectification. God doesn’t make mistakes, and everything that’s happening is meaningful, and on some very deep level, 100% deserved.
But at the same time, I can’t get over how utterly clueless this kid’s parents really must be.
In a nutshell, here’s the problem: Most people today have really bad middot.
And, because most people today also have really weak emuna, they don’t know, or don’t understand, or don’t want to accept that all that bad stuff they see in their kids, and especially their teens, is actually just their own bad middot being reflected back at them, and amplified.
Rav Arush (and a bunch of the other genuine Breslov rabbis) talk about this a lot. For example, in Maayan Ganim (a compilation of some of the best bits from a lot of his books), we find the following:
P 278: “One of the first things that a parent needs to do is to check whether or not they are excessively scaring their children. And if they are – then they need to completely stop doing this. Parents are obliged to be good friends with their children. Their children should be able to tell their parents everything, without fear.”
And, we also find this:
P 244: “If a parent sees some sort of hisaron (lack /issue) in their children, they should take it a sign that they themselves still have some work to do. Then, the parent will see with their own eyes how slowly, slowly, this starts to effect the child, and the whole household.”
I do my very best to follow this advice, and I have to tell you: I have a great relationship with my teens, Baruch Hashem, bli ayin hara.
And again, that last one is really what I see so few other parents, frum or not, chareidi or not, really doing in any way, shape or form.
I know, it’s hard.
It’s much easier to try to outsource everything to the school shrink, or just get some Cipraxil for Junior, or to blame the kid’s friends, or all the sugar they mainline from the school kiosk.
I know how much guilt most of us parents are lugging around, how much worry, how much internal panic and overwhelm, how much stress.
But, until we really accept that:
Our kids’ problems all boil down to our own, unrectified bad middot
We just ain’t going to get to Moshiach, any time soon.
And this is also closely connected to the whole subject of proper rebuke, that we’ve been discussing, because to put it bluntly:
Only disturbed individuals enjoy criticizing other people – and this goes double, when it comes to criticizing our children.
Again, people go to such great pains to dress up their own bad middot as ‘chinuch’, or some big mitzvah from the Shulchan Aruch, but the simple fact is that THE WORLD IS JUST A MIRROR.
So the more you feel compelled to blast other people’s issues and bad middot, and the more ‘bad’ you see in other Jews – and again, especially your own kids – the more ‘bad’ you really just have in yourself.
All the critics in our midst find this idea extremely hard to swallow. I know that until I started to really get to grips with my own bad middot, I also used to find this an extremely upsetting and disturbing idea.
What, I should just let ‘bad’ have a free hand? I shouldn’t try to protest? I shouldn’t try to fight all the darkness out there?!
It’s taken me years and years and years to finally realise that the one place I need to be fighting the darkness is solely within. I am the only person I can really influence, I am the only person I can really affect, I am the only person I can really improve.
Sure, we have to still protest BAD BEHAVIOR, and bad deeds, of course we have to do that.
But, there’s a world of difference between criticizing a bad action, and painting someone as a globally ‘bad’ person.
All of us, even the biggest saints, will occasionally do bad actions. That’s what teshuva is for, and that is why we all are meant to be doing a cheshbon hanefesh every single day, to try to catch those ‘bad’ actions in ourselves.
But when it comes to being able to say who is really a ‘bad’ person – no-one is on the level to judge that. Only God.
Again, the critics in our midst hate this idea.
They prefer to split the world up into ‘good’ people, who can do no wrong even though they are filled to the brim with bad actions and evil speech, and ‘bad’ people, who can do no right, and who will never make teshuva, and must be condemned to everlasting purgatory.
But this isn’t authentic Judaism.
And it certainly isn’t chassidut.
And it definitely isn’t Breslov.
What it is, really, is just an excuse for people to keep indulging their own bad middot, and to avoid having to face down their own demons, and to carry on blaming everyone else for the fact that Moshiach didn’t show up yet.
And personally, I’m so sick of it.
So, to sum this post up: People who enjoy criticizing others are very disturbed people who are doing untold damage to the world, and particularly their own families; and the main and really ONLY person we should be rebuking is
One of my ongoing issues, which is still ongoing, and still an issue, is how to share some of the insights I get from hitbodedut, and from research, and from Breslov, without completely frying people’s brains out and doing more harm than good.
What can I say?
It’s got better than it used to be, but I know it’s still not great. And, I also know that my bad middot, and in particular, my arrogance, is still really getting in the way of me being more useful to more people.
I’m praying on it. And praying on a lot of things, generally, as some days, it feels like the things I have to work on internally are still multiplying, especially when it comes to the subject of communicating information to others.
Rabbenu warns us repeatedly: Don’t rebuke!
If you rebuke, you’ll just ‘stir up’ all the cack inside the other person’s soul, and make it very hard for them to function, or even, to get out of bed.
Sure, people are neglecting their children left, right and centre. Of course, they’re caught up in pointless stuff, and wasting their precious time on things that don’t really matter (of course, including yours truly…)
No doubt about it, the whole world has weak emuna, and is lying to themselves about a whole bunch of things.
Aren’t we all?
Aren’t I, also?
Of course I am!
So Rabbenu tells us, don’t rebuke! Because first of all, you’ll just do more harm than good, and second of all, Rivka, you’ll just come off as a Class ‘A’ arrogant hypocrite, because who are you to be telling anyone anything?
So-called ‘blast blogging’ is all about trying to call out other people on all the bad stuff they’re doing, and throwing around judgement calls and fire and brimstone like it’s on special deal at Walmart, or something.
I so don’t want to be ‘blast blogging’ – and that’s a big part of why I quit a few months back, as I was finding the so-called ‘geula blog’ scene incredibly poisonous, in that way.
At the same time, I honestly think a lot of the stuff I find out about, and learn, is genuinely useful for others.
So, I’m a little stuck, because the fine line between ‘blast blogging’ and ‘blast talking’ and being a self-important, hypocritical, arrogant know-it-all – and actually putting useful and helpful information out there – is incredibly, dangerously small.
And it’s so very easy to step over the boundary.
On Shabbat, I did a long praying session, to try to deal with some of the internal anxiety and tension that’s been ratcheting up like nobody’s business, the last few weeks again. I got one main message out of that session, and this was it:
DO AS MANY KINDNESSES FOR OTHER PEOPLE AS YOU CAN.
Then, I remembered what Rav Yehuda Zev Leibowitz, the former head of the Lamed Vav Tzaddikim, put across as his ‘last will’ before he died.
Rav Arush has summed the main points up on the back of his little emuna booklets, and it says this:
If we do all that, we’ll have the best chance of making it through the birthpangs of Moshiach, which have kicked off, in my view, but still haven’t reached their maximum crescendo.
But man, doing these things is so hard, sometimes.
It’s so much easier to just keep calling out the faults and flaws in other people, and to tear other people down, instead of squinting into the internal darkness, to see what bad middot monsters still lurk within.
Lucky for us, the whole world is a mirror.
There’s no hiding from our internal issues, when God is flashing them back at us every step we take.
Man, it’s not easy trying to rectify crazy person tendencies, it really isn’t. Sometimes, I feel like giving up. But then, I remember another core teaching of Rebbe Nachman:
There is no despair in the world!!
Rabbenu’s telling me, ‘even you will get there eventually, Rivka. Don’t give up!’
And who am I to argue.
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.
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.
There’s a funny thing that’s being going on recently, which you can sum up like this:
I don’t really care anymore.
This is a pretty strange turn of events for me, because I usually care about everything – way too much – which is why I get into no end of fights, issues and craziness. But the last couple of months, I’ve been mellowing out so much, that things that used to rile me up so much are barely registering.
Am I going demented? Is it a hormonal imbalance? Or is the light of Moshiach entering the world, and getting my fight/flight/freeze/fawn stress response to finally take a step down?
Maybe all three, who knows.
But in the meantime, I’m reacting in a very new and different way to a whole bunch of things.
Like, I’m no longer obsessing over having to post something up online every day. Taking a two month break from posting, and deleting the Emunaroma blog was soooo cathartic, and so useful.
In the past, I used to force myself to write because if I didn’t get something up every single day, then I’d lose all my audience, and all my influence.
But now, I don’t care! Let that happen, so what! Which means I’m really just back to writing for love, and not for status, which is amazing.
Other things I’ve stopped caring about are owning my own home in Jerusalem (so expensive, such a drag, much easier to rent and just move if the neighbors get annoying or they start loud roadworks for two years right outside your bedroom window.)
And I’ve stopped caring about trying to find a community to belong to, because I’m realizing more and more that not belonging is giving me the freedom to be who I really am, and to do what God really wants me to do in the world.
There’s a whole long list of things I don’t care about now, but which I used to, and most of it is good, I think.
But not everything.
It’s probably not so useful that I don’t care about dishes piling up in the sink for a few days, or chasing down the dust balls that are lurking behind my doors, or restocking the pantry with staples.
Now, I never really cared about housework, it’s true, but I used to have some motivation, somewhere, that would well-up every day or two to get the house straight. These days, I’m finding that very hard to come by.
I’m still doing things, here and there, whatever is really required, but I’m completely making myself do it, just because it’s the right thing to do, and not because I feel that inner pressure to keep up with the Joneses.
I think it’s good, but I’m not sure.
Like the rest of us in 2018, fear, anger and competition have been my main motivators the last four decades, so now they’ve gone awol (mostly….), it’s a weird thing to actually be choosing to do things, as opposed to just reacting to my baser instincts.
So, I’ll keep you posted to see where all this is leading, and whether the ‘chill out’ is temporary or permanent, and whether it’s coming from profound inner exhaustion or a more fundamental shift to a different way of being.
But in the meantime, for the first time in my life, I’m almost laid-back.
And that’s pretty strange.
So, the book about volcanos and climate change is almost ready; the new www.rivkalevy.wcom website is currently being designed by my very talented web expert Yael; we told the landlord that we’re staying put for another six months, so I don’t have to kill myself trying to find a new apartment again.
At least, not until after Pesach.
And it suddenly struck me: life is good.
Which is truly amazing, because up until very recently, I was sure that I’d have to have a whole bunch of things change externally before I’d ever start feeling that way again.
Like, I was sure I’d need to be owning my own home again. I was sure I’d need to have scored at least one ‘success’ professionally. I’d have to have been invited out for a Shabbat meal at least once this year. And that I’d have to go at least a whole week without having to have ‘the chat’ with one of my kid’s principals.
But God is showing me, life can be good even when the outside is as lacking and challenging and annoying as it always seems to be.
As a function of finishing the volcanoes’ book, I’m starting to realise how blessed I am that I can get a kosher goat’s yogurt from my local supermarket. I’m starting to understand what a miracle it is, that I can afford a car, know how to drive, and can also afford the petrol required to run it. I’m starting to see that my bed – that super-simple, super-cheap wooden bed from Ikea – is a masterpiece of engineering.
That it’s amazing that I have hot water every morning, without having to wait hours for the sun to heat the water tank on the roof.
Each time when it strikes me that I still like spending time with my husband, and miss his company, even though we’ve been married for 21 years already, I say a small thank you to Hashem.
I still want to stay married!!! Life is good!!!
Life is so good, I finally bought myself a new box of watercolour paints and I’m even making a bit of time to paint again.
Life is so good, I love my parents and siblings, and I talk to them on a regular basis, and not because I have to, but because I want to.
Life is so good, my teenagers are still challenging me with hard questions, and with different perspectives, and with their ideas about life, universe and everything.
Thank God, they want to even talk to me! Thank God, they feel comfortable telling me stuff that is not always what I want to hear. Thank God, even the times when I don’t want to hear it, God somehow helps me to keep my mouth shut, so I won’t put them off from opening up again in the future.
Life is good.
I still don’t own a house in Jerusalem. I still haven’t hit the bestsellers’ list on Amazon. I still haven’t found a community I belong to, or figured out how to iron shirts properly, so I don’t end up creasing the sleeves.
But so what?
Life is good!
And long may it continue this way.
At the beginning of last week, for no obvious reason, I was in a really bad mood.
I don’t think I was the only one. Increasingly, I’m seeing how so much of our moods are the function of a ruach, or spiritual ‘wind’ that Hashem floods into the world that’s designed to press all our stress response buttons. When that happens, we come out fighting, flighting, freezing, going into hyper ‘people-pleasing’ mode – and the only way to get a grip on this is a lot of hitbodedut and self-awareness.
Which of course, 99.9% of the world aren’t doing, and don’t have.
So I think the violence and madness is only going to increase in the meantime… but let’s get on with the story.
I’ve started teaching a class again in Jerusalem, on Deeper Needs, and before the ladies showed up for Monday’s class I rushed out to the local supermarket to get some biscuits and water. The supermarket never has enough change. Like, never.
And I’ve made a practice of paying with cash wherever possible ever since we ran out of money a few years ago, and my cards stopped working in the most embarrassing of ways.
There are few things more excrutiating than ringing up a huge amount of shopping – and then your card doesn’t work. To be honest, it’s also excrutiating when it’s only a little bit of shopping, but at least that’s easier to forget about.
So, I have a credit card, but I try to avoid using it whenever possible.
And the supermarket has no change.
So, last Monday, I was there with my water and my biscuits, when the always grumpy woman on the till started haranguing me for not getting my shopping out of the basket and on to the conveyor belt fast enough.
I felt ‘fight’ well up in my chest, but God helped me to squash it. Phew!
10 seconds later, she’d rang up the total – 23 shekels – and I gave her the 100 shekel note I had in my purse to pay for it. She started humphing, asked me if I had anything smaller, I said I didn’t. And then she started haranguing me again, and told me I should pay with a credit card instead.
I felt ‘fight’ well up in my chest again – and this time, I couldn’t contain it. I grabbed the 100 shekels out of her hand, and shoved a credit card into it with such bad grace, and with such a malevolent look on my face that even the grouchy old supermarket bag got a shock.
“Why are you cross with me?!” she asked, incredulous.
“Because you got cross with me!” I answered back.
The rest of the transaction passed in silence, and I left the shop fuming.
Of course, ten minutes later I sat down to give a class on fixing bad middot, and dealing with things like anger and fear.
God always plans it like that, so I give over these classes from a place of maximum humiliation and shaflut. “Listen, gals, this is what we’re meant to be doing, but in the meantime you should know my fight reaction just kicked in at the super, and it’s a miracle I didn’t punch the old bad on the till in the chops.”
So all week, I’ve been thinking about how to fix this. How can I fix this?
The answer that came back in hitbodedut was this: chocolate.
So today, I returned back to the supermarket that has no change, I carefully picked the grumpy till lady’s line, and I bought some chocolate – for her.
I gave it to her, and it was the first (and probably last…) time I ever saw her smile.
HaKol beseder, geveret, she grunted out.
Peace had returned to Gotham City.
Until the next time they run out of change.
On Shabbat, I was doing a long hitbodedut session, trying to figure out a few things in my life. As is my wont, I happened to open up Likutey Moharan, to see if it would give me any hints on some of the things I was pondering, and I got to this, Lesson 56:
Matzah represents dispute for the sake of heaven, an aspect of knowledge, of peace, of healing, for peace is healing, as in, “Peace, peace, for the far and the near, says God, and I will heal them.” (Isaiah 57:19)
Honestly? I had no idea what Rabbenu was on about at that stage, or what the take home message was meant to be.
On Sunday, I went up North to do some praying at the Tzaddik of Yavniel’s kever – because I have a daughter who’s approaching 18, and I figured it can’t hurt to daven for a good match in advance – and then we also swung past Rashbi, in Meron.
I was feeling pretty weird and not so well on Sunday, as a result of all the space weather flying around at the moment, which is perturbing the interior of the planet, and also perturbing the human soul.
While I was at Rashbi, I got the strong notion that I needed to try to make peace between close friends of ours who are currently going through one of the most yucky divorce processes I’ve ever seen in my life. Both their families have some very toxic elements, and sadly those toxic people have come to the fore now, and have just made an enormous mess of what was already a very difficult situation.
I didn’t want to get involved.
We still love both the people, we can still see both the sides. The last thing I wanted to do was stick my oar in and draw the cannon fire in my direction.
But for the last two weeks, God has given me no peace. Sure, it’s the easier option – the much, much, much easier option – to sit on the sidelines and watch them destroy each other. But I love them, and I’ve had this growing feeling that I had to try to break through all the poison to see if there’s something we could do to bring them at least a little closer together again.
Long story short, I tried and failed. My husband tried and failed. Apparently, both parties are as stuck as they ever were.
That’s how it looks.
But in my hitbodedut, I started to feel like somehow or other, just the effort we made is going to lead to some improvements down the road, (like, years down the road…) even though right now it seems so bleak. Why? Because for the first time in months, we made them hear a perspective that was closer to objective truth, and not just the warped perspective of ‘it’s all the other person’s fault’ that their echo chamber is encouraging them to believe.
But man o man, it was hard going.
Both me and my husband felt physical ill, both before and afterwards, from the anxiety of ‘getting involved’ in such a yucky situation. But what can we do? We love them. And strangely after our conversations, I felt much more at peace, even though we apparently failed miserably.
Yesterday, I decided to write an answer on Quora about the earthquake forecaster Dutchsinse, explaining how his methodology is scientifically sound, and adding in some more pertinent details from other scientists who have also been shut down and sidelined for daring to challenge the narrative about what’s really going on with the earth’s climate and seismicity.
Two hours later, I’d still only got one view: my own.
Which is when I started to realise that Dutchsinse really is being monitored by the US government, and really is being actively shut down and maligned publically, because you can write about the most inane things on Quora and instantly get at least 10 people reading it within a minute of posting it up.
That gave me a real pause for thought, because I’ve had a lot of insights into what’s really going on with the earthquakes and volcanoes on the continental US, and in other places, like Australia, New Zealand and Italy.
Then, I checked the earthquake activity for Israel HERE, and I saw that the magnitudes for the quakes in our region have recently jumped into the 4s….
Today, I woke up with the very strong certainty that God wanted me to re-start my blog, to start writing about all this ‘knowledge’, because knowledge is peace, and peace is healing. And the one thing the world needs so very much right now is healing.
Of course, I spent an hour arguing against it in hitbodedut:
“But God! I still have really bad middot!! A big part of the reason I deleted the blog a couple of months ago was because I didn’t want to get pulled into any more interactions with the anonymous psychos and mentally-ill derangos who lurk behind every landing page and comment! If I start blogging again, I may well get pulled into disputes and that in turn will activate a whole bunch of bad middot that I really don’t like or want.”
God told me this:
Rivka, you are for sure going to make a whole bunch of mistakes going forward. You aren’t perfect, and the psychos on the web are a big test for everyone. BUT…. Matzah represents dispute for the sake of heaven.
And matzah, as we all know, symbolizes humility.
If I keep working on my arrogance, and if I don’t try to kid myself that I’m perfect, and that I don’t have any more work to do on my bad middot, and if I keep asking God to show me what He really wants, I think it’ll be OK.
And in the meantime, there are so very many lies being told, and so few people still standing up to counter them, that I definitely have my work cut out for me.
So, I think I’m back.
That’s the message I seem to be getting right now, so I will go with it, and we’ll see what happens.
Tachlis, I’m re-adopting a zero lashon hara policy on the blog – including for myself!
And we’ll see how it goes.
There are huge things happening in the world, and no-one is really talking about what’s actually going on, and connecting the dots. I have a lot of insights to share with you. And BH, I really hope I can write as a Kiddush Hashem, and keep making whatever teshuva is required to make this blog a vessel for peace and healing.
But bottom line: I’m returning to the fray.
NOTICE: The blog is only restarting at this address temporarily.
I will be migrating this blog over to a new site at: rivkalevy.com