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:
One of the things that happens when the terror attacks start up again is that you become hyper-sensitive to ambulance sirens. So it is, that every siren portends another pigua, God forbid, and you go quiet and start listening to see if that one, lone siren, is going to be joined by many others – the sure sign of terror stalking the land.
On Shabbat, I fell asleep on the couch, and started dreaming about crashes and sirens. I woke up with a start – to find one ambulance, 5 ‘first responder’ motorbikes, a first responder car and even, a first responder on a bike, right outside my building.
In the middle of the road, there was an unconscious Domino’s Pizza delivery guy, lying a good 4 metres from where his bike had fallen. They stretchered him into the ambulance, blared off to hospital, and the locals all gathered around to discuss.
Was it a pigua? (terror attack). Was it a hit-and-run? Had the pizza guy just fallen off his bike randomly, in the middle of a quiet Jerusalem street on Shabbat, and somehow knocked himself unconscious?
In the meantime, it just brought back again how fragile life actually is.
One of my correspondents lives in the shadow of a live volcano, In Central America, a place where they also get a lot of large earthquakes. I asked her if that was scary, and she told me that after she learned most accidental deaths happen in the bathroom, she stopped worrying about the volcano up the road.
God is in charge.
Whatever He decides, goes.
It’s a very useful lesson, isn’t it? Especially if you’re a parent of teenagers who have an uncanny knack of finding themselves in the middle of the ‘action’, wherever that action tends to be.
What am I going to do? Lock them in a box for the next five years? Chain them to their beds, so they can stay ‘safe’ at home but go completely bonkers?
(It’s still tempting…)
But after the last, horrible, spate of terror attacks a couple of years ago, where people were being stabbed and run over on my doorstep on a regular basis, I realized life is to be lived, and that I can’t let my fear of ‘what might be’ run my life or control my children.
True, I can’t rely on miracles.
But also true, we all rely on miracles every single day just to function. Every morning I wake up in one piece, that’s a miracle.
There’s a bumper sticker in Israel that reads:
“You woke up this morning. Everything else is a bonus.”
At times like this, it’s good to be reminded.
One of my kids is in school in a yishuv that’s smack bang in the middle of the area that’s been experiencing all the terrorist attacks of the last three days. 12 minutes drive from Ofra, 10 minutes drive from Givat Assaf, 14 minutes drive from Bet El (when there’s no traffic).
Also, everyone caught up in that shooting attack in Ofra has siblings, or parents, or cousins in my kid’s school. And the young woman who was seriously hurt in yesterday’s shooting at Givat Assaf is the commonarite, or local head, of the Beit El branch of the youth group Ariel, so a whole bunch of the kids in the ulpana know her directly.
These are the kids that stand at the trempiadas (hitch-hiking posts) and bus stops up and down Route 60, the road that leads out past Pisgat Ze’ev, and then forks between Ramallah to the left, and Bet El, Ofra, and the northern route up through the Shomron on the right.
I know it well.
I was driving it almost every day for six months last year, when my kid was having a nervous breakdown most days and just couldn’t get herself to school on the bus.
This is the road, these are the communities, being hit by this awful spate of terrorist incidents.
Yesterday, even before I heard about Givat Assaf, I got an email from the school’s principal explaining how the kids were down in the main hall reciting tehillim together, and how counselling services were being offered to any kid that required them.
You know, I hate getting emails like that.
My kid was late home from school, of course.
Budding ‘hill top yoof’ that she is, she and five of her friends decided to make massive banners stating “Am Yisrael Chai” and “Jewish blood is not hefker” (ownerless). Then, they went and climbed up on some of the rocks next to the junction that pulls off into the yishuv where they’re studying – on that self-same Route 60! – to pin them to the fences up there.
Thank God, she told me all this after she was home safe.
“Ima, do you beep when you agree or when you disagree?” she asked me. “Because we had a lot of Palestinian cars beeping us.”
For once, I was speechless.
Then that night, both kids told me there were going to an atzeret, or gathering, in Jerusalem, organised near the PM’s residence, where they were going to sing songs, light candles, and ‘demand’ that the Government do something to beef up the security in the West Bank.
My kids are very idealistic. They are very good, holy kids.
Probably, they are also a little naïve.
What can I tell them?
“Dear children, the government can’t do anything to stop this current wave of violence, and really, we just need to open our eyes and realise what’s really going on. The government is over a barrel. Whatever they do, it’s only going to escalate the situation, and bring all the Jew-haters in the world after us.”
It’s exactly as Rav Berland said a few days ago, that if we lift more than the tiniest finger to really start defending ourselves, the whole, PC, Jew-hating world will be after us in all in the international (kangaroo…) courts of law, screaming ‘war crimes!!!’ and ‘genocide!!!’ and ‘sanctions!!!’ and who knows what else.
There are no military solutions that really solve the problem.
Really, the government knows this. That’s why they are so big on pseudo-reassuring bluster, and so short on real, concrete action.
I wish more people in the religious community here would realise that, and stop pinning all their hopes on the army, and on some massive ‘offensive’ to finish the problem off.
The problem is coming from God, the Arabs are just a stick in God’s hand, to bring the Jews back to Him, and get us all to make teshuva.
If more of us would realise that, then more of us would have showed up to the Rav’s prayer gathering in Hevron on Zot Chanuka, to try to get the awful decrees the Rav could see coming down the pipe cancelled, or sweetened.
As it is, now there are atzerot and gatherings of a different kind happening this week, and large groups of people reciting tehillim together in very different circumstances.
My kid showed me a clip she’d been sent on WhatsApp of people taking the law into their own hands, and smashing the windows of Arab cars in the West Bank with stones.
She wanted to know what I thought, because she was of the view that this is what it would take, for them to stop killing Jews so freely.
I told her that answering senseless violence with more senseless violence doesn’t solve anything, and just brings us Jews down to the terrorists’ very low spiritual level.
So what, then, can we do?
Pray. Make teshuva. Stop pinning our hopes on the IDF, and the government, stop wasting our time discussing politics and arguing with each other, and reading all the God-less news sites.
God wants the heart. God wants us back.
And when more of us give God what He really wants, the violence will stop, and the problem will disappear by itself.
This is what I told my kid, who is now in her room reciting the Tikkun HaKlali, because there was another stabbing in Bet El this morning, and there is talk that her school is going to close on Sunday in protest, and to ‘force’ the government to do something.
Of course, closing the school doesn’t change anything (except to make my kid very happy to have a free day off.)
This is out of our hands.
Because the hands are the hands of Esav.
And the voice is the voice of Yaakov.
Today in my inbox, someone who is a trustworthy source sent me the following:
“Hezbollah has 100's of tunnels running under Israel's Northern cities. In a matter of minutes they could pop-up capture & slaughter full cities. These tunnels are bunkers made of massive layers of cement and are fully protected against all kinds of Israeli bombs.
“In addition Hezbollah has 150,000 precision missiles capable of reaching any Israeli city including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Their missile launchers can launch 100+ missiles simultaneously, the iron dome can only intercept up to 20 missiles at once. Hezbollah has proven this 13 years ago and today they are many times more sophisticated.
“Down in the south Hamas is preparing a simultaneous attack of hundreds of their own missiles which are capable of covering the entire South if the country up to and including Jerusalem. All this is supplied by Iran who is suffocating financially due to sanctions.
“When Hezbollah & Hamas are given the green light for the Palestinian terrorists to take control, Iran will no longer have any need for their nukes. Mission accomplished.”
No wonder Rav Berland asked 50,000 people to come and pray together, to try and stop this worst-case scenario from actually playing out.
But, is it true?
I went to do a bit digging, and here’s what I found, firstly on the official website of Raytheon, who partnered with Raphael, the quasi-governmental Israeli armaments firm, to come up with the Iron Dome:
“Ten Iron Dome batteries protect Israel, and each battery includes three to four stationary launchers with 20 Tamir missiles and a battlefield radar. Tamir missiles feature electro-optical sensors and steering fins with proximity fuze blast warheads.
"Each of the Iron Dome batteries can defend up to nearly 60 square miles, but the systems are strategically placed around cities to intercept threats headed toward populated areas and ignore those fired at uninhabited regions.”
Let’s do the maths together:
10 Iron Dome Batteries x 4 launchers x 20 missiles a piece = a maximum capacity of 800 missiles.
How many missiles does Hezbollah have?
According to the Israeli Government’s own figures, they have 150,000 missiles.
How many missiles does Hamas have?
I’m finding it very hard to track that piece of information down, but you can be sure it’s also many tens of thousands of missiles.
Again, how many incoming missiles can the Iron Dome handle, assuming that every Tamir missile is on target, and takes an enemy missile out?
Is it plausible that Hamas / Hezbollah could fire more than 800 missiles at once, at Israel?
Now, let’s take a closer look at the tunnels
Here’s what Bibi and the Israeli government is officially saying about the Hezbollah tunnels:
“Whoever tries to attack the State of Israel – will pay a heavy price. We are taking determined and responsible action in all sectors simultaneously. We will continue with additional actions – open and covert – in order to ensure the security of Israel."
But before you go back to sleep, this is what the Israeli government was officially saying about the Hezbollah tunnels 2-3 years ago, when residents in the North complained they could hear underground digging noises:
“Ex-defense minister admits officials lied about Hezbollah tunnels for years.
“Moshe Ya’alon defends hiding knowledge of subterranean threat from residents of northern Israel, says it was for their own good and to trick the Lebanese terror group.”
And of course, the lies are continuing. The same ex-defense minister went on:
“Even today, I will continue to calm down northern residents. None of the tunnels reach any of the communities where people said they’d heard [tunneling], nor to any home,” he said.”
You can believe him!! It’s not like he’s ever lied about stuff like this before!!
So are innumerable tunnels reaching underneath a number of Israel’s northern cities, town and settlements? It’s at least plausible.
According to the ucky ynet:
“It turns out that Hezbollah has been busy for years digging tunnels not only in Lebanon, but also toward Syria and Israel and even in Yemen….
“The discovery of the tunnel near Metula is only the tip of the iceberg for a whole tunnel system in Lebanon and on the borders with Syria and Israel. In fact, Hezbollah is far more prepared for a campaign against Israel than it in 2006.”
And this is what Bibi was quoted as telling foreign ambassadors about Northern Shield:
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Thursday that Hezbollah seeks to send “entire battalions” into Israel, including via the tunnels Israel is now tackling, in order to seize land, and kidnap and kill Israelis.”
Why did Israel wait years before dealing with the Hezbollah tunnels?
Why isn’t the Israeli government dealing with this threat properly, instead of trying to give us all false assurances of security and boasting endlessly about the ‘might’ of the IDF?
Rav Berland answered that question very succinctly:
“The whole of Am Yisrael is currently facing a terrible, threatening situation. Every part of Israel is now under threat of being deluged with rockets. After we saw 400 rockets falling on Ashkelon and the surrounding cities, including Beer Sheva, Netivot, Ofakim and Sderot, now they are preparing thousands and thousands of rockets, which will reach to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
“And we have no possibility of stopping this from happening, because the whole world is against us. They can launch 10,000 missiles, and if we fire back even just one, they will say that we are the aggressors, and they are the victims.
“They will say that we began [hostilities], and that they are simply defending themselves.”
It’s amazing to me that for the last 15 years or so, there’s been all these people online, and in the Jewish magazines, that have been waffling on about ‘politics’, and about ‘geula’, and about the end of days – and now all this stuff is mamash playing out in front of our very eyes, they have absolutely nothing useful to say.
Either, they just continue waffling on with the same theoretical, Godless baloney and ‘debates’ they’ve been re-hashing for years, or they’ve gone completely quiet, and are focusing on ridiculous nothings that don’t make a blind bit of difference to anyone.
Before Sunday’s prayer gathering in Hevron, I sent Rav Berland’s statement, and plea for 50,000 to come and pray for Israel’s security, to nearly all the geula bloggers I’ve had any dealings with.
One came back to me with an excuse why they couldn’t get involved.
Two were brave enough to post something up (you go, girls!)
The rest completely ignored me.
Of course they did! I’m the crazy person who actually believes in Tzaddikim, and in sweetening judgments, and in people praying to get God involved in keeping Israel safe, as opposed to just believing in politicians and the IDF, and that the world is going to carry on exactly the way it has, forever.
This morning, there was a headline in the JPOST that read thus:
“A volcano of violence is at risk of erupting in the West Bank.”
You probably don’t know this, but there are literally tens of underground volcanic hotspots starting to show up on satellite images from Oregon, Washington State and North California – including offshore, where magma is intruding into the plate under the ocean.
In the past, those hotspots have been directly linked to earthquakes, and then wildfires breaking out, like the one that recently burnt out the whole of the town of Paradise.
There have been 3 7.0+ earthquakes in the world just in the past week, including one in Alaska.
Dear reader, God is making it clearer and clearer that Palestinian violence and erupting volcanoes and earthquakes (especially in the US) are connected in some very fundamental ways.
In case you missed it, half of Europe has been protesting over the last month, spurred on by the punitive taxes and red tape governments are trying to impose on private cars and their drivers, including by hiking fuel prices up ridiculously high.
All this is being done in the name of ‘controlling man-made global warming’.
(Someone should tell the Carolinas about 'global warming' - they just had 30 inches of snow dumped on their doorstep, and still more to come.)
But the people aren’t buying it, and in France, Belgium and the Netherlands, they’ve been vocally (and sometimes violently) protesting. So much so, that even the arrogant President of France has decided he needs to back-track a little, and at least pretend to give the people what they want.
Most of the world’s oil, most of its petrol, is still produced by Arab states.
That’s why the US couldn’t go against Saudi Arabia, even though their Crown Prince is apparently implicated in ordering a Saudi dissident to be tortured and murdered in the Saudi embassy in Turkey.
That’s why the EU and China don’t want to go against Iran, no matter how many nukes they have pointed at Israel, nor how many tunnels and missiles they are bankrolling for Hezbollah and Hamas.
When push comes to shove, even the most idealistic of politicians will always cave before their own angrily protesting voters and vital economic considerations.
It's the economy, stoopid!
Which is why Israel truly has no-one to rely on.
Do you think Trump wouldn’t turn his back on Israel in a nano-second, if that was the cost of keeping the American people happily fueled up, and the American economy on track?
The answer is so obvious, it’s not really even a question.
So really, we only have God to rely on.
That’s always been the case, of course, but perhaps it just hasn’t been as clear as it is now.
And that’s why Israel’s future, the Jewish people’s future, really depends on sticking close to our true Tzaddikim, sticking together, and praying to get all these horrible scenarios sweetened.
At the end of the prayer gathering in Hevron, Rav Berland apparently said the next one will be on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. It sounds like maybe, we got a few months' reprieve again.
I hope so.
And if we did, it’s all in the merit of the thousands of ‘crazy, brainwashed’ people who schlepped off to Hevron on a cold, wintry night, to pray for Israel’s safety.
Let’s give the last word to Seal:
“But we’re never going to survive, unless, we get a little crazy.”
At this stage in history, it seems that getting a little crazy is really the only sane thing the Jewish people can do.
Yesterday night, Zot Chanuka, me and my husband schlepped off to Hevron at 11pm, to do our bit to try to get to the 50,000 people Rav Berland said would be needed to sweeten the awful judgments of war hanging over Israel.
Let me put you out of your suspense right now, and tell you that 50,000 people didn’t come.
There were definitely thousands, but 50,000?
So, the question is, did it work?
Did the prayer gathering do enough to sweeten everything that’s going on?
I don’t know.
This morning, the news is full of multiple attempted terrorist attacks in Israel:
7 people wounded near Ofra in a shooting attack, including a 21 year old mother-to-be who ended up delivering her baby 10 weeks early. The baby is now fighting for it’s life.
A stabbing attack in Jerusalem, where a terrorist stabbed 7 police officers.
These seem to be clear signs that ‘the matzav’, as they call it in Israel, is heating up again.
So, did yesterday’s prayer gathering ‘work’?
I don’t know. I hope so.
What’s clear, is that the Rav could see this ‘deterioration’ in Israel’s security approaching, and according to his words, there may still be far worse to come.
Unless the prayer gathering worked.
But the required 50,000 didn’t show up.
And in case you think this is just Israel’s problem, it isn’t.
Whenever ‘the matzav’ worsens here, anti-semitism and anti-Jewish feeling across the globe ticks up alarmingly, as the media rushes to fill your screens and your head with images of the terrible ‘violence’ being perpetrated…by Israel.
And with Europe descending into chaos as it is, the anti-semites don’t need any more encouragement to start venting their existing frustrations on the local Jews.
They are already smashing up shops, windows and buildings all over France. It won’t take much for a few synagogues and Jewish institutions to get the Gilets Jaunes treatment, too.
And remember, just last month, a Jew-hater opened fire on a non-orthodox synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing 11. Anti-semitism is on the rise all over the world.
So, the worsening matzav is really not just Israel’s problem.
Did it work, yesterday?
I hope so.
But I really don’t know.
UPDATE: Someone just told me that the stabbing attack happened three weeks ago, not today, so BH for that. I live right next to Arnona and had no idea that happened up the road three weeks ago, because I barely check the news.
So, I feel a little better. Maybe, it did work after all.
NOTICE: The blog is only restarting at this address temporarily.
I will be migrating this blog over to a new site at: rivkalevy.com