Achdus

For some reason, I wrote that title with Ashkenazi spelling…

On Friday night, I had a little taste of geula.

An English-speaker from Rav Berland’s community called me up, and asked me if he could come for Shabbos, with two friends.

I thought about it for a mo, then told him Sure!

Why did I think about it for a mo?

Because I knew my kids would be home for Shabbat, and in the past, they have been fairly ‘anti’ people from Shuvu Banim.

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When we lived in Musrara, 7-8 years ago, we tried to invite some of the English-speaking kehilla who were hanging out at the Rav, but it was hard on the kids.

They were going through their rebellious teenage stage, and here were a bunch of people who preferred the women and men to sit and separate tables, and who were often wearing shawls.

One time we went to my husband’s then chevruta for Sukkot, and there were two tables – one for men and one for women – with a mechitzah dividing them. I watched my then 14 year old stab the plastic table cloth into shreds with her fork, and I knew she wasn’t happy….

That was before all the controversy about the Rav erupted full-force.

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Once that happened, my kids and their dati leumi friends got very ‘anti’ for a while.

There I was, writing and researching books about what had really happened with the Rav that showed it was all made up out of whole cloth, and writing long screeds on my blog trying to explain the truth of what had really happened to other people.

And in the meantime, me and my husband had about two years where we couldn’t even mention the words ‘Rav Berland’ without setting off World War 3 with our kids and their friends.

It was a very challenging time.

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About two years ago, something fundamental started to change in the equation.

I think probably it was triggered off by ‘Covid 19’, when my kids started to understand that a lot of the things I’d been telling them about just how corrupt the State of Israel really was, actually were true.

And then Ahuvya Sandek was killed, deliberately, when the police car chasing his ‘flipped’ the car he was in by expertly ramming it, and the police officers involved just stood there for 40 minutes and watched, while Ahuvya slowly died from the injuries he sustained by being crushed underneath the car.

From that point on, both my kids were firmly of the view that the police in Israel were ‘anti religious Jews’ – and capable of doing even the most evil things.

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Slowly, slowly, they started wanting to discuss more about what had really happened with the Rav, and while I wouldn’t say they are raging Rav fans even now, they have a lot more respect for him and his kehilla – and also for their parents, for being associated with it.

So.

This was the first time in years we were having out-of-the-closet ‘Rav people’ for Shabbat, and I hoped it was going to be OK.

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I went to the Rav Friday night, walked back – and I could hear a strange American voice coming from the couch.

My kids were talking to someone one of them had met in the Shuk, an American 20 year old who was touring across Israel for a month before going back to university in the States.

Long story short: She was touring around with the ‘Green Olive’ tour company, had been to places like Ramallah and other areas where she had apparently been tear-gassed by the IDF, was a card-carrying member of J-Street – and the rainbow straps of her backpack clued me in that there was other stuff going on here, too.

Hmm.

But she was actually very nice, very respectful, and was happy to be challenged (gently) on her opinions.

She also made me laugh, when she told me that Jews for Jesus had set up a ‘free coffee’ shop on her campus to missionise to the Jewish students there, and that she and her friend were taking them to task for ‘cultural misappropriation of the Jewish identity’.

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So.

I still have no idea about the three guys who are coming for Shabbat, and how all this is going to jive with the ‘anti-Zionist’ J-streeter with rainbow straps who bluntly stated she didn’t believe in God.

But it for sure was going to be an interesting night.

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Long story short: It was one of the most special Friday nights I think I’ve ever had.

Not because people were hiding what they really thought or think, and being all fake ‘politically correct’.

Everyone was saying exactly what they thought, about a range of hugely ‘controversial’ topics – and everyone around the table was still respecting the other person, even though they often violently disagreed with what they were saying.

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One of my guests told us the story of his near-death experience, that happened around 5-6 years ago, when he was caught in a fire in Jerusalem.

He wasn’t burnt – at all – but he inhaled smoke, and it nearly killed him. In fact, it did kill him – he had a clinical death for 20 minutes.

He told us that during that time, he was being judged in the heavenly court by three rabbis: Rav Dov Kook of Tiveria, Rav Chaim Dovid Stern of Bnei Brak, and the head of the beis din was the Rav, Rabbi Berland.

The Rav stood up in shemayim, and decreed that he should go from mavet (death) to chaim!!! (life).

(Tachlis, someone also paid a pidyon nefesh for him, and the Rav himself came to pray for him at the hospital, as well, but the bottom line is that he recovered, fully, and without any negative side effects from being clinically dead for 20 minutes….Amazing.)

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My guest also gave over a couple of other things that he ‘got shown’ when he was technically dead.

One of them was that EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS TO US, ESPECIALLY THE BAD STUFF, IS ACTUALLY FOR OUR HIGHEST GOOD.

It’s difficult to grasp that.

But when someone who has been dead for 20 minutes tell you that’s what he saw – you believe him.

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Another thing he said is that it really is an ‘upside down world’, and the people who we look down on the most in this world are usually the holiest people.

We diss other people for being less learned… less ‘observant’…for not living in Israel…or maybe, for living in Israel…for serving in the IDF… for not serving in the IDF…for learning full time in yeshiva…for not learning full time in yeshiva…for going to Uman for Rosh Hashanah…for not going to Uman for Rosh Hashanah….

What do we know, really?

There are for sure evil people in the world doing a bunch of evil things, but most of the people you and I know in our day-to-day lives are actually mostly just doing their best to try to figure things out and ‘do the right thing’.

Even though of course, so many of us have some very strange ideas these days about what ‘the right thing’ actually is, thanks to all the deliberate inversion of moral values and confusion being sown all around.

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That Friday night gave me a lot of hope that the Jewish people are going to pull together, and really pull through the madness that is currently prevailing in the world.

Do I agree with J-Street philosophy?

NOT IN A MILLION YEARS!!!

Can I still see the good in my ‘J-Street’ guest, as she tours the poor Palestinians and decries the actions of the IDF?

Yes, I can.

And for her part, she sat through a three hour meal with a bunch of religious Jews, including a large percentage of ‘Shuvu Banim’ talking openly about some of the miracles they’ve witnessed first hand from Rav Berland.

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Who’s Rav Berland, and why is he so controversial?

She asked me.

Go and look him up afterwards, I told him.

But just know that most of what you read is based on a bunch of media lies.

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So.

Achdus is the name of the game.

Achdus, where we continue to respect the other person, even when violently disagreeing with some of their ideas. Where we continue to recognise the good parts that still exist in the other person, while not ignoring the ‘bad’, or stuff we don’t like.

And where we don’t put our fellow Jew in the ‘enemy’ camp, just because they tell us things we don’t like to hear, challenge our assumptions, or believe things that we don’t.

That was the taste of geula I got on Friday night.

And I’m hoping that it’s going to take root in a bunch more places now, going forward, not least on the blog.

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Shabbos day, one of my kids came over to me and told me:

I really enjoyed it yesterday. Please invite more people from Shuvu Banim for Shabbos.

What can I tell you?

Moshiach must almost be here, mamash.

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