Increasingly, I’m feeling between two worlds at the moment.
Rebbe Nachman tells the story of a man who plays host to a strange visitor who he’s half-scared of, and half in awe of. This strange visitor entices him out of his house, and then grabs him and starts flying all over the world with him. Then, the host starts to notice that he’s kind of in two worlds at once – flying around with the strange man, but also in his house, at one and the same time.
“He couldn’t believe that this was he himself, in his own house. But he looked carefully, and sure enough he was speaking with ordinary human beings and eating and drinking normally. But then, he again noticed he was flying like before. Then he looked again, and lo and behold! He was in his house. Again, he noticed that he was flying…and so it went on for quite a time.”
I can’t help thinking about this story a lot at the moment, as it seems to be describing what’s going on, at least in my life.
One minute, I’m ‘flying’ with the tzaddikim, and with visions of Moshiach and geula, and God forbid, Gog and Magog and all that supernatural end-of-days stuff. And then, I’m back in my house, trying to figure out what to make for supper, and how best to sell some books so I could actually make 5 cents at some point in my life.
And so it continues from day to day: I’m flying around with thoughts of Beit HaMikdash, and how good life will truly be once all the lies and all the horrible people who enjoy telling them, and turning people against each other, disappear once and for all. And then, I snap back to the so-called ‘real world’ and realise I need to hang my washing up, get the shower door sorted out, deal with more of the mindless bureaucracy that’s taking up more and more of the bandwidth of the world.
“Meanwhile, he noticed that he was in house. It was something extraordinary for him. How was it, that one moment he could here, and the next moment there? He wanted to speak about it to other human being, but how can one explain something incredible like this to other people? They would find it hard to believe.”
Friday morning, World War III almost started.
Trump almost sent American planes in to directly bomb Iran after they shot down an American spy drone. If he’d done that, we’d be dealing with World War III / Gog and Magog right now, instead of me sitting here in my pyjamas typing this out.
I know so many of us prefer a sugar-coated version of reality, and especially of geula, but if wasn’t for the tremendous self-sacrifice of the Gadol HaDor, who went into hospital with what appears to be some sort of kidney failure Thursday night – and the thousands of people who are spending their time travelling to prayer gatherings, and reciting tehillim on behalf of the Rav and the nation – we’d be dealing with a scenario where millions of people could already have been incinerated with an Iranian nuke.
They already have nukes.
Rabbi Berland has been telling us that for years, already, but no-one wanted to believe him.
This past Sunday, the world could already have lunged off the cliff of war, and we’d be dealing with many thousands of casualties, already.
Instead, I took Sunday off and went up North with my girls, to a quiet little stream where I sat in the water for hours and swam widths across from one clump of bulrushes to another.
My girls and their friends disappeared up-stream for a while, so I was there by myself, listening to the radio playing ‘Don’t worry, be happy’, followed by: “Don’t worry, about a thing. Every little thing’s gonna be alright.”
Really, God? Is it really? How can that be true?
That’s what I wondered to myself, as I swam backwards and forwards in perfect weather, under blue skies, with nary a person or a mosquito to disturb my personal piece of Gan Eden.
How can I be enjoying myself like this, when two days ago we nearly had Gog and Magog and the whole world is slipping into more chaos and evil every day?
That’s when God reminded me about this Rebbe Nachman story, quoted above.
Life is pretty challenging for all of us. It’s challenging when it is challenging, and it’s also challenging when it’s not challenging, as that kind of feels plain wrong, given the momentous things going on all around us.
What, I should still take some time to buy a pair of new shoes, and to spend a lazy afternoon swimming somewhere quiet in nature with my kids?
But what about all the tehillim I need to be saying? What about all the insights I need to be sharing? All the teshuva I need to be making?
There’s a time and a place for everything, I guess.
And God is also showing me the value of my small efforts.
Like, last week the Rav put out a call for 200 people to say the whole book of tehillim every single day, until Rosh Hashana, to help him continue going until then.
I heard that and I was awe-struck.
What, there are people out there who could actually do that? Who are willing to do that? 200 of them?!?!
Me? I can’t. It takes me 5 hours to read through the book of tehillim, so it’s strictly for special occasions when I have nothing else to do and no-one else to look after. That said, I could certainly fit a few tehillim in for the Rav every day, so that’s what I’m doing instead – I’m trying to finish a whole book a week.
It’s not everything, but it’s something, and I know God values the effort very much.
And in the meantime, I’m continuing to ‘fly’ into that much deeper spiritual world, where the soul holds sway, and where the miraculous is normal, while all the time still trying to keep the fridge stocked with milk.
It’s not easy. It’s really not easy to be caught between two worlds like this.
“[H]ow can one explain something incredible like this to other people? They would find it hard to believe.”
But that’s where we’re holding.
 New Stories – Tzaddik, pages 213-215
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