That’s the message God has been trying to give me for months already, but it’s proving easier said than done.

Every time I realize I really do need to slow down a bit, some other crisis or issue erupts, or some other idea takes root in my brain and I feel compelled to get on with it before, well, ‘the end’.

That’s how it’s been for years, actually, that I’m rushing to get everything done before ‘the end’, presumably when Moshiach shows up, and redemption occurs, and all my answering activities on Quora grind to a halt.

But the last week or two, I’ve been having this strange idea that maybe, just maybe, it’s possible for at least some of my main issues to get resolved without Moshiach doing it for me. That notion, bizarre and alien as it first sounded when it popped up in my head a little while ago, is actually helping me to get quite a few things ‘unstuck’, while at the same time encouraging me to slow down.

How’s it doing that?

Well, for the first time in ages I’m actually starting to think in terms of beyond next week. I’ve been living in this Moshiach-ready crazy reality where he really is coming – if not today, then tomorrow. And if not then, it has to definitely be by the end of the month. On the one hand, this belief has paralysed me from doing things I really should be getting on with (like arranging braces for my kids, or starting to think about how to buy my own home again, practically without Moshiach-induced open miracles).

And on the other, it’s been a harsh taskmaster, screaming at me to publish 4 books already, and write 10,000 words a week while I’ve still got a computer and electricity…

But I can’t carry on like that, by turns pressured and working like a lunatic, or apathetic and trapped, waiting for God and Moshiach to resolve all of my issues. I have to live in the here and now. I have to believe that life will continue for a good while yet. I have to stop holding my breath on the one hand, and stop ceaselessly cramming in more and more things on the other.

I have to slow down, so that I can actually start to get some stuff that doesn’t involve my keyboard done.

That much is becoming clear to me. How I actually go about doing this is still hidden in the mists. I’ll continue asking God for some clues and guidance; I’ll practice trying to stay off my computer at least some of the time; and I’ll hope that God will show me how I can really be the ‘me’ He wants me to be, just the calmer, more productive and more relaxed version who believes that even though Moshiach really might still come tomorrow, that’s not the end of the world as we know it, but actually the beginning.

A little while back, my husband and I went into the Old City to do a bit of praying by the Wall, and to grab a bite to eat.

That’s not such a big deal – we’ve been going to the Kotel pretty much most Friday nights for over a year, and my daughter goes to school in the Old City, so I’ve been driving in and out for a month now.

But this was the first time in a few weeks that we actually spent some time there. We got our shwarma, found a table to sit at outside, and then had to spend the next half an hour listening to some older Anglo woman complaining loudly into her cellphone about all the people who were ‘living in a dream’ around her.

‘These people are crazy! They’re letting their two year olds play outside by themselves [in the completely pedestrianized Hurva Square in the centre of the Jewish Quarter]; there’s no policemen here, no security, nothing! Anything could happen! I can’t believe what’s going on here and no-one is taking me seriously. I complain and complain but no-one makes a move to come back to me.’

I’d had enough of hearing her moaning after a minute, but sadly, she kept on going and even outlasted my shwarma.

I walked down to the Kotel afterwards, and I pondered that woman and her hyper-vigilance, and hyper-anxiety about the ‘matzav’, and her hyper-criticism of the people who weren’t just cowering in their basements or walking around with arm guards.

Is that life? Is that really how God wants us to live?

OK, sure, I know things a little crazy right now, and I’m driving my kid to school instead of letting her walk like usual, but there comes a point where quality of life in the here and now has to trump quantity of life.

I’ve just finished reading Bernie Siegel’s ‘Love, Medicine and Miracles’, and apart from a couple of passing references to yoshki, it’s one of the best and most uplifting spiritual books I’ve ever read, despite being full of death and cancer.

One of the themes that Siegel, a busy surgeon who had an epiphany 30 years’ back that attitude, emotions and soul were much more powerful healing forces than anything he could offer his patients, underlines again and again that life shouldn’t be measured in years; it should be measured in happiness.

Rav Levi Yitzhak Bender said the same, when he commented:

‘You may only live a little, but live it well and make it nice!’

Siegel saw patient after patient hating their life, and looking to their incurable disease as the ‘out’. He also saw patient after patient having their life unnaturally extended by all sorts of horrific medical interventions, instead of being able to die naturally and at peace, surrounded by their loved ones.

(I’m not a halachic authority, and I’m not going to get into the whole ‘right to die’ debate, but what I can tell you is that Rebbe Nachman was really against doctors and medicine and he advised to avoid both completely, as much as possible.)

One of the things Bernie Siegel used to ask his patients is:

‘If you knew today was your last day, how would you live it? What would you change?’

It’s a question for all of us. I sat in the Jewish Quarter listening to the unhappy, hyper-critical ‘concerned citizen’ and I wondered what she’d be doing with her time if she knew today was the last day of her life. I asked myself the same thing – and it was the first time that I can remember being thrilled that I’d spent far more time writing than tidying up my house and hanging laundry.

I asked my husband that question, and he immediately snapped out of his funny mood, and found something more productive to do with his time.

Our sages say that we should make teshuva the day before we die, which practically means we have to live as though every day is our last, because maybe it is. Yes, there’s a place for precaution and soldiers on street corners, but in our modern world there’s too much emphasis placed on length of days, and nowhere near enough put on amount of happiness.

I’ll come back to this idea again, BH, but let me leave you with this:

If you knew today was your last day, what would you do differently?

Between davening mincha and ma’ariv in shul, my husband overhead the following story:

One of the men in shul was telling his friend how he’d been in the supermarket, when he accidentally bumped into another trolley. He hadn’t been concentrating (you’ll see why in a minute) – and during his daydreaming, he’d accidentally gone into the back of the person who’d stopped in front of him.

His fellow shopper went ballistic and started yelling and cursing at him loudly at the top of his voice, causing him no end of embarrassment as everyone else in the shop gathered round to see what was going on.

All the man had in his trolley was a loaf of bread, and the man he’d bumped into started screaming at him that he didn’t even need a trolley, if all he could afford to put in it was a loaf of bread!!!

At this point, the first man broke down a little, and stiffly explained that he didn’t have a lot of money to put a lot of other things in his trolley….

At that point, something softened in the other shopper, and he started apologizing for all the nasty things he’d just said, and all the criticism he’d heaped on his head. The first man accepted his apology, but still looked pretty down and broken-hearted.

The second shopper now had a complete change of heart and decided to make some real teshuva.

He told the first man that he was going to fill up his trolley and pay for it all, to say sorry for abusing him in public and drawing attention to the fact that he didn’t have a lot of money. He literally dragged the first shopper round the supermarket, piling as many things as he could into the trolley.

Good as his word, he paid the whole bill when it came to more than 800nis (around $230) patted the first shopper on the back, and then carried on with his own grocery run. A little later, the second man came out of the supermarket and spotted the first shopper sitting down on a bench, crying.

He came over to him and asked him: ‘Why are you crying? I made it up to you now, didn’t I?’ The first shopper nodded, and explained what was going on:

‘A little while ago, my wife told me we had no food in the house,’ he said. ‘All I had in my pocket was 10 nis (around $2.50), but I told my wife that I would got to the supermarket in any case, and that Hashem would help me.

And He did.’

So there I was, polishing up the latest infographic that I’m doing for the ‘Deeper Needs’ series over on the spiritualselfhelp website, when it suddenly struck me that God was showing ME what I needed to work on at the moment.

The past two weeks, I’ve been happily posting away about how there are 8 deeper needs, and how the first one is emuna, and that if that first one is out or weak, all these other problems and issues start to show up in your life.

A couple of days’ ago, I was pulling all the info together into the snazzy infographic you’ll find to the left, when it suddenly struck me that I currently have most of the problems I’m describing. Feeling spaced-out? You betcha. Feeling a whole bunch of negative emotions bubbling-up and overwhelming you? Absolutely! Experiencing a bunch of weird physical symptoms related to extreme tiredness, fatigue and other strange things? Yup!

Wow.

The penny suddenly dropped, and I realized that my emuna is pretty low at the moment.

I’d like to blame it all on the ‘matzav’, and it’s certainly the straw that’s broken the camel’s back, but it’s not the whole picture.

I had a series of shocks over the last 2 years that really took the legs out from under me, spiritually, and I never really bounced back. All the ‘matzav’ has done is show me the huge emuna deficit that had been steadily accruing since I lost my house, status, and naïve belief in things always turning out ‘for the good’.

Part of me does believe that still, but it’s not a very big part of me (42%, to be precise. If you want to know how I got to that figure, keep your eyes peeled for the ‘Deeper Needs Visualisation Exercise’ that I’m going to share this week over on spiritualselfhelp.org.)

42% is not nothing, but it’s not really going to cut the mustard, especially if things really are heading towards more craziness and then geula.

I realized that God was giving me a clear nudge to work on my emuna, pronto.

But how?

Ahh, the question of questions.

In my hitbodedut sessions, I got the following insights:

  • My job is to ask God to give me emuna as often as possible
  • But that’s still not really enough (believe me, I’ve been doing that for months already…)
  • So I need some outside help, ie, I need to give a pidyon nefesh to a tzaddik, to clear up the judgments that are still hanging over my head, and preventing me from having emuna.

There was only one problem with all this clarity: my emunat tzadikim is even less at the moment, standing at a whopping 12% (no, that’s not a typo). It’s a long story how it got to be so low, but I could see that midda kneged midda, giving a pidyon nefesh would go a long way to boosting my emunat tzadikim (because you can’t give it unless you believe it’s really going to do something good for you.)

But I was still wavering a little, especially as my finances are still tight.

So then, God gave me the brainwave to randomly open my copy of the Likutey Moharan (with English translation) and this is what I read:

“One who disgraces the honor of a Torah Scholar has no healing for his illness, for the main power of healing that comes from the Torah is impossible to receive other than through the Sages of the generation….Therefore the main thing is to have faith in the sages, and to be particular to relate to them with great respect and reverence.” – LM Lesson 57.

OKAY then, pidyon nefesh it is. I sent the email off yesterday, and I’m waiting to hear back. But one thing I can tell you for sure: if the ‘matzav’ continues or worsens, God-forbid, I’m going to need a heck of a lot more than 42% emuna and 12% emunat tzadikim to get through it in one piece.

The last few months, any lingering love affair I still had with the news has died a fast death.

I’ve been broadly ‘news-free’ for about 8 years, give or take, and I haven’t missed it all. But with the recent upswing in violence here in Israel, I’ve been reading more news headlines than I have done for years.

Usually, I only check after a bunch of sirens, and thank God, it’s been much quieter in my neck of the woods this week. But I remember logging on to Arutz Sheva two week’s back, the day after the terrible double murder of Aharon Bennett and R Nechemia Lavi in the Old City, and being shocked to my core that they were offering video footage of R Lavi being stabbed to death as the ‘editor’s pick’.

I know, we’re all so used to the ‘bread and circuses’ approach of modern society that we don’t bat an eyelid any more at how voyeuristic, callous and un-Jewish all this ‘viewing’ actually is.

Let me ask you something: how would you feel if your dad, or your husband, or your son, got viciously stabbed to death, and then the next day your friends and neighbours (or worse, your kids’ school-friends) were busy watching it on their i-Phones. How would you feel?

I was pondering that quite a bit the last two weeks, because while the headlines have ebbed, and the families of Aharon Bennett and R Nechemia Lavi have faded back into relative obscurity, the real impact that these real tragedies had on these real people continue.

Even though we watch them on the internet, they aren’t film stars being paid to play the part, just to entertain us and give us something to blog about, and to talk about, and to share on Facebook. They are real human beings.

Let me tell you a little bit about what’s happened to family Lavi, now that things have gone ‘back to normal’. Mrs Lavi was a teacher in my daughter’s school. She’s left her job now, because the family couldn’t bring themselves to move back to their home in the Old City after the shiva, and have now moved to Bet El, to be close to both sets of parents.

Many of the kids have had to move school, as it’s too far to travel back and forwards to Jerusalem every day.

That murder people were gawking at didn’t just kill a beloved abba and husband; it threw 8 people’s lives into complete disarray. The family effectively lost their dad, lost their home, lost their jobs and sources of income, lost their community and lost their whole way of life – all at once.

Of course, that’s not deemed ‘newsworthy’, so you won’t be reading about that any time soon as you scroll through the latest headlines. And that’s why I hate the news, and I hate all the mileage that people are making in the blogosphere out of the ongoing tragedies occurring here, and also elsewhere.

This stuff is not just fodder for more opinion pieces, more speculation, more breathless, excited, giddy posting about the ‘latest’. The impact of the headlines that are so quickly made, shared and forgotten can and does last a lifetime on the people involved.

And if we forget that, and we get caught up in chasing the drama instead of remembering the tragedy, that bodes very badly for us and our collective humanity and caring.

These days, I’m not really into the whole ‘geula’ breathless blogging thing.

I was for years, and I used to have a cupboard permanently stocked with Tuna, couscous and other non-perishable food, for when ‘the end’ happened and Rami Levy closed its doors.

Then a few things happened to take me out of ‘survivalist’ mode:

  • I realized that if I was the only person with food, that information would get out sooner or later, and someone bigger, stronger and meaner would come along and steal it.
  • All the terrible predictions being made (most notably by the autistics) didn’t materialize at the times they were meant to, and even my 6 pack of tuna started approaching its sell-buy date.

 

Let’s be clear that I still strongly hope that Moshiach is going to show up any day now, (and so many things are pointing in that direction, it’s scary) – BUT I no longer automatically give ‘end of days’ stuff an uncritical hearing. I’ve stopped reading the autistic messages, for example, and I swore off reading those addictive geula blogs that are really just conjecture and scare-mongering wrapped up in some pseudo-Torah sources.

Why do I say ‘pseudo-Torah’?

For the simple reason that Rav Natan, Rebbe Nachman’s main student, taught that when something is true, it brings you closer to Hashem, and most of what I was reading on those blogs was making me anxious, scared and depressed, ie, doing the exact opposite.

So when someone sent me a link to watch ‘Natan’s after-death experience interview’, replete with details of end of days stuff, Gog and Magog, and details about Moshiach,  I wasn’t so into it. But the person who sent me it had been very affected in a positive way by what she’d seen, and her reaction swayed me to take a look.

I’m glad I did.

Natan is a 15 year old, formerly secular, Israeli boy who ‘died’ unexpectedly on the first day of Succot, and was clinically dead for 15 minutes, before coming back. And he came back with some amazing revelations about what’s occurring in front of our eyes right now. He gave the following class before anyone had been stabbed anywhere in Israel. I’m going to link to the Youtube, so you can see the video for yourself, together with an English translation of the main points.

But I should tell you that the MAIN main point was left out of the English precis, namely that God is expecting us to make some serious teshuva to turn things around. The key things that Natan said we should be concentrating on right now, to get through the craziness that’s going to keep happening are as follows:

Men: need to work on their arrogance (gaava), talking in shul, sexual immorality (gilui arayot), guarding their eyes, keeping shabbat, tzitsit and tefillin.

Women: need to work even more on their arrogance (as it’s a much bigger problem spiritually when a woman is arrogant), their lashon hara, or evil speech, and dressing tzniusly.

It’s still all to play for, and God WANTS things to come as sweetly and peacefully as possible.  And each one of us has a part to play in deciding the outcome.

A few days’ back, I noticed the young guy in the makolet with the tattoo and earrings had started wearing a kippa. He’d watched Natan, and made teshuva. I know another teenager with multiple piercings who took them all out after watching Natan, and made teshuva.

In this day and age, who knows what these two young people already accomplished for Am Yisrael? So we don’t need to just sit here and wait for global desolation. If we overcome our apathy, stop being paralysed by fear and fear-induced denial about what’s really going on all around us, and take to heart that God wants geula to come the SWEET WAY, then that could still really happen, pessimistic doom-and-gloom geula scenarios notwithstanding.

UPDATE: I just got an urgent message sent out from Shuvu Banim’s yeshiva, from Rav Berland. As soon as the English translation is ready, I’ll post it up, but it’s got some amazing chizzuk in it about how we can actually DO something relatively very easy, spiritually. to get the Intifada to stop in its tracks. Stay tuned…

That’s what my 12 year old asked me yesterday.

Apparently, lots of the girls in her school now have their own canister, and my kid was up on all the different prices and sizes, and wanted me to get her a ‘1 ounce-er’.

Apart from the craziness of having a discussion about buying pepper spray for my daughter, there’s another, additional level of craziness going on here: namely that anyone thinks that pepper spray actually works.

Yes, I know in theory that if anyone dodgy comes anywhere close it would be useful to spritz them with someone nasty in the face and run off. But in practice, people don’t react with that much presence of mind when confronted by a knife-wielding terrorist. The usual response is stunned shock and temporary paralysis, not a lightning-fast reflex to grab the pepper spray and start squirting it around.

My other daughter told me a first-hand account she heard of one of the attempted stabbings in the old city, when an arab woman attacked two Jewish men. She first stabbed one, and he fell to the floor. The other one was carrying a laptop in his hand, and he used that to smash the terrorist in the face.

Now, you’d think that ordinarily a strong man smashing a woman in the face with anything would be the end of the story.

Not in this case. The female terrorist had her nose broken the first time he hit her with the laptop, but she stood back up and tried to stab him again. He hit her a second time, and it didn’t stop her from trying to stab him again. A third time, and she was still coming after him with the knife.

At that point, the wounded friend mumbled to him to shoot her – with the gun he’d had in his possession the whole time, but forgot in the drama of it all – which he did, and wounded the terrorist non-fatally.

Now, both these guys had been through the army, they’d been in combat situations, most recently in Gaza, and they knew how to handle themselves in dangerous situations. If that’s the best they could do when a female terrorist attacked them, what hope do the rest of us have, pepper spray or not?

The more this stressful saga continues, the more I’m seeing that there really is only God to rely on, and nothing else.

Sure, take the gun, take the pepper spray, spend hours figuring out how you’re going to scream, lunge, run away fast, kick the attacker in the goolies etc but remember that God is really the deciding factor in all these things, not human prowess, proficiency with firearms, muscles, or anything else.

In the meantime, I’m not buying the pepper spray for my daughter. That might change in the future, but right now that seems to be where I’m holding. If I really thought it would help protect her, I’d do it in a heart-beat. But my soul is whispering to me that pepper spray is a broken reed, and that I’d do much better relying on God 100% to protect my family, and not feeling ‘safer’ just because I got my kid a one ounce-er.

After Wednesday’s twin terror attacks in Jerusalem, I went a bit weird and kind of shut down a little ( I know I’m not alone…)

In one of the huge ironies of this week, I’ve been reading a book called ‘Does Stress Damage the Brain?’ – and I’ve been proving its thesis. I forgot appointments I made to meet people, I couldn’t concentrate or think straight, Wed night I was so tired I crashed into bed at 9pm.

Stress, stress, stress.

What to do about it all? (Over on www.spiritualselfhelp.org, I’m putting a few posts up about PTSD and it’s more formal general aspects over the next few days.) But in terms of my life, our lives, here and now? What to do about it?

The terrorists aren’t going away any time soon.

They are just the big stick that God is using to wake us all up, and show our anti-Torah politicians and citizens that they’re barking up the wrong tree.

Right now, there are armed guards on pretty much every corner of the Old City and its surroundings.

My local makolet in Meah Shearim is selling pepper spray (under the counter, quietly…) My kids come home with stories about people being stabbed with scissors and screwdrivers and even, unbelievably, vegetable peelers. (I think that one is still an urban myth, but who knows).

On Shabbat, Rav Arush said that we can’t run away from God, and the answer is to walk with Hashem wherever we go. If we’re walking with Hashem, we’ll be OK. So now before I go out, I ask God to ‘walk with me’, and give me (and the rest of my family) a bodyguard of angels to escort us.

I asked my youngest, who goes to school in the Old City, how the rest of the kids in her class are doing. One hasn’t left her house for 2 weeks (she only moved to the Old City in August, and is completely traumatized). She told me that another bunch, the ones that live in the City of David, are still walking to and from school by themselves, except now they have pepper spray. (A lot of the terrorists come from their neighbourhood.)

They are doing ‘relaxing’ hour in school now, and giving them regular ‘chizzuk’ conversations after each new attack, along the lines of ‘we aren’t scared, and we aren’t going to let the Arabs scare us!’ One of the girls asked what she should do if she was actually still scared, despite all the chizzuk.

They didn’t really know what to tell her.

Yesterday, my husband came home with a few copies of Likutey Moharans, that Rav Arush had given the avreichim to give out. There’s a breslov tradition that Likutey Moharan protects the home.

We heard a story first hand to prove that a little while ago, when one of my husband’s acquaintances, a property manager, had a fire at one of his flats. Everything was destroyed except the room Rebbe Nachman’s book was in. It was untouched –  the clothes in the cupboard didn’t even smell smoky.

You can pick up a Likutey Moharan at the Breslev.co.il bookstore HERE.

So that’s my recipe for dealing with the stress this week:

  • Walk with God everywhere you go
  • Get a copy of Likutey Moharan for your home
  • Do a lot of praying

I did another long prayer session yesterday, and again, it pulled me back together mentally after Tuesday’s sirens sparked off a small panic fit.

As the bloke in my makolet told me: “This is going to carry on for a long time. It’s the war of Gog and Magog.” He really believes it – he’s just started wearing a kippa. I gave him one of our copies of Likutey Moharan.

I hope to post up some of the more spiritually-meaningful things that have come to me recently next week, stress-induced brain damage notwithstanding.

A little while back, my oldest daughter decided to get what’s called a ‘rasta’. As you might have guessed, it’s the usual sort of dumb teenage idea about taking a bit of your hair, wrapping all this coloured cotton etc around it; tying a bell on the end, and then keeping it in your hair forever (until you get sick of it and have to cut it out.)

It was that or the second earring, so I said: “OK! I let the dumb rasta!”

I realised that she’d been through a lot recently, and needed some form of self-expression that wasn’t exactly traif, but wasn’t also exactly kosher.

She got the rasta, it actually so wasn’t a big deal, and that was that: she felt much happier and self-expressed and independent, and I felt like I’d got off lightly, after seeing the boy with huge holes in his earlobes where his ears used to be.

Last week, the whole family went shopping to a super-frum supermarket, to buy stuff to do a BBQ on Israel Independence Day, or Yom Haatzmaut, when my kids are off school.

Independence Day is a political hot-potato in Israel, and people can make all sorts of assumptions about you based on:

  • How many Israeli flags you have decorating your house and car, and how prominently they’re displayed
  • Whether you listen to music conspicuously on that day (as it’s always in the middle of the Omer, when you’re not meant to be listening to music, unless you consider Independence Day to be a quasi-religious ‘holiday’ like Purim)
  • Whether you’re buying any of the following things: BBQs, charcoal, chicken wings and skewers.

In some neighbourhoods, do any of the above and they’ll stone you. In others, don’t do any of the above, and they’ll stone you.

We went shopping for our BBQ stuff in the big chareidi supermarket in a super-glatt part of town, where black is always the new black. We go there every week, but this week, my oldest daughter started to feel very flustered, and wanted to leave after 5 minutes.

‘What’s the matter?’ I asked her.

“Ima, people are staring at me, and it’s making me feel really weird.”

Hmm. Why were they staring? Was it the BBQ briquettes, sticking out of the trolley? Or maybe, it was the bumper pack of hotdogs that was practically playing ‘HaTikva’ all by itself?

Then it hit me: it was the dumb rasta.

People’s eyes were literally sticking out of their head, even though I’ve seen much less modest things going on with a few of the secular customers that also shop there.

Bizarre.

In the car home, my daughter explained the problem:

“Ima, you look like you’re normal dati (religious); Abba looks like he’s chareidi (black and white with peyot) and I look dati leumi (national religious, I guess what you’d call ‘modern orthodox’ outside of Israel). People can’t work out how we all fit together, and that’s why they were staring so much.”

I actually found this pretty amusing. What, does everyone dress the same in these people’s families? (Ok, scratch that, it was rhetorical.)

I guess the real question I want to ask is why does everyone dress the same, in these people’s families?

How can you have honest self-expression, acceptance and individuality, if everyone’s wearing the same style? I know in my family, I have fiercely resisted ‘the uniform’ – but I certainly wasn’t going to impose my preferences on my husband, who loves his black and white to bits.

Ditto for my kids: the rasta is dumb and borderline untznius. BUT – my daughter needs to learn that for herself, so she can get it out of her system and hopefully grow up to love turtlenecks.

After our discussion, I wondered what would have happened, if I’d gone against the clues God was sending us in the Summer, and shoved our daughters in chareidi school against their will.

One probably would have toed the line (I think…) But the other would have kicked so hard I may have lost her, at least temporarily, God forbid. But then I wonder: don’t all teenagers need to be able to ‘self-express’, at least occasionally, however dumb and borderline tasteless it is? And if they can’t do that when they’re 14 without being stared at and judged, then when can they?

So, you remember my sceptical husband was encouraging me to go straight to the top, halachically-speaking, to get approval for all the JEMI stuff I’m trying to do (emotional healing; emuna medicine; energy medicine – whatever takes your fancy)?

So after weeks of trying to track down the right person to speak to, we finally got a number for him, and the first thing he wanted to know is: ‘Is she G-d fearing?’

He wouldn’t even begin to discuss any details with us, until we could give him some evidence, from a notable rabbi who knew us, that we were Yireh Shemayim.

I clearly then had a whole big crisis about whether I really am G-d-fearing, or at least, G-d-fearing enough. I know I talk to G-d every day, and I often try to do what He tells me, but I also have occasions when I can be quite cheeky and rude to the Creator of the World.

Luckily, it wasn’t up to me to decide it. We asked my husband’s Rav for a ‘reference’, and he was happy to oblige. That’s the first hurdle crossed.

The next hurdle, was that I had to talk to the Rav myself, directly, to get specific guidance.

I have this weird ‘gift’ that whenever I get a bit excited or super-stressed, I can take out every piece of electrical equipment within 10 miles. Things just stop working, or pack up, or go on strike.

So I called the Rav yesterday – and within 5 seconds, I’d managed to take his mobile phone out of operation. And then by the time it came back to life, he was busy with something else, and we had to reschedule the call.

So I’m still anxiously waiting to hear about whether I can go ahead with all my planned JEMI stuff how I want, or whether it’ll need some tweaking.

In the meantime, it made a big impact on me that the first criteria for working with Jews, and Jewish energy, in an halachically-acceptable way, is that the practitioner has to be ‘G-d-fearing.’

In Israel, maybe it’s easier to find those people (although still not easy) but in the rest of the world? And especially in places with very few Jews? Fuggedaboudit.

Swami so-and-so, Yogi whatever-there-name-is; Joan the sweet Buddhist who’s really ‘into’ their Hatha whatever-it-is – what harm can they be doing, spiritually? I’m still trying to track down the answer – and I’ll share whatever I find out with you, dear reader.

But in the meantime, whatever else you’re doing with your Jewish energy – whether it’s stretching, exercises, ‘healings’, or even massage (and don’t even get me started on all the REALLY dodgy stuff out there…) – make sure your practitioner or teacher is genuinely G-d-fearing.

How’d you do that? Great question!

I don’t know.

But if they aren’t keeping mitzvoth and they don’t believe in G-d (our version, as opposed to ‘the universe’, whatever that means), that’s probably a pretty clear answer.

If you’re still not sure, talk to G-d about it, and see what He tells you. And in the meantime – don’t risk yourself, spiritually, by doing things that appear ‘harmless’ to us, but could be causing us a lot of damage. I’ll come back to this idea more, in the next post.