After all the agro I got the last couple of weeks from my crazy emailers, I have to admit that I’ve been having some massive struggles with my own bad middot, and particularly the traits of vengeance and spite.

(As an aside, every time I stick up the character traits from the ‘Erev Rav’ I try to check where I’m holding on it all myself, and ‘vengeance and spite’ have been at the very top of my list, recently.)

But God has been doing His best to help me overcome these issues the last few days. For example, one of my correspondents sent me a very nice email last week on a completely different subject than my crazy relatives, but which ended with their own observation that whatever happens in our life, we have to see that God is behind it, and He’s just using people as a mirror.

Hmmmm.

As I was busy trying to avoid that idea, I went to see my lady who helps me with a lot of my psychosomatic aches and pains. Mostly, I can figure out the messages my illnesses are giving me myself in hitbodedut, but occasionally they are too much in my blind spot for me to see them myself, and that’s where this lady comes in.

She’s very connected, she’s very Israeli, and she doesn’t pull her punches about what I need to change or fix.

I love that about her! But it’s not always easy to hear it.

Since all the poisonous email stuff, I was having some sort of weird chest pain going on, and I knew it was related (pardon the pun).  This lady told me straight: “God is using this situation to give you a message. It’s going to be very hard work to hear it, because it involves breaking your ego, and that’s never easy. If you’re ready to do the work, come back next week.”

Hmmmm.

I did some hitbodedut on it all, and here’s what came up: My poison penners ARE from God, and ARE sending me and my husband a message, but it’s not directly connected to what’s going on with them (because as I mentioned already, they are certifiably crazy).

Once I wrapped my head around the idea that God is even behind the nasty emails that crazy people send, things really started to move.

I’ve learnt that the thing that most upsets you, that most grabs your attention, that most annoys you or troubles you, that’s the place to start, when trying to work out the messages God is sending each and every one of us via other people.

So I went through all the emails me and my husband received last week, and I carefully underlined the bits that really hit a nerve. By the end of it, I had a list of about 4-5 statements that really, really bothered me, and then I asked God to show me how they were connected to my real, actual life, and not all the lies being told by the crazies.

Dear reader, we came up with some really interesting messages! Like for example, it bothered me tremendously that this person called me and my husband parasites and scroungers, because we really, really aren’t. We give charity generously, we don’t ask other people for help, we try to rely on Hashem and not people in every way possible.

So I was completely offended by this statement, and I also couldn’t understand how it could be a message to me about anything. But after pondering it, I realized that me and my husband ARE still scrounging to make a decent living, and it’s something that’s upsetting both of us.

Once we got that it WAS an accurate description of something in our life that needed fixing, we could move on to the next stage of decoding the message:

How do we fix our chronic lack of parnassa, at its spiritual root?

My husband is currently working on finding the answer to that, and I’ll keep you posted.

This week I went back to my lady, and I got some more insights: She explained that spite is the one thing GUARANTEED to kill a person, physically. All the hate and rage that underpin spite does tremendous damage to a person’s health.

As I’ve been feeling pretty rotten again this week, she didn’t need to do a lot to convince me she was right. But how to get rid of it?

That’s where God came in again.

I had a couple of meaningful dreams, I went to visit the grave of Rav Yehuda Zev Leibowitz in Bnei Brak, I did a couple of hours of really useful hitbodedut, or talking to God, and voila, a few days’ later I’d got to a place where I was willing to let go of my hate and spite, because I finally understood that it was a defense mechanism that I felt I needed to keep these crazy people away from me and my family.

When I was talking to God about it all, I suddenly got that God is going to protect me from the crazies in my life, if I trust Him to do that, which means that my negative emotions are actually redundant. All my spite and hate is doing is making me sick, and it’s God who’s going to protect me anyway – so why kill myself in the meantime?!

Sigh.

Dealing with negative character traits is such hard work. But one thing keeps me going: I want to be a lover, not a hater. I want to get to the end of my 120 years knowing that whatever disgusting traits I came down to the world with, I did my very best to acknowledge them and fix them, with God’s help.

And if I manage to do that, ironically, my crazy emailers are going to get a big amount of the credit for it.

It’s amazing how all these ‘breathless’ geula bloggers have stayed so quiet about Rabbi Berland, aka Eliezer ben Etia.

I’ve been expecting the geula imminently for around 12 years now. And over that time I’ve been bombarded with hundreds of exciting messages about the end of the world, many BREAKING NEWS!!! moments when it really did look like that might be happening, plus thousands upon thousands of predictions, guesses, pundit pieces and others.

After 12 years (!) of all that, I’ve come to rely on only one thing as having any true credibility:

Messages from true Tzaddikim.

And that’s about it.

It’s not that I don’t think there isn’t value in many of the other podcasts, posts, lessons and YouTube videos from people I respect very highly like Rav Glazerson. It’s just that I know our true Tzaddikim have ruach hakodesh – they talk to God regularly, they are given access to spiritual secrets and deliberations that ordinary people like you and me just don’t have, however much Torah learning we have, or hitbodedut (personal prayer) we’re doing every week.

Also, as is known, our true Tzaddikim excel in changing God’s mind from ‘harsh justice’ to more merciful ways. When God wanted to blast the Jewish people out of existence following the sin of the Golden Calf, Moshe Rabbenu simply wouldn’t let him.

To put that scenario into modern terms, this is what would have played out on the internet just after the Golden Calf:

The autistics would have put out a statement with a ton of ‘oys’ and ‘voys’ about the terrible sin committed, and predict that 2/3 of the Jewish people (minimum) were about to be annihilated by God – and they’d be right!

Except, except, except….Moshe Rabbenu interceded (secretly…) and the picture changed drastically. Rav Glazerson would then have a Torah Code YouTube clearly showing that ‘Erev Rav’ and ‘Golden Calf’ intersected with ‘annihilation of the Jewish people’ and ‘saved by Moshe Rabbenu’.

Then, all the bloggers would have gone to work. Many would be screaming their lungs out about the imminent destruction of the Jewish people (while completely ignoring the role of the true Tzaddikim in avoiding that scenario). Many would be offering up their own take on WHY IT WAS HAPPENING (again, while completely ignoring what the true Tzaddikim were actually saying about it), some would ignore the whole situation completely, or come up with a conspiracy theory blaming Yasser Arafat for everything, and two would be telling the truth:

Namely, that there WAS a big decree of destruction against the Jewish people because of the sin they committed, but the Tzaddik of the generation, Moshe Rabbenu, cancelled it out with his prayers and self-sacrifice.

And of all the opinions and ‘fluff’ out there, only that last one is relevant, because it’s the only statement that’s really 100% true.

THE ONLY WARNINGS AND MESSAGES THAT MATTER COME FROM OUR TRUE TZADDIKIM

When Moshe Rabbenu later told his brother Aaron to run with the incense pan to the camp to stop the plague that had broken out, this was a clear example of the Tzaddik HaDor being very clued-in to what was a clear and present danger to the Jewish people, and what wasn’t, and also, crucially, WHY IT WAS HAPPENING.

Which brings me to the crux of this post. It’s been very interesting to me to see that every ‘alternative’ pronouncement of death and destruction, every ‘message’ predicting the future, every weird occurrence going on in the world, from strange weather to bizarre geophysical phenomenon is given reams of space in the Jewish blogosphere, while the messages from a number of huge Tzaddikim about what’s going on with Rav Berland – and its connection to the ongoing geula process – are being almost completely ignored.

You should know that Rav Glazerson has at least 12 videos on YouTube clearly pointing out that Rav Berland is completely innocent, being persecuted by the Erev Rav, and that his imprisonment is directly connected to geula and Moshiach coming.

I can think of one blog (maybe two…) that is bringing these videos to your attention, while I know of many other blogs who link to pretty much every OTHER video Rav Glazerson puts out that doesn’t talk directly about Rabbi Berland.

Why is this?

Even the autistics recently came out with a message stating clearly that Rabbi Berland was innocent and suffering for the sins of the generation. I waited to see if this would be publicized or mentioned by some of the blogs who believe the autistics are modern-day prophets – nothing, nada, nope.

Why not?

Rav Dov Kook and other of the nation’s leading Tzaddikim including Rav Chaim Dovid Stern and Rav Shalom Arush, have come out with statement after statement in support of Rav Berland, and making it clear that his persecution is directly linked to the geula process of the Jewish people.

When Rav Kook made a statement saying he could see a gezeira coming because of the mixed gender bathing in Tiveria a few months’ ago, many bloggers fell over themselves to report on it at length.

Yet when Rav Kook made the statement last week that all the supernatural fires hitting Israel were because of the suffering and persecution of Rabbi Berland, it was met with an industrial silence in the blogosphere.

Why was that?

SOOO many bloggers commented on the ‘Fire Intifada’, quoting this one and that one, and coming up with their own ideas of WHY it happened and WHO’S really behind it and WHAT TO DO about it. Yet when one of the leading Gedolei HaDor puts out a public statement clearly linking Rabbi Berland’s persecution by the Israeli government to these fires – no-one quoted it. No-one mentioned it.

Why not?

If the Torah codes and Rav Kook, and Rav David Abuchatzeira and Rav Chaim Dovid Stern, and the Milkman, and Rav Fish are good enough when it comes to all the other things we quote them about, then shouldn’t they also be believed when they’re telling us Rav Berland is innocent, his incarceration is directly connected to geula and the coming of Moshiach, and last week’s fires are directly connected to his terrible mistreatment at the hands of the Erev Rav?

And if they AREN’T good enough – then why quote them on other matters that also regularly contradict the mainstream view of things?

Why the double-standard?

Sure, I know there’s a lot of heretical psychos out there who love to insult and abuse people who write positively about Rabbi Berland (hi guys!)  As a blogger myself, I know that I also don’t want to accidentally mislead my readers or write something that’s incorrect.

But here’s the thing: people like Rav Dov Kook don’t have ‘opinions’ or cook up conspiracy theories about what they think may be going on in the world. Rav Kook, Rav Stern and others – they have ruach hakodesh. They know stuff because Hashem Himself is telling them.

Emunat Tzaddikim means that we believe in the words of our true Tzaddikim, even when that contradicts what we think we know (by reading all the latest conspiracy theories, opinion pieces and wild guesses masquerading as ‘prophecy’ on the web…)

I have no problem publicly supporting Rav Berland a million per cent, because that stance is not based on my own opinion, it’s daat Torah.

ALL THE REAL TZADDIKIM ARE BEHIND RABBI BERLAND 100%.

(I know there’s also a bunch of pseudo-tzaddikim talking against him, but that’s in order to maintain free will, and to make the test more difficult.)

So let’s sum up what I’m trying to get at:

  • Rabbi Berland, aka Eliezer ben Etia, is being publicly supported by our true Tzaddikim, including Rav Dov Kook, and Rav Chaim Dovid Stern.
  • These two Tzaddikim in particular have put out a number of explicit messages stating Rav Berland is the last test before Moshiach; anyone who talks against him won’t have a share in the geula; and the supernatural fires that happened last week are directly linked to his persecution and unjust incarceration.
  • Rabbi Berland also has a ton of Torah codes proving his innocence, support from the autistics saying he’s innocent, and has regularly predicted the future including the start of the Third Intifada. (There is a lot more to say on the subject of Rav Berland accurately predicting the future on many different occasions, but that’s a post for another occasion.)
  • WHY IS ALL THIS STUFF BEING IGNORED IN THE JEWISH BLOGOSPHERE, WHEN IT’S CLEARLY DIRECTLY RELATED TO GEULA AND THE FINAL TEST OF ‘BIRUR’, TO SEE WHO’S REALLY WITH HASHEM AND HIS TRUE TZADDIKIM?!?!?

Maybe someone can enlighten me.

You can buy One in a Generation Volume 1 on Amazon and on the Book Depository.

You can buy One in a Generation Volume II on Amazon.

UPDATE:

The autistics just put this out about the identity of Moshiach ben David, aka Eliezer ben Etia:

I think that God is using the Trump Presidency as a sort of ‘dry run’ to clue us all in to the sorts of tremendous changes that are going to occur in the world once Moshiach comes.

Trump won despite 91% of his media coverage being negative – and not just a little bit negative, it was tongue-bitingly, eye-wateringly negative. Many of the more establishment media outlets still can’t bring themselves to write a single nice thing about him – which means that they’ve effectively lost their ability to influence the public in any meaningful way, because while people still take news seriously (even when it’s disguised propaganda), they can’t stomach obvious propaganda.

But that’s not the only interesting thing going on across the pond. Even though technically only half the country voted for Trump, that doesn’t mean that half the country is ‘anti’ him. What it does mean is that half of the US was idealistic enough, and independent-minded enough, to vote for Trump despite all the brainwashing they were getting from the media and the establishment.

Amongst the people who voted against Trump, a large number only did that because they’d been brainwashed into it by scare stories and ‘think pieces’ from celebrities (I know, that’s an oxymoron…) With Trump in power, the ability of these ruling elites to keep pulling the wool over everyone else’s eyes is going to start evaporating.

It’s like when the boy started crying out ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes!’

Initially, he was definitely a minority opinion, but it only took one person to start pointing out what was really true for the whole façade of the Emperor’s new clothes to evaporate. And that’s what is going on with the Trump presidency.

So how is this related to Moshiach? Great question.

Just as the worm has turned in the US, the worm in Israel is also about to turn – with much greater global consequences. We all know that we’re living in what Chazal termed the ‘upside down’ world.

It’s a world where the scummiest people get the most kudos, and the most heads of state attending their funerals, while the Gadol HaDor can sit in prison for nine months on trumped-up charges and no-one even bats an eyelid.

It’s a world where the nastiest, most aggressive and personally ambitious people have fought their way to the top of the pecking order in every sphere of the Jewish world, both religious and non-religious, while the people who really have the middot and ability to lead and guide the nation have been sidelined, marginalized and even mocked and attacked.

When the Jewish worm turns with the coming of Moshiach, we’re all going to realize which of our political leaders is really wearing ‘no clothes’; which of our rabbis and spiritual guides are really fake and corrupt; which of the pillars of our community are upright, God-fearing people – or otherwise – and it’s going to cause an earthquake throughout the Jewish world.

Most of the ‘leaders’ out there, both in the Jewish and non-Jewish world, are so bad and corrupt that even when the worm turns, they won’t accept it and will expend their last breath trying to stamp it to death.

But when the bandwagon of truth really, finally, starts rolling, no-one can stop it. People can demonstrate and riot all they want – it’ll just roll right on over them and carry on. That bandwagon took down the Berlin wall and smashed the former USSR to dust, and now, it’s about to wreak utter havoc on the world of liberal elitism and political correctness.

Once it picks up steam, no-one who wasn’t already sitting on it from the start will be able to jump on.

That’s what’s going on right now with Trump. None of the wishy-washy Republicans are going to get a job for the next 4 years. None of the anti-Trump media are going to get White House exclusives – and many of them have already lost a whole bunch of credibility, readers and money thanks to their overtly biased coverage of the elections.

But Trump is a millionth of the clean-up job that’s going to happen when Moshiach comes. The light of Moshiach is going to clarify who you really are – not just to you, yourself, but to the world.

All the lies, the puffery, the egotism, the greed, the hypocrisy, the cruelty, the superficiality that dresses itself up in the fanciest of outfits and the catchiest tweets – it’s all going to be exposed for all to see. Moshiach’s bandwagon of truth is going to dwarf President’s Trump’s.

And that’s when things will start to get really interesting.

The last few days, since the beginning of the Jewish New Year, I haven’t been feeling so hot.

After pondering on what’s going on I’ve come to the conclusion that the ‘vibe’ of the planet – or to put it in more spiritual terms, the Divine light that God is sending down to us 24/7 – has speeded up, or cranked up in someway, and my body is having some problems adjusting to it all.

People are energy – souls covered by an energetic mass that’s vibrating at a slower pace, to give it the illusion of being solid matter. That’s not new-age mumbo jumbo, that’s quantum physics.

God sustains every single cell, every single atom, by maintaining it in perpetual motion.

Some people call this the ‘electric charge’ associated with every single atom, cell, object, all the way up to human beings. Others call it the life-force. But whatever you choose to call it, the simple fact is that we are energy in motion, and what keeps us in motion (and consequently, alive) is God.

Since the beginning of the year, I feel as though the ‘light’ God continually sends down to the planet, or energy, or shefa (the Hebrew word for bounty) or blessing, or however you want to refer to it has got so, so much stronger.

Trouble is, if the vessel – i.e. the body – hasn’t been cleaned out enough to receive this extra input, it can cause all sorts of problems, physically and mentally.

What cleans out the body? There’s a few things, but it basically boils down to this:

  • Working on our bad character traits, and uprooting them.
  • Building and maintaining a strong connection to God, via talking to Him in our own words every single day (aka personal prayer, or hitbodedut).

Bad character traits and negative emotions have a huge impact on a person’s mental and physical health. They block the smooth flowing of the energy, or life-force around a person’s body. The cause the body’s energy meridians to back up, blow a fuse, surge unhelpfully or stagnate, all of which leads to physical health issues if not dealt with.

They cause the brain to act and react differently, leading to all sorts of mental issues, personality disorders and suicidal tendencies (amongst many other things.) So if the body is full of negative emotions and bad character traits, that means that energetically-speaking, the body’s electric circuits aren’t functioning properly.

If the amount of ‘charge’ coming down from God then gets amped up – a person is going to start blowing circuits all over the place.

How do we clear out the bad character traits and emotions? First, we recognize that we actually have them (an enormous problem for most people…) Next, we recognize the damage they’re doing, particularly to us, but also to the people we love. Last, we ask God for help to get rid of them – which brings us to the second point, about talking to God regularly.

When you talk to God regularly, you gradually ‘up’ your body’s tolerance to Divine light and you strengthen your soul. When the soul is stronger, it can start to ‘talk down’ to the body more, and make its voice heard. It can steer the body away from the cheesecake, towards the salad bar. It can encourage the body to get a good night’s rest, instead of messing around on Facebook until 2am. And, it can persuade the body that working on things like bad character traits and negative emotions is actually in the body’s best interests, too.

There’s an idea in Judaism that a person’s sins are literally engraved on their bones.

Until we make Teshuva, the ‘bad energy’, or blockages, or problems our sins have created in the world are literally stored in the body, and are the source of our physical aches, pains, and other issues.

Once we make Teshuva, the energy ‘recombines’ into it’s proper order, the body starts to work better again and we feel so much happier and healthier and holier.

God is sending more and more light down to the world. Once I started having all the weird aches and pains the last week, I started exploring what’s going on in my personal prayer, and tried to figure out what’s underneath that pain in my hip, that bad headache, that difficulty breathing. I’ve been getting some amazing insights:

The hip is a bad character trait I ‘inherited’ from an old relative, that I really need to work on uprooting asap.

The breathing issue was connected to me still being angry at someone who hurt me a lot three years’ ago. I had to work on forgiveness, and letting go of this person with love.

The headache is my nervous system going haywire because there are huge things building up in the world. For that, I’ve had to work on my emuna, and also to sedate the bladder meridian and triple warmer meridian points, and to stick lentils in a few places to try and clear the block that’s happening there.

It’s a work in progress, and it’s probably never going to end. But each time I clean off whatever issue arises, I feel so much happier and better. A big reason why people’s bodies wear out in old age is because if we’re not cleaning the sins out of bones, and we’re just adding to them as we go along in life, sooner or later we get to a point where the body can’t cope anymore, and starts to disintegrate.

God is speeding things up right now.

Work that used to take years can now take weeks or even just days and hours.

So, if you’re also feeling more tired, achey, fatigued or stressed than usual, know that it’s because your body, your vessel, is struggling to cope with the extra ‘light’ God is sending to the world. And if you don’t deal with it, it’s only going to get worse!

As a first port of call, pick up a copy of ‘Talk to God and Fix Your Health’, and then use all the ideas and techniques in that book to start clearing out your system across body, mind and soul. Whatever else is going to happen this year, God wants us to get to work on uprooting our bad character traits and negative emotions, and the sooner we start that process, the better and healthier we’ll feel.

You can buy Talk to God and Fix Your Health on Amazon and on The Book Depository

Rosh Hashana is never an easy time of year for me, as I usually feel the ‘din’ in the air and I spend a lot of time in a state of advanced internal stress.

That my husband goes to Uman really helps my peace of mind, because however ‘bad’ an experience I’m having at home, at least it comforts me to know that my husband is over by Rabbenu, getting the judgments sweetened on our family for the coming year.

But still, even with all the sweetening that’s going on in Uman, the last three Rosh Hashanas have been so hard for me and my family that as Elul began a few weeks’ back, I could already feel my stomach sinking.

Elul is here…which means Rosh Hashana will soon be here….which means two days of pure torture as we all just sit in the house feeling lonely, or try to find a shul somewhere with a tune I recognize…or I start thinking back to all the ‘fun’ Rosh Hashanas I seemed to have had back in galut, when I had a nice house and a big circle of friends…

The problem is that your mindset on Rosh Hashana sets the tone for your year, so if you’re feeling down, lonely, lost, victimized and ‘bad’ it doesn’t bode so well for the next 12 months.

My girls have also had difficulties getting into ‘happy’ mode on Rosh Hashana, as all of their friends disappear to do family things, and the three of us are left sitting at home and staring at each other, trying very hard not to feel too sorry for ourselves.

But this year, God gave me an idea to do something different. This year, I found a hotel in Tiberias that was meant to be catering to the Israeli Chareidi crowd for Rosh Hashana, and we booked to stay there.

A huge weight fell off my heart to know that this Rosh Hashana, it was going to be different. I had no idea if it was going to be ‘nice’ or ‘enjoyable’, but at least different, and that was a good start.

Tiberias is much, much hotter than Jerusalem, but given that it was already October, I wasn’t so worried.

As we got in the car to head up North, the temperature slowly climbed until it hit 40 degrees… WHAT?!?!? Even in the Summer that’s rare and a heatwave. Tov. I told myself and the kids: ‘Whatever God is going to bring us on this trip, we’re going to be happy with it.”

After a massive traffic jam, we finally got there an hour before the Chag. I ripped toilet paper. I made up the third bed in the room for my daughter. I went out on to the balcony to read my ‘Seder Vidui Devarim’ looking out on to the Kinneret, and I nursed a secret hope that this Rosh Hashana would be much better than the last few.

We went downstairs to the lobby to wait for supper, and were quickly surrounded by Jews of every type: Sephardim with the standard ‘Tunisian Savta’ in a wheelchair; Chareidim with a bunch of kids; the odd tattooed, tanned woman in a tank top who looked like she’d been dragged there against her will, to be with the mishpacha.

There seemed to be a few single women there too, older types who either wanted a break from all the cooking and / or just wanted to be somewhere around people for Rosh Hashana.

To cut a long story short, despite the rattling aircon in our room, the very hot, humid weather and the fact I was staying with two teenagers (!) we actually had the best Rosh Hashana for a very long time, baruch Hashem.

Watching all the complicated family dynamics playing out all around us worked a treat to make me see how spending holidays with ‘family’ is usually a bittersweet experience. My kids loved the 8 desserts – and better yet, hated the 8 desserts by the end of their stay as they realized that while it all looked so good, it made them feel like they wanted to throw-up afterwards.

I realized my cooking is still pretty darned good (a huge thing for me…) and also, that my life, my kids, my family is also very nice exactly how it is.

As a couple of bonus treats, God arranged for us to somehow find Rav Dov Kook’s shul in Tiberias, so I got to see him from the women’s section and hear some shofar blowing there. And on the next day, we managed to track down the ‘Tomb of the Imahot’, where six of our righteous women are buried, including Moshe’s mother and wife, Bilha, Zilpa and Elisheva, the wife of Aaron HaKohen.

The feeling I got by the holy mothers was so nice, I stayed there for 45 minutes saying some Tikkun Haklalis.

Towards the end of the Chag, I noticed one of the signs the organisers had posted up on the wall telling guests that their mood on Rosh Hashana was a good indication for the sort of year they were going to get. For the first time in about five years, I felt good on Rosh Hashana, and calm, and at peace, and happy.

Yes, it cost a lot of money to go there. But it helped me and my family go into the new year with feelings of gratitude and contentment, instead of feeling lonely and dissatisfied.

And getting a good start like that was worth every single penny.

Last week, I was in Ikea with my kids in the badatz kosher cafeteria there.

(Even though I’ve lived in Israel for more than 11 years’ now, I still find kosher Ikea wildly exciting.)

It was the last days of Summer, and the cafeteria was packed with all sorts of people and their kids. Ahead of me in the queue was a cute-looking frum woman with a long skirt, long sleeves and regal head covering, who had a handful of younger kids holding on to her by her skirt.

Every two minutes, this woman took her massive i-Phone out of her bag, and started obsessively checking the headlines on Arutz 7. She’d scroll down for a couple of minutes, go over and check her emails, put the phone back in her bag (usually because some kid was tugging at her pretty aggressively, to get her attention) – and then two minutes’ later, repeat the whole ritual again.

I stood behind her for 15 minutes, and I saw her do this at least six times.

There are many things to be said about why i-phones are bad – like how easy they make it to access all the smut and degradation on the internet, especially for men; or how they chain people to work and checking their emails all the time, even when they’re meant to be hiking in nature with their families and relaxing; or how they suck people into a self-absorbed, pretty immodest culture of taking selfies and checking their appearance every 10 seconds.

But today, I just want to focus on one aspect of why i-Phones are so bad, which this one, average frum woman in Ikea really encapsulates: i-Phones give us no time to really ‘be’ with ourselves. I-Phones are addictive, because surfing the internet is addictive, and it fills the ‘space’ and the time that we’d otherwise be left alone with our thoughts.

People are so miserable today, and so uncomfortable with themselves, and so uncomfortable about the notion of exploring what they really think and feel about their lives and their relationships, that escapism has become the Number 1 ‘self-soothing’ activity of our generation.

The equation goes something like this:

Time to think = an opportunity to recognize what’s not going so well in my life, or what is maybe not so healthy or helpful = an impetus to change or improve = a push to actually do something different = SCARY AND DANGEROUS!!! = stay away from thinking at all costs.

i-Phone = escape into news, facebook and fantasy = no time to think = can keep busy at all costs = COMFORT ZONE = go back to sleep, everything’s fine (and don’t forget to take your anti-anxiety medication…)

i-Phones cut us off from thinking and being, and as a result, they distance us from our own souls.

They waste our time on addictive behaviors like obsessively checking emails, Facebook or Arutz 7. They suck us into a fake, plastic, superficial world that’s full of spiritually-dead, emotionally-ill people who spend so much time online because they also can’t just ‘be’. They prevent us from really interacting with the people standing right in front of our faces, because we’re too busy scrolling through old email conversations and sharing new stuff we just found out about.

And that’s if we’re ‘only’ using them for ostensibly kosher reasons.

If the sites we happen to visit are morally corrupting in anyway (which is like, er, 99.9% of the internet…) then the spiritual problems connected with i-Phones only continue to grow.

Do you really want to be immersed in a world where God is absent, people descended by chance from monkeys and where anything goes, morally and socially? And if by chance you really want that for yourself, is that what you really want for your children?

No-one needs an i-Phone.

(I know there are supposedly haredi ‘rabbis’ who are carrying around their i-Phones and claiming they need them to serve the community, but it’s all just fluff and excuses put around by people who forget that God is running the world, and that emails don’t have to be answered within 20 seconds of being received. Can you imagine Rav Ovadia using an i-phone? Or Rav Kanievsky? I rest my case.)

We don’t need to carry-on buying into a culture that has made ‘escapism’ and ‘keeping busy’ it’s bywords, because it’s dead from the soul-down and is trying to run away from all the human misery it’s created with its God-less, heretical and materialistic approach to life.

Take a moment and imagine how different that woman’s trip to Ikea could have been without her i-Phone.

Maybe, she’d have started a conversation up with one of her kids, and learnt something very helpful. Maybe, she’d have given another kid a hug, or a back tickle, to alleviate the boredom of waiting in line. Maybe, she’d have noticed that she has nothing to say to her family, and that would have made her wonder why that was the case, and what needed to change to get her back in touch with herself and with them, more?

Instead, she checked her emails and Arutz 7 six times, until it was her turn to order the schnitzels and fries.

Life is so, so precious. Every moment can be used to reach out to others, reach up to God, or to reach inwards, to our own souls.

But when we’re carrying an i-Phone around, it’s so much easier to turn on to the emptiness of the internet, than to tune in to our own lives and loved ones.

Recently, I’ve been pondering the mechanism that’s going on in a person’s brain and / or soul that prevents them from assimilating new information when it’s presented to them, and changing course as a result.

There’s been many prompts for my ponderings, vis:

  • Individuals who frequently treat others in a very selfish, manipulative and destructive way, and who continue their behavior even when repeatedly told what the problem is, and being asked to stop. (This is one of the classical behavioral issues of people with Cluster ‘B’ type personality disorders, particularly Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Anti-Social Behavior PD)
  • Individuals who continue to insist that chemical imbalances in the brain:
    1. Actually exist, despite there being no scientific evidence to support this conclusion; and
    2. That these chemical imbalances are the cause of mental and emotional issues such as depression, bipolar, schizophrenia etc; and
    3. That psychotropic drugs ‘cure’ these pretend chemical imbalances and their associated emotional issues, again even though there is no scientific evidence to prove that, and plenty of scientific evidence proving that this is NOT the case.
  • Individuals who continue to defend their position, or actions, or belief system even when clearly shown evidence and facts that flat-out contradict them. The examples of this abound, but to name a few of the more notable ones:
    1. Adherents of Darwin’s ‘theory’ of evolution, who continue to trot it out as ‘fact’ and ‘science’ and the ‘height of objective rationality’ when in fact (and I urge you to research this yourself) NOT ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE HAS EVER BEEN FOUND, OVER THE LAST 100 YEARS, TO PROVE IT. To put this another way, believing in Darwinism is actually probably even more bonkers than believing in Scientology. And that’s saying something.
    2. People who continue to claim that yoga is ‘just exercise’ despite repeated references to the Hindu religion and idolatrous practices and texts, plus the requirement to spend 30 hours immersed in pagan texts simply to be able to teach it.
    3. People who claim the Palestinians ‘want peace’, and that Islam is a religion of peace.

 

Nuff said.

All of us have come up against these types of people or issues over time, and probably all of us have been left scratching our heads as to what exactly is going on, because on some level we can see that the failure to integrate and to respond to information is clearly a sign of mental ill-health.

Two options present themselves:

Either, there really is some sort of cognitive impairment going on (more on this in a moment); or, the people involved are morally corrupt and deliberately going out there to hurt and mislead other people by ‘playing dumb’.

The more I’ve researched this issue, the more I’m starting to believe that the issue really is one of cognitive impairment, aka brain damage.

Here’s why: I did this infographic a little while back to show how important our frontal lobes are, when it comes to things like exercising free choice, assimilating new information, and overcoming our primitive, knee-jerk reactions to act like a mensch.

When the frontal lobes are ‘off-line’, the ability to choose how to react, to weigh out our options, to see other people’s points of view, to empathise, and to respond to new information and stimulus and really internalize it is very impaired, or even non-existent.

This type of ‘brain damage’ is caused by trauma, especially the type of trauma that results from emotional neglect and abuse in childhood, plus other more obviously traumatic experiences like being bulled, being seriously ill, losing a parent via divorce or bereavement, or experiencing a bad car crash, physical assault or terrorist attack.

To put this another way: Most people today are traumatized, and the effects of being traumatized are to amplify the influence or emotional and primitive parts of the brain, and to shut down the part of the brain that enables people to process new information, consider their actions, behavior and beliefs in a rational way, and to choose to act, think or believe different, as a result.

Here’s the good news: the brain is ‘plastic’, and new research is building up by the day to prove that the function of the brain is shaped by our experiences, and that our brains continue to grow and evolve and change until we take our last breath.

Traumatised brains can be ‘un-traumatised’, and when that occurs people regain their humanity, their ability to change and to aspire, and their connection to their souls, their higher selves, and to God.

(God willing, I’m currently pulling together a whole bunch of information on the best, easiest and most effective ways of ‘un-traumatising’, and I’ll post it up when it’s ready.)

But until and unless that happens – you’re dealing with brain-damaged individuals who really can’t process the new information or facts that potentially change the whole picture.

They really AREN’T doing it just be stubborn, obnoxious, hurtful, destructive, although of course we often still experience their behavior like that, and we have to take any steps required to protect ourselves from the fall-out.

Jewishly, this appears to be very connected to the idea of karet, or being cut-off from God and the Jewish people.

Traumatised people are literally cut-off from their frontal lobes, and their ability to actualize the higher potential and spiritual light they most definitely still contain.

But I’m optimistic that as more of the research starts to build up, and as more of the daat, or intrinsic knowledge of how the world really works, starts to flow down to us in anticipation of Moshiach and redemption, the very challenged individuals in our midst (including ourselves!) will be given all the help we need to truly start to heal, and to be the enormous forces for true spiritual good in the world that God created us to be.

 

Ken yiyeh ratzon, Amen.

Today (June 3) is the day of Yesod she be Yesod in the counting of the Omer, or ‘foundation focusing on foundation’, or ‘sense of purpose focusing on sense of purpose’.

Yesterday, I got a phone call asking me if I’d heard any more about Rav Berland’s imminent arrival back in Israel. I hadn’t, but I sent my husband off to yeshiva to find out from his source if there was any more news.

Then, I did the usual trip around some of the geula blogs to see if anyone had anything about the Rav’s return. There was a post over on Shirat Devorah (see HERE) with a clip from Rav Dovid Kook, the kabbalist in Tiveria, explaining how Rav Berland’s return to Israel is going to usher in the redemption.

I so hope that’s the case.

This counting the Omer has been such an intense time, that maybe, just maybe, geula really is around the corner.

I hope that by the time you read this, today, Rav Berland WILL be back home, and that things WILL be proceeding geula-wise, the sweet way. Because today is ‘foundation of foundation’, and the biggest tzadikim are said to be the ‘foundation of the world’, so it would be very fitting if today was the day Rav Berland returned.

(BTW – if you haven’t yet paid your 98 nis monthly protection pidyon from terrorists, please go HERE to do that ASAP. Even if geula comes the sweet way, there’s still going to be quite a rough ride involved, at least in parts, until we really finish the process.)

As for me, I’m spiritually exhausted at the moment.

Every day since Rosh Chodesh Nissan has brought its own trials and tribulations, and ‘middot  growth opportunities’.  It seems to me that God is dealing out a whole bunch of last chances to people, to take their blinkers off and finally see what’s going down in their lives.

It’s like there’s all this spiritual light coming down into the world ahead of Moshiach, but wherever it hits a ‘blockage’, it’s causing a lot of pain and drama and anxiety. Clear the blockage (which is usually related to working on a bad character trait, or a weak connection to Hashem) – and the light can pass through your life easily again, giving everything a rosy, warm glow.

Don’t clear the blockage (which is what I’m still seeing SO many people do) – and you literally start to crack-up and go insane.

Thus it is that the problems are spiraling up out of control, the negative character traits are coming to the fore like never before, and the health issues are plummeting to greater depths.

Why?

Hashem gave us a clue as to why this is all happening in last week’s parsha, where we learned of the many curses that would befall Am Yisrael if they related to God ‘casually’. That’s an interesting word, isn’t it?

What does it mean to relate to God casually? Maybe, it means that we don’t even take God into account, and pretend like everything that happens is completely random and down to chance. Maybe, it means that even though we profess to be believing Jews, we still don’t want to admit that God is behind every tiny thing that’s going on in our lives, so we make big speeches about ‘how it’s impossible to know what God wants’, etc, or how ‘everyone has their troubles’, so we don’t need to be too fussed to try to work out WHY God is making us sick, or poor, or miserable.

Maybe, it means that we relate to God like a lifestyle choice, something to boost our energy and give us a high, like a good workout or spinach smoothie, just somehow better.

Or maybe, we talk about how God is going to do a whole bunch of things to everyone else, leaving us to blog contentedly about the destruction of the world that somehow isn’t going to affect us.

God wants us to put Him first, even when it’s inconvenient, uncomfortable and difficult. He wants us to explore every little thing that happens to us from a place of understanding that it’s part of the meaningful dialogue Hashem is trying to have with us, about what we need to acknowledge, work on, or fix, in some way.

To put it another way, we’re back to Rav Arush’s three rules of emuna, namely:

  • Hashem is doing everything in the world
  • Everything Hashem does is for the ultimate good
  • Everything is a message

Those three rules of emuna make every tiny thing that happens to us meaningful and important; the exact opposite of casual and insignificant.

God says: ‘You want to pretend like those kidney stones are just a fluke, and nothing to do with all your bad habits and character traits? Here, try this additional debilitating illness on for size!!’

And:

“You want to pretend that you’re hitting the skids financially just because of the economic downturn!? Here, I’m going to cut every source of income you have off from you, until you finally get the message that you need to start treating your wife (the pipe of all abundance in the home) better!”

And so on, and so forth. ‘A fury of casualness’ – a maelstrom of horrible illnesses, difficult experiences, poverty and ill-health, until we finally wake up and realize that none of it was ‘casual’ or ‘random’, and everything right from the start was God.

The last few weeks, I’ve had so many messages that despite all the hard work I’ve done the last few years, THERE ARE STILL THINGS THAT NEED SOME WORK, PRONTO!

Like anger. And resentment. And rage. And hatred.

(Viz: My husband discovered that the person who damaged the windscreen wiper on our brand new car was a neighbor who hates people parking in ‘his’ spot. I was so worked up when he told me I started fantasizing about spilling a box of tacks behind the neighbor’s front wheels etc. Then, I woke up and realized this! This horrible character trait is what God is telling me needs some work! Duh!)

So God has been giving me that work to do in spades, the last few weeks. IF Rav Berland makes it back today, BH, and if the geula kicks off as predicted by Rav Kook – well then, that all makes sense.

And if not?

I guess God is fast-tracking my Teshuva and character development for some other good reason, only known to Him. And I guess that’s OK, too.

If there is one thing that I’m eternally grateful to last week’s ‘alternative health’ experience for, it’s for re-igniting my passion for Yiddishkeit.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that the last couple of years have been pretty challenging for me. Things are much better now, thank God, but last year I hit such a low place that my faith got shaken to its core.

It wasn’t just the loneliness, business failure, lack of money and self-serving religious ‘advisors’. The hardest thing of all is that I’d followed God into the wilderness, and then when things got really rough and I needed Him the most, He hid Himself from me.

Of course really, God was still guiding and supporting me all the way through, because otherwise there is simply no way that me and my family could have made it through what we experienced, and come out the other side with our health, sanity and relationships intact.

But here and there, the doubts have still lingered, and I have found myself sometimes struggling to do mitzvahs, especially the ones that I find very difficult and that don’t give me much of a happy feeling, like making challah, for example.

So last week, God gave me a huge present:

He showed me that while the orthodox Jewish world is still very flawed, and that there really is still a lot of work to do, compared to the non-orthodox and non-Jewish world, it’s still doing pretty well.

Let’s just take the issue of tznius (modesty). Tznius has been a tough subject for me, because I’ve seen how my kids (and myself…) have reacted against tznius, when it’s been given over by flawed people who have an unfortunate gift for making people feel wrong, guilty and bad about themselves. I’d love to tell you that those people are few and far between, but my experience has been that a certain type of individual – often a very competitive, superior and judgmental sort of person – just LOOOOOVES the power trip they get out of making other people’s external standards of tznius a big deal.

Time and time again, I’ve found myself caught on the horns of a furious dilemma with tznius, because I truly believe that tznius dress, behavior and attitudes are very important to Hashem.

But at the same time, I hate all the judgment, snobbery and disgusting blame and shame tactics that seem to be tied to it, especially when it comes to our children.

But last week, my ambivalence about tznius evaporated, as I saw how holy people truly are when they dress appropriately, and don’t try to draw attention to themselves with loud behavior and in-your-face antics, and do their best to keep away from members of the opposite sex.

Something else I fell back in love with: saying blessings.

Blessings on my food, blessings after going to the bathroom, blessings when I wake up in the morning, to thank God for the simple gift of just being alive. I’m so used to being around people who say blessings, that I was shocked to be around people who just shoveled their food straight down their throats without a second’s pause to thank their Creator, or who droned on and on about how much additional energy you get from raw food without once mentioning the tremendous additional spiritual nourishment you unleash from your food when you say a blessing over it.

I could go on and on with examples, but another big reason I fell back in love with Yiddishkeit last week is because I saw the futility and the arrogance of people who live their lives without God in the picture.

So many healers and therapists were queuing up, promising all sorts of benefits and cures, when it was clear that so many of them remained troubled in body, mind and spirit themselves.

To be blunt, a lot of the people I met were completely off their rocker; a lot of them were so obsessed with finding the latest ‘cure’ for their illnesses or difficulties that they had no space for social niceties or generosity of spirit; and a lot of them were so obviously lost in the world that it stretched credulity to the limit when they claimed to have found ‘the truth’.

To be blunt again, the nicest people I met last week were the ones who genuinely believed in God, however ‘religious’ they may have externally appeared to be, and who acknowledged 100% that they were just a tool in the Creator’s hand.

In my darkest days last year, I sometimes thought how my life could have been better or different, if I hadn’t tried so hard to chase after God.

You know, I’d have stayed in my soul-destroying job, treating my kids and husband like rubbish, because that would have given me far more status, external success and money. Or, I’d have yanked my husband out of yeshiva when our finances hit the skids, and forced him to get a ‘real’ job before we ended up having to sell our house just to be able to buy the groceries. Or, I’d have stopped taking the lid off all those unpleasant character traits, and bad habits and horrible beliefs I had, which forced me to look at some very unpleasant things about myself, and to actually try to change them.

Last week showed me that tough as those decisions were, and hard as the fall-out has been, particularly in terms of my finances and social status, they have brought me far more blessings than I ever realized.

No, I’m not free to hike on Friday nights, or to attend ‘spiritual’ events with members of the opposite sex, or to do whatever I think makes me ‘feel good’, even if it means trampling some of God’s laws in the process.

But you know what? I’m happy.

And if you’re a Jew, you’re only going to find true happiness and fulfilment by living an authentically Jewish life, that has God firmly in the picture.

So, what did I read in Likutey Moharan, that helped me to start to get more of a correct Jewish perspective on the whole meditation thing?

I opened up randomly to Part I:78, and this is what I read:

 “Where do Jewish souls come from? – From the world of speech…

Jewish souls come from the world of speech…

Now, speech is an aspect of Malchut / Kingship, as Elijah said: ‘Malchut is the mouth.’ It is also an aspect of the Divine presence, which always dwells with [us], without a moment’s interruption….

When one unifies speech with God… then, “God’s glory will be revealed,”… the radiance of His presence, which is an aspect of the Malchut, is revealed and enhanced.”

 

WHAT THIS MEANS, TACHLIS:

Jews can’t just spend hours in silent meditation or mindfulness. We need to SPEAK (i.e., talk to God, confess what’s going on in our lives, what we’re struggling with, what help you need.) Just meditating on a leaf for 13 hours is NOT the path of a Jewish soul.

I already started to feel better, as I could see that there was at least one reason why the whole ‘silent meditation’ thing really isn’t the Jewish way. Jews believe in the power of prayer; we know that God spoke the world into creation, and that speech is what differentiates us from the animals.

I think Jews are the only people who teach that evil speech, gossip, mockery and slander can do even more damage than physical violence or abuse. That’s because we know the spiritual power of speech – and we now that an hour spent TALKING / PRAYING to God can achieve some amazing things.

And what’s more, Rav Arush teaches that speaking to God is the single best measure of how much you really believe in Him.

If you talk to God – it’s a sign you believe in Him. If you don’t – the opposite.

But there was more.

In the same lesson (I:78), Rebbe Nachman also teaches:

 

“One lives only by breathing. But what is the breath? One exhales and inhales ruach (air)…When a person is bonded to the holy Malchut, speaking Torah or prayer, one exhales and inhales the spirit of holiness (ruach hakodesh)…

When one studies Torah…then the ‘spirit of God’, which is ruach hakodesh, ‘hovers’ above a person and one draws the spirit of life from it.

This is because without Torah, one cannot live….

Therefore, ‘The wicked are considered dead even while alive’ (Brakhot 18b), for since the cord of holiness has been cut, from where can he draw life? Rather, he draws a spirit of foolishness [evil].”

 

(As an aside, it never ceases to amaze me how I always get directed to just the right lesson in Likutey Moharan. Definitely try this for yourself at home, if you haven’t already.)

WHAT THIS MEANS, TACHLIS:

There is nothing ‘neutral’ in the world. If a Jew is doing ‘breathwork’ and focusing on their breathing etc – but failing to bind themselves to Torah, and failing to attach their breathing to God, then they are effectively attaching themselves to the opposite force in the world, i.e., the forces of evil, and the yetzer hara.

No wonder I was feeling so uncomfortable!

God has to be in the whole process right from the beginning, because otherwise every breath we’re taking is just attaching us more and more to the side of darkness and ‘no-God’, God forbid.

But there was still more.

In Lesson I:79, Rebbe Nachman says the following:

 

“The rule is that each individual must see to it that he is not an obstacle to the coming of the Messiah. In other words, one must repent fully and rectify one’s actions.”

 

WHAT THIS MEANS, TACHLIS:

Any practice we’re engaged in, however ‘spiritual’ it may be, that doesn’t encourage us and enable us to identify the things we’re doing wrong, identify our negative emotions, bad middot and unhealthy habits, beliefs and behaviors, and to fix them, is SLOWING UP THE REDEMPTION OF THE WHOLE WORLD.

So for example, meditation/ mindfulness that’s devoid of any self-introspection and / or teshuva is at best a waste of time.

By contrast, truly Jewish meditation and mindfulness (i.e., hitbodedut or talking to God) accomplishes the following spiritual outcomes:

1) It’s SPEECH (i.e. verbalised prayer) not thought, which rectifies the root of the Jewish soul, which comes from the world of speech. (This is also connected to the idea of why Jews need to say their blessings out loud).

2) It binds us to God with every breath (ruach haKodesh), as opposed to binding us to the opposite of God with every breath, God-forbid.

3) It encourages us to work on our middot – and working on our middot is the ONLY way Moshiach is going to come.

 

As always, there’s so much more to say about this. But let’s end with this idea:

If you have an hour, or half an hour, or even five minutes to spend on some form of spiritual practise, then hitbodedut, or talking to God unquestionably gives you the best bang for your buck.

Yes, it’s nice to be a raindrop, or to listen to birds chirping, but when you’re an active partner with Hashem, working on rectifying the world and your part in it, nothing else comes close.

Rebbe Nachman was right again. And not for the first time, I’ve learned a very big lesson about searching for ‘truth’ anywhere outside Yiddishkeit. It may look like a duck, and quack like a duck and walk like a duck, but really – it’s still just a kosher pig.