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For a very long time, I was caught up in battling narcissists.

It started when my obsession with the ‘Erev Rav’ kind of dovetailed with lots of difficult people, and painful relationships in my own life, and over the course of around a decade, I found myself deep in the ‘narcissist parsha’.

A lot of good ultimately came from that battle.

I wrote a whole bunch of books about how to deal with those people, this phenomenon, and how a person can free their own soul from being caught up in the bonds of narcissistic behavior and attitudes.

Those books include Unlocking the Secret of the Erev Rav, and People Smarts, and they give real, solid, Torah-based advice on how to ‘win’ the war with narcissism, at least in your own dalet amot.

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Why am I coming back to this topic again, now?

Here’s why.

Narcissism’s main power lies in deceit, manipulation and ‘brainwashing’ other people into thinking a certain way (usually, their way), in order to control them.

I wrote a whole bunch of stuff about how narcissism shows up in real time, in our real relationships, over on my other blog, HERE.

I’m not going to rehash it all again.

But I wanted to set out what happens when people start to pull away from the narcissists in their lives, and start thinking for themselves again.

Because I think it will really help you to understand more of what’s going on around us, with this whole ‘plandemic’ and how actions in our own life really can affect the outcome, in a very big way.

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So, here are the stages of moving out of that manipulated, guilted and ‘brainwashed’ state:

Stage 1: Total confusion

This is where the cognitive dissonance between what you’ve been told and taught to believe, and what you’re actually seeing with your own eyes and experiencing with your own flesh starts to go stratospheric.

For example, you’re told – repeatedly – that millions of people are dying from Covid-19 and that we’ve never had such a bad ‘pandemic’.

But you look around, and you just can’t see that reflected in your own life, your own circle of acquaintances.

This is where true freedom of the soul can begin – or where it will end.

People hate to feel confused. They hate uncertainty.

So they have a lot of motivation to defuse that confusion by tuning out one side of the argument, one ‘information set’ that is in conflict with the other.

At this stage, those who are drawn to the truth will start to permit themselves to question ‘the official narrative’ – even though that is terribly scary. Because who knows what else they are going to discover, when they open that can of worms?

And then on the other side, there are those who will effectively switch their own God-given abilities to think for themselves, and to feel their own emotions, off, and to just go with the ‘official line’.

This happens in narcissistic relationships, and it’s also happening in the world, all around us, all the time.

But especially at the moment.

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The people who chose to ‘switch themselves off’ can always chose to switch back on again, in the future.

But typically, few will take this option, as the price of acknowledging the truth – and admitting they were wrong, brainwashed, taken advantage of, duped – gets higher and higher.

The exception to this rule will be if the ‘price’ of going along with the official narrative outweighs the ‘pain’ of questioning their own assumptions and beliefs.

More on this in a moment.

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Stage 2: Cautious Pushback

This is where the newly-minted truth seeker starts trying out the possibility that things aren’t what they really seem.

Typically, it’s characterised by cautious pushback, where they start to give themselves permission to have a different opinion from those around them. And to read ‘conspiracy theories’ with a more open mind, to try and figure out if it’s really possible they are being lied to, and have assumed things that aren’t really true.

At this stage, the person is still very unsure about what is going on, and even might start to believe that they are going a little crazy, or nuts.

I mean, EVERYONE ELSE believes that [Covid-19 is a real pandemic / my controlling, angry mum is a selfless angel / my sister really does have a good heart, despite all her ongoing abuse and manipulation…]

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Typically, when our ability to reason, and our ability to really connect to our own true feelings about things, instead of ignoring them and stuffing them down, come back online, it can take a while to re-orient.

I know quite a few people right now who literally believe they might be going crazy, because they are giving themselves permission to think what they really think, and to feel what they really feel.

And frankly, that feels very weird to them, especially at the beginning.

All of a sudden, they are having all these mood swings.

All of a sudden, they are feeling angry.

All of a sudden, their tolerance for other people, and for other people’s behavior, is plummeting through the floor.

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Let me reassure you:

All this is very, very normal.

In the olam hafuch, we have been taught that the only acceptable feeling is ‘fake happy’.

But that world is flipping around now, and all these other feelings all have a place, and a use, and a message to give us about what we need to work on, change, acknowledge and fix.

But in the meantime, we are starting to ‘feel ourselves’ – maybe for the first time in our lives – and we are starting to think for ourselves, cautiously.

And that will instantly bring us into greater conflict with those around us who are still abiding by the narcissist paradigm.

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This stage can be very, very difficult to navigate.

It requires a lot of soul-searching, talking to God, and courage.

But I can tell you from personal experience, the benefits of reclaiming your soul, your real self, cannot be overstated.

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Stage 3: The Carrot

This is where the narcissist / narcissist paradigm launches a full-on charm offensive, to convince you that all your doubts are unfounded, and to entice you back into the mental bondage that is ‘their way’, ‘their belief system’.

Do this, and you’ll get all these benefits!

We only have your best interests at heart!

Of course you can trust me! Why would I lie?!

Who have you been talking to, who’s been filling your head with all these conspiracy theories?!

If that doesn’t work, it’ll also be larded up with heavy doses of guilt and manipulation.

How could you do this to me / to us?

Don’t you care about other people?

If five million people die, it will be ALL YOUR FAULT!!!!

Etc etc.

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For the person who is trying to reclaim their soul, this stage is so very difficult, because you become filled with self-doubt, and start questioning your own clarity.

Maybe, I got this all wrong?

Look how nice they are being to me, how genuine they seem to be, how trustworthy they appear…

What do I really know, anyway, about what’s really going on here?

Hitbodedut, talking to God, daily attempts to reconnect to your inner truth, your higher self, your real soul, is crucial for navigating this stage in one piece, without going bonkers.

And if you do that successfully, here’s where we get to the final part of the process:

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Stage 4: The beast comes out of the shadows

This is where the gloves come off, and the ‘nice narcissist paradigm / person’ suddenly transforms into your worst nightmare.

What, you’re going to fine me 1000 nis for breathing fresh air?!

What, you are going to set things up that if I don’t ‘choose’ to be vaccinated, you are going to make me unemployable?!

What, you are threatening me with a prison sentence for marrying off my child / trying to make a living / disagreeing with you?!

Yes, yes and yes.

Because all this is really just about control.

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The downside of this stage is that there is no more lying to yourself about the ‘good heart’, the ‘caring persona’, the ‘underneath good guy or gal’.

When you finally see the true face of what’s lurking underneath that plastic, fake ‘nice’ exterior, it can literally leave you queasy for days, weeks and even months.

This is where all the brainwashing finally crashes down, and you start to re-evaluate all your previous negative experiences, all those previous warning signs that you ignored or rationalised away, in the light of your new understanding that something here was very wrong, all along.

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Typically, this is where people feel immense rage and anger at being fooled / abused / enslaved for so long.

This is when the revolutions that transform history, and re-align the world, can happen.

But, while it’s very healthy to experience this stage, it’s very unhealthy to let it last a second longer than is really required for mental and spiritual health.

Let the rage flow up and out – but then take it all back to God, remember that He is really running the world, and make a very big effort to forgive the ‘sticks’ He used to beat you up – but without forgiving the behavior and actions itself, and definitely without ‘forgetting’ all about it.

Remember it. Continue to defend against it, and fight against it.

But don’t get bogged down in hatred and bitterness.

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The upsides of this stage are many.

Once the mask comes off, and you see what lurks underneath, all your doubts and confusions suddenly disappear, and you’ll feel freer than you ever felt before, spiritually.

You’ll be vindicated for ‘going against’.

You’ll be empowered to continue thinking and feeling for yourself.

Your mind will start to expand in a billion new, creative directions.

You’ll have way more energy and joie de vivre.

You’ll feel much, much closer to Hashem, and much more spiritually switched-on and aware.

And finally, you’ll have left the world of lies for good.

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As below, so above.

The more we all work on extricating ourselves from the clutches of the psychos in our midst – including family members, ‘friends’, bosses, gannenets, bus drivers, doctors, politicians, whoever – the faster this geula process will go.

Don’t let anyone guilt you, or manipulate you, or threaten you, or coerce you, into not thinking for yourself.

Or to not feeling your own feelings, and staying true to the message they are giving you.

This isn’t about following any given ‘line’, or ‘theory’, or political stance.

It’s about being real, with God.

And about setting your soul free to follow the truth.

And that’s why the Powers That Be – domestic and international, ‘out there’ and behind closed doors – are desperately trying to crush this blossoming of spiritual awareness.

But – with God’s help – they won’t win.

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It’s an interesting question isn’t it?

When you ask xtians – and the other groups that espouse a similar theology, like Frankists and Sabbateans – they will tell you that ‘the messiah’ will show up, and then all evil will just kind of vanish in a puff of smoke.

Yes, that’s right folks!

As soon as ‘the messiah’ shows up, all our own bad middot, all the drug cartels, all the abusive parents, all the evil billionaire oligarchs, all the fake rabbis, all the nasty terrorist gangs, the CIA, the satanists – every last Dr Evil in the world – they will all just vanish!!!

It would be great if this were true.

But it’s not.

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One of the biggest con tricks that the yetzer hara has managed to pull on all of us is persuading us that ‘evil’ is always and only someone else’s problem.

My country is good. My army is good. My government is good. My economic theory is good. Whatever is good for me (regardless of its cost to others…) is good.

I started fleshing this theme out in the last post when I was talking about the ‘Laban Parenting Paradigm’, that basically states:

Everything belongs to MEEEE, so I can do whatever the heck I want in order to protect my own interests!!!!

But as we learnt in that last post, this is the polar opposite of a truly authentic Jewish approach to parenting – and also the opposite of a truly Jewish approach to life.

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Judaism teaches us that every Jew is responsible for each other.

It also teaches us that the Jewish people have a very big job to do, to rectify the world.

Christians, reform people and crypo-Frankists also like to talk about tikkun olam, so things can quickly get confusing. Let’s try to sort out the difference between an authentic Jewish approach to tikkun olamand the other guys’ approach.

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In a nutshell, Judaism teaches that we fix the world, by fixing ourselves.

It’s our prayers, our mesirut nefesh, our working to uproot our own arrogance, anger, pride and jealousy and hatred (to name but a few….) that then radiates outwards, and starts to fix the world around us.

In this paradigm, every single person in the whole world, and certainly every single Jew, has an enormous part to play in the process of rectifying the world in order to bring moshiach.

I used to be very puzzled, when I would hear Rav Berland teach that people like me were the ones holding up the geula, and that the secular people weren’t really to blame.

It took quite a bit of time before I heard other shiurim that filled in the gaps, where the Rav explained that if we supposedly ‘religious’ people would take some time to sincerely pray for our fellow Jews, they would make teshuva in an instant.

Why are there still ‘secular’ people in the world, who are far away from Torah and mitzvot? 

Because we apparently ‘religious’ people don’t care about them enough to pray for them to make teshuva.

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That’s why the Rav puts such emphasis on people getting up to say Tikkun Hatzot.

It’s these prayers, in particular, that create a ruach in the world that bring people back to God.

And when people sincerely come back to God, they in turn start praying, and start really connecting their souls up to their spiritual Source, and – most importantly of all – start really acknowledging their ‘inner bad’, and asking God to help them overcome it.

This is how Jews fix the world, and bring geula and Moshiach.

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Sadly, we don’t see a heck of a lot of that going on, not even in the ‘frummest’ areas of the Jewish world, where people are more obsessed with the length of their Torah learning, and their yichus, and their fantastic ‘predictions’ about geula, and the thickness of their tights, than they are with really working on their bad middot.

For years, this puzzled me greatly.

How can it be, that so much of the Jewish world – even the apparently ‘orthodox’ Jewish world – has adopted this xtian paradigm of pretending to be ‘perfect’ on the outside, while committing all manner of misdemeanors behind closed doors?

How can it be, that so much of the Jewish world is effectively teaching that Jews have nothing left to do except ‘polish buttons’, and that Moshiach is just going to show up and fix everything for them?!

This is a xtian idea. It’s a Sabbatean idea. It’s a Frankist idea.

It’s definitely NOT an authentically Jewish idea.

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When people are caught up in this un-Jewish paradigm of tikkun olam, it comes along with a tendency to believe that the problem is everyone else.

When everyone else believes in Yoshki / Shabtai Tzvi / Jacob Frank / [Fill in the blank] – then that dead guy will rise from the grave, and come save the world!!

And all we have to do is believe in him and polish some buttons.

That dead guy will come back, and then poof!!! All the evil will disappear in the world, just like that.

I’m going to stop yelling at my husband just like that…

I’m going to stop being so stingy with my tzedaka just like that…

Don’t you know, that all my miniskirts are going to magically expand into black maxis, my nasty jealous streak is going to evaporate immediately, and all the horrible things I’ve been saying about my friends and neighbors are all just going to vanish, just like that once Moshiach shows up?!

No?

You don’t believe me?

Good for you.

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Breslov teachings, as amplified and clarified by Rabbi Berland, Rav Shalom Arush, and Rav Ofer Erez – amongst many others – make it very clear that the whole work we got sent back down here to do is to work on our emuna, and fix our bad middot.

These two things go hand-in-hand, because if we don’t really believe in Hashem, we will continue to choose the path of being a pious hypocrite, o so makpid in public, for our neighbors’ consumption, and o so yucky in our every day dealings with friends and family members.

It’s only once we realise that we will have to answer for every single person we hurt, every single ‘stain’ we left to grow and metastize on our souls, that we find the koach we need to start doing the work of acknowledging and digging up our bad middot.

If we don’t believe in God, we just will never really bother even trying.

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But it’s only when we start doing the work of trying to dig up our bad middot that our emuna really grows.

Because then, we’ll see that without God’s help, we can’t do anything.

I have spent years and years working to overcome my nasty temper, particularly in relation to my kids, and I can tell you from first hand experience, that the only reason I’m doing so much better today is because I begged God to help me overcome my anger for 10 years +.

And every now and then, perhaps when a smidgeon of arrogance works it’s way back in and I start thinking that I’ve really done something good here, hey?!? – He’ll take the rug out from under my feet and send me a nasty temper fit.

That’s just to remind me that without God’s help, I can’t do anything.

And that’s really good news.

Because the corollary of this is that with God’s help, I can do anything!!!

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I CAN overcome my temper.

And my inability to get out of bed.

And my nasty tendency to complain and whinge and to feel sorry for myself.

And my arrogant streak that likes to tell me that I’m really perfect, and that the problems in the world are really just everyone else’s, and that all I have to do to bring moshiach is just polish some buttons….

(…and aggressively push my ‘religion’ down other people’s throats, so they’ll be sure to recognize my guy as the real messiah, when he finally rises up from the dead…)

With God’s help, I can do all these things and more.

And so can you.

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So, to recap:

Xtians, Sabbateans and Frankists (of all stripes) believe that when ‘their guy’ shows up as the true messiah, the world will automatically get ‘fixed’, and all anyone has to do to get on the ark to salvation is just to believe in their guy, and their religion, and their path.

There is zero talk about working on our own bad middot.

There is zero genuine emphasis on talking to God every single day, and asking for His help.

And there is zero real interest in moving out of the comfort zone, and making the sorts of difficult changes really required to bring the spirit of Moshiach into our own dalet amot.

It’s all flowery ‘bible lessons’, and pointless exegetics, and nice (and often totally untrue…) ‘stories’ and parables about saintly individuals, given over by people who like to pretend that they also belong in that category of ‘saintly’.

Ah yes, plus ‘watch out for the dead guy to rise again and save us’ messaging.

How could I forget that bit?

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By contrast, Jews who are following a path of authentic Judaism believe that the world is only going to get fixed when me, myself and I stop lying to myself about my own bad middot, and about just how much destruction and damage I’m doing every single day – especially to my family members.

Did you spot the difference?

Did you understand that the only way evil is going to ‘vanish from the world’ is when I knuckle down, and start doing the job of digging my own evil out of my own soul, and start praying for others to do the same.

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I love a shortcut as much as the next guy, I really do.

But it pains me a lot to keep reading all this flowery cr*p-dressed-up-as-yiddishkeit about what it’s really going to take to get to geula the sweet way.

That’ll happen when enough of us start to take responsibility for our own actions and negative impact, and stop turning a blind eye to – or even condoning and excusing and perpetrating – evil.

And it can’t happen any other way.

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Over Shabbos, I was reading the parsha.

(Occasionally that still happens 😉

We were in Vayetzei, where Yaakov runs away from his psycho brother, to try and find a wife in the home of his equally ‘difficult’ Uncle Lavan.

As I was reading, I was struck by the parenting paradigm that seems to characterize our holy forefathers of Abraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov – and that of Laban.

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To put it at its most blunt, whereas the Patriarchs and Matriarchs adopted a parenting paradigm that could be summed up as ‘put your kid first, ahead of your own interests’, Laban’s paradigm was the polar opposite.

Laban used his kids to further his own ends.

He ‘sold’ his daughter to Yaakov – as they themselves complain, in the parsha, not even giving them a dowry and instead expecting Yaakov to ‘pay’ for them with 14 years of hard work.

Then, when Yaakov wants to flee, Leah and Rachel tell him Go!!! There is nothing here for us, our father certainly won’t let us inherit anything together with his sons!!! And he didn’t even bother giving us a dowry when we got married, and all his calculations just boil down to what’s best for him.

Or in other words: Lavan didn’t really care a fig about his children, and on some level, they knew that.

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What does all this have to do with us, today?

The Torah is timeless, eternal, don’t you know? Don’t you know, that even today there are parents who will persistently put what is best for them, what suits them, what is most comfortable for them ahead of what is best for their kids.

Sometimes, this is blatant.

Sometimes, it’s clear that the parent is pushing a career, a course of action, a school, a decision, on their kids 100% because it suits them.

Even if it’s the worst thing in the world for their kid.

Other times, it’s way more subtle.

We parents tell ourselves we’re doing everything only for our kids, when we boss them around, use them as a passive ‘audience’ to talk at, push our own ideas and notions down their throats and then react angrily if they dare to disagree.

But if we were a little more honest, a little more humble, a little more willing to explore what’s really going on, inside ourselves, maybe, just maybe, we’d realize that sometimes, we’re actually acting in a very selfish way, when it comes to our children.

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I’d love to tell you that this ‘Laban style’ of me-first parenting is very uncommon, especially in the orthodox Jewish world.

But if I did, I’d be lying.

In the orthodox and not-so-orthodox Jewish world, I’ve seen a long line of parents abusing their children while hiding behind the cloak of kibud av’ v’em.

They rely on a warped understanding of the commandment to respect the parent, which they interpret to mean that the parent can do anything they want to the kid, and hurt them and let them down in any way they wish, and the kid just has to take it and carry on doing what the parent wants.

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Listen, I’m also a parent.

I’m also a flawed human being. I know how easy it is to use kibud av ve’em as a manipulative tool to avoid having to look ourselves in the eye and deal with our own bad middot, and having to make compromises, and having to put up with situations that we’d rather not deal with.

But if I’ve learnt one thing over the last few years, it’s just how much a parent’s mesirut nefesh can heal the soul of their child.

That means the parent is going to give the kid money, time and support – not expect it from their child.

That means that the parent is going to do their best to compromise and back down – not automatically expect that their word should be law.

And it means that as much as we can, we sacrifice what we want, what’s comfortable for us, what’s easiest and nicest for us to choose the path that is genuinely best for our kids.

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Your kid doesn’t want to marry someone from a background you feel comfortable with?

Your kid doesn’t want to join your family business and effectively ‘work for free’ to support you in your old age?

They don’t want to be so frum?

Or maybe, they DO want to be more frum?

There is no way they are going to university…. OR they dafka are going to university?

They do want to vaccinate your grandkids, they don’t want to vaccinate your grandkids….?

All these things – and more, way more – can cut through a parent’s heart like a knife through hot butter.

If we let them. If we adopt Laban’s parenting paradigm.

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What does Laban say to Yaakov?

“The daughters are mine and the sons are mine, everything you see before you is mine.”

When we treat our children as though they are our possessions, to do anything we want with, that’s parenting like Laban.

And if we continue parenting like Lavan, then at some point, for their own mental health, our children will have to leave us stealthily in the night, and run away somewhere far, far away.

For their own mental sanity.

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So, may God help us to put our kids first; to choose what’s right for them over what’s best or easiest for us, and to heal all the broken-hearted children out there (of all ages), who are still so hungry for the real love of their parents.

Amen.

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For about five minutes yesterday, as I was driving back to Jerusalem on Route 6, I had this amazing feeling of being so connected to God, and seeing how He’s guiding every tiny detail in the world.

The traffic was flowing, the scenery was beautiful, and I had a profound sense of peace and excitement.

Moshiach is almost here, I can feel it….

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I got home, and instantly my mood changed.

Someone had sent me a link to another crappy Israeli TV ‘expose’ about Rabbi Berland, blah blah blah, and somehow, my oldest daughter had opened it up when she was using my computer, and then spent two hours watching more poisonous crap about the Rav.

Excuse my mild swearing.

I’ve just so had enough of all this.

So, I told her:

I can’t keep trying to clean this stuff up for you, spiritually. You want to watch poisonous crap about the Rav, from lying, immoral, anti-God journalists, what can I do? Bezrat Hashem, God will help you to figure out the truth by yourself, because I am no longer prepared to sit her to try and shore up your shaky emunat tzaddikim.

That’s not an easy thing for me to say, because I know that it’s not going to go easy for anyone who finds themselves on the wrong side of the Rabbi Berland equation, and I love my daughter tremendously.

But each person has to fight their own fight.

And I also decided that I am totally coming off Youtube, and once I’ve finished typing this, I’m going to see if there is a way I can totally block it and / or erase access. (If anyone has any tips for me, please leave them in the comments section.)

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The more the current craziness plays out in the world, the more I’m seeing that there is really only one way that we can short-cut things like pandemics, plagues, economic depressions, terminal illnesses and wars, and that’s by working on our own middot.

All this Coronavirus stuff is just a case in point.

Regardless of whether it really is a potential world-killing pandemic, or just a totally over-hyped strain of flu that the media is using to whip-up mass hysteria for some unknown reason, what it actually all boils down to is just a big test of emuna.

Sure, you may be wearing a shawl, and thinking like you are the holiest thing to hit the world since Moshe Rabbenu, but if you’re scared to ride a bus in Jerusalem because of Corona, that is a clear indication that your real level of emuna is actually way, way less than you think.

Wherever there is fear of something that is not Hashem, that’s called ‘fallen fear’.

The whole idea, the whole goal, is to work through all the millions of ‘fallen fears’ that we all have, and to raise them back up to their root in emuna. That means understanding that God runs the world, God is doing everything for our ultimate good, and that everything is just a message from Hashem.

God doesn’t need Corona virus to kill anyone – if He decides we’re going to croak, that’s it, end of story, even if we’re wearing a bacteria-killing mask 24 hours a day and have an IV drip infusing our blood with industrial quantities of Vitamin C.

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God is running the world.

Let me repeat that again, as I know it’s so easy to forget it:

God is running the world.

Once I understand that, I stop obsessing over using the hand sanitizer, and I stop panicking when someone coughs next to me at work, and I stop checking out ‘the latest’ germ-blocking face masks.

And instead, I take some time out, and I go and explore why do I feel so scared? What am I doing, what sins am I engaged in, that are making my soul feel so anxious and frightened?

And top of that list is:

The sins between adam l’chaveiro.

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Recently, I’ve had a lot of kids who dropped out of the Torah world in my orbit, especially from the city of Bet Shemesh.

That place seems to have cornered the market in terms of dysfunctional ‘religious’ families where the parents are so super-duper, mega-crazy ‘frum’ on the outside – but actually treating other people, and particularly their kids, really badly.

What I’ve been learning is that the yetzer has been totally running rings around so many of these people. It’s convinced them harshly criticizing their children for not being ‘perfect’ is the best way to get them to make teshuva  – when of course, the polar opposite is true.

Imagine living in a home where you have a parent that is constantly telling you what you’re doing wrong, and constantly picking up chumrot that they try to shove down your throat, and constantly going on about how ‘bad’ and how ‘evil’ and how ‘defective’ you are, poor kid, and how they’re sure you’re not going to ‘make it’ when Moshiach shows up.

If I lived in a home like that, I would also get a punk hair cut, smoke 2 packs a day and feel really, really angry at God and religion.

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It’s no coincidence that Rabbi Berland has made it very clear that the gematria of ‘Corona’ is 363 – the same gematria as bein adam l’chaveiro.

And the first place to start with fixing that part of the equation is in our homes.

If you are criticising your kid all the time for not being Moshe Rabbenu, or not getting ‘straight As’, or not being perfect all the time – stop!

If you are condescending to your spouse, and you think like you have it all figured out and they are the spiritual retard in the relationship – stop!

If you think you are above doing a cheshbon hanefesh on how you hurt other people’s feelings, and how you use religious observance to try to control other people – again, especially your children – then stop!

Take a breath, take a careful look in the mirror that God is holding up to you, and to me, and to everyone else in the world right now, and see what’s looking back at you.

Is it nice, or nasty? Is it scary, or reassuring? Is the world full of kindness and compassion and understanding, or vicious complaint, din and anger?

Whatever you see peering back at you, that’s just a reflection of your inner dimension.

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Let me share a story with you, to illustrate this point.

I’ve been checking out a few of my ‘anonymous’ commentators IP addresses, especially the ones who like to write comments slagging off Rav Berland.

I discovered that one big critic of the Rav has a slew of court cases against them for illegally manipulating stocks on the New York stock exchange – they are mamash small time mafia. This guy has been extremely fast to loudly yell ‘financial fraud!!!!’ at the Rav and Shuvu Banim.

Now we know why.

Then, there was the commentator who liked to call himself ‘Peewee’, who is also ‘anti Rav’. Guess what? I found out he’s on a police watch list for pedophiles in the States after he was caught propositioning an undercover police woman who he thought was a 13 year old girl on the internet.

The Rav is just a big super-reflecting mirror, shining a light on our own bad middot.

That’s why I am not going to argue with anyone anymore, about what the Rav did or didn’t do, or did or didn’t say.

If you see bad in the Rav – if you see bad in your kids, in your spouse, in everyone else around you – that’s because that bad is really in YOU.

So knuckle down, acknowledge the real problem and get to work on it.

====

This morning, I finally had the energy to walk down to the Kotel, as part of my hour long hitbodedut thing that I do every single day, with God’s help.

I walked down the road that skirts the Gei Hinnom valley, on the side of the Old City, a road called ‘Ma’aleh Shalom’ – the path of peace.

I went with quite a lot of heartache, thinking about some of the things I’ve written above, how I’m seeing so many parents literally destroy their children with their own two hands, all in the name of God and His Torah.

I touched the stones, kissed them, then headed back home. In the plaza, an old frum lady came over to me and called out may Hashem grant you everything you asked for!

I shrugged at her, pulled a tight smile and told her Sorry, I don’t have any money.

She hobbled closer, and told me in English:

You aren’t listening to me. Listen: May Hashem grant you everything you asked for!

She was right. I hadn’t been listening. She was trying to give me a bracha that my prayers should be answered, and I was batting her away like a pesky mosquito.

You’re right. I’m sorry. Amen!

Then she told me:

The most important prayer to say right now, is that we all get out of galut. That Am Yisrael should all get out of galut.

I looked at her twinkly blue eyes, squeezed her arm, and got the message.

What is galut, really, except the prison that we’re all in, that’s keeping us away from God and the people we love, and redemption? And what is that prison, really, except our own bad middot?

Our own fallen fears, and anger, and arrogance, and jealousy?

We all have a lot of work to do.

====

UPDATE:

Daisy Stern has pulled a lot of info together to show why the Kan 11 ‘expose’ my daughter say was a total farce, and just more of the same ‘anti-Rav’ propaganda the media has been steadily churning out for year.

You can see that on her site, HERE.

Also, I saw another abusive comment this morning, this time from someone pretending to be ‘Sam Eisen’ about the Rav. Again, I ran the IP address – and guess what? It’s the same ‘Peewee’ pedo guy I mentioned before.

I won’t detail the comment, but suffice to say it was talking about dying in jail for being a pervert. Yet again, we see the mirror principle in full color.

So, yalla, come on all you ‘anti’ Rav people… send me more of your comments, even with your fake names, and then we’ll find out what’s really going on in your private lives and exactly why it is you are so ‘anti’ a person who exudes goodness and holiness so strongly, you can feel it a million miles away.

No wonder all these people are staying anonymous.

====

Let’s leave the last word to Rabbi Nachman, who writes in Sefer HaMiddot:

“S*xual violators are for the most part opposers of the Tzaddikim.”

Now that I’m looking up the IP addresses on the comments, I’m seeing Rabbenu’s dictum manifest in real time. And I’m really excited to go and do some more digging on all those big mouths who have been so publically ‘anti’ the Rav – so yalla guys, don’t be shy!

Let me have all your disgusting comments, and then let’s find out who YOU really are.

It’s a taste of the World to Come, when the truth will shine out and no-one will be able to hide behind a fake name or a fake email anymore.

Doesn’t that sound like fun?

====

 

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It’s not easy to give.

But the people who most benefit from our generosity is…ourselves.

I just wrote a whole, long piece about two families who need some serious help to get their children married off this week. Long story short, they need to find $4000 each to pay for the most basic, subsidized wedding you can make, without just eloping.

They’ve raised $2,000 so far – which is totally awesome, and has made all the difference in the world to the family involved. And you can read more of my musings on the whole subject of giving tzedakah on the ravberland.com site, HERE.

====

I’m not going to repeat myself, but I do want to just amplify one of the points I made over there, which is that I’ve noticed that the yuckiest people I routinely have to deal with – the critical, judgmental, evil-eyed blamers who are constantly moaning and complaining about how hard their own lives are, and trying to squeeze attention and money out of everyone else whilst giving nothing back – also seem to be the people who are most allergic to the idea of:

  1. Giving tzedaka to other people
  2. Doing pidyon nefeshs 
  3. Rabbi Berland being a big Tzaddik.

It’s amazing to me, how it all seems to go together, but now that I’ve seen this pattern show up again and again and again, I just wanted to flag it here.

====

There is one reason why people are ‘anti’ Rav Berland and this is it:

Their own middot suck.

That’s it, that’s the whole ‘big secret’ behind his widespread persecution.

Thank God a million times, I’m not on that side of the equation.

Because the other thing that I’ve noticed is that these people with bad middot live very difficult lives, that are full of harsh judgment and suffering. No-one likes them, no-one wants to hang out with them, and their own families are ‘nightmares on Elm Street’, because when you get all those bad middot amplifying through the children….and the grandchildren….and the siblings….and the parents….

Well, let’s just say it’s unpleasant.

====

So, don’t think you’re doing anyone else a favor, when you give tzedaka, or do a pidyon, or work on your bad middot, because you’re really not. There is one person you are helping out, and that is yourself.

And we all need all the help we can get. So even if you just have $5 spare  – or $1 spare – do yourself a favor, and go buy yourself some Divine compassion. You can do that by going HERE, and helping two God-fearing families to marry off their children with a basic measure of dignity.

But let’s be clear, every penny given is not really helping them, even though that’s how it’s dressed-up.

It’s only helping us.

And we all need all the help we can get.

====

Buy your better middot, sweetened judgment and Divine compassion for as little as a buck, by going HERE.

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UPDATE, FRIDAY 20TH DECEMBER, 2019:

Baruch Hashem, so far they raised around $3600, and they managed to get both couples married off. It mamash took so much of the pressure off the families, so thanks to everyone who contributed. But you don’t have to stop here! Go back, and donate again – $5 even, it all makes a difference, because the families still have to find the remaining $4,400 to cover their debts, and for families like these, that amount is an enormous debt.

I realised this week, that I’ve been in a pretty good mood the last two days because every time I think about how much stuff I’ve got to sort out, and get on with, and work on – in so many ways – just knowing that I went and helped these families a little is making me think on some level, Hashem is going to help me too, bezrat Hashem.

Not because I deserve anything, because I don’t.

But just because it’s a spiritual rule, that God treats us the way we treat others, and I’m doing my best to stop judging harshly, and just to shut up and give a bit of help and kindness.

In the meantime, here’s the father of the bride from yesterday’s wedding, thanking the donors who helped to make it happen. If you gave something, watch this and kvell, and if you didn’t – it’s never too late! Even a $1! What do you care? You’ll buy yourself a smile for the rest of the day.

Buy your better middot, sweetened judgment, Divine compassion and inner smile for as little as a buck, by going HERE.

Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash.

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Reposting this, while I’m busy getting my Cut Your Stress course done.

This morning, I cracked open ‘Advice’ (the English translation of the kitzur Likutey Moharan) and I got to this, from the chapter entitled:

Alien philosophies and ideologies:

The only true wisdom is the wisdom of the Tzaddikim. [Their wisdom] enables them to form a lofty perception of God, and gives them the power to communicate this perception to those who follow them. Compared with this wisdom, all other ideological systems are utter foolishness.”

The more I dip my toe in the murky waters of ‘intellectual debate’, including all this ortho-fem rubbish, and all this ‘anti-Tzaddikim / anti-rabbis / anti-emuna / anti-Breslov’ rubbish, the more I see this is true. Rebbe Nachman then continues:

“Because of our many sins, it can sometimes happen that this genuine wisdom falls into the hands of the heathens, and the Sitra Achra. Their new-found wisdom gives them power and dominion, and then the heathens gain the upper hand, God forbid.”

====

That’s why the ‘heathens’ like learning Gemara, and why the devil-worshipping Freemasons like learning Kabbalah.

They pick out the bits of ‘genuine wisdom’ that appeals to them, and then create some Frankenstein-Faith with it. Some of these ideologies are ‘religious’ – like xtianity – and some of them – like feminism – are not. Rabbenu continues:

Who can bear the sound of the great and terrible cry when this wisdom falls into their hands and fools pretend to be wise?

“They try to adapt this genuine wisdom to their own purposes, as if it could be made a part of their own ideologies – as if their own foolishness has anything to do with the knowledge of God!

“They start claiming that they alone are the wise ones and that there is no wisdom greater than their own mistaken speculation, which is simply ‘parasiting’ off the fallen, genuine wisdom.”

====

It’s well known that the most successful ‘lies’ always contain a tiny grain of truth.

That’s what attracts us in, that’s what initially fools us. It’s easy to think that it’s no big deal, when people start trying to twist Torah to their own ends and goals, with all their ‘tikkun olam’ codewords and other warped ideas, that go totally against what the Torah actually says.

To counter that impression, Rabbenu then tells us:

“God Himself cries out because of this!”

====

It’s a big deal! It’s a really big deal!

We can’t just twist the Torah and its wisdom to our own ends, and try to get a PhD thesis out of it, or a reputation for being a ‘deep’ philosophical thinker, or an intellectual, or even (may Hashem save us…) a ‘big tzaddik’. This brings us back to the idea I wrote about here about doing things for God, instead of just trying to serve ourselves.

So now we know all this, how should we try to respond? Back to Rebbe Nachman:

“Every Jew has a part to play in the task of identifying how this wisdom that has fallen into their hands can be separated from them, and elevated, in order to return to its source.

The way to achieve this is through acts of charity and kindness, under the guidance and inspiration of the Tzaddikim.”

====

To sum up: we need to be closely attached to our True Tzaddikim, who are the only people who really possess genuine wisdom in this lowly world, and being inspired by them to give charity and do kind deeds. The more we do that, the easier we’ll find it to spot all this fake, fallen ‘wisdom’ and to call it out.

And doing that will give God a lot of nachas.

What does it really mean to ‘go to yourself’?

This week, we’re reading Parsha Lech Lecha, where Avraham Avinu is given a clear steer by Hashem that he needs to leave his birth place, his family, his status and go to some unknown destination.

We know that the deeds of the forefathers are a ‘sign’ or message for their descendants, and that each of us will have to face some form of lech lecha in the service of Hashem. What do you think that would look like, for us today?

I was pondering this after my piece on Who is Armilus? over on the RavBerland.com site attracted some comments that caused me to raise an eyebrow.

====

Apparently, few sacred cows are as sacred as Donald Trump…. Again, I’m not political in the least, and I really couldn’t give a monkeys who sits in the White House, or what party they belong to.

The political system everywhere in the world is an illusion, a Greek-inspired fantasy world that keeps us all at each other throats arguing partisan politics while the real baddies continue to pull the strings from behind the scenesAt this point, it seems sensible to assume that:

All politicians are bad, and are serving a system that is bad.

Are some better than others? Maybe. Who knows? Who really cares? It’s a shade of grey that only distracts from the underlying clarity that the political system is a fantasy that’s used to manipulate and confuse people into believing that they have some choice, or some say, in how the planet is really being run.

Really? We don’t.

And personally, I’m so weary of all these pointless discussions about impeachment, and Democrats vs Republicans, and Brexit yes or no, and Lieberman and Blue and White, and all the rest of it.

====

All of this stuff is just keeping us away from the tachlis, the main point, the purpose of life:

To get closer to Hashem, and work on our own bad middot.

All this other stuff is just a pointless distraction. Partisan politics replaced religion as the ‘opium of the masses’, and it’s so frustrating to see how many people are literally wasting their time, their lives, on something that is 100% fantasy.

====

The facts are these:

The US is interested in one thing, and one thing alone: it’s economy.

The US is using its army for one thing, and one thing alone: threatening and taking over third world countries so it can asset-strip them of their valuable natural resources, especially oil and natural gas.

The US ‘recognised’ the Golan Heights as belonging to Israel for one reason, and one reason alone:

There is a massive oil field there, that the Israeli mafia who run the country, together with the corrupt billionaires who are pulling the strings in the US and the UK have already divvied-up between them.

US company Genie was granted the contract to start exploring for oil in the Golan in 2013 – conveniently 18 months after Syria’s civil war began. The following information on Genie comes from the petroleum-economist site:

Genie was founded by Howard Jonas, who also founded the telecoms company, IDT. Jonas tried to emigrate to Israel in 2005 but found it impossible to manage his business from there. IDT is one of the largest private employers in Jerusalem, which Jonas has called the “centre of the world”.

Genies’ advisory board includes Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney and Jacob Rothschild.

The chairman of Genie’s Israeli subsidiary is Effie Eitam, a former leader of the Israeli National Religious Party, which represents Israeli settlers, and former minister for infrastructure. Eitam fought in the Golan and lives in one of its settlements.

Uzi Landau, the minister of infrastructure until last month, who granted the licence to explore for oil to Genie was a cabinet colleague of Eitam in at least two Israeli governments.

====

Are you starting to see how all this works?

What’s amazing to me is that no-one is talking about what went on with the obvious corruption and croney-ism that’s behind this Genie / Golan Heights deal.

(Read THIS for more. I’m not sure how far down that rabbit hole I want to venture, at this point, and let me also point out that while this author is making some very interesting connections, clearly not everything he’s saying is true.)

But make no mistake, that any profit from these natural resources that should be going to you and me, the citizens of Israel, and to building the country, has already been slated to inflate the bank accounts and power-bases of the tiny handful of ‘elites’ who already own everything else in the world.

Trump good, Trump bad – who cares?

====

Jews all over the world have a duty to stop lying to ourselves about what is really going on in the world.

The truth is, the Muslim regimes that the US and the West are trying to overthrow actually have far more in common with authentic Judaism than the ‘enlightened’ forces battling them. Of course, I’m not condoning ISIS violence, or Sharia law, or chopping people heads and hands off, God forbid, anything but.

God forbid, I’m not condoning the Iranian nuke, or it’s aggression against Israel.

But let’s take the blinders off, and ask ourselves a serious question, for a moment:

If we are really honest about what the US has done and is doing in the world, in the name of ‘democracy’ and ‘justice’, we will find that the US has wrecked and pillaged one country after another, both overtly and covertly, to service its insatiable greed.

(Let’s be clear that the European colonialists were doing all this before them, just the US has taken over where the Brits, French, Dutch and Belgians apparently stopped.)

The CIA, the NSA, MI6 and some of the other spook agencies have deliberately destabilized one country after another politically, so they could install a ‘puppet regime’ who would be very happy to let the Americans asset-strip the country. American companies get the fat contracts to ‘exploit’ the resources, and the American government sets the ‘fair’ price they are willing to pay for them.

And who loses out?

The poor citizens of these countries.

====

I’m pointing this out because unless there is some massive, sincere teshuva unleashed in the US and the West, and particularly in the Jewish communities there, sooner or later God is going to pull the rug out from the USA’s feet.

The earth is already shaking, although the media is studiously ignoring all the signs that the seismic pressure is alarming, and pointing to the distinct possibility that the North American landscape may soon be about to change in a whole bunch of ways.

And I’m not talking about politics.

====

Iran hates America, because the US overthrew its democratically-elected government back in the 1950s, to install their corrupt puppet, the Shah. The Shah oppressed his people ruthlessly – but sold oil to the Americans for a knock-down price. So he was painted as the good guy!!!

And the same thing has happened all over Latin America and Africa, too.

The world is in the awful mess it is in today, with billions of people stuck in a permanent ‘Third World’, because the US and NATO and the CIA went in time and time again to overthrow a democratic government that was inimical to Western economic interests, to replace it with a brutal, corrupt dictatorship that let the Americans and Europeans asset-strip to their hearts’ content.

====

So what does all this have to do with lech lecha, and the Jews?

Rebbe Nachman teaches that each of the 70 nations of the world has a particular evil ‘trait’ that the Jews who live in that nation will have to overcome, in order to rectify it.

It’s as clear as daylight that the main evil trait of the USA is a lust for money.

It’s as clear as daylight, that the US has totally wrecked and corrupted half the world in their blind pursuit of oil, gas, and economic abundance.

It’s as clear as daylight, that the lust for money is also the main reason why more of America’s orthodox Jews aren’t moving to Israel – and why so many Jews in the US abandoned their yiddishkeit and assimilated in the first place.

====

This week, God is giving us a prod in the back, and He’s telling us:

Lech Lecha!

Leave all that materialism, all that phoney talk about ‘justice and democracy’, all those lies about America being the world’s ‘good guy’, all that Greek fantasy about politics mattering an iota – and get real.

Get real.

Understand that the Jews who are living in America – and of course everywhere else in the world – have an awful lot of teshuva to make.

Enough with the pretend perfect.

====

All God really requires of us, is for us to be honest about what the problems really are, and to ask for His help to overcome them.

But for as long as we’re pretending that the USA is ‘justice’ embodied, and for as long as we’re pretending that all the awful, bad, disgusting things that we ourselves do to other people are ‘justified’, we are a million miles away from really doing Lech Lecha, and leaving the bad behind to return to Hashem.

But maybe, just maybe, 5780 is the year to finally face that truth down.

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It’s a funny time, isn’t it?

Here’s what’s going on my life, right now: on the one hand, I am gathering more and more information together on a whole range of subjects that shows that most of the modern world we live in is based on a pack of lies. And on the other, I’m trying to sort out the most ‘real world’ business venture I’ve embarked upon for close to two decades.

==

If I touched on everything I’ve found out is a lie over the last few years, it would be a very long list. But when you really look at it, all our problems really just boil down to this:

We are scared to be real, and to really face up to what’s going on in our lives and our middot, and to have a real relationship with ourselves, other people and Hashem.

100%, this is the only reason that we’re still in golus, and still spinning our wheels, living superficial lives that are generally making us pretty miserable, and scared to open up and connect in any real way to anyone – including ourselves.

==

Over the last 15 years, I’ve had a mighty struggle to try to develop some of that REAL in my own life. When I got to Israel back in 2005, I was still so caught up in all the materialism and competition that the secular world is built on.

God had to keep giving me some sharp raps across the knuckles to really bring my attention to the fact that my ‘wonderful life’ was actually making me totally miserable. I was doing everything the magazines told me to do – I had a career, was making good money, owned a house, had a nice husband, two  nice kids – what’s the problem here?!?!?

I didn’t know the answer to that question in London, where I was feeling more and more anxious, depressed, stressed, miserable and overwhelmed before we made aliya.

I’ve been through so much the last 15 years, as part of the process of getting re-educated about what life is actually really meant to be about, especially if you’re a Jew. I don’t own a house anymore, I don’t have a career, I don’t spend Shabbos lavishing entertaining, or trying to stuff every spare minute with ‘action’, so I don’t have to spend any time in my own head, just being.

And I am so, so happier because of it.

And my relationships with the people who really count in life – i.e. my husband, my kids, myself and Hashem – are doing so much better than they were back in 2005.

And what made the biggest difference?

Learning to talk to Hashem, and to be real, and to stop running away from the truth, especially about myself and my own limitations.

==

You know why it feels so ‘weird’ right now? Because the light of Moshiach – the light of truth – is slowly rising in the world, and it’s that ‘sun with healing on its wings’ that is going to burn all the wicked up, but heal all the righteous.

On the blog here, and over on spiritualselfhelp.org, I’ve been pretty honest about the bad middot I’ve got, and the issues I’ve had in my relationships, and what I’ve had to do and acknowledge and work on, to stop being a bona fide psycho to my husband and children.

I’m not telling myself any fibs that it’s ‘ok’ to try and control other people via rage fits and insults; or that it’s ‘ok’ to act like a hypocrite, dishing out advice from that place up on high that I myself can’t hold by in a million years. As soon as I realized that it’s not ‘ok’ to go around trying to control people, or trying to force my children to be ‘perfect’ so that I’ll look good in front of my neighbors, I got to work trying to live that truth.

I’m still falling down on my middot a million times a day, let’s be clear.

But that’s OK. I know I’m on a low level spiritually, and I also know that Hashem just wants the effort, but the outcome is up to him.

But I look around, and I still so many people who seem to be stuck in the lies – and as the light of Moshiach continues to rise in the world, those lies are starting to weigh heavier and heavier. It’s getting harder and harder to believe that politics is the ‘answer’ to anything. It’s getting less and less credible to believe in ‘man-made global warming’. It’s getting way harder for us all to keep pretending that all the problems are just because of ‘everyone else’, and their bad middot.

All of us are down here to work on one person:

OURSELVES.

And the main work to be done is to be real, and authentic, and to start to serve Hashem joyfully from that low place of knowing we are totally imperfect – but that there is actually nothing fundamentally ‘wrong’ with us!!

God created us this way, with bad middot, and gave us the job of working on those bad middot over 120 years, to try to rectify them.

====

This is a bit of a rambling post, I know. It’s because I’m trying to blast through the ‘head fog’ that seems to keep descending up on everything worthwhile and meaningful and true, and that keeps sucking us all back into that superficial, nasty space where nothing really matters, and no-one really cares about anything or anyone.

Here’s what I’m really trying to say.

Over the last few years, so much of the public discourse, so much of society, has been shaped by self-absorbed ‘go getters’, who constantly talk about themselves and what they think, and who cow everyone else into falling in line behind them. I have some aspect of that myself, and it’s something I’m continually monitoring and working on, to do my best to ‘use it’ for Hashem, instead of just for myself.

In common parlance, these types of people are often referred to as ‘narcissists’, but I prefer to call them ‘motivators’.

They have a ton of energy, they are very focused, and they often get a lot done. But when they aren’t balancing all their ‘fire’ with humility, and a genuine desire to serve Hashem, they usually just end causing a lot of arguments and destruction, instead.

Then, there are all the quiet, gentle, ‘nice’ people out there – so many of them!! – who generally feel too shy to share their views, and are often too gentle to want to wade into the cut-throat business of taking a stand or having a real opinion, or being authentic.

Over the years, I’ve met some of you in person and over email, when you had the courage to reach out and say hello.

Here’s the thing:

You guys are the people who are really going to bring the geula, and really going to fix the world.

It’s you, that silent majority, the salt-of-the-earth types that don’t really believe in your own goodness, your own importance, and who lack confidence in your own ability to change things for the better, who are really going to bring the geula.

Not the big mouths, or the firebrands, or the holier-than-thou preachers and gurus.

====

Gosh, I’m finding this so hard to put into words, which is very unusual for me.

So let me just cut to the chase.

After 15 years of going through SO much stuff, emotionally, spiritually, career-wise, health-wise, relationship-wise, you name it, baruch Hashem, I now have a lot of insight into how people really work.

And I want to start teaching it to others out there, but particularly, the salt-of-the-earth women, who are finding it hard to say ‘no’ to others, and to make their voices heard, and to set healthy boundaries, and to put their quiet goodness out there in a way that will really shape the world in a profound way.

In the next month or so, BH, I will be launching a pilot program to teach this information to a small group of 10 women. I’m still figuring out the packaging, but I already know what this program is going to do:

It’s going to help those ‘good’, but quiet women to finally find their voice, and the confidence they need to stand up for themselves and for ‘right’ without being steamrollered by all the mouthy, self-obsessed ‘motivators’ out there.

====

Why is that important?

Because these women are the ones who are going to bring the geula.

The world needs them, and it desperately needs for them to to start expressing their inner wisdom, and their inner goodness, and their inner clarity to start countering all the lies, and to help get us ready for Moshiach.

What is going to bring Moshiach is being real, and doing our best to work on ourselves, and to create an authentic environment in our homes and communities where the voice of the soul – the voice of peace, love, humility, emuna and truth – can start to shine out and be heard.

Phew.

If this speaks to you – at all – please drop me an email, and let’s discuss how to really do this.

I’m not pretending I have all the answers, or that I’m totally fixed, anything but. But Hashem has given me a lot of information that I know could help a lot of people, and especially the gentle people out there, to start putting down the boundaries they need to in a loving way, and to stop enabling ‘bad’.

And once more of us start to put that light out in our own dalet amot, the ‘bad’ that is preventing Moshiach from coming will disappear by itself.

====

Just as the women brought the redemption in Egypt, so they will bring it again in our days.

One lasting marriage at a time, one loved kid at a time, one honest and caring conversation at a time.

That’s really the only thing that matters, and not who becomes president, or who is going to end up being Moshiach, or all the other pointless things we waste so much time and energy debating.

I know ‘real’ is scary, but facing up to our ‘real’ – with tremendous compassion and understanding – is how we actually get out of galut, personally and nationally.

So, if you’d like to join me, either take the minute required to fill in the survey HERE, or drop me an email HERE.

It’s time for the ladies to start roaring.

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UPDATE:

Baruch Hashem, I’m starting to pin this down more already.

I basically want to do ‘Azamra’ as a practical course, which will give concrete, tangible ways for:

1) Understanding the 4 main ways our yetzer hara takes us out, based on Likutey Moharan, as reflected in cutting edge science
2) Taking down bad middot like: anger, yeoush, depression, people pleasing, fear and anxiety – in ways that actually totally work in real time.
3) And perhaps most importantly of all, this is the main focus of the program:
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to feel good about yourself, and feel good within your relationships, in six weeks or less, so you can wake up happy, and enjoy being yourself around other people.
Because I think that is really the key to giving Hashem what He really wants from us, and bringing the geula happily, the sweet way, in both our private and public spheres.
How does this sound? I’m VERY open to feedback and ideas.

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Do you want join me, and see where this goes?

Drop me an email!

This could start to get pretty interesting, with God’s help!

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“Whoever finds fault, finds his own fault” – Tractate Kiddushin 70a

With a couple of days to go before the Yom HaDin, Rosh Hashana 5780, I thought that we’d take a look at a passage in the Gemara, Kiddushin 70a, which is where the ‘mirror principle’ is first stated by Chazal.

In case you don’t know what the ‘mirror principle’ is, it’s a statement by the Baal Shem Tov that the whole world is a just a mirror, and that whatever ‘bad’ we see peeking out at us in others is somehow just a reflection of our own ‘bad’.

But that’s not just a tenet of chassidut, it’s actually brought down in the Gemara. And if we look at the context of that statement, we can learn some truly remarkable things. Let’s begin this post over in Chapter Four of Tractate Kiddushin, where the Sages are discussing the genealogical laws, and describing the different categories of Jews who ascended to Israel, from Babylonia, before the Second Temple was built.

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The Gemara tells us:

Ten genealogical classes went up from Bablyonia to Eretz Yisrael: Kohanim, Leviim, Yisraelim, chalalim (disqualified Kohanim), converts, freed Caananite slaves, mamzerim, nesinim, shetukim and asufim.

While all of these classes were considered to be 100% Jewish, there were restrictions on who was allowed to marry each other. The Gemara sets out the basic rules:

Kohanim, Leviim and Yisraelim – can marry each other.

Leviim, Yisraelim, chalalim, converts and freed slaves – can marry each other.

Converts, freed slaves, mamzerim, nesinim, shetukim and asufim – can marry each other.

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Before we continue, let’s just explain some of the more unfamiliar terms:

Mamzer – Refers to someone who is 100% Jewish, halachically, but who was born as a result of a union that is forbidden by the Torah. This doesn’t apply to someone who was born out of wedlock, but whose biological parents could still have stood under an orthodox chuppah. It also doesn’t apply to the Jewish child of a ‘mixed marriage’ where the father is not Jewish. But it DOES apply to adulterous extra-marital relationships, and also to children born of incest, amongst other things.

Nesin – This refers to a group of Canaanites called the Gibeonites, who tricked Joshua into converting them to become Jews, so that he wouldn’t kill them when he was conquering Eretz Yisrael. Even though their conversion was considered valid, Joshua forbid the other Jews from marrying them as long as the temple stood. Then later, King David saw how cruel and barbaric they were, and permanently forbid them from marrying into the mainstream Jewish community.

Shetuk – According to the Gemara:

“These are shetukim, anyone who knows the identify of his mother, but does not know the identity of his father.”

Asuf – According to the Gemara:

“Anyone who is gathered in from the street and does not know the identity of either his father or his mother.”

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The Gemara then gets into a very interesting discussion about how Ezra the Scribe basically forced all these ‘genealogically unfit’ categories of Jews to ascend with him to come and rebuild Eretz Yisrael.

He was worried that if he left them behind in Babylonia, the rabbis there wouldn’t know how to keep them properly contained.

(It’s an interesting aside, but the Babylonian Talmud asserts that because Ezra took all the ‘unfit’ Jews with him to Israel, he left Babylonian Jewry “like fine, sifted flour.” So they state that Babylonia at that time was the most genealogically ‘fit’ Jewish community, followed by Eretz Yisrael, then followed by the rest of the diaspora (!) I’m willing to bet the Talmud Yerushalmi has a different view, but I don’t have a copy to compare….)

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The Gemara then gets into a whole big discussion about what a big, genealogical mess the whole thing is already (1800 years ago…).

There were so many Kohanim who’d married goyim and ‘forbidden’ women without anyone knowing; and there were so many slaves who didn’t follow the proper procedure for being freed (which would render them as halachically Jewish converts) before marrying a Jew; and there were mamzerim walking around all over the place, due to adulterous affairs.

The Gemara then states this:

A Tanna taught…Elijah [the Prophet] writes, and the Holy One, Blessed is He, signs: Woe to him who disqualifies his children and who taints his family, and who marries a woman who is not fit for him. Elijah ties him, and the Holy One, Blessed is He, whips him. And whoever declares others to be genealogically unfit is himself genealogically unfit. And he (i.e someone who is genealogically unfit] never speaks in praise of others.

Let’s just pause for a moment, and digest this, as it’s a statement with huge implications.

In the Artscroll footnotes, they note that Rashi comments that:

[A]nyone who regularly demeans the genealogical status of other families reveals himself to be genealogically blemished.

In other words, we are back to the mirror principle, big time. The Gemara continues:

And Shmuel said: The Baraisa means: He declares them unfit with his own blemish.

I.e., whatever he’s accusing others of being, he’s actually just describing himself.

The Gemara then tells the following story, to underline this point:

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There was a certain man from Nehardea who went into a butcher shop in Pumbedita[1]. He said to them: “Give me meat.” They said to him: “Wait until the attendant of Rav Yehudah bar Yechezkel[2], who is standing here, takes his meat, and then we will give you yours.”

He said: “Who is Yehuda bar Sheviskel that he should precede me and take before me!” They went and told Rav Yehuda what this man had said. [Rav Yehuda] placed a ban upon him. They told Rav Yehuda: “He habitually calls people slaves.” [Rav Yehuda] issued a proclamation that he [i.e. the Nehardean] was a slave himself.”

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What happens next is that the aggressive, brazen, disrespectful Nehardean than sues Rav Yehuda in the rabbinical court of Rav Nachman, the leader of the Nehardean community.

The story continues:

“Rav Nachman began the questioning: He said to [Rav Yehuda]: ‘Why did master place a ban upon that man?’

Rav Yehuda responded: ‘Because he harassed an agent of the Rabbis.’

Rav Nachman: ‘Then master should have given him lashes…Why did you excommunicate[3] him?’

Rav Yehuda: ‘As a penalty. I dealt with him even more stringently than that.’

Rav Nachman: ‘Why did master proclaim that he was a slave?’

Rav Yehuda: ‘Because he frequently calls people ‘slaves’. And a Tanna has taught in a Baraisa: Anyone who declares others… unfit, is himself unfit. And he never speaks in praise of others. And Shmuel said….’It is with his own blemish that he declares other unfit.’

(Try this: swap out the word ‘slave’ for ‘Erev Rav’…)

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Now, the Nehardean gets all bolshy, and starts shouting down Rav Yehuda, who is one of the Gedolei HaDor of Babylonian Jewry:

“Me you call a slave, when in fact I am descended from the royal family of Hasmoneans!”

Rav Yehuda says to him:

“Thus said Shmuel: ‘Whoever says, ‘I am descended from the family of the Hasmoneans is in truth a slave!”

Rav Nachman gets into a small discussion about whether Rav Yehuda is just making up quotes to try to bolster his case, and Rav Yehuda says no, Rav Masnah also heard this teaching. Rav Masnah hadn’t appeared in Nehardea in 13 years, but whaddya know? As they’re having this conversation, Rav Masnah happens to show up, and he confirms Rav Yehuda’s statement.

The Gemara continues:

“[Rav Nachman] subsequently proclaimed that the plaintiff was indeed a slave. That day, many ketubot were ripped up in Nehardea” – because Jewish men now suspected they were married to ‘slave’ women who they’d mistakenly believed to be Jewish.

Now, Rav Yehuda leaves town, and the people of Nehardea follow him, because they want to stone him to death, for all the trouble he’s making. Rav Yehuda gets them to quiet down by telling them that if they doesn’t leave him alone, he’s going to reveal right there the big secret that Shmuel taught him about the Jewish community in Nehardea, namely:

“There are two families in Nehardea: One is called the family of Yonah [i.e. the kosher dove] and one is called the family of Orvasi [i.e. the non-kosher and cruel oreiv, or raven. Perhaps another hint to the ‘Erev Rav’ problem.]… The family named after an impure bird is impure, and the family named after a pure bird is pure.”

The townspeople dropped their stones and ran away, before Rav Yehuda could disclose which family was which.

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Now, the Gemara goes through a whole bunch of proclamations the Sages of Babylonia made about all these ‘impure’ and ‘disqualified’ people in the Jewish community.

This problem is even in Eretz Yisrael, and when Rabbi Pinchas’ students start investigating the families in the Land of Israel, they realise they have to stop. Rashi explains why:

“Their research led them to discover the disqualification of certain powerful families who would kill them [if their impurities were revealed.”

Which brings us on to a VERY important point, about how Chazal decided to deal with this situation, and how they said it would ultimately get fixed (we’re now in Kiddushin 71a):

(R’ Yitzhak said):

“Once a genealogically tainted family is mixed with Israel, it is mixed. One should not isolate such a family and clarify which of its members are pure and which are impure. Rather, one should leave it, and in the Messianic era all of its members will be deemed pure.”

The Gemara continues, and makes a distinction between ‘genealogically impure’ families who forced their way into the Jewish community (i.e. like Herod the Great, for example), and tainted families where it all kind of just happened:

(Abaye explains):

“Families… whose impurities are publically known and who became mixed with Israel only through force, will be dealt with by Elijah the Prophet. But a tainted family that became mixed with Israel because people were unaware of its status, Elijah will allow to remain mixed.”

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Let’s finish with one more story from the Gemara, in Kiddushin 71b, then we’ll sum up what we just learnt together.

Rav Ulla comes to visit Rav Yehuda in Pumbedita, and he sees that his son, Rav Yitzhak, is still unmarried, so he asks Rav Yehuda:

“What’s going on? Why haven’t you married your son off?”

Rav Yehuda replies: “Who knows where I can find a genealogically fit wife for him?!”

Rav Ulla says to him: “Do we know where we come from?”

And then starts listing a whole bunch of verses stating how idolaters ravished Jewish women in the town of Judea in Biblical times; and talking about Jews who ‘defile their couches’, which R’ Abahu explains as referring to wife-swapping.

“Since our predecessors engaged in this type of adulterous activity, no-one can assume that he is genealogically fit!” says R’ Ulla. So then, Rav Yehuda asks him, “So what do we do?” Ulla answered him: “Go after silence, i.e. seek a family whose members are quiet and peaceable…[In Eretz Yisrael] they use the following method to investigate someone’s lineage:

“When two people would quarrel with each other, they would see which one is the first to quiet down, and then they would say, ‘that person is genealogically purer than the other.”

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LET’S SUM THIS UP:

It’s a great, eye-opening piece of Gemara, isn’t it? Can you imagine what might start to happen if more of our rabbis and commentators would actually learn some Gemara?

So, here’s the main takeaway points from Kiddushin 70a-72b:

  • Whenever we find fault in other Jews, we are really just identifying our own faults.
  • That particularly applies to finding fault with other people’s ‘genealogy’, like for example, going around calling other people ‘Erev Rav’, etc.
  • Even 1800 years ago, there were so many forbidden and / or adulterous unions going on in the Jewish community, that even the head of the Torah Academy in Pumbedita was having trouble finding a ‘genealogically fit’ wife for his son.
  • Adulterous affairs and immoral behavior have been going on for so long, not even the most illustrious Jew today can be 100% sure that some ancestor of theirs didn’t put a massive spanner in their genealogical works. So it behooves us all to act with a little humility, and to stop pointing fingers at other Jews.
  • When Moshiach shows up, he will declare everyone pure.
  • The exception to this is those people who pushed their way into the Jewish community ‘by force’, i.e. they never intended to convert sincerely, or to serve Hashem, they just wanted the status, money or other perks of technically being part of the Jewish community. Elijah the Prophet will push these people away.
  • The way you can tell how ‘genealogically pure’ someone is, is by checking their middot and temperament. If they are angry, argumentative, brazen, obsessed with their own honor, always have to be right, and can never back down, make peace and apologise – then they probably aren’t so ‘fit’, Jewishly-speaking. The more calm, conciliatory, peaceable and kind a person is, the more genealogically ‘fit’ they probably are.

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On that note, let me end by apologizing to any of my readers or email correspondents who I may well have upset or irked this year.

I’m a flawed human being, and I don’t always act and react appropriately, so please forgive me!

And I unconditionally forgive all the psychos, weirdos, and holier-than-thou pseudo-prophets who continue to make my life interesting, too.

May we ALL be blessed with a peaceful, productive, happy, healthy and sweet 5780.

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FOOTNOTES:

[1] Pumbedita was the main centre of Torah learning in Babylonia, but Nehardea also had a significant, and learned Jewish population.

[2] This is the ‘Rav Yehuda’ of the Babylonian Talmud, who was head of the Torah academy in Pumbedita.

[3] By designating this man a ‘slave’, Rav Yehuda effectively removed his communal status as a Jew.

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Photo by Daniela Holzer on Unsplash

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The Israeli elections seem be a choice between Mr Evil, Mr Eviller, and Mr Evillest

Three weeks ago, my husband snapped his Achilles tendon whilst playing tennis. Baruch Hashem, it’s on the mend, but in the meantime I’m ferrying him backwards and forwards in the car to his workplace, close to Jerusalem’s central bus station.

What that means (amongst other things….) is that I’m getting to see all the massive, ginormous, monstrous billboards of yucky-looking politicians that are currently springing up like poisonous mushrooms all around the entrance to Jerusalem, in preparation for next week’s elections.

I can tell you this:

Whoever you vote for, it’s going to be a vote for Mr Evil.

Some of these super-sized pictures are so disturbing I’m amazed they’ve been approved for public consumption. What these politicians don’t seem to realise is that when their faces are blown up to building-size proportions, it makes it much harder to hide their true characters. You see it in the eyes, you grasp it by the beetling brows, and the cunning, calculating expression that even the greasiest smile can’t hide.

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Where to start, on which one of these posters bothers me the most?

For a while, Ehud Barak’s lot were definitely in the lead, with a cast straight out of Dr No. There’s the beautiful, red-haired woman that looks like a secret assassin. The angry-looking, grey-haired rogue scientist is on the left of the picture. And then ‘Mr Evil’ himself, with his dyed-black hair and shifty expression, is right in the middle of all that.

After the whole Epstein affair, how can anyone, much less a woman, much less a party that claims to stand for ‘human rights’ have anything to do with this guy!

So he was in the lead for a while.

But then, Netanyahu’s lot stuck up a bunch of MASSIVE posters of him shaking hands with Donald Trump, bearing the slogan: Netanyahu: a different league.

I almost crashed a few times coming round the corner of the Jerusalem Gateway, because I couldn’t take my eyes off how plain evil Netanyahu looked on that billboard, and how totally crazy Trump appeared.

So for two days, that was in pole position.

Then yesterday, Benny Gantz of Blue and White got stuck up on the other side of the Prima Park Hotel, in a poster that looked like a cross between Men In Black and the Terminator.

Oooo, look how thick his neck is!!! Look how menacingly grey his skin is!!! Notice how totally unemotional and devoid of any human kindness his cruel blue eyes appear!!!

He looked like a ‘Class A’ psycho, and clearly that’s the effect that all these politicians are trying to achieve.

Vote for me, I’m a total psycho! If anyone even so much sneezes in my direction, I’ll nuke them! Israel is in safe hands!

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But then today, the Labor / Gesher Party decided to remove its poster of Amir Peretz looking like Stalin, and replace them with Amir Peretz looking like a character out of Goodfellas instead. Last week, Peretz shaved off his trade-mark moustache, I don’t know why.

But personally, I think it was a mistake.

For as long as the moustache was pulling the eye, you didn’t notice how strangely menacing the guy underneath it was. Now, with Mr Fluffy gone, Amir Peretz looks like he could get a job with Iran’s Revolutionary Guide.

Vote for me! I can break a man into pieces in five seconds flat!!!

Now, you might be wondering where all the women are in this election. That’s what one of the graffiti artists clearly had in mind when she spray-painted the Amir-Peretz-As-Stalin poster with: “I’m a woman and I can also vote.”

Ayelet Shaked’s party decided to put a few massive posters of just her perfect, Barbie-like face across various bridges on the Begin Highway, and after studying them all week (yes, it’s a miracle I haven’t crashed the car) – I can tell you they are airbrushed.

The woman is 42 and has a very stressful job, and yet she has the flawless complexion of a 20 year old supermodel. It’s an open miracle.

Vote for me! I don’t have any wrinkles!!!

This morning, someone had punched two massive holes in the middle of both her faces, and it took some really careful planning to pull that off in the middle of Jerusalem’s busiest and fasted road.

I think it was the Shabak.

Orly Levy-Abecassis (or whatever her name is…) also popped up on a poster looking really miserable, but with great hair, next to Goodfella Peretz, and some other man who I don’t know the name of, but who also looks like a shark in a suit.

Vote for me! I have the best hairdresser in all of Israel!!!

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Sigh.

Whichever way you turn, there’s evil, evil and more evil.

Driving my husband to work has become a Kafkaesque nightmare, a cross between a bad Bond movie and the Oscars.

Although yesterday, I did see a poster of someone that I’d half consider voting for.

He was a cute Saba advertising a new flavor of milkshake.

So, a vote for Mr Evil – for political gangsters and their molls – or for Mr Milkshake, for PM?

I think the answer is obvious.

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