The last two days, I’ve been feeling a tremendous amount of despair again, about how broken our world is.
Despite best efforts, despite hours and hours of prayers, despite tremendous mesirut nefesh on so many levels by so many people…. we are still stuck with a broken world, that sometimes seems impossible to fix.
Even when you follow all the correct etzot for how to do that.
Like, you can spend two solid years making super-human efforts to ‘only see the good’ in a person, and then discover at the end of that, that they were really scamming you all along, and that you really should have listened to that small voice whispering at you, that this person was actually a two-faced poisonous toad.
I’m still pondering the implications of this, for the whole ‘Azamra’ idea, because for sure, Rabbenu is always and only correct. But it seems to me, ‘Azamra’ has to be applied in a way that won’t lead to people getting hurt by sociopath conmen – because otherwise, it’s bad advice.
And it’s simply not possible, that Rabbenu would give bad advice.
Anyway, two nights ago, I was feeling so very miserable, so very despairing about all the bad in the world, hidden and revealed, that I couldn’t sleep.
Baruch Hashem, the Kotel is close, so me and my husband got in the car and drove the 5 minutes to get to the carpark, then walked down to the wall to pour some of our pain out by those holy stones.
There were about 25 people there, on my side, some of whom were also crying.
That seems to be an increasingly common event, these days.
I took a chair, looked up at the dark starry sky at the top of the Kotel, and just asked God:
Why? Why does the world have to be like this, where it seems that ‘bad’ always wins?
Why is that, God?
I know that ultimately, good will win out, in the large and small ways.
But right now, I am feeling pretty crushed by so much of what is going on, both personally and globally.
While I was pondering all this, I happened to glance down at the floor, where a bunch of hand-written notes had spewed out all around the base of the Kotel.
One small note was open, and I could see what was written on it:
“God, please kill Putin.”
After I read that, I felt even more depressed.
Like ‘killing Putin’ is the answer to all the world’s woes….
The Kotel worked to take the edge off the misery, but yesterday, I was just feeling so ill, literally, from all the ‘winds of war’ blowing around, both in my own life and in the world.
So I told my husband:
I have to get to prayers with the Rav tonight.
I know from previous experience, how so much of the ‘heavy’ literally just evaporates after prayers with the Rav and his community, at Ido HaNavi Street (8.30pm, every night.)
So I get there, still so wrapped-up in my own misery, and I go and sit inside the tent bit right at the front, which functions as a kind of ‘corridor’ to the men’s section, and where I can usually get a bit of space and privacy.
It was still cold, so I had a winter hat on and my gloves.
At various points in the davening, the Rav started clapping his hands – to sweeten the judgments – and everyone followed suit.
I sat there morosely clapping my hands in a very depressed way, when this little five year old kid with massive peyot and an even bigger kippa on his head suddenly showed up, and started mimicking me.
Why are you clapping like this? He asked me.
Lo shomim clum! (I can’t hear anything!)
I tried to ignore him, but he wasn’t going away any time soon.
This is how we clap, he told me, then started clapping both hands together with lots of gusto and sound.
I couldn’t help it: I started smiling at this crazy kid and his very earnest attempts to get me to ‘clap properly’.
I sat up a bit straighter, and started ‘clapping more properly’.
Lo shomim!!! He roared at me again, with his hand theatrically behind his ear.
So, I clapped a bit harder.
Then he ran back two metres, and told me again:
From here, lo shomim clum!!!
I stared at him. He stared at me.
Why are you clapping with gloves on? he said.
I stared at him. He stared at me – and I took the gloves off, and started clapping ‘properly’.
Anything, to get the little bugger to be quiet and go away.
It didn’t exactly work that way.
He found a chair somewhere, and came and sat right next to me instead.
Now, he was focussing on my winter hat, that I’d pulled on in my ‘maximum despair’ state, without really paying attention to how it looked, or how much hair it was covering.
Why are you wearing that thing on your head? He asked me. Don’t you have a mitpachat? (Head scarf.)
Then he told me:
You can see some of your hair sticking out, why are you wearing that thing?
At that point, I texted my husband to meet up with me, to go home.
The Rav was still doing lots of ‘Uman’ songs with the crowd, clapping and jumping around, and there was definitely a strong, ‘hopeful’ vibe at the prayers, that was seeping in and slowly changing my mood, despite myself.
But in the meantime, I was still sitting there crying to myself, and that was just a little hard to do, with my small visitor commenting on my every move, like I was in the jungle being observed by National Geographic, or something.
That said: I really appreciated that kid.
On a day where I was feeling like God doesn’t notice me, the prayers go unanswered, the stuff I do doesn’t matter, Hashem showed me that everything is being watched and recorded, after all.
Down to the last detail.
It’s hard to hang on at the moment, because the yeoush can be totally overpowering.
Part of me just wants to throw my computer away, stop trying to write anything meaningful and real, and to go and play (bad…) music and paint (mediocre…) pictures.
Part of me wants to stop hanging out for ‘good to win’, because it’s so hard to deal with the disappointment when that doesn’t appear to be happening.
Part of me wants to totally give up on ‘Azamra’ forever, because it seems the best way to hurt yourself and invite psychos into your world to abuse you, and the people you care about.
But another part of me knows that this is the world of lies, the world of illusion.
And that nothing right now is really what it seems.
PS: The Rav is regularly talking about Uman and the Ukraine, and ‘sweetening things’ at the evening prayers with lots of dancing and clapping.
He’s also giving over some shiurim about what is happening there, like this one (above), from HERE, said during a prayer gathering for the Jews of Ukraine on Thursday night:
“Fortunate are you and it should be well with you. You are strengthening the Jews in the Ukraine, who are innocent. They didn’t do anything wrong.
“All of those who live in the Ukraine are the most righteous Jews, especially those in Uman whose level is immeasurable, and all those who pray for them will merit to the life of the World to Come, and bezrat Hashem, all of them will be saved and no Jew will be harmed.
Putin made it known that he doesn’t harm Jews.
“[They] only need to be cautious from all types of stray missiles and bullets, and we don’t know how long the war will go on. We hope that by candle-lighting the war will end.
“Then everyone can come to Israel and we can travel to Uman, in the merit of you praying for them. In the merit of this, all the gates of heaven will be opened and all the 50 gates of holiness will open, and we will merit to completely new understandings and to see the complete redemption, as is written ‘in the seventh [year] – wars.’
“In the merit of this war, there should be the complete redemption and Mashiach will be revealed already this year, speedily in our days, Amen.”
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