The Person Behind The Posts

Sunday, August 29, 2021

The Dark Nights of My Soul

There have been segments of time during which I read Holocaust memoirs obsessively. I would close the cover of one and, in one smooth motion, open the cover of the next. Many are structured similarly, beginning with descriptions of the author's carefree life before the Nazi party came to power and transitioning into the very gradual intensification of restrictions.

"During the first six years of Hitler’s dictatorship, government at every level—Reich, state and municipal—adopted hundreds of laws, decrees, directives, guidelines, and regulations that increasingly restricted the civil and human rights of the Jews in Germany." - The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The days through which we are living, and what has happened to the social fabric of society, are positively dystopian. Life, at least here in Israel, has become characterized by government control, loss of individual freedoms, medical tyranny and the absolute squelching of divergent opinions.   

The level of invective directed at people who advocate alternative ways to treat COVID-19 has sunk to shocking, truly shocking, lows. I've begun to amass appalling examples of verbal tirades flung at individuals who think differently. 

Fellow citizens have actually suggested that unvaccinated people should no longer be admitted to hospitals. They have accused them of being "selfish idiots" and uncaring individuals who are responsible for the decimation of the Jewish people. There's an "academic study" that suggests that individuals who believe there is something more to the COVID-19 story than is being reported in mainstream media are suffering from psychopathy, Machiavellianism and collective narcissism

Meanwhile, voices expressing other perspectives are comprehensively banned.

The Israeli government has imposed more than a dozen draconian restrictions on citizens, beginning at age 3, who have not had multiple doses of the COVID-19 shot, prohibiting them from participating in many ordinary aspects of society such as accessing libraries, gyms, public pools, eating at restaurants and attending academic institutions. Even gatherings in private homes are being regulated.

Businesses and non-profit organizations that violate these prohibitions are subject to enormous fines. Police resources are being diverted to monitor the heavy-handed restrictions that have been imposed on ordinary citizens.

All this for a virus that is named as the identified cause of death for .0007% of Israel's population.

And it's about a million times worse in Australia where there is a nightly 8 PM curfew, stiff fines for people who are outside without "a valid reason," where weddings are now illegal and only one person per household can leave the house a day to shop for groceries, among other relentless restrictions. This is happening in a country where there have been 999 deaths attributed to COVID-19 in the past 18 months, among a population that exceeds 25 million people. 

To put it simply, as a friend who has gotten the first two doses and is now hesitant about getting the booster wrote to me privately very late one night: "Something is definitely wrong."

For every fact shared, there is someone claiming the precise opposite. We are literally living in the time the gemara (Sotah 49b) describes as, "In the period preceding the coming of Moshiach... Truth will be lacking." 

And I haven't even touched on the political and social chaos that reigns in other countries.

If I follow the links I receive every day, if I watch every video, listen to every voice note and read every article analyzing the calamitous present and the fearsome social future we face, I would have no time to do anything else. I worry that I would descend into a kind of spiraling madness. How does one retain one's sanity in the face of so much evil?

Like many, I have suffered through my share of dark nights of the soul.

I can try to escape reality by immersing myself in meaningless novels or watching endless clickbaity videos on Facebook about amazing desserts you can make with stale popcorn or what shoes are now out of style or how to cut your own bangs.

Or I can get real with God.

I can accept the only explanation that makes sense to me - that God is accelerating evil in the world in order to bring geula faster.

When I gave birth to my second daughter, she was in some danger and the medical staff was anxious to get her out. I was given Pitocin in order to accelerate my labor. It made the labor much harder, but also faster.

When Moshe went to Paro and asked for the Israelite slaves to be set free, Paro responded by taking away the slaves' straw and requiring them to make as many bricks. It made slavery harder, but it also ended it faster.

"You shall not continue to give straw to the people to make the bricks like yesterday and the day before yesterday. Let them go and gather straw for themselves.
But the number of bricks they have been making yesterday and the day before yesterday you shall impose upon them; you shall not reduce it, for they are lax. Therefore they cry out, saying, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.'
Let heavier work be laid upon the men; let them keep at it and not pay attention to deceitful promises.” (Shemot 5:7-9)

The principle is the same here. We are being pressured at a rapidly increasing rate, in order to get us to the finish line sooner.

In the meantime, staying connected to Torah has been my lifeline.

Over and over again in Tehillim, David HaMelech reminds us that God will vanquish evil, judge evildoers and bring them to justice.

Chassidut reminds me that what we see is only the minutest percentage of God's playing field. 

The promises of the messianic era soothe my soul in the darkest nights.

And ultimately, it is only emunah that sustains me.

1 comment:

Rahel F Adye said...

In his most recent shiur Rabbi Kessin offers the following for riding out this final storm:

"As long as you learn Torah you are connected to the message, the consciousness of what things are really about. Then you can hang on. In any form, learn Torah! It is the greatest of all thoughts. Torah is the greatest of all portals. The Hebrew word “mishnah” has the same letters as “neshama.” Its letters can also be the word “mishaneh”—change. You change the neshama so it experiences G-d’s name at the 50th level of holiness. It is so powerful that G-d says, were the Jews to abandon Me, they should not abandon My Torah because its Light will restore them. The Torah itself will reignite the spark of the neshama. The Torah is a part of Him. Learn it at whatever level—stories, chumash tanakh….whatever. That is the only way to maintain your attachment."