by Rabbi Nati @ Mystical Paths
(Rabbi Nati is currently on a visit to Australia! Here’s a few words from him on his trip…)
Shalom from the upside down land of Australia.
It rained all Shabbos. The Bondi Beach is beautiful, but only at 3:00 am to 6:00 am - this is the time to go out and do Hisbodedut (personal prayer and contemplation of Hashem), as later it’s an inappropriate environment for a modest person once the sun is up. The waves are great and there is a kosher butcher and a Jewish book store just 3 blocks away from the beach.
It’s a really nice plac,e people are friendly and laid back even though they have never seen a guy in nickers and socks with wild peyos (sidelocks) and tzitzit flying in the wind. Let alone one who can surf.
There are a lot of unaffiliated Jews here. I have sat and had a beer with a couple and had a real chance to speak to them about connection to Hashem.
One could say it’s been a misplaced demand for perfection which has driven them away from Judaism. In a desire to protect from an increasingly intrusive and immodest world, a type of perfection demanding rabbi has arisen who can’t see that their desire for perfection is based in the mida of din (severity and judgment), instead of chessed, a loving and kind desire for Jews to connect.
So here I come in levush (full chassidic garb) and talk to them normally. They have never met a rabbi who would just speak to them and not preach or deride them for their apparent lack of connection.
They do not see connection to Hashem as religion. Most have come here from the former Soviet Block, so they believe but have a hard time showing it (and a cultural imperative to hide it).
But when comes along a guy in levush eating kosher and sitting and taking time to just be a friend, they really long to connect.
Alex, the man who cleans the building where I’m renting a room, is from Uman (Ukraine and the burial place of Rebbe Nachman of Breslev). He asked me on Shabbos if I could let him put on tefillin. I said sure but not today. He was upset and didn’t understand why I wouldn’t let him right now! I explained that he could on Sunday but we do not put them on, on Shabbos.
Then there is Lara who is the receptionist who was worried that the light wouldn’t be on in the bathroom on Shabbos for me. She is from Odessa. And Michael ‘Misha’ from Kiev.
They are all Jewish here and very surprised that I’m staying here.
I was shocked on arrival as the formal orthodox community wouldn’t open their doors. They have a visitors center for meshuluchim (visiting charity collectors and rabbis from Israel or abroad). I arrived asking to use the mikvah, daven (pray) and lay my head down for a few hours until I could make arrangements in the area.
I was told I had to prove my Jewishness and present letters of introduction and influence. I mean just look at me, "I'm Catholic, right?". So, being shunned, I did not get to pray in synagogue on Shabbos nor hear Parshat Para. Yet if Hashem arranged that I spent some time with the simple Jews of the area, I do so b’simcha (with joy). I only have a real desire to help others understand they can connect from where they are which is right where we find ourselves at this moment.
So take a minute and just reach out to Hashem, tell all your faults and failings and express remorse over letting Him down. Then get right up and run towards Him, He is waiting for us to return to Him.
I fail all the time, but I continue daily to get up and try again! Some days are better than others. But you know you still just have to be a ‘Yid’ no matter where you are!
You can always just start over, right now, this moment, as if you never served Him and make a new relationship today! So you fell down, even in a huge way. Throw yourself at His mercy and turn away from your folly and never go back to it! Know there still is hope. This is teshuva!
Even for someone like me who knows better but still falls into it daily? Cry, plead, pray, dance, smile, and thank Him, and go on, that’s all we can do in this world. Just like I have to every day, just start from now anew, like you were just born.
Hashem is standing waiting for me and you to do just that, to come to Him and tell Him what He already knows. We are only flesh and blood and we are frail. He knows this already, so why? Because the whole of serving Hashem is in the BITUL... the nullification of Self before Him...
He knew the sins I was going to commit before I did them... only He wanted me to avoid them, Ok I couldn’t, so what now, give up? No way! There is no such thing as despair in the world at all. (Rebbe Nachman) It simply doesn’t exist at all, it is a lie from the other side to trap us in depression and cause us to give up.
No matter what, never lose hope! There is always another chance as long as we breathe to cry out and beg to come closer to Him in a real way. Just drop all the falseness and lies and serve Him from where you are.
We only mess up today. Yesterday is gone so we have to let it go and tomorrow is but a dream not yet read to materialize. The former is arrogance and the latter is heresy, we only live today. If we will only not rebel today we will fix all the tomorrows and repair all the yesterdays.
From Bondi Beach, New South Wales, Australia,
Blessings from down under,
If you’d like to meet or speak with Rabbi Nati while he’s in Australia, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org