Reflection vs reaction

It’s amazing how different life is ‘offline’.

Now that I am having a regular three days off from the ‘pace’ of keeping up with the internet, and the 24 hour (fake) ‘news’ cycle, that just keeps us all hopping from one manipulated event to another, I feel like my brain is finally starting to kick back in to a more relaxed and contemplative mode.

Not all the time.

There is still a lot of ‘stress’ in the air, a lot of tension in myself, and the world, but when I sit here with the internet totally off, and I just look at my window in Jerusalem as I type, I can finally catch up with myself a little.

When the internet insinuated itself into our lives 24/7, it created a paradigm where, like it or not, we are trapped ‘reacting’ to information 24/7.

And so much of that information – even if it’s true, a big ‘if’ – tends to just cause worry, anxiety, despair and stress.

At best.


By contrast, the main but by no means only benefit of doing hitbodedut for an hour a day is that instead of just hopping from one piece of ‘information’ or stimulation, and reacting to it (usually from a negative place) – you get some time to stop and reflect.

And to ask yourself am I really dealing with things that way I should be? The way God wants me to? What’s really motivating me right now? Is it really coming from a good place, or is it just my yetzer, dressing itself up as my ‘inner tzaddik’ again?

Stuff like that.


On Purim, I had a few opportunities to ‘react’, and a couple of hours to ‘reflect’ on why I was acting and behaving the way I was.

For example, I had planned to listen to the megillah reading at night in one of the local shuls.

I tried going to the Rav last year, and it was a total flop. After waiting an hour and a half to get a chair and a good spot, I then needed the bathroom – and the chair was gone when I got back.

So then, I tried sitting on a wall a little further away for the megillah reading.

But I couldn’t hear very well. So then, I tried calling the Rav’s kav to listen to it via phone and also in person. And then, I just got too overwhelmed with the crowd of people, and decided I was going to finish listening to the megilla in the car….


The minute after I got in the car, the phone switched off, and refused to come back on.

I’d already totally stuffed-up my megillah reading, and by that point it was so late, I knew I couldn’t find another place to go to.

So I ended up reading the megillah in my car, by myself, from a book, in English. Thus, totally not fulfilling my obligation to hear it in any way.

It was another ‘Rav special’.

So this year, I decided I am going to a local shul, like a regular person, and getting it heard in a ‘regular’ way.



Two hours before megillah reading at 6.30pm, my daughter informed me that her in-laws were inviting us over for a l’chaim.

I kind of hit the roof what?! What’s wrong with these people, that they don’t know that is the main time for the megillah reading?!?

Our mechutonim are very nice people. They came from Russia, and with a ton of mesirut nefesh they keep a lot more mitzvot than a lot of other people in their circumstances. But, there are big ‘gaps’ in what they do, and what they know about, and on Purim, we kind of fell into one.


So, I’m having a rant about what’s wrong with these people…. And then my daughter gets very upset with me (because, we are all still in the ‘honeymoon stage’ of trying to be nice to the mechutonim at every price)…. And then I realised, I have a choice to make.

Either, I can stick with my plan, to get to shul at 6.30pm, and hear the megillah in a regular way, like a normal person, and thus cause my daughter quite a big problem with the mechutonim who are trying so hard to ‘do Purim’ and to participate in such an annoying way….


I can swallow my pride, and fight down my ego, and hear megillah later on at the Chabad super-fast, non-stop pop-up reading at the local Yes Planet Mall, together with my daughter and her new husband….


I sighed a big sigh.

And then I said, sure we’ll come, what time do you want us?

(My husband left early, and went as planned to the Rav for the megillah reading. They danced for an hour before it even began….)


So then, at 7pm, I was sat at the Yes Planet, just outside the plated glass windows of the food court, in front of McDonalds.

To the left of me, there were massive mall-sized posters of the latest movies playing literally  right next to where we sitting.

The whole place was full of flashing lights, mall-sized ‘fun fair attractions’ for tots with tons of noise and distractions.

And of course, men and women were sat together to hear the megillah, with a few of the audience also playing on their smartphones, half-listening.

I tried to hide myself in my megillah, and to just focus on the words, which I could barely read fast enough, even in English, in order to keep up with the Chabad guy who was barrelling through the megillah at 5,000 miles an hour.

I felt pretty deflated about the whole thing.

It was another ‘Rav Special’.


The following morning, I decide I am getting up at the crack of dawn, to get to a proper shul, with a proper megillah, where the men and women are seperate, where I can follow what’s being said, and where I don’t have a fat guy with an i-Phone in my line of vision, whispering away while stuffing his face with an icecream.


The shul was Ashkenazi, full of old Americans – and had one kid dressed as ‘Queen Esther’ who kept attracting disapproving stares for breathing too loud.

The megillah started exactly on time.

It was done very quickly, but every word was perfectly enunciated, as per halacha.

They made a noise for every mention of ‘Haman’ – but the grogger was only swung once, the table was only banged in a precise way, three taps per mention.

It was a totally ‘Type A’ anglo experience.


For the first ten minutes, I kind of liked it.

Then, I noticed one of the main ‘disapproving’ women was also casting ‘disapproving looks’ at my megillah, which is the cartoon animated one by Gadi Pollack.

And then, the ‘three taps per Haman’ started to really grate on my nerves, as I could feel that strong undertow of ‘conform or else’ that is the hallmark of so many Anglo-American Jewish experiences.

I didn’t dare to go past the allotted time for ‘drowning out’ Haman, but I passively resisted by skipping making noise a few times, instead.

15 minutes later…. We were done.

And I was on my way home to get on with the mishloach manot.


A few years ago, I had a brainwave.

I now only give two mishloach manot, as per the minimum required, and I usually give them to one ‘friend’ and one ‘enemy’.

The ‘enemies’ are nearly always my neighbors, so that also saves on the travel time.

So, I shlepped off to give to a friend who had just got back from visiting an elderly parent abroad, and was still kind of ‘blown away’ by the whole experience….

I was still feeling pretty down in myself.


Then, I shlepped off to the good bakery, to get a box of hot bourekas for my ‘enemy’ downstairs, who moved in six months ago and proceeded to take over the garden I spent four years weeding and planting and caring for – even though I knew, it’s not ‘my garden’.

I have very complicated landlords, and everything is ‘combinations’ with them, that make everyone involved confused and unhappy.


So, they told the new tenant downstairs that the garden is totally hers to do with as she wishes.

Without mentioning anything to me.

So, she ripped down my fence so she could ‘have a view’, started planting ugly stuff all over the place, moaned at me when I started weeding the sorrell sprouting everywhere post the Spring rain, telling me that I was destroying such beautiful yellow flowers, and also told me I should take out the walnut tree that in theory can get to 100 ft – but in practise has been totally stunted for the last three years, as it’s roots have no space.

Long story short…. I am having a massive test of my middot over the garden.

And I’m not always winning it, because as well as ‘ruling the roost’, the neighbor is also expecting me to carry on doing the massive amount of weeding required to keep the garden in good shape – but without openly acknowledging that, or appreciating all the effort I’ve still been putting into the garden the last few months.

Even though I now have no use of it myself.


So, I was determined to ‘kill my enemy with kindness’ on Purim, as Rabbenu tells us to do.

I bought her a massive box of the bourekas she most likes as a mishloach manot, and left it downstairs with a pear and a kiwi, on a nicely-wrapped tray.

I totally confused her.


(The battle over the garden continues, meantime. I told her yesterday she can take it over 100%, and I am no longer weeding it or taking responsibility for watering it. That felt so good, even though it’s not coming from a good place. What can I do….)


At 12.30pm, shortly before the guests were meant to start showing up for Purim seuda, my ‘down’ mood finally broke.

One of my kid’s friends is a professional DJ.

She showed up with a newly-created ‘Purim set’ of music (that was totally fantastic….) – plus half her professional DJ speakers system.

The roof was jumping off the house, and long story short, we were dancing for 3-4 hours.

I even arranged a temporary ‘mechitzah’ with duvet covers hung from the stair railings, so the dancing was kosher….

By the end of all that, the Purim cloud had finally lifted.


The day after, I was totally knackered.

Not so much physically, but mentally.

And I was also dizzy.

So, I took it easy.


Today, Wednesday, I was debating writing about this.

After all, I’d already missed the ‘window’ of writing immediately after the event…. It’s already old news now, right?

But that’s when I realised how important the ‘reflection’ actually is, as opposed to just constantly ‘reacting’ to stuff all the time, and especially the (fake) ‘news’ cycle, that gives us no time to think and to digest and to contemplate quietly.

And it’s in those quiet moments of reflection that the magic really happens.

That the heart finally opens up a little. That the ego finally quiets down enough for a person to see, wow, I’m still a bit of a psycho after all….

And to make at least some of the teshuva required to overcome those psycho tendencies.

And then, to share that process of reflection with others, to encourage them to turn off the phone, and do some hitbodedut.

Smell the roses….

Spend some time contemplating and not just ‘reacting’ all the time.

And then see how much you learn about yourself, and how things in ‘real life’ start to improve in some awesome ways.

With God’s help.


PS: My neighbor is really not as bad as this makes her sound.

She got misled by my landlords re: the garden, and probably has no idea how sore a point this has become for me.

We will figure all this out.

And in the meantime, it’s shining a spotlight on a lot of bad middot that are still lurking under the rocks in my soul.

Ad 120.


PPS: Apparently, some jerk by the (probably fake…) name of ‘Natan Landesman’ has been making fake copyright claims against some of the old videos my husband and other English speakers recorded for the old Shuvu Banim Youtube site more than seven years ago.

He’s getting them all banned from Youtube, using a fake email, a fake ‘copyright’ claim, and probably, a fake name.

These are the people who are against the Rav…. fake frummers with middot in the toilet.

At best.

I have a theory that most of these people are closet [… guess what I censored here.]

I guess we’ll find out when Moshiach finally comes.

But in the meantime, I am not wasting any time or effort reading the drivel they put out, and I highly recommend you don’t engage with these fake frummers with middot in the toilet either.

There are much better things to do with our time. 

Like, anything, actually.



1 reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.