Two weeks’ ago, I was standing at the Beit HaRav, looking through the grille at the back of the hall, from the women’s section outside, when the thought suddenly struck me:
You should get on with publishing Volume II of One in a Generation.
I knew this thought was coming from shemayim, because my first inclination was to argue with it vociferously.
What?! You want me to waste more time and energy on that project?! Do you know how few people read Volume I?! Do you know how many psychos started crawling out from under stones all over the place to start having a go at me, and to attack me online? Do you know how much heartache, and worry and anxiety that whole project caused me?
And after all that God, do you seriously expect me to do Volume II?!
The answer I got back was: Yup.
So I sighed – because I’ve been having discussions with God long enough to know that I can’t win, and that I can’t duck out of doing things that He’s requiring of me, even though I know they’re going to be difficult and stressful – and later that day, I emailed my co-author.
Y., I was standing at the Beit HaRav this morning, and I had the bizarre-but-persistent idea that we should put out Volume II now. What do you think?
Strangely, Y. had also been getting that vibe the same morning, so we both realized: it’s time to get on with it.
I sighed again.
I finished the original manuscript for what we ultimately split into Volumes I and II over two years’ ago, now. There was so much information to sift through, so much craziness still going on, that the book just kept growing and growing.
When it got over 200,000 words, I called Y. and told him we’d reached the point where it was probably physically impossible to print the book as one tome. What should we do? After a discussion that lasted a couple of months, we decided to split the story up.
Volume I would mostly focus on the Rav’s history, and the way he came to Breslov and came to set up the Shuvu Banim yeshiva, with a side-sprinkling of Breslov lunatics, and then Volume II would really get into the meat and potatoes of how and why the Rav had gone into exile, and who was behind his persecution, ‘show trial’ and imprisonment on trumped-up charges.
Of course, most people were really just interested in Volume II.
So while I had all the ‘down’ of dealing with disturbed “anti-Rav” lunatics and psychos when we published Volume I, I didn’t really get any of the ‘up’ of seeing book sales take off thanks to all the controversy.
At some point, I got so ground down by having to deal with the anonymous psychos, I kind of gave up. What’s the point of explaining the real story, when these people can’t hear anything except their own yetzer haras, and they can’t see anything other than Ynet headlines and Ha’aretz smear stories?
What’s the point?
Plus, the whole thing just felt so sordid and spiritually ucky, I decided I was done with turning over stones just to see what sort of ‘anti-Rav’ slime would ooze out from under them.
Spiritually, I couldn’t see how I could really tell the story of the people behind the Rav’s persecution, without just dishing up a whole bunch of lashon hara and evil speech, and causing more machloket.
So, I gave up on Volume II ever coming out.
Until last week.
When I was standing at the Rav, and I got that unmistakable and hugely annoying message to get on with it.
I came home, I flipped up the computer lid, and I pulled out the last draft of Volume II from last year. And I started editing it like a crazy person.
God started whispering in my ear again: Just take out all the names! Take out all the judgment calls about how mentally-ill and deranged the Rav’s persecutors are! Tone down the language and stick to the facts!
So I did.
And the draft started to polish up really nicely.
It still tells the story of what happened. It still explains so much. It still satisfies the curiosity – but not at the price of my neshama.
The other problem I had is how to conclude Volume II, as the story is still very much ongoing.
The world is getting crazier by the day, ‘war’ is still on the table for Israel, ‘peace plans’ are still being touted around, scandal and corruption within the Israeli government and judiciary and police and army is still bursting out all over the place.
And this process is only going to intensify, until Moshiach finally shows up and rescues us.
So, how to end the book now?
Y. came to the rescue:
Do Volume III, he told me. This story is going to continue until we get to the geula.
So, it looks like I’ll be doing Volume III.
And in the meantime, Volume II is now ready to be proof-read, fact-checked and then laid out and printed.
And here’s where you can help, dear reader, because doing all that stuff is going to cost a few thousand shekels, especially arranging the print run.
If you’d like to specifically donate a page, or dedication, please go to the ‘Donate’ page on ravberland.com HERE, and pick your option:
$360 – for a full page
$180 – for half a page
$90 – for a quarter page
$36 – for a named dedication
Then, please include the text you’d like to have as your dedication in the book in the ‘Additional Notes’ section on the order page, plus a working email address so we can come back to you when we’re laying the book out, to check the dedication is worded correctly and is still saying what you want it to say.
I guess all this is good, although I’m a little scared of stirring the hornets’ nest up again.
Last time I did that, I ended up getting into fights with just about every blogger I know, and taking myself offline because I couldn’t handle the psychos anymore.
But it’s an inyan of real teshuva that God puts you back in exactly the same situation, and that second time, you act different, you act better.
So maybe, that’s what’s going on this time around.
A second chance to tell the Rav’s story in a way that will bring more unity and harmony and geula, instead of more anger, machloket and division.
For more of Rivka’s musings on life, visit her blog at: rivkalevy.com